September 12-13/17

Compiled & Prepared by: Elias Bejjani

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Bible Quotations For Today
No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you
Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ according to Saint John 15/09-16/:”As the Father has loved me, so I have loved you; abide in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. I have said these things to you so that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be complete. ‘This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you. I do not call you servants any longer, because the servant does not know what the master is doing; but I have called you friends, because I have made known to you everything that I have heard from my Father. You did not choose me but I chose you. And I appointed you to go and bear fruit, fruit that will last, so that the Father will give you whatever you ask him in my name.”

A wife is bound as long as her husband lives. But if the husband dies, she is free to marry anyone she wishes, only in the Lord
First Letter to the Corinthians 07/36-40/:”If anyone thinks that he is not behaving properly towards his fiance’e, if his passions are strong, and so it has to be, let him marry as he wishes; it is no sin. Let them marry. But if someone stands firm in his resolve, being under no necessity but having his own desire under control, and has determined in his own mind to keep her as his fiance’e, he will do well.So then, he who marries his fiance’e does well; and he who refrains from marriage will do better. A wife is bound as long as her husband lives. But if the husband dies, she is free to marry anyone she wishes, only in the Lord. But in my judgement she is more blessed if she remains as she is. And I think that I too have the Spirit of God.”

Titles For Latest LCCC Bulletin analysis & editorials from miscellaneous sources published on September 11-12/17
Rogers Bejjani/Face Book Comments/September 11/17
Hezbollah Declares Victory in Syria: 'We Have Won the War'/Haaretz/Reuters/September 12/17
Israel To Occupy Parts Of South Lebanon In Next Conflict With Hezbollah/Jerusalem Post/September 12/17
Hezbollah Sends Reassuring Messages to Israel Amid Syria Strike, IDF Drills Near Lebanon/Amos Harel and News Agencies/Haaretz/September 12/17
Lebanese director detained over filming in Israel/Jerusalem Post/September 12/17
“West Beirut” and “The Insult” Director Ziad Doueiri Arrested in Beirut Because His Last Movie Was In Israel/State Of Mind/September 11/17
Lebanese Director Briefly Held in Beirut for Filming Movie in Israel/Asharq Al Awsat/September 12/17
Trump Supports $ 75M. Additional Aid To Israel Beyond Obama-Eramou/Jerusalem Post/September 12/17
16 Years Later: Lessons Put into Practice/John R. Bolton/Gatestone Institute/September 11/17
Terrorism and Nuclear Dreams/Ghassan Charbel/Asharq Al Awsat/September 12/17
Kurdish Independence… Fears and Premonitions/Abdulrahman Al-Rashed/Asharq Al Awsat/September 12/17
Tillerson Is Working with China and Russia – Very, Very Quietly/David Ignatius/The Washington Post/September 12/17
Why Europe’s Central Bank Shouldn’t Worry About the Euro/Ferdinando Giugliano/Bloomberg/September 12/17
Iran Deal Devotees Try in Vain to Save a Sinking Ship/John R. Bolton/Gatestone Institute/September 12/17
Iran: See a Pattern/Shoshana Bryen/Gatestone Institute/September 12/17
Germany: The Rise of Islam/Giulio Meotti/Gatestone Institute/September 12/17
Illegal Migrant Problem? Greece Offers a Solution/Daniel Pipes/Washington Times/September 12/17

Titles For Latest LCCC Lebanese Related News published on September 11-12/17
Hariri Meets Russia PM, FM, Urges Stronger Military, Economic Cooperation
Lebanon Lodges 'Violation' Complaint with UN against Israel
Aoun Encourages Lebanese Women to Engage in Politics
Nasrallah Says 'We are Writing Region's History, not Lebanon's'
Mustaqbal: Probe Must Target Those who Prevented Negotiations on Troops in 2014
Aoun to Trump: We Stand United against Terrorism
Report: Electricity Tender Might Initiate Govt Dispute
Asir Verdict to be Issued Sep. 28 as Lawyers Barred from Trial
STL Says Prosecutor Submitted New Indictment on July 21
Aoun Says Lebanon to Follow Up Actively on U.N. Complaint against Israel
Shorter Meets Aoun, Offers Congratulations and Condolences
Berri Says Israeli Sonic Boom a 'Direct Threatening Message'
Berri Lauds Hariri's Solidarity Visit to Salam
Hezbollah Declares Victory in Syria: 'We Have Won the War'
Israel To Occupy Parts Of South Lebanon In Next Conflict With Hezbollah
Hezbollah Sends Reassuring Messages to Israel Amid Syria Strike, IDF Drills Near Lebanon
Lebanon president to visit Iran to deepen bilateral ties
Security chiefs meet for follow-up on Higher Defense Council
Lebanese director detained over filming in Israel
“West Beirut” and “The Insult” Director Ziad Doueiri Arrested in Beirut Because His Last Movie Was In Israel
Lebanese Director Briefly Held in Beirut for Filming Movie in Israel/Asharq Al Awsat/September 12/17/
Jacques Machaalani & Hezbollah

Titles For Latest LCCC Bulletin For Miscellaneous Reports And News published on September 11-12/17
Iraqi Parliament Rejects Kurdish Independence Referendum
Turkish-Iranian Deal under Russian Auspices: Idlib in Exchange for South Damascus
Iraqi Government Holds 1400 Wives, Children of Foreign ISIS Militants
Argentines Protest against Netanyahu Visit
Quartet: Qatari FM Speech Affirms Continuity of Denial Approach
Shoukry: Ongoing Cooperation Between Anti-Terrorism Quartet
Dispute between Houthis, Saleh Escalates as Coup Anniversary Approaches
Trump Supports $ 75M. Additional Aid To Israel Beyond Obama-Eramou
N. Korea Says Will Make U.S. Suffer over 'Vicious' U.N. Sanctions
Russian, US-Led Strikes Kill 28 Civilians in Syria's Deir Ezzor
Global Split over Rohingya Crisis as China Backs Myanmar Crackdown

Latest Lebanese Related News published on September 11-12/17
Rogers Bejjani/Face Book Comments

September 11/17
*There is only one defense strategy for Lebanon v/s Israel: Consolidate 1701, the Armistice agreement and engage in peace talks with Israel under the hospices of the United States.
Any other strategy is simply ridiculous, suicidal, self-destructive, costly....
*Regarding our defense strategy against Syria, extending practically 1701 to include the Syrian border (it is included in the text) is the ONLY way to go. At least until there is a stable non-hostile regime in Syria.
No Dr. Geagea, corruption is not equivalent to Hezbollah's military and terror. No we can't accommodate to one of those. The priority is Hezbollah not corruption. Corruption feeds itself from Hezbollah's game.
Lebanon is turning slowly but surely in an idiotic oppressive pseudo Republic monitored by the Iranian Islamic Revolutionary guards
*After listening to Samir Geagea today,
1. I wonder what the LF have in common with the Tayyar and what the moronic Me3rab understanding really stands for!?!?
2. Most of the slogans used by Geagea this evening could be easily used against him and the LF.

Hariri Meets Russia PM, FM, Urges Stronger Military, Economic Cooperation
Naharnet/September 12/17/Prime Minister Saad Hariri held separate talks Tuesday with his Russian counterpart Dmitry Medvedev and Russia's Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov. “You are following an approach to strengthen the relations and cooperation with Russia and we appreciate it a lot and consider it very important for the future of the relations,” Medvedev told Hariri at his Gorki-9 residence outside Moscow. “We also strongly support your policy of consolidation of Lebanon’s sovereignty and territorial integrity and both countries are facing numerous problems, particularly the problem of terrorism,” the Russian PM added. “I want to congratulate you on your success in eliminating the extremist groups inside your borders and this is very important. We are ready to continue enhancing cooperation in fighting terrorism and in other sensitive fields,” Medvedev went on to say. Hariri for his part said: “The political relations between the two countries have always been excellent and we look forward to bringing the economic relations to the level of the political relations. Lebanon suffers from several problems, most importantly terrorism. We succeeded in winning several battles against terrorism, but Lebanon needs its friends, particularly Russia.” “In Lebanon, we also have the problem of the displaced Syrians and this issue should be looked at from the angle that if a political solution is reached in Syria, it should include the return of the displaced to their homeland not only from Lebanon but from all over the world,” he added. “We want the Russian companies to come and work in Lebanon,” Hariri urged. “We are also in the process of rearming the Lebanese army and we want a military cooperation between Lebanon and Russia. But what is important for us is to preserve Lebanon’s neutrality regarding all the problems around it because we are living in a very turbulent region,” the PM added. Hariri then invited Medvedev to visit Lebanon. Discussions continued over a lunch banquet held by the Russian prime minister in honor of Hariri and the accompanying delegation.
Earlier in the day, Hariri had said during talks with FM Lavrov that “empowering the Lebanese army and security forces is crucial in order to empower the Lebanese State.”“We want to empower the Lebanese army and security forces in order to empower the State. We look forward for the great role Russia will play in the region,” said Hariri. “I am determined to develop economic and military relations as well, and to explore the purchase of weapons from Russia to strengthen the Lebanese army which is very important for Lebanon,” he added. Turning to the crisis of Syrian refugees, Hariri said: "We know well of the massive efforts exerted in order to find a political solution in Syria. We hope the refugees return back to their homeland as part of a political solution too." The PM hoped the visit will be “fruitful in support of the Lebanese economy," saying he is eying “developed relations” with Russia. Hariri's meeting with Lavrov at the Russian foreign ministry was held in the presence of the accompanying delegation comprised of ministers Ghassan Hasbani, Melhem Riachi, Nouhad al-Mashnouq, Ali Hassan Khalil, Ghattas Khoury, Youssef Fenianos, Raed Khoury and Nader Hariri -- the premier's chief of staff. For his part, Lavrov hailed endeavors to “develop and strengthen Lebanese-Russian political, economic and humanitarian ties.”"It is a good opportunity to exchange views on the problems in the Middle East,” he said. "We support your efforts and those of your government to stabilize the situation in Lebanon and to unite efforts to fight terrorism," he said. Lavrov also congratulated Lebanon on the success of the military operation carried out by the Lebanese army against the Islamic State extremist group in the outskirts of its eastern border.

Lebanon Lodges 'Violation' Complaint with UN against Israel
Naharnet/September 12/17/Lebanon has filed a complaint with the United Nations over the latest Israeli violations of Lebanon's airspace, the National News Agency reported on Tuesday. “Lebanon has filed a complaint with the UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and with Permanent Representative of Ethiopia to the United Nations, Tekeda Alemu over Israel's violations of Lebanon's airspace last Sunday,” said NNA. “The warplanes have hovered at a low altitude over the southern city of Sidon and broke the sound barrier over the neighboring areas,” added NNA. “Israeli violations constitutes a flagrant violation of Lebanese sovereignty and a new violation of the provisions of international law, the UN Charter and all its relevant resolutions," the Lebanese government said in a letter submitted by Lebanon's permanent representative to New York, Ambassador Nawaf Salam. “It is a deliberate intimidation of the people and contributes to the destabilization of international peace and security,” added the letter.

Aoun Encourages Lebanese Women to Engage in Politics
Naharnet/September 12/17/President Michel Aoun has encouraged Lebanese women on Tuesday to “involve themselves in politics and in decision making.” During a meeting with a delegation from the National Commission For Lebanese Women (NCLW) at the Presidential Palace in Baabda, Aoun said “Lebanese women should involve themselves in political life and decision making.” Lebanon has created a new portfolio and established a State Ministry for Women's Affairs when it's Prime Minister Saad Hariri formed a 30-minister cabinet late in 2016. Lebanese women seek greater participation in the country’s political life although a suggestion to create a quota for women in Lebanon's government has failed. The government has also called on the UN Security Council to condemn the attack ”in the strongest possible terms and to compel Israel to stop its violations of Lebanon's sovereignty by land, sea and air and to implement all its obligations under UN resolution 1701.”On Sunday, Israeli jets have flown low over the southern Lebanese city of Sidon, causing at least one sonic boom. The development came amid Israeli military exercises near Lebanon’s border. It also came days after Israeli warplanes bombed a military site in Syria from Lebanon’s airspace. The Foreign Ministry has said that Lebanon will file an "urgent complaint" against Israel with the U.N. Security Council over that violation.

Nasrallah Says 'We are Writing Region's History, not Lebanon's'
Naharnet/September 12/17/Hizbullah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah stated that Hizbullah has “won the war in Syria,” and that the party is “making history in the region," al-Akhbar daily reported on Tuesday. “We are aware of our situation regarding the war in Syria. Out martyrs, wounded, captives and people are changing equations and writing the region's history, not Lebanon's,” said Nasrallah. His remarks came at the annual meeting with readers of consolation on the eve of the holy month of Muharram, said the daily. “We have won the war in Syria,” said Nasrallah, “what remains are only spares battles,” he added. Hizbullah has fought alongside the troops of Syrian President Bashar Assad. More than a thousand of its fighters have died fighting alongside government forces in Syria. Touching on the battle against the jihadist groups on the outskirts of Lebanon's eastern border, he said: “Fighting the IS and al-Nusra Front groups was the greatest plight we have experienced since 2010. It is even more serious than the 2006 July war.”He accused the US, Israel, Qatar and Saudi Arabia of planning to eliminate the Resistance, he said: “Since 2011 we were aware that what was happening was a great sedition and that there is a US-Israeli-Qatari-Saudi project planning to eradicate the Resistance and settle the Palestinian cause.”

Mustaqbal: Probe Must Target Those who Prevented Negotiations on Troops in 2014
Naharnet/September 12/17/Al-Mustaqbal parliamentary bloc threw its support Tuesday behind ex-PM Tammam Salam in connection with the latest controversy over the 2014 kidnap and consequent execution of Lebanese troops at the hands of jihadist groups. “Ex-PM Tammam Salam's balance and wisdom contributed to rescuing Lebanon from the woes of internal strife, saving the town of Arsal, and avoiding the shedding of a lot of innocent blood in a staged battle,” said the bloc in a statement issued after its weekly meeting, referring to the army's 2014 clashes with the Islamic State and al-Nusra Front groups. “Certain parties showed intransigence and insisted on blocking negotiations that could have led to the release of the servicemen. They later thwarted several initiatives that could have achieved success had it not been for suspicious incidents that involved gunfire and shelling against the mediators who were in charge of the negotiations,” Mustaqbal added. bloc also categorically rejected “the detestable and suspicious accusations and campaigns that some parties have waged against the national role of then-PM Tammam Salam.” It noted that the some parties have deliberately stirred controversy with the aim of “deviating attention from the latest negotiations that led to the withdrawal of the IS terrorists.” “We insist on a comprehensive probe by the judiciary, starting by the phase of intervening in Syria, the import of the IS group into Lebanon, and the blocking of the negotiations” in 2014, Mustaqbal added, in an apparent reference to Hizbullah. It also stressed that the probe that President Michel Aoun has ordered should also address “the latest negotiations that a certain group has conducted to recover its captives and the bodies of its fighters, allowing itself something it had prevented the Lebanese state from doing.”A Hizbullah-led agreement with the IS group has allowed Lebanon to recover the bodies of nine troops who were abducted in 2014 and eventually executed. The deal involved the evacuation of hundreds of IS militants from the Lebanese-Syria border region to eastern Syria. While certain parties have slammed Hizbullah for allowing the IS militants to “flee justice in air-conditioned buses,” the Iran-backed party and some of its allies have accused Salam's government and ex-army chief Jean Qahwaji of alleged misconduct and inaction that supposedly led to keeping the servicemen in captivity. Hizbullah chief Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah has argued that the negotiations with the IS militants were the “only way” to recover the bodies of the slain troops, while Salam has emphasized that he had sought to protect civilians in the border town of Arsal during the 2014 clashes, accusing rival parties of obstructing negotiations that took place that year.

Aoun to Trump: We Stand United against Terrorism
Naharnet/September 12/17/President Michel Aoun has sent a cable to U.S. President Donald Trump on the occasion of the the 16th anniversary of the September 11 attacks. “Today, we stand united against terrorism and we call for solidarity to eradicate it from its roots,” Aoun says in the cable. “What the Lebanese Army did days ago by liberating Lebanese territory from the Islamic State group reflects our insistence on preventing terrorists from achieving their objectives and goals,” Aoun added, referring to the army's Operation Fajr al-Juroud on the eastern border. The 2001 attacks, which killed 2,977 people, remain the deadliest ever on U.S. soil, plunging the United States into a chain of rolling wars against Islamic militants, in which Trump has vowed to give no quarter.

Report: Electricity Tender Might Initiate Govt Dispute
Naharnet/September 12/17/An unfinalized tender for leasing power generating ships may trigger dispute between ministers during an upcoming cabinet meeting on Thursday, meanwhile “advocates of said deal intend to force acceptance in favor of a Turkish company at any cost” al-Joumhouria daily reported on Tuesday.“In the past hours, high-level figures of a political party have started heavily pressuring the Tenders Department in order to facilitate passing a (previous) tender in accordance with the book of conditions prepared by Energy Minister Cesar Abi Khalil,” said the daily.
According to “reliable” information, the renewed pressures came after the Tenders Department criticized in a report the book of conditions of “leasing electricity barges-2”. The report included “negative remarks” pointing out that the tender deal has “major gaps and lacks competition,” said the daily.
Political atmospheres seem tense and this might be reflected during the upcoming cabinet meeting, said the daily. A political source who spoke on condition of anonymity told al-Joumhouria: “The country is on the brink of impasse. Some are trying to smuggle a deal under the cover of darkness. We will not allow this. We will have a say at the cabinet meeting.”“The Tenders Department has responsibly carried out its duty. Its role is not over yet. Its duty is to reply to the Minister's comments (Abi Khalil's) who insists on his conditions. It will then leave the final decision to the cabinet” the source added. Some political parties, have criticized the electricity bid dubbing it as “illegal” and a means to achieve “personal gains.”Minister Abi Khalil, of the Free Patriotic Movement, was accused of “tailoring” the book of terms to secure the win of a specific firm – the Turkish Karadeniz firm which is the operator of the Fatmagul Sultan and Orhan Bey vessels that Lebanon has been leasing since 2012.

Asir Verdict to be Issued Sep. 28 as Lawyers Barred from Trial
Naharnet/September 12/17/The Military Court on Tuesday adjourned the trial of detained Islamist cleric Ahmed al-Asir in the case of the Abra clashes to a September 28 session during which a verdict will be issued, the National News Agency said. Tuesday's session witnessed a heated debate pitting Asir's lawyers against the court's president, Brig. Gen. Hussein Abdullah, and Assistant State Commissioner to the Military Court Judge Hani al-Hajjar. The debate erupted after the court rejected the lawyers' request for hearing the testimonies of former president Michel Suleiman, ex-PM Najib Miqati, former army chief General Jean Qahwaji and a number of ministers and security chiefs. Asir's lawyers withdrew from the session after their request was rejected, which prompted the court president to bar them from future trial sessions and announce that he would appoint a military lawyer for the detained cleric. Describing the lawyers' demands as “infeasible,” Abdullah said: “This is a judicial and not a political trial... The defense lawyers' approach reflects a will to obstruct the trial.” Asir hit back saying any trial delay would reflect negatively on him seeing as he has been “in solitary confinement for more than two years.”
“I'm not facing a fair trial. Had it been fair, the court would have heeded our requests for unveiling those who fired the first bullet and identifying those who should have been here instead of me,” Asir added. Asir claims Hizbullah fighters played a role in the deadly 2013 clashes that erupted in the Sidon suburb of Abra between his group and the army.The Islamic cleric was detained at Beirut's airport in 2015 as he tried to flee the country using a fake Palestinian passport. The firebrand anti-Hizbullah cleric had been on the run since the 2013 clashes. The fighting killed 18 Lebanese soldiers and a number of his supporters. The army seized his headquarters after 48 hours of clashes, but Asir was able to escape with several of his followers. In 2014, a military judge recommended prosecutors seek death sentences for Asir and 53 others, including pop star-turned-Islamist militant Fadel Shaker. Asir was a virtual political unknown until the outbreak of Syria's civil war. He began making headlines after the conflict erupted by criticizing Hizbullah and its ally Syrian President Bashar Assad. Although he was born to a Shiite Muslim mother, his discourse was highly sectarian and he often accused Lebanon's army of failing to protect Sunnis and being beholden to Hizbullah. He encouraged his supporters to join Syria's mainly Sunni rebels and to rise up against Hizbullah.Asir also hit headlines with media stunts, including by taking a group of his followers to the trendy winter ski resort of Faraya in early 2013.

STL Says Prosecutor Submitted New Indictment on July 21
Naharnet/September 12/17/The U.N.-backed Special Tribunal for Lebanon revealed Monday that its prosecutor, Norman Farrell, had on July 21 submitted a new, confidential indictment to the court's pre-trial judge. In a statement, the STL also said that its Appeals Chamber will hold a public hearing, at a date to be determined later, following a request from the pre-trial judge for “submitting preliminary questions under Rule 68(G) of the Tribunal’s Rules of Procedure and Evidence.”“Under Rule 68(G), the Pre-Trial Judge may submit preliminary questions to the Appeals Chamber on the interpretation of the Agreement between the United Nations and the Lebanese Republic on the establishment of a Special Tribunal for Lebanon, the Tribunal’s Statute, or its Rules of Procedure and Evidence regarding applicable law that he deems necessary to examine and rule on an indictment submitted for confirmation,” the STL explained. “The content of the indictment submitted to the Pre-Trial Judge for confirmation remains confidential,” it noted. Al-Jadeed television meanwhile reported that the new indictment is linked to one of the bomb attacks that targeted Elias Murr, Marwan Hamadeh and George Hawi. “The new indictment names a new suspect from Hizbullah,” al-Jadeed added.

Aoun Says Lebanon to Follow Up Actively on U.N. Complaint against Israel
Naharnet/September 12/17/President Michel Aoun announced Monday that Lebanon would follow up actively on a complaint it has filed with the U.N. Security Council over Israel's latest violations of Lebanese sovereignty. The National News Agency said Aoun condemned “the flagrant Israeli violations against Lebanon's sovereignty, especially the latest violations of its airspace.”“These hostile practices are not only a breach of Lebanese sovereignty and a blatant violation of Resolution 1701 and all relevant U.N. resolutions, but also part of Israel's attempts to create tensions in Lebanon and threaten its stability,” Aoun added. He also noted that Lebanon's complaint with the Security Council “will not be a routine diplomatic measure” and that Lebanon would follow up aggressively on it. “Lebanon, which has triumphed over takfiri terrorism, is also determined to prevent any violation of its sovereignty, in line with its higher interest and the resolutions and charters of the U.N.,” the president went on to say. Israeli warplanes flying at low altitude on Sunday broke the sound barrier over the city of Sidon and the neighboring areas, causing material damage and shattering the windows of some buildings.
The development came a few days after Israeli warplanes bombed a military site in Syria from Lebanon’s airspace.

Shorter Meets Aoun, Offers Congratulations and Condolences
Naharnet/September 12/17/British Ambassador to Lebanon Hugo Shorter on Monday met with President Michel Aoun to congratulate him as Commander in Chief of the armed forces on the army’s military success in Operation Fajr al-Juroud.The operation “showed that the Lebanese Army is capable of defending Lebanon,” a British Embassy statement said. Shorter also offered his condolences for “the soldiers who fell during the operation, as well as those mourned by the nation last Friday.”

Berri Says Israeli Sonic Boom a 'Direct Threatening Message'
Naharnet/September 12/17/Speaker Nabih Berri has described the breaking of the sound barrier by Israeli warplanes over Sidon on Sunday as a “direct threatening message.”“We are bickering inside the country as Israel is carrying out its maneuvers against us,” Lebanese newspapers quoted Berri as saying.
The speaker was referring to Israel's ten-day military exercises near the Lebanese border. “The Israeli warplanes' overflight of the Sidon region, specifically Ain el-Hilweh, is a direct threatening message addressed to us,” Berri said. “They're saying, 'We are aware of what you have achieved. We have not forgotten you and we are here all the time,” the speaker added, referring to Israel. According to the National News Agency, the sonic boom created by the fighter jets shattered the glass windows of some buildings in Sidon and sparked panic among residents. The development came days after Israeli warplanes bombed a military site in Syria from Lebanon’s airspace. The Foreign Ministry has said that Lebanon will file an "urgent complaint" against Israel with the U.N. Security Council over that violation.

Berri Lauds Hariri's Solidarity Visit to Salam
Naharnet/September 12/17/Speaker Nabih Berri has expressed relief over Prime Minister Saad Hariri's solidarity visit to ex-PM Tammam Salam, media reports said on Monday. Al-Akhbar newspaper said Berri described the visit as “the right message.” Salam has been accused by some parties of alleged misconduct that led to the 2014 kidnap and consequent execution of a number of Lebanese troops and policemen. President Michel Aoun has ordered a probe into the circumstances that led to the servicemen's abduction.
Salam had issued a statement on Friday in response to previous remarks by Aoun. “Our stance in the government of national interest... was not ambiguous at all and was rather clear as the sun on the need to exert efforts to liberate the captive servicemen with all available means, while showing keenness on the lives of the residents of the dear town of Arsal,” Salam said.

Hezbollah Declares Victory in Syria: 'We Have Won the War'
Haaretz/Reuters/September 12/17
'What remains are scattered battles,' said Nasrallah, whose Iran-backed group has sent thousands of fighters to Syria to support Assad
The Syrian government's powerful Lebanese ally Hezbollah has declared victory in the Syrian war, dismissing remaining fighting as "scattered battles", a pro-Hezbollah newspaper reported on Tuesday.  The comments by Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah mark one of the most confident assessments yet by the government side as it regains swathes of territory in eastern Syria in a rapid advance against Islamic State.  Referring to President Bashar Assad's opponents, Nasrallah said "the path of the other project has failed and wants to negotiate for some gains", the al-Akhbar newspaper cited him saying at a religious gathering. "We have won in the war (in Syria)...and what remains are scattered battles," said Nasrallah, whose Iran-backed group has sent thousands of fighters to Syria to support Assad.
A source familiar with the contents of Nasrallah's speech confirmed al-Akhbar's report.
Backed by Russia and Iran, Assad has crushed numerous pockets of rebel-held territory in the western Syrian cities of Aleppo, Homs and Damascus over the last year, and he appears militarily unassailable in the six-year-long conflict. Ceasefires brokered by Russia, Turkey, Iran and the United States in remaining rebel-held areas of western Syria have freed up manpower on the government side, helping its advance east into the oil-rich province of Deir al-Zor.  The eastward march to Deir al-Zor, unthinkable two years ago when Assad seemed in danger, has underlined his ever more confident position and the dilemma facing Western governments that still want him to leave power in a negotiated transition. Government forces last week reached Deir al-Zor city, the provincial capital on the Euphrates River, breaking an Islamic State siege of a government-held enclave and a nearby air base. 
In a televised speech last month, Assad said there were signs of victory in the war, but that the battle continued. U.S.-backed militia fighting under the banner of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) have in recent days launched a separate offensive against Islamic State in Deir al-Zor province.  The SDF, which is dominated by the Kurdish YPG militia, is also waging a campaign to capture Raqqa city from Islamic State. It has avoided conflict with the Syrian government.

Israel To Occupy Parts Of South Lebanon In Next Conflict With Hezbollah
Jerusalem Post/September 12/17
Israeli withdrawal of its troops in 2000, after 22 years in south Lebanon, is still considered a victory for the Lebanese Shi'ite terror army. In the event of another war with Hezbollah, the IDF’s objective would be to occupy parts of southern Lebanon where the group has support and infrastructure, in order to force a UN resolution that improves the security situation on the northern border, a senior IDF officer said on Monday.  Thousands of soldiers from the 319th Armored Division, aka the Mapatz (“Bang”) Formation, the majority of them reservists, are currently drilling such a scenario during the second and final week of the Northern Command’s Or Hadagan exercise, the IDF’s largest in nearly 20 years.According to a senior officer involved in the drill, Israel would not aim to occupy Lebanese territory for a significant period, rather it would be with the aim to end the conflict with Hezbollah as quickly as possible by destroying the Lebanese Shi’ite group’s capabilities and infrastructure.
The IDF withdrew from the approximately 1,000-square-kilometer South Lebanon security zone in 2000 after occupying it following the First Lebanon War in 1982 to prevent attacks on northern Israeli towns and farms. Hezbollah still celebrates the Israeli withdrawal as a victory. IDF soldiers participating in the Or HaDagan Northern Command drill, September, 2017. (IDF Spokesperson's Unit) IDF soldiers participating in the Or HaDagan Northern Command drill, September, 2017. (IDF Spokesperson's Unit) The Shi’ite terrorist organization last fought a war – the second Lebanon War – against the Israel in 2006, and according to senior IDF officers has since then morphed from a guerrilla group to an army with a set hierarchy and procedures. “Hezbollah is an army, even if it doesn’t have tanks. It acts and thinks like an army,” said a division commander involved in the drill, adding that the shift has made it the enemy easier for the IDF to deal with tactically.
With the help of Iran, Hezbollah has rebuilt its arsenal since 2006 and has hundreds of thousands of short-range rockets and several thousand more missiles that can reach deeper into Israel. It is believed that in the next war the terrorist group will aim to fire some 1,500-2,000 rockets per day, and according to the senior officer Hezbollah will fire rockets at Israel until the last day of the conflict. While the primary threat posed by Hezbollah remains its missile arsenal, the IDF believes that the next war will see the group trying to bring the fight to the home front by infiltrating Israeli communities to inflict significant civilian and military casualties.
IDF soldiers participating in the Or HaDagan Northern Command drill, September, 2017. (IDF Spokesperson's Unit) IDF soldiers participating in the Or HaDagan Northern Command drill, September, 2017. (IDF Spokesperson's Unit) While the senior officer expects the group to try its utmost to “plant its flag” on Israeli soil in order to create a propaganda victory, “there is no way, absolutely no way, that Hezbollah will be able to occupy Israeli territory.” With more than 40,000 fighters organized in battalions and brigades, Hezbollah fighters have gained immeasurable battlefield experience from fighting in Syria on the side of President Bashar Assad. According to the senior officer, the IDF has specific and precise intelligence on thousands of enemy targets in the event of a war with the group, and will aim to kill all Hezbollah ground commanders in an effort to deter the terrorist organization.
The IDF in the current exercise has gone from practicing defensive maneuvers to offensive maneuvers, drilling based on the intelligence that it has garnered by watching the Lebanese Shi’ite group fighting in Syria.

Hezbollah Sends Reassuring Messages to Israel Amid Syria Strike, IDF Drills Near Lebanon

Amos Harel and News Agencies/Haaretz/September 12/17
Hezbollah's deputy commander says in television interview on Sunday that attack on the Syrian facility was not a reason for war against Israel and there were other ways to respond
Hezbollah has sent reassuring messages to Israel in wake of the bombing of the Syrian weapons plant attributed to Israel and the IDF’s large military exercise up north.
The number two man in the organization, deputy secretary general Sheikh Naim Qassem, said in a television interview broadcast on Sunday that the attack on the Syrian facility was not a reason for war against Israel and there were other ways to respond to the attack.
>> Why Syria Hasn't Retaliated to the Alleged Israeli Strike
Arab media reported that the weapons facility, west of the city of Hama, which was bombed last Thursday was part of a Syrian weapons manufacturing complex. It was recently involved in a Syrian-Iranian project to improve the accuracy of missiles and rockets to be provided to Hezbollah, said the reports.
Even though the Syrian regime has accused Israel of carrying out the attack, which Syria says killed two people, Damascus has avoided seriously threatening Israel with retaliation. Qassem said in the interview that the decision on the nature of the response was not in Hezbollah’s hands, but in those of the Assad regime in Syria.
It has been reported that Israeli Air Force planes flew at low altitudes in southern Lebanon on Sunday and caused sonic booms over the town of Saida and the Ain El Hilweh refugee camp near Sidon. Qassem said the Israeli corps-level exercise does not imply an Israeli intention to start a war, but is about the IDF’s preparations for a possible war in the future.
In the exercise, Israeli forces practiced the shift from defensive positions to an attack. The scenario for the exercise included a surprise attack by Hezbollah on an Israeli community along the Lebanese border and the IDF’s retaking of the community after a battle with heavy casualties. The exercise involves handling Hezbollah’s defensive positions, while systematically attacking its headquarters, weapons and units – as well as trying to gradually reduce rocket fire into Israel.
In the case of a war with Hezbollah, the army is prepared for the possibility of such a surprise attack, said a senior IDF officer in a meeting with reporters at Northern Command headquarters. Hezbollah is not capable of holding on to Israeli territory for any prolonged period, he said. As opposed to the period of the Second Lebanon War in the summer of 2006, the assumption is that Hezbollah will try to carry out a limited attack to seize a small amount of Israeli territory along the border, said the senior officer.
The institutionalization of Hezbollah’s organizational structure resulting from its participation in the Syrian civil war as well as its operational model as a semi-military organization, has created a fixed routine exposing its weak points, said other senior officers who spoke with the reporters. They added the IDF will try to expose these weak points in the next war with Hezbollah.

Lebanon president to visit Iran to deepen bilateral ties
TEHRAN, Sept. 12/17 (Xinhua) -- Lebanese President Michel Aoun plans to pay an official visit to Iran next month as part of efforts to deepen Tehran-Beirut relations, local media reported Tuesday. Aoun will travel to Tehran at the official invitation of his Iranian counterpart Hassan Rouhani. He is expected to discuss mutual ties as well as regional and international developments with senior Iranian officials. During his visit to Iran's capital Tehran in June, Lebanese Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil said Lebanon would welcome expansion of political, economic and parliamentary ties with Iran. Bassil highlighted the key role Iran plays in resolving regional issues and praised its contribution to peace and stability.

Security chiefs meet for follow-up on Higher Defense Council
The Daily Star/September 12/17/BEIRUT: Decisions taken by the Higher Defense Council last week were discussed during a meeting by Lebanese Army Commander Gen. Joseph Aoun and heads of security agencies Monday night. Gen. Aoun chaired a meeting at his office in Yarze with General Security chief Maj. Gen. Abbas Ibrahim, Internal Security Forces chief Maj. Gen. Imad Othman and State Security chief Maj. Gen. Tony Saliba. “The meeting followed up on the implementation of Higher Defense Council decisions ... in addition to strengthening cooperation and coordination measures to control the borders, pursue those wanted and to [strengthen] security and stability,” an Army statement said. During a meeting Sept. 8, which was chaired by President Michel Aoun, the Higher Defense Council tasked Lebanese Army command with “taking necessary measures to deploy ground border units on the eastern border [with Syria] and make proposals to ensure all military and logistical requirements at the earliest possible time.” The council also issued instructions to security agencies to remain in a state of readiness “to avoid any terrorist or retaliatory acts to undermine public stability” following the Army’s successful offensive last month agianst Daesh (ISIS) militants entrenched in the outskirts of the northeastern towns of Ras Baalbeck and Al-Qaa. The Higher Defense Council evaluated the results of Army’s “Fajr al-Joroud” operation that “defeated the terrorists, liberated Lebanese territory and uncovered the fate of the kidnapped soldiers.” The council also addressed the security situation in the country and the investigation into the circumstances that led to the abduction and killing of Lebanese soldiers in the aftermath of clashes in northeastern border town of Arsal in 2014. Security heads have warned that despite Army's victory against militants, the terrorist threat is still high. Both Aoun and Ibrahim have warned of sleeper cells and lone-wolf attacks.

Lebanese director detained over filming in Israel
Jerusalem Post/September 12/17
Ziad Doueiri was reportedly brought to a military tribunal after returning from Venice Film Festival
French-Lebanese film director Ziad Doueiri was reportedly detained by authorities when he returned to Beirut after appearing at the Venice Film Festival with his newest movie, The Insult. According to the AFP news agency, Doueiri was interrogated over charges that part of his last film, The Attack, was filmed in Israel. “They held me at the airport for two-and-a-half hours. They released me after confiscating my French and Lebanese passports,” Doueiri told AFP late Sunday. “I have to appear [Monday] at 9 a.m. before a military tribunal for an investigation into the charges,” he said. According to Variety, Doueiri was cleared of the charges by the tribunal on Monday morning. “Charges against Ziad have been dropped by the military court: he is free,” producer Jean Brehat, who works regularly with Doueiri, informed Variety in a text message on Monday.Doueiri was much lauded for The Insult, which features a fight over renovation work between a Christian and a Palestinian living in Lebanon.  “I am profoundly hurt,” the director told AFP on Sunday. “I came back to Lebanon with a prize from Venice. The Lebanese police have authorized the broadcast of my film [The Insult]. I have no idea who is responsible for what has happened... We will find out at court who is behind this affair,” he added. At the festival’s awards ceremony on Saturday, Palestinian actor Kamel El Basha won the Volpi Cup best actor award for his role in The Insult. After accepting the award, Basha joked that the trophy he was handed was bigger than he expected, saying, “I don’t know how I’m going to carry it to Palestine now.”Doueiri’s 2012 film, The Attack, is a story of an Israeli-Arab doctor who discovers his wife may have been involved in a suicide bombing. Part of the movie was filmed in Israel, where Lebanese citizens are banned from entering. The film itself was banned in Lebanon in 2013. Lebanon notably banned screenings of Wonder Woman earlier this year since it featured Israeli actress Gal Gadot.

“West Beirut” and “The Insult” Director Ziad Doueiri Arrested in Beirut Because His Last Movie Was In Israel
State Of Mind/September 11/17
Pity the nation that insults its people as other nations honor them.
Ziad Doueiri is probably the most essential contemporary Lebanese cinematic director. His movie “West Beirut” is probably the most renowned Lebanese movie for the past 2 decades and his latest “The Insult” just made its debut at the Venice Film Festival to rave reviews and a best actor win for Kamel El Basha, starring as Yasser in the aforementioned movie.
And yet, here we are, with such a Lebanese pioneer being arrested because his prior movie, The Attack, was set in Israel even if it did not show the Israeli state in a good light.
I had the chance to watch The Attack in 2013 when I was with a friend in Paris. That same movie had been banned in Lebanon because it was set in Israel. Understandable, given the country couldn’t even handle a movie where the main actress was Israeli. And even though I was not a fan of that movie at the time, I was still able to commend the fact that it commanded a discussion. Be it with the other Lebanese who watched it with me, or the French people in that theatre who were wondering about what the details the movie discussed actually meant.
“The Insult” opens in theaters in Lebanon in a few days. Local movie reviewers such as Anis Tabet have given it a glowing recommendation. But that seems not to be on the same wavelength of the Lebanese state that’s arrested Mr. Doueiri at our airport for “dealing with the enemy.” He was coming here prior to the Tuesday premiere of his movie.
It’s horrifying to see how narrow-minded we can be and how despicable our levels can sink when dealing with the people of our country that help raise our voice on international levels, such as Mr. Doueiri, because of convoluted measures that have no reflection whatsoever on reality: a person filming a movie in Israel does not mean they are in bed with the enemy.
Following his arrest at the airport, Doueiri’s Lebanese and French passports were both confiscated. He is scheduled to stand trial in front of Military Court tomorrow at 9AM, Beirut time. Meanwhile, his movie “The Insult” has been selected by the Lebanese Ministry of Culture to represent Lebanon at the upcoming Academy Awards.
Bipolarity much? You can’t insult a director, and then use him to propel you on the international cinematic stage. You can’t arrest a Lebanese citizen and then use his work to wash away the many failings that constitute your modern republic.
The arrest of Ziad Doueiri comes after a complaint lodged against him. Expect the campaign against the director to go into full blown mania soon.
It’s not just the lack of consistency that’s horrifying, it’s the absolute carelessness of our basic rights as citizens, and the fact we are at the whim of some entities that have nothing better to do.
The entire notion that Military Court can judge civil issues is abysmal. It’s even worse when you realize that Doueiry was in Lebanon to film “The Insult.”
The question therefore becomes: why now? What prompted them to realize just before his movie’s Lebanese release that he has a troublesome past?
I bet some people in Lebanon would be happy to see Mr. Doueiri foresake his Lebanese citizenship. After all, the bar at which some label others as traitors seems to fluctuate depending on whether their existence is essential or not. At the rate we’re going, he wouldn’t be mistaken to do so. After all, we have no issue with any other foreigner who’s visited Israel to come into the country as long as their passport doesn’t have a stamp.
Utterly despicable. Here’s hoping the Prime Minister and our government see through this bullshit.

Lebanese Director Briefly Held in Beirut for Filming Movie in Israel
Asharq Al Awsat/September 12/17/
Lebanese director Ziad Doueiri was briefly detained by his country’s authorities for a trip to Israel he made six years ago where he filmed one of his movies.He was detained on Sunday night as he arrived at Beirut’s Rafik Hariri International Airport. He was interrogated for 90 minutes and appeared the next day before State Commissioner to the Military Court Judge Saqr Saqr.
Doueiri had stayed in Israel between 2011 and 2012 where he was filming “The Attack,” a movie that was banned by Lebanon and most Arab states. Lebanon and Israel are in a state of war and Beirut bans its citizens from visiting Israel or having business dealings with Israelis. “The Attack” is about a Palestinian surgeon living in Tel Aviv who discovers that a suicide attack in the city that killed 17 people was carried out by his wife. The movie was filmed in Israel and featured several Israeli actors. Paris-based Doueiri, director of the award-winning civil war film “West Beirut,” had visited Lebanon several times since traveling to Israel. Doueiri told reporters after three hours of questioning at the military court in Beirut Monday that authorities found that he has “no criminal intentions against the Palestinian cause.”
His latest film, “The Insult,” opens in Lebanon this week, after winning the best actor award at the Venice Film Festival earlier this month.
Doueiri said that Kamel al-Basha, the Palestinian awarded best actor at the Venice Film Festival, spent two years in Israeli jails. He said some journalists are trying to undermine him ahead of the film showing in Beirut, which begins on Thursday. Lebanese journalist Pierre Abi Saab, who is opposed to any dealings with Israel, wrote a column in the daily al-Akhbar last week titled “Ziad Doueiri, apologize for your Israeli slip.” He said that Doueiri spent months in Israel to film “The Attack,” spending money there and speaking to Israeli media defending his movie amid criticism in Lebanon. “Today, Ziad Doueiri is coming on a white horse from Venice with a new movie expecting us to carry him on our shoulders and welcome him as a conqueror,” Abi Saab wrote. “We will not accept that the crime be covered,” he wrote, referring to Doueiri’s visits to Israel. Doueiri lashed back against critics who accused him of normalization with the Jewish state, saying Monday that his work is for the good of Lebanon and the Palestinian cause. Speaking to reporters outside the military court, Doueiri said he was well treated by Lebanese security agencies during his brief detention but blasted journalists he refused to name “that are fabricating things to block the new movie.” He said they used “dirty words against some people and accused them of being Zionists.”
“My mother breastfed me Palestinian milk and the Palestinian cause. Members of my family were killed while fighting with the Palestinians,” Doueiri stated.
When a journalist asked him a question about normalization of relations with Israel through art, Doueiri responded angrily “I struggled for the Palestinian cause before you were born.” He then told the journalist that he will not respond to his questions. Culture Minister Ghattas Khoury tweeted in Arabic that “Ziad Doueiri is a great Lebanese director who has been honored around the world. Respecting and honoring him is a must #Lebanon.”Doueiri’s lawyer, Najib Lyan, told reporters that after three hours at the military court his client was released without charges. He said some people envy Doueiri’s international fame.
He said that in court, Doueiri was told that he visited Israel without permission from Lebanese authorities. Lyan asserted Doueiri had told authorities at the time that he planned to visit Israel for a movie he is working on, but never got a response. “The Insult is the pride of Lebanon’s industry. We in Lebanon do Hummus and Shawerma well, and we do very good movies as well,” Doueiri stressed referring to national dishes. “Ziad is against normalization and he supports the Palestinian cause. The Attack was filmed in Israel to expose the practices committed against the Palestinians,” his mother and lawyer Wafiqa Mansour told Asharq Al-Awsat. “Is a person who blows himself up in Israel a resistance fighter or someone who has normalized ties with it?” she asked. “Ziad went there on a mission to expose Israeli practices as demonstrated by their displeasure with the film. Some even asked how he was even allowed to shoot there because he was tarnishing their image,” she added. She questioned the timing of her son’s brief detention, noting that he visited Lebanon during the past five years. “This reveals that some sides are bothered by his international success. They do not deserve a reply from us,” she stressed, saying that their actions stem from spite and jealousy.

Jacques Machaalani & Hezbollah
We Receive a lot of comments and questions about HEZBLOUBNAN and OUR Political Platform.
WE reproduce below some of the more fundamental questions and our answers to them. Please take the time to read...
Dear Mr/Ms.
Thank you for this initiative and your interest to make Lebanon better but i have couple notes or questions id like to say:
1- The historic language of Lebanon is Syriac which was spoken in Lebanon until the 18th century and which represents at least 40% of the Lebanese dialect so our language is Lebanese not Arabic but Arab countries can understand us due to media i.e Lebanese music, movies, program series etc...
2- Regarding the Lebanese identity, what is your vision on that? Because recently WashingtonPost journal posted an article that 93% of Lebanese descend from the Canaanite Phoenicians.
3- 3- Federalism is the only solution for Lebanon and Lebanese people because we have different cultures and traditions. Federalism is not division, its like the system USA, Switzerland etc... Id like to know on ur opinion on these points. Thank you in advance for reading this message. Sincerely.
Dear Sir,
Thank you for reaching out and your interest in HEZB LOUBNAN -THE PARTY OF LEBANON.
1. You are historically right and Syriac was the language of the region for centuries after it replaced Aramean. French was also the educational language in Lebanon since the 18th century and was, and still is, an official language of Lebanon as per the constitution.
Today, we focus on the reality of Lebanon and on its economic necessities. Lebanon has the extraordinary privilege of having more Lebanese outside of Lebanon than in Lebanon and entire generations of Lebanese do not master Arabic sufficiently well to feel they belong to their country.
Moreover, all our young people study and work in English and English is an international language used everywhere including inside China between ethnies that do not understand each other dialects.
Finally, if Lebanon is to succeed economically, create jobs and become a prosperous nation, it must adopt English as an official operational language. This is what Dubai, Singapore and Hong Kong all did and we know the economic successes they have achieved.
2. The question of the Lebanese identity is truly surprising.
Lebanon has the OLDEST continuously inhabited cities in the world and the first human urban settlement is in Jbail. The name of Lebanon is mentioned 77 times in the Bible, no other nation is...
Our cities and our mountains have been continuously inhabited by people of different religions living together, united in the same way of life. Lebanon has always been occupied but NEVER assimilated.
The Lebanese cities were governing themselves and the Emirate of Lebanon lasted for 350 years.
All the Lebanese ARE Lebanese and feel Lebanese. The question of belonging to the Arab world is different.
It is actually Lebanese bankers who helped creating the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in the 1920's by financing King Saoud.
The Arab culture is a culture of the desert.
Lebanon's culture is one of the mountain and the sea, of greenery and of permanent settlements, as seen before, not one of nomadism.
Our ancestors wore sherwals and Tarabish, not robes and keffiehs. Nothing wrong with these, but our cultures are just different.
Being Lebanese is a way of Life and a common history made of Sobbhiyet, zaouag, ta3ziyat, Tabboule, Hommos, kebbe nayieh, oua dabke...
It is also a state of mind, highly geared towards education, entrepreneurship, adaptability and so on...
Lebanon is Lebanon. Egypt is Egypt, Jordan is Jordan and Syria is Syria.
They are all part of the Arab World like France, Germany the UK and Italy are part of Europe, it does not mean that they have to question their own identities.
And we do not need to differentiate between the Lebanese form the Mountains, the Lebanese from the Beqaa, The Lebanese from the coastal cities.. The Lebanese Armenians are Lebanese with full rights and full citizenship.
3. You seem to assert that Federalism is the only solution because we have different cultures and traditions.
We beg to differ on both parts of the assertion. WE all have exactly the same way of life and traditions. Some do not drink alcohol, some do, some want to be mouhajabin, some don't. But we all live together in the same cities and the same villages and foreigners find it difficult to make a difference between us if there are no names and no exterior signs.
All the Lebanese live the same way, go to school and Universities the same way, travel the same way, emigrate the same way, eat the same thing, enjoy the beaches and the mountains and are attached to freedom, democracy and family.
Go to any hospital, bank, administration or into the army and you will see that there are no differences.
Our religious differences have been exploited and exacerbated by this flawed experiment of confessional democracy which has proven its failure continuously over the past 74 years.
There is nothing in the world or in history such as a sectarian democracy. Only the Lebanese have invented it in 1943.
You either have religious states such as Saudi Arabia, Iran or Israel, where the majority of their population are of the same religion, or you have secular democracies where every citizen has the same rights because he belongs to the Nation not because he belongs to a community.
Instead, Religious Differences have been inscribed in Law and in the political system, dividing the Lebanese and therefore weakening the Nation, and creating intrinsic conflicts of interests. at every level of the state, weakening our institutions and leading to nepotism, clientelism and corruption.
Federalism is great system. It works perfectly well in the USA, Germany, Canada, Australia, Switzerland and so on....
But implementing a SECTARIAN FEDERALISM today would make the problem worse and not solve it. You would have unmanageable cantons wanting to implement their religious principes in their regions, while the repartition of the population is not homogeneous at all, apart from one or two christian regions.
It would be the biggest mistake to make.... Antagonizing and making the divisions more acute.
Federalism ca only come once SECULARISM has been implemented at the nation level, and then it must be a REGIONAL FEDERALISM, NOT A SECTARIAN FEDERALISM
THE SENATE CAN ONLY BE REGIONAL, representing the interests of regions in equal weights, and not the interests of confessions.
It is time that the Lebanese realize that there are 18 confessions in Lebanon and that no confession can prevail over the others as we have seen during the civil war.
Time to realize that we ALL live the same way, in the same villages and cities, and that we are ALL LEBANESE CITIZENS....
For 74 years, our politicians have contradicted their own constitution, their own fundamental laws, as they are doing today by failing to organize elections....
IN ALLOWING RELIGIOUS LAWS AND RELIGIOUS TRIBUNALS TO rule the citizens essential rights, their personal status, they have allowed Laws that have never been voted by any parliament to be applied to citizens..... and they have forced the Lebanese to belong to religious communities before belonging to their nation.
IN RESTRICTING ACCESS TO POSTS IN THE GOVERNMENT OR IN PUBLIC INSTITUTIONS ON THE BASIS OF RELIGION, THEY HAVE NEGATED the fundamental principle of Equality of Rights inscribed in Article 7 of the Constitution.
No country and no organization can work when it does not respect its own principles and fundamental organizational Laws.
This is The problem of Lebanon and not any other....
And we the Lebanese have paid and extremely high price for this flawed organization over the past 74 years
Time has come for the change, but not the change of People, The Change of Society and legal system, because there is no other solution…..
This is what makes us different and why we will succeed, because instead of dividing the Lebanese, we are about uniting them into Secularism, Equality of rights and Democracy..
Join us.
Together We Will !

Latest LCCC Bulletin For Miscellaneous Reports And News published on September 11-12/17
Iraqi Parliament Rejects Kurdish Independence Referendum
Asharq Al Awsat/September 12/17/The Iraqi parliament voted on Tuesday to reject the referendum over the independence of the Iraqi Kurdistan Region scheduled for September 25. A number of Kurdish lawmakers withdrew from the parliament session in wake of the announcement. “Kurdish lawmakers walked out of the session but the decision to reject the referendum was passed by a majority,” Mohammed al-Karbouli said. Kurdish lawmaker Majid Shingali said Kurds would reject the decision. “This decision has no value and we will not implement it,” he told Reuters. Speaker Salim al-Jabouri stated that the Iraqi MPs’ vote on rejecting the referendum “shows the parliament’s keenness on the unity of Iraq’s land and people.”Prime Minister Haidar al-Abadi is now bound to take the necessary measures that would preserve Iraqi unity and kick off serious dialogue to resolve pending issues between Baghdad and the Kurdish region, he added in a statement. He explained that the constitution stipulates the cases that a referendum can be held for and the Kurdistan vote is not one of them. The Kurdish government’s decision to call for a referendum angered the Iraqi government that deemed the vote unconstitutional. The US and several European countries also expressed their opposition to the referendum, raising fears that Kurdish populations in nearby countries would also demand a similar vote. Irbil stressed however that it has no other choice but the vote to guarantee the rights of the Kurdish people. The Kurds themselves are divided over the referendum despite the unanimity over independence. Some believe that the timing of the vote, set by President Masoud Barzani, is not appropriate given the economic crises in the autonomous region. Others believe that the referendum decision should be made by the parliament, which has been suspended for over two years.

Turkish-Iranian Deal under Russian Auspices: Idlib in Exchange for South Damascus

Asharq Al Awsat/September 12/17/London- There are signs of a new deal between Ankara and Tehran under the auspices of Moscow. The deal includes Turkish military presence in Idlib in exchange for Iranian control over the south of Damascus and the expansion of Sayyeda Zainab area, which means providing a mass of permanent influence on the political decision in Damascus.If the parties succeed in reaching an agreement in the coming Astana meeting on Thursday and Friday as planned, it will be a new step in Russia’s distribution for areas of influence on regional and major countries in Syria. It will also be an additional reference to Moscow’s intentions to put pressure on Damascus to accept the Turkish military presence in northern Syria in a deeper way than the role of the Turkish army in the “Euphrates Shield” operation northern Aleppo. Since Russia, Turkey and Iran have reached an agreement in May 2016 during Astana talks to form de-escalation zones in four Syrian areas (Idlib, Eastern Ghouta, Homs and Syria’s southwest areas) following a ceasefire agreement at the end of last year, Turkey proposed a military presence in the four areas and then reduced its request to Idlib. The Iranian response back then was by submitting similar proposal while Russia’s response was to send military observers, who were later agreed on to be Sunnis from Chechnya. Moscow prevented the forces of the regime, its allies and Hezbollah from breaking into Idlib after Aleppo, stopped the US air raids on leaders of Nusra Front in Idlib early this year. Moscow also froze this complicated file amid the gathering of elements of Nusra Front, their families and opponents in Idlib to include two million people. It focused, instead, on the three other de-escalation zones, and concluded a deal with the United States and Jordan to implement the “southern truce” and with Cairo to implement the ceasefire in Ghouta and Homs before the extension of the truce to the eastern Qalamoun. “By observing Iran’s priorities it is clear that it wants to provide a population on the outskirts of Damascus and between Damascus and the Lebanese borders that will be pro-Tehran so that the political decision in the capital could be influenced regardless of the ruler,” a Western official said Monday. The implementation of the “Zabadani-Fuah Agreement” was also resumed Monday by delivering humanitarian aid. This coincided with Tehran’s approval on Ankara’s proposal to play a direct military role in Idlib; the interests of the two countries met with Russia’s interest. The Russian army has deployed in Afrin, north of Aleppo, and set up a de-escalation zone between the Ankara-backed Free Syrian Army and the Kurdish “People Protection Units,” Turkey’s rivals.

Iraqi Government Holds 1400 Wives, Children of Foreign ISIS Militants
Asharq Al Awsat/September 12/17/Mosul – Iraqi authorities are holding 1,400 foreign wives and children of suspected ISIS militants, according to security and aid officials. Iraqi army and intelligence officers told Reuters that most of the wives were from former Soviet states, such as Tajikistan, Azerbaijan and Russia, as well as few from France and Germany. Iraqi authorities are holding the wives and children at an Iraqi camp south of Mosul and most of them arrived there on August 30, after Iraqi troops expelled the terrorist group from Mosul, one of its remaining strongholds in Iraq. An intelligence officer stated that the forces are still verifying their nationalities with their home countries, especially that many of the women no longer had their original documents. Mosul’s Nineveh operation command Army Colonel Ahmed al-Taie declared that the forces are holding ISIS’ families under strong security measures while they wait for government orders on how to deal with them. “We treat them well. They are families of tough criminals who killed innocents in cold blood,” Taie said, adding that when they interrogated the women they discovered that almost all of them were misled by a vicious ISIS propaganda. Reuters reporters saw hundreds of the women and children sitting on mattresses with bugs in tents without air-conditioning in what aid workers described as a “military site”.
They also noticed that Turkish, French and Russian were among the languages spoken. A French speaking Chechen origin veiled woman stated that she wants to go back to France but doesn’t know how. She said she did not know what had happened to her husband, who had brought her to Iraq when he joined ISIS adding that she used to live in Paris.
According to a security officer, most of women and children and their husbands surrendered to Peshmerga forces near Tal Afar, north Mosul. Peshmerga forces then handed the women and children over to Iraqi forces but kept the men in their custody presuming they were militants.
Most of Tal Afar’s 200,000 residents fled the city prior to its liberation from ISIS control by the Iraqi forces. An interior ministry official said Iraq wanted to contact the embassies of the women and children and discuss their return conditions, adding that they can’t keep this number in their custody for a long time.
Army Lieutenant Colonel Salah Kareem declared that so far there are at least 13 nationalities among the women. Aid workers and authorities are worried about tensions between Iraqis who lost their living in the camp after they lost their homes and the new arrivals. An Iraqi military intelligence officer declared that they are keeping the families in the camp for their own safety especially that many Iraqis seek revenge for the harsh treatment they received under ISIS control. The Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC), which supports 541 women and their children, announced that Iraq must swiftly move to clarify its future plans for these individuals. In a statement issued, NRC declared that it is imperative that these individuals are able to access protection, assistance, and information.
“They are in de-facto detention,” the statement added. Western officials are worried that radicalized fighters and their relatives will return to their home countries after the collapse of ISIS. Meanwhile, French officials indicated they would prefer for any ISIS-affiliated citizens to be prosecuted in Iraq. Last month, a French diplomatic source told Reuters that the general philosophy is that adults should go on trial in Iraq, while children would benefit from judicial and social services in France. A French woman of Algerian origins, 27, said that even her mother doesn’t know where she was. She said she had been tricked by her husband into coming with him to Iraq through Turkey and Syria when he joined ISIS last year. Holding her infant, the woman asked to remain anonymous, said her husband had told her they were going for a vacation week in Turkey and had already bought the plane tickets and made hotel reservations.
After four months in Mosul, she ran away from her husband to Tal Afar in February. She was hoping to make it back to France but he found her and would not let her leave. She tearfully recounted how her five-year-old son was killed in June by a rocket while playing on the streets.
The woman said she doesn’t care anymore whether her husband is dead or alive. After walking for days, she and a few other families surrendered at a Peshmerga checkpoint near al-Ayadiyah, a town near Tal Afar. Kurdish officials said dozens of fighters surrendered after the fall of Tal Afar without adding further details. A Tal Afar resident said that during the final days of the battle he had seen between 70 and 80 fighters fleeing the town.

Argentines Protest against Netanyahu Visit
Asharq Al Awsat/September 12/17/Tel Aviv – Dozens of people protested in Argentina on Monday against the visit of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to the Latin American country. Condemning his policy against Palestinians, the protesters compared the Israeli leader to Adolf Hitler. Israeli media said that Netanyahu headed on his South American tour to escape corruption accusations back home, while the premier deemed the trip as “historic.”He had arrived in Argentina on Monday as part of a tour of Latin America that sees him visit Colombia and Mexico. He will conclude it in New York where he is set to attend the United Nations General Assembly. Activists welcomed Netanyahu in Argentina with protests, putting up posters throughout Buenos Aires depicting him as Hitler and dressed up in Nazi uniform. Other posters accused him of committing genocide and ethnic cleansing against the Palestinian people.
Some held up banners accusing him of committing crimes against humanity and of murdering the Palestinian people. Another banner called for expelling Zionism from Palestine. The protests prompted the police to intervene to prevent any clashes and tensions. Netanyahu said that his tour of Latin America is aimed at bolstering economic, security and technological ties between it and Israel.

Quartet: Qatari FM Speech Affirms Continuity of Denial Approach
Asharq Al Awsat/September 12/17/Manama, Geneva- UAE, Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Bahrain expressed on Monday their sorrow for what has been stated by the Qatari foreign minister infront of the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva, stressing that his statement doesn’t show intention to consider the concerns of the four states and other states that were undermined by these hostile policies. UAE’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations Obaid Salem al-Zaabi said in a joint statement that the “Qatari minister’s claims about his government’s bias to human rights and the nations’ right to determine their fate is an attempt to improve its image before the international community and the global public opinion without changing its hostile policies.”“Since 20 years, Qatar has built a platform in support of extremism and terrorism, including financial support, safe haven and the promotion of terrorist ideology and persons representing such ideologies. Some of these persons are already on the international terrorism list, and they have not only affected many governments and peoples of the region, but also have spread to the peoples of other countries. There is ample evidence of this fact in the measures taken by a group of countries outside the Middle East against Qatar,” the statement added. It was concluded with, “We regret the lack of wisdom in the speech of the Qatari minister, as his speech does not reflect a sincere intention to positively deal with the mediation efforts of the Kuwaiti emir that we appreciate.”
Further, Bahrain’s Foreign Minister Sheikh Khalid bin Ahmed Al Khalifa stated that his Qatari counterpart doesn’t show willingness to resolve the Qatari crisis and is a repeating what has been stated previously by the Qatari party. The four states are boycotting Qatar economically and politically to push it to halt its hostile policies towards the security and stability of the quartet and the region in general

Shoukry: Ongoing Cooperation Between Anti-Terrorism Quartet
Asharq Al Awsat/September 12/17/Cairo– Egyptian Foreign Affairs Minister Sameh Shoukry said that the Anti-Terrorism Quartet was maintaining continuous cooperation on the crisis with Qatar, noting that Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Bahrain and the UAE have incurred heavy burdens due to attacks against their civilians, army and police and interference in their internal affairs. Shoukry made his remarks during the opening of 23rd annual conference of the International Association of Peacekeeping Training Centers (IAPTC) hosted by Cairo. “We can not be honest in our work in the framework of international alliances to eradicate terrorism, while there are those who sponsor terrorism and embrace groups and terrorist organizations,” Shoukry said, stressing the continuity of the Arab quartet in fighting terrorism through coordination and adherence to their firm values. The Egyptian foreign minister inaugurated the conference, which gathered around 300 international officials, representatives of international and regional organizations, and major peacekeeping training and research centers, according to the ministry’s statement. The Egyptian minister underlined his country’s role as the seventh largest global contributor to peacekeeping forces, noting that the need for more peacekeeping missions has placed a heavy burden on the budget of the United Nations and contributing countries.He added that Egypt has joined efforts by the UN Security Council and the African Peace and Security Council to crystallizing the various frameworks of peacekeeping operations.

Dispute between Houthis, Saleh Escalates as Coup Anniversary Approaches
Aden– Political sources in Yemen said that the General People’s Congress has withdrawn from a committee entrusted with the preparation for the rebels’ coup anniversary, which falls on September 21, highlighting a widening dispute between the Houthis and the party of ousted President Ali Abdullah Saleh.
The sources told Asharq al-Awsat newspaper that Saleh’s party withdrew from the committee in the wake of decisions made by the president of the so-called “political council”, Saleh al-Samad, against members of the General People’s Congress. The sources added that Samad has taken a series of measures, including the removal of pro-Saleh officials from senior posts in government institutions. Rebels are preparing to celebrate the coup anniversary, amid the failure of a political solution and their continuous rejection of all initiatives presented by the UN envoy to Yemen, Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed, the last of which was the administration of the port of Hodeidah by a neutral party to collect revenues and pay salaries that had been suspended for around ten months. “The anniversary of the occupation of Sana’a on September 21, 2014 is a nightmare for the Yemeni people,” said Ghamdan al-Sharif, Yemeni prime minister’s press secretary, in remarks to Asharq al-Awsat. “Our people are living in their suffering to this day,” he added, stressing that militias wanted to “overthrow the Republic and declare the Faqih mandate in Sanaa and Yemen in general.”“The Yemeni people have stood against these plans with the support of our Arab brothers in the Decisive Storm, which has aborted this Iranian project and maintained the legitimacy and the Republic,” Sharif stated.

Trump Supports $ 75M. Additional Aid To Israel Beyond Obama-Eramou
Jerusalem Post/September 12/17
The original agreement negotiated by Prime Minister Netanyahu and former US president Barack Obama provides Israel with $38 billion through 2028.
WASHINGTON – The Trump administration will support Congress’s effort to provide Israel with more aid than was guaranteed in a formal defense package negotiated by former US president Barack Obama and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu last year, The Jerusalem Post has learned.
That agreement – a memorandum of understanding meant to govern US defense assistance to Israel through the coming decade – provides Israel with $38 billion through 2028. During the 2016 negotiations, Israel’s leadership signed a side letter promising to return any aid appropriated by Congress exceeding the $3.1 billion set aside for this fiscal year. But Congress ignored that provision, cutting Israel an additional $75 million in aid in its latest appropriations bill. A report in the right-leaning Washington Free Beacon published over the weekend claimed that US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson wanted Israel to return the check, as promised in its letter to the Obama team. But a senior State Department official said that report was incorrect. “The administration is committed to ensuring that Israel receives the assistance that has been appropriated by Congress,” the official said, confirming that Trump will work to ensure the $75 million in additional aid is delivered. In September of last year, shortly before the MOU was originally signed in a public ceremony in Washington, the Israeli government sent a letter to the White House promising it would “return any check” that amounted to more than what was agreed.
Then-acting national security adviser Yaakov Nagel, who negotiated the deal on Israel’s behalf, said that the principle behind this letter was clear: The MOU should be inviolable, not to be increased or decreased in any given year due to timely or exigent circumstances.
If the framework were broken and increased one year, the concern in Jerusalem was that perhaps in the future it would be broken and decreased. A US official said the purpose of the side agreement was to ensure the integrity of the defense package in the long term.

N. Korea Says Will Make U.S. Suffer over 'Vicious' U.N. Sanctions
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/September 12/17/North Korea Tuesday condemned "vicious" new U.N. sanctions imposed over its sixth and largest nuclear test, warning it would make the U.S. "suffer the greatest pain" it has ever experienced. The new sanctions imposed unanimously by the U.N. Security Council Monday ban North Korean textile exports and restrict shipments of oil products. The resolution, passed after Washington toned down its original proposals to secure backing from China and Russia, came just one month after the council banned exports of coal, lead and seafood in response to the North's launch of an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM). North Korea Tuesday categorically rejected the new measures, with U.N. ambassador Han Tae-Song saying in Geneva that the U.S. had "fabricated the most vicious sanction resolution" and warning of retaliation.
"The forthcoming measures by DPRK (North Korea) will make the U.S. suffer the greatest pain it has ever experienced in its history," he told a disarmament conference in the Swiss city. U.S. ambassador Nikki Haley said Monday at the U.N. the tough new measures were a message to Pyongyang that "the world will never accept a nuclear-armed North Korea". But she also held out the prospect of a peaceful resolution to the crisis. "We are not looking for war. The North Korean regime has not yet passed the point of no return," Haley told the Security Council, adding: "If North Korea continues its dangerous path, we will continue with further pressure. The choice is theirs."During tough negotiations, the United States dropped initial demands for a full oil embargo and a freeze on the foreign assets of North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un. The resolution instead bans trade in textiles, cuts off natural gas shipments to North Korea, places a ceiling on deliveries of refined oil products and caps crude oil shipments at current levels. It bars countries from issuing new work permits to North Korean labourers sent abroad -- there are some 93,000, providing Kim's regime with a source of revenue to develop its missile and nuclear programmes, according to a U.S. official familiar with the negotiations. Under the measure, countries are authorised to inspect ships suspected of carrying banned North Korean cargo but must first seek the consent of the flag-state. Joint ventures will be banned and the names of senior North Korean official and three entities were added to a U.N. sanctions blacklist that provides for an assets freeze and a global travel ban. It was the eighth series of sanctions imposed on North Korea since it first tested a nuclear device in 2006.
'Concrete action'
South Korea welcomed the resolution while Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said the sanctions were much stronger than earlier measures. He urged Pyongyang to take "concrete action" toward denuclearization. The United States and its allies argue that tougher sanctions will pile pressure on Kim's regime to negotiate an end to its nuclear and missile tests. Russia and China are pushing for talks with North Korea, but the U.S. rejects their proposal for a freeze on Pyongyang's missile and nuclear tests in exchange for a suspension of US-South Korean military drills. Chinese U.N. ambassador Liu Jieyi again called for talks "sooner rather than later." China, North Korea's sole ally and main trading partner, had strongly objected to an oil embargo initially sought by the United States out of fear it would bring the North's economy to its knees. Instead, annual crude oil supplies are capped at current levels -- China is believed to supply around four million barrels a year through a pipeline, while deliveries of refined oil products such as gasoline and diesel are limited to two million barrels a year. That would amount to a 10 percent cut in oil products, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, which estimates annual exports to North Korea at nearly 2.2 million barrels. The U.S. official said the ban on textile exports would deprive North Korea of some $726 million in annual revenue.
'Further provocations'
But analysts were sceptical about their impact. North Korea has made rapid progress in its nuclear and missile programmes despite multiple sets of UN sanctions, and Go Myong-Hyun at the Asan Institute of Policy Studies said the latest measures were "not enough to cause pain". Kim Hyun-Wook of Seoul's Korea National Diplomatic Academy, predicted: "The sanctions will only provide North Korea with an excuse for further provocations, such as an ICBM launch."Washington has said military action remains an option in dealing with Pyongyang and has threatened to cut economic ties with countries that continue to trade with it. North Korea says its weapons development is vital to stave off the threat of a U.S. invasion. Pyongyang has staged a series of missile tests in recent months that appeared to bring much of the US mainland into range. It followed up with a sixth nuclear test on September 3, its largest to date, which it said was a miniaturised hydrogen bomb.

Russian, US-Led Strikes Kill 28 Civilians in Syria's Deir Ezzor
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/September 12/17/Separate Russian and US-led coalition air strikes on TuesNaharnet/September 12/17/day killed 28 civilians in Syria's eastern Deir Ezzor province, where rival offensives against the Islamic State group are under way, a monitor said. "Coalition air strikes killed 12 members of a single family, among them five children, in a village on the eastern banks of the Euphrates River," said Rami Abdel Rahman, head of the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. Russian air strikes in support of a separate Syrian government offensive against IS killed 16 civilians, including five children, northwest of Deir Ezzor city, he said.

Global Split over Rohingya Crisis as China Backs Myanmar Crackdown
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/September 12/17/International divisions emerged on Tuesday ahead of a U.N. Security Council meeting on a worsening refugee crisis in Myanmar, with China voicing support for a military crackdown that has been criticized by the U.S., slammed as "ethnic cleansing" and forced 370,000 Rohingya to flee the violence. Beijing's intervention appears aimed at heading off any attempt to censure Myanmar at the council when it convenes on Wednesday.China was one of the few foreign friends of Myanmar's former junta. Beijing has tightened its embrace under Aung San Suu Kyi's civilian government as part of its giant trade, energy and infrastructure strategy for Southeast Asia. The exodus from Myanmar's western Rakine state began after Rohingya militants attacked police posts on August 25, prompting a military backlash that has sent a third of the Muslim minority population fleeing for their lives. Exhausted Rohingya refugees have given accounts of atrocities at the hands of soldiers and Buddhist mobs who burned their villages to the ground. They can not be independently verified as access to Rakhine state is heavily controlled. Myanmar's government denies any abuses and instead blames militants for burning down thousands of villages, including many belonging to Rohingya. But international pressure on Myanmar heightened this week after United Nations rights chief Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein said the violence seemed to be a "textbook example of ethnic cleansing". The U.S. also raised alarm over the violence while the Security Council announced it would meet Wednesday to discuss the crisis. Opprobrium has been heaped Suu Kyi, who was once a darling of the rights community but now faces accusations of turning a blind eye to -- and even abetting -- a humanitarian catastrophe by Western powers who once feted her as well as a slew of fellow Nobel Laureates. But Beijing offered more encouraging words to her on Tuesday, with foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang voicing support for her government's efforts to "uphold peace and stability" in Rakhine. "We hope order and the normal life there will be recovered as soon as possible," he told a press briefing. The Rohingya minority are denied citizenship and have suffered years of persecution in Buddhist-majority Myanmar. "An estimated 370,000 Rohingya have entered Bangladesh," since August 25 Joseph Tripura, a spokesman for the U.N. refugee agency, told AFP. The real figure may be higher as many new arrivals are still on the move making it difficult to include them in the count, the U.N. said, adding 60 percent of refugees are children.Most are in dire need of food, medical care and shelter after trekking for days through hills and jungles or braving dangerous boat journeys.
In a statement late Monday Suu Kyi's foreign ministry defended the military for doing their "legitimate duty to restore stability", saying troops were under orders "to exercise all due restraint, and to take full measures to avoid collateral damage."Britain and Sweden requested the urgent Security Council meeting amid growing international concern over the ongoing violence.The council met behind closed doors in late August to discuss the violence, but could not agree a formal statement.
- 'Stop the oppression' -
The U.N. special rapporteur on human rights in Myanmar has said the latest violence may have left more than 1,000 dead, most of them Rohingya. Myanmar says the number of dead is around 430, the majority of them "extremist terrorists" from the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA). It says a further 30,000 ethnic Rakhine and Hindus have been displaced inside northern Rakhine, where aid programs have been severely curtailed due to the violence. The exodus of Rohingya has saddled Bangladesh with its own humanitarian crisis, as aid workers scramble to provide food and shelter to a daily stream of bedraggled refugees. The U.N.-run refugee camps in its Cox's Bazar district were already packed with Rohingya who had fled from previous waves of persecution. Dhaka is providing them temporary shelter. But Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, who visited a Rohingya camp on Tuesday, stressed it was up to Myanmar to "resolve" the issue."We will request the Myanmar government to stop oppressing innocent people," she said during a tour of a camp in Cox's Bazar, according to local outlet Dhaka, which has refused to permanently absorb the Rohingya, said it plans to build a huge new camp that will house a quarter of a million refugees. But it remains unclear if or when they will be able to return. Plumes of smoke continued to rise on the Myanmar side of the border this week despite the militants' announcement on Sunday of a unilateral ceasefire. There was no direct response from Myanmar's military, though government spokesman Zaw Htay tweeted: "We have no policy to negotiate with terrorists."

Latest LCCC Bulletin analysis & editorials from miscellaneous sources published on September 11-12/17
16 Years Later: Lessons Put into Practice?

John R. Bolton/Gatestone Institute/September 11/17
Today marks the 16th anniversary of al-Qaida's 9/11 attacks. We learned much that tragic day, at enormous human and material cost. Perilously, however, America has already forgotten many of Sept. 11's lessons.
The radical Islamicist ideology manifested that day has neither receded nor "moderated" as many naive Westerners predicted. Neither has the ideology's hatred for America or its inclination to conduct terrorist attacks. Iran's 1979 Islamic Revolution brought radical Islam to the contemporary world's attention, and it is no less malevolent today than when it seized our Tehran embassy, holding U.S. diplomats hostage for 444 days.
The Taliban, which provided al-Qaida sanctuary to prepare the 9/11 attacks, threaten to retake control in Afghanistan. Al-Qaida persists and may even be growing worldwide.
While ISIS's caliphate in Syria and Iraq will not survive much longer, countries across North Africa and the Middle East ("MENA") have destabilized or fractured entirely. Syria and Iraq have ceased to exist functionally, and Libya, Somalia and Yemen have descended into chaos. Pakistan, an unstable nuclear-weapons state, could fall to radicals under many easily predictable scenarios.
The terrorist threat is compounded by nuclear proliferation. Pakistan has scores of nuclear weapons, and Iran's program continues unhindered. North Korea has now conducted its sixth, and likely thermonuclear, nuclear test, and its ballistic missiles are near to being able to hit targets across the continental United States. Pyongyang leads the rogue's gallery of would-be nuclear powers, and is perfectly capable of selling its technologies and weapons to anyone with hard currency.
During Barack Obama's presidency, he ignored these growing threats and disparaged those who warned against them. His legacy is terrorist attacks throughout Europe and America, and a blindness to the threat that encouraged Europe to accept a huge influx of economic migrants from the MENA region, whose numbers included potentially thousands of already-committed terrorists.
Obama also ignored North Korea, affording it one of an aspiring proliferator's most precious assets: time. Time is what a would-be nuclear state needs to master the complex scientific and technological problems it must overcome to create nuclear weapons.
And, in a dangerous unforced error that could be considered perfidious if it weren't so foolish, Obama entered the 2015 Vienna nuclear and missile deal that has legitimized Tehran's terrorist government, released well over a hundred billion dollars of frozen assets, and dissolved international economic sanctions. Iran has responded by extending its presence in the Middle East as ISIS had receded, to the point where it now has tens of thousands of troops in Syria and is building missile factories there and in Lebanon.
Before 2009, publishers would have immediately dismissed novelists who brought them such a plainly unrealistic plot. Today, however, it qualifies as history, not fantasy. This is the agonizing legacy the Trump administration inherited, compounded by widespread feelings among the American people that we have once again sacrificed American lives and treasure overseas for precious little in return.
These feelings are understandable, but it would be dangerous to succumb to them. We didn't ask for the responsibility of stopping nuclear proliferation or terrorism, but we are nonetheless ultimately the most at risk from both these threats.
And as we knew during the Cold War, but seem to have forgotten since it ended, our surrounding oceans do not insulate us from the risk of long-distance nuclear attacks. We face the choice of fighting the terrorists on our borders or inside America itself, or fighting them where they seek to plot our demise, in the barren mountains of Afghanistan, in the MENA deserts, and elsewhere.
Nor can we shelter behind a robust national missile-defense capability, hoping simply to shoot down missiles from the likes of North Korea and Iran before they hit their targets. We do not have a robust national missile defense capability, thanks yet again to Barack Obama's drastic budget cuts.
President Trump appreciates that nuclear proliferation and radical Islamic terrorism are existential threats for the United States and its allies. During the 2016 campaign, he repeatedly stressed his view that others should play a larger role in defeating these dangerous forces, bearing their fair share of the burden. But candidate Trump also unambiguously (and entirely correctly) called for restoring our depleted military capabilities because he saw that American safety depended fundamentally on American strength.
Sept. 11 should be more than just a few moments of silence to remember the Twin Towers falling, the burning Pentagon and the inspiring heroism of regular Americans in bringing down United Flight 93 in Shanksville, Pa. We should also seriously consider today's global threats. Those who made America an exceptional country did so by confronting reality and overcoming it, not by ignoring it.
The names of passengers and crew of United Airlines Flight 93, who lost their lives in the September 11 attacks, as displayed at the National 9/11 Memorial in New York. (Image source: Luigi Novi/Wikimedia Commons)
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 Pittsburgh Tribune Review 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.

Terrorism and Nuclear Dreams

Ghassan Charbel/Asharq Al Awsat/September 12/17
“I participated in battles and some shrapnel are still inside my body. But, I find today’s world far more scarier than any other day before. I am a military-man and it is not easy for me to admit that I am scared. Earlier, you knew your enemy and his location. You could attack him. Now, the enemy can emerge from anywhere. Every time my children travel to this capital or that, I impatiently wait their return. Never have never experienced this level of anxiety,” said a retired general.
The general reminded me that the September 11 attacks took place 16 years ago, and up until now the world has failed to put an end to the war that sprung from it. He stated that the expenses paid following that dark day are equivalent to a great war, taking into consideration the hundreds of billions of dollars the US spent in the Afghanistan and Iraq wars.
He noted that terrorism is not the only problem. He mentioned that some suicide bombers wear explosive belts and there are insane people, who turn their countries into explosive belts as is the case with Kim Jong-un.
The general’s statement bears the hint of truth. We live in a terrifying world. Who can count the lives taken in the September 11 world? Who can count all of those killed in an explosion here or there? It is a wandering war, killing people in several cities, countries and continents. Also, who can calculate the sums countries have paid to enhance security measures in airports, cities and on borders. And who can estimate the tremendous losses caused by terrorists when they occupied this village or city?
A scary world indeed. Predicaments whose solutions are tough to find.
What will the world do, for example, with the North Korean leader, who insists on sleeping on a nuclear pillow in spite of threats and sanctions?
Is it really in the world’s interest to appease this man and let him possess a nuclear and missile arsenal that would be difficult to deter with any restrictions or agreements? Does the world’s interest demand to address this man with destructive force that is only available to the US military machine?
What about China, which has its own very complicated calculations in the North Korean crisis. Beijing doesn’t want to cut off Korea’s last economic lifeline. It fears the system will collapse and millions of refugees will flock into its territories. Beijing is also concerned that a Kim-less North Korea will end up in South Korea’s arms, which will create a major regional US ally.
China doesn’t want to witness the toppling of the North Korean regime under US army strikes similar to what happened with Saddam Hussein’s regime. It is not in Beijing’s interest to have such a US victory near its border which would renew certain regional countries’ bet on US.
Currently, there are two major issues haunting the world: tyrants’ lust for nuclear weapons as an “insurance policy” against any foreign invasion or international military punishment, and the ongoing terrorist wars, which the September 11 attacks relaunched and expanded to new territories.
Unluckily for us, the Middle East is an arena for terrorist appetites and, occasionally, a place for anyone interested in owning an “insurance policy” that can be used in the ongoing process of establishing a local major power that violates its neighbors’ borders. Such nuclear dreams came to Saddam Hussein, Gadhafi and Khomeini’s disciples.
Often, both of these “appetites” got mixed together in the Middle East.
One of Saddam Hussein’s aides once knocked on his door. The man told Saddam that something was happening in the US and that airplanes crashed into residential towers. Saddam asked him to turn on the television and he turned it on CNN. Saddam then asked him to turn to an Arabic channel and they witnessed the horrific scenes on al-Jazeera.
The man then asked Saddam if this incident will affect Iraq. Saddam replied that they are far from that, adding that a crime of this kind is often committed by an organization, not a state, and probably al-Qaeda.
It did not occur to Saddam on that day that the second earthquake would take place in Baghdad and lead to his hanging.
I was once at a coffee shop in an Arab capital and the coincidence would have it that a man sitting next to me was Saddam’s aide, who knocked on his door. He asked if I was the journalist who sometimes wrote about Iraq and I answered, yes. He told me that he had some clarifications to make to serve the truth, not defend Saddam, who had committed major errors.
The man, who stayed with Saddam for over 30 years, told me dozens of stories, including one that is worth mentioning here because it is relevant to nuclear dreams. The man was not a member of Saddam’s tribe or sect. He informed me that on May 13, 1981, the French ambassador in Iraq called for an urgent meeting with Saddam. The man said that this was a bit strange since it was supposed to happen through the Foreign Ministry, which prompted Saddam to summon Foreign Minister Tarek Aziz to inquire about the issue. The minister denied his knowledge of the incident and eventually Saddam agreed to meet the ambassador in the presence of Minister Aziz.
At the meeting, the ambassador took out a letter from then French President Valery Giscard d’Estaing, urgently asking Saddam to dispatch his Foreign Minister to a top-secret visit to the Elysee Palace to inform him of an important issue that concerns Iraq.
The minister went to Paris where President d’Estaing told him that France had accurate intelligence information about an eminent Israeli aerial attack within weeks to destroy Iraq’s nuclear reactor. The president added that intelligence services however failed to find out the exact date of the attack, adding that US intelligence is monitoring the Israeli preparations.
Aziz asked the president what France can do for Iraq in this case, to which the French president replied: “Nothing, we have informed you.”
At the beginning of the following month, Israel destroyed the reactor which Iraq had obtained from France.
The general was right. The world today is far scarier than yesterday’s. ISIS’ loss in Iraq will bring back its sleeper cells and lone wolf methods.
Once in a while, a new tyrant will pop up demanding his right to sleep on a nuclear pillow.

Kurdish Independence… Fears and Premonitions
Abdulrahman Al-Rashed/Asharq Al Awsat/September 12/17
I am almost certain that most of Arabs outside of Iraq sympathize with Kurdistan’s desire for independence. President of the Iraqi Kurdistan Region Masoud Barzani reiterated that during his campaign and interviews expressing Iraqi-Kurdish point of view and its inclination towards independence, which Barzani has been fighting for since the sixties.
Personally, I am with Iraqi-Kurds’ right to establish their own state.
However, politically and rationally speaking, the aspiration for independence must meet certain requirements before it is established. It is not enough to prepare the Kurdistan region to become a state, Iraqi must also equip itself to continue without the region.
Most probably, Kurdistan’s exit of the state will instantly threaten the sectarian demographic balance in Iraq which could also lead to further internal wars.
Since the toppling of Saddam Hussein’s regime, Iraq has become controlled by political sectarian dominance dividing the country further more. The country was under the control of a relative balance with half the population Sunnis and the other half Shiites, despite the controversy around those old statistics.
Half of the Sunnis are Arabs while the other half are Kurds and without reforming the political system, Kurds’ independence will threaten Iraq due to alterations in the ratios.
Iraq’s governing system is parliamentary which depends on the representation of each party.
Sunni Kurds leaving Iraq will lead to an imbalanced system precisely al-Anbar, which will affect Iraq’s security whether Anbar’s independence was achieved or not.
This is a real dilemma for the politicians protecting the Iraqi regime who are looking for alternatives for Iraqi Kurds, yet they don’t rise to a level of separation.
In addition, Iraq’s dismantle into several states threatens other countries.
The region inherited the current status according to Sykes-Picot Agreement. The agreement divided the borders of the crescent and the Arabian north at the onset of the last century. Under its protection, the British government added Kurdistan to Iraq.
Most states in the region are against the separation of the Kurdistan region fearing it might encourage separation tendencies in the region.
We can’t forget that most of the region was almost united under the control of Turkey, then under the British and French administration. The region was divided within national states like many other regions in the world.
Most regions accepted the old situation even though the borders’ distribution didn’t take into consideration the similarities and differences between countries and nations that were united within modern states.
Kurdish people are the history’s victims because they were separated by foreign agreements.
If Iraqi Kurds gained their independence, Turkey will be worried also since there are Kurdish citizens among its population. Kurds in Turkey are double those of Iraq, and so are those of Iran.
Those concerns are restrains; fear of other Kurds calling for independence, fear of dismantling the rest of Iraq and fear of an increased number of separation requests in the region.
Iraqi Prime Minister Haidar al-Abadi said separation of any region or part of the country is conditioned with the approval of the central government in Baghdad. This is not likely to happen within the current agitated political situation.

Tillerson Is Working with China and Russia – Very, Very Quietly
David Ignatius/The Washington Post/September 12/17
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has often been the silent man in the Trump foreign policy team. But out of the spotlight, he appears to be crafting a broad strategy aimed at working with China to resolve the North Korea crisis and with Russia to stabilize Syria and Ukraine.
The Tillerson approach focuses on personal diplomacy, in direct contacts with Chinese and Russian leaders, and through private channels to North Korea. His core strategic assumption is that if the United States can subtly manage its relations with Chinese President Xi Jinping and Russian President Vladimir Putin — and allow those leaders to take credit for successes — complex regional problems can be solved effectively. Tillerson appears unfazed by criticism that he has been a poor communicator and by recent talk of discord with President Trump. His attitude isn’t exactly “take this job and shove it,” but as a former ExxonMobil chief executive, he doesn’t need to make money or Washington friends — and he clearly thinks he has more urgent obligations than dealing with the press.
Tillerson appears to have preserved a working relationship with Trump despite pointedly separating himself from the president’s controversial comments after the Charlottesville unrest. Although Trump didn’t initially like Tillerson’s statement, it’s said he was ultimately comfortable with it.
The North Korea crisis is the best example of Tillerson’s diplomacy. For all the bombast of Trump’s tweets, the core of US policy has been an effort to work jointly with China to reverse the North Korean nuclear buildup through negotiations. Tillerson has signaled that the United States is ready for direct talks with Kim Jong Un’s regime — perhaps soon, if Kim shows restraint. Tillerson wants China standing behind Kim at the negotiating table, with its hands figuratively at Kim’s throat.
Despite Pyongyang’s hyper-belligerent rhetoric, its representatives have conveyed interest in negotiations, querying details of US positions. But Kim’s actions have been erratic and confusing: When it appeared that the North Koreans wanted credit for not launching missiles toward Guam, Tillerson offered such a public statement. Bizarrely, North Korea followed with three more weapons tests, in a reckless rebuff.
Some analysts see North Korea’s race to test missiles and bombs as an effort to prepare the strongest possible bargaining position before negotiations. Tillerson seems to be betting that China can force such talks by imposing an oil embargo against Pyongyang. US officials hope Xi will make this move unilaterally, demonstrating strong leadership publicly, rather than waiting for the United States to insert the embargo proposal in a new UN Security Council resolution.
Tillerson signaled his seriousness about Korea talks during a March visit to the Demilitarized Zone. He pointed to a table at a U.N. office there and remarked, “Maybe we’ll use this again,” if negotiations begin.
The Sino-American strategic dialogue about North Korea has been far more extensive than either country acknowledges. They’ve discussed joint efforts to stabilize the Korean Peninsula, including Chinese actions to secure nuclear weapons if the regime collapses.
The big idea driving Tillerson’s China policy is that the fundamentals of the relationship have changed as China has grown more powerful and assertive. The message to Beijing is that Xi’s actions in defusing the North Korea crisis will shape US-China relations for the next half-century.
Tillerson continues to work the Russia file, even amid new Russia sanctions. He has known Putin since 1999 and views him as a predictable, if sometimes bullying, leader. Even with the relationship in the dumps, Tillerson believes he’s making some quiet progress on Ukraine and Syria.
On Ukraine, Tillerson supports Russia’s proposal to send U.N. peacekeepers to police what Putin claims are Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko’s assaults on Russian-backed forces in eastern Ukraine. The addition of UN monitors would help implement the Minsk agreement, even if Putin gets the credit and Poroshenko the blame. On Syria, Tillerson has warned Putin that the real danger to Russian interests is increasing Iranian power there, especially as Bashar al-Assad’s regime regains control of Deir al-Zour in eastern Syria. To counter the Iranians, Tillerson supports a quick move by the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces to capture the lower Euphrates Valley. Trump’s boisterous, sometimes belligerent manner and Tillerson’s reticence are an unlikely combination, and many observers have doubted the relationship can last. But Tillerson seems to roll with the punches — and tweets. When Trump makes a disruptive comment, Tillerson seems to treat it as part of the policy landscape — and ponder how to use it to advantage.
Tillerson may be the least public chief diplomat in modern US history, but that’s apparently by choice. By Washington standards, he’s strangely uninterested in taking the credit.

Why Europe’s Central Bank Shouldn’t Worry About the Euro

Ferdinando Giugliano/Bloomberg/September 12/17
The European Central Bank has spent much of this decade convincing markets that the euro is irreversible. It is therefore mildly ironic that policy makers in Frankfurt may be in trouble because of the sudden return of confidence in the single currency.
Investors flocking to the euro have pushed it above $1.20, a 14 percent appreciation since the start of the year. The risk is that, by making imports cheaper, a stronger single currency will make it harder for the ECB to hit its inflation target, undermining the central bank’s plans for a smooth exit from its program of quantitative easing.
Mario Draghi, ECB president, acknowledged this risk during his press conference on Thursday when he said that the “volatility” of the exchange rate “represents a source of uncertainty.” He was right, however, not to go further. The central bank targets inflation, not the exchange rate. Obsessing about the level of the euro means failing to understand that the strength of the currency can have different causes — some of which are way less worrisome than others.
The recent appreciation of the euro is the result of two positive developments. The first is a sharp reduction in the risk that the single currency may disintegrate, following the defeat of euroskeptic candidates in the Dutch and French elections at the start of this year. The second is an unexpected improvement of the growth prospects of the euro zone. The ECB yesterday raised its growth forecasts to 2.2 per cent this year. Both these factors make investors more willing to hold assets denominated in euros, contributing to the strength of the currency.
It would be very short-sighted for the ECB to react to this appreciation by ditching its plans for a gradual exit from QE. The exchange rate is only one element in the composition of inflation, which is what policy makers must ultimately care about. To the extent that a stronger euro signals robust domestic demand, policy makers must watch out for a return of inflationary pressure.
The ECB must also be careful about its role in the international economy. The last thing policy makers should do is to keep the euro artificially low while the economy is expanding. The recent appreciation of the euro against the dollar is telling us that investors are becoming more confident of the prospect for the euro zone economy vis-à-vis the U.S. It is only right that the U.S. enjoys the benefits from a cheaper currency — including more competitive exports.
The ECB must therefore only concentrate on inflation. Of course, there may be reasons to worry about it. The central bank trimmed its inflation forecasts Thursday, showing price pressures are still far from its objective just below 2 percent. This calls for prudence in the unwinding of the monetary stimulus.
However, if there is anything that should worry Draghi and his colleagues, it is not the euro but their ability to react to weakening price pressures. The central bank is operating under a self-imposed set of constraints on how many sovereign bonds of each euro zone countries it can purchase. Some of these limits — for example the ceiling on how many German bunds the ECB can buy — will start to bite sometime next year. Ensuring there is sufficient flexibility in the conduct of monetary policy is more important than worrying about a flexible exchange rate.

Iran Deal Devotees Try in Vain to Save a Sinking Ship
John R. Bolton/Gatestone Institute/September 12/17
Supporters of Barack Obama's 2015 Iran nuclear agreement have, over the past two years, tried almost everything to sustain it.
Nonetheless, weaknesses in its terms, structure, implementation and basic strategic fallacy — i.e., that Iran's international behavior would "moderate" once it was adopted — are all increasingly apparent. For the deal's acolytes, however, continuing U.S. adherence has become a near-theological imperative.
At the most basic level, the agreement's adherents ignore how ambiguous and badly worded it is, allowing Iran enormous latitude to continue advancing its nuclear-weapons and ballistic-missile programs without being even "technically" in violation.
The adherents ignore Iran's actual violations (exceeding limits on uranium enrichment, heavy-water production and advanced-centrifuge capacity, among others). Having first argued strenuously there were no violations, they now plead that the violations are "not significant."
The adherents ignore the "truth-that-dare-not-speak-its-name": America does not know with confidence where all of Tehran's nuclear and missile work is being done.
Unfortunately, both the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and our national intelligence assets are likely missing significant Iranian facilities (perhaps operated jointly in North Korea) that continue to pursue threatening activities.
The adherents ignore statements by Iran's leaders (always worth taking with many grains of salt, to be sure) that Iran could restart full uranium enrichment within five days of discarding the deal's limitations; that reconstructing the Arak nuclear reactor, intended as a plutonium production facility, is easily done because the required "disabling" steps turn out to be not so disabling; and more.
The fact is that Iran's negotiating "concessions" were always trivial and easily reversible.
The adherents ignore Iran's ongoing belligerent behavior in the Middle East, including constructing an Iranian "arc of control" once ISIS is defeated in Iraq and Syria, giving Tehran's military forces a strategic highway from Iran through Shia-dominated Iraq, into Assad's Syria and then Hezbollah-dominated Lebanon. Israel and our Arab friends clearly see this danger.
The adherents ignore Iran's continued efforts to threaten and harass U.S. forces deployed in the Persian Gulf region, even as we wrongly pursue Obama's strategy to empower Baghdad's Tehran-dominated government in the war against ISIS.
Such blindness is not a strategic option. The Obama agreement's geopolitical errors, its conceptual fallacies, its textual weaknesses and its operational dangers are now all too palpable. This is a time for action, not equivocation.
Heedless to reality, however, deal supporters are now reduced to a maladroit ploy. The White House, they say, should refuse to certify next month under the Corker-Cardin legislation that the pact is "vital to the national security interests of the United States."
However, rather than acknowledging candidly that an agreement contrary to our interests should be abrogated, they urge the administration to "fix" problems they spent years denying even existed.
President Trump should reject this "one-shoe-on, one-shoe-off" approach. It is unbecoming and unpresidential at best, dangerously confusing at worst, since it fails to address squarely the risks inherent in allowing the Obama deal's rapidly crumbling legitimacy to retain any force or effect.
Staying in a bad agreement sends confusing signals to the Europeans, who are confused enough already on this issue, about how America intends to address the Iran threat. Similarly, it shows weakness and indecisiveness to Russia and China at precisely the point when President Trump should project clear-eyed resolve.Staying in a bad agreement sends confusing signals to the Europeans, who are confused enough already on this issue, about how America intends to address the Iran threat. Pictured: Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif (left) and German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel (right) at talks on June 27, 2017 in Berlin, Germany. (Photo by Sean Gallup/Getty Images)
While some say we should first deal with North Korea's more imminent threat, postponing action on Iran, so doing ignores the inextricable relationship between the two, both operationally and in global perceptions.
Just as misguided is the idea that, by not certifying, President Trump could hand over the Iran deal's fate to Congress. The Constitution's framers would be appalled by such a notion. Decisive presidents do not wittingly cede their constitutional responsibility to Congress, particularly when existential questions of national security are at stake.
As Alexander Hamilton wrote in Federalist Number 70, only the Executive possesses the "decision, activity, secrecy and dispatch" necessary to make critical foreign-policy choices. And Senate Democrats would prove Hamilton right by filibustering any effort to gut the deal legislatively.
Deal advocates next argue we should "strictly enforce" its provisions, but this is delusional. The deal is poorly negotiated and vaguely worded. For example, Obama failed to demand baseline inspection of the Iran program's military dimensions before inking the deal, and the IAEA is now routinely denied access to regime military facilities. Trying belatedly to "strictly enforce" such a deal is like trying to nail jelly to a wall. The saying that "Iran has never won a war, and never lost a negotiation" surely applies with full force here.
Nor is it possible to "fix" the deal. A conceivably acceptable Iran agreement would require truly intrusive international inspections, as far as imaginable from those permitted under Obama's deal. Iran (like North Korea or any authoritarian society) could simply not accept the kind of international presence required to prove compliance. So doing would undermine the regime itself. Fixing the deal is out of the question.
The president need not wait until October, when his presidency's third Corker-Cardin certification decision is due. As required every 120 days, he must decide this week whether to continue waiving oil- and banking-related sanctions suspended under the Iran deal. Trump granted such a waiver in May, but he should not do so again. September brings us two telling anniversaries. One, the tragedy of 9/11, reminds us what happens when America lets down its guard, even inadvertently, to international threats. The other, Sep. 6, marked the 10th anniversary of Israel's successful strike against a nuclear reactor in Syria being built by North Koreans, quite possibly with Iranian financing. A deliverable nuclear-weapons capability in the hands of Tehran's ayatollahs and the Revolutionary Guards, religious extremists supported by a fascist military, could make another 9/11 far deadlier than the first. This is not the time to light candles to Obama's Iran nuclear deal, but to snuff them out. 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 Hill 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.

Iran: See a Pattern?
Shoshana Bryen/Gatestone Institute/September 12/17
Israel has conducted approximately 100 strikes inside Syria in the six years of civil war, not to change the course of battle or support one side over the other, but to eliminate weapons and facilities deemed unacceptable threats to Israel -- including missile factories, a nuclear reactor and now a chemical weapons factory.
Guterres, Kushner and Greenblatt focused on the narrowest threat in the Middle East -- the possibility that the Palestinians will continue to make low-level warfare against Israel. They ignored the role of Iran and its proxies. In effect, they performed the role of Nero with his fiddle.
If you have not been paying attention, the last thing you heard was that Syria had used sarin gas attack on civilians in 2013. President Obama's "red line" was washed pink in an agreement with Russia to remove the weapons and destroy them at sea. The U.N. Organization for the Prevention of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) special coordinator Sigrid Kaang, in a remarkably precise statement, said 96% percent of Syria's declared chemical weapons were destroyed. Not 95% or 87% or 43.5%, but 96% on the nose. Secretary of State Kerry said: "In record time, even amid a civil war, we removed and have now destroyed the most dangerous chemicals in the regime's declared stockpiles."
It was good PR, but as a solution to a deadly violation of international law, it was a huge, gaping failure. The word "declared" is the giveaway -- Syria was allowed to tell inspectors what it had and where, and the inspectors were allowed only to touch those sites. It you think they cheated, you are right.
This week, the Israel Air Force destroyed a "research center" in Syria, one that "researched" chemical weapons. The attack came the morning after U.N. investigators said the Syrian government was responsible for a sarin gas attack in April 2017. Israel has conducted approximately 100 strikes inside Syria in the six years of civil war, not to change the course of battle or support one side over the other, but to eliminate weapons and facilities deemed unacceptable threats to Israel -- including missile factories, a nuclear reactor and now a chemical weapons factory.
Here is the lesson. Focus on the real regional threats and push off peripheral issues.
Iran and its proxies Hezbollah and Hamas -- oddly enough, Shiite Iran is Sunni Hamas's biggest backer both militarily and financially. There are more than 100,000 rockets and missiles in southern Lebanon, controlled by Hezbollah and aimed at Israel.
Iran and its occupation of Syria, as the Russians seek to nail down their bases but prefer to exercise influence from Moscow without a large military presence in the country. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said last week that Israel's interests in Syria "would be taken into account," but with Russia hoping to leave and Iran planning to stay, Russia's leverage is questionable.
Iran and its unconventional weapons - it was Iran that facilitated the Syrian chemical weapons program, and Iran and North Korea that built the nuclear facility in Syria that Israel destroyed in 2007.
Iran's physical presence in the Sunni areas of Iraq in pursuit of a land-bridge from Iran to the Mediterranean Sea. Iran's harassment of U.S. and other ships in the Persian Gulf and the Red Sea, encircling Saudi Arabia in the south and potentially cutting off Israel and Jordan's access through the Bab el-Mandeb Straits to the Indian Ocean. The "Shiite Crescent" is a "Shiite Encirclement."
See a pattern?
With Russia hoping to not to leave a large military presence in Syria, and Iran planning to stay, Russia's leverage is questionable. (Photo by Alexey Filippov / Host Photo Agency/Ria Novosti via Getty Images)
Those problems must be dealt with directly by countries able to take action -- primarily the United States and Israel. President Trump's March order to bomb Syria's al Shayrat air base -- from which a chemical attack was mounted against Syrian civilians -- was an excellent example of focus on the key threats. Use a facility to violate international law on chemical use and you will be punished. UN Ambassador Nikki Haley said: "When the United Nations consistently fails in its duty to act collectively, there are times in the life of states that we are compelled to take our own action."
That was Israel's playbook. Have the world's greatest sponsor of terror build a facility to do "research" or build chemical weapons in violation of international law, and you will be punished.
Visitors to Israel Miss the Point
In this regional context, the Israel-Palestinian "peace process" is a peripheral issue. UN Chief Antonio Guterres missed the point on his recent visit to Israel. President Trump's envoys, Jared Kushner and Jason Greenblatt did as well.
Prime Minister Netanyahu and the IDF explained the Hezbollah buildup in Lebanon and the need for a stronger UNIFIL force there. Israel provided evidence of Iran's buildup of both nuclear capability at home and conventional capability in Syria. Guterres visited Hamas terror tunnels in Gaza where Israel's UN Ambassador explained what they cost and how life could be better for the Palestinians if Hamas spent Iran's money on its people rather than weapons. Hamas told Guterres he was "unwelcomed."
Mahmoud Abbas decided going to Turkey was better than a meeting with the UN Secretary General. Guterres's hosts trapped him into an unscheduled (read "previously rejected") meeting with families of terrorists in Israeli jails and then lied about what he said. The PA statement was so preposterous that the UN Secretariat announced that statements from the official Wafa Palestinian news agency were "fabricated."
With all that information, Guterres's recommendation was that that Israel freeze "settlement construction". "There is no Plan B on the two state solution," he opined.
As for the Americans, Kushner and Greenblatt were greeted in the West Bank by angry Palestinian protesters and demands from Palestinian officials. According to the daily Israel Hayom:
"If the U.S. team doesn't bring answers to our questions this time, we are going to look into our options because the status quo is not working for our interests," Abbas aide Ahmad Majdalani said.
One "option" is to petition the International Criminal Court at The Hague to investigate Israel for alleged war crimes and crimes against humanity since 1967. The American envoys asked the Palestinians to end their diplomatic offensive against Israel and to stop paying terrorist salaries. The Palestinians were noncommittal on the first and said no to the second. According to the New York Times:
"The best Mr. Trump's senior adviser, Jared Kushner, and his special envoy, Jason D. Greenblatt, could manage was a two-line statement saying that the Palestinians had agreed not to bolt from the American-led process."
Guterres, Kushner and Greenblatt focused on the narrowest threat in the Middle East -- the possibility that the Palestinians will continue to make low-level warfare against Israel. They ignored the role of Iran and its proxies, with their potential for regional conflagration that could include non-conventional weapons, restrict the flow of oil internationally, damage American allies Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Israel and Egypt, and change the balance of power in the region away from the United States and toward Iran for the next decade.
In effect, they performed the role of Nero with his fiddle.
In the worst case, Israel may find itself alone in focusing on the regional threats to its safety and security.
**Shoshana Bryen is Senior Director of the Jewish Policy Center.
© 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.

Germany: The Rise of Islam
Giulio Meotti/Gatestone Institute/September 12/17
Turkey controls 900 mosques in Germany and feels free to say that a "liberal mosque" in Germany is "incompatible" with Islam.
Can you imagine Germany offering Iraq, Syria and Egypt to build "200 new churches" to reconstruct the derelict and dispossessed Christian communities there? No, because in the Middle East, Christians have been eradicated in a forced de-Christianization.
Christians in Germany will become a minority in the next 20 years, according to Die Welt.
We risk losing not only our churches, but more importantly, our cultural strength and even confidence in the values of our own civilization.
Jan Fleischhauer, a journalist of the weekly magazine Der Spiegel, coined an expression to define the free fall of German Christianity: Selbstsäkularisierung ("self-secularization"). It is the Church being liquidated?
The German Bishops' Conference just released the data on the decline of Catholicism in Germany for 2016. In one year, the German Catholic Church lost 162,093 faithful and closed 537 parishes. From 1996 to today, one quarter of the Catholic communities have been closed. "The faith has evaporated," said Cardinal Friedrich Wetter, the Archbishop of Munich and Freising from 1982 to 2007.
Christians in Germany will become a minority in the next 20 years, according to Die Welt. Around 60% of the country is currently Christian, with 24 million Catholics and 23 million Protestants. But that number is falling by 500,000 a year through deaths alone. "Those statistics are embodied by what visitors observe in German cities on Sunday: largely empty churches", the Catholic theologian George Weigel wrote.
German Protestantism is facing the same crisis. Die Zeit revealed that in 2016, 340,000 Protestants passed away, and there were just 180,000 baptisms. Some 190,000 people left the church and just 25,000 people chose to join it.
In his most famous lecture, Pope Benedict XVI famously said that the West, including those who do not accept transcendence, should act "etsi Deus daretur", as if God does exist. The old-fashioned Christian society will never come back, but it is critical for even a secular West to stay based on -- and profoundly inspired by -- its Judeo-Christian values.
The next stage seems to be a German cultural and religious landscape dominated by atheists and two minority religions: Islam and Christianity. If the secularists do not take Western Christian heritage -- or at least the Judeo-Christian values from which it sprang -- more seriously and start defending it, both atheists and Christians will soon be dominated by the rising political and supremacist religion, Islam. A prominent Muslim fundamentalist organization in Germany, banned by the federal government, calls itself "The True Religion" ("Die Wahre Religion"). They apparently think they are overtaking Judeo-Christian values.
There are dramatic instances of Christian decay in Germany. In the diocese of Trier, for example, site of the oldest Catholic community and the birthplace of Karl Marx, the number of parishes will drop from 903 to 35 by 2020, according to bishop Stephan Ackermann -- a decrease of more than 90%. In the diocese of Essen, more than 200 parishes have been closed; their number has fallen from 259 to 43.
A demographic decline is also involved in this religious crisis. "Christianity is literally dying in Europe," said Conrad Hackett, head of the researchers who drafted a Pew Forum report a few months ago. In Europe, between 2010 and 2015, Christian deaths outnumbered births by nearly 6 million. In Germany alone, there were about 1.4 million more Christian deaths.
This decline also apparent from the recruitment crisis for the priesthood. The official website of the German Catholic Church, noted in May that the dioceses of Osnabrück and Mainz did not receive any new priests this year. The archdiocese of Munich last year drew only one candidate. Throughout the Archdiocese of Munich today, there are only 37 seminarians in the various training stages, for about 1.7 million Catholics. In comparison, the American diocese of Lincoln, Nebraska, currently has 49 seminarians for about 96,000 Catholics. In the U.S., Christianity is strong; in Germany it is literally dying.
A German architect, Joaquim Reinig, told Die Tageszeitung that to integrate Muslim immigrants better, churches should be demolished and replaced with "highly visible mosques". It might sound a bit crazy, but it contains a dramatic truth. In his book The Last Days of Europe, the historian Walter Laqueur wrote that "Germany had some 700 little mosques and prayer rooms in the 1980s, but there are more than 2,500 at the present time". If, in Germany, Christianity is evaporating, Islam is proliferating.
The Turkish-Islamic Union for Religious Affairs (DITIB) just opened a new mega-mosque for worship in the German city of Cologne. The new German mega-mosque has a 1,200-person capacity and the tallest minaret of Europe. According to Deutsche Welle, "Christian leaders bristled at the idea of Cologne's famed Dom cathedral sharing the skyline with minarets". When the mosque was planned in 2007, a citizens' initiative was launched to say that "we want the cathedral here, not minarets". The Muslim authorities then announced the plan to "double" the number of mosques.
The new mega-mosque in Cologne, Germany has a 1,200-person capacity and the tallest minaret of Europe. (Image source: Raimond Spekking/Wikimedia Commons)
The Turkish authorities not only wanted to build a mega-mosque in the city hosting the largest cathedral of Germany, but these also had the sense of irony to commission architect Paul Böhm to design the mosque. Böhm's father and grandfather were in fact the two most radical and admired church architects of their generations. In the "new Germany", nobody had asked Böhm to design a new cathedral.
Since he took power in Turkey, Recep Tayyip Erdogan has built 17,000 Islamic prayer sites there. The Turkish president is committed to the construction of mosques in European capitals as well. Turkey controls 900 mosques in Germany and feels free to say that a "liberal mosque" in Germany is "incompatible" with Islam, according to the daily Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung. That is why the 57 percent of Germans fear the rise of Islam in their country.
When Chancellor Angela Merkel opened her country to mass migration in 2014, she apparently did not see any cultural problem in accepting more than another million Muslims.
In the words of Erdogan, however, "Our minarets are our bayonets, our domes are our helmets, our mosques are our barracks". Islamic regimes are, in fact, offering to fill the empty spaces in Germany's religious landscape. Saudi Arabia proposed building 200 new mosques in Germany, "one for every 100 refugees".Can you imagine Germany offering Iraq, Syria and Egypt to build "200 new churches" to reconstruct the derelict and dispossessed Christian communities there? No, because in the Middle East, Christians have been eradicated in a forced de-Christianization. In Europe, Christians are also becoming extinct by a process of "self-secularization". We risk losing not only our churches, but more importantly, our cultural strength and even confidence in the values of our own civilization.
**Giulio Meotti, Cultural Editor for Il Foglio, is an Italian journalist and author.
© 2017 Gatestone Institute. All rights reserved. The articles printed here do not necessarily reflect the views of the Editors or of Gatestone Institute. No part of the Gatestone website or any of its contents may be reproduced, copied or modified, without the prior written consent of Gatestone Institute.

Illegal Migrant Problem? Greece Offers a Solution
Daniel Pipes/Washington Times/September 12/17
ATHENS – As Western states prove incapable of deporting their millions of illegal migrants – the current crisis features Italy – authorities in Greece have found a surprising and simple way to convince them to take the long route back home.
The migration crisis simmered in Greece at about 10,000 illegals arriving a year. Then, thanks to a combination of violence in Syria and welcoming words from Germany's Chancellor Angela Merkel in 2015, that number surged to 10,000 illegals a day pouring into Greece. Coming mostly from Turkey, they made their way unimpeded to such favored destinations as Germany and Sweden.
Eventually, as the borders to northern Europe clanged shut, over 62,000 migrants found themselves "stranded" (in the nomenclature of the United Nations' International Organization for Migration) in Greece. Unable to reach their destinations of choice, they could not find work or sympathy in a Greece going through economic crisis, and they refused to return to Turkey.
At this point, the IOM director in Athens, Daniel Esdras, devised a creative solution to encourage stranded migrants to take the difficult step to give up their European dreams, dreams for which they sacrificed time, money, self-respect, and perhaps endangered their lives, and instead to return to their homelands.
The solution, it turns out, is counterintuitive: treat them very, very nicely, with generosity and respect, then spread the word widely.
That is the experience since the opening in December 2015 of a hostel for impoverished returnees, 80 percent male, as they went through the one-to-three-month process (including in-depth interviews by embassy personnel) to arrange their departure.
Burdened with the arch-bureaucratic name of the Open Centre for Migrants Registered for Assisted Voluntary Return & Reintegration (OCAVRR for short), the hostel offers free residence to illegals (or, in its delicate parlance, "irregulars") who of their own will have agreed to be returned to their countries of origin (other than war zones, namely Libya, Somalia, Yemen, Syria, and parts of Afghanistan).
"Open centre" means the residents (whom staff politely refer to as "beneficiaries") may enter and leave the building at will. Located in a posh part of Athens with excellent vistas and co-funded by the European Return Fund and the Greek Ministry of Interior, OCAVRR provides up to 120 residents at a time with air-conditioned rooms, three catered meals a day, linens, toiletries, and basic clothing, health care and medicines, psychological counseling and social workers. It also offers Wi-Fi, large Blu-Ray televisions, telephone cards to call home, 1 toilet per 4 residents, and 1 shower per 9 residents.
Bathrooms and floors are scrubbed through the day by a cleaning service; residents need only make their beds and wash their clothing in the free laundry machines with free soap. Families get private rooms. Interpretation is offered in nine languages. A Greek staffer joked that OCAVRR may be the only building in all of Athens completely up to the fire code. He also noted that an ambulance would get to a returnee faster than to his house.
Residents must sign an "accommodation agreement." Smoking, alcohol, guests, and pets are prohibited. A criminal record, drug addiction, or a communicative disease disqualify one; armed guards and an airport-style metal detector at the entrance of OCAVRR assure security.
Of the 80 OCAVRR current residents when I visited, 79 were Muslim (the other a Georgian Christian). Every meal is halal. All toilets are outfitted with water sprays. The prayer room is exclusively for use by Muslims and a refrigerator by the front door holds food for residents keeping the Ramadan fast, though a surprisingly small number of residents pray or fast.
Of the 2,200 returnees who have passed through OCAVRR, 94 percent eventually left Greece for home. On leaving, they receive €500 (US$570) in pocket money and a promise of €1,500 for in-kind support to get them economically on their feet (livestock, a taxi, and a sewing machine are common purchases) The total spent per person is about €4,000, less than 1 percent of the welfare, unemployment, health, and other spending on the typical long-term illegal migrant.
Subsidizing the inherently difficult process of returning home to make it more pleasant and dignified is a winning formula; indeed, every Western country suffering from the problem of illegal migrants can learn from, adapt, and scale up this model to its specific circumstances. Done right, large numbers of former illegal migrants will be in business in their homelands.
Mr. Pipes (, @DanielPipes) is president of the Middle East Forum. © 2017 by Daniel Pipes. All rights reserved.
**The above text may be reposted, forwarded, or translated so long as it is presented as an integral whole with complete information about its author, date, place of publication, as well as the original