August 05/2018
Compiled & Prepared by: Elias Bejjani


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Bible Quotations
This Jesus is “the stone that was rejected by you, the builders; it has become the cornerstone
Acts of the Apostles04/05-12/: ‘The next day their rulers, elders, and scribes assembled in Jerusalem, with Annas the high priest, Caiaphas, John, and Alexander, and all who were of the high-priestly family. When they had made the prisoners stand in their midst, they inquired, ‘By what power or by what name did you do this?’ Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them, ‘Rulers of the people and elders, if we are questioned today because of a good deed done to someone who was sick and are asked how this man has been healed, let it be known to all of you, and to all the people of Israel, that this man is standing before you in good health by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead. This Jesus is “the stone that was rejected by you, the builders; it has become the cornerstone.” There is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among mortals by which we must be saved.’”

Titles For The Latest LCCC Bulletin analysis & editorials from miscellaneous sources published on August 04-05/18
White House Staffing up Its Middle East Policy Team in Preparations for Israel-Palestine Peace Plan/Associated Press/August 04/18
Britain Welcomes Radicals - Again and Again/Douglas Murray/Gatestone Institute/August 04/18
London Traders and Brexit/Mark Gilbert/Bloomberg/August 04/18
Global Equities Confront Uncomfortable Truth/Robert Burgess/Bloomberg/August 04/18
Tens of Thousands Attend Druze Rally Against Nation-state Law
Bar Peleg, Noa Shpigel, Chaim Levinson, Oded Yaron and Noa Landau/Haaretz/August 04/18
Analysis/Netanyahu Cons Druze and Incites Jews to Protect Controversial Nation-state Law/Chemi Shalev/Haaretz/August 04/18
Opinion/Israel and Iran Will Both Lose if They Go to War/David Rosenberg/Haaretz/August 04/18
Analysis/Druze Solidarity Rally Could Make or Break Netanyahu’s Election Campaign/Anshel Pfeffer/Haaretz/August 04/18

Titles For The Latest LCCC Lebanese Related News published 
on August 04-05/18
Lebanon’s Sunnis Rally Behind PM-Designate Hariri
Jreissati: Repatriated IS Members Fairly Questioned
FPM Tells Hariri LF Can Have Foreign Affairs Portfolio
Lebanese Volunteers Speak Up to Battle Suicide
HRW Says 8 Alleged IS Members May be Abused in Lebanon
NAMAZEJ' Advises Citizens, Municipal Police on Mutual Responsibilities
Report: Saudi, UAE Press Hariri on LF, PSP Representation
Majdel Zun residents throw stones at UNIFIL
Taymour Jumblatt, Bogdanov meet in Russia
Geagea hails Mountain Reconciliation
Khalil criticizes Zahrani power barges
Titles For The Latest LCCC Bulletin For Miscellaneous Reports And News published on August 04-05/18
White House Staffing up Its Middle East Policy Team in Preparations for Israel-Palestine Peace Plan
US warns Europe: End business with Iran or face harsh sanctions
Iran Protesters Attack Religious School as Tensions Mount
Iran protests ‘won’t end until regime falls’
Erdogan sanctions US officials in tit-for-tat row over pastor
Israeli Druze hold mass rally to protest Jewish nation law
Israeli Druze rally against Jewish Nation Law in Tel Aviv
Fears in Israel from Repercussions of Netanyahu's Disagreement with Druze
Russia Confirms It Sent Syrian Refugee Proposal to U.S.
Russia confirms proposed Syria cooperation with US on refugees
'Icon of Syrian Revolution' Laid to Rest in Paris
Bin Laden’s Mother Speaks for 1st time: My Son was Brainwashed
US Embassy Expansion in Jerusalem
Libya: Army Fights Sleeper Cells in Liberated Derna
UN Welcomes Success of Libya Municipal Elections
Coptic Orthodox Pope of Alexandria Shuts Down his Facebook Page
Yemen Rebels Say Willing to Attend U.N. Talks
UN Experts: North Korea Tried to Sell Arms to Houthis
Saudi Arabia to resume oil exports through Bab al-Mandeb Strait
The Latest LCCC Lebanese Related News published on August 04-05/18
Lebanon’s Sunnis Rally Behind PM-Designate Hariri
Beirut - Caroline Akoum/Asharq Al-Awsat/Saturday, 4 August, 2018/Prime Minister-designate Saad Hariri, his allies, as well as his foes from the Sunni sect have warned against attempts by some parties to circumvent the authorities of the premiership amid a deadlock in government formation. The stalemate is a result of bickering among several parties on their ministerial shares, a dispute that has culminated into hints that Hariri should be set aside and President Michel Aoun should name another premier-designate. Free Patriotic Movement leader caretaker Foreign Minister Jebran Bassil, who is Aoun's son-in-law, has also hinted on the formation of a majority cabinet, which some parties viewed as an infringement on Hariri’s authorities. Speaker Nabih Berri’s hints that he could call for parliamentary meetings despite the absence of a government, has also pushed Hariri’s foes such as former Prime Minister Najib Miqati to warn against such move. Sources close to Miqati told Asharq Al-Awsat that some parties are attempting to infringe on the powers of the prime minister. “Miqati holds onto the Constitution …. No party has an interest in amending it,” they said, warning that “doing so would have negative repercussions.”Lebanese Forces officials, who also spoke on condition of anonymity, told the newspaper that attempts to infringe on Hariri’s authorities would lead to sectarian tension and put further hurdles to the government formation efforts. Officials opposing Bassil’s “political behavior” blamed Hariri for allowing the FPM leader to impose conditions on the cabinet formation. “It’s up to Hariri to settle the situation,” they said on condition of anonymity. Several parties have accused Bassil of seeking to give his FPM veto power in the government. Grand Mufti Abdul Latif Darian reiterated on Friday that the premier-designate is the only person entitled to form the government in consultation with the president. He called for a cabinet of “trust,” stressing that Hariri was not solely responsible for the stalemate. The post of prime minister is reserved for a Sunni Muslim in Lebanon's sectarian power sharing system.

Jreissati: Repatriated IS Members Fairly Questioned

Associated Press/Naharnet/August 04/18/Caretaker Justice Minister Salim Jreissati announced Saturday that members of the Islamic State group handed over to Lebanon recently are being questioned under the supervision of judicial authorities. Jreissati's comments came a day after Human Rights Watch said the United States should ensure no foreign IS suspects held by local allies in Syria are transferred to a country where they are at risk of torture or unfair trials. The Lebanese Army said in a statement earlier this week that eight Lebanese citizens who fought for IS in Iraq and Syria were handed over to Lebanon "by friendly security agencies in the framework of the international coalition to fight terrorism." Jreissati told LBCI TV that the questioning of the eight by military investigators is supervised by Military Prosecutor Peter Germanos.

FPM Tells Hariri LF Can Have Foreign Affairs Portfolio
Naharnet/August 04/18/The Free Patriotic Movement has told Prime Minister-designate Saad Hariri that it does not mind allocating the foreign affairs ministerial portfolio to the Lebanese Forces in the new government, media reports said. The LF for its part has informed Hariri that President Michel Aoun and the FPM are not opposed to it getting a 'sovereign' ministerial portfolio, al-Akhbar newspaper reported on Saturday. The four so-called sovereign ministerial portfolios are foreign affairs, defense, finance and interior. “Hariri has underscored that the interior and finance portfolios will certainly go to him and to Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri, which leaves the ball in the FPM's court regarding the defense and foreign affairs portfolios,” al-Akhbar said. “Hariri received a signal from the FPM that it does not oppose giving the LF the foreign affairs portfolio,” the daily added. Hariri was tasked with forming a new government on May 24. The main obstacle hindering his mission is political wrangling over Christian and Druze representation.

Lebanese Volunteers Speak Up to Battle Suicide

Agence France Presse/Naharnet/August 04/18/Her trainers beating down on the pavement along Beirut's seafront, Nour Safieddine, 24, cuts past strollers ambling in the evening sun. In her bright pink t-shirt, she is running to survive. "I run to carry on, so life can smile at me even if it made me cry -- or in fact, not to die after the thought of suicide crept into my head," the journalist and graduate student wrote recently. In Lebanon, mental health and suicide have long been deeply taboo subjects, with both major religions in the tiny country -- Islam and Christianity -- condemning the taking of one's own life. The small Mediterranean country has been rocked by decades of war, and weathered endless political crises in recent years as it fights to stave off an economic meltdown. To shake the mold and help save lives, Lebanese like Safieddine are speaking up. The sudden deaths of her sister and father around one year ago sent her into crippling depression, but running has helped pull her out. In May, she bravely shared her own struggle with depression in a public social media post. "I decided I had to give positive energy to these people and remind them that life is worth living and that they deserve to live," the tall, lean athlete told AFP. She was surprised by the positive response. "I felt like my experience was the experience of many people who hadn't dared to speak up about what they were going through," she said. The issue has been getting a wave of attention in Lebanon in recent weeks amid concern over rising suicides.
'He fell'
The first seven months of this year alone have seen 89 suicides in Lebanon, compared with 143 for all of 2017, according to Lebanon's security forces. This year's rate amounts to roughly one suicide every two and a half days, but social norms in Lebanon may mean suicides are underreported. "You have families who said, because of stigma, that he fell," said Nour Kik, of the health ministry's mental health program. To fight rising numbers, a group of mental health professionals and volunteers launched Lebanon's first suicide prevention hotline in late 2017. The Embrace Lifeline has received around 600 calls since November, said Omar Ghosn, a psychiatrist and board member of the Embrace association behind it. In a small, bright office in downtown Beirut, around 45 volunteers work in shifts to receive phone calls from people in distress, but also worried relatives or friends. "Callers are women and men of all ages," but teenagers especially rely on the service, said Sally, who like other hotline volunteers did not give her second name. "I've had a lot of calls from elderly men," said the 22-year-old psychology student. Without work or a pension, "most call upset because they're struggling to provide themselves with food, drink -- or even a home."But vulnerable groups in Lebanon also include around one million Syrian refugees who fled the seven-year war in their neighboring homeland.
A 2014 World Health Organization report found that 41 percent of Syrian youth in Lebanon have sometimes or often contemplated suicide.
'Listen to them cry'
Fadi, a 37-year-old Syrian volunteer at the hotline, said he often feels callers have never had anyone empathize with them. He talks them through their problems, trying to highlight their achievements, he said. Though "sometimes, they just need someone to listen to them cry."Fadi is determined to speak out, especially after witnessing a crowd egg on a suicidal Syrian man threatening to throw himself off a Beirut cliff in April. "They were eating sunflower seeds and watching the scene as if they were watching a movie at the cinema," he said. Fadi gained the man's trust by throwing him his coat, and managed to coax him off the edge. He is also trying to raise awareness individually. His gym coach, who initially did not want to talk about the taboo topic, is now helping spread the word. "Now he's the one telling everybody: By the way, there's a suicide hotline in Lebanon. The number is 1564," said Fadi. Authorities say they are working on preventing suicides, including through better access to mental healthcare. "Ninety percent of persons who attempt suicide have a mental disorder that can be treated," said Kik, of the health ministry's mental health program launched in 2014. "We are working on making services more available, accessible and affordable," she said. But Safieddine's coping mechanism is still running. She has completed a half-marathon and is working on improving her time. "I run for freedom, I run for life, I run for myself, I run for my pain, and I run for those like me," she said.

HRW Says 8 Alleged IS Members May be Abused in Lebanon
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/August 04/18/Eight alleged members of the Islamic State group could face abuse if they are transferred from northern Syria to their native Lebanon, Human Rights Watch has said. The Lebanese Army said this week that eight Lebanese nationals accused of fighting alongside IS in Iraq and Syria had been transferred to its intelligence units.HRW said it had previously documented rights violations committed by the Lebanese security forces now holding the suspected jihadists. "We and other organizations have documented torture and ill treatment by the army and the military intelligence, who are detaining these individuals," said Lama Fakih, the rights group's deputy regional director. "At the same time, we have concerns these individuals will not receive fair trials in military courts, where we have documented concerns about impartiality of judges," she told the AFP news agency.
The Lebanese army has not specified when the suspected IS fighters were handed over to Lebanon, from where, or by whom. The operation came "within the framework of the international coalition to fight terrorism," the army said, adding that military intelligence has since transferred the detainees to the courts.
A report by Lebanese newspaper al-Akhbar said they were caught by the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), for years Washington's main partner in the fight against IS in Syria. The suspects were brought to Lebanon more than a month ago in a U.S. military plane, al-Akhbar reported. A security source told AFP that the alleged jihadists were being interrogated by intelligence services. Human Rights Watch said the lack of transparency over the procedures was worrying. "Little is known about conditions of their confinement, access to lawyers, when they came to Lebanon -- all these things add to the baseline level of concern," said Fakih. At the peak of its self-styled "caliphate" in Syria and Iraq, IS attracted thousands of foreigners to join it, including Lebanese nationals. But it has since lost almost all of its territory, and U.S.-backed forces have been detaining foreign IS members in both Syria and Iraq.
Last month, Washington said two Americans accused of supporting IS had been handed over by the SDF to U.S. authorities.

NAMAZEJ' Advises Citizens, Municipal Police on Mutual Responsibilities
Naharnet/August 04/18/The Lebanon Renaissance Foundation, a charitable and education NGO which operates in various fields, has been promoting the NAMAZEJ initiative, an illustrated handbook listing basic tasks that are not properly addressed by municipal police agents, most of whom are not informed about the extent of their duties. “Initiated in 2015, NAMAZEJ aims to develop the 'human' factor in public bodies to better serve citizens. It reaches out, as a first step, to public institutions with a high level of interaction with the people, such as the Municipal Police, which has 3,000 agents deployed within 1,000+ municipalities all over Lebanon,” the NGO said in a press release. Following a protocol signed in October 2014 with the Office of Minister of State for Administrative Reform (OMSAR), and later endorsed by the Ministry of Interior, the Foundation designed, edited and printed the NAMAZEJ handbook.
Municipal Police “mostly attend regulating traffic around religious occasions and festivals. Their duties are in fact much wider and could have a positive impact on various situations arising all over Lebanon since municipalities are spread over the whole country,” the Foundation added in its statement. As of its initiation in 2015 and to date, 11 presentation/distribution ceremonies were held across Lebanon in cooperation with Municipal Federations in Akkar, Chouf-Sweijani, Chouf-Shahar, Upper Metn, Amioun, Zahle, Sidon-Zahrani, Jezzine, Tripoli, Mina and Bikfaya. These ceremonies were followed by billboard campaigns, made available by Pikasso S.A.L, as a means to raise awareness among citizens and encourage them to download the handbook, which would enable residents and municipal agents to perform their mutual responsibilities. To date more than 1,100 municipal police agents and officials were handed copies of the NAMAZEJ handbook. “The ultimate aim of the NAMAZEJ initiative is to improve the citizen’s quality of life, in all regions, and to trigger a very much needed change in local governance practices. This can be achieved by knowing respective rights and responsibilities,” the Lebanon Renaissance Foundation says.The handbook can be downloaded at:

Report: Saudi, UAE Press Hariri on LF, PSP Representation
Naharnet/August 04/18/Saudi Arabia and the UAE have called on Prime Minister-designate Saad Hariri not to accept a government line-up in which the Lebanese Forces does not get the share it is asking for, a media report said. The two Gulf powerhouses in addition to Egypt have also asked Hariri to prevent any attempt to “besiege ex-MP Walid Jumblat through the infiltration of Druze representation,” al-Akhbar newspaper reported on Saturday. Moreover, Sunni politicians have received requests from the three Arab countries to “stand by Hariri” as he seeks to prevent any “encroachment on his jurisdiction,” the daily added. Hariri was tasked with forming a new government on May 24. The main obstacle hindering his mission is political wrangling over Christian and Druze representation.

Majdel Zun residents throw stones at UNIFIL
Sat 04 Aug 2018/NNA - Residents of the southern town of Majdal Zun threw stones at a UNIFIL patrol and delayed their work for taking photographs inside the town's residential neighborhoods, National News Agency correspondent said Saturday.
Tenenti: Civilians block UNIFIL patrols in Majdal Zun NNA UNIFIL spokesperson, Andrea Tenenti, said on Saturday: "On August 4 at about 8 a.m near the town of Majdal Zun in southern Lebanon, a UNIFIL patrol was blocked by a group of civilians. There were no injuries to UN peacekeepers, but there were damages to UNIFIL vehicles and equipments. An investigation has been launched by UNIFIL and the Lebanese Army to uncover the circumstances of the incident."

Taymour Jumblatt, Bogdanov meet in Russia
Sat 04 Aug 2018/NNA - "Democratic Gathering" Chief, MP Taymor Jumblatt, met with Russian Deputy Foreign Minister, Mikhail Bogdanov, accompanied by MP Wael Abu Faour.
Talks between both men reportedly focused on the current political developments, the depth of historical relations and friendship between the Progressive Socialist Party and the Russian state.

Geagea hails Mountain Reconciliation

Sat 04 Aug 2018/NNA - "The Mountain Reconciliation is deeper than any pointless statements. Greetings to the Druze and Christians residing in the Mountain, to the martyrs, and to Patriarch Nasrallah Sfeir," Lebanese Forces leader Samir Geagea, said via Twitter on Saturday.

Khalil criticizes Zahrani power barges

Sat 04 Aug 2018/NNA - Amal Movement MPs staged a sit-in in front of the Zahrani power plant, asking for an end to deals bringing power barges in the country. Taking the word, MP Ali Hassan Khalil said that "this sit-in comes to reassure our commitment to granting the people of Southern Lebanon their right to receive the amount of electricity that meets their needs." He added that Amal Movement demanded to establish permanent power plants that would provide electricity for all of Lebanon and rejected the extension of power ships for the next three years. The Minister pointed out that the Turkish power ship that arrived to Lebanon was supposed to provide Lebanon with electricity free of charge for three months, where a decision was made that opposed what was agreed upon by all parties.

The Latest LCCC Bulletin For Miscellaneous Reports And News published
on August 04-05/18
White House Staffing up Its Middle East Policy Team in Preparations for Israel-Palestine Peace Plan
Associated Press/ Saturday 04th August 2018
U.S. officials say the Trump administration is staffing up a Middle East policy team at the White House in anticipation of unveiling its long awaited but largely mysterious Israeli-Palestinian peace plan. The National Security Council last week began approaching other agencies seeking volunteers to join the team, which will work for President Donald Trump's Mideast peace pointmen Jared Kushner and Jason Greenblatt, according to the officials. The team, which is being set up to organize the peace plan's public presentation and any negotiations that may ensue, will comprise three units: one concentrating on its political and security details, one on its significant economic focus and one on strategic communications, the officials said. The creation of a White House team is the first evidence in months that a plan is advancing. Although Trump officials have long promised the most comprehensive package ever put forward toward resolving the conflict, the emerging plan has not been described with even a small amount of detail by Kushner, Greenblatt or any other official. Timing on the release of the plan remains undecided. The State Department, Pentagon, intelligence agencies and Congress have been asked to detail personnel to the team for six months to a year, according to the officials, who were not authorized to publicly discuss the matter and spoke on condition of anonymity.The agencies declined to comment but an NSC official said that Kushner, Trump's son-in-law and senior adviser, and Greenblatt, Trump's special envoy for international negotiations, "are expanding their team and the resources available as they finalize the details and rollout strategy of the peace initiative."White House officials say the plan will focus on pragmatic details, rather than top-line concepts, that will be able to easier win public support.
Yet the Palestinian leadership has been openly hostile to any proposal from the Trump administration, citing what it says is a pro-Israel bias, notably after Trump recognized Jerusalem as Israel's capital in December and moved the U.S. embassy there from Tel Aviv in May.
Since the Palestinian Authority and its President Mahmoud Abbas broke off contact after the Jerusalem announcement, the U.S. negotiating team has been talking to independent Palestinian experts. The White House expects that the Palestinian Authority will engage on the plan and has been resisting congressional demands to fully close the Palestine Liberation Organization office in Washington because Greenblatt and Kushner want to keep that channel open. But officials have offered little evidence to back that up.Palestinian alienation has continued to grow as millions of dollars in U.S. assistance remains on hold and appears likely to be cut entirely. With just two months left in the current budget year, less than half of the planned $251 million in U.S. aid planned for the Palestinians in 2018 — $92.8 million — has been released, according to the government's online tracker, The remaining amount is still on hold as is an additional $65 million in frozen U.S. assistance to the U.N. Relief and Works Agency, which provides services to Palestinians in the West Bank, Gaza, Jordan and Lebanon. In addition, Israel's response to the plan is far from certain. Although Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is one of Trump's top foreign allies, it remains unclear if he will back massive investment in Gaza, which is run by the militant Hamas movement. For the plan to succeed or even survive the starting gate, it will need at least initial buy-in from both Israel and the Palestinians as well as from the Gulf Arab states, which officials say will be asked to substantially bankroll its economic portion. Arab officials have thus far adopted a wait-and-see approach.
Officials say there will never be a perfect time for the roll-out, but that they are laying the groundwork now for when an opportune time becomes apparent. The plan is not done, but is being finalized, including an economic development proposal for the Palestinian people that foresees major infrastructure and industrial work, particularly in Gaza. The officials believe that the hope of a better economic future for the Palestinians coupled with progress on that front, the Palestinians may be willing to delay or modify what have been intractable and to-date unresolvable demands from Israel. Those include the right for Palestinian refugees to return to lands they abandoned or were forced from, the recognition of east Jerusalem as the capital of an independent Palestine. And, they plan to appeal to all sides of the conflict not to let the disagreements of the past hold back their children's futures, according to the officials.
US warns Europe: End business with Iran or face harsh sanctions
Staff writer, Al Arabiya English/Saturday, 4 August 2018/The United States Congress and the Trump administration, issued stern new warning to European partners, if they do not end all business ties with the Iranian regime. This stance was reported by US website Freebacon, quoting a number of senior US officials that Washington and many in Congress have been working in tandem to pressure European partners over their ongoing financial ties to Iran ahead of efforts by the United States to fully reinstate harsh sanctions on Iran, including on its lucrative oil sector and banking systems. Key European partners have expressed opposition to the new US sanctions in recent months and have held a series of meetings with senior Iranian officials to discuss tactics for evading the new American sanctions, which follow on the heels of President Donald Trump’s decision to abandon the landmark nuclear deal.
Trump administration and its allies in Congress are continuing work to further “choke the Iranian economy” while Iranian protesters continue to demonstrate against the hardline regime for its spending on foreign interventionism in hotspots such as Syria and its continued support for international terror groups. Tension in the region with the imminent of reinstating of the harsh US sanctions on Iran, now heightened with the Iranian threat to close the Strait of Hormuz and threaten maritime traffic in the Arabian Gulf. Senior US officials leading the efforts to pressure European partners over their business ties with Iran told the Free Beacon that the Trump administration will not hesitate to sanction those who violate the new sanctions, warning that international banking institutions and even top US banks could be hit with sanctions for not complying.“The Iranian regime has and continues to use terrorism as a weapon in Europe,” Richard Grenell, the US ambassador to Germany, told the Free Beacon. “We must be vigilant in finding out about their plans and stopping them before they succeed.”Grenell and other top US diplomats “are urging our partners to help stop the flow of money to the Iranian regime because it is used to fund malign activities,” the ambassador said. Ten US Senators who opposed the Nuclear Deal with Iran in 2015, recently wrote to the EU3 (Britain, Germany, and France) warning them to comply with all the new US sanctions. As these European countries work to preserve the nuclear deal and keep business with Iran open, the Senators served notice to these countries that they will not be kept ummune from new US sanctions. A full range of US sanctions on Iran are expected to be reinstated by for most sectors on August 6 for most sectors, and the energy sector on November 4. Britain, France, Germany including China, Russia and the EU are in favor of the Nuclear deal which was approved by former US administration headed by president Barak Obama, from which President Trump pulled out t, describing it as “The worst deal negotiated by the United States.”
Iran Protesters Attack Religious School as Tensions Mount
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/August 04/18/Iranian protesters have attacked a religious school in Karaj province near Tehran, the conservative Fars news agency reported Saturday, as sporadic protests simmered ahead of the reimposition of U.S. sanctions. Iranian authorities have barely mentioned days of protests in the major cities of Isfahan, Shiraz, Mashhad and Tehran, driven by concerns over water, the economy and wider anger at the political system. During past unrest, conservative outlets have focused on attacks against sensitive symbols such as religious buildings as a way of tarnishing protesters. "At 9:00 pm (1630 GMT on Friday) they attacked the school and tried to break the doors down and burn things," Fars quoted the head of the school in the town of Ishtehad, Hojatoleslam Hindiani, as saying, giving only his clerical rank and no first name. "They were about 500 people and they chanted against the system but they were dispersed by the riot police and some have been arrested," Hindiani said. Fars acknowledged protests have taken place in "five or six cities" since Tuesday over water shortages, rising prices and joblessness, with "about 1,000 or 2,000 people" taking part. But it said these peaceful protests were taken over by people "who come into the crowd with political slogans such as 'Death to the dictator'". It said this was part of a pre-planned plot by the U.S., Israel and Saudi Arabia to exploit economic tensions inside Iran. Because foreign media are barred from observing "unauthorized" protests, it has been impossible to verify any of these claims or the videos of protests spreading on social media.
Clerical opposition
With tensions high ahead of the return of U.S. sanctions on Tuesday, the government of President Hassan Rouhani also faces opposition from conservatives and religious leaders, who have long disliked his outreach to the West and accuse him of governing only for the rich. The conservative Qom News published a video of a protest in the holy city of Mashhad after Friday prayers, in which a cleric tells the crowd: "Most of your representatives don't care about people's problems. "Most have two passports and their families are abroad. The judiciary should find these people and arrest them," the cleric says, to chants of "Allahu akbar" ("God is greater") from the crowd. Former hardline president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who has fallen out with the conservative establishment since leaving office in 2013, has tried to ride this wave of anger. In a Wednesday Twitter post, he called on U.S. President Donald Trump to release a list of "relatives of Iranian government officials that have green cards and bank accounts in the United States", if such a record exists.
Sanctions return
So far, social media reports suggest the current protests are far from the scale of the unrest seen in December and January, when at least 25 people were killed in demonstrations that spread to dozens of towns and cities. There were allegations at the time that they had been sparked by conservative opponents of Rouhani in Mashhad before quickly spiraling out of hand. But all Iranians are concerned about the struggling economy, especially since the United States walked out of the nuclear deal in May and announced it would reimpose full sanctions in two stages. The first phase hits on Tuesday with blocks on financial transactions and imports of raw materials, as well as sanctions on Iran's automotive sector and commercial aircraft purchases. Iran Air announced it would take delivery of five ATR aircraft from the French-Italian firm on Sunday, sneaking under the wire before the sanctions return. Iran says the sanctions are endangering lives by blocking the sale of new planes and spare parts for its aging fleets. Iran's Aseman Airlines was ordered to ground its fleet of ATR planes in February after one of them crashed in the Zagros mountains, killing all 66 people onboard. Remaining sanctions -- including on Iran's oil and gas sector and central bank -- will resume on November 5. Although smaller foreign firms have vowed to work around the U.S. measures, multinationals such as France's Total and Peugeot, and Germany's Siemens have already said they will have to pull out. It is not yet clear how all this will affect ordinary Iranians, but a European diplomat in Tehran who monitors the economy said prices of basic foods were already creeping up.
She said the collapse in the rial, which has lost more than half its value since April, was driven by people rushing to secure their savings in dollars because they lack faith in the government. "There is a massive loss of confidence in the financial system and the government's ability to control things and withstand sanctions," she told AFP.
Iran protests ‘won’t end until regime falls’
Arab News/August 04/18/LONDON: A religious school was attacked in Iran late Friday as public protests spread, in an uprising one policy expert said would continue “until the regime falls.”Iran’s semi-official Tasnim news agency said Saturday that about 500 protesters attacked a seminary in the northern province of Alborz, hurling stones and leading to several arrests. Protests have rocked major cities across Iran — including Tehran, Isfahan, Shiraz and Mashhad — amid mounting anger over the country’s economy and political system. Alireza Nader, chair of the Anti-Defamation League’s Iran Task Force and former policy analyst at the RAND Corporation, said the Iranian government was unlikely to listen to calls made by the protesters. “Iran is experiencing a nationwide uprising which won’t end until the regime falls or makes fundamental reforms. History shows it won’t pursue the latter,” Nader told Arab News. “Iranians simply have had enough of the misery inflicted on them over the past 40 years. The regime could resort to major violence, but that’s likely to create an even bigger rebellion.”Videos shared on social media in recent days have shown crowds of protesters in several cities, chanting slogans such as “death to the dictator” and those demanding an end to Iran’s regional interventions in Lebanon, Syria and Yemen. In the city of Mashhad, a cleric was seen in a video telling a sizeable crowd that “most of your representatives don’t care about people’s problems,” according to Qom News. Nader said that the protests amount to the “most widespread anti-regime resistance movement” since the 1979 revolution in which Iran’s shah was overthrown. The current protests follow unrest in December and January, when at least 25 people were killed in demonstrations that spread to dozens of towns and cities.They come ahead of a new wave of US sanctions on Iran, the first phase of which will be introduced Tuesday, and involve blocks on financial transactions and imports of raw materials among other measures.

Erdogan sanctions US officials in tit-for-tat row over pastor
AFP/August 04/18/ANKARA: President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Saturday said Turkey would impose sanctions on two US officials as retaliation for a similar move by Washington, hitting back in an unprecedented row between the NATO allies. Turkey’s holding of pastor Andrew Brunson on terror-related charges for almost two years has sparked one of the most intense crises between Washington and Ankara since the Turkish invasion of Cyprus in 1974. But in his first comments on the dispute since Washington imposed the sanctions on Wednesday, Erdogan also appeared keen to ward off any further escalation by saying that neither side had an interest in a “lose-lose” scenario."Today, I will give our friends instructions to freeze the assets in Turkey of the American justice and interior ministers, if they have any (such assets),” Erdogan said in a televised speech.
He did not specify to which members of the US administration he was referring. The US attorney general is Jeff Sessions and while the US does not have an interior ministry similar to Turkey, the Secretary of the Interior is Ryan Zinke and Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security is Kirstjen Nielsen. Erdogan’s announcement was a response to Washington’s decision to impose sanctions on Turkish Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu and Justice Minister Abdulhamit Gul over Brunson’s detention. The sanctions freeze any property or assets on US soil held by the two ministers, and bar US citizens from doing business with them. Turkish ministers have denied having any assets in the US and it is highly unlikely the American officials would have assets in Turkey. But analysts say the sanctions are still of critical importance. “Although it is unlikely the sanctions will have much practical effect in either case, it is significant and unprecedented that two NATO allies have sanctioned members of each other’s government,” Amanda Sloat, a former State Department official and now a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, told AFP. The Turkish lira, which has plunged in value this year, has already reached the five to the dollar mark for the first time in history over the sanctions.
“There is a risk of more sanctions to come... which could hit more directly at the heart of Turkish government interests and which have the potential to cause a run on the lira,” Anthony Skinner, director of the Middle East and North Africa at risk management consultants Verisk Maplecroft, told AFP.
He said the “Achilles’ heel” of Turkey’s fragile economy was its exposure to foreign portfolio investments and credit. And Erdogan appeared to indicate that he did not want the crisis to escalate further to full-scale economic sanctions. “We don’t want to be a party to lose-lose games. Moving political and judicial disputes into an economic dimension will be harmful to both sides,” Erdogan said. US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who discussed the issue with Turkish counterpart Mevlut Cavusoglu on Friday, said he was “hopeful” of progress in the “days and weeks to come.” Erdogan said diplomatic channels were working “very intensely” and added he thought “a significant part of the issues of discord can soon be left behind.”Brunson was moved to house arrest last week following nearly two years in jail on terror-related charges but the change only increased tensions. President Donald Trump and his Vice President Mike Pence, who shares Brunson’s evangelical Christian faith, have made his release and return back to his family in the US a priority. The US Treasury implemented the sanctions against the Turkish ministers under the 2016 Global Magnitsky Act named after Russian lawyer Sergei Magnitsky, who died in a Moscow jail, and which allows the US to sanction foreign officials implicated in rights abuses. The dispute is just one of a long list of problems in relations between Ankara and Washington, including Turkey’s ties with Russia and the failure of the US to extradite the alleged mastermind of the 2016 failed coup Fethullah Gulen. Two Turkish employees of US consulates in Turkey are also currently in jail on terror charges and another is under house arrest. “Given the high economic stakes for Turkey, some kind of agreement is more likely than not,” said Skinner. “Erdogan has an unrivaled track record of playing with fire, but he too knows when he has tracked too far across the coals.”Sloat argued “quiet diplomatic negotiations” were the best solution since “Trump will not back down until Brunson is home, while Erdogan does not want to look like he capitulated to the Americans.”

Israeli Druze hold mass rally to protest Jewish nation law
Aviv-Yafo, Saturday, Aug. 4, 2018. (AP)/Israelis from the Druze community participate in a rally against Israel's Jewish Nation Bill in Tel TEL AVIV: Tens of thousands of Israeli Druze and their supporters rallied in central Tel Aviv Saturday to protest a new law they say makes them second-class citizens, an AFP reporter said. The law, which passed last month and is part of Israel’s so-called basic laws, a de facto constitution, proclaims the country the nation state of the Jewish people. It makes no mention of equality or democracy, implying the country’s Jewish character takes precedence, and speaks of Israel as the historic homeland of the Jews, who have a “unique” right to self-determination within its borders. Arabs have strongly criticized the legislation, particularly those from Israel’s 130,000-strong Druze community. Druze, unlike other Arabs who may volunteer, are subject to compulsory service in the military or police alongside Jewish Israelis. Holding colorful Druze flags, protesters at Saturday’s demonstration chanted “equality.”“Despite our unlimited loyalty to the state, the state doesn’t consider us equals,” Israeli Druze spiritual leader Sheikh Muafak Tarif said in a speech.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had conducted a series of meetings with the Israel’s Druze leadership, telling them there was “nothing in this law that infringes on your rights as equal citizens of the state of Israel.”But the meetings and implications of new pro-Druze legislation have not eased their discontent, with a number of junior Druze military officers resigning from the Israeli army in protest.
Israeli Druze rally against Jewish Nation Law in Tel Aviv
AFP, Tel Aviv Saturday, 4 August 2018/Tens of thousands of Israeli Druze and their supporters rallied in central Tel Aviv Saturday to protest a new law they say makes them second-class citizens, an AFP reporter said. The law, which passed last month and is part of Israel’s so-called basic laws, a de facto constitution, proclaims the country the nation state of the Jewish people. It makes no mention of equality or democracy, implying the country’s Jewish character takes precedence, and speaks of Israel as the historic homeland of the Jews, who have a “unique” right to self-determination within its borders. Arabs have strongly criticized the legislation, particularly those from Israel’s 130,000-strong Druze community. Druze, unlike other Arabs who may volunteer, are subject to compulsory service in the military or police alongside Jewish Israelis. Holding colorful Druze flags, protestors at Saturday’s demonstration chanted “equality”. “Despite our unlimited loyalty to the state, the state doesn’t consider us equals,” Israeli Druze spiritual leader Sheikh Muafak Tarif said in a speech. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had conducted a series of meetings with the Israel’s Druze leadership, telling them there was “nothing in this law that infringes on your rights as equal citizens of the state of Israel”.But the meetings and implications of new pro-Druze legislation have not eased their discontent, with a number of junior Druze military officers resigning from the Israeli army in protest.

Fears in Israel from Repercussions of Netanyahu's Disagreement with Druze
Gaza - Asharq Al-Awsat/Saturday, 4 August, 2018/Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu failed on Thursday to reach an agreement with Druze leaders over the controversial “Nation State Law”, which has been recently passed by the Knesset. The law has been described as “racist” by many parties in Israel. The Israeli army has held a series of meetings and talks with recruits from the Druze community amid Israeli fears of unrest that could seep into the army following a wave of rising protest against the law. Netanyahu held his latest meeting with Druze community leaders in his office in Jerusalem. The meeting, which was attended by Druze Minister Ayoub Kara and Minister Yariv Levin, aimed to discuss a document of principles proposed by parties and mediators to resolve the crisis stemming from the nation-state law. The document provides for the establishment of the legal status of the Druze community because of its contribution to defend Israel, and it provides support for the Druze institutions and population. Netanyahu abruptly ended his meeting with Druze leaders after one of them accused him of leading Israel to an “apartheid state.”The meeting’s rapporteur denied that the word “apartheid” was used. He accused Netanyahu of making a "miserable and unsuccessful attempt" to sow discord among the Druze in order to hinder the preparations for the large demonstration that will take place on Saturday night in Tel Aviv’s Rabin Square. Netanyahu asked to meet Druze spiritual leader Sheikh Muwafak Tarif and heads of local Druze authorities only, without the Druze officers who initiated the sit-in protest, headed by Amal Asaad, but they refused and left the room heading to Rabin Square, according to the rapporteur. Head of the local council of the Druze village of Yarka in northern Israel Wahib Hobeish, who participated in the meeting with Netanyahu, revealed that just two minutes into the meeting the PM called it off after realizing that the Druze were determined to amend the law. “We will ensure that the law is amended and our children live proudly in the democratic State of Israel, which maintains equality among all its citizens," Hobeish said.

Russia Confirms It Sent Syrian Refugee Proposal to U.S.
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/August 04/18/Russia's army on Saturday confirmed it sent a letter to the United States last month with a proposal to cooperate on rebuilding Syria and repatriating refugees after it was reported in the media. The Russian army's chief of staff General Valery Gerasimov sent a letter to the Chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff Joseph Dunford saying Moscow is willing to cooperate with Washington in demining the war-torn country and helping refugees return to their homes.  The letter had been reported in the media a day earlier, which angered Russian authorities. "It is disappointing that the American side is unable to comply with the agreement on publicizing the content of contact only after both sides agree," Russia's defense ministry said in a statement.  It added that Gerasimov's letter was in part "about the readiness of the Russian side to work with the Syrian authorities to provide security guarantees to refugees in the Rukban camp in the U.S.-controlled Al-Tanf area and to create conditions for their return to their homes."  Moscow also suggested the two countries "coordinate" in demining the country, including the city of Raqqa, and "address other priority humanitarian issues for the urgent establishment of peaceful life in Syria." Addressing the U.N. Security Council last week, Russia urged world powers to help Syria's economic recovery and the return of refugees as its Damascus ally pressed on with a campaign to re-take territory in the seven-year war. In July, Moscow also presented the U.S. with proposals for the return of refugees from Jordan, Turkey, Lebanon and Egypt that would involve international financial support.  Russia has been a key backer of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in the conflict, which has killed more than 350,000 people and displaced millions. Moscow's 2015 military intervention in support of Assad was widely seen as a turning point in the war.
Russia confirms proposed Syria cooperation with US on refugees
Reuters, Moscow Saturday, 4 August 2018/Russia’s Defense Ministry confirmed on Saturday that it had proposed cooperating with the United States on Syrian refugees and de-mining in a letter sent to the top US general in July, Interfax news agency reported. The proposals on refugees concerned a refugee camp in Rukban. In the letter, Valery Gerasimov, chief of the Russian military’s General Staff, said Moscow was ready to discuss with Damascus safety guarantees for refugees stranded at Rukban, as well as creating conditions for their return home. “A proposal was also made to coordinate humanitarian de-mining, including in Raqqa, and other priority humanitarian issues,” the Russian ministry said. Rukban lies within a 55 km so-called de-confliction zone set up by the United States to ensure the safety of its garrison close to the Iraqi-Syrian border. Reuters reported the letter on Friday, citing a U.S. government memo. On July, 20, Russia’s Defense Ministry said it had sent a proposal to Washington to jointly organize the return home of Syrian refugees after agreements reached by President Vladimir Putin and his US counterpart Donald Trump. Trump and Putin met at a summit in Helsinki on July, 17, although it is not known what they discussed at their one-on-one meeting back then. Russia’s Defense Ministry said it had sent Washington a proposal for drawing up a joint action plan to bring Syrian refugees back to the places they lived before the war broke out in 2011.

'Icon of Syrian Revolution' Laid to Rest in Paris

Paris - Asharq Al-Awsat/Saturday, 4 August, 2018/Prominent Syrian actress May Skaf was temporarily buried Friday in Dourdan, France. Skaf, 49, was an outspoken critic of Assad’s regime after the uprising began in 2011 and often dubbed as the “icon of the revolution.” She was among the few artists who supported the Syrian revolution since its outset. The activist was found dead July 23 at her home in Paris, where she had been living with her son, Joud. Medical reports indicate she died following a stroke in one of her brain’s arteries. She also suffered from a ruptured aneurysm. A number of friends, relatives, and Syrian activists, including Syrian actor Fares El- Helou attended the funeral. Joud said his mother's grave in France is a temporary resting place, "until we all return to Syria after its liberation from the Assad regime."“May became a star because she refused any glory, she refused to earn money or work with people who exploited her,” her son added. He added that his mother was sad about the situation in Syria and her psychological condition worsened during the last four months, which affected her health and nerves. In her last days, May lived in tension, anxiety, sadness and frustration, added Joud, pointing out that he did not expect her to pass away so unexpectedly. Syrian writer and novelist Dima Wannous, described May’s death as “a loss for all of Syria.”She told that the late actress had been very frustrated over the last four months because of recent events in Syria, Iranian-Russian occupation of her country, and the increased number of victims who die every day by the Assad militias, Hezbollah, Russia and Iran. “I will never lose hope, I will never lose hope. It’s the majestic Syria, not Assad’s Syria,” she wrote in her last Facebook post.

Bin Laden’s Mother Speaks for 1st time: My Son was Brainwashed

London - Asharq Al-Awsat/Saturday, 4 August, 2018/Alia Ghanem, the mother of Osama bin Laden, discussed for the first time dramatic details about the recruitment of her son and his relationship with the Muslim Brotherhood through Abdullah Azzam, the well-known Muslim Brotherhood leader who was later exiled from Saudi Arabia and became Osama’s spiritual adviser. “The people at university changed him,” Ghanem said during an interview with the Guardian at the family's home in Jeddah in the presence of her other two sons, Osama’s half-brothers, Ahmed and Hassan. Osama became a strong, driven, pious figure in his early 20s, she says, while studying economics at King Abdulaziz University in Jeddah, where he was also radicalized. It was at the university where he met Azzam. Alia considered that her son was “pretty much brainwashed him in his early 20s. You can call it a cult. They got money for their cause. I would always tell him to stay away from them, and he would never admit to me what he was doing, because he loved me so much.”The Guardian reported that Osama bin Laden’s family were cautious in the initial negotiations leading to the interview. They were not sure “whether opening old wounds will prove cathartic or harmful”. But after several days of discussion, they were willing to talk and the interview was conducted in early June in the presence of a translator and a minder, who did not attempt to influence the conversation. Hanging on the wall between family heirlooms and valuables, was a framed photograph of Alia’s firstborn son, Osama. In the picture, he was smiling and was wearing a military jacket. Also present were Alia’s two of her surviving sons, Ahmad and Hassan, and her second husband, Mohammed al-Attas, the man who raised all three brothers. “He raised Osama from the age of three. He was a good man, and he was good to Osama,” she described her husband.
Everyone in the family has their own story to tell about Osama, but Ghanem described him a man who is, to her, still a beloved son who somehow lost his way. “My life was very difficult because he was so far away from me,” she says, speaking confidently, adding: “He was a very good kid and he loved me so much.”Hassan, Osama’s youngest brother, continues the story describing how everyone who met him in the early days respected him. “At the start, we were very proud of him.”“He taught me a lot. But I don’t think I’m very proud of him as a man. He reached superstardom on a global stage, and it was all for nothing,” he continues. Back to Ghanem who described how she divorced Osama’s father three years after her son was born, and then married al-Attas, who was an administrator in the fledgling Bin Laden empire back then in the early 1960s. Osama’s father went on to have 54 children with at least 11 wives. Bin Laden’s legacy remains a heavy burden on everyone related to him. The Guardian met with Prince Turki al-Faisal, who was the head of Saudi intelligence for 24 years, between 1977 and September 1, 2001 (10 days before the 9/11 attacks), at his villa in Jeddah. When asked to describe Osama, Prince Turki said: “There are two Osama bin Ladens. One before the end of the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan, and one after it. Before, he was very much an idealistic mujahid. He was not a fighter. By his own admission, he fainted during a battle, and when he woke up, the Soviet assault on his position had been defeated.” According to officials in Riyadh, London and Washington DC, Bin Laden became the world’s number one counter-terrorism target. “There is no doubt that he deliberately chose Saudi citizens for the 9/11 plot. He was convinced that was going to turn the west against his ... home country. He did indeed succeed in inciting a war, but not the one he expected,” a British intelligence officer told the newspaper.

US Embassy Expansion in Jerusalem
Tel Aviv - Asharq Al-Awsat/Saturday, 4 August, 2018/Jerusalem's Municipal Planning and Building Committee has approved plans to expand the temporary building of the US embassy in the city and to double its offices’ space. A source in the municipality said that the plan to build a new headquarters for the embassy would take years, and in order for Ambassador Daniel Friedmann to carry out his job properly he needs a huge staff. He said that he finishes 90 percent of his work at the embassy in Tel Aviv and he wants the transfer of the embassy from Tel Aviv to be for real. The permit includes an expansion of 700 square meters, including 350 square meters in the existing structure and an additional 350 square meters underground. Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat welcomed the expansion, considering the approval for the extensions as a step that “will strengthen the connection between Israel and the US in the era of its distinguished President Donald Trump.”

Libya: Army Fights Sleeper Cells in Liberated Derna
Cairo - Jamal Jawhar/Asharq Al-Awsat/Saturday, 4 August, 2018/Terrorist cells have once again emerged in the city of Derna, northeast of Libya, which was announced liberated in June by Libyan National Army (LNA) Commander Marshal Khalifa Haftar. During clashes, the LNA killed two leaders of the "Derna Shura Council" after it besieged them in the city’s east coast neighborhood. Several media outlets reported the death of Amin al-Kabayli, the military commander of Derna Council, known as “al-Abras”, during armed clashes with army forces in the Old City. Kabayli, 32, belonged to Abu Salim Battalion and was engaged in several armed confrontations with the LNA after he teamed up with the “Shura Council of Mujahideen in Derna,” a pro-al-Qaeda organization, in 2014. The ongoing clashes with the remnants of fundamentalists based on the outskirts of Derna also resulted in the death of al-Naji Idris, according to a local source. The source pointed out that LNA forces continued to raid other hideouts of extremists escaping the 210 infantry troop battalion, which arrived in the city mid-week to track the remnants of terrorists fleeing the operation launched by the army in Derna over the past months. Earlier, Haftar ordered the troops to pursue terrorists in Derna until security is restored in the city. Accordingly, several military units were deployed to support of Omar al-Mukhtar Operations Room. The War Media Division issued a statement asserting that the military units will help establish security and stability in the area, as well as secure all institutions and vital facilities. The forces will also help clear the city of sleeper cells, according to the statement. On May 7, Haftar launched a military operation aimed at "cleansing" Derna from "terrorist elements."Until its liberation on June 29, the coastal city had been a stronghold of fundamentalist armed elements of various affiliations, most notably the "Shura Council of Mujahideen in Derna." A security source reported that some members of armed and terrorist groups who fled the area following recent army strikes, have started to regroup, mainly at the axis of Maghar, but army troops attacked and killed some of them, while others escaped. The source, who preferred to be unnamed, told Asharq Al-Awsat that the army regained control of Derna, including its vital ports, and continues to chase terrorists.  He revealed that security forces are questioning three military commanders, who were recently detained by an army battalion in Derna, without giving further details. The Supreme Security Chamber, tasked by the General Command to secure Derna, asked citizens to collaborate and cooperate with vehicles that carry their official logo during arrest operations of outlaws. In a televised statement broadcast by local satellite channels, the Chamber called on the residents of the city and its suburbs, to report any vehicle that does not bare the official logo, indicating that its passengers may be deemed terrorists. "The families who want to hand over their wanted relatives will be investigated and if found innocent they will be released, or prosecuted according to the law," the statement told citizens.

UN Welcomes Success of Libya Municipal Elections

Cairo - Khalid Mahmoud/Asharq Al-Awsat/Saturday, 4 August, 2018/The United Nations Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL) has welcomed the conclusion of the first 2018 municipal council polls in the country following the election of Mayor Jamal Bahr and the Municipal Council of Zawiya. In a terse statement, UNSMIL wished Bahr and the Council success, calling for “supporting this democratically legitimized institution.”It considered the elections “a solid step in consolidating the democratic processes.”UNSMIL had earlier said that it facilitated a joint meeting at the UN headquarters in Tripoli and Tunis, bringing the international community together with Libya’s High National Elections Commission and the Interior Ministry to discuss the necessary provisions for election security. It did not give further details. Meanwhile, the head of the Government of National Accord (GNA), Fayez al-Sarraj, has urged Britain to exert diplomatic efforts into ending the United Nations Security Council’s arms embargo on Libya so that his forces in the country’s west would be able to combat illegal migration. His appeal came during a meeting he held with the UK’s International Development Secretary, Penny Mordaunt, in Tripoli on Thursday. A statement issued by the Presidential Council’s press office, said that Sarraj asked Mordaunt to back his government’s diplomatic efforts into persuading Security Council members to partially lift the weapons embargo. He hoped the embargo will be partially ended at least against some of the entities such as the presidential guard and the coast guard. Sarraj, according to the statement, reiterated his rejection to a European Union plan to establish migrant centers in Libya to stop asylum seekers arriving in western Europe. He reiterated his call for a comprehensive solution to the migration problem. The statement quoted Mordaunt as saying that the UK was willing to increase its support to the Libyan people and development projects through an effective economic partnership. “British companies are ready to come to Libya … to contribute in the health and education sectors and invest in human resources,” she said.

Coptic Orthodox Pope of Alexandria Shuts Down his Facebook Page
Cairo - Waleed Abdul Rahman/Asharq Al-Awsat/Saturday, 4 August, 2018/Coptic Orthodox Pope of Alexandria Tawadros II has decided to close his official Facebook page, making the announcement in a final post before deactivating his account. Earlier, the Church in Egypt placed new regulations inside monasteries, and bishops were given a month to deactivate their accounts on social media. The Church warned Copts against fake monasteries and published lists of convents inside and outside Egypt that are recognized by it. The decision was made after the body of Anba Epiphanius, Abbot of the Monastery of St. Macarius monastery, has been found with head injuries in Wadi al-Natroun in Egypt’s Western Desert. In his last post, the Pope said that time is the most precious gift from God, and we must make better use of it. He indicated that wasting time on social media has become “a waste of age, life and purity." "Because obedience is one of the vows of the monastic order that I must preserve and maintain, I will shut down my Facebook page,” the post read. The Monastic Affairs Committee of the Holy Synod held a special session on Thursday giving monks one month during which they should close or deactivate any social media pages or accounts. The statement asked the monks to “voluntarily relinquish such behavior and activity as unworthy of monastic life, lest the Church takes necessary action against them.”
Observers believe that monks used to live in the residence for years without any communication with the outside world. But after the technological revolution and the emergence of social media, monastery life changed with many monks entering the world of Facebook and Twitter to see what is happening in the world outside.A source at the Church told Asharq Al-Awsat that many priests did not approve of some monks’ behavior and engagement on social media because they believe they broke the rule of "isolation" in the service of the monasteries. The statement indicated that any monk who makes remarks or statements to the media in any form, will be liable to questioning and getting stripped of monkhood and priesthood, with official announcement. The Church also asked the Coptic congregation to refrain from any financial transaction or participation in projects with any monk or nun, also to refrain from giving donations, in money or in kind, except through abbots or their representatives. The Church indicated that the number of monks at each monastery would be limited “to ensure monastic order” and they would be restricted from going outside without the abbot’s permission. The Coptic Church published on Friday lists of monasteries of monks and nuns inside and outside Egypt, which are recognized and supervised by the Holy Synod.

Yemen Rebels Say Willing to Attend U.N. Talks
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/August 04/18/A member of the political wing of Yemen's Huthi rebels said Saturday the insurgents were willing to attend U.N.-brokered talks, although they had low expectations of a positive outcome.Salim Meghles said the Ansarullah (Supporters of God) political wing is "not opposed to such consultations" which are aimed at "reaching a general framework for negotiations.""We are not opposed to traveling to any neutral country to take part in such consultations," he told AFP.The U.N. envoy to Yemen, Martin Griffiths, on Thursday told the Security Council that the United Nations will invite Yemen's warring sides for talks in Geneva on September 6 to discuss a framework for peace negotiations. Meghles cast doubt over the expected meeting saying he did not sense "any serious or real stance by the aggressors towards reaching a political solution."He was referring to the Saudi-led coalition that has intervened in Yemen since 2015 to restore the internationally recognized government to power, which has been driven out of the capital Sanaa by the rebels. A government official on Friday said the Saudi-backed government was ready to attend the Geneva talks. The war in the impoverished country has left nearly 10,000 people dead and unleashed what the United Nations describes as the world's worst humanitarian crisis. U.N.-brokered political talks on Yemen broke down in 2016 amid demands for a rebel withdrawal from key cities and power-sharing with the Saudi-backed government.
UN Experts: North Korea Tried to Sell Arms to Houthis
Asharq Al-Awsat/Saturday, 4 August, 2018/North Korea has not stopped its nuclear and missile programs and is flouting an arms embargo by trying to sell weapons to Yemen's Houthi insurgents and other entities, UN experts said in a new report. A summary of the report by experts monitoring UN sanctions against North Korea, which was sent to the Security Council Friday night, said North Korea is also violating sanctions by transferring coal at sea. The panel of experts said North Korea attempted to sell small arms and light weapons and other military equipment via foreign intermediaries. It said that experts were investigating efforts by the North Korean Ministry of Military Equipment and Korea Mining Development Trading Corporation (KOMID) to supply conventional arms and ballistic missiles to the Houthis. The report also said North Korea has continued military cooperation with Syria, in breach of UN sanctions. The panel said it is continuing to investigate sanctioned individuals, companies and other entities in Asia that clandestinely procured centrifuges for North Korea's nuclear program and attempted to sell a wide range of military equipment to governments and armed groups in the Middle East and Africa. The Security Council first imposed sanctions on North Korea after its first nuclear test in 2006 and has made them tougher in response to further nuclear tests and its increasingly sophisticated ballistic missile program. The report said North Korea "has not stopped its nuclear and missiles programs" and continues to defy the sanctions resolutions. The experts said ship-to-ship transfers of petroleum products, oil and coal involve "increasingly sophisticated evasion techniques." The United States said last month that North Korea is illegally smuggling refined petroleum products into the country beyond the quota of 500,000 barrels per year allowed under UN sanctions.

Saudi Arabia to resume oil exports through Bab al-Mandeb Strait
Staff writer, Al Arabiya English Saturday, 4 August 2018/Saudi Energy Minister Khalid al-Falih said on Saturday oil shipments through the strategic Red Sea shipping lane of Bab al-Mandeb would resume on Saturday, the Saudi Press Agency reported. Falih said the decision was made after the Arab coalition had completed all necessary security procedures. Falih said the move would be in coordination with the international community and in accord with international law and related United Nations Security Council resolutions. Saudi Arabia had announced on July 25 that oil shipments through Bab-El-Mandeb would be temporarily halted after the unsuccessful terrorist attacks carried by Iran-supported Houthi militia on two Saudi crude carriers. Falih said: "The decision to resume oil shipment through the strait of Bab-El-Mandeb was made after the leadership of the Coalition has taken necessary measures to protect the Coalition States' ships."He also expressed his confidence that the Kingdom-led Coalition has made all necessary security measures, in coordination with the international community, to minimize the risks which may threaten the Coalition States' ships that are navigating through the strait of Bab-el-Mandeb and the southern portion of the Red Sea, thus ensuring a continuous supply of energy to the world in accordance with the highest security standards and precautions. He also emphasized that the security of the strait of Bab-El-Mandeb and the southern parts of the Red Sea is a joint international interest, towards which the whole international community should uphold its responsibilities. The statement of the Minister came after a statement issued recently by the spokesperson of the Coalition Forces in which he confirmed that the Coalition Forces carried out an overall evaluation of the Houthi Militia attacks, which targeted the freedom of navigation through Bab-El-Mandeb, and that all necessary measures were taken to secure maritime navigation and international trade through the strait.(With SPA)

The Latest LCCC Bulletin analysis & editorials from miscellaneous sources published
on August 04-05/18
Britain Welcomes Radicals - Again and Again
Douglas Murray/Gatestone Institute/August 04/18
How expert are these two clerics at 'interfaith relations'? Well, they are so good that their main credential is their enthusiastic support for the murderer of somebody accused of 'blasphemy'.
Despite criticism from Shahbaz Taseer... the UK government had no problem allowing into the UK these two men who, as Shahbaz Taseer said, 'teach murder and hate'.
In the past year, the UK has banned a fair number of people from entering the country. It has, for example, barred the Canadian activist and blogger Lauren Southern. It has also banned the Austrian activist and 'identitarian' Martin Sellner. Whatever anyone's thoughts on either of these individuals, it is not possible to claim that either has ever addressed a rally of thousands of people which they have used to extol a murderer... Yet Hassan Haseeb ur Rehman has done these things – and yet has been allowed into the UK three years in a row.
It is more than a year since the UK suffered three Islamist terrorist attacks in quick succession. It is also more than a year since the Prime Minister, Theresa May, stood on the steps of Downing Street and announced that 'enough is enough'.
Yet the striking aspect of the last year has been how little has changed.
Consider, for instance, the lax controls on extremist preachers that the UK had in place in 2016. As reported here at the time, in the summer of that year, two Pakistani clerics performed a tour of the UK. Their seven-week roadshow took in numerous UK hotspots including Rochdale, Rotherham, Oldham and the Prime Minister's own constituency of Maidenhead. The two clerics -- Muhammad Naqib ur Rehman and Hassan Haseeb ur Rehman -- began their tour by visiting the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, at Lambeth Palace for a meeting on 'interfaith relations'.
How expert are these two clerics at 'interfaith relations'? Well, they are so good that their main credential is their enthusiastic support for the murderer of somebody accused of 'blasphemy'. Yes -- these two preachers are famed in Pakistan for having supported Mumtaz Qadri, the murderer of the progressive Punjab Governor Salman Taseer. Because Taseer believed in a relaxation of Pakistan's barbaric blasphemy codes (specifically he opposed the execution of a Christian woman -- Asia Bibi -- who was falsely accused of blaspheming the Muslim god), Qadri -- who was meant to be guarding the governor -- instead murdered Taseer in 2011. Qadri himself was subsequently tried, sentenced to death and executed by the state. After Qadri's funeral in Rawalpindi, Hassan Haseeb ur Rehman whipped up the crowds of the murderer's mourners. Rehman acclaimed the murderer Qadri as a 'shaeed' (martyr). The crowd subsequently chanted slogans such as 'Qadri, your blood will bring revolution' and 'the punishment for a blasphemer is beheading'.
Despite criticism from Shahbaz Taseer (the son of the man whom Qadri had murdered), the UK government had no problem allowing into the UK these two men who, as Shahbaz Taseer said, 'teach murder and hate'. On their tour of the UK in 2016, these two preachers were reported to have spoken to mosques packed with worshipers.
A forgiving person might point out that the Archbishop of Canterbury does not know what he is talking about when he claims that Rehman and Rehman are interfaith experts, and that until 2016 the UK border agencies and other authorities could not have known that the two men are preachers of incitement in their home country. A forgiving person might even have thought all these authorities were naïve but would not be so naïve again.
In 2017, however, it did happen again. In July of last year the clerics were back, ostensibly speaking at a conference on 'counter-terrorism'. The idea that either man would know how to counter terrorism when the only expertise that either man has is in encouraging terrorism makes their presence at such an event insulting to anyone involved in countering terrorism. Even more so given that their main facilitator in the UK would appear to be the head of the one-man organisation calling itself the 'Ramadan Foundation', run by Mohammed Shafiq, a man with his own dark history of extremism and incitement.
A cynical person might assume that the UK authorities had let these radical preachers in the first time because they were ignorant, and the second time perhaps because they were slow. But how to account for events just last month? In July of this year, Hassan Haseeb ur Rehman was in the UK yet again -- and again in Oldham. Also again, his visit appears to have been facilitated by the one-man-band, Mohammed Shafiq. The latest bogus 'counter-terrorism conference' at which he was speaking also involved not only local MP (and Shadow Home Office Minister) Afzal Khan, but also the father and grandmother of one of the victims of last year's Islamist suicide bomb attack at the Manchester Arena.
Hassan Haseeb ur Rehman, in his address at the conference, reportedly said:
"I stand before you to say we as Muslims stand against terrorism, these vile people are enemies of Islam and the whole of humanity.
"My mission in life is to promote tolerance and peace, you can see from the thousands who attend my events in Pakistan there is a yearning for the true message of Islam which is Peace and tolerance.
"I am honoured to visit Manchester to remember the victims and their families of the Manchester Arena attack and say we stand with you always".
Of course the thousands who attended his events in Pakistan did not always hear this message of 'peace and tolerance'. As the evidence of the aftermath of Qadri's funeral showed, they heard a message of vengeance, blasphemy, medievalism and violence.
But that is Hassan Haseeb ur Rehman.
The bigger question is for the UK -- and specifically for the Prime Minister, Theresa May.
In the past year, the UK has banned a fair number of people from entering the country. It has, for example, barred the Canadian activist and blogger Lauren Southern. It has also banned the Austrian activist and 'identitarian' Martin Sellner. Whatever anyone's thoughts on either of these individuals, it is not possible to claim that either has ever addressed a rally of thousands of people which they have used to extol a murderer. If either of them had done so, a ban from the UK might be explicable. Yet Hassan Haseeb ur Rehman has done these things -- and yet has been allowed into the UK three years in a row. Even in the year after Theresa May pretended that 'enough is enough.'
Perhaps the British government thinks that people do not notice such things. Perhaps the organisers of the 'counter-terrorism conference' in Manchester think that people are taken in by such pretences. Perhaps they think that the people of Britain do not mind. But the people of Britain do notice and I rather suspect that they do mind. Very much, in fact.
*Douglas Murray, British author, commentator and public affairs analyst, is based in London, England. His latest book, an international best-seller, is "The Strange Death of Europe: Immigration, Identity, Islam."
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London Traders and Brexit
Mark Gilbert/Bloomberg/August 04/18
The news that Deutsche Bank AG has transferred about half of its business clearing euro-denominated derivatives to Frankfurt from London shouldn’t come as a surprise. But it’s another reminder that money flows to where it feels most welcome and stays where it’s well treated — and post-Brexit London is set to be a more hostile environment for finance. Even by the standards of international banking, there’s a lot at stake in euro clearing. London stole a march on its European competitors at the birth of the common currency project; Brexit has given hope to Frankfurt and Paris and all of the other pretenders to the crown of being Europe’s most important financial city.
London Stock Exchange Group Plc dominates the clearing of euro-denominated derivatives through its LCH unit. But Deutsche Boerse AG Chief Executive Officer Theo Weimer told Bloomberg Televison in February that he was aiming to capture a 25 percent share of that business: “When an opponent shows weaknesses,” he said at a conference in June, “a series of attacking moves may be due.”The clearing business has become a key battleground over how the financial system will be regulated after Brexit. In June last year, Bank of England Governor Mark Carney warned that what he called “fragmentation” of the administrative task could lead to additional costs of 22 billion euros ($26 billion) being “ultimately passed on to European households and businesses.” But last month, a European Parliament committee endorsed a bill that would grant the European Central Bank explicit authority over clearing of euro contracts.
It’s clear that having a $573 billion business outside of the purview of European Union watchdogs makes Brussels — and Frankfurt — very uncomfortable. Financial firms are already voting with their employees’ feet. Credit Suisse Group AG, for example, is moving 50 of the investment bankers in its global markets trading division to Madrid, Spanish newspaper Vozpopuli reported on Monday. Deutsche Bank’s shift in its clearing business to Frankfurt, reported in the Financial Times, comes with a caveat.
“It’s the same London-based person who clears a transaction,” bank executive Stefan Hoops told the newspaper.
But that’s just for now. In a year or two’s time, why would it make sense for the German firm to have Jane in London pushing the button to clear a euro derivatives trade rather than Wolfgang in Frankfurt? The clear and present danger to the City of London’s status as Europe’s financial center isn’t a one-time exodus of thousands of employees all departing at once. It’s the jobs that aren’t created in London — the positions that instead get filled in Luxembourg or Dublin or Paris. For any investment bank choosing where to hire its next German bund trader, or Italian bond saleswoman, or sovereign wealth fund relationship banker, why would you allocate a desk in London? The story about frogs and boiling water isn’t true. The frog won’t hang around until it’s cooked; instead, it will attempt to leave the pot as soon as the temperature rises to an uncomfortable level. London isn’t there yet; but as the prospect of a no-deal Brexit looks ever more likely, the number of financiers crossing the Channel is likely to increase.

Global Equities Confront Uncomfortable Truth
Robert Burgess/Bloomberg/August 04/18
A strong performance in July allowed the MSCI All-Country World Index of stocks to end a month in the black for the year for the first time since January, gaining 1.7 percent. Strip out U.S. equities, though, and the benchmark is still showing a loss of 3.39 percent for 2018. Therein lies a big problem. Outside of strong earnings in the U.S. and a few other places, there’s not a whole lot to get excited about in the global equities market. Of the 95 global equity indexes tracked by Bloomberg, only 33 are positive year-to-date. This time last year, 81 were showing gains. “That kind of narrow leadership usually doesn’t last,” the strategist at Richardson GMP wrote in a research note Wednesday.
 “So either other markets have to step it up or there could be trouble.” Judging by the latest economic data, it’s more likely that trouble erupts than markets outside the U.S. step it up. Reports on Wednesday showed factory activity in the U.S., Europe and Asia-Pacific region slowed last month, and companies are issuing warnings about the impact of tit-for-tat battles over import tariffs on their profits, according to Bloomberg News’s Carolynn Look and Shobhana Chandra. The data suggest that protectionist threats are starting to weigh on global growth, they report. “Weaker expectations for global trade are clearly feeding through to production,” Stefan Schneider, chief international economist at Deutsche Bank, told Bloomberg News. “Particularly in many open economies, such as Germany, but also Japan and Korea, weaker expectations for exports weigh on investment activity.” Even in the U.S., where growth has been hot, there are some worrisome signs. Although ADP Research Institute said Wednesday that private payrolls rose by 219,000 last month, up from 181,000 in May, big international companies actually slowed their hiring. Businesses with more than 1,000 employees added just 24,000 jobs, down from 46,000 the prior month and the fewest since May 2017.
Worries about the global economy can be seen clearly in the markets for so-called base metals such as copper, aluminum, nickel and zinc. These raw materials are the building blocks of an economy, and a drop in prices can signal a drop in demand from end users. The Bloomberg Industrial Metals Subindex fell as much as 2.62 percent on Wednesday, its biggest drop since April, as a result of what some strategists said were inflammatory comments on trade between the U.S. and China. Bloomberg News reported that the Trump administration is considering more than doubling its planned tariffs on $200 billion in Chinese imports, ratcheting up pressure on Beijing to return to the negotiating table. China responded by warning the U.S. against “blackmailing and pressuring” it over trade. “As long as tariffs are allowed to metastasize, they do have the potential to do real damage to the global growth story,” Edward Meir, an analyst at INTL FCStone, wrote in a research note Wednesday. The Economic Cycle Research Institute has an index that tracks nontraded industrial commodities. That gauge has fallen to its lowest since April 2016 in an ominous sign for the global economy.
Japan’s bond market is going haywire, and it could have global implications. Moves in 10-year government debt futures were so extreme on Wednesday — a drop of as much as 0.5 percent, the most in almost two years — that they triggered an emergency margin call from the clearinghouse, according to Bloomberg News’s Chikako Mogi. This is all because the Bank of Japan said this week that it would allow 10-year yields to rise to 0.2 percent after capping them at 0.1 percent. Investors are concerned that this is the BOJ’s first step to extract itself from markets. No central bank is as intertwined in its markets as the BOJ. It owns so many government bonds that on some days none are available to be traded. The concern is that domestic yields will rise to a level that will entice Japanese investors to bring back the trillions of dollars they have sent overseas. That would cause longer-term bond yields in places such as the U.S and Europe to surge as the Japanese sold.
It’s understood that low long-term rates have helped fuel the second-longest bull market in U.S. stocks as well as a general rally in riskier assets globally. So if long-term rates start to rise, riskier assets could most likely take a pretty big stumble. The Turkish lira has been hit hard this year, dropping 23 percent against the dollar through Tuesday as President Recep Tayyip Erdogan tightened his grip on power, installed his son-in-law as the economy czar and the central bank failed to raise interest rates. The currency’s losses grew another percentage point on Wednesday as the lira fell to a record low after the U.S. sanctioned two senior Turkish government officials over the continued detention of an American pastor. At about $851 billion, Turkey’s economy and external debts are big enough to be worrisome. The extent of the damage on the nation’s financial system caused by the lira’s decline may be revealed in coming days as Turkish banks report second-quarter results. Profits are expected to drop 5 percent on average from the previous three months, according to data compiled by Bloomberg based on the median estimates of the six-biggest publicly traded lenders. Of specific interest will be what banks say about the ability of borrowers to repay foreign debt, which has only become more expensive with the lira’s decline, according to Bloomberg News’s Asli Kandemir and Constantine Courcoulas. “Given Turkey’s external financing requirement, policy credibility may be crucial to avoiding disorderly asset price moves if the external environment deteriorates,” the currency strategist at Goldman Sachs Group Inc. wrote in a research note last week.

Tens of Thousands Attend Druze Rally Against Nation-state Law
من الهآررتس: عشرات من الآلاف شاركوا في المظاهرات الدرزية في إسرائيل احتجاجاً على قاننون يهودية الدولة العبرية

Bar Peleg, Noa Shpigel, Chaim Levinson, Oded Yaron and Noa Landau/Haaretz/August 04/18
'We serve in the army... and in the end we are second-class citizens,' protester tells Haaretz ■ Right-wing activists spread fake correspondence announcing deal between Druze leaders and Labor party
Tens of thousands of people gathered in Tel Aviv's Rabin Square for a major protest led by the Druze community against the contentious nation-state law, which has stood at the center of dispute between the Israeli government and the Druze.
The Druze community's spiritual leader, Sheikh Mowafaq Tarif, together with Tel Aviv Mayor Ron Huldai, will be among the key speakers at the rally.
A fake correspondence between right-wing activists in Israel's Labor Party regarding a deal in the works between the Druze community and party members circulated on social media on Saturday ahead of the protest.
Two young men from the northern Druze town of Peki'in, Russel and Hussein, came to the protest waving the Druze flag. "The entire village is coming today," Russel said. "We serve in the army, we do everything – and in the end we are [labeled as] second-class citizens."
Addressing the alternative legislation offered by the premier, Hussein said: "We don't need money, we need equality. He ought to cancel the law."
Protest organizers called on all Israelis to join the rally in order to "express our protest and stand by our Druze brothers in order to preserve the balance in the country's character as a Jewish and democratic state."
"This is a protest for any citizen who views the [nation-state] law as a complete distortion of the Declaration of Independence and wants to demonstrate against the erasure of the value of equality from the definition of the country's identity," the statement read.
"All Israelis are equal," protest organizers said in their statement. They also announced that among the people expected to attend the rally are former Mossad chief Tamir Pardo, ex-Shin Bet heads Yuval Diskin and Ami Ayalon and former IDF Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi.
The demonstration is being held against the backdrop of the ongoing protest of the Druze community against the law as well as the separate legislation Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu offered Druze representatives in an attempt to appease the community.
The alternative legislation sought to enshrine the status of Israeli Druze after the latter claimed that the law discriminated against them. But many Druze claimed Netanyahu's offer was insufficient and called for an amendment to be introduced to the nation-state law.
Fake conversations
The fictitious deal spread by right-wing activists garnered the interest of many Israelis browsing their social media outlets after a meeting between Netanyahu and leaders of the Druze community was cut short Thursday night.
Screenshots of fake conversations between members of a WhatsApp group titled ''The Labor Party- Core Headquarters'' were posted to the Facebook pages of two Labor activists with a large social media following, and the made-up chats were shared by at least 1,000 people.
The main activist announcing the deal in the fake WhatsApp conversation was a man named Avi Yaron. However, Haaretz has learned that there is no Labor activist with that name.
In the feigned correspondence, activist Yaron claims to have met with Brig. Gen. (res.) Amal Assad, a former senior Israel Defense Forces officer who wrote a Facebook post in which he said that the nation-state law would turn Israel into an apartheid state.
The activist said in the fake chat that an understanding was reached with Assad that the latter would receive a spot in the Labor party's Knesset faction: "The subject was sealed with Avi (i.e. Avi Gabbay, the chair of the party)," Yaron was quoted as saying in the chat.
The non-existent activist was also quoted as saying that many Druze, "including the conservative right," will come to the protest against the nation-state law.
Assad was one of the key participants in Thursday's meeting between the prime minister and representatives of the Druze community. He told Netanyahu that he was not willing to accept his proposal for a separate legislation that would enshrine the status of Israel's Druze, saying that instead an amendment to the nation-state law should be passed.
Assad also told Netanyahu that he stood behind his sharply-worded statement against the nation-state law. Netanyahu then said he wouldn’t accept such an “insult to the dignity of the prime minister of Israel and the dignity of the state.” The meeting was subsequently cut short.
The Labor party filed a police complaint against the two right-wing activists who posted the fake correspondence on their Facebook pages.
The party also released a statement saying that "in recent hours, an employee of the party has been spreading a fake WhatsApp correspondence attributed to Labor activists. This correspondence is entirely fake, 100% fake, every name, letter and message here are simply not real.
These are the sorts of things that the hate machine in Balfour [a reference to the Prime Minister's Office, which is located in Balfour Street in Jerusalem] churns out to damage this evening's protest."
"We will act in accordance with authorities in order to investigate those who spread the fake correspondence," the statement read.
The Labor Party's chair, Avi Gabbay, also released a statement in which he said that "the scared Balfour spirit is blowing all over the fake WhatsApp correspondence that the Likud has been spreading since this morning. It's a devilish, dangerous spirit that is disintegrating our society and tearing it to shreds. Everything is permissible in [Netanyahu's] path to the ballot box and away from the investigations."
Brig. Gen. (res.) Assad also responded to the fake correspondence, saying that he is "embarrassed to respond to this nonsense. I can't believe that they would descend to this level. I can't understand if this was done on the prime minister's behalf or not. I don't recognize any of the things that were written there."

Analysis/Netanyahu Cons Druze and Incites Jews to Protect Controversial Nation-state Law
نتانياهو يخدع ويتملق الدروز ويحث الإسرائيليين على على حماية قانون يهودية الدولة العبرية

Chemi Shalev/Haaretz/August 04/18
For prime minister’s minions, the protest against the controversial law transforms Druze from blood brothers to backstabbing leftists.
Even by Benjamin Netanyahu’s very high standards of skullduggery, the staged bust up of his meeting with Druze leadership on Thursday night was a beaut. The prime minister carefully prepared an ambush, blew up the meeting at its outset and then instructed his agents to spread a completely false account of what had transpired. The Druze leaders were flummoxed, reconciliation was shattered, and Netanyahu chalked up another one of his vile victories. The final result was Netanyahu 1, Israel 0.
A few minutes after the start of the evening prime time newscasts, reporters covering the meeting between the prime minister and the Druze delegation broke in with the story, exactly as it was concocted by Netanyahu’s distortion machine. A retired Druze general, Amal Asad, had incensed Netanyahu by asserting, out of the blue, that Israel was an “apartheid state.” A proud prime minister stood up for his country’s honor and stormed out of the meeting. Asad, by implication, had gone over to the dark side.
By the time the truth came out, it was too late: Netanyahu’s political acolytes and social media mob had gotten the message. The Druze were now the enemy. They were being funded and/or bamboozled by George Soros, the New Israel Fund and the perfidious left in general. The Druze, embraced only last week as blood brothers, could now go and live in Syria and see how they like it there, as countless tweets exhorted.
It no longer mattered that, in fact, it was Netanyahu who brought the loaded term “apartheid state” into the meeting. He came prepared with a Facebook post that Asad had written several days earlier – and which few people had heard of. Asad hadn’t asserted, either at the meeting or in his post, that Israel is an apartheid state, but rather that the new nation-state law would allow it to become one. Netanyahu had demanded that the group of former IDF officers led by Asad leave the room and leave him alone with established Druze leadership. They refused.
Netanyahu realized before the meeting that his efforts to get the Druze to abandon their planned Saturday night demonstration at Rabin Square was going to fail.
The established leadership was inclined to accept his promises to “anchor” the “special status” of the Druze and to grant new benefits to those who serve in the army, but it faced stiff opposition from younger and more militant Druze who described Netanyahu’s offers as hush money. The Druze stuck to the one demand that Netanyahu refuses to meet: The amendment if not annulment of the Jewish-centrist nation-state law.
So Netanyahu decided that when the Druze went high, he would go to the gutter. He would stain the Druze and their demonstration with his favorite paintbrush of treason. He would rally his base to accost Asad, besmirch the Druze and portray the Kikar Rabin demo as a subversive putsch. He would divide and split Israeli Jews between those who stand with the Jewish nation and those who aid and abet its enemies. He would push all the right buttons that he’s mastered over three decades of incitement and pave the way for another triumph of Jewish nationalism over the depraved, cosmopolitan, Jew-hating, terrorist loving left.
Will it work? Perhaps. Netanyahu’s rabble-rousing has done the trick for him in the past, from “Netanyahu is Good for the Jews” that enabled his first election triumph in 1996 to “The Arabs are moving to the ballot boxes” that gave him his last. As any American who lives with Donald Trump knows all too well, one can never underestimate the ability of the mob to embrace falsehoods, their insatiable craving to denounce subversive enemies from within and their willingness to follow their leader, no questions asked, down the road of hatred and strife. And that a great many more people are fully cognizant of Netanyahu’s chicanery and of the dangers posed by the rising tide of Jewish nationalism, but they nonetheless cast their lot with the rightwing rabble for fear of being identified with the supposedly treasonous left.
But perhaps, this time around, Netanyahu has bitten off more than he can chew. Asad, after all, has consummate Israeli credentials: A 26-year army veteran, a brigadier-general who served as combat commander of infantry battalions and brigades, a paratrooper who risked his life on the front lines, from the bloodiest battle of the 1973 war through the Lebanon War to the Kasbah in Jenin during the first intifada. In his brief sojourn in politics he opted to join, you guessed it, the Likud. If Netanyahu can brand someone like Asad as a turncoat, absolutely no one, including the IDF’s most decorated heroes, can feel himself immune.
The same is true of the Druze community itself. For decades it has been portrayed as the most loyal ally of the Jews, living proof that Zionism can recruit local, non-Jewish minorities in a common front against Palestinians and radical Islam. Netanyahu’s minions need only his word, but for many Israelis it will require a radical leap of faith to forget everything they knew about the Druze and to start treating them with the same disdain and suspicion hitherto reserved for the Palestinians.
Saturday night’s demonstration will test Netanyahu’s success. A sparsely attended protest will delight his followers, who will be convinced that Netanyahu ingeniously defused his opponents. A mass demonstration, on the other hand, would signal that, on the contrary, Netanyahu has stirred up a hornet’s nest. That he not only angered the Druze but ignited the Jews as well, unwittingly forging a new Israeli coalition. Such a show of strength would galvanize Israel’s despondent left and alarm the arrogant right. Netanyahu will be forced to dig even deeper into his bag of dirty tricks, turn up the volume of his incitement and try even harder to divide and rule. Whether this is “good for the Jews”, as Netanyahu is supposed to be, is debatable.

Opinion/Israel and Iran Will Both Lose if They Go to War
الحرب بين إسرائيل وإيران هي خسارة للفريقين

David Rosenberg/Haaretz/August 04/18
The short conflicts Israel has grown used to are a thing of the past: A conflict with Iran will almost certainly cost the economy dearly.
What’s on the collective Israeli mind these early days of August? The incendiary balloons that are wafting over from Gaza, Druze army officers resigning in protest over the Nation-State Law, LGBT rights, and how to survive the last weeks of summer vacation until the kids head back to school.
On the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange the mood has been bearish, but that’s because of the collapsing technology stocks on Wall Street and the latest Twitter salvo fired by Trump in his trade war with China.
What seems to be further from everyone’s minds is Iran, and the growing possibility that Israel could find itself in a war with the Islamic Republic.
We’ve been in a gradually heating up cold war with Iran in Syria, repeatedly hitting Iranian military targets without suffering the response likely to come.
Meanwhile, Tehran, feeling the sting of Trump’s sanctions and his trash-talking tweets, has threatened to close the Strait of Hormuz and is reportedly readying to start proactive military exercises there.
In the Red Sea, Houthi militants allied with Iran fired missiles at two Saudi tankers last week, prompting the Saudis to suspend shipping and for Netanyahu to warn Iran that Israel would join an international coalition to prevent the Bab al-Mandab from being closed.
My guess is that this is tough talk aimed at mutual intimidation - rather than the lead-up to an actual military confrontation. Tehran has traditionally employed inflammatory rhetoric, and it’s now met its match with an American president who responds in kind.
The problem isn’t that anyone – Iran, the United States or Israel – wants this to spill into open fighting, but it could happen. If Washington or Tehran assumes that the other side doesn’t want war, leaders will feel freer to push the envelope a little further – a vague threat becomes more specific, an incident like a tanker is stopped in the Gulf or (as may have been the case in the Red Sea) you let a proxy do something provocative like fire off a few missiles.
Iran’s leaders may even feel that with their economy crumbling and the streets restless, a little war might be a way out – if not with the U.S., maybe with Israel. It would rally the masses of Iranians and maybe enable Tehran to enter into negotiations with Washington with some honor.
There are so many possible scenarios for how this could happen and in what form, but in any case, the risks for Israel are huge. Since the 2006 Lebanon war, we’ve gotten used to the idea that missile wars are not an existential threat to Israeli lives or to the economy, especially with Iron Dome there to defend us. But as the army explained to the cabinet a few weeks ago, the next missile war is likely to be on a much bigger scale than the ones that preceded it.
The most likely scenario isn’t a direct attack by Iran but one by Hezbollah, which is estimated to have as many as 130,000 missiles in Lebanon, 90% of which are capable of reaching as far south of Haifa. Most homes in Israel don’t have effective defense against a missile strike, nor does most critical infrastructure. The army knows that Iron Dome cannot provide an effective defense against hundreds of missiles launched in a single day. And, if Hamas decides to open a second front from Gaza, the home front situation becomes more dire.
Civil defense in such a war will mean evacuating hundreds of thousands of people within missile range, causing huge economic disruption.
It will also mean shutting down the Tamar offshore oil rig that supplies a critical of the fuel used to generate Israel’s electricity. Israel would have to resort to scheduled power outages to cope with the fuel shortage, creating more economic disruptions.
Economically, Israel could probably come out unscathed from a short war, assuming that it doesn’t result in heavy casualties or material damage. But a longer conflict would be much more problematic – it could not only do considerable direct damage but undo Israel’s reputation as a Teflon economy when it comes to war.
Investors would give second thought to putting money here and tourism would be dealt a fatal blow. The bill for cleaning up could weigh on the economy for years. For the world economy, there’s risk as well, if Iran chooses to bring the fight to the Gulf and/or the Red Sea. That would be logical as they are only places where it could expect to have a real impact: About a fifth of the world’s oil passes through the Strait of Hormuz and the Red Sea accounts for another big chunk of the traffic.
Iran doesn’t have the naval capability to seal the straits for a prolonged period, but between its arsenal of speed boats and mines, it could close the passage for brief periods and create enough insecurity to deter tankers from risking the journey even when it is open. In the Red Sea, such tactics have already caused the Saudis to stop tanker traffic. If Iran manages to disrupt the flow of oil, prices could shoot through the roof, breaking the 2008 record $147 a barrel. Some of the most Gulf- dependent countries might not be able to get oil at any price. The world economy, which is already being shaken by the trade wars, could find itself spinning into a recession.

Analysis/Druze Solidarity Rally Could Make or Break Netanyahu’s Election Campaign
تحليل سياسي من الهآررتس: اعتصام التضامن الدرزي اليوم بمواجعة قانون يهودية إسرائيل قد يبني لحملة انتخابات نتانياهو أو يحطمها

Anshel Pfeffer/Haaretz/August 04/18
Netanyahu is already laying the toxic groundwork for his next election win. It worked in 2015, but it may not in 2018
Israel’s 2019 election campaign began in the early hours of July 19, the moment the Knesset passed the nation-state law. The coalition’s lawmakers had no doubt about it, once they understood how suddenly determined Benjamin Netanyahu was to pass a law he had allowed to languish for the better part of a decade in committees. A date for elections next year has yet to be set, but Netanyahu’s electoral calculus is now clear.
The Knesset was about to end its summer session. Netanyahu reckoned this was his last chance to move any serious legislation, as by the time the Knesset members reconvene in the autumn they will already be gripped by an upcoming election, and the coalition will start to disintegrate. Why did the prime minister-whose party seems to be doing well in the polls- reach for the most divisive and controversial law he could find? The most simple explanation is that Netanyahu, an insatiable consumer of opinion polls, was worried by surveys indicating that 70 percent of Israelis (even higher than that on the right) were unhappy with the lack of response of his government to the barrage of flaming kites and balloons coming over from Gaza.
One of the contradictions in Netanyahu’s character is that while he is a pyromaniac on the domestic political front – when it comes to making military decisions, he is the most cautious leader in Israeli history. He understood very well there is little Israel can do right now about the airborne arson attacks from Gaza. In fact, he was fully aware that a long-term cease-fire agreement with Hamas is in the works. He supports such a deal but fears, with good reason, that among his hard-right base, such a deal will not be popular, as it will not include in its first stage a return to Israel of the two civilians being held captive in Gaza and the remains of two IDF soldiers killed in Gaza in 2014.
To win an election, Netanyahu needs two things. First, to ensure that just enough voters are not tempted to vote for centrist parties, jeopardizing his right-wing-religious coalition’s majority, and secondly, that most of those voters who do vote for coalition parties, choose Likud. He is more worried about the second, and sees rival right-wingers - particularly Habayeit Hayeudi leader, Education Minister Naftali Bennett, who can almost surely be relied upon to criticize a Gaza cease-fire deal - as his main threat. By personally endorsing and pushing through the nation-state law, Netanyahu planned to both show the right-wingers that only he could be relied upon to further a truly nationalist agenda and to convince the small, but crucial section of the electorate wavering between a right-wing or centrist vote, that the opposition which voted against the law are both unpatriotic and anti-Zionist.
But hasty legislation always leaves loose ends untied. His much eroded team, which nowadays contains very few experienced aides, failed to predict the anger of Israel’s “model minority,” the Druze Israeli community. Netanyahu’s first reaction was to try and buy them off, but Israeli-Druze are both savvy and politically-diverse, and most of the leadership were not buying Bibi’s carrots
The way Netanyahu contrived on Thursday night to blow up the meeting with the local Druze leadership, claiming Brig. Gen. (res.) Amal Assad had called Israel an “apartheid state” on Facebook (he hadn’t, he had simply warned of it becoming one), proves Netanyahu is doubling down and is now resolved to using sticks against the Druze. The quote, coming from his inner-circle over the weekend that “once we’ve embarked on it, we cannot change even a word in the nation-state law and whoever doesn’t like it - there’s a large Druze community in Syria, and they’re invited to found the state of Druzistan there,” was proof enough.
Netanyahu had hoped to at least divide, if not buy off the Druze community, before Saturday night’s rally in Tel-Aviv against the nation-state law and in solidarity with the Druze.
While officially at least, the rally is not party-affiliated and is being organized by NGOs, Netanyahu’s proxies are right in saying that this is a political rally against the prime minister. Many of the leading opposition politicians will be there, and even though the main Jewish speakers are to be the ostensibly non-political former security chiefs – ex-IDF Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi and the former head of Mossad Tamir Pardo - the tone is clear.
The center-left is trying to challenge Netanyahu on the patriotism front. This isn’t a simple strategy, on the political or moral level. By focusing the rally on solidarity with the Druze, they are to some degree playing into Netanyahu’s hands, by ignoring the much larger Israeli-Arab community, the true targets of the nation-state law. But the Druze, who unlike the Arabs serve in the Israeli army, are much more popular among Israel’s Jewish mainstream.
Another ploy, this time by the Zionist Union party, to snatch back the patriotic mantle, was the announcement of its leaders Avi Gabbay and Tzipi Livni, that if they win the next elections, they will pass Israel’s Declaration of Independence (which contains some of the nationalist elements of the nation-state law along with a commitment to equality for all citizens) in to law, as the country’s constitution.
Toxic redux
Tonight’s rally is essentially the end of the first act of the election campaign. This is how the showdown between Netanyahu and his center-left opponents will be framed: It will be a toxic confrontation about who are the Jewish patriots and who are the anti-Zionists on the Arabs’ side.
Essentially, it will be a re-run of the 2015 election, with one major difference.
In 2015, both sides used similar tactics. Netanyahu incited against Israel’s Arab minority, with Likud sending millions of anonymous text-messages with lies such as “Hamas called on Israeli-Arabs to go and vote” and “turnout is three times higher in the Arab community”. And then on election day, Netanyahu himself made his infamous “the Arab voters are heading in droves to the polling-stations” Facebook video.
The center-left also held a grand rally the weekend before the 2015 election, under the slogan “Israel Wants Change”. The former security chief who spoke at that rally was the late Head of Mossad Meir Dagan. Dying from liver failure, he told me on the eve of the rally “I have to keep my last shreds of strength to push him (Netanyahu) out”. It was the only political speech of his life, in which he warned, in tears, that “for the first time in my life I’m afraid of our leadership.” It didn’t help. Netanyahu’s anti-Arab campaign won him enough votes.
But there is one main difference now. In 2015, Netanyahu broadcast his toxic message only on the very last days of the campaign. Now, he has let it out of the bottle before he even knows how long the campaign will last. Will it have a lasting impression and can the center-left counter it?
Netanyahu’s main advantages are the center-left’s weakness – split between Zionist Union, led by the mistake-prone Gabbay, and the opportunistic Yair Lapid’s Yesh Atid, which is widely expected to join Netanyahu’s coalition after election, should he win. But Netanyahu is also at a personal disadvantage: He’s running against time. He cannot predict whether the probable criminal indictments in at least part of the corruption investigations will come before election day and overshadow his campaign. Which is one of the reasons why he decided to go ahead with the nation-state law now, to try and make the campaign as much about his opponents' lack of patriotism, and less about his own personal corruption.
Will it work? The polling so far is inconclusive. One poll on the Walla website puts support of the nation-state law at 58 percent of the general public, which would mean it’s working so far for Netanyahu. But the same poll also put support for the Druze protest against the law at 58 percent, which indicates that at least some of the law’s supporters are less than certain. In an interesting analysis on the +972 website, political consultant Dahlia Scheindlin presented additional polling and results from focus groups, indicating that a large proportion of moderate right-wingers who support the nation-state law in principle, don’t think the law is actually necessary and view it as a “PR trick for Bibi”.
Tonight’s rally, and more important than that, how it is perceived in the media and by the wider public, could make or break Netanyahu’s opening move of the campaign. If the organizers, and the center-left parties, succeed in leveraging the support for the Druze community, in to articulating a powerful, patriotic message against the nation-state law, they will have gone some way to pushing back Netanyahu’s divisive narrative.