August 09/2018
Compiled & Prepared by: Elias Bejjani


The Bulletin's Link on the lccc Site


News Bulletin Achieves Since 2006
Click Here to enter the LCCC Arabic/English news bulletins Achieves since 2006


Bible Quotations
If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not have sin; but now they have no excuse for their sin
John 15/22-27: "If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not have sin; but now they have no excuse for their sin. Whoever hates me hates my Father also. If I had not done among them the works that no one else did, they would not have sin. But now they have seen and hated both me and my Father. It was to fulfil the word that is written in their law, "They hated me without a cause." ‘When the Advocate comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who comes from the Father, he will testify on my behalf.
You also are to testify because you have been with me from the beginning."

Titles For The Latest LCCC Bulletin analysis & editorials from miscellaneous sources published on August 08-09/18
Five Questions on Israel's Controversial Jewish Nation Law/Agence France Presse/Naharnet/August 08/18
Experts warn that Iran could answer US sanctions with cyber attacks/Arab News/August 08/18
Will U.S. Sanctions Spark Turmoil in Iran/Agence France Presse/Naharnet/August 08/18
Over 30 rockets fired from Gaza, Iron Dome intercepts 4/Ilana Curiel, Matan Tzuri|/Ynetnews/August 08/18
Apple’s $1 trillion valuation: The creation of a Syrian mind/Walid Jawad/Al Arabiya/August 08/18
Will the US-UK ‘special’ relationship deliver a swift post Brexit deal/Dr. Azeem Ibrahim/Al Arabiya/August 08/18
How to Make the Global Economy Work for Everyone/Lawrence H. Summers/Bloomberg/August 08/18
Analysis/Iran's Economy Isn't Ready for Sanctions' Impact, but Tehran Won't Fold Over Nuclear Issue/Zvi Bar'el/Haaretz/August 08/18
Iran and Circumventing the Sanctions/Hussam Itani/Asharq Al-Awsat/August 08/18
Yazidi Slavery, Child Trafficking, Death Threats to Journalist: Should Turkey Remain in NATO/Uzay Bulut/Gatestone Institute/August 08/18
EU Unable to Neutralize US Sanctions against Iran/Soeren Kern/Gatestone Institute/August 08/18

Titles For The Latest LCCC Lebanese Related News published 
on August 08-09/18
Ministerial Agreement to Solve Generators Crisis in Lebanon
Bassil rejects blatant campaigns against President, FPM: We will continue to march in support of mandate
Berri reiterates need for swift government formation
U.S. Reportedly Seeking to Expand UNIFIL Missions
Hariri 'Won't Step Down', May Present Technocrat Govt.
Bassil: Aoun's Tenure an Exceptional Opportunity for Lebanon
Berri Says Govt. Delay Has Become 'Unbearable'
Berri Sues al-Jadeed over Private Power Providers Report
Mustaqbal Says Govt. Obstacles 'Domestic', Slams Talk of Syria 'Approval'
Hariri Urges Parties to 'Show Modesty' instead of Blaming Him for Govt. Delay
Fans in Tears as Lebanese Diva Elissa Shares Her Struggle with Breast Cancer in New Music Clip
Titles For The Latest LCCC Bulletin For Miscellaneous Reports And News published on August 08-09/18
Five Questions on Israel's Controversial Jewish Nation Law
Iran's Zarif: 'No One Trusts America' Anymore
Iran Parliament Sacks Labor Minister
Experts warn that Iran could answer US sanctions with cyber attacks
Will U.S. Sanctions Spark Turmoil in Iran?
Syria's First Lady Starts Breast Cancer Treatment
Health agencies warn Idlib offensive could uproot 700,000 Syrians
UN: At Least 700,000 Could be Displaced in Offensive on Syria’s Idlib
Residents of Syrian Village See Turkish Forces as Shield from Attack
Final Destination of ISIS Militants Halts Suweida Talks
Pro-regime Druze militia in Syria hangs ISIS member
Saudi foreign ministry focuses on expats in Canada amid diplomatic row
Lieberman Warns Damascus Amid Growing Talk About Israeli Role in Esber Assassination
Saudi Arabia Stops All Medical Treatment Programs in Canada
Syrian Opposition Urges Europe against Accepting Russian Plan on Refugees
Palestinian Central Council Considers Transition From Authority to State
Coordination Between Egypt, UAE to Face National Security Challenges
Saudi FM says ‘nothing to mediate’ in dispute with Canada
Russia rejects Canada’s ‘authoritative tone’ toward Saudi Arabia
Iraq to Reluctantly Comply with U.S. Sanctions on Iran
Israel Sees Syrian Army Growing Beyond Pre-civil War Size
Over 30 rockets fired from Gaza, Iron Dome intercepts 4

The Latest LCCC Lebanese Related News published on August 08-09/18
Ministerial Agreement to Solve Generators Crisis in Lebanon
Beirut- Asharq Al Awsat/Wednesday, 8 August, 2018/A ministerial agreement was reached on Tuesday to solve the crisis of generators, by obliging owners to install meters to determine the use of power by each subscriber. The decision was announced by caretaker Interior Minister Nohad al-Machnouk, caretaker Economy Minister Raed Khoury and caretaker Energy and Water Minister Cesar Abi Khalil. Owners will be ordered to track the energy usage of generator subscribers, who will then pay only for the electricity they consume, rather than having to pay large, flat rates for generator subscriptions. The decision is set to take effect Oct. 1. In a joint press conference, Machnouk noted that the main objective of the decision was to preserve the right of the consumer to pay the value of electricity consumed, as is the case in other countries that face electricity problems. The ministers said their ministries would collaborate and take the necessary actions to ensure the proper implementation of this decision. The Minister of Energy underlined the importance of the “firm implementation of this decision by the municipalities, under the control of the Consumer Protection Department of the Ministry of Economy, and with the support of the Ministry of Interior and Municipalities.”Khoury, for his part, said that the government would not allow owners of private generators to take advantage of Lebanese citizens. “We will also not allow any form of violation in this area,” he said.

Bassil rejects blatant campaigns against President, FPM: We will continue to march in support of mandate
Wed 08 Aug 2018/NNA - A press release issued by the head of the Free Patriotic Movement, caretaker Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil, said "Circulating in the media are statements, articles and analyzes that are totally baseless. They attribute inaccurate statements to the President of the FPM on the battle of the presidency, among which what was published today within the framework of a blatant campaign which clear aims to tamper with the mandate of General Aoun.""The campaign is focused on blocking the formation of the government and starting a presidential campaign and early presidential elections, and the accused are the President and the FPM president," the statement read. "These campaigns aim (...) at serving a blow to the mandate and harming it, and therefore neither the President nor the FPM or its president can be accused of standing behind it, unless the political hallucination of some has reached a point where they could imagine someone shooting at himself. Everyone knows that we are not in a political suicide mode, but at a stage of political achievement," the statement added. "Those who stand behind the anti-mandate campaigns, be it politicians or media outlets, are known for their political identity and their intellectual bankruptcy. We will continue our march of support for the mandate, not only for the sake of President Aoun, but for Lebanon and all the Lebanese, out of belief that President Aoun's era constitutes an exceptional opportunity for Lebanon; an opportunity that may not come again, and we will not allow it to be missed," it concluded.

Berri reiterates need for swift government formation
Wed 08 Aug 2018/NNA - House Speaker, Nabih Berri, reiterated in front of "Wednesday Gathering" Deputies the need for a swift government formation especially with the pressing socio-economic situation. Speaker Berri's Wednesday Gathering touched on an array of local issues and developmental and daily living dossiers. Berri told his visiting MPs that obstacles standing in the way of government formation were still the same, notably related to ministerial shares and representation sizes. The Speaker also noted that if there were external intervention on the government formation issue, it was due to local elements soliciting it from the outside. "We are required to convince everyone, including our friends, that we are the ones who resolve our internal affairs. The head of parliament reiterated that the solution to corruption lies in the rule of law, referring to the presence of more than 37 laws not being applied so far. This afternoon, Berri headed the meeting of "Development and Liberation" bloc, in the presence of Ministers Ali Hassan Khalil and Enaya Ezzedine. The meeting discussed a range of matters including stringent socio-economic dossiers. Speaking in the wake of the meeting, the bloc's Secretary General MP Anwar al-Khalil said the bloc underlined the dire need for the swift formation of the new government in order to address simmering socio-economic affairs. MP Khalil also noted that the bloc reviewed all the project laws included on tomorrow's agenda of the joint parliamentary committees' meeting. On the other hand, the bloc stressed the need to take the necessary decisions to resume the housing loan subsidy program by the Public Housing Corporation, calling on all concerned sides to assume their responsibilities in devising appropriate mechanisms to ensure the benefit of low and middle income citizens from this program.

U.S. Reportedly Seeking to Expand UNIFIL Missions
Naharnet/August 08/18/The United States is seeking to grant the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) greater powers that involve “the possibility of intervention, deterrence and accountability,” a media report said. “The White House's National Security Adviser John Bolton is conducting consultations with a number of U.S. diplomats and security officials in order to turn the occasion of extending UNIFIL's mandate in late August into a 'non-routine occasion,' as has been the case since the arrival of these forces in Lebanon in 1978 after the first Israeli invasion of the South,” al-Akhbar daily quoted “highly informed diplomatic sources” as saying in remarks published Wednesday. “In 2006, John Bolton was present as the then-U.S. ambassador to the U.N., alongside others such as Elliott Abrams, David Welch and former U.S. secretary of state Condoleezza Rice. Twelve years on from the July Aggression, Bolton is appearing again, this time from the heart of the White House,” the sources added. Noting that Bolton “has tried to explore the stance of other world powers, most notably France," the sources said “the French, as usual, have dealt with the issue of extending UNIFIL's mandate as not being related to Israel's security – despite their certain keenness on it – but rather as a file related to France's national security, in light of the presence of around 1,200 French officers and troops in south Lebanon.” “They responded to the American messages by rejecting any attempt to revise UNIFIL's missions, out of their keenness on the security of their troops in the South,” the sources added. The sources said Paris was also quick to put the Lebanese government in the picture of the “ongoing deliberations between Washington and New York that involve direct coordination with Tel Aviv.”"The French spoke of what they called 'alarming signals' coming from the U.S. side, which include an attempt to introduce significant changes to the resolution that would extend UNIFIL's mandate on August 31 at the U.N. Security Council,” al-Akhbar quoted the sources as saying. The Americans “want UNIFIL's missions to involve the eastern border between Lebanon and Syria and want to give the force the ability to carry out intervention, deterrence and accountability missions,” the sources went on to say. The U.S. is threatening to “slash the U.S. contribution to the funding of all U.N. peace missions around the world, including that of UNIFIL,” the sources said.

Hariri 'Won't Step Down', May Present Technocrat Govt.

Naharnet/August 08/18/Prime Minister-designate Saad Hariri will not step down and may resort to the option of submitting a “technocrat government” line-up to President Michel Aoun, sources from his movement said. Hariri “will not step down and will not count on the new allies, who have started to topple the political settlement, nor on his old allies. He will only rely on the Constitution,” Mustaqbal Movement sources told al-Joumhouria newspaper in remarks published Wednesday. “According to the Constitution, no one can remove him,” the sources added, noting that there is “an attempt to topple the domestic Lebanese settlement and push Hariri to accept a government in which the balance would be tipped in favor of a certain camp.”Such a government would “drag Lebanon into coordinating with the Syrian regime and breaching the dissociation policy,” the sources warned. The sources said another objective might be pushing Hariri to “step down from the formation mission so that another figure could be tasked with forming a government.”The PM-designate “will not bow to any pressure or interference in the formation process and those who reject to take part in a consensus government can join the opposition,” the sources stressed, revealing that Hariri could submit a “technocrat government.”The sources also pointed out that “some parties, perhaps including the Free Patriotic Movement, are seeking to push him towards a certain step in order to torpedo his mission and name another premier.”“This is out of the question for him,” the sources emphasized.

Bassil: Aoun's Tenure an Exceptional Opportunity for Lebanon
Naharnet/August 08/18/Free Patriotic Movement chief MP Jebran Bassil on Wednesday announced that President Michel Aoun's tenure “represents an exceptional opportunity for Lebanon.”“Baseless media statements, articles and analyses are attributing to the FPM chief plans about the presidential race, including what was published today as part of a campaign whose source and objectives are well-known and whose aim is to undermine General Aoun's presidential tenure,” Bassil said in a statement issued by his press office. “These campaigns are aimed at undermining and harming the presidential tenure, and therefore the president or the FPM and its head cannot be accused of standing behind them,” Bassil added. Blaming the alleged “hostile campaigns” on “politicians and journalists whose political identity and intellectual bankruptcy are known,” the FPM chief vowed to continue supporting Aoun's presidency “for the sake of Lebanon and all Lebanese.”“We believe that President Aoun's tenure represents an exceptional opportunity for Lebanon which will not be repeated,” Bassil went on to say.

Berri Says Govt. Delay Has Become 'Unbearable'

Naharnet/August 08/18/Speaker Nabih Berri warned Wednesday that the ongoing delay in the government formation process has become “unbearable,” as he reiterated his call for a quick government formation.“There is nothing new regarding the government,” MPs quoted Berri as saying during the weekly Ain el-Tineh meeting. Warning over “the pressing economic and social situations and the need to launch and activate the state's work,” Berri noted that “the obstacles are still the same and are related to shares and sizes.” “If there is foreign interference, it has become present because it has been imported by domestic parties, and we have to convince everyone, even our friends, that it is up to us to resolve our domestic issues,” the Speaker went on to say. Prime Minister-designate Saad Hariri was tasked with forming a new government on May 24. His mission is being hampered by political wrangling over shares, especially over Christian and Druze representation. Some parties such as Hizbullah and the Free Patriotic Movement have suggested that foreign countries, especially Saudi Arabia, are behind the ongoing delay.

Berri Sues al-Jadeed over Private Power Providers Report
Naharnet/August 08/18/Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri has filed a lawsuit against al-Jadeed television over a report accusing officials from his AMAL Movement of “conspiring with power generator providers.”The libel lawsuit targets “the head of the Tahseen Khayat Media Group, Karma Khayat and the station's news director Mariam al-Bassam,” the National News Agency said. NNA added that the suit is related to “the news bulletin intro that was aired on August 5 which accused the ministers of the AMAL Movement who hail from the South and Speaker Berri's aide Ahmed al-Baalbaki or conspiring with power generator providers.”“The lawsuit has been referred to public attorney Judge Ghassan al-Khoury, who has summoned them all to a session that will be held on Monday, August 13,” the agency added. AMAL has recently organized a protest to reject the presence of a government-rented Turkish power ship in the al-Zahrani area, citing environmental and economic concerns. The movement has however been accused of seeking to deprive residents of much-needed additional power supply to the benefit of private power providers -- many of whom are AMAL members or supporters.

Mustaqbal Says Govt. Obstacles 'Domestic', Slams Talk of Syria 'Approval'
Naharnet/August 08/18/Al-Mustaqbal parliamentary bloc on Tuesday emphasized that “domestic” and not “foreign” obstacles are delaying the formation of the new government as it condemned claims about the need for a “prior approval from the Syrian regime.”“As the bloc stresses that the formation process is facing domestic obstacles and rejects claims that there are foreign diktats..., it has also taken note that some have volunteered to carry direct messages linking the formation of the government to the prior approval of the Syrian regime,” the bloc said in a statement issued after its weekly meeting, adding that Damascus can only “dream” of having a say in the matter. Underlining that “domestic consensus” is “the only way to form a government and regularize the work of state institutions,” Mustaqbal underscored that Prime Minister-designate Saad Hariri “will exhaust all forms of dialogue in order to exit the dilemma of obstacles and launch the work of the government.”The bloc also reassured that “the PM-designate will not back down from his endeavor to form a national accord government.”Hariri was tasked with forming a new government on May 24. His mission is being hampered by political wrangling over shares, especially over Christian and Druze representation. Some parties such as Hizbullah and the Free Patriotic Movement have suggested that foreign countries, especially Saudi Arabia, are behind the ongoing delay.

Hariri Urges Parties to 'Show Modesty' instead of Blaming Him for Govt. Delay

Naharnet/August 08/18/Prime Minister-designate Saad Hariri on Tuesday called on the political parties to “show modesty” in their demands regarding the new government as he stressed that he is not behind the ongoing delay. “They are blaming me for the delay whereas each party is clinging to its stances and demands,” Hariri told reporters ahead of a meeting for the al-Mustaqbal parliamentary bloc. “Everyone must show modesty and sacrifice for the sake of the country,” Hariri added. Asked about President Michel Aoun's remarks that there is a “campaign” against Free Patriotic Movement chief MP Jebran Bassil because he is “in the lead of the presidential race,” Hariri said: “President Aoun is the president today and it is premature to talk about the presidential race.”And denying that there is an attempt to “besiege the new presidential tenure,” the PM-designate pointed out that “world powers are pressing for a speedy government formation in order to begin the rescue program of the CEDRE conference.”As for the impact of the U.S. sanctions against Iran on the formation process, Hariri said: “We are in communication with Hizbullah and, like all parties, it wants the government to be formed.”Hariri was tasked with forming a new government on May 24. His mission is being hampered by political wrangling over shares, especially over Christian and Druze representation.
Fans in Tears as Lebanese Diva Elissa Shares Her Struggle with Breast Cancer in New Music Clip
Arab News/August 08/18/Fans of Lebanese diva Elissa broke into tears when watching her latest music video, in which she publicly shares for the first time her struggle with breast cancer. In the much awaited-for music video, “Illa Kol Elli Beyhbouni” aka For All Those who Love Me, Elissa revealed that she is battling breast cancer, leaving many fans in complete shock. She shared a clip of her song in a tweet on Monday, captioned: “You are the reason I am strong and healthy… you are my strength. And this story is a thank you: 'For all those who love me.'” The video clip starts by featuring a women inside an MRI machine with the date December 26, 2017 and the subtitle: ‘you have cancer.’The viewer is then surprised to find that what seemed like a fictional story about a cancer patient is an autobiography of Elissa herself, with actual footage of the singer intercut throughout the clip. The video features actual recordings of phone calls and exchanges between Angy, the director of the video, and Elissa, sharing her agony, fear and tears over the illness. It included a clip of her fall on stage during a concert in Dubai earlier this year, hinting that it could have been because of the illness. While the song was released before the clip, watching the video explains why in the lyrics Elissa expresses love for her close ones and fans, asking them “to hug her and never leave” while calling on them to “enjoy life, as every minute that passes will not come again.”
The Latest LCCC Bulletin For Miscellaneous Reports And News published on August 08-09/18
Five Questions on Israel's Controversial Jewish Nation Law
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/August 08/18
Israel's parliament held a special session on Wednesday to debate a controversial law passed last month declaring the country the nation state of the Jewish people. Here are five questions and answers related to the law:
Why is the law controversial?
It has long been taken for granted by many that Israel is the nation state of the Jewish people, as described in the 1948 declaration of independence at the country's founding in the wake of the Holocaust. As a result, the controversy surrounding the law has much to do with what is not in it rather than what is. It contains no mention of equality or democracy, implying that Israel's Jewish nature takes precedence -- what Israel's far-right religious nationalist politicians have long advocated. Beyond that, several clauses contained in the legislation are also sources of concern, especially since the text is part of Israel's so-called basic laws, which form a de facto constitution.
One section speaks of Israel as the historic homeland of the Jews and says they have a "unique" right to self-determination there. Another defines the establishment of Jewish communities as in the national interest and makes Hebrew the sole official language, downgrading Arabic to special status.This has led to concerns that Arab Israelis, who account for some 17.5 percent of Israel's more than eight million population, could now be openly discriminated against in everything from housing to budgeting and land allocation.
- Are there other laws protecting equality and democratic principles?
Only in part. Israel's basic laws include references to the country as "Jewish and democratic", but no specific right to equality apart from the declaration of independence. Amir Fuchs, of the Israel Democracy Institute think-tank and who participated in committee meetings on the legislation as an expert, said courts have interpreted a right to human dignity in basic laws as guaranteeing equality. Much will depend on how Israel's courts interpret the new legislation in comparison to what was on the books, said Fuchs, who called it a "terrible law which changes the definition of Israel."Emmanuel Navon, senior fellow at the Kohelet Policy Forum, a think tank that advocated the legislation, said equality is already anchored in law due to court decisions regarding it and existing laws. "Those principles are enshrined in Israeli law, not only by those basic laws but also by many decision from the supreme court, by the Israeli jurisprudence," he said.
- What are examples of changes the law could provoke? -
Israel's Arab minority fears the law legalizes discrimination that will allow them to be openly excluded from housing, for example, or see state budgets skewed against them. Fuchs said the immediate impact is more symbolic than practical, but over the long-term he can envision gradual changes. That could include laws such as forcing parliament members or new citizens to take an oath saying they are loyal to a "Jewish and democratic" state.
But even if there are no immediate practical effects, Fuchs said the symbolism of it remains powerful. "Whoever you talk to who is an Arab or not Jewish will tell you, and rightly so, that this sends a message that you are not full citizens in this country," he said.
For Navon, the law was necessary to protect Israel's identity as a “Jewish state” against future attempts to erode that. He named possible changes in laws that could allow Palestinians who marry Arab Israelis to more easily gain citizenship, a potential threat to the country's Jewish majority. Navon also spoke of symbolic issues such as challenges to Israel's Star of David flag or programs supporting the Jewish diaspora.
Why was it approved now?Israel's religious nationalist politicians, including those who oppose a Palestinian state and want to annex much of the occupied West Bank, have for years called for such a law. But a range of political analysts say Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who heads what is seen as the most right-wing government in Israel's history, pushed for it now with upcoming elections in mind. Parliament's current term ends in November 2019, but there has been speculation that Netanyahu, facing a possible corruption indictment, could call early polls. The law is seen as allowing Netanyahu to shore up his political base and fend off rivals from the far-right.
What has been the response?
Five court challenges have been filed. There have also been protests led by Israel's 130,000-strong Druze minority, who are required to serve in Israel's military unlike other Arab Israelis. At Wednesday's parliament hearing, there were calls from the opposition to make Israel's declaration of independence its constitution. Netanyahu says that without the law "it will be impossible to ensure for generations the future of Israel as a Jewish national state."

Iran's Zarif: 'No One Trusts America' Anymore
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/August 08/18/Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said Wednesday it was hard to imagine new talks with the U.S. after it lost the trust of the world with its erratic decision-making. "Imagine negotiating now -- how can we trust them?" Zarif told reporters on state broadcaster IRINN. "America has zig-zagged constantly, so now no one trusts them." Zarif was speaking a day after Washington reimposed a first tranche of harsh sanctions following its withdrawal from the 2015 nuclear deal. President Donald Trump says he wants talks with Iran on a new deal covering the full range of its "malign behavior" in the region, which has been dismissed by Iran. "There is a big difference this time," said Zarif. "Before nobody supported Iran. But now, all the countries in the world are supporting Iran."
Iran Parliament Sacks Labor Minister
Asharq Al-Awsat/Wednesday, 8 August, 2018/The Iranian parliament sacked on Wednesday Minister of Cooperatives, Labor and Social Welfare, Ali Rabiei as the country strives to cope with a deteriorating economy. A total of 129 members of parliament voted that Rabiei be impeached and removed from office, state media said, with 111 members voting in favor of him remaining. Critics of Rabiei, in office since 2013, say he failed to properly manage the ministry's affiliated companies and that his mismanagement resulted in the creation of fewer jobs than expected. His supporters say he is not responsible for Iran's economic crisis and were able to fend off an earlier attempt to impeach him in March. Parliament gave President Hassan Rouhani three months to replace him. The Iranian economy is beset by high unemployment, a spiraling rial, which has lost half its value since April, and the re-imposition of sanctions by the United States. The first phase of the sanctions took effect on Tuesday. Rouhani has been under mounting pressure in recent weeks to reshuffle his economic team. In late July, his cabinet appointed a new governor for the central bank, a move seen as a concession to hardline critics who blame the government for economic problems. Protests linked to the tough economic situation in the country began last December, spreading to more than 80 cities and towns and resulting in 25 deaths. Sporadic protests, led by truck drivers, farmers and merchants in Tehran’s bazaar, have continued regularly since then and have occasionally resulted in violent confrontations with security forces. Rabiei, 62, is a longstanding ally of Rouhani, who also served as an adviser to reformist former president Mohammad Khatami between 1997 and 2005.
Experts warn that Iran could answer US sanctions with cyber attacks
Arab News/August 08/18
WASHINGTON: The US is bracing for cyberattacks Iran could launch in retaliation for the re-imposition of sanctions this week by President Donald Trump, cybersecurity and intelligence experts say. Concern over that cyber threat has been rising since May, when Trump pulled out of the 2015 nuclear deal, under which the US and other world powers eased economic sanctions in exchange for curbs on Iran’s nuclear program. The experts say the threat would intensify following Washington’s move Tuesday to re-impose economic restrictions on Tehran. “While we have no specific threats, we have seen an increase in chatter related to Iranian threat activity over the past several weeks,” said Priscilla Moriuchi, director of strategic threat development at Recorded Future, a global real-time cyber threat intelligence company. The Massachusetts-based company predicted back in May that the US withdrawal from the nuclear agreement would provoke a cyber response from the Iranian government within two to four months. US intelligence agencies have singled out Iran as one of the main foreign cyber threats facing America, along with Russia, China and North Korea. A wave of attacks that US authorities blamed on Iran between 2012 and 2014 targeted banks and caused tens of millions of dollars in damage. They also targeted but failed to penetrate critical infrastructure.Iran denies using its cyber capabilities for offensive purposes, and accuses the US of targeting Iran. Several years ago, the top-secret Stuxnet computer virus destroyed centrifuges involved in Iran’s contested nuclear program. Stuxnet, which is widely believed to be an American and Israeli creation, caused thousands of centrifuges at Iran’s Natanz nuclear facility to spin themselves to destruction at the height of the West’s fears over Iran’s program. “The United States has been the most aggressive country in the world in offensive cyber activity and publicly boasted about attacking targets across the world,” said Alireza Miryousefi, spokesman for Iran’s diplomatic mission at the United Nations, contending that Iran’s cyber capabilities are “exclusively for defensive purposes.”
Gen. Qassem Soleimani, who heads the elite Quds Force of Iran’s hard-line paramilitary Revolutionary Guard, has sounded more ominous, warning late last month about Iran’s capabilities in “asymmetric war,” a veiled reference to nontraditional warfare that could include cyberattacks.
The Trump administration says it re-imposed sanctions on Iran to prevent its aggression — denying it the funds it needs to finance terrorism, its missile program and forces in conflicts in Yemen and Syria. The sanctions restarted Tuesday target US dollar financial transactions, Iran’s automotive sector and the purchase of commercial planes and metals, including gold. Even stronger sanctions targeting Iran’s oil sector and central bank are to be re-imposed in early November. European leaders have expressed deep regret about the US actions. They hit Iran at a time when its unemployment is rising, the country’s currency has collapsed and demonstrators are taking to the streets to protest social issues and labor unrest.
Norm Roule, former Iran manager for the office of the Director of National Intelligence, said he thinks Tehran will muster its cyber forces in response.
“I think there is a good chance Iran will use cyber, probably not an attack that is so destructive that it would fragment its remaining relationship with Europe, but I just don’t think the Iranians will think there is much cost to doing this,” Roule said. “And it’s a good way to show their capacity to inflict economic cost against the United States.”“Iran’s cyber activities against the world have been the most consequential, costly and aggressive in the history of the Internet, more so than Russia. ... The Iranians are destructive cyber operators,” Roule said, adding that Iranian hackers have, at times, impersonated Israeli and Western cybersecurity firm websites to harvest log-in information. The office of Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats declined to comment Tuesday on the likelihood that Iran will answer the sanctions with cyber operations against the US When the US pulled out of the nuclear deal, the FBI issued a warning saying that hackers in Iran “could potentially use a range of computer network operations — from scanning networks for potential vulnerabilities to data-deletion attacks — against US-based networks in response to the US government’s withdrawal” from the nuclear pact. Accenture Security, a global consulting, managing and technology company, also warned Tuesday that the new sanctions would “likely to push that country to intensify state-sponsored cyber threat activities,” particularly if Iran fails to keep its European counterparts committed to the nuclear pact. Josh Ray, the firm’s managing director for cyber defense, said it hasn’t seen any evidence that Iran has launched any new cyber operations, but he said Iran has the capability to do it and has historically operated in a retaliatory manner. “This still remains a highly capable, espionage-related type threat,” Ray said. “Organizations need to take this threat seriously. They need to understand how their business could potentially be impacted.”Recorded Future’s Moriuchi anticipated that businesses most at risk were those victimized in Iranian cyberattacks between 2012 and 2014 — they include banks and financial services, government departments, critical infrastructure providers, and oil and energy. Those cyberattacks cost nearly 50 financial institutions tens of millions of dollars. The repeated attacks disabled bank websites and kept hundreds of thousands of customers from accessing their online accounts. US prosecutors indicted several Iranians, alleging they worked at the behest of the Iranian government. One defendant allegedly targeted the computer systems of the Bowman Dam in Rye, New York. No access was gained, but prosecutors said the breach underscored the potential vulnerabilities of the nation’s critical infrastructure.
In March, the Justice Department also announced charges against nine Iranians accused of working at the behest of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps to steal large quantities of academic data from hundreds of universities in the United States and abroad as well as email accounts belonging to employees of government agencies and private companies.

Will U.S. Sanctions Spark Turmoil in Iran?
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/August 08/18
If the U.S. was hoping renewed sanctions on Iran would cause immediate economic turmoil and mass anti-government protests, it may be disappointed, though real pain could still be on the horizon. U.S. President Donald Trump described the embargoes that returned on Tuesday as "the most biting sanctions ever imposed." That was already an exaggeration since they only reimposed measures that were in place before the 2015 nuclear deal which he abandoned in May. His national security adviser, John Bolton, said Iran's leaders were already "on very shaky ground" after days of protests across the country against high prices and the lack of political reform. But while there is plenty of despair in Iran over the state of the economy, and fear for the future, the return of sanctions were marked by relative calm. A large-scale security deployment and mobile internet blackouts certainly played a role, and getting a clear picture of the situation outside Tehran is almost impossible due to heavy reporting restrictions. But the chatter on social media indicated at least a lull in the protests, while analysts said the idea that economic pain could lead to a full-blown revolution was far-fetched. "Western observers are often quick to erroneously assume that localized demonstrations... are wholesale rejections of the Islamic republic," said Henry Rome of the Eurasia Group in a briefing note. "Despite a rise in public protests, the regime does not yet face an existential threat. The security forces are brutal, efficient, and loyal."
Good news
Moreover, there was actually some good economic news this week for once, with the rial gaining more than 20 percent since Sunday in response to new foreign exchange policies announced by the government. That points to the fact that Iran's problems are driven at least as much by internal dynamics as U.S. pressure. Trump's aggressive rhetoric certainly helped fuel the run on the rial, which has lost half its value since April.
But it also resulted from Iran's disastrous decision that month to fix the value of the rial and shut down currency traders, triggering a boom in the black market -- moves that have finally been reversed. "The government was late in its decision-making, but it is the right move," said Mohammad Reza Najafi Manesh, head of the business commission of the Tehran chamber of commerce. He said sanctions were secondary to dealing with Iran's internal problems, and his chamber was in meetings with the government on Wednesday pushing for additional support such as subsidized imports of raw materials. "It's not our first time dealing with sanctions. We know how to search for solutions, and we will do our best to meet our needs locally," said Najafi Manesh.
Second wave
There are real losses from the sanctions. Big European firms like Total, Siemens and Peugeot have already pulled out before their investments could bear fruit. In November, the second wave of sanctions will hit Iran's vital oil sector, as well as shipping and financial transactions. "November is when the hammer drops: A serious chunk of oil export revenue will evaporate, and Iranian banks will likely find themselves cut loose from much of the international banking system," Rome said, adding that Eurasia Group expected Iran to lose sales of 700,000 barrels of oil per day. Many doubt whether President Hassan Rouhani can respond effectively, given his failure to address many long-standing problems around unemployment, corruption and the sclerotic banking sector. Parliament has summoned him to demand answers, and on Wednesday impeached his labour minister Ali Rabiei. "The economic section of Rouhani's team is the weakest part of the government. Everyone knows this, but he never changed his direction because they are his allies," said Mohammad Reza Behzadian, a former head of the chamber of commerce. Others say the U.S. hostility could actually be an opportunity, already prompting signs of a corruption crackdown, including the arrest of the central bank forex chief.
Eastern support
And while much attention has been focused on European efforts to resist U.S. sanctions, the more crucial decisions are likely to be taken elsewhere. Figures collated by economist Faezeh Foroutan, and published by analyst James Dorsey, showed China alone accounted for 25.6 percent of Iran's imports and 19.7 percent of its exports since March -- more than all European countries combined. China, India and Turkey have already said they will not significantly cut their oil purchases from Iran. Tehran hopes that Trump lacks the international goodwill enjoyed by his predecessor Barack Obama to make sanctions stick. "There is a big difference this time: before nobody supported Iran. But now, all the countries in the world are supporting Iran," Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif told reporters on Wednesday. "America has zig-zagged constantly, so now no one trusts them."
Syria's First Lady Starts Breast Cancer Treatment
Associated Press/Naharnet/August 08/18/Syria's presidency announced Wednesday that first lady Asma Assad has begun treatment for breast cancer. The presidency posted on its Facebook page a photo of President Bashar Assad sitting next to his wife in what appeared to be a hospital room with an IV in her left arm. The statement posted with the photo says the "malignant tumor" was discovered in its early stages and wished her a speedy recovery. Such public announcements are uncommon in the Arab world, where cancer is considered a taboo. The 42-year-old Asma Assad is originally from the central province of Homs. She was born and raised in Britain before moving back to Syria after meeting the president. The two have been married for 18 years and have three children, Hafez, Zein and Karim.
Health agencies warn Idlib offensive could uproot 700,000 Syrians
Reuters, Geneva/Wednesday, 8 August 2018/An anticipated Syrian government offensive against rebels in Idlib province could displace more than 700,000 people, far more than were uprooted in a recent battle in the southwest of Syria, a UN-led group of health agencies said in a monthly report. Many of Syria's battles have ended with agreements for fighters and their families to depart for Idlib governorate, where an influx of displaced people has roughly doubled the population to around 2.5 million. The United Nations has said the province has become a "dumping ground" for evacuees. The monthly Health Cluster Bulletin, published by a group of health-focused aid agencies led by the World Health Organization, said aid workers were bracing for the Idlib battle. "Increased hostilities are expected in the North West in the coming period, to result in displacements of 250,000 to over 700,000 people in Idlib and surrounding areas," the report said. "This will cause an increased need for humanitarian assistance to the new vulnerable and host communities, especially emergency health services."
Between mid-June and the end of July, 184,000 people were displaced by a battle in the south and subsequent agreements to end the fighting there. Among the displaced, more than 10,000 went to Idlib and northern Aleppo governorate, the report said. The UN has repeatedly warned about the dangers of an attack on Idlib. Syria's President Bashar al-Assad said in a Russian media interview last month that Idlib governorate would be a priority for his forces. UN regional humanitarian coordinator Panos Moumtzis said in June that the governorate's entire population of 2.5 million could be displaced and move towards the Turkish border if there was a major battle. Such a battle would be much more complicated and brutal than anything seen so far in the seven-year war, he said. The health cluster report included a map showing the breakdown of the population in southern and eastern parts of the governorate, suggesting that the displacement scenario was based on an attack by government forces from the south and east. The map showed population estimates in four zones from the frontline up to the Latakia-Aleppo highway and the Hama-Aleppo highway, with a total of 993,000 people in those zones.

UN: At Least 700,000 Could be Displaced in Offensive on Syria’s Idlib
Asharq Al-Awsat/Wednesday, 8 August, 2018/United Nations-led health agencies warned on Wednesday that an expected Syrian regime offensive against opposition factions in the Idlib region could displace more than 700,000 people. The monthly Health Cluster Bulletin, published by a group of health-focused aid agencies led by the World Health Organization, said aid workers were bracing for the Idlib battle. "Increased hostilities are expected in the North West in the coming period, to result in displacements of 250,000 to over 700,000 people in Idlib and surrounding areas," the report said. "This will cause an increased need for humanitarian assistance to the new vulnerable and host communities, especially emergency health services." Many of Syria's battles have ended with agreements for fighters and their families to depart for Idlib governorate, where an influx of displaced people has roughly doubled the population to around 2.5 million. The United Nations has said the province has become a "dumping ground" for evacuees. Between mid-June and the end of July, 184,000 people were displaced by a battle in the south and subsequent agreements to end the fighting there. Among the displaced, more than 10,000 went to Idlib and northern Aleppo governorate, the report said. The UN has repeatedly warned about the dangers of an attack on Idlib. Regime head Bashar al-Assad said in a Russian media interview last month that Idlib governorate would be a priority for his forces. UN regional humanitarian coordinator Panos Moumtzis said in June that the governorate's entire population of 2.5 million could be displaced and move towards the Turkish border if there was a major battle. Such a battle would be much more complicated and brutal than anything seen so far in the seven-year war, he warned. The health cluster report included a map showing the breakdown of the population in southern and eastern parts of the governorate, suggesting that the displacement scenario was based on an attack by regime forces from the south and east. The map showed population estimates in four zones from the frontline up to the Latakia-Aleppo highway and the Hama-Aleppo highway, with a total of 993,000 people in those zones.

Residents of Syrian Village See Turkish Forces as Shield from Attack
Idlib (Syria) - Asharq Al-Awsat/Wednesday, 8 August, 2018/The Turkish flag fluttering on the outskirts of the Syrian village of al-Surman has been seen by residents as a shield against regime attack since Turkish troops arrived in February. But their fears of an offensive are growing. The entire population of al-Surman fled the village in January during the last big government attack in the area that is situated in rebel-held territory near the frontline with regime forces in the northwestern Idlib region. Some came back when the bombardment stopped. But most only returned once the Turks arrived to set up an observation post at its grain silos under an agreement between Turkey, Russia and Iran. The seven-year-long conflict may be about to pivot again to the northwest now that Bashar Assad, backed by Russia and Iran, has crushed the rebellion across much of the rest of the country. Assad has indicated Idlib could be his next target. Displaced Syrians have poured into Idlib from other parts of the country recovered by Assad. The United Nations has warned that up to 2.5 million people could flee towards the Turkish border in such a scenario. This possibility is sounding alarm bells in Turkey, which is already hosting 3.5 million Syrian refugees and fears a government offensive would drive yet more over its border. Turkish forces have deployed at 12 observation posts in the Idlib region under the agreement reached with Russia and Iran in the Kazakh capital of Astana. Under this agreement, Idlib is considered a "de-escalation" zone. "We are awaiting conferences in the coming weeks to know Idlib's fate," Khaled Daimes, a 33-year-old factory owner told Reuters. "We can only feel at ease when the guarantees come from the Turks," he said. "I hope to see the Turks in the village square."He wants to see Turkish forces deploy into Idlib in the same kind of numbers they have sent into areas north of Aleppo. Assad views the Turks as illegal occupiers and has vowed to recover "every inch" of Syria. Russia's priorities, particularly its relationship with Turkey, are key to determining Idlib's fate, analysts say.

Final Destination of ISIS Militants Halts Suweida Talks
Beirut - Nazeer Rida/Asharq Al-Awsat/Wednesday, 8 August, 2018/The possible transfer of ISIS militants to the Suweida desert complicated on Tuesday Russian-led negotiations to secure the release of dozens of Druze hostages abducted by the terrorist group from Syria’s southern province last month. The destination of the extremists, who should withdraw from the Yarmouk basin, constitutes an obstacle to any deal that would uproot the terrorist organization from the area. Reports said the militants could be either moved to ISIS pockets in the eastern desert of Homs, the western desert of Deir Ezzor or the eastern strip of the Euphrates River amid information that the extremists have announced their rejection to move to any of these areas. Meanwhile, Suweida province residents are exerting pressure on the Syrian regime to prevent the move of the extremist fighters to their villages. Syrian forces have launched a large-scale military operation against a small ISIS pocket in the desert of eastern Suweida, from where the terrorist group carried out two weeks ago a series of attacks on several Druze villages that killed more than 250 people, mostly civilians. The terrorist organization executed a 19-year-old boy from al-Shabaki village, who was among more than 30 children, teenagers, and women abducted by ISIS during its attacks on the area. In the same context, pro-government Druze men hanged an ISIS militant in Suweida on Tuesday, an activist group said. Director of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights Rami Abdel Rahman said the hanging was carried out at a public square in Swaida city. Swaida 24, a local news outlet, said the ISIS member had been caught Tuesday morning in a desert area of the province. Earlier, an ISIS suicide bomber had attacked a position of the Syrian Social National Party in east Suweida, killing four party members and injuring others. On the battlefield, regime forces and their allies controlled new positions in the desert of Suweida after advancing towards several fronts. Suweida 24 quoted a military source as saying that ISIS militants avoided any direct confrontation with regime forces and escaped to al-Safa. The same source predicted that the area would witness fierce confrontations in the next days.

Pro-regime Druze militia in Syria hangs ISIS member
AFP, Beirut/Tuesday, 7 August 2018/Pro-government Druze militiamen hanged a member of ISIS in Syria’s Sweida on Tuesday, a monitor said, just days after the extremists executed a young hostage from the minority group. ISIS abducted more than 30 Druze civilians -- women and their children -- from a remote village less than two weeks ago, during a brutal onslaught in the southern province. The hostage situation and beheading has sparked outrage among the Druze, and on Tuesday a militia struck back. “A member of ISIS was detained during an attack against a pro-regime position in the Sweida countryside,” said Rami Abdel Rahman, head of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. During the assault, an ISIS suicide bomber killed four government loyalists but other militia members managed to detain a second extremist fighter. “Druze militiamen loyal to the regime executed the ISIS fighter in one of the public squares in Sweida city, by hanging,” said Abdel Rahman. Sweida 24, a local news outlet, said the ISIS member had been caught Tuesday morning in a desert area of the province. Hundreds of people watched the execution, according to both the Observatory and Sweida 24. Sweida province is the heartland of the country’s Druze minority, which made up around three percent of Syria’s pre-war population -- or around 700,000 people. On July 25, ISIS waged a series of suicide bombings, shootings, and stabbings that left more than 250 people dead across the province, most of them civilians. It later emerged the extremists had also kidnapped more than 30 Druze women and their children during the attack. While ISIS claimed responsibility for the violence, it has made no mention of the abductions on its usual channels. But local sources say the group is using the hostages as a bargaining chip to pressure Syria’s government to release extremists in its custody. A top Druze religious official told AFP the negotiations were taking place with Russian mediation, and in coordination with Syria’s regime.

Saudi foreign ministry focuses on expats in Canada amid diplomatic row
Staff writer, Al Arabiya English/Wednesday, 8 August 2018/Saudi foreign minister Adel Al-Jubeir said on Tuesday that expats in Canada are receiving “great care and attention” from Saudi leadership amid the ongoing diplomatic row. Directives were issued to the ministry to follow up on the affairs of Saudis in Canada. In a statement to Saudi Press Agency, Jubeir said: "Immediately after receiving the directives, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has established two operations rooms in Ottawa and Riyadh, in coordination and liaison between the competent departments of the Ministry and the Embassy of the Kingdom of Canada."Earlier this week, Saudi Arabia expelled Canada's ambassador, recalled its own envoy and cut off trade ties with Ottawa. Riyadh also suspended scholarships for Saudi students in Canada and plans to relocate them to other countries, while the state airline Saudia is suspending flights to Toronto.

Lieberman Warns Damascus Amid Growing Talk About Israeli Role in Esber Assassination
Tel Aviv- Nazir Majli/Asharq Al-Awsat/Wednesday, 8 August, 2018/Amid a growing assertion of the Israeli Mossad's responsibility for the assassination of Syrian Scientist Aziz Esber, the Israeli army announced on Tuesday a new round of drills in the occupied Syrian Golan Heights. “Across the way we see the Syrian military, which is not satisfied with just taking over all of Syrian territory but is expressly building a broad-based, new ground army that will return to its previous proportions and beyond,” Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman told reporters during a tour of the occupied Golan Heights.
In a Twitter statement, Lieberman said that Israel’s tanks, deployed on parts of the strategic plateau that it captured from Syria in a 1967 war, were “our crushing strike force and will know how to defend the border in any eventuality.”The Israeli army was ready for “any scenario” in Syria, he said, adding that his country was “closely monitoring” developments in the war-torn country. Meanwhile, the assassination Esber has been at the center of talks in Israel during the last two days. Without acknowledging that Israel is behind the operation, there seems to be more than one party in Tel Aviv interested in showing Israel’s strong role in the case. The New York Times revealed Tuesday that the Israeli intelligence service (Mossad) assassinated the Syrian scientist a few days ago. The newspaper said, quoting a senior officer in the apparatus, that explosives were planted inside the car of the weapons expert, instantly killing him and his driver. The newspaper quoted a senior intelligence official in the Middle East as saying that the Mossad was behind the killing of Esber, because the latter was working on developing precision-guided missiles, and the assassination was carried out, according to the newspaper, for fear of developing these missiles and launching them in the future towards Israeli cities hundreds of kilometers away from Syria. Although Israel did not acknowledge its responsibility and refused to comment on the news, Israeli Intelligence Minister Yisrael Katz on Tuesday welcomed the killing of the Syrian weapons scientist.
AFP quoted Katz as saying: “We don’t of course comment on reports of this kind and I’m not going to comment now.”“I can say that assuming the details of this man’s activities are correct and he was engaged in developing chemical weapons and longer-range missiles capable of hitting Israel, I certainly welcome his demise,” he added.

Saudi Arabia Stops All Medical Treatment Programs in Canada
Asharq Al-Awsat/Wednesday, 8 August, 2018/Saudi Arabia stopped on Wednesday all medial treatment programs in Canada, announced the Kingdom’s Health Attache in the United States and Canada, according to the Saudi Press Agency. Dr. Fahad Al-Tamimi said efforts are underway to transfer all Saudi patients from Canadian hospitals to other hospitals outside the country. Saudi Arabia froze new trade and investment with Canada and expelled the Canadian ambassador this week after it accused Ottawa of meddling in its internal affairs. The Kingdom has also suspended educational exchange programs with Canada and moved Saudi scholarship recipients to other countries, while Saudi state airline Saudia said it was suspending flights to and from Toronto. On Tuesday, the Saudi cabinet renewed its absolute rejection of the Canadian government’s “negative” stance over the detained so-called “civil society activists”, demanding that it adhere to international norms on respecting the sovereignty of nations.

Syrian Opposition Urges Europe against Accepting Russian Plan on Refugees
London - Asharq Al-Awsat/Wednesday, 8 August, 2018/Head of the National Coalition for Syrian Revolutionary and Opposition Forces Abdulrahman Mustafa urged the European Union against accepting a Russian plan to return Syrian refugees back to their homeland before a political transition is reached in the conflict. Efforts should first be exerted towards providing a suitable and safe environment for their return, he said during a meeting with EU representative Lara Scarpetta. “The political solution should not be separated from the return of refugees and reconstruction efforts,” he added. “Legal guarantees must be provided to the refugees and the United Nations and relevant organizations must be involved in such a process,” Mustafa stated. The refugee return is not limited to logistic and financial details, but it must encompass human rights that have been violated by the regime, he said. Furthermore, he stressed that the refugees must voluntarily return to their country.

Palestinian Central Council Considers Transition From Authority to State
Ramallah- Asharq Al Awsat/Wednesday, 8 August, 2018/President of the Palestinian National Council (PNC) Salim Zanoun said Tuesday that invitations were sent out to all members of the Central Council to attend a session scheduled for mid-August in Ramallah. Zanoun noted that the upcoming session would be held under the name of “the session of Martyr Razan al-Najjar" (a paramedic killed by Israel on the Gaza border), and would call for transferring the Palestinian Authority to a state. In remarks to local media, he noted that invitations were also sent out to 10 members of the Palestinian Legislative Council affiliated with Hamas movement and that he was waiting for a positive response. The session of the central council, scheduled for August 15, is expected to begin, with a comprehensive speech by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. Member of the PLO executive committee Mohammed Majdalani said that the outcome of the session would mainly include decisions on defining the relationship with the occupation forces. “The Central Committee will decide on the gradual withdrawal from all agreements signed with the occupation, including civil affairs and joint security arrangements, and the third track, in relation to the economic field at both the commercial and financial levels,” he said. The meeting of the central committee is the first since the Palestinian National Council specified its powers in May. The national council had announced that the agreements of Oslo, Cairo and Washington were no longer valid, stressing that the main current objective was the independence of the state of Palestine, entailing the transition from self-governance to the consolidation of sovereignty through a state. Majdalani stressed that a report on the results of the dialogue with Hamas would be presented during the session, with the aim to determine the steps that would follow the handover of ministries in Gaza to the government of national accord.

Coordination Between Egypt, UAE to Face National Security Challenges
Abu Dhabi, Cairo- Asharq Al Awsat and Mohammed Abdu Hasanen/Wednesday, 8 August, 2018/Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi and Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, discussed brotherly relations and means to enhance coordination, in addition to a number of regional and international issues of common concern. Sisi received the Abu Dhabi crown prince and his accompanying delegation on Tuesday in Cairo. The two sides reviewed opportunities to promote and develop bilateral cooperation in various political, developmental, economic and investment fields. They also touched on latest regional and international developments. The Egyptian president underlined his country’s keenness to bolster cooperation with the UAE in various areas, praising the strong strategic relations between the two countries, which he described as an ideal model for constructive cooperation between the Arab countries. Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, for his part, said: “The most important foundations on which the UAE-Egypt relations are based are trust, mutual respect and solidarity, as well as consensus on regional matters, in addition to common concern over the security, stability and development” of the two countries. He also underlined that joint action and coordination between the two sides as a key pillar in fortifying the region and facing challenges and risks, especially in the wake of rapid changes and developments that require constant coordination and consultation between Arab countries. Spokesman for the Egyptian presidency Ambassador Bassam Radi said that Sheikh Mohammed, during the meeting, expressed his country’s pride in the historical and strategic relations between the two countries, stressing that the Egyptian-UAE relations were based on reciprocal respect, mutual interest and solidarity, as well as their joint endeavor to consolidate security and stability in the region and promote comprehensive development.
Saudi FM says ‘nothing to mediate’ in dispute with Canada
Arab News/August 08/18/Adel Al-Jubeir says Ottawa knows what it needs to do to “fix its big mistake”
Kingdom is keen on protecting Saudi citizens interests in Canada
JEDDAH: Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Minister said on Wednesday there was “nothing to mediate” in the dispute with Canada. Adel Al-Jubeir said that Ottawa knows what it needs to do to “fix its big mistake”. He also confirmed that the economic measures taken by Saudi Arabia only affect new investments by the Kingdom and that previous investments are still ongoing.
 Speaking at a press conference in Riyadh, Al-Jubeir said several countries stand with Saudi Arabia in its rejection of the Canadian government’s inference in its internal affairs.
He also said that Canada should change its approach in dealing with Saudi Arabia, adding that it “knows what it needs to do.”He told Saudi citizens that the Kingdom is keen on protecting their interests in Canada. 
Al-Jubeir also said the kingdom was considering implementing additional measures against Canada, but he did not elaborate. Saudi Arabia cut diplomatic ties and halted new investment in Canada on Sunday night after the Canadian foreign ministry urged the Kingdom to free civil and women’s rights activists arrested in the Kingdom. Saudi Arabia accused Canada of interfering in its internal affairs.

Russia rejects Canada’s ‘authoritative tone’ toward Saudi Arabia
Arab News/August 08/18/The dispute began after a tweet by the Canadian foreign ministry on Friday, in which it expressed “concerns” over the arrests of civil and women’s rights activists in the Kingdom. Arab countries, including Bahrain, Palestine and the UAE, have lined up in support of Saudi Arabia
DUBAI: Russia sided with Saudi Arabia in the ongoing diplomatic rift with Canada on Wednesday, issuing a statement accusing the latter of attempting to “politicize human rights issues.”The statement said Russia rejected the “authoritative tone” of Canada toward Saudi Arabia, adding that the Kingdom had the full sovereign right to manage its own affairs. “We consistently and firmly advocate compliance with universal human rights with due regard for the specific national customs and traditions that developed in a given country over a long period of time. We have always said that the politicization of human rights matters is unacceptable,” Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said in a statement posted on the ministry’s website. She added Russia believed the Kingdom had entered a path toward large-scale socioeconomic reform. And she said it “has the sovereign right to decide how it will proceed in this vital sphere.”Zakharova added that Canada would have been better placed to provide “constructive advice and assistance rather than criticism.”But she said: “At the same time, we hope that Saudi Arabia and Canada will find a civilized solution to their differences.” The dispute began after a tweet by the Canadian foreign ministry on Friday, in which it expressed “concerns” over the arrests of civil and women’s rights activists in the Kingdom and called for their immediate release. But in response the Saudi government on Sunday recalled its ambassador to Ottawa, barred Canada's ambassador in Riyadh and placed a ban on new trade, denouncing Canada for urging the release of rights activists. Riyadh accused Ottawa on Tuesday of interfering in its internal affairs. Arab countries, including Bahrain, Palestine and the UAE, have lined up in support of Saudi Arabia after it took trade and diplomatic measures against Canada on Monday in response to the latter’s interference in the internal affairs of the Kingdom.

Iraq to Reluctantly Comply with U.S. Sanctions on Iran
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/August 08/18/Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi has said he would reluctantly comply with renewed U.S. sanctions on neighboring Iran, but recalled his country's 12 years under international embargo. "We don't support the sanctions because they are a strategic error, but we will comply with them," he said. "In general, sanctions are unjust."Iraq is the second-largest importer of Iranian non-hydrocarbon products, buying some $6 billion (5 billion euros) worth of goods from its eastern neighbor in 2017. It also buys in Iranian-generated electricity in efforts to deal with chronic power cuts that have been a key factor sparking mass protests in recent weeks. "We are committed to protecting our people and their interests," Abadi said. Baghdad is allied with Washington, a strategic partner in the war that saw Iraq declare "victory" over Islamic State jihadists in late 2017. But it also has strong ties to Tehran, a Shiite powerhouse that is heavily involved in Iraq's political affairs. Iranian private companies recently cut off power supplies to Iraq's oil-rich coastal province of Basra over outstanding payments. The United States on Tuesday re-imposed a wave of unilateral sanctions against Iran that had been lifted in 2015 under a landmark nuclear deal between Tehran and world powers. President Donald Trump withdrew from the deal in May, triggering Tuesday's reimposition of sanctions targeting Iran's access to U.S. banknotes and key industries, including cars and carpets. That is set to be followed by a second wave on November 5, targeting Tehran's oil and gas sector -- vital to its economy -- and the Central Bank. The sanctions are expected to weigh heavily on Iran's already struggling economy, which is suffering from high unemployment and runaway inflation. Iran's currency has lost nearly half its value since Trump announced the U.S. would withdraw from the nuclear pact. Iraq suffered through more than 12 years of harsh international sanctions beginning in 1990 after Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait.
Israel Sees Syrian Army Growing Beyond Pre-civil War Size
Reuters/Wednesday 08th August 2018/Israel’s defence minister said on Tuesday that Syria was building up its ground forces beyond their pre-civil war size, an assessment that suggests President Bashar al-Assad’s army has recovered from a critical manpower shortage earlier in the war. The Syrian military was hit by major defections in the first years of the conflict, which began in 2011, and by 2015 Assad acknowledged that “a shortfall in human capacity” meant the army could not fight everywhere for fear of losing vital ground. Russia intervened militarily soon afterwards to turn the tide of war and has been helping arm and train the Syrian army. Iran has also backed Assad, sending military advisers and allied Shi’ite militia from across the region to support his troops. Pro-government forces in the Syrian conflict have also included local militias raised by the Lebanese Hezbollah with Iranian support, including the National Defence Forces. [8N1NS4H5]. “Across the way we see the Syrian military, which is not satisfied with just taking over all of Syrian territory but is expressly building a broad-based, new ground army that will return to its previous proportions and beyond,” Defence Minister Avigdor Lieberman told reporters during a tour of the Golan Heights. Israel closely monitors the military capacity of Syria, an adversary against which it has fought three wars. It captured part of the Golan Heights from Syria in 1967 and has occupied it since. With Assad now regaining control, Israel has voiced worry that he might defy a 44-year-old Golan demilitarisation deal that had stabilised their standoff. In a Twitter statement, Lieberman said that Israel’s tanks, deployed on parts of the strategic plateau that it captured from Syria in a 1967 war, were “our crushing strike force and will know how to defend the border in any eventuality”. In a May interview, Assad also said Syria had improved its air defences with Russian help. The Golan saw large tank battles in 1967 and the subsequent Israel-Syria war in 1973. Israel annexed its side of the Golan in 1981, in a move not recognised internationally. In a July 19 briefing, the chief of Israel’s armoured corps told reporters that while the number of Israeli tanks fielded was unlikely to grow, a new, improved tank model would be introduced in 2021.

Over 30 rockets fired from Gaza, Iron Dome intercepts 4
Ilana Curiel, Matan Tzuri|/Ynetnews/August 08/18
At least 6 injured as Gaza miliatnts launch more than 36 rockets; Code Red alerts throughout region; Earlier, terrorists shoot at engineering equipment, tank shells Hamas position in response; Southern Command raised alert level in Gaza region 'following Hamas statements and the fact terror organization is evacuating its positions'; Hamas official says ceasefire talks in 'advanced stages.'
Palestinians in Gaza are reporting heavy bombardments by the Air Force in the northern Gaza Strip, primarily in the Jabalia and Rafah regions, in response to militants firing some 36 rockets at southern Israel Wednesday evening resulting in a number of injuries in Sderot .
Palestinians reported a strike against Hamas's naval commando outpost as Code Red sirens blared throughout the Gaza region.
The Iron Dome was activated in response to the launchings and intercepted at least two rockets. Most of the rockets landed in open fields according to the IDF. Among the injured is a man, 54, who sustained moderate wounds; a young man, 23, and a 13 year old boy were lightly wounded as well. The wounded were taken to Ashkelon's Barzilai Hospital. MDA reported that 13 people were treated for shock as well as two pregnant women who began having labor contractions. Earlier, terrorists from northern Gaza opened fire at civil engineering equipment near the border Wednesday evening causing some damage; nobody was hurt. The equipment is part of the anti-tunnel barrier project being constructed along the border. In response, an IDF tank shelled a Hamas position in the strip.
Earlier in the day, the IDF raised the level of alert on the Gaza border after seeing Hamas evacuate its position along the frontier.
"Following Hamas statements and the fact the terror organization Hamas is evacuating its positions, the Southern Command has decided to raise the level of alert and close several roads in the Gaza border are. Beyond that, there are no special instructions for residents," the IDF Spokesman's Office said.
"The IDF is working to ensure the safety of the residents of the area and will not allow harm to come to civilians or IDF soldiers. The army is prepared for a variety of scenarios."
Khalil Al-Hayya, deputy Hamas chief in Gaza, told Al Jazeera on Wednesday that the UN- and Egyptian-mediated talks on a deal to tamp down tensions between Israel and the Gaza Strip are in "advanced stages."
"We can say that actions led by the United Nations and Egypt are in advanced stages and we hope it could yield some good from them," he said. "What is required is for calm to be restored along the border between us and the Zionist enemy (Israel)."
Two Hamas snipers who opened fire at IDF troops from an observation post near Beit Lahiya in the northern Gaza Strip were killed from Israeli retaliatory tank fire on Tuesday.
The 9th Battalion of the 401st Brigade shelled the manned Hamas position with a Merkava Mark IV tank mere minutes after the troops came under fire. Unlike previous incidents, the IDF returned fired immediately, without waiting for Hamas personnel to evacuate the position.
The Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades identified the killed fighters as Ahmed Mourjan and Abdel Hafez al-Silawi, both 23 years old.
In a statement, the Qassam Brigades said it "mourns the two Mujahedeen" and that they had been "martyred in a Zionist bombardment."
Hamas vowed to avenge its fighters, blaming Israel for the incident.
"We view Israel's attack of the al-Qassam Brigades' outpost, which caused the death of two fighters, very gravely," Hamas said in a statement. "The resistance will not accept a policy of attacking its positions and fighters without Israel paying the price."
Hamas later issued another statement saying the IDF shelling happened during a military exercise showcasing the fighting capabilities of Hamas’ naval commando unit. The statement also added that several Hamas leaders were present during the event.
A delegation of high-ranking Hamas political leaders, led by the terror group's deputy chairman Saleh al-Arouri, left Gaza on Wednesday after spending the last few days in the strip for talks about a proposed ceasefire agreement with Israel under the auspices of the UN and Egyptian intelligence.
A senior member of Hamas expressed optimism Tuesday evening regarding the agreement, saying he expects negotiations to be completed by the end of August.
In an interview with Turkish media, the anonymous Hamas official said the agreement is set to cover the following issues: the opening of the Rafah Crossing permanently and the easing of conditions at the Kerem Shalom Crossing; a five year ceasefire between Israel and Hamas; returning the bodies of IDF soldiers and the living Israelis held by Hamas; a complete end to the launching of incendiary kites and balloons into Israel.
Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan, however, told Ynet on Wednesday he did not think a broad, long-term ceasefire agreement with Hamas in Gaza is in the cards, but allowed that "there may be secret channels that even the ministers aren't aware of yet, and when a proposal arrives, we'll discuss it."

The Latest LCCC Bulletin analysis & editorials from miscellaneous sources published
on August 08-09/18
Apple’s $1 trillion valuation: The creation of a Syrian mind
Walid Jawad/Al Arabiya/August 08/18
The record-breaking trillion-dollar value Apple Inc. reached on August 2 was a historical benchmark making it the first company to be valued at one million dollar. A claim that will always be credited to this innovative technology company.
But this story is not a financial story claimed by the stock market, nor is it a technology story dwelling in the binary world on ones and zeros, it is a story of the son of a Syrian immigrant.
Steve Jobs was born to Abdulfattah Jandali and Joanne Schieble on February 24, 1955 in San Francisco. In the summer of 1954, Abdullatif took his wife to be, both 23 years at the time, to Syria to introduce her to his well-off family despite Joanne’s father opposition.
Arthur Schieble, her father, wouldn’t give his blessing to a union with her Muslim suitor on religious grounds – he was a strict Catholic who wouldn’t accept a man for his daughter of a different Christian denomination let alone a different religion.
Upon returning from Syria, Joanne found out that she was pregnant with Steve. In the face of her dying father’s opposition she and Abdulfattah elected not to defy his wishes waiting for him to die in peace and then marry.
In the meantime, Joanne had to make an immediate decision about the pregnancy in order to avoid shaming the family name. She left her Wisconsin hometown to a California doctor who sheltered unwed mothers to help them safely deliver their children and arrange for adoption.
At that time abortion was illegal and the ones that were illegally performed were dangerous. Joanne didn’t have a choice but to acquiesce to the San Francisco option.
She tried delaying signing the adoption papers expecting her father to pass away freeing her to keep Steve. Unluckily for her, and perhaps luckily for us as consumers of Steve’s technological genius, his adoption was completed before Steve’s maternal grandfather passed away.Steve’s fate was sealed. Our iPhones were guaranteed to become today’s reality.
What made Steve the genius he came to be was not only genetics, but also his upbringing and the environment which shaped him
The Garage
In the Steve Jobs biography by Walter Isaacson, his adoptive parents were very kind and caring. They did more for him than many parents would do for children of their own blood. It is amazing the length they went to accommodate his wishes and nurture his special talent and aptitude for electronics.
The biography walks the reader through the various phases of Jobs upbringing and schooling. The challenges his parents faced as they advanced the educational pursuit of their nonconforming adopted child.
In sixth grade, a year younger than his peers after skipping 5th grade, he gave his parents, Paul and Clara Jobs, an ultimatum to move him to a different school or he would drop out of school all together. His modest parents had to scrape all they had to move the family to another house a few miles down the road.
The move was necessary to cross the school districting line to the a better school system. The house they moved into had a garage, it was that garage where Steve and his friend Stephen Wozniak started their Apple technology adventure.
Apple: The Forbidden Fruit
Could have Steve imagined his company trailblazing in the world of finance as it does in tech? His death, October 5, 2011, cut his life too short at the age of 56. Far too young by any measure especially for someone who had much more to give humanity.
He was the type of person who wouldn’t be satisfied with accolades or by setting records. He was always working on the next big thing. In his short lifetime he revolutionized our lives and made the sci-fi stories of the past a reality we live every waking moment of our lives.
I for one, am attached to my iPhone in ways I don’t care to admit. I have retired my memory relegating it entirely to my iPhone Notes and Calendar. I communicate in words, though unspoken they echo in the ether of eternity.
I even talk to my Siri although these days we seem to have re-occurring communication breakdowns, now that Apple is not giving Siri the time of day. Although I give Siri a chance, I refuse to do so with Apple’s Maps as it causes me more aggravation than I’m willing to accept. Yes, Apple’s technology is not perfect yet the company is in a league on its own.
Apple’s $1 trillion capitalization makes it worth more than many countries. The tech company competes with the net worth of Greece and Israel and surpasses the worth of any Arab country according to Credit Suisse 2017 list. An unfair comparison pitting apples to oranges. Yet it provides an interesting numerical contrast.
‘Hot-blooded Arab’
Steve wasn’t 100 percent Syrian. His biological father, Dr. Abdulfattah Jandali, was from Homs, but his mother was Armenian. She was born in the US as a result of her parents escaping the Turks. Although Abdulfattah and Joanna were of different ethnicity both groups of people suffered at the hand of the oppressive Turks. That suffering didn’t stop there as it continued for Steve. Abandoned by his biological parents.
What made Steve the genius he came to be was not only genetics, but also his upbringing and the environment which shaped him. At any turn throughout his life, his flare for innovation and obsession for electronics could have been squashed.
Steve Jobs disposition was reinforced by his environment and advanced by his choices; a quest to innovate. The offspring of an immigrant father and a mother who’s the daughter of refugees. The product of a loving and determined couple of modest means. Although Abdulfattah came to the US to advance his own life, he ultimately contributed to the US and the quality of life of the rest of the world through his son.
This story of immigration is nestled inside a system that thrives on diversity. The land of opportunity extends her promise to those who come to her shores with the intent to capitalize on it. Many people from every corner of this globe came to the US and made a life for themselves and their families.
The proof is evident when a person has the determination and is offered the opportunity to realize their dreams they will succeed regardless of their gender, race, color, national origin, and religion.

Will the US-UK ‘special’ relationship deliver a swift post Brexit de
Dr. Azeem Ibrahim/Al Arabiya/August 08/18
Earlier this year, President Obama’s advisor on National Security confirmed that former Prime Minister David Cameron prompted Obama to remark that the UK would be “back of the queue” in any post Brexit deal.
This was designed to persuade the British people that our number one ally would not be delivering any special treatment if we made the fateful decision of leaving the EU.
Most observers, however, dismissed such remarks as “project fear” knowing full well that the President’s choice of the word “queue”, rather than the typically American usage of “line”, was evidence that Cameron had influence in scripting Mr Obama's remarks.
Fast forward to a new occupant of the White House who upon taking office pledged a “powerful pact” with the UK that would happen “very very quickly.” Unfortunately, President Trump seems to have gotten ahead of himself as industrial leaders in the US subsequently said that no deal is possible until they know what the final terms of the UK-EU deal are.
One could argue the merits of that argument but it is nevertheless disappointing to many UK officials who believed that the UK-US trade deal will be the easiest piece in the entire post-Brexit jigsaw due to our “Special Relationship” with the US.
Having lived in both the US and UK and interacted with policy officials on both sides of the Atlantic my own observation is that the Special Relationship is in fact a one directional affair.
The US simply does not have the affection for the British that many of our politicians would like to believe. We do have a close relationship, particularly when it comes to military and security matters, but to say there is anything special out with mutual interests is a mistake.
So why this constant, sometimes embarrassing, fawning Special Relationship? A term which seems alien to the ears of our friends across the pond?
In the long term, the UK needs to have a realist policy calculated based directly on national strategic interest without being subservient to the US
‘Top Table Syndrome’
The reality is that the UK has never really recovered from the loss of its Empire and still suffers from ‘Top Table Syndrome’. It cannot imagine a world where it does not retain global reach and influence. In fact, the cornerstone of UK security policy is to be closely connected to and supporting of the policies pursued by our American cousins.
This has resulted in an enthusiasm to get deeply involved in global conflicts without thinking too hard about how much it might cost, and whether it is a price we really want to pay.
And the lack of preparation to meet those costs has resulted in the under-resourcing we have seen over the past few years, which has resulted in the scandalous shortages of tanks, helicopters, night goggles and rifles when our forces needed them most.
The US on the other hand, as the world’s last remaining superpower, will naturally have a number of distinctive bilateral relations.
Such as with China – the largest holder of US debt; or Saudi Arabia – world’s largest energy provider; or Mexico – the biggest source of cheap labour to the US. It was therefore little surprise that the first foreign trip for US President Trump made was to Saudi Arabia and not UK or even anywhere in Europe.
In the long term, the UK needs to have a realist policy which is calculated based directly on the national strategic interest without being subservient to the US.
The Bush/Blair expedition in Iraq and Afghanistan is imbedded in the national psyche and we continue to suffer financially, morally and physically due to the UK's inability to recognize this phantom special relation.
So does the special relationship still retain sufficient currency to deliver a “powerful pact?” It seems unlikely. The current administration is consumed with major trade fights with China, Canada and Mexico.
And with the Mueller investigation finale just around the corner, one can expect it to consume any remaining bandwidth until the mid terms.

How to Make the Global Economy Work for Everyone
Lawrence H. Summers/Bloomberg/August 08/18
Since the end of World War II, a broad consensus in support of global economic integration as a force for peace and prosperity has been a pillar of the international order. Since the fall of the Berlin Wall a generation ago, the power of markets in promoting economic progress has been universally recognized. From global trade agreements to the European Union project; from the Bretton Woods institutions to the removal of pervasive capital controls; from expanded foreign direct investment to increased flows of peoples across borders, the direction has been clear. Driven by domestic economic progress, by integrative technologies such as container shipping and the internet, and by legislative changes within and between nations, the world has grown smaller and more closely connected.
This has proved more successful than could reasonably have been hoped. We have not seen a war between leading powers. Global living standards have risen faster than at any point in history. And material progress has coincided with even more rapid progress in combating hunger, empowering women, promoting literacy and extending life. Every single day since 1990 there were an average of 108,000 fewer people in extreme poverty. Since the beginning of the 21st century, global life expectancy has increased by more than four months a year. A world that will have more smartphones than adults within a few years is a world in which more is possible for more people than ever before.
Yet a backlash against the current paradigm of global integration is reshaping politics and economic policy in a way that may plague us for years. The momentum toward global economic integration was stopped when the US repudiated the Trans-Pacific Partnership. As I write this, worries of a trade war between the US, China and other countries have materialized, leaving a wide range of industries and countries anticipating substantial losses. History with respect to the result of such trade wars — most notably the Smoot-Hawley Tariff Act — is not encouraging. The International Monetary Fund estimates that rising trade tensions between the US and the rest of the world could cost the global economy 0.5 percent of gross domestic product, or $430 billion, by 2020.
The shift away from openness extends to immigration and capital flows as well. The EU, notable for its commitment to the free movement of people, is shifting toward much tougher immigration policies. New immigration policies in the US have turned police officers into immigration-enforcement agents and hurt business growth. Restrictions on foreign investment have been increasingly common as the US has taken to blocking Chinese investments, China has set unfair terms for US companies wishing to invest there, and Europe has increasingly favored domestic companies over foreign competitors.
The backlash against global integration has many sources. Some of it reflects broader economic frustrations associated with slower growth and rising inequality. Some reflects the difficulties of maintaining harmony within multiethnic societies. Surely the speed and scale of China’s ascent has contributed. But what is most important is the growing suspicion on the part of electorates that globalization is an elite project that primarily benefits elites. Somehow branches for financial institutions in foreign countries seem to be a higher priority than protections for displaced workers. And protection of the intellectual property of global corporations is a more focal concern than preventing unfair competition from foreign companies that escape regulation.
This must change if global integration is to maintain its political foundation in the world’s rich countries. Political leaders must connect global integration with tangible benefits for middle-class citizens, must show that international cooperation helps to prevent exploitation of ordinary citizens by elites, and must assure that adequate social protections are in place so that those who must adjust to economic change are protected.
In “The Economic Consequences of the Peace,” written after World War I, John Maynard Keynes asserted the primacy of economics, observing that “the perils of the future lie not in frontiers and sovereignties but in food, coal and transport.” His call for strong policies directed at promoting mutual prosperity and cooperation went unheeded, with catastrophic consequences. The understanding of this grim experience after World War II set the stage for the best 70 years mankind has enjoyed. Will the US and the global community turn away from the paradigm of global integration that has worked so well and back to the narrow nationalism that Keynes so powerfully and rightfully decried? Or will they find ways of promoting global integration that benefit all citizens everywhere? These might include major cooperative efforts to prevent global corporations from avoiding taxes, crackdowns on regulatory arbitrage, and stronger domestic programs to cushion the impact of structural changes on individual workers. These are the questions that may determine the history of the 21st century.

Analysis/Iran's Economy Isn't Ready for Sanctions' Impact, but Tehran Won't Fold Over Nuclear Issue
زيفي بارئيل من الهآررتس: الإقتصاد الإيراني ليس مستعداً لمواجهة مفاعيل العقوبات ولكن طهران لن تقلل من أهمية الملف النووي

Zvi Bar'el/Haaretz/August 08/18
U.S. sanctions won't necessarily change Iran's stance, and protests over staggering inflation still aren't threatening the regime. Nonetheless, there's a chance for a new negotiation.
Preparations in Iran for the first round of U.S. sanctions have not yet produced an impressive plan of action. President Hassan Rohani’s statements about his willingness to take diplomatic steps but not when Iran is under sanctions is not a very creative response given the scope of the threat on Iran’s doorstep. Equally unimpressive is the warning of Qassem Soleimani, head of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards’ Quds force, to the effect that “Iran is prepared to stand up to the United States.”
It’s true that Iran has mobilized support from Russia, China and Turkey, which continue to invest or at least have pledged to invest tens of billions mainly in oil exploration. But these countries will also be faced with a decision ahead of November 4, the date on which sanctions go into effect against oil imports from Iran. Iran’s foreign currency reserves, estimated at more than $130 billion, and the National Development Fund of Iran, which has a few dozen billion dollars more, give it some breathing room. But these cannot replace significant economic reform to stabilize the riyal, which this week reached a historic low of 120,000 riyals to the dollar.
Changes that Rohani made in his administration, such as firing Central Bank Governor Valiollah Seif, who was in charge of regulating the capital market, and the departure of Mohammad Bagher Nobakht, the head of Iran’s budget and planning organization, were intended mainly to show that Rohani is “listening” to the outcry from the street and responding to political pressure. This month he will have to respond in parliament to pointed questions about the way Iran’s economy is being handled and about the failure of the nuclear agreement. This will be the opportunity for Rohani’s rivals to sling accusations at him and highlight his failures, but the members of parliament have no better idea how to extricate Iran from its economic crisis.
The Iranian government’s only move so far is the decision to establish a secondary foreign currency market in which the value of the riyal will be set by its free-market price, without government intervention. Travelers abroad will no longer be able to buy dollars at the official rate of 42,000 riyals per dollar, and money changers can return to work and sell dollars at the secondary market rate but no more than $10,000 per person.
These measures will not be enough to appease the protesters, who are facing dizzying price hikes due to surging inflation, unemployment and shortage of drinking water. So far, the protests are sporadic and local. Slogans against the government and the supreme leader Ali Khamenei can be heard alongside denunciations of Iran’s involvement in the wars in Syria and Yemen. But this has so far failed to create the critical mass of opposition that would threaten the survival of the regime.
The new sanctions are supposedly intended to get Iran to agree to negotiate with the United States over a new nuclear agreement that will include Iran giving up its ballistic missile development and ending its involvement in conflicts in the region. But sanctions are the relatively easy part of the battle against Iran. It is much harder to ensure that the sanctions will change Iranian policy.
The American concept rests on the assumption of a direct connection between the penalties imposed and the outcome. But Iran withstood sanctions as far back as the 1950s, when the British imposed a full closure following nationalization of its oil by Prime Minister Mohammad Mosaddegh. Since the Islamic Revolution, Iran has been under ongoing sanctions, American and international, which until 2013 did not lead to significant negotiations on freezing Tehran’s nuclear program. Only after Rohani came to power did Khamenei give the green light to enter the historic negotiations that led to the nuclear agreement.
A decade before, in 2003, Iran proposed embarking on negotiations with the United States over the nuclear program and even halted the program in exchange for the lifting of sanctions. But then it encountered the solid wall put up by President George Bush, who was on the verge of war against Iraq. Bush’s disregard for Iran’s proposal led to the renewal of the nuclear program and the refuting of the theory that Iran would agree to freeze the program out of fear of an American attack in the wake of the U.S. war against Iraq.
Heavier sanctions on Iran over the past decade were only one component in the development of its economic crisis. Many other factors led to the crisis, among them: a lack of rational economic policy during the term of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, deep-seated corruption that wasted tens of billions of dollars, the lack of practicable five-year development plans, generous government subsidies to the people, and the takeover by the Revolutionary Guards of more than half of Iran’s economy, random management of the oil sector, and political power struggles.
According to leading Iranian economists and senior officials, Iran could have overcome the crisis more easily, even under sanctions, if it had implemented proper economic reforms. From time to time these economists have made recommendations to the supreme leadership but they were rejected by those with vested interests who funneled millions into their own pockets from the sanctions, often by smuggling oil and other products. Some of those responsible were later put on trial, but the heavy damage was already done. And after most of the sanctions were lifted in the wake of the nuclear agreement, control over foreign investment contracts by those with influence did not disappear. The Revolutionary Guards continued to hold on to most of the deals, as did those in Khamenei’s inner circle, which is managed like an economic mafia led by his son, Mojtaba Khamenei.
Now too, under the new sanctions, Iran’s economic survival depends on loosening the economic and political systems. But if the past is any indication, it seems that the many layers of vested interests and the tight pyramid of control will lead to continued profit-seeking rather than implementation of real reforms.
This structure could, as in the past, cause the sanctions, and President Donald Trump’s punishment strategy to fail. In addition to political and economic failures, the sanctions could play into the hands of the regime as it attempts to crush all protest and rebellion.
The Iranian regime, which has adopted the slogan of “revolutionary economics,” can be expected to mobilize the public in its efforts to resist the enemy’s attempt to bring down the regime, thus rendering opposition to the regime as akin to treason.
At the same time, those in favor of sanctions against Iran cannot ignore the fact that Tehran has decided to stick to the agreement and not withdraw from it. Rohani’s willingness to continue diplomatic efforts – if the United States would lift the sanctions and return to the nuclear accord – shows that Iran does not consider the agreement a one-time event.
The agreement gave Iran international recognition without it having to build even one nuclear bomb, but it neutralized the significant diplomatic threat it wielded, and confronted Tehran with a complex dilemma.
A decision by Iran to renew its nuclear program will unite the European Union with the United States, and could mean the loss of support by Russia and China. On the other hand, a decision not to renew and maintain the program reveals its most important negotiating hand right away. This dilemma provides a new opportunity for negotiations with Iran – not instead of the nuclear agreement, but in addition to it. After all, the imposition of sanctions on Iran indicates that it is considered a rational country that understands heavy-handed hints, the kind of country with which binding agreements can be signed.

Exclusive - Iran and Circumventing the Sanctions
Hussam Itani/Asharq Al-Awsat/August 08/18
The re-imposed American sanctions against Iran demand a closer examination on the extent in which they may lead to the collapse of its ruling regime or eruption of mass protests that may overthrow it.
In this regard, one can make five observations on the current available factors:
1- The losers: Recent experience has demonstrated that those most harmed from sanctions are often regular citizens. Targeted regimes quickly find means to turn the suffering of the people into tools to bolster their internal control and oppress opponents. They will find ways to distract the people with tedious procedures to go about their daily lives, such as securing food baskets and completing transactions that have been made complicated by the sanctions.
The Saddam Hussein regime in Iraq was a prime example of how to exploit sanctions that were imposed after the invasion of Kuwait. On the one hand, he used the sanctions to cow the people into submission and, on the other, waged a media propaganda war that portrayed him as the victim.
Iranian officials have likely garnered enough experience from recent sanctions experiences in 2012 and 2015 to handle the re-imposed US sanctions. The previous experiences had made the lives of Iranian citizens difficult, but presented a golden opportunity for the ruling political class to reap wealth from loopholes in the sanctions.
2- Goals: Those behind the sanctions are seeking to present insurmountable obstacles before the targeted regime to force it to alter its stances and policies and return to the negotiations table. They are also banking on mounting challenges, sparked by the sanctions, that would culminate in popular anger that would eventually overthrow the regime should it remain unyielding in its stances.
Those drafting these strategies, however, often come from countries that enjoy a rich democratic legacy and that actually listen to the people. This is not the case in semi-totalitarian regimes, such as the one in Iran. Iran’s regime is based on revolutionary and religious (Wilayet al-Faqih) teachings, not rules generated from elections and the voice of the people. It is common knowledge that the regime did not hesitate in 2009 to openly forge electoral results when the original ones went against the ruling class.
3- Internal resistance: Iranian supreme leader Ali Khamenei still has many cards up his sleeve to confront the sanctions and he will turn to them when the need arises. Just two days ago, he refused to lift the house arrest against opposition figures Mir Hossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi. He also sought the failure of mediations to appease internal anger against the government. This was interpreted as a sign that Khamenei and his allies have chosen confrontation, rather than appeasement, with local rivals. This was also seen as a message to recent popular protests that the regime will not veer off its current course. The most they can expect is some short-term cures, such as replacing the central bank governor or other officials.
One must take into account that the regime still enjoys popular backing, especially among the poor in the countryside. In 2009, it succeeded in convincing them that the majority of those rejecting the electoral results were “western agents”. The regime has not hidden the fact that it is ready to lead matters towards a wider bloody confrontation if the protests became more organized and yielded a clear leadership.
4- The outside: The international community had rallied against Iraq when the sanctions were imposed against it. In stark contrast, the United States is alone today in waging its campaign against Iran. Despite the massive clout of the American economic and political machine, which will, one way or another, force western companies to accept the sanctions, major players have objected over how the US approach has encroached on their interests. So far, China, Russia and Turkey have refused to comply with the sanctions. There is no doubt that others will follow. They will seek ways to continue cooperation with Iran to achieve financial and political gains on the international scene.
This does not mean that the sanctions will not leave their mark in Iran, because they will. It means that Tehran will find someone to thrown it a lifeline.
5- Ready to pay the price: Much has been written about Iranian pragmatism and how it can withdraw at the very last minute to avoid a crushing military blow. This was demonstrated in how Iranian forces and their allies withdrew 85 kms away from Syria’s Golan Heights out of fear of an imminent Israeli strike.
Iran can use this approach in highlighting potential American losses should tensions between it and Washington escalate towards a military confrontation. Iran may have contained the tensions sparked by President Hassan Rouhani’s threat to shut the Hormuz Strait, but it pushed its forces to stage major military drills near the waterway. This was seen as a message that it was ready for a military confrontation, which would likely not sit well with an American public that has not yet recovered from the shocks of the US invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq. Given the above, it seems necessary to avoid making conclusive judgments on the re-imposition of sanctions and instead adopt a calmer reading of the developments, despite the backdrop of heated rhetoric.

Yazidi Slavery, Child Trafficking, Death Threats to Journalist: Should Turkey Remain in NATO?
Uzay Bulut/Gatestone Institute/August 08/18
Yazidis are still being enslaved and sold by ISIS, with Turkish involvement, while the life of the journalist who exposed the crime is threatened.
Reuniting the kidnapped Yazidis with their families and bringing the perpetrators to justice should be a priority of civilized governments worldwide, not only to help stop the persecution and enslavement of Yazidis, but also to defeat jihad.
The question is: Should Turkey, with the path it is on, even remain a member of NATO?
August 3 marked the fourth anniversary of the ISIS invasion of Sinjar, Iraq and the start of the Yazidi genocide. Since that date in 2014, approximately 3,100 Yazidis either have been executed or died of dehydration and starvation, according to the organization Yazda. At least 6,800 women and children were kidnapped by ISIS terrorists and subjected to sexual and physical abuse, captives were forced to convert to Islam, and young boys were separated from their families and forced to become child soldiers, according to a report entitled "Working Against the Clock: Documenting Mass Graves of Yazidis Killed by the Islamic State." Moreover, 3,000 Yazidi women and girls are believed to remain in ISIS captivity, but their whereabouts are unknown.
One Yazidi child recently sold in Ankara, Turkey, and then freed through the mediation efforts of Yazidi and humanitarian-aid organizations, according to a report by Hale Gönültaş, a journalist with the Turkish news website Gazete Duvar. On July 30, three days after Gönültaş's article appeared, she received a death threat on her mobile phone from a Turkish-speaking man, who told her that he knew her home address, and then shouted, "Jihad will come to this land. Watch your step!"
This is not the first time that Gönültaş has been threatened for writing about ISIS atrocities. In May 2017, she received similar telephone threats after posting two articles: "200,000 children in ISIS camps," and "ISIS holds 600 children from Turkey."
In addition, a video of Turkish-speaking children receiving military training from ISIS was sent to her email address. In the video, in which one of them is seen cutting off someone's head with a knife, the children are saying, "We are here for jihad."
Gönültaş, whose lawyer has filed a criminal complaint about the threats, told Gatestone:
"A child has been sold, and this is a crime against humanity; and I do not think the sole perpetrator is ISIS. There is a larger organized network involved in this. My report has further exposed this reality. I have been a journalist for 22 years and have been subjected to similar threats many times. I do not live in fear or worry. I will continue reporting facts."
In her article, Gönültaş conducted an interview with Azad Barış, founding president of the Yazidi Cultural Foundation, who said that a Yazidi girl, who was taken captive during the ISIS invasion of Sinjar in 2014, was sold for a fee determined by ISIS through "intermediaries" in Ankara:
"To restore the child to liberty, the Yazidi community and humanitarian aid organizations -- the 'reliable intermediaries' who stepped in to save the child -- contacted the intermediaries who acted on behalf of ISIS.... The child was then taken out of Turkey quickly with the help of international organizations and reunited with her family. As far as I know, Turkish security forces were not informed of the incident. The priority was the life of the child and to take her to safety swiftly. And the child did get safely reunited with her family."
Barış also said that Yazidi women were exposed to mass rapes at the hands of ISIS terrorists who called them "spoils of war" and claimed that it was "religiously permissible" ("jaiz" in Arabic) to rape them:
"Women were taken from one cell house to another and were exposed to the same sexual and psychological torture in every house. According to witness statements, women were mass raped by ISIS militants three times every day. Dozens of women ended their lives by noosing and strangling themselves with their headscarves.
"Slave markets have been formed on an internet platform known as the 'deep web.' Not only women but also children are sold on auctions on the deep web... When the selling is completed on the internet, the intermediaries of those buying the women and the intermediaries of ISIS meet at a place considered 'safe' by both parties. Women and children are delivered to their buyers. Some Yazidi families have liberated their wives, children and relatives through the help of the reliable persons that joined in the auctions on the deep web on their behalf. The price for liberating the women and children ranges between 5,000 and 25,000 euros... Our missing people are still largely held by ISIS. Wherever ISIS is, and wherever they are effective, the women and children are mostly there. But selling women is not heard of very often anymore."
Also according to Barış, the second largest Yazidi group held captive by ISIS are boys under the age of nine:
"[they] receive jihadist education at the hands of ISIS; are brainwashed, and have been made to change their religion. Each of them is raised as a jihadist. But we are not fully informed of the exact number and whereabouts of our kidnapped children."
This is not the first time that the sale of Yazidis in Turkey was reported in the media. In 2015, the German public television station ARD produced footage documenting the slave trade being conducted by ISIS through a liaison office in the province of Gaziantep in southeast Turkey, near the Syrian border.
In 2016, the Turkish daily Hürriyet reported that the Gaziantep police had raided the Gaziantep office and found $370,000, many foreign (non-Turkish) passports, and 1,768 pages of Arabic-language receipts that demonstrate the transfer of millions of dollars between Syria and Turkey.
Six Syrians were indicted in Turkey for their involvement, but all were acquitted due to a "lack of evidence." No member of the Gaziantep Bar Association, which had filed the criminal complaint against them, was invited to attend the hearings. According to Mehmet Yalçınkaya, a lawyer and member of the Gaziantep Bar Association:
"The court, without looking into the documents found by police, made the decision to acquit... We learned of the decision to acquit by coincidence. That the trial ended in only 16 days and 1,768 pages of documents were submitted to the court after the decision to acquit shows that it was not an effective trial."
Addressing the US House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee on December 9, 2015, Mirza Ismail, founder and chairman of the Yezidi Human Rights Organization-International, said, in part:
"We Yezidis are desperate for your immediate help and support. During our six-thousand-year history, Yezidis have faced 74 genocides in the Middle East, including the ongoing genocide. Why? Simply because we are not Muslims. We are an ancient and proud people from the heart of Mesopotamia, the birth place of civilization and the birth place of many of the world's religions. And here we are today, in 2015, on the verge of annihilation. In response to our suffering around the World there is profound, obscene silence. We Yezidis are considered 'Infidels' in the eyes of Muslims, and so they are encouraged to kill, rape, enslave, and convert us."
"I am pleading with each and every one of you in the name of humanity to lend us your support at this crucial time to save the indigenous and peaceful peoples of the Middle East."
Three years after this impassioned plea, Yazidis are still being enslaved and sold by ISIS, with Turkish involvement, while the life of the journalist who exposed the crime is threatened. Reuniting the kidnapped Yazidis with their families and bringing the perpetrators to justice should be a priority of civilized governments worldwide, not only to help stop the persecution and enslavement of Yazidis, but also to defeat jihad.
The question is whether NATO member Turkey is a part of the solution or part of the problem. Should Turkey, with the path it is on, be allowed even to remain a member of NATO?
*Uzay Bulut, a journalist from Turkey, is a Distinguished Senior Fellow at Gatestone Institute. She is currently based in Washington D.C.
© 2018 Gatestone Institute. All rights reserved. The articles printed here do not necessarily reflect the views of the Editors or of Gatestone Institute. No part of the Gatestone website or any of its contents may be reproduced, copied or modified, without the prior written consent of Gatestone Institute.

EU Unable to Neutralize US Sanctions against Iran

Soeren Kern/Gatestone Institute/August 08/18
"Anyone doing business with Iran will NOT be doing business with the United States." — US President Donald J. Trump.
"The EU is demanding that its largest corporations risk the entire cake for a few more crumbs." — Samuel Jackisch, Brussels correspondent for German public broadcaster ARD.
"The fines are in the multibillions these days so it's just not worth the risk for a small piece of business and maybe pleasing a European government." — Investment banker quoted by Reuters.
The European Union has announced a new regulation aimed at shielding European companies from the impact of US sanctions on Iran. The measure, which has been greeted with skepticism by the European business media, is unlikely to succeed: it expects European companies to risk their business interests in the US market for interests in the much smaller Iranian market.
The so-called "Blocking Statute" entered into effect on August 7, the same day that the first round of US sanctions on Iran officially snapped back into place. Those sanctions target Iran's purchases of US dollars — the main currency for international financial transactions and oil purchases — as well as the auto, civil aviation, coal, industrial software and metals sectors. A second, much stronger round of sanctions targeting Iran's oil exports, takes effect on November 5.
The action follows up on President Donald J. Trump's decision on May 8 to withdraw from the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA, also known as the Iran Nuclear Deal) negotiated by the Obama administration, which lifted sanctions on Iran in exchange for a freeze on its nuclear program.
The Trump administration said that the deal negotiated by the Obama administration did not go far enough to curtail Iran's nuclear weapons program, or its ballistic missile program, or its malign behavior in the Middle East and elsewhere.
The reimposed US sanctions apply not only to American citizens and companies, but also to non-American individuals and companies. In a legal concept known as extraterritoriality, any company based outside of the United States must comply with American sanctions if it uses dollars for its transactions, has a subsidiary in America or is controlled by Americans.
In an August 6 statement, Trump said:
The United States is fully committed to enforcing all of our sanctions, and we will work closely with nations conducting business with Iran to ensure complete compliance. Individuals or entities that fail to wind down activities with Iran risk severe consequences."
In an August 7 tweet, Trump repeated that threat:
"The Iran sanctions have officially been cast. These are the most biting sanctions ever imposed, and in November they ratchet up to yet another level. Anyone doing business with Iran will NOT be doing business with the United States."
In a joint statement, EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini and the foreign ministers of France, Germany and the UK openly admitted that for the EU the Iran deal is all about money and vowed to protect European companies from US penalties:
"We are determined to protect European economic operators engaged in legitimate business with Iran, in accordance with EU law and with UN Security Council resolution 2231. This is why the European Union's updated Blocking Statute enters into force on 7 August to protect EU companies doing legitimate business with Iran from the impact of US extra-territorial sanctions.
"The remaining parties to the JCPOA have committed to work on, inter alia, the preservation and maintenance of effective financial channels with Iran, and the continuation of Iran's export of oil and gas. On these, as on other topics, our work continues, including with third countries [China and Russia] interested in supporting the JCPOA and maintaining economic relations with Iran."
In a joint statement, EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini (pictured) and the foreign ministers of France, Germany and the UK openly admitted that for the EU the Iran nuclear deal is all about money and vowed to protect European companies from US penalties.
The Blocking Statute, originally adopted by the EU in 1996 to help European companies avoid US sanctions on Cuba, was updated in June 2018 to include sanctions the US is re-imposing on Iran. The document, riddled with EU jargon, states:
"The Blocking Statute allows EU [economic] operators to recover damages arising from the extra-territorial sanctions within its scope from the persons causing them and nullifies the effect in the EU of any foreign court rulings based on them. It also forbids EU persons from complying with those sanctions, unless exceptionally authorized to do so by the [European] Commission in case non-compliance seriously damages their interests or the interests of the Union."
In other words, the EU is prohibiting EU citizens and companies from complying with US sanctions and is authorizing EU companies hit by US sanctions to sue the US government for compensation in European courts.
In addition, European companies that do pull out of Iran without approval from the European Commission face the threat of being sued by EU member states.
Many European commentators said the EU scheme would be unworkable, especially for European multinational corporations with business interests in the United States.
The London-based Financial Times wrote:
"Diplomats and lawyers have raised serious doubts about the EU's ability to protect European businesses operating in Iran from the US measures.
"The blocking statute, first drawn up in 1996, has rarely been tested. One senior EU official said there was little legal precedent for judges in EU member states to reclaim damages from third countries like the US if sued by companies."
In France, Le Figaro wrote that European Commission's response to US sanctions was "hasty" and amounted to a "political gesture."
Le Monde described the EU's measure as a "political signal for the Iranian regime, which demanded signs of European commitment to defend the JCPOA."
L'Express noted: "If a company is active in the big US market and the small Iranian market, then it does not benefit much from the fact that its activities are protected in Europe and Iran but not in the United States."
Radio France Internationale (RFI), a French public radio service, said that the effects of the Blocking Statute would be "more symbolic than economic." It added:
"The law would be more effective for Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs) doing business in Iran. For large corporations, the solution lies in negotiating waivers or exemptions with the United States. But such requests from France, Germany and the United Kingdom have already been rejected by Washington."
La Croix wrote: "Suffice to say that the implementation of this blocking law remains very hypothetical, as it goes into uncertain legal territories.
"Companies investing in Iran do not seem to believe much in the effectiveness of the regulation. The oil group Total, the ship-owner Maersk or the automaker Peugeot have already decided to leave. German group Daimler announced its withdrawal from Iran yesterday. These groups are more afraid of the US's ability to implement sanctions than the EU's wrath."
In Germany, the public broadcaster ARD published an opinion article by Brussels correspondent Samuel Jackisch titled, "Well Roared, Paper Tiger — EU Defenseless against US Sanctions." He said that the EU's new policy was "logical, but largely meaningless," and an attempt by EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini to "defend her political legacy." He added:"The EU can try to turn the tables on transatlantic relations, but in the end the US still comes out on top.
"The German export industry's business with Iran may not be small at around three billion euros. However, the bottom line is that the same companies export 35 times as much to the USA. The EU is demanding that its largest corporations risk the entire cake for a few more crumbs."
German public broadcaster ZDF wrote: "The peculiar construction of the EU Blocking Statute remains: Ordinarily, regulations and laws prohibit something. For example, an anti-dumping law prohibits companies from price dumping in order to force competitors out of the market. But the EU Blocking Statute is a call to action: Do trade with Iran and do not let threats from the US president dissuade you!
The newspaper Westdeutsche Allgemeine Zeitung quoted the Chief Executive of the German Chamber of Industry and Commerce (DIHK), Martin von Wansleben, who described the EU's measure as a "helpless political reaction." He said that its purpose was to show that the EU does not bow to US sanctions. For individual companies, he said, the blocking regulation has "no relevance."
In Austria, Der Standard wrote: "The Blocking Regulation is not an effective antidote to US sanctions, as the historical example suggests.... Although Washington should refrain from extraterritorial sanctions, the US market is too important for corporations to expose themselves." In Italy, Südtirol News quoted stock market expert Robert Halver of Baader Bank: "Due to the US sanctions against Iran, German industry will not touch Iran. If you realize that German industry is doing a hundredfold business in America, you will not do business with Iran, because then sanctions against German companies will exist. Therefore, Iran is certainly going to bleed very heavily at the moment."
The European edition of Politico wrote: "Some experts say the EU's moves are unlikely to have the desired effect, arguing that the blocking statute would create legal burdens for Europe-based companies without preventing the US from targeting their American branches and assets. For many companies, the risk of being cut off from business in the US — a far bigger market than Iran — is enough to make them want to comply with Washington's demands." An investment banker quoted by Reuters said: "It would be suicide to do any new business or funding for Iran or Iran-related companies without explicit guarantees from the US government. They have us by the throat because so much business is conducted and cleared in dollars. The fines are in the multibillions these days so it's just not worth the risk for a small piece of business and maybe pleasing a European government."
As if to prove the point, moments before US sanctions against Iran entered into force, Daimler, the German car and truck manufacturer, dropped plans to expand its Iran business. "We have ceased our already restricted activities in Iran in accordance with the applicable sanctions," Daimler said in a statement.
Daimler follows similar decisions by: Adidas (Germany); Allianz (Germany); AP Moller-Maersk (Denmark); Ciech (Poland); Citroen (France); CMA CGM (France); DZ Bank (Germany); Engie (France); ENI (Italy); Lloyds (UK); Lukoil (Russia); Maersk Tankers (Denmark); Oberbank (Austria); Opel (Germany); Peugeot (France); PGNiG (Poland), Renault (France); Scania (Sweden); Siemens (Germany); Swiss Re (Switzerland); and Total (France).
*Soeren Kern is a Senior Fellow at the New York-based Gatestone Institute.
© 2018 Gatestone Institute. All rights reserved. The articles printed here do not necessarily reflect the views of the Editors or of Gatestone Institute. No part of the Gatestone website or any of its contents may be reproduced, copied or modified, without the prior written consent of Gatestone Institute.