April 10/2018
Compiled & Prepared by: Elias Bejjani


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Bible Quotations
Extreme poverty have overflowed in a wealth of generosity on their part.
Second Letter to the Corinthians 08/01-09/: "We want you to know, brothers and sisters, about the grace of God that has been granted to the churches of Macedonia; for during a severe ordeal of affliction, their abundant joy and their extreme poverty have overflowed in a wealth of generosity on their part. For, as I can testify, they voluntarily gave according to their means, and even beyond their means, begging us earnestly for the privilege of sharing in this ministry to the saints and this, not merely as we expected; they gave themselves first to the Lord and, by the will of God, to us, so that we might urge Titus that, as he had already made a beginning, so he should also complete this generous undertaking among you. Now as you excel in everything in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in utmost eagerness, and in our love for you so we want you to excel also in this generous undertaking. I do not say this as a command, but I am testing the genuineness of your love against the earnestness of others. For you know the generous act of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, so that by his poverty you might become rich."

Titles For Latest LCCC Bulletin analysis & editorials from miscellaneous sources published on April 09-10/18
Now is the time to hit Assad hard, not withdraw/Faisal J. Abbas/Arab News/April 09/18
Iran’s sophisticated interventions in Bahrain/Dr. Majid Rafizadeh/Arab News/April 09/18
Egyptian economy torn between thinkers and doers/Mohammed Nosseir/Arab News/April 09/18
Time to curb the ‘devil of Damascus’/Siraj Wahab/Arab News/April 09/18
Europe's Civilizational Exhaustion/Giulio Meotti/Gatestone Institute/April 09/18
Iran's Nobel Laureate is Done with Reform. She Wants Regime Change/Eli Lake/Bloomberg/April, 09/18
Save Your Grandchildren, Don’t Avenge Your Ancestors/Ghassan Charbel/Asharq Al Awsat/April 09/18
Spies Tracking Our Phones? Don't Be So Shocked/Stephen Carter/Bloomberg View/April 09, 2018/

Titles For Latest LCCC Lebanese Related News published on April 09-10/18
Aoun Says Relations with Saudi Arabia Back to Normal
Report: CEDRE Auditor Says Lebanon Troubled with 'Corruption'
Army Says Israeli Warplanes Breach Lebanese Airspace
3 Days of Israeli Overflights Spark Concern in Akkar, Baalbek-Hermel
Israel Resumes Cement Wall Construction along Lebanon Border

Salameh: Keserwan Will Not Provide Cover for Your Illegitimate Arms
Hariri: Certain electoral lists in Beirut carry the motto of Martyr Hariri with the aim of dispersing votes in favor of Hezbollah
Saudi Culture Minister announces his country's participation in Cannes Film Festival
Khalifeh presides over Liver and Pancreas Diseases Conference
Intensive enemy flights over Nabatieh, Iqlim alTuffah
Geagea calls on Security Council to end war in Syria
Berri, Steininger meet in Ein Tineh

Titles For Latest LCCC Bulletin For Miscellaneous Reports And News published on April 09-10/18
France Says Did Not Bomb Syrian Air Base
Trump Says 'Major Decisions' Coming on Syria in '24-48 Hours'
U.S. Asks U.N. Council to Set Up New Syria Chemical Attacks Probe
'I Don't Rule Anything Out', Says Mattis on Syria Military Action
Iran's Rouhani Says US 'Will Regret It' If It Violates Nuke Deal
Syria Accuses Israel of Striking Military Airport
Iranians Reportedly Among 14 Dead in Syria Missile Strike, Israel Blamed
OPCW Probes Douma Chemical Attack as West Works on Response
Canada condemns reported chemical attack in eastern Ghouta
Russian military: Israeli war planes carried out Syria strikes
UK urges ‘strong’ response to alleged Syria chemical attack
Moscow says will support companies hit by new US sanctions: agencies
Saudi crown prince meets French PM in Paris
Students, Teachers Rush Back to Class in Deir Ezzor
Iranian Rial in a Downward Spiral as Fear Rises on Return of Sanctions
Israel Strikes Gaza as ICC Says War Crimes May be Prosecuted
Egyptian Army Says it Killed 4 Takfiris in Sinai
Leading Muslim Brotherhood Figure Becomes Head of Libya’s HCS
Latest Lebanese Related News published on April 09-10/18
Aoun Says Relations with Saudi Arabia Back to Normal
Beirut - Asharq Al-Awsat/Monday, 9 April, 2018/Lebanese President Michel Aoun has stressed that relations with Saudi Arabia were back to normal, saying the funds and loans secured by Lebanon at the CEDRE conference held in Paris last week will help the country’s economy. In a meeting with journalists from several French news outlets on Sunday, Aoun said that the Saudi contribution at the CEDRE conference is a sign of rapprochement between the two countries. “We now have bigger confidence in relations with Saudi Arabia because they are back to normal,” the president told the reporters at Baabda Palace. Asked about promises made by Lebanon to carry out reforms, he said the country can overcome some difficulties in the implementation of projects. “As for fighting corruption, it is much more difficult because it spans several sectors,” Aoun stated. “Some influential figures continue to protect corrupt individuals. So at first those involved in corruption should be held accountable.”International donors pledged on Friday more than $11 billion in low-interest loans and aid for Lebanon at the Paris conference. Lebanon for its part promised a string of reforms including tougher measures to fight corruption.  The conference was aimed at giving Lebanon a boost as it prepares for its first general elections in almost a decade in May. Aoun stressed that the parliament would witness changes during next month’s elections because the new electoral law allows both the minority and the majority to be represented. Asked about repeated calls made by Lebanese officials for the return of Syrian refugees to their home country, the president said that the displaced can go back to Syria after military confrontations have been limited to small pockets. “Bashar Assad is currently the president of his country,” Aoun said. “We must engage with the existing government - we have no other option,” he stated, responding to a question about Assad’s political future.
Report: CEDRE Auditor Says Lebanon Troubled with 'Corruption'
Naharnet/April 09/18/An official French auditor of the Paris I, II and III conferences on Lebanon, who also took part in the latest CEDRE conference, said Lebanon is plagued with “unprecedented corruption” describing its public debt as a “cancerous situation,” the Kuwaiti al-Anbaa daily reported on Monday. The daily quoted the auditor, whose remarks were leaked, who said the preparatory committee for CEDRE Conference asked him, as a representative of the IMF, to give it his trust. But he replied saying “I find it difficult to give you the blind trust, noting that this is the first time in French history that the French government is setting up an international donation platform a few days before the general elections in the recipient country.”“There is unprecedented corruption in Lebanon,” he said.
Since 1999, France has provided “in vain” the Lebanese government with the necessary recommendations to reduce public debt compared to other countries. “No better description of this situation than a cancerous situation,” the observer noted. “I worked in Tanzania, Botswana, Nigeria and Ivory Coast, as well as in 25 other African countries, and found that the only country close to Lebanon was Botswana, and to a lesser extent Zimbabwe, despite the intellectual and cultural capabilities in Lebanon today,” he stated.

Army Says Israeli Warplanes Breach Lebanese Airspace
Naharnet/April 09/18/The Army Command-Orientation Directorate said on Monday that four Israeli warplanes have breached Lebanon's airspace.
According to the army’s statement, the warplanes violated the Lebanese airspace at 3:25 a.m. flying over the sea to the west of Jounieh, adding that they had flown east over the city of Baalbek and then left the country’s airspace at 3:35 a.m.
Syrian state media had said that a number of missiles have struck Monday at dawn the Tayfur airport base in the central province of Homs killing and wounding several. Lebanon’s airspace and territorial waters have been constantly breached by Israeli enemy.

3 Days of Israeli Overflights Spark Concern in Akkar, Baalbek-Hermel
Naharnet/April 09/18/Israeli spy drones overflew the Akkar and Baalbek-Hermel provinces for a third consecutive day on Sunday, sparking concerns among residents, the National News Agency said. “For three days now, Israeli reconnaissance drones have been flying round-the-clock at medium altitude over the overlapping mountainous regions between the Akkar and Baalbek-Hermel provinces,” NNA said.
“The ceaseless hovering sounds are irritating the residents of the mountainous villages and towns,” the agency added. Defense Minister Yaacoub Sarraf, who hails from Akkar, meanwhile strongly condemned what he called “Israel's blatant insolence represented in its continuous violation of all international conventions.”Israel “is seeking to sabotage security and stability in Lebanon through all means,” Sarraf warned. He said the Israeli overflights are “condemned and rejected,” holding the Israeli government responsible for “any hostile act it may commit against any Lebanese region.”The minister also called on the international community to “stand by Lebanon to rein in the Israeli arrogance,” cautioning that Israel's actions “contradict with and threaten all international efforts to protect this stability” in Lebanon.

Israel Resumes Cement Wall Construction along Lebanon Border

Naharnet/April 09/18/Israel has resumed the construction of a controversial cement separation wall between Lebanon's southern border and occupied Palestine amid tight Lebanese and Israeli security measures, the National News Agency reported Monday. NNA said the construction was taking place on “non-conflict” border zones near Kfarkila-Oudaish highway in Marjayoun. On Sunday, Israel had placed 24 cement blocks, each 6m long and 1.2m wide. It stopped building works in the afternoon before resuming it Monday. New threats emerged between Lebanon and Israel over several issues, including the wall the Jewish state is building along the border that Beirut says may jut into Lebanese territories, as well as plans for oil and gas exploration in the Mediterranean.

Salameh: Keserwan Will Not Provide Cover for Your Illegitimate Arms Monday 09th April 2018/Members of the "Decision Is Ours" list, which is backed by the Kataeb party in the Keserwan-Jbeil district, on Monday put forth their programs and aspirations, as they urged change in the upcoming parliamentary polls. The slate line-up includes the Kataeb's candidate Chaker Salameh, former Minister Farid Haykal Khazen, Yolande Khoury, as well as MPs Gilberte Zouein and Youssef Khalil who are all running for the Maronite seats in Keserwan. In Jbeil, former MP Fares Souaid and Jean Hawwat are running for the Maronite seats, whereas Mustapha Al-Husseini is the list's candidate for the Shiite seat. Kataeb's candidate in Keserwan Chaker Salameh said that the "Decision Is Ours" list is sending a stern message to all the strangers who use the Maronites' stronghold to enter politics, adding that Keserwan does not deserve to be a waste dump. "Keserwan will not provide a cover for your illegitimate arms. Those who couldn't infiltrate into this area throughout history, will not be allowed to do so today," he affirmed.
“Our electoral battle has become all about ethics as we are standing against partitioning and shady deals being sealed at the expense of Keserwan,” Salameh asserted. “We are standing in the face of those who abused our trust and failed to honor their pledges.”“Let's work hand in hand so that we would become the majority and let them stand alone. Be the pulse of revolution and change,” Salameh addressed voters. Former Minister Farid Haykal Khazen stressed that the dignity of the voters in Keserwan and Jbeil cannot be bought by anyone, saying that it is time to make the change that all the Lebanese are aspiring for. “After 9 years, we can firmly say that today we have a chance to renew the political class by holding to account those who failed to assume their responsibilities and assign the task to those who stood by the people and shared their concerns,” Khazen said.
“There's a chance to clean our area from pollution, improve roads, boost development, as well as to protect workers, farmers, students and teachers. There is a chance to solve traffic congestion ordeal after so many promises had been reneged on over the past 13 years."
“This is the list of honorable people who have stood by your side when the state abandoned you,” he said. “You hold the decision against those who confiscated your choice. You hold the decision against corruption, shady deals, and unjust enrichment," Khazen stressed. “The decision will be ours once you decide to build a country of civilization and accountability, rather than a state of brokers and partitioning; a reformist state, not one where we vainly speak about reforms."
Veteran TV presenter and journalist Yolande Khoury blasted those responsible for plundering Lebanon and turning it into a country that is on the verge of bankruptcy and collapse, deploring the outrageous level of corruption plaguing the state institutions as the public debt is reaching an alarming number.
“I am not running for the polls so as to achieve personal gains or reach more fame, but to stand in the face of those who impoverished this country and its people," she stressed. MP Gilberte Zouein pledged to work on building the state where justice would prevail, vowing to defend the rights of women and children as well as to establish developmental projects in Keserwan. “The law cannot be enforced without an independent judicial authority. It is time to focus all efforts on that matter in order to make a real change,” Zouein said. MP Youssef Khalil, who is also running for another term, couldn't attend the event because he had undergone a surgery. Former MP Fares Souaid outlined the guidelines agreed on by all the list's candidates, stressing full commitment to the Constitution and unwavering determination to enforce the state’s sovereignty on all the Lebanese territory by according a full power to the army and security forces only.
The candidates also agreed on the need to adopt administrative decentralization, as well as to fight corruption and squandering in defense of the citizens' rights.
The second candidate for the Maronite seat in Jbeil, Jean Hawwat, called for building a civil state that fully abides by the Constitution, adding that politicians must all remain in the service of the citizens. “We have the required knowledge, experience, wisdom and determination to move forward, improve and protect this country and its values,” Hawwat affirmed.For his part, the candidate for the Shiite seat in Jbeil, Mustapha Al-Husseini, said that it is time to draw an end to the rift and discord that the district's representatives had sown among people, adding that parliamentary seats are intended to fortify coexistence, not dashing it.

Hariri: Certain electoral lists in Beirut carry the motto of Martyr Hariri with the aim of dispersing votes in favor of Hezbollah
Mon 09 Apr 2018/NNA - Prime Minister Saad Hariri indicated Monday that certain competitive electoral lists are carrying the motto of Martyr PM Rafic Hariri with the actual aim of scattering the votes in favor of Hezbollah's list, and seizing the decision of Beirut. Speaking at a brunch organized by the "Great Salaheddine" Association this morning, in presence of a crowd of Beiruti families and members of the Future electoral list, Hariri said, "I am sure that with your heavy voting for the Future Movement, their plans and projects will fail." Hariri called for a high turnout in the forthcoming parliamentary elecitons, saying, "As you know, these elections will be held on the basis of the new vote law...It is the duty of each and every one of you to vote and not to be complacent and lenient." "The more you raise the voting turnout, the more you maintain Beirut's decision," stressed Hariri. "I have always focused on maintaining stability, and at the same time seeking to advance the economic situation," he went on. "In this context, we embarked on the Cedar Conference which will now create employment opportunities for young men and women, if implemented properly, and there would be a large share for Beirut...We will accord utmost attention to the capital's needs," Hariri concluded.

Saudi Culture Minister announces his country's participation in Cannes Film Festival
Mon 09 Apr 2018/NNA - Saudi Arabia will officially partake for the first time in the Cannes Film Festival by presenting a series of short films at the Festival opening next month in southern France, Saudi Culture Minister Awad bin Saleh Al-Awad said.

Khalifeh presides over Liver and Pancreas Diseases Conference
Mon 09 Apr 2018/NNA - The Founding Conference on Diseases and Surgery of the Liver and Pancreas in the Middle East and North Africa ended its work sessions on Monday, with focus pinned on a comprehensive plan to develop research, exchange expertise and update educational programs within said field. Distinguished Arab and international scientific figures took part in the Conference, endorsing its presidency to Lebanese Professor, Dr. Mohamed Jawad Khalifeh. It is worth mentioning that Beirut will witness the convening of said Conference in 2020, with anticipated wide Arab and international presence.

Intensive enemy flights over Nabatieh, Iqlim alTuffah
Mon 09 Apr 2018/NNA - Israeli warplanes have been effecting intensive high-altitude over-flights covering the regions of Nabatieh and Iqlim al-Tuffah throughout this afternoon, NNA correspondent in Nabatieh reported.

Geagea calls on Security Council to end war in Syria
Mon 09 Apr 2018/NNA - Lebanese Forces Leader, Samir Geagea, called on the Security Council to put an end to the Syrian military operations. "I ask the Security Council to abandon their narrow interests and take a historic decision under Chapter VII to stop all the military operations in Syria, in order to carry out the desired political transition after all that happened," Geagea said in statement on Monday. He appealed to "the permanent members of the Security Council to feel the magnitude of the human tragedy witnessed in Syria for seven years now, which has cost more than half a million lives, millions of displaced people and humanitarian tragedies reminiscent of the global wars." "Dealing with the Syrian crisis through television screens and political stances does not commensurate with the ongoing tragedy," Geagea concluded.

Berri, Steininger meet in Ein Tineh
Mon 09 Apr 2018/NNA - House Speaker Nabih Berri on Monday met with Special Coordinator-Peace Policy in Middle-East & North Africa at Swiss Federal Department of Foreign Affairs Roland Steininger, with talks reportedly dwelling on the current developments in Lebanon and the region. The meeting took place in presence of Swiss Ambassador to Lebanon, Monika Schmutz Kirgِz.

Latest LCCC Bulletin For Miscellaneous Reports And News published on April 09-10/18
France Says Did Not Bomb Syrian Air Base
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/April 09/18/France did not carry out a missile strike on a Syrian government air base early Monday that reportedly killed several people, the French army said. "It was not us," armed forces spokesman Colonel Patrik Steiger told AFP. The US also denied staging the strike. Syrian state news agency SANA said the Tayfur air base was hit by "several missiles" that left a number of dead and wounded, without giving exact casualty numbers. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a Britain-based war monitor, said "at least 14 fighters" were killed, including Iranian forces allied to the regime of President Bashar al-Assad. The assault came after the US and France vowed a "strong, joint response" to a suspected chemical attack at the weekend that left dozens dead in Syria's rebel-held town of Douma. In a phone call Sunday US President Donald Trump and his French counterpart Emmanuel Macron condemned the "horrific" attack and said the Assad regime "must be held accountable for its continued human rights abuses," according to the White House.
Trump Says 'Major Decisions' Coming on Syria in '24-48 Hours'
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/April 09/18/U.S. President Donald Trump said Monday that "major decisions" would be made on a Syria response in the next day or two, after warning that Damascus would have a "big price to pay" over an alleged chemical attack on a rebel-held town. Trump condemned what he called a "heinous attack on innocent" Syrians in Douma, as he opened a cabinet meeting at the White House. The suspected gas attack left dozens dead, according to rescuers and medics. Syria and its ally Russia have denied any use of chemical weapons. "This is about humanity -- it can't be allowed to happen," Trump said, adding that decisions would come in the "next 24-48 hours."

U.S. Asks U.N. Council to Set Up New Syria Chemical Attacks Probe

Agence France Presse/Naharnet/April 09/18/The United States on Monday asked the U.N. Security Council to set up a new independent inquiry of chemical weapons attacks in Syria following alleged toxic gas use in a rebel-held town that killed at least 48 people. Washington circulated a draft resolution to the council that would establish the U.N. panel to identify those responsible for poisonous chemicals attacks, according to the text obtained by AFP. Nine countries including the United States have called for an emergency meeting on Syria that will begin at 3:00 pm (1900 GMT) to discuss a response to the attack in Douma. Rescuers and medics in Douma say at least 48 people died after a "poisonous chlorine gas attack" late on Saturday in Douma, the last rebel-held pocket of Eastern Ghouta. The proposed U.S. measure was similar to one presented by the United States in March, which Russia then rejected, and it remained unlikely that the new text would win Moscow's support. The renewed U.S. push to establish the United Nations Independent Mechanism of Investigation (UNIMI) comes after Russia killed off a previous U.N.-led probe in November by vetoing the renewal of its mandate.
Under the current draft resolution, UNIMI would be established for one year and work with the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) to identify perpetrators of the chemical attacks. The council would ask U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres to outline within 30 days the operation of the panel "based on the principles of impartiality, independence and professionalism," according to the draft text. In January, Russia presented its own draft resolution setting up a new panel, but Western powers said Moscow's proposal would give the Syrian government an upper hand over any investigation of attacks on its territory. As the United States pushed for a new U.N. inquiry, U.S. Defence Secretary Jim Matthis warned that Washington does not "rule out anything", suggesting military action was possible in response to the alleged chemical attack.
President Donald Trump -- who last year launched a missile strike on a regime base after another alleged chemical attack -- warned after the latest accusations that there would be a "big price to pay." Russia and Syria have denied using chemical weapons.

'I Don't Rule Anything Out', Says Mattis on Syria Military Action
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/April 09/18/U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis on Monday pointed toward Russia's role in a suspected poison gas attack on the Syrian rebel-held town of Douma, and said he would not rule out a military response. Russia was supposed to guarantee the disposal of Syria's stockpile of chemical weapons in September 2013, but President Bashar al-Assad's regime is suspected of conducting repeated gas attacks since then. "The first thing we have to look at is why are chemical weapons still being used at all when Russia was the framework guarantor of removing all the chemical weapons," Mattis said at the Pentagon in a meeting with his Qatari counterpart. "Working with our allies and our partners from NATO to Qatar and elsewhere, we are going to address this issue ... I don't rule out anything right now." Syria has been accused multiple times of using toxic weapons including sarin gas in the country's seven-year war, which has killed more than 350,000 people. Backed by Moscow, Assad has waged a seven-week assault on Ghouta that has killed more than 1,700 civilians and left Islamist rebels cornered in their last holdout of Douma, Ghouta's largest town. Dozens of people died April 4, 2017 after regime warplanes struck the rebel-held town of Khan Sheikhun in Idlib, with medical sources reporting patients suffering from symptoms consistent with a chemical attack. In retaliation for that attack, U.S. President Donald Trump unleashed strikes by Tomahawk missiles against the regime's Shayrat airbase overnight April 6-7.

Iran's Rouhani Says US 'Will Regret It' If It Violates Nuke Deal

Agence France Presse/Naharnet/April 09/18/Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said Monday that the United States would regret violating the nuclear deal, and that Iran would respond in "less than a week" if that happened. "We will not be the first to violate the accord but they should definitely know that they will regret it if they violate it," Rouhani told a conference to mark National Nuclear Technology Day in Tehran. "We are much more prepared than they think, and they will see that if they violate this accord, within a week, less than a week, they will see the result."

Syria Accuses Israel of Striking Military Airport
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/April 09/18/Syria accused Israel on Monday of carrying out deadly bombing raids on a military airbase in the country's centre, state news agency SANA reported. "The Israeli attack on the T-4 airport was carried out with F-15 aircraft that fired several missiles from above Lebanese territory," SANA said, citing a military source. It had reported just before dawn that "several missiles" had hit T-4, which lies in central Syria and is also known as the Tiyas air base. A military spokeswoman for Israel declined to comment on Monday. SANA had initially reported the strike as a "suspected US attack" but later withdrew all references to the United States. It said the attack had left dead and wounded but did not give casualty figures. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which monitors the country's conflict, said 14 fighters had been killed, including at least three Syrian officers and Iranian forces. Forces from regime backers Russia and Iran, as well as fighters from the Lebanese Hezbollah militia, are known to have a presence at the base, said Observatory chief Rami Abdel Rahman. Israel has repeatedly warned it will not accept its arch-foe Tehran entrenching itself militarily in Syria and has bombed Iranian targets there. In February, it accused Iranian forces at the T-4 base of sending a drone into Israeli territory. After bombing Iranian units in Syria in retaliation, an Israel F-16 was shot down by Syrian anti-aircraft fire in one of the conflict's most notable escalations. Israel then carried out what it called "large-scale" raids on Syrian air defence systems and Iranian targets, which reportedly included T-4.
Iranians Reportedly Among 14 Dead in Syria Missile Strike, Israel Blamed
Asharq Al-Awsat/Monday, 9 April, 2018/Russia and Syrian forces blamed Israel for a pre-dawn attack Monday on the Tayfur air base in central Syria, saying Israeli fighter jets launched missiles from Lebanon's airspace, reportedly leaving 14 people, including Iranians, dead. Russia's Defense Ministry said two Israeli aircraft targeted the T4 air base in Homs province, firing eight missiles. It said Syria shot down five of them while the other three landed in the western part of the base. Syrian regime media quoted an unnamed military official as saying that Israeli F-15 warplanes fired several missiles at T4. It gave no further details. Israel's foreign ministry had no comment when asked about the accusations. Since 2012, Israel has struck inside Syria some 100 times, hitting suspected weapons' convoys destined for Lebanon's Iran-backed “Hezbollah,” which has been fighting alongside Syrian regime forces. Most recently, Israel hit the same T4 base in February, after it said an Iranian drone that had violated Israeli airspace took off from the base. Earlier on Monday, Syria's regime media said the attack was likely "an American aggression," but the Pentagon said the United States had not launched the strikes. France also denied that it had carried out such an attack. The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said 14 died, including Iranians and also three Syrian officers. Rami Abdurrahman, the Observatory's chief, said the assault targeted a mobile air defense unit and some buildings inside the air base. He added that it also hit posts outside the base used by the Iranians and Iran-backed fighters. The missile attack followed a suspected poison gas attack on Saturday on the last remaining foothold for Syrian rebels in the eastern suburbs of Damascus. At least 40 people were killed in the assault on Douma, including families found in their homes and shelters, opposition activists and local rescuers said.
OPCW Probes Douma Chemical Attack as West Works on Response
Asharq Al-Awsat/Monday, 9 April, 2018 /The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons is investigating reports of a suspected chemical weapons attack on the Syrian rebel-held town of Douma, its head said Monday as the United States and European countries blamed the regime of Bashar Assad.
The organization "made a preliminary analysis of the reports of the alleged use of chemical weapons immediately after they were issued," said director general Ahmet Uzumcu. More information was being gathered "to establish whether chemical weapons were used," he added. The suspected chemical attacks over the weekend killed at least 60 people and wounded more than 1,000, a Syria medical relief group said on Monday. The death toll is likely to rise, according to the Union of Medical Care Organizations, a coalition of international aid agencies that funds hospitals in Syria and which is partly based in Paris. "The numbers keep rising as relief workers struggle to gain access to the subterranean areas where gas has entered and hundreds of families had sought refuge," the group said in a statement. US President Donald Trump on Sunday blamed Syrian regime forces for what he called a "mindless CHEMICAL attack."
He said there would be a "big price to pay".But Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov snapped back at Trump, saying allegations that the Syrian regime carried out the attack are a provocation. Russian specialists found no trace of chemical attack in Douma, Lavrov said. The Russian army had earlier accused Israel of carrying out deadly missile strikes on the central Syrian airbase of Tayfur from Lebanon before dawn on Monday.  Lavrov described the strike as a “very dangerous development.”French President Emmanuel Macron and Trump agreed in a phone call that chemical weapons had been used in Douma, the French presidency said in a statement early on Monday. They "exchanged their information and analysis confirming the use of chemical weapons," it said. "All responsibilities in this area must be clearly established," added the statement. Prime Minister Theresa May's spokesman also said Britain is working with its allies to agree a joint response to the attack. In a separate statement, Britain's Foreign Office said a full range of options should be on the table in response to the attack. As for Germany, it said the circumstances pointed to the Syrian regime. "The government condemns this new use of poison gas in the strongest terms," German government spokesman Steffen Seibert told a news conference. "The regime's actions are abhorrent.""Those responsible for the use of poison gas ... must be held to account," he added. "With this use of poison gas, the circumstances point to Assad regime's responsibility." The European Union also squarely blamed the regime. EU spokeswoman Maja Kocijancic said that over the weekend and early Monday as the reports came in of another atrocity in Syria, the EU "learned from several sources" to shape its conviction "that it is the Syrian regime which is responsible" when it comes to the suspected chemical attack.
Canada condemns reported chemical attack in eastern Ghouta
April 8, 2018 – Ottawa, Ontario - Global Affairs Canada
The Honourable Chrystia Freeland, Minister of Foreign Affairs, today issued the following statement:
“Canada is appalled by the reported use of chemical weapons against people in eastern Ghouta, in Syria, on April 7, 2018, resulting in dozens of fatalities. Our hearts go out to those who have lost family and loved ones. “The repeated and morally reprehensible use of chemical weapons by the Assad regime in the past has been confirmed by independent international investigators. It is part of a deliberate strategy to terrorize local populations and force them into submission. Canada condemns the Assad regime—and its backers, Russia and Iran—for its‎ repeated, gross violations of human rights and continued, deliberate targeting of civilians. “Canada expresses its admiration for the medical workers and other organizations, including the White Helmets, who have been working tirelessly to save the lives of those ‎affected. Our most sincere condolences go to the families of the deceased. “Chemical weapons attacks are a war crime. Canada, alongside its international partners, will pursue accountability for these atrocities by all available means. Those responsible must be brought to justice, and the massacre of innocent civilians must end.”

Russian military: Israeli war planes carried out Syria strikes
Reuters/April 09, 2018/MOSCOW: The Russian military said on Monday that two Israeli F-15 war planes had carried out strikes on a Syrian air base on Sunday, the Interfax news agency reported. Interfax cited the Russian Defence Ministry as saying the Israeli war planes had carried out the strikes from Lebanese air space, and that Syrian air defence systems had shot down five of eight missiles fired. Asked about the Russian statement, an Israeli military spokesman said he had no immediate comment. Syrian state TV said on Monday the United States was suspected of striking an air base hours after US President Donald Trump warned of a "big price to pay" as aid groups said dozens of people were killed by poison gas in a rebel-held town.

UK urges ‘strong’ response to alleged Syria chemical attack
AFP/April 09, 2018/LONDON: British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson on Monday called for a “strong and robust international response” to an alleged poison gas attack on a rebel-held town near Damascus. Speaking with his French counterpart Jean-Yves Le Drian on the phone, Johnson “underlined the urgent need to investigate what had happened in Douma and to ensure a strong and robust international response,” the Foreign Office said in a statement. "They agreed that today's meeting of the United Nations Security Council in New York would be an important next step in determining the international response and that a full range of options should be on the table," it added. He also said Britain was not involved in overnight air strikes on a Syrian air base. Russian and Syrian military have blamed those strikes on Israeli war planes. "If there is clear verified evidence of the use of chemical weapons and a proposal for action where the UK would be useful, then we will look at the range of options," the spokesman said.

Moscow says will support companies hit by new US sanctions: agencies
AFP/April 09, 2018/MOSCOW: Moscow will provide support for Russian companies hit by fresh US sanctions, news agencies quoted the country’s deputy prime minister as saying Monday.“We take great care with our leading companies... In the current situation, as their position becomes more difficult, we will offer them this support,” Arkady Dvorkovich was quoted as saying.
Saudi crown prince meets French PM in Paris
Arab News/April 09, 2018/DUBAI: Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman met with France’s Prime Minister Edouard Phillippe in Paris on Monday, Saudi state-news channel Al-Ekhbariya reported

Students, Teachers Rush Back to Class in Deir Ezzor
Deir Ezzor (Syria) - Asharq Al-Awsat/Monday, 9 April, 2018/Since ISIS militants have been ousted from eastern Syria’s Deir Ezzor city and nearby territory in late 2017, teachers and pupils alike have rushed back to the classroom. At 13, Mohammad al-Ragheb shyly admits that he does not know how to read or write, having spent the years under ISIS rein outside of school. "I should be in eighth grade now, but I wasn't able to go to school," he tells AFP. He now sits excitedly in a crisp classroom, awaiting his lesson. ISIS overran large swathes of Syria in 2014, with the militants opening their own schools, banning music and the arts. Schoolteacher Ahlam says the militants tried to recruit her to teach in one of their schools . She refused, opting to teach her children in secret at home and eking out a living from an orchard she tended to with her husband, an agricultural engineer. "I thought there would no longer be a future for our children -- no schooling, no rights," recalls Ahlam. "But thank God, the children are studying, so they can at least read and write," she tells AFP, her hair covered by a blue headscarf.  According to Deir Ezzor's education directorate, the fighting in the region meant some 200,000 students went without proper schooling for five years, with around 5,000 teachers out of work. Now, the directorate says, dozens of schools have reopened and around 45,000 students are back in school. Some 6,000 students are also resuming their studies at the Euphrates University in Deir Ezzor, capital of the province of the same name. Its main buildings lie in a western part of the city that remained under Syrian regime control but was under siege for years by ISIS militants holding the rest. But some of the faculties -- such as those of medicine and agriculture -- lie in areas that were seized by the militants. Student Mona al-Nasser, now 24, was getting ready to graduate when ISIS swept across the desert province in 2014.  Their advance trapped her under militant reign in her hometown of Mayadeen, 50 kilometers away. "All I wanted to do was study. I'm so happy to be back today, and I hope those other days never return," says Nasser. Amina, 23, has traveled to her class all the way from Raqqa -- more than 130 kilometers to the west. "I was besieged in Raqqa for three years and could not resume my studies. I was in my second year," she tells AFP. "It was a very difficult period. I tried as hard as I could to leave Raqqa, but I needed a miracle."Now that Amina is back in school, she has picked up where she left off as a sophomore. "It feels so wonderful to be back in class, because that's what determines your future in the end," she says. Even as ISIS lost its military grip on Deir Ezzor, the militants left unexploded mines and sand berms all across the city and its entrances, barring the way for students and residents in general. Still, Umm Bilal says, home is home. "Sitting amidst the destruction is beautiful, because your house is your property. No one can make you leave," she says.

Iranian Rial in a Downward Spiral as Fear Rises on Return of Sanctions
Tehran – Asharq Al-Awsat/Monday, 9 April, 2018/The Iranian rial recorded on Sunday a new drop against the dollar amid rising fears of a return of economic sanctions. Three weeks from now, US President Donald Trump will be presenting a final position on the nuclear deal. The failure of the nuclear deal between Iran and the world powers, the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, JCPOA, to achieve its highly expected objectives is upsetting to the Iranian people. Trump said in January that “disastrous flaws” in the agreement had to be fixed or Iran would face a US exit. Since last year, the central bank has allowed the rial to depreciate gradually to compensate for Iran’s high inflation and to help to make exports more competitive. But the drop has accelerated in the past few months, creating a problem for authorities who contained a wave of popular protests against economic hardship and corruption in December and January. In Iran, the term toman is used to refer to their currency in unofficial conversations. Each toman is 10 rials, therefore, the dollar is now 5,200 tomans. Khomeini is pictured on the toman, just as George Washington is on the dollar. The price of the dollar rose to 5,800 tomans, registering a whopping increase of 700 tomans in Tehran’s banking markets. On the other hand, the dollar in black markets increased 6,000 tomans, an even more dashing 14% increase within 24 hours, the first increase of this size under the reformist President Hassan Rouhani’s watch. Prospects are grim for a long-term picture showing that the crisis deeply rooted and will not easily be resolved. No more than 21 days into 2018 dollar rates rose 25 percent, recording a 1,200 increase against dollar. But over the past six months, the dollar has increased by 2,200 tomans, equivalent to 45 percent. Since Rouhani's presidency kickoff in 2013, Iranian Rial rates rose up to 70 percent. Many people are using social media to express their fury over what they are calling Rouhani’s campaign of “deceit and lies”. Price hikes have reflected negatively on Iranians leaving them lined up in long ques in front of exchange markets to secure dollars amid growing doubts around the future of the economy with the threat of return to sanctions. Fears of a turbulent economy resurfaced despite reassurances promised by Rouhani. The government hasn’t been fixed around speculations on price hikes over the past few days and said prices are false, in implicit defense of the need for higher prices. Exchange rate increases are expected to bring home profits for the Iranian government treasury. Parliamentarians on Sunday put Economy Minister Masoud Karbasian and head of the Central Bank up for questioning on the deterioration of Iranian currency prices.

Israel Strikes Gaza as ICC Says War Crimes May be Prosecuted
Asharq Al-Awsat/Monday, 9 April, 2018/Israeli fighter jets carried out raids on the Gaza Strip on Monday, a day after the prosecutor of the International Criminal Court said the Palestinian territories were subject to a preliminary examination by her office and she was monitoring events there closely. The Israeli army said Monday that it targeted a Hamas "military target" in northern Gaza. Palestinian security sources in Gaza said the Israeli strikes hit a base in Jabalia belonging to Ezzedine al-Qassam Brigades, Hamas' armed wing, and farmland near Beit Lahia, causing damages but no injuries. The Israeli strike came a day after suspects crossed the northern Gaza border fence, leaving "explosive devices" that were found by the army. The border fence between the Palestinian enclave and Israel has become the backdrop of mass Gaza demonstrations that lead to deadly clashes. On Monday, the Gaza health ministry said Marwan Qudeih, 45, who was wounded by Israeli fire east of Khan Yunis on March 30, died of his wounds. His death brings the number of Palestinians killed by Israeli forces since then to 31. Rights groups have harshly criticised Israeli soldiers' actions, and Palestinians say protesters are being shot while posing no threat to troops. On Sunday, ICC chief prosecutor Fatou Bensouda said she was opening a preliminary probe to determine whether there was enough evidence to launch a full-blown investigation into any alleged crimes. "Any person who incites or engages in acts of violence including by ordering, requesting, encouraging or contributing in any other manner to the commission of crimes within ICC's jurisdiction is liable to prosecution before the Court," Bensouda said.

Egyptian Army Says it Killed 4 Takfiris in Sinai
Cairo - Asharq Al-Awsat/Monday, 9 April, 2018 /Egypt’s army said on Sunday it killed four takfiris in Sinai and arrested over 250 wanted criminals and suspects in security operations over the past few days. The air force killed a number of takfiris after taregting two terrorist hideouts in north Sinai, the army said in a statement. Another militant, who was found to be in possession of large sums of money and illegal narcotics, was also killed, said army spokesman Tamer al-Rifai. In total, more than 100 militants and at least 22 soldiers have been killed since the launch of the operation "Sinai 2018," according to official figures. In his statement on Sunday, Rifai stressed that Egyptian forces destroyed and seized 46 vehicles of different types and 114 motorcycles "used by terrorists" without license plates. As for the terrorist bases, the spokesman said that 386 hideouts and weapons depots have been destroyed. Rifai added that the army engineering unit disposed of 30 explosive devices planted to target Egyptian forces in their area of operations. They also destroyed a number of tunnels in the vicinity of Rafah city, while 250 wanted criminals and suspects were arrested. The operations carried out by the army are highly supported by the president and government. Egypt is fighting an ISIS affiliate militant group in the northern Sinai Peninsula, known as “Sinai State”, that has been targeting the army, police and civilians since 2013 and has launched attacks in several parts of the country. Egypt is also fighting a smaller terrorist organization belonging to the Muslim Brotherhood, which authorities consider a terrorist organization. The military spokesman addressed the living conditions in North Sinai and announced that the armed forces continue to send food aid to the area to alleviate the suffering of the residents. Rifai pointed out that the naval forces continue to secure maritime routes, protect strategic areas and cut terrorists’ sea supply lines. The coast guards also continue to organize joint patrols with the police.

Leading Muslim Brotherhood Figure Becomes Head of Libya’s HCS
Cairo - Khalid Mahmoud/Abdulrahman Swehli. Asharq Al-Awsat/Monday, 9 April, 2018 /Khalid al-Mishri, a leading figure in the Justice and Construction Party of the Muslim Brotherhood in Libya, won the position of the head of the High Council of State (HCS), replacing Abdulrahman al-Swehli. Mishri won 64 votes - while 45 went for Swehli, who is the founder of HCS and its head for two consecutive years - in the second round of elections that took place in Tripoli on Saturday. Mohamed Maazeb and Abdulla Juwan were the two other candidates competing for the post. Swehli was tipped to be re-elected after winning the first round by 37 votes while Mishri came second with 36, Juwan 26 and Maazeb with 17 votes out of 122. Naji Mukhtar was also elected as first deputy president of the HCS while Fawzi Aqab was elected as second deputy. Mishri, 51, is considered one of the most prominent opponents of head of the Libyan National Army (LNA) Khalifa Haftar and of the Karama Operation, which has been launched against extremist groups in the country, especially in the eastern region. He was a member of the outgoing General National Congress (parliament), the chairman of its finance committee and a member of the national security committee.The elections were held at a time of a state of shock in Libya following the discovery of the remains of three young children of the same family who were kidnapped in 2015 while heading to school near the capital. The children, who came from the family of al-Shershari, a Libyan businessman, were found killed in Abu Issa area between Sorman and al-Zawiya in western Libya after they were abducted for ransom in December 2015. The kidnappers had demanded 20 million Libyan dinars from the father of the three children for their release. The remains of the children, who were seven, nine, and 13-years-old when they were kidnapped, were found buried in a forest south of the city of Sorman and taken to the city's hospital.

Latest LCCC Bulletin analysis & editorials from miscellaneous sources published on April 09-10/18
Now is the time to hit Assad hard, not withdraw
Faisal J. Abbas/Arab News/April 09/18
US President Donald Trump has made it clear that, with Daesh defeated, he wants to end the US military presence in Syria and bring his soldiers home. The horrific chemical gas attack on Douma is an indication of how important it is that, rather than withdraw, America re-engage in Syria.
Despite the denials from Damascus, there can be no doubt who did this. The only people who have what was required to carry out such a monstrous attack — the capability, the chemical weapons arsenal, the callous disregard for civilian life — are the Assad regime. They have done it before. And unless they are stopped, they will do it again.
It has become evident that the only language the Assad regime understands is the language of force. In August 2012, Barack Obama said the use of chemical weapons in Syria would be “a red line.” A year later, when Bashar Assad attacked his own people with sarin gas, that “red line” was forgotten. Today, the people of Douma are paying the price for a US president’s vacillation.
It has become evident that the only language the Assad regime understands is the language of force.
owever, who can forget the shock and awe when, in response to Assad’s chemical weapons attack in Idlib in April last year, President Trump ordered cruise missile strikes on the Syrian air base from where the attack was launched?
The Douma outrage cannot be read as anything but a response to the US announcement of withdrawal. It sends a clear sign to the international community of what kind of future awaits Syria — just when we all thought things could not become any worse.
Indeed, such a vacuum would no doubt be viewed as an opportunity by the malign powers at work in this region, chief among them Iran.
Douma should ring alarm bells in Washington; far from withdrawal, what is required is greater engagement. If America takes that path, it can be sure that the whole world, including Saudi Arabia and its allies, will follow.
• Twitter: @FaisalJAbbas

Iran’s sophisticated interventions in Bahrain
Dr. Majid Rafizadeh/Arab News/April 09/18
The Iranian regime’s meddlesome footprints are ubiquitous in the region, including in Bahrain, and the latest developments indicate that Tehran is intensifying its efforts to intervene more extensively in the Gulf state’s sociopolitical system.
Four decades of experience have made the Iranian regime skilled at employing a multi-dimensional strategy to influence and intervene in other nations’ domestic politics. When it comes to Bahrain, Iranian leaders are increasingly targeting the country on three fronts simultaneously.
On the economic front, the Iranian regime attempts to chart illicit paths by exploiting Bahrain’s financial system. For example, most recently, Bahrain’s Foreign Minister Khalid bin Ahmed Al-Khalifa pointed out that the government had detected the Iranian-linked Future Bank was operating a covert corruption scheme in Bahrain. Such a multibillion-dollar operation could have severe repercussions.
The Iranian regime probably uses such illegal financial activities to skirt sanctions, as well as sponsor terrorism, proxies, lobbyists and spies in other countries. This assists the Iranian leaders in employing sophisticated methods such as wire-stripping in order to avoid leaving any tracks behind, as well as concealing where payments and transfers have originated from or been deposited to. It was recently revealed that Iran’s Bank Melli instructed Future Bank officials on what specifically not to do when routing money through the US.
On the political front, Iran utilizes both soft and hard power. Tehran promotes the narratives of those individuals or groups that aggressively oppose the Bahraini government.
In addition, militarily speaking, the Iranian regime is increasingly supporting belligerent militant groups with weapons, organizational skills, intelligence and training. Most recently, Bahraini security forces arrested more than 100 people on charges of terrorism and plotting attacks on government officials. Bahrain accused them of being part of a network that was founded by Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps. This was not the first time Iran has been caught supporting terror cells in Bahrain. In the last two years, Bahraini officials have detected or dismantled several Iran-backed groups that were planning, or had already carried out, attacks in the island kingdom.
The West ought to more robustly support Bahrain in its efforts to counter Iran’s meddling and violation of international laws.
The regime is using the same ideological and religious modus operandi it employed in Iraq, Yemen and Lebanon. Iranian leaders are attempting to exploit Bahrain’s Shiite population and religious leaders in an effort to control Manama. From Tehran’s perspective, this would help it to strengthen the Shiite axis and tip the regional balance of power against the Sunnis and Gulf states.
Some Iranian officials and IRGC commanders even believethat Bahrain ought to be one of Iran’s provinces. It is therefore not unrealistic to argue that Tehran would ideally desire to set up a Shiite theocracy in Bahrain similar to Iran’s clerical establishment. But, if this turns out to be too far-fetched for Tehran, the Iranian regime would be satisfied with turning Manama into a Beirut, Baghdad or Sanaa, where it can exert more influence.
These developments should not only be alarming to Manama, but also to the US, as its Fifth Fleet is based in Bahrain. Iran is attempting to scuttle the mission of Washington’s Fifth Fleet and the objectives of US foreign policy in countering Tehran’s militaristic activities, confronting the regime’s naval provocations, and ensuring stability, peace and security in the Gulf. By trying to destabilize Bahrain, empowering the Iran-backed militias and terrorist groups, targeting the US Navy, making the country unstable, and raising the US Navy’s costs and expenses, the Iranian regime is trying to pressure the US into withdrawing its Fifth Fleet.
When it comes to counterterrorism strategies and operations, Bahrain has been increasingly successful at detecting and dismantling Iranian-backed cells. Nevertheless, it should be taken into account that Iran’s agenda in trying to dominate Bahrain is anchored in an extensive long-term plan. The US and its European allies ought to more robustly support Bahrain in its efforts to counter Iran’s meddling and violation of international laws. The military, economic and geopolitical assistance of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) also plays a crucial role in confronting Tehran’s aggressive behavior.
*Dr. Majid Rafizadeh is a Harvard-educated Iranian-American political scientist. He is a leading expert on Iran and US foreign policy, a businessman and president of the International American Council. He serves on the boards of the Harvard International Review, the Harvard International Relations Council and the US-Middle East Chamber for Commerce and Business. Twitter: @Dr_Rafizadeh

Egyptian economy torn between thinkers and doers
Mohammed Nosseir/Arab News/April 09/18
In the second half of 2013, I was thrilled that a number of famous Egyptian economists whose work I have been observing and admiring for years were heading the Egyptian cabinet. Naively, I thought that all the constructive ideas they had been advocating for years would come true. Then I realized that being good at teaching theory in a classroom is totally different to being exposed to real life, where crafting any given policy is a challenge.
This cabinet of academic ministers lasted for less than a year. It was followed by an action-oriented team, which distances itself from theory and aspires to implement a large number of projects without subjecting them to any kind of prior technical validation. The current members of cabinet tend to believe that the accumulation of projects will create an economic momentum that will have a positive impact on all citizens — an economic approach that many renowned international scholars denounce but that our government insists on applying.
The dilemma in Egypt is that academicians are far too theoretical and doers are far too impulsive. The former tend to express their knowledge of any given subject by advancing one theory after another (theories that may conflict with one another), giving no thought to their effective application. Meanwhile, action-oriented executives, who believe that all that matters is project implementation, thoughtlessly put all their energy into aggressively pushing for the application of their ideas.
For decades, the Egyptian economy has been vacillating between an economy that is strongly linked to the application of a given economic theory and an action-oriented government overwhelmingly made up of executives who realize their success through action. While the fluctuations of the Egyptian economy are often affected by external factors that have little to do with the philosophy of the cabinet in power, traditionally, doers in Egypt tend to undermine theoreticians, who in return often accuse them of having too narrow a focus.
Disconnect between Egypt's academics and its doers is detrimental to nation's future economic prosperity.
Egyptian academicians and action-oriented executives represent two completely different career paths that neither overlap nor share the same experiences. Citizens who believe that knowledge is the ultimate wealth concentrate on maximizing their knowledge, while doers are convinced that actions speak for themselves and believe that moving from one point to another is an achievement in itself (regardless of whether the move is necessary or what, if any, value it has).
Many Egyptians argue that the red tape and inflexibility of government bureaucracy make it very difficult for either academics or doers to apply real reform. I could have accepted this argument had I observed strong insistence on the implementation of reform (by any given government). In Egypt, we hesitate to apply any economic model thoroughly and instead switch from one idea to another.
We have no single consistent economic policy that functions regardless of cabinet changes. Appointed ministers always work on coming up with their own ideas, which are implemented during their terms in office (whose duration they can’t foretell). What we need in Egypt is an accumulation of knowledge that is made available to every minister to help him or her craft proper decisions. However, very few ministers value this kind of comprehensive knowledge and therefore it does not exist.
Culturally, Egyptian society tends, on all issues, to prefer narrow, vertical outlooks to a broader, horizontal approach. We have large numbers of economic experts, but each is well versed in their own very narrow field of specialization and completely disconnected from reality. Their intellectual capacity is filled with their desired knowledge, making it difficult for them to digest new challenges. Our action-oriented executives, on the other hand, tend to be over-excited about the things that they are good at doing, without submitting them to any kind of proper evaluation.
Ultimate knowledge without any practical application is of no value, as are consistent applications that are not based on knowledge. Egypt is in real need of executives with solid leadership skills who are capable of connecting the dots between the academicians and the doers, and who can put the former’s knowledge to good use while knowing how to galvanize the latter to apply this knowledge. The undermining of both academics and doers is detrimental to our future economic prosperity.
• Mohammed Nosseir, a liberal politician from Egypt, is a strong advocate of political participation and economic freedom. Twitter: @MohammedNosseir

Time to curb the ‘devil of Damascus’
Siraj Wahab/Arab News/April 09/18
JEDDAH: The attack was savage, brutal and callous. The response from the international community was swift, damning — and aimed directly at Syria’s president Bashar Assad.
As women and children gasped for breath after the Douma chemical gas attack that killed at least 70 people, world leaders were united in calling for the Assad regime to be held to account.
US President Donald Trump described Assad as “an animal,” The Turkish leader Recep Tayyip Erdogan condemned “war crimes and crimes against humanity” and French foreign minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said the attack was “a gross violation of international humanitarian law.”
British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson said it was “truly horrific to think that many of the victims were families seeking refuge from airstrikes in underground shelters.”
He described the attack as “yet another appalling example of the Assad regime’s brutality and blatant disregard for both the Syrian people and its legal obligations not to use chemical weapons.”
UN Secretary-general Antonio Guterres said he was “deeply concerned about renewed and intensive violence in Douma” and called on all parties to cease fighting. “It is critical that civilians be protected,” he said. “Any use of chemical weapons, if confirmed, is abhorrent, and requires a thorough investigation,” he said. Guterres called on all sides to ensure respect for international humanitarian and human rights law, including humanitarian access across Syria to all people in need.
It was in the Arab world, however, that the condemnation was most intense.
Dr. Hamdan Al-Shehri, a Saudi political analyst and international relations scholar in Riyadh, said he was devastated by what he had seen.
“The footage on TV of Syrian children and women in Douma turning blue for lack of oxygen, writhing in pain and gasping for breath should rattle the conscience of the world,” he said.
“This is not the first time that Bashar Assad has attacked his own people with deadly gas. He has done this repeatedly and with impunity. It is as if he is mocking the international community.”
Condemnation from world leaders was no longer enough and action must be taken to prevent such attacks, Al-Shehri said.
“We hear words of condemnation from the world community,” he said. “We hear that Bashar Assad will not go unpunished. We hear that he will be held accountable for all that he has done.
“All these are mere words. Words are empty if they are not backed by action. Strong action. Exemplary action. Actions speak louder than words.”
Al-Shehri in particular criticized the international community for failing to live up to its promises on Syria.
“Not so long ago did we hear Barack Obama calling a chemical attack a ‘red line’ — and when that line was crossed by Bashar Assad, nothing was done,” he said. “In the post-Obama period, the Syrian people were promised that action would be taken.
“It has been seven years since hell was let loose on the Syrian people by Assad, Russia and Iran. The innocent people of Syria have nothing with which to defend themselves from these gas attacks, these chemical weapon attacks. There has to be a solution to this problem. Why is the devil of Damascus being allowed to continue his rampage?
“Mere condemnation of Russia, Iran and Assad will not suffice. They need to be stopped. The world community needs to do something, and do some something fast.”
Oubai Shahbandar, a Syrian-American analyst and fellow at the New America Foundation’s International Security Program, also said the attack in Douma showed that action was needed now.
“This is a chemical attack launched by the Assad regime with the explicit purpose of killing civilians and terrorizing the populace,” he said.
Images of the bodies of women and children in bunkers, foaming at the mouth, had been independently verified and “there is no doubt” that their deaths were caused by a chemical agent, Shahbandar said.
“Chemical-weapon watchdog the OPCW (Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons) itself blamed Assad for prior use of nerve agents and other chemical weapons last year, and now in Douma the Assad regime believes that it can continue to use these horrific weapons of mass destruction with impunity.” Shahbandar said the administration of US President Donald Trump needed to act decisively, along with the international community.
“The only real, viable solution to ending Assad’s chemical campaign is the complete and total neutralization of his chemical-weapon and ballistic-missile production facilitates — which Iran and Hezbollah have been actively aiding,” he said. The Syrian scientific research center is the central organization that Assad uses to make and weaponize chemical weapons, and unless this center and its affiliated military bases are taken out once and for all, the Syrian chemical genocide is going to continue unabated,” said Shahbandar.

Europe's Civilizational Exhaustion
Giulio Meotti/Gatestone Institute/April 09/18
Islam is filling the cultural vacuum of a society with no children and which believes -- wrongly -- it has no enemies.
In Sweden, by 2050, almost one in three people will be Muslim.
The European mainstream mindset now seems to believe that "evil" comes only from our own sins: racism, sexism, elitism, xenophobia, homophobia, the guilt of the heterosexual white Western male -- and never from non-European cultures. Europe now postulates an infinite idealization of the "other", above all the migrant.
A tiredness seems to be why these countries do not take meaningful measures to defeat jihadism, such as closing Salafist mosques or expelling radical imams.
Muslim extremists understand this advantage: so long as they avoid another enormous massacre like 9/11, they will be able to continue taking away human lives and undermining the West without awakening it from its inertia.
In a prophetic conference held in Vienna on May 7, 1935, the philosopher Edmund Husserl said, "The greatest danger to Europe is tiredness". Eighty years later, the same fatigue and passivity still dominate Western European societies.
It is the sort of exhaustion that we see in Europeans' falling birth rates, the mushrooming public debt, chaos in the streets, and Europe's refusal to invest resources in its security and military might. Last month, in a Paris suburb, the Basilica of Saint Denis, where France's Christian kings are buried, was occupied by 80 migrants and pro-illegal-immigration activists. The police had to intervene to free the site.
Pictured: French police eject some of the 80 migrants and pro-illegal-immigration activists who occupied the Basilica of Saint Denis, on March 18, 2018. (Image source: Video screenshot, YouTube/Kenyan News & Politics)
Stephen Bullivant, a professor of theology and the sociology of religion at St Mary's University in London, recently published a report, "Europe's Young Adults and Religion":
"Christianity as a default, as a norm, is gone, and probably gone for good – or at least for the next 100 years," Bullivant said.
According to Bullivant, many young Europeans "will have been baptised and then never darken the door of a church again. Cultural religious identities just aren't being passed on from parents to children. It just washes straight off them... "And we know the Muslim birthrate is higher than the general population, and they have much higher [religious] retention rates."
Richard Dawkins, an atheist and the author of The God Delusion, responded to the study's release by tweeting to his millions of Twitter followers:
Before we rejoice at the death throes of the relatively benign Christian religion, let's not forget Hilaire Belloc's menacing rhyme:
"Always keep a-hold of nurse
For fear of finding something worse."
Dawkins is apparently concerned that that after the demise of Christianity in Europe, there will not be an atheistic utopia, but a rising Islam.
That is the major point of what Philippe Bénéton in his book The Moral Disorder of the West ("Le dérèglement moral de l'Occident"): Islam is filling the cultural vacuum of a society with no children and which believes -- wrongly -- it has no enemies.
According to Radio Sweden, fewer newborns in that country are being baptized due to the demographic shift. By 2050, almost one in three people in Sweden will be Muslim, according to a recent Pew report
The European mainstream mindset now seems to believe that "evil" comes only from our own sins: racism, sexism, elitism, xenophobia, homophobia, the guilt of the heterosexual white Western male --and never from non-European cultures. So Europe now postulates an infinite idealization of the "other", above all the migrant. The heritage and legacy of Western civilization gets sectioned off piece by piece so that nothing remains; our values are mocked and our survival instinct is inhibited. It is a process of decomposition that Europe's political authorities seem to have decided to mediate, as if it were inevitable. Now, the European Union waits to receive the next surge of migrants, from Africa.
In German Chancellor Angela Merkel's major speech in the Bundestag after the unprecedentedly long and difficult process of forming a new government, she struck a conciliatory tone on immigration while offering an inclusive message on Islam. "With 4.5 million Muslims living with us, their religion, Islam, has also become a part of Germany", she said.
The most powerful politician in Europe capitulated: she evidently forgot (again) the difference between the civil rights of individuals, which Muslim citizens enjoy in Germany, and the sources of a national identity, on which Europe is based: humanistic, Judeo-Christian values. This realization may why a week earlier the new German Interior minister, Horst Seehofer, said that "Germany has been shaped by Christianity" and not by Islam.
Europe's tiredness can also be seen in a generational conflict embodied in the alarming rise of public debt. In Italy, the political establishment was recently shaken up by the election of two major populist parties. It is a country with a public debt of 40,000 euros per capita, and a tax burden equal to 43.3% of GDP. The average age of the population is the third oldest in the world, together with one of the lowest birthrates on the planet, one of the lowest retirement ages in Europe and the highest social security spending-to-GDP ratio in the Western world. It is also a country where pensions account for one-third of all public spending and where the percentage of pensioners in proportion to workers will rise from 37% today to 65% in 2040 (from three workers who support one pensioner to three workers who support two pensioners).
An Islamist challenge to this tired and decaying society could be a decisive one. Only Europe's Christian population is barren and aging. The Muslim population is fertile and young. "In most European countries—including England, Germany, Italy and Russia, Christian deaths outnumbered Christian births from 2010 to 2015," writes the Wall Street Journal.
Terrorist attacks will continue in Europe. Recently, in Trèbes, southern France, a jihadist took hostages in a supermarket and claimed allegiance to ISIS. It seems that Europe's societies consider themselves so strong and their ability to absorb mass immigration so extensive, that nothing will prevent them from believing they can assimilate and manage terrorist acts as they have automobile fatalities or natural disasters. A tiredness also seems to be why these countries do not take meaningful measures to defeat jihadism, such as closing Salafist mosques or expelling radical imams.
Muslim extremists understand this advantage: so long as they avoid another enormous massacre like 9/11, they will be able to continue murdering people and undermining the West without awakening it from its inertia. The most likely scenario is that everything will continue: the internal fracture of Europe, two parallel societies and the debasement of Western culture. Piece by piece, European society seems to be coming irreparably apart.
**Giulio Meotti, Cultural Editor for Il Foglio, is an Italian journalist and author.
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Iran's Nobel Laureate is Done with Reform. She Wants Regime Change.
Eli Lake/Bloomberg/April, 09/18
Shirin Ebadi, Iran's Nobel Peace Prize-winning human rights lawyer, has had enough. For years she represented her country's dissidents in the Republic's corrupt courts. She spoke out for the rights of women, minorities and students abroad. But she never called for the end of the regime she was fighting to reform. Until now. "Reform is useless in Iran," Ebadi told me in an interview Thursday. "The Iranian people are very dissatisfied with their current government. They have reached the point and realized this system is not reformable."
For Ebadi the means of ending Iranian tyranny should be a UN-monitored referendum on the constitution that proposes a basic change: the elimination of the unelected office of supreme leader. The Iranian people, she said, "want to change our regime, by changing our constitution to a secular constitution based on the universal declaration of human rights."
Ebadi told me she never believed Rouhani was a reformer. Nonetheless, she also said she was reluctant to call for the end of the regime, because the 1979 revolution was so traumatic. This is why she says the current uprising has no single leader. "In the course of the struggle the leaders will emerge," she told me. "When we have free elections in Iran, the leaders will show themselves."
Ebadi first made her views known in a statement published in February with 13 other dissidents and human rights advocates to call for the referendum. In her interview with me however she for the first time got more specific about what Western governments and particularly the Trump administration can do to assist the Iranian people in their struggle.
To start, she made it clear that she was not calling for a military invasion of Iran or any kind of US interference with the movement itself. "The regime change in Iran should take place inside Iran and by the people of Iran," she said. "But you can help the people of Iran reach their own goal."
To this end, Ebadi had some recommendations. The basic idea is that the West should implement sanctions that weaken the regime, but do not hurt the people themselves. For example, Ebadi says the US and European governments should sanction the Republic of Iran Broadcasting (IRIB). This conglomerate controls the media in Iran, and also manages Iran's external foreign propaganda such as the English-language PressTV and the Arabic al-Alam.
There are few entities more deserving of censure and sanction. Inside Iran, the IRIB broadcasts a weekly television show that airs the coerced confessions of political prisoners.
Ebadi said targeting IRIB is a good way of crippling the regime's ability to attack its opponents and spread its propaganda. The concept is simple. She said no Western satellite provider should allow IRIB to broadcast its propaganda abroad.
Ebadi told me she was wary of reimposing some of the most crippling sanctions that were lifted in 2016 in the implementation of the Iran nuclear deal. The secondary sanctions on Iran's central bank, she said, benefitted figures close to the regime who made a fortune in hiding the money of regime elites. Meanwhile, average Iranians suffered hyper-inflation.
That said, Ebadi said European businesses were wise to hold off on striking deals. "They are reluctant to invest in a country with no political stability," she said. "How could you trust a government when every day in several corners of the country people are demonstrating and are unhappy?
For now Ebadi thinks it is important for the US to establish a channel to the legitimate and independent Iranian opposition. This however is trickier than it sounds.
She warned the regime had established all kinds of fake nongovernment organizations and groups overseas that appear independent, but really do the government's bidding.
One example is a group known as the Organization for Defending Victims of Violence, which has represented Iranian civil society at the annual meetings of the UN Human Rights Council. In 2011, the Center for Human Rights in Iran described it as "an NGO that in spite of its name, has not done anything during the session to defend the rights of Iranian victims of violence.
Another example Ebadi pointed to was the National Iranian American Council, or NIAC. NIAC played an important role in advocating for President Barack Obama's nuclear deal with Iran. Ebadi told me she regrets participating in an event with NIAC in 2011. "When I analyzed what they say and do," Ebadi said, "I realize what they say is closer to what the government says than what the people want."
Ebadi said she would support a new organization of Iranian-Americans to support her country's freedom movement -- "an organization that would be independent from the Iranian government and the US government."
Ebadi's proposals pose a real challenge for Western liberals who still hope engaging the regime will lead to reform. Ebadi has lost that hope. " People spontaneously came out onto the streets in 70 cities and called for a referendum," she said. "As a human rights defender, I have the duty of helping our people reach these goals."
That goal is a referendum to reject the rule by a supreme clerical leader. Ebadi is asking for solidarity. Will Western liberals join her?

Save Your Grandchildren, Don’t Avenge Your Ancestors
Ghassan Charbel/Asharq Al Awsat/April 09/18
On the way from San Francisco to Paris, questions hunt you no matter how hard you try to escape: When will the Arabs have a modern city which contributes to shaping their future? When will they have a vibrant city with its economy, education and services? A city that offers them a normal life, which meets their needs and respects their humanity?
In San Francisco, you feel as though the future of the world is being made here, with enormous investments, extraordinary fantasies and exceptional abilities to innovate and develop, as if the people of these giant companies were the poets of the coming days, making the impossible a reality, broadening the boundaries of mind and knowledge, and changing the economy, the people’s lives, culture, and all aspects of life on this planet.
The wars of the future are happening here with ferocity and relentlessness. The numbers are merciless. You have to succeed. And you have to win. Your failure means you are out of the race. The failure of your company entails its disintegration. It is a permanent test for the president and the subordinate. He, who masters swimming and generating new ideas, can survive the waves. There is no room for sagginess, laziness and pausing at turning points.
Army generals used to draw the fate of maps and nations. That time has gone. You are now in the hands of the Silicon Valley generals. Apple, Facebook, Google, Microsoft, Oracle, and others… Do not try to evade this change by saying that you are from another world. You are part of the global village, whether you like it or not. The longer you delay your engagement in the storm of progress, the more costly the consequences are.
You have no choice but to participate. Every other option means that you become dependent on the world. You remain on the margin, your economy collapses and your cities keep aging. It is either that your country gets involved, or everything in it regresses, including universities, hospitals, the army and the postal service. You will be completely wrong if you try to take shelter under the glories of history and sleep its splendors. The winner is the one who writes the history of the future, not the past.
I am not saying that the journey is easy, and boarding the train will not lead to ruptures, but we have experiences that we can learn from. Europe has gone through the same situation that’s now happening in the Middle East: some men emerged believing to have received a firm mandate from the spirit of the nation or the depth of history… A mandate without borders that allows them to impose their color on the Continent, to uphold a nation and to violate another, to impose the rule of a certain race over other races, to spread a culture and erase others… A mandate that allows them to remove international borders, to play with maps and demographic balances, to remake cities and manipulate their role, history and present time. A mandate based on subordination or suppression of the other, where coexistence is considered an obstacle or an impossible achievement.
Europe has witnessed scenes it had never expected to see. It saw Adolf Hitler display his pride on the Champs-Elysées avenue. It has seen the Europeans scramble to be deployed on the barricades of the Spanish Civil War. It saw convoys of displaced and immigrants, burned neighborhoods, and capitals filled with fear and rubble. It has witnessed oppression, darkness and horror and the rupture of countries and families. The Old Continent was the theater that saw the spark of two world wars, but the guns were silenced in the end. From the pile of corpses and pools of blood, the Europeans had to conclude what helped to prevent the tragedy from recurring. They had to decide: either use the truce to prepare for a new war or use it to arrange conditions for coexistence. Coexistence does not eliminate differences but prohibits the use of war as a means of resolving them.
Europe has seen all sorts of wars in the past centuries. It has experienced the wars of roles and control. It also went through religious and sectarian wars. It saw the wars of uprooting and erasing features. Following the horrors of two world wars, Europe understood that the future cannot be built with stones of the past. If you succumbed to the logic of open revenge, the French-German blood waterfall would still be pouring. If the memory of the French and British vessels were still being traded, artillery would still be exchanged, stamped with sailors’ blood.
Europe was soaked in blood, tears and rubble… A mass of ​​widows, orphans and people with no source of living... Damaged cities and devastated economies… One of the harshest feelings was that Europe did not learn from the lessons of World War I and fell into hell again. Politicians, diplomats and writers had to make a choice at the turning point. The Europeans chose to distance themselves from the path that gave rise to the disaster. They chose stability, reconstruction and coexistence on the Continent and within their countries. Although the Continent was partitioned by the world of the two camps, the Europeans did not allow themselves to slip into a war that this time could have destroyed the world, not only Europe.
Europe has developed the choice of stability to find prosperity. It has turned the walls of international borders into gates for the passage of people, goods and ideas. Ideas for the search for economic exchange, political coordination and cooperation in the face of challenges. Hence, your neighbor is no longer your enemy, he is your partner, with whom you discuss the expansion of common areas, not rushing the dates of divorce. Competition replaced fighting, cooperation replaced discord, and the differences were settled under the umbrella of concern for stability and aspiration to prosperity. Reasonable policies have replaced reckless strategies. People with practical minds have taken the place of those selling illusions.
The only solution is to be part of the world that is heading towards the future… to learn, train and adapt, to free hands and imaginations, and to enable your countrymen to benefit from the rewards of great technological developments to improve your economy, maintain your stability, and create conditions for your prosperity… to engage, attract expertise and training, and provide the right environment for investors and tourists alike. The only solution is to have a plan, to bet on the abilities of the younger generations, and to get them out of the wars of ancient history and the road to slow destruction.
Do not try to escape the challenges by resorting to the caves of history. Others have a history that matches or surpasses yours. If they had chosen to surrender to the past, Vienna would not have been Vienna, Berlin would not have become Berlin, Paris would not have been Paris… Belonging to the future saves your history from extinction. It turns your history into the fuel for the locomotive of progress. Do not delay or hesitate. It is your battle. Your duty is to save your grandchildren not to avenge your ancestors.

Spies Tracking Our Phones? Don't Be So Shocked
Stephen Carter/Bloomberg View/April 09, 2018/
The press has been in a lather of late over reports that the Department of Homeland Security had discovered evidence that cellphone tracking tools were being used by “unauthorized” parties in and around Washington.
Formally known as International Mobile Subscriber Identity catchers, and often called stingrays, these devices fool your phone’s baseband into believing it is in contact with a cell tower. IMSI catchers can use your phone’s signal to track your movements and contacts. In some cases they might persuade your phone to turn off its encryption. It’s a powerful, scary technology. Scarier still, federal officials admit that although they can detect the devices, they can’t find them. Still, here are three reasons that the excitement over the news from Washington is a little overdone.
In the first place, the use of IMSI catchers by unauthorized parties isn’t news. Privacy advocates have long fought to reduce reliance on the devices by law enforcement, on the ground that they sweep up too much data from those suspected of nothing. But techies have been warning for years that stingrays could be used by criminals and foreign governments. A 2014 article in the Harvard Journal of Law and Technology was succinct: “Hostile foreign intelligence services can and, almost certainly, are using the technology in this country for espionage.”
In other words, the concern that’s suddenly making headlines has been around for a while -- so long that entrepreneurs have been developing tools to help us detect their presence. Remember that IMSI-catchers trap mobile phone signals by mimicking cell towers. One means for uncovering stingrays, then, is to use algorithms that identify what would seem to be towers except that they switch frequency too often or actually change location. Last year, researchers at the University of Washington announced that they had used exactly these techniques to uncover hidden IMSI catchers in and around Seattle.
All of which is to say that although it’s useful to have longstanding suspicions confirmed, the widespread use of stingrays, with or without authorization, should hardly be considered newsworthy.
In the second place, to borrow from John le Carré, spying is eternal. We shouldn’t profess such surprise that foreign powers try to use against us the same tools we would use against them if we didn’t have anything better. Americans are always shocked to learn that we’re not invulnerable to espionage. But spying is tit for tat, and the phones to which we as a nation seem addicted are a natural and tempting target. For our own convenience, we constantly send vulnerable packets of data into the ether. We should hardly be surprised that foreign governments (or whoever the unauthorized users are) yield to the temptation to study what we so casually broadcast.
But in the third place, we should never allow ourselves to forget that lots of people who don’t happen to be spies are already spying on us. Like our cellphone carriers. Like just about every website we visit. (Although not all to the same extent. A 2016 Princeton University study of the 1 million most visited sites found that news sites tend to be the most intrusive, and sites maintained by government and educational institutions the least.) True, the data most sites collect is formally anonymous, but de-anonymizing might not be all that hard, particularly with social media. In a 2017 paper, researchers from Stanford and Princeton universities showed how, given 30 anonymized links originating from Twitter Inc., they could deduce the underlying Twitter account with 50 percent accuracy.
And that’s before we even get to Facebook Inc. Now, I have zero interest in kicking a good company when it’s down, so let me start out by saying that users who are howling about their (anonymyized) data falling into the wrong hands may not have spent much time perusing Facebook’s terms of service. The challenge for the privacy-conscious user isn’t third parties; the challenge is Facebook itself, which exists not to connect you with friends but to package data about your online activities and use it to sell targeted advertising. Happily, the company has recently translated the list of what it admittedly collects about its users from legalese into something approaching English, and anybody with an account (all 2 billion-plus of us) should take a gander at the remarkable result.
It’s natural that we worry about digital privacy -- and we do worry about it, apparently a lot -- but we need to stop acting like babes in the woods. We can’t go squalling for our parents whenever some new set of prying eyes sets its sights on our data. Not when we allow all sorts of corporate strangers to rummage through our digital lives, and rarely raise a peep.