September 24/17

Compiled & Prepared by: Elias Bejjani

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Bible Quotations For Today
The scribes and the Pharisees sat on Moses’ seat. All things therefore whatever they tell you to observe, observe and do, but don’t do their works; for they say, and don’t do
Matthew 23/01-12/:" Then Jesus spoke to the multitudes and to his disciples, saying, “The scribes and the Pharisees sat on Moses’ seat. All things therefore whatever they tell you to observe, observe and do, but don’t do their works; for they say, and don’t do. For they bind heavy burdens that are grievous to be borne, and lay them on men’s shoulders; but they themselves will not lift a finger to help them. But they do all their works to be seen by men. They make their phylacteries broad, enlarge the fringes† of their garments, and love the place of honor at feasts, the best seats in the synagogues, the salutations in the marketplaces, and to be called ‘Rabbi, Rabbi’ by men. But don’t you be called ‘Rabbi,’ for one is your teacher, the Christ, and all of you are brothers. Call no man on the earth your father, for one is your Father, he who is in heaven. Neither be called masters, for one is your master, the Christ. But he who is greatest among you will be your servant. Whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.

Question: "Why is it important to spend time alone with God?"
Answer: All relationships take time. A relationship with God, while unlike other relationships in many ways, still follows the rules of other relationships. The Bible is filled with comparisons to help us conceptualize our relationship with God. For example, Christ is depicted as the bridegroom, and the Church is depicted as the bride. Marriage is two joining their lives as one (Genesis 2:24). Such intimacy involves time spent alone with one another. Another relationship is that of father and child. Close parental relationships are those in which children and parents have special “alone time” together. Spending time alone with a loved one provides the opportunity to truly come to know that person. Spending time alone with God is no different. When we’re alone with God, we draw closer to Him and get to know Him in a different way than we do in group settings.
God desires “alone time” with us. He wants a personal relationship with us. He created us as individuals, “knitting” us in the womb (Psalm 139:13). God knows the intimate details of our lives, such as the number of hairs on our heads (Luke 12:7). He knows the sparrows individually, and “you are worth more than many sparrows” (Matthew 10:29, 31). He invites us to come to Him and know Him (Isaiah 1:18; Revelation 22:17; Song of Solomon 4:8). When we desire to know God intimately, we will seek Him early (Psalm 63:1) and spend time with Him. We will be like Mary, sitting at Jesus’ feet listening to His voice (Luke 10:39). We will hunger and thirst for righteousness, and we will be filled (Matthew 5:6).
Perhaps the best reason for us to spend time alone with God is to follow biblical examples. In the Old Testament, we see God call prophets to come to Him alone. Moses met with God alone at the burning bush and then on Mt. Sinai. David, whose many psalms reflect a confident familiarity with God, communed with Him while on the run from Saul (Psalm 57). God's presence passed by as Elijah was in the cave. In the New Testament, Jesus spent time alone with God (Matthew 14:13; Mark 1:35; Mark 6:45-46; Mark 14:32-34; Luke 4:42; Luke 5:16; Luke 6:12; Luke 9:18; John 6:15). Jesus actually instructed us to pray to God alone at times: “When you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen” (Matthew 6:6a).
To rely on Jesus as our vine (John 15:1-8), we will need to be directly, intimately connected to Him. Just as a branch is linked directly to the vine and, through the vine, connected to other branches, so we are linked directly to Christ and therefore share in a community. We spend time alone with God and in corporate worship for the best nourishment. Without time alone with God, we will find needs unmet; we will not truly know the abundant life He gives.
Spending time alone with God rids our minds of distraction so that we can focus on Him and hear His Word. Abiding in Him, we enjoy the intimacy to which He calls us and come to truly know Him.
Recommended Resource: Alone with God by John MacArthur
What's new on

Titles For Latest LCCC Bulletin analysis & editorials from miscellaneous sources published on September 23-24/17
Birth of a second Hezbollah? Where Iran stands in a post-war Syria/Shahir Shahidsaless/Middle East Eye/September 23/17
Lebanese President: Hezbollah Ensures Lebanon's Resistance Agaisnt Isreal/Jerusalem Post/September 23/17
Iran's New Ballistic Missile Is a Threat to the Entire Free World, Israel /Warns/Amos Harel and Reuters/September 23/2017
The Near East’s costly wrong bets/Eyad Abu Shakra/Al Arabiya/September 23/17
Partisans and deception of the naive/Ahmad al-Farraj/Al Arabiya/September 23/17
Kurdish Independence and the unheard Yazidi voice/Murad Ismael/Al Arabiya/September 23/17
On strange, ignorant fatwas/Mashari Althaydi/Al Arabiya/September 23/17
Teaching 50 million students through video-learning/Abdulrahman al-Rashed/Al Arabiya/September 23/17
Sweden: What You Won't See in This Book/Bruce Bawer/Gatestone Institute/September 23/17

Titles For Latest LCCC Lebanese Related News published on September 23-24/17
Hariri congratulates Saudi Arabia on its 87th National Day: LebaneseSaudi relations will not be affected by attempts to abuse the Kingdom's role and distort its image
Cabinet to Hold Emergency Session on Wage Scale after Hariri Contacts
Aoun to Le Figaro: Our strategy towards Syria is to maintain our borders and refrain from its internal political issues
Khalil: September Salaries Secured but Need Legal Coverage
Fenianos from Qbayat: There will be a Civil Aviation Authority in Lebanon, Qlay'at Airport works to be launched soon
Bassil from Las Vegas: We will not accept Syrian integration or resettlement
Riachy: Reconciliation is a strategic reservoir for Christians
General strike warning by Public Administration Staff on Monday
UNIFIL Welcomes Deployment of Additional Troops on Lebanon’s Southern Border
Birth of a second Hezbollah? Where Iran stands in a post-war Syria
Bassil-Muallem Meeting Deepens Lebanese Division on ‘Normalization’
Lebanese President: Hezbollah Ensures Lebanon's Resistance Agaisnt Isreal
Iran's New Ballistic Missile Is a Threat to the Entire Free World, Israel Warns

Titles For Latest LCCC Bulletin For Miscellaneous Reports And News published on September 23-24/17
Kurdish Referendum : Thinking, Not Threats
Henzel: US Values Longstanding Relationship with Saudi Arabia
Trump: ‘Not much’ of a nuclear deal after Iran tests missile
France ‘extremely concerned’ by Iran ballistic missile test
Iraqi Kurdish leader Barzani delays independence vote announcement
Three Kurdish fighters killed, five wounded in blast south of oil city Kirkuk
ISIS fighters films their own death on Go Pro camera at hands of Syrian regime
Details emerge on murder of Syrian opposition figure and her daughter
UAE Says Iran is Main Obstacle to Arab peace
Seven Countries Seek UN Council Meeting on Myanmar

Latest Lebanese Related News published on September 23-24/17
Hariri congratulates Saudi Arabia on its 87th National Day: LebaneseSaudi relations will not be affected by attempts to abuse the Kingdom's role and distort its image
Sat 23 Sep 2017/NNA - Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri congratulated Saturday the Saudi Monarch, government and people on Saudi Arabia's 87th National Day.  In a statement by the Saudi Press Agency (SPA), it indicated that PM Hariri hailed the role of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, King Salman Bin Abdul Aziz Al Saud, and Crown Prince, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Defense, Prince Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdul Aziz, in supporting Arab and Islamic causes. "The Kingdom has always been keen on supporting and assisting all the Lebanese without exception, so that Lebanon can overcome its crises and internal problems, and maintain its security and stability," stated Hariri.  "Relations between the two countries will not be affected by the attempts of some parties to abuse the role of the Kingdom and distort its image for known regional calculations," the Prime Minister asserted.
"Lebanese-Saudi bilateral relations have always been distinctive, brotherly and well-known. They reflect a unique model of interaction between two Arab brethren countries and mutual respect for the interests of their peoples," Hariri continued to emphasize. Praising the Kingdom's adopted measures against terrorism, Hariri valued its "wise and resolute policy under the leadership of King Salman bin Abdul Aziz Al Saud and His Royal Highness, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdul Aziz, which played a key role in combating the phenomenon of subversive terrorism, achieving tangible results not only within the Kingdom but also in many Arab countries through security and military coordination with these countries." "These actions, which were based on pre-emptive measures and continuous monitoring of the attempts to bomb, assassinate and target civilian and military installations, and the speedy manner in which security forces tracked down and prosecuted those involved in terrorist crimes and acts of violence, spared the Saudi people evil and damage," stated Hariri.  Touching on the Saudi government's "2030 Vision", PM Hariri deemed that "it reflects an advanced vision and a qualitative leap forward to modernize the Saudi economy in general, and to provide it with additional factors of production, without relying solely on oil resources." "This vision establishes a new stage in the Saudi economy in which many aspects of modern and strong global economies are consistent. Their effects have begun to appear in the steady growth of the Saudi economy compared to previous years, which promises optimistic results that should positively affect the standard of living of the Saudi people in general, and the renaissance of the whole Kingdom," Hariri underscored.

Cabinet to Hold Emergency Session on Wage Scale after Hariri Contacts

Naharnet/September 23/17/Intensive political contacts by Prime Minister Saad Hariri led to an agreement on holding an emergency cabinet session Monday at the Grand Serail to discuss the repercussions of the Constitutional Council's repeal of a tax law aimed at funding the new wage scale, the PM's office said on Friday. The office noted that Hariri had canceled all his meetings as of Friday afternoon to hold intensive talks over the Council's ruling. Earlier in the day, the Constitutional Council unanimously annulled the tax hike law aimed at funding the wage scale whose beneficiaries are civil servants and the armed forces. The ruling followed an appeal filed by 10 MPs led by Kataeb Party chief Sami Gemayel. “The decision will not affect the wage scale" and civil servants and the armed forces will receive their September salaries based on the new wages lists, a Council member told reporters. Asked about the sources to fund the salary scale, he said: “The government has heaps of money, it can manage.” The revoked taxes involved hiking the VAT tax from 10% to 11%, fines on seaside violations, and taxes on cement, administrative transactions, sea imports, lottery prizes, tobacco, alcohol, travel tickets, financial firms and banks. Authorities had argued that the new taxes were necessary to fund the new wage scale but opponents of such a move called for finding new revenues through putting an end to corruption and the waste of public money.

Aoun to Le Figaro: Our strategy towards Syria is to maintain our borders and refrain from its internal political issues

Sat 23 Sep 2017/NNA - President of the Republic, Michel Aoun, confirmed Saturday Lebanon's strategy in preserving its borders with Syria and staying away from its internal political affairs. In an interview to the French Newsdaily, Le Figaro, President Aoun indicated that "Lebanon has enjoyed stability throughout the war in Syria, despite the rising rhetorical tension triggered by some Lebanese politicians, and has succeeded in maintaining its national unity." "Efforts are underway to support the Lebanese army to protect all citizens," he added. Aoun reiterated the need for a rightful peace and finding a solution to the Palestinian issue, pointing herein to Israel's refusal of the two-state solution. "Lebanon is a Francophone country and we are proud of that," affirmed Aoun, disclosing that he would speak with French President Emmanuel Macaron on several issues and ask him to further boost the cultural, administrative and military cooperation between Lebanon and France.

Khalil: September Salaries Secured but Need Legal Coverage

Naharnet/September 23/17/After Lebanon's highest constitutional authority decided to annul a tax hike law which people fear could affect the wage scale law, Finance Minister Ali Hassan Khalil said on Saturday the amount of money to cover the public sector salaries for September is “ensured,” al-Joumhouria daily reported Saturday. “Funds needed to cover the salaries for September are ensured, but the disbursement needs legal coverage,” Abi Khalil told the daily in an interview. In that regard, the daily pointed out that a meeting will be held today at the Ministry of Finance, at 3 pm, and will be attended by representatives of all parliamentary blocs participating in the government. Ministerial sources told the daily on condition of anonymity that “there is no possibility of canceling the wage scale payment before September 25, which is the starting date for disbursement. When the new public sector wages are disbursed according to the new law, “this will put the political forces in front of two possibilities, either introduce amendments to the tax law, or introduce an urgent draft law to the parliament that includes suspension of the application of the wage scale for a month until the amendments are made and the tax law is approved,” they said. On Friday, the Constitutional Council unanimously annulled the tax hike law aimed at funding the wage scale whose beneficiaries are civil servants and the armed forces. The ruling followed an appeal filed by 10 MPs led by Kataeb Party chief Sami Gemayel. “The decision will not affect the wage scale" and civil servants and the armed forces will receive their September salaries based on the new wages lists, a Council member told reporters. Despite the assurance, the government still faces the threat of finding alternative sources to fund the scale law. After the Council's decision, intensive political contacts by Prime Minister Saad Hariri led to an agreement on holding an emergency cabinet session Monday at the Grand Serail to discuss the repercussions of the Constitutional Council's repeal of a tax law aimed at funding the new wage scale.

Fenianos from Qbayat: There will be a Civil Aviation Authority in Lebanon, Qlay'at Airport works to be launched soon

Sat 23 Sep 2017/NNA - Public Works and Transport Minister Youssef Fenianos disclosed Saturday that works on the Qlay'at Airport are to be launched soon, adding that there will be a Civil Aviation Authority in Lebanon. "Forming the Civil Aviation General Authority is the first step, while the second will take us all to the "Hajj Pilgrimage" from Qlay'at-President Rene Mouawad Airport, God willing," promised Fenianos. The Minister's words came during the reception held in his honor by North Akkar's Municipalities Union Head, Qbayat Municipality Head Abdo Makhoul Abdo, in presence of the region's prominent dignitaries and officials. Fenianos outlined the various projects that have been launched in Akkar, indicating that "the amount of money spent by the Public Works Ministry in Akkar to-date has reached 27 billion and 536 million Lebanese pounds distributed among various municipalities in the region."

Bassil from Las Vegas: We will not accept Syrian integration or resettlement
Sat 23 Sep 2017/NNA - Foreign Affairs and Expatriates Minister, Gebran Bassil, stressed Saturday that the Lebanese authority would never accept the integration of Syrians nor their settlement in Lebanon. "We will not accept their integration or resettlement. The Syrians are our brethrens, but their return to their country is their right and we will prevail in this confrontation for the benefit of Lebanon and the interests of the displaced themselves," vowed Bassil.  Speaking at a reception organized in his honor by the Free Patriotic Movement in Las Vegas, represented by the Lebanese-American Democratic Council, Bassil disclosed that his tour among Lebanese expatriate communities in North America "aims to unite efforts to prevent any project to resettle displaced or refugees in Lebanon." He added that the visit also aims to encourage expatriates to retrieve their Lebanese citizenship and to participate, for the first time, in the upcoming parliamentary elections. "Each time we restore the nationality to an authentic Lebanese, we ward off the ghosts of resettlement and its dangers from our country. In wake of the issued laws and decisions that facilitate the participation of expatriates in the elections, it has become the responsibility of expatriates to immensely partake in said elections," asserted Bassil.

Riachy: Reconciliation is a strategic reservoir for Christians

Sat 23 Sep 2017/Kanaan: Through a sound budget and proper financial accounts, we respect our Constitution and ensure people's interests
NNA - Partaking in a dialogue session organized by the Women's Committee in the town of Hrajel on Saturday, Information Minister Melhem Riachy and Free Patriotic Movement Secretary, MP Ibrahim Kanaan, tackled various political issues and the new parliamentary elections law. Referring to Saint John Paul II's quotation on "consensus being the basis for the civilization of kindness and peace," Minister Riachy deemed that "reconciliation efforts are the strategic reservoir for political work, and for Christians in the country." "Reconciliation is neither fleeting nor simple, but rather deeply-rooted in history, for it sprang from the basic desire of a people subjected to internal persecution. Reconciliation became a consideration for the martyrs, and for the sovereignty and dignity of Lebanon because it is the strategic path to the unity and partnership of the Lebanese," said Riachy. "Reconciliation is the restoration of Christians to be a true third force in Lebanon, and if it were not for reconciliation, unity of ranks would not have been achieved, nor would the vacuum have ended by electing a strong president," he emphasized. Over the parliamentary electoral law, Riachy indicated that "the vote law has secured new circumstances for representing various Lebanese parties, while preserving their differences' right." "Our aim in all cases is to secure an authority that stems from the people for their own interests and the protection of their rights," the Information Minister affirmed. For his part, MP Kanaan touched on the arising salary scale issue, considering that "the solution lies in having a sound budget and proper financial accounts, which would ensure the people's interests without further adding to their burdens." "The role of State officials is to come up with alternatives, especially that strengthening the public sector and granting citizens their rights require revenues," he added. "It is necessary to recall the position of the President of the Republic, and our stance from the outset, that the budget must precede the salary scale. Through a sound budget, we can determine our debts, revenues and funding possibilities away from any taxes," stated Kanaan.

General strike warning by Public Administration Staff on Monday
Sat 23 Sep 2017/ NNA - Public Administration Staff Association announced Saturday its general strike warning intended for upcoming Monday, demanding authorities to pay salaries according to the new salary scale. During its meeting, the Association discussed the implications of the decision of the Constitutional Council to overturn Law No. 45/2017. The Association stressed, in an issued statement, that "Laws No. 45 and No. 46 are separate laws, and the abolition of Law No. 45/2017 by the Constitutional Council does not nullify the effect of the salary scale Law No. 46/2017, which has been put into effect as of its date of issuance in the Official Gazette on August 21, 2017." In this context, the Association urged the Lebanese government, and the Finance Ministry in particular, to pay salaries of employees according to the new salary scale by the end September 2017, as previously announced by the Finance Minister.

UNIFIL Welcomes Deployment of Additional Troops on Lebanon’s Southern Border
Asharq Al-Awsat/September 23/17/Beirut- The Lebanese army has bolstered its forces south of the Litani River as its commander Gen. Joseph Aoun discussed with the head of the peacekeeping force enhanced coordinated activities.
A statement from the military leadership said there was a reinforcement of the army’s presence along the southern border to “confront the Israeli enemy and to maintain the area’s security and stability.”
Friday’s events coincided with a meeting between Aoun and United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) Commander Maj. Gen. Michael Beary in south Lebanon’s Naqoura.
During his visit to the UNIFIL headquarters, Aoun discussed with the UN mission’s leadership enhanced coordinated activities between the Lebanese army and UNIFIL in the area between the Litani River and the Blue Line in south Lebanon, a statement said.
Beary welcomed the visit and the deployment of additional forces in the area of operations. He emphasized the importance of strong collaboration between UNIFIL and the Lebanese army to respond to incidents and violations effectively and in a timely manner, the statement issued by the mission said.
He also congratulated Aoun for his leadership and the Lebanese army’s achievements in the recent military campaign in the northeastern parts of the country. He offered his deepest condolences on the losses suffered.
The Lebanese army and UNIFIL are strategic partners in implementing the mandated tasks under UN Security Council resolution 1701 (2006) and 2373 of 30 August 2017, which extended the mandate for another year.
UNIFIL and the army are working closely to further enhance coordinated efforts that have helped keep an unprecedented 11-years of stability in the area of operations.
Separately, Aoun met with US Special Operations Command Central (SOCCENT) Army Maj. Gen. Darsie Rogers.
Aoun and Rogers discussed bilateral ties between the nations’ armies and ways for the US to train Lebanese Special Forces regiments.

Birth of a second Hezbollah? Where Iran stands in a post-war Syria
Shahir Shahidsaless/Middle East Eye/Tuesday 19 September 2017
No matter what government is in power in Syria in the future, Iran has secured a strong paramilitary foothold and political presence in Israel's backyard
Shortly after the Iranian Revolution in 1979, the two regimes in Tehran and Damascus forged an enduring alliance that superseded the fundamental differences dividing the two states, including the debates of Arab versus Persian and secular versus Islamic.
What solidified the nascent alliance between the two states was a mutual threat posed by three daunting enemies
What solidified the nascent alliance between the two states was a mutual threat posed by three daunting enemies: Iraq, at the time ruled by Saddam Hussein, Israel, and the United States.
In 1980, Iraqi forces invaded Iran. During the war (1980-1988), Syria, then led by Hafez al-Assad, Bashar al-Assad’s father, was the only Arab country that stood by Iran.
In April 1982, in a glaring sign of support of Iran, Syria shut down the Kirkuk-Banias pipeline which had previously, at its peak, delivered 1.2 million barrels of Iraqi oil for export each day. The move left the Iraqis with only 650,000 barrels of crude exported each day.
Of course, Iran returned the favour, selling Syria heavily subsidised oil, a reciprocal act which continues until today.
Why is Syria vital to Iran?
A hostile position toward Israel is one of the pillars of Islamic Iran’s foreign policy. This enduring hostility has deep religious, historical, political, and socio-psychological roots.
In the 1980s, the Iranian Revolutionary Guards (IRGC) funded, organised, and trained Shia forces in Lebanon under the Hezbollah banner. The objective was three-fold: to change the balance of power in favour of the Shia community in Lebanon, to use Hezbollah as a deterrent force against Israel if it decided to begin a war against Iran, and to confront the unchallenged hegemony of Israel in its proximity.
The doctrine proved a success: in the 2006 asymmetric war between Israel and Hezbollah, the latter emerged as the only Arab military power who could counter Israeli aggression.
To provide weapons to Hezbollah, Syria became a vital corridor connecting Damascus to Tartous on the Mediterranean coast, which runs adjacent to the Lebanese border. Then came 2003.
As a result of a strategic American mistake involving Iran’s staunch foe, Iraq, Saddam Hussein’s regime collapsed. The mistake brought to power certain opposition Shia groups that were weaponised, trained and funded for years by Iran. This development suddenly expanded Iran’s sphere of influence and connected Tehran to Hezbollah in Lebanon through Iraq and Syria almost unobstructed.
Keeping Assad in place
Eight years later, as part of the pro-democracy upheavals in the Arab world, the so-called Arab Spring protests erupted in March 2011 in Syria. The uprising against the dictator, Bashar al-Assad, rapidly transformed into a bloody proxy war that drew in regional competitors and world powers.
Iran’s doctrine in Syria and Iraq is that 'if we don’t defend our strongholds outside of our borders we will have to fight our enemies inside our borders'
The Iranian ruling system was threatened not only by the rise of the brutal anti-Shia Islamic State (IS) group, but also by potentially losing Syria to its radical Sunni competitor, Saudi Arabia, which has reportedly, since the summer of 2013, been the main player financing and arming the rebels fighting Assad's regime. Assad’s collapse would have also have been a monumental blow to Iran’s strategic depth and thus its deterrent power against Israel.
Iran’s doctrine in Syria and Iraq is that "if we don’t defend our strongholds outside of our borders we will have to fight our enemies inside our borders”. Accordingly, Iran heavily invested in Syria. Staffan de Mistura, UN special envoy for Syria, has previously estimated that Iran spends $6bn annually in the Syrian war. According to IRGC officials, the largest Iranian contribution has been the organising of the National Defence Forces (NDF), a pro-government militia. According to several independent reports, at any given time, there are an estimated 50,000 National Defence Force fighters under arms in Syria.
In May 2014, Brigadier General Hossein Hamedani, who had reportedly supervised the funding for the NDF, said that Iran had organised roughly 70,000 pro-Assad NDF fighters into 42 groups and 128 battalions. Hamedani was killed near Aleppo in 2015.
In addition, numerous reports confirm that the Fatemiyoun Brigade - composed of thousands of Afghan Shias who fight under the auspices of Hezbollah Afghanistan, the Zaynabiyoun Brigade (the Pakistani version of Fatemiyoun), Hezbollah of Lebanon, and the militia group Kataib Hezbollah of Iraq - are actively involved in the Syrian war under the Iranian IRGC’s direct control.
A second Hezbollah?
Modelled after the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah and the experience of coordinating with proxy militias in Iraq, this large, battle-hardened paramilitary base in Syria will provide assurance to Iran by emerging as a decisive political force in Syria once the war is settled, no matter which government is in power as it happened in Lebanon and Iraq.
This simply means the birth of a second Hezbollah and an Iranian foothold right in Israel’s backyard with Syria.
It was against this backdrop that, at Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s request, Russian President Vladimir Putin met with him on 23 August. Speaking after his meeting with Putin, Netanyahu said Iran is trying to "Lebanonise" Syria and take the country over using Shia militias.
After Arsal: Hezbollah's new trianble of influence
According to several reports, Mossad intelligence agency chief Yossi Cohen provided Putin with “sensitive, credible and very disturbing detailed intelligence” regarding Iran’s military presence in Syria during the meeting. After the meeting, Netanyahu said that he told Putin “that Israel was willing to act to prevent a continued Iranian military presence in Syria”.
He added, “When we have done this in the past, we did not ask permission but provided an update on what our policy is. … The international community knows that when we say something, we also carry it out.”
Here to stay
But will Iran leave Syria after investing years of blood and resources in the country simply because of Israeli threats? Of course not.
According to Rami Abdurrahman, the head of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, “it is almost impossible to prevent Iran from achieving its goal, after it spent hundreds of millions of dollars and sent arms and fighters to help keep Assad in power … Iran's influence in Syria is unstoppable even if Bashar Assad leaves power because Iran has deep links and presence in Syria.”
Can Russia come to Israel’s aid and push Iran to leave Syria? Unlikely
Israel has carried out several hit-and-run strikes on Iran-backed forces and their caches of weapons and ammunition, but hasn't taken responsibility for most of the operationally limited attacks publicly.
A full-fledged war against Iran-backed forces in Syria could potentially expand to an all-out war between the two states. Iran, despite constant heated rhetoric against Israel, is extremely cautious and seeks to avoid such an outcome. So too with Israel, despite its tenacious saber-rattling against Iran.
Israel has serious limitations if it wants to go to war against Iran, according to Major General Yair Golan, who served as deputy chief of staff in the Israeli military until May 2017. “We cannot fight Iran alone,” he said during a speech at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy earlier this month. Israel, he added, would need the US military to confront Iran if hostilities broke out in the future.
As with its mastery of Lebanon and Iraq, Iranians will be a decisive political weight in the future of Syria with or without Bashar Assad.
Can Russia come to Israel’s aid and push Iran to leave Syria? Unlikely. Russia’s alliance with Iran under the geopolitical status quo, which is likely to perpetuate into the foreseeable future, is deep and strong. Among several other reasons, there is a powerful common interest: the two states fundamentally reject US hegemony.
- Shahir Shahidsaless is an Iranian-Canadian political analyst and freelance journalist writing about Iranian domestic and foreign affairs, the Middle East and US foreign policy in the region. He is the co-author of Iran and the United States: An Insider’s View on the Failed Past and the Road to Peace. He is a contributor to several websites with focus on the Middle East as well as the Huffington Post. He also regularly writes for BBC Persian. You can reach him at or follow him on Twitter @SShahisaless.

Bassil-Muallem Meeting Deepens Lebanese Division on ‘Normalization’
Asharq Al Awsat/September 23/17/Beirut- Lebanese Foreign Affairs Minister Jebran Bassil’s meeting with his Syrian counterpart Walid al-Muallem in New York has deepened divisions among Lebanon’s politicians and driven sharp criticism from some officials. Syrian Arab News Agency reported on Friday that the meeting, which had taken place on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly, tackled bilateral ties, including political and economic cooperation, as well as other fields. “Syrian-Lebanese relations are firm no matter how much some (sides) try to put obstacles in their way,” SANA quoted Muallem as saying. He also tackled some developments in the field of combating terrorism, the Astana process and the de-escalation zones, stressing that Syria will go ahead in fighting terror. For his part, Bassil highlighted the importance of relations and coordination between Syria and Lebanon in various fields, SANA said. He pointed out that the positive developments witnessed in the Syrian battlefield and the victories of the Syrian army over terrorism will force those taking a negative stance from Syria to reconsider their position. Lebanese Forces head Samir Geagea was among the first to react to SANA’s report, saying “When the refugees know that their return depends on coordination with Bashar Assad’s regime, they will not return because it was Assad himself who displaced them.”High-ranking officials in the Future parliamentary bloc also did not shy away from expressing annoyance from Bassil’s move, although they seemed to express understanding with his step out of their “keenness to their relationship with the Lebanese president and to preserve the government’ stability.”“What we warned against – falling in the lap of the Syrian regime that is labeled with crimes and eradication of its people – began to come to fruition,” Democratic Gathering MP Akram Chehayeb said in a statement, adding that the Syrian regime is also responsible for the refugee crisis in Lebanon. “The photo that media outlets are circulating on the meeting with the foreign minister of the criminal regime in Damascus doesn’t align with working towards national unity, which we have called for and that we are working for,” Chehayeb added. Recent calls for the normalization of relations between Lebanon and the Assad regime on several issues have drawn criticism from various sides.

Lebanese President: Hezbollah Ensures Lebanon's Resistance Agaisnt Isreal
جيرازولم بوست: عون:حزب الله يؤمن المقاومة ضد إسرائيل
Jerusalem Post/September 23/17
Lebanese President Michel Aoun has dismissed claims that Hezbollah should be disarmed as long as Israel “fails to respect” UN resolutions and international law.
The terrorist organization ensures Lebanon’s “resistance against the State of Israel,” he said in an interview published Friday by French daily Le Figaro, in which he defended his close relations with Hezbollah, which played a major role in his election as president in 2016.
After securing the backing of Hezbollah, 82-year-old Aoun filled a power vacuum left by a deadlock that paralyzed Lebanese politics for two-and-a-half-years, following the departure of former president Michel Suleiman.
“This wasn’t an alliance [with Hezbollah] but rather an agreement,” said Aoun. “Thanks to the agreement, we have been able to avoid civil war in Lebanon. I sincerely believe that I have saved the Lebanese state.
“[As a result], Hezbollah has altered its political stance and has respected Lebanese sovereignty,” Aoun told Le Figaro. “Nasrallah has said as much in an address: Hezbollah has renounced its project to install an ‘Islamic Republic’ in Lebanon.”
People carry a Hezbollah flag with a picture of newly appointed Lebanese President Michel Aoun stuck on it, in the Haret Hreik area, southern suburbs of
Lebanon’s 16-year civil war was finally brought to an end in 1990 with the Taif Agreement, requiring the “disbanding of all Lebanese and non-Lebanese militias.” Hezbollah, however, was permitted to keep its weaponry with Syrian forces in control of South Lebanon.
Aoun dismissed the claim that Hezbollah should follow a process of disarmament like all other Lebanese militias.
“Hezbollah are not using their weapons in internal politics. They only ensure our resistance against the State of Israel, which continues to occupy part of our territory and which refuses to apply UN resolutions regarding the Palestinians’ right to return,” Aoun said.
“You cannot disarm Hezbollah at the same time that Israel fails to respect UN Security Council resolutions,” added Aoun. “Israel would have the right to wage war whenever it wants at the same time that others would be deprived of their right to weapons to defend themselves? No, it’s not possible.”
Aoun, a Maronite Christian, was asked whether Lebanese Christians should also be armed to ensure self-defense at a time when Christians are being persecuted in nearby countries.
He rejected such a scenario, saying: “We reinforce the army to protect the entire country, including its Christians. Peace must be founded on law and a solution to the Palestinian issue.”
The Lebanese president also rejected concerns over Hezbollah’s July 2006 conduct, when its cross-border infiltration and attack on an IDF patrol led to the Second Lebanon War.
“It’s a classic border incident which escalated due to an Israeli overreaction,” said Aoun. “You’ll say that Hezbollah violated territory that day – it’s possible. But these types of incidents happen very frequently. A few days ago, Israeli fighter jets broke the sound barrier above [Lebanese territory], violating our airspace and shattering glass everywhere.”
In 2006, Aoun signed a formal memorandum of understanding between his Free Patriotic Movement party and Hezbollah. Yet Aoun, when asked by Le Figaro, rejected having any “direct contacts” with Hezbollah Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah since his election win.
In remarks made after the election, largely aimed at his Hezbollah backers, Aoun vowed to “liberate the remainder of our lands from the Israeli occupation.”
Aoun has, however, publicly praised Hezbollah’s role in Lebanon since assuming the presidency, openly stating in February that the terrorist group fills a void in the south of the country.
“Hezbollah weapons are not contradictory to the state, but are an essential part in defending the country,” Aoun told the Egyptian TV network CBC. “As long as a part of the territory is occupied by Israel, and as long as the army is not powerful enough to fight Israel, we feel the need to maintain the weapons of the resistance to complement the army.”
Aoun’s comments were subsequently condemned by the UN Special Coordinator for Lebanon Sigrid Kaag, who warned that UN Resolution 1701 prohibits Lebanon from arming non-state actors.
“UN Resolution 1701 is vital for Lebanon’s stability and security. The resolution calls for disarmament of all armed groups. No arms outside control of state,” Kaag wrote on Twitter.
During the Second Lebanon War, approximately 4,000 rockets were fired by Hezbollah at Israeli civilian centers. Today, the Lebanese Shi’ite terrorist group, which has spent recent years fighting alongside Assad’s forces in the Syrian civil war, is believed to possess over 100,000 rockets and missiles.

Iran's New Ballistic Missile Is a Threat to the Entire Free World, Israel Warns/هأرتس: إسرائيل تحذر من أن الصواريخ الإيرانية هي تهديد لكل العالم الحر
Amos Harel and Reuters September 23/2017
'Just imagine what would happen if Iran managed to get nuclear weapons,' Defense Minister Lieberman says after Iran tests new missile that can reach Israel
. Iran's new ballistic missile – that can reach most parts of the Middle East, including Israel – is a threat to the entire free world, Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman said Saturday, in the first Israeli response to the Iranian test launch.
Iran successfully tested a new ballistic missile with a range of 2,000 km (1,200 miles) which it displayed at a military parade on Friday, state media reported on Saturday.
"The ballistic missile Iran fired today is not just a provocation against the U.S. and its allies, including Israel, and an attempt to test them. It is also more proof of Iran's desire to turn into a world power and threaten not just nations in the Middle East, but also all the countries in the free world," Lieberman said.
"Just imagine what would happen if Iran managed to get nuclear weapons. That's what it's striving for. We must not let that happen," he added.
The test-firing of the Khorramshahr missile, which Iran said could carry several warheads, is also likely to raise concerns in Washington. 
State broadcaster IRIB carried footage of the missile test without giving its time and location, including video from an on-board camera which it said showed the detachment of the cone that carries multiple warheads. 
"You are seeing images of the successful test of the Khorramshahr ballistic missile with a range of 2,000 km, the latest missile of our country," state television said. 
"This is the third Iranian missile with a range of 2,000 km," it added. 
The Khorramshahr missile was first displayed at a military parade on Friday, where President Hassan Rouhani said Iran would strengthen its missile capabilities without seeking any country's permission. 
At the UN General Assembly on Tuesday, Trump said Iran was building its missile capability and accused it of exporting violence to Yemen, Syria and other parts of the Middle East. 
He also criticised the 2015 pact that the United States and other world powers struck with Iran under which Tehran agreed to restrict its nuclear programme in return for relief from economic sanctions. 
The United States has imposed unilateral sanctions against Iran, saying Tehran's ballistic missile tests violated a UN resolution that endorsed the nuclear deal and called on Tehran not to undertake activities related to ballistic missiles capable of delivering nuclear weapons. 

Latest LCCC Bulletin For Miscellaneous Reports And News published on September 23-24/17
Kurdish Referendum : Thinking, Not Threats
Robert Ford/Asharq Al Awsat/September 23/17
I was the head of the political office at the American Embassy in Baghdad in 2005 during the long, difficult negotiations between Iraqi political leaders about the new Iraqi constitution. The negotiations centered on issues like decentralization, accountability and respect for human rights, and the powers of the executive branch, the legislature and the judicial institutions. Often the negotiations reached dead ends and the top political leaders, such as Masud Barzani, Jalal Talabani, Tariq Hashemi, Abdelaziz Hakim and Ibrahim Jaaferi had to meet to make difficult compromises. The Americans were urging Masud Barzani to accept compromises and for Iraqi Kurdistan to be part of a federal Iraq. Barzani is a tough negotiator; his family and his people suffered a lot in Baathist Iraq. He finally answered us clearly in October 2005: if the Baghdad central government respects the new constitution, the Kurdish regional government will remain in a united Iraq. He was very clear about the conditional agreement in 2005.Twelve years later Baghdad officials have not respected key obligations of the Iraq constitution. The parliament, which has a majority from Shia Islamist parties, has not passed a law as required (Constitution article 65) to establish a second house in the parliament that would represent governorates and regions. The Baghdad government has not passed a law to establish a national supreme court (article 92) nor the law to govern the intelligence service as required (article 84). The Constitution also requires (article 80) that top military officers receive approval of the Council of Representatives. In reality, prime ministers appoint them without any approval of the council of representatives. The Constitution also forbids (article 9) militias but the government is paying the Hashd ash-Shaabi and the militias are often political which is also a violation of article 9. It is interesting to note that the Kurds won recognition in the 2005 talks for their Kurdish security force, the Peshmerga in article 121(5). The oil dispute between Baghdad and Erbil is legally complicated and politically tough. The constitution article 112 gives both parties a role, but they still haven’t negotiated about how to manage the oil sector. I remember that in 2005 the Kurdish political leaders were nervous that the Baghdad government under Prime Minister Jaaferi and a Shia majority parliament would not respect all the constitution obligations. The American government promised it would help ensure the Constitution was respected. We said, for example, that we would help Iraqis find a way to solve the issue of disputed territories and Kirkuk; article 140 of the constitution requires a referendum in the disputed territories by 2007 but there the referendum was never held. In 2009 the Americans had a perfect chance to help Iraqis find a solution. The new ambassador then, Christopher Hill, was an experienced negotiator who had helped negotiations to settle the civil war in Bosnia. There were thousands of American soldiers in the area of the disputed territories that could have helped Hill’s effort. Instead, the Americans did nothing about articles 112 and 140 and now in 2017 Kirkuk and oil are big disputes.
In 2010 Vice President Joe Biden urged Barzani to support Maliki’s second mandate as prime minister. Washington pledged to help ensure respect for the Constitution and a power-sharing deal between Maliki, the Kurds and the Sunni Arabs. This agreement of 19 points included solving article 140 procedures and also was supposed to define how the council of ministers reaches its decisions with the prime minister as required by the Constitution (article 85 still not implemented). Maliki violated major elements of that deal and the violations of human rights and democratic procedures helped ISIS grow. The Americans were silent in 2012 and 2013 and only put serious pressure on Maliki after ISIS began its march in the spring of 2014. And in 2014 again Washington helped create a deal between Baghdad and the Iraqi Kurdish leadership for power-sharing in order to win Kurdish votes for Prime Minister Abadi. And again the deal was broken; article 85 still isn’t implemented. And the council of representatives with its Shia Islamist majority last week tried to fire the governor of Kirkuk even though the constitution does not give them this authority.
On September 20 Washington strongly denounced the Kurdish referendum and said that Barzani and the Kurds should instead accept a new process sponsored by the Americans and the United Nations to resolve the constitution questions and Kurdish demands. It’s not the first time the Kurds have heard this. We will see if Barzani makes a last-minute retreat. The position of Turkey, which is Erbil’s biggest economic partner and which has troops on the Kurdish border, is more important to Kurdish thinking than more American promises. It will be important to remember that if there is a positive referendum vote, the Kurdish Region Government is not yet independent. Instead, Erbil and Baghdad need to think about channels of communication and next steps. And Ankara and Teheran will have the time for their words too. It will be important for everyone to use calm words and thinking, not anger and threats.

Henzel: US Values Longstanding Relationship with Saudi Arabia

Asharq Al-Awsat/September 23/17/Riyadh- Christopher Henzel, chargé d’affaires of the US Embassy in Riyadh, has congratulated the Saudi leadership and the people on the occasion of Saudi Arabia’s national day.
“On behalf of the United States of America, and all my colleagues here at the Embassy and our Consulates in Jeddah and Dhahran, I extend our congratulations to the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman, Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman, and the people of Saudi Arabia on your national day,” said Henzel. “The United States values our longstanding relationship with Saudi Arabia, and we will continue to work together long into the future. The friendship our two countries enjoy continues to grow as we expand our partnerships across a variety of fields. Saudis and Americans are working side-by-side to harness new sources of energy, treat emerging diseases, collaborate on business opportunities, and explore the limits of outer space. We will continue to look for new opportunities as the United States supports the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030 process,” he said.
“Our militaries have a strong partnership, and we continue to cooperate in the region to defeat terrorism, cut of terrorist funding, and combat extremist ideology to ensure both our countries can live in peace and security. This mutual interest in regional security and stability has been at the heart of our relations for over 80 years and will continue as we confront new global challenges together,” the diplomat stated. “Saudi Arabia also continues to play an increasing role on the world stage,” he said. Henzel stressed that his country “is grateful that thousands of Saudi students choose American universities each year to prepare themselves to be successful in the future. Their study demonstrates the strong bond between the people of our two countries at every level, from our senior leaders to the next generation of entrepreneurs, educators, and civil servants.”

Trump: ‘Not much’ of a nuclear deal after Iran tests missile
AFP, Washington/Sunday, 24 September 2017/Iran’s test launch of new medium-range missile calls into question a landmark nuclear deal with the United States and other world powers, President Donald Trump said Saturday, while also accusing the Islamic republic of colluding with North Korea. “Iran just test-fired a Ballistic Missile capable of reaching Israel. They are also working with North Korea. Not much of an agreement we have!” Trump tweeted. The nose cone of the missile has a range of 1,250 miles (2,000 kilometers) and can carry multiple warheads. The test comes at the end of a heated week of diplomacy at the UN General Assembly in New York, where Trump again accused Iran of destabilizing the Middle East, calling it a “rogue state whose chief exports are violence, bloodshed and chaos.”
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Iran just test-fired a Ballistic Missile capable of reaching Israel.They are also working with North Korea.Not much of an agreement we have!
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Previous Iranian missile launches have triggered US sanctions and accusations that they violate the spirit of the 2015 nuclear deal between Tehran and major powers. The US president has threatened to declare Iran to be in breach of the 2015 deal unless it is expanded to punish Iran for pursuing a ballistic missile program and for sponsoring foreign militant groups. On October 15, Trump is due to tell the US Congress whether he is ready to recertify Iran’s compliance with the 2015 deal. If he refuses to do so, it could open the door to renewed US sanctions and the collapse of the deal.

France ‘extremely concerned’ by Iran ballistic missile test
Reuters, New York/Sunday, 24 September 2017/France said on Saturday it was extremely concerned by Iran’s ballistic missile test and called on UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres to carry out a full report on the launch.“France asks that Iran cease all destabilizing activity in the region,” Foreign ministry spokeswoman Agnes Romatet-Espagne said in a statement. “(France) will consider with its partners, notably European, the means to obtain from Iran the cessation of its destabilizing ballistic activities.”Most UN sanctions were lifted 18 months ago under a deal Iran made with key world powers to curb its nuclear program. But Iran is still subject to an arms embargo and other restrictions, which are not technically part of the nuclear agreement. Guterres reports every six months to the UN Security Council on the implementation of the remaining sanctions and restrictions. Iran said on Saturday it had successfully tested a new ballistic missile with a range of 2,000 km (1,200 miles) and would keep developing its arsenal, despite US pressure to stop.

Iraqi Kurdish leader Barzani delays independence vote announcement
AFP, ErbilSaturday, 23 September 2017/Iraqi Kurdish leader Massud Barzani on Saturday delayed a scheduled news conference on a controversial independence referendum he has called for next week as international pressure mounts for a postponement. There has been uncertainty about whether the vote will go ahead on Monday as Iraq’s key allies the United States and Iran, as well as powerful neighbor Turkey, have stepped up their opposition. “The news conference will take place on Sunday and the time and venue will be announced later,” Barzani’s office said without elaborating. On Friday, the Iraqi Kurdish leader had insisted that the vote would be held as planned, despite a warning from the UN Security Council that it was “potentially destabilizing.”“The referendum is no longer in my hands, nor is it in those of the (political) parties -- it is in your hands,” Barzani told a large crowd at a football stadium in Arbil, capital of the autonomous Kurdish region. But behind the scenes negotiations are still taking place aimed at persuading Barzani to postpone any referendum, according to officials close to the discussions. Iran and Turkey both have sizeable Kurdish populations of their own and fear the vote will stoke separatist aspirations at home. The federal government in Baghdad is also opposed to the referendum, which it has called unconstitutional. On Thursday, the UN Security Council urged “dialogue and compromise” to address differences between the Iraqi government and the regional authorities.
It also said the vote could weaken the military campaign against ISIS “in which Kurdish forces have played a critical role.”Baghdad this week launched offensives to oust ISIS from the last two pockets it controls in Iraq.

Three Kurdish fighters killed, five wounded in blast south of oil city Kirkuk

Three Kurdish Peshmerga fighters were killed and five wounded on Saturday when an explosive device blew up near their vehicle south of the Iraqi oil city of Kirkuk. (AFP) Reuters, Erbil, IraqSunday, 24 September 2017/Three Kurdish Peshmerga fighters were killed and five wounded on Saturday when an explosive device blew up near their vehicle south of the Iraqi oil city of Kirkuk, security sources said. The explosion happened in Daquq, a region bordering ISIS-held areas, the sources said. It took place as the Kurdistan Regional Government prepares for a referendum on Monday on independence for the region under its control in northern Iraq, including Kirkuk, a multi-ethnic region also claimed by the central government in Baghdad.

ISIS fighters films their own death on Go Pro camera at hands of Syrian regime

Staff writer, Al Arabiya EnglishSaturday, 23 September 2017/A video appeared last week showing the moment of three ISIS fighters were blown up after being attacked by a Syrian regime tank. The video was reportedly recorded using a Go Pro camera, which was found after the demolition of the armored military vehicles belongs to the militias by the Syrian Regime forces and the Lebanese Hezbollah and were in use by ISIS. ISIS fighters appeared on the back of the armored vehicle with a submachine gun, before they realize the Syrian regime army tank fast approaching them. ISIS extremists have been known to train in the manufacture of armored vehicles and have been using them as cover in attacking and invading operations, as well as during suicide bombing missions. It appeared in the video that two of the ISIS fighters were on the top of the armored vehicle and were issuing orders to a third militant who was driving the vehicle. In the next moment, they were asking for assistance from anti-tank units through their radio. At the end of the video, a huge explosion threw them out after being directly targeted with a bomb from the Syrian regime tank.

Details emerge on murder of Syrian opposition figure and her daughter
By Staff Writer, Al Saturday, 23 September 2017/New details on the murder of Orouba Barakat and her daughter Hala in Istanbul have emerged among Syrian activists on Friday evening. Barakat and Hala were stabbed to death. Turkish police found their bodies in their apartment in Istanbul’s area of Uskudar. The police, however, has not issued any information about the murder yet. Syrian sources from Istanbul said that the victims most likely knew their killer or killers. This is deduced because their place of residence showed no signs of a break-in. New details reveal that the perpetrators deliberately knocked on the door in a conventional manner, then entered and strangled Barakat and Hala. Following the break-in, they stabbed the women with a knife. After concluding their murder spree, they poured detergent liquid over their bodies to prevent any smell from exposing them and their crime before securing a hideout. When Orouba’s sister, Shaza Barakat, accused the Syrian regime of assassinating Orouba, some Syrian activistis pointed out that it may be possible that the culprits are members of the Muslim Brotherhood. The activists believe so because Orouba was very critical of the Brotherhood’s actions and approaches to the Syrian case. Orouba is a Syrian activist who opposed the Assad regime. She was a member of the opposition national council and was a well-known as a supporter of the revolution and as a critic of opposition institutions. Her daughter Hala was a journalist in the Syrian Orient institution.

UAE Says Iran is Main Obstacle to Arab peace
Associated Press/Naharnet/September 23/17/The foreign minister of the United Arab Emirates says Iran's "hostile and expansionist policy" is the major obstacle to solving all crises in the Arab world. Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan accused Iran of interfering in the internal affairs of other countries and supporting "terrorist groups," including Shiite Houthi rebels in Yemen and Hizbullah, the Lebanese group fighting alongside Syrian government forces. He told the U.N. General Assembly's annual ministerial meeting on Friday that Iran is also supporting "terrorist groups and cells" in Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Kuwait. Al Nahyan said "Iran has not only committed blatant violations of the principles of sovereignty, but also continues to exploit the crises in the Arab world to undermine regional security by inciting and fueling conflict." He said Iran must realize that the best basis "for a harmonious relationship with the states in the Arab Gulf" is to respect the sovereignty of countries in the region. The UAE along with Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Bahrain cut all ties to Qatar in June, accusing it of supporting extremism and being soft on Iran. The Emirati minister told the General Assembly: "We have a clear choice with no alternative: to stand against terrorism in all manifestations and to stand against all perpetrators without exception."

Seven Countries Seek UN Council Meeting on Myanmar

Agence France Presse/Naharnet/September 23/17/France, Britain, the United States and four other countries have asked the UN Security Council to meet next week to discuss the ongoing violence in Myanmar, according to a request seen by AFP on Friday. The seven countries including Egypt, Kazakhstan, Senegal and Sweden want UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres to brief the council on Myanmar's military campaign against Rohingya Muslims in Rakhine state. The Ethiopian presidency of the council said it was holding consultations to set a time for the meeting. The United Nations says more than 420,000 Rohingya have fled for safety to Bangladesh in the face of the army campaign in Rakhine that includes rape and the burning of villages. The military operation was sparked by attacks carried out by Rohingya militants on police posts on August 25. The Security Council has called for an end to the violence but rights organizations have said the exodus has continued, fueling international outrage. The United Nations has described the military operation as "ethnic cleansing" and French President Emmanuel Macron went further, describing it as "genocide."

Latest LCCC Bulletin analysis & editorials from miscellaneous sources published on September 23-24/17
The Near East’s costly wrong bets

Eyad Abu Shakra/Al Arabiya/September 23/17
As uncertainty engulfs a bleeding Near East, besieged by regional and global powers each pursuing its own agenda, dormant ambitions and sensitivities are waking up and finding the current situation suitable to express themselves. To begin, such dormant ambitions and suppressed sensitivities would have never emerged had it not been for the huge regional disorder and radical change of international balance of power. It is true that domestic consensus towards ‘national’ identities and boundaries is not guaranteed these days, even in western democracies that values human rights – as the Scots and Catalan nationalists seek to secede from the UK and Spain, respectively, through the ballot box – yet internal instability remains a sure prerequisite to animosities and partition as we witness in Iraq and Syria.
Without dwelling too much on history, be it true or not quite true, it is obvious that there is a close relationship between loyalties on one side and interests on the other. Under multi-ethnic empires such as the Ottoman Empire, which ruled the Arab Near East for four centuries, many oriental constituent ethnicities accepted interaction, coexistence and intermarriage, and thus many Arabs became ‘Turkified’ while many Kurds, Syriacs and Chaldeans were ‘Arabised’. Those days, pragmatic interests necessitated interaction and coexistence, even assimilation. Moreover, internal migrations, as well as population exchange sometimes, became almost common phenomena within that great political, social and economic space. So when some constituent ethnicities or sects appear as if they are “correcting” the mistakes of the past or “avenging’ old injustices, they are not really doing that because they are necessarily braver or more decisive than their predecessors, but because times have changed, and they may allow them now to get away with what was impossible to in the past. Some proponents of ‘political Shi’ism’ who are now openly calling to avenge the murders of the ‘Talebis’ (the descendants of the fourth caliph Ali Ibn Abi Taleb) and “reclaim the legitimacy” of government in the Muslim world in favour of the ‘Mullahs’ of Iran against the (Sunni) descendants from the House of Omayya. This would have not been possible had it not been for the active support of Tehran and the west’s turning a blind eye to its plans for regional hegemony and acquiring nuclear capabilities.
Emergence of ISIS
Others among religious minorities – namely, Christian – were hard pushed to openly welcome foreign protection had it not been for the emergence of ISIS, an extremist sanguinary and dubious phenomenon. ISIS’ atrocities have actually managed to divert the attention away from plans for hegemony and “revenge” carried out by Iran and its subordinate henchmen; and thus we see these minorities not only convinced of the need for foreign protection but also for building an “alliance of minorities” too! Then, there are large ethnic and linguistic minorities, like the Kurds, who discovered that they are enjoying a unique opportunity to establish their unfulfilled dream of a ‘nation-state’ over the ever-expanding territories they now control, and claim as their own. The Kurds may have genuine grievances that would tempt some of their extremists to risk open animosities with the Turks and Iranians – whom the Kurds have long accused of discriminating against them -, as well as the Arabs, led in recent decades by regimes that combined chauvinist discourse with tribal structure.However, the Kurds, themselves, are not totally blame-free from discriminating against others. Indeed, it could be argued that what they perpetrated against the Assyrians and Chaldeans early in the 20th century in northern Iraq and Hakkari Mountains may be regarded as “ethnic cleansing”. Furthermore, the arrogant attitude currently adopted by some Kurdish leaders in several ‘mixed areas’ in northern Iraq, like Kirkuk, Tal Afar and the villages and towns of Nineveh plain, as well as large areas in northern Syria, specifically, in the provinces of al-Hassakah, Al-Raqqah and Aleppo, does not augur well for a future free of hatred and bad blood.
Here lies the real challenge. Here it is very important to realize the dangers of adventures, opportunism, burning boats and over-reliance on foreign promises of support. This is risky not only for religious, sectarian and ethnic minorities in the Arab Near East, but also for the religious and sectarian majority too.
The mere presence of a phenomenon like ISIS is a symptom of a dangerous crisis in both the Arab and Muslim Worlds. Past experiences and lessons of history have taught us that moderation and openness were always signs of periods of renaissance and ascendancy, while extremism and intolerance were signs of weakness, decay and internal division. Terrorism and indiscriminate murder also reflect a failure to understand the world, and to take into account the repercussions of such heinous actions. Obviously, the outcome for all to see throughout the Arab and Muslim Worlds today is the retreat of intelligent dialogue and broad agreements in the face of violent and exclusionist mob rhetoric. Given the above, the greatest fear is that the worst may still to come, and the heavy price paid already may not be enough. In fact, this background provided the excuse for former US president Barack Obama to sign the nuclear treaty (JCPOA) with Iran’s rulers after describing them as “not suicidal”, and the veil Western powers hid behind as they conspired against the uprising of the Syrian people.
Still, there is no guarantee the current situation is permanent. Sooner or later Iran’s exploitation of and investing in ISIS will end, more so in the light of accelerating international military involvement in Iraq and Syria. Then, there are too many contradictions between competing regional plans which hope to sell the bear’s fur before hunting it! In northern Iraq there are danger signs of potential confrontation between the pro-Iran ‘Popular Mobilisation Forces’ (MDF) and pro-independence Kurds. This is natural as it is quite unlikely that Iran, which has its own secessionist Kurds, would be happy to see an independent Kurdish state on its western borders north of an Iraq that Iran had subdued and destroyed. The picture is not much different in Syria where Washington has encouraged secessionist Kurds – under the pretext of fighting ISIS – to establish their own mini-state along the Syrian-Turkish borders. This has been done with Washington’s full awareness that Turkey is the country in which lives almost half of the total the Kurdish population of the Middle East. Thus, much of what becomes of the Kurds depends on Washington’s and Moscow’s overall visions for the Near East in the foreseeable future. As for what the Shiites would achieve, along with their erstwhile Alawi extension in Syria, much depends on Moscow’s regional strategy and Washington’s reaction to it.

Partisans and deception of the naive
Ahmad al-Farraj/Al Arabiya/September 23/17
All cards have now been put on the table. According to the esteemed Saudi Presidency of the State Security, a cell that works for a foreign country has been uncovered. Citizens breathed a sigh of relief because those arrested were some of the worst enemies of our state, the state of security and stability.
The espionage cell members had infiltrated several segments of the society especially that they hid behind religion. This is how they controlled wide segments. They infiltrated state departments and controlled preaching activity and charity organizations. These fields help one mobilize people against the state and yield financial profit as well. This explains the wealth of preachers of the so-called Sahwa. Perhaps these partisans’ strong influence and infiltration are what tempted Qatar to support them. Hamad bin Jassim and Hamad bin Khalifa’s regime has always dreamed of destabilizing Saudi Arabia and shaking its security.
There’s nothing worse than using religion to achieve cheap worldly purposes. This is what distinguishes political Islam groups. Perhaps the exposure of this cell will be a lesson that awakens kind Saudis and exposes those deceiving them using religion. Our national media, represented in patriotic authors and intellectuals, have for years written about the threats of partisans and followed up on their suspicious activity and their sharp criticism of any developmental decision the state made. We also followed up on their frequent visits to Qatar and how they praised it and its leaders while they criticized their own country and slandered its rulers and intellectuals.
We were almost certain that they were recruited by this Qatari regime to carry out suspicious activities in exchange of huge sums of money. They were foolish enough to forget that the Saudi kingdom has one of the strongest security apparatuses that monitor and document everything.
Scandalous downfalls
Therefore, it was no surprise that these cells were uncovered. It has been one of the most scandalous downfalls ever since boycotting Qatar and especially that these infiltrators kept silent, or even worse, stood by Qatar’s regime! There’s nothing worse than using religion to achieve cheap worldly purposes. This is what distinguishes political Islam groups. Perhaps the exposure of this cell will be a lesson that awakens kind Saudis and exposes those deceiving them using religion. Partisans exploit these humble people and use them as fuel to execute their plans, either by recruiting them and sending them to conflict zones or by taking their money under the excuse of charity work.I am aware that it’s difficult to convince simple people that outer appearances are not enough proof of piety; however, the exposure of this cell makes me optimistic that these simple men, whom partisans deceived for a very long time, will begin to see clearly. There will still be a problem related to people with unclear stances and who hide behind patriotism. These people are actually as dangerous as partisans, and an entire article must be dedicated to discuss them and their threats.

Kurdish Independence and the unheard Yazidi voice
Murad Ismael/Al Arabiya/September 23/17
Yazidis have a population of about a half million people in Iraq. Their voting power in the upcoming independence referendum in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq (KRI) marks nearly ten percent of eligible voters, which would suggest that the beleaguered minority group has an important political voice. However, the Yazidi voice is muted and most Yazidis will likely stay away from the ballot boxes—and for good reasons. The referendum is on schedule despite the furious opposition of key regional, local, and international players. The neighboring states of Turkey and Iran have expressed their disapproval explicitly or implicitly (or by conducting military drills), threatening a violent response or economic sanctions. In Iraq, the parliament rejected the referendum, the supreme court ruled for suspension, and PM Abadi even threatened military intervention in the case of violence against “Iraqis.” Within the KRI itself, Kurds are deeply divided: the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) is the driving force behind the referendum, the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) is supportive but less enthusiastically, and Goran – the Change Party – is opposing firmly. The White House announced that US does not support the referendum and the US State Department has declared its strong opposition to the referendum’s “unilateral action” toward disputed territories. The UK, UN, EU, Germany, and an international coalition of 69 countries all share the US view.
Independence for Kurdistan would mean a great deal of uncertainty for Yazidis, given that most of the Yazidi homelands are disputed between Baghdad and Erbil
Kurds’ desire for independence
Amid all of the clamor, the Yazidis remain vastly silent. Yazidis are sensitive to the Kurds’ overwhelming desire for independence, a desire that is rooted in the fabric of Kurdish society. This desire is driven by a 70-year-long Kurdish quest for human rights and dignity. Yazidis do not want, or intend, to oppose Kurdish aspirations. The Kurds have suffered greatly under successive Iraqi regimes, which has involved the mass killing of civilians in the late 1980s, the use of chemical weapons in Halabja, the destruction of many villages, and the collective subjugation to prejudice similar to what Yazidis suffer today.
However, the aspirations of the Yazidis are distinct and the Yazidi Genocide conducted by the Islamic State (IS) has resulted in the formation of a new Yazidi Identity. These factors come with new political consequences. I recently spoke with Said Saydo, a physician among the Yazidi diaspora community in Germany, who expressed that many Yazidis wish that they had been consulted prior to the launch of the referendum about such a “sensitive and fateful” step. He told me: “In principle, there is no doubt that every nation has the right to self-determination, and for this reason, our vision is that this referendum is a legitimate right for the Kurdish People, but with regard to Yazidis in the region, their voices have again been undermined.” Saydo also shared his view that “Yazidis and other minorities should also have the right of self-governance in any future configuration of the post-IS Iraq.”
Complicated relationship
The relationship between the Yazidis and the Kurds is more complicated than ever. Some Yazidis consider themselves Kurds while others consider themselves ethnically Yazidi or as an ethno-religious group distinct from the Kurds.
The relationship has had many historical ups and downs and we can confidently say that it is going through a deep down now, mainly due to the Peshmerga’s withdrawal from Sinjar in 2014, in addition to the ongoing unfair treatment of Yazidis inside the KRI, which takes different forms, including depriving them of true freedom of choice in politics and the freedom to express their views. Independence for Kurdistan would mean a great deal of uncertainty for Yazidis, given that most of the Yazidi homelands are disputed between Baghdad and Erbil and the inclusion of these areas in the KRI has never been resolved. Fear and uncertainty about the referendum are causing chaos in the camps and over 1,000 Yazidi families have returned to Sinjar this week, as they worry about potential instability and violence.
If the Kurds gain control of all of the disputed territories that they are seeking to annex to the KRI, Sinjar would be located on the southwestern border of the new state, bordering a Kurdish part of Syria and a Shi’i PMU-controlled part of Iraq to the south. The inclusion of Sinjar in a theoretical Kurdistan would mean that the new state would need to secure a long, porous, and sometimes hostile border of more than 500 km—a border that won’t be easy to secure in times of conflict.
Including Sinjar in an independent state would also mean that a line would have to be drawn inside Sinjar itself, which would divide the historical Yazidi homeland into three parts: a Shi’i controlled area in the south, a PKK controlled area in the west, and a KDP-controlled area in the north. In other words, only a portion of the Yazidis’ Sinjar homeland would become part of the new Kurdish state. The Yazidi areas in the Sheikhan district are less complicated than Sinjar in term of geography. Lalish, the holiest Yazidi temple in the world, located in the district, is situated on one of the biggest oil fields in the country, the Sheikhan Oilfield, with an estimated 639 million barrels of oil beneath it, making it worth around $39.95 billion. This constitutes another stake that could lead to civil war over economic resources.
Between two states
Other parts of the Yazidi historical homeland outside of the KRI include Bashiqa and Bahzani, a town of 50,000 that is located only 20 km from Mosul. It is another site of potential economic value as it is a target of oil exploration. When future lines are drawn, this area will most likely fall under the territory that will remain part of the Iraqi state due to its proximity to Mosul. This means that if Kurdistan were to push forward with independence, the Yazidi community could be divided between two states. The Yazidis themselves are divided on the issue of the referendum. It is likely that most people of Sheikhan support the referendum while those of Sinjar oppose it. If the Kurds move toward independence after the upcoming referendum, there will be only two paths: a short and bloody path toward a one-sided declaration of independence within a few years, or a long and uncertain process that will take as much as decades of negotiations.Neither of the above scenarios is helpful to the Yazidis. The first path would mean that all Yazidi areas will be battlefronts and the destruction of these areas will eliminate the possibility for the return of the people. Also read: Turkish FM: Iraq Kurdish referendum ‘will not bring stability or peace’
The second path would mean that Yazidi areas will remain under the “disputed” classification and will continue to be neglected and competed over by both Baghdad and Erbil. Both options would likely lead to borders that would be drawn in the heart of the Yazidi homeland, dividing it into several parts.
It is undeniable that the Kurdish People have suffered greatly under regimes in Baghdad, Ankara, Tehran, and Damascus, and that if there is one people on earth who deserve the right to statehood, it should be the Kurdish Nation.
But for the Yazidis, the situation is much more complex, and if anything, the feeling of their majority on the eve of this referendum is fear and uncertainty, a fear that keeps them silent and will probably keep most of them away from the ballot boxes.

On strange, ignorant fatwas
Mashari Althaydi/Al Arabiya/September 23/17
Now and then, clerics and preachers issue controversial fatwas (religious edicts) sparking media criticism, sometimes across the entire world. Some examples are the fatwa to kill Mickey Mouse or to breastfeed adults. A cleric once even said that driving might negatively affect women’s ovaries. Most recently, Egyptian preacher Sabri Abdel Raouf issued a fatwa saying men can have sex with their dead wives! This recent fatwa made headlines across the world, just like any other shocking or illogical fatwa. These matters are no longer local affairs that concern a certain country as these news are now covered by CNN or Russian, British and even Japanese dailies. The Journalists Syndicate Council in Egypt decided to suspend Ahmad Abdoun, the host of the program, “What are they wondering about?”, which airs on the satellite channel LTC, because he hosted Sabri.
The syndicate said in a statement that it suspended Abdoun after the legal committee detected “the moral and professional error live during the show” as he aired an immoral fatwa that says men can have sex with their dead wives, which is called by some as “farewell intercourse.”
Stirring up controversy
Meanwhile, in Saudi Arabia, Doctor Saad al-Hajri, a preacher who also issues fatwas, stirred up controversy after he said women cannot drive because they lack in reason and their reason will further deteriorate the more they drive. There are so many strange fatwas and opinions which the media cannot be blamed for covering because it’s always looking for strange stories to report on. Does it get weirder than this? Fatwas are in the end a “live” interaction between a religious guide with facts and contexts of a different “era” which in all cases require an “appropriate” perspective.
Scholars during the first centuries were braver than their present day counterparts. One can take a look at what scholars in Andalusia, Morocco, Egypt, the Levant and Hejaz did to see the difference. What’s worth noting is that fatwas and statements no longer target a local audience as they now reach everyone everywhere. Suspending Sabri or Hajri is a subsequent procedure but the main story is that criticism now comes from all over the world as these stories become noticed.

Teaching 50 million students through video-learning

Abdulrahman al-Rashed/Al Arabiya/September 23/17
It is not surprising that the most distinguished students in science and mathematics come from the most developed countries in the world – South Korea, Singapore, Japan and other major industrial countries. It is also no secret that development and advancement are linked to teaching these two subjects, i.e. science and math, and excelling in them. The UAE’s Vice President and Prime Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid recently presented a precious gift when he announced the intention to translate more than 5,000 videos related to maths and science material into Arabic in order to make them available for around 50 million students across the Arab world.This is a candle that lights up the path of education, which has been stumbling in the Arab world, as he put it. He also called on volunteers to step forward and help translate thousands of videos which have been already translated into different languages for teaching purposes. There are difficult challenges pertaining to teaching physics, chemistry, biology and math in Arab schools because most teachers are not qualified and most schools are actually poor and not equipped with laboratories and illustrative material. Also, students’ atmosphere at home and their society does not encourage them to focus on these subjects. Video learning and e-learning narrow the gap especially considering children’s increased use of cellular phones. Take India as an example. Relying on video learning contributed to overcoming challenges in schools where teachers have weak teaching skills and where they suffer from a shortage of equipment. Almost all Arab countries suffer from the failure of education policies, and we have paid a high price as a result
Path to progress
Nations’ path to progress and transformation is through education. Almost all Arab countries suffer from the failure of education policies, and we have paid a high price as a result. If governments adopt education as its own project and focuses on it within the framework of a strategy that suits each country’s needs and circumstances, we can exit the bottleneck and keep up with the world. Some countries have, until recently, suffered from failure and backwardness like us.Teaching is a difficult profession which takes a long time to yield results; however they are long-term results. The most challenging subjects to teach are math and science. International institutions look at the work of students from across the world every four years and study it. They study the achievements of around 4,000 students in grades 4, 5, 6, 7 and 8 and evaluate a state’s capability and predict its future according to them.
Sheikh Rashid’s project is for everyone across the Arab world. Making educational services available for free is the greatest gift which can be granted to any Arabic-speaking student who has a cellular phone or a laptop. The project will be submitted once it’s done next year. It will sum up global math and science curricula which are the same for all students all over the world, from kindergarten until the last year of high school. This marks the first step that can encourage benefitting from technology and using it to modernize education to save time and overcome difficulties. Education in the Arab world is moving in a vicious circle as it requires highly-qualified teachers, expensive equipment and small classes all within a comprehensive work plan. Most of these demands are not available today and it may be 100 years before developing them. E-learning is thus the solution, not only to teach math and science, but to teach all subjects throughout all school stages.

Sweden: What You Won't See in This Book...
Bruce Bawer/Gatestone Institute/September 23/17
What won't you see in this book? You won't see a picture of Muslim "morality police" patrolling neighborhoods and controlling women's conduct. You won't see Muslim men cutting in front of Swedish women in queues and then calling them "whores" when they protest.
One of Sweden's former prime ministers, Fredrik Reinfeldt, pronounced with approval in December 2014 that the future of Sweden belonged not to ethnic Swedes but to immigrants.
Speaking at a rally in Melbourne, Florida, on February 18, President Trump mentioned recent terrorist attacks in Nice, Paris, and Brussels, and then said:
"You look at what's happening in Germany, you look at what's happening last night in Sweden. Sweden, who would believe this. Sweden. They took in large numbers. They're having problems like they never thought possible."
Nothing major had happened the night before in Sweden, except that the country has taken in armies of Muslims, and as a result is descending into social and economic disaster.
The Swedish media might have responded to Trump's comment by addressing their country's immigrant crisis honestly. Instead, they took it as an opportunity to mock Trump. The Stockholm newspaper Aftonbladet ran an article in English headlined: "Here's what happened in Sweden Friday night, Mr President." The article included a list of innocuous news items, among them technical problems that had occurred at rehearsals for Swedish Eurovision and the temporary closing of a highway because of lousy weather.
So much for that episode, right? No. Several Swedish photographers decided to drag it out way beyond a single news cycle. The result: a new coffee-table book entitled Last Night in Sweden.
At least one Swedish photography website has applauded this project. This book, the anonymous author wrote, is a "profound and insightful" work that "encapsulates a true and candid Sweden," shows "the country as it really is, from the inside -- in its multiplicity, subtle textures, and political, social and cultural nuance."
Lee Roden of the free Swedish newspaper The Local agreed, claiming that the pictures in the book "combat the hysteria about the country provoked by people like US President Donald Trump." The photographer in charge of the project, Jeppe Wikström, told Roden that people smear Sweden out of jealousy: "We manage to combine diversity with success. We do have high taxes, but we also have a very successful business life." Wilkström admitted that there are some odd things about Swedes: "We take off our shoes before going inside, put money into the right position and make sure it's not so wrinkly before paying at a cash register."
The first copy of Last Night in Sweden, published on September 7, was mailed to Donald Trump. Other copies have been, or will be, sent to "all members of the US Congress and European Parliament" as a way of countering "false news." [This is how they put it] At the end of October, an exhibition of photos from the book will move from Stockholm to the European Parliament in Brussels.
The book contains pictures of an ethnic Swedish man sitting on a snowmobile on a snow-covered icy river; a young guy walking around a gym practicing the tuba; a 94-year old Swedish woman in a retirement home being pushed in her wheelchair by a Somali immigrant; an octogenarian Swedish couple sitting in their home sauna in Lapland; a handicapped Algerian immigrant working out in the gym he founded; a Romani beggar woman kneeling on a city street; an elderly Swedish couple playing in their kitchen with their dog. And so on. In other words, a bunch of images showing immigrants doing things that, in one way or another, enhance life in Sweden, mixed in with a few photos of ethnic Swedes living pretty much the same way they did before the immigration tsunami started.
What won't you see in this book?
You won't see Muslim violence in Sweden's public libraries, which has increased so dramatically in the last couple of years that many librarians are looking for other jobs. You won't see a picture of the three condos in which a newly arrived Syrian immigrant's three wives and sixteen children are being put up at a total cost to Swedish taxpayers of $1.75 million. You won't see a picture of Muslim "morality police" patrolling neighborhoods and controlling women's conduct. You won't see Muslim men cutting in front of Swedish women in queues and then calling them "whores" when they protest.
You won't see a TV news crew from Australia being physically attacked by Muslims for entering a no-go zone. You won't see Muslim girls being beaten by their families for removing their hijab. You won't see Muslims setting cars on fire, and then hurling bottles and stones at the firefighters who show up to put out the blaze.
You won't see a picture of a recent event at which politicians and welfare officials met with residents of Stockholm's Järva neighborhood to address the prevalence of violence, forced marriage, compulsory hijab, and other forms of oppression within Muslim families – only to be told by the locals that they were not interested in conforming to "Swedish values." You won't see a picture of the head of the Swedish security service, Anders Thornberg, who in a TV interview the other day admitted that the number of potential perpetrators of terrorist violence in Sweden had risen immensely in recent years.
You won't see a gang of Muslim youths raping an infidel teenager. You won't see a Syrian refugee raping the fourteen-year-old daughter of the woman who took him into her house out of compassion. You won't see ten men committing a gang rape in August of last year – or their arrest, which finally took place earlier this month because it took that long for the police to fit it into their schedule. They are too busy these days investigating murders to spend much time on rapes.
You won't see convicted Muslim rapists being punished by paying small fines and performing community service for a few days. (When they pay the fine, do they put the money in the right position and make sure it's not so wrinkly?) You won't see a Muslim youth perusing the new booklet put out by the Swedish Ministry of Youth and Civil Affairs, which explains to immigrants that Swedish culture disapproves of rape. You won't see Muslim girls being raped by relatives – a common enough event that goes unreported because the victims know that if they go to the authorities they'll be killed. You won't see a picture of the annual, highly popular Bråvalla summer music festival, which will no longer be held after this year because the number of rapes occurring at the event has gotten out of hand. Of course, Sweden's current crisis is not an invention of Islamophobic foreigners. It has been acknowledged by Swedish police inspector Lars Alvarsjö, who has warned that the scale of immigrant crime is straining the country's police departments and courts to the breaking point.
It has been acknowledged by Swedish police investigator Peter Springare, who has said that virtually all of the criminals he deals with are Muslims. It has been acknowledged by Malmö police chief Stefan Sinteus, who has said that Muslim immigrants in his city are responsible for an "upward spiral of violence." And of course it has been acknowledged by the recent history of the Sweden Democrats, the only party to speak the truth about these problems, and now enjoys so much voter support that the so-called cordon sanitaire erected around it by the mainstream parties will soon no longer be able to hold.
In recent weeks, Norwegians on social media have been sharing a 1977 video in which Carl I. Hagen, founder of Norway's Progress Party, warned that Sweden, by admitting too many immigrants and giving them special benefits, has started down a long road to self-destruction. He saw it forty years ago, but even now, many Swedes still refuse to see it. One of Sweden's former prime ministers, Fredrik Reinfeldt, pronounced with approval in December 2014 that the future of Sweden belonged not to ethnic Swedes but to immigrants. (Why didn't Wikström and his colleagues erupt in outrage at that remark? Why, instead, get angry at a foreign head of state for actually showing empathy for their plight?)
This is a country in which it was reported on September 9, that a new Muslim political party has filed papers to field candidates in next year's parliamentary elections. The party is called Jasin, which is also the name of the thirty-sixth sura of the Koran. On September 10, seventeen-year-old Fatemeh Khavari, who wears hijab and who recently led a weeks-long sit-in protesting the expulsion of rejected asylum seekers, told a reporter that her goal is to be Sweden's prime minister. And why not? By the time she is old enough, she will be just what they are looking for.
Riot police in Gothenburg, Sweden. (Photo by Sion Touhig/Getty Images)
Bruce Bawer is the author of the new novel The Alhambra (Swamp Fox Editions). His book While Europe Slept (2006) was a New York Times bestseller and National Book Critics Circle Award finalist.
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