September 05/17

Compiled & Prepared by: Elias Bejjani

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

Whoever does not love does not know God, for God is love
First Letter of John 04/07-21/:"Let us love one another, because love is from God; everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, for God is love.God’s love was revealed among us in this way: God sent his only Son into the world so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the atoning sacrifice for our sins. Beloved, since God loved us so much, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God lives in us, and his love is perfected in us. By this we know that we abide in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit.And we have seen and do testify that the Father has sent his Son as the Saviour of the world. God abides in those who confess that Jesus is the Son of God, and they abide in God. So we have known and believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and those who abide in love abide in God, and God abides in them. Love has been perfected among us in this: that we may have boldness on the day of judgement, because as he is, so are we in this world. There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear; for fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not reached perfection in love.We love because he first loved us. Those who say, ‘I love God’, and hate their brothers or sisters, are liars; for those who do not love a brother or sister whom they have seen, cannot love God whom they have not seen. The commandment we have from him is this: those who love God must love their brothers and sisters also."

Question: "What does it mean that believers are to be salt and light (Matthew 5:13-16)?"

Answer: Jesus used the concepts of salt and light a number of different times to refer to the role of His followers in the world. One example is found in Matthew 5:13: “You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled by men.” Salt had two purposes in the Middle East of the first century. Because of the lack of refrigeration, salt was used to preserve food, especially meat which would quickly spoil in the desert environment. Believers in Christ are preservatives to the world, preserving it from the evil inherent in the society of ungodly men whose unredeemed natures are corrupted by sin (Psalm 14:3; Romans 8:8).
Second, salt was used then, as now, as a flavor enhancer. In the same way that salt enhances the flavor of the food it seasons, the followers of Christ stand out as those who “enhance” the flavor of life in this world. Christians, living under the guidance of the Holy Spirit and in obedience to Christ, will inevitably influence the world for good, as salt has a positive influence on the flavor of the food it seasons. Where there is strife, we are to be peacemakers; where there is sorrow, we are to be the ministers of Christ, binding up wounds, and where there is hatred, we are to exemplify the love of God in Christ, returning good for evil (Luke 6:35).
In the analogy of light to the world, the good works of Christ’s followers are to shine for all to see. The following verses in Matthew 5 highlight this truth: “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden; nor does anyone light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven” (Matthew 5:14-16, NASB). The idea here is similar—the presence of light in darkness is something which is unmistakable. The presence of Christians in the world must be like a light in the darkness, not only in the sense that the truth of God’s Word brings light to the darkened hearts of sinful man (John 1:1-10), but also in the sense that our good deeds must be evident for all to see. And indeed, our deeds will be evident if they are performed in accordance with the other principles which Jesus mentions in this passage, such as the Beatitudes in Matthew 5:3-11. Notice especially that the concern is not that Christians would stand out for their own sake, but that those who looked on might “glorify your Father who is in heaven” (v. 16, KJV).
In view of these verses, what sorts of things can hinder or prevent the Christian from fulfilling his or her role as salt and light in the world? The passage clearly states that the difference between the Christian and the world must be preserved; therefore, any choice on our part which blurs the distinction between us and the rest of the world is a step in the wrong direction. This can happen either through a choice to accept the ways of the world for the sake of comfort or convenience or to contravene the law of obedience to Christ.
Mark 9:50 suggests that saltiness can be lost specifically through a lack of peace with one another; this follows from the command to “have salt in yourselves, and be at peace with each other.” And in Luke 14:34-35, we find a reference to the metaphor of salt once again, this time in the context of obedient discipleship to Jesus Christ. The loss of saltiness occurs in the failure of the Christian to daily take up the cross and follow Christ wholeheartedly.
It seems, then, that the role of the Christian as salt and light in the world may be hindered or prevented through any choice to compromise or settle for that which is more convenient or comfortable, rather than that which is truly best and pleasing to the Lord. Moreover, the status of salt and light is something which follows naturally from the Christian’s humble obedience to the commandments of Christ. It is when we depart from the Spirit-led lifestyle of genuine discipleship that the distinctions between ourselves and the rest of the world become blurred and our testimony is hindered. Only by remaining focused on Christ and being obedient to Him can we expect to remain salt and light in the world.
**Recommended Resource: Love Your God with All Your Mind: The Role of Reason in the Life of the Soul, Revised and Updated by J.P. Moreland

Titles For Latest LCCC Bulletin analysis & editorials from miscellaneous sources published on September 04-05/17
Is Hezbollah Close to Topple Hariri’s Government/Elias Bejjani/September 03/17
Iran expands its influence while everybody watches/Diana Moukalled/ArabNews/Sptember 04/ 2017
Israeli Army Holds Largest Exercises in 20 Years To Prepare For Imminent Hezbollah Threat/Jerusalem Post/September 04/17
A war with Hizbollah would essentially mean war with Iran this time around/Hanin Ghaddar/The National/September 04/2017
Hezbollah-Daesh deal has terrifying consequences/Baria Alamuddin/ArabNews/September 04/17
Iran must be confronted over foreign weapons factories/Dr. Majid Rafizadeh/ArabNews/September 04/17
Turkey's Mass Persecution of Christians and Kurds/Uzay Bulut/Gatestone Institute/September 04/201
In Pakistan: A 17-year old Christian boy was Beaten to Death by Muslim Classmates/Clarion Project/September 04/17
Eid al-Adha and the Cross/Fr Georges Massouh//September 04/17
A Diminutive Woman — and a Spy who Defined Courage/David Ignatius/The Washington Post/September 04/17
State Department Had a Deal for Russia. It Was Spurned/
Eli Lake/Bloomberg View/September 04/17
Autumn of the Iraqi Map/Ghassan Charbel/Asharq Al Awsat//September 04/17
Europe's New Lie: Comparing Asylum Shelters to Nazi Concentration Camps/Giulio Meotti/Gatestone Institute/September 04/2017

Titles For Latest LCCC Lebanese Related News published on September 04-05/17
Is Hezbollah Close to Topple Hariri’s Government/
Iran expands its influence while everybody watches
ISIS Convoy Splits Up in Eastern Syria
General Security Chief: Lebanon Prepares Itself for Possible Lone Wolf Attacks
Israeli Army Holds Largest Exercises in 20 Years To Prepare For Imminent Hezbollah Threat
ar with Hizbollah would essentially mean war with Iran this time around/
Hezbollah-Daesh deal has terrifying consequences/Baria Alamuddin/ArabNews/September 04/17
Iran must be confronted over foreign weapons factories/Dr. Majid Rafizadeh/ArabNews/September 04/17
Kataeb: Lebanese authority wasted Army's historic accomplishment by succumbing to Hezbollah, Syrian regime deal
Aoun Congratulates Arab Leaders on Adha Day
Zoaiter Says to Meet Syrian Counterpart to 'Activate Agreements, Open Crossings'
Ibrahim Says Lebanon May Witness 'New Form of Confrontation' in Upcoming Phase
Fayyad Says Resistance's 'Vital Role' Brought Stability to Lebanon
Geagea, Mokbel convene in Mehrab
Belgian Immigration Minister arrives in Beirut
Rahi confers with Ray Lahoud over refugees' issue
Khalil calls for avoiding victory distortion through dividing speeches
Zeaiter declares meeting with his Syrian counterpart soon to activate agreements, open borders
Abou Arab: Security Committee to Arrange Handing Over Fugitives to State

Titles For Latest LCCC Bulletin For Miscellaneous Reports And News published on
September 04-05/17
French FM Pushes Peace Deal in Libya
Russian Experts Give Positive Assessment of Cairo Airport Terminal
Kurdistan Begins Countdown for Independence Referendum
Egypt Prepares Draft Law to Dismiss Civil Servants Linked to Terrorism
Ben Dagher: We Will Not Allow Iran to Have Foothold in Yemen
S.Korea, US to Deploy More Anti-Missile Defenses
S. Korea Launches Missile Drill after North's Nuclear Test
Syria Army Nears Regime enclave Besieged by IS

Latest Lebanese Related News published on September 04-05/17'
Is Hezbollah Close to Topple Hariri’s Government/هل اسقاط حزب الله لحكومة الحريري بات وشيكاً
Elias Bejjani/September 03/17
As a mere personal opinion, we have never ever been able to see in Mr.Saad Al Hariri the professional and capable politician, and assume he will never be no matter how hard he tries or how much longer he remains in the Lebanese political chaotic and hectic arena.
Although as a person Mr. Saad Hariri seems to be a nice, moderate, kind, joyful and humble person..
Meanwhile many local and regional observers say that all those who surround Mr. Hariri are in general a bunch of professional opportunists and chameleons who serve their own agendas and not his.
Since Mr. Hariri was forced to take his father’s place in 2005 (His late Father Mr. Raffic Hariri was tragically assassination in 2005) he has been walking a steady track of setbacks, deadly compromises and a trend of licking 99% of his vows and promises.
At the present time Hariri seems to be stumbling and not able to assume freely, independently or strongly his PM’s duties…His role as PM, clearly appears to be severely marginalized by Hezbollah.
In the realm of the noticeable instabilities and contradictions in Hariri’s current governing weaknesses one can not but notice the gap and the distance between his stances, dealings and rhetoric in regards to Hezbollah and between those of the Future Parliamentary Block that he heads..
The gab has been widening more and more as far as the block’s weekly statements. They both, Hariri and the Future Parliamentary Block seem to be living in two different worlds and adopting a set of very contradicting rhetoric and stances in regards to Hezbollah, approaches and dealings wise.
Many observers are predicting that Hariri’s current government that is controlled by Hezbollah is on the verge of resignation, not because PM, Hariri’s wishes or plans to do so, but because Hezbollah and his Iranian masters believe they are now in a good and strong position and do not need Hariri’s services anymore. Meanwhile is it worth mentioning that Hezbollah, the Iranian militia that occupies Lebanon did by force topple Hariri’s previous Government in 2011 while Hariri himself was meeting with the USA President Barak Obama in the White House.

Iran expands its influence while everybody watches
Diana Moukalled/ArabNews/Sptember 04/ 2017
It seems the world has suddenly awoken from its coma to see that Iran has achieved victories on various fronts in the region, namely in Iraq, Syria and Lebanon. This is due to Iranian military and ideological policies and actions, and negligence on the part of regional and Western countries.
Iran has won the hypothetical war against Daesh in Iraq, Syria and Lebanon, whose governments are largely subservient to Tehran, which has even established militias parallel to the armies in these countries.
These militias are directly supervised by Iranian Maj. Gen. Qasem Soleimani, who often travels between Iraq, Syria and Lebanon. We have all witnessed the demographic changes in Iraq and Syria, adding to the sectarian divides in those countries.
The expansion of Iran’s militias under many pretexts shows a daring carelessness over borders.
A concrete example is Hezbollah fighting in Syria and other fronts, and its leader Hassan Nasrallah saying it is ready to fight on any front in the future.
Tehran has won the hypothetical war against Daesh in Iraq, Syria and Lebanon, but its victory is the triumph of one evil side over another.
Worn-out speeches about respecting countries and their borders have become meaningless. How can we talk about sovereignty and borders when we see the massive bridge Iran has built to link it to Syria?
There are destroyed cities, and separated populations that cannot be reunited, due to Tehran’s invasions of Syria, Iraq and Lebanon.
Iran has beaten Daesh, but this is not a victory of good over evil, or of moderation over radicalism and extremism.
Tehran’s victory is the triumph of one evil side over another.
In the three countries controlled by Iran, circumstances favor the emergence of satanic groups similar to Daesh. All we can do now is wait and observe.
• Diana Moukalled is a veteran journalist with extensive experience in both traditional and new media. She is also a columnist and freelance documentary producer. Twitter @dianamoukalled

ISIS Convoy Splits Up in Eastern Syria
Asharq Al-Awsat/September 04/17/Beirut, London- The convoy of ISIS militants, which left the Qalamoun Mountains – located on the border with eastern Lebanon– still moves under the brokered agreement with the Syrian regime and Hezbollah to escape into the Syrian desert. The US-led coalition said on Sunday that the convoy had been divided into two groups. A group of buses remained in the desert while another group returned to regime-controlled areas. One group remains in the open desert to the northwest of the town of Abu Kamal, bordering Iraq, and another group has headed west toward the historic town of Palmyra. It added that the coalition “will not condone” ISIS fighters moving further east toward the Iraqi border, the statement said. The statement said that over the past week, the coalition has struck approximately 85 ISIS militants and about 40 ISIS vehicles in the vicinity of the convoy. They include a tank, an artillery system, armed technical vehicles, and transport vehicles seeking to facilitate the movement of ISIS fighters to the Iraq border. Iran-allied Hezbollah group said in a statement Saturday that coalition warplanes are still preventing the convoy from moving east and barring anyone on the regime side from reaching them. It added that if aid does not reach the convoy “only the Americans will bear the responsibility” for what happens. If the people in the convoy die because of bombing or lack of food, “full responsibility lies with the Americans,” Hezbollah said. The US military, however, has said it will not interfere if the Syrian regime sends supplies to the convoy, and that the convoy has already received one delivery of food and water. US warplanes watched “someone” from the Syrian regime’s side resupply the convoy with water and food two days ago and did not intervene, Lt. Gen. Stephen Townsend, the commander of the US-led coalition told reporters.

General Security Chief: Lebanon Prepares Itself for Possible Lone Wolf Attacks
Asharq Al-Awsat/September 04/17/Beirut- General Security chief Major General Abbas Ibrahim said on Sunday that Lebanon continued to face terror threats despite the victory achieved at the eastern border with Syria. He predicted the next phase to witness “a new kind of confrontation” against terrorism, which he said the Lebanese security forces would be watching closely. In an interview with Asharq Al-Awsat, Abbas said that terrorism in its geographical meaning has already been moved away from Lebanon after the latest ISIS and al-Nusra Front defeats. However, he said that such an achievement does not mean the two groups were no longer a threat to the country. “One of the most advanced kinds of terrorist operations is currently embodied by the lone wolves that use vehicles to kill people in streets around the world,” the General Security chief said. He also warned from the threat of suicide bombers and those who infiltrate the society. Ibrahim was the government’s chief negotiator in trying to win the return of Lebanon’s captured soldiers who were abducted by the terrorists in 2014 after later revealing that the remains of the majority of them have been recovered. Commenting on the timing of the latest clashes that erupted at the Ain el-Hilweh Palestinian refugee camp in the southern city of Sidon, and which came amid a battle launched by the Lebanese army in Jurud Asral, Abbas said there was no coincidence. “When the Lebanese army launched its battle, terrorists tried to limit the pressure on their comrades. However, some wise Palestinian forces at the camp were alerted by the situation and complied with the messages we sent them about the rejection to turn the camp, now or later, to a hotbed of threat that would hurt the Palestinians and the Lebanese,” the General Security chief said.

Israeli Army Holds Largest Exercises in 20 Years To Prepare For Imminent Hezbollah Threat
Jerusalem Post///September 04/17
IDF: Hezbollah is an imminent threat, at the top of our priorities
Hezbollah uses drones against IS in Syria
The IDF is set to launch a large-scale exercise in preparation for a potential faceoff with the Shi'ite terror group, that continues to pose an imminent danger to the country's security.
Amid rising tensions on Israel’s northern border, the IDF will be launching Monday evening its largest drill in close to 20 years, with tens of thousands of soldiers from all branches of the army simulating a war with Hezbollah.
The drill is unique and unprecedented in scope, the army has affirmed, and it will enable forces to maintain a high level of readiness in an ever-changing region.
According to military assessments, while it is unlikely that Hezbollah attack Israel in the near future, the northern border remains the most explosive and both sides have warned that the next conflict between the two would be devastating.
The IDF is preparing itself for a different kind of war on the northern front. According to the military, while the drill itself is set to focus only on the border with Lebanon, a potential future altercation would not be contained only in the part of the border and would spread to the entirety of the northern border.
While the primary threat posed by Hezbollah remains its missile arsenal, the IDF believes that the next war will see the terror group trying to bring the fight into the home front by infiltrating into Israeli communities to inflict significant civilian and military casualties.
The two-week long drill will focus on countering the increased capabilities of Hezbollah and is expected to include simulations of evacuating communities which sit on the border with Lebanon.
During the drill, soldiers will play the role of civilians being evacuated, but with close to 1 million Israelis living in Israel’s north, an estimated quarter million would be evacuated in case a war breaks out with the Shiite Lebanese terror group.
Named after Meir Dagan, the former head of the Mossad, the exercise will see thousands of reservists and all the different branches of the IDF- Air Force, Navy, Ground Forces Intelligence, Cyber- drilling their ability to work side by side in case such a war should break out.
In an attempt to secure the exercise but also simulate what it would be like in case of a real war, no soldiers will be allowed to bring in their phones or any other digital devices.
Hezbollah says future Israel war could draw more fighters than in 2006 (credit:
Hezbollah has rebuilt its arsenal since the last war fought between the group and Israel back in 2006, with at least 100,000 short-range rockets and several thousand more missiles that can reach central Israel. According to some Israeli analysts, the next war with Hezbollah might see 1,500-2,000 rockets shot into Israel per day, compared to the 150-180 per day during the Second Lebanon war 10 years ago in which 121 soldiers and 44 civilians were killed and over 2,000 injured.
In addition to having rebuilt their arsenal, Hezbollah has changed from a terror group fighting guerilla style targets to an army with battalions, brigades and over 40,000 fighters who have gained immeasurable battlefield experience from fighting in Syria on the side of President Bashar al-Assad.
But while the threat still looms large, Israel has made it clear that it will continue to work to prevent the group from acquiring advanced weaponry, striking weapons convoys in Syria destined for the group at least 100 times in the past five years.

A war with Hizbollah would essentially mean war with Iran this time around
Conflict with Israel might be inevitable, but the context has become more complicated than ever ... for both sides in equal measure
Hanin Ghaddar/The National/September 04/2017
Hizbollah and Israel will think twice because the stakes - and consequences - this time may prove costly. The possibility of an imminent war between Israel and Hizbollah has been growing as both Israeli and Hizbollah officials engage in fiery rhetoric about how damaging the next war will be (for the other side, of course). Convinced that Hizbollah has strong control over Lebanon’s state institutions, Israel is now threatening to target Lebanon’s infrastructure, institutions and army, while vowing to attack Israel’s nuclear facilities and cities.
There is no doubt that Hizbollah’s build-up of precision weapons presents a serious threat to Israel. Yes, if Iran is not contained in Syria and Hizbollah’s threat to Israel from both Lebanon and the Golan Heights is not dealt with, the next war between Israel and Hizbollah may well be inevitable (though at present, not necessarily imminent).
Still, despite escalating war rhetoric, both sides understand that there is a lot at stake and that is why there are tell-tale signs of avoidance on both sides.
For Hizbollah, its priorities in the region have changed, and although the Syrian crisis has not yet been resolved, Hizbollah – and Iran – continue to achieve gains in Iraq, Syria and Lebanon.
Why would they risk these achievements for another confrontation with Israel, especially when another "divine victory" is not guaranteed? In addition, Hizbollah is stretched in the region and has lost many of its high-ranking commanders and trained fighters. As such, they will certainly need time to redeploy and organise themselves if a war with Israel is to ensue.
That is precisely why Hizbollah has not responded the way it typically does to Israeli provocations. Indeed, Israel has struck one of its weapons convoys in Syria many times in order to prevent its acquisition of “game-changing” weapons. And yet, Hizbollah only responded when it claimed that an Israeli attack had hit a Hizbollah military base inside Lebanon and this is why all of the Israeli attacks against Hizbollah in Syria have been ignored thus far.
Matters aren't all that easy for Israel either. While Israel might be more ready than Hizbollah for this war, the Jewish state also knows that another war is costly.
In addition, Hizbollah's arsenal is estimated to have grown from 33,000 rockets and missiles before 2006 to 150,000. These are more advanced weapons that would cause serious damage to Israel.
Perhaps even more importantly, given that Hizbollah now controls more ground in Syria, Israel might find itself fighting two or more fronts in the next war and involved in confrontation with all the Shiite militias in Syria, not just Hizbollah.
Under the command of Iran's Quds Force, Hizbollah is today leading tens of thousands Shiite fighters from Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Yemen. Earlier this summer, Hassan Nasrallah warned that any future Israeli war against Syria or Lebanon would draw thousands of fighters from these militias now fighting in support of the Syrian regime.
While Hizbollah celebrates its victory against ISIL in Lebanon, Syrians and Iraqis must prepare for the next showdown
In other words, the next war could actually be a war between Israel and Iran. All this essentially means that while the war might be inevitable, the context has become more complicated than ever.
Indeed, given that Hizbollah is a regional force and Iran’s leading Shiite militia, a conflict with Hizbollah could very well be a conflict with all the Shiite militias in the region, and therefore a conflict with the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps’ Quds Force.
Because the can of worms is proving too big, both sides are flexing their muscles trying to cause as much peripheral damage, stopping short of actually igniting a confrontation.
Still, in the event war does break out, Hizbollah may find it easier to declare victory this time around. In order to do this, all they would need to do is inflict the most damage possible on Israel and simply survive to fight another day.
As long as they have Iran as their sponsor – and Syria and Iraq under their control – they can always rebuild their arsenal the way they did after the 2006 war with Israel.
At the time, its leader, Hassan Nasrallah, declared: “As long as there is a missile that is fired from Lebanon that targets the Zionists, as long as there is one fighter who fires his rifle, as long as there is someone who plants a bomb against the Israelis, the resistance still exists.”
The damage inflicted on Lebanon and its civilians will not be an issue for them. On the contrary, a war with Israel that would lead to death of civilians and the destruction of state institutions and infrastructure might be taken advantage of by Hizbollah to lobby back popular support for the “resistance”, an ideological selling point that has waned since their involvement in Syria.
Indeed, the Lebanese, including many Shiites, have been increasingly critical of the "party of God". The long war in Syria has taken a toll on the Shiite community in particular, which lost many of its young men – with no “divine victory” in return this time around.
In addition, Hizbollah’s budget shifts have led to serious cuts in social services, a sacrifice that has left many poor families struggling.
Despite many Shiites viewing the group as a beacon of resistance and liberation, the Syria crisis has long changed this perspective and Hizbollah is now seen among many as a sectarian militia fighting for Iran’s regional agenda. While, yes, some don’t mind the sectarian power this new mission is bringing to the community, many do. Indeed, these disillusioned community members feel more isolated than ever and realise that this power is coming at a huge price: their livelihoods and future.
A tell-tale sign of this discontent are the results from the most recent municipal elections that took place last summer. For example, only 55 per cent of the votes in Baalbeck – the biggest Shiite city in the Bekaa Valley – went to both Hizbollah and Amal combined.
Much of this discontent among the Shiites – and other Lebanese communities – stems from the fact that people are beginning to realise that the enemy may be within.
On the other hand, war may also bring back Hizbollah's resistance niche and distract people from internal problems, a scenario that would no doubt bode well for them. Indeed, if the next war takes place on Lebanese soil, Hizbollah will use the opportunity to regain public support, mainly from the Shiite community. By contrast, if the war takes place in Syria, where Hizbollah is more exposed, the party definitely won't reap as much benefit. On the contrary, it will be seen as part of the regional war.
In any case, much depends on the goals of both sides in instigating war. If Hizbollah were to initiate a conflict, it will likely be much later and only to regain popularity, whereas if Israel is to start the war, much will depend on the objective and the context. If the goal of the war is to eradicate Hizbollah, it will have to face Iran. This would be the only way to ensure Hizbollah does not rebuild its arsenal. But without the United States' willingness to lead a war against Iran, Israel might try to contain Hizbollah for the time being by perhaps expanding its strikes in Syria to stop it from gaining more ground or stocking up more missiles.
Whatever the scenario, one thing is for sure: both the Jewish state and Hassan Nasrallah's so-called party of God have much to consider.
*Hanin Ghaddar is the inaugural Friedmann Visiting Fellow at The Washington Institute

Hezbollah-Daesh deal has terrifying consequences
Baria Alamuddin/ArabNews/September 04/17
Last week saw one of the strangest battlefield exchange deals of recent times, with Daesh releasing several dead combatants — Lebanese soldiers, Hezbollah fighters and one Iranian — in exchange for busing 670 Daesh fighters and families from the Lebanese border zone to eastern Syria.
It is bitterly ironic that just as Iraq announced the liberation of Tal Afar and Nineveh province, hundreds of new Daesh fighters are being brought into this same locality on the Syria-Iraq border. Unsurprisingly, Iraqi Prime Minister Haider Al-Abadi was among those protesting loudly, describing the deal as an “insult to the Iraqi people.”
US forces likewise wanted to prevent these Daesh militants from reversing hard-won progress in Iraq and eastern Syria, but were constrained by the presence of women and children in the buses, who were acting as human shields. However, American airstrikes against a key bridge and vehicles associated with the convoy forced these Daesh fighters to seek refuge in regime-held territory, rendering their ultimate destination an open question.
This deal casts a spotlight upon interactions between Daesh and Iranian proxy forces, particularly Hezbollah which brokered this deal, with its leader Hassan Nasrallah having traveled to Damascus to win Bashar Assad’s support. As a US spokesman observed, “Their claim of fighting terrorism rings hollow when they allow known terrorists to transit territory under their control.”
Many Lebanese are furious that instead of being confronted and forced to face justice for murdering hundreds of citizens and at least nine soldiers among 30 kidnapped in 2014, Daesh terrorists are loaded onto tourist buses and transported to the location of their choice. Furthermore, Nasrallah’s deal-making occurred over the heads of the Lebanese army and state, epitomizing Hezbollah’s drift toward behaving as Lebanon’s de facto government with the final say over war and peace.
There is more than meets the eye to the Assad-Daesh relationship. After 2003, Syria’s regime funneled thousands of foreign jihadists into Iraq, with Syrian intelligence even facilitating attacks against Iraqi targets to inconvenience the Americans. When these jihadists mutated into Daesh, the regime stayed in touch. After protests erupted in Syria in 2011, the regime sought to discredit and divide the opposition by releasing hundreds of Syrian jihadists in a “general amnesty.” These elements constituted the core of Syrian jihadist groups, from the Al-Nusra Front, now known as Jabhat Fateh Al-Sham, to Daesh.
Families of deceased Lebanese soldiers may gain comfort from burying their loved ones; but how many more people will lose their lives as hundreds of militants are transferred to a new battlefront?
When Daesh emerged in Syria in 2013, it was not through capturing regime-held territory, but by pushing out other rebel groups, doing the regime’s work for it. In this symbiotic relationship Assad gave Daesh hard currency in return for exports from oilfields under their control. When the overstretched regime no longer had the capacity to hold parts of central Syria, Daesh stepped into the vacuum — with Palmyra changing hands several times. Sky News published leaked documents proving this amicable transfer of territory between Daesh and the Syrian regime. Both sides also coordinated assaults against rebels.
Families of the deceased Lebanese soldiers may gain comfort from burying their loved ones; but how many more people will lose their lives as a result of hundreds of Daesh militants being transferred to a new battlefront?
The agreement comes in the context of systematic efforts to flush out Sunnis — fighters and civilians, moderates and extremists — from the Syria-Lebanon border region. Throughout 2016 and 2017 there have been numerous agreements to evacuate rebels from this zone. One such deal transferred around 20,000 Sunnis out of Homs. In another complex arrangement, Iraqi militias released a group of abducted Qatari royals in exchange for up to $1 billion from Doha, according to press reports. The same deal stipulated the removal of Sunnis from western Syrian villages, with Shiite occupants (including Iraqis and Afghans) ferried in, engineering a population loyal to Iran.
In Iraq, the pro-Iranian Al-Hashd Al-Shaabi militias have faced pressure to demobilize. Following the liberation of Mosul and Tal Afar from Daesh, Iraqis claim these paramilitaries are simply a menace. Al-Hashd leaders claim they must now fight in eastern Syria, ensuring the continuation of their salaries and weapons from the state. Precisely on cue, their allies inside Syria sent them new batches of Daesh fighters to justify their existence. Iraqis are furious that their security is jeopardized by this deal, which Al-Hashd leaders like Abu Mahdi Al-Muhandis have vocally defended. Former Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri Al-Maliki condemned the criticism as a “systematic campaign against Hezbollah.”
For Iran and Assad this is all about who fills the post-Daesh vacuum, with Iran seeking to dominate a contiguous territory across Iraq, Syria and Lebanon. Population swaps, sectarian massacres, arming proxies and displacing civilians are different methods toward the same objective.
The media now talk about the prospects of a strategic victory for Assad. Yet this would be the hollowest of victories, having surrendered sovereignty over his shattered state to those who bankrolled and masterminded this war. The proliferation of Russian and Iranian military bases, missile sites and foreign militias demonstrate that Syria will remain a pawn for exacerbating regional instability, exporting terrorism and meddling in neighboring states.
Deals between Hezbollah, Daesh and others are being brokered under the noses of Western diplomats who have largely lost interest in Syria. In past peace negotiations, Iran was not permitted to participate. Now with the Astana rounds of talks driving the agenda, objectives are set by Iran and Russia before others even come to the table.
For all of US President Donald Trump’s anti-Iranian rhetoric, he is turning a blind eye to the emergence of a new pan-regional Persian empire. To those on the ground it is obvious what is happening: The Hezbollah-Daesh deal is simply another step toward major geopolitical transformations. If this sounds alarmist, it is because the consequences are almost too terrifying to contemplate.
The international community is discreetly disengaging from Syria at the very moment at which there must be maximum diplomatic input to shape the endgame both there and in Iraq — and prevent Iran benefitting from the logic of winner-takes-all.
• Baria Alamuddin is an award-winning journalist and broadcaster in the Middle East and the UK. She is editor of the Media Services Syndicate and a foreign editor at Al-Hayat, and has interviewed numerous heads of state.

Iran must be confronted over foreign weapons factories

Dr. Majid Rafizadeh/ArabNews/September 04/17
In the modern world, many countries set up factories in foreign nations in order to manufacture goods such as technological devices, automobiles, cell phones or aircraft.
The Iranian government is also stepping into this line of business, but with an important caveat: Its products involve hard-power capabilities.
Based on the latest intelligence reports, Iran is manufacturing advanced weapons in foreign nations including Syria and Lebanon, a claim denied by the prime minister of the latter country.
Tehran is more than likely planning to expand its weapons manufacturing to other countries as well. There is a widely held belief that Iran has weapons factories in Yemen too.
Some of the arms that Tehran is producing in Syria and Lebanon include precision-guided missiles, which are built using advanced technology to strike specific targets.
It has become crystal clear that Iran is in direct violation of UN Resolution 2231, which was adopted as part of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), otherwise known as the Iran nuclear deal. The resolution stipulates that all states are to take the necessary measures to “prevent, except as decided otherwise by the Security Council in advance on a case-by-case basis, the supply, sale, or transfer of arms or related materiel from Iran by their nationals or using their flag vessels or aircraft and whether or not originating in the territory of Iran.” By directly setting up weapons factories in foreign nations, Iranian leaders are attempting to achieve several short-term and long-term objectives.
First of all, Tehran has been caught repeatedly smuggling weapons via the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC). Most recently, several Iranian ships carrying weapons to Yemen, specifically to be delivered to the Houthis, were intercepted.
Producing weapons in another country eliminates the risk of Iran facing international condemnation, or even losing its weapons, when it is caught smuggling them.
The second issue is linked to the cost. Iran is hemorrhaging billions of dollars on the Syrian regime to keep Bashar Assad in power. Since 2011, Tehran has been assisting Assad with weapons supplies. Since Iran would be violating the UN resolution by sending weapons to Syria, it has been covertly doing so through its commercial airplanes — which is an expensive exercise. It is much more cost effective for the Iranian leaders to directly produce weapons in Damascus, Beirut and Sanaa.
Allegations that Tehran has arms-manufacturing facilities in Arab nations offer further indication that the regime needs to be held to account by the international community.
Third, the other major beneficiaries of Iran’s weapons are Shiite militia groups including Al-Hashd Al-Shaabi, Hezbollah, and Syrian militia groups. Producing weapons in Syria, Lebanon or Yemen significantly strengthens the Shiite crescent and militias across the region, which act as Tehran’s proxies.
In addition, this can lure other militia or terrorist groups that are willing to serve Iran’s interests in exchange for weapons.
The UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres recently pointed out that he would make sure that the peacekeeping force in Lebanon, UNIFIL, completes its mission of preventing Hezbollah’s arms stocks building up. He stated, “I will do everything in my capacity to make sure that UNIFIL fully meets its mandate.” But words are not sufficient. The UN needs to take concrete action against the main provider of these weapons: The Iranian government.
Fourth, it is worth noting that Iran sends intelligence, military, and training teams when it sets up weapons factories in other countries in order to facilitate the sale and use of these weapons. This will provide Iran with the opportunity to better influence and control the security, intelligence and political systems of a foreign nation.
Fifth, Iran’s foreign-based weapons factories give it advantageous military capability for waging wars or striking other nations through third countries such as Syria, Lebanon, Iraq or Yemen. As a result, Iran’s ruling clerics would not need to be directly engaged in the war and jeopardize their hold on power; rather, they would exploit third parties to pit other nations against each other.
Sixth, Iran is literally creating a gigantic military presence in Syria and Lebanon, which would make it easier for Iranian leaders to totally occupy and take over Arab nations. This is part of Iran’s long-term hegemonic ambitions and pursuit of imperialistic pre-eminence in the region.
In closing, Iran is significantly extending its influence and expanding its reach in the Middle East by escalating the establishment of weapons-production facilities in foreign nations. The international community needs to hold the Iranian government to account for the further militarization, radicalization and intensifying of violence in the region, as well as for violating UN resolution 2231 and international law.
• Dr. Majid Rafizadeh is a Harvard-educated Iranian-American political scientist. He is a leading expert on Iran and US foreign policy, a businessman and president of the International American Council. He serves on the boards of the Harvard International Review, the Harvard International Relations Council and the US-Middle East Chamber for Commerce and Business.

Kataeb: Lebanese authority wasted Army's historic accomplishment by succumbing to Hezbollah, Syrian regime deal
Mon 04 Sep 2017/NNA - Kataeb Political Party issued a statement following its weekly bureau meeting on Monday chaired by MP Sami Gemayel, in which it considered that the Lebanese authority has wasted the Army's historic achievement by yielding to the Hezbollah-Syrian regime deal that allowed the safe departure of terrorists. In this context, the Party statement denounced the Lebanese authority's failure to adopt the necessary measures to detain the terrorists and refer them to the concerned judiciary. On the other hand, the Party praised the Lebanese Army's relentless efforts and huge sacrifices for the sake of reaching this remarkable achievement of liberating the outskirts from terrorists, and proving its capability of ensuring the State's sovereignty over all its territories.

Aoun Congratulates Arab Leaders on Adha Day
Naharnet/September 04/17/President Michel Aoun congratulated the Arab and Islamic leaders on the occasion of Eid el-Adha, wishing their nations more stability, tranquility and prosperity. "I hope this Eid would be an occasion for solidarity in the face of challenges that the countries are facing" President Aoun said in a statement on Monday. The Feast of the Sacrifice is a festival celebrated throughout the Islamic world marking the willingness of Abraham to sacrifice his son to God, who then sent a sheep to kill instead.

Zoaiter Says to Meet Syrian Counterpart to 'Activate Agreements, Open Crossings'
Naharnet/September 04/17/Agriculture Minister Ghazi Zoaiter revealed that he will soon meet with his Syrian counterpart to start the “implementation of agreements and open crossings between the two countries,” the National News Agency reported on Monday.“Agreements talks between Lebanon and Syria during our visit to Syria's Damascus International Fair and our meeting with the Syrian prime minister and ministers of trade and agriculture were good,” said Zoaiter. He said he will soon meet with the Syrian agriculture minister “to continue discussions, put agreements into implementation and open the crossings, especially after the opening of crossings between Syria, Jordan and Iraq.”Zoaiter and Industry Minister Hussein Hajj Hassan attended an industrial fair in Damascus in August in the first high-level visit since the outbreak of Syria's war.Al-Haj Hassan said he and Zoaiter had received invitations to the Damascus International Fair, which opened on August 16. The controversial visit was dubbed by some Lebanese parties “as an attempt to normalize ties with Syria,” while others, namely Hizbullah party saw it as a “normal measure.”Zoaiter said that ties with Syria are not “broken,” stressing that Lebanon has adopted a “dissociation policy” towards Syria which he said must not affect the “agriculture exports,” since “merchandising agricultural produce is our duty as a ministry.” The visit has sparked widespread debate in the government, which has stressed that Zoaiter and al-Hajj Hassan have made the visit on their “personal capacity.”Relations between Lebanon and Syria have deteriorated since 2005 after the assassination of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri.

Ibrahim Says Lebanon May Witness 'New Form of Confrontation' in Upcoming Phase
Naharnet/September 04/17/General Security chief Maj. Gen. Abbas Ibrahim said on Monday that Lebanon still faces the threat of terrorism and will likely witness a new form of confrontation despite the victory it recorded in ousting the Islamic State militants form its eastern border, the pan-Arab daily Asharq al-Awsat reported on Monday. “Terrorism still surrounds Lebanon despite the triumph achieved on the eastern border,” said Ibrahim in an interview to the daily, adding that its is likely for the country to “witness a new form of confrontation,” but assured that the Lebanese army will be “on the lookout” for any signs of danger.Commenting on the removal of Islamic State jihadists from the Lebanese-Syrian border following separate but simultaneous operations by the Lebanese army and Hizbullah on both sides of the frontier, he said: “Terrorism in its geographical sense has receded from Lebanon after the defeat of the IS and al-Nusra Front, but that does not mean that danger has subsided.”Pointing out to the armed clashes in the restive Palestinian refugee camp of Ain el-Hilweh in the southern city of Sidon, that broke out in conjunction with the army's offensive on the outskirts, Abbas said that the timing was intentional.
“When the army started its battle, the terrorists tried to relieve the pressure on their colleagues,” said Abbas, “but the wise Palestinian forces were alert and responded to the message we conveyed that it is not permitted for the camp, not now nor later, to become a focal point to strike the Palestinians and the Lebanese.”Ain el-Hilweh, the most densely populated Palestinian camp in Lebanon, witnessed a week of deadly clashes last month between the secular Fatah Movement and small Islamist groups led by the militants Bilal Badr and Bilal al-Orqoub. By longstanding convention, the Lebanese army does not enter Palestinian refugee camps in Lebanon, leaving the Palestinian factions themselves to handle security. The camp is home to some 61,000 Palestinians, including 6,000 who have fled the war in neighboring Syria. Several armed factions including extremist groups have a foothold in the camp which has been plagued for years by intermittent clashes.

Fayyad Says Resistance's 'Vital Role' Brought Stability to Lebanon
Naharnet/September 04/17/Loyalty to the Resistance bloc MP Ali Fayyad stated that Lebanon is “better off than any of its neighboring countries in terms of security and sovereignty,” hailing the Resistance's “vital role” in producing “this reality,” the National News Agency reported on Monday.
“Lebanon is better off than any of its neighboring countries in terms of security, stability and safeguarding the border mainly that the Resistance has played a fundamental and vital role in producing this reality,” said Fayyad during a religious ceremony in the southern Tayybeh town. “We salute, respect and highly appreciate the efforts of the Lebanese army. We believe that this national army has played its role to the best of it. But what brought the situation to a positive end at the level of security and stability was mainly based on what the Resistance has produced through its devoted positions and performance,” added Fayyad. “A few years ago we used to say that the Resistance plays a role in liberating the land and safeguarding Lebanon from the Israeli threat. But today we can say that the Resistance has a role in liberating the land and confronting anything that threatens this entity, whether Israeli, takfiri or anything else.
"Therefore the State's sovereignty, logic and presence can not exist at this stage or be upright without the the role of Resistance,” stated Fayyad.

Geagea, Mokbel convene in Mehrab
Mon 04 Sep 2017/NNA - Lebanese Forces Party Head, Samir Geagea, met Monday afternoon with former Minister Samir Mokbel in Mehrab, with talks centering on the latest local and regional developments.

Belgian Immigration Minister arrives in Beirut
Mon 04 Sep 2017/NNA - Belgium's Minister for Immigration, Theo Francken, arrived in Beirut Monday afternoon, beginning a 3-day visit during which he will meet with senior Lebanese officials. Francken will hold talks over ways of assisting Lebanon in the Syrian refugees' dossier. He will also visit refugee camps in the Bekaa region to have a closer look at their needs. Minister Francken was greeted upon arrival at Rafic Hariri International Airport by Belgian Ambassador Alex Linnarts and senior Embassy Staff.

Rahi confers with Ray Lahoud over refugees' issue
Mon 04 Sep 2017/NNA - Maronite Patriarch Cardinal Bechara Butros al-Rahi met Monday with former US Transport Minister, Congressman Ray Lahoud, who visited him in Bkirki this morning with talks touching on latest hour issues, most prominently the Syrian refugees' dossier. On emerging, Lahoud indicated that this is the 17th time he visits Lebanon since his first visit in 1995, adding that a strong friendship bond has developed with the Patriarch over the years. "We tackled many matters, including the refugees' issue, to which a solution ought to be found," said Lahoud. "We also touched on Lebanon's need for a significant leap at all levels in presence of the President of the Republic, Prime Minister, Cabinet and Parliament. For this reason, economic achievements ought to be realized, in addition to new job opportunities for the people," concluded Lahoud.

Khalil calls for avoiding victory distortion through dividing speeches
Mon 04 Sep 2017/NNA - Finance Minister Ali Hassan Khalil called Monday for refraining from distorting the achieved victory over terrorism through words that draw a wedge between various sides in the country. Speaking at the 39th commemoration of Imam Moussa al-Sadr's absence in a ceremony organized in the German city of Dortmund, Khalil recalled the Imam's important role in spreading the culture of unity, dialogue and openness. "Victory was achieved due to the sacrifices of the Army, Resistance and all martyrs who lost their lives while defending Lebanon; hence, it is a victory for all of Lebanon," he asserted.
Over the Syrian refugees' issue, Khalil deemed that coordination ought to take place with Syria for the sake of solving all matters at stake, to the mutual benefit of both the Lebanese and Syrian people. In this context, Khalil commended Germany for its valuable contribution and support to Lebanon regarding the refugees' dossier, adding, "Germany has been one of the leading countries in extending financial assistance to Lebanon to help it confront this challenge."

Zeaiter declares meeting with his Syrian counterpart soon to activate agreements, open borders
Mon 04 Sep 2017/NNA - Agriculture Minister, Ghazi Zeaiter, announced Monday that he will be meeting with his Syrian counterpart in the near future, in order to activate bilateral agreements and re-open the borders between Lebanon and Syria. Speaking before popular delegations who visited him in Baalbek this morning, Zeaiter indicated that the coordination and cooperation agreement between both countries has yielded positive outcome at the agricultural level, especially in regards to exporting Lebanese agricultural products to Syria, which provides a main gateway to the Arab world. Over smuggling operations, Zeaiter considered that this affects all sectors and not just the agricultural field, adding "this matter calls for firm measures in controlling the borders, which requires serious follow-up."

Abou Arab: Security Committee to Arrange Handing Over Fugitives to State
Naharnet/September 04/17/Head of the Palestinian National Security Forces in Lebanon Maj. Gen. Sobhi Abou Arab said on Monday that “coordination between the Palestinian security forces and the Lebanese State continue,” and that a special committee was formed to "coordinate the handing over of fugitives" hiding in a restive refugee camp in Sidon to the Lebanese State. “Coordination is ongoing between the (Palestinian) security forces and the Lebanese army,” to maintain stability at the Palestinian refugee camp of Ain el-Hilweh in Sidon, said Abou Arab in an interview to the VDL (93.3).
He pointed out that a “security committee was formed to coordinate the handing over of fugitives hiding in the camp to the Lebanese state.”“We are with the Lebanese state. We want security and stability in the camp. We refuse that it be turned into another Nahr al-Bared (battlefield),” he said.
Urging fugitives taking refuge at the camp to surrender, he said: “There are around 40 fugitives in the camp, we urge them all to surrender themselves in to the Lebanese State for trial to preserve the camp's security.”Abou stressed commitment to “any decision taken by the Lebanese State.”The restive southern Ain el-Hilweh camp had witnessed a week of deadly clashes last month between the secular Fatah Movement and small Islamist groups led by the militants Bilal Badr and Bilal al-Orqoub. By longstanding convention, the Lebanese army does not enter Palestinian refugee camps in Lebanon, leaving the Palestinian factions themselves to handle security. Ain el-Hilweh -- the most densely populated Palestinian camp in Lebanon -- is home to some 61,000 Palestinians, including 6,000 who have fled the war in neighboring Syria. Several armed factions including extremist groups have a foothold in the camp which has been plagued for years by intermittent clashes.

Latest LCCC Bulletin For Miscellaneous Reports And News published on September 04-05/17
French FM Pushes Peace Deal in Libya
Asharq Al-Awsat/September 04/17/France’s Foreign Minister Jean Yves Le Drian was in Libya on Monday to meet rival political leaders and offer support for a deal aimed at stabilizing the country. According to Reuters, Libyan Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj and the divided nation’s eastern commander Khalifa Haftar signed an agreement in Paris in July committing them to a conditional ceasefire and to work toward elections in 2018. In Tripoli, Le Drian met Sarraj and planned to hold talks with Abdulrahman Swehli, who is connected to some of Haftar’s rivals who heads a parliamentary council in the capital, Libyan officials said. Le Drian was also to visit Misrata, Swehli’s home city and a base of opposition to Haftar, before heading to Benghazi to meet Haftar and to Tobruk to meet the head of an eastern-based parliament aligned with him. “The minister wants to consolidate this agreement by getting the parties not invited in July to support it,” said a French diplomatic source. “He wants to ensure that everyone is playing the game and lay the groundwork for elections.” The French minister’s visit is in line with President Emmanuel Macron’s push for a deeper French role in bringing Libyan factions together in the hope of countering militant violence and easing Europe’s migrant crisis. Western governments, worried about fundamentalist militants and smugglers thriving in Libya’s chaos, are pushing a broader UN-backed deal to unify Libya and end the instability that has weakened the country since the 2011 fall of Muammar Gaddafi.

Russian Experts Give Positive Assessment of Cairo Airport Terminal
Asharq Al-Awsat/September 04/17/Russia’s Minister of Transport Maksim Sokolov announced on Monday that Russian experts have given a positive assessment of one of the buildings at Cairo International Airport, reported the TASS news agency. “After examining the security situation at Terminal Building 2 at Cairo International Airport, our experts positively assessed what they saw,” he stressed according to the Russian agency. He revealed that he will inform Russian President Vladimir Putin and Egyptian President Abdul Fattah al-Sisi that Egypt had exerted great efforts to bolster aviation security at airports in the country, especially at the Cairo facility. The two leaders are scheduled to hold talks in China on Monday on the sidelines of the BRICS economic summit. A Russian security delegation had carried out in late July an inspection of the security procedures at the Cairo airport. The inspection was described as “very important” because it could potentially pave the way for resuming aviation and tourism between Russia and Egypt. Aviation between the two sides officially came to halt in 2015 after a Russian jet crashed in Sinai. Russian officials had since then demanded that greater security measures be adopted by Egyptian authorities. Moscow had also carried out a number of inspections in Egypt since then.

Kurdistan Begins Countdown for Independence Referendum
Asharq Al-Awsat/September 04/17/Erbil- As the date of the general referendum on independence in the Kurdistan region of Iraq approaches, Kurdish political and popular circles intensify their steps to guarantee its success.
In remarks to Asharq Al-Awsat, a member of the Supreme Council for the Referendum said that delegations representing the Council would visit Arab and neighboring countries, after the end of Eid al-Adha holiday, to explain the Kurdish move, which is rejected by the central government in Baghdad and regional and foreign countries. “We have almost reached the final stages of our preparations for the referendum in the Kurdistan region,” said Hendrin Mohammed, head of the Independent Electoral Commission for Elections and Referendum in Kurdistan. “The Council has prepared all the logistical materials required for the operation, and these materials reached our warehouses,” he added, underlining the beginning of registration of parties and local and international observers to monitor the process. He pointed out that Kurdish nationals living abroad would cast their ballot through an electronic program designed for this purpose.
The electronic registration of voters living abroad began on September 1 and would continue until the seventh, according to Mohammed, who said the voting process is set for them on September 23, two days before the referendum in Kurdistan. Meanwhile, the Kurdish diaspora in Copenhagen rallied in support of the independence referendum in the Kurdistan Region. “The vote of yes in the referendum on independence is a peaceful means through which our people show their will to the world,” President Masoud Barzani said, addressing the crowd. “Kurds are peace-loving people who extend a hand of brotherhood and friendship to the region,” he added. “The Iraqi people are not committed to partnership and will continue to deny it. The people of Kurdistan are not obliged to live with Iraq. We want to be two good neighbors linked by cooperation and coordination in the economic and political fields and the war against terrorism and extremism,” Barzani stated.

Egypt Prepares Draft Law to Dismiss Civil Servants Linked to Terrorism
Asharq Al-Awsat/September 04/17/Cairo- Egypt is about to pass into law a bill that dismisses civil servants whose names are placed on terrorism lists based on judicial rulings or were involved in violent crimes or murder. Parliamentary sources said on Sunday that Egypt’s legislature has already drafted the new law, but is waiting to pass it during a new session. “Parliament, in collaboration with the Central Authority for Organization and Administration (CAOA) and other security apparatuses, is currently preparing a database which includes the names of members of the Muslim Brotherhood and other militant groups,” the sources said. The sources said that any employee assuming public or parliamentary post is proved to be affiliated to terrorists groups, would be directly referred to court and would be taken to trial and punished accordingly. Investigative officials said that around 5,000 employees from the “Muslim Brotherhood” currently hold civil servant posts, including some with leading positions. However, the presence of other employees who are spreading ideologies of ISIS or are affiliated to terrorist groups such as Sinai Province are not yet controlled in the absence of official data to reveal their actual numbers. In Sinai, the most dominating extremist organization is Ansar Bait al-Maqdis, which pledged allegiance to Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi in 2014 and called itself Sinai Province. The terrorist group is also known as the “Sinai ISIS.”
Lately, 870 people were arrested for being affiliated with Sinai Province, including civil servants. For his part, a source at the CAOA, tasked with setting databases of government employees in Egypt, said on Sunday that “preparing a database of employees whose names were placed on terrorism lists aims to achieve stability, to crush terrorist groups and their extremist ideologies, and to uproot the Muslim Brotherhood.” Yemen: Arab Coalition Aircraft Targets Militia Communication Center in Hajjah .Aden- Saudi-led Arab Coalition air forces, backing the official government in Yemen, pounded a military target in Hajjah governorate, said well-informed sources within the coalition. More importantly, the target destroyed was a telecommunications base used by Houthi militiamen, and was taken out two days after coalition forces destroyed a ballistic missile launchpad, delivering a severe blow to militia ranks. Sources also pointed out that the communications center was active at the time of targeting. “The center is a legitimate military target wedged in rural area in-between mountains, isolated on high altitude. Available intelligence showed that this center was being utilized by Houthi armed militias to direct combatants,” sources added. Coalition aircraft destroyed two days ago a platform to launch ballistic missiles, in the province of Hajjah northwest of Yemen.
Sources pointed out that coalition forces launched several raids on putschist targets in that region, which compromised their military might and managed to exact losses among militia personnel. The ballistic missile launchpad was destroyed shortly after it had launched a projectile pointed towards Saudi borders. Despite camouflage, the missile launchpad was successfully taken out. The Yemeni army earlier announced the death of a high-ranking Houthi commander named Ali Abdul-Malik Sharafuddin, who was killed in a coalition airstrike alongside a number of his companions in Midi, another Hajjah governorate city. On the other hand, the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement announced being deeply saddened by the death of Dr. Abdulah Alkhamesi, founder of the Yemen Red Crescent Society in 1973 and its leader for nearly three decades. Alkhamesi was known within the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement as a man with a deep belief in humanity, who worked tirelessly in the service of his fellow human beings. The death of Alkhamesi was hastened by a lack of essential medical supplies, yet another indication of the collapsing health system in Yemen—a direct consequence of the conflict and the debilitating restrictions on imports such as much-needed drugs and medical supplies. The situation in Yemen is dire, with less than half of the hospitals and clinics still open. Medical staff and Yemen Red Crescent staff and volunteers continue to carry out their tasks as best they can despite acute shortages. The Yemen Red Crescent Society (YRCS), International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) continue to uphold the same humanitarian commitment that guided Alkhamesi throughout his life—to help and support the people living in Yemen, said the organization in a statement published to their official website.

Ben Dagher: We Will Not Allow Iran to Have Foothold in Yemen
Asharq Al-Awsat/September 04/17/Aden- Yemeni Prime Minister Ahmed Ben Dagher said on Monday that his country would not allow Iran to have a foothold or spread its culture and destructive projects in Yemen and the entire Arab region.
“Our Yemeni people will stand with the support of the Arab coalition countries to thwart this Iranian project. The principles of justice and equality in addition to promoting the rule of the civil and modern state will surely win,” the prime minister said. Den Dagher was speaking during a meeting held Sunday in the interim capital of Aden, with the commander of the Saudi forces in the Arab alliance, Brigadier Sultan bin Islam, and a number of officers of the Kingdom. He stressed that the operation of Determination Storm came at a milestone stage and “thwarted Iran’s ambition to expand and threaten the security and stability of our Arab homeland, especially neighboring countries and regional and international navigation.” He praised the role of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in supporting Yemen and its unity and stability. Ben Dagher called for the liberation of the remaining areas under the control of the Houthi militias and former president Ali Abdullah Saleh. “We should begin to liberate the province of Taiz, which is the gate of Yemen… Victory starts there,” he said. Meanwhile, Yemen’s news agency quoted Brigadier Sultan bin Islam as saying that the Arab coalition was working jointly to end the coup and recuperate the legitimacy of Yemen. Bin Islam added that Saudi Arabia and the Coalition forces “would continue to support Yemen until defeating the enemy and achieving victory.” The meeting of Ben Dagher with the commander of the Saudi forces also tackled the security and military aspects of the liberation of the remaining areas in Yemen and the means to establish peace and disarm the militias.

S.Korea, US to Deploy More Anti-Missile Defenses
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/September 04/17/
South Korea and the United States will deploy more of the anti-missile defenses hated by China in response to Sunday's nuclear test by North Korea, Seoul's defense ministry said Monday. Two launchers of the Terminal High-Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system are already operational, but public concern about the possible environmental impact of the US system forced Seoul to suspend the installation. "Four remaining launchers will soon be temporarily deployed through consulations between South Korea and the US to counter growing nuclear and missile threats from the North," the ministry said in a statement.
The THAAD launchers are sited on a golf course-turned-US military base in Seongju County, 300 kilometres (188 miles) south of Seoul. The deployment has infuriated China, which has long argued it will destabilize the region and has retaliated against Seoul through unofficial economic sanctions.
Pyongyang on Sunday triggered global alarm with by far its most powerful nuclear blast to date. It claimed it had successfully tested a hydrogen bomb that could be mounted onto a long-range missile. The North -- which in July carried out two intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) launches that apparently brought much of the US mainland into range -- has rapidly made progress with its weapons programme, in defiance of seven sets of UN sanctions.

S. Korea Launches Missile Drill after North's Nuclear Test
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/September 04/17/South Korea's military launched a volley of ballistic missiles simulating an attack on the North's nuclear test site Monday, Seoul said, in an exercise responding to a test of what Pyongyang says was a hydrogen bomb. Pictures showed South Korean short-range Hyunmoo ballistic missiles roaring into the sky in the pale light of dawn from a launch site on the country's east coast. Authorities released video showing South Korean F-15K fighter jets firing air-to-ground missiles. The weapons accurately hit their targets in the East Sea -- the Korean name for the Sea of Japan -- the South's Joint Chiefs of Staff said in a statement. The exercise "was carried out as a strong warning" to the North for conducting its sixth nuclear test, it added. The range to the simulated targets was equivalent to the distance to the North's Punggye-ri nuclear test site, where Sunday's test was conducted, it said. North Korea on Sunday triggered global alarm with by far its most powerful atomic test to date, claiming it was a hydrogen bomb that could be mounted onto a long-range missile. Following the test, South Korean President Moon Jae-In called for the "strongest punishment" while top military officers in Seoul and Washington vowed a joint "military counteraction" at the earliest date. In a series of tweets posted hours after Sunday's test, US President Donald Trump denounced the North but also criticised Seoul. South Korea, Trump said, "is finding, as I have told them, that their talk of appeasement with North Korea will not work, they only understand one thing!" The United States warned it could launch a "massive military response" to threats from North Korea.

Syria Army Nears Regime enclave Besieged by IS
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/September 04/17/Syria's army battled the Islamic State group on the edges of Deir Ezzor Monday, seeking to break the siege of a government enclave and oust the jihadists from a key stronghold. The jihadist group has already lost more than half of its nearby bastion of Raqa to attacking US-backed forces, and the loss of Deir Ezzor city and the surrounding oil-rich province would leave it with only a handful of isolated outposts. Deir Ezzor province borders Iraq, where IS has also been expelled from former strongholds Mosul and Tal Afar. The jihadists hold large parts of Deir Ezzor province, and more than half the provincial capital Deir Ezzor city, the remainder of which is controlled by the government and under IS siege. Syrian troops backed by ally Russia have been advancing towards Deir Ezzor city on several fronts for weeks, and overnight they reached the Brigade 137 base on its western edge, a monitor said. The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said Syrian troops outside and inside the base were battling to break the IS siege of the base. "There have been multiple collapses of the Daesh (IS) line in western Deir Ezzor province, allowing the army to move quickly and arrive 10 kilometres (six miles) from the besieged forces," a military source told AFP.
Residents celebrate -"The siege on the government troops will be broken within hours," he added. Syrian state media also reported the army was advancing towards the besieged base, which is adjacent to parts of the city still under government control. Provincial governor Mohamed Ibrahim Samra, quoted by state news agency SANA, said besieged residents were already celebrating as the army neared. "Yesterday Deir Ezzor city saw celebrations and rejoicing among all segments of society ahead of the expected victory with the advance of the Syrian Arab Army to the outskirts of the besieged city," he said.
IS seized large parts of Deir Ezzor province, including its many oilfields, in mid-2014 as it rampaged across Syria and Iraq. By early 2015 it had also seized parts of Deir Ezzor city and laid siege to the remaining parts of it under government control. The siege tightened further earlier this year, when IS advanced and cut the government-held parts of the city in two, with a southern section by the key military airport now divided from a northern sector. An estimated 100,000 people remain in government-held parts of the city, which had a pre-war population of some 300,000. The Observatory estimates more than 10,000 people may live in the parts of the city held by IS, although precise information is hard to come by.
 Humanitarian crisis -The siege has created a humanitarian crisis in the city, with food and medical shortages and soaring prices. The government has brought supplies in by helicopter, and the United Nations has periodically airdropped humanitarian aid, but the situation remains difficult for those under siege.
Conditions are also reportedly dire for civilians trapped in IS-held parts of the city, with activists also reporting food and medical shortages as well as water and electricity cuts.
Syria's army has been advancing towards Deir Ezzor on several fronts in recent weeks, including from the west through neighbouring Raqa province, and from the south via central Homs. Observatory director Rami Abdel Rahman said forces advancing from the southwest were now less than 20 kilometres (12 miles) from the key Deir Ezzor military airport and are also advancing from the north towards the city. Capturing Deir Ezzor would be a key gain for Syria's government, which has scored a series of military victories in recent months with Russian support.
It has moved quickly towards the city, seeking to head off potential rival advances by US-backed fighters including the Kurdish-Arab Syrian Democratic Forces alliance which is conducting a separate battle to oust IS from the city of Raqa.
More than 330,00 people have been killed in Syria since the conflict began with anti-government protests in March 2011, before spiralling into a multi-front civil war.

Latest LCCC Bulletin analysis & editorials from miscellaneous sources published on
September 04-05/17
Turkey's Mass Persecution of Christians and Kurdsالإضطهاد  الساحق للمسيحيين والأكراد في تركيا
Uzay Bulut/Gatestone Institute/September 04/201
Yazidis, Alevis and women in the region are also being abused by Turkish authorities, and dozens of Kurdish journalists who have publicized this have been imprisoned.
This hatred of Christians and Kurds in Turkey is not restricted to government officials. It is widespread among the public, as well, and expressed extensively on social media.
The situation of minorities in Turkey and their persecution by Turkey -- a member of NATO and perpetual candidate for EU membership -- must be told as often and as loudly as possible.
Since 2015, the government of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has been attacking Kurdish-majority areas in the country.
A 2017 World Heritage Watch report details the destruction of one such town, Suriçi (Sur), as follows:
"[C]urfews were declared six times for several days each from September 2015. These curfews were 24-hour-a-day blockades and led to clashes between Turkish state forces and Kurdish rebel groups, resulting in the deaths of hundreds of people and serious destruction of the affected area. The last ongoing curfew from 11 December 2015, accompanied by the use of heavy military weapons such as tanks, mortar and artillery by the government, was the most devastating one. Numerous historical buildings and monuments – as well as the integrity and authenticity of Suriçi – suffered damage and destruction."
The clashes have taken their toll on Turkey's Christian population, which is caught in the crossfire. According to a November 2016 report in The Armenian Weekly,
"The past year has been a living hell for the hidden Armenians of Turkey. The civil war between the Kurdish resistance guerrillas and the Turkish army has resulted in massive destruction in southeastern and eastern Turkey. Most of the buildings in the region have been bombed or burnt by the army and police forces, followed by complete demolition and razing of the damaged buildings... with only a few mosques, police stations, or government buildings left standing.
"Entire neighborhoods have disappeared, reduced to rubble. The Surp Giragos Church in Diyarbakır has escaped the fighting relatively intact structurally... But the Turkish security forces have used it as an army base, desecrating the church, burning some of the pews as firewood, with garbage and smell of urine everywhere". A similar report, from August 2017, appeared in the Armenian-Turkish weekly Agos. According to the report, "Armenian, Syriac and Chaldean Christians have not been able to worship in their churches for the last three years." This is because virtually the entire town -- and all Christian properties belonging to the indigenous Armenian, Assyrian (Syriac), Chaldean and Protestant communities -- was included in an expropriation plan adopted in March 2016 by the Turkish cabinet. Among the Christian properties expropriated are the Armenian Catholic, the Chaldean Mor Petyun and the Armenian Surp Giragos churches.
In response, the Surp Giragos church -- whose members claim that every time they visit, they see that the structure has suffered additional damage -- filed a lawsuit against the Turkish State Council. Other Christian foundations are also engaged in litigation to stop the expropriation, but the suits are still pending.
Surp Giragos is the largest Armenian church in the Middle East. According to Agos, its bell tower was destroyed by artillery fire during the 1915 Armenian genocide (at the hands of the Ottoman Empire, precursor to the Turkish Republic), because it stood taller than the minaret of a nearby mosque. After it was expropriated from the Armenian community during the First World War, it was initially used as a cotton storage warehouse. It remained in ruins for nearly a century, until being restored in 2011 and reopened to worship with the support of the Kurdish-administered Diyarbakır municipality.
The Surp Giragos Armenian church in Diyarbakır, Turkey, in 2008, prior to its restoration. (Image source: Nevit Dilmen/Wikimedia Commons)
Diyarbakır (originally named Tigranakert) was once ruled by the Armenians and Assyrians. Its most prominent feature, massive black walls that surround the city, were originally built by the Romans, who established a colony there in the third century A.D. When Rome fell, its Greek-speaking eastern realm continued as the Byzantine Empire. Expanding and fortifying the walls, Greek Byzantines tried to defend the city -- as well as the rest of Asia Minor -- from the armies of foreign invaders. Among these were the Persians, the Turks and Arab Muslims, who struggled for regional hegemony during the first expansion of the Islamic Empire in the seventh century, after the death of Muhammed.
The Islamic Arab armies won. Khalid Ibn al-Walid, also known as the "Sword of Allah," conquered the city and granted control over it to the Arab Bakr clan, which gave it its current name: Diyar Bakr -- the "place of Bakr," or the "city of the Bakr tribes." The city was then invaded and captured by the Ottoman Turks in 1515.
Among the oldest cities in the world, Diyarbakır is now predominantly Sunni-Muslim and Kurdish. Since 1923, in the wake of the genocide, the Armenians and Assyrians -- the first nations to adopt Christianity -- mostly disappeared from the region.
The Kurds have also been persecuted by the Turkish government for decades. Gültan Kışanak and Fırat Anlı, the co-mayors of Diyarbakır, for example, were arrested on October 30, 2016 for "being members of a terrorist organization," and Turkish authorities then appointed a custodian to run the city. In addition, there are currently 13 Kurdish MPs -- including the leaders of the pro-Kurdish Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) -- in Turkish jails.
Nor was Diyarbakır the only municipality to have been targeted by the Turkish government. In April 2017, the pro-Kurdish Democratic Regions Party (DBP) announced that Ankara had appointed custodians to govern 83 Kurdish-run municipalities, and had imprisoned 89 Kurdish mayors.
Yazidis, Alevis and women in the region are also being abused by Turkish authorities, and dozens of Kurdish journalists who have publicized this have been imprisoned. The Kurdish news outlet Dihaber, for example, which has widely covered the devastation of Sur and the persecution of its Christians, was shut down by governmental decree at the end of August.
Ahmet Güvener, a pastor and the spiritual leader of the Diyarbakır Protestant Church, said in a recent interview that the anti-Christian practices in Turkey of forced assimilation, community plundering and church-desecration are not new. "We have been exposed to ethnic and religious discrimination for years," he told Dihaber, adding that, since the founding of the Turkish Republic in 1923, not a single church has been erected.
"The state, which spends billions [of Turkish liras] and builds gigantic mosques, has not built a church so far," he said.
The situation is so acute that anyone who does not shun Christians or Kurds is imperiled. For instance, a 76-year-old Muslim grandmother in Diyarbakır who is active in a Kurdish political movement has been harassed by Turkish police for being a "hidden Armenian," simply because she reads the Bible as well as the Koran.
This hatred of Christians and Kurds in Turkey is not restricted to government officials. It is widespread among the public, as well, and expressed extensively on social media. In response to a tweet by a Kurdish journalist calling for an end to the devastation in Sur, Turkish twitter users not only called him a "vile, treacherous Armenian dog," and "Armenian sperm," who, like all Armenians, "must die," but hailed the destruction of the town for being kafir ("infidel"). This is in keeping with a common term in Turkey used to describe the grandchildren of survivors of the Christian genocide -- "kılıç artığı," or "remnants of the sword."
Turkey seems determined to annihilate even the defenseless "remnants of the sword" and whatever is left of their civilization. The situation of minorities in Turkey and their persecution by Turkey -- a member of NATO and perpetual candidate for EU membership -- must be told as often and as loudly as possible.
Uzay Bulut, a journalist born and raised in Turkey, is currently based in Washington D.C. She is a writing fellow of 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.

In Pakistan: A 17-year old Christian boy was Beaten to Death by Muslim Classmates/تلميذ مسيحي في باكستان قتله زملاؤه الطلاب في صفه
Clarion Project/September 04/17
A 17-year old Christian boy in Pakistan was beaten to death in Pakistan by his fellow Muslim students in their classroom, reported the British Pakistani Christian Association.
A gifted intellect and head of his class, Sharoon Masih was the only Christian student in his grade. He had faced isolation and bullying from the first day he entered the school in Verahi District in Punjab.
His mother said he was warned from the beginning not to mix with the Muslims at school, with one fellow classmate saying, “You’re a Christian. Don’t dare sit with us if you want to live.”
Repeated attempts were made to convert Sharoon, but he refused. His family reported that he used his isolation to concentrate on his studies and reached the top of his class – a position which infuriated his fellow students even more.
“Sharoon and I cried every night as he described the daily torture he was subjected to,” related his mother. “He only told me about the abuse and violence he was facing. He did not want to upset his father because he had such a caring heart for others.”
Sharoon’a father, a laborer at a brick kiln had saved money to send his gifted son to the best school in the area.
While the instigator of the beating was been arrested, many other boys took part in the murder remain at large as witnesses to the horrific beating refuse to come forward. There are varying reports about why no teachers stopped the fight. Initial reports out of the classroom allege the teacher ignored the fight. Others say it occurred between classes when the teacher was not present. Still, there was no teacher at the school that responded to the noise of the melee.
The headmaster of the school was dismissed, but to date, all the teachers remain in their positions. “Christians are despised and detested in Pakistan they are a constant target for persecution,” said Wilson Chowdhry, chair of the British Pakistani Christian Association.
“This killing of a young Christian teenager at school serves only to remind us that hatred towards religious minorities is bred into the majority population at a young age, through cultural norms and a biased national curriculum. However by no means is such treatment an anomaly – it is an expectation that Christians will face abuse and violence during the years in the educational system.”
Choudary charged that culpability for the crime goes all the way to the Pakistani government, which has failed to remove materials with the national curriculum that teaches and reinforces this attitude toward Christians. Notably, the curriculum was flagged by the United States Commission for International Freedom as a potential bar to foreign aid.
“Such poor governance has inculcated generations of Pakistani citizens with false stereotypes that undermine the basic human rights of the non-Muslims in their midst,” Choudary said. “This mis-education has reciprocally also made Muslims more susceptible to the hate ideology espoused by the many rogue Imams following hardline sects of Islam. “Sharoon was bright and intelligent young boy who had a potentially good future has now been killed. Yet once again in Pakistan, the debate is not on who is culpable but who is not culpable of a most heinous crime.”The association is calling on the Pakistani government to reform of the educational system to remove the biases which openly demonize minorities. To sign the petition, click here.

Eid al-Adha and the Cross
Fr Georges Massouh/September 04/17/
Eid al-Adha contains numerous symbols that our peoples continue to live. When Ibrahim al-Khalil intended to sacrifice his son-- Isaac for Jews and Christians and Ismail for Muslims-- God stayed his hand and substituted a ram for the sacrificial son. God redeemed the boy, making the point through this religious event that people should no longer make human sacrifices and that they should substitute animal sacrifices for them. Then Christ came and ended animal sacrifice, offering Himself as a sacrifice once and for all for the salvation of humankind.
But bloodthirsty human sacrifices are still practiced here and there. God's intervention with Abraham was of no use because humankind did not want to learn the lesson from it. It is enough for us to observe what is going on around us in order to realize the enormity of what is happening. Sacrifices and human victims are offered on the altar of the ruler or the leader of a group who has taken the place of God for people. They are convinced that they are nothing but sheep prepared for slaughter for the sake of the ruler's life and continued preservation. It is no wonder, then, that we are witnessing a return to the barbarism of sacrifice and useless killing. Those performing the slaughter are the results of our societies overburdened with prejudice and hatred, the results of the religious backwardness that has led us away from the weightiest thing to which God has called us: mercy.
The problem lies at root in religious education that makes children into followers of a god manufactured by the lusts and hatreds of their fathers. So we can say that children have not been liberated from the perversions of their fathers, but rather have become overjoyed at being prisoners and slaves to them. The fathers feast on their thrones, fashioning from their followers the plans of butchers and suicide-bombers.
Solely with regard to Christianity, the symbolism is not limited to violent bloodshed, after having been so over the course of history. Rather, it includes every sort of spiritual, moral and verbal violence. This spiritual violence, even if it does not include bloodshed, perhaps has a result similar to murder, murder of the spirit, which Christ said is more serious than the death of the body. What can we call a spiritual son who has done away with his freedom and his intellect, handing himself over to a father who has not attained, nor will attain, perfect immunity from sin. "For no man lives and does not sin." He receives all his directions from him without discussion, as though they were the orders of Christ Himself.
If the relationships stays between the father and his son, then the situation is better than if the son wields over society and people his father's absolute authority over him. I once heard, when I was a theology student, a heated debate between two of my colleagues over whose spiritual father was better. Belonging to a spiritual father, then, becomes an affiliation with a party that promotes its president into the image of God. The father does not hesitate to sacrifice his children in order to defend himself, even at the expense of the Gospel's teachings. True spiritual fatherhood is for the father to sacrifice himself for his children even to the point of death, not for him to sacrifice his children.
The Lord said, "If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me." The cross, for Christians, is the most sublime sacrifice [Arabic: adha], and Christ Himself is the sacrificial victim. For someone to deny himself means that he does not believe that he is indispensable and that he imitates Christ, satisfied to be crucified like his Teacher. So if someone wants to follow Christ, he must sacrifice himself in order to become another Christ.
Samn! at 3:00 AM

A Diminutive Woman — and a Spy who Defined Courage
David Ignatius/The Washington Post/September 04/17
Jeannie Rousseau de Clarens, one of the remarkable spies of World War II, died last week in France at the age of 98. Like so many intelligence officers, she had a gift for getting people to talk. But she had something else: dauntless, unblinking courage in facing the enemy.
De Clarens stole one of the vital secrets of the war — Germany’s plans to build and test the V-1 and V-2 rocket bombs at Peenemünde. Her intelligence encouraged the British to bomb Peenemünde, delaying and disrupting the program, and “saving thousands of lives in the West,” said R. James Woolsey Jr., then CIA director, at a private ceremony at the agency in October 1993 honoring de Clarens.
How did this charming, diminutive woman accomplish her mission impossible? She listened. De Clarens was a fluent German-speaker, and in 1943, she teased the first threads of information about the rocket program out of some German officers she had befriended in Paris as a translator. And then she kept pulling on the string.
“I was such a little one, sitting with them, and I could not but hear what was said. And what they did not say, I prompted,” she told me in 1998. “I teased them, taunted then, looked at them wide-eyed, insisted that they must be mad when they spoke of the astounding new weapon that flew over vast distances, much faster than any airplane. I kept saying: ‘What you are telling me cannot be true!’ I must have said that 100 times.”
“I’ll show you!” one of the Germans finally said, eager to convince the pretty, young Frenchwoman. He displayed a document from Peenemünde; de Clarens, with her photographic memory, registered every word and transmitted the information through her case officer to London.
Her code name was “Amniarix,” and she was part of a British spy ring in Paris known as the “Druids.” She was recruited by a former mathematics professor in 1941 to what he called his “little outfit.” She had been spying on the Germans informally since they conquered France in 1940, passing on bits of information to French contacts.
De Clarens made it all sound easy, no more than anyone would do, when I first interviewed her in 1998. “I just did it, that’s all.” She had never spoken to a journalist before, but when I showed up (after an introduction from Woolsey), the story began to flow and continued into the early morning. I published her amazing tale, but she was happier living in the shadows, and I don’t think she told the full story ever again.
She was a graceful woman, elegant as a French movie star, but she spoke in an incongruous deep voice. On one of many visits in later years, she frightened one of my daughters by demanding in that gravelly bass: “If you don’t get me a drink right away, I will be very angry with you!”
What she didn’t want to tell me, in that first conversation or ever, was how much she had suffered. After the British received her reports about the rocket bombs, they wanted to bring her to London to debrief her. A boat evacuation was arranged from Brittany in the spring of 1944, but she was betrayed to the Germans on her way to the beach. She spent the last year of the war in three Nazi concentration camps, each harsher than the last. When she was finally rescued by the Swedish Red Cross, she was nearly dead of starvation and tuberculosis. She never revealed to the Germans a hint of the secrets she had stolen.
When I pushed her to talk about her time in the camps, her voice became distant and irregular, as if it was physically painful to remember, and to know that she had survived when so many others didn’t. “After the war, the curtain came down on my memories,” she said. And then, with a modesty born of deep suffering, she insisted: “What I did was so little. Others did so much more. I was one small stone.”
The mystery of de Clarens’s story for me was where her bravery came from. Why did she do what was right when so many others were afraid to take action? She shook her head as if I was missing the point. “It wasn’t a choice. It was what you did. At the time, we all thought we would die. I don’t understand the question. How could I not do it?”
She was an extraordinary woman. I’m glad she let me pull the story from her, so that others can read and remember what courage is.

State Department Had a Deal for Russia. It Was Spurned
Eli Lake/Bloomberg View/September 04/17
President Donald Trump has publicly praised President Vladimir Putin, and slammed a Congress-led deal to punish Russia with more sanctions. He even agreed, at a meeting with Putin this summer, to a US-Russia dialogue on cyber issues, even though four US intelligence agencies assessed that Russian military intelligence hacked leading Democrats and probed state voting systems.
Yet in spite of the president, the US government has appeared to take a tough line on Russia. The latest example came Thursday, when the State Department announced it was closing three Russian diplomatic facilities in New York City, San Francisco and Washington, in response to the Kremlin’s dramatic decision last month to expel hundreds of American diplomatic workers.
But the internal debate over US foreign policy toward Russia is a bit more complicated than that. US officials tell me that Undersecretary of State Tom Shannon, a career foreign service official appointed during the Obama administration, made a last-minute effort to stop the Russians from retaliating against the new sanctions, a response to Russia’s election meddling that Trump reluctantly signed.
At the end of July, Shannon presented a “non-paper,” a proposal with no official diplomatic markings, to his Russian counterpart that offered the return of two diplomatic compounds President Barack Obama shuttered in December.
The timing is important. Shortly after the offer, Russia announced the expulsion, which was widely seen as a major deterioration of already frosty relations between Washington and Moscow. It’s also important because Obama’s closing of the compounds at the end of his presidency has dogged Trump since he took office.
His first national security adviser, Michael Flynn, left his post in part because details of his monitored phone calls with Russia’s ambassador were leaked to the press that alleged Flynn was open to reversing Obama’s sanctions. The calls took place on the day of Obama’s announcement.
The State Department’s negotiations with Russia about returning the compounds began soon after Trump took office in February. As the Washington Post reported in May, the talks were aimed at de-escalating tensions with Moscow in the aftermath of the election. At first, the return of the compounds was tied to allowing the US to expand its consulate in St. Petersburg.
Normally something like this would go through an inter-agency process where the rest of the government would weigh in on the proposal and the president would make a decision. But Shannon’s last-minute offer in July was tightly held. A senior State Department official told me that Secretary of State Rex Tillerson had made Trump aware of the diplomacy.
Almost no one else in the government knew about Shannon’s efforts. Two US officials who work closely on Russia told me that the FBI’s spy hunters in particular were furious when they found out Shannon had made the unofficial offer to return the compounds closed in December. Fiona Hill, the National Security Council’s senior director for European and Russian affairs, was also unaware of the offer, according to these officials.
Shannon’s non-paper was not a total giveaway. It included tougher terms for how the Russians could use their compounds, specifying they could only be used for recreational activities. It also explicitly gave US authorities the right to enter the compounds if there was suspicion of criminal activity or espionage.
That apparently was too much for Moscow. They went ahead with the diplomatic expulsions anyway. This time when the Trump administration considered its response, it went through a more rigorous inter-agency process, according to US officials who participated in it. The FBI in particular pressed for closing the consulate in San Francisco because it was a center for Russian espionage activities on the West Coast.
The episode remains telling for both governments. The early days of disorganization in the Trump administration are coming to an end, ushering in a more deliberate policy on Russia as a consequence.
The goals of Russia, whose leaders often call for easing tensions, came into focus, too. Despite an offer to return the compounds, the Russians chose escalation over accommodation. The Trump administration, in the end, chose retaliation.

Autumn of the Iraqi Map
Ghassan Charbel/Asharq Al Awsat//September 04/17
On the way from Erbil to Kirkuk, strange feelings haunted me. For the first time in my life, I wish I were a foreign correspondent, who writes with neutrality and sangfroid and looks for a stark title for his article. When he leaves the country, he turns the page and searches for another sick country to write an interesting report.
But I am an Arab journalist.
It is not simple, dear reader, to be an Arab journalist who is tasked with pursuing these successive collapses in the region, and counting the results of mud and blood hurricanes. It is not simple to have known these capitals; to have stayed in them in different eras; and to have listened to their decision-makers only to discover that the sole constant in their stories is the tendency towards downfall.
I am an Arab; I love Iraq, and this has nothing to do with the identity of its ruler. As many people, I thought that this country, where various kinds of wealth are gathered, would be the lever in the way towards the Arab future. I was almost certain a decade ago that the fall of the tyrant would lead to the emergence of a civil democratic state that would serve as a model for a successful coexistence between Arabs and Kurds on one hand and Sunnis and Shi’ites on the other. I was hoping to write an optimistic article, even once, about an open window and a promising future. I was not lucky.
I love Baghdad. I went there during the rule of the “Glorious Leader”. Later, I went to the Green Zone and Nuri al-Maliki told me: “The Sunnis are our partners and we will give them what reassures them.” Then, I met Haidar al-Abadi and found him interested in mending fences between the Iraqi components; however, ISIS was overshadowing Mosul, the country and the people. I also met President Jalal Talbani, who was trying to convince me that the conditions of civil war were not available in Iraq.
I have regularly met with Masoud Barzani, the President of the Kurdistan region of Iraq, to measure the degree of tension of the Kurdish partner in this marriage undermined by doubts and bitterness.
All this talk is from the past; the Iraqi map is bleeding.
After being preoccupied with the Iraqi story for two decades, here I am on the road to Kirkuk, feeling the smell of the Iraqi Autumn, while the summer flame is still burning.
The winds of autumn blew early in the air. Since the announcement of the date of the independence referendum in Iraq’s Kurdistan, scheduled for the 25th of this month, Iraq seemed to be rushing towards the hour of truth and it will probably be the hour of divorce between Baghdad and Erbil.
I do not want to go far in my feelings as if I write that the Arabic year consisted originally of a single season that is autumn. Nonetheless, it is obvious that the Iraqi map is now in the throes of its fall; as if divorce was the inevitable end of the failed marriage concluded by the Sykes-Picot Agreement.
The Arab-Kurdish tango on the Iraqi map was rickety and bloody, and now the Kurds are preparing to announce the end of the costly dance.
A short dream caught me in the way. I dreamt that Haider al-Abadi would go to the leaders of the “Shi’ite House” and tell them that time was running out; and that saving the map of Iraq needed a historic pause… Tell them that avoiding divorce required a bold historic decision that would give the Kurds full rights and tranquility in exchange for keeping the map without official and public divisions… Such as a definite agreement on a confederate regime that enables the Kurds to exercise the right to self-determination… along with an agreement on the fate of the disputed areas, including Kirkuk, for which a temporary solution is reached to maintain relations with Erbil and Baghdad, so that its residents will later decide in a calm atmosphere, on their future and destiny.
I also dreamt that those present would agree on a real solution that Abadi would bring to Erbil and then Barzani would not have the choice but to adopt it.
I soon woke up from this dream. The atmosphere in Baghdad is not favorable for compromises of this magnitude. The hawks insist on policies that have brought this fall. The Kurds, for their part, have despaired of staying in the current map and consider that the cost of divorce today is lower than that in the future.
Neither Baghdad nor neighboring counties accept the independence of the Kurds, especially those states where “Kurdish bombs” sleep within their territories, including Turkey, Iran and Syria.
Arabs tend to reject any change in the map of an Arab country. Washington, for its part, advises to postpone the referendum to maintain focus on the fight against ISIS.
But what if the Kurds said they wanted independence? Are neighboring countries entitled to close their borders to suffocate them? Are the “Popular Mobilization Forces” entitled to punish them? Does the region tolerate the outbreak of a Shi’ite-Kurdish conflict in addition to the current Shi’ite-Sunni conflict?
A journalist should not be satisfied with what he hears from the sources of decision-makers. So I went to talk with Kurds in the streets, cafes, cars and hotels. They are unanimous in supporting the independence even if some of them fear the consequences.
A number of them said they did not want to stay in Iraq, whose prime minister can “cut the salaries of the people of the province and the milk of its children”, in reference to what Nuri al-Maliki did.
Many noted that the agreement on the establishment of a civil state after the ousting of Saddam has perished, and that Baghdad was moving towards a religious and sectarian state, in which Kurds have no room.
They have also noticed that the PMF were not subjected to the authority of the prime minister, but to “an authority outside the Constitution and the borders of Iraq”, in reference to Iran.
The Kurdish situation is unique in each of the four countries in which Kurds are distributed. Kurds originally suffer from bitter divisions among their ranks. What Iraq’s Kurds consider as a solution to their situation cannot be generalized.
Seeing Iraq’s Kurds opt for independence would be a resounding event. Change is very dangerous in a region with fragile maps. Coexistence in the terrible Middle East is not in its best days. Velvet divorce similar to that of Czechoslovakia is not an option. Our culture does not produce velvet. The picture is really vague. But it is certain that the autumn has invaded the Iraqi map, and the country will not be the same after this fall season.

Europe's New Lie: Comparing Asylum Shelters to Nazi Concentration Camps
Giulio Meotti/Gatestone Institute/September 04/2017
In the current crisis, governments, NGOs, charities and the media have all embraced migrants in the millions, and welcomed them with open arms. The Jews during the Second World War -- most of whom were turned away, turned in, or betrayed by all European governments -- were not so fortunate.
All of Europe's efforts have been devoted to rescuing migrants: on borders, at sea and in cities that host asylum centers. Such distinctions, however, are apparently not enough: the immigration question must become a new ideology, like a religion. That seems why there is an orchestrated attempt by large segments of the establishment to turn Europe's rescue operations into a "new Holocaust". Questioning them must become a taboo. Even Pope Francis, who compared a center for migrants to "concentration camps", adopted this nonsense.
Despite Muslims historically having been the most aggressive colonizers, Europe's élites have come to idealize them due to a mix of demographic decline, misconception of Islam, self-hate for the Western culture and a fatal, romanticized attraction for the decolonized Third World people.
What is the best way to shut down the debate on immigration? By heightening the language to levels impossible to be debated. That is what has been happening in the new -- and false -- trend of comparing the waves of migrants arriving in Europe to Jews during the Holocaust.
Recently, Franco Berardi, the Italian author of a play in Germany, "Auschwitz on the Beach", charged Europeans with setting up "concentration camps" on its territory. One line in the performance was, "Salt water has replaced Zyklon B" -- a reference to the poison gas used by the Nazis in World War II to exterminate Jews. After protests from the Jewish community, the play was cancelled. Adam Szymczyk, the director of the Documenta exhibition, defined the show as a "warning against historical amnesia, a moral wake-up call, a call to collective action". This response, while true for the mass-murder of Jews, is a grotesque distortion of what has been happening in Europe for the last three years. On the contrary, governments, non-governmental organizations, bureaucrats, charities and the media have all embraced migrants in the millions, and welcomed them with open arms. The Jews during the Second World War -- most of whom were turned away, turned in or betrayed by all European governments -- were not so fortunate.
Auschwitz on the Beach?
In the current crisis, governments, NGOs, charities and the media have all embraced migrants in the millions, and welcomed them with open arms. Pictured: The Greek Red Cross helps an Afghan migrant who just arrived from Turkey with an inflatable boat on Lesvos Island, Greece, on December 13, 2015. (Image source: Ggia/Wikimedia Commons)
The current misrepresentation was first formulated by Sweden's deputy prime minister, Asa Romson. "We are turning the Mediterranean into the new Auschwitz", she said. Since then, this sham comparison has entered into the European mainstream, and the death of six million Jews has been turned into an ideological platform -- a parable of human suffering -- to justify importing even more unknown migrants. Even Pope Francis, who compared a center for migrants to "concentration camps", adopted this nonsense.
Jewish organizations in the US rightly condemned the comparison. David Harris, Executive Director of American Jewish Committee, said: "The Nazis and their allies erected and used concentration camps for slave labor and the extermination of millions of people during World War II, there is no comparison to the magnitude of that tragedy."
All of Europe's efforts, in fact, have been devoted to rescuing migrants: on borders, at sea and in cities hosting asylum centers. Such distinctions, however, are apparently not enough: the immigration question is apparently supposed to become the new ideology, like a religion. That is why there seems an orchestrated attempt by large segments of the establishment to turn the rescue operations into a "new Holocaust". Questioning them must become a taboo.
Despite Muslims historically having been the most aggressive colonizers, Europe's élites have come to idealize them due to a mix of demographic decline, misconception of Islam, self-hate for the Western culture and a fatal, romanticized attraction for the decolonized Third World people.
In Italy, currently at the center of the migrant crisis, the "Holocaust comparison" has even entered into the country's jurisprudence. An Italian tribunal recently ordered the government to pay compensation of 30,000 euros to the municipality of Bari for "damage to the image of the town" caused by the presence of a migrant identification center. "Think about Auschwitz, a place that immediately recalls the concentration camp of the Holocaust and certainly not the Polish town in the vicinity", the magistrate said.
According to the judiciary, a migrant center disfigures Italian territory just as the Auschwitz-Birkenau death camp did the Polish town of Oświęcim. It is not even helpful to ask anyone, "Where are the gas chambers and the crematoria in the Italian migrant centers?" We are already in the field of ideological irrationality.
During World War II, Germans and their allies hunted down Jews in every corner of Europe, murdering them on the spot or deporting them to concentration camps, where they tortured and killed literally millions. Today's Germans, on the contrary, have opened their borders to millions -- seven out of ten of whom, according with the United Nations, are not even refugees but economic migrants simply seeking a better life.
Many Europeans are trying to close the debate about the supposed benefits of immigration by using "Holocaust words" such as "extermination" and "genocide". A headline in Italy's largest newspaper, La Repubblica, lamented, "Libya, fewer migrants have been arriving [in Europe] because they end up in a concentration camp..." These migrant centers, stated the paper, remind one of "the noteworthy atrocities of the 20th century".
These dramatic remarks seem to reflect a high degree of guilt by Europeans about not having offered more help to the Jews. Yet, we never hear any appeals from Europeans and groups -- unlike the US Congress -- to save Christians and Yazidis, who have truly suffered a genocide in regions controlled by ISIS. Instead, European leaders continue to close their eyes to the religious and ethnic persecution of minorities in the Middle East, including Jews, but are eager to point to "the Holocaust" to pressure European nations to open their borders to millions more migrants.
There was also an appeal recently, accompanied by a picture of barbed wire at a Nazi concentration camp, and signed by Italian intellectuals, personalities and non-governmental organizations which stated: "Our government is not indifferent to this carnage." It is accomplished, it said, by sending ships to prevent migrants from leaving the African coast. The appeal even used the Nazi term Vernichtung ("extermination"). These comparisons simply diminish everyone's ability to distinguish between a mass-murder and a mass-rescue. It succeeds in letting migrants keep coming, whatever the cost.
A hysteria to adopt this false comparison had been proliferating. The magazine Famiglia Cristiana talked about the "the Holocaust of migrants in the Mediterranean Sea" -- as if Europeans had drowned them there deliberately. An online magazine, Linkiesta, actually called migrant centers "concentration camps where only furnaces and Zyklon B are missing". In Italy, a well-known priest, Father Zanotelli, said on television: "About migrants, one day they will say about us the same things we say about the Nazis and the Shoah". Oxfam Italia, a non-governmental organization, criticized an agreement between the Italian government and Libya to patrol their coasts and talked about "a real concentration camp". The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees wrote: "Migrants' centers? Just concentration camps".
Even musicians were recruited: "Shoah yesterday, migrants today: Ute Lemper sings for the invisibles". The Pime, the Catholic missionary center of Milan, wrote: "The Shoah and the refugees". Even the two presidents of the Italian Parliament, Pietro Grasso and Laura Boldrini, sponsored a conference called, "Europe, the Shoah, the massacres in the Mediterranean". The deception can also be seen on the website of the Italian Parliament. The lie is becoming official.
The point is that for the first time in a Western country, a debate about immigration -- how to manage and control it -- is being shut down. On one side, you find people who want to "stop the new Shoah" and, on the other side, "collaborators" who want to stop the large wave of unvetted migrants.
If there is a "Holocaust of refugees", those who oppose it are all branded as the "new Nazis". That is the campaign against Hungary's Prime Minister Viktor Orbán, the most outspoken critic in Europe of unlimited migration. Austria's chancellor, Werner Faymann, has likened Orbán's policies of keeping refugees from entering Hungary to Nazis deporting Jews during the Holocaust. Since then, Orbán has been often compared to Hitler for trying to protect both the borders of his country and the humanist-Judeo-Christian tradition of Europe.
The Italian Parliament this year established a "National Day to Remember Immigration Victims" by comparing it to the "International Day of Remembrance of the Holocaust Victims". It is a powerful ideological ploy: in the "new Holocaust", the flow of refugees to Europe seems unstoppable. The perpetrators of this duplicitous myth are playing dirty with the future of Europe.
**Giulio Meotti, Cultural Editor for Il Foglio, is an Italian journalist and author.
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