September 14/17

Compiled & Prepared by: Elias Bejjani

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Bible Quotations For Today
Very truly, I tell you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains just a single grain; but if it dies, it bears much fruit
Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ according to Saint John 12/20-32/:"Among those who went up to worship at the festival were some Greeks. They came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee, and said to him, ‘Sir, we wish to see Jesus.’Philip went and told Andrew; then Andrew and Philip went and told Jesus. Jesus answered them, ‘The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. Very truly, I tell you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains just a single grain; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. Those who love their life lose it, and those who hate their life in this world will keep it for eternal life. Whoever serves me must follow me, and where I am, there will my servant be also. Whoever serves me, the Father will honour. ‘Now my soul is troubled. And what should I say "Father, save me from this hour"? No, it is for this reason that I have come to this hour. Father, glorify your name.’ Then a voice came from heaven, ‘I have glorified it, and I will glorify it again.’The crowd standing there heard it and said that it was thunder. Others said, ‘An angel has spoken to him.’Jesus answered, ‘This voice has come for your sake, not for mine. Now is the judgement of this world; now the ruler of this world will be driven out. And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.’

The message about the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God
First Letter to the Corinthians 01/18-25/:"The message about the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. For it is written, ‘I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and the discernment of the discerning I will thwart.’Where is the one who is wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, God decided, through the foolishness of our proclamation, to save those who believe. For Jews demand signs and Greeks desire wisdom, but we proclaim Christ crucified, a stumbling-block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, but to those who are the called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. For God’s foolishness is wiser than human wisdom, and God’s weakness is stronger than human strength.

Titles For Latest LCCC Bulletin analysis & editorials from miscellaneous sources published on September 13-14/17
Who cancelled the Lebanese Army Victory Celebration/ Elias Bejjani/13 September/17
The Day After Defeat; From The Islamic State's Caliphate To Hezollahstan/
Jerusalem Post/September 14/17
Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu in Damascus, Tehran for anti-ISIS drive/DEBKAfile Exclusive Report September 13, 2017
Israel To Occupy Parts Of South Lebanon In Next Conflict With /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
Hezbollah Leader Boasts: We Defended ISIS in Syria/Jerusalem Post /September 13/17
Hezbollah Declares Victory in Syria: 'We Have Won the War/Haaretz/Reuters/September 12/17
Another Way Climate Change Might Make Hurricanes Worse/Faye Flam/Bloomberg/September 13/17
Intelligence Cell in Saudi Arabia/Salman Al-dossary/Asharq Al Awsat/September 13/17
What Happened to the ADL/Ruthie Blum/Gatestone Institute/September 13/17
Campus Censorship: Orwell Ignored/Robbie Travers//Gatestone Institute/September 13/17
The Palestinians' "Jewish Problem"/ Bassam Tawil//Gatestone Institute/September 13/17
From Syria to Myanmar, first denial then terror-tag for dissenters/
Eman El-Shenawi /Al Arabiya/September 13/17
Is balance of power changing in Iraq to Iran’s detriment/Hamid Bahrami/Al Arabiya/September 13/17
Qatar’s political blunders and glimpses of hope/Abdullah bin Bijad Al-Otaibi/Al Arabiya/September 13/17
Qatar’s characteristic obstinacy and Iran’s ‘honor’/Mashari Althaydi/Al Arabiya/September 13/17
Wake up and smell the coffee/Tariq A. Al-Maeena/Al Arabiya/September 13/17

Titles For Latest LCCC Lebanese Related News published on September 13-14/17
Who cancelled the Lebanese Army Victory Celebration
IMF stands with Lebanon in fight against corruption
Aoun cables Trump on 9/11 anniversary
Hariri Meets Putin, Says Russian Leader Backs Lebanon 'Neutrality'
Jumblat Mocks 'Confusion', Geagea Urges Probe as 'Victory Celebration' Canceled
One Killed, Two Wounded in Akkar Town Clash
Jumblat: Salary Scale Inapplicable Without Proper Revenues, Reforms
Jisr Rules Out Hariri-Nasrallah Dialogue
Berri Says Parliamentary Polls Should be Brought Forward Shall Magnetic Voter Card be Shed
Army Raids Abu Taqiyeh's 'Industrial Complex' in Arsal, Arrests Four over Terror Links
IS Hands Over Captive Fighter to Hizbullah under Border Deal
The Day After Defeat; From The Islamic State's Caliphate To Hezollahstan
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
Hezbollah Leader Boasts: We Defended ISIS in Syria
Hezbollah Declares Victory in Syria: 'We Have Won the War

Titles For Latest LCCC Bulletin For Miscellaneous Reports And News published on September 13-14/17
U.N. Security Council Urges 'Immediate Steps' to End Myanmar Violence
Qatar Emir to Visit Turkey Thursday
Syria Army Tries to Encircle IS in Deir Ezzor
Egypt Arrests Lawyer Linked to Slain Italian Student
Head of al-Marri tribe confirms Qatar revokes family’s citizenship
ISIS afraid for their money as Russia confirms group already ‘began smuggling’ it abroad
Will China, Russia veto US move to slap sanctions on Pakistan?
Assad Receives Russian Minister of Defense
Arab Federation for Human Rights Reports Qatar’s Violations
Netanyahu to Ask Trump to Fight Iran’s Presence in Syria, Iraq
Erdogan Confirms Turkey, Russia, Iran Share Same Stance on Syria’s Idlib
Arab Quartet: Doha Doesn’t Want Solution…Continues Funding Terrorism
Egypt Thwarts Terror Attack on Security Post in Sinai
Riyadh: Universality of Human Rights Doesn’t Go Against Values Upheld in Saudi Arabia

Latest Lebanese Related News published on September 13-14/17
Who cancelled the Lebanese Army Victory Celebration?من ألغى احتفالات النصر اهل الحكم أم نصرالله
 Elias Bejjani/13 September/17
 Simply Lebanon, the land of the holy cedars was not allowed to celebrate its own recent great Army victory against the two criminal Jihadist and Terrorist organizations, “Al Nosra”, and “Daesh”, that took place on the Lebanese-Syrian borders.
 Who forced the Lebanese officials to cancel the army victory celebration and why?
 The Iran occupier, the Hezbollah terrorist armed militia dictated the cancelation decision. The occupier openly and loudly does not want the country’s army and all its other legitimate armed forces to play their role as the sole armed force in in Lebanon.
 Hezbollah, the occupier has its own ministate, its own army, its own budget and its own institutions, while at the same time has full control on all the Lebanese government and parliament.
 In actuality Hezbollah’s leadership and its General Secretary Hassan Nasrallah who are all handpicked and appointed by the Iranian Mullahs, enjoys almost total hegemony on all Lebanon’s institutions, and officials on all levels.
 Meanwhile Hezbollah also controls solely the country’s decision making process including the war-peace one.
 On the other hand, it is more than enough for the Lebanese oppressed and impoverished people the non-lebanese Hassan Nasrallah’s delusional series of victories and his bizarre celebrations all around the year.
 Although Hezbollah’s enforced cancellation of the army celebration was a humiliation to the whole county, but it might have had one gain which is less celebration.
 The Lebanese people want their army to do its job and to let go the victory celebrations.
 In reality, Nasrallah is making the Lebanese so nauseated from his victory’ celebrations which in general he makes them swallow by force.
 Hezbollah wants the Lebanese army’s role extremely marginal and indecisive in a bid to keep its own army better, stronger, more influential and has the upper hand. In this context Hezollah forced the celebration.
 The question is who took the actual decision to cancel the Army Victory Celebrations ..Nasrallah or the Lebanese Government? ..definitely Hezbollah dictated the cancellation decision.
 Yesterday Nasrallah himself and a high ranking Iranian official alleged that the Lebanese Army would not have been victorious in ” Al Jroud” region war without Hezbollah’s support.
 At the same time the Lebanese pro Hezbollah FM, Jobran Bassil claimed with no shame that when the Lebanese Army did not take the leading role in “the Jroud region” because of hesitance Hezbollah intervened..
 In conclusion Lebanon is an occupied country and the occupier is the Iranian denominational- terrorist armed organization, the so called Hezbollah.
 It remains that all the Lebanese ex lebanese 14th of March Coalition politicians and parties who forged a vicious deal with Hezbollah for personal power gains, are greatly responsible for the on going Hezbollah’s occupation and hegemony.

IMF stands with Lebanon in fight against corruption
The Daily Star/September 13/17/BEIRUT: Representatives of the International Monetary Fund Wednesday assured President Michel Aoun that it would maintain support for Lebanon in the fight to combat corruption. During a meeting with Aoun, a new IMF's delegation to Lebanon headed by Chris Jarvis said that it supports the country's new economic policies and the move to fight corruption and carry out reforms, according to the Presidency's official Twitter account.
Chris Jarvis has previously worked with the IMF in Egypt and elsewhere

Aoun cables Trump on 9/11 anniversary
The Daily Star/September 13/17/BEIRUT: President Michel Aoun Tuesday sent a cable to U.S. President Donald Trump expressing solidarity in the fight against terrorism to mark the anniversary of the 9/11 attacks on New York. “Lebanon conveys its support to the United States in the fight against terrorism on the anniversary of the 9/11 attacks,” Aoun wrote in the cable, a statement from his office said. He stressed Lebanon’s commitment to the fight against terrorism and said the successful “Fajr al-Joroud” military offensive against Daesh (ISIS) on the Lebanese-Syrian border was proof of this commitment. “Lebanon was one of the first countries to condemn the attacks on New York and Washington. Most of the world today is fighting some sort of war against terrorism and this has pushed us toward a shared humanity,” he added. Aoun told Trump that he stands united with his U.S. counterpart in the fight against terrorists who kill innocent people, with no distinction and no differentiation. He added that there should be “unity between the two countries to remove terrorism at its roots.”

Hariri Meets Putin, Says Russian Leader Backs Lebanon 'Neutrality'
Naharnet/September 13/17/Prime Minister Saad Hariri held talks Wednesday with Russian President Vladimir Putin at the Russian presidency's summer headquarters in Sochi. “We discussed many issues that are of interest to the two countries, especially the economic issues... We also discussed Russia’s military assistance to Lebanon and ways to develop this relation and facilitate the purchase of Russian equipment through a credit line,” Hariri said after the talks. “We discussed the situation in the region and agreed on many things and we are in the process of developing the political and economic relation for the benefit of the two countries,” he added. Asked whether he asked Putin to help in the issue of delineating and demarcating the border between Lebanon and Syria, Hariri said: “We discussed several issues and touched on this issue briefly. The focus for me was on ways to develop our economic relations.”
As for the issue of preserving Lebanon’s “neutrality”, the premier said: “President Putin supports this very much, especially since Lebanon has been able to protect itself from all the repercussions of what is happening around it. It has shown that the path to stability is political understanding.”
“When a political solution is reached in Syria, Lebanon may be a hub for the reconstruction of Syria,” Hariri added. At the beginning of the meeting, Hariri had said Lebanon “hopes the economic ties and military cooperation will rise to the level of the political relations between the two countries.”
Hailing the Lebanese-Russian ties, Putin for his part said it is important for him to “know the stances of the leaders in the region.”“This is an opportunity to discuss these issues with you,” the Russian leader told Hariri.
Putin also said ahead of the meeting that agreements signed between the two countries during Hariri's visit to Russia would "work toward the positive development of our bilateral inter-state relationship," Russia's RIA Novosti news agency reported. The Lebanese leader told Russian state television channel Rossiya 24 on Wednesday that Lebanon wants to buy more Russian military equipment and that Russian energy companies are in line to win drilling licenses off Lebanon's Mediterranean coast. Hariri had on Tuesday held talks with Russia's premier Dmitry Medvedev and Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov. He had arrived in Russia on Sunday evening.

Jumblat Mocks 'Confusion', Geagea Urges Probe as 'Victory Celebration' Canceled
Naharnet/September 13/17/Progressive Socialist Party leader MP Walid Jumblat on Wednesday ridiculed some political parties after a downtown Beirut rally to celebrate the army's eastern border victory was called off. “Some decided to organize a victory celebration before reversing their decision. Utter disarray that reflects confusion and the absence of a clear vision for running the state, even in the simplest things,” Jumblat tweeted. Lebanese Forces leader Samir Geagea had earlier in the day called for a “probe” to clarify why the event was called off. “We now need a probe into the reasons behind the cancellation of the victory celebration that the Lebanese were waiting for to celebrate the victory of the army and the concept of the State in Operation Fajr al-Juroud,” Geagea tweeted. Free Patriotic Movement chief and Foreign Minister Jebran Bassil was the first politician to call for such a celebration before his invitation was officially endorsed by the defense and tourism ministers who also belong to the FPM. Defense Minister Yacoub al-Sarraf and Tourism Minister Avedis Guidanian held a joint press conference to invite the Lebanese to take part in the Thursday rally but on Tuesday the defense and tourism ministries issued a statement saying the celebration was “postponed” after “consultations with the three presidents” and for “purely logistical reasons.”Al-Joumhouria newspaper reported Wednesday that the event was mainly called off to avoid “conflicting stances” from President Michel Aoun, Speaker Nabih Berri and Prime Minister Saad Hariri on the 2014 Arsal clashes, the probe that Aoun has ordered into the kidnap of troops and policemen that year, and Hizbullah's role in the country. “Some reports also said that there were fears that the rally could come under a terrorist attack, not to mention that the participants would have come from different and rival political forces and bringing them together in one place during this period would have been a dangerous move,” the daily added, noting that the Army Command was also not enthusiastic about the event seeing as the families of the slain troops are still grieving over their sons. The developments come after Lebanon recovered the bodies of servicemen abducted and executed by the Islamic State group as part of a Hizbullah-led ceasefire agreement. The ceasefire followed separate but simultaneous anti-IS offensives by the Lebanese and Syrian armies and Hizbullah on both sides of the Lebanese-Syrian border. President Aoun, Army Commander General Joseph Aoun and Hizbullah chief Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah declared victory over the IS group in the wake of the assaults.

One Killed, Two Wounded in Akkar Town Clash
Naharnet/September 13/17/One person was killed and two others were injured when a personal dispute escalated into gunfire Wednesday in the Akkar town of Ain al-Zahab. A man was killed by a shot to the chest from a hunting shotgun as two toddler girls were lightly injured, the National News Agency said. The death of the man created a state of tension in the town as security agencies sought to pacify the situation, NNA added.An investigation has since been launched into the incident and efforts are underway to arrest the shooter, the agency said.

Jumblat: Salary Scale Inapplicable Without Proper Revenues, Reforms
Naharnet/September 13/17/Democratic Gathering leader MP Walid Jumblat said on Wednesday that allocating revenues for the wage scale law should have been made possible in order to make the law applicable. “We have already warned that the salary scale would be impossible to implement without proper revenues and reforms. Nobody listened. We have signed on an inapplicable bill,” said Jumblat in a tweet. The Constitutional Council had ordered late in August a suspension of the implementation of the new tax law that was approved to fund a new wage scale for civil servants and the armed forces.
The suspension is aimed at “studying the appeal in form and content,” the Council had said. The Council, Lebanon's highest constitutional court, also decided to hold a September 15 session to “discuss the appeal” and “an open-ended session on September 18 to issue a ruling should the appeal be accepted.”Reports have circulated lately that putting the wage scale law into implementation by the end of September may not possible in light of controversy over the taxes to fund it. The new taxes involve hiking the VAT tax from 10% to 11%, fines on seaside violations, and taxes on cement, administrative transactions, sea imports, lottery prizes, tobacco, alcohol, travel tickets, financial firms and banks. Authorities have argued that the new taxes are necessary to fund the new wage scale but opponents of such a move have called for finding new revenues through putting an end to corruption and the waste of public money.

Jisr Rules Out Hariri-Nasrallah Dialogue
Naharnet/September 13/17/Al-Mustaqbal bloc MP Samir al-Jisr said on Wednesday that a meeting between Prime Minister Saad Hariri and Hizbullah chief Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah “is unlikely.”Ruling out the possibility of a meeting between the two men, Jisr told al-Joumhouria daily in an interview: “Circumstances for a such a meeting are not available.”The MP's remarks come in light of positions made by Hizbullah deputy chief Sheikh Naim Qassem who praised Hariri's stances saying “he is behaving reasonably to preserve stability. We don't mind bilateral dialogue.”Whether dialogue between the two parties will resume after a six months halt, Jisr said “he is not acquainted with any reports on the resumption of dialogue.”Sustaining Hariri's wise decisions, he said: “It is certain that President Hariri is taking rational and wise decisions. The most rational thing with a lot of political realism, is to put controversial issues aside and to address the interests of the people,” said al-Jisr. “The conditions of a meeting with the secretary general of Hizbullah are not available. The meeting must be preceded by preliminary matters,” stressed the MP. He pointed out to several factors that hinder a gathering between the two men, he said: “Neither the issue of the international tribunal has been resolved nor the position of Hizbullah as for wanted individuals, nor its weaponry and involvement in the Syrian war,” exclaimed al-Jisr.

Berri Says Parliamentary Polls Should be Brought Forward Shall Magnetic Voter Card be Shed
Naharnet/September 13/17/In light of reports circulating that a magnetic voting card may not be issued for the 2018 parliamentary elections, Speaker Nabih Berri voiced calls to bring the polls date closer, al-Joumhouria daily reported on Wednesday. “The parliamentary elections were initially postponed until May 2018 to pave way for issuing a magnetic voter card. But in light of attempts to cancel this card, then it is better to shorten the parliament's extension period,” Berri was quoted as telling his visitors. “We better not waste time in waiting until May to stage the election if there will be no magnetic card. It is better to shorten the parliament’s mandate and conduct the polls as soon as possible,” added Berri. Berri was also quoted as “stressing the need to maintain stability.”In June, Interior Minister Nouhad al-Mashnouq had warned that issuance of magnetic card votes is a time-consuming process that may not be completed on time due to the number of voters. The interior ministry had warned that issuing magnetic voting cards for around 3 and a half million voters will create “confusion.” The magnetic voting card would allow voters living outside their constituencies to vote in the constituency they are registered in.

Army Raids Abu Taqiyeh's 'Industrial Complex' in Arsal, Arrests Four over Terror Links

Naharnet/September 13/17/The Lebanese army arrested several Islamic State linked jihadists in Arsal and carried out raids on an industrial complex of controversial Islamist cleric Sheikh Mustafa al-Hujeiri, aka Abu Taqiyeh and confiscated ample amounts of arms, the National News Agency reported on Wednesday. At dawn, the army detained Syrian national identified as Khaled Fayad Berro in the northeastern border town of Arsal for having links to the IS extremist group. He is also wanted on accusations of booby trapping vehicles and arranging suicide attack bombings, NNA said.
Later during the day, the military raided an industrial complex of Abu Taqiyeh, also known as al-Noor refugee camp, in Wadi al-Hosn in the northeastern border town of Arsal. It confiscated ample amount of weapons and ammunition, said NNA. Three individuals were also arrested over links to terror groups. Two Lebanese men, one hailing from the Ammoun family and another from al-Hujeiri. The third is a Syrian. Last week the army raided Abu Taqiyeh's house in Arsal but he was no where to be found. The raid follows confessions made by his detained son, Obada, about his father's alleged involvement in the 2014 kidnap of around 30 Lebanese soldiers and policemen during clashes with jihadist groups, media reports said. The development comes after a national funeral for 10 soldiers kidnapped in 2014 and eventually executed by the terrorist Islamic State group. The bodies of the troops were recovered last month in the wake of an army offensive against the militants.

IS Hands Over Captive Fighter to Hizbullah under Border Deal
Naharnet/September 13/17/Hizbullah announced Wednesday evening that it has been handed over its captive fighter Ahmed Maatouk from the jihadist Islamic State group in Syria. The handover is part of a Hizbullah-led ceasefire agreement with IS militants that followed a major offensive by Hizbullah and Syria's army near Lebanon's border and another by the Lebanese army on its side of the frontier. The deal also involved the withdrawal of the IS jihadists to eastern Syria and information about the location of the bodies of nine Lebanese troops nabbed in 2014 and eventually executed.

The Day After Defeat; From The Islamic State's Caliphate To Hezollahstan
Jerusalem Post/September 14/17
يوم ما بعد الهزيمة: من دولة الخلافة الإسلامية إلى حزب الله ستان
Islamic State is in dire straits, with reports of low morale, desertion among fighters and less robust leadership.
The day after defeat: From the Islamic State’s caliphate to Hezbollahstan
Supporters of Lebanon's Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah display Hezbollah flags during a rally marking the 11th anniversary of the end of Hezbollah's 2006 war with Israel, in the southern village of Khiam, Lebanon August 13, 2017.
The expansion of Hezbollah and Shi’a militias in territory once held by Islamic State has left many experts concerned about the day after the end of the Sunni terrorist group.
Speaking to The Jerusalem Post, Aaron Zelin, the Richard Borow Fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, stated that unlike groups such as Islamic State and al-Qaida, which are not strategic threats to Israel, Hezbollah and Shi’a militias, whose fighters are trained and armed by Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps and number in the thousands, are entrenching themselves in Syria, posing a real threat to Israel.
As things stabilize in Iraq, Zelin warned, Iran will send more troops from its militias to Syria, allowing Hezbollah to once again focus on Lebanon and Israel.
In June Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah warned that the next conflict with the group would see fighters from across the Shi’a world participating.
“The Israeli enemy should know that if it launches an attack on Syria or Lebanon, it’s unknown whether the fighting will stay just between Lebanon and Israel, or Syria and Israel,” he said during a speech marking Quds Day.
“I’m not saying countries would intervene directly, but it would open the door for hundreds of thousands of fighters from all around the Arab and Islamic world to participate in this fight – from Iraq, Yemen, Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan.”
According to Zelin, Iran’s presence in Syria is not only in the form of its militias; rather, it is deeply rooted in Syria’s government and army.
Zelin explained that tactical and operational decisions can be taken by Hezbollah in Beirut, but the strategic decisions will be made in Tehran.
“There is an occupation of Syria that no one is talking about. Iran controls the army and government. Assad is just a figurehead, and while he still has power within his base of support, it is not the same as it was five years ago. Iran is very deeply entrenched in what can be described as the Syrian government.”
Amos Gilead, director of the Institute for Policy and Strategy and chairman of the Herzliya Conference Series at Interdisciplinary Center Herzliya, also warned that Tehran and its proxy groups will likely flood into the territory lost by Islamic State.
“What is worse than Islamic State? It’s the Iranian threat,” said Gilead, adding that “very soon, ‘Hezbollahstan,’ with their 130,000 rockets, will threaten Israel’s Golan Heights.”
Three years after Islamic State blitzkrieged through the Middle East, once controlling nearly half of Syria and large parts of Iraq, the group is reported to have lost 85% of its territory in Syria, including 60% of its de facto capital of Raqqa, and has been largely dispersed across the deserts of Iraq.
According to experts speaking at the International Institute for Counter-Terrorism’s annual conference at IDC Herzliya on Tuesday, Islamic State is in dire straits, with reports of low morale, desertion among fighters and less robust leadership.
Brian Fishman, lead policy manager for counterterrorism at Facebook, said Islamic State “started its clock” in October 2006, when it declared the Islamic State of Iraq. As soon as it made that declaration, it went up against the surge of US troops in Iraq and had to contend with the Sunni awakening, which led to the group losing most of the territory it held at the time. Fishman warned that while the group may no longer be a territorial entity, the organization is not going away.
While it is unlikely that there will be a mass migration like the world saw in 2014 and 2015, with thousands of foreign fighters flocking to join the group, the die-hard believers will continue to fight for Islamic State, with the aim of rebuilding its power. Fishman, who is also a fellow at the Combating Terrorism Center at West Point, warned that despite the hit the group took in 2006, it went underground until it came back stronger as Islamic State as we know now.
Nevertheless, the Iranian- run proxy network entrenching itself in Syria and Iraq might have an effect on any attempt by Islamic State to continue its insurgency and its efforts to recover territorial control, Zelin told the Post.

Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu in Damascus, Tehran for anti-ISIS driveوزير الدفاع الروسي في دمشق وكهران من اجل
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report September 13, 2017
After a tense conversation with Bashar Assad in Damascus Tuesday, Sept. 12, DEBKAfile’s military and intelligence sources discovered the Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu had flown secretly to Tehran the next day. He then proceeded directly to Sochi to brief President Vladimir Putin on his mission, which was to pull together the Russian-backed Syrian-Iranian-Hizballah operations against ISIS on the Syrian-Iraqi border.
DEBKAfile’s sources report that Shoigu’s visits capped this effort by Moscow.
The bright prospects of success in breaking the ISIS’ long siege of Deir ez-Zour announced at the beginning of the week dimmed on Tuesday and Wednesday, when the claims of a major victory proved unexpectedly premature.
As of Wednesday evening, Syrian army units were still locked in battle for control of the main road from Damascus to Deir Ez-Zour, and were still about 15km away from the city. Reports that the ISIS siege on the large Syrian airbase adjoining Deir Ez-Zour had been lifted were also premature. On Wednesday night, ISIS forces were still attacking the base’s perimeter in an attempt to break through.
In other words, the lofty claims in recent days by senior Russian officers, President Assad and Hizballah leader Hassan Nasrallah, claiming the war was won, aside from small scattered battles, were over-hasty.
Our military sources point out that now, because ISIS is concentrating on battering the Syrian, Iranian and Hizballah forces and stalled their advance to the Euphrates Valley, the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces, consisting mainly of Syrian Kurdish fighters from the YPG militia, have found that the road from Raqqa to Deir Ez-Zour is open and are overtaking the Russian-backed forces. The SDF is advancing rapidly with US helicopters providing them with fuel so their vehicles can press forward.
As of Wednesday evening, the SDF was just 6 km away from Deir Ez-Zour, ahead of the Russian-backed armies which were taking the brunt of ISIS attacks.
When he saw this happening, Russian President Putin sent his defense minister over to Damascus and Tehran to look for ways to break through to the next operations scheduled for attacking ISIS strongholds on the Syrian-Iraqi border. Ahead may be decision to commit more Russian military forces to the war against ISIS or explore a path to a brekthrough in talks with the Americans..

Israel To Occupy Parts Of South Lebanon In Next Conflict With Hezbollahإسرائيل سوف تحتل أجزاء من جنوب لبنان في أي حرب مقبلة مع حزب الله
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 Lebanonحزب الله يبعث رسائل تطمين لإسرائيل

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.

Hezbollah Leader Boasts: We Defended ISIS in Syriaحزب الله يعلن النصر ونصرالله يتباهي ويقول انتصرنا على داعش

Jerusalem Post /September 13/17
Hassan Nasrallah, the leader of the Shi'ite, Lebanese terror organization Hezbollah, declared his group's triumph over Islamic State in Syria in a speech made on Tuesday. "We won the war in Syria and what's left are pockets of resistance," Nasrallah announced.
"The rebels and their supporters' project has failed and the enemy wants to conduct a negotiation only to be able to bring in some [minor] feats," he retorted. Nasrallah also revealed that at the very outset of the Syrian Civil War, which broke out seven years ago in 2001, he paid a visit to Iran where he had a meaningful meeting with Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei. According to Nasrallah, he explained to Khamenei in that meeting that Lebanon will refuse to back down in the fight against Islamic State, regardless of how the volatile situation in Syria might unfold. "In those days everyone was convinced that the regime would collapse within two to three months. I made our vision and perception of the enemy clear to Khamenei, and I made it clear to him that if we don't fight in Damascus we would have to fight in Lebanon..." Nassrallah went on to describe the talk with Khamenei, saying that "the leader agreed and even added that not only that, [he also expects] the enemy [to get to] areas such as Kerman and Tehran in Iran. He said that in that front there are a lot of axes: The Iran-Lebanon-Syria axis, where the leader is Bashar Assad."
The terror group's leader said that one of his significant takeaways from the meeting with Ayatollah Khamenei was the Iranian leader's reassuring statement that "we must do everything in order to win, and we will win." By fighting alongside the Syrian regime they managed to prevent an infiltration of ISIS into Lebanon, Nasrallah asserted, and also said that "there are those who will never be pleased, regardless of what we may do." Nasrallah also reached out to bereaved families in Lebanon, and while speaking to them said that "ISIS and Jabaht a-Nusra have caused the toughest crisis we've had since 2010. This is way worse than the Second Lebanon War." The terror group's notorious leader didn't fail to point accusatory fingers in the direction of the Jewish state, its ally the US and Arab countries with whom Israel publicly does not maintain diplomatic ties, blaming all for conspiring against Hezbollah. "Since 2011, there has been an American-Israeli-Qatari-Saudi joint attempt to take out the resistance and terminate the [fight for] the Palestinian cause," he charged.
Hezbollah official says Israel is closer than ever to its demise (credit: MEMRI)
Nasrallah also claimed that a year and a half into the Syrian Civil War, Saudi Arabia demanded that Syrian President Assad announce in a press conference that Syria was severing its ties with Hezbollah and Iran in order to solve the crisis in the country. "We warned our Iraqi brothers from the very beginning that if they don't fight ISIS... [the latter] will try to infiltrate into Iraq. Our assessment came true when the terror group took over two thirds of Iraq and got... as close as 40 km from Baghdad."On the same day that Nasrallah made the aforementioned remarks, Lebanese media reported that Hezbollah has raised its level of alertness on the northern border due to the large military drill the IDF is currently holding in the area. Lebanese paper Algomhuria cited an unnamed senior source who allegedly told the publication that UNIFIL forces are currently holding thorough patrols in the border area of southern Lebanon while carrying out discussions with Israel and Lebanon in order to maintain stability in the area and respect UN Resolution 1701 as well as uphold the cease-fire between Israel and Lebanon. The paper cited the same source as saying that an international attempt to influence the dialogue between the two sides is being made currently and indicates that both sides are not interested in an escalation.

Hezbollah Declares Victory in Syria: 'We Have Won the War'نصرالله يعلن النصر ويقول ربحنا الحرب
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.

Latest LCCC Bulletin For Miscellaneous Reports And News published on September 13-14/17
U.N. Security Council Urges 'Immediate Steps' to End Myanmar Violence
Naharnet/Agence France Presse/September 13/17/The U.N. Security Council on Wednesday expressed concern about excessive force used by Myanmar during its security operation in Rakhine state and called for "immediate steps" to end the violence. The unanimous statement followed a council meeting held behind closed doors to respond to the violence that has driven nearly 380,000 Rohingya Muslims to flee across the border to Bangladesh. The council condemned the violence and called for humanitarian aid workers to be able to reach those in need in Rakhine state.
Ethiopian Ambassador Tekeda Alemu, who holds the council presidency, told reporters after the meeting that council members "expressed concern about reports of excessive violence during the security operations and called for immediate steps to end the violence in Rakhine."
U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres earlier called for a halt to the military campaign in Rakhine and acknowledged that the mass displacement of Rohingya Muslims amounted to ethnic cleansing. "I call on the Myanmar authorities to suspend military action, end the violence, uphold the rule of law and recognize the right of return of all those who had to leave the country," the secretary general said in a press conference. Asked if he agreed the Rohingya population was being ethnically cleansed, he replied: "When one-third of the Rohingya population has got to flee the country, can you find a better word to describe it?"The 1.1-million strong Rohingya have suffered years of discrimination in Myanmar, where they are denied citizenship even though many have longstanding roots in the country. Guterres said the Myanmar government should either grant the Rohingya nationality or legal status that would allow them to live a normal life.

Qatar Emir to Visit Turkey Thursday
Naharnet/Agence France Presse/September 13/17/Qatar's Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani will visit Turkey on Thursday to meet President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, in his first visit abroad since the start of a diplomatic crisis with Saudi Arabia, Ankara said. Al-Thani will hold talks on "bilateral ties and regional as well as international developments," the Turkish presidency said. Erdogan has been a major supporter of Doha since Qatar was left diplomatically and economically isolated by the standoff instigated by its giant neighbor. On June 5, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates and Egypt cut ties with Qatar accusing it of backing extremism and fostering ties with their Shiite rival Iran. Doha, however, denies the claims.  Erdogan has strongly spoken out against the sanctions applied by Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates and Egypt against Doha.
In a show of solidarity, Turkey has also sent cargo ships and hundreds of planes loaded with food products to break the embargo on Doha. After visiting Turkey, the emir is due to visit Berlin for talks with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, his first trip to a western capital since the crisis began. Erdogan in July embarked on a regional tour of the Gulf countries, with visits to Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Qatar in a bid to diffuse the crisis. But his visit ended without any sign of a breakthrough. On Wednesday, Kuwaiti Prime Minister Sheikh Jaber al-Mubarak al-Sabah was due to meet with Erdogan at his presidential palace in the capital Ankara. Erdogan has voiced support for Kuwait's mediation efforts, in an indication that Ankara sees the emirate as the key to resolving the crisis. Over the last years, Qatar has emerged as Turkey's number one ally in the Middle East, with Ankara and Doha closely coordinating their positions on a number of issues including the Syria conflict where both are staunch foes of President Bashar al-Assad. Ankara has built a military base in Qatar and reportedly deployed around 200 troops. The closure of the base was one of the conditions laid by the Saudi-led bloc for the lifting of the sanctions, which was rejected by Doha. But Turkey also does not want to wreck its own relations with regional kingpin Saudi Arabia and its hugely powerful new Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

Syria Army Tries to Encircle IS in Deir Ezzor
Naharnet/Agence France Presse/September 13/17/
After breaking an Islamic State group blockade, Syria's army is seeking to encircle the remaining jihadist-held parts of Deir Ezzor city, a military source said Wednesday. The city is the capital of oil-rich eastern Deir Ezzor province, regarded as a strategic prize by both Russian-backed Syrian troops and U.S.-backed fighters. Last week, Syria's army and allied fighters broke a years-long IS siege of Deir Ezzor, entering two regime-held sections of the city that had been cut off from each other. Since then, the army has brought reinforcements to the city and is seeking to oust IS from eastern neighborhoods that run along the Euphrates river, which slices diagonally through the province. "The army is seeking to encircle Daesh from three sides by controlling the parts of the western bank of the Euphrates river," the source told AFP, using the Arabic acronym for IS.Troops would target riverside territory on the city's northwestern edges as well as strategic areas on its southern outskirts, including the key military airport and the village of Al-Jafra, on the banks of the Euphrates. The operation seeks to "oust Daesh from the city and the province completely," the military source said. Rami Abdel Rahman, head of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitor, also reported that "fierce fighting has been ongoing since yesterday as the army seeks to expel the jihadists and reach the western bank of the Euphrates."If the army captures Al-Jafra, "Deir Ezzor will be encircled from three sides, so Daesh will have no way out except the Euphrates which is within firing range of regime artillery and Russian warplanes," he added. As the Syrian army backed by Russian air support battles IS in Deir Ezzor, a separate offensive by the U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces is under way on the eastern side of the province. The operation by the alliance of Kurdish and Arab fighters began over the weekend, but the SDF has said it was not coordinating the fight with the regime. Air strikes by Russian and U.S.-led coalition war planes in support of the separate offensives have killed dozens of civilians in recent days.On Wednesday, the Observatory said suspected U.S.-led coalition strikes on several parts of eastern Deir Ezzor province overnight and throughout the day killed 12 people. On Tuesday, the monitor reported 35 people killed in Russian and U.S.-led strikes on either side of the Euphrates. More than 330,000 people have been killed in Syria since the conflict began in March 2011 with anti-government protests.

Egypt Arrests Lawyer Linked to Slain Italian Student

Naharnet/Agence France Presse/September 13/17/Authorities in Egypt have arrested a lawyer whose human rights group opposes enforced disappearances and is linked to one such case involving murdered Italian student Giulio Regeni, officials said Wednesday. Ibrahim Metwally was detained Sunday at Cairo airport on his way to the Swiss city of Geneva, where he was to take part in a meeting on enforced disappearances, his group said. Prosecution officials said he had been remanded in custody for two weeks on suspicion of "dealing with foreign parties" and "spreading false news". Metwally, who founded the Association for the Families of the Disappeared, was also suspected of having set up an "illegal" group, they said. Metwally had been in touch with the legal defense team of Regeni's family. Regeni, a PhD student, went missing in Cairo on January 25, 2015 and his body was found days later bearing torture marks.
Egypt has faced accusations that one of its security services murdered the student who was researching trade unions -- a sensitive topic in the country -- but Cairo denied any such involvement. His murder led to a diplomatic crisis that saw Italy recall its ambassador, although it has since said its envoy would take up his post again. Rights groups accuse the Egyptian government of arbitrary arrests and enforced disappearances of dissidents that spiked after the military overthrew Islamist president Mohamed Morsi in 2013 and cracked down on his supporters.
The government disputes such allegations.

Head of al-Marri tribe confirms Qatar revokes family’s citizenship
Staff writer, Al Arabiya EnglishThursday, 14 September 2017/The head of the al-Marri tribe in Qatar, Sheikh Taleb bin Lahom bin Shreim, has confirmed that Doha has revoked his citizenship along with 54 of his relatives and warned his country’s embrace of Iran. In an interview with Al Arabiya, Sheikh Taleb said the actions of the Qatari authorities has not surprised him. “The Qatari authorities have become a source of haven for terrorists and their sponsors, and the subject of discussion is much bigger than nationality. It is a big attack on Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states,” he told Al Arabiya. Saudi Arabia’s National Society for Human Rights (NSHR) has said that Qatar revoked the citizenships of 54 members directly related to Sheikh Taleb’s branch of the family, including 18 women and their children. “This violating all principles of human rights, exposing them as diasporas and displacing them, similar to an action in the past when the Qatari government itself in 2005 took action against more than 6,000 of its citizens and displaced them by withdrawing their nationality without any justification or reason consistent with international standards,” NSHR said in a statement made available to Al Arabiya.

ISIS afraid for their money as Russia confirms group already ‘began smuggling’ it abroad
Staff writer, Al Arabiya EnglishWednesday, 13 September 2017/As the crackdown on ISIS in Iraq and Syria has intensified, the organization began thinking and planning terrorist operations in Western countries, as well as a search for ways to smuggle their money abroad.
The Russian Foreign Ministry revealed Tuesday that ISIS began to transfer funds from the territory under their control to foreign countries, especially Europe. “In the past, we highlighted ISIS raising funds in the territories under their control, but now, the organization, which seems to feel its imminent defeat, is beginning to transfer money in the opposite direction, to foreign countries, including Europe,” said Dmitry Feoktistov, Deputy Director of the Department of New Challenges and Threats of the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. It seems that the money will be spent to fund dormant cells in Europe to carry out attacks. According to the same source and in order to compensate for their loss of profits from the oil trade in Syria, ISIS is trying to find new sources of income, resorting to operations related to foreign currencies and smuggling of antiquities and drugs. Some estimates indicate that ISIS has lost about 90% of oil wells that they had previously controlled. The ISIS dinar becomes more expensive than gold . Moreover, as their resources diminished, ISIS imposed their currency on all the territories under their control, in search for additional sources of funding, according to Dmitry Feoktistov.
He added that: “In fact, the organization announced that its golden dinars, silver dirhams and copper coins, are the only currency allowed in public circulation on the territory controlled by them.”The terrorist organization refused to accept payments from the residents made in other currencies, forcing them to convert Syrian pounds and US dollars to ISIS dinars, which are sold at a price higher than the price of gold in the "economic offices" of the organization. The Russian official revealed that ISIS, following this method, has sold more than 100 thousand dinars at a price higher than 180 dollars for one ISIS dinar, leaving them with an income of about $ 18 million, which of course will be spent on the purchase of arms and ammunition.

Will China, Russia veto US move to slap sanctions on Pakistan?
Staff writer, Al Arabiya EnglishWednesday, 13 September 2017/China and Russia have reportedly assured Pakistan that they would veto any US move in the United Nations to slap economic sanctions on Islamabad. According to a report in the Daily Express, this has been communicated to Islamabad at the diplomatic level. The United States has already begun conditioning future aid to Pakistan on progress Islamabad makes in tackling the Haqqani Network militants, says the report, adding that it has also hinted at imposing sanctions on Pakistani officials allegedly having links with militants.
The relations between Washington and Islamabad have frayed since President Donald Trump last month unveiled a new Afghan policy and hit out at Islamabad, accusing it of giving ‘safe haven to agents of chaos’ by harboring the Afghan Taliban and other militants.
Whether such a “deal” actually materializes.
Foreign policy wizards
The newspaper, quoting Islamabad-based diplomatic sources, reported that foreign policy wizards, security officials and top government functionaries have been brainstorming since the unveiling of Trump’s strategy in an effort to chart out new policy vis-à-vis Washington. It has been decided that Pakistan would phase out its dependence on the United States. And high-level contacts with Washington would be restored only after the Trump administration acquiesced to assuage Pakistan’s legitimate concerns on the new US strategy for Afghanistan and beyond. It has been reported earlier that President Donald Trump’s new approach with Pakistan’s government could potentially include sanctioning Pakistani government officials with ties to terrorist organizations.A news report last month revealed that this is part of an overall regional strategy that he said has put Pakistan “on notice” that “business as usual as it has been up to now is over.”

Assad Receives Russian Minister of Defense
Moscow- Head of Syrian regime Bashar al-Assad received Tuesday Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu at the instruction of Russian President Vladimir Putin, the Syrian presidency said in a statement. “During the meeting, the issues of military and military-technical cooperation were discussed in the context of the successful actions of the Syrian government troops with the support of the Russian Aerospace Forces aimed at the complete destruction of ISIS in Syria,” the Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement. Shoigu and Assad also discussed issues of stabilization of the situation in Syria, the functioning of de-escalation zones, and humanitarian assistance. Meanwhile, Kazakh Foreign Minister Kairat Abdrakhmanov said Tuesday that the representatives of the Syrian armed opposition will actively participate in the upcoming sixth round of the talks on the Syrian settlement, which will be held in Kazakhstan’s capital of Astana. “Representatives of the Syrian armed opposition have made official requests to Kazakhstan’s consulates asking for entrance visas. This means that representatives of the Syrian armed opposition will actively participate in the next round, like the last time,” the Foreign Minister told reporters.
According to Abdrakhmanov, groups that represent the Southern Front will participate in the sixth round, as well as other groups, which had been part of the Astana talks since their beginning. “The Jordanian side will also participate as an observer and will be represented by highly placed officials from their external affairs departments,” the Minister said. The establishment of the fourth and the last zone of de-escalation of violence in Syria, namely in its northern Idlib province, is going to be in the spotlight of the upcoming high-level international meeting on Syria in Astana. The talks, attended by high-ranking officials from the three ceasefire guarantor states — Russia, Iran and Turkey — as well as representatives of the Syrian government and armed opposition, will be held on September 13-15. So far, three zones of de-escalation have been established: in the south along the border with Jordan, in Eastern Ghouta and to the north of Homs. Consultations on the fourth and most problematic de-escalation zone in the Idlib province are ongoing. In July, Russia, Turkey and Iran, with help from Jordan and the United States as observers, tried to coordinate a whole range of specifics on the establishment of the four safe zones, but could not agree on all the details and sign the package of documents as a whole. Since July, three out of four zones were coordinated and announced outside of the Astana framework.

Arab Federation for Human Rights Reports Qatar’s Violations
Geneva – The Arab Federation for Human Rights revealed its new extensive report stating Qatar’s violations of human rights and international laws. The report also uncovers the lies of Qatar’s National Committee for Human Rights (NCHR) and presents evidence of Doha’s violations. The federation issued the report on the sidelines of 36th Session of the UN Human Rights Council at the UN Headquarters in Geneva. Founder Ahmed al-Hamli also announced that the federation prepared a report on the dangers of Qatar hosting the World Cup 2022. Hamli explained that the report included unprecedented evidence and documented information which reveal the extent of corruption and bribery that led to Qatar winning the rights to host the 2022 event. He added that experts spent months preparing the report in a methodological scientific method to reveal the truth. Hamli stated that a delegate of the federation will meet High commissioner of the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Raed bin al-Hussein or his representative to discuss the issue. The Arab Federation for Human Rights was officially founded during an event organized by the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva, Switzerland’s capital, on September 21st 2015 which turned-out to be the International Day of Peace. The Federation aims to enhance and support the world human right principles as stated in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and other international treaties, conventions and protocols, that governs international humanitarian law. Moreover, the Federation endeavors to exploit all its capacities to improve the human rights situation in the Arab world and work on spreading societal and institutional awareness and establish the principles of equality, justice, equal citizenship and peaceful coexistence between the different parts of society. Hamli said that the report will also ask the High Commission for Human Rights to reconsider its classification of Qatar’s National Committee for Human Rights. The federation is also expected to announce a new report about human rights and terrorism in Yemen which also uncovers the lies promoted by certain Western parties. He added that the federation formed a committee that visited Yemen for a month and met a number of top military and security officials.

Netanyahu to Ask Trump to Fight Iran’s Presence in Syria, Iraq
Tel Aviv – Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu urged on Tuesday the world to fight terrorism, accusing Iran of being the root of all terror in the world. He is expected to address this issue with US President Donald Trump when they meet later this month in New York, said Israeli sources. Speaking at a joint press conference in Beunos Aires alongside Argentine President Mauricio Macri, Netanyahu said there was no doubt that Iran was behind the two major terror attacks that struck Jewish and Israeli sites in Buenos Aires in the early 1990s. Netanyahu also condemned Iran’s involvement in global terrorism, saying the regime and its proxies continue to operate even in Latin America. “Iran’s terror has not stopped since then. They have a terror machine that encompasses the entire world, operating terror cells in many continents, including Latin America,” he said. He added that all modern states must fight terrorism, especially Iran’s terrorist regime, reiterating that Israel will continue to stand in face of Iran’s terror along with its partners in Latin and North America. “In the case of Iran, there have been some news stories about Israel’s purported position on the nuclear deal with Iran. So let me take this opportunity and clarify: Our position is straightforward. This is a bad deal. Either fix it, or cancel it. This is Israel’s position,” added the PM.Netanyahu said that Israel is also concerned about Iran’s nuclear weapons, adding that it should concern the entire international community.
“We understand the danger of a rogue nation having atomic bombs,” he stressed.The Israeli sources mentioned that the Israeli PM will ask Trump, during their expected meeting, to change his policy towards Iran, Syria and Iraq. He also wants Washington to amend the nuclear deal, officially known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), with Iran or cancel it altogether. The meeting will be held amid reports that Trump will declare Iran as non-compliant with the 2015 nuclear deal.
In related news, Israel’s Intelligence Minister Yisrael Katz urged Netanyahu on Monday to lobby Trump to change or cancel the Iran nuclear deal. Katz described the deal as Iran’s protection to get nuclear capabilities in the future. Sources revealed that the White House plans to declare Iran non-compliant, but without dismantling the deal. A Tel Aviv official stated that a new US strategy is being drafted which could lead to stricter responses against Iranian military troops in Iraq and Syria. During a speech at a counter-terrorism conference, Katz also said Tehran is establishing itself in Syria with bases and airports that threaten Israel. He warned: “Iran is the new North Korea. We need to work against it today so that we don’t regret tomorrow what we should have done yesterday.”He said Trump needs to adhere to the assurances he made regarding Iran and the JCPOA. “Iran needs to be forced to sign a new agreement, one that will never let it advance to nuclear weapons, as President Trump promised, and which will also include the issues of missiles and Iran’s support of terror,” he concluded.Katz said Iran is in the process of signing an agreement with Syrian leader Bashar Assad that would allow it to maintain military infrastructure in the country for the long term. The minister stressed that even though Iran’s nuclear weapons development program is on hold, the country is still actively working to improve its ballistic missile and rocket technology to make them more precise. He said Israel has to uphold its “red lines” regarding Syria and prevent advanced weapons from reaching Lebanon’s “Hezbollah”.

Erdogan Confirms Turkey, Russia, Iran Share Same Stance on Syria’s Idlib

Ankara – Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan stressed on Tuesday the importance of the sixth round of the Astana talks on Syria that will focus on the future of the region of Idlib. He told reporters as he returned to Turkey from a trip to Kazakhstan: “The operation in Idlib is ongoing according to a previous agreement with Russia. We have no dispute with Russia over this. We also have no dispute with Iran over this.”“I believe that the fruitful contact between these three countries will continue after Astana,” he added. “I can say that the sixth round of Astana will witness many positive developments, especially over Idlib,” he stated in reference to efforts to expel al-Qaeda affiliates from the Syrian district. The sixth round of talks is set to kick off on Wednesday. Turkish military sources had revealed on Monday that Turkey’s preparations for a wide military operation in Idlib had reached their final phases. Russia also backs this operation, which could also include Afrin that is controlled by the Kurdish People’s Protection Units that are affiliated with Syria’s Kurdish Democratic Union Party. Diplomatic sources told Asharq Al-Awsat that Ankara, Moscow and Tehran are in agreement over the Idlib operation. In addition, Turkish television on Monday reported on the training of Free Syrian Army factions and Turkish forces in northern Syria that will take part in the Idlib and Afrin operations. Separately, Erdogan denied claims that he had met in Kazakhstan with Syrian regime head Bashar Assad. He told reporters: “I did not meet Assad and I have no intention to meet him either.”

Arab Quartet: Doha Doesn’t Want Solution…Continues Funding Terrorism
Cairo- A sharp debate took place on Tuesday among Arab senior diplomats and ministers during the 148th ordinary session of the Arab League (AL) at its headquarters in Cairo over charges against Qatar of supporting terrorism. During the meeting, the representatives of Egypt, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Bahrain accused Qatar of financing terror groups and interfering in other countries’ domestic affairs. Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry, UAE’s Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Anwar Gargash, Saudi Arabia’s ambassador to Cairo Ahmed Qattan and Bahrain’s ambassador to Cairo Sheikh Rashid bin Abdulrahman Al Khalifa said that they have proofs of Qatar’s involvement in supporting terrorism in their countries. For his part, Qatari Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Sultan bin Saad al-Muraikhi rejected the accusations as baseless and inaccurate, charging the four Arab states that imposed a blockade on Qatar of attempting to infringe on the sovereignty of his country through their blockade. Muraikhi referred to Iran as an “honorable country” and said ties had warmed with its neighbor since the blockade. In response, Qattan said: “Congratulations to Iran and soon, God willing, you will regret it.”Qattan said the four Arab states have taken the sovereign measures against Qatar because of its wrong policies in terms of supporting and financing terrorism and hosting those involved in terrorism on its territory, spreading hatred and interfering in the internal affairs of other states. “The 13 demands made by these countries and the six principles are in fact meant to highlight the Qatari violations and call on it to abide by previous agreements,” he said. On Qatar’s rapprochement with Iran, Qattan said “this is a sovereign decision, but the embrace in the arms of the Iranians and others will only lead to ruin and destruction and will have a negative effect on them.” “Everyone knows the reality of the destructive Iranian role toward the Arab states, especially the Gulf states, with its interference in internal affairs and destabilizing and undermining the security of the GCC states,” he said. “If the brethren in Qatar think they may have a benefit in their rapprochement with Iran, I’d like to say that they have this evaluation wrong in every way. The Qataris will be held responsible for such a decision.”He added that “the coming days will prove them wrong because we know that the Qatari people will never accept the Iranians to play a role in Qatar”.During the speech delivered by the Qatari delegate to the AL, Shoukry interrupted him and described the Qatari speech of being “nonsense and inappropriate words.”“We all know Qatar’s historic support for terrorism and what has been provided for extremist factions, and money in Syria, Yemen, Libya and Egypt that has led to the death of many of Egypt’s sons,” Shoukry said. UAE’s Gargash said the Gulf crisis continued “due to Qatar’s unwillingness for peace.”“Their direction needs to change and we will continue our policies until Qatar changes its policies of aggression against the four boycotting countries and as long as Doha supports and funds terrorism and intervenes in the Middle East countries’ internal affairs,” Gargash said. Earlier in June, the four countries led by Saudi Arabia severed diplomatic ties with Qatar and cut off sea, land and air links to the tiny rich Gulf nation, accusing Doha of supporting terrorism, interfering in their internal affairs and seeking closer ties with Iran, a Saudi rival. Qatar strongly denied the charges and rejected a list of 13 demands put forward by the bloc for resuming diplomatic ties, including the necessity for Qatar to cut off ties with Iran and shut down its Al-Jazeera TV channel.

Egypt Thwarts Terror Attack on Security Post in Sinai
The Egyptian army thwarted on Wednesday a terrorist attack against a security position in northern Sinai. A military spokesman said that two soldiers and five “takfiri” elements were killed in the failed assault. Two others were wounded. Tamer al-Rifai said in a Facebook statement that the security forces stopped the terrorist operation at 6:30 am. He explained that the terrorists sought to take advantage of the poor visibility at that early hour in order to attack the security position. One of the attackers was wearing an explosives belt and attempted to storm the security post. “Thanks to the security members’ vigilance, the terrorist was killed and the rest of his colleagues were dealt with directly,” added Rifai. Five were killed and two wounded, while the rest fled the scene. Security forces were in their pursuit. “The armed forces will go ahead with their efforts and sacrifices to eliminate terrorism and restore stability and security for the great Egyptian people,” declared the spokesman. On Monday, at least 18 Egyptian police officers were killed in northern Sinai in an attack claimed by the ISIS terrorist group.

Riyadh: Universality of Human Rights Doesn’t Go Against Values Upheld in Saudi Arabia
Geneva- Saudi Arabia reiterated its firm position on the universality of human rights, an endorsement which presents no “imposition to principles and values held by the true Islamic faith.”Saudi Ambassador to UN Dr. AbdulAziz Al Wasil, speaking to the 36th session of the of the Human Rights Council, stressed the Kingdom’s keenness to continue and strengthen cooperation with the High Commissioner for Human Rights, pointing to the agreement (Memorandum of Understanding) which the Kingdom concluded with the Commission as an important step in this regard, noting that the programs implemented in cooperation with the Commission aim to build national capabilities for the promotion and protection of human rights. Ambassador Wasil added that the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, based on its firm positions, international commitments, and close ties with the Yemeni people, has been one of the largest donors to Yemen and significantly contributed to the humanitarian assistance to alleviate the sufferings of the brotherly Yemeni people through programs and partnerships with regional and international governmental and non-governmental agencies and organizations, whereas the latest one was allocation of $66 million to fight the cholera epidemic, in addition to other humanitarian assistance in kind, expressing his deep regret over the emergence of the cholera epidemic and the urgent need for food and medicine in some areas of Yemen. The Ambassador pointed out that insurgency-held areas are disease infested areas, with cholera spreading. They also present the number of zones which have registered dire humanitarian situation and need an ever-increasing need for assistance. According to the diplomat, the increased need for humanitarian assistance is caused by militia activity— Iran-allied militiamen are held accountable for crimes such as looting humanitarian aid and the disruption and obstruction of humanitarian work and the sale of humanitarian aid to finance their military actions. He called on international organizations operating in Yemen to put pressure on the coup militias to facilitate and deliver humanitarian assistance to the intended beneficiaries. Wasil said Bahrain has suffered, and is still suffering, from foreign interference trying to destabilize domestic security and divide national unity. Bahrain is exerting concrete and genuine efforts to protect human rights in the framework of its sovereign right to defend its security and stability against any external interference or terror acts, he said. On Palestine, he said that for more than six decades, the Palestinian people have been constantly subjected to gross human rights violations. In this context, he renewed the call on the international community to live up to its responsibility and take the necessary arrangements to end the sufferings of the Palestinian people. He also reaffirmed the right of the Palestine people to self-determination and establishment of their independent state with Al-Quds as its capital.

Latest LCCC Bulletin analysis & editorials from miscellaneous sources published on September 13-14/17
Another Way Climate Change Might Make Hurricanes Worse
Faye Flam/Bloomberg/September 13/17
In a recent talk about his new book, “Scale,” physicist Geoffrey West described climate change as a form of entropy –- disorder that’s created as the price of all the order and creative energy pent up in cities. In this view, climate change is not, as some argue, just a euphemism for global warming. It’s a broader term that reflects the unpredictable, disorderly way global warming will affect the planet’s oceans and atmosphere. In other words, we won’t be so lucky as to see a regular, incremental increase in the earth’s average temperature. Instead, we’re seeing rapid, erratic changes in weather patterns that people have counted on for centuries. Consider one of the more interesting hypotheses about global warming: that it will cause the wind patterns that normally keep storms moving from place to place to slow down, causing prolonged downpours as well as droughts. It’s an idea that’s been cited in the peer-reviewed literature and featured in Scientific American, but like many exciting ideas in science, it’s still not universally accepted. Some are waiting for more evidence.
For people who’ve looked into the slowing of wind circulation, however, Hurricane Harvey was a case in point. Part of the reason it was so destructive was because it got slowed down over Houston. The storm was caught between two high-pressure blocking systems shortly after it made landfall in Texas, so instead of rolling over the region, it got stuck for several days, dumping 50 inches of rain over an enormous area –- a total of 19 trillion gallons. The longer it lingered, the more rain fell; ultimately, some parts of the state saw a year’s worth of rainfall in less than a week.
Charles Greene, an atmospheric scientist at Cornell University, believes that warming in the Arctic led to a slowing down of a high-altitude, circulating wind known as the jet stream, which he argues contributed to Harvey’s lingering destruction. If that turns out to be the case, it portends more such events to come. He suspects recent droughts in the western United States may have been exacerbated by the same phenomenon, as a more sluggish jet stream allowed masses of dry air to get locked into place.
Why would global warming affect winds and storms? As Greene explains, warming isn’t happening in a uniform way. The Arctic is warming faster than the earth’s temperate zones, and so there’s less of a difference than there used to be between Arctic and mid-latitude temperatures. “These temperature differences are what drive atmospheric winds,” he said, which include the jet stream and a more northerly circulation pattern called the polar vortex. The polar vortex normally confines frigid air to the Arctic, and when it weakens, Arctic air can swing south and create unusually cold weather at lower latitudes.
The Arctic is warming faster than the rest of the planet because there’s a positive feedback loop at work. As reflective sea ice melts, it exposes dark ocean underneath, he said. That means more of the sun’s energy gets absorbed into the oceans, driving yet more warming in a positive feedback system. In the fall, some of the ocean’s heat is released back into the atmosphere. That change in Arctic temperature alters the polar vortex, slowing and weakening it. That has coincided with an increase in the number of tropical cyclones and nor’easters.
In his view, the warming Arctic is also causing the jet stream to slow, and thereby allowing the formation of more “blocks” of high pressure to lock storms such as Harvey in place. He acknowledges, however that there isn’t enough evidence yet to link cause and effect, or rule out natural variability.
Kevin Trenberth, climate scientist at the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colorado, says Greene and his colleagues have more work to do to demonstrate the links between Arctic melting, wind patterns and extreme weather. But there are already well-established links between global warming and storms.
Trenberth’s work focuses on the oceans, which are heating up along with the atmosphere. While the surface of the ocean has been slowly warming since the mid-20th century, the 1990s brought something new: Water started to warm up 700 to 2,000 meters below the surface. The increase is small, he said, but the total energy pent up under the surface is enormous. Normally, big storms churn up cold water from the depths, and this allows their energy to peter out. Now that there’s warmer water below the surface, there’s extra heat available, he said, and that can cause a storm to intensify and last longer.
And that’s not the only way global warming can lead to more destructive storms. It’s well understood that warmer air holds more moisture, which allows Harvey and other storms to pack more precipitation. Warmer oceans also likely added fuel to this storm, and will continue to do so over the course of the century. The water in the Gulf of Mexico is 2 to 4 degrees warmer than it has been historically this time of year, said Greene. Warmer water allows storms to intensify fast, as Harvey did by going from Category 2 to Category 4 without hours. Now, Hurricane Irma seems to be doing the same thing as it heads toward Florida. The arguments among scientists are for the most part not about whether global warming is contributing to extreme weather, but which consequences of global warming will wreak the most havoc. In his talk, physicist Geoffrey West explained that the kind of disorder associated with global warming is the price we pay for our ordered civilization. There’s no reason to be ashamed that it’s happened — or to deny it. Better to look forward and realize it’s still possible to mitigate the damage, and to adapt.

Intelligence Cell in Saudi Arabia
Salman Al-dossary/Asharq Al Awsat/September 13/17
The year 2010 was a turning point in Saudi Arabia. That year saw the spark of the so-called “Arab Spring”, the riots in Awamiya, which later turned into terrorist acts before they too faded and came to end, and Saudis began using the most popular social networking site in the Kingdom, Twitter. From 2010 onward, internal and external parties realized the importance of the site and attempted in any way possible to control the Saudi Twitter, which has become a remarkable phenomenon in the world as social media is considered a powerful mean through which one can, negatively or positively, influence tweeters.
Thus, it wasn’t surprising to discover later that this account, which is followed by hundreds of thousands of users, did not operate from Saudi Arabia, but from Turkey, or those who participate in local discussions and tweet through organized cells located outside the Kingdom.
It appeared that the greatest hashtags related to domestic issues originated from abroad. Within this context, Saudi Arabia suddenly found itself at a different stage compared to those preceding it where its people found an outlet where they can express their views freely and without any censorship.
The new platform gave rise to new celebrities and also revived old ones, who date back from the cassette tape era. These figures have a long history of contributing to the suspicious activities and through this platform, they found the means to, unfortunately, create incitement on the street, hit national cohesion and try to create chaos in any way under several labels.
There is no doubt that the best description that these people hid behind to market their agendas is “reform.” Of course, no one asks since when reform has been achieved through inciting a revolution, for example, or creating a violent public opinion on all issues. Or, how can reform be achieved through challenging and doubting the credibility of all state institutions?! On Monday, an official source said that Saudi Arabia’s Presidency of the State Security was able to uncover and monitor the intelligence activities of a group of people who worked for external parties against the security of the Kingdom and its interests. “The cell worked to disturb the interests, methodology, capabilities and social safety of the Kingdom in order to stir up sedition and destabilize national unity.”
In my opinion, it is significant that the majority of the names of the members of the intelligence cell did not surprise any of the observers. The only real surprise was the delay in holding them accountable and bringing them to trial because their impact, harm and incitement was known to all.
Of course, no country that accepts that someone use his fame, status or means of communication, such as Twitter, to incite civil peace. The Saudi government however gave them many chances, hoping that they would go back on implementing their agendas and sense the danger of their scheming.
However, they did not get the message and they continued to pursue their agendas and contacts with sides working on fragmenting Saudi society from the inside. They continued to strike national unity for long years, in means that appear to be gentle, but were extremely volatile in reality.
Notably, the Saudi security services have evidence and proof that condemn the members of the intelligence cell when they are brought to trial.
The issue, as some people argue, is not because of their peaceful views, as they claim, since there are thousands of Saudis who have their own views that are inconsistent with the general policy of the Kingdom, yet no one has come near them for a simple reason: they did not promote their views in a dangerous and chaotic way, and they did not use these views to harm their country and its citizens. I recall that I once asked a senior Saudi security official about the measures taken in case someone incited against the country or if someone has stances that are contrary to the state’s. He answered: “We do not care what people say or what they think. We do not hold people accountable for their opinions and stances as long as they do not turn into harmful acts that affect the people’s security.”In all the countries there are destabilizing forces that deal with foreign countries for several purposes. This is the nature of good and evil in humans. Saudi Arabia also has one of these destabilizing forces and states are responsible before their people to prevent these forces from causing instability regardless of their excuses, whether they are religious or social, to carry out their heinous acts.

What Happened to the ADL?
Ruthie Blum/Gatestone Institute/September 13/17
Potential donors to the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) need to ask themselves, to what use their money will be put?
In the months leading up to the U.S. presidential election in November 2016, a former director of the World Jewish Congress decried the direction in which the new head of the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) was taking the international human rights group. In a series of columns, Isi Leibler -- a prominent Australian Israeli -- blasted ADL CEO Jonathan Greenblatt, a former adviser to President Barack Obama, for turning the 100-year-old organization, whose mission is to monitor and expose anti-Semitism and other forms of racism, into a platform that "represents an echo chamber of left-wing Democratic politics."
Leibler first took issue with Greenblatt's April 2016 address to the far-Left Jewish organization J Street, backed by anti-Israel billionaire George Soros.
Leibler wrote that Greenblatt "incorporated [in his speech] criticisms of Israel that were thoroughly inappropriate...[and] indirectly gave a seal of approval for the Obama administration to impose solutions on future borders that could dramatically compromise Israel's security."
Ironically, Greenblatt's rebuttal, in the form of a letter to the editor of The Jerusalem Post, illustrated Leibler's point. He not only defended J Street, referring to the people in the audience as "a group of deeply thoughtful college students whose commitment to Israel is genuine and whose passion on the issues is impressive;" he claimed that he had not been morally equating Israel and the Palestinians.
Columnist Isi Leibler blasted Jonathan Greenblatt (pictured above), CEO of the Anti-Defamation League and a former adviser to President Obama, for turning the 100-year-old organization, whose mission is to monitor and expose anti-Semitism and other forms of racism, into a platform that "represents an echo chamber of left-wing Democratic politics." (Image source: Erik Hersman/Flickr)
In a subsequent piece, Leibler called Greenblatt to task for having "lost the plot, behaving as though he remained employed by the Obama administration." Leibler cited the ADL's July 13, 2016 statement "welcoming the Republican Party platform on Israel," but expressing "disappoint[ment] that the platform draft departs from longstanding support of a two-state solution to the Israeli Palestinian conflict... the only viable way to secure Israel as both a Jewish and democratic state."
Leibler wrote:
"One can disagree about a two-state policy, but for an American Jewish organization which must remain bipartisan and should be concentrating on anti-Semitism to issue such a statement breaches all conventions. It is totally beyond the ADL's mandate to involve itself in such partisan political issues."
Yet this is just what Greenblatt did. In a September 13, 2016 article in the journal Foreign Policy, he contested a video clip of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu pointing to the Palestinian Authority's outright refusal to have even a single Jew reside within the boundaries of a future Palestinian state. In the piece, titled "Sorry, Bibi, the Palestinians are not 'ethnic cleansing' Jewish settlers," Greenblatt wrote that Netanyahu "chose to raise an inappropriate straw man regarding Palestinian policy toward Israeli settlements."
Far more questionable, however, has been the ADL's support for the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement -- a group established in 2013 to counter police brutality against African Americans, but that quickly mushroomed into a full-fledged "intersectional" anti-American, anti-white, anti-Israel, pro-radical Palestinian organization.
About this, too, Greenblatt made what critics claim is a convoluted statement -- saying that the ADL has no "official relationship with the body of activists who claim membership in this effort," and attributing its "anti-Israel — and at times anti-Semitic — positions" to a "small minority of leaders within the Black Lives Matter movement."
In November 2016, during his opening remarks at the ADL's "Never Is Now" conference in New York City, Greenblatt responded to a Fox News interview with a pro-Trump PAC spokesman citing World War II-era Japanese internment camps -- when discussing possible ways to keep tabs on terrorists in the U.S. -- by announcing:
"I pledge to you that because I am committed to the fight against anti-Semitism that if one day Muslim Americans are forced to register their identities, that is the day that this proud Jew will register as Muslim."
After U.S. President Donald Trump's inauguration in January 2017, the ADL "unambiguously condemned" his proposed executive order on immigration and refugees. Greenblatt stated:
"History will look back on this order as a sad moment in American History – the time when the president turned his back on people fleeing for their lives. This will effectively shut America's doors to the most vulnerable people in the world who seek refuge from unspeakable pain and suffering... [such as] the Sunni family whose son languishes in prison in Iran... [and] LGBT youth in Yemen terrorized because of their sexual orientation or gender identity...Yes, we need strict screening but our current system is sufficient in keeping America safe... More than most, our community knows what happens when the doors to freedom are shut. That is why ADL relentlessly will fight this policy in the weeks and months to come. Our history and heritage compel us to take a stand."
In other words, Trump had barely entered the White House before Greenblatt "took a stand" against him -- one that had nothing to do with anti-Semitism, to boot. This was not surprising. A month earlier, in an address to the Knesset (Israel's parliament) in Jerusalem, he said he was worried about what the future would hold with Trump at the helm of his country:
"[P]erhaps more so than any moment in modern memory, we truly do not know what the president-elect will do when he becomes the 45th person to occupy the Oval Office. I would be remiss if I did not share with you the very deep sense of concern shared by many in the American Jewish community in this moment of uncertainty. And there is legitimate cause for concern."
Greenblatt went on to lodge a not-so-veiled accusation against Trump for the resurgence of anti-Semitism in the United States, comparing it to 1930s Germany and going so far as to say that "one of the main cheerleaders of [the Alt-Right] movement will be sitting in the West Wing, literally down the hall from the Oval Office." Without naming names, Greenblatt was apparently referring to Steve Bannon.
Greenblatt's openness about his political views was to be expected. When it was announced in November 2014 that he would be replacing long-time ADL director Abraham L. Foxman after his retirement in July 2015, Jews on all sides of the political spectrum called the move a "dramatic shift." This was not merely due to the difference in age and stage between the two men -- Foxman was the child of Holocaust survivors and Greenblatt a second-generation, tech-savvy social activist -- but because Foxman, although himself a liberal, was a staunch defender of Israel against Palestinian anti-Semitism, while Greenblatt's support for the Jewish state has been more conditional on the policies of the Netanyahu government.
In the aftermath of the August 12, 2017 "Unite the Right" demonstrations in Charlottesville, Virginia -- during which a white supremacist murdered a young woman and wounded many other people in a car-ramming attack -- the ADL joined all other Jewish organizations in condemning the anti-Semitism on display. Although the event was held to protest the imminent removal of a statue of Civil War Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee, it quickly escalated into an altercation between Ku Klux Klan members shouting anti-Semitic slogans and left-wing radicals from the Antifa ("anti-fascist") movement.
When Trump responded by condemning "all sides," rather than denouncing the far-right anti-Semites, the ADL was not alone in criticizing him for it. Greenblatt's attack, however, was not simply harsh; it was also a defense of Antifa.
"President Trump went beyond the pale today in equating racist white supremacists in Charlottesville with counter protesters who were there to stand up against hate," he said. Yet Antifa is a radical organization that employs violence as a tactic, and also contains a strong anti-Zionist component.
Trump's mentioning of "all sides," then, may have been an error of judgment, given the explosive political and cultural climate, but -- as has become evident with the emerging of more details about Charlottesville and subsequent demonstrations -- it was tragically true.
Furthermore, even after Trump issued a clear condemnation two days later of "criminals and thugs, including KKK, neo-Nazis, white supremacists, and other hate groups," Greenblatt was not satisfied.
"Let's be clear: I think we should expect a leader in the highest office in the land to step above the lowest possible bar," he said. "We need to move from words to real action." Then, as he had done during his Knesset address, he proceeded to imply that certain White House staff members were on the side of the white supremacists. "Individuals who are associated with, for example, the alt-right found their way into positions of authority in the West Wing."
Greenblatt's partisanship seems to have paid off, and not only figuratively. Immediately after the events in Charlottesville and the outcry over Trump's initial reaction to them, major companies began announcing massive donations to the ADL and another NGO, the left-wing, anti-Trump Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC).
As of the time of this writing, JP Morgan, Apple, and the George and Amal Clooney Foundation for Justice had pledged $1 million to the ADL and the SPLC each or together -- and, rebuking Trump, 21st Century Fox said it, too, would be contributing $1 million to the ADL, while urging others to do the same. JP Morgan and Apple also initiated a two-for-one match for employee donations to those organizations.
Separately, the ADL reported a 1,000% increase in online donations since August 13, a day after the Charlottesville rally. It is interesting to note that just over two weeks later, Greenblatt announced the creation of a new position at the ADL and hired George Selim -- an Arab-American former official at the Department of Homeland Security who worked under Presidents George W. Bush, Obama and Trump -- to fill it. Selim, whose past meetings with Muslim Brotherhood-affiliated groups is "raising concerns" about this role, will lead the organization's education, law enforcement and community security programs, and oversee its Center on Extremism, according to Greenblatt.
It is certainly the right of individuals, foundations and private companies to contribute to causes they deem worthy. It is forbidden, however, for NGOs listed by Internal Revenue Service as 501(c)(3) organizations -- charities -- to engage in political activity on behalf of or against candidates for or in public office. According to the IRS Code, "Violating this prohibition may result in denial or revocation of tax-exempt status and the imposition of certain excise taxes."
The ADL and the SPLC currently enjoy tax-exempt status. Unlike the SPLC, however, which has irked even many liberals for its exaggeration of hate-crime statistics to keep itself relevant and handsomely funded -- and whose reputation was damaged over the recent discovery that it has been funneling millions of dollars to offshore accounts -- the ADL is a widely respected, influential group in the Jewish world and among international human rights circles.
If, as Leibler suggested, the ADL has "lost the plot" under Greenblatt, it deserves to lose its tax-exempt status. Although this is not likely to happen, the ADL board nevertheless must step in to curb Greenblatt's political activism and restore the organization's reputation as a serious anti-Semitism watchdog. In the meantime, potential donors to the ADL need to ask themselves to what use their money will be put. Ruthie Blum is the author of "To Hell in a Handbasket: Carter, Obama, and the 'Arab Spring.'"
© 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.

Campus Censorship: Orwell Ignored
Robbie Travers//Gatestone Institute/September 13/17
What about the delicate sensibilities of those of us who find censoring offensive?
Where are the "safe spaces" for those who would ban banning?
Anyone should be able to criticise or question just about anyone. We should not care -- or even know -- what minority group, if any, someone belongs to. That would be racist.
When you hear the quite horrific stories of censorship and dangerous restrictions on expression at universities in the US, the UK and Europe, your first reaction might be to laugh at how infantile the nature of political discourse in the student world has become.
Cardiff Metropolitan University banned the use of the word "man" and related phrases, to encourage the adoption of "gender neutral" language. It is the equivalent of the "newspeak" about which Orwell warned: "Ambiguous euphemistic language used chiefly in political propaganda".
Currently, longstanding expressions carrying no prejudice are now used as the trappings of often fictitious "oppressions."
City University in London, renowned for its journalism school, is apparently banning newspapers that do not conform to the current student body's various political biases. If the Sun, Daily Mail and Express are such bad publications, why not allow students to read them and make up their own minds? Perhaps students do not trust their peers to make up their own minds? What if they make up their minds the "wrong" way? To suggest that the brightest and best at our universities cannot contend with a dissenting argument should probably be at least slightly concerning.
There seems to be a growing consensus among student populations that certain views should not be challenged, heard or -- if one does not hear them -- even known.
A culture has also emerged at universities of promoting "safe spaces". These ostensibly aim to be free of prejudices such as racism, anti-Semitism, misogyny and other bile. But all too often, we have seen them filled with exactly these prejudices – anti-whiteness, anti-maleness and of course anti-Semitism, as even some of Britain's leading universities are "becoming no-go zones for Jews".
We have seen the staff of the satirical French magazine Charlie Hebdo slaughtered by ISIS terrorists for mocking Mohammad, and banned from Bristol and Manchester University, apparently because some students might find it offensive. What about the delicate sensibilities of those of us who find censorship offensive? Especially of a publication that has stood up to religious fanaticism and paid the ultimate price? Where are the "safe spaces" for those who would ban banning?
At the University of Edinburgh, a student official was silenced for raising her hand -- as if a raised hand were a "thought crime" tantamount to physical violence. Yet, as Sigmund Freud said, "The first human being who hurled an insult instead of a stone was the founder of civilisation."
Does mean, then, that many campuses are going back to pre-civilisation? Last year, the magazine Spiked found that 90% of British universities hold policies that support censorship and chill free speech. In February, riots to disrupt a speech at University of California, Berkeley caused $100,000 worth of damage -- but only one person was arrested.
Do the advocates of suppressing speech not see -- or care -- where silencing free speech leads? You set a precedent that allows further silencing, which, in turn, creates ever-expanding censorships. One imagines that especially universities should be the institutions that protect the exchange of ideas.
Historically, contrarian views -- such as those of Giordano Bruno, Galileo, Darwin, Muhammad ibn Zakariya al-Razi, Servetus, Oldenburg, Domagk and Freud -- have been essential to shaping our culture. They have reversed accepted practices and opened minds. Where would our culture be without the freedom to question, be creative or even at times offend?
Where would our culture be without the freedom to question, be creative or even at times offend? Pictured: Galileo Galilei at his trial by the Inquisition in Rome in 1633. (Image source: Wellcome Trust/Wikimedia Commons)
To begin with, just about any idea can be found "offensive" by someone. To devout conservative Muslims and Christians, homosexuality may be offensive; to anti-Semites, Jews; to white racists, blacks; to black racists, whites, and so on. When we legitimise anyone's right to be free of exposure to "offensive" ideas, we empower only authoritarians, who historically seem all too happy silence anyone over anything.
In addition, sometimes causing offence is unavoidable -- or we would all still be mired in the Inquisition or, as still takes place, murdering people for sorcery. Discussion is still probably the most constructive way to decide which ideas are worth being celebrated and which are worth rejecting.
Last week, I found myself under investigation -- without evidence -- for some of my political views, posted on my Facebook wall:
"Excellent news that the US administration and Trump ordered an accurate strike on an Isis network of tunnels in Afghanistan. I'm glad we could bring these barbarians a step closer to collecting their 72 virgins".
This note was then alleged to be "blatant Islamophobia" and consequently a "hate crime." Under UK law, that would make being a member of ISIS a protected characteristic -- presently, however, it is not.
There are also claims that "ISIS has nothing to do with Islam", yet, according to the woman who complained about my post, Esme Allman, mocking ISIS apparently makes one guilty of having "incited hatred against religious groups and protected characteristics."
Allman also alleged that I had, "without her consent," published "a decontextualized quote" by her, in which she had referred to "black men" as "trash."In the UK, however, quoting someone for criticism of their work or speech, regardless of whether their work is copyrighted, is completely legal, especially if it is intended to facilitate the "reporting of current events." As the quote of Allman's remark was intended to question her behaviour in a public position, the law would presumably protect it.
Moreover, her complaint alleges that my remarks regarding Trump's strike on ISIS, noted above, induced a "state of fear and panic." At a Western university, why would mocking a terrorist organisation that has slit throats, burned people alive, drowned people (some in boiling tar), be seen as inducing "fear and panic"? The people who commit these atrocities should be causing the fear and panic. It is our job in the West to point out what they do so that eventually they do not do it here, too.
What also should cause "fear and alarm" is that individuals are now taking it upon themselves to defend such terrorists against criticism. Members of ISIS openly despise Jews, the LGBT, women and free thinkers. Why would any individual who is supposedly championing human rights for minorities support such a death cult?
It is hoped that students, especially at a leading university, would be intellectually curious enough to withstand being alerted to what ISIS is up to. If fellow students disagree, they should be able to challenge one's allegations through a reasoned analysis of the argument. They did not.
Another screenshot that served as the only evidence was a Facebook post in which I noted that:
"I won't give elements of Islam or Muslims who hold regressive beliefs a free pass for their assorted poisonous bigotries and regressive values because they face bigotry. If you have terrible, oppressive views that seek to attack the rights of others, expect to be called out for those views, regardless of being oppressed yourself..."It is essential that the culture of victimhood, in which people think they can silence others on the grounds of "identity," is dismantled. Anyone should be able to question or criticise just about anyone, within the limits of Brandenburg v. Ohio. Free speech, according to this 1969 U.S. Supreme Court decision, is limited only if it encourages immediate and credible danger or other unlawful action. We should not care -- or even know -- what minority group, if any, someone belongs to. That would be racist.
Robbie Travers, a political commentator and consultant, is Executive Director of Agora, former media manager at the Human Security Centre, and a law student at the University of Edinburgh.
© 2017 Gatestone Institute. All rights reserved. The articles printed here do not necessarily reflect the views of the Editors or of Gatestone Institute. No part of the Gatestone website or any of its contents may be reproduced, copied or modified, without the prior written consent of Gatestone Institute.

The Palestinians' "Jewish Problem"
 Bassam Tawil//Gatestone Institute/September 13/17
According to the Palestinians, the two US envoys seem fully to have endorsed Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's positions instead of representing the interests of the US. Why? Because they are Jews, and as such, their loyalty is to Israel before the US.
Perhaps this view is a projection of what many Muslims would do if the circumstances were reversed.
What we are actually witnessing is the never-ending search for excuses on the part of the Palestinian Authority and its president, Mahmoud Abbas, not to engage in peace talks with Israel.
The Palestinians do not like US President Donald Trump's envoys to the Middle East. Why? The answer -- which they make blindingly clear -- is because they are Jews. In the Palestinian perspective, all three envoys -- Jared Kushner, Jason Greenblatt and US Ambassador to Israel, David Friedman, cannot be honest brokers or represent US interests because, as Jews, their loyalty to Israel surpasses, in the Palestinian view, their loyalty to the United States.
Sound like anti-Semitism? Yes, it does, and such assumptions provide further evidence of Palestinian prejudices and misconceptions. The Palestinians take for granted that any Jew serving in the US administration or other governments around the world should be treated with suspicion and mistrust.
Moreover, the Palestinians do not hesitate to broadcast this view.
Take for example, the recent Palestinian uproar over statements made by Friedman in an interview with the Israeli daily Jerusalem Post.
One phrase that Friedman said during the interview has drawn strong condemnations from the Palestinians and some other Arabs. According to the Jerusalem Post: "The Left, he explained, is portrayed as believing that only if the 'alleged occupation' ended would Israel become a better society."
Specifically, it was the use of the term "alleged occupation" that prompted the Palestinians to launch a smear campaign against Friedman -- one that includes references to his being a Jew as well as a to his being a supporter of Israel. This, as far as the Palestinians are concerned, is enough to disqualify him from serving as US Ambassador to Israel or playing any role whatsoever as an honest and fair mediator in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
One political analyst with close ties to the Palestinian Authority (PA) leadership in Ramallah called for removing Friedman from his job altogether. Commenting on the interview with the US ambassador, Palestinian political analyst Omar Hilmi Al-Ghoul wrote: "David Friedman is known to the Palestinian people and leadership as an ugly Zionist colonial who arouses revulsion." Al-Ghoul called on President Trump to recall his ambassador to Israel and to instruct the State Department to start searching for a replacement. He said that the Palestinians are "have the right" to demand the removal of any ambassador or envoy who "trespasses diplomatic protocols."
The political analyst's opinion reflects the view of many senior officials of the Palestinian Authority. These officials, however, are either reluctant to air their views in public, out of fear that disclosing them would create a crisis with the US administration and end the money that the US pumps into the PA. In private, several Palestinian officials in Ramallah have been expressing concern and anger with President Trump's choice of Jews as his top advisors and envoys on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
This time, the Palestinian Authority was not able to restrain voicing its outrage with the US ambassador's use of the phrase "alleged occupation." Departing from the official PA policy not to launch personal attacks on President Trump and his representatives, the PA Foreign Affairs Ministry blasted the US for "whitewashing the occupation and covering up [Israeli] violations and crimes against the Palestinians."
The ministry also denounced Friedman for attending a wedding in a Jewish settlement in the West Bank last May, and for participating in Israeli celebrations marking the 50th anniversary of the reunification of Jerusalem.
Israeli citizenship also appears to be a red line for the Palestinians. They earlier had also lashed out at Friedman after reports that his daughter had obtained that citizenship. For them, this was further evidence of the US ambassador's "bias" in favor of Israel, thanks to his Jewish identity.
Arab news websites and social media have also heaped scorn on Friedman for his pro-Israel position and for being a Jew, Here, for example, Friedman is dubbed a real estate broker because of his support for Jewish settlements and as someone who has influence on President Trump.
Conspiracy theory, anyone? These comments, which are common among Palestinians and Arabs, are reminiscent of the conspiracy theory that Jews control the US and the world. Friedman is depicted as a Jew who affects President Trump's decisions. In other words, according to the Palestinians and Arabs, US policies are determined on the basis of what some influential Jews whisper into the ears of the US president rather than on US or international interests.
Similar charges have been made against previous US administrations, both Republicans and Democrats. Henry Kissinger, Dennis Ross, and Martin Indyk are only a few of the Jews over the last few decades who have been accused by Palestinians and Arabs of having played a major role in the US decision-making process. The Jews are often referred to as being part of the Zionist lobby and a pressure group in the US that works to influence Washington's policy to ensure that it is pro-Israel.
There is, of course, never any mention of the powerful Arab oil lobby.
When President Trump's envoys, Kushner and Greenblatt, visited Ramallah late last month, Palestinians staged a protest in the city against US "bias" in favor of Israel. One of the protesters held a poster featuring Kushner tied to a leash by a blond woman (apparently his wife, Ivanka) who is dressed in an Israeli flag. Translation: Kushner is a puppet in the hands of the "Jewish Lobby." Another poster carried by the protesters displayed a photo of President Trump with a Palestinian boy throwing a pair of shoes at his head. The caption: "Dirty Trump, our prisoners and martyrs are not terrorists."
When President Trump's envoys visited Ramallah last month, Palestinians staged a protest against US "bias" in favor of Israel. Pictured: A poster at the protest, featuring Jared Kushner tied to a leash by a blond woman (apparently his wife, Ivanka) who is dressed in an Israeli flag. (Image source: Wattan video screenshot) The protest in Ramallah, which was organized by the National and Islamic Forces, an alliance of grassroots activists representing various Palestinian factions, including President Mahmoud Abbas's ruling Fatah faction, could not have taken place without a green light from the Palestinian Authority leadership. Abbas is not particularly known as an advocate of free speech; anyone who dares to criticize him finds himself behind bars. Just last week, Abbas ordered the arrest of two Palestinians, a journalist and an activist, who dared to criticize him in public. Anyone who wants to hold a protest in Ramallah needs the prior permission of Abbas and his lieutenants, regardless of the subject of the protest.
Abbas's security officers were not blind to the anti-Semitic poster raised by the protesters against Kushner. In fact, Palestinian intelligence officers deployed at the scene were the best witnesses to this display of hatred against a US representative because of his religion. Such protests, however, are fine with the PA leadership so long as they are not directed against Abbas or any of his senior aides.
Each and every time Kushner and Greenblatt meet with Palestinian officials, someone in Ramallah reminds us that are Jews and that they thus cannot possibly perform as honest brokers. Here is what Faisal Abu Khadra, another Palestinian political analyst, had to say in the semi-official Palestinian daily Al-Quds:
"The ability of Trump and his administration to exert pressure on Israel is currently limited. Trump is surrounded by a group of extremist Zionists. Even in his family, Trump has extremist Jews, which questions his ability to put pressure on Israel. It's hard to see how Kushner and Greenblatt would be able to achieve a breakthrough toward peace." Among other accusations the Palestinians have lodged against Kushner and Greenblatt is the claim that when the envoys come to meet with Palestinian leaders, they parrot the positions of the Israeli government, and not the US. According to the Palestinians, the two US envoys seem fully to have endorsed Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's positions instead of representing the interests of the US. Why? Because they are Jews, and as such, their loyalty is to Israel before the US.
Perhaps this view is a projection of what many Muslims would do if the circumstances were reversed. Palestinians and other Arabs therefore see and judge President Trump's emissaries according to their religion, not their positions as authentic representatives of their own country, the US. What we are actually witnessing is the never-ending search for excuses on the part of the Palestinian Authority and its president, Mahmoud Abbas, not to engage in peace talks with Israel.
**Bassam Tawil is a Muslim based in the Middle East.
© 2017 Gatestone Institute. All rights reserved. The articles printed here do not necessarily reflect the views of the Editors or of Gatestone Institute. No part of the Gatestone website or any of its contents may be reproduced, copied or modified, without the prior written consent of Gatestone Institute.

From Syria to Myanmar, first denial then terror-tag for dissenters
Eman El-Shenawi /Al Arabiya/September 13/17
The terror bluff is real. Throughout the most horrific crackdowns in recent history, there have been several instances of terrorism being employed as a manipulative smokescreen.
This “hiding place” of sorts has long-provided room to breathe for some of the world’s most powerful leaders to bolster dissent and prolong their stints in office. For many observers of the Middle East, when the phenomenon of dictatorship denialism in frail countries is discussed, Syria and Libya provide two of the most recent examples. Syrian President Bashar al-Assad is now notoriously known to have labeled anti-government protesters as terrorists back in 2011 and described the rebel fighters and internationally-recognized opposition as “enemies of God and puppets of the West.”
Another moment from the Arab Spring also saw the embattled Muammar Qaddafi of Libya refer to those who rebelled against him as terrorists. Decades from now, there will be groups who still repeat Assad and Qaddafi’s words, as dictatorship denialism is in no way limited to the dictator.
An example of this was seen last year, in news that was under-reported in the Middle East. Argentina’s president was accused of using denialist rhetoric to say that a Nazi-style genocide that took place between 1976 and 1983, believed to have killed around 30,000 repressed people, was an internal battle between the dictatorship and terrorists. It is no secret that world leaders who push terrorism into their mainstream political discourse aim to influence, mostly banking on an obedient military and inner circle.
The Rohingya crisis
Similar to how Assad’s denialism has prevailed, the government of Buddhist-majority Myanmar has also dealt the “terrorism” card over a wave of recent Rohingya attacks. Again, we see a familiar debate over the terminology: terrorists or freedom fighters? Regardless, a military counter-offensive is clearly aimed at pushing the Rohingya out of the country. Trapped between Myanmar and Bangladesh, the 1.1 million Rohingya Muslims have frequently been described as the most persecuted minority in the world. Much analysis on the topic has championed the belief that Myamnar’s dictatorship denialism has trickled down into an Anti-Terrorism Committee headed by the Minister of Home Affairs, who in Myanmar is chosen by the military. This has been seen in a recent designation of an alliance of ethnic armed groups. The move was described as highly controversial because of a new anti-terrorism law that many analysts believe has been created to compliment a “terrorism trend” in Myanmar.
Business of transition
Dr. Melissa Crouch, the author of The Business of Transition: Law Reform, Development and Economics in Myanmar, notes that Committee members or members of the public stand to gain financial rewards if they ‘dob in’ a terrorist. “There are also blanket immunity clauses for the military and for Committee members. Committee members cannot be prosecuted for any wrongdoing,” Crouch writes. Aung San Suu Kyi, who appears to be shrugging off her fall from grace, continues to utilize a tactic that has now resulted in a displacement crisis worse than what occurred in 1978, 1991 or even 2012. The politics of terrorism appears to be evergreen and provides “convenient explanations,” as Crouch says. It is why other parties in this particular conflict, such as radical Buddhists, are not labeled terrorists. The same narrative employed in Myanmar will seemingly continue to be chewed up and swallowed elsewhere.

Is balance of power changing in Iraq to Iran’s detriment?
Hamid Bahrami/Al Arabiya/September 13/17
The reality in Iraq today is that the defeat of ISIS has provided a vacuum in its politics, which will have significant impact on the upcoming parliamentary elections in the country next year.
In recent months, Iraqi people have witnessed new moves from political and religious groups who dominate the country’s politics. After 14 years of internal violent conflicts, part of the pro-Tehran Shi’ite alliance have finally realized that the unconditional dependence on the Iranian regime will further exacerbate the sectarian conflict. However, it should not be forgotten that the changing US policy on Iran’s destabilizing activities in the Middle East has influenced their decisions. In this regard, both influential and famed Shi’ite clerics Ammar Al Hakim and Muqtada al-Sadr have changed their views about Iran and the role of its proxies and allies in Iraq.According to reports, Mr Al Hakim has decided to step down as the leader of one of the Iraqi groups allied to Tehran. This move means that a significant number of Shi’ite voters in Iraq will not pursue and back the plans of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) in the coming elections. If Sadr, al-Hakim and Sunni parties agree to restrict Iran’s destructive role in Iraq, the balance of power will shift in favor of the Iraqi people
Sadrist movement
Similarly, the leader of the Sadrist movement, Muqtada al-Sadr, decided to visit Saudi Arabia and UAE in what one could describe as an unanticipated move even for the Sunni parties. Mr al-Sadr played a key role to end the political deadlock in Iraqi politics following the elections in both 2010 and 2014. It is agreed that the former Iraqi prime minister, Nouri Al-Maliki’s catastrophic and sectarian policies lead to a deep division among different ethnicities in Iraq. These policies, adopted in coordination with Tehran and its IRGC, were in part based on suppression of the Sunnis and disregarding of their rights.
The weakness of Iraqi army, the frequent use of armed forces to achieve political goals, the direct control of commander of IRGC’s Quds force Qasem Soleimani over Iraqi Shi’ite militias, and eventually, the seizure of nearly one third of Iraqi territory by ISIS, all lead to the recent decision by both of these clerics to distance themselves from the Iranian regime. In this regard, Sadr’s visit to Saudi Arabia in late July brought most attention from the media as he met Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salman in Jaddah. Apparently, the leader of Sadrist’s movement feels the wind of change in Iraq and is looking to improve his relations with major actors both inside and outside of the country.
Visit to Riyadh
If Sadr wishes to achieve his political ambitions, he will have to choose between the following two options – reducing tie with Tehran dramatically and changing his political views on Sunni parties. His meeting with Mohammed bin Salman, however, sends a positive signal to all Iraqi parties who oppose the IRGC and Tehran’s intervention in Iraq. Importantly, distancing himself from Tehran does not mean that he is embracing or will embrace other regional countries. But this decision rather indicates that the main player in both Iraq's political and religious scene is taking steps to change the balance of power in the country.
This move clearly scared the Iranian Supreme Leader, Ali Khamenei, because he immediately sent his special envoy to Iraq to meet Sadr and Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani, in an attempt to realign the political order. Not only both Iraqi clerics refused to meet Khamenei's envoy but a spokesperson of the Sadrist movement harshly criticized Khamenei.
“Iran’s interference in political affairs is detrimental to Iraq’s national interest … Khamenei’s envoy carries a new sectarian project that Iran provided six months ago”, Amir al-Kanani said in an interview. These comments makes it clear that Sadr is now determined to restrict the Iranian regime’s role in Iraq.If Sadr, al-Hakim and Sunni parties agree to restrict Iran’s destructive role in Iraq, the balance of power will shift significantly in favor of the Iraqi people and their representatives. Such agreement will require complicated political negotiations and a real willingness from all these parties to compromise in the interest of an independent Iraq.
Political decision-making
Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani has consistently pretended to not have any role in the political decision-making in Iraq. But in reality, in most cases, his silence empowered the pro-Tehran Shiite block or indirectly paved the way to crush the Iraqi opposition to the IRGC and its intervention in Iraq.
But contrary to the past, the refusal of Grand Ayatollah Sistani to meet Khamenei’s envoy sent a strong message to all Shiite groups and voters in Iraq that he disapproves of Tehran’s role in the country.
Considering that the actions and words of Grand Ayatollah Sistani has great influence over Iraq’s Shiite population, his decision to turn away Iran’s Supreme Leader could result in a political earthquake for Maliki’s Dawa party and other pro-Tehran parties, just one year before the parliamentary elections.
Although the Iranian Supreme Leader got Sistani’s message, it would be naive to believe that the IRGC under Khamenei’s control will give up to the new reality in Iraq and not try to bypass all likely restrictions.
The IRGC controls a powerful Shiite militia, known as People Mobilization Units, and it could use it to put pressure on its dissidents. Consequently, will Grand Ayatollah Sistani take real actions if Tehran uses the IRGC to eliminate its opponents in Iraq physically.
No one can say with certainty what will happen in the future as clerics in both countries are known to be unpredictable. Consequently, the Iraqi people will simply have to wait to see. Now it is Tehran’s move.

Qatar’s political blunders and glimpses of hope
Abdullah bin Bijad Al-Otaibi/Al Arabiya/September 13/17
Qatar’s Emir Tamim bin Hamad has called upon Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman, expressing his desire for dialogue. The crown prince welcomed the move and the details are to be announced after Saudi Arabia consults with the boycotting countries.
Earlier, Kuwait’s Amir Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad and US President Donald Trump addressed the Qatari crisis during their joint press conference. Sheikh Sabah said Qatar accepts the demands of the four boycotting countries: Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Egypt and Bahrain.
As soon as the press conference ended, the Qatari foreign minister denied what the Kuwaiti emir said. This means there’s a perspective that differs from Sheikh Tamim’s within the decision-making circles in Qatar.
Qatar victim of confusion
The series of Qatar’s confused moves ever since the crisis erupted has slowly revealed that it is not the only party making decisions in its name. This is evident from Doha’s contradictory reactions. Adopting contradictions has been a Qatari policy for around 20 years. However, Qatar is adopting such policies today due to a state of confusion and not because it’s planning destructive schemes.
Qatar’s insistence against politically dealing with the crisis and its preference to use media campaigns thwarted the mediation of Sheikh Sabah and Qatar’s chances towards finding a political solution. Al-Jazeera channel lost its viewers after it became a local Qatari channel that has nothing to do with professionalism.
The Qatari command structure is bragging about protecting its castles with foreign soldiers and not with its own people
Abdullah bin Bijad al-Otaibi
Sheikh Sabah’s statements in Washington showed the extent of Kuwait’s bitter feelings towards the adverse impact of the media and on the treason which Qatar committed inside Kuwait. Forgiveness can be granted to those who repent and acknowledge their mistakes but cannot be granted to stubborn people who insist on committing the same crimes, like the Qatari decision maker is doing.
Qatar and its manoeuvres towards the hajj season this year, such as attempts to internationalize it or politicize it, have terribly failed either out of fear of Saudi Arabia’s strong reaction or due to failing to convince anyone to politicize Hajj – except for Iran which Qatar has insisted to throw itself in its bosom and act like it is its saviour.
Doha could not even convince its own people of its own misleading propaganda as this year’s Qatari pilgrims numbered more than 1,500.
Persecution of Hajj pilgrims
How did Qatar deal with its citizens who went for hajj? It either denied there were any – and this was proven wrong from the interviews which media outlets published and broadcast with Qatari pilgrims – or detained some pilgrims who returned to Doha and cast suspicions about their loyalty.
During his phone call with Emir Tamim, which was after his press conference with Kuwait’s emir, President Trump said: “Countries must follow through on commitments from the Riyadh Summit to defeat terrorism, cut off funding for terrorist groups and combat extremist ideology.”
The most prominent proof that Qatar is condemned in the regional and international arena is that terror groups have lost their balance in many areas across the globe, just after Qatar was put under the regional and international microscope. This leaves no doubt that Qatar has been involved in funding terrorism and supporting terror groups and organizations for years.
What the Qatari decision maker does not understand, despite its clarity, is that its battle with the four boycotting countries and other countries which supported the latter’s stance is not a media or social-media battle but a political one. The path to resolve this battle is clear as Doha must commit to the four countries’ demands and stop supporting and funding terrorism.
However, Doha is still adopting stubbornness as a strategy and it’s still spending millions to buy western media outlets, so-called human-rights organizations and public relations’ companies. All this is being paid for from the Qatari people’s money and it’s all for a lost cause!
Dabbling with extremism
Another losing gamble for the Qatari dispensation is its ideological backing of the Muslim Brotherhood and its branches in Gulf countries and other states. The Brotherhood is listed as a terror group in all four boycotting countries and the world has begun to discover the extent of the threats of these fundamentalist groups and its direct relation to terrorism in America and Europe.
The era of Obama who was allied with it has ended. Obama had granted the Brotherhood and other evil states and groups a chance to organize their ranks and empower their interests. North Korea and Iran are examples.
Losing this ideological wager has become clear to the branches of this extremist fundamentalist group in the Arab Gulf – be it related to its associations, organizations and symbols – as most of them kept silent out of fear that their involvement in Qatar’s treason, betrayal and conspiracies is exposed.
Khomeini drank poison once and Khamenei drank it several times after him and there will be more to come. It seems the Qatari decision maker insists on drinking from the same cup. Insisting to fail is shameful and persisting to fail is suicide. Resorting to some regional countries, whether they are sectarian or fundamentalist, deepens the crisis and does not show there are any serious efforts to finding a solution. We hope this recent contact represents willingness to return to the Arab, Gulf and international bosom.
The four boycotting countries did not propose a military solution in any way whatsoever. However, Doha was quick to summon foreign brigades, armored vehicles, soldiers and tanks to protect its troublesome decision makers and not Qatar, the state and its people and interests. It summoned them to protect the mistakes of the past and the current sins. What a strange choice!
The Qatari command structure is bragging about protecting its castles with foreign soldiers and not with its own people. Qatar is being as strange as Muammar Qaddafi whose bodyguards were foreign females and not Libyans. Misleading illusions and foolish dreams are harmful, and the way back is always easier.
As we await an agreement among the four countries regarding the desire which the Qatari emir conveyed to the Saudi crown prince, the stance is clear. Qatar must completely abandon its destructive and terrorist policies and wake up from its illusions. A traitor is still doubted amid hopes that he will return to his senses.

Qatar’s characteristic obstinacy and Iran’s ‘honor’
Mashari Althaydi/Al Arabiya/September 13/17
Qatar’s delegate to the Arab League, Sultan bin Saad al-Muraikhi, recently spoke with such strange insolence about Iran’s honor.
Meanwhile, efforts by the American Congress are underway to impose more sanctions on Iran because of its support of terrorism.
As Muraikhi defended Iran’s political honor, Hassan Nasrallah, his guide Khomeini and his friend Bashar Al Assad proudly announced victory. Victory against whom? Against the Syrian people, Arabs and mainly Saudi Arabia and Gulf countries, or most Gulf countries, if not all of them!
As he spoke about Qatar’s greatness and how no one can harm it and as he directly addressed Saudi envoy Ahmad Qattan and said that Saudi Arabia is no match to Qatar, the Iranian Khomeinite claw in Yemen - the Houthis - resumed their coup and isolated Saleh’s allies with whom they were till yesterday hand in glove and prepared missiles to target Saudi cities with.
US moves against Tehran
And while Qatar’s Emir Sheikh Tamim and his defense minister Khaled al-Attiyah visited the American military base and spoke about coordinating efforts to combat terrorism, Nathan Sales, a coordinator for counterterrorism, said during a hearing of a Congress subcommittee that “Iran remains the world’s leading state” through the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps’ Quds Force and Lebanon’s Hezbollah. There are 13 draft laws before the Congress against Iran due to its increasing support of terrorism.
The Qatari rhetoric and its unjustified arrogance and insolence as represented by their delegate Muraikhi is Qatar’s actual problem. Commenting on this Qatari moral and political decline as seen at the recent Arab League meeting, Saudi minister Thamer al-Sabhan asked: “Which honor are they speaking about?”
Sultan al-Muraikhi described Iran as honorable and voiced anger that Gulf countries forced Qatar to withdraw its envoy from Tehran when terrorist Iranian groups stormed and burnt the Saudi embassy in Tehran in January 2016, after Saudi Arabia executed a group of Sunni and Shiite terrorists that include Nimr al-Nimr, the leader of Awamiyah gangs.
Chronic Qatari disease
This scene sums up the chronic Qatari disease of playing smart and being stubborn and launching media campaigns while contradicting obvious facts.
Qattan was right when he described the Qatari delegate’s statements about Iran as a “joke.” It truly is a joke – more of a joke that evokes tears!
The Qatari rhetoric and its unjustified arrogance and insolence as represented by their delegate Muraikhi is Qatar’s actual problem.
Commenting on this Qatari moral and political decline as seen at the recent Arab League meeting, Saudi minister Thamer al-Sabhan asked: “Which honor are they speaking about?”
This Qatari scene is displeasing; however, in the end, the chains will be broken and the truth will emerge victorious.

Wake up and smell the coffee
Tariq A. Al-Maeena/Al Arabiya/September 13/17
There are many expatriates here who have lived for decades in Saudi Arabia and have successfully forged for themselves and their families a prosperous future. Having said that, it has not taken away the concern they have for their country’s welfare and state of being. In the case of Pakistanis here, there have been some misgivings expressed by long-term residents concerned about their country’s welfare.
One such individual is Mohammed H. Zakaria, CEO of Saudi Steel. He writes: I was sad and in a state of loss to listen to our defense minister statement who said that ‘it won’t be easy for the US to target or attack Pakistan’. It is really sad to see how stupid and immature our leadership and their mindset is, they are expecting and preparing for a combat with the Americans and Afghans.
‘The blind and stupid leadership is not seeing that the country is on a brink of an economic crash very soon. We are stupidly thinking or dreaming that China will fill the economic vacuum created by the Western block, which includes Japan and Korea etc. In fact, our economic policy has long gone into deep freezer ever since we formed alliance with the Americans to fight jihad against the Russians so the Afghans may remain FREE.
‘We are in a full state of war since 1965 with more than one country, which has hampered our economic growth, we haven’t learned from the history that what destroyed the once mighty nations was WAR. We are waiting or expecting miracles to happen to our country while we are doing nothing to fix our own problems or our lifestyle or our mindset.
Stop thinking and believing, and change our nation’s mindset, that a nation’s prosperity is its affordability to consume Western fast food
Few basic things
‘There are a few basic things that we have to adopt before it’s too late for us to save ourselves from bankruptcy and slavery.
1. Stop lavish goods import immediately.
2. Stop capital flight at any cost, legal or illegal.
3. Diversify export products and countries both, by reducing reliance on any one country or one product or one currency.
4. Remind the nation every day that we are a poor nation and can›t afford to import and pay for luxury goods, including mobile/smart phones, electronic gadgets, luxury or large size vehicles and crude oil etc. to run excessive cars and air-conditioners.
Publish a list of import bill on a daily, weekly or monthly basis stating, where we are blowing our foreign currency earnings, how much on crude oil, vehicle imports, mobile phones and electronic gadgets, medical treatment, education, debt servicing, fast food (foreign) franchise fees, Coke, Pepsi, Unilever and P&G etc. goodwill/earnings/capital repatriation.
Nation’s mindset
Stop thinking and believing and change our nation’s mindset that a nation’s prosperity is its affordability to consume Western fast food, soft drinks, use smart phone and drive a luxury car, never mind all on debt/borrowed money. Does anyone care how much these soft drinks, shampoos, toothpaste, burgers etc. are costing this poor nation and that we are borrowing in foreign currency to pay for these products and services.
We cannot start our day without an American toothpaste, an American shampoo, an American razor and an American burger and yet we are telling the nation to brace for an American attack, a nation that is totally unprepared and unwilling for such an economic blockade, we have no idea that such an economic blockade will double or triple the cost of these imported goods and services because we are totally unprepared and unwilling to live without them.
‘We can survive such a blockade or sanctions but we have to prepare the nation and tell them the truth, that we can›t afford all such imported luxuries, show them the real picture and start implementing it from today. Thank you. — Mohamed H. Zakaria.’
Mohammed’s message is a form of ‘wake up and smell the coffee.’ His words could well be a warning to many countries in the region as well as unrestrained and misdirected spending can eventually catch up and bite back.