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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
Will U.S. Sanctions Spark Turmoil in Iran/Agence France Presse/Naharnet/August
Over 30 rockets fired from Gaza, Iron Dome intercepts 4/Ilana Curiel, Matan
Apple’s $1 trillion valuation: The creation of a Syrian mind/Walid Jawad/Al
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.
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
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
Titles For The
Latest LCCC Lebanese Related News published on
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.
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
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
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
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.
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
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
Berri Sues al-Jadeed over Private Power Providers
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.
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
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
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
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
- 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"
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
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'
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
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
“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."
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
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
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
UN: At Least 700,000 Could be Displaced in Offensive on
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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
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
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
"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
A senior member of Hamas expressed optimism Tuesday evening regarding the
agreement, saying he expects negotiations to be completed by the end of
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
The Latest LCCC Bulletin analysis & editorials from miscellaneous
$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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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
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
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 deal?
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
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
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
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,
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
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
The question is: Should Turkey, with the path it is on, even remain a member of
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
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
"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
"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
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
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
"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
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
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
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
"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,
"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
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
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
"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
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
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.