September 08/17

Compiled & Prepared by: Elias Bejjani

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Bible Quotations For Today
For nothing is hidden that will not be disclosed, nor is anything secret that will not become known and come to light
Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ according to Saint Luke 08/16-21/:"‘No one after lighting a lamp hides it under a jar, or puts it under a bed, but puts it on a lampstand, so that those who enter may see the light. For nothing is hidden that will not be disclosed, nor is anything secret that will not become known and come to light. Then pay attention to how you listen; for to those who have, more will be given; and from those who do not have, even what they seem to have will be taken away.’ Then his mother and his brothers came to him, but they could not reach him because of the crowd. And he was told, ‘Your mother and your brothers are standing outside, wanting to see you.’But he said to them, ‘My mother and my brothers are those who hear the word of God and do it.’

We refuse to practise cunning or to falsify God’s word; but by the open statement of the truth we commend ourselves to the conscience of everyone in the sight of God
Second Letter to the Corinthians 04/01-06/:"Therefore, since it is by God’s mercy that we are engaged in this ministry, we do not lose heart. We have renounced the shameful things that one hides; we refuse to practise cunning or to falsify God’s word; but by the open statement of the truth we commend ourselves to the conscience of everyone in the sight of God. And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing. In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. For we do not proclaim ourselves; we proclaim Jesus Christ as Lord and ourselves as your slaves for Jesus’ sake. For it is the God who said, ‘Let light shine out of darkness’, who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.

Titles For Latest LCCC Bulletin analysis & editorials from miscellaneous sources published on September 07-08/17
Israeli airstrikes target Syrian research center linked to chemical weapons/
Louisa Loveluck, Loveday Morris/Washington Post/September 07/17
Israel May Have Struck The Syrian Weapons Facility Before Hezbollah Could Take Over/Jerusalem Post/September 07/17
Canadian jihadi Farah Mohamed Shirdon killed in Iraq airstrike in 2015: U.S. military/Stewart Bell and Andrew Russell/Global News/September 07/17
Iran is sending a dangerous message to the world/Dr. Majid Rafizadeh/ArabNews/September 07/17
Would Qatari Crisis Last Two Years/Salman Al-dossary/Asharq Al Awsat/September 07/17
FDR's 'Rattlesnake' Rule and the North Korean Threat/John R. Bolton//Gatestone Institute/September 07/17
European Court Orders EU Countries to Take Migrants/Soeren Kern/Gatestone Institute/September 07/17
European Court Orders EU Countries to Take Migrants/Soeren Kern/Gatestone Institute/September 07/17
Why an Obscure Strip of Land in the Himalayas is Important for the Free World/Lawrence A. Franklin/Gatestone Institute/September 07/17
UK’s Brexit Predicament/Clive Crook/Bloomberg View/September 07/17

Titles For Latest LCCC Lebanese Related News published on September 07-08/17
Israeli airstrikes target Syrian research center linked to chemical weapons
Israel May Have Struck The Syrian Weapons Facility Before Hezbollah Could Take Over
STL Prosecutor Meets With Lebanese Officials on Working Visit to Beirut
Lassen Meets With Army Commander Joseph Aoun, Extends Condolences
Shorter: Army Fulfilled Its Mission, Regrettable Others Allowed Daesh to Flee
Hariri Chairs Cabinet Meeting, Holds Minute of Silence in Memory of Slain Soldiers
Gemayel, Rifi, Chamoun Slam Govt. for 'Bowing to Hizbullah Decisions'
Aoun to Convene Defense Council, Receives Letter from Qatari Emir
No Taxes, No Wage Scale,' Some Ministers Say
Mustaqbal Says Sabhan's Anti-Hizbullah Tweet a Saudi 'Warning Message'
'Loyalty to Resistance' calls for setting relations with Syria right
Foreign Ministry sternly deplores crimes against Rohingya people
Army Raids Abu Taqiyeh's House in Arsal
Murr Receives INTERPOL Delegation, Talks Focus on Combating Terrorism, Army Support

Titles For Latest LCCC Bulletin For Miscellaneous Reports And News published on September 06-07/17
Trump Says Military Action against N. Korea 'Not Inevitable'
Israeli Defense Chiefs Warn Iran, Syria after Air Strike
Coalition Targets IS Fighters from Stranded Convoy
Aid Enters Syrian Town after IS Siege Breached
Aid Groups Struggle as More Rohingya Flood into Bangladesh
Kirkuk Joins Independence Referendum… ‘Kurdish Brexit’ Won’t Be Easy
Abul Gheit to Visit Erbil, Convey Calls to Postpone Independence Referendum
Tunisia Breaks up Terrorist Cell Sending Youth to Hotbed of Extremism
Moroccan-Spanish Cooperation Dismantles Six-Member Terrorist Cell

Latest Lebanese Related News published on September 07-08/17
Israeli airstrikes target Syrian research center linked to chemical weapons

By Louisa Loveluck, Loveday Morris/Washington Post/September 07/17
BEIRUT — Syria said Israeli airstrikes targeted a military position in the west of the country on Thursday, killing two soldiers at a site where Syrian scientists are believed to have developed chemical weapons.
The attack hit a site near the town of Masyaf, which hosts a branch of the government agency responsible for developing and producing nonconventional weapons and the means to deliver them, known as the Scientific Studies and Research Center (SSRC).
Syria's army command said the attack took place at 2:42 a.m. and involved missiles fired from Lebanese airspace. It made no mention of the research center, describing the strikes instead as an attempt to hamper Syria's fight against the Islamic State and warning of "serious repercussions of such acts of aggression on the security and stability of the region."
An Israel Defense Forces spokesman declined to comment on the strike, which comes at a time of heightened tension on Israel's northern borders with Syria and Lebanon.
In recent weeks, rhetoric has significantly sharpened as Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has accused Iran of building sites to produce missiles in both Syria and Lebanon. He has said that is something Israel cannot accept.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitoring group said that a military storage camp next to the research center was used to store ground-to-ground rockets and that personnel of Iran and the Lebanese Hezbollah movement had been seen there more than once.
Israel has watched nervously in recent years as its enemies Hezbollah and Iran have expanded their presence over the border where they are providing military assistance to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
Israel has carried out nearly 100 strikes in Syria since the beginning of the civil war there — many against convoys attempting to transfer precision weapons to Hezbollah, the country's air force chief told local media last month.
But Thursday's strike marked an escalation.
"This is the first time that the target which was attacked was a formal Syrian facility," Maj. Gen. Yaakov Amidror, a former national security advisor to Netanyahu, said on a conference call. The facility is a center for research and development and as well as producing chemical weapons, it also has produced rockets which have been transferred to Hezbollah, he said.
While the strike was in the framework of Israel's policy of preventing arms transfers to Hezbollah but "it's another level of interference," he added.
He said that the strike could lead to an escalation.
The United States Treasury sanctioned 271 of SSRC employees in April, weeks after a nerve agent was used to kill 83 people and wound dozens more in the opposition-held town of Khan Sheikhoun.

Israel May Have Struck The Syrian Weapons Facility Before Hezbollah Could Take Over
Jerusalem Post/September 07/17
A top Israeli security expert says that there's a strong chance Hezbollah leader Hassan Nassrallah was planning on taking over the chemical weapons facility Israel targeted. There's a strong probability that the Syrian military research center allegedly struck by Israeli warplanes on Thursday morning was targeted because of concerns that Hezbollah's leader Hassan Nassrallah had asked Damascus to hand over the facility to the Lebanon-based Shi'ite terror group. This assessment comes from the former national security adviser, Maj.-Gen (ret.) Yaakov Amidror, who now serves as an analyst at Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies. According to him, the strike on the al-Talai Scientific Studies and Research Center may have been a consequence of Nasrallah’s visit to Damascus last week.
Nasrallah boasted of his visit to the Syrian capital in a live speech, but according Amidror, who was speaking on a conference call organized by The Israel Project, the facility may not only have been producing weapon systems for Hezbollah but was actually going to be taken over by the group as per Nassrallah's demand. The facility has been known for many years as a center for research and development for weapons systems, including chemical weapons. Noting that the strike came almost 10 years to the day of the Israeli strike on the Syrian nuclear reactor in Deir Ezzor, Amidror stated that it should be clear for Syria that Israel will not allow Iran or Hezbollah to build their capabilities because of the “chaotic mess in Syria.”
“Just imagine if such a regime had nuclear capabilities,” he said.
While the IDF did not comment on the strike as it does not comment on foreign reports, it would not be the first time Israeli jets have hit Assad regime and Hezbollah targets in Syria. Jerusalem has repeatedly said that while there is no interest by Israel to enter into Syria’s seven year civil war, there are red lines that Jerusalem has set including the smuggling of sophisticated weaponry to Hezbollah and an Iranian presence on its borders. In a recent interview with Haaretz, former Israel Air Force Head Maj.-Gen. Amir Eshel stated that Israel carried out at least 100 strikes in the past five years against the transfer of advanced weaponry from the Assad regime to Hezbollah, including the transfer of chemical weapons.
According to Amidror, while this strike would follow the same policy of destroying advanced weapon systems destined for Hezbollah, Israel actually prevented them from being produced in the first place. “It’s another level of interfering,” Amidror stated, adding that it was the first time that the target which was attacked is a formal Syrian facility, not just a warehouse but one responsible for producing chemical weapons, rockets and missiles. Michael Horowitz, Director of Intelligence at Prime Source, a Middle East-based geopolitical consultancy firm, told The Jerusalem Post that this Israeli strike is significant due to its location which is close to both a Russian air defense base as well a suspected Iranian missile production facility. Amos Yadlin, a former head of Israeli military intelligence and Executive Director of Tel Aviv University's Institute for National Security Studies (INSS) took to Twitter to state that the strike sent three important messages, namely that Israel intends to enforce its redlines “despite the fact that the great powers are ignoring them.”
Yadlin stated that it was now important to keep the escalation in check and to prepare for a Syrian-Iranian-Hezbollah response. Following the strike, the Syrian army warned against the “dangerous repercussions of this aggressive action to the security and stability of the region.” But according to Horowitz, it is likely that any response by the Assad regime or Hezbollah would be limited. “Thus far both the Syrian regime and Hezbollah have failed to respond to the Israeli effort to smuggle weapons from Syria and build new missile production facilities in the country,” he told the Post.
“Beyond symbolic attacks coming from Syria, which remain quite risky in the current context with both Assad and Nasrallah busy in Eastern Syria, I think the main response will be an acceleration of Iranian efforts to entrench itself in Syria. As long as none of the “great powers” commit to countering Iranian influence in the country, Israeli can only delay what seems inevitable - namely an Iranian militarization of Syria.”

STL Prosecutor Meets With Lebanese Officials on Working Visit to Beirut
Naharnet/September 07/17/The Prosecutor of the Special Tribunal for Lebanon, Norman Farrell, concluded an official working visit to Lebanon on Thursday, a press release said. During the visit, he met with his Lebanese interlocutors including the Lebanese Prosecutor General, other Lebanese officials and the Prosecutor’s staff in the Beirut office. The Prosecutor said: "It was a timely and useful working visit. I had the opportunity to meet with my Lebanese counterparts and work with my staff on operational matters that would assist in achieving the Prosecutor’s mandate."

Lassen Meets With Army Commander Joseph Aoun, Extends Condolences
Naharnet/September 07/17/Ambassador Christina Lassen, Head of the Delegation of the European Union to Lebanon, met on Thursday with General Joseph Aoun, Commander in Chief of the Lebanese Armed Forces. Ambassador Lassen extended her condolences for the killing of Lebanese soldiers who, recently and since 2014, have lost their lives defending the Lebanese eastern border against extremist groups. Ambassador Lassen also extended her deepest sympathy to the families of the Lebanese soldiers, as well as to the Lebanese authorities and the people of Lebanon on the day of national mourning. Ambassador Lassen paid tribute to the continuous efforts and sacrifices of the Lebanese Army to defend the country and its people and welcomed the determination of all leaders to put an end to terrorism. The European Union will continue to support Lebanon's state institutions in their efforts to preserve the unity and stability of the country, and the security of its people. It commends the important role that the Lebanese Armed Forces fulfill as a cornerstone of Lebanese sovereignty and in fighting terrorism.

Shorter: Army Fulfilled Its Mission, Regrettable Others Allowed Daesh to Flee
Naharnet/September 07/17/British Ambassador to Lebanon Hugo Shorter on Thursday congratulated the Lebanese Army on its successful operation against the Islamic State group on the eastern border, as he lamented that IS' militants were allowed to “flee across Syria.”During talks with Army Commander General Joseph Aoun, Shorter offered “his sincere condolences for the soldiers killed and injured during the operation, and the soldiers captured by Daesh (IS) in 2014,” a British Embassy statement said. After the meeting, Shorter said: “This operation was complex, risky and dangerous. Daesh is a global threat to people everywhere. The Lebanese Army has shown that it is an effective, professional army capable of defending Lebanon from the threats of an uncertain region.”“The army fulfilled its mission and it is regrettable that others allowed Daesh fighters to flee across Syria,” the ambassador added, referring to Hizbullah and the Syrian army who allowed IS' militants to withdraw from the border region to Syria's Deir Ezzor under a ceasefire agreement. Noting that the United Kingdom is already helping train “over 11,000 soldiers, build over 20 forward operating bases and provide 30 border watchtowers,” Shorter pledged that Britain's support “will continue.”“We believe in the Lebanese Army as the sole legitimate defender of Lebanon and the only one which represents all Lebanese, acting within the law and with the consent of the Lebanese state and its people,” he said. “Our thoughts will be with those who have lost loved ones as the country observes a day of national mourning on Friday,” Shorter added, noting that the British embassy “will be flying its flag at half mast tomorrow.”

Hariri Chairs Cabinet Meeting, Holds Minute of Silence in Memory of Slain Soldiers
Naharnet/September 07/17/The cabinet held a minute's silence ahead of its session on Thursday in honor of the country's soldiers killed by the Islamic State extremist group. The remains of the soldiers were retrieved last week from the northeastern border town of Arsal. DNA tests revealed on Wednesday that the samples have matched the identifies of the servicemen. Prime Minister Saad Hariri chaired the meeting at the Grand Serail to address 44 items on the agenda, as media reports said the ministers will not touch on controversial files. “Today is a national mourning day. We mourn the martyrs of the Lebanese army and security forces killed in confrontations with terrorism,” said Hariri. Hariri highlighted the outcome of his latest visit to France, he said: “We launched three conferences in Lebanon's favor. The first is intended to support Lebanon's economy, the second plans to provide support for the Lebanese army, while the third plans to organize the return of the displaced (Syrians) at the international community's level.”“From the beginning, we have pursued a policy of dissociation and neutralizing Lebanon from regional conflicts," said the PM, "at this moment, it is in Lebanon's interest to stay away from straining atmosphere with all our friends, especially the brothers, and seek to protect the interests of Lebanon and the Lebanese." Before the session began, Interior Minister Nouhad al-Mashnouq made remarks regarding the upcoming by-elections, he said in reply to Speaker Nabih Berri: “No I will not lay the by-elections to rest. Each party must carry out its duty.”Speaker Nabih Berri had lamented on Wednesday that by-elections will not be held, saying “by-elections can rest in peace.” Mashnouq added that the issue won't be addressed at today's cabinet meeting but will be discussed in a session to be held at the Baabda Palace.State Minister for Presidency Affairs Pierre Raffoul said the ministers will vote on an agenda item regarding the assignment of a new director general of cooperatives at the agriculture ministry to replace Gloria Abou Zeid. Disputes erupted between Agriculture Minister Ghazi Zoaiter and Abou Zaid early in 2017. Abou Zaid is head of the Green Plan project overseen by the agriculture ministry. Minister Michel Pharaon said there is dispute over the replacement of Abou Zaid, pointing out that the candidate for the post hails from the Pharaon family. Asked about the wage scale and whether the suspension of the tax law to fund it is going to affect it, Finance Minister Ali Hassan Khalil said: “Some reports have said that the wage scale file will come to a halt, but the decision is not up to the finance minister, it requires a cabinet and parliament decision.”

Gemayel, Rifi, Chamoun Slam Govt. for 'Bowing to Hizbullah Decisions'

Naharnet/September 07/17/Kataeb Party chief MP Sami Gemayel, ex-minister Maj. Gen. Ashraf Rifi and National Liberal Party leader MP Dori Chamoun on Thursday blasted the ruling class over what they called its “resonating failure in dealing with the eastern border war.”In a joint statement issued after a meeting at Kataeb's headquarters in Saifi, the three opposition figures accused the government of “wasting the Lebanese Army's major military achievement and the sacrifices of its officers and soldiers.”“This ruling class has relinquished its constitutional duties and responsibilities by failing to politically utilize the army's military achievements, bowing instead to decisions taken by Hizbullah and the regional sides it cooperates with,” Gemayel, Rifi and Chamoun said. “Its role was limited to implementing deals that were negotiated outside state institutions and beyond the border,” they added. A Hizbullah-led deal involving the withdrawal of Islamic State militants from the eastern border region to Syria's Deir Ezzor province has sparked major controversy in Lebanon and abroad. The ceasefire deal followed separate but simultaneous offensives by the Lebanese and Syrian armies and Hizbullah that pushed besieged IS militants on both sides of the border to surrender. In return, the IS group provided Lebanese authorities with information about the burial site of nine troops abducted in 2014 and eventually executed. Hizbullah chief Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah has argued that the controversial agreement was necessary to unveil the fate of the soldiers. Separately, Gemayel, Rifi and Chamoun promised the Lebanese that they will “cling to the dream of building a sovereign, civilized and modern state.”“Our meetings will remain open with all the sovereign and reformist figures in order to restore respect for the Lebanese constitution and the principle of the state and its legitimate institutions,” the three political figures added.

Aoun to Convene Defense Council, Receives Letter from Qatari Emir
Naharnet/September 07/17/President Michel Aoun on Thursday invited the Higher Defense Council to convene 11:30 am Friday at the Baabda Palace after a national funeral that will be held for ten soldiers abducted and slain by the terrorist Islamic State group. According to the National News Agency, Aoun will also lead the farewell ceremony that will be held for the slain troops at the Defense Ministry in Yarze. “President Aoun will decorate the coffins of the ten martyrs with medals and will deliver a speech marking the occasion,” NNA said. The ceremony will also be attended by Speaker Nabih Berri, Prime Minister Saad Hariri, Defense Minister Yaacoub al-Sarraf, the chiefs of the security agencies, representatives of Lebanon's spiritual leaders, and the relatives of the slain soldiers. Separately, Aoun received a letter from Qatar's emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani, NNA said. The letter was delivered by Qatari Ambassador to Lebanon Ali bin Hamad al-Marri. “The letter tackles the Lebanese-Qatari ties and means to boost them in all fields, in addition to the general situations in the region,” al-Marri said. He also noted that he relayed to Aoun “the greetings of the emir of Qatar and the brotherly Qatari people” and that the president also asked him to convey his greetings to Sheikh Tamim, underlining “the depth of the relation between Lebanon and Qatar.”The letter also involves “an invitation from Qatar's emir to President Aoun to attend the launching ceremony of the America and the Muslim World Forum that will be held in New York on September 17.”

No Taxes, No Wage Scale,' Some Ministers Say

Naharnet/September 07/17/A number of ministers warned Thursday during a cabinet session that civil servants and the armed forces will not benefit from a newly-approved wage scale without the collection of new taxes to fund the plan. “There cannot be a wage scale without taxes, or else Lebanon will become like Greece,” TV networks quoted the unnamed ministers as saying. The Constitutional Council had last Thursday ordered a suspension of the implementation of the new tax law that was approved the fund the wage scale, a day after ten MPs led by Kataeb Party chief Sami Genayel filed an appeal against it. The suspension is aimed at “studying the appeal in form and content,” the Council said. The Council, Lebanon's highest constitutional court, also decided to hold a September 15 session to “discuss the appeal” and “an open-ended session on September 18 to issue a ruling should the appeal be accepted.”
Gemayel was among the first MPs to slam the new tax law and he had urged President Michel Aoun not to sign the bill. “I stress that the appeal will not harm the wage scale, because the Lebanese state is capable of securing funds for it without taking them from the pockets of citizens,” Gemayel said.
Gemayel had warned that the new taxes would lower citizens' purchasing power “by 10 to 20%” and would also push “more than 100,000 citizens below the poverty line,” citing studies by the American University of Beirut. Gemayel also quoted Father Butros Azar, the secretary general of Catholic schools, as saying that school tuitions would rise an average of 27%. “The prices of apartments will also rise and our youths will suffer,” the young MP cautioned. “An economic disaster has been created without any economic feasibility study for the taxes to rely on,” Gemayel lamented. The new taxes involve hiking the VAT tax from 10% to 11%, fines on seaside violations, and taxes on cement, administrative transactions, sea imports, lottery prizes, tobacco, alcohol, travel tickets, financial firms and banks. Authorities have argued that the new taxes are necessary to fund the new wage scale but opponents of such a move have called for finding new revenues through putting an end to corruption and the waste of public money.

Mustaqbal Says Sabhan's Anti-Hizbullah Tweet a Saudi 'Warning Message'
Naharnet/September 07/17/Al-Mustaqbal Movement on Thursday described the latest anti-Hizbullah tweet by Saudi State Minister for Gulf Affairs Thamer al-Sabhan as a Saudi “warning message” to Lebanon. “The stances that have been issued by Saudi officials regarding Lebanon are a warning message that must be heeded and dealt with seriously and responsibly by every Lebanese who is concerned with protecting Lebanon's interests and the stability of its ties with its Arab brothers,” said Mustaqbal's political bureau in a statement issued after its periodic meeting at the Center House. “Political stability cannot be achieved amid the continued and obscene insults against the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the Arab Gulf countries by MPs and figures who are loyal to Hizbullah and the Syrian regime,” the politburo warned. In a September 4 tweet, al-Sabhan had slammed Hizbullah as “the party of Satan,” accusing it of committing “inhumane crimes in our nation that will definitely affect Lebanon.”“The Lebanese must choose whether they want to support it or oppose it, seeing as the blood of Arabs is precious,” the minister added.

'Loyalty to Resistance' calls for setting relations with Syria right
Thu 07 Sep 2017/NNA - "Loyalty to the Resistance" parliamentary bloc called for putting relations with Syria right and addressing all impurities that may harm the common interests of both countries. "It is due time to set relations with Syria right and address the blemishes that may harm the interrelated interests between both countries," the bloc said in a statement in the wake of its weekly meeting on Thursday at its Haret Hreik headquarters. The periodic meeting was chaired by bloc head MP Mohammed Raad. The bloc said that the positive developments in both Lebanon and Syria allow the two countries to conduct an objective approach in addressing their mutual relations, which contribute positively to alleviating the burdens on both brotherly peoples, securing the safe voluntary return of refugees, and pushing for the re-activation of political and economic relations, in the framework of mutual respect between the two countries. On the other hand, the bloc hailed the great "second liberation" victory achieved by Lebanon at its eastern borders against the Takfiri terrorist factions, thanks to the 'people, army and resistance' equation. The bloc also considered that the second liberation victory, which will be marked tomorrow as a national Day, has been realized by the Lebanese army and the resistance in complementarity with the Syrian Arab army. Loyalty to Resistance congratulated all the Lebanese on the the Second Liberation Day and the blessed Adha Eid. The bloc indicated that "Al-Jouroud battle against the Takfiri terrorists has proved that the national feasible and successful strategy to defend Lebanon, its land, people, and sovereignty is the strategy which is based on the equation of people, army and resistance." 'Loyalty to the Resistance' also considered that the resounding victory along the eastern borders on August 28, 2017, was undoubtedly a victory for the axis of resistance in Lebanon and the region.

Foreign Ministry sternly deplores crimes against Rohingya people
Thu 07 Sep 2017/NNA - Foreign and Expatriates Ministry on Thursday condemned in the strongest terms the crimes against the Rohingya people as a result of a systematic persecution, forced displacement, murder, slaughter, torture and burning of property. The Ministry condemned in a statement "the settlement operation" which aims to re-structure the demography of the region on new ethnic, racial and religious grounds, discounts the rights of religious and ethnic minorities and targets the fundamental components of these societies, thus threatening their pluralism and may lead to conflicts as a result of isolation and isolation. Concerning the issue of addressing the refugee crises, the Foreign Ministry reiterated that the solution to the humanitarian tragedy lies in the safe return of displaced people to their homeland, and anchoring minorities in their countries and preserving their rights.

Army Raids Abu Taqiyeh's House in Arsal

Naharnet/September 07/17/An army patrol on Thursday raided the house of controversial Islamist cleric Sheikh Mustafa al-Hujeiri, aka Abu Taqiyeh, in the border town of Arsal with the aim of arresting him, TV networks said. He was not arrested seeing as he was not at the property at the time of the raid, the reports said.The raid follows confessions by his detained son, Obada, about his father's alleged involvement in the 2014 kidnap of around 30 Lebanese soldiers and policemen during clashes with jihadist groups, media reports said. The development comes on the eve of a national funeral for 10 soldiers kidnapped in 2014 and eventually executed by the terrorist Islamic State group. The bodies of the troops were recovered last month in the wake of an army offensive against the militants.

Murr Receives INTERPOL Delegation, Talks Focus on Combating Terrorism, Army Support
Naharnet/September 07/17/Combating terrorism, strengthening the global anti-terrorism strategy and providing support for the Lebanese army were the focus of discussions between head of the INTERPOL Foundation for a Safer World Michel el-Murr and a delegation from the INTERPOL leadership, al-Joumhouria daily reported on Thursday. Murr, former deputy PM and minister, has met Wednesday evening with Director of the Counter Terrorism at INTERPOL Patrick Stevens, Head of the Liaison office to the INTERPOL Foundation for a Safer World Ralph Markert. The meeting took place at Murr's residence in Rabieh. The meeting focused on follow-up, and strengthening of global anti-terrorism strategy and the INTERPOL's programs at all levels, particularly those related to border security and combating organized crime according to modern strategies, according to the daily. Talks have also addressed the means to support Lebanon and its army to be able to confront terrorism.

Latest LCCC Bulletin For Miscellaneous Reports And News published on September 07-08/17
Trump Says Military Action against N. Korea 'Not Inevitable'
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/September 07/17/U.S. President Donald Trump said Thursday that military action against a defiant North Korea after its recent powerful nuclear test was "not inevitable."Speaking in a White House news conference along with the premier of Kuwait, the president said, "Military action would certainly be an option. Is it inevitable? Nothing's inevitable.""It would be great if something else could be worked out," he said, while adding that if it comes to military action, "It will be a very sad day for North Korea."Trump Sees 'Chance' for Peace in Middle East  Agence France Presse/Naharnet/September 07/17/President Donald Trump said Thursday that he believes there is a "chance" for a Middle East peace settlement, long one of the most elusive goals of U.S. diplomacy. "I think we have a chance of doing it," he told reporters during a White House news conference with Kuwaiti Emir Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmed al-Sabah. Trump acknowledged that previous administrations had come close to, yet never reached, a deal between Israel and the Palestinians. But he said: "We're going to give it our best." The president said both sides wanted peace and that the U.S. had "tremendous talent" working on the problem. He did not mention his son-in-law Jared Kushner, who last month led a U.S. delegation to the region to discuss reviving the peace process.

Israeli Defense Chiefs Warn Iran, Syria after Air Strike
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/September 07/17/Israel's defense minister on Thursday issued a veiled warning to Syria, without confirming or denying what Damascus said was an Israeli air strike on its territory. Syria's army accused Israel of hitting one of its positions, killing two people in an attack earlier the same day that a monitor said targeted a site where the regime allegedly produces chemical weapons. "We are determined to prevent our enemies harming, or even creating an opportunity to harm, the security of Israeli citizens," Avigdor Lieberman said in Hebrew, in remarks broadcast on Israeli television.
"We shall do everything in order not to allow the existence of a Shiite corridor from Tehran to Damascus." The site struck near Masyaf, between the central city of Hama and a port used by the Russian navy, is reportedly used by forces from Syria's allies Iran and Lebanon's Hizbullah. Israeli planes have previously carried out strikes believed to have targeted the transfer of weapons to the Iranian-backed Hizbullah, which fought a devastating war with Israel in 2006. Israel has long warned it would not allow the transfer of sophisticated weaponry to Hizbullah and has accused Iran of building sites to produce "precision-guided missiles" in both Syria and Lebanon. In comments made earlier, the head of Israeli military intelligence, Major General Herzl Halevi, did not mention Thursday's strike directly but warned his country's enemies "near and far."
"Serious security threats to Israel are presented by armed organizations most of them financed and aided by Iran," he said in a public address. "We are dealing with these threats, both near and far, with determination and our enemies in every arena know very well the combination of (our) precise intelligence and operational capabilities."

Coalition Targets IS Fighters from Stranded Convoy

Agence France Presse/Naharnet/September 07/17/The U.S.-led coalition has killed dozens of jihadists linked to a convoy of Islamic State buses stranded in the middle of the Syrian desert, a U.S. military official said Thursday. The convoy, which initially consisted of 17 vehicles, has been stalled in the Deir Ezzor region since August 29. U.S. officials say about 300 IS jihadists were initially aboard, along with a similar number of civilians, likely family members. The fighters had been headed from Lebanon to the Iraq border under an evacuation deal negotiated between IS and Lebanon's Hizbullah, which has intervened in the war in neighboring Syria to prop up the Damascus government. The United States was not party to the deal and had blocked the convoy just short of the border by bombing the road and a bridge leading from the Syrian town of Hmaymah to the IS-held town of Albukamal further east. Colonel Ryan Dillon, a U.S. military spokesman, said the coalition has not targeted the convoy itself and was permitting food and supplies to reach the stranded vehicles, but he noted about 85 IS fighters either from the convoy or heading by vehicle to link up with it had been picked off. "We have struck individual ISIS fighters, and fighters that leave in small groups to walk away," Dillon told Pentagon reporters in a phone briefing from Baghdad. "As soon as they get far enough away from the buses, we have and will continue to strike ISIS fighters ... where we can hit them without causing harm to the civilians that are part of that convoy." The 17-vehicle convoy split in two last week, with six buses heading west toward the Palmyra region, which is under Syrian regime control. "Those buses drove further into western Syria, we just made the decision to stop monitoring it as they drew further into the interior," Dillon said. The coalition has offered to try to bring the situation to a head by contacting Russia and offering a proposal that would allow the civilians to escape. Dillon said that proposal had not gained any traction, leaving open the question of the fate of the IS fighters and the civilians. "We don't see it as our issue," he said.

Aid Enters Syrian Town after IS Siege Breached
Associated Press/Naharnet/September 07/17/Syria's state-run news agency says a convoy of 40 trucks carrying 1,000 tons of humanitarian aid has arrived in Deir el-Zour after troops secured a corridor to the eastern city. The land convoy is the first since Syrian government forces and allied militiamen breached a nearly three-year-old siege by the Islamic State group on government-held parts of the city on Tuesday. SANA said the convoy reached a garrison known as Brigade 137 on the southwestern edge of the city Thursday, carrying thousands of food baskets, fruits and vegetables, medicine, school books and stationary. Syrian troops are dismantling land mines in an effort to expand the corridor to allow for more aid into Deir el-Zour amid Islamic State counterattacks and heavy fighting.

Aid Groups Struggle as More Rohingya Flood into Bangladesh
Associated PressNaharnet/September 07/17/Aid agencies were struggling to cope with a nonstop flood of Rohingya refugees into Bangladesh, where some 146,000 have arrived hungry and terrified after fleeing renewed violence in Myanmar — a crisis the country's leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, dismissed as a misinformation campaign. With the influx pushing existing Rohingya refugee camps to the brink, Bangladesh pledged to build at least one more. The International Organization for Migration has pleaded for $18 million in foreign aid to help feed and shelter tens of thousands now packed into makeshift settlements or stranded in a no-man's land between the two countries' borders. U.N. agencies said they were distributing food to new arrivals, about 80 percent of whom were women and children, joining about 100,000 who had already been sheltering in Bangladesh after fleeing earlier convulsions of violence in majority-Buddhist Myanmar. "We've not had something on this scale here in many years," said Pavlo Kolovos, the Bangladesh mission leader for Doctors Without Borders, known by its French acronym MSF, in a statement. "Our teams are seeing streams of people arriving destitute and extremely traumatized," including many in need of urgent medical care for violence-related injuries, severe infections or childbirth complications. With so many Rohingya fleeing, it's unclear how many remain in Myanmar amid reports of soldiers burning villages and killing civilians. Before the recent violence, aid experts had estimated about 1 million Rohingya were living in northern Rakhine state, but aid agencies have been unable to access the area since. "We are unable to reach the 28,000 children to whom we were previously providing psychosocial care or the more than 4,000 children who were treated for malnutrition in Buthidaung and Maungdaw" in Rakhine, UNICEF Executive Director Anthony Lake said. "Our clean water and sanitation work has been suspended, as have school repairs that were under way."
Turkey said that Myanmar agreed to allow its aid officials to enter Rakhine state with a ton of food and goods for Rohingya, and that its foreign minister would visit a refugee camp in Cox's Bazar on Thursday. The violence has driven some Rohingya to flee into forests near their villages or to beaches on the Bay of Bengal in hopes of rescue. Bangladesh's Ministry of Foreign Affairs delivered a protest note to Myanmar's envoy Wednesday expressing concern about reports that Myanmar's security forces had planted land mines along the border, and demanding immediate measures to de-escalate the violence.
Seeking to counter the storm of international criticism, Suu Kyi's top security adviser on Wednesday asserted that security forces were acting with restraint in pursuing "terrorists." National Security Advisor Thaung Tun told a news conference Myanmar's capital, Naypyitaw, that he was "deeply disappointed and saddened by the disinformation campaign being waged around the world with regard to the situation in Rakhine."
Meanwhile, Suu Kyi complained to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in a phone call Tuesday that Turkey's deputy prime minister was a victim of fake news when he posted photos purportedly showing dead Rohingya that were not related to the crisis. The photos on Mehmet Simsek's Twitter account have been taken down. According to her office, Suu Kyi said such misinformation helps promote the interests of "terrorists," a reference to the Rohingya insurgents whose attacks on Myanmar security posts on Aug. 25 triggered the latest military crackdown and streams of refugees.
The crisis response director for Amnesty International called Suu Kyi's response "unconscionable." "This is a human rights and humanitarian catastrophe," said Tirana Hassan in a statement, noting the Rohingya streaming across the border and thousands of others displaced in Rakhine.
"In her first comments on the crisis, instead of promising concrete action to protect the people in Rakhine state, Aung San Suu Kyi appears to be downplaying the horrific reports coming out of the area," Hassan said. The group that claimed responsibility for the Aug. 25 attacks on Myanmar police posts, the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army, says it acted to defend persecuted Rohingya communities, but has been vague about its ideology and ultimate goals. The military said it responded with "clearance operations" aimed at rooting out insurgents, and that nearly 400 people, most of them insurgents, have died in clashes. It blamed the insurgents for setting Rohingya villages on fire. Many displaced Rohingya, however, said it was Myanmar soldiers who set their homes aflame and fired indiscriminately around their villages in Rakhine state.
Rohingya Muslims have long faced discrimination in the Southeast Asian country.

Kirkuk Joins Independence Referendum… ‘Kurdish Brexit’ Won’t Be Easy
Ghassan Charbel/Asharq Al Awsat/September 07/17/Kirkuk- Iraq’s oil-producing region of Kirkuk is cursed for having both wealth and diversity. It lies on oil wells and on the spines of frightened identities. Its fate has been poisoned by Arab-Kurdish relations for decades and was the first cause behind costly wars. Erbil can neither retake Kirkuk nor give up on it. For Baghdad, losing this city is unquestionable as this provides the Kurds with “a base to declare a state.”A few days ago, Kirkuk decided to vote in a referendum on Kurdish independence on Sept. 25, its provisional council decided on Tuesday based on a suggestion by the city’s Governor, Najmuddin Kareem. And because Kirkuk’s involvement in this unprecedented event in the history of Iraq and the Middle East foreshadows complexities that could turn into a war, Asharq Al-Awsat has visited the province, which is located on the line of contact between different races, nationalities, languages and sects. Baghdad hastened to reject the idea of holding a referendum within the borders of the Kurdistan region. Its tone rose more when it found out that the referendum would also include “disputed areas, especially Kirkuk.” Some believe that the referendum in these areas could ignite a confrontation between the Popular Mobilization Forces and the Peshmerga if Iran chooses to frustrate the establishment of a Kurdish entity that insists on staying “outside the Iranian crescent and any other crescent.”For its part, Turkey opposed the referendum, which appears to be geographically bound while Washington has proposed a postponement. However, President of Iraqi Kurdistan Region Massoud Barzani has asked for written assurances from Baghdad, Washington, and the United Nations to accept the results of the referendum without hesitation if he approves to postpone the referendum for six more months or one year; it is clear that providing these assurances is impossible.Fearing the possible repercussions of the post-referendum period and the launching of the Kurdish Brexit, the governor of Kirkuk proposed that the province constitute a temporary territory for four or five years during which normalization and understanding of guarantees for the components and future relations with Baghdad take place.
**Ghassan Charbel is the editor-in-chief of Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper.

Abul Gheit to Visit Erbil, Convey Calls to Postpone Independence Referendum

Asharq Al Awsat/September 07/17/Cairo– Arab League Secretary General Ahmed Aboul Gheit plans to visit Erbil soon to discuss the referendum to be held in the Kurdistan Region in Iraq on September 25, sources with knowledge of the matter told Asharq al-Awsat. The Arab diplomatic sources said that the move by Aboul Gheit falls within the framework of what he sees as “a necessary priority that requires every effort and opportunity to encourage and promote dialogue between Baghdad and Erbil.” They added that the expected meeting between the Arab League chief and the President of Iraq’s Kurdistan Masoud Barzani would witness “an honest discussion about the referendum,” based on Aboul Gheit’s belief of the “importance that the Kurdish leadership assesses the situation and reads it carefully before taking the step of the referendum, considering the negative impact on the unity of the Iraqi state and on the future of the Kurds in Iraq and neighboring countries.”The Arab League secretary general had exchanged with the Kurdish leader diplomatic messages over the last period. In a letter to Barzani, Aboul Gheit conveyed the Arab League’s position, which supports the postponement of the planned referendum, calling for dialogue between Baghdad and Erbil and adherence to the Constitution and the federal system approved by all components of the Iraqi political system. Barzani responded by reiterating the position of the different Kurdish parties and highlighting the “bitterness” felt by the Iraqi Kurds towards the central government in Baghdad. The sources added that the Arab League chief was convinced that the door of dialogue with the Kurds, “who represent an important dimension in the formation of the Arab world”, should not be closed and that all efforts should be deployed to preserve their presence as an authentic component of Arab society, whether in Iraq or Syria, especially that the situation in the region does not tolerate more divisions.

Tunisia Breaks up Terrorist Cell Sending Youth to Hotbed of Extremism
Asharq Al Awsat/September 07/17/Tunis- The Tunisian Ministry of Interior has broken up a terrorist cell that sends youth to hotbeds of militancy in Tajerouine town in Kef Governorate, 160 km northwest of Tunis. The ministry said that anti-terrorist security apparatuses have arrested two members of the cell and issued charges against them on “suspicion of joining a terrorist organization” in Libya and Syria. The two suspects admitted to investigators that they have been coordinating with a takfiri element in a neighboring country and that they are linked to two Tunisian fugitive terrorists, according to official information.
Earlier this year, Tunisia set up a parliamentary commission of inquiry into sending youth to terrorist hotbeds and promised to reveal the parties facilitating the process of thousands of Tunisians joining extremist organizations. In this context, Assistant Rapporteur Laila Shtewi said in a press statement that the committee will soon hear the testimony of a number of former ministers, who mainly functioned between 2012 and 2014, which witnessed the peak of activity by networks that sent Tunisian youth to areas of tension in Libya, Syria and Iraq.Meanwhile, the Tunisian Interior Ministry said that it has arrested a takfiri element residing in Moknine following a tip-off on his whereabouts and after he was sentenced to prison in absentia. The anti-terrorism unit in Monastir confirmed that the detainee was being pursued at the request of the Tunis Court of First Instance on charges of joining a terrorist organization, citing a three-year prison sentence for his participation in terrorist acts.Notably, Tunisian security reports confirm that dozens of Tunisians have joined terrorist organizations in Syria and have passed through Libya, where they were trained to use weapons and make explosives.
Some have returned to Tunisia to commit terrorist acts such as the attack that was carried out by Jaber al-Khashnawi and Yassine al-Obeidi and targeted the Bardo National Museum on March 18, 2015 and Saifuddin Rizki’s attack in a tourist resort in Sousse on June 26, 2015.

Moroccan-Spanish Cooperation Dismantles Six-Member Terrorist Cell
Asharq Al Awsat/September 07/17/Rabath- Morocco and Spain announced on Wednesday the dismantling of a new terrorist cell consisting of six people who were planning to carry out major attacks in the two countries and training their members to slaughter. The operation came just a week after Spain’s Interior Minister Juan Ignacio Zoido met with his Moroccan counterpart Abdoulwafi Laftit in Rabat and following meetings of senior security officials in the two countries in the wake of deadly attacks in Spain last month. The arrests were also made nearly three weeks after a group of four Moroccans killed 16 people in two deadly attacks using a truck and knives in Barcelona and another seaside resort in northeastern Spain. A statement issued by the Moroccan Interior Ministry on Wednesday said that the Moroccan Central Bureau for Judicial Research of the General Directorate for the Control of the National Territory (Internal Intelligence) managed to dismantle a terrorist cell consisting of five people loyal to ISIS. The statement added that the cell members were arrested in the area of Beni Shaker in the outskirts of the city of Nador (north of the country), while the Spanish authorities arrested a sixth member, a Spanish of Moroccan origin residing in the city of Melilla. The ministry stressed that the operation was the fruit of security cooperation between the Moroccan security services and Spanish authorities.The Spanish Interior Ministry said in a statement: “An investigation by the Moroccan security services found evidence that this group was planning large-scale terror attacks, holding discreet nighttime meetings during which they carried out physical training and simulated murder by decapitation.”Police in Spain said the leader of the cell was a 39-year-old Spaniard of Moroccan origin living in Melilla. He was arrested by the security forces while visiting Morocco. “He used his position as an assistant teacher in a center for reeducating minors to carry out recruitment activities and to radicalize young people in a vulnerable situation,” the ministry said.

Latest LCCC Bulletin analysis & editorials from miscellaneous sources published on September 06-07/17
Canadian jihadi Farah Mohamed Shirdon killed in Iraq airstrike in 2015: U.S. military
Stewart Bell and Andrew Russell/Global News/September 07/17
The U.S. military says a high-profile Canadian in the so-called Islamic State was killed in a coalition airstrike in Iraq more than two years ago, marking the first official report of his death.
The U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM), which oversees U.S. military operations in Syria and Iraq, told Global News that Farah Mohamed Shirdon was killed in the city of Mosul on July 13, 2015.
Shirdon, a Somali-Canadian who left Calgary in 2014 to join ISIS, is wanted by the RCMP on six terrorism charges that accused him of being an ISIS combatant, recruiter, fundraiser and propagandist.
“Farah Mohamed Shirdon, an external operations facilitator and recruiter, was killed by a coalition airstrike in Mosul on July 13, 2015,” a CENTCOM spokesperson said in an email Wednesday. “We have nothing further to add at this time.”
The airstrike was one of 20 that took place in Iraq on that day, the U.S. military said. The targets struck near Mosul included an ISIS tactical unit, mortar position and vehicle, said a military news release issued at the time. The Canadian Department of National Defence website shows no airstrikes were carried out by Canadian forces that day.
But as recently as April, the U.S. State Department placed Shirdon on its list of designated terrorists and Canadian terrorism researcher Prof. Amarnath Amarasingam raised doubts about the military’s claim.
“The date seems pretty questionable to me,” said Amarasingam, a senior research fellow at the Institute for Strategic Dialogue.
He said people who knew Shirdon personally had exchanged messages with him as recently as June 2016. “And they spoke about fairly personal things, so it’s unlikely that it was an imposter.”
“It makes sense that he would have been targeted in mid-2015, because that is around the time he was putting out the most dangerous and incendiary posts on social media, attempting to encourage youth in Canada to launch attacks. But, the date of death seems remarkably early.”
Global News reached out to the U.S. State Department for comment but did not receive a response.
Who is Farah Mohamed Shirdon?
It’s not the first report of his death in Iraq. Social media posts in August 2014 said Shirdon had been killed, but he resurfaced the following month, saying he had been injured when his vehicle hit a roadside bomb.
But this is the first time the anti-ISIS military coalition, which includes Canada, has said he was dead. The statement came after Global News sent the U.S. military a list of high-profile Canadian foreign fighters and asked if any had been targeted or killed by the coalition.
A former Southern Alberta Institute of Technology student, Shirdon was one of the most outspoken Canadians in ISIS. A prolific online presence, he regularly posted threats, ISIS propaganda and photos of himself on social media accounts that were invariably suspended.
“We are coming and we will destroy you,” he said in an ISIS video. “With permission from Allah the almighty, we will bring you slaughter.” He was then shown dropping his Canadian passport into a bonfire.
Shirdon was born in Toronto in 1993. His family had moved to the city after their native Somalia fell into chaos and violence. They then uprooted to Calgary, where Shirdon went to school.
He showed little interest in religion until 2012, when he began attending a downtown Calgary prayer centre that became a hub for a half-dozen extremists who went on to join ISIS. The Calgary prayer centre is now closed.
On March 14, 2014, he left for Turkey and soon appeared in an ISIS propaganda video calling himself “Abu Usamah” and threatening to bring violence to Canada and the United States.
But his repeated threats to attack the U.S. may have made him a target of military planners. The RCMP laid charges against him in September 2015 — two months after CENTCOM said he was killed. Interpol added Shirdon to a wanted list in November 2015.
Global News reached out to Public Safety Canada and the RCMP for comment but have not yet received a response.
VICE News was dragged into the case when the police obtained a production order on VICE for its research on Shirdon. VICE has been fighting the order in court, arguing that police use of journalists in criminal investigations would make sources reluctant to come forward in the future.
“If this information is true, I’d hope the government and the RCMP will take another look at my case,” said Ben Makuch, the VICE national security reporter whose research the RCMP is seeking.
The CENTCOM report of his death raises questions about why the RCMP continued to pursue VICE documents if Shirdon was believed dead.
“I don’t see why they would continue to put freedom of the press at risk, to make a case against a dead, alleged, terrorist,” Makuch said. “And if he’s been dead for two years, why has my life been turned upside down over this for the last year or more?”
© 2017 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

Iran is sending a dangerous message to the world
Dr. Majid Rafizadeh/ArabNews/September 07/17
Iran has shifted policy from covertly advancing its military programs to publicly announcing progress on that front. This week, Iran’s state-owned newspapers praised its “remarkable” military advancements. Keyhan’s front page boasted about the country’s unveiling of an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) base, saying it is a warning to “enemies.”
Quoting air defense chief Farzad Esmaili, Press TV reported that “Iran’s UAV program has expanded in recent years with more than a dozen models,” with “functions ranging from surveillance to intelligence gathering, carrying bombs and Kamikaze operations.”
Tehran also unveiled a new surface-to-air missile, Talash-3, and two radar systems. This despite UN Security Council resolution 2231, which endorsed the nuclear deal, calling on Iran not to “undertake any activity related to ballistic missiles designed to be capable of delivering nuclear weapons, including launches using such ballistic missile technology.”
Tehran is sending a message that if any Western nation, regional power or non-state actor stands in the way of its revolutionary principles and foreign policy objectives, there will be serious military repercussions.
This is not the language of diplomacy and dialogue that the government claims to champion. It is the language of hard power, which Tehran is familiar with and heavily relies on. This language leads to further regional destabilization, insecurity and tensions.
The government is appeasing the hardcore base of Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei and Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC). By showing off the country’s military power, Tehran is also trying to foment nationalist sentiment, specifically sections of society that are disaffected and disenchanted with the government.
Furthermore, by exploiting and exaggerating the notion that Iran has enemies, the ruling establishment is justifying its military budget increase. Recently, despite high unemployment and poverty, Parliament overwhelmingly voted in favor of increasing the military budget by more than $500 million.
With its latest display of hard power, Tehran is warning there will be military repercussions for any country standing in the way of its mission to spread its revolutionary principles.
The bill focuses on spending in two particular categories: Advancing ballistic missile capabilities, and investing in other programs that play a role in conducting foreign operations. One of the major organizations involved in such operations is the Quds Force, the elite branch of the IRGC, which is led by Qasem Soleimani.
The tactical shift occurred after the nuclear deal was reached. From Tehran’s perspective, the West has lost any significant leverage because the four rounds of UN economic sanctions have been lifted. Every round required years of hard work, negotiations, and the consent of the Security Council’s five permanent members. As such, Tehran is confident that reinstating sanctions would be almost impossible.
Indeed, it would be extremely difficult for the US to get the approval of Russia, China, or even the UK and France, to pass a new round of international sanctions. With that in mind, Tehran has shown its true face. From its perspective, the geopolitical landscapes of the region and the world are changing in its favor.
Russia, Turkey and Qatar are leaning further toward Iran. Moscow has intensified its intervention in Syria. Regional conflicts have helped Tehran create proxies and Shiite militias in several Arab countries. Europe appears more focused on striking business deals with Iran than on its militaristic policies and human rights violations. All these factors have empowered and emboldened Tehran.
• 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. Twitter: @Dr_Rafizadeh

Would Qatari Crisis Last Two Years?
Salman Al-dossary/Asharq Al Awsat/September 07/17
Those who were betting on a short-lived Qatari crisis have lost. Everyone who thought that Qatar’s efforts for international pressure would be fruitful, was proven wrong. Three months on, the four states’ stance hasn’t changed, and is as firm as it was on June 5. Since day one, the ball has been put in Qatar’s court. The message has been clear: If Qatar wants to restore ties, end the boycott and open the border, all it should do is implement what was handwritten by Qatar’s emir in the Riyadh Agreement in 2014. However, it is up to Doha if it decides to face the boycott and lose its interests with the four states.
Qatar chose confrontation, intransigence, escalation and the failure to implement what was requested from it out of its assumption that the crisis would soon end even if it disregarded its pledges. Yet this didn’t happen and time wasn’t in Doha’s favor. As three months passed without achieving its goals, maybe a year or two would also pass and Qatar would discover that it has become the only isolated state and all its bets are gone with the wind.
“It is okay if the Qatari crisis lasted two years,” said Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir. The boycotting states decided to cease the harmful Qatari policies only after they geared themselves for a long-term boycott out of their conviction that Doha’s attitude won’t be easily straightened and it won’t meet its pledges overnight. As it has so far skilfully done, Doha will continue to procrastinate. Only time will reveal where Qatari interests will lie. Did Turkey and Iran really compensate the Gulf loss? Did Doha benefit from marketing itself in a trivial way among western capitals to urge them to pressure for lifting the boycott? The answer is clear, as the crisis nears the 100-day mark, Qatar continues to see it as its main political, economic and social cause. In contrast, the four states haven’t lost anything from crisis but consider the Qatari file to be among a dozen others put on their agenda. Qatar is more than welcome to step back, but if it holds onto its stance and rejects to abide by its commitments, then it is free to do so.
We can say that the world has forgotten the Qatari crisis. It appeared in the headlines for some time, then states resumed their businesses by looking after their interests. The foreign ministers of US, France, UK and Germany toured the region to carry out diplomatic missions with allied states, then they left. Nothing more was done. Gradually, Qatar woke up on an ugly truth that it is facing a real crisis unilaterally. It has plenty of solutions, but procrastination or resorting for Western help are not among them. Pursuits to strike alliances with Turkey and Iran didn’t compensate its stalled interests. Even the “blockage” lie didn’t work out. It rather unveiled Qatar’s naivety – here you see Qatar bragging that 35 percent of Middle Eastern trade goes through the state’s “besieged” port. Amidst the current Qatari regime policy, it seems there is no hope in resolving the crisis soon. Let Qatar stick to its stance and let there be a protracted crisis. Sometimes, only time is capable of resolving complex issues. Qatar is the only damaged party – its losses are increasing but only these losses will urge Doha to meet its obligations.

FDR's 'Rattlesnake' Rule and the North Korean Threat

John R. Bolton//Gatestone Institute/September 07/17
"When you see a rattlesnake poised to strike, you do not wait until he has struck before you crush him." By these words in a Sept. 11, 1941, fireside chat, Franklin Roosevelt authorized US warships to fire first against Nazi naval vessels, which he called "the rattlesnakes of the Atlantic."
Roosevelt's order applied whenever German or Italian ships entered "waters of self-defense" necessary to protect the US, including those surrounding US outposts on Greenland and Iceland.
Uttered 60 years to the day before 9/11, and less than three months before Pearl Harbor, Roosevelt's words still resonate. North Korea's sixth nuclear test last weekend, along with its significantly increased ballistic-missile testing, establishes that Pyongyang is perilously close to being able to hit targets across the continental United States with nuclear warheads, perhaps thermonuclear ones.
The Nazi threat to US shipping, both normal commercial traffic and war supplies destined for Great Britain, was undeniably significant, and the Axis powers' broader totalitarian threat was existential. Nonetheless, right up to Dec. 7, 1941, many American leaders urged caution to avoid provoking the Axis and thereby risking broader conflict. Pearl Harbor followed.
In his chat, Roosevelt observed that others had "refused to look the Nazi danger squarely in the eye until it actually had them by the throat." We shouldn't commit that mistake today. North Korea's behavior, and its lasting desire to conquer the South, have created the present crisis.
Letting Kim Jong-un's bizarre regime "have America by the throat," subjecting us and our allies to perpetual nuclear extortion, is not an acceptable outcome.
We have endured 25 years of US diplomatic failure, with endless rounds of negotiations, presenting North Korea with the choice between economic incentives or sanctions. During this time, which certainly constitutes "not looking the danger squarely in the eye," North Korea has repeatedly breached commitments to abandon its nuclear-weapons program, often made in return for handsome compensation.
Nonetheless, we hear echoes from Roosevelt's day that "there is no acceptable military option" when it comes to Pyongyang. This means, as Susan Rice said recently, "we can, if we must, tolerate nuclear weapons in North Korea," as we did with the Soviets in Cold War days. The US should not accept such counsels of despair, based on dangerously facile and wildly inaccurate historical analogies.
Why accept a future of unending nuclear blackmail by Pyongyang, whose governing logic is hardly that of Cold War Moscow, and which would entail not that era's essentially bipolar standoff, but a far-more-dangerous world of nuclear multipolarity?
If Washington lets Kim retain his nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles, his regime will happily sell these materials and technologies to Iran, other rogue states or terrorist groups for the right price. This is another key difference from the Cold War; Moscow was substantially more worried about nuclear proliferation than Pyongyang now is.
It would be, as Roosevelt understood, "inexcusable folly" to ignore North Korea's pattern of behavior over the last quarter century: "We Americans are now face to face not with abstract theories but with cruel, relentless facts." For America in 1941, hope of sheltering behind the oceans was fast disappearing, forcing Roosevelt to extend our maritime defense perimeter effectively across the Atlantic to Europe.
In the age of ICBMs, there's no "perimeter"; we are at risk in agonizingly short time frames of a missile's flight launched anywhere, whether from North Korea or Iran. It is completely unacceptable to say we must await a first strike by Pyongyang before we will resort to military force. Roosevelt dismissed such arguments peremptorily: "Let us not say: 'We will only defend ourselves if the torpedo succeeds in getting home, or if the crew and passengers are drowned.' "
The remaining diplomatic options are few, and the time to exercise them dwindling fast. Convincing China that its national interests would be enhanced by reunifying the two Koreas, thus ending what Beijing itself believes is a threat to peace and security in northeast Asia, remains possible. Unfortunately, this is increasingly hard to accomplish before North Korea becomes a fully mature nuclear-weapons state.
We're moving rapidly to the point where Roosevelt said squarely, "It is the time for prevention of attack." George W. Bush spoke equally directly in 2002: "Our security will require all Americans to be . . . ready for preemptive action when necessary to defend our liberty and to defend our lives." The alternative is potentially global proliferation of nuclear weapons, with the attendant risks lasting beyond our power to calculate.
John R. Bolton, former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, is Chairman of Gatestone Institute, a senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, and author of "Surrender Is Not an Option: Defending America at the United Nations and Abroad".
**This article first appeared in The New York Post and is reprinted here with the kind permission of the author.
© 2017 Gatestone Institute. All rights reserved. The articles printed here do not necessarily reflect the views of the Editors or of Gatestone Institute. No part of the Gatestone website or any of its contents may be reproduced, copied or modified, without the prior written consent of Gatestone Institute.

European Court Orders EU Countries to Take Migrants

"Politics has raped European law and values."
Soeren Kern/Gatestone Institute/September 07/17
The September 6 ruling, which has been hailed as a victory for European federalism, highlights the degree to which the European Union has usurped decision-making powers from its 28 member states. The ruling also showcases how the EU's organs of jurisprudence have become politicized.
Many so-called asylum seekers have refused to relocate to Central and Eastern Europe because the financial benefits there are not as generous as in France, Germany or Scandinavia.
"Let us not forget that those arriving have been raised in another religion, and represent a radically different culture. Most of them are not Christians, but Muslims. This is an important question, because Europe and European identity is rooted in Christianity. Is it not worrying in itself that European Christianity is now barely able to keep Europe Christian? If we lose sight of this, the idea of Europe could become a minority interest in its own continent." — Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán.
The European Union's highest court has rejected a complaint by Hungary and Slovakia over the legality of the bloc's mandatory refugee quota program, which requires EU member states to admit tens of thousands of migrants from Africa, Asia and the Middle East.
The European Court of Justice (ECJ) ruled that the European Commission, the powerful executive arm of the European Union, has the legal right to order EU member states to take in so-called asylum seekers, and, conversely, that EU member states have no legal right to resist those orders.
The September 6 ruling, which has been hailed as a victory for European federalism, highlights the degree to which the European Union has usurped decision-making powers from its 28 member states. The ruling also showcases how the European Union's organs of jurisprudence have become politicized.
Opponents of the relocation scheme say that decisions about the granting of residence permits should be kept at the national level, and that by unilaterally imposing migrant quotas on EU member states, unelected bureaucrats in Brussels are seeking to force the democratically elected leaders of Europe to submit to their diktat. The dispute dates back to September 2015, when, at the height of Europe's migration crisis, EU member states narrowly voted to relocate 120,000 "refugees" from Italy and Greece to other parts of the bloc. This number was in addition to a July 2015 plan to redistribute 40,000 migrants from Italy and Greece. Of the 160,000 migrants to be "shared," nine countries in Central and Eastern Europe were ordered to take in around 15,000 migrants. Although the Czech Republic, Hungary, Romania and Slovakia voted against the agreement, they were still required to comply.
Since then, several states have refused to accept their assigned quotas of migrants. Poland, for example, has a quota of 6,182 migrants, not one of whom has been admitted. The Czech Republic has a quota of 2,691 migrants, of whom only 12 have been taken. Hungary has a quota of 1,294, none of whom has been admitted. In the EU as a whole, so far only around 25,000 migrants have been relocated (7,873 from Italy and 16,803 from Greece), according to the EU's latest relocation and resettlement report, published on July 26, 2017. Of the 28 EU member states, only Latvia and Malta have taken in their full quotas — a combined total of 469 migrants.
Many so-called asylum seekers have refused to relocate to Central and Eastern Europe because the financial benefits there are not as generous as in France, Germany or Scandinavia. Hundreds of migrants who have been relocated to Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, which rank among the poorest countries in the EU, have since fled to Germany and other wealthier countries in the bloc. Hungary and Slovakia, backed by Poland, argued that the European Union broke its own rules and exceeded its powers when it approved the quota system with a "qualified majority" — around two thirds of the bloc's members. They also argued that the relocation scheme is a direct violation of the European Union's Dublin Regulation, a law that requires people seeking refuge within the EU to do so in the first European country they reach.
The European Court of Justice ruled that a qualified majority vote was sufficient because the EU "was not required to act unanimously when it adopted the contested decision." The ruling, which did not mention the Dublin Regulation, concluded: "The mechanism actually contributes to enabling Greece and Italy to deal with the impact of the 2015 migration crisis and is proportionate."
Hungarian Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto called the court ruling "outrageous and irresponsible" and "contrary to the interests of the European nations, including Hungary." He added: "The decision puts at risk the security of all of Europe and the future of all of Europe as well."
Szijjarto vowed that Hungary would continue to challenge any attempts by the EU resettle migrants in Hungary without its approval. "The real battle is only just beginning," he said, adding that the decision was political: "Politics has raped European law and values."
Slovakian Prime Minister Robert Fico said that while he "respected" the court's decision, his government's opposition to the relocation plan "has not changed at all." He added: "We will continue to work on having solidarity expressed in different ways other than forcing on us migrants from other countries that do not want to be here anyway."
Polish Prime Minister Beata Szydło also was defiant: "I was convinced that the court would make such a decision, but this absolutely does not change the stance of the Polish government with respect to migration policy."
After the ruling of the European Court of Justice that the EU has the legal right to order member states to take in so-called asylum seekers, and that member states have no right to resist those orders, Polish PM Beata Szydło was defiant, saying, "this absolutely does not change the stance of the Polish government with respect to migration policy." (ECJ photo by Transparency International/Flickr; Szydło photo by Polish PM Chancellery)
German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel said that the ruling means Eastern European member states must abide by the refugee sharing scheme: "I always said to our Eastern European partners that it is right to clarify questions legally if there is doubt. But now we can expect all European partners to stick to the ruling and implement the agreements without delay."
EU Migration Commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos welcomed the ECJ ruling: "ECJ confirms relocation scheme valid. Time to work in unity and implement solidarity in full." He warned holdouts of legal action if they do not comply with the refugee obligations "in coming weeks."
The European Commission has already initiated legal action against the Czech Republic, Hungary and Poland for failing to take in their quotas of migrants. The so-called infringement procedure, which authorizes the Commission to sue member states that are considered to be in breach of their obligations under EU law, could lead to massive financial penalties. The ECJ ruling and the continued threats from Brussels are likely to help Hungarian Prime Minister Victor Orbán in his campaign for re-election in 2018. In a recent opinion survey, Orbán's Fidesz party polled at 53%, followed by the nationalist Jobbik party, at 21%. He has said that his campaign platform would focus on boosting the economy, improving security and preserving national identity. Orbán, who has emerged as the standard-bearer of European opposition to German Chancellor Angela Merkel's "open-door" migration policy, has repeatedly warned that Muslim migrants are threatening Europe's Christian identity: "Let us not forget that those arriving have been raised in another religion, and represent a radically different culture. Most of them are not Christians, but Muslims. This is an important question, because Europe and European identity is rooted in Christianity. Is it not worrying in itself that European Christianity is now barely able to keep Europe Christian? If we lose sight of this, the idea of Europe could become a minority interest in its own continent."
At a September 3 campaign rally in the town of Kötcse, Orbán cited expert predictions that more than 60 million people are expected to make their way from Africa into Europe during the next 20 years — thereby pushing Europe's Muslim population to above 20% by 2030. "The Islamization of Europe is real," Orbán warned.
**Soeren Kern is a Senior Fellow at the New York-based Gatestone Institute.
© 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.

Why an Obscure Strip of Land in the Himalayas is Important for the Free World
Lawrence A. Franklin/Gatestone Institute/September 07/17
India's withdrawal already has served China's interest: to pressure Bhutan and Nepal to resist seeking help from New Delhi to defend their sovereignty. China wants these small Himalayan countries to view India as an unreliable ally, and probably hopes they will begin looking to Beijing for protection and leadership.Where the wider region is concerned, China most likely considers India's capitulation as a signal to other countries engaged in territorial disputes with it -- such as Vietnam, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Brunei and Japan -- to succumb to bilateral negotiations with Beijing, rather than solicit international or multilateral organizations to negotiate for them. All of these states, which are either U.S. allies or have friendly relations with America, are keenly aware of their vulnerability in the face of China's growing military power.
The United States must not allow China to intimidate India and other friendly regional states. Rather, it must support the banding together of those countries to defy Beijing and contain Chinese expansionism. American influence in the Pacific is at stake.
A months-long confrontation between China and India over an obscure piece of land -- the Doklam plateau in the Himalayas -- has serious implications that should not be minimized or ignored.
China's decision to pick a fight with India near their mutual border with the Buddhist kingdom of Bhutan is not just a local issue: the regional altercation could have global repercussions.
The crisis was sparked early in the summer of 2017, when China constructed a road inside Bhutan, an ally of India's. (Bhutan's border is internationally recognized, but China rejects its legitimacy, claiming that the area is really part of southern Tibet.) In response, Indian troops entered the disputed territory on June 12 and faced off with Chinese soldiers and road construction crews. No shots were fired, however brawling ensued.
China's behavior, which reflects its ultimate objective of achieving hegemony in the Pacific, runs counter to the U.S. policy imperative to protect freedom of navigation on the high seas, through which one-third of the world's commerce passes. To this end, the U.S. Pacific Fleet conducts regular and frequent multilateral naval exercises to keep these waters free of Chinese control. One such exercise was conducted jointly with the Indian Navy during the recent standoff with China.
The upshot of the standoff was that India backed down. On August 28, New Delhi withdrew its troops from Doklam, a move that China has touted as a victory and deployed as a warning. As a Chinese Defense Ministry spokesman triumphantly announced, "We remind the Indian side to learn the lesson from this incident."India portrayed the temporary resolution to the conflict differently, claiming the crisis was defused as a result of a mutually agreed-upon diplomatic decision, which it called an "expeditious disengagement of border personnel." In any event, as no territorial issues were resolved along the 3,500-kilometer China-India border, future incidents are likely to erupt.
In the meantime, India's withdrawal already has served China's interest: to pressure Bhutan and Nepal to resist seeking help from New Delhi to defend their sovereignty. China wants these Himalayan countries to view India as an unreliable ally, and probably hopes they will begin looking to Beijing for protection and leadership. Where the wider region is concerned, China most likely considers India's capitulation as a signal to other countries engaged in territorial disputes with it -- such as Vietnam, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Brunei and Japan -- to succumb to bilateral negotiations with Beijing, rather than solicit international or multilateral organizations to negotiate for them. All of these states, which are either U.S. allies or have friendly relations with America, are keenly aware of their vulnerability in the face of China's growing military power. If they become disillusioned and weaken their resistance to Beijing's ambitions, the United States' standing in the Pacific will be damaged irrevocably.
This is precisely the indirect message that China has been conveying to the powers-that-be in Washington, while warning India not to participate in any possible U.S. strategy to contain Chinese influence. Speaking on August 1 at an event to mark the 90th anniversary of the founding of the People's Liberation Army, Chinese President Xi Jinping hinted at this when he said, "We will never permit anybody, any organization, any political party to split off any piece of Chinese territory from China at any time in any form."
The United States must not allow China to intimidate India and other friendly regional states. Rather, it must support the banding together of those countries to defy Beijing and contain Chinese expansionism. American influence in the Pacific is at stake, which should be of great concern to the rest of the free world.
Dr. Lawrence A. Franklin was the Iran Desk Officer for Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld. He also served on active duty with the U.S. Army and as a Colonel in the Air Force Reserve, where he was a Military Attaché at the U.S. Embassy in Israel.
© 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.

UK’s Brexit Predicament
Clive Crook/Bloomberg View/September 07/17
The Brexit talks between the UK and the European Union haven’t gone well. The March 2019 deadline for concluding an agreement is approaching, and progress has been much too slow. Prime Minister Theresa May needs to get a grip on this process.
Britain’s government faces two crucial obstacles. It’s in May’s power to break through both. The first is the EU’s insistence that Britain’s exit payment in settlement of liabilities should be substantially agreed — the formula is that “sufficient progress” should have been made — before talks move on to post-Brexit arrangements. The second is uncertainty over the form of a transitional post-Brexit deal to govern relations until the two sides can fashion a permanent new agreement — a task bound to take at least several more years.
The UK is dithering on both points, and it’s clear why: Each of these questions is politically toxic — and May’s political capital, after this year’s general-election debacle, stands at roughly zero.
Public opinion in Britain solidly opposes an exit payment in the mid- to high tens of billions of euros, which the EU has said it expects. And many of those who voted for Brexit are skeptical about a transitional deal that leaves the UK’s obligations to the EU substantially in place, seeing this as a continuation of EU membership by other means.
So far, May has done nothing to prepare public opinion for the substantial exit payment that the UK will probably have to endure. And she’s done nothing to make the case for a so-called off-the-shelf transition, which mostly just freezes existing arrangements.
On the exit payment, she should propose to settle the matter through independent international arbitration. This was suggested earlier this year by Andre Sapir of the Bruegel Institute — before it was certain that the issue would in fact cripple the talks. Now that it has, May should take up Sapir’s idea.
Arbitration has great substantive advantages. It recognizes, for instance, that the question of what is actually owed is enormously complicated, that the parties start from positions that are very far apart, and that a lot of face is at stake on both sides. It gives Britain, especially, cover for backing down. The resulting terms would not be a surrender to EU bullying, but a principled compliance with a legitimate process both sides agreed to invoke. The International Court of Justice, a United Nations body, or the Permanent Court of Arbitration, as Sapir suggests, would be the appropriate body.
On the form of the transition, May should come down squarely in support of her chancellor of the exchequer, Philip Hammond — and against other ministers, notably Liam Fox.
After Brexit, for a period of several years, Britain would remain in the EU’s single market and customs union, would keep paying its membership dues, accept free movement, recognize the existing rights of EU citizens in the UK — and have no say in EU decision-making.
Brexit hardliners, inside and outside May’s Conservative Party, would denounce that as overthrowing the referendum result. May would say: It does no such thing. Of course, she would say, this outcome is completely unacceptable as a long-term arrangement — and that’s precisely why it’s guaranteed to be temporary. It’s merely the price of executing Brexit with the least possible short-term disruption.
And she could patiently explain why Brexit hardliners should be open to this approach. Their resistance to EU demands for liabilities to be settled, and their preference for a complex bespoke transition that dissolves the U.K.’s existing rights and commitments at the outset, are leading in one direction only — to the so-called cliff-edge Brexit that will, at a minimum, impose enormous short-term disruption on the U.K. economy. And that, as John Springford of the Centre for European Reform has argued, might be the worst possible outcome for hardliners. It would lead voters to conclude that Brexit was a terrible mistake after all — an error that they might then decide to put right. It ought to be obvious: The hardliners have a bigger stake in a smooth Brexit than anybody else. The price for securing it is modest — a little patience. Is it really beyond the prime minister to see this, take charge, and make the case?