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Do all things without murmuring and arguing, so that you may be blameless
Letter to the Philippians 02/12-19: "Therefore, my beloved, just as you have
always obeyed me, not only in my presence, but much more now in my absence,
work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who is at
work in you, enabling you both to will and to work for his good pleasure. Do
all things without murmuring and arguing, so that you may be blameless and
innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and
perverse generation, in which you shine like stars in the world. It is by
your holding fast to the word of life that I can boast on the day of Christ
that I did not run in vain or labour in vain. But even if I am being poured
out as a libation over the sacrifice and the offering of your faith, I am
glad and rejoice with all of you and in the same way you also must be glad
and rejoice with me. I hope in the Lord Jesus to send Timothy to you soon,
so that I may be cheered by news of you."
Latest LCCC Bulletin analysis & editorials from miscellaneous sources
published on April 25-26/18
Aoun in his address to Lebanese voters on eve of legislative elections: Free
yourselves from the means of pressure and temptation/NNA/April 25/18
Hariri says 'Lebanon is one big refugee camp/Georgi Azar/Annahar April 25/18
We May Hit Russian Systems in Syria, Israel Says After Threats of
'Catastrophic Consequences/Haaretz and Reuters/April 25/18
Soaked in blood, Toronto the Good/Tarek Fatah/Toronto Sun/April 25/18
Trump and France's Macron seek new measures on Iran as deadline looms
Steve Holland, Marine Pennetier, Jeff Mason/Reuters/April 25/18
The ISIS triangle which allows militants to disappear calls for a joint
operation between Iraq, Syria and the US/Hassan Hassan/The National/April
Iran attempting to reappear on the regional scene by co-opting elections/Sawsan
Al Shaer/Al Arabiya/April 25/18
Why sanctions against Russia do not work/Shehab Al-Makahleh/Al Arabiya/April
The war on Gaza: Western Media’s misrepresentation of Palestine and
Palestinians/Ramzy Baroud/Al Arabiya/April 25/18
British ambassador attests to Saudi counter-terrorism efforts in Awamiya/Salman
al-Dosary/Al Arabiya/April 25/18
How Hamas Exploits the People of Gaza: Protests Clarify Their Cynical
Dennis Ross/New York Daily News/April 25/18
Iran’s many adversaries must agree a common strategy/Sir John Jenkins/Arab
Conditions must be right before Syrian refugees can return/Kerry Boyd
Anderson /Arab News/April 25/18
Dr.Walid Phares: World War 3 THREAT: Iran regime's only intention is
building long-range nuclear missiles/Darren Hunt/Express/April 25/18
Titles For Latest LCCC Lebanese Related News published on
Aoun in his address to Lebanese
voters on eve of legislative elections: Free yourselves from the means of
pressure and temptation
Lebanon: 'Foreigners’ Residency' Could be Overturned as Aoun Cedes to Rai’s
Aoun: Electoral Law Ensures Correct Representation, Don't Vote for Those who
Hariri says 'Lebanon is one big refugee camp
Hariri at Brussels Conference: Lebanon Turned into a Big Refugee Camp
Hariri Meets Jubeir, Officials on Sidelines of Brussels Conference
Lebanon wins Best Stand Award at Arabian Travel Market 2018
Mashnouq Says No 'Sectarian Dispute' in Beirut, Slams 'Political Velayat-e
UK Says Lebanon Remains at the Heart of International Conferences
Franjieh Says Marada's Electoral Chances 'Excellent'
'King-of-Selfies' Hariri Launches App in Election Campaign
EU, Tueni's Office Aim at Enhancing Transparency, Good Governance
Machnouk visits Lebanese consulate in France
Bou Assi from Brussels: Repatriation of refugees an obligation, not a right
Geagea in front of Koura delegation: We undergo electoral battle for sake of
Hariri meets Belgian Prime Minister
Khalil signs Electoral Supervisory Committee exceptional allocations
Titles For Latest
LCCC Bulletin For Miscellaneous Reports And News published on
We May Hit
Russian Systems in Syria, Israel Says After Threats of 'Catastrophic
Trump says US wants ‘lasting’ footprint in Syria
Macron Vows Iran Will 'Never' Possess Nuclear Weapons
Iran's President Says No Changes, Additions to Nuclear Deal
UN Worried Donor States Could Decrease Aid Pledges to Syrians
Israeli minister Lieberman heads to US to discuss Iran ‘expansion’
EU leader Mogherini says current Iran nuclear deal should be kept
International Conference in Paris on Combating Terrorist Financing
Donors Pledge $4.4 Billion for Syria, Well Short of Target
Bahrain presents new evidence against three men who spied for Qatar
Kuwait expels Philippines envoy amid tensions over domestic workers
Egypt says three soldiers, 30 extremists killed in restive Sinai
Palestinian Presidency: Any Suspicious Ideas to Circumvent Arab Initiative
Are Futile Attempts
Palestinian journalist shot at Gaza protest dies of wounds
Algeria sentences Liberian to death over espionage for Israel
Green light for crown prince-led Saudi privatization program
Lebanese Related News published on
Aoun in his address to Lebanese
voters on eve of legislative elections: Free yourselves from the means of
pressure and temptation
In his address to the
Lebanese on the eve of the legislative elections, President of the Republic,
Michel Aoun, said:
"To the Lebanese men and women, in Lebanon and abroad,
You will be invited to vote in a few days, nine years after the last
elections, during which Lebanon has seen major events including the scourge
of terrorism that has hit the Middle East. Our country, by its strength, was
able to combat terrorism, remained intact, and regained its security and
After the presidential elections, it was normal to adopt a new law for the
legislative elections, as promised in my inaugural speech. This new
electoral law guarantees the fairest representation to all the components of
the Lebanese people, be it the majority or the minority, and also grants,
for the first time, the right to vote to the Lebanese diaspora wherever it
In addition to the effective representation, this law determines the
political choice through the closed list. Through this choice, it is now
possible for the voter to show his personal appreciation of the candidates
in the selected list by giving his preferential vote to the candidate he
deems the best.
However, the reverse of the medal, as pointed out by almost all observers,
is a conflict that has emerged between members of the same list to obtain
the preferential vote.
However, this fact is not attributable to the law per se, but rather to the
candidates themselves. Indeed, the law is the framework that gives voters
the freedom of choice, while the conflict is due to the lack of cooperation
between members of the same list or to the fact that they are still not used
to be part of a positive competition.
Another downside that has emerged recently is the decline of the political
discourse, and the most dangerous is that it is currently moving towards
To the candidates,
Political ambition is a project and a right for those who are competent and
able to exercise the public service and to address the people to convince
them that they have also adopted a right that is theirs. However, avoid
addressing instincts, move away from sectarian mobilization and instigation
to violence. Address the brains of the voters and not their instincts.
Indeed, incitement to sectarianism is the first step towards sedition. Do
not ignite it in order to win a seat in the Parliament.
To the citizens,
In all cases, it is up to you to assume the first responsibility. Freedom is
a responsibility,the same applies for the choice.
Free yourselves from the means of pressure and temptation that corrupt the
conscience. The curtain of the polling booth exists for this purpose, and
behind it stands a free man. Make sure your vote is a pledge of trust and a
true delegation of power, followed by real accountability. Indeed, your role
does not end at the polls, but it will start from there. The success of
governance requires a true partnership between the people and their
representatives and also involves a real accountability should they make
mistakes or fail to fulfill your trust. Do not relinquish your role which is
consecrated and enhanced in the new electoral law.
Some values in life are free, such as love, trust and freedom of conscience,
which cannot be bought or sold. If these values lose their gratuity and
become a merchandise for sale, hence love would become prostitution, as well
as trust and conscience.
Let your vote in the elections be free and express your confidence in those
for whom you vote.
Do not vote for those who pay or offer money because those who buy you will
eventually sell you and those who sell the citizen will sell the country
just as easily.
Do not vote for those who pay because you will not be able to hold them
accountable if they make mistakes in the future.
Do not vote for those who pay and show you generosity, and remember that
charity is not occasional and should not only take place during elections.
Do not vote for those who have sold and sell sovereignty on every occasion.
Do not vote for those who have turned your rights into services that they
monopolize and use to blackmail you if necessary.
Do not be false witnesses and do not settle for less than the truth to keep
Do not believe those who overwhelm you with promises that go beyond reality
and possibility because they will not keep their promises. Remember that
election promises are only binding for those who believe them.
Beware of those who launch campaigns based on the negative aspects of others
and who only resort in their political speeches to defamation, slander and
rumor without really having a concrete project to showcase.
Avoid, or even refuse and reject those who foment feelings of sectarianism
and fanaticism because they undermine the stability of the country.
Remember the journey of the candidates, past and present.
Think about your future and that of your children.
Put the country's general interest above vested interests.
Appeal to your conscience, then choose, and cast your vote in the ballot
To the youth and to those of you who vote for the very first time,
You represent the future of Lebanon. Do not be neutral. Do not be
indifferent to what is happening around you. The expected change will only
happen through you. As much as you want to stay out of politics, the
politicsimposes itself on you and affects the course of your life. Be
proactive and take decisions so that your role is not limited to delivering
results and bearing the burden of consequences. Elections are the first step
to raising your voice. Participate massively so that your voice can be
To the Lebanese diaspora,
You are the depth of Lebanon in the world. For the first time in Lebanon, an
electoral law has been enacted granting you the right to participate in the
elections from where you are. Be attached to this right. Let your
participation express your attachment to and connection with your native
country andshow your sincere willingness to contribute to making changes in
To the Lebanese,
The first step towards the disintegration of societies is abandoning values,
turning a blind eye to mistakes and accepting them. I fear that our society
will become a society where corruption is a habit to which we adapt, where
bribery becomes justified and accepted, where lies become allowed and
I pin high hopes that you will be up to this responsibility and therefore
that you choose according to the values on which we were raised, with a pure
conscience and a free will.
Democracy reforms itself and the electoral process is the way. Today, every
voice gainsmore value and effectiveness. What remains is that you exercise
your right to choose and do not cede it. Election is a national duty and the
only way to change in a democracy.
It is an act of presence, dear Lebanese, so do not obliterate yourselves."
Lebanon: 'Foreigners’ Residency'
Could be Overturned as Aoun Cedes to Rai’s Pressure
Beirut - Nazeer Rida/Asharq Al Awsat/April
25/18/Lebanese President Michel Aoun responded on Tuesday to the growing
wave of opposition to Article 49 of the State Budget Law, which stipulates
the granting of residency to every Arab or foreigner who buys a housing unit
in Lebanon. Aoun sent a letter to Parliament, asking it to reconsider the
article, before agreeing with Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri to put the
issue on hold, pending a decision by the Constitutional Council on the
motion filed by ten deputies, led by the head of Kataeb Party, MP Sami
Gemayel. Article 49 stipulates that any foreigner, who purchases a property
worth at least $300,000, would receive a residency along with his family.
The residency would remain valid as long as the foreigner retains ownership
of the property. The article sparked a wave of opposing reactions, including
by Maronite Patriarch Beshara al-Rai, who voiced the Lebanese people’s
concerns over the repercussions of such law, calling for its abolition. He
also underlined the need to amend and suspend the law on the ownership of
foreigners, “as the number of such people now exceeds half the population of
Lebanon.”Despite an attempt by the head of the Finance and Budget
parliamentary committee, MP Ibrahim Kanaan, to calm down the fears of the
resettlement of displaced Syrians in Lebanon, saying that “the residency of
foreigners in Lebanon does not allow them to have the Lebanese nationality”,
the Maronite Patriarch remained firm in his position, putting great pressure
on the officials to reconsider the law. In remarks to Asharq Al-Awsat,
Former Minister Salim al-Sayegh, who is close to the head of the Kataeb
Party, said that the budget law “includes several constitutional violations,
but the most important is Article 49, which affects the Lebanese identity
and the issue of land purchase.”“This article needs a broader discussion and
cannot pass through the budget law,” he added.
Aoun: Electoral Law Ensures Correct
Representation, Don't Vote for Those who Sell Sovereignty
Naharnet/April 25/18/The new electoral law ensures the “most
correct representation for all the components of the Lebanese people,”
President Michel Aoun said on Wednesday. “Political ambition is legitimate
and a right for each one of you but avoid inciting sentiments and steer
clear of religious and sectarian agitation,” Aoun added, addressing
parliamentary candidates, in an address to the nation. “Do not vote for
those who pay you or offer you money, because those who buy you will later
sell you,” the president went on to say, in a message to voters. “Do not
vote for those who sold sovereignty and those who sell it on every
occasion,” Aoun said. And addressing Lebanese expats, who will be allowed to
vote outside Lebanon for the first time in the country's history, the
president added: “Cling to your right to vote and let your participation
reflect how much you are attached to your homeland.”The new electoral law
replaces a majoritarian system with a proportional one and allows Lebanese
expatriates to vote abroad for the first time. Some 82,000 expats have
registered to do so.
Hariri says 'Lebanon
is one big refugee camp'
Georgi Azar/Annahar April 25/18
Addressing the international community at the 'Supporting the future of
Syria and the region' donor conference in Brussels, Hariri voiced his
concern at the possibility of his country slipping into turmoil as a result
of economic hardship of the displaced Syrian population. BEIRUT: Prime
Minister Saad Hariri urged Wednesday the international community to renew
their support for Lebanon and other host countries in their efforts to cope
with the influx of Syrian refugees, telling those gathered that "worsening
economic conditions can lead to political and social unrest." Addressing the
international community at the 'Supporting the future of Syria and the
region' donor conference in Brussels, Hariri voiced his concern at the
possibility of his country slipping into turmoil as a result of the economic
hardship of the displaced Syrian population.
"The threat is real," he said.
Lebanon is currently hosting over 1.5 million Syrian refugees as a bloody
civil war continues to ravage neighboring Syria, with Hariri describing
Lebanon as "one big refugee camp." Yet he maintained that Lebanon has shown
solidarity with those affected while putting forth their due diligence to
alleviate their plight in line with "the commitments of Brussels I."The
Lebanese premier assured representatives of the 80 countries gathered that
Lebanon has put in place policies to soften the economic burden of refugees,
such as "waiving residency fees" while making it easier to register
marriages and children born in Lebanon. Hariri then outlined his
government's vision to weather the crisis, telling donors that Lebanon needs
USD 100 million per annum in order to implement the necessary
infrastructure, water, and waste management projects, as well as SMEs that
would provide displaced Syrians with proper employment. Touching on the
Palestinian population residing in Lebanon, which "reminds us that Lebanon
has been at the forefront of the war against terrorism," Hariri appealed to
the international community to cover a "USD 100 million funding gap needed
to complete the reconstruction project of the Nahr el-Bared Palestinian
refugee camp."The Syrian war entered its 8th year, as President Bashar
Assad's forces backed by Russia and Iran continue in their quest to regain
control over the country's vast territory. EU foreign policy chief Federica
Mogherini said the three have a “special responsibility” to establish a
cease-fire and to press Syrian President Bashar Assad to return to the
negotiating table. Britain’s State Minister for the Middle East, Alistair
Burt, agreed that Syria’s needs are enormous. “This is the world’s greatest
protection crisis. If you look at what’s happened and what’s been done to
people — breaches of humanitarian laws, the weakening of multilateral norms
that we have seen for a long time — it’s all focusing on Syria,” he said.
“We all know that what we do on a humanitarian basis is only the sticking
plaster on the wound. You’ve got to address the wound itself. So we hope
that the seriousness of the conflict and the damage that it’s done might be
used to further encourage the various parties to get going again.”Meanwhile,
U.N. Syria envoy Staffan De Mistura has warned that the northern, rebel-held
province of Idlib could become Syria’s newest humanitarian crisis area. -
Hariri at Brussels Conference: Lebanon Turned into a Big Refugee Camp
Naharnet/April 25/18/At the inaugural session of the
Brussels II Conference on Supporting the Future of Syria and the Region
Wednesday, Prime Minister Saad Hariri pointed out that the situation in
Lebanon is worsening as it hosts around 1.5 displaced Syrians, saying the
country has turned into a big camp for refugees. “It is of paramount
importance that the International community continues to work with Lebanon
to help it deal with the challenges associated with the severe and
unprecedented Syrians displaced crisis, whether through humanitarian
assistance or through development projects that would help improve the
livelihoods of the displaced and host communities,” said Hariri.“The tragedy
of the Syrian people continues for the eighth year, and Lebanon continues to
show exceptional hospitality, generosity and solidarity with the displaced
Syrians, at a time when the capacities of the host communities and
government infrastructure and services, are being overstretched and
exhausted,” he said. He noted that in spite of “all our combined efforts,
conditions have deteriorated. Lebanon continues to be a big refugees camp,”
adding that “tensions between the Syrian displaced and host communities have
increased, partly because of competition over scarce resources and jobs, and
partly because the host communities have seen their economic and social
conditions worsen due to the crisis.”
Pointing to government facilitations for refugees, Hariri said: “The
government of Lebanon waived the residency fee for the displaced thereby
allowing them to renew their legal stay while easing the financial burden.
The government also adopted important measures to facilitate the birth
registration of displaced children born in Lebanon. It made easy the
registration of a marriage if only one spouse has legal residency. Most
recently, displaced children who turned 15 years old in Lebanon and are not
in possession of a Syrian ID or passport, have been authorized to present a
civil extract to secure legal residency.”
“Progress was made in the education sector where a 13% increase in the
overall enrollment of displaced children in formal education with a total of
221,000 children enrolled in public schools, 68,000 in private and
subsidized schools, and 93,000 enrolled in non-formal education programs,”
The Ministry of Public Health, together with its national and international
partners, has made major progress to ensure that affordable healthcare is
provided to the displaced. “Moreover, at the Rome II conference,
international partners demonstrated strong support, commitment and
contribution to the strengthening of the Lebanese military and security
institutions, thereby underscoring Lebanon’s role as an important player in
the stability of the region.
“We just returned from Paris, where the Government of Lebanon presented a
comprehensive vision for stability and sustainable long-term growth and job
creation, based on the basic premises I presented to you in Brussels I. The
success of CEDRE reaffirms the commitment of our international partners to
Lebanon's economic stability and prosperity. I would like to take this
opportunity to thank all our friends in the international community for
their generous support and for mobilizing enough funds to secure the
financing of phase I of the government's capital investment program,” said
Hariri added that despite all the progress and the achievements over the
past years, Lebanon continues to face challenges. The worsening economic and
social conditions could result in increasing social discontent, which could
lead to unrest and violence and threaten the country’s security and
“It is of paramount importance that we continue working together to reverse
adverse trends, whether through humanitarian assistance or through
development projects that would help improve the livelihoods of the
displaced and host communities,” he stressed.
Listing Lebanon’s priorities, Hariri said: “First, the Lebanon Country
Response Plan should be appropriately funded. Our appeal for 2018 is around
2.7 USD billions with disbursements to date reaching 11% only. Second,
multiyear commitments should be secured to ensure sustainability of
multi-year projects like RACE II. Third, support to host communities should
be increased to a least USD 100 million per year. Fourth, support the
development of the Lebanese social protection system. Fifth, support the
National Strategic Framework for Technical Vocational Education and Training
(TVET), to promote a system that provides youth and workers with the
competences and skills they need to access decent work, and allow businesses
to recruit the workforce they need for their growth. He concluded: “Lastly,
I ask your support for the reconstruction of the Nahr el Bared camp for the
Palestinian refugees. This camp reminds us that Lebanon has been at the
forefront of the war against terrorism since the very start. Again, I call
upon you to support Lebanon in this daunting task. This is a collective
responsibility. We hope and pray for a speedy settlement of the tragedy of
the Syrian people.”
Hariri Meets Jubeir,
Officials on Sidelines of Brussels Conference
Naharnet/April 25/18/On the sidelines of his participation in
the Brussels II Conference on Supporting the Future of Syria and the Region,
Prime Minister Saad Hariri met on Wednesday with Saudi Foreign Minister Adel
al-Jubeir where talks focused on bilateral relations between the two
countries, the Premier’s media office said. Hariri also held talks with
German Foreign Minister, Haiku Mas, Liechtenstein Foreign Minister Aurelia
Frick and the Acting US Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern
Affairs David Satterfield. Before the launch of the conference, Hariri also
met with the EU Commissioner for European Neighbourhood Policy and
Enlargement Negotiations Johannes Hahn.
Lebanon wins Best Stand Award at
Arabian Travel Market 2018
The Daily Star/April 25/18/BEIRUT: President Michel Aoun
Wednesday congratulated Tourism Minister Avedis Guidanian on Lebanon’s
exhibition stand being awarded at the annual Arabian Travel Market event in
Dubai. The Best Stand Design was awarded based on Lebanon’s “creative design
that made the best use of available space and attracted a high level of
visitor traffic,” a statement from the Arabian Travel Market team said
Thursday. “I was very impressed, the stand really stood out and presented a
welcoming and homely feature. The stand featured a huge front door, with a
staircase which led to a well-laid out meeting space. It was a subtle, yet
intelligent, way to showcase the country,” panelist judge Pippa Jacks was
quoted by ATM as saying. Aoun received Guidanian at Baabda Palace to
congratulate him on “the ministry’s achievement at the Dubai exhibition,”
and stressed on the role of the tourism sector in reviving Lebanon’s economy
“in the coming season ... as Lebanon’s [current internal] stability helps to
achieve this,” a statement from the presidency said. Guidanian in turn
briefed Aoun on Lebanon’s participation at the event. The two also discussed
preparations for Visit Lebanon 2018 - the first international tourism and
travel forum organized by the Tourism Ministry, to take place on May 10 and
Mashnouq Says No 'Sectarian Dispute' in Beirut, Slams 'Political Velayat-e
Naharnet/April 25/18/Interior Minister and Beirut parliamentary candidate
Nouhad al-Mashnouq stressed Wednesday that “there is no sectarian dispute in
Beirut.”“The dispute is political par excellence and it has nothing to do
with religion whatsoever,” Mashnouq added during electoral campaign meetings
in the capital. “Some regions have been affected by imported sectarianism
but Beirut has been the least affected, because it is the capital of
culture, the seat of the state and the place where all people work and
meet,” the minister explained. He noted that the rivalry is “between two
political projects, not between two sects.”“We do not have a problem with
the religious velayat-e faqih, which is a personal issue that does not
concern us, whereas the political velayat-e faqih contradicts with the idea
of the national State, which brings together citizens whose loyalty should
be only to their State,” Mashnouq added, referring to Shiite Iran's form of
Islamic governance which is endorsed by Lebanon's Hizbullah. The minister
pointed out that the “fiery rhetoric” of Hizbullah chief Sayyed Hassan
Nasrallah in his recent electoral speeches is “aimed at creating a one-third
veto power in parliament in order to implement his political project through
parliamentary polls and ballot boxes, after he failed to do so through
politics in the period between May 7, 2008 and today.”
UK Says Lebanon Remains at the Heart of International
Naharnet/April 25/18/With the world’s focus once again on the
Syria crisis, the Brussels conference, less than a month after CEDRE, is
“another opportunity to demonstrate our resolve and unwavering commitment to
support Lebanon, host communities and Syrian refugees, to cope with the
ongoing Syria crisis,” a British minister said on Wednesday. Speaking at the
Brussels Conference on ‘Supporting the Future of Syria and the region’, the
UK's International Development Secretary Penny Mordaunt paid tribute to “the
sacrifice and contribution of Lebanon’s profound humanity in hosting the
highest concentration of refugees anywhere in the world,” urging donors to
make more multi-year pledges, the British embassy in Beirut said in a
statement. Mordaunt announced £450 million of development and humanitarian
support for 2018 for Syria and the region, bringing the UK’s total
contribution to date to the Syria crisis to £2.46bn, the UK's “largest ever
response” to a single humanitarian crisis. The Secretary thanked Lebanon and
its people for “their generosity in hosting large number of refugees.” In
her statement as co-chair of a session on human capital investment in the
region, she said: “The progress we have made since the London Syria
Conference in 2016 to ensure every child in the region has access to a
quality education is a reason for hope even in the most trying of
circumstances… In Lebanon, the public education system has doubled in size
since the start of conflict, and as a result, more than 356,000 Syrian
children are now receiving an education.”“However, there are nearly 690,000
children in the region without access to any education. And we need to work
together to reach these children or we risk creating a ‘Lost Generation.’…
Currently, the region has one of the highest rates of youth unemployment and
lowest rates of female labor market participation. By helping host countries
invest and improve their education systems we can help young men and women
transform their economies and spur economic growth across the region,”
“But as we do so, we must ensure that all our efforts also include refugees
and the most vulnerable. That includes working and undocumented children,
girls and children with disabilities. We must ensure that every child in the
region has equal access to a quality education and the opportunity to
fulfill their potential so we can create the economies of tomorrow, and a
future of peace and prosperity,” the Secretary went on to say.
On the sideline of the conference, British Minister of State for the Middle
East Alistair Burt met with Minister of Education and Higher Education
Marwan Hamadeh and accompanying delegation.
Burt thanked Lebanon for “the scale of generosity in continuing to host
refugees,” flagging that “UK support to Lebanon on education quality reforms
on teaching, learning and inclusion will continue so that every child
fulfills their potential,” the embassy said. “The Conference on ‘Supporting
the future of Syria and the region’ has built on the momentum of CEDRE
conference. Now, the Government of Lebanon will be implementing reforms and
swiftly approving financed infrastructure projects to attract further
international public and private sector investment to boost job creation and
public service delivery for the benefit of all those in Lebanon,” the
embassy added. “The £40 million package of UK support to the Lebanese
economy – announced at CEDRE - will create jobs and improve infrastructure
to boost economic development, showcasing the UK’s support to ambitious
economic reforms by the Government of Lebanon,” it said. At CEDRE, the UK
also committed to providing a further £20 million as the Government of
Lebanon “makes further progress delivering the reforms which are key for
successful infrastructure projects, and for economic recovery,” the embassy
Franjieh Says Marada's Electoral Chances 'Excellent'
Naharnet/April 25/18/Marada Movement chief MP Suleiman Franjieh announced
Wednesday that his political movement's chances in the upcoming
parliamentary elections will be “excellent.”“I reassure you that the
situation is excellent,” Franjieh said during a meeting with cadres and
electoral campaign employees in Bnashii. In an apparent jab at the Lebanese
Forces and the Free Patriotic Movement, Franjieh added: “We did not kill,
displace or abandon our people. We sacrificed our blood with them and did
not act like others who fled or emigrated.”Criticizing those “who are
claiming to defend Christians today,” the northern leader said “they are the
reason behind the loss of some rights and privileges and their policies are
behind the current situation.”“They accuse us over the issue of Syrian
tutelage because they have failed to find theft, displacement or blood in
our files,” Franjieh added. As for the elections, the Marada chief said: “We
are optimistic and, God willing, we will have a significant bloc. We have
allies and friends in several districts and we support them.”“Surveys are
reflecting a positive outcome for us and our friends and we will have MPs
from Marada and its allies and friends across Lebanon,” Franjieh added.
'King-of-Selfies' Hariri Launches App in Election
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/April 25/18/Prime Minister Saad Hariri has
launched an app to share selfies with his supporters as he campaigns for
re-election in the country's first parliamentary polls in almost a decade.
Long a fan of selfies, Hariri, 48, called on his social media followers to
use the app to share photos in which he appears by their side. The app
launch comes ahead of the elections on May 6, with many among the country's
almost 600 candidates seeking to woo young Lebanese on social media. Hariri
leads al-Mustaqbal Movement, which is fielding 37 candidates including
himself in the first legislative polls since 2009. The premier has taken
selfies with a wide range of supporters and even world leaders over the
years. One taken this month showed him looking relaxed and reclining in
Paris with Morocco's King Mohammed VI and Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince
Mohammed bin Salman. Once they have downloaded the new app, Hariri fans can
admire a collection of amateur portraits starring the prime minister,
grinning with his slicked-back hair amid his supporters. They can also add
their own photos with the leader. At a recent rally, he promised a group of
6,000 women to take a selfie with each of them if he won. The publicity
stunt, captured in a video that was shared widely, sparked criticism in a
country that has faced a series of political dramas in recent years and is
struggling to avoid an economic crisis. "A selfie to a background of debts,"
mocked one user on Facebook, alluding to rapidly raising debts in the
world's third most indebted country, according to the International Monetary
Fund. But an enthralled follower wrote: "May God protect you, king of
selfies."In November, Hariri announced his resignation in a surprise
televised address from Saudi Arabia that sent tremors through Lebanon.
Weeks later, following consultations with the various political groups in
Lebanon, Hariri announced he was withdrawing it.
EU, Tueni's Office Aim at Enhancing Transparency, Good
Naharnet/April 25/18/The European Union's Technical
Assistance and Information Exchange instrument (TAIEX) and the Office of the
Minister of State for Combating Corruption organised Wednesday a joint
workshop aiming at sharing knowledge and experiences to fight corruption,
strengthen rule of law and promote good governance in Lebanon, a press
release said. The workshop was inaugurated by Minister of State for
Combating Corruption Nicolas Tueni, in the presence of Rein Nieland
representing the EU Delegation, Eleonora Sconci from TAIEX and European
experts from different EU Member States. Also present from Lebanon were
representatives from the Office of the Minister of State for Combating
Corruption, Electoral Supervisory Commission, Court of Auditors, Central
Inspection and the civil society. "This workshop is a way to share with the
Office of the Minister of State for Combating Corruption and the Lebanese
citizens the different European institutional and legal structures on
preventing corruption, and more specifically on enhancing transparency",
said Rein Nieland. "Lebanon can certainly benefit from these experiences,
especially in light of the upcoming elections, take the most suitable ones
and adapt them to the Lebanese context", he added. The EU is currently
cooperating with the Office of the Minister of State for Combating
Corruption on strengthening the role and capacities of the different bodies
entrusted by law to fight corruption. The EU project also aims at enhancing
the role of the civil society in raising awareness on citizens' rights and
promoting transparency, good governance and accountability. The fight
against corruption and the need to build stronger and more efficient
institutions are important priorities for Lebanon to move forward with its
Machnouk visits Lebanese consulate in France
Wed 25 Apr 2018/NNA - Interior and Municipalities Minister, Nouhad Machnouk,
on Wednesday morning paid an inspection visit to the Lebanese Consulate in
France, in the presence of Lebanese Ambassador Rami Adwan and Embassy staff.
The visit comes hours before expatriates head to the polls for parliamentary
elections. Minister Machnouk checked preparations for the voting process
which is due tomorrow morning. Machnouk underlined that electoral
preparations are duly arranged in accordance with set norms, ruling out the
possibility of any administrative or technical error or any defect relating
to the integrity or transparency of the elections abroad. Machnouk stressed
that the Ministry shall not be lenient towards any violation or flaw related
to the application of the electoral law, neither at home nor abroad.
Machnouk is currently in Paris to partake in the international conference
"Cooperation to Combat Terrorist Financing."
Bou Assi from Brussels: Repatriation of refugees an
obligation, not a right
Wed 25 Apr 2018/NNA - Minister of Social Affairs, Pierre Bou Assi, said on
Wednesday that Lebanon, as well as neighborhood countries or perhaps more,
have carried the heavy burden of the influx of Syrian refugees, with all the
inflicted economic and social repercussions of such a displacement,
particularly on infrastructure. In an interview with Radio Monte Carlo while
in Brussels to partake in the conference to support the future of Syria and
the region, the Minister stressed that the return of Syrian refugees to
Syria is an obligation, not a right. He said statistics must be made on the
number of refugees so as to pave the way for their return. The Minister
recalled having urged, since 2017, support for infrastructure in Lebanon
that is most affected by the large number of refugees. He noted, however,
that expectations of higher economic growth were not correct. "We had
received support amounting at $30 to $40 million, at a time when this
support must be at least by $100 million," Bou Assi argued, noting that he
had submitted such a request during the conference. On the sidelines of the
Brussels conference, Minister Bou Assi met with UN High Commissioner for
Refugee, Filippo Grandi.
Geagea in front of Koura delegation: We undergo
electoral battle for sake of all Lebanon
Wed 25 Apr 2018/NNA - Lebanese Forces (LF) leader, Samir Geagea, said on
Wednesday that his party undergoes the electoral battle for the sake of a
better Lebanon. Geagea was speaking during his meeting with a delegation of
the northern town of Koura, in the presence of MP Fadi Karam. "Koura can
only have a Lebanese identity: those who claim that these elections will
manifest the identity of Lebanon are making a grave mistake, because the
identity of Lebanon does not need to be proven," he said. Geagea stressed
before the delegation that the LF is undergoing the electoral battle for the
sake of Lebanon as a whole, saying the Lebanese deserve a real, efficient
state that they aspire for. Geagea also called on voters to cast their
ballots in favor of LF electoral lists in all Lebanon, in order to help the
country end its existing crisis.
Hariri meets Belgian Prime Minister
Wed 25 Apr 2018/NNA - The Prime Minister of Belgium, Charles Michel,
received this afternoon the President of the Council of Ministers Saad
Hariri at the premiership headquarters, in the presence of the Lebanese
Ambassador to Belgium Fadi Hajj Ali and Hariri's Chief of Staff Nader
Earlier, Hariri met at the European Commission headquarters with the
Japanese foreign Minister Taro Kono.
Khalil signs Electoral Supervisory Committee
Wed 25 Apr 2018/NNA - Finance Minister, Ali Hassan Khalil, on Wednesday
signed the exceptional allocations for the Electoral Supervisory Committee
in full, due to the absence of a financial and administrative system for
Bulletin For Miscellaneous Reports And News published
on April 25-26/18
We May Hit Russian Systems in Syria,
Israel Says After Threats of 'Catastrophic Consequencesإسرائيل تهدد بضرب
انظمة الدفاع الروسية في سوريا عقب تهديدها بعواقب كارثية
Russia to send advanced S-300 anti-aircraft missiles to Assad, officials
said Monday, warning Israel not to attack the new air defense systems
Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman said Tuesday that Israel may strike the
Russian-made S-300 anti-aircraft defense systems in Syria if they are used
"One thing should be clear - if someone fires on our planes, we will destroy
them," Lieberman said in an interview with the Israeli website Ynet. "What's
important to us is that the weapons defense systems that the Russians
transfer to Syria are not used against us. If they are used against us, we
will act against them. Lieberman's comments come a day after senior Russian
officials told the Kommersant newspaper that Russia is expected to provide
the Bashar Assad regime with S-300 anti-aircraft defense systems soon. If
Israel attacks the new air defense systems, then it will suffer
“catastrophic consequences,” the officials said. The S-300 PMU-2 “Favourite”
version of the anti-aircraft systems will be provided to the Syrians for
free and very soon, the Kommersant reported. Lieberman said that the S-300
are already being operated on Syrian soil, though they are only being used
by the Russians and not being employed against Israel. Lieberman added that
Israel will not allow an Iranian foothold in Syria, saying that this is the
principle guiding Israel. "If someone fires on us, we will respond. Let
there be no doubt, it doesn't matter what system - S-300, S-700 or something
else. Russian air defense systems have, in fact, been deployed in Syria for
years. Syria's air defenses are Russian made, and Israel has struck them
several times, lately - after the downing of its F-16 jet in February. The
Wall Street Journal revealed that Israeli military targeted a Russian-made
Tor advanced air-defense system after Iran deployed it to the T4 base in
Syria earlier this month. In addition, Russia has deployed their own S-400
systems to protect its soldiers deployed in Latakia. Foreign Minister Sergei
Lavrov said on Monday that Russia had not yet decided whether it would
deliver advanced S-300 missile systems to Syria, but would not make a secret
of the matter if it took such a decision, the TASS news agency reported.
"We'll have to wait to see what specific decisions the Russian leadership
and representatives of Syria will take," TASS cited Lavrov as saying on
Monday during a visit to Beijing. "There is probably no secret about this
and it can all be announced (if a decision is taken)," Lavrov added.
The Kommersant reported that experts believed Israel would react negatively
to the development and might bomb the area where the missile systems would
says US wants ‘lasting’ footprint in Syria
AFP, WashingtonWednesday, 25 April 2018/US President Donald Trump on Tuesday
appeared to dial back a promise to withdraw US troops from Syria
immediately, saying it was important to not allow Iranian influence to grow
in the country. Stating that troops would be coming home soon, Trump
nonetheless said that the United States wanted to “leave a strong and
lasting footprint” in the country. “We don’t want to give Iran open season
to the Mediterranean,” Trump told a joint press conference with his visiting
French counterpart Emmanuel Macron. “We’re going to be coming home
relatively soon. We finished at least almost our work with respect to ISIS
in Syria, ISIS in Iraq, and we have done a job that nobody has been able to
do.”“But with that being said, I do want to come home, but I want to come
home also with having accomplished what we have to accomplish.”
Macron Vows Iran Will 'Never' Possess Nuclear Weapons
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/April 25/18/French President
Emmanuel Macron told the U.S. Congress Wednesday that Iran will "never" be
allowed to develop atomic weapons, as the fate of a landmark 2015 nuclear
accord with Tehran hangs in the balance. "Our objective is clear," Macron
told lawmakers on the final day of a state visit during which he and
President Donald Trump called for a broader "deal" that would also limit
Iran's ballistic missile program and support for militant groups across the
Middle East. "Iran shall never possess any nuclear weapons. Not now. Not in
five years. Not in 10 years. Never," Macron said.
Iran's President Says No Changes, Additions to Nuclear
Associated PressAgence France Presse/Naharnet/April 25/18/Iran's president
has ruled out any changes or additions to the 2015 nuclear deal, in response
to French efforts to convince U.S. President Donald Trump to stick with the
landmark agreement. French President Emmanuel Macron suggested during a
state visit to Washington this week that there could be a way to move toward
a "new agreement" that would address Trump's concerns. Iranian President
Hassan Rouhani said Wednesday that he had spoken to Macron at length, and
"told him explicitly that we will not add anything to the deal or remove
anything from it, even one sentence. The nuclear deal is the nuclear deal."
He suggested Macron has no right to amend an agreement signed by seven
nations, referring to the U.S., Russia, China, Britain, France, Germany and
UN Worried Donor States Could Decrease Aid Pledges to
Brussels, Moscow - Abdullah Mustafa, Raed Jaber/Asharq Al-Awsat/Wednesday,
25 April, 2018/The United Nations warned that some donor states could
decrease their aid pledges to Syrians, adding that in 2018, the agency had
only received quarter the sum it had requested for humanitarian work in
The EU and UN begun Tuesday a two-day conference in Brussels to gather fresh
aid pledges for Syria. In 2017, EU diplomats said the gathering pledged 5.6
billion euros in aids to the war-torn country. This year, UN Secretary
General for Humanitarian Affairs Mark Lowcock warned there is a lack of
funding for the necessary aid projects, which are being fulfilled from less
than 23 percent. He said that out of the needed 3.5 billion dollars, only
800 million were available. The UN official also said that resources for
work inside Syria and with refugees in neighboring countries were
"desperately short.”Separately, Russian sources said that the Russian Army
had noticed increased American military activity in Syria, including the
presence of US reconnaissance aircrafts overflying above Syria to search for
S-300 positions, which Washington believes Moscow had already offered to
Russia's military stated Tuesday that Russian air defenses at Hmeimim
airbase in Syria had intercepted and destroyed several unidentified objects
targeting the base. "On April 24, the airspace monitoring facilities at
Russia's Hmeimim airbase detected a group of small-size unidentified
airborne targets approaching the base," an airbase spokesperson said in a
statement. "All targets were destroyed by air defense means deployed at the
base,” he added. Meanwhile, Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman warned
Tuesday that if Syria uses Russian-made air defense missiles against Israel,
Israel will strike back. "What's important to us is that the defensive
weapons the Russians are giving Syria won't be used against us," Lieberman
told Ynet news. Russia’s daily Kommersant newspaper reported earlier on
Monday that Russia might start supplying the anti-aircraft missile systems
to Syria in the near future.
Israeli minister Lieberman heads to US to
discuss Iran ‘expansion’
AFP, Jerusalem/Wednesday, 25 April 2018/Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor
Lieberman is travelling to the United States for talks Wednesday on
countering Iran’s “expansion” across the Middle East, especially in Syria,
his office said. During his visit, Lieberman will meet Defense Secretary
James Mattis, National Security Adviser John Bolton and members of the
Senate, the Israeli foreign ministry said in a statement. “Discussions will
focus on the close security coordination between Israeli and American
defense establishments against negative developments resulting from Iranian
expansion in the Middle East, with an emphasis on Syria and additional
mutual security concerns,” it added. The visit comes ahead of a May 12
deadline US President Donald Trump has set to decide on the fate of a
nuclear deal with Iran.
Trump has derided the deal as a capitulation to Tehran, saying it is no
longer in the US’s interest to maintain the sanctions relief granted to Iran
by his predecessor Barack Obama in return for controls on its nuclear
program. During a visit to Washington on Tuesday, French President Emmanuel
Macron called jointly with Trump for a new nuclear deal with Iran. Trump’s
European allies have repeatedly tried to persuade him not to walk away from
the 2015 deal, which gave Iran massive sanctions relief and the guarantee of
a civilian nuclear program in return for curbs on programs that could be
used to develop an atomic weapon.
EU leader Mogherini says current Iran nuclear
deal should be kept
AP, Brussels Wednesday, 25 April 2018/EU foreign policy chief Federica
Mogherini says the current deal with Iran is working effectively to keep
Tehran from developing nuclear weapons and should be preserved for the
Mogherini spoke after US President Trump again showed dissatisfaction with
the international agreement during a news conference with French President
Emmanuel Macron, highlighting a trans-Atlantic rift on the issue. Macron
said the current deal should not be ripped apart without a clear path to the
future, and said after talks with Trump that there could be a way to move to
a “new agreement,” building on the one in place. Mogherini, speaking in
Brussels, said that “on what can happen in the future we will see in the
future. But there is one deal, existing, it is working, It needs to be
Conference in Paris on Combating Terrorist Financing
Paris - Michel Abou Najm/Asharq Al-Awsat/Wednesday, 25 April,
2018/Paris will host on Wednesday an international conference on combating
the financing of ISIS, al-Qaeda and their affiliates under the slogan of “No
Money For Terror.” Initiated by French President Emmanuel Macron, who will
deliver a speech during the conference, the two-day discussions scheduled at
the headquarters of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and
Development in Paris, will bring together over 450 international experts on
combating terrorism and its financing. Elysee Palace sources said Macron
wants to assume a leading role in the fight against financing of terrorist
groups. French ministers have invited their counterparts from some 70
states, and the leaders of almost 20 international and regional
organizations and specialized agencies. French ministers will lead separate
round-table discussions, during which they will invite their counterparts to
come up with concrete solutions. Paris invited all Arab states excluding
Syria. The French capital also eliminated Iran from the list of invitees.
“Iran is not an easy partner. We did not want to invite a party that can
constitute an element of confusion and disruption,” official French sources
told Asharq Al-Awsat, in reference to the current dispute between Gulf
Cooperation Council states and Tehran. Another reason for shunning Iran is
Washington’s sanctions against the country's continued development of its
ballistic missile program and its support for terrorism. The states and
organizations invited to the conference will be asked to endorse the “Paris
Declaration,” which will encourage participating countries to improve their
domestic mechanisms in order to more effectively collect, exchange and
process financial intelligence. The participants will also share their
analyses of future risks, so that they can plan ahead. Sources told Asharq
Al-Awsat that Macron might take the recommendations from the Paris
Declaration to the United Nations to garner international legitimacy.
Donors Pledge $4.4
Billion for Syria, Well Short of Target
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/April 25/18/International donors on Wednesday
pledged $4.4 billion in aid for 2018 for civilians caught up in the Syrian
civil war -- well short of what the U.N. says is needed for humanitarian
work in Syria and neighboring countries. The sum committed at a two-day
conference in Brussels was less than half of the $9 billion the United
Nations says is needed this year to help those in need inside Syria and
living as refugees in neighboring countries. The head of the U.N. aid agency
UNOCHA called the $4.4 billion "a good start" but Oxfam slammed the
international response as "tragically inadequate.""My best guess is that by
the end of the day we will have heard pledges for 2018 of $4.4 billion,"
Mark Lowcock, the head of UNOCHA, told a news conference. The EU's aid
commissioner Christos Stylianides said later that pledges of a further $3.4
billion for 2019 and after were made at the conference, attended by more
than 80 countries, aid groups and agencies. Britain announced 450 million
pounds ($630 million, 515 million euros) for 2018 and another 300 million
pounds for 2019, while Germany said it would donate more than a billion
euros and the EU pledged some 560 million euros.
But several major donors including the United States have not yet confirmed
their pledges, Lowcock said, because of ongoing internal budget wrangling.
Lowcock earlier told AFP he hoped to see $8 billion pledged on Wednesday,
warning that funds were "desperately short" and some programs may need to be
cut if money was not found. The figure was also far short of the $6 billion
pledged at last year's Brussels gathering, and aid group Oxfam said
governments had not done enough. "The response of the world's richest
countries to the conflict remains tragically inadequate -- insufficient aid,
not enough help for refugees and no meaningful peace process," Oxfam's
Shaheen Chugtai said. David Beasley, head of the U.N.'s World Food Program,
warned that without proper funding he would be forced to start cutting
rations "to just barely keep people alive". Some 6.1 million people are now
internally displaced in Syria, more than five million have fled the country
and 13 million including six million children are in need of aid, according
to the U.N.
More than 700,000 people have been displaced since the start of this year
alone as Assad has stepped up his offensive against rebel forces,
intensifying the humanitarian crisis. U.N. Syria envoy Staffan de Mistura
warned that the military campaign would lead only to a Pyrrhic victory for
"History has shown us that what that can lead to is permanent guerrilla
movements, instability, the inability for reconstruction and above all the
risk that Daesh will take advantage to return," he said. Daesh is another
name for the Islamic State group.
Struggling peace talks
Europe hoped to use the conference to reinvigorate the faltering U.N.-led
peace process in Geneva, but it was not clear how effective the push was. EU
diplomatic chief Federica Mogherini urged Moscow and Tehran, Syrian
President Bashar al-Assad's key supporters, to help bring him to the
negotiating table, saying they had a duty to help wind down the war, now in
its eighth year. "We need in particular Russia, Iran to exercise pressure on
Damascus so that it accepts to sit at the table under U.N. auspices,"
Mogherini said as she arrived for the gathering, the seventh of its kind.
Damascus has shunned the Geneva talks and Russia, Iran and Turkey launched a
rival process in the Kazakh capital Astana last year. Moscow was represented
at the conference by its ambassador to the EU Vladimir Chizhov, who gave a
scathing assessment of the event in his address to the other delegates. "I
am perplexed by the format of today’s meeting that does not include official
representatives of the Syrian government," he said, according to a text
released by the Russian embassy. He accused countries maintaining sanctions
on Syria -- which includes all 28 EU members and the United States -- of
"suffocating the Syrian people."
Bahrain presents new evidence against three men
who spied for Qatar
Staff writer, Al Arabiya EnglishWednesday, 25 April 2018/Bahrain’s public
prosecution has announced new evidence against three suspects they say spied
for Qatar. The verdict in the case against Ali Salman Ali Ahmed, Hassan Ali
Jumaa Sultan and Ali Mehdi Ali Al Aswad is set to be announced on June 21,
Bahrain’s state news agency BNA reported. They three men have been accused
of treason and collaborating with Qatar and of committing “hostile acts
against Bahrain with the intention to overthrow the political system”,
Bahraini public prosecutor Osama Al Oufi was quoted as saying. The suspects
are also facing charges of passing defense secrets to a foreign country,
accepting money from a foreign country for providing it with military
secrets and information about the internal situation if the country,
spreading tendentious rumors and fallacies abroad to weaken the Kingdom’s
economy and undermine its prestige.
Kuwait expels Philippines envoy amid tensions
over domestic workers
Al Arabiya English and agenciesWednesday, 25 April 2018/Kuwait has formally
asked the Philippines ambassador to leave the country within a week and has
also summoned its own envoy back from Manila. An official source at Kuwait’s
Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced that the ministry summoned on Friday
ambassador of the Philippines to Kuwait and handed him two protest notes,
Kuwait News Agency (KUNA) reported. The source stated that the two protest
notes are related to recent remarks of several Filipino officials which
entailed serious offences against the State of Kuwait and the actions made
by some Philippine embassy's employees in violation of the diplomatic norms
governing the relations of the two countries as per the Vienna Convention on
Diplomatic Relations. The source expressed regret over such practices which
could harm friendly relations between the two countries. The Philippines on
Tuesday formally apologized to Kuwait for actions the latter viewed as
violation of its sovereignty after the southeast Asian nation’s embassy
“rescued” several overseas workers from employers’ homes, the foreign
secretary said. Kuwait had protested over the “rescue” of Philippine
citizens working as domestic help, summoned the Philippine ambassador to
demand an explanation and arrested two embassy staff who were involved in
Egypt says three soldiers, 30 extremists killed
in restive Sinai
AFP, CairoWednesday, 25 April 2018/Three soldiers and 30 extremists have
been killed in the past week in Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula where the military
is battling ISIS, the army said Wednesday. Around 200 extremists and at
least 33 government troops have now been killed since the launch of a major
offensive against the extremists on February 9 dubbed “Sinai 2018,”
according to official figures. They include Nasser Abu Zaqul, “the central
Sinai commander of the terrorist group,” according to the army which
announced his death last week. More than 170 suspected jihadists have been
arrested. Egypt has been hit by significant militant attacks in recent
years, especially after the army toppled Islamist president Mohamed Morsi in
2013 following mass protests against his government. Extremists have killed
hundreds of soldiers, policemen and civilians, mainly in the North Sinai but
also elsewhere in Egypt. In November, President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi gave
three months for his security forces to re-establish control in Sinai, a
deadline since extended.
Palestinian Presidency: Any Suspicious Ideas to
Circumvent Arab Initiative Are Futile Attempts
Ramallah - Asharq Al-Awsat/Wednesday, 25 April,
2018/The Palestinian President’s Spokesman, Nabil Abu Rudeina, said that
attempts to promote suspicious ideas by any side “under vague slogans or
indefinite stances” would be worthless. In a statement published by
Palestine’s official news agency, Abu Rudeina said: “We tell those who try
to circumvent the Arab Peace Initiative and the resolutions of international
legitimacy, by proposing vague proposals or slogans, that these attempts
will be doomed to failure; because no one will accept them.”The spokesman
went on to say: “Without the establishment of an independent Palestinian
State with East Jerusalem as its capital on the 1967 borders and the
adoption of a just solution to the refugee issue… all temporary solutions
and vague ideas will expire, and any regional or international proposals
that do not meet the legitimate rights of our Palestinian people will not
see the light and will have no legitimacy.”“We reiterate that any false and
unclear ideas will be futile attempts, and will lead the region and the
world to more tension and instability,” he stressed. Abu Rudeina’s statement
came amid reports about the imminent launch of the US peace plan known as
the “Deal of the Century”, and other information about transitional
solutions that might include confederations or even the adoption of the
one-state solution, in the wake of US President Donald Trump’s decision to
recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, a move that the Palestinians
Palestinians say they reject Trump’s peace plan in advance, as long as he
does not back down from his decision on Jerusalem. On the other hand,
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas presented a peace plan, which was
adopted at the Dhahran Summit in Saudi Arabia, and is based on freezing the
decision on Jerusalem and holding an international conference in mid-2018,
to produce a multilateral international mechanism to promote the peace
process, on the basis of the Arab Peace Initiative and the recognition of a
Palestinian State on the 1967 borders. However, the plan remained a proposal
for failing to receive the approval of the US and Israel.
Palestinian journalist shot at Gaza protest dies
AFP, Gaza/Wednesday, 25 April 2018/A Palestinian journalist shot two weeks
ago by Israeli forces on the Gaza border has died, Israeli and Palestinian
sources said Wednesday, the second journalist killed in a month of unrest.
Ahmed Abu Hussein, 25, was shot on April 13 while covering protests along
the Gaza border for a local radio station. The Gaza health ministry
announced he had died after receiving treatment inside Israel, which the
Sheba hospital near Tel Aviv confirmed. His brother Diaa told AFP they were
preparing to transfer the body to Gaza for the funeral. Also, on Monday, a
Palestinian wounded by Israeli gunfire in the Gaza Strip has died said the
Hamas-controlled territory’s health ministry.
Abdullah Shamali, 20, died overnight of “bullet wounds to his belly”
sustained on Friday in Rafah, near the enclave’s border with Israel, a
ministry spokesman said. Shamali was one of five Palestinian demonstrators,
including a 15-year-old, killed or fatally wounded in Gaza on Friday. His
death brings to 39 the toll from Israeli fire since the start of “March of
Return” protests on March 30. Tens of thousands of Palestinians in the
coastal enclave, wedged between Israel, Egypt and the Mediterranean, have
gathered at the border on consecutive Fridays to call for Palestinian
refugees to be allowed to return to their former homes now inside Israel.
Some protestors have launched stones or burning tires at Israeli soldiers.
Israeli forces have responded with live ammunition, wounding hundreds in
addition to those killed. The Israeli army says its forces only open fire in
self-defense or to stop protestors attempting to breach the barrier
separating the territory from Israel. More than 440 demonstrators suffered
bullet wounds or gas inhalation on Friday, rescuers said. Israel has drawn
harsh criticism from rights groups along with calls for investigations by
the United Nations or the European Union.
Algeria sentences Liberian to death over
espionage for Israel
Staff writer, Al Arabiya EnglishWednesday, 25 April 2018/An Algerian
criminal court has awarded death penalty to a Lebanese-born Liberian
national over a case of spying for Israel. The court also sentenced six
individuals from Guinea and Mali to 10 years in jail in the same case. A
legal source said on Tuesday that the “Ghardaïa court south of Algeria has
condemned seven individuals of different African nationalities on a case
related to espionage for Israel.”“The main accused Elm al-Deen Faisal, a
Liberian national, earned death penalty, while six others were sentenced to
10-year imprisonment. Each one of them will also pay an $8,000 fine,” the
source added. The seven defendants were arrested in an Algerian police
operation in the city of Ghardaïa, 600 kilometers south of Algiers, in
January 2015. They were found with documents and communications equipment,
which prosecutors said were related to spying for Israel. The defendants’
lawyers claimed that “the evidence is inadequate and incoherent, therefore
charges cannot be made based on a delicate and sensitive issue such as
Green light for crown
prince-led Saudi privatization program
Arab News/April 25/18/The Privatization Program is one of 12 key elements of
the Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030
The program is aimed at increasing job opportunities for Saudi nationals
RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s Council of Economic and Development Affairs on
Tuesday approved the Privatization Program that is one of 12 key elements of
the Kingdom’s Vision 2030. The program is aimed at increasing job
opportunities for Saudi nationals, attracting the latest technologies and
innovations, and supporting economic development. It encourages both local
and foreign investment in order to enhance the role of the private sector,
with government entities adopting a regulatory and supervisory role. The aim
is to increase the private sector’s contribution to GDP from 40 percent to
65 percent by 2030. The program will aim to reach its objectives through
encouraging the private sector to invest in establishing new schools,
universities and health centers, while the government pursues its
organizational and supervisory role in health and education. The
privatization program aims to benefit from previous success stories, with
the private sector’s collaboration in the development of infrastructure, and
its involvement on a large scale in sectors such as energy, water,
transport, telecommunications, petrochemicals and finance. The program sets
out a series of objectives in three areas: Developing a general legal
framework for policies related to privatization; establishing organizational
foundations and dedicated institutions to execute the policies; and setting
a timescale for their delivery. The Council of Economic and Development
Affairs is headed by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
Latest LCCC Bulletin
analysis & editorials from miscellaneous sources published on
Soaked in blood, Toronto the Good
Tarek Fatah/Toronto Sun/April 25/18
“Shoot me, shoot me, kill me,” Alek Minassian is heard yelling at a Toronto
Police Officer as he holds an object in his hand aimed at the cop, twice
mimicking the drawing of a pistol from a non-existent holster.
The man who is now charged with killing 10 pedestrians and attempting to
kill 13 others is lucky he was facing one of Toronto’s Finest, who had every
reason to shoot but had the courage and wisdom to put his own life in danger
for the better good of the community.
“Kill me,” Minassian dares the police. “I have a gun in my pocket.” Unmoved
by his threat, the officer shouts back, “Get down or you’ll be shot!” And
within seconds the alleged killer is taken into custody.
Clearly the man who had just created mayhem in Toronto was mentally
unstable. His defence may argue in future that he’s not responsible for his
Les Perreaux reporting in The Globe and Mail on Tuesday reveals Alek
Minassian suffered from a form of autism called Asperger syndrome.
As millions of Canadians waited anxiously for the names of the casualties
and the identity of the terrorist, all Canadian networks behaved like
Izvestia and Pravda during the Cold War.
It was only after CBS News first identified Alek Minassian as the suspect
that we learned who had struck horror on our lovely city.
This was just one of the issues that caused vigorous debate on social media
in Canada. How was it that CBS News was able to identify the name and past
record of Alek Minassian, but CBC News could not?
Is it possible journalists north of the border have become so terrified of
being called racist or right-wing that they would rather compromise their
professional standards than face harassment by left-wing trolls? Trolls who
it seemed were in mass communal prayers hoping the killer would turn out to
be a White Male Christian.
One reporter from a Canadian network who tweeted eyewitnesses as identifying
the killer being of “Middle Eastern” appearance met a ferocious backlash by
the now familiar alliance of the left and Islamists. He quickly deleted his
tweet and went into hibernation from then on.
On a personal level, when I posted a CP24 interview of an eye-witness
saying, “the suspect was of a darker colour, I would say Middle Eastern,”
all hell broke loose.
Among the barrage of allegations that I was a racist (not the eye-witness),
one fellow tweeted:
“Both father and daughter should be locked up. F—— hate mongers.” With me,
he was attacking my daughter CBC host Natasha Fatah who too had tweeted
multiple eye witnesses saying the attacker looked “Middle Eastern” and
another who said he was “white.”
The fact that Minassian did turn out to be Middle Eastern — from the
Armenian diaspora that lives in Iran, Lebanon, Syria — was of little
interest to those hell bent on harassing Natasha.
They were busy putting their own spin on the tragedy — outward sorrow, but
barely concealed inner joy at the fact jihadis would not have to undergo
From now on, Nice, London, Stockholm, Berlin and New York mass murders by
rented vans will not be associated with Islamic terrorism.
Suddenly Islamist charities got a chance to become mainstream. CanadaZakat,
a subsidiary of the DawaNet, and Islamic Relief were being discussed in
positive terms by CBC News without any scrutiny.
Unfortunately, truth is the new hate in Canada. The country where, as Rosie
DiManno of the Toronto Star put it, “… not a single elected official, not a
senior cop, allowed the word “terrorism” to cross their lips.”
Trump and France's Macron seek new measures on Iran as
Steve Holland, Marine Pennetier, Jeff Mason/WASHINGTON (Reuters)/April 25/18
U.S. President Donald Trump and French President Emmanuel Macron pledged on
Tuesday to seek stronger measures to contain Iran, but Trump refrained from
committing to staying in a 2015 nuclear deal and threatened Tehran with
retaliation if it restarted its nuclear program. At a news conference with
Macron, the U.S. president kept up his blistering rhetoric against the
nuclear accord between Iran and world powers that he says does not address
Tehran’s rising influence in the Middle East or its ballistic missile
program. He called it insane, terrible and ridiculous.
“This is a deal with decayed foundations,” Trump said. “It’s a bad deal.
It’s falling down.”With a May 12 deadline looming for Trump to decide on
restoring U.S. economic sanctions on Tehran, Macron said he spoke to Trump
about a “new deal” in which the United States and Europe would tackle the
outstanding concerns about Iran beyond its nuclear program.
Macron is using a three-day state visit to the United States as a
high-stakes bid to salvage the Iran nuclear deal, which many in the West see
as the best hope of preventing Iran from getting a nuclear bomb and heading
off a nuclear arms race in the Middle East. Under Macron’s proposal, the
United States and Europe would agree to block any Iranian nuclear activity
until 2025 and beyond, address Iran’s ballistic missile program and generate
conditions for a political solution to contain Iran in Yemen, Syria, Iraq
It was unclear whether Macron made substantial progress in his efforts to
prevent Trump from pulling out of the 2015 deal, and Trump stressed there
would be repercussions should Iran restart its nuclear program.
“If Iran threatens us in any way, they will pay a price like few countries
have ever paid,” Trump said.
But Trump said: “We will have a great shot at doing a much bigger, ‘maybe
deal, maybe not’ deal.” The French believe progress had been made.
“What was important and new this morning was that President Trump was OK
with putting on the table, with France, the idea of a new agreement that
should be proposed to, and worked on with, the Iranians,” a French official
It was unclear what that would mean for the fate of the 2015 accord and
whether the other countries that signed it, such as China and Russia, would
agree to new measures against Iran.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel was expected to also make a case for the
accord during a lower-key visit to the White House on Friday.
A source familiar with the internal debate at the White House said one
option under discussion was giving Europe more time to toughen the terms of
the current Iran deal.
Iran has said it will ramp up its nuclear program if the deal collapses and
a senior Iranian official said Tehran might quit a treaty designed to stop
the spread of nuclear weapons if Trump scrapped the agreement.
Trump and Macron have developed a strong relationship at a time when many
European leaders have kept a certain distance from Trump.
“On both sides of the ocean some two years ago, very few would have bet on
us being here together today,” Macron told Trump in a toast at a glittering
state dinner, Trump’s first since he took office in January 2017.
“I got to know you. You got to know me. We both know that none of us easily
changes his mind,” Macron said with a smile.
Trump, 71, and Macron, 40, were remarkably chummy through the day,
repeatedly shaking and grabbing each other’s hands, exchanging kisses on the
cheek and slapping each other’s backs.
At one point in the Oval Office, Trump brushed what he said was dandruff
from Macron’s jacket, saying: “We have to make him perfect - he is perfect.”
Macron hopes to leverage their friendship into progress on not only Iran but
exempting Europe from steel tariffs, and protecting the 2016 Paris climate
accord. Their talks also covered the U.S. presence in Syria weeks after the
United States, France and Britain launched air strikes in retaliation for a
chemical weapons attack blamed on Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
Trump wants to withdraw U.S. forces from Syria, believing Islamic State
militants are largely defeated, but Macron and other allies argue they
should stay to ensure militants do not resurface and to block Iran from
strengthening its foothold.
Trump made clear troops would not be withdrawn imminently.
“We want to come home. We’ll be coming home. But we want to leave a strong
and lasting footprint,” Trump said.
The two leaders also discussed European calls for exemptions from Trump’s
plan for 25 percent tariffs on steel imports.
BUSINESS AND STYLE
Later on Tuesday, Trump hosted Macron at a formal candlelit dinner featuring
spring lamb and New Orleans-style jambalaya before a performance by the
Washington National Opera.
More than 1,200 fragrant branches of cherry blossom filled the hall.
First lady Melania Trump drew attention with a wide-brimmed white hat worn
to welcome the Macrons. At the state dinner, she wore a black Chantilly lace
Chanel haute couture gown, while Brigitte Macron wore Louis Vuitton.
Chief executives in the room included Tim Cook of Apple, Marillyn Hewson of
Lockheed Martin, Fred Smith of FedEx and Ginni Rometty of IBM.
Media mogul Rupert Murdoch attended, as did private equity executives Henry
Kravis of KKR, David Rubenstein, co-founder of Carlyle Group, and Blackstone
Group’s Stephen Schwarzman.
Writing by Steve Holland; Additional reporting by Roberta Rampton, Doina
Chiacu, Makini Brice and Lesley Wroughton; Editing by Alistair Bell and
Our Standards:The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.
The ISIS triangle which allows militants to disappear
calls for a joint operation between Iraq, Syria and the US
Hassan Hassan/The National/April 25, 2018
The critical point where the river, deserts and Syrian-Iraq border meet is being
exploited by lurking sleeper cells, writes Hassan Hassan
A delicate security triangle is forming along the Syrian-Iraqi borders.
Operational lines of separation have prevented the United States, Iraq and Syria
from joining forces with its Russia and Iranian allies to fight ISIS. But new
complications have forced a fresh dynamic that effectively enables the US to
target ISIS outside its established jurisdiction by proxy, through the Iraqis.
The new dynamic, while still nascent, is a product of improvised arrangements
between Washington and Moscow to prevent aerial collision and to demarcate areas
of operation during the fight against the extremist group. The two sides agreed
to have the Euphrates river as the “deconflict” line, despite obvious flaws more
apparent now than a few months ago.
ISIS has already started to exploit these flaws and gaps, forcing presumed
rivals to engage in backdoor measures to address emerging problems.
This turn of events began in March after Kurdish fighters in Syria shifted their
focus to the Turkish operation in Afrin away from the war against ISIS and while
the Syrian regime started to focus on rebel strongholds near Damascus. The
US-led coalition then announced an “operational pause” in the remaining villages
still under ISIS control east of the Euphrates. The villages, around five in
total, are part of the administrative region of Abu Kamal near the Syrian-Iraqi
borders, where the regime controls the other side of the river.
In a conversation in mid-March, American officials told me of an awkward
situation along the western side of the river, specifically in the villages
situated between the regime-held city of Abu Kamal and the Iraqi city of Al Qaim.
The Syrian regime claimed to have liberated those small villages in November
with the help of Iranian-backed militias. But according to American officials,
that was not the case.
Since the US was not allowed to strike against ISIS in supposedly regime-held
areas, the situation allowed the militants to operate with impunity in that
area. ISIS fighters moved freely along and across the river. Similarly, the
operational pause allowed ISIS into the non-liberated villages east of the river
to refocus its attacks on the regime side. According to residents from Deir
Ezzor at the time, ISIS fighters would cross the river and connect with other
members operating in the Syrian Desert west of Abu Kamal, a possible factor in
recent successful attacks by ISIS, deep in regime areas near Palmyra.
Not long after the US officials expressed their growing concerns about ISIS's
presence near the borders, Baghdad announced it would conduct attacks against
the group inside Syria. “The real danger is the presence of ISIS in Syria,”
Haider Al Abadi, the Iraqi Prime Minister, said in a press conference this
month. “We heard that they got rid of ISIS. Lies.”
The statement was in response to US concerns about ISIS activities outside its
operational purview. Iraq was able to use its friendly ties with the Syrian
regime and Iran to target ISIS in regime-held areas.
“The majority of the support that the coalition provided was intelligence
support on the target,” colonel Ryan Dillon, the anti-ISIS coalition’s
spokesman, said, referring to an Iraqi strike against ISIS headquarters inside
Syria. “We also provided some other assets in the air nearby that were also a
part of the support package. But it really was the Iraqis who planned this all
the way through. It was their commitment and their coordination with their
neighbours in the Syrian government, before they conducted these strikes.”
Mr Al Abadi referred to these pockets, in which ISIS still operates despite
regime claims, as “deserted” by Syria. For this reason, he said, his government
found it vital to take the fight against ISIS to Syria. He said while his armed
forces control all the borderline from the Iraqi side, ISIS individuals still
manage to cross it to conduct attacks inside the country either through border
gaps or bribery.
Such de facto three-way operations are poised to continue, if not intensify. As
I wrote last week, ISIS is pushing its sleeper cells to become active again. The
push appears to be part of a broader effort to rekindle its insurgency after the
loss of territory and comes at the backdrop of increased attacks in much of Iraq
and Syria. The effort to reignite the insurgency culminated with a fiery speech
on Sunday by the group’s spokesman, Abu Al Hassan Al Muhajir, the first by one
of its senior leaders since September, urging members to intensify their
Using the river as a deconflict line is likely to remain a nuisance for the US,
Iraq and the pro-Syrian camp. ISIS has a history of using rivers and areas
adjacent to them as hideouts and for mobility, even when the US was heavily
present inside Iraq after 2007. The villages that the US complained about in
regime areas contain, more than the rest of Abu Kamal, lush river reeds and palm
orchards that make it easier for militants to hide and survive.
Another factor that might complicate the situation for ISIS enemies is that in
Abu Kamal specifically, the river passes through the Syrian-Iraqi borders. At
that confluence point, three items favourable to ISIS converge: the river, the
Syrian and Anbar deserts and the borders.
Ideally, this area should have been controlled by a force or a group of forces
that closely work with each other, as one senior US official conceded. Instead,
different countries that supposedly operate under different jurisdictions
control different parts of a critical terrain. In this context, ISIS will no
doubt find gaps, as it already has, that cannot be plugged by tactical strikes
A few months ago, such a complexity was not anticipated. Each side was racing to
carve out areas of control as they battled ISIS. They rushed to agree on
demarcated lines to avoid accidents. But the latest developments only
demonstrate, once again, that the US-led coalition is still improvising as it
goes – hardly a reassuring sign for a lasting defeat of ISIS.
Hassan Hassan is co-author of the New York Times bestseller ISIS: Inside the
Army of Terror and a senior fellow at the Tahrir Institute for Middle East
Policy, Washington DC
Iran attempting to reappear on the regional scene by
Sawsan Al Shaer/Al Arabiya/April 25/18
This year’s Lebanese, Iraqi and even Bahraini elections may offer space for
Iranian interference once again.
With upcoming elections in Bahrain, the emergence of a new line of candidates
linked to dissolved political parties, which were either serving Iran’s agenda
or following Iran, looms as these groups plan to reappear on the scene again.
Parliamentary members and the Shura Council are preparing to vote on a law
seeking to prevent members of dissolved associations and those who have been
sentenced to final verdicts from getting on the ballot box. Therefore, thee
associations backed by Iran are working to prepare a new line of candidates in
order to return to the political scene.
What is noticeable is that the faces of those who were not politically burned do
not have the acumen or experience to enter the political scene on their own. The
associations are thus trying to introduce their names by asking known writers or
famous accounts on social media to rake up debates with them so they emerge
victorious during these fabricated conflicts, hence becoming popular in a few
months to compete in the electoral race. What is important to them is that their
names are mentioned by playing up their opposition credentials on social media,
especially now after the Bahrainis have forgotten these associations.
Bahrain has been considered a success story in its ability to confront Iranian
violations both on the political and security levels. Bahrain has on its own
rejected anything and anyone that has links with Iran and exposed them.
We strongly welcome strong voices and bold political activists, and we also
welcome institutionalizing the political arena and the establishment of new
associations that criticize the executive authority and have the capability and
bravery to monitor it via constitutional tools and within the established
framework of freedom. However, followers of Iran or the followers of Iran’s
followers have no place in our political arena.
Thank God, Bahrain has been considered a success story in its ability to
confront Iranian violations both on the political and security levels. Bahrain
has on its own rejected anything and anyone that has links with Iran and exposed
Bahrain has also prohibited the presence of armed militias that would threaten
us, blackmail us and force us to submit to certain parties which are mere
political proxies for Iran.
Hezbollah’s threat to candidates
Bahrain is one of the countries whose people courageously stood with their
leaders and the political regime thus preventing a disaster, which Lebanon and
Iraq suffer from today due to the presence of political parties which serve Iran
within their legislative institutions. These political parties are imposed on
Lebanon and Iraq via their militias whose only concern is to harness their
countries’ resources to serve Iran.
Look at what’s happening in Lebanon these days ahead of the elections and what
will happen in Iraq after few weeks. Lebanese Shiite candidates who run for the
elections in a district where Hezbollah has imposed its authority through the
power of its arms confront threats that may go as far as death threats.
Two days ago, Shiite candidate Ali al-Amin, who is running against a Hezbollah
candidate, appeared in a video showing his bruised face. Amin, who also suffered
from a broken tooth, was trying to catch breath as he talked and explained how
Hezbollah’s ‘thugs’ had beaten him up to frighten him and force him to withdraw
from the elections.
The video was published by Hezbollah dissident Rami Ollaik, who is also running
for the elections in a district that has been dominated by Hezbollah for years.
This is indeed a dirty war led by Iran against the Lebanese people. Iran’s
servants are thus imposing their will on the Lebanese people via bullying,
beatings, intimidation and threats. This is Hezbollah’s approach to guarantee
that its candidates win seats in the legislative authority against the people’s
will, so it can later harness Lebanese resources and exploit Lebanon’s
geographic location to serve Iranian interests.
Iran’s legalized swindling of Iraq
The scene will be repeated in Iraq next month, with its preparations starting
right now. Pro-Iranian parties are imposing themselves on the Iraqis by the
force of militias whom Iran armed. The legislative institution is also
harnessing Iraq’s resources to serve Iran by passing trade contracts and
agreements that exhaust Iraqi resources based on unfair conditions and in favor
of Tehran. Such agreements have been signed and voted on by the Iraqi
parliament. An example is the energy contracts, wherein Iran sells gas to Iraq
at double the price. Meanwhile, the Iraqi market is packed with Iranian food
products and Iraqi farmers have complained of unfair competition. The balance of
trade between Iraq and Iran is in Iran’s favor as Iraqi imports from Iran amount
to $6 billion, while Iraqi exports to Iran are no more than $60 million a year.
Iran is doing the same in Yemen where Houthis control Yemeni decision-making via
the power of their arms which are smuggled to them by Tehran.
This is how Iran uses its servants and those affiliated with them to serve its
agenda and turn a whole country into a follower that serves its interests.
Groups that help Iran fulfill these goals have nothing to do with national
privileges and are not concerned in any reform or development within their
country where nothing but destruction and corruption reign as it is now evident
in Iraq, Lebanon, Yemen and Syria. Bahrain, which has confronted previous
Iranian schemes and where Iranian dreams collapsed, is capable of identifying
and exposing the new Iranian attempt at subjugation.
Why sanctions against Russia do not work?
Shehab Al-Makahleh/Al Arabiya/April 25/18
Economic and financial sanctions have become a major policy tool nowadays
against countries that are deemed militarily powerful. Thus, any use of military
force would lead to regional or world war such as in the case of North Korea and
The targeted sanctions aim to cripple the regimes that do not abide by
international laws. The United States has managed to turn many of these
sanctions into international ones by using its influence at the UN Security
Council. Will these sanctions on Russia be effective? The answer would be
disappointing for many as this will not change Putin or his regime and will not
weaken his hold on power. The proof is the March 2018 elections which he won. At
present, a debate is going on within NATO on whether these measures work or not
or whether they should be upgraded or cancelled. All depends on the target
country and its potential. In the case of the Russian Federation, it has been
under tough measures since 2014; however, Moscow has not given up and is still
competing with the West in Africa, Asia, the Middle East and Europe to protect
its national security. On March 15, the Trump administration imposed sanctions
on individuals and companies whom special counsel Robert Mueller reported as
agents of American presidential election meddling. Then, the US expelled 60
Russian diplomats and ordered the closure of the Russian consulate in Seattle.
Donald Trump has promised before he was elected to improve relations with
Russia; however, bilateral relations under his reign are at their lowest point
since Cold War not only with Russia but also with the EU members.
The targeted sanctions have affected the Russian economy to some extent;
however, the mega deals between Russia and China have compensated for the big
Historically speaking, sanctions against Russia have taken various forms,
starting from diplomatic expulsions, to freezing trade and economic relations.
Such measures are reckoned both strategic and punitive measures. The other type
of sanctions is “smart” sanctions to undermine the Russian government, mainly
President Putin from within, by targeting his elites and influential businessmen
to demise the whole economy in order to stir a rebellion against the leadership
similar to the case of former Yugoslavia. To assess the impact, one should start
with the restrictions in place which include amongst others: asset freezing,
visa bans, diplomat expulsion, and penalties against Russian major oil and gas
companies and officials. The EU has suspended loans offered by the European Bank
for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) to Russia at preferential economic
development rates. The European states and the US also imposed ban on trading
bonds and equity as well as related other brokering services for products.
Russian energy companies, including Rosneft and Gazprom, are under American
sanctions. The list also entails three Russian defence companies and a number of
Russian state-owned banks. The banning also includes specific technologies which
are used for energy projects to explore for oil and gas in the Arctic
deep-water. The question is: Have these sanctions been effective enough to
change Russia’s conduct and attitude?
The China factor
The targeted sanctions have affected the Russian economy to some extent;
however, the mega deals between Russia and China have compensated for the big
losses incurred due to these sanctions as both have signed a $400 billion gas
deal in May 2014. Thus, the impact varies from province to another in Russia and
from sector to another as well. Those in Siberia have been less affected as they
have started depending on their own natural resources to produce their daily
needs instead of importing most of their goods from Europe. However, the major
cities such as Moscow and Saint Petersburg have been affected mostly because of
inflation and due to low exchange rate of the Ruble against major world
currencies. Yet, this has not affected Russian government’s behavior and could
not coerce President Putin to listen to western calls and demands to change his
approach towards international issues.
What has curbed sanctions from being crippling is that the level of nationalism
in Russia, or the “Russian soul” and identity have been quite much more
effective to counter sanctions. High degrees of nationalism have contributed to
the ineptitude of these sanctions. It is apparent that national sentiment aligns
with Russian government goals. Sanctions effect has been reversed in a way or
another as nationalism has hiked because of sanctions, affecting the EU states
which export many products to Russia. The nationalist sentiment has been behind
people’s blame and suffer, not because of Russian government and leadership, but
because of external forces. This has driven people to band together as they
share the same enemies, threats and identity.
It is true sanctions incurred discomfort and suffering in Russia. However, the
Russian Dusha (Soul) has solidified public backing to their government
regardless of who is the leader. What makes sanctions almost fail is that Russia
is the biggest country in the world and it has huge natural resources.
This has driven its citizens to depend on their potentials to produce their
agricultural products instead of importing them from the EU, mainly Germany,
Italy and France. In addition, Russians started to rehabilitate their old Soviet
factories which have been active in the 1980s and then stopped production since
the demise of the union. To sum up, Russian know that there is an upper limit to
actions the West in general and the US in particular would take. The suffering
of the Russian citizens will not last long as Putinism remains a phenomenon and
Russian soul is back to the country’s body with hiking sentiment of nationalism.
Sanctions are effective on some countries but they are less effective on others
as in the case of Russia.
The war on Gaza: Western Media’s misrepresentation of
Palestine and Palestinians
Ramzy Baroud/Al Arabiya/April 25/18
Western media’s relationship with the subject of Palestine and Israel, and the
ongoing turmoil, violence and seemingly perpetual conflict, has been marred by
inaccuracies, strange perceptions and incongruities.
It is true that the verdict on Western media’s success or failures in conveying
an accurate account of the situation in Palestine and Israel is, ultimately,
subjective. Even Israelis who support the occupation of Palestine and the
rightwing policies of their government often complain of media bias.
However, we can say with certainty that Western corporate mainstream media is
failing, not because of the pro-Israel attitude held by most Americans – and to
a lesser degree of Europeans – but because of their sheer ignorance of the
uncontested facts thereof.
For example, an IRmep poll fielded by Google Consumer Surveys, concluded two
years ago that majority of Americans are under the misconception that
Palestinians occupy Israeli land, instead of the other way around.
This devastating lack of knowledge, considering the amount of time spent
discussing Israel on US television channels and in newspapers, is indicative of
a horrific failure. It has created the kind of intellectual vacuum that allowed
such twisted ideas as ‘Palestinian mothers hate their children’ to perpetuate
for far too long. Alas, the above line was in fact a media staple in major
American TV networks during the Second Palestinian Intifada between 2000-2005.
Such dark judgement was not founded in any rational claim to support it, but on
Zionist ideals of the past.
The idea originated in a statement attributed to Israeli Prime Minister, Golda
Meir, who allegedly said that “Peace will come when the Arabs will love their
children more than they hate us.” Regardless of the authenticity of the
statement, many of Israel’s supporters have indeed eternalized the notion and
perpetuated its racist undertone ever since. Unfair media coverage is not fueled
by the simplistic notion of “clever Israel, imprudent Arabs”. Western media is
actively involved in shielding Israel and enhancing its diminishing brand, while
painstakingly demolishing the image of Israel’s enemies
The moral crisis is compounded when US media uses such heinous logic as a point
of departure in the way they frame their understanding, and subsequently their
readers’ perceptions of the unlawful Israeli occupation of Palestine,’ and of
the brutal ethnic cleansing of the Palestinian people which began 70 years ago
and has continued to date. But can all of this be archived under the
one-size-fits-all’ notion of ‘media bias’? Hardly. The term ‘media bias’ does
not do justice to the western corporate media’s relationship with Israel and
Palestine. The relationship is, indeed, far more profound than mere partiality.
It is not ignorance, either. It is a calculated and long-term campaign, aimed at
guarding Israel and demonizing Palestinians. The current biased coverage of
Gaza’s popular protests indicates that the media’s position aims at suppressing
the truth on Palestine, at any cost and by any means.
Political symbiosis, cultural affinity, Hollywood, and the far-reaching
influence of pro-Israel and Zionist groups within the political and media
circles, are some of the explanations many of us have offered as to why Israel
is often viewed with sympathetic eyes, and Palestinians and Arabs condemned.
But such explanations should hardly suffice. Nowadays, there are numerous media
outlets that are trying to offset some of the imbalance, many of them emanating
from the Middle East, but also other parts of the world. Palestinian and Arab
journalists, intellectuals and cultural representatives are more present on a
global stage than ever before and are more than capable of facing off, if not
defeating, the pro-Israeli media discourse.
However, they are largely invisible to western media; it is the Israeli
spokesperson who continues to occupy the center stage, speaking, shouting,
theorizing and demonizing as he pleases. It is, then, not a matter of media
ignorance, but policy.
Even before March 30, when scores of Palestinians in Gaza were killed and
thousands wounded, the US and British media, for example, should have, at least,
questioned why hundreds of Israeli snipers and army tanks were ordered to deploy
at the Gaza border to face-off Palestinian protesters.
Instead, the media referred to ‘clashes’ between Gaza youth and Israeli snipers
as if they are equal forces in an equivalent battle. The maxim that official
Israeli propaganda or ‘hasbara’ is too savvy no longer suffices. In fact, this
is hardly true. Where is the ingenuity in the way the Israeli army explained the
killing of unarmed Palestinians in Gaza? “Yesterday we saw 30,000 people,” the
Israeli army tweeted on March 31. “We arrived prepared and with precise
reinforcements. Nothing was carried out uncontrolled; everything was accurate
and measured, and we know where every bullet landed.”
If that is not bad enough, Israel’s ultra-nationalist Minister of Defense,
Avigdor Lieberman, followed that self-indictment by declaring that there are “no
innocent people in Gaza”, thus legitimizing the targeting of any Gazan within
the besieged Strip.
Unfair media coverage is not fueled by the simplistic notion of “clever Israel,
imprudent Arabs”. Western media is actively involved in shielding Israel and
enhancing its diminishing brand, while painstakingly demolishing the image of
Take, for example, Israel’s unfounded propaganda that Yasser Murtaja, the Gaza
journalist who was killed in cold blood by an Israeli sniper while covering the
Great March of Return protests at the Gaza border, was a member of Hamas.
First, ‘unnamed officials’ in Israel claimed that Yasser is ‘a member of the
Hamas security apparatus.’ Then, Lieberman offered more (fabricated) details
that Yasser was on Hamas’ payroll since 2011 and ‘held a rank similar to a
captain.’ Many journalists took these statements and ran with them, fuelling a
false media view.
It turned out that, according to the US State Department, Yasser’s start-up
media company in Gaza had actually received a small grant from USAID, which
subjected Yasser’s company to a rigorous vetting process. Furthermore, a report
by the International Federation of Journalists claimed that Yasser was actually
detained and beaten by the Gaza police in 2015, and that Israel’s Defense
Minister is engineering a cover-up.
Judging by this, Israel’s media apparatus is as erratic and self-defeating as
North Korea’s; but this is hardly the image conveyed by western media, because
it insists on placing Israel on a moral pedestal while misrepresenting
Palestinians, regardless of the circumstances.
Media spin will continue to provide Israel with the needed margins to carry out
its violent policies against the Palestinian people, with no moral
accountability. It will remain loyal to Israel, creating a buffer between the
truth and its audiences.
It is incumbent on us to expose this sinister relationship and hold mainstream
media accountable for covering up Israel’s crimes, as well as Israel, for
committing and perpetuating these crimes in the first place.
British ambassador attests to Saudi counter-terrorism
efforts in Awamiya
Salman al-Dosary/Al Arabiya/April 25/18
The years between 2011 and 2018 have witnessed the spark of terrorism in Awamiya
village, east of Saudi Arabia, where crimes, drug trafficking, arms selling,
killing, acts of terrorism and intimidation were carried out.
Later on, Iran’s foreign intervention led to the rise of “activists,” “human
rights activists” and human rights organizations, yet Saudi government alone was
capable of imposing security and stability for its citizens, confronting all
campaigns of distortion and falsification, calling things by their proper names,
gradually imposing the same logic and validating the premise of the state that
it declared from the beginning. It proved that what happened had nothing to do
with rights or duties.
What happened from the beginning was not related to people’s demands, but to
Of course, with time and the return of tranquility to the village many positions
have changed. Governments, organizations and international organizations were
initially deceived and swept away by a wave of confusion as all those who raised
arms against the state were seen as if they were practicing their rights even if
they were terrorists.
Last Thursday, the British government attested to Saudi Arabia’s efforts in
fighting terrorism. British Ambassador to Saudi Arabia Simon Collis published a
video on his Twitter account saying that Saudi authorities defeated terrorists
in Awamiya village.
“This is the place where Saudi authorities defeated terrorists and where they
have begun to rebuild the community,” Collis said. “There have been problems in
the past, but now there is a drive to renew the community based on the return of
security to Awamiya,” Collis added.
What the Arab world witnessed during the Arab Spring created a state of Western
enthusiasm and support, innocent and malignant, in order to spread this “spring”
to all those who took up arms against the state
This official British talk came during the ambassador’s visit to a development
project implemented in the center of the village that would transform it into a
Perhaps the most significant part of Collis’s statement is that it proved what
the Saudi government has said and been doing since the first day about seven
years ago. The government said back then that the incidents that took place were
neither protests nor “Arab spring” demonstrations as they were promoted at the
In fact, they were a riot during which civilians and residents were killed and
wounded. The incident included attacks on judges, diplomats, banks, shops and
security headquarters and sought to destabilize security and stability in the
The story was not in the position of the state, and with it the vast majority of
the citizens of the town, in the face of tampering, riot and terrorism; it is
the role of States and their duties to provide security for their citizens.
However, the real issue was the chaos that accompanied the riot, supported by
states, organizations and international organizations, and caused to prolong
terrorist acts promoted as “demonstrations” for citizens and “legitimate
Years have passed and the Kingdom has succeeded in proving its credibility,
supported by testimonies from officials, showing that what happened was
There is no doubt that what the Arab world witnessed during the Arab Spring
created a state of Western enthusiasm and support, innocent and malignant, in
order to spread this “spring” to all those who took up arms against the state.
It did not matter whether it was a regime that killed its people, like that of
Muammar Gaddafi and Bashar al-Assad, or a stable and secure country that
protected its citizens from criminals and saboteurs, as in Saudi Arabia.
And today, after the skies have cleared and the Kingdom has proved its
credibility against the flood of allegations and accusations, will the countries
and parties proven wrong apologize for supporting a terrorism disguised in an
How Hamas Exploits the People of Gaza: Protests Clarify
Their Cynical Tactics
Dennis Ross/New York Daily News/April 25/18
It is time to create a stark public choice for Hamas: stop escalating tensions,
and important rebuilding work will begin.
Hamas has never put the people of Gaza first. Hamas rejects Israel’s existence
and treats all of the land as an Islamic trust. The Palestinian people are
instruments in the struggle to reclaim it. For the struggle, for the cause, the
people can be sacrificed.
Why else would Hamas build tunnels to protect its weapons and its fighters but
not its people during conflict with Israel? Why else, when Gazans desperately
needed reconstruction, would its leaders divert short supplies of cement,
electric wiring, and iron away from badly needed housing construction to build
Why else would it store, deploy, and fire its rockets in or next to schools,
mosques, and hospitals? In conflicts with Israel, Hamas seeks to maximize
Palestinian civilian casualties—preferably women and children. That brings
international opprobrium on Israel and makes it harder to engage in its self-defense.
Recent mass marches on the border fence with Israel are a case in point. The
Hamas leadership in Gaza announced that starting March 30 and continuing every
Friday until what they call Nakba (catastrophe) day, demonstrations at the
Israel border fence would take place. The symbolism was lined up perfectly for
mobilizing public passions.
But, of course, that was not the real story. Life in Gaza is terrible, and
Israel is not to blame: There are four hours a day of electricity, insufficient
to power sewage treatment plants. Roughly 96% of the water is undrinkable.
Unemployment runs close to 50%, medicines in the hospitals are consistently in
short supply, and people cannot leave and feel imprisoned. With little money to
pay for anything, trucks from Israel carrying material goods and humanitarian
supplies are down from 1,000 a day to less than 200.
True, Mahmoud Abbas, the president of the Palestinian Authority, has deepened
the economic deprivation by no longer paying Israel to provide electricity to
Gaza and cutting payments to former PA employees there. His purpose was to
pressure Hamas, and he did—so much so that Yahya Sinwar, Hamas’ leader in
Gaza—sought to hand governing responsibility back to the PA. While
reconciliation talks resumed, Abbas saw them as a trap because Hamas refused to
disband its Qassam brigades or disarm its fighters—and with the recent
assassination attempt on the PA’s prime minister, Rami Hamdallah, he is
threatening further economic sanctions on Hamas.
For the Hamas leadership, with popular dissatisfaction growing, the only thing
to be done was divert attention to Israel and, thereby, pressure Abbas, who
cannot appear indifferent to Palestinians being killed by Israelis. As one
European diplomat told me, Hamas leaders acknowledge privately that Abbas is the
source of their current difficulties, but shifting the focus to Israel is a
proven, if cynical, tactic.
Hamas knows that the world will see Palestinian casualties and tie them to the
wretched conditions in Gaza—conditions that are blamed on Israel’s blockade of
the Strip. Of course, it is Israel and Egypt that control what can go into and
out of Gaza. Unlike Israel, Egypt keeps its border closed to the movement of
people and goods into and out of Gaza except on rare occasions. Hamas leaders
have little interest in breaching the Egyptian border, knowing the casualties
would be high and the international response minimal.
The risk now is escalation and another conflict between Hamas and Israel,
leaving Gaza even more devastated. With its leaders believing they have little
to lose, just one thing could change the Hamas calculus: the prospect of real
change on the ground in Gaza.
The Trump administration needs to translate its recent pledging conference for
projects in Gaza into a plan of action and a public challenge. Since it lacks
credibility with Palestinians, it would be smart to get Europeans and Arabs to
issue a joint public statement declaring that they are ready, immediately, to
implement projects on electricity generation, water and sewage treatment, and
reconstruction, provided there is no risk of escalation with Israel. No one is
going to fund infrastructure projects that will be destroyed in another
It is time to create a stark public choice for Hamas: stop escalating tensions,
and important rebuilding work will begin. Hamas leaders may treat the
Palestinian public as pawns, but they are not indifferent to public pressure. It
is time to create it.
**Dennis Ross is the counselor and William Davidson Distinguished Fellow at The
Iran’s many adversaries must agree a common strategy
Sir John Jenkins/Arab News/April 25/18
United States President Donald Trump must decide by May 12 whether to continue
to waive economic sanctions against Iran — a call that has to be made every 120
days and that will ultimately determine the fate of the 2015 Joint Comprehensive
Plan of Action. Each time we approach this point, there is speculation about the
president’s intentions. This time it is more feverish than ever.
There have been reports that American, British, French and German officials (the
US plus the EU3 in JCPOA terms) are engaged in intense negotiations to agree a
new package of measures designed to meet Trump’s concerns about the deal without
fracturing it. But there is also a new and perhaps more hawkish national
security team in Washington, with John Bolton and Mike Pompeo replacing H.R.
McMaster and Rex Tillerson as National Security Advisor and Secretary of State
respectively. And recent events in Syria and Yemen have highlighted again the
dangers of an expansionary Iranian role in the region and its apparently
continued ability to provide a supportive environment (with Russia) for the use
of chemical weapons, establish military bases, and develop and spread ballistic
and naval missile technologies, which are used to threaten its neighbors and
What should we make of all this?
The first step is to acknowledge the imperfections of the JCPOA. I highly
recommend the 2016 Washington Quarterly account of the final negotiations by the
former French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius, one of the key participants.
Among other things, he describes the skillful manipulation of some of the key
actors by the Iranians — and the apparent willingness of those actors to be
played. Jay Solomon’s “The Iran Wars” and Mark Landler’s “Alter Egos” provide
further contextual detail of the evolving relationship between the US and Iran
that conditioned the final shape of the deal.
In practice, it gave the Iranians a way to partially reintegrate, on their
terms, into the global economy and in particular into global financial and
energy networks in return for promises to abandon, freeze or suspend elements of
their nuclear program for a specified number of years. It essentially bought the
international community time. It also watered down existing UN restrictions on
Iranian ballistic missile development. And it said nothing about Iran’s
non-nuclear activities in the region, which most of its neighbors and indeed
Western policymakers regarded as malign and destructive.
Could we have got a better deal? At various points before 2016, yes. Iran felt
under huge pressure in 2003 and again when it was effectively denied access to
the international banking system — through the blocking of SWIFT — after 2012.
But it also exploited US policy failures in Iraq, the Obama administration’s
determination to cut its losses in the region more widely, its apparent aim to
secure a deal with Iran on almost any terms, and ambiguity among Washington’s
regional partners about whether the nuclear deal should or should not address
other issues of relevance to them.
The West put so much energy into JCPOA that it neglected Iran's malign and
destructive non-nuclear activities.
The question has always been about how any nuclear deal fits into wider US,
Western or Arab strategy in the Middle East. As far back as 2008, I remember
remarking to British ministers that the ultimate issue was how we shaped,
contained and deterred Iran’s expansionist ambitions over the long term: A
nuclear deal was only one component of this. And the problem has long been that
we put so much energy into securing such a deal that we collectively neglected
Iran’s non-nuclear activities, which, in my view, represent the real threat to
the stability of the region.
The problem now is that we still have no collective policy understanding of how
we manage these threats. And the clock is ticking. Iran has not — as some
wishful thinkers insisted in 2016 — used sanctions relief to improve the state
of its domestic economy; something Iranians have been quick to notice and one
reason why the rial is under such pressure at the moment. It has instead doubled
down on Syria, Iraq, Yemen and Lebanon, in all of which its position has, if
anything, improved since 2016. Meanwhile, Trump says he wants to withdraw US
forces from the region. And there is no collective willingness so far to push
back materially against the growing Iranian garrisoning of Syria; its transfer
of weapons to the Houthis; its quiet but forceful cultivation of Iraqi and
indeed Syrian Kurds; and the continued strengthening of its position in Iraq
more generally, where it now has a far greater range of clients than in 2011,
when I left in disgust after Nouri Al-Maliki, with Iranian support, had been
allowed to hijack the 2010 elections.
The only regional state actors that are evidently doing something serious to
push back against Iranian expansionism are Israel in southern Syria (where, as I
have consistently said, war is coming — and it may already be here), and Saudi
Arabia and the UAE in Yemen. But all three countries need help. On their own in
separate theaters they will not be able to fully contain or constrain Iran,
which operates across the greater Levant, into Central Asia and down through the
Gulf and the Indian Ocean into the Red Sea. Iran also benefits from the truly
global political, terror and criminal networks of Hezbollah, which operates
throughout the Middle East, in West Africa, South America, Australia, Europe and
into North America itself.
That is the real challenge, not the nuclear deal. The issue with the latter is
how we use the time — effectively some 15 years from the point of signature — we
have been given. In my view, any abrogation, abandonment or undermining of the
deal would only serve Iranian goals. They would use it to drive wedges between
the signatories — the US, the EU3, China and Russia — and to gain international
sympathy. It would also have an impact on negotiations with North Korea.
The real policy challenge is to agree a common strategy of renewed pressure on
and containment of Iran in areas where it matters. These include the rigorous
enforcement of inspections and snap-back sanctions; denying Iran the ability to
establish permanent forward bases in Syria; supporting the emergence after the
May elections of a truly independent and capable government in Iraq, with the
aim of ending corruption and sectarian mobilization; and reaching an agreement
to end the war in Yemen that binds all the combatants into a genuinely national
system of governance, addresses Southern grievances, constrains the Houthis, and
excludes illegitimate Iranian activity. The strategy must also confront
provocative Iranian activity in the Gulf and its support for subversion in
Bahrain, and target those figures, many associated with the Islamic
Revolutionary Guard Corps and Hezbollah, who act as the spearhead for most of
This will require old-fashioned diplomacy, judicious use of military force,
training and equipment, a willingness to establish and use escalation dominance
(highly effective in the Gulf, as we saw in the 1980s), more explicit security
guarantees, better intelligence coordination, a renewed effort to use targeted
financial sanctions against those with clear links to terrorism, crime and
weapons smuggling, and, above all, a willingness to convene, plan and coordinate
in a sustained and resilient manner.
If we combined this with an effort to offer genuine reformists within Iran
appropriately conditioned support for economic development and to communicate
more effectively to the millions of Iranians who have shown by their protests
their dissatisfaction with their government that a better way is on offer, then
it would begin to look as if we had a plan.
**Sir John Jenkins is a senior fellow at Policy Exchange. Until December 2017,
he was Corresponding Director (Middle East) at the International Institute for
Strategic Studies (IISS), based in Manama, Bahrain and was a Senior Fellow at
Yale University’s Jackson Institute for Global Affairs. He was the British
ambassador to Saudi Arabia until January 2015.
Conditions must be right before Syrian refugees can return
Kerry Boyd Anderson /Arab News/April 25/18
The EU and UN this week led a two-day conference of countries in Brussels
designed to support “the future of Syria and the region,” including pledging
assistance for Syrian refugees who have fled to neighboring countries. While
such aid is badly needed, longer-term efforts to end the civil war and create
conditions for refugees to return are also essential.
As the states that have taken in the most refugees struggle to cope with the
logistical, fiscal, economic, social and political effects of absorbing so many
Syrians, conditions for refugees in those countries are becoming increasingly
difficult. This is especially true in Lebanon, where political leaders have
started to call for Syrian refugees to return to their country. In March, for
example, Lebanese President Michel Aoun reportedly called on the international
community to help return refugees to “safe areas” in Syria even without a
political resolution to the war. Upcoming Lebanese elections in May are
increasing political incentives for anti-refugee rhetoric, while pressures for
refugees to return to Syria are also increasing in Turkey and Jordan.
As of April 12, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees has registered more than
5.6 million Syrian refugees — 63 percent of whom are in Turkey, 18 percent in
Lebanon and 12 percent in Jordan. However, the actual number of refugees in
these countries is much higher, as many are not formally registered with the UN.
These host countries have very real challenges in managing the huge numbers of
Syrian refugees they have received, and international support has been
insufficient. It is understandable that leaders and communities in these
countries would be anxious for Syrians to go home.
However, calls for Syrian refugees to return to their country are premature.
Many areas remain profoundly insecure. While some politicians have called for
Syrian refugees to return to “de-escalation zones,” such zones offer
questionable security, with multiple reports of attacks within them.
Anecdotally, there have been cases of refugees who returned to Syria and died in
the conflict or otherwise regretted their decision.
Furthermore, the Assad regime’s policies of intentional population displacement
and recent regulations regarding property claims reduce the ability of refugees
to return to their areas of origin. The even larger number of internally
displaced people within Syria complicates any plans for those outside the
country to return. The lack of the most basic economic opportunities, housing
and services in general makes it difficult for refugees to go home, even when
considering the deeply challenging circumstances many refugees face in their
A political resolution to Syria conflict and stable security are essential
conditions to persuading refugees to voluntarily return.
In formulating plans for refugees’ futures, it is important to consider what the
refugees themselves view as the basic conditions under which they would
voluntarily return to their country. On April 16, the Carnegie Endowment for
International Peace’s Middle East Center published a significant study looking
at how Syrian refugees in Lebanon and Jordan perceive the Syrian conflict and
what they would require in order to return home.
The Carnegie study finds that most refugees in Lebanon and Jordan are not
currently willing to return to Syria. A majority want to go home but only if
they and their families would be safe. Most were reluctant to leave Syria in the
first place and believed that their exile would last “only a few months.”
However, today, as a group, they are pessimistic about the possibility of a
voluntary return any time soon.
Most of the refugees that the Carnegie researchers interviewed opposed the Assad
regime, and a majority of those say they would refuse to return to Syria as long
as Bashar Assad remains in power. There is a complete lack of trust, and they
have no confidence that they would be spared persecution or a renewal of
conflict. While a “small number of anti-regime refugees indicated that they were
resigned to the possibility of Assad’s presence” and would return if there were
sufficient economic opportunities, most said they would not. Complicating
matters, the study finds that the minority of refugees who were pro-regime said
they would refuse to return unless Assad remained in power, meaning the two
groups have directly conflicting preconditions.
The study finds that security and safety were the clear priority for most
refugees. “Most focus group participants indicated that they would not go back
unless political conditions were favorable, even if there were available jobs,
services, and housing,” the study notes. Many refugees expressed a willingness
to return and rebuild even without sufficient economic conditions, as long as
safety was guaranteed.
Many refugees want to go back specifically to their places of origin within
Syria. The Assad regime’s efforts to change the sectarian make-up of some parts
of the country and its policies for refugees returning home and reclaiming
property — such as requiring formal legal documents that many refugees lack and,
according to media reports, destroying property records — further complicate
potential returns. Additionally, many refugees no longer have a home to return
to, as large amounts of housing have been destroyed in many areas.
Refugees’ concerns matter for many reasons, in addition to basic humanitarian
interests. Governments that want refugees to go home — and countries, especially
in Europe, that do not want future refugee flows — need to understand that a
political resolution to the conflict and stable security are essential
conditions to persuading Syrian refugees to voluntarily return. Without this,
creating so-called safe zones or even providing more jobs and services inside
Syria will be insufficient. If refugees are forced to return before the
situation is safe, then neighboring states that might choose to deport refugees
now will lay a foundation for instability and new refugee flows in the future.
**Kerry Boyd Anderson is a writer and political risk consultant with more than
14 years’ experience as a professional analyst of international security issues
and Middle East political and business risks. Her previous positions include
deputy director for advisory with Oxford Analytica and managing editor of Arms
Control Today. Twitter: @KBAresearch
Disclaimer: Views expressed by writers in this section are their own and do not
necessarily reflect Arab News' point-of-view
Dr.Walid Phares: World
War 3 THREAT: Iran regime's only intention is building long-range nuclear
Darren Hunt/Express/April 25/18
Dr.Walid Phares: One area is the issue of the long-range missiles that the
Iranian’s are developing and Mr Trump argues that no regime will develop these
missiles, really ICBM type, without having the intention of equipping them with
weapons of mass destruction or nuclear capabilities.
IRAN’S only intention is to continue building long-range missiles which have a
"capability of carrying weapons of mass destruction", a former Donald Trump
former foreign policy advisor has claimed.
President Donald Trump has been critical of the Iran deal and warned Iran will
face “bigger problems than they have ever had before” if Tehran decides to
restart its nuclear programme.
Tensions in the Middle East have sparked World War 3 fears after Tehran vowed to
ramp up its nuclear programme if the agreement collapses.
A decision to extend or cancel the Iran deal will be taken before May 12, which
curbs Iran’s nuclear programme in exchange for a stay on economic sanctions.
Donald Trump’s former foreign policy adviser Walid Phares warned the President
would say the actions Iran has taken have not been defensive.
Speaking on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, Mr Phares said: “One area is the
issue of the long-range missiles that the Iranian’s are developing and Mr Trump
argues that no regime will develop these missiles, really ICBM type, without
having the intention of equipping them with weapons of mass destruction or
“Defence purposes would be anti-aircraft missiles, even long-range missiles or
issiles that would be shot or fired across the border.
“But the missiles that they have developed really reaches Europe, North Africa,
parts of India. That is not defensive in the view of the Trump team.”
When asked about the prospect of Iran walking away from the deal if the US
pulled out, Mr Phares said: “It is less likely Iran would abandon a process that
is getting them dozens and dozens of billions of dollars. Of course, they will
have to make that statement.
“Of course, they will continue to trade with their European, Chinese and Russian
partners around the world. I don’t think the Iranians will go as far as
cancelling the agreement… that is what I think the Trump team are counting on.”
Mr Macron, along with Theresa May and Angela Merkel, has urged the US to honour
its commitment to the deal.
But Donald Trump has hit out at what he describes as the pact’s “terrible
Speaking today, he described the accord as “insane”, adding it was “a terrible
deal that should have never been made”.
But after meeting with the French leader, Mr Trump suggested the Iran deal could