ENGLISH DAILY NEWS BULLETIN
Compiled & Prepared by: Elias
The Bulletin's Link on the
News Bulletin Achieves Since
Click Here to enter the LCCC Arabic/English news bulletins Achieves since 2006
If we are being afflicted, it is for your consolation and salvation
Second Letter to the Corinthians 01/01-07: “Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus
by the will of God, and Timothy our brother, To the church of God that is in
Corinth, including all the saints throughout Achaia: Grace to you and peace
from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of
mercies and the God of all consolation, who consoles us in all our
affliction, so that we may be able to console those who are in any
affliction with the consolation with which we ourselves are consoled by God.
For just as the sufferings of Christ are abundant for us, so also our
consolation is abundant through Christ. If we are being afflicted, it is for
your consolation and salvation; if we are being consoled, it is for your
consolation, which you experience when you patiently endure the same
sufferings that we are also suffering. Our hope for you is unshaken; for we
know that as you share in our sufferings, so also you share in our
Latest LCCC Bulletin analysis & editorials from miscellaneous sources
published on April 28-29/18
Opinion How Hezbollah Will Use Foreign Fighters to Conquer Lebanon/David
Europe: Safeguard Values or Disappear/Giulio Meotti/Gatestone
The Tired Lies of Taqiyya/Raymond Ibrahim/FrontPage Magazine/April 27/18
France prioritizing business over peace with Iran deals/Dr. Majid Rafizadeh/Arab
The IDF's eyes on Syria: the new MMS system forewarning of Iranian
retaliation/Yoav Zitun/Ynetnews/April 28/18
Trump, Macron and Merkel Have an Opportunity in Iran's Crisis/Eli
Lake/Bloomberg View/April 28/18
The Logical Next Step for Europe's Integration/Ferdinando Giugliano/Bloomberg
Titles For Latest LCCC Lebanese Related News published on
EU Election Observers on Site for
Historic Expat Vote
Second Round of Diaspora Vote Kicks off Around the World
Sami Gemayel Denies Vote Transfer Deals, Says Each Ballot Will Count
Aoun Protests Brussels Conference Statement on Refugees
First Phase of Lebanon’s Polls Kicks Off in 6 Arab States
Mashnouq: Voting Facilitated for Elderly, Persons with Disabilities
Jumblat Says Tense Rhetoric 'Must Stop'
Report: Complaints Reported as Lebanese Expats Cast Ballots
U.S. Says Won’t Interfere in Lebanese Expats Right to Vote
Palestinian Vies for Imaginary Seat in Lebanon Parliament
Berri Fires Back at Bassil, Says He 'Won't Remain Silent Anymore'
Titles For Latest
LCCC Bulletin For Miscellaneous Reports And News published on
Canada to participate in initiative
to counter North Korea’s maritime sanctions evasion
Merkel Supports Curbing Iran’s Nuclear Ambitions, Considers Deal Not
Iran Says US 'Unqualified' to Play Role in Korean Detente
Saudi-Led Strike 'Kills Dozens' of Yemen Rebels in New Blow
US Secretary of State Arrives in Saudi Arabia
Arab Coalition: Saudi Arabia Downs 4 Houthi Missiles
Russia Stresses Political Solution to Resolve Syria Crisis
Western Countries Link Syria’s ‘Marshall Plan’ with Political Settlement
Palestinian Teen Succumbs to Injuries after Israeli Fire on Gaza Border
Egypt’s Sisi: Sinai Operation against Terrorists to End as Soon as Possible
Armenian Ruling Party Will Not Nominate Candidate for PM
Suicide Bomber Kills Army Officers in Somalia
Two ISIS Women Land in Germany after Release from Iraqi Prisons
Iraqi Shi’ite Blocs Await Sistani’s Final Stance from Elections
Libya: Sarraj Government Signs Security Agreements with US
Turkey Speaks of Move with US in Manbij
Lebanese Related News published on
EU Election Observers
on Site for Historic Expat Vote
Kataeb.org/ Sunday 29th April 2018
As Lebanese expatriates in Europe head to the polls Sunday to participate
for the first time from abroad in Lebanon’s parliamentary elections, EU
Election Observation Mission personnel will join them to monitor the
historic vote. Giving more than 82,000 registered Lebanese voters abroad the
opportunity to take part in the elections was one of the key recommendations
made by the EU EOM after the last parliamentary elections were held in 2009,
deputy chief observer Jose Antonio De Gabriel told The Daily Star in a
The expat vote started in six countries in the Arab world Friday and will
continue on the 29th in Europe, Australia and the U.S., among others.
Election Day in Lebanon is May 6. “For the first time in the EU missions, we
are going to observe the out-of-country voting. Why? We think it’s very
important,” De Gabriel said. “As controversial as [the expat vote] is ... we
cannot forget the fact that there is a huge Lebanese diaspora which has not
cut links with the country ... so they are an important force,” De Gabriel
Second Round of Diaspora Vote Kicks off Around
Kataeb.org/ Sunday 29th April 2018
The second round of the expats vote has kicked off, as 70,355 Lebanese
nationals in Europe, Australia, Africa and the Americas will cast their
ballots exactly one week before polls open at home in the general elections.
It is the first time that Lebanese nationals are allowed to vote from
abroad. 82,970 expats registered to vote in Lebanese embassies and
consulates in 40 countries around the world. They make up 2.2% of the total
number of eligible voters in the first parliamentary elections in nine
The first polls opened in Australia on Saturday midnight Beirut time, and
the voting round will last until Monday, when polling stations on the West
Coast of the United States close.
Polling stations will be open between 7 a.m. and 10 p.m. local time in each
Below are the countries where polling stations have been established and the
number of registered expats in each:
- Australia: 11,826
- Canada: 11,443
- United States: 9,999
- Germany: 8,357
- France: 8,342
- Cote D'Ivoire: 2,345
- Brazil: 2,113
- Sweden: 1,910
- United Kingdom: 1,824
- Venezuela: 1,497
- Nigeria: 1,263
- Belgium: 1,053
- Paraguay: 924
- Switzerland: 889
- Italy: 729
- Guinea: 439
- Senegal: 400
- Argentina: 392
- Spain: 376
- Ghana: 375
- Mexico: 351
- Congo: 341
- Colombia: 325
- South Africa: 312
- Armenia: 311
- Guadeloupe: 276
- Romania: 270
- Sierra Leone: 260
- Greece: 256
- Gabon: 251
- Denmark: 250
- Netherlands: 228
- Benin: 217
- Liberia: 211
Observers from the EU Observation Mission (EOM) will be monitoring the
electoral process abroad in 10 European countries.
"For the first time in the EU missions, we are going to observe the
out-of-country voting. Why? We think it’s very important,” Jose Antonio De
Gabriel, deputy chief observer of the EOM, told The Daily Star newspaper.
"What I can tell you is that we will be extremely careful in the observation
in the packaging procedures of the envelopes where they’re carried, where
the votes are transported, because there are a series of safeguards that
have to be implemented in order to minimize or to avoid the risk of
manipulation during the transport [from the overseas polling station to
Lebanon,” he added.
Expats in six Arab countries already voted on Friday, with a voter turnout
that reached 65.7 percent.
Below is a breakdown of the number of registered expat voters according to
sects and electoral districts:
- Christians: 44,504 voters
7,613 Greek Orthodox
4,998 Roman Catholic
2,166 Armenian Orthodox
396 Armenian Catholic
780 Other sects
- Muslims: 37,441 voters
245 Other sects
Bekaa: 8,272 voters
South Lebanon: 10,458 voters
North Lebanon: 17,207 voters
Nabatiyeh: 8,739 voters
Baalbeck-Hermel: 2,874 voters
Beirut: 10,401 voters
Mount Lebanon: 21,325 voters
Akkar: 3,694 voters
According to the new electoral law, polling boxes will be sealed with red
wax before being shipped to Lebanon via DHL. They will be kept at the
Central Bank and opened once the elections end in Lebanon on May 6.
An operations room was established at the Foreign Ministry, with giant
screens broadcasting live from each of the polling stations in each country.
The Ministry has also set up a hotline for expat voters who can contact the
following three numbers, either through regular calls or over WhatsApp:
Sami Gemayel Denies Vote Transfer Deals, Says
Each Ballot Will Count
Kataeb.org/Sunday 29th April 2018
Kataeb leader Samy Gemayel on Saturday urged voters to help the party carry
on its fight against corruption and achieve the change that everyone is
aspiring for, vowing to pursue the dream of a better country.
"We fought and won several battles because we are armed with the truth. We
need you to stand by our side to achieve a greater victory on May 6,"
Gemayel said in an address to the Lebanese at home and abroad, eight days
before the first general elections in nine years.
"It is time that you make it clear to all politicians that they cannot evade
accountability," he stressed in an interview on MTV. "I hope that you will
make the right choice."
"You know the truth as you have seen our performance throughout the past
nine years. You know that we refused to be part of the political settlement
that has been governing the country over the past two years. We have always
counted on you, not on power and posts."
"We will carry on with the same momentum as we will not let go of our dream
of a better Lebanon," Gemayel vowed, stressing the need for politicians who
don't fear to speak the truth.
"We will cooperate with anyone who shares with us the same aspirations, and
work hand in hand to establish a transparent political life in Lebanon and
to introduce a political performance that is different from the one we have
witnessed over the past years."
Gemayel renewed his call for a public debate with the heads of political
parties, saying he's ready to address all issues with them and put forth all
the solutions that he has for the country's problems.
Gemayel deemed the parliamentary elections as crucial as they will determine
the way the country will be governed over the next four years, saying that
they will allow the Lebanese to make their judgment after 9 years and to
seek a better future.
“I ask the Lebanese to vote with a clear conscience, away from blind
political affiliations and all forms of pressure,” Gemayel said.
“The voters must base their choice on their assessment of the performance of
each political party throughout the past years. I hope that the Lebanese
would grant us their trust if they found our performance and stances to be
convincing so far,” he added.
The Kataeb chief stressed that the party has managed to introduce a new
approach in Lebanon's political life by making a difference with just five
lawmakers, saying that the country needs a new pulse and free lawmakers who
do not accept any settlement that jeopardizes the country.
Gemayel noted that the Kataeb party has chosen to isolate itself alongside
the people given that there is a wide rift between the Lebanese and the
ruling authority, stressing that its goal is to get as many free and
honorable people into the Parliament.
Gemayel pointed out that some of the political forces which got involved in
the settlement that preceded the presidential election are now
disappointment as they ended up being excluded from the deal, adding that
the party is not part of the current government because it simply refused to
be part of the deal.
"We won't ever accept anything that puts the country at stake,” he affirmed.
“The problem is that the ruling authority is dealing with all issues based
on a reckless and irresponsible approach; the waste crisis is a clear
The Kataeb chief stressed that the party's presence in the executive
authority would be effective if there are political partners that they can
work with, saying that, otherwise, its presence would be worthless given
that it will get isolated.
“The scandals we have uncovered so far would have toppled a government in
any other developed and civilized country,” he said, taking pride in the
achievements accomplished by the Kataeb party in terms of thwarting the
dubious power barges project and suspending the Article 49 of the budget
“One minister told me that the government is now thinking twice before
making any decision in anticipation of the opposition's reaction,” he said.
“Our political rivals are hoping that the size of the Kataeb's political
bloc would diminish following the elections. It is up to the Lebanese to
decide on that,” he noted. “I believe that each Lebanese citizen has the
right to hold politicians to account.”
Gemayel affirmed that all the candidates who are running on the Kataeb's
electoral lists have pledged to commit to the party's 131-point platform,
saying that the Kataeb’s electoral alliances do not contradict with any of
the party's constants and viewpoints.
“We have set out a joint political agreement with our electoral partners so
as to determine the guidelines based on which we are allying,” he said. "The
party has selected its candidates based on three main criteria: competence,
ethics, and commitment to the Kataeb's anti-corruption fight as well as the
struggle for Lebanon's sovereignty."
“We suggested to the Lebanese Forces that we form an opposition front and
run together in all districts nationwide. However, the LF party chose to
stick to its alliance with the Future Movement in certain districts and to
keep its centrist alignment,” he noted.
Gemayel cautioned against rumors aimed at undermining the Kataeb's winning
chances in Metn and Batroun, stressing that each vote will count on May 6.
"Beware of the rumors saying that my win is guaranteed and that there's no
need to vote for the list that I am part of. This is part of a malicious
campaign aimed at preventing people from voting to the 'Pulse of Metn'
list,” he warned.
“Vote for the 'Pulse of Metn' list so as to raise its electoral quotient
and, therefore, help it win as much seats as possible,” he added addressing
the voters in Metn.
Gemayel also refuted claims that there is an agreement to transfer the
Kataeb's preferential votes to the Lebanese Forces party's candidate in
Batroun, demanding an official and public stance denying these allegations.
"I hope that the Lebanese Forces party would openly deny claims that the
Kataeb's preferential votes would go for the LF candidate Fadi Saad in
Batroun; these are destructive rumors,” he pointed out.
Gemayel criticized the flaws that marred the first round of the diaspora
vote on Friday, deeming the failure to transfer the ballot boxes on the same
day as "shameful".
On another note, the Kataeb leader deemed the Article 49 of the 2018 budget
law as "dangerous" as it paves way for naturalization, saying that he was
relieved by the Constitutional Council's decision to suspend the clause.
“We proved that five lawmakers can achieve a lot of things,” he said.
“The real question we are asking regarding the Article 49 is the following:
how did the parliamentary blocs approve said clause?" he wondered. "They
either didn't read it or turned a blind eye to it."
“No one, even the President of the Republic, agrees with MP Ibrahim Kanaan
on his stance regarding this article. I was surprised to hear the Free
Patriotic Movement ministers defending this budget clause.”
Gemayel stressed that the statement issued following the Brussels Conference
is a global version of the Article 49 which allows Syrian refugees to settle
in Lebanon, saying that his problem is not with the acquisition of real
estate by foreigners, but rather with granting a permanent residency to the
Syrians who would eventually stay in Lebanon and never return to their
“Instead of making it easier for the Lebanese youth to acquire properties in
their country, the ruling authority has decided to grant more facilities to
foreign nationals, notably Syrian refugees,” he said.
Protests Brussels Conference Statement on Refugees
Beirut - Nazeer Rida/Asharq Al Awsat/April 28/18
Lebanese President Michel Aoun has underlined “Lebanon’s rejection of
several expressions included in the statement issued jointly by the United
Nations and the European Union following the Brussels Conference.” “Those
expressions are ambiguous and they contradict the directions of the Lebanese
State, which holds onto the safe return of the displaced Syrians to their
country, especially to the war-free and secure zones,” Aoun said on Friday.
A joint statement by the UN and the EU during the international conference
held in Brussels under the title, “Support for the Future of Syria and the
Region”, sparked a wave of protests in Lebanon, as it included expressions
such as “voluntary return”, “temporary return”, “the will to stay” and “the
engagement in the labor market”. The Lebanese president said that such
statements were contrary to the country’s sovereignty and laws. “Lebanon, as
it highly values the UN and EU efforts in helping the country in many
fields, was taken aback by their statement in terms of providing job
opportunities for the displaced,” Aoun said, during his meeting with British
Ambassador Hugo Shorter. The UN and EU local missions in Lebanon said in a
joint statement Friday that there has been no change in their position on
Syrian refugees in Lebanon. The missions stressed that the European Union
and the United Nations “consider the presence of Syrian refugees in Lebanon
as temporary,” pointing out that the “solutions sought for refugees are
outside Lebanon,” and that participation in the labor market “can be done
exclusively in accordance with the Lebanese law.” In remarks to Asharq Al-Awsat,
Lebanese Minister of State for the Displaced Moeen al-Merehbi said that
there has been a misunderstanding on Article 16 of the statement, which “is
only related to the Syrian internal situation and not to Lebanon.”
Article 16 of the Declaration of the Co-Chairmen of the Conference stated
that the conference noted particular concerns over the escalation of the
fighting and the tragic humanitarian situation facing civilians in many
areas of Syria. With regards to the controversial article, the EU mission in
Lebanon stated that this clause concerns the situation of the population
affected by the conflict inside Syria and was not linked to Lebanon and the
refugees. Foreign Minister Jebran Bassil said on Thursday that what happened
at the Brussels conference could not be tolerated, and called on the
international community “to stop encouraging the Syrians to stay in Lebanon
and not to return to Syria.”Merehbi responded to Bassil’s remarks, stressing
that the foreign minister “tried to promote fallacies.” “Two documents were
presented in Brussels, one of which has nothing to do with Lebanon, and the
second is linked to the partnership between the Lebanese government, the
European Union and the United Nations,” Merehbi said.
First Phase of
Lebanon’s Polls Kicks Off in 6 Arab States
Beirut - Paula Astih/Asharq Al-Awsat/Saturday, 28 April, 2018/Thousands of
Lebanese expats cast on Friday their votes in 6 Arab states for the first
time in the history of parliamentary elections, based on a new proportional
representation law allowing some 82,000 registered expatriates to vote in 39
countries. A second phase of voting will be held on Sunday in 33 countries,
in addition to the island of Guadeloupe. The voting begins at midnight on
Saturday-Sunday in Australia and ends at 8:00 am Monday, Lebanon time, after
the closing of the ballot boxes at 10:00 pm on the West Coast of the United
States. By 6:00 pm on Friday, more than 6,000 out of 12,611 registered
Lebanese expatriates had voted in six Arab countries: Egypt, Saudi Arabia,
the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Qatar and the Sultanate of Oman. About
70,000 Lebanese are registered to vote on Sunday in other countries. The
voter turnout of the Lebanese expats in Arab countries reached some 54.4
percent, with the highest attendance scored in Muscat (70 percent), the
National News Agency correspondent reported on Friday. On Friday, during an
inspection tour at the Foreign Ministry in Beirut to closely follow up on
the expats' vote, President Michel Aoun said: "I believe that what happened
today is honorable, and I congratulate those who worked on giving the
expatriates their voice.”In the May 6 polls, 917 candidates are running on
77 lists. For his part, Lebanese Forces party leader Samir Geagea said: "We
are proud of the expat vote. It is the fruit of a 10-year struggle.”Dozens
of local and foreign media outlets covered the Election Day on Friday from
the Foreign Ministry in Beirut and the 6 Arab countries where Lebanese cast
their votes. Omar Kabboul, the executive director of the Lebanese
Association for Democratic Elections (LADE), told Ashraq Al-Awsat on Friday
that some violations were registered during the voting process. Kabboul said
the most important violations were committed by local media outlets that did
not stop the electoral publicity 43 hours before the start of elections on
Mashnouq: Voting Facilitated for Elderly, Persons with
Naharnet/April 29/18/Interior Minister Nouhad al-Mashnouq said several steps
have been taken to ensure and facilitate the voting process for people with
special needs, adding that measures have been taken against a committee that
failed to fulfill tasks entrusted to it in that regard, the National News
Agency reported on Saturday. “Administrative measures have been taken
against a committee, tasked with facilitating the voting process for people
with special needs, for failing to fulfill its tasks,” said Mashnouq. He
announced that the voting process for elderly individuals and people with
disabilities will be facilitated on May 6. "Quick solutions were developed.
First, is to secure some polling stations on the ground floor. Second, to
provide assistance from the civil defense elements in all centers. Third, is
to allow a person from the same electoral district to provide assistance to
the blind to be able to vote. Fourth, is to allow the cars of the elderly,
people with disabilities and the blind to enter the campus of the polling
stations,” said the interior minister.
Lebanon will stage its legislative elections in May, the first in nine
years, based on a complex representation system.
Jumblat Says Tense Rhetoric 'Must Stop'
Naharnet/April 29/18/Progressive Socialist Party leader MP Walid Jumblat
described the Lebanese expats voting as “good”, as he urged political
parties running in the upcoming May parliamentary elections to stop “tense
rhetoric,” al-Joumhouria daily reported on Saturday. On Lebanese expats
voting, which took place in six Arab countries on Friday, Jumblat said:
“It’s a good indicator because in the end these expats have come to be able
to cast their votes.” Jumblat expressed resentment with what he described as
“tense rhetoric” between the competing political parties and parliamentary
hopefuls, as the country braces for its legislative elections on May 6. “It
is only spreading tension in the country on the eve of the elections. I hope
this is put to an end after the elections, and after the formation of a new
government. Unification of the country is a shared responsibility of all,”
Regarding suggestions calling on all parties to engage in constructive
dialogue after the elections, Jumblat said: “I have always preached for
dialogue. It is the only way for any solution. Ending these (tense)
atmospheres is much needed.”
Report: Complaints Reported as Lebanese Expats Cast
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/April 29/18/In spite of the announcements made
by the “state authority” that the expat vote in Arab countries “passed
smoothly” on Friday, but some “complaints” have been reported by Lebanese
expats registered to take part in these elections, al-Joumhouria daily
reported on Saturday. Political sources following up closely on the
elections, listed some of the complaints saying names of some Lebanese who
have registered to take part in the electoral process “were not included on
the voters lists, and some were written by hand contrary to the law.”The
sources also alleged that some voters “of specific political orientation”
were “intimidated.”“More than 30 Lebanese nationals descending from an
unspecified area in South Lebanon were prevented from casting their votes.
They were told their names are blacklisted,” the sources told the daily.
These reports have raised “condemnation” of some circles, who said “it would
put the elections results in a circle of suspicion.”“We were first anxious
about how the ballot boxes are going to be flown to Lebanon from various
Arab capitals. We have warned it would not be safe because it can not be
protected on the plane. Adding to that concern, we are now afraid of
pressure on voters,” said the sources. Expatriates kicked off Lebanon's
parliamentary polls by voting abroad on Friday, a first for the small
country's huge diaspora. The 12,611 Lebanese voters registered in Saudi
Arabia, the UAE, Kuwait, Qatar, Oman and Egypt will be the first to cast
ballots for the 128 seats in Lebanon's parliament. The overall voter turnout
was at 48.11% at 5:25 pm Beirut time according to the National News Agency.
Several electoral violations were reported. A monitor from the Lebanese
Association for Democratic Elections (LADE) said that in the Saudi city of
Jeddah, officials thwarted attempts by some voters to use cellphones behind
voting booths to take footage of their ballots during the voting process. In
Oman's Muscat, “a security camera was present behind the voting booth,” the
LADE monitor said. LBCI television meanwhile reported that in Dubai, some
voters objected after their ballot envelopes were not sealed.
U.S. Says Won’t Interfere in Lebanese Expats Right to
Naharnet/April 29/18/As Lebanon gears for its second day of Lebanese expats
voting on Sunday, the United States’ foreign ministry said the US “will not
interfere in the right of Lebanese to vote,” MTV reported Saturday. “The US
administration will not interfere in the Lebanese right to vote,” a US
source from the US foreign ministry told the television station on condition
of anonymity. MTV added that around 10,000 Lebanese expats are set to cast
their votes on Sunday. On the other hand, Lebanon's Ambassador to Brazil
told MTV that “preparations for the electoral process are complete. No
logistic problems have been encountered, except that some passports did not
arrive on time.” Expatriates will kick off the second day of Lebanon's
parliamentary polls by voting abroad on Sunday, a first for the small
country's huge diaspora. Expats voting took place Friday in six Arab
countries including Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Kuwait, Qatar, Oman and Egypt.
The overall voter turnout was at 48.11% at 5:25 pm Beirut time according to
the National News Agency. Voters elsewhere in the world will vote on Sunday,
a week before the May 6 polling in Lebanon, which has not renewed its
parliament since 2009.
Palestinian Vies for Imaginary Seat in Lebanon
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/April 29/18/ She has been criss-crossing her
native Lebanon ahead of May 6 elections but the parliament seat she wants
does not exist and she is not even eligible. Manal Kortam is a Palestinian
refugee. Tens of thousands of Palestinians have lived in refugee camps
across the small Middle Eastern country for decades, facing tough living
conditions and barred from certain jobs. But in a country of just four
million where each religious community is allocated seats in the legislative
chamber, there are none for Palestinians.
In the run-up to Lebanon's first parliamentary polls in almost a decade,
Kortam saw an opportunity to stand up for her Palestinian community by
launching a symbolic campaign. "Somebody needed to say: 'There are people
who have been in this country for 70 years but who have no place at all in
public politics'," she told AFP during a visit this week to the Mar Elias
camp in Beirut. "All candidates have programmes that speak of social justice
and democracy," she said, dressed in a slick pair of chequered trousers and
black jacket, a piercing in her eyebrow. "Implementing social justice is
very important -- but not just for nationals, for all Lebanon residents,"
the 40-year-old from the northern city of Tripoli said. - 'We exist'
-Palestinians began taking refuge in Lebanon with the creation of Israel in
1948, setting up camps that have since transformed into bustling, urban
Around 174,000 Palestinian refugees live in 12 camps across the country, a
one-off government census said last year. That figure was much lower than
previous estimates of up to 500,000, in a country where demographics have
long been a sensitive subject. The presence of Palestinians has been
controversial, with many blaming them for the eruption of Lebanon's
1975-1990 civil war. "We exist," Kortam has often repeated as a hashtag on
social media and slogan on her tours of Lebanon's Palestinian refugee camps.
On Facebook, she poses in a series of posters that subvert the slogans of
well-known political parties to draw attention to the Palestinian cause.
"The pulse of the isolated people," goes one, adding an adjective to a
slogan of the Kataeb (Phalange) party. Palestinians in Lebanon face a raft
of restrictions from the state.
They are banned from practising a number of professions -- including those
of doctor, lawyer and engineer -- and cannot buy a home outside the camps.
'Social, economic rights' -Kortam was born
in Lebanon to a Palestinian father and Lebanese mother. But she does not
have citizenship -- a result of a century-old law that bars women from
passing on nationality, meaning that the children of Palestinian men and
their Lebanese wives do not have the rights of a citizen.
The law was maintained over fears of upsetting the country's delicate
sectarian balance. "I'm demanding civil, social, economic rights for
Palestinian refugees," Kortam said. These include "the right to all jobs,
the right to social security... and the right to own property", she said.
The Palestinian camps in Lebanon are built-up and fully integrated in the
urban fabric but the army is banned from going in and crime has festered.
"Palestinian camps should not be isolated" from their surrounding
communities but included in Lebanon's development as a whole, Kortam said.
Only "this way can we build a Palestinian... society able to liberate its
land and return to it", Kortam said.Some 597 candidates are running for a
seat in Lebanon's parliament, but only a few dozen have pledged to uphold
human rights including refugee rights, Human Rights Watch said Thursday.
Just 27 candidates and some parties running in the polls have made public
commitments to strengthen human rights protections, the New York-based
watchdog said. "It is deeply disappointing that none of the parties in
Lebanon's current government saw fit to make strong commitments to human
rights," HRW's Lama Fakih said. Kortam said she knows her task is not easy,
but she had received great feedback so far. "Whether they support or oppose
the campaign, just the fact that people interact with it is great," she
said. "It's an awareness-raising campaign and it's normal that it raises a
lot of questions."
Berri Fires Back at
Bassil, Says He 'Won't Remain Silent Anymore'
Kataeb.org/Saturday 28th April 2018/Shortly after Free Patriotic
Movement chief Gebran Bassil stated that no one can prevent him from
expressing his opinion and that "corruption and the Resistance cannot go
hand in hand" during his visit to Maghdoushe on Saturday, Speaker Nabih
Berri fired back at him, warning of those who are trying to dash Lebanon's
message. "Some are trying to fool people. We echo President Michel Aoun's
call for the Lebanese to disown and reject anyone who stirs up sectarianism
and fanatism because he is tampering with the nation's stability," Berri
stated in an electoral rally in Tyre. "Are the people around this person,
whether they are close or distant, listening what is being said?""We want to
save the country from sectarian and fake prophets who consider the nation to
be a source of personal interests and a platform to partition spoils." "I
kept silent for so long. Now, it is time for me not to remain silence
anymore," he said. Berri stressed full commitment to the Constitution's
preamble which clearly states that Lebanon is the final homeland of its
people, affirming that he won't allow any naturalization scheme being
introduced as a political pre-condition in international support
conferences. "We will continue to support the right of the Palestinians and
Syrians to return to their countries," he said.
Opinion How Hezbollah
Will Use Foreign Fighters to Conquer Lebanon
سيستخدم حزب الله المقاتلين الأجانب لغزو لبنان
David Daoud/Haaretz/April 28/18
Hezbollah has promised that 'thousands' of foreign Shi'ite fighters will
deploy to Lebanon to fight Israel in a next war. And they'll use conflict as
cover to bring them into Lebanon – and they won't leave.
Tensions remain high between Israel and Iran. Tehran vows to avenge an
Israeli strike killing its soldiers in Syria; Jerusalem intends to respond
disproportionately to any Iranian retaliation. In the event of a direct
clash leading to a larger conflagration, Hezbollah will join in and seize
the opportunity to bring foreign Shi’ite fighters into Lebanon. Yet rather
than using these reinforcements to defeat Israel’s army, it may be planning
to entrench them in Lebanon, in effect conquering parts of the country,
after a quick cease-fire ends its hostilities with Israel.
Hezbollah declared its goal of bringing Shi’ite militants to Lebanon in
2017. Hassan Nasrallah promised that “thousands, even hundreds of thousands
of fighters from ... Iraq, Yemen, Iran, Afghanistan and Pakistan,” would
battle Israel in Lebanon alongside his foot soldiers. Yemen’s Abdul-Malek
al-Houthi was the first Shi’ite militia leader to pledge his fighters (and
recently reiterated his promise). Others soon followed, including Sheikh
Akram al-Kaabi, whose Iraqi Shi’ite al-Nujaba militia formed a “Golan
Liberation Brigade” in March 2017.
Nasrallah’s threat is neither a bluff nor far-fetched. On Iran’s orders,
thousands of foreign Shi’ite fighters converged on Syria to prop up the
regime. Iran’s proxy militias in Iraq are fighting as a unified force, and
Hezbollah and Iraqi Shi’ite fighters have deployed to Yemen to aid the
Houthis. Hezbollah and Iran’s proxies could conceivably do this in Lebanon.
Nor will it be hard to bring in the fighters. Hezbollah smuggled Iranian
Revolutionary Guards and Iraqi Shi’ite gunmen into south Lebanon during the
2006 war. It has spent the past few years turning Syria into a staging
ground to bring in more. Hezbollah began uniting the Golan Heights and south
Lebanon into a single front in early 2015. A year later it nearly completed
arms smuggling tunnels linking Syria’s Zabadani to its Bekaa stronghold.
Hezbollah could easily use these tunnels to move gunmen. If rumors of its
training Houthi militants in the Bekaa are true, then it may already be
But Israel may not be the ultimate target. If Hezbollah’s goal remains
merely surviving the next war to claim victory, these reinforcements are
unnecessary. Nor could Hezbollah be planning to defeat Israel in the classic
sense with these fighters. Mere numbers — even the combined forces of the
Iran-led “Resistance Axis” — cannot balance the group’s military odds
against Israel. Instead, Hezbollah may have a more vulnerable target in
mind: war-battered Lebanon.
Israel has promised that its future conflict with Hezbollah will be a “war
to end all wars,” and that it won’t spare Lebanon’s army or infrastructure.
Hezbollah will likely focus on survival, leaving Lebanon and its civilians
to bear the brunt of the Israeli onslaught. As Lebanon’s death toll and
damages mount, without a commensurate impact on Hezbollah, international
support for Israel will quickly erode. The world — particularly Saudi Arabia
and France, which recently invested billions in Lebanon’s army and
infrastructure — will move to bring the war to a hasty end with a UN
Security Council cease-fire.
But once the dust settles, Lebanon won’t revert to the status quo ante
bellum. Iran’s proxy militias won’t willingly leave, and judging by past
performance the Lebanese army and the United Nations Interim Force in
Lebanon will be unwilling, or unable, to eject them. Dislodging thousands of
Shi’ite fighters from various parts of Lebanon may even prove too daunting a
task for the Israelis, even if they think it worth violating the cease-fire
to do so. And so these foreign fighters will entrench in Lebanon, as they
have in Iraq and Syria, multiplying Hezbollah’s numerical strength and
allowing it to solidify its control over whole parts of the country. This
will make Israel’s northern border exponentially more dangerous after the
war than it was at its outset.
Israel needs time to defeat Hezbollah. To buy time, it must fight a smart,
surgical war that spares Lebanon’s institutions and civilians. It must also
demonstrably damage Hezbollah and immediately cut the smuggling routes of
its Shi’ite militia allies. If Israel delivers, the international community
will delay a cease-fire, allowing its campaign to continue until it achieves
decisive victory. Failure, however, will let Hezbollah not only live to
fight another day but also lay the groundwork for one of Israel’s greatest
fears: an Iranian base on its northern border, setting the stage for an even
more costly “Fourth Lebanon War.”
**David Daoud is a research analyst on Hezbollah and Lebanon at United
Against Nuclear Iran.
Bulletin For Miscellaneous Reports And News published
on April 28-29/18
Canada to participate
in initiative to counter North Korea’s maritime sanctions evasion
April 28, 2018 - Ottawa, Ontario - Global Affairs Canada
The Honourable Chrystia Freeland, Minister of Foreign Affairs, and the
Honourable Harjit S. Sajjan, Minister of National Defence, today issued the
“Canada is committed to peace and security on the Korean Peninsula and
believes that a diplomatic solution to the North Korea crisis is essential
and possible. We welcome recent statements by North Korea announcing a
reported suspension of nuclear tests and intercontinental ballistic missile
“We fully support the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) sanctions
regime that exerts pressure on North Korea to change course and abandon its
weapons of mass destruction and ballistic missile programs completely,
verifiably and irreversibly.
“To that end, the Government of Canada is today announcing its participation
in an initiative to counter North Korea’s maritime smuggling, in particular
its use of ship-to-ship transfers, in contravention of UNSC resolutions.
Canada has deployed a Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) maritime patrol aircraft
in the region to assist in this effort, in addition to assets being provided
by the United States and the United Kingdom.
“Canada’s participation in this coordinated effort is a demonstration of the
international solidarity in support of peace and security on the Korean
During the January 2018 Vancouver Foreign Ministers’ Meeting on Security and
Stability on the Korean Peninsula, Canada and other partners committed to:
work collectively and closely together, with partners in the region and
globally, to ensure effective implementation of UNSC sanctions on North
share information with partners and with the UN Panel of Experts responsible
for sanctions related to North Korea, in order to combat sanctions evasion;
counter North Korea’s maritime smuggling in accordance with relevant UNSC
The CAF have deployed a maritime patrol aircraft and approximately 40
personnel, based in Kadena, Japan, in support of this effort.
Curbing Iran’s Nuclear Ambitions, Considers Deal Not Sufficient
Washington - Heba El Koudsy/Asharq Al-Awsat/Saturday, 28 April, 2018/After
US President Donald Trump convinced last week his French counterpart
Emmanuel Macron to question the merits of a nuclear deal signed in 2015 with
Iran, it was the turn of German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Friday to
consider the pact “not sufficient” to curb Tehran’s nuclear ambitions.
Standing alongside Trump at the White House, Merkel told reporters that the
so-called Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, signed by Tehran and six world
powers including Germany and the US, is “a first step that has contributed
to slowing down their activities in this particular respect.” However, she
stated: “We also think from a German perspective that this is not sufficient
in order to see to it that Iran’s ambitions are curbed and contained.”The
Chancellor, who returned to Washington after her meeting with Trump in March
last year, said Europe and the US should be in lock step on this. According
to Merkel, "it is most important to see that Iran, after all, is trying to
insert a geopolitical influence" in Syria, Lebanon and Iraq. For his part,
Trump said he discussed with Merkel "the Iranian regime that fuels violence,
bloodshed and chaos all across the Middle East."Trump has threatened to tear
up the 2015 agreement to stop Iran from developing nuclear weapons in return
for relief from international sanctions. The US President also discussed
with his German guest ways to prevent Tehran from possessing nuclear
weapons. He said the "murderous regime" in Iran must "not even get close to
a nuclear weapon," and must end its proliferation of dangerous missiles and
its support for terrorism. In Brussels, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo
warned Friday that Trump was unlikely to remain in the nuclear pact if the
accord goes unchanged. The US President also said he "may go" to Jerusalem
next month to attend a ceremony celebrating the opening of the American
embassy in the city.
Iran Says US 'Unqualified' to Play Role in Korean Detente
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/April 29/18/Iran on Saturday welcomed steps
towards detente between North and South Korea but warned that the United
States was unqualified to play a role since it did not "respect its
commitments".The foreign ministry said the meeting between North Korean
leader Kim Jong Un and the South's President Moon Jae-in was "a responsible
and effective step towards regional and global stability". But ministry
spokesman Bahram Ghasemi said the "historic new page for detente on the
Korean peninsula" should be worked out between the two principal parties,
without the "interference of foreign countries". "Iran's experience over 40
years, in particular with regard to the nuclear deal, is that the American
government is not a dignified, trustworthy actor and does not respect its
international commitments," Ghasemi said in a statement. Iran signed a deal
in 2015 with the United States and five other world powers, curbing its
nuclear programme in exchange for sanctions relief. But Tehran argues the US
has continued to block its trade with the outside world -- in breach of the
deal -- and US President Donald Trump has threatened to abandon the
agreement entirely when it comes up for renewal on May 12.
"As a result, (the US) is not qualified to play a role to determine the
arrangements between countries, which has again been reinforced in recent
years by Trump," Ghasemi said. The leaders of North and South Korea held a
historic meeting along their border on Friday, vowing to pursue a peace
treaty and the complete denuclearisation of their divided peninsula. In the
coming weeks, Kim is due to hold a much-anticipated meeting with Trump, who
has demanded Pyongyang give up its nuclear arsenal.
Saudi-Led Strike 'Kills Dozens' of Yemen Rebels
in New Blow
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/April 29/18/A Saudi-led coalition air strike
has killed dozens of Yemeni insurgents including two commanders, state media
said Saturday, in another blow to the rebels following the assassination of
their political chief. Yemen's Huthi rebels on Saturday staged a public
funeral for Saleh al-Sammad, head of their Supreme Political Council and
effectively the insurgents' second-in-command, who was killed last week in
an air raid claimed by Saudi Arabia and its allies. His funeral came hours
after Saudi Arabia's state-run Al-Ekhbariya television said two high-ranking
insurgents were among more than 50 Huthis killed in a new strike overnight
in the capital Sanaa. The rebels have been locked in a war since 2015 with a
Saudi-led military alliance fighting to restore the
internationally-recognised Yemeni government to power. Saudi-owned Al-Arabiya
television said the strike had targeted the interior ministry in Sanaa,
which is controlled by the rebels. The Huthis, backed by Saudi Arabia's
regional arch-rival Iran, confirmed an overnight air strike on Sanaa but
gave no details. The rebels, who hail from northern Yemen, control Sanaa and
much of the country's north -- which borders Saudi Arabia -- and the key
Hodeida port on the Red Sea coast. - Huthi missiles -Shortly after Sammad's
funeral began, the Huthis said they had launched eight ballistic missiles
into the Sunni kingdom. The coalition confirmed it had intercepted four
missiles headed for the southern Saudi coastal city of Jizan, one day after
the kingdom's defence forces said they had downed a missile headed for the
same area. No casualties were reported in either incident. The rebels have
ramped up their missile attacks on Saudi Arabia this year, although only one
casualty has been reported. Saturday's attacks came as newly-appointed
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was scheduled to land in Riyadh for
meetings including talks on the Yemen conflict. Riyadh and its close ally
Washington accuse Iran of arming the Huthis, which Iran denies. Tehran
blames Saudi Arabia for the devastating Yemen war, which has seen millions
struggle to secure food. In Sanaa, Huthi supporters lined the streets
Saturday for the funeral of Sammad and six others killed in last Thursday's
strike. Rebels dressed in military fatigues marched ahead of his
hearse, which included seven cars draped in the Yemeni flag and accompanied
by a marching band. Nearly 10,000 people have been killed since the
Saudi-led alliance joined the Yemen conflict, triggering what the United
Nations has called the world's worst humanitarian crisis. Yemen now stands
at the brink of famine. The Saudi-led coalition imposed a total blockade on
Yemen's ports in November in retaliation for cross-border Huthi missile
attacks on Saudi Arabia. The blockade has since been partially lifted, but
access to the impoverished country remains limited.
US Secretary of State Arrives in Saudi Arabia
Asharq Al-Awsat/Saturday, 28 April, 2018/on Saturday, the first stop in a
Mideast tour and his first trip abroad since his swearing-in on Thursday.
Pompeo was met on the tarmac in Riyadh by a sizeable Saudi Arabian
delegation, led by Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir and US Ambassador Khalid
bin Salman. Besides Jubeir, he is scheduled to hold talks on Saturday with
Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman bin Abdulaziz and Crown Prince
Mohammed bin Salman, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Defense. Prince
Mohammed had last month embarked on an 18-day trip to the US where he met
with President Donald Trump, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and several senior
officials. Pompeo is due to travel to Jordan and Israel after Saudi Arabia.
Arab Coalition: Saudi Arabia Downs 4 Houthi Missiles
Asharq Al-Awsat/Saturday, 28 April, 2018/Saudi Arabia on Saturday inrcepted
four ballistic missiles fired by Yemen’s Houthi militias, the Coalition to
Restore Legitimacy in Yemen said. The missiles were headed towards the city
of Jazan in southern Saudi Arabia, according to the Arab Coalition
statement, which was carried by the state-run Saudi Press Agency (SPA). No
casualties were reported, the statement added. Coalition spokesman Col.
Turki al-Maliki reiterated that the attack proves Iran’s continued support
to the Houthis in clear violation of UN resolutions. Saudi air defenses made
a similar interception on Friday when Houthis filed a ballistic missile on
the city of Najran in a deliberate act to target civilian and populated
Russia Stresses Political Solution to Resolve
Asharq Al-Awsat/Saturday, 28 April, 2018/Russian Foreign Minister Sergei
Lavrov stressed on Saturday on the need for Moscow, Ankara and Tehran to
exert collective efforts for peace within the framework of the Astana talks
to reach a solution to the Syrian conflict. He made his remarks after
holding talks in Moscow with his Turkish counterpart Mevlut Cavusoglu and,
later, Iran's Mohammad Javad Zarif. Russia, Turkey and Iran have been
attempting to resolve the Syrian conflict at talks that started last year in
Astana, Kazakhstan, in competition with a US and UN-backed Geneva
initiative. Lavrov said the three countries "must help the Syrians finish
cleansing their country of terrorists." Also on Saturday, Iran and Russia
slammed Western strikes against the Syrian regime in response to its
chemical attack on Douma on April 7. Lavrov said they "set back efforts to
promote the political process" and Zarif criticized Washington's
"destructive role." French President Emmanuel Macron this month suggested
the air strikes had driven a wedge between Ankara and Moscow, prompting an
angry denial from Cavusoglu. Alexander Shumilin, a Middle East expert at the
Institute for US and Canadian Studies in Moscow, however, said the Douma
fallout had "caused a crack in the alliance of three countries". Alexey
Malashenko, a specialist in the Syria conflict, said the trio have a "very
shaky" alliance and "there's no way they can reach an agreement" over the
suspected chemical attack. The next Syria talks in Astana are meanwhile set
for May 14. Eight rounds of talks under United Nations auspices in Geneva
have made little headway, with the Syrian regime showing little interest.
Western Countries Link Syria’s ‘Marshall Plan’
with Political Settlement
New York - Ali Barada/Saturday, 28 April, 2018/Western contributions in
Syria will remain limited to humanitarian efforts, diplomats said, stressing
that there won’t be further aid unless Syria goes through political
transition and holds elections resulting in regime change. In remarks to
Asharq Al-Awsat, the Western diplomats also expressed strong belief in
Iran’s influence having a greater toll than that of Russia’s on Bashar
Assad. Western countries “will not contribute to supporting infrastructure
reconstruction and long-term development in Syria, unless it sees regime
change and the formation of a pluralistic government,” a Western diplomat
said. The diplomat referred to vital humanitarian assistance currently being
provided by European countries to neighboring states hosting displaced
Syrian refugees such as Lebanon, Jordan and Turkey. Not to mention the fact
that Western countries strongly support humanitarian organizations’ work
inside Syria, such as the White Helmets, officially known as the Syria Civil
Defense. He stressed that “advancing the political process led by the United
Nations, (known as the Geneva process) and mediated by Special Envoy Staffan
de Mistura, could lead to the desired goal.”Another Western diplomat said
there will be no ‘Marshall Plan’ for Syria in the absence of a political
settlement, adding that Western countries will not pay Russian President
Vladimir Putin’s plan for Syria. The Marshall Plan, officially called the
European Recovery Program, was a US plan for rebuilding the allied countries
of Europe after World War II. The diplomat compared the destruction that
struck Raqqa as opposed to the size of that which impacted Aleppo, where
“there is an important Christian minority.” “We don’t buy into what is said
about Assad being the protector of minorities in Syria,” he said. Aleppo,
which has an important Christian minority, has been destroyed. “Russia's
influence on Assad is not the way it used to be,” he added. “Iran's
influence on Assad seems to be greater than Russian influence,” he judged.
Speaking on the Syrian regime’s violation of humanitarian law, the diplomat
said that Assad systematically destroyed his country, city after city,
suppressing protests and oppressing demonstrators in brutal ways. “Western
countries are acting on a purely humanitarian basis, he explained. “We do
not want to contribute to the building of cities governed by a person who
was responsible for their destruction in the first place.”“The Assad regime
is not constructively engaged in the Geneva talks,” he added. The diplomat
commented on the possibility of a breakthrough in the Syrian crisis,
comparing what is taking place in Syria to the massacres committed during
Yugoslavia’s breakup in the 1990s. Despite the destruction caused by ISIS,
especially for western neighborhoods in the Iraqi city of Mosul, there is
great hope beginning to appear with Arab-Kurdish reconstruction efforts,
even after the referendum in Kurdistan. This has also happened before in
countries which have witnessed atrocities such as Rwanda and Sierra Leone.
Seeing no near end in sight to the Syria crisis, the diplomat highlighted
the many tricks played by Russians and the possibility of these games
lasting longer. “We have to wait a bit to see if the dust of the fighting
will break, and whether a political process will emerge again in Geneva,” he
Palestinian Teen Succumbs to Injuries after Israeli Fire on Gaza Border
Asharq Al-Awsat/Saturday, 28 April, 2018/A 15-year-old Palestinian teenager
has died of his wounds a day after being shot by Israeli forces in clashes
along the Gaza border, the territory's health ministry said Saturday. Azzam
Oweida was hit in the head during protests in southern Gaza on Friday, the
ministry said. His death brought to four the number of people killed or
fatally wounded during a fifth consecutive Friday of protests in which
thousands of Gazans have gathered near the heavily-guarded border.
Forty-five Palestinians have been killed by Israeli fire since the start of
what organizers have dubbed the Great March of Return on March 30, with more
than 1,500 wounded. No Israelis have been reported hurt. In the West Bank,
demonstrations were also held Friday in order to denounce the US decision to
transfer its embassy to Jerusalem. Clashes erupted between Palestinians and
occupation forces in Hebron after dozens of youths gathered in the Old City,
burning tires and tossing stones on the soldiers. In al-Bireh, young men
blocked the road with stones and burning tires, before the eruption of
direct confrontations with the occupation forces that used rubber bullets
and tear gas to clamp down on the protesters, leaving nine of them wounded.
In Ni'lin, hundreds of Palestinians gathered at the separation wall,
chanting slogans against the occupation and its practices in West Bank
villages. Israeli forces responded by using tear gas, leaving 12
Palestinians, in addition to a foreign journalist, wounded. Clashes also
erupted at Beita, Nablus, as Israeli forces attempted to disperse a march
denouncing the occupation’s violations against Palestinians. Israeli troops
carried out several arrests.
Egypt’s Sisi: Sinai Operation against Terrorists to End as Soon as Possible
Asharq Al-Awsat/Saturday, 28 April, 2018/Egyptian President Abdul Fattah al-Sisi
vowed on Saturday to end the military and security forces’ campaign against
terrorists in northern Sinai “as soon as possible.”He also said that a
social and economic development plan for the area, launched in 2014, would
be completed by 2022. "All Egyptians know that their Egyptian brothers in
Sinai are not responsible for the evil people," Sisi said, referring to the
extremists. "We don't hold our people in Sinai responsible in any way" for
the attacks carried out by the terrorists, said the president, stressing
that "terrorism is present in all the republic's provinces". He thanked
"every honorable Egyptian in the Sinai... this is a trying time but if we
had not taken these measures (against extremists), we would be losing
Sinai". More than 200 extremists and at least 33 government troops have been
killed since February 9, when Egypt launched operation "Sinai 2018" against
an affiliate of the ISIS terror group, according to official figures. The
country has been hit by extremist attacks in recent years, especially after
the ouster of president Mohamed Morsi in 2013 following mass protests
against his government. Terrorists have killed hundreds of soldiers,
policemen and civilians, mainly in the northern Sinai, but also elsewhere in
Egypt. The latest casualties were reported on Wednesday when the army
announced that three soldiers were killed in the past week in the ongoing
Sinai operation. Thirty terrorists wee also killed in that same period. The
extremist casualties 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 extremists have been arrested.
Armenian Ruling Party Will Not Nominate
Candidate for PM
Asharq Al-Awsat/Saturday, 28 April, 2018/The ruling party in Armenia
announced on Saturday that it will not nominate a new candidate for the
position of prime minister to replace Serzh Sarkisian, less than a week
after he stepped down from his position following days of mass protests.
"The Republican Party has decided not to nominate its candidate," said
Eduard Sharmazanov, vice speaker of parliament and the ruling party's
spokesman. "By not putting forward a candidate, we will avoid confrontation
and an increase in security risks ... we are not putting anyone forward in
the state's interest," he added. The party will wait until all candidates
are nominated by April 30 and then decide who to back. Ex-Soviet Armenia has
been in the grip of a severe political crisis for the past two weeks with
the protest movement charging that Sarkisian's ruling Republican Party is
clinging to power. It was not immediately clear whether the ruling party --
which has a majority of seats in parliament -- would back the head of the
protest movement, Nikol Pashinyan, or another candidate. Sharmazanov said
earlier he personally doubted Pashinyan was a suitable candidate for the top
job. The ruling party said earlier it would announce its position on a May 1
vote to elect the country's next prime minister on Monday. The Prosperous
Armenia Party, which holds 31 seats in the 105-member chamber, was expected
Saturday to issue a statement on whether it would back Pashinyan. Political
analysts say the party, led by wealthy businessman Gagik Tsarukyan, has
expressed support for Pashinyan but some of its members say they will only
back the party's leader as a candidate. Observers fear the turmoil could
destabilize the Moscow-allied nation which has for decades been locked in a
territorial dispute with Azerbaijan. Sarkisian resigned this week as the
country's new prime minister after serving as president for a decade.
Pashinyan has issued an ultimatum to the authorities, saying that he should
be elected the next prime minister -- who holds the country's top job under
a parliamentary system of government. He however does not have enough votes
to get elected.
Moscow has urged compromise and Russian President Vladimir Putin this week
spoke by phone with the interim head of government, stressing the importance
of the upcoming election. On Friday, acting head of government Karen
Karapetyan refused to hold talks with the protest leader, accusing him of
promoting his own agenda and worsening the crisis in the poor country of 2.9
million people. Addressing supporters in his birthplace Ijevan in Armenia's
bucolic north earlier Saturday, Pashinyan pledged equal rights and
opportunities for all, saying the country had turned a new page after
Sarkisian quit power. "Every citizen will have equal rights and
opportunities," he told supporters. "From now on people will not be judged
by who their acquaintances, friends and relatives are." He also said he was
ready to meet with members of the ruling party to discuss a "peaceful
transfer of power."He also called for more demonstrations. "All protest
actions, actions of civil disobedience, should be renewed with new force.
The victory of the people must be recognized," he told the rally in Ijevan.
"There can be no violence." Pashinyan called on supporters to organize big
demonstrations in Yerevan on May 1.
Over the past two days, the 42-year-old has received a hero's welcome in a
number of towns and villages outside the capital Yerevan, driving around the
landlocked South Caucasus country with his supporters in a convoy. In the
small northern town of Dilijan earlier in the day, several hundred locals
greeted Pashinyan, holding flags and beating drums. "We want change in
Armenia and Pashinyan to be elected prime minister right away," said Arman
Ovsepyan, a 43-year-old musician.
"If the Republicans refuse to leave power, we will force them to do so
Suicide Bomber Kills Army Officers in Somalia
Asharq Al-Awsat/Saturday, 28 April, 2018/A suicide bomber blew himself up in
a military camp in the Somali town of Galkayo on Saturday, killing four
officers, officials said, an attack claimed by the al-Qaeda-linked Shabaab
group. The camp houses a force made up of soldiers from the country's
semi-autonomous regions of Puntland and Galmudug who have been integrated
into the federal army under efforts to unite the fractured country. The dead
included a military commander and two colonels, Galkayo's mayor, Hirsi Yusuf
Barre, told Reuters. "The death toll may rise," police officer Abdirahman
Haji said. Shabaab’s military operation spokesman, Abdiasis Abu Musab, said
the extremist group killed five people in the attack. Since withdrawing from
Mogadishu in 2011, the group has lost control of most of Somalia's cities
and towns. But it still retains a strong presence in regions outside the
Two ISIS Women Land in Germany after Release
from Iraqi Prisons
Asharq Al-Awsat/Saturday, 28 April, 2018/Two German ISIS women with their
three children have arrived in Frankfurt, after being held in a prison in
the Kurdish capital Erbil. German newspaper Die Welt cited in its Friday
issue reliable security circles, that the two ISIS women arrived at the
Frankfurt International Airport a day earlier. German authorities allowed
the two women to take their children after undergoing a DNA screening to
prove maternity, the newspaper said.
The two women and their young children were transported to Germany on an
Iraqi Airways flight, and were accompanied by Germany’s Federal Criminal
Police. They are expected to be referred to special guidance committees.
Die Welt sources confirmed that the two women were released and that the
Federal Public Prosecution failed to obtain an arrest warrant against them.
However, the Supreme Court authorized federal police to search and
interrogate the two women upon arrival in Frankfurt. Last year, Germany’s
Attorney General Peter Frank confirmed that he had zero tolerance policy
against German ISIS members who had voluntarily joined the terrorist
organizations and then returned from combat zones in Syria and Iraq.
However, the Federal Court rejected their request for detention because
there were insufficient evidence of their support for the terrorist
organization. The court distinguishes between male combat duties in ISIS and
the duties of others who join but conduct activity limited to childcare and
housekeeping. It considers that German penal laws do not apply to such
activity. Frank challenged the court's decision in January, but federal
court judges have not yet ruled on the case until the arrival of the two
women to Germany. According to Die Welt’s report, there are over 80 Germans
who are currently imprisoned in northern Syria and Iraq. Women prisoners
have many children, some of whom were born in the war-torn countries and in
captivity. So far 10 children have been repatriated to Germany after
undergoing DNA analyses to prove their links to the German so-called
“jihadi” women detained abroad.
Iraqi Shi’ite Blocs Await Sistani’s Final Stance
Baghdad - Hamza Mustafa/Asharq Al-Awsat/Saturday, 28 April, 2018/Shi’ite
political blocs in Iraq are awaiting the final position of Ali al-Sistani to
be made during a sermon next Friday when the religious figure would speak
about exploiting the victories of the Popular Mobilization Forces in the
fight against ISIS for electoral purposes. Parliamentary blocs have
exchanged accusations about the politicization of a fatwa issued by Sistani
in 2014, in which he called on Iraqis to volunteer in the fight against
terror. During last Friday’s sermon, Sistani’s representative Abdul Mahdi
al-Karbalai said the spiritual leader rejects exploiting the name of the PMF
in the upcoming polls. Sources close to al-Sistani told Asharq Al-Awsat that
during next Friday’s sermon, the religious figure is expected to have his
final say about the current exchange of accusations among Shi’ite blocs
concerning exploiting the name of the PMF, two weeks ahead of the May 12
elections. “It is unfortunate that some parties are using this fatwa in a
way contrary to what the religious authority had called for,” Professor
Haider al-Ghorabi told Asharq Al-Awsat. He added: “The fatwa did not have
sectarian dimensions. It was purely patriotic as it was issued alongside a
fatwa from the Sunni Dar al-Fatwa, which also spoke about the importance of
defending the nation against ISIS.”
Libya: Sarraj Government Signs Security
Agreements with US
Cairo - Khalid Mahmoud/Saturday, 28 April, 2018/The Government of National
Accord led by Fayez al-Sarraj signed in Tripoli on Friday a number of
security cooperation agreements with the United States. The deals were
signed in the presence of Libyan Foreign Affairs Minister Mohamed Taha Siala.
US Charge d'Affaires to Libya Stephanie Williams said the documents include
a memorandum of intent for airport security and a letter of agreement to
support Libyan policing, corrections and justice sector development. This
coincided with intense preparations at the headquarters of Libyan National
Army (LNA) Commander Khalifa Haftar to receive foreign and Arab delegations
during the coming period in Ar Rajma, near the eastern city of Benghazi. The
army’s press office broadcast videos of the warm reception by some locals
and military leaders to Haftar on Thursday following his return from France
where he had received a treatment at a hospital. Haftar, who had dropped out
of public sight for a short stage, put an end to controversy regarding his
health. “I want to reassure you that I am in good health,” he told senior
army commanders and local elders in a televised address from the airport. He
sat in the lounge where officers, deputies and tribal leaders welcomed him.
“I should be addressing you standing up but I am obliged to do so while
sitting,” Haftar quipped, seated in front of a bank of microphones on an
ornate table. The LNA chief kept the eradication of terrorism as a priority,
stressing the necessity of getting rid of extremists. Asharq Al-Awsat
newspaper was informed by reliable sources that secret talks were held with
high-ranking Egyptian officials on the sidelines of his two-day visit to
Cairo on his way to Libya from Paris. Meanwhile, Egyptian sources expected
the arrival of United Nations Special Envoy to Libya Ghassan Salame in Cairo
Saturday to hold talks with Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukri
concerning the situation in Libya.
Turkey Speaks of Move with US in Manbij
Ankara - Asharq Al-Awsat/Saturday, 28 April, 2018/Turkey will take steps
together with the United States in Syria’s Manbij region, Foreign Minister
Mevlut Cavusoglu said on Friday, following his meeting with new US Secretary
State Mike Pompeo in Brussels. Cavusoglu made the comment to Turkish
broadcasters after meeting with Pompeo, who went straight to NATO
headquarters on Friday, barely 12 hours after being sworn into his job,
Reuters reported. Cavusoglu also said there was no French presence in Manbij
and added Turkey could evaluate “good offers” for Patriot missiles or other
air defense systems from allies. President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's spokesman
Ibrahim Kalin has previously said that a deal with the US to reduce tensions
over the Kurdish-held Manbij is "doable" but requires Washington to clear up
confusion in its policy. Agence France Presse also quoted him as saying that
a Turkish operation to take the Syrian city of Tal Rifaat was no longer on
the agenda after Russian assurances that Kurdish fighters were no longer
there. Kalin told foreign reporters in Istanbul that Turkey had proposed
moving Kurdish fighters out of Manbij east of the Euphrates River and then
US and Turkish forces jointly managing security. "We still believe that this
is achievable and this is doable," he said, urging "concrete steps" from the
American side on an issue that was "really straining relations."
Latest LCCC Bulletin
analysis & editorials from miscellaneous sources published on
Europe: Safeguard Values or Disappear
المطلوب من الدول الأوروبية إما أن تحمي القيم وتسوّق لها أو هي سوف تزول وتختفي
Giulio Meotti/Gatestone Institute/April 28/18
We no longer replace our numbers; instead we rely on immigration to compensate
for the shortfall in births. This immigration is for the most part Muslim; the
effect of our demographic decline is, therefore, the Islamization of Europe.
The response of members of the political class, at least in Italy, is to shrug
their shoulders, and say, "So what?" European elites believe that religion is
private. However, most Muslims do not believe that religion is private, and some
are working hard to create a state in which Islamic law is the legal foundation
for everyone. The effect of this is already being felt across the European
continent. We have more Islamic veils and mosques, and fewer cartoons of
Without the courage to insist on safeguarding our values, and passing our
inheritance on to our children, we Europeans will simply disappear -- as many
groups have before. With us, however, will disappear the most enlightened
civilization the world has ever known.
"We have to decide if our ethnicity, if our white race, if our society continues
to exist -- or if it will be wiped out." This observation was recently made by
Attilio Fontana, a politician with the anti-immigrant Northern League, who is
running to govern the Italy's northern region of Lombardy. Fontana's remarks
sparked quite a political storm. He may not have chosen the most delicate words,
but he was right in pointing out the potential suicide of Europe. Italy's
problem, in fact, is not the word "race", but the empty cradles and the crowded
boats which have brought in 500,000 African migrants in a relatively short time
In Milan, Italy's financial district and second-biggest city, there are more
dogs than newborns. The city has literally "lost" half its births in a mere ten
years. From 2006 to 2016, the number of children born in Milan has declined from
17,000 a year to fewer than 10,000. By comparison, in 1880 Milan had a
population of 350,000, and that year, 10,000 children were born. Today, Milan is
inhabited by 1,362,000 people with fewer than 10,000 new births. So, relatively,
138 years ago Milan had proportionately four times as many children as today.
That is how Europe's indigenous population will die out.
A new report by the Dutch organization Gefira analyzes the future of the
"incredibly shrinking Italian population". The number of indigenous Italians is
diminishing at an astonishing rate: a quarter of a million a year. This decline
is expected to accelerate:
"If the official Eurostat forecast is correct, then within 60 years or, taking
into consideration the current pace of migration even sooner, 50% of Italy's
inhabitants will be of African or Asian descent".
To acquire a better understanding of the demographic future of Europe, the
Gefira team developed a software for demographic simulation, called Cerberus
2.0. With no immigration and the current birth rate, Cerberus 2.0 predicts that
in 2080 the Italian population will be reduced to about 27 million, and in 2100
further reduced by 60% to 20 million -- the same result as Japanese
statisticians predict for Japan. Despite this data, the Italian government and
Eurostat expect that by 2080 there will be 53 to 60 million inhabitants in
Italy. "This can only be true if the indigenous population is replenished with
25 to 30 million first-generation migrants and their offspring from Africa or
Asia". That process is underway.
"German, Spanish, Norwegian, Irish and Dutch NGOs as well as the European Navy
have ferried a shocking 600 thousand non-Western migrants from Libya to Italy
since 2014. This has been done with the full complicity of the current Italian
authorities. The grand replacement is no accident nor is it intended to be
stopped. It is a well designed, devious program without the European natives
having a say".
A similar scenario was also forecast by an Italian think tank. If current trends
continue, according to a report by the Machiavelli Center, by 2065, first- and
second-generation immigrants will exceed 22 million, or more than 40% of Italy's
The statistical projections about the alarming future of the demographic decline
of the indigenous European people appear irrefutable. The vice president of the
European Central Bank, Viktor Constancio, called it the "demographic suicide" of
Europe's aging society. The ten countries that are home to the fastest shrinking
populations are all in Eastern Europe. By 2050, Bulgaria, Latvia, Moldova,
Ukraine, Croatia, Lithuania, Romania, Serbia, Poland, and Hungary are likely to
see their population shrink by 15% or more.
We no longer replace our numbers; instead, we rely on immigration to compensate
for the shortfall in births. This immigration is for the most part Muslim; the
effect of our demographic decline is therefore the Islamization of Europe. The
response of the political class, at least in Italy, is to shrug their shoulders,
and say, "So what?". European elites are multiculturalist and seem to think all
facts are merely relative. They also believe that religion is private and that
the state requires us to maintain the same level of the population as earlier.
Most Muslims, however, do not believe that religion is private; some of them are
working hard for a state in which Islamic law, sharia, will be the legal
foundation for everyone.
The effect of this effort is already being felt across the European continent.
We have more Islamic veils and mosques, and fewer cartoons of Mohammed. Italian
archbishop Luigi Negri just expressed his concern over "Islam's tendency to
break down the values of Western civilization, especially that of the
essential distinction between politics and religion" -- a key fundamental of
Western rule of law.
Our failure to reproduce is not due to poverty or genetic weakness. Milan,
Italy's demographic ground zero, is the country's richest city. Instead, it is
due to our indolence, the advent of birth control and a loss of confidence in
our Western, Judeo-Christian values.
What can be done?
Religion in the West is no longer a private matter. The values of Western
civilization are now being undermined in schools, universities, the media and
cultural spheres. One thing is sure: Without the courage to insist on
safeguarding our values, and passing our inheritance on to our children, we
Europeans will simply disappear -- as many groups have before. With us, however,
will disappear the most enlightened civilization the world has ever known.
*Giulio Meotti, Cultural Editor for Il Foglio, is an Italian journalist and
© 2018 Gatestone Institute. All rights reserved. The articles printed here do
not necessarily reflect the views of the Editors or of Gatestone Institute. No
part of the Gatestone website or any of its contents may be reproduced, copied
or modified, without the prior written consent of Gatestone Institute.
The Tired Lies of Taqiyya
ريمون إيراهيم: أكاذيب التقية المنهكة
Raymond Ibrahim/FrontPage Magazine/April 27/18
Attempts to whitewash the Islamic doctrine of taqiyya are becoming
Consider BuzzFeed’s recent, “‘Taqiyya’: How An Obscure Islamic Concept
Became An Obsession Of Anti-Muslim Activists.” It offers the same claims and
defenses that have been repeatedly discredited.
After quoting Ezra Levant, founder of The Rebel Media, saying that taqiyya
“means deliberate deception of infidels, to promote an Islamic goal,”
BuzzFeed proceeds: “Levant was referencing a false interpretation of an
obscure Islamic doctrine that has become a bedrock belief among anti-Muslim
writers and activists, alt-right trolls, and even by current Trump cabinet
member and former presidential candidate Ben Carson.”
Next comes the ad nauseam defense:
Mohammad Fadel, an expert on Islamic law at the University of Toronto,
described taqiyya (and its many alternative spellings) as “a doctrine of
prudential dissimulation” that arose from a time when Muslims were
minorities in hostile societies. … “The Qur’an permitted Muslims in that
situation, who were fleeing death or torture or other bad treatment, to
dissemble about their true beliefs. And as long as they were faithful in
their hearts, they would not be considered sinful,” Fadel told BuzzFeed
News. But this idea has mushroomed, Fadel said, into a false claim that
Muslims are permitted, or even commanded, to lie to non-Muslims as part of a
larger project to take over Western countries and impose Sharia, or Islamic
law. He said taqiyya does not allow for broad deceptions and has no
connection to Sharia.
The irony here is that well over four years ago, I was involved with Ezra
Levant and Mohammad Fadel in a Canadian court case revolving around the
meaning of taqiyya. Then, Khurrum Awan, a lawyer, was suing Levant for
defamation and $100,000, after the latter had accused him of engaging in
taqiyya. (Last heard, Awan was suing his 77-year-old neighbor, a Catholic
grandma, for having a “large Christian cross” in her backyard.)
During the court case, Mohammad Fadel, BuzzFeed’s go-to expert, had provided
an expert report on behalf of Awan on the nature of taqiyya, making every
conceivable apologia for the Muslim doctrine. He concluded his report as
In no case, as far as I know, have Muslim theologians taken the position
that it is generally permissible, much less obligatory, for Muslims to lie
to non-Muslims, whether in matters regarding religious belief or secular
practices… Although it has become a staple of right-wing Islamophobia in
North America, there is no doctrinal basis in authentic Islamic teachings to
support the claim, made by Ezra Levant and others … that taqiyya is anything
other than an exceptional doctrine justified under circumstances of extreme
duress that are simply inapplicable to Muslims living in Canada and the
In response, Levant had asked me (back in 2013) to write an expert report on
taqiyya, including by responding to Fadel’s claims. I did, including by
closely parsing and responding to every point made by Fadel, and reached the
Deception—known under the broad term taqiyya—is permissible in Islam, above
and beyond the limited issue of self-preservation. This assertion is not “Islamophobic”;
it is true. From a legalistic point of view, and as seen especially via the
concept of tawriya, as long as deceptions are technically true (“I don’t
have a penny in my pocket,” only dollars), they are not even considered
lies. The prophet of Islam, Muhammad—the example that Sunni Muslims
especially pattern their lives after—regularly made use of deceit. In order
to assassinate a poet (Ka‘b ibn Ashraf) who offended him, Muhammad permitted
a Muslim to lie to the poet. Muhammad is further on record giving license to
breaking oaths (“if something better” comes along) and openly lying (without
even employing tawriya) to one’s wife and in war. As for the latter, which
assumes a perpetual nature in the guise of the jihad against the non-Muslim
in order to make Islam (and Muslims) supreme (e.g., Qur’an 8:39), deception
and lies are certainly permissible.
My response apparently had the desired effect; as Levant put it in an email
to me, “after receiving the report, he [Awan/plaintiff] decided to cancel
calling his own expert witness [Fadel]—who happens to be a Muslim
Brotherhood sympathizer. After reading your rebuttal, he decided he would
rather not engage in that debate.”
And yet here again is Fadel making and BuzzFeed citing the same indefensible
claims about taqiyya.
Which leads to the ultimate point of this post: to expose all the claims
taqiyya’s apologists make—Fadel left no stone unturned in his attempt to
whitewash the term—and how to respond them: Click on my April 12, 2014
article, “Taqiyya about Taqiyya,” where I methodically address, including by
citing sources, every one of Fadel’s apologias.
France prioritizing business over peace with Iran deals
اولوية فرنسا التجارة وليس السلام والإتفاق النووي مع إيران
Dr. Majid Rafizadeh/Arab News/April 27/18
The international community is watching closely as the deadline approaches
for US President Donald Trump to announce his decision on the Joint
Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), commonly known as the Iran nuclear
deal. Some members of the P5+1 are pressuring the Trump administration not
to scrap the nuclear agreement. Prominently, President Emmanuel Macron of
France has been investing his political capital to lobby for Iran by
convincing Trump that he ought to stick with the deal. Macron even made a
trip to the White House to accomplish his mission.
Without a doubt, the Iranian leaders have been happy with, and welcome, any
lobbying activities on behalf of Tehran. For example, Foreign Minister
Mohammed Javad Zarif seized the moment and immediately supported Macron’s
position on the agreement. He tweeted: “President Macron is correct in
saying there’s no ‘Plan B’ on JCPOA. It’s either all or nothing.”
The key question is: Why is France so forcefully lobbying to maintain the
Iranian regime’s nuclear deal? When the nuances of the economic landscape
are examined closely, it becomes evident and understandable. The nuclear
deal continues to bring the Iranian regime out of economic isolation and
open up its huge untapped market due to the lifting of major sanctions that
were previously imposed by the UN Security Council.
This has been a vital development for France. Iran’s trade with France has
increased significantly since the nuclear accord, which was struck in 2015.
Tehran’s trade with Paris was approximately $3.18 billion during the period
from January to October 2017 — a remarkable rise of nearly 112 percent
compared to the same period the previous year. In 2016, trade between the
two countries was nearly $2 billion, revealing a staggering increase of
roughly 300 percent in comparison to 2015. And trade between them is
expected to reach $4.8 billion in 2018, according to the head of Iran’s
Chamber of Commerce.
There are three major industries that France and Iran have been profiting
from. The first area is the energy sector. One of the most lucrative
contracts agreed after the nuclear deal was signed involved the French oil
corporation Total and was worth close to $4.8 billion. Total is investing in
the development of an offshore gas field in the Gulf. The deal is critical
for France because Total is reaping a 50 percent profit from this
The second field is linked to the aircraft sector. The Iranian regime has
signed an agreement with French airline manufacturer Airbus to take delivery
of more than 100 aircraft. Iran Air has already received several Airbus jets
and some turboprops. The deal will bring France significant revenue, as
Iranian leaders have shown a willingness to pay about $25 billion for the
order. Another French company is also in talks to sell 40 medium-haul
aircraft to Iran.
Not every country is benefiting from Iran’s nuclear deal like France is. But
Paris must be cautious that such a short-term policy may bring about
significant repercussions and unintended negative consequences in the long
The third field is related to the transportation industry. Thanks to the
nuclear deal, the French carmaker PSA Peugeot Citroen is on the path to
again be the top auto-seller in Iran, as it was prior to the sanctions era.
It has signed a contract with Tehran regime’s biggest carmakers — Iran
Khodro and SAIPA — to open a plant that will produce nearly 200,000 vehicles
Other French carmakers have also been rushing to reap profits. For instance,
Renault has reached a deal with the Iranian regime’s Industrial Development
and Renovation Organization to manufacture at least 150,000 vehicles a year.
The transportation sector is not limited to automakers, since France is
expanding in other fields as well. It is facilitating trade between Tehran
and other Asian countries through its shipping companies. France’s CMA CGM,
one of the world’s largest container shipping groups, signed an agreement
with the Iranian regime during President Hassan Rouhani’s visit to Paris in
January. The firm is providing services from China to Iran.
In fact, based on the changes witnessed in the volume of trade before and
after the nuclear deal, France has likely been the most proactive and
engaged European nation when it comes to increasing its business with the
In addition, France has been taking steps to protect itself by charting a
new path, which will assist Paris in bypassing the US dollar and insulating
France from US Congressional laws regarding dealings with Iran. The plan is
to conduct transactions through a euro system of finance and credits with no
links to or involvement of US entities. This will also shield France from
potential US sanctions against the Tehran regime.
Such an advantageous business relationship between France and Iran may also
explain the reasons behind the improving diplomatic ties between the two
countries. French ministers have visited Tehran three times since the
nuclear agreement was signed, while the Iranian president’s first trip
abroad after sanctions were lifted saw him visit Paris.
Not every country is benefiting from Iran’s nuclear deal like France is. By
lobbying for the agreement, France is more likely prioritizing its business
deals with the Iranian regime over regional stability, security and peace.
It must be cautious that such a short-term policy may bring about
significant repercussions and unintended negative consequences in the long
• Dr. Majid Rafizadeh is a Harvard-educated Iranian-American political
scientist. He is a leading expert on Iran and US foreign policy, a
businessman and president of the International American Council. He serves
on the boards of the Harvard International Review, the Harvard International
Relations Council and the US-Middle East Chamber for Commerce and Business.
The IDF's eyes on Syria: the new MMS system forewarning
of Iranian retaliation
عين جيش الدفاع الإسرائيلي على سوريا: نظام المراقبة والرصد الألكتروني الجديد يحذر
من الانتقام الإيراني
Yoav Zitun/Ynetnews/April 28/18
Ynet provides a special, exclusive peek at the advanced
MSS, or multisensory system, deployed across Israel's northeastern frontier; as
each suspicious occurrence is graded on a 1-10 scale, with a flick of their
joysticks lookouts can spot rebels deep within Syrian territory down to the gun
The Syrian village of Al-Ahmadiyah sits on the road between New Quneitra—one of
the last symbols of the regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad remaining in the
Golan—and the southern part of the Golan Heights, which is controlled by the
The road can be clearly seen from the top of the Israeli Hermonit outpost, at
the slopes of which is the verdant Valley of Tears. Soldiers stationed in the
Syrian army positions that surround Quneitra occasionally open machinegun fire
at rebel vehicles going south, toward the villages Assad is planning to retake.
Only three months ago, assisted by helicopters dropping incendiary barrels, was
Assad's army able to conquer the region surrounding the town of Beit Jann in the
Syrian Hermon—merely several kilometers away from the Israeli side of the
mountain. Assad's current objective in the Syrian Golan Heights is to cut off
the supply route passing through the aforementioned road.
The echoes of a mortar bomb meeting its target can still be heard on occasion,
drowning out the bucolic sounds of the western (Israeli) portion of the region.
Observation from the Hermonit outpost is an easy one even without binoculars and
offers a full view of the mushroom cloud appearing immediately thereafter,
before it dissipates in the Heights' winds. Soon, however, the echoes of
explosions may no longer be confined to the Syrian side of the border. An
Iranian revenge attack for the strike on drone base the Islamic republic built
near Homs—and which is attributed to Israel—may take the form of an antitank
strike on IDF forces or a heavy barrage of rockets near the border.
The soldiers tasked with recognizing such a strike and warning against it are
the lookouts of the Golan Division. To carry out this momentous task, they have
been outfitted with the most sophisticated of "weapons": a multisensory system
(MSS), of which Ynet has been cleared to provide the first glimpse.
The MSS is comprised of a series of poles affixed with state of the art radars
and advanced cameras capable of shooting in both day and nighttime conditions,
allowing the operation room's lookouts to scan and observe not only the Golan
across the border, but also deep within Syria—and all with a flick of their
Deployment of the army's first MSS in the Syrian Golan was not coincidental.
Hezbollah made a play for precisely that region four years ago but was thwarted
by offensive actions—both overt and covert—attributed to the IDF. Since then,
the war-torn country's various rebels groups—from the Islamic State through the
successors of Al-Qaeda and the Free Syrian Army—have overtaken most of the strip
of land near the border Syria shares with Israel.
While Assad is growing ever bolder in light of his impending Russian-assisted
victory in the civil war, the Syrian Golan has still been rather low on his
priorities list. While regime forces have even succeeded in overtaking the
Syrian Hermon ridge in the past few months, they have yet to begin a significant
maneuver southward, to the Heights' plains. According to one IDF estimate,
Assad's significant move to reconquer the Syrian Golan will be carried out
either simultaneously or after he retakes the large community of Daraa near
Jordan, which is also not far from the tri-border area with Israel.
Radars throughout the sector
Either way, the Israeli intelligence hold on the ground is becoming more and
more tenuous. Dozens of armed groups the IDF has never encountered before, each
armed with a different ideology that is not exactly Zionist, have staked their
claim several hundreds of meters from the border. These groups are joined by the
regime's own militias, Iranian "advisers" and routine security officers from
Assad's army, with no one on the Israeli side being able to surmise what
relations with any of them will look like once the war comes to its inevitable
Commander of the Eagle Battalion 595 Lt.-Col. Nir Megidish, overseeing combat
intelligence collection for the Bashan Division that has been tasked with
defending the sector, said, "You can see tanks and APCs driving near the border
fence and have to distinguish at a moment's notice who's a suspect and who
isn't, who's about to point a barrel at you and who won't attack."
Megidish has become one of the region's most tenured field officers, and has
marked his fourth year in this sensitive role. Prior postings saw him taking
part in creating the battalion that collects intelligence as to the goings-on in
Syria in real-time.
He added, "With all of the chaos in Gaza right now, they mostly have to deal
with Hamas while the Galilee Division mostly faces Hezbollah. Here you have
rebels armed with tanks positioning near the border with Israeli families hiking
and Israeli farmers tilling their lands mere hundreds of meters away."
"Calm has been maintained in the past three years just when the rebels
controlled most of the border," he remarked. Senior IDF officials have been
speaking about the moment the Syrian civil war trickles to Israel for the past
five years, most likely in the form of a large-scale terrorist attack carried by
a group infiltrating across the border.
The army's biggest fear is the Yarmouk Martyrs Brigade, which has since changed
its name to Khalid ibn al-Walid Army. the group is affiliated with the Islamic
State and controls the southern Syrian Golan Heights. Terror attacks were noted
on the border from the war's outset, however, with combat soldiers wounded by
the detonation of explosive devices and, in another instance, the death of an
Israeli teen hit by an antitank rocket. The feared "mega-attack" has yet to take
place, nonetheless, and tasked with blocking it are Lt.-Col. Megidish's orders
to the MSS's lookouts—and to that end the army seems to have undergone a
technological revolution of sorts.
"The fence has been wired with different kinds of radars and the most advanced
cameras," Megidish continued. "The MSS technology allows us to translate our
operational priorities list—which we predetermine, who or what to track—into
tasklist the lookout on duty receives." "There are long stretches here on the
Hermon without a fence acting as barrier due to the difficult topography, which
makes control that much more challenging," the IDF official stated.
Lookouts can pick up combatants from kilometers away
The MSS enables to rank every suspicious spotting—such as any irregular
movements—on a scale of one to ten, in accordance with a list of automatic
criteria including intelligence alerts, the sector's history, distance from the
fence and the type of object that triggered movement (vehicles, people or
animals). The system is so smart, in fact, it can recreate the path a Syrian
vehicle took near the village of Hader, for instance, which ended up attracting
the lookout's attention. The lookouts' keyboards are cutting-edge and tiny, and
their joysticks are also smoother to control. A lookout constantly jumps from
one point to another—examining a Syrian outpost and then zooming in on an Assad
poster on the wall of a regime soldier's booth, with a tarp covering an armored
vehicle not far away.
Flanking the lookout is the selector, who delves into suspicious points to
decipher any irregular movements. The MSS allows them to complete actions in
seconds—direct tanks, aircraft and precise fire. "The cameras we have here allow
lookouts to pinpoint not only a combatant on the roof of a building several
kilometers away, but also note exactly the kind of gun he's armed with,"
Six months ago, the sector came to the brink of combustion, with Majdal Shamas
residents demanding to prevent a rebel-directed slaughter of their brethren
residing in the Syrian-Druze town of Hader near the border. The IDF, and the
elders of the village of the slopes of the Hermon, feared violent riots that
will trickle into Syria. Materials documented and collected in the new
observation operations rooms and then forwarded to Northern Command and heads of
the Druze community helped ameliorate tensions. The lookouts' documentation
showed rebels have not yet overtaken the town's outskirts, and the IDF's
warnings of intervening to defend the Syrian-Druze sufficed to end the crisis
without further escalation.
Motivation of the soldiers stationed as lookouts runs high, their commanders
said, and it appears the IDF is going to great lengths to leave behind past
imbroglios such as disobeying orders, abandoning bases and multiple complaints
by lookouts due to the harsh conditions. Lessons, it appears, were learned: each
lookout's shift lasts only four hours, after which she rests for eight, while
some lookouts remain on standby. Their residential complex, erected near the
operations room, does not strike one as military barracks. Rooms are spacious
and attractive, each outfitted with a shower and bathroom, like any hotel
accommodation, as well as personal lighting fixtures and outlets near the beds
and personal lockers for each soldier.
Also on offer is a special menu, made up of dishes created to the soldiers' own
specifications. Rice crackers will even be purchased, for the first time in the
army's history, at the lookouts' behest. The army, it is evident, will go the
extra mile for these soldiers, busy keeping Israel's northern frontier secure.
Trump, Macron and Merkel Have an Opportunity in Iran's
Eli Lake/Bloomberg View/April 28/18
Those who want to kill the Iran nuclear deal, and those who want to fix it, may
both overlook that there's a strong third option: keep its fate in limbo.
May 12 is the deadline for US President Donald Trump to decide whether to
re-impose crippling sanctions, which were lifted by the deal that was intended
to provide transparency into and temporary limits on Iran's nuclear development.
French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel will press
Trump more to hold off. Iran's foreign minister, Javad Zarif, went on CBS to
threaten that Iran had "unpleasant" options should Trump impose the sanctions.
Even HBO late-night host John Oliver has gotten in on the act. His program will
take out ads this week on Fox News asking the president to remain in the nuclear
bargain that was forged by Barack Obama. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said
recently that his preference is to strengthen, and not end, the nuclear deal.
That bargain is no doubt important. There are however more pressing matters than
the fate of the nuclear deal -- namely the fate of the Iranian regime. Any
consideration of abrogating or maintaining the deal should include how the
actions would affect the regime and the pro-democracy resistance.
It's an easy story to miss, but since late December when protests broke out
throughout the country, Iran's ruling clerics have faced a cascade of crises
that pose the most serious threat to the regime's legitimacy since the 1979
Let's start with the currency crisis. There is already a run on Iran's banks.
The Iranian rial has lost a third of its value in 2018 compared to the US
dollar. One dollar is worth around 60,000 rials on the black market in Iran
today. Compare that to when the current president, Hassan Rouhani, took power in
2013 -- when the dollar was worth 36,000 rials. That was before Obama offered
Iran any sanctions relief, when Iran's government was fast running out of cash
There is also an ecological crisis in Iran. As Reuters reported last month,
several protests have erupted throughout the country because of an ongoing
drought and government's botched response. Farmers are being driven off their
land. The regime has started arresting environmental activists. The state is
running television commercials urging the conservation of drinking water.
Finally, there is a foreign policy crisis. One of the catalysts for the first
round of mass demonstrations in December and January was a leak of the official
budget. It showed that billions of dollars were funneled to Iran's military and
Revolutionary Guard Corps, currently waging hot wars in Syria and Yemen, while
Iran's youth unemployment rate continued to rise. This is one reason many of the
demonstrators today chant slogans that proclaim Iran should focus on its
problems at home and not on sowing mischief abroad.
All of these factors have stoked the embers of the protests that began nearly
five months ago. They also explain why the regime has not been able to quiet the
demonstrations the way it did in 2009 following rigged presidential elections,
by arresting and "disappearing" the urban elites who took to the streets.
This time around the protests have spread to different strata of Iranian
society. Alireza Nader, a former Iran specialist for the RAND Corporation, notes
that even former insiders like the onetime president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad are
predicting an end to the current regime. His electoral larceny in 2009 prompted
the last uprising.
Nader this week translated on his Twitter feed Ahmadinejad's words to
supporters, recorded by BBC's Persian Service at a recent rally. He said the
current regime acts "in a way as if they'll be around forever. They have no news
of what's happening. There's not ground below their feet. Events in Iran will
soon transform the whole world."
Nader told me this week that he does not think Ahmadinejad has had a change of
heart. Rather, "he is now positioning himself because he knows there will be a
major upheaval and he doesn't want to be a guy who gets lynched."
And he's not alone. Geneive Abdo wrote for Bloomberg last month that there is
now lively debate and protest over the detention of Ayatollah Hussein Shirazi, a
prominent cleric who has challenged the divine authority of Iran's supreme
leader, Ali Khamenei. As I reported this month, Iran's Nobel laureate and human
rights lawyer Shirin Ebadi, along with other activists, are now calling for
indigenous regime change through a UN-monitored referendum that would eliminate
Khamenei's position of supreme leader altogether.
The Logical Next Step for Europe's Integration
Ferdinando Giugliano/Bloomberg View/April 28/18
For the past year, euro-zone leaders have vowed to take steps to complete
Europe's monetary union. The 19 countries share a single currency and a central
bank, but they still lack all the necessary mechanisms to deal with major
imbalances and shocks. While some members would like to have more fiscal
transfers and a common safety net for the banks, others worry about subsidizing
laggards and encouraging moral hazard.
The European Council at the end of June is widely seen as the last opportunity
for some time to agree on an agenda of reforms. Afterwards, politicians will
start to campaign ahead of the elections for the European Parliament next
spring. With euroskeptic forces on the rise across the currency union,
mainstream parties will have little appetite for negotiations over institutional
reform in the run-up to the vote.
Political leaders won't say what would count as a success in June. But I would
argue that the real test is whether the euro zone agrees to a roadmap for common
deposit insurance. This would show that European governments are willing to go
further in supporting each other in the event of a crisis.
The creation of joint deposit insurance has been on the agenda at least since
European leaders agreed to transfer responsibility for banking policy from
national to EU level in 2012. This project -- referred to as Europe's "banking
union" -- is formed of three pillars: the joint supervision of significant
banks, a framework to wind down failing lenders, and the creation of a European
pot of money to guarantee deposits of up to 100,000 euros ($122,000). While the
euro zone has taken the first two steps, the third has proven elusive. Germany
and other low-debt countries such as the Netherlands fear they could be on the
hook for troubles in banks in weaker member states.
These concerns are largely misplaced. Germany and the Netherlands have had their
own recent history of severe banking crises. Joint deposit insurance would
benefit them as much as Italy or Spain. A common safety net would also reassure
all depositors that they will see their money back in case of a crisis; that
helps reduce the risk of bank runs in all euro-zone countries.
So far, the holdouts aren't buying that argument. The European Commission had
put forward an ambitious proposal for a European Deposit Insurance Scheme (EDIS),
but then had to water it down significantly in the hope of reaching some
Leaders are discussing others ways to deepen monetary union ahead of the June
summit too. There is talk of providing a backstop to the Single Resolution Fund
(SRF), the pot of money used to wind down banks in crisis. At the moment, this
is capped at 55 billion euros, an amount which will only be reached gradually. A
meaningful backstop would see, for example, the SRF able to take money from the
European Stability Mechanism (ESM), the much larger euro-zone rescue fund. The
EU would then have significant firepower to deal with a large bank in crisis
(though, in the case of a very large lender such as Deutsche Bank, there would
remain concerns over the impact of a failure on the rest of the financial
system). Another idea is to turn the ESM into a more flexible institution, which
is capable of lending money to countries without them committing to fiscal
adjustment and a full set of structural reforms.
Neither proposal will make or break the June summit. Any changes to the ESM will
likely be a relabeling exercise. And leaders already agreed to the idea of
strengthening the SRF a long time ago. In any case, its role in providing
additional risk-sharing between governments is limited because the fund can only
intervene after equity and bond investors have suffered hefty losses through a
process called "burden-sharing."
A roadmap to common deposit insurance is therefore the sign investors need to be
convinced that the euro zone is serious about deeper integration. This does not
have to happen at once. As Mario Centeno, president of the Eurogroup of finance
ministers, said at the spring meetings of the International Monetary Fund and
World Bank in Washington last week, deposit insurance could initially exist
alongside national funds, for example through a mechanism of co-insurance.
European money would be called upon only when the national funds are depleted.
It is also possible to mitigate the risks that countries abuse this safety net.