September 19/17

Compiled & Prepared by: Elias Bejjani

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Bible Quotations For Today
You adulterous people, don’t you know that friendship with the world means enmity against God
God opposes the proud

James 04/From 01-12/ What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you? You desire but do not have, so you kill. You covet but you cannot get what you want, so you quarrel and fight. You do not have because you do not ask God.  When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures. You adulterous people, don’t you know that friendship with the world means enmity against God? Therefore, anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God.  Or do you think Scripture says without reason that he jealously longs for the spirit he has caused to dwell in us. But he gives us more grace. That is why Scripture says: “God opposes the proud. but shows favor to the humble.” Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded.  Grieve, mourn and wail. Change your laughter to mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up. Brothers and sisters, do not slander one another. Anyone who speaks against a brother or sister or judges them speaks against the law and judges it. When you judge the law, you are not keeping it, but sitting in judgment on it. There is only one Lawgiver and Judge, the one who is able to save and destroy. But you—who are you to judge your neighbor?

Titles For Latest LCCC Bulletin analysis & editorials from miscellaneous sources published on September 18-19/17
With Ariel Sharon Gone, Israel Reveals the Truth About the 1982 Lebanon War/Amir Oren/Haaretz/September 17/17
Trump, Netanyahu risk being party of two in opposition to Iran nuclear deal/Al Monitor/September 18/17
Iranian Army Chief: We Will Turn Tel Aviv & Haifa Into Dust/Jerusalem Post /September 18/17
Palestinians Imprison Journalists for Exposing Corruption/Khaled Abu Toameh/Gatestone Institute/September 18/17
State Department Waging "Open War" on White House/Soeren Kern/Gatestone Institute/September 18/17
Islamic Rules in Danish Schools/Judith Bergman/Gatestone Institute/September 18/17
The Iranians and Turks in Syria and Iraq/Radwan al-Sayed/Al Arabiya/September 18/17
Corporate governance: Doing the right thing is not easy/Dr. Mohamed A. Ramady/Al Arabiya/September 18/17
Amr Moussa’s book and his understanding of the region/Mashari Althaydi/Al Arabiya/September 18/17

Titles For Latest LCCC Lebanese Related News published on September 18-19/17
Sami Gemayel Criticizes Govt., Calls for 'Scrapping' Magnetic Voter Card
Berri Says His Bloc Lodged Draft Bill to Slash Parliament's Extended Term
Aoun in NY for U.N. General Assembly Meeting
Aoun meets with head of Arab League, ICRC
Jreissati Seeks Legal Action against 'Rumors' after Aoun's Call
Fadlallah: Warning Statements by Foreign Embassies 'Contrary to Norms'
Cabinet OKs 'Biometric' Voter ID Card, Controversy over Prior-Registration for Voters
With Ariel Sharon Gone, Israel Reveals the Truth About the 1982 Lebanon War/
Amir Oren/Haaretz/September 17/17
Abi Khalil representing Aoun at IBEF inaugural ceremony: We look forward to realizing more achievements
Italian Embassy: Italian participation at IBEF Energy Forum
Rahi meets former president Sleiman

Titles For Latest LCCC Bulletin For Miscellaneous Reports And News published on September 18-19/17
Qatar ‘offering to trade body of Israeli soldier’ for American-Jewish support
Saudi FM Jubeir in New York: Solution to Qatar crisis is in Doha’s hands
Qatar detains 16 sailors from Bahrain in the past two days
Arab Federation for Human Rights calls on UN to intervene in Al-Murrah case
Qatar’s Sheikh Sultan bin Suhaim urges response to call to end crisis
Israel Gets First Joint U.S. Military Base
Supreme Court Steps in to Block Iraq Kurd Independence Vote
Trump Pushes UN Reform as World Leaders Gather for Crisis Talks
Senate Passes $700 Billion Pentagon Bill, More Money Than Trump Sought

Latest Lebanese Related News published on September 18-19/17
Sami Gemayel Criticizes Govt., Calls for 'Scrapping' Magnetic Voter Card
Naharnet/September 18/19/Kataeb party leader MP Sami Gemayel on Monday lashed out at the government's general performance mainly stressing the need to scarp the newly approved magnetic voter card arguing that that it “hits the freedom of voters.”“The magnetic voter card has become one of the main reasons to forge the parliamentary elections. It must be scrapped immediately,” said Gemayel in a press interview. “Most of the civilized countries do not utilize magnetic cards for their elections,” he highlighted. Lebanon's cabinet approved on Sunday a suggestion to upgrade the citizen’s identity cards into “biometric identity cards”, or what is known as a magnetic voter card, that enables nationals to use their IDs to cast their votes at the upcoming parliamentary elections. Turning to the “$120 million” cost allocated by the government to create said cards, he remarked: “You must be kidding me. It is a very costly procedure. You must be planning a deal to add to your scandals.”On the country's by-elections to fill three vacant seats in Keserwan and Tripoli, the Kataeb leader said: “By-elections must be staged at once. Postponing them is unacceptable because it would mean depriving the people of their right to express their views.”Gemayel also commented on the latest IS-Hizbullah deal that led to the evacuation of hundreds of Islamic State fighters from Lebanon's eastern border. “It was a deal to smuggle the enemy out of Lebanon which is punishable by law.” In August, some 600 IS militants were allowed to leave as part of a deal, negotiated by Lebanon's Hizbullah, in exchange for identifying the location of the remains of Lebanese soldiers captured by IS in 2014, and later killed. The deal has provoked controversy in Lebanon, as some voiced opposition to negotiations with the militants. The controversial file of leasing power generating ships was also criticized by the Kataeb leader who said that officials “want to lease the power generating ships by force, meanwhile the sector can be given to the private sector.”

Berri Says His Bloc Lodged Draft Bill to Slash Parliament's Extended Term
Naharnet/September 18/19/Speaker Nabih Berri on Monday announced that his Development and Liberation bloc had submitted a draft law under which the extended term of the current parliament would expire on December 31, 2017 instead of May 21, 2018. “In light of the confusion over the issue of the biometric voting card, which is a legal obligation as I have mentioned, … and out of fear of any emergency extension of parliament's term, the bloc submitted this urgent draft law today,” said Berri after a meeting for the bloc in Ain el-Tineh. According to the speaker, the draft law stipulates that parliament's term -- which has been extended three times since 2009 -- would expire on December 31, 2017, and that the elections should be held before this date in line with the electoral law's stipulations. The Cabinet had on Sunday approved a suggestion to upgrade the national identity card into a “biometric identity card” that enables citizens to use their IDs to cast votes in the upcoming parliamentary elections. The introduction of biometric voting cards was one of the excuses that the legislature had announced in order to extend its own term for a third time. The upcoming parliamentary elections are slated to be held under a proportional representation electoral law for the first time in Lebanon's history.

Aoun in NY for U.N. General Assembly Meeting
Naharnet/September 18/19/Heading an official delegation President Michel Aoun arrived in New York on Monday to take part in the UN General Assembly Annual meeting, the National News Agency reported Monday. Lebanon's participation in the 72nd session of the UN General Assembly meeting is the first for a Lebanese president in three years because of the vacuum that plagued the country's top State post. Aoun and the accompanying delegation arrived at the John F. Kennedy International Airport shortly after midnight, NNA added. They were received by head of the Permanent Mission of Lebanon to the United Nations, Ambassador Nawaf Salam, Charge d'affaires of the Lebanese Embassy in Washington, Ambassador Carla Jazzar, and a number of the staff mission.Aoun will hold meetings with a number of heads of states and the UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres. He is set to deliver Lebanon's speech on Thursday.

Aoun meets with head of Arab League, ICRC
The Daily Star/Daily Star 18/17/BEIRUT: President Michel Aoun met Monday with President of the International Committee of the Red Cross Peter Maurer and the Secretary-General of the Arab League Ahmed Aboul Gheit. The meeting was held at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel where Aoun will be based for the duration of his stay New York. Aoun arrived early Monday morning in New York where he is expected to deliver a speech on behalf of Lebanon before the United Nations General Assembly later this week. Heading a delegation to participate in the 72nd U.N. General Assembly sessions, Aoun arrived at 1:30 a.m. Beirut time, a statement from the president’s media office read. Upon his arrival at John F. Kennedy International Airport, the president was welcomed by Lebanon's representative to the U.N. in New York Nawaf Salam and Lebanese Charge d’Affaires in Washington Carla Jazzar.
Aoun then headed to his hotel where he held a meeting with the accompanying delegation, during which the finishing touches were made to Lebanon’s scheduled participation, the statement said. In addition to his speech on Thursday, Sept. 21, Aoun is expected to meet with U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres. The statement added that Aoun’s presence at the General Assembly will be welcomed, given that Lebanon will be represented by a head of state for the first time in three years. Lebanon experienced a prolonged presidential vacuum due to political deadlock that ended with Aoun’s election in October last year.

Jreissati Seeks Legal Action against 'Rumors' after Aoun's Call
Naharnet/September 18/19/Justice Minister Salim Jreissati on Monday asked State Prosecutor Samir Hammoud to prosecute anyone spreading “rumors” in the country, a day after President Michel Aoun warned of “a systematic campaign to deviate attention from the achievements that have been made.”
In his memo, Jreissati asked Hammoud to “take the necessary measures to prosecute those spreading rumors through some media outlets and social networking websites with the aim of undermining political, security, economic, financial and social stability in Lebanon.”“This systematic campaign contains criminal offenses in terms of sowing discord among the country's components; harming the state's financial reputation locally and abroad; undermining citizens' confidence in their security, economy and national currency; and insulting the dignities of top state officials and civil servants without any proof,” the minister noted. Aoun had on Sunday called on Lebanese citizens “not to heed rumors” that involve “raising doubts about the stability of national currency; accusing some state officials of corruption; attacking the army amid its confrontation with the terrorists; and the creation of an atmosphere of fear and anxiety through speaking of expected terrorist attacks.” “This is all part of a systematic campaign to deviate attention from the achievements that have been made on the path of building the State,” Aoun said. The stances of Aoun and Jreissati come amid a flurry of social media rumors that followed warnings by major Western embassies about possible terror attacks in Lebanon. Aoun's stance also follows a tweet he posted on September 15 in which he said that “those spreading rumors about suspicious deals and tenders in the government's plans should submit the information they have to the judiciary or else they would be practicing libel and slander that are punishable by law.”The president's tweet drew a response from former justice minister Maj. Gen. Ashraf Rifi, who said those who should be prosecuted are “the ones who sacked Judge Shukri Sader before the end of his term because he stood in the face of the deals of corruption and the waste of public money.”Rifi also accused Aoun and his political movement of “threatening public freedoms” and attempting to “justify corruption.”

Fadlallah: Warning Statements by Foreign Embassies 'Contrary to Norms'
Naharnet/September 18/19/Hizbullah MP Hassan Fadlallah stressed on Monday that foreign embassies in Lebanon have “no right to speak about the country's internal security,” dubbing their latest warning statements as “irregular,” the National News Agency reported on Monday. “No foreign embassy in our country is allowed to speak about our internal security,” said Fadlallah during a workshop on covering the parliamentary elections organized by the National Council for Audiovisual Media, in cooperation with the Italian regulator of communications and information. Referring to the latest “warning statements issued by foreign embassies violated Lebanese norms. Lebanon's media must affront such phenomena,” he said. Many western embassies, including the U.S., British, Canadian and French, have issued security warnings over the weekend. The warnings have sparked panic among Lebanese citizens in the past two days, especially after the French embassy warned Friday of a “heightened security risk in the next 48 hours.”The warnings coincided with terror attacks in France and Britain.

Cabinet OKs 'Biometric' Voter ID Card, Controversy over Prior-Registration for Voters
Naharnet/September 18/19/Lebanon's cabinet approved a suggestion to upgrade the citizen’s identity cards into “biometric identity cards”, or what is known as a magnetic voter card, that enables nationals to use their IDs to cast their votes at the upcoming parliamentary elections. The cabinet meeting which began at 6:30 pm and continued until 9:00 pm at the Grand Serail, convened on Sunday and tackled 38 items on the agenda under the chairmanship of Prime Minister Saad Hariri. According to an official statement recited after the session by Information Minister Melhem Riachi, the cabinet approved “upgrading the current identity cards into biometric cards for usage at the upcoming polls,” slated in May 2018. “The cabinet has also approved a mechanism for electronic registration of Lebanese expats so that they can take part in the upcoming parliamentary elections,” added Riachi.
However, the government did not reach a decision as for the prior registration of voters which enables voters to cast ballots in their place of residence without the need to move to their hometowns, al-Joumhouria daily reported. Interior Minister Nouhad al-Mashnouq told the daily on Monday that it was decided to “update the current identity cards into biometric. This will help have the polls be staged on time. It will be complete after the parliament's approval.”The parliament is set to convene on Tuesday and Wednesday. Mashnouq added that “current discussions revolve around the possibility of voters to cast their ballots in their place of residence which will be accomplished shall main centers be established for the purpose,” adding that the “dispute is still going on the subject of prior-registration of voters in the electorate outside their hometowns."For their part, the Lebanese Forces have strongly rejected a “joint” issuance of biometric cards and prior-registration of voters, arguing that “it should either be the issuance of said cards or the prior-registration.” MP Walid Jumblat, Head of the Democratic Gathering bloc, commented with cynicism in a tweet, he said: “The cabinet has approved the magnetic card, pardon me the magnetized card. Everything has been weighed in order to magnetize bankruptcy.”But Jumblat has later deleted the tweet.

Amir Oren/Haaretz: With Ariel Sharon Gone, Israel Reveals the Truth About the 1982 Lebanon War/بعد رحيل شارون إسرائيل تكشف ما تقول انه حقيقة حربها في لبنان عام 1982

With Ariel Sharon Gone, Israel Reveals the Truth About the 1982 Lebanon War
Amir Oren/Haaretz/September 17/17
After 35 years, with the leading figures of the 1982 Lebanon War gone, the IDF is issuing its official history of the conflict
It was a different era. Journalists roamed freely in the company of the senior officers they knew, also because both sides knew that the (pre-High Court) military censor would strictly impose one of two alternatives – erasure or preemptive banning.
When Anwar Sadat was murdered, on the eighth anniversary of the outbreak of the Yom Kippur War, Menachem Begin hastened to annex the Golan Heights, in the hope of pushing Hosni Mubarak to freeze the Israeli-Egyptian peace and so provide Begin with a pretext for cancelling the evacuations of Yamit and Sharm al-Sheikh to which Israel was committed. In this scenario, Syria was cast as the agent of a violent response to the annexation.
In response to the response, the Northern Command would embark on a campaign including an invasion of Lebanon, for a threefold purpose – to wipe out the PLO forces, push out the Syrian army and get as far as Beirut to help Israel’s darling, Bashir Gemayel, get elected president.
On the wall in the office of one of the commanders in the north who was hosting the journalist was a map for the planned “Oranim” mission. A long, thick arrow showed the path the commander’s troops would take into south Lebanon and onward, all the way to the capital. “It depends how it goes,” the officer said when asked to estimate the number of casualties. “Three hundred dead, without engaging the Syrians and without Beirut. Six hundred with.”
He also had a convenient moral-practical answer when asked why such a working assumption wouldn’t cause him to protest to the authorities who were plotting for so many Israelis to be killed, and lead him to refuse to comply with their plans. “First off, if I resign now, it won’t prevent the war. They’ll appoint another, less experienced commander and there will be even more casualties. My responsibility to my soldiers requires me to stay with them in battle. And second, and I’m not ashamed to say this, after the war, promotions will be based on your location [in the war].”
However, unlike some of his colleagues, he was (unjustly, in his opinion) passed over for promotion, as his performance during the war drew some professional criticism – not that those who were promoted avoided criticism altogether. The crux of the issue, though, is that such a conversation even took place more than a half-year before the official launching of the war that was mostly initiated by Israel, even more so than the 1956 Sinai Campaign. Most of the credit for that one goes to then-Chief of Staff Moshe Dayan, who got Prime Minister and Defense Minister David Ben-Gurion to sign on.
Much was said and written and broadcast prior to the start of the Lebanon War on June 6, 1982, and of course much more followed after that date, without finding its way into the official account of the war. It took 35 years for a study by the IDF’s History Department, entitled “Sheleg in Lebanon” and written by Shimon Golan (to be published jointly by the department, the Defense Ministry and Modan).
It’s not really a war if Shimon Golan doesn’t research it, or at least the decision-making by the high command leading up to and during the war. Lebanon completes Golan’s hat-trick, after the Six-Day War and Yom Kippur War. If this were soccer, after this triple he could take the ball home with him.
As usual, the really interesting part of the history is what lies behind the writing – or shelving – of the historical account. Why did it take the IDF three and a half decades to publish a study when it had all the sources in its possession from the very beginning? Well, just imagine a roll call conducted by worried senior General Staff officers, while Dr. Golan, a major general in the reserves, waits to hear what will become of his writings: “Menachem Begin?”
“Rafael Eitan?”
“Ariel Sharon?”
“You’re certain? Okay, Shimon, you can go ahead and publish it.”
Very high-ranking officers, not lowly privates (and in this context, even brigadier generals and colonels count as privates), have extra privileges. They get special consideration. They are given draft reports to review. People fear them, especially Sharon. As long as the prime minister of the war, Begin, the war’s chief of staff in its fifth, unnecessary year, Rafael (Raful) Eitan, and above all, the war’s defense minister, Sharon, were alive and breathing, the army was paralyzed by fear.
In 1990, more than a quarter-century before the study came out, Sharon received a historic delivery in a package deal – 1973 plus 1982. He was annoyed. For one thing, why was Ezer Weizman’s resignation from the Defense Ministry, which opened up the post for Sharon after Begin’s interim year, attributed to diplomatic and security motives, when some were saying that the resignation was really motivated by political ambition, with the aim of toppling the Begin government – the sort of calculation that would certainly never occur to Sharon.
Outdated images
So history had to wait until Sharon could no longer threaten it. But history refused to wait and continued moving forward, like a brigade in retreat, leaving behind a company to cover it. The strange result is that figures from 1982 have been frozen in images which the reader knows are outdated. Here, for example, is a young brigadier general, the commander of the General Staff’s Planning Division and one of Sharon’s protégés, also serving as a deputy corps commander. This is Ehud Barak. Eighteen years later, and 17 years before this history sees the light of day, Barak will become a prime minister and defense minister who loses the election to Sharon. Another of Sharon’s guests is Yitzhak Rabin, slightly more than a decade before Sharon sharply criticizes public fears, groundless in his authoritative opinion, that someone might assassinate Prime Minister and Defense Minister Rabin.
Unwillingly, Sharon is the main character in the History Department’s research project, since his belated return to the forefront of politics, as leader of Likud and as prime minister, as the disassembler of Likud and the founder of the Kadima party, as the person evacuating Gaza before falling at his post – all are but an amazing prologue to a play ending in research done after the second act, in which the Kahan Commission report on the 1982 massacre at Beirut’s refugee camps removed him from center stage, although not to the gallery.
Overall, in contrast to the aftermath of the Agranat Commission that investigated the 1973 war, where the people deposed as a result of its recommendations, including chief of staff David Elazar, military intelligence chief Eli Zeira and the head of the army’s Southern Command, Shmuel “Gorodish” Gonen, were not rehabilitated in the public eye, the Kahan Commission had very little impact on the future of its subjects of investigation. Raful set up a new party and became a cabinet member. Begin, in contrast, even though the commission took pity and imposed no penalty no him, resigned and secluded himself.
Along with Sharon and Raful, the commission’s legal team also advanced. Researchers Dorit Beinisch and Edna Arbel became state prosecutors and Supreme Court justices, with Beinisch ending up court president. Aharon Barak, the key figure on the Kahan Commission, became a Supreme Court justice and then its president, overlapping with Sharon’s term as prime minister.
Golan’s research doesn’t have much that is new to add regarding the Sabra and Shatila massacre, although it highlights the monstrous forces that were recognized early on by the righteous. Warnings about some of the murderous inclinations of various factions accompanied the earliest documents regarding this operation. These referred mainly to the commander of the southern Lebanese militia, Saad Haddad. It was understood that he and his men should be prevented from carrying out their intentions.
Also noted was the cruelty, adhering to entrenched Lebanese customs, of Christians in the northern part of the country, a trait commonly attributed to the Phalangists headed by Bashir Gemayel. The issue of collaborating with them was unsettled up to the conquest of Beirut. By then it was clear that their entry into refugee camps surrounded by the IDF, “in search of terrorists posing as civilians,” was an invitation to a massacre.
Just like the massacre itself, the Kahan report was a nightmare come true for Sharon. Precisely as a precaution against investigations and deposition, Sharon placed “markers” along Lebanon’s coastal routes, the mountain roads and the Beirut-Damascus highway, as well as between the Defense Ministry in Tel Aviv and Hebrew University in Jerusalem. These were meant as clues for any detective looking backwards, providing alibi after alibi. These consisted of strategic statements, reservations, brackets and asterisks, all aimed at serving as future evidence for acquittal, if needed. These attempts were messy, including a jumble of conflicting and contradictory statements.
Basis for war: Deception
There is little that is new in the authorized version. Yet there is confirmation of suspicions. The basis for that war was deception. This was not criminal fraud, since responsibility lay with those who were seduced and gave in, but it did involve duplicity and concealment of the true objectives. This applies to the war’s initiation and conduct, without elaborating on the total diplomatic fiasco and the hundreds of pointless casualties. The ramifications included the removal of a friendly secretary of state, Alexander Haig, a plan by President Reagan for peace in exchange for territories, Bashir Gemayel’s ignoring the people who bought his election as president with their blood, and the fake peace with his brother Amin, who was a Syrian puppet.
The IDF’s historical research is as dry as a tin of IDF rations from a past war. There is no juice: It describes no emotions or drives, no fear of dying, shell shock, friendly fire, blood, fire or smoke. It consists only of battle plans, orders and verbatim reports of discussions and communications. Occasionally one can get a glimpse of the unspoken pressure that arose from bringing into close quarters in the war room on Mount Canaan a defense minister, chief of staff and regional commander who shared a common background. Raful was a company commander when Sharon was his battalion commander, and a battalion commander when Sharon was his brigade commander. Amir Drori was Sharon’s head of operations in Southern Command and a brigade commander when Raful was division commander in the Yom Kippur War, and a commander of Division 36 in the Golan Heights when Eitan was head of Northern Command.
Sharon loomed over everyone, even as a paunchy figure in a civilian suit, after starting out as an intelligence officer in Northern Command in the ‘50s, becoming its chief of staff in the ‘60s.
Golan’s main finding is that Sharon consistently strived to accomplish his big plan, while trying to obtain a serial and cumulative imprimatur for expanding the smaller operations that he got approved. He took pains to obtain Begin’s signature on approval of his plans. Begin was dealing in trivial matters such as changing the operation’s former name, Oranim, to Peace for Galilee. This was explained as a reference to the attitude of Christians around the world to the Galilee, associated with Jesus.
Sharon was heeding a lesson learned from the 1956 Sinai (Kadesh) operation, when investigating officer Haim Laskov compared Sharon’s version of events to that of Rehavam Ze’evi. Sharon claimed that as a representative of the General Staff and the army’s Southern Command, Ze’evi had authorized his excursion into the Mitla Pass. A small misunderstanding that led to 38 deaths. Laskov, who believed Ze’evi, quickly implemented his conclusions and, after becoming chief of staff, froze Sharon’s promotion for years. Only when Rabin became chief of staff did this change. Rabin had also experienced the cold shoulder of a chief of staff (Dayan).
Sharon vowed never to repeat his mistake. He became a champion of documentation, a suppressor of spontaneity, a meticulous note-taker, sometimes with a carbon copy, documenting it all in a note pad; he belonged to the paper generation. In the end, all his efforts to get everything he said and wrote into the official minutes, as inoculation against enemies lurking all around him, were of no avail in the Lebanese turmoil.
In the Yom Kippur War, as a divisional commander who was also on the Likud list for the Knesset, Sharon updated Begin so as to put pressure on Dayan to approve his plans, even though these were opposed by Sharon’s direct commanders. In Lebanon, other officers bypassed him and approached other cabinet ministers, mainly Mordechai Zippori, to make the cabinet aware of the gap between what it was told and what was happening on the ground.
The cabinet had approved a 12-hour operation, 24 hours at most, or perhaps 72 hours. Now it was a bit further and no more, with no skirmishing with the Syrian army (“unless they ”) and without reaching Beirut (“nevertheless ”). The story about the PLO’s armaments having a 40-kilometer range was based on one piece of artillery it had, an elusive piece which, the army said, could be moved around. The strongest and most sophisticated army in the region could not locate one holy cannon and destroy it?
History not only repeats itself, it remembers those who were removed in earlier wars but returned. They included Dayan, Begin’s foreign minister, and Sharon, Benjamin Netanyahu’s foreign minister before becoming prime minister himself. When history itself has a history, it sours, even though it retains some use.
This week it turned out that Chief of Staff Gadi Eisenkot, a knowledgable history buff unrivaled in the army, someone who likes to reminisce about his experiences as a company commander in Golani, believes for some reason that the IDF was victorious in the Lebanon War, which he conveniently defines as having ended on June 11. The battles of Ein Zhalta, Sultan Yacoub and Beirut apparently belong to another war. Eisenkot, in case he hasn’t yet made use of his access to this research, would do well to read Golan to rid himself of this illusion, since the gravest mistake made by political and military leaders in Lebanon, as in the Yom Kippur War, was not related to flawed intelligence but to erroneous assessment of our power.
The final whistle has not blown in the game of decades played by Golan. He still has the War of Attrition, the battles on the Egyptian and Syrian fronts between the end of the 1973 war and the signing of the disengagement agreements, and the sojourn of the IDF in Lebanon until it pulled back in 1985. This may be followed by the unwritten account of David’s battle with Goliath. We’re only waiting for Goliath’s comments.

Abi Khalil representing Aoun at IBEF inaugural ceremony: We look forward to realizing more achievements
Mon 18 Sep 2017/NNA - Water and Energy Minister, Cesar Abi Khalil, on Monday said that "President of the Republic, Michel Aoun's greatest concern remains economic stability and Economic security", hoping that the current tenure would witness further significant achievements. Minister Abi Khalil's fresh words came on Monday in his address at the inaugural ceremony of the 8th International Beirut Energy Forum for Sustainable Development, at Le Gabriel Hotel in Dbayeh, representing President Aoun. The Forum event and its affiliated exhibition are organized by the Lebanese Center for Energy Conservation (LCEC). The inaugural ceremony was attended by scores of concerned dignitaries, experts and energypreneurs from Lebanon and the Arab and European countries. In his delivered word, Abi Khalil labeled the energy sector essential to the work of all other sectors that rely heavily on it, especially when we talk about renewable energy technology. Abi Khalil shed light on the essential role of the Central Bank in providing the needed funding to develop this sector, anticipating that the next stage might observe an additional set of parallel funding opportunities in terms of donations and loans, most notably from the European Union and the Italian government. The Forum also included the distribution of "Energy Ambassadors" Awards for 2017, followed by a tour in the Forum exhibition, which will last for three days.

Italian Embassy: Italian participation at IBEF Energy Forum
Mon 18 Sep 2017/NNA - In a press release by the Italian Embassy in Beirut, it said: "An Italian delegation of 8 companies of the energy sector is participating for the first time in the International Beirut Energy Forum-IBEF. The participation is coordinated by the Italian Trade Agency (ITA) with the support and collaboration of the Italian Embassy, the Italian Ministry of Environment, Land and Sea (IMELS) and the Lebanese Center for Energy Conservation (LCEC). Lebanon is a growing market in the field of renewable energy with an enormous development potential of development due to the engagement to reach the 12% target of energy production from renewable energy sources by 2020. Industrial cooperation between Italian and Lebanese companies can positively contribute to the implementation of the NREAP National Renewable Energy Action Plan 2016-2020. The Italian Ministry of Environment, Land and Sea (IMELS) has offered Lebanon a 5 Million Euros grant, hosted by the Central Bank of Lebanon (BDL). The grant is offered to final beneficiaries willing to implement projects in the field of energy efficiency and renewable energy in Lebanon through the NEEREA financing mechanism. The grant will cover 10% of the amount of any loan taken under NEEREA, given that not less than 60% of the value of the project cover products and/or services by Italian SME's.
Italian exhibitors at IBEF 2017 cover a wide range of services, advanced technologies and products related to renewable energy, energy efficiency and green buildings. Within the framework of the Forum, the Italian Trade Agency, in collaboration with the Italian Ministry of Environment, Land and Sea (IMELS), organizes two sessions dedicated to the opportunities of industrial cooperation between Italy and Lebanon.
On Tuesday 19th September at 12:00, a working session will be held in partnership with IMELS and UNEP (United Nations Environment Programme) exploring the opportunities of cooperation with the Italian and Lebanese companies in the growing sustainable energy markets of Egypt and Lebanon.
The working session will be followed at 15:00 by a special session of scheduled b2b meetings that will give both Italian and Lebanese companies the possibility to discuss prospective business and partnership. Over 130 appointments are already scheduled by ITA in tight collaboration with LCEC Lebanese Center for Energy Conservation.
The Italian business delegation:
Carbon Hive is an Energy and Environmental Service that assists and supports companies and public administrations to reduce the environmental impact of their activities. ESPE is a leading Italian manufacturer of advanced technologies for the generation of heat and power from renewable sources.
For.Tec. Forniture Tecnologiche S.r.l. is an Italian Company with 40 years of experience designing, manufacturing, selling and installing high-tech ecologic plants. Mitsubishi Electric Hydronics & IT Cooling Systems S.p.A. is a Mitsubishi Electric Company specialized in hydronic systems for Air conditioning and IT Cooling solutions. Montana S.p.A. is an Italian independent environmental engineering company providing design, advisory and consultancy services since 1991, with the purpose of achieving a sustainable development for our environment, society and economy. Founded in 1956 as an electromechanical company, SAET has been operating for over fifty years in the Energy field, in systems and plants for production, transmission and distribution of electric energy as well as for cement and steel industry.
Sequas is a consulting firm, based in Rome, and specialized in engineering services concerning environment, energy, quality, safety, design and project management. Building on 100+ years of company tradition, Soltigua is today the only company worldwide to offer leading edge solar technologies for PV trackers, parabolic troughs and linear Fresnel collectors."

Rahi meets former president Sleiman

Mon 18 Sep 2017/NNA - Maronite Patriarch Cardinal Mar Beshara Boutros Rahi met, in Diman on Monday, with former president Michel Sleiman, accompanied by former minister Nazem Khoury. Talks reportedly featured high on the current general situation and most recent developments. "We highlighted the necessity to dissociate Lebanon from regional conflicts. Lebanon cannot be a center for religions' dialogue if [Lebanese] are interfering in regional unrest," Sleiman told reporters following the meeting. On the investigation into the martyrdom of the military hostages, Sleiman said: "I was the first one to call for an investigation, even before they found the bodies. There have been political accusations related to an entire tenure not just a person." "We also regretted that those who had killed the hostages were allowed to leave," he added. "The truth must be liberated and not political," he concluded.

Latest LCCC Bulletin For Miscellaneous Reports And News published on September 18-19/17
Qatar ‘offering to trade body of Israeli soldier’ for American-Jewish support
Staff writer, Al Arabiya EnglishMonday, 18 September 2017/A recently published report has claimed that Qatari Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani will seek to hold meetings with Jewish leaders in the United States. The Forbes report said that the Emir aims to gain the leaders’ support, amid Qatar’s ongoing rift with four Arab states, through handing over the body of an Israeli officer that Hamas killed in 2014. The Emir is currently in New York to attend the United Nations General Assembly.
Bargaining chip
According to the writer, Richard Miniter, some leaders of American-Jewish non-profits said that Qatar is using Lt. Hadar Goldin’s body as a “bargaining chip” to communicate with Jewish-American groups, three years after his murder. Hamas admitted to killing the Israeli army’s lieutenant after he infiltrated a tunnel in the Gaza Strip in 2014. The movement usually retains the bodies of Israeli military in exchange for its own captives. Miniter added that some American-Jewish leaders received a tacit message saying that their meeting with the Qatari Emir may result in recovering 23-year-old Goldin’s body. It may also reveal the fate of a missing Israeli soldier, they added. Speaking to Miniter, Jewish Rabbi Shmuley Boteach said he funded an advertising campaign against Qatar. Boteach is deemed as one of America’s “most influential rabbis,” according to US magazine Newsweek.
Boteach revealed that an opposition exists amid American-Jewish groups and is trying to communicate with Doha. Despite the latter being involved in killing Israeli soldiers through supporting Hamas, he added. “It is a shameful episode for our community when those who fund the murder of Jews in Israel are being embraced by Jews in the United States,” said the Rabbi. Boteach also noted that he received a word of warning claiming that his advertising campaign would go to waste since Hamas, under Qatari pressure, is expected to hand over the bodies of Israeli officers.The Rabbi explained that he ordered for “full-page New York Times ads to make it clear to all who agreed to whitewash the terror-stained hands of the emir would be condoning murder.”
Desperate Qatar
The report also quoted Boteach saying that the attempts to organize meetings between the Qatari Emir and some American-Jewish groups shows Qatar’s desperation. He noted that the Qatar Emir usually meets with the heads of states and governments, while considering other parties inferior – as such meeting with non-profit groups is an example of a “come-down from his high horse.”Miniter said that the diplomatic and economic strain on Qatar has worked. This is linked to Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt cutting ties with the country. The quartet also withdrew its ambassadors, closed ports, airports and worked to isolate the Qatari leadership until it committed itself to stop supporting and financing terrorism.

Saudi FM Jubeir in New York: Solution to Qatar crisis is in Doha’s hands
Staff writer, Al Arabiya EnglishMonday, 18 September 2017/Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir said that the solution to the dispute with Qatar is in Doha’s hands. Jubeir made the announcement after his meeting with the United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres.
The meeting was held on the sidelines of the upcoming UN General Assembly meeting on Tuesday in New York. The foreign minister, who is also the head of the Saudi delegation to the General Assembly, said that the UN does not have a role in resolving the dispute. Guterres and Jubeir also discussed recent developments in Yemen, Syria, Iraq and Myanmar. Prince Khalid bin Salman, the Saudi ambassador in Washington, also took part in the meeting.

Qatar detains 16 sailors from Bahrain in the past two days
Staff writer, Al Arabiya EnglishMonday, 18 September 2017/Bahrain’s Coast Guard has confirmed that Qatari authorities has detained nearly 16 sailors from the kingdom in the past two days. The kingdom’s Coast Guard Commander, Brigadier Alaa Abdullah Siyadi said that the Qatari authorities, detained three Bahraini boats with 16 sailors on-board in just the past two days. This brings the numbers of Bahraini boats held by Qatari authorities to 15 boats, in addition to 20 sailors who have been detained since at least 2009.

Arab Federation for Human Rights calls on UN to intervene in Al-Murrah case
Al Arabiya/Monday, 18 September 2017 /The United Nations is being called on to intervene in the unraveling issue of the al-Ghufran branch of Al-Murrah tribe in Qatar, many of whom were left displaced after Doha stripped them of their citizenship. Members of al-Ghufran branch of the Al-Murrah family accused Qatari authorities of launching “a systematic repression and injustice campaign” against their tribe, according to a report by the Arab Federation for Human Rights. Qatari authorities had revoked the citizenship of Sheikh Taleb bin Lahom bin Shreim and 54 of his relatives, including 18 women and children, because he refused to follow their orders to criticize Saudi Arabia. The call was made in Geneva by several of the family's members during a meeting at the United Nations of human rights practitioners from Arab and European countries.The meeting, entitled “International human Rights associations and the Ghufran Clan Issue” shed light on the conditions the clan have been put under since 1996 in Qatar including the revocation of the citizenship 56 Murrah tribe members last week including the tribal chief. Members of the tribe appeared before the audience on Monday and shared the stories of their citizenship revocations. One tribe member, Mohammed al-Marri, criticized the secretary general of the Qatari National Council on Human Rights, Ali Sumeigh al-Marri for not voiceing concerns and ignoring the infringements against his own tribesmen. Mohammed al-Marri further criticized the Qatari attorney general Ali Futais Al Marri for his role and inaction to stop the violations committed against the tribe. “We have waited 21 years and we will not wait any more, now we are having executions and burials because we are calling for our rights,” said another tribesman Salim al-Gufrani al-Marri.

Qatar’s Sheikh Sultan bin Suhaim urges response to call to end crisis
Staff writer, Al Arabiya EnglishMonday, 18 September 2017/Qatar’s Sheikh Sultan bin Suhaim Al-Thani has released a statement saying that he “hopes the ruling family and dignitaries respond to the invitation for a national meeting”. Sheikh Sultan bin Suhaim said in a video message broadcasted on Sky News Arabia to the Qatari people that the Qatari government has "allowed the intruders and the haters to spread their poison in every direction until we reached the brink of catastrophe". "It saddens me to that what is mentioned in this crisis consist of terrorist organizations and Qatar’s embrace of them and the proliferation of terrorist groups among us. It is as if Doha has become an incubator for all the saboteurs and corrupters". The Paris-based Qatari sheikh said that he placed his trust in “the wisdom of King Salman and the leaders of countries and their deep love for us by standing with us”.
On Sunday, Sheikh Abdullah bin Ali Al-Thani called on the "wise men" of the ruling family in Qatar and the country's prominent figures to meet to resolve the Qatari crisis, which amounted to direct incitement to the Arab Gulf.
You all know that the situation today is quite critical. Our brothers in the Gulf and the Arab world have ostracized us because of fatal errors that were committed against them alongside ugly practices done against their existence; these actions were committed in our name, from our land and with our tools.
These people are in fact our enemies. Because of the government’s policy which allowed hateful bitter people to deepen its roots in Qatar and spread their poison everywhere, we have bitterly reached the abyss. Our goal today is to stand together to purge our land from these outsiders and to continue our development efforts to bring pride to our country Qatar in an effort to gain a more civic and humanitarian role and aspect. We need to stand together to protect Qatar from terrorist organizations. My worst fear is that one day the Qatari citizen will become associated with terrorism. I am most fearful that we would be rejected from everyone worldwide, along with the rupture with our neighboring countries.Today, I live in Paris. Ever since the crisis broke, I couldn’t handle becoming a stranger in my own country. Strangers came flooding like the colonizers, intervening in our internal affairs under the pretext of protecting us from our people in Saudi Arabia and the Gulf whom we consider as our ancestors and family. We are the grandchildren of Sheikh Jassim and many other great men who have built this great country. I am saddened that this crisis brought to light all of these terrorist organizations and these violent groups along with an interference with the affairs of other countries and a sabotage of their security and wellbeing. As if Doha has become an incubator to all the corrupts and the wicked and a platform to serve their agendas. While in reality, if Qatar would be faced with hardships, they would be the first to leave the ship. They only care about exploiting our country and using our resources, they wouldn’t care about us at all because they are not connected to us, and they have no families nor loved ones. They are full of bitterness and hatred against the Gulf people and Qatar is no exception. It’s a shame that Qatar is used as a façade and a weapon to destroy its people, its dignity, its history and its entire entity only to become a victim of their practices later on. In this context, I endorse all calls for a meeting hoping that all the members of the ruling family, distinguished members and thinkers to engage in this meeting so they can become one hand to protect Qatar from enemies and deserters. I am full of confidence of King Salman and the leaders of the Arab countries of their stand with Qatar, may god always bestow peaceful relations between us and may all mistakes be corrected to end these nightmares that have plagued us.
Sultan Bin Suhaim Bin Hamad Al Thani.

Israel Gets First Joint U.S. Military Base
Naharnet/Agence France Presse/September 18/17/Israel on Monday inaugurated with its U.S. ally a joint missile defense base on Israeli soil, the first ever, a senior Israeli air force officer said. The new facility, at an undisclosed location in southern Israel, was announced as Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was due to meet U.S. President Donald Trump in New York on the fringes of the U.N. General Assembly. "We inaugurated, with our partners from the United States Army, an American base, for the first time in Israel," Brigadier General Tzvika Heimowitz, head of Israeli missile defenses, told journalists. "An American flag is flying permanently over a U.S. army base situated inside one of our bases."Heimowitz said the move was not a direct response to any specific incident or immediate threat, but was a combination of "lessons learned" in the 2014 war in Gaza and intelligence analysis of future dangers.
"We have many enemies around us, near and far," he said.The outgoing Israel air force chief in June warned neighbors of the "unimaginable" military power at the country's disposal. On September 7 Syria's army accused Israeli warplanes of hitting one of its positions, killing two people in an attack that a monitor said targeted a site where the regime allegedly produces chemical weapons.
Israel, without confirming it was behind the attack, indirectly warned Syria and Iran that it would not tolerate any "Shiite corridor from Tehran to Damascus."
Israel accuses Iran of building sites to produce "precision-guided missiles" in both Syria and Lebanon and Netanyahu is expected to reiterate the point in his talks with Trump. The country has bought 50 F-35 stealth fighters from the United States. Israel has a sophisticated anti-missile defense system, including the Iron Dome short-range interceptor which has successfully brought down rockets fired from Syria, Lebanon, Egypt's lawless Sinai region and the Gaza Strip. It also has the medium-range David's Sling and the Arrow missile defense system, designed to counter more distant threats. Heimowitz did not comment on the specific role of the new joint base, but said the "few dozen" U.S. personnel there would be under Israeli command. "This is not part of an exercise or maneuver," he said. "It is a presence as part of the joint effort of Israel and the U.S. to improve defense."

Supreme Court Steps in to Block Iraq Kurd Independence Vote
Naharnet/Agence France Presse/September 18/17/Iraq's supreme court Monday ordered the suspension of a September 25 referendum on the independence of Iraqi Kurdistan, as legal and political pressure mounted on the Kurds to call off the vote. With just a week left before polling, the court said it "has issued the order to suspend organizing the referendum set for September 25... until it examines the complaints it has received over this plebiscite being unconstitutional." Court spokesman Ayas al-Samouk told AFP it had "received several complaints," as a parliamentary source said at least eight lawmakers had called on the court to intervene on constitutional grounds. Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi's office said it had also filed a complaint against the referendum in the oil-rich autonomous Kurdish region of northern Iraq on constitutional grounds. There was no immediate reaction from Iraqi Kurdish leader Massud Barzani, who called the referendum and has so far resisted pressure from Baghdad and Iraq's neighbors Turkey and Iran, as well as from the United States and its Western allies, all of which oppose the poll. A Kurdish delegation is expected on Tuesday for talks in Baghdad, while Abadi has left for New York to attend the U.N. General Assembly. Britain's Defense Secretary Michael Fallon said he would try to persuade Barzani at a meeting later Monday in the Kurdish capital of Arbil. "I will be this afternoon in Arbil to tell Massud Barzani that we do not support the Kurdish referendum," he said at a press conference in Baghdad. "We are committed to the integrity of Iraq. We are working with the U.N. on alternatives to this referendum," he said before leaving for the northern city.
The United States and other Western nations are backing a U.N.-supported "alternative" plan for immediate negotiations on future relations in exchange for dropping the referendum. Washington argues that the vote will weaken Arab-Kurdish joint military operations that have helped to send Islamic State jihadists into retreat in both Iraq and war-torn Syria. Israel is alone in openly supporting Kurdish independence.
Referendum as leverage -
Barzani has said a "yes" vote would not trigger an immediate declaration of independence, but rather kick-start "serious discussions" with Baghdad. He has mustered huge popular support for the vote, with the streets of Arbil festooned with red, white and green Kurdish flags and large crowds holding nightly rallies.The non-Arab Kurds -- more than 25 million people spread across Iraq, Turkey, Iran and Syria -- have long sought a state of their own. According to analysts, Barzani is using the referendum as leverage in his Kurdish Regional Government's (KRG) long-standing disputes with the federal authorities in Baghdad over territory and oil exports. The KRG has already expanded the territory it effectively controls and its peshmerga security forces have seized areas outside its borders from IS.Oil-rich Kirkuk province, disputed by Baghdad and Arbil, has voted to take part in the referendum in defiance of the federal authorities. The government responded by sacking Kirkuk's Kurdish governor, who has refused to leave his post. Rumors are rife that rival communities are stockpiling arms. Turkey, concerned that the referendum might stir separatist dreams among its own Kurds, has threatened Arbil with "a price" to pay if the vote goes ahead.
Turkey launched a military drill featuring tanks close to the Iraqi border on Monday, its army said. The KRG's economy is heavily dependent on oil exports via a pipeline running through Turkey to the Mediterranean. Iran, with a sizable Kurdish minority of its own, warned Sunday that Iraqi Kurdish independence would mean an end to all border and security arrangements with the KRG.

Trump Pushes UN Reform as World Leaders Gather for Crisis Talks

Naharnet/Agence France Presse/September 18/17/US President Donald Trump makes his debut at the United Nations on Monday, with an address on UN reform as a week of intense diplomacy kicks off, dominated by worries about North Korea, Iran and Myanmar.
Trump, who once disparaged the world body as a "club" for "people to get together, talk and have a good time," will lay out his views on how to improve the United Nations a day before he makes his first address to the General Assembly. About 130 world leaders are attending this year's global gathering, but all eyes will be on Trump, whose "America First" agenda has alarmed both allies and foes. The UN's number one financial backer, the United States has threatened deep cuts to UN funding that Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has said would create an "unsolvable problem" for the world body.
Guterres, who is pushing for an overhaul of the UN bureaucracy, will also address the event at which leaders will sign a pledge of support for reform.
France and Russia have reacted coolly to the US initiative, amid concerns that the US administration is focused more on cost-cutting than improving the UN's performance. US Ambassador Nikki Haley was a driving force behind a $600-million-dollar cut to the UN peacekeeping budget this year.
Haley on Friday pointed to the more than 120 countries that back the US-drafted political declaration on UN reform as a "miraculous number," showing there is support for a "massive reform package" led by Guterres.
- Differences over Iran, North Korea -On Monday, Trump will hold talks with French President Emmanuel Macron, who will also be making his maiden address at the General Assembly on Tuesday, and with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Both Macron and Netanyahu are expected to raise the future of the Iran nuclear agreement, with the French leader making a strong case for keeping it alive and the Israeli prime minister pushing for its demise.
Trump will also have a working dinner with Latin American leaders that will touch on the crisis in Venezuela.
North Korea's nuclear and missile tests will be in the spotlight with foreign ministers set to discuss enforcing sanctions against Pyongyang during a Security Council meeting on non-proliferation on Thursday.
Also on Thursday, Trump will be holding talks with Japanese and South Korean leaders who have backed the US drive to ratchet up sanctions on North Korea.
The council last week imposed a new raft of measures such as a ban on export textiles and a cap on oil shipments to pile pressure on Pyongyang to come to the table and negotiate an end to its nuclear and missile programs.
Russia and China, however, are calling for diplomatic talks with North Korea while warning that a military option as suggested by the United States would have catastrophic consequences.
- Myanmar -British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson will host a meeting on the military campaign in Myanmar which the United Nations has described as "ethnic cleansing" after more than 400,000 Rohingya Muslims were forced to flee. The closed-door meeting will be attended by a representative from Myanmar and by foreign ministers from "a range of countries with a strong interest in seeing an end to the violence there," a British diplomat said.
Ahead of the opening of the General Assembly, UN member-states will discuss the aftermath of Hurricane Irma that devastated parts of the United States and the Caribbean. The hurricane disaster offers a reminder of the destructive force of nature as leaders set their sights on implementing the Paris agreement on climate change despite the US withdrawal from the deal.

Senate Passes $700 Billion Pentagon Bill, More Money Than Trump Sought
Tue 19 Sep 2017/NNA - In a rare act of bipartisanship on Capitol Hill, the Senate passed a $700 billion defense policy bill on Monday that sets forth a muscular vision of America as a global power, with a Pentagon budget that far exceeds what President Trump has asked for.
Senators voted 89-9 to approve the measure, known as the National Defense Authorization Act; the House has already adopted a similar version. The vote marked the 56th consecutive year that Congress has passed the defense policy bill — a point of personal pride for Senator John McCain, the Arizona Republican who chairs the Senate Armed Services Committee, and who has spent the past week shepherding the bill on the Senate floor as he battles brain cancer. In arguing for the increased funding, Mr. McCain cited a string of recent deadly accidents involving the military, including a collision last month between an oil tanker and the destroyer John S. McCain, named for the senator’s father and grandfather. Ten sailors were killed and five others injured.
“We are gambling with the lives of the best among us and we’re now seeing the cost — the tragic but foreseeable costs of an overworked, strained force with aging equipment and not enough of it,” Mr. McCain said.
The 1,215-page bill sets policy on a range of military matters as diverse as whether the Air Force can buy new fighter jets and pay raises for service members. It provides $640 billion for basic Pentagon operations — $37 billion more than President Trump sought — and another $60 billion for war operations overseas in Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan and elsewhere. The measure also includes a string of provisions to streamline the management of the Defense Department; along with boosting military spending, overhauling the Pentagon has been a high priority for Mr. McCain.
“He’s someone who has lived with underfunding of the military, seen the impact on readiness, seen the strains that impact the force,” said Anthony N. Cordesman, a national security analyst at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington.
The bill also reflects Mr. McCain’s expansive vision of the role of the United States in world affairs. It authorizes $500 million to provide security assistance, including weapons, to Ukraine; $100 million to help Balkan nations “deter Russian aggression” and another $705 million for Israeli cooperative missile defense programs — $558.5 million more than the administration’s request. But while the proposal outlines a hefty defense budget, whether the Pentagon gets the money will be determined by congressional appropriators, and Democrats have pledged to block major increases in military spending without a similar boost for domestic programs. “It’s a grandiose spending plan,” Senator Richard J. Durbin of Illinois, the No. 2 Democrat in the Senate, said in a recent interview. Before the bill can be sent to the president for his signature, it must be reconciled with the House version. They are different in a critical respect; the House-passed bill authorizes the creation of a new Space Corps, to manage satellite and other space-related programs, while the Senate bill does not.
The proposed corps has drawn opposition from the Air Force, which manages most of the military’s space-related programs, as well as the White House. The defense bill, approved by the Armed Services Committee by a unanimous vote of 27-0 in June, is one of the few must-pass measures to go through Congress, which makes it a prime target for lawmakers trying to attach amendments to it. Senators had proposed more than 500 amendments, but the vast majority were not attached to the bill. Among the amendments kept out of the measure was a controversial proposal by Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, the New York Democrat, to block Mr. Trump’s directive barring transgender troops from serving in the military. On Friday, Mr. McCain and Senator Jack Reed of Rhode Island, the senior Democrat on the Armed Services panel, joined Ms. Gillibrand in introducing a separate bill that would allow transgender troops to serve. ---NY Times

Latest LCCC Bulletin analysis & editorials from miscellaneous sources published on September 17-18/17
Trump, Netanyahu risk being party of two in opposition to Iran nuclear deal
Al Monitor/September 18/17
REUTERS/Jonathan ErnstIsrael's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu compliments US President Donald Trump on having been the first sitting US president to leave a prayer at the Western Wall, during remarks at the Yad Vashem holocaust memorial in Jerusalem, May 23, 2017.
Both US President Donald Trump and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu are expected to use their speeches at the UN General Assembly session this week to rally support for a tougher line on Iran, but theirs may be a cry in the woods against an Iranian nuclear agreement that enjoys solid international support.Akiva Eldar writes, “With the Iranian nuke agreement signed and sealed, the issue of the bomb threat is off the international agenda. Netanyahu might actually feel himself bereft up on the podium without having a drawing of a nuclear bomb to clutch.”
Ben Caspit reports that there are divisions between Israel’s political and military leaders about which tack to take on Iran, and “it is not a strategic argument, either. The top brass of the Israel Defense Forces (IDF), Military Intelligence and Mossad all realize that the Iranians have not shelved their ambition to become a nuclear power — nor will they. The difference is that the defense establishment has accepted the nuclear deal as a fact and managed to find certain positive opportunities in it. The IDF has reorganized in accordance with the new situation, and its multiyear planning program 'Gideon' has been formulated on the assumption that the Iranian nuclear threat has been placed in the deep freeze for a decade. Senior Israeli defense officials have emphasized the opportunity it affords Israel to deal with other problems, reprioritize and take advantage of this window in Iran's nuclear schedule. The political leadership, particularly Netanyahu and [Minister of Intelligence and Transportation Yisrael] Katz, sees things very differently. … Netanyahu is an experienced alarmist who shares this position. So apparently does Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman. Given these circumstances, Israel's military leadership will have no choice but to acquiesce to the position of the political leadership, which is the ultimate authority in the matter.”
Eldar suggests that Netanyahu may pick up the thread on North Korea to make his case on Iran. “The prime minister can provide proof, of course, of the close cooperation between the Iranian ayatollah regime and the communist ruler in Pyongyang,” he writes. “For example, the cable sent by the US State Department to the embassy in Beijing, part of the batch of documents leaked to WikiLeaks, indicated that Iran and North Korea make use of their national airlines’ cargo flights to transport nuclear technology and components. According to information collated by Israeli experts, quite a few Iranian liquid-fueled ballistic missiles and related launchers were developed based on know-how and technology provided by North Korea.”
Caspit adds, “Jerusalem is panicking over the remarkable events in North Korea and the way that the United States has lost control of the situation as North Korean leader Kim Jong Un rushes toward nuclear armaments.”
Israel is also concerned that a possible thaw in Saudi-Iran ties, which this column outlined last week, would lead to further isolation. Ali Hashem writes that the thaw still has a way to go. “Iraq, Yemen, Syria, Lebanon and Bahrain remain the main points of entanglement between Iran and Saudi Arabia,” Hashem writes. “Iraq is Iran’s backyard while Yemen is Saudi Arabia’s. Lebanon, Syria and Bahrain are areas of balanced engagement; Iran has the upper hand in Lebanon, Saudi Arabia in Bahrain; Syria remains a contested ground, though Saudi Arabia is said to have limited its role there. The regional map of control prompted some to predict that Saudi Arabia’s alleged use of Iraqi mediation to engage with Iran was a clear indication the Gulf kingdom was conceding to Iran and that the clash between the two bitter rivals was coming to an end. Yet this isn’t the case, and Iraq is a good example in this regard. … Saudi Arabia’s new approach might this time be to play in Iran’s backyard and invest in Shiite religious groups rather than just Sunni movements and secular Shiites in Iraq. Such a move could give Riyadh additional cards to play whenever a table is set and could be Saudi Arabia’s way of accepting an Iranian role in Yemen by imposing the kingdom as a new player in Iraq.”
Netanyahu may use the United Nations pulpit to share Israel’s concerns about Iran’s role in Syria. On Sept. 8, Israeli planes reportedly struck a Syrian missile complex in western Syria. Reportedly, because Israel has not taken public responsibility for the attack. Caspit explains, “Israel views Iran's efforts to provide Syria and Hezbollah with the technology to produce precision missiles as a clear strategic danger. Were the efforts successful, in the next conflict, it would allow Israel’s enemies to hamper the Israeli air force's ability to effectively strike strategic targets. It is altogether possible that in the early hours of Sept. 8, what took place is one round in Israel's struggle against the Iranian 'precision project' in Syria and Lebanon.”
The potential for Israeli escalation puts Russia in the hot seat. Maxim Suchkov writes, “Despite their differing interests in Syria, Russian and Iranian military intelligence maintain interaction,” in addition to their collaboration in the Astana cease-fire process. “Numerous commentators in the Middle East believe that the Iranians and Syrians expect Russian President Vladimir Putin to curb such Israeli airstrikes. At the time of publication, the Russians continued to maintain their silence. As to what is going on behind the scenes among the various actors, time will tell. … Despite Putin's having met frequently with Netanyahu, the Russian president still views Iran as a strategic partner in his Middle East policy. Putin was also the one who personally saved the Assad regime from collapse two years ago. On the other hand, Putin understands Israel's concerns. So to what extent will Putin be involved in what is taking place near his forces in Syria? Israel can only hope and pray for the day when the Russian squadrons and aerial defense missiles in Syria return to Russia. At this stage, that dream is far off.”
This column wrote in February 2014, “Russia could also play a bridging role, perhaps through very quiet back channels, to calm Israel-Iran ties.” That trend has only gotten stronger, and more urgent. If there is another Israel-Hezbollah confrontation, Caspit writes, “Israel is intent on marking Lebanese sovereignty as a legitimate target. From the first minute, it will attack the country’s strategic infrastructure. As far as Israel is concerned, the country of Lebanon has become Hezbollahstan. At the moment, none of the sides really want to get to that stage.”

Iranian Army Chief: We Will Turn Tel Aviv & Haifa Into Dust
Jerusalem Post /September 18/17
Seyyed Abdolrahim Mousavi, an Iranian military officer currently acting as the Commander-in-Chief of the Islamic Republic of Iran Army, issued a menacing statement against the Jewish state hours before Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is expected to bring up the ever-imminent threat posed on Israel by Tehran in his encounter with US President Donald Trump.
The two are slated to meet at the UN for the General Assembly's 72nd session held at the NY headquarters.
"We will destroy the Zionist entity at lightning speed, and thus shorten the 25 years it still has left," Iranian media quoted Mousavi as saying in reference to a recurring threat by Iran and its Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei to take down the State of Israel in the next quarter century.
"I warn the [Zionist] entity not to make any stupid move against the Islamic Republic of Iran," he threatened. "Every [such] stupid act will [make us] turn Tel Aviv and Haifa into dust."
Mousavi also said that "the world will not forget the crimes [committed] by this arrogant Zionist offical." According to Iranian news agency Tasnim, Mousavi was talking about an Israeli official who had allegedly made "irresponsible declarations" concerning Iran's presence in the conflict-addled Syria.
"He [the official] should bow his head down and calculate how much longer he has to live. Every mistake made by this [Zionist] entity will make it last less than the 25 years it has left, and Iran will destroy this entity with lightning speed."
He then reiterated the warning that Israel won't proceed to exist for more than the next 25 years.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is expected to relay to the Trump administration Israel's concerns regarding the looming threat posed by Iran's nuclear activity. Netanyahu has been vocally advocating against the Iran Deal since before it was formed, and President Trump doesn't seem to differ from Netanyahu in opinion concerning the nature of the deal.
"The Iran idea is one of the worst deals I've ever seen, certainly at a minimum the spirit of the deal is just atrociously kept," Trump told reporters aboard Air Force One last week.
In response to Trump's comments and recent US statements about Tehran's actions, Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei warned on Sunday that Tehran would react strongly to any "wrong move" by Washington on the nuclear deal.
Netanyahu is also slated to present to Trump's Israel's worries regarding the establishment of a long-lasting Iranian stronghold in Syria, that could also have grave repercussions on Israeli security. Israel will “not tolerate Iranian consolidating its presence on our northern border,” the premier said recently ahead of his key parley with Trump.
**Reuters contributed to this report.

Palestinians Imprison Journalists for Exposing Corruption
Khaled Abu Toameh/Gatestone Institute/September 18/17
Harb's ordeal began in June 2016, when she published an investigative report that disclosed how Hamas and the Palestinian Authority (PA) were using medical care to blackmail Palestinian patients. Her report exposed how some physicians and Hamas and PA officials were demanding bribes in return for issuing permits to patients to leave the Gaza Strip for medical treatment in Israel, the West Bank and Arab and Western countries. Those who cannot afford to pay the bribes are left to die in understaffed and under equipped Palestinian hospitals.
Instead of launching an investigation against those involved in the corruption scandal, Hamas chose to punish the journalist who revealed how patients were being mistreated and abused by senior health officials.
Hajer Harb, a courageous Palestinian journalist, has been found guilty by Hamas of exposing corruption in the health system in the Gaza Strip. On September 13, a Hamas court sentenced her to six months in prison and a fine. It was the first sentence of its kind to be passed on a female journalist in the Gaza Strip.
Harb, however, is unlikely to serve her prison term in the near future; she recently left the Gaza Strip to Jordan, where she is receiving medical treatment after being diagnosed with cancer.
Her illness, however, did not stop Hamas from pursuing legal measures against her for her role in exposing corruption in the Palestinian health system. Instead of suspending the legal proceedings against her, the Hamas court chose to sentence her to prison in absentia.
If and when she recovers from her illness and returns to the Gaza Strip, Harb will be arrested and sent to prison for six months. She will also be required to pay the 1000 shekel ($250) fine that was imposed on her by the Hamas court.
If and when Hajer Harb, a courageous Palestinian journalist, recovers from cancer and returns to Gaza, she will be arrested by Hamas and sent to prison for six months, for the "crime" of exposing corruption in the Gaza Strip health system. (Image source: Hager Press video screenshot)
Harb's ordeal began in June 2016, when she published an investigative report that disclosed how Hamas and the Palestinian Authority (PA) were using medical care to blackmail Palestinian patients. Her report exposed how some physicians and Hamas and PA officials were demanding bribes in return for issuing permits to patients to leave the Gaza Strip for medical treatment in Israel, the West Bank and some Arab and Western countries. Those who cannot afford to pay the bribes are left to die in understaffed and under-equipped Palestinian hospitals, the report revealed.
Harb's investigative report -- a rare practice in the world of Palestinian journalism -- enraged Palestinian Authority and Hamas officials. Palestinians referred to those involved in the corruption scandal as the "mafia of destruction," as was reported for the first time by Gatestone Institute.
After Harb published her report, she was summoned for interrogation by Hamas authorities. Her interrogators demanded that she reveal her sources and the identity of those involved in the corruption scandal.
"I told them that I'm a journalist and I cannot provide them with the identities of the sources without a court order," she said.
"The prosecution told me that I was facing the following charges: impersonation of another person (they claim I did not reveal my real identity during the investigative report); slandering the Ministry of Health, publishing inaccurate and incorrect information and working with 'foreign parties' (by preparing a report for a London-based television station under the pretext that the media organization is not registered with the Press Office in the Gaza Strip)."
It is both tragic and ironic that in the end, Harb herself had to apply for a permit to leave the Gaza Strip for medical treatment. She found herself in the same situation as the patients about whom she reported, who had to pay bribes to Palestinian Authority and Hamas officials to leave the Gaza Strip. Unlike those patients, however, she did not have to pay anyone a bribe in return for a permit to leave the Gaza Strip. Harb's friends say she was allowed to leave after Palestinian human rights groups intervened.
The verdict on Harb has sparked widespread condemnations among Palestinians, especially Palestinian human rights activists and journalists.
The Palestinian Center for Development and Media Freedoms (MADA) denounced the court's verdict and said it was a "very serious precedent against media freedoms." In a statement, MADA said that it sees this as another "setback to the growing repression of media freedoms" under the Palestinian Authority and Hamas. "MADA, wishing a speedy recovery for our colleague [Harb], strongly condemns this decision, which lacks fair trial procedures."
Harb's lawyer, Mervat Al-Nahal, said that her client had been charged with libel, publishing inaccurate news about the Palestinian Ministry of Health, and impersonation, but that her client, while receiving medical treatment in a Jordanian hospital, learned about the court verdict through the media.
The Palestinian political analyst Jihad Harb (no relation) said that the Hamas court verdict was not only aimed at silencing journalists, but also at protecting corruption and those responsible for it in the Gaza Strip.
"The court ruling against the journalist did not come as a surprise," he said. "However, it came as a shock because of the magnitude of the assault on freedom of expression and the media." He pointed out that instead of launching an investigation against those involved in the corruption scandal, Hamas chose to punish the journalist who revealed how patients were being mistreated and abused by senior health officials.
The Palestinian Journalists Syndicate has also strongly condemned the verdict against the journalist and urged Hamas to rescind the decision. "This is a dangerous precedent and a flagrant violation of freedom of expression," the syndicate said. It also called on international human rights organizations to intervene with the Hamas authorities to prevent them from imprisoning the journalist because of her investigative report.
A Palestinian writer, Talal Al-Sharif, who also expressed solidarity with the journalist, pointed out that he too had been sentenced to a six months in prison for an article he wrote in which he criticized Hamas. Al-Sharif said that after he published the article, he was tried on charges of defamation. He also noted that no one from the Palestinian Authority in Ramallah had ever contacted him to support him or denounce the Hamas verdict passed on him.
Al-Sharif was naïve to think that the Palestinian Authority would come out in his defense. The PA itself has long been waging a campaign of intimidation against journalists, writers and political opponents in the areas under its control in the West Bank.
In recent weeks, scores of Palestinians, including journalists, have been arrested by Palestinian Authority security forces. Some were arrested for openly criticizing the PA, while others were taken into custody for "undermining state security" and insulting senior Palestinian leaders ( "extending their tongues", according to the PA law).
Meanwhile, Palestinian journalists and human rights activists are campaigning against President Mahmoud Abbas's new Cyber Crime Law, which gives his security forces expanded powers to crack down on social media users, especially those who dare to express views deemed critical of his leadership.
The court verdict passed on Hajer Harb, and the ongoing punitive measures against Palestinian journalists in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, serve as yet another reminder that Hamas and the Palestinian Authority have no respect for freedom of expression and media freedoms. Hamas and the PA may be at war with each other, but they both agree that the media is an enemy that needs to be defeated, to prevent the world from learning about corruption and repression.
For now, it appears that Hamas and the Palestinian Authority have succeeded in silencing Palestinian journalists and writers. This is happening, of course, while the international community and so-called pro-Palestinian groups around the world bury their heads in the sand, and refuse to see anything wrong on the Palestinian side.
**Khaled Abu Toameh, an award-winning journalist, is based in Jerusalem.
© 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.

State Department Waging "Open War" on White House
Soeren Kern/Gatestone Institute/September 18/17
"It's not clear to me why the Secretary of State wishes to at once usurp the powers of the Congress and then to derail his boss's rapprochement with the Israeli government." — Foreign policy operative, quoted in the Washington Free Beacon.
Since he was sworn in as Secretary of State on February 1, Rex Tillerson and his advisors at the State Department have made a number of statements and policy decisions that contradict President Trump's key campaign promises on foreign policy, especially regarding Israel and Iran.
"Tillerson was supposed to clean house, but he left half of them in place and he hid the other half in powerful positions all over the building. These are career staffers committed to preventing Trump from reversing what they created." — Veteran foreign policy analyst, quoted in the Free Beacon.
The U.S. State Department has backed away from a demand that Israel return $75 million in military aid which was allocated to it by the U.S. Congress.
The repayment demand, championed by U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, was described as an underhanded attempt by the State Department to derail a campaign pledge by U.S. President Donald J. Trump to improve relations with the Jewish state.
The dispute is the just the latest example of what appears to be a growing power struggle between the State Department and the White House over the future direction of American foreign policy.
The controversy goes back to the Obama administration's September 2016 Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with Israel, which pledged $38 billion in military assistance to Jerusalem over the next decade. The MOU expressly prohibits Israel from requesting additional financial aid from Congress.
Congressional leaders, who said the MOU violates the constitutional right of lawmakers to allocate U.S. aid, awarded Israel an additional $75 million in assistance in the final appropriations bill for fiscal year 2017.
Tillerson had argued that Israel should return the $75 million in order to stay within the limits established by the Obama administration. The effort provoked a strong reaction from Congress, which apparently prompted Tillerson to back down.
Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR) "strongly warned the State Department that such action would be unwise and invite unwanted conflict with Israel," according to the Washington Free Beacon.
"As Iran works to surround Israel on every border, and Hezbollah and Hamas rearm, we must work to strengthen our alliance with Israel, not strain it. Congress has the right to allocate money as it deems necessary, and security assistance to Israel is a top priority. Congress is ready to ensure Israel receives the assistance it needs to defend its citizens."
A veteran congressional advisor told the Free Beacon:
"This is a transparent attempt by career staffers in the State Department to f*ck with the Israelis and derail the efforts of Congressional Republicans and President Trump to rebuild the US-Israel relationship. There's no reason to push for the Israelis to return the money, unless you're trying to drive a wedge between Israel and Congress, which is exactly what this is. It won't work."
Another foreign policy operative said: "It's not clear to me why the Secretary of State wishes to at once usurp the powers of the Congress and then to derail his boss's rapprochement with the Israeli government."
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson (left) and President Donald J. Trump (right) on February 1, 2017. (Image source: Michael Reynolds-Pool/Getty Images)
Since he was sworn in as Secretary of State on February 1, Tillerson and his advisors at the State Department have made a number of statements and policy decisions that contradict Trump's key campaign promises on foreign policy, especially regarding Israel and Iran.
August 10. The State Department hosted representatives of the U.S. Council of Muslim Organizations (USCMO), an umbrella group established by the Muslim Brotherhood with the aim of mainstreaming political Islam in the United States. Behind closed doors, they reportedly discussed what they said was Israel's illegal occupation of Palestine and the removal of all Israeli control of the Temple Mount and holy areas of Jerusalem. Observers said the meeting was part of larger effort by anti-Israel organizations to drive a wedge between the Trump administration and Israel. The USCMO includes a number of organizations, including American Muslims for Palestine (AMP), which promote "extreme anti-Israel views" and "anti-Zionist" propaganda, and which support boycotts of the Jewish state.
July 19. The State Department's new "Country Reports on Terrorism 2016" blamed Israel for Palestinian Arab terrorism against Jews. It attributed Palestinian violence to: "lack of hope in achieving statehood;" "Israeli settlement construction in the West Bank;" "settler violence;" and "the perception that the Israeli government was changing the status quo on the Haram Al Sharif/Temple Mount." The report also characterized Palestinian Authority payments to the families of so-called martyrs as "financial packages to Palestinian security reintegrate them into society."
Rep. Peter Roskam (R-IL) called on the State Department to hold the PA accountable in State Department Country reports: "The State Department report includes multiple findings that are both inaccurate and harmful to combating Palestinian terrorism.... At the highest level, the Palestinian Authority (PA) leadership incites, rewards, and, in some cases, carries out terrorist attacks against innocent Israelis. In order to effectively combat terrorism, it is imperative that the United States accurately characterize its root cause — PA leadership."
June 14. Tillerson voiced opposition to designating the Muslim Brotherhood as a terrorist organization, saying that such a classification would complicate Washington's relations in the Middle East. During his confirmation hearings on January 11, by contrast, Tillerson lumped the Brotherhood with al-Qaeda when talking about militant threats in the region. He said:
"Eliminating ISIS would be the first step in disrupting the capabilities of other groups and individuals committed to striking our homeland and our allies. The demise of ISIS would also allow us to increase our attention on other agents of radical Islam like al-Qaeda, the Muslim Brotherhood, and certain elements within Iran."
June 13. During testimony to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Tillerson said he had received reassurances from President Mahmoud Abbas that the Palestinian Authority would end the practice of paying a monthly stipend to the families of suicide bombers and other attackers, commonly referred to by Palestinians as martyrs. One day later, Palestinian officials contradicted Tillerson, saying that there are no plans to stop payments to families of Palestinians killed or wounded carrying out attacks against Israelis.
May 22. Tillerson sidestepped questions on whether the Western Wall is part of Israel, while telling reporters aboard Air Force One they were heading to "Tel Aviv, home of Judaism." Asked directly whether he considers the Western Wall under Israeli sovereignty, Tillerson replied: "The wall is part of Jerusalem."
May 15. In an interview with Meet the Press, Tillerson appeared publicly to renege on Trump's campaign promise to move the American embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem:
"The president, I think rightly, has taken a very deliberative approach to understanding the issue itself, listening to input from all interested parties in the region, and understanding what such a move, in the context of a peace initiative, what impact would such a move have."
Tillerson also appeared to equate the State of Israel and the Palestinians:
"As you know, the president has recently expressed his view that he wants to put a lot of effort into seeing if we cannot advance a peace initiative between Israel and Palestine. And so I think in large measure the president is being very careful to understand how such a decision would impact a peace process."
Critics of this stance have argued that moving the embassy to Jerusalem would, instead, advance the peace process by "shattering the Palestinian fantasy that Jerusalem is not the capital of Israel."
March 8. The State Department confirmed that the Obama administration's $221 million payment to the Palestinian Authority, approved just hours before Trump's inauguration, had reached its destination. The Trump administration initially had vowed to freeze the payment.
In July 2017, the Free Beacon reported that Tillerson's State Department was waging an "open political war" with the White House on a range of key issues, including the U.S.-Israel relationship, the Iran portfolio, and other matters:
"The tensions have fueled an outstanding power battle between the West Wing and State Department that has handicapped the administration and resulted in scores of open positions failing to be filled with Trump confidantes. This has allowed former Obama administration appointees still at the State Department to continue running the show and formulating policy, where they have increasingly clashed with the White House's own agenda."
A veteran foreign policy analyst interviewed by the Free Beacon laid the blame squarely on Tillerson:
"Foggy Bottom [a metonym for the State Department] is still run by the same people who designed and implemented Obama's Middle East agenda. Tillerson was supposed to clean house, but he left half of them in place and he hid the other half in powerful positions all over the building. These are career staffers committed to preventing Trump from reversing what they created."
Notable holdovers from the Obama administration are now driving the State Department's Iran policy:
Michael Ratney, a top advisor to former Secretary of State John Kerry on Syria policy. Under the Trump administration, Ratney's role at the State Department has been expanded to include Israel and Palestine issues. Ratney, who was the U.S. Consul in Jerusalem between 2012 and 2015, oversaw $465,000 in U.S. grants to wage a smear to oust Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu from office in 2015 parliamentary elections, according to the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations. Ratney admitted to Senate investigators that he deleted emails containing information about the Obama administration's relationship with the group.
Thomas A. Shannon, Jr., a career foreign service officer who serves as Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs. Shannon, the State Department's fourth-ranking official, has warned that scrapping the Iran deal would lead to a nuclear arms race in the Middle East. "Any effort to step away from the deal would reopen a Pandora's box in that region that would be hard to close again," he said. His statement indicates that Shannon could be expected to lead efforts to resist any attempts to renege or renegotiate the deal; critics of the deal say that Iran's continued missile testing has given Trump one more reason to tear up his predecessor's deal with the Islamist regime.
Chris Backemeyer is now the highest-ranking official at the State Department for Iran policy. During the Obama administration, Backemeyer made his career by selling the Iran deal by persuading multinational corporations to do business with Iran as part of an effort to conclude the Iran nuclear deal.
atney, Shannon and Backemeyer, along with Tillerson, reportedly prevailed upon Trump twice to recertify the Iran nuclear deal. The Jerusalem Post explained:
Washington was briefly abuzz on the afternoon of July 17 when rumors began to circulate that President Trump was eager to declare that Iran was in breach of the conditions laid out in the 2015 Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act (INARA).
Those receptive antennas were further heightened given the previous signals sent. After all, the State Department already released talking points to reporters on the decision to recertify Iran. The Treasury Department also had a package of fresh sanctions on over a dozen Iranian individuals and entities ready to announce to appease the hawks who were eager to cut loose from the deal.
But Trump didn't want to recertify Iran, nor did he want to the last time around in April. That evening, a longtime Middle East analyst close to senior White House officials involved in the discussions described the scene to me: "Tillerson essentially told the president, 'we just aren't ready with our allies to decertify.' The president retorted, 'Isn't it your job to get our allies ready?' to which Tillerson said, 'Sorry sir, we're just not ready.'" According to this source, Secretary Tillerson pulled the same maneuver when it came to recertification in April by waiting until the last minute before finally admitting the State Department wasn't ready. On both occasions he simply offered something to the effect of, "We'll get 'em next time."
**Soeren Kern is a Senior Fellow at the New York-based Gatestone Institute.
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© 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

Islamic Rules in Danish Schools
Judith Bergman/Gatestone Institute/September 18/17
The Nord-Vest Private School in Copenhagen, came under investigation by Danish authorities during an unannounced visit after teaching materials were found extolling and encouraging young people to commit jihad. Luqman Pedersen, a Danish convert to Islam, admitted to the authorities that the school wishes to create a parallel Muslim society.
Two former teachers at the Nord-Vest school described how the children at the school spoke of Danes in terms of "them and us". In a school poetry contest, several of the children composed poems that detailed their wish to beat up and break the legs and hands of the "Danish pigs".
"I teach religion, but I was not allowed to teach Christianity. Instead, a visiting imam from Iraq taught Christianity... I could imagine that some of the boys I taught could have been radicalized," a teacher said. The teachers tried to alert both politicians and authorities to some of the problems they had witnessed, but no one would listen.
Some Muslim schools in Denmark appear to be employing anti-Semitic teachers, enforcing gender inequality, employing violence against students, offering poor education in general, and teaching jihad.
There are 26 Muslim schools in Denmark. While they operate independently of the public schools, the state sponsors them heavily -- as it does other independent schools in Denmark -- covering 75 % of their budget. The demand for Muslim schools in Denmark has grown in the last decade, as Muslim schools have increased their number of pupils by almost 50% since 2007; they now cater to almost 5,000 pupils. (It is unknown, however, how many Muslim children learn in the so-called "Koran schools," where Islam and Arabic are taught after school to those children who do not attend a Muslim day school. Koran schools -- as revealed in the Danish TV documentary "Sharia in Denmark") -- are not under any supervision from state or municipal authorities).
Danish educational authorities are currently investigating seven Muslim schools for failing to follow the laws of independent schools, including the requirement that they prepare the students for life in Danish society, and teaching them about democracy and gender equality. That amounts to more than one quarter of all Muslim schools. The first Muslim school opened in Denmark in 1980. Nearly forty years later, Danish politicians appear to be only beginning to comprehend or take seriously the challenges that several of these schools present to Danish society.
Danish news outlets exposed some of those challenges this summer:
The school leader at Al Quds School in Copenhagen, Waleed Houji, posted anti-Semitic images from the Muslim terrorist organization Hamas on his Facebook profile. A class teacher at that same school, Naji Dyndgaard, a convert, wrote anti-Semitic posts on Facebook.
Another school, the Iqra School, is being investigated by Danish school authorities for not preparing children to become part of Danish society. The school's former deputy leader, imam Shahid Mehdi, ran a website telling Muslims not to have non-Muslim friends. The school also told its students that having a boyfriend or girlfriend was forbidden.
The Nord-Vest Private School in Copenhagen came under investigation by Danish authorities during an unannounced visit after teaching materials were found extolling jihad and encouraging young people to wage it.
The school is also being investigated for the sale of its buildings to Ali Laibi Jabbar in December 2016 -- Jabbar is a leading member of the Almuntadar Muslim association in Malmö, Sweden, which is a part of Iranian Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani's organization, the Imam Ali foundation. Jabbar claims he only bought the buildings for investment purposes. At the beginning of September, the former leader of the school, Luqman Pedersen, a Danish convert to Islam, admitted to the authorities that the school wishes to create a parallel Muslim society; he also told them that the plan of the new buyer is to transform the buildings into an Islamic cultural center, which would include the school.
Two former teachers at the Nord-Vest school, Henriette Baden Hesselmann and Gitte Luttinen Ørnkow, described how the children at the school spoke of Danes in terms of "them and us". In a school poetry contest in 2008, several of the children composed poems that detailed their wish to beat up and break the legs and hands of the "Danish pigs". The former teachers described a school culture of intimidation and violence, with the head of the school board yelling at the students in Arabic and beating them. The former teachers added that all their students admitted that they were also beaten at home. The Jew-hatred was unmistakable, as the geography teacher discovered when he almost had to give up teaching a lesson about Israel due to the students' hostility. Another teacher was told not to draw stars in the children's books as a way of showing the children that they had done well, since the star was reminiscent of the Star of David. The girls were not allowed to participate in swimming lessons, sports, or music lessons.
One of the former teachers said:
"In general, large portions of the teaching were censored. I teach religion, but I was not allowed to teach Christianity. Instead, a visiting imam from Iraq taught Christianity... I could imagine that some of the boys I taught could have been radicalized."
The teachers tried to alert both politicians and authorities to some of the problems they had witnessed, but no one would listen.
Following these revelations, several Danish opposition parties, including the Social Democrats, now wish to outlaw Muslim schools completely. According to Mette Frederiksen, leader of the Social Democratic party:
"'s not a good idea with Muslim schools. When you are a child in Denmark, it is incredibly important that you grow up in Danish culture and Danish everyday life. No matter how you spin it, an independent school based on Islam is not part of the majority culture in Denmark... Nor do I like the lack of equality in schools and these very hateful words against our Jewish minorities. It emphasizes that we have parallel societies."
The government, however, is not enthusiastic; it says it fears that closing the schools would be unconstitutional and contravene the European Convention on Human Rights.
Mette Frederiksen, leader of Denmark's Social Democratic party, says "When you are a child in Denmark, it is incredibly important that you grow up in Danish culture and Danish everyday life... an independent school based on Islam is not part of the majority culture in Denmark... Nor do I like the lack of equality in schools and these very hateful words against our Jewish minorities." (Image source: News Oresund/Flickr)
**Judith Bergman is a columnist, lawyer and political analyst.
© 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 Iranians and Turks in Syria and Iraq

Radwan al-Sayed/Al Arabiya/September 18/17
The situation between Iran and Turkey reached its worse between 2014 and 2016. Before that, the two countries had disagreed over their stances towards Bashar al-Assad.
Ever since the revolution erupted in Syria, the two allies, Qatar and Turkey, who were friends with the Syrian president since 2004, voiced the importance of reform to Assad. Iran stood with Assad from the start and Russia did the same particularly following its negative experience with the West in Libya.
Between 2012 and 2013, the Iranians militarily intervened in Syria through Hezbollah. Things were no longer limited to providing experts for advice and help in operations rooms. The Turks and Qataris went ahead and supported the Brotherhood in Egypt and Syria and began to arm groups near Damascus and north of the country.
This disagreement over interests reached its peak when ISIS and al-Nusra emerged. The Iranians and Washington thus began to support the Kurds in Syria. The US did not do anything when the Kurdistan workers’ party settled in Sinjar. Turkish forces entered to areas around Mosul and said they will not allow Popular Mobilization forces to enter Tal Afar because there is a Turkmen minority there. Turkey’s rapprochement with Russia in north Syria and allowing it to defy Kurds and ISIS on its border with Syria mitigated Iranian-Turkish conflict
Anger and mistrust
Trade relations were not affected but mutual visits of Turkish and Iranian officials between 2014 and 2015 were charged with anger and mistrust. The scene then entirely changed when Russia intervened in Syria in 2014. After downing a Russian jet, Turkey had to reach a truce with Russia and it was pushed to do so due to the Russians’ anger and to the deterioration of relations with the US. Turkey’s rapprochement with Russia in north Syria and allowing it to defy the Kurds and ISIS on its border with Syria mitigated the Iranian-Turkish conflict. Moscow entered as a mediator between the two parties and pushed each to recognize the interests of the other party in Syria and Iraq. Russia also took both to the Astana meetings. They also held bilateral talks to discuss cooperation against terrorism and to discuss their fears of the American support of the Kurds in Syria and Iraq.
Practical cooperation between them appeared during the war in Aleppo. The Turks, who viewed Aleppo as their influence zone, had to negotiate with the Russians to withdraw gunmen from the city and its neighboring areas after most of the old town was destroyed. The Iranians were thus present alongside the Russians in North Syria on the Kurdish-Turkish borders. While negotiating the borders of influence in the Syrian east and north, the Turks realized that Iran’s relations with ISIS and al-Nusra are sometimes stronger than its own relations with the two groups. Turkey supported several armed organizations in the Syrian north and it’s concerned about the situation on its borders there. Meanwhile the Iranians are concerned about Syrian border areas with Iraq.
The war in Aleppo
The Russians and Iranians feared that the operation to seize Idlib and its towns – where al-Nusra is in control – will be launched amid the war in Aleppo. After the idea of the de-escalation zones was proposed, Russia and Iran urged Turkey to push al-Nusra out of Edleb.
When this did not work, Russia and Iran handed the matter over to Turkey, which recently announced that it will storm Edleb along with 20,000 Arab Syrian gunmen if it has to. Meanwhile, the Iranians went to help regime forces raid Deir az-Zour which is close to the Iraqi border. They are aided by Russian air force and the Americans’ shelling of Deir az-Zour and Raqqa. Iran and Turkey exploited terrorism or redirected its factions. And just like the Iranians willingly got ISIS and Al-Nusra out of Lebanon’s Jurud, the Turks may also willingly get Al-Nusra out of Edleb. The partnership is back between Iran and Turkey to prevent the Kurds from becoming independent in Syria and Iraq. They are cooperating so each can have its own influence zone as Iran wants one on Iraq’s borders and Turkey wants one on its borders.

Corporate governance: Doing the right thing is not easy

Dr. Mohamed A. Ramady/Al Arabiya/September 18/17
In recent years, we have had a parade of blue chip companies mired in scandals of one sort or another across a whole spectrum of industry and not from the usual banking sector everyone loves to bash.
These involved, to name but a few, Enron, Arthur Andersen, Tesco, Volkswagen, BP, Toshiba and now Samsung. What ties them all is corporate governance and a realization that their corporate culture needs to be reexamined unless they are destined for extinction like Enron and Arthur Anderson.
Given that Gulf countries are encouraging their own blue chip companies to go international, the issue of corporate governance is also important for the region’s big players to avoid future problems. It all starts with ‘corporate culture’, something very hard to define and maybe impossible to measure, but what is it that make seemingly decent corporate managers decide to bend the rules?
To simplify it, corporate culture is a collection of intangible and tangible factors that drive behavior in an organization and if the company leadership can define the explicit behavior it wants and embed them in their organizations then the risk of future crisis diminishes.
Constant compliance
In this way, constant compliance reminders become less of a problem because it is not something that is forced on employees, but instead there will be an instinct to do the right thing and that this is natural.
Many of us have worked with different organizations and we instinctively feel differences in corporate culture and what is deemed the right thing to do. This makes us sometimes uncomfortable to compare other corporate cultures and governance that we felt more at ease with, and leading to either successful acceptance of the new corporate culture or alienation.
Given that Gulf countries are encouraging their own blue chip companies to go international, the issue of corporate governance is also important for the region’s big players to avoid future problems
Corporate governance is normally good at asking questions of why things went wrong after the event and the immediate scramble of management is to try and find out what happened, who is to blame and find scapegoats.
This is natural, as organizations need to know what happened, learn lessons and bring those responsible to account, but establishing a corporate culture that is sustainable needs to ask the question about why they got there in this situation and answer the uncomfortable results with honesty.
This is often psychologically difficult for senior managers to do, as it will often mean that management was to some degree complicit in what went wrong.
Betraying company values
Sometimes overambitious employees take matters in their own hand and betray company values, like the VW emissions scandal, or it could be that ambitious management impose unreal targets on their employees who then worry what would happen to them if they do not meet these targets and end up not doing the right thing. The imposition of unrealistic performance targets on a stressed out work force is one of the classic factors leading to corporate scandals, and was a common theme in all the blue chip companies mentioned earlier. If the outcome is greater personal financial gain to senior management in terms of performance shares and bonuses, the issue then becomes worse and corporate governance loosens or those in charge of compliance start to turn a blind eye as was the case with accounting firm Arthur Anderson. Defining culture could start as being about behavior, and while culture cannot be measured, some type of behavior can and should be possible to define and differentiate behavior that is encouraged and those which are not acceptable.Behavior then is driven by values and corporations, irrespective of their industry, need to establish clear set of values that form the basis of their operating business model and inform their employees what is expected from them in approaching business decision making and behavior.
Higher goal values
Setting these higher goal values is a matter for the Board of Directors and embodying them and embedding them throughout the organization is the responsibility of the Chief Executive Officer. Having agreed the corporate values, the boards need to track the actual process of embedding them so they can see that what they have got as results is what they wanted.
To do this effectively, boards need to select and to really understand a whole range of indicators and measurements that will tell them about behavior and pre warn them when things are in danger of going wrong.
These indicators are ones that all companies have readily available such as exit interviews, whistleblowing reports, staff turnover and confidential employee surveys. Client feedback is also important, such as supplier satisfaction, customer satisfaction and adherence to payment deadlines for suppliers.
But sometimes these indicators might not tell the whole story. For example, a fall in whistleblower reporting might, on the surface indicate a happier work force when it might also indicate an atmosphere of reluctance by employees to take the risk and report wrongful activity and be blamed for doing so, leading to silence and not sticking their necks out when such events are happening.
Like-minded cronies
The composition of the guiding board of directors becomes essential in setting values. Are these composed of like-minded cronies and yes-men whose only qualification is that they are related to the owners or have indirect business association with each other, as seems to be the case of many Gulf companies today, although regulatory pressure is forcing many to change? How truly independent are these independent board members and who are nominated to chair powerful committees like audit and compliance? Following the spate of corporate scandals, the major listing bourses of the world are now insisting on independent board members. One must not forget that it takes decades to build up a brand that stands for honesty, integrity and high value, but that it takes a few moments of management greed and divergence from core values to set this back for a long time.

Amr Moussa’s book and his understanding of the region
Mashari Althaydi/Al Arabiya/September 18/17
Veteran Egyptian diplomat Amr Moussa recently published his first memoirs. The book stirred controversy and sparked political and media battles.
Moussa was an envoy and minister and also former chief of the Arab League. As he has occupied many positions, he knows a lot about the region’s secrets and he is actually a part of many such secrets.
He did not write his memoirs after decades of retirement as he has been active during Egypt’s recent developments when he headed the committee to draft a new constitution after the end of the Brotherhood’s and Mubarak’s rule. His memoirs angered some people, particularly Gamal Abdel Nasser’s supporters, and perhaps also Anwar al-Sadat’s supporters.
The Nasserists’ anger is usually fiercer though. They got angry because Moussa described President Abdel Nasser as a dictator who caused Egypt’s biggest political disaster, i.e. the 1967 defeat. Moussa also strongly refused to call this defeat a relapse. Moussa, who worked at the Egyptian embassy in Bern, also wrote that Abdel Nasser used to order special food from Switzerland.
He also commented on the popular protests held in support of Abdel Nasser after he stepped down, and said they were a charade. This statement specifically angered Abdel Nasser’s secretary Sami Sharaf who responded via MP Mustafa Bakri and challenged Moussa to prove his allegations.
Any Arab politician who writes his memoirs must be thanked for having done so, especially amid this darkness resulting from all the suspicion
Book launch
Moussa’s book launch was attended by prominent Egyptian diplomats such as Ahmed Abul Gheit and Mostafa El Feki. Here are excerpts of what Egyptian author Alaa Abdelhafez published in Almasry Alyoum.
-Sadat viewed himself as bigger than the entire Egyptian diplomacy
-Information conveyed to us through an Egyptian party stipulated that secret meetings were held between the Syrians and the Israelis in the Swiss capital of Bern
-If it hadn’t been for President Mubarak’s sudden action to propose voting on condemning the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait – during the emergency Arab League meeting on August 1990 – and if he hadn’t counted the votes himself then announced the result, the decision would not have been made and supporters of the Iraqi invasion would have organized themselves to prevent it.
We do not know if Moussa talked about his role in the Arab League, especially after Sheikh Zayed al-Nahyan’s initiative to get Saddam Hussein out of Iraq after the American invasion in 2003.
Any Arab politician who writes his memoirs must be thanked for having done so, especially amid this darkness resulting from all the suspicion. We wish this good habit spreads more in the Gulf. We will passionately read Moussa’s book “My testimony.”