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yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart
Matthew 11/25-30: "‘I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and
earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and the
intelligent and have revealed them to infants; yes, Father, for such was
your gracious will. All things have been handed over to me by my Father; and
no one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except
the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him. ‘Come to me, all
you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.
Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in
heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my
burden is light.’"
Titles For The Latest LCCC Bulletin analysis & editorials from
miscellaneous sources published on August 20-21/18
showcases Khaibar-1 missiles/Annahar Staff/August 20/2018
No reason for refugees to remain in Lebanon, says Bassil/Georgi Azar/Annahar/August
Bolton: blocking nukes from Iran of ‘highest importance’/Itamar Eichner/Ynetnews/August
Anti-Christian Slaughter Escalates in Nigeria/Lela Gilbert/The Media
Les prisons secrètes multifonctions du Hezbollah au Liban et en Syrie/Sandra
NOUJEIM/L'Orient-Le Jour/August 20/18
Denmark as a Model for American Socialists/Lars Hedegaard/Gatestone
China's Path to Global Hegemony: Latest Target Is Syria/Debalina Ghoshal/Gatestone
America’s Global Order Can Be Saved/Hal Brands/Bloomberg/August 20/18
Kofi Annan … A History of Many Wounds/Ghassan Charbel/Asharq Al-Awsat/August
Erdogan Makes Some Worrying Friends/Therese Raphael/Bloomberg/August 20/18
Turkey: Economic Crisis or Conspiracy/Salman Al-dossary/Asharq Al-Awsat/August
Turkey and Iran, fundamentalism and sectarianism/Abdullah bin Bijad Al-Otaibi/Al
From Abu Muslim al-Khorasani to Qassem Soleimani, and vice versa/Mashari
Althaydi/Al Arabiya/August 20/18
The impact of US sanctions on militias/Radwan al-Sayed/Al Arabiya/August
The Battle of Yarmuk: History’s Most Consequential Muslim/Western
Clash/Raymond Ibrahim 0 Comments/National Review Online/August 20/18
Titles For The
Latest LCCC Lebanese Related News published on
talks Syrian refugees, oil tenders with Russia’s Lavrov
Nasrallah’s Meeting with Houthi Delegation Raises Criticism
Lebanon’s PM-Designate Under Pressure to Normalize Ties with Syria
Aoun Urges 'Uniting Efforts' to Enable Lebanon to 'Face Challenges'
Report: Russia Relies on Lebanon to ‘Spark’ Refugees’ Return
Hizbullah Denies Having 'Secret Prisons' in Dahiyeh
Bassil: No One Asked Hariri to Visit Syria, Ties Not Severed
Report: STL Seeks Info on 2 Iranians who Entered Lebanon in 2004
Uproar after OTV Host, Guest Accused of 'Insulting Quran'
Hariri Congratulates Lebanese on Eid al-Adha
Geagea Affirms Adherence to Maarab Agreement
General Security Arrests 6 Document Forgers
Hezbollah showcases Khaibar-1 missiles
No reason for refugees to remain in Lebanon, says Bassil
Titles For The Latest LCCC
Bulletin For Miscellaneous Reports And News published
on August 20-21/18
Bolton: blocking nukes from Iran of ‘highest importance’
Bolton tells Netanyahu that Iran nuclear deal was ‘wretched’
US, Iran Vie to Form Largest Parliamentary Bloc in Iraq
Iranian-backed sleeper cells have infiltrated the US and ‘ready to strike’
Iran lawmakers target Rouhani’s finance minister as sanctions bite
Moscow says UN hampering Syria reconstruction
US-led anti ISIS coalition: Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi alive with no capabilities
US-led coalition member killed in Iraq aircraft crash
Sources: A suspect in connection to US embassy attack in Ankara is arrested
US Forces Staying in Iraq as Long as Needed
Gun Shops Thrive in Baghdad
Shots Fired at US Embassy in Turkey
Iranian Criticism to Europe’s Hesitation in Protecting Nuclear Deal
Canada welcomes offer of Eid al-Adha ceasefire by Government of Afghanistan
Netanyahu and Top Trump Aide Call on Europe to Pressure Iran
Multiple Attacks Claimed by IS on Police in Chechnya
Egyptian Army Officer Killed in Sinai Roadside Blast
The Latest LCCC Lebanese Related News published on August 20-21/18
Lebanon’s FM talks
Syrian refugees, oil tenders with Russia’s Lavrov
Reuters, Moscow, Russia/Monday, 20 August 2018/Lebanon sees
no reason for Syrian refugees to remain on its territory, Foreign Minister
Gebran Bassil said in Moscow on Monday following talks with his Russian
counterpart Sergei Lavrov. Bassil said parts of Syria are stable and
peaceful. For his part, Lavrov said Lebanon should not become a hostage of
the Syrian refugee crisis. Russia was opposed to foreign intervention in
Lebanon’s domestic affairs, Lavrov added. Lebanon wants Russian firms to
compete for oil and gas tender. On another topic of discussions, Bassil said
during his meeting with his Russian counterpart, that his country wants
Russian companies to take part in a new tender to develop oil and gas
deposits on the Lebanese shelf, Bassil said that such deals would bolster
regional stability, if a Russian company successfully secured the tender.
Bassil said Lebanon should serve as a platform for the economic regeneration
of neighboring Syria and that Beirut would coordinate its efforts with
Moscow, Interfax news agency reported.
with Houthi Delegation Raises Criticism
London- Badr Al-Qahtani/Asharq Al-Awsat/Monday, 20 August, 2018/A meeting in
Beirut between Hezbollah Secretary General Hassan Nasrallah and the
spokesman of Houthi militias, Mohammed Abdul Salam, raised a wave of
criticism targeting Hezbollah, Lebanon, as well as the United Nations. UAE
Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Anwar Gargash tweeted on Sunday: “How
does the policy of disassociation, which Lebanon needs for its political and
economic balance and its Arab and international positions, applies to Hassan
Nasrallah receiving a delegation of Houthi rebels.” “Lebanon cannot be a
logistical or political station for Houthis, and ignoring the issue will
exacerbate its repercussions,” he added. The Yemeni embassy in Washington
considered the meeting as new evidence of Hezbollah’s destabilizing role in
Yemen, saying on Twitter that the Houthis’ recent visit to Nasrallah is yet
another proof to the overwhelming evidence of the destabilizing role of
Hezbollah in Yemen. The visit came just a couple of weeks ahead of the
upcoming round of the UN peace talks in Geneva. Although a well-informed
western source said everyone should currently focus on the Geneva
consultations, analysts who spoke to Asharq Al-Awsat said the meeting would
cause a dilemma for the UN envoy to Yemen, Martin Griffiths, who is to lead
the consultations on September 6. “The visit of Abdul Salam to Hassan
Nasrallah has a clear link with the Houthi project within the Iranian axis.
He also wants to send a message that there is a political supporter, Iran,
and this move is the result of leniency by the United Nations,” says Yemeni
political writer Abdullah Ismail. “The militias are moving in the direction
of the consultations without any significant pressure, as there is a kind of
inaction by the United Nations towards them… and no one puts pressure on
them,” he added.
Lebanon’s PM-Designate Under Pressure to Normalize Ties with Syria
Beirut - Nazeer Rida/Asharq Al-Awsat/Monday, 20 August, 2018/Attempts by
some political parties to pressure Prime Minister-designate Saad Hariri into
normalizing relations with Syria have further complicated the government
formation process, which is deadlocked by disputes among several parties on
portfolios and shares. Officials following up Hariri’s consultations on the
next cabinet, told Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper that ties with Syria have been
added to the obstacles facing Hariri. However, the Free Patriotic Movement's
caretaker Minister of State for Presidency Affairs Pierre Raffoul told a
local radio station that Hariri’s outright rejection of establishing
relations with the regime of Bashar Assad is not considered an obstacle to
government formation. Caretaker Justice Minister Salim Jreissati, also an
FPM official, threw the ball in Hariri’s court when tweeting that the month
of August could witness a solution to the “government captivity” if Hariri
makes his choices. Yet the obstacles remained even when the PM-designate
proposed several solutions, al-Mustaqbal MP Nazih Najem told Asharq Al-Awsat.
He said that the stalemate is the result of attempts by some parties to make
gains rather than work for the interest of the country and the people. “The
greatest share should go to the Lebanese people who have elected their
representatives,” Najem told the daily. Democratic Gathering lawmaker Bilal
Abdullah also warned that promises made by Lebanese officials would
disappear into thin air, if some politicians continued to interfere in
Hariri’s mission to come up with a line-up. The premier-designate warned
last week that “the cabinet will not be formed” if the normalization of
relations with the Syrian regime is included in the new government's policy
Aoun Urges 'Uniting Efforts' to Enable Lebanon to 'Face
Naharnet/August 20/18/President Michel Aoun has called on the various
political parties to unite efforts in order to enable Lebanon to face the
current challenges. In a message marking the Muslim feast of Eid al-Adha,
Aoun called for “being inspired by the meanings of Eid to put the country's
higher interest ahead of temporal and partisan interests.” The president
warned that “the circumstances surrounding Lebanon and the region's
countries call for uniting everyone's efforts to enable Lebanon to face the
current challenges and cross the important junctures, topped by the
formation of a new government.” He added that the new government will be
tasked with “completing the construction process and achieving the country's
rise.”PM-designate Saad Hariri was tasked with forming a new government on
May 24. His mission is being hampered by political wrangling over shares,
especially over Christian and Druze representation. Some parties such as
Hizbullah and the Free Patriotic Movement have suggested that foreign
countries, especially Saudi Arabia, are behind the ongoing delay. Hariri has
told reporters that the new government “will not be formed” should the
pro-Damascus camp “insist on restoring Lebanese-Syrian ties.” But pro-Hizbullah
journalist Salem Zahran said that the PM-designate has “informed Hizbullah”
that his remarks were a “slip of the tongue.”
Report: Russia Relies on Lebanon to ‘Spark’ Refugees’
Naharnet/August 20/18/A month after the launch of the Russian plan to
repatriate Syrian refugees in Lebanon back to their homeland, Moscow hopes
that the process will gather momentum after the scheduled talks on Monday
between caretaker Foreign Minister Jebran Basil and his Russian counterpart
Sergei Lavrov, pan-Arab al-Hayat daily reported. The two ministers will
discuss “international and regional issues in detail, focusing on the
development in the Middle East mainly in Lebanon and Syria, and the
comprehensive work being initiated by Russia to facilitate the return of
Syrian refugees to their homeland," a statement released by the Russian
foreign ministry said. Given the European position that links the return of
refugees and the reconstruction process in Syria to progress in the
political situation, Moscow is betting that Lebanon will be the first to
begin the repatriation process of Syrian refugees, said the daily. It added
that “Hizbullah and its allied forces, including the Free Patriotic Movement
represented by Bassil, have welcomed the Russian initiative for the
repatriation of refugees presented last month by Russian presidential envoy
to Syria Alexander Lavrentiev with Prime Minister-designate Saad
Hariri.”According to Russian data, some 8,000 Syrian refugees returned from
Lebanon last month in a wave of returns to their war torn country. Lebanon
hosts around 1.5 million Syrians who fled the civil war across the border,
many of them in the Bekaa Valley in the east of the country.
According to the UN refugee agency, UNHCR, around 13,000 Syrians went home
from Lebanon during the first six months of this year. More than 350,000
people have been killed and millions displaced since Syria's war started
with the brutal repression of anti-government protests in 2011. But
President Bashar al-Assad has called for displaced Syrians to return since
his regime ousted rebels and jihadists from large parts of the country
following a massive military intervention by regime ally Russia. Last month,
Russia presented the United States with plans for the coordinated return of
refugees to Syria. The proposal includes the establishment of working groups
in both Lebanon and Jordan, involving US and Russian officials. Earlier this
month, Syrian state media said the government was to set up a committee to
coordinate repatriating millions of its nationals. Last week, Lebanon's
General Security agency announced it had opened 17 centres across the
country to receive applications for Syrians who want to travel back home.
Hizbullah Denies Having 'Secret Prisons' in Dahiyeh
Naharnet/August 20/18/Hizbullah has denied reports accusing it of running
“secret prisons” in its stronghold in Beirut's southern suburbs. “Certainly
Hizbullah does not have any prisons,” al-Jadeed television quoted
Hizbullah's media department as saying. “Those who wish can go in person to
inspect the commercial institutions and other places” which have been
described as sites for Hizbullah's alleged prisons, the department added.
“This is part of a campaign that targets Hizbullah every now and then,
especially on social networking websites before reaching media outlets,”
Hizbullah's media department went on to say. The rebuttal comes after the
young man Ali Mazloum, who identified himself on Facebook as the son of
“Hizbullah martyr leader Hussein Mazloum”, posted pictures of shops and
other sites allegedly containing secret Hizbullah prisons. Mazloum also
announced that he had been held in one of the alleged prisons, which he
described as being worse than “the prisons of the Israeli enemy.”He also
claimed that “prisoners” are subjected to “beatings and torture with all the
physical and psychological methods including food deprivation.” His
allegations were picked up by several media outlets including Saudi-owned
Bassil: No One Asked Hariri to Visit Syria, Ties Not
Naharnet/August 20/18/Caretaker Foreign Minister Jebran Bassil announced
Monday that “no one has called on Prime Minister-designate Saad Hariri to
visit Syria,” in connection with the latest controversy on the issue of the
Lebanese-Syrian ties. “Ties with it are not severed but rather permanent and
normally ongoing and Lebanon should seek its interest,” Bassil said in an
interview with Russia's RT television. “There is no reason to fabricate a
crisis over the Lebanese-Syrian relations,” Bassil added. Separately, Bassil,
who held talks Monday in Moscow with his Russian counterpart, emphasized
that “Russia is not interfering in Lebanon's internal affairs.” “It is
concerned with the stability of the region which is based on fighting
terrorism,” the minister added. Hariri has recently announced that the new
government “will not be formed” should the pro-Damascus camp “insist on
restoring Lebanese-Syrian ties.”
“If others insist on restoring Lebanese-Syrian ties from the gateway of the
reopened Nassib border crossing, then the government will not be formed,”
Hariri said in a chat with reporters, referring to a key border crossing on
the Syrian-Jordanian border that has been recently recaptured by Damascus.
“I do not agree to a restoration of Lebanese-Syrian ties and this is
nonnegotiable,” Hariri added. Pro-Hizbullah journalist Salem Zahran has
meanwhile claimed that the PM-designate has told Hizbullah that his remarks
on Syria were a “slip of the tongue.”
Report: STL Seeks Info on 2 Iranians who Entered Lebanon in 2004
Naharnet/August 20/18/The U.N.-backed Special Tribunal for Lebanon has
recently asked the Lebanese interior ministry via the state prosecutor for
information about “two Iranians who had first entered Lebanon in 2004 before
leaving and returning several times in 2005 prior to ex-PM Rafik Hariri's
assassination,” MTV reported on Monday. MTV also reported that “after new
evidence was added to it, the new indictment related to the connected cases
may be issued before the end of public sessions.” The connected cases are
related to the 2004 attempt on MP Marwan Hamadeh's life and the 2005 bomb
attacks against then-defense minister Elias Murr and ex-Lebanese Communist
Party chief George Hawi. The STL Prosecution has recently submitted a “Final
Trial Brief” that explains the links between Hizbullah and the supposed
assassination squads who murdered Hariri. The report also draws attention to
unusual meetings and phone calls between the senior Hizbullah and Syrian
officials Wafiq Safa and Rustom Ghazaleh prior to the February 2005 attack.
Uproar after OTV Host, Guest Accused of 'Insulting
Naharnet/August 20/18/Remarks by an OTV talk show host and his guest about
several Quranic verses have sparked controversy in multi-confessional
Lebanon. Commenting on the verse “You are the best nation ever brought forth
for mankind,” the head of the Syriac League, Habib Ephrem, said during the
show: “What do these words mean? That a nation is better than another
nation? It needs interpretation, seeing as all humans are equal.”The show
host, George Yasmine, meanwhile reminded Ephrem of the verse “So do not
weaken and do not grieve, and you will be superior (if you are true
Ephrem replied by saying that “there is no equality in all the constitutions
of this region, regardless of the various regimes.”The response to the
remarks of Ephrem and Yasmine first came through social networking websites,
with some activists accusing them of “insulting Islam.”Ex-MP Ammar Houry of
al-Mustaqbal Movement was also quick to comment on the controversy. “What
Habib Ephrem said is dangerous, rejected and condemned,” Houry tweeted,
warning that such statements can “spark sectarian strife.” “Insulting the
Holy Quran is definitely a red line. He should apologize and retract his
remarks,” Houry stressed. Al-Mustaqbal Movement Secretary-General Ahmed
Hariri also commented on the remarks in a tweet on Monday. “To Habib Ephrem
and George Yasmine: you have tackled some verses of the Holy Quran during an
interview on the OTV station without understanding their profound meanings
and sanctity for Muslims. This is condemned and rejected,” Hariri said.
Hariri Congratulates Lebanese on Eid al-Adha
Naharnet/August 20/18/Prime Minister-designate Saad Hariri congratulated the
Lebanese, the Arabs and Muslims on the occasion of Eid al-Adha, praying they
be blessed with peace, happiness and security, his media office said on
Monday. Hariri hoped the efforts to form a new government would succeed as
soon as possible, hoping the new cabinet will reflect aspirations of the
Lebanese and realize their wishes for a better country. Hariri apologized
for not receiving well wishers on the occasion due to travel reasons.
Geagea Affirms Adherence to Maarab Agreement
Naharnet/August 20/18/Lebanese Forces leader Samir Geagea affirmed
commitment on Monday to the Maarab Agreement signed with the Free Patriotic
Movement during his meeting with a delegation of expatriates at his
residence in Maarab, the National News Agency reported.
“We will not give up on the Maarab Agreement and we will return to it every
single time," stressed Geagea."We are holding onto this agreement, which can
only be terminated by the will of the two concerned sides," he said. “If any
of the two parties attempts to evade the agreement, it means that this side
has turned against it," he added. The 2016 Maarab agreement brought the
onetime foes together, LF chief Samir Geagea and FPM founder President
Michel Aoun. Geagea had withdrawn from the presidential race in favor of
Aoun endorsing him for the head of State post. Moreover, Geagea reiterated
that the LF would obtain a substantial share inside the government. The
formation of the Cabinet has been delayed since Prime Minister-designate
Saad Hariri was tasked for the mission on May 24. The main obstacle
hindering his mission is political wrangling over Christian and Druze
representation. The LF demand the allocation of four portfolios including a
sovereign one. Meanwhile, the FPM reportedly rejects the demand. The four
so-called sovereign ministerial portfolios are foreign affairs, defense,
finance and interior.
General Security Arrests 6 Document Forgers
Naharnet/August 20/18/General Security agents have arrested six individuals
over forging travel documents, a statement released by the directory said on
Monday. The suspects, charged with forging travel documents for individuals
wishing to travel from Lebanon to European, Asian and African countries,
were arrested between August 9 and August 16, said the statement. The
detainees were referred to the related judicial authorities.
Hezbollah showcases Khaibar-1 missiles
Annahar Staff/August 20/2018
The missiles, also known as Khyber-1, M-302, or B-302 is a Syrian-made 302
mm unguided artillery rocket and best known for being used by Hezbollah
against targets in northern Israel during the 2006 Lebanon War.
BEIRUT: Hezbollah has showcased another aspect of its wide arsenal at the "Mleeta
Resistance Tourist Landmark," displaying four Khaibar-1 missiles.
The move is the latest form of psychological warfare aimed at Israel, who
has sought to pile pressure on Russia to keep Hezbollah and Iranian militia
away from the Golan Heights ceasefire line. Last month, Israeli Prime
Minister Benjamin Netanyahu turned down a Russian offer to keep Iranian
forces 100 kilometers from the border as Syrian government forces routed
rebels near the Golan. Hezbollah and Iranian militias have been entrenched
in Syria and battled alongside Bashar Al Assad's forces, helping him tip the
scales in his favor.
The missiles, also known as Khyber-1, M-302, or B-302 is a Syrian-made 302
mm unguided artillery rocket and best known for being used by Hezbollah
against targets in northern Israel during the 2006 Lebanon War.
It was used to target targets in Afula, located 52 km from the Lebanese
border, and Hadera, a city located in the Haifa District of Israel 75 km
The rocket's characteristics are as follows:
Diameter: 333 mm
Weight: 916 kg
Length: 7 meters
Maximum range: 75 kilometers
Minimum Range: 44 km
Driving charge weight: 405 kg
Warhead weight: 180 kg
Weight of explosive material: 90 kg
No reason for refugees to remain in Lebanon, says
Georgi Azar/Annahar/August 20/18
During a joint news conference in Moscow, Bassil that a distinction should
be made over "refugees and economic migrants," before stressing the need for
cooperation between both sets of ministries to steamroll their return.
BEIRUT: Russia's Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov reiterated Monday his
country's willingness to help with the repatriation effort of Syrian
refugees, while his Lebanese counterpart Gebran Bassil maintained that their
return should not be tied to a political resolution to the conflict.
During a joint news conference in Moscow, Bassil said that a distinction
should be made over "refugees and economic migrants," before stressing the
need for cooperation between both sets of ministries to steamroll their
"There is no reason for them to remain, some parts in Syria are safe and
stable," he said.
Lebanon's caretaker Foreign Minister also maintained that Lebanon should act
as a platform for the economic restructuring of Syria and that Beirut would
cooperate with Moscow.
He also called for Russian companies to take part in a new tender to develop
potential oil and gas deposits deep in Lebanon's offshore blocks.
"This would add to the stability of the region," he said.
Meanwhile, Lavrov maintained that Lebanon should not be held hostage by the
refugee crisis before expressing his opposition to foreign intervention in
"Lebanon should not become a bargaining chip in geopolitical games and a
hostage to the Syrian crisis," he told reporters, in reference to the
continued deadlock over the country's Cabinet negotiations. Prime
Minister-designate Saad Hariri, backed by Saudi Arabia, has also refused to
cooperate directly with the Syrian regime while seeking Russia's mediation
in the repatriation effort.
Russia has taken a leading role in facilitating the return of refugees,
estimated at around 1.5 million by Lebanese authorities as hundreds of
displaced began returning home.
A joint Lebanese-Russian commitee was formed to establish a number of
centers in refugee-populated areas. Earlier this month, over 800 refugees
departed the area of Shebaa despite the United Nations Higher Commissioner
for Refugees (UNHCR) arguing that it was not safe for them to return. Bassil
and the UNHCR have been locked in a year-long feud over the displaced, with
the FM blasting the "UNHCR's intimidation campaign against the refugees."
The Latest LCCC Bulletin For Miscellaneous Reports And News
Bolton: blocking nukes
from Iran of ‘highest importance’
جون بولتن بعد اجتماعه بنتانياهو: تعطيل ومنع الصواريخ الإيرانية أولية قصوى
Itamar Eichner/Ynetnews/August 20/18
In a second meeting in less than 24 hours,
US National Security Advisor John Bolton slams ‘wretched’ Iran nuclear deal,
says US working with our ‘friends in Europe to convince them to take
stronger steps against the Iranian nuclear and ballistic missile program.’
US National Security Advisor John Bolton said in Jerusalem on Monday that
preventing Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon is of the ‘highest
importance’ for the US, which is why President Donald Trump decided to
withdraw from the “wretched” nuclear deal. “I think your analysis of the
issues we have to face is right on spot target,” said Bolton, who delivered
his remarks after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in a joint press
conference in Jerusalem.
“It’s a question of the highest importance for the United States that Iran
never gets a deliverable nuclear weapons capability. It’s why President
Trump withdrew from the wretched Iran nuclear deal … It’s why we work with
our friends in Europe to convince them to take stronger steps against the
Iranian nuclear and ballistic missile program,” he emphasized.
Bolton, who is on a three-day visit to Israel, also underlined that Iranian
aggression in the region is a threat to the whole world, and that the threat
could be mitigated by reapplying stiff sanctions that were lifted by the
Bolton has been a strident critic of the nuclear deal and has pushed for
greater pressure on Tehran to ensure it halts its support for militant
groups in the Mideast and stops development of ballistic missiles. A former
ambassador to the United Nations under President George W. Bush, Bolton is a
longtime hawkish advocate for Israel.
Opening his remarks, Prime Minister Netanyahu thanked President Trump for
withdrawing from the “disastrous” Iranian nuclear deal and vowed to “stand
with” the people of Iran in opposing the oppressive Tehran regime.
“I want to use this opportunity once again, to thank President Trump for
walking away from the terrible deal with Iran,” Netanyahu stressed at the
joint press conference with Bolton.
The prime minister emphasized the importance of dropping the Iran deal and
reinstating sanctions against Iran, calling on “all countries who care about
peace and security in the Middle East” to follw the US’s lead.
“The nuclear deal did not block Iran’s path to the bomb—it paved Iran’s path
to an entire nuclear arsenal. And by removing the sanctions, it enabled Iran
to bring in billions and billions of dollars to its coffers, which only
fueled Iran’s war machine—in Syria, in Lebanon, in Yemen, and elsewhere,” he
He went on to call Trump’s decision historic. “I believe that the
president’s decision to leave the disastrous Iran deal was nothing less than
a hinge of history,” he said.
“And Israel applauds the Trump administration’s determination to re-impose
tough sanctions on Iran and those doing business with Iran,” Netanyahu said
at the press conference that was attended by US Ambassador to Israel David
Friedman and Israeli Ambassador to the US Ron Dermer.
“I know that that view is shared by all our Arab neighbors, or practically
everyone in this region. And I frankly believe that all countries who care
about peace and security in the Middle East should follow America’s lead and
ratchet up the pressure on Iran,” the prime minister concluded.
Prime Minister Netanyahu also clearly emphasized that although the Israeli
and US government vow to stand up to the Iranian regime, they “stand with”
the Iranian people.
“It’s important that the people of Iran understand that our fight is not
with them. Our fight is with the regime that brutally represses them. That
arrests women for uncovering their hair, hangs gays in the public squares,
that defies the aspirations for freedom of millions and millions of
Iranians,” the prime minister opined. On Sunday evening, Netanyahu met with
Bolton over dinner at the prime minister’s official residence in Jerusalem.
The meeting was also attended by David Friedman and Ron Dermer.
Associated Press contributed to this report.
Bolton tells Netanyahu
that Iran nuclear deal was ‘wretched’
Press/August 20/18/A former ambassador to the United Nations under President
George W. Bush, Bolton is a longtime hawkish advocate for Israel.
JERUSALEM: President Donald Trump’s
national security adviser is bemoaning the “wretched” Iranian nuclear deal
in his talks with Israel’s prime minister. John Bolton told Benjamin
Netanyahu on Monday that the United States sees the “highest importance” in
preventing Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons and that’s why Trump withdrew
from the deal negotiated by the Obama administration and was reapplying
stiff sanctions. Netanyahu agreed the deal was “disastrous” and called
Trump’s decision to drop out historic. Israeli police again question PM on
corruption allegations. Bolton has been a strident critic of the nuclear
deal and has pushed for greater pressure on Tehran to ensure it halts its
support for militant groups in the Mideast and stops development of
ballistic missiles. A former ambassador to the United Nations under
President George W. Bush, Bolton is a longtime hawkish advocate for Israel.
US, Iran Vie to Form
Largest Parliamentary Bloc in Iraq
Baghdad – Hamza Mustafa/Asharq Al-Awsat/Monday, 20 August, 2018/Iraq’s
Supreme Court ratified on Sunday the results of the May 12 parliamentary
elections, bringing an end to months of disputes over their outcome.
The resolution of this issue once again brings back to the spotlight
political negotiations to form the largest bloc at parliament. This bloc
will have the power to name a new prime minister, who will in turn form a
new government. Official Iraqi sources revealed to Asharq Al-Awsat that the
formation of the largest bloc appears to be no longer in the hands of the
alliances that had emerged victorious in the polls, especially the Shiite
ones. The debate over the largest bloc had raged between elections victor
the Sairoun alliance, of Sadrist movement leader Moqtada al-Sadr, and the
Victory alliance, of outgoing Prime Minister Haidar al-Abadi, and between
the Fatih bloc, of Hadi al-Ameri, and State of Law coalition, of former PM
Nouri al-Maliki. The sources, which spoke on condition of anonymity, said
that the issue of the largest bloc was now in the hands of US special
presidential envoy Brett McGurk and head of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards
Quds Force Qassem Soleimani, both of whom have been in Baghdad for days.
“McGurk has been holding talks out in the open,” while Soleimani has kept
his meetings secret, said the sources. The only media appearance he had made
was when he traveled to al-Najaf city, they revealed. Based on McGurk’s
talks, the US has taken the decision to support Abadi’s candidacy as
premier, they remarked. As the Shiite blocs continue to scramble in their
political negotiations, the Sunni and Kurdish blocs are waiting to see which
alliance will yield the largest bloc, said national axis coalition member
Dr. Yahya al-Kubisi. The Sunnis generally may not have certain conditions to
join a parliamentary bloc, he revealed. Their main concern will be positions
in power, which has weakened their camp. Member of the Kurdish Democratic
Party Mohsen al-Saadoun told Asharq Al-Awsat that now that the elections
results have been ratified, the Kurds should submit their candidates for the
positions of president, prime minister and parliament speaker.
“The Kurds do not have vetoes against various blocs or candidates, but we
have a ministerial program that we would like to implement with our partners
in the nation,” he added.
Iranian-backed sleeper cells have infiltrated the US
and ‘ready to strike’
Staff writer, Al Arabiya English/Monday, 20 August 2018/Intelligence
officials and security experts have warned on the existence of Iranian
terrorist "sleeper cells" operating within the United States. The warning
was made by security experts at a hearing of the US Congressional Security
Committee, asserting that Iranian terrorist networks were in the US waiting
to receive orders to act. The experts warned that Tehran could launch
terrorist attacks targeting American interests at any moment, either through
its cells or through its arm Lebanon’s Hezbollah, which is active in Latin
American countries. In Latin America, Hezbollah cells are openly active,
which also means that Iran may take Latin America as an advanced launching
pad for attacks on US territory or on Washington’s interests in the region
when it wants, especially after threats by Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah
to target the United States. Intelligence officials and former White House
officials have warned Congress that Iran could be planning to launch attacks
against the United States. “The answer is absolutely. We do face a threat,”
said Emanuele Ottolenghi, a senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of
Democracies who spoke at a hearing of the House Homeland Security
Committee’s subcommittee on counterterrorism and intelligence. “Their
networks are present in the United States.” “Iran’s proxy terror networks in
Latin America are run by Tehran’s wholly owned Lebanese franchise
Hezbollah,” he said, the Washington Free Beacon reported.
“Their presence in Latin America must be viewed as a forward operating base
against America’s interest in the region and the homeland itself.”Ottolenghi
said the sleeper agents enter America by posing as immigrants who develop
legitimate businesses that are a front for their other activities.
Iran lawmakers target Rouhani’s finance minister as
Reuters, London/Sunday, 19 August 2018/Iranian lawmakers launched
impeachment proceedings against the finance minister on Sunday, ramping up
pressure on the president who is already facing attacks from hardliners over
his handling of the economy in the face of new US sanctions. A group of 33
MPs signed a motion accusing the minister, Masoud Karbasian, of being unable
to manage the economy or form and implement policies. That was enough votes
to force Karbasian to come to parliament to answer questions on his record
in the next 10 days. If lawmakers are unhappy with his answers, they can
vote to impeach and sack him - a move they took two weeks ago against Iran’s
then minister of cooperatives, labour and social welfare, Ali Rabiei, after
questioning his achievements. President Hassan Rouhani is facing a growing
domestic backlash since US President Donald Trump pulled out in May from an
international accord that had curbed Iran's nuclear ambitions in return for
sanctions relief. The rial currency has halved in value since April. A
number of protests have also broken out since the beginning of the year over
high prices and alleged corruption. Washington imposed sanctions on the
acquisition of US dollars by Iran, and Tehran's trade in gold and precious
metals this month. The United States has also said it will reimpose
sanctions on Iran's oil exports and banking sector on November 4. Rouhani
did not immediately comment on the motion, but defended Karbasian at a
cabinet meeting earlier on Sunday, calling the minister's performance
acceptable. Parliament on August 1 summoned Rouhani himself to come and
answer questions within the next month, though without the threat of an
impeachment vote - the first time lawmakers have taken this measure against
him. In late July, Rouhani appointed a new central bank governor, and
accepted the resignation of the government spokesman, in moves seen as
concessions to hardline critics.
Moscow says UN hampering Syria reconstruction
AFP, Moscow, Russia/Monday, 20 August 2018/Russia’s foreign minister on
Monday accused the UN of hampering the reconstruction of war-torn Syria, as
the Moscow-backed Syrian regime calls on refugees to return to the country.
Sergei Lavrov said the United Nations’ political affairs department had last
year sent out “a secret directive forbidding organisations belonging to (the
UN) system from any project aimed at restoring the Syrian economy”.Such
organisations would only be allowed to distribute aid until progress was
made on a “political transition”, he said during a Moscow press conference
with his Lebanese counterpart Gebran Bassil. Lavrov asked UN General
Secretary Antonio Guterres to explain why the Security Council “which
directly oversees the resolution (of the Syria conflict) was not made
aware”.The minister said there had been a lack of transparency and awareness
of the situation on the ground as the decision was being made.“I hope he can
clear this up,” Lavrov added. Russia intervened in support of Bashar
al-Assad’s regime in 2015, in what was widely seen as a turning point in the
seven-year conflict. The regime now controls around two thirds of the
country. Moscow and Damascus are now working to accelerate the return of
some 5.6 million Syrian refugees. “Over the last month, around 7,000
refugees have left Lebanon for Syria. We are continuing our efforts in that
direction,” Lavrov said. “The conditions for this are in place and continue
to improve.” For his part, Bassil said he was “ready to cooperate with
Russian authorities in the framework of several initiatives launched by
Russia”. “Conditions in Syria have changed, there are more and more zones
where stability and security have been reestablished,” the Lebanese minister
said.Syria’s war has killed more than 350,000 people and displaced millions
US-led anti ISIS coalition: Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi alive with no capabilities
Staff writer, Al Arabiya English/Monday, 20 August 2018/The US-led anti ISIS
coalition’s spokesman, Col. Sean Ryan said that the American forces are
staying in Iraq upon its request. In an interview with Al Hadath news
channel, the spokesman said that there is no doubts there is an Iranian
presence in Iraq but it does not affect them. He added that ISIS is a tough
enemy though its numbers has declined, asserting that the coalition will
continue to fight the extremist group. Col. Ryan pointed out that the
political situation in Iraq is difficult at present, adding that the
coalition takes any threats seriously, but its goal is to fight ISIS. He
explained that the Kurdish forces belong to the Iraqi forces, and that the
coalition deals with them through the Iraqi central government. However, he
pointed out that Iraq must be united despite the differences it is
witnessing. As for the militant group’s leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi Ryan
predicted that ISIS leader can be anywhere, but he has no leadership
capabilities. As for the situation in Syria, Ryan explained that it is
different from Iraq, given the complexity of it. In February, NATO defense
ministers agreed to a bigger “train-and-advise” mission in Iraq after a US
call for the alliance to help stabilize the country after three years of war
against ISIS. Iraq officially announced victory over the militants in
December, five months after capturing their stronghold Mosul. The United
States also has about 2,000 troops in Syria, assisting the Kurdish-led
Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) clear pockets still under the control of
Islamic State along the border with Iraq. The Iraqi military has carried out
several air strikes against ISIS in Syria since last year, the last of which
a few days ago, with the approval of President Bashar al-Assad and the
US-led coalition. SDF operations to finish off the militants on the Syrian
side have been delayed by hundreds of explosive devices planted by ISIS,
according to Ryan. With Reuters
US-led coalition member killed in Iraq aircraft
AFP, Baghdad, Iraq/Monday, 20 August 2018/The US-led anti-extremists
coalition said Monday one of its members was killed in an apparently
accidental aircraft crash in Iraq which left several others wounded. A
statement said “there are no indications the crash was caused by hostile
fire”, adding that an investigation is underway. “One coalition service
member was killed and several injured when their aircraft crashed” in Iraq
at around 2200 GMT on Sunday, the statement said. It did not give the
location of the crash or identify any of the casualties but said that three
coalition members were “evacuated for further treatment”, suggesting they
were in serious condition. The crash happened as the aircraft “was
conducting a partnered counterterrorism mission,” the statement said. “The
deceased service member’s name and further details pertaining to the
incident will be released by the pertinent national authorities,” it added.
The United States leads an international coalition that has targeted ISIS
and other extremists group in Iraq and neighboring Syria since 2014. The
coalition includes Britain, France, Saudi Arabia and Turkey along with
Australia, Bahrain, Canada, Jordan, the Netherlands and the United Arab
Emirates. In March seven US troops were killed when their helicopter crashed
during a transport mission in western Iraq, near the border with Syria.
Later that month two coalition members - an American and a Briton - were
killed by an improvised explosive device in the northern Syrian city of
Sources: A suspect in connection to US embassy attack
in Ankara is arrested
AFP, Ankara/Monday, 20 August 2018/Turkish media reported on Monday evening
that a suspect in connection to the US embassy shooting incident this
morning has been arrested. Earlier Monday, Gunshots were fired at the
embassy in Ankara but caused no casualties, Turkish and American officials
said, amid escalating tensions between the two NATO allies. Six shots were
fired at the US embassy, the Ankara governor’s office said, adding that
three bullets hit the metal gate and exterior wall. “There are no
casualties,” it added. US embassy spokesman David Gainer confirmed to AFP
that a “security incident” had taken place. “We have no reports of any
injuries and we are investigating the details. We thank the Turkish National
Police for their rapid response,” he said. A bullet mark was clearly visible
on a security booth at the embassy, an AFP journalist at the scene reported.
Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu condemned the “provocative attack” in a
message on Twitter. “We will make sure that this incident is investigated
quickly and the perpetrators are brought to justice,” he said. The Turkish
foreign ministry said measures were taken to “ensure the security of the US
embassy in Ankara, other US missions and their personnel” across the
country. The incident comes as Ankara and Washington are locked in a bitter
dispute over Turkey’s detention of an American pastor on terror-related
charges. US President Donald Trump has doubled the tariffs on aluminum and
steel tariffs from Turkey, prompting Ankara to sharply hike tariffs on
several US products. On Friday, Turkey threatened to respond in kind if
Washington imposed further sanctions, while a court rejected last week
another appeal to free pastor Andrew Brunson. The diplomatic stand-off has
sent the Turkish currency into free fall against dollar, with President
Recep Tayyip Erdogan vowing to lead the country out of the crisis.
Presidential spokesman Ibrahim Kalin blasted the attack at the US embassy as
an attempt to “create chaos”. “Turkey is a safe country and all foreign
missions are safeguarded by law,” he wrote on Twitter. In a written
statement ahead of the Muslim feast of Eid al-Adha, Erdogan remained defiant
over the US sanctions. “The attack aimed at our economy has no difference
from an attack aimed at our call to prayer or flag,” he said. The president
said those who believe they will bring Turkey to its knees through the
foreign currency exchange rate “will soon see they are mistaken.”
US Forces Staying in Iraq as Long as Needed
Abu Dhabi - Asharq Al-Awsat/Monday, 20 August, 2018/US forces will stay in
Iraq "as long as needed" to help stabilize regions previously controlled by
ISIS, a spokesman for the US-led international coalition fighting the
militants said on Sunday. "We'll keep troops there as long as we think
they're needed ... The main reason, after ISIS is defeated militarily, is
the stabilization efforts and we still need to be there for that, so that's
one of the reasons we'll maintain a presence," Colonel Sean Ryan told a news
conference in Abu Dhabi. The number of American soldiers could go down
however, depending on when other forces from the North Atlantic Treaty
Organization deploy to help train the Iraqi army, he said, adding that about
5,200 US troops are currently based in Iraq. According to Reuters, NATO
defense ministers agreed in February to a bigger "train-and-advise" mission
in Iraq after a US call for the alliance to help stabilize the country after
three years of war against ISIS. "Possibly, there could be a drawdown, it
just depends on when NATO comes in and they help train the forces as well,"
Ryan said. Iraq officially announced victory over the militants in December,
five months after capturing their stronghold Mosul. The United States also
has about 2,000 troops in Syria, assisting the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic
Forces (SDF) clear pockets still under the control of ISIS along the border
with Iraq. "We're starting to see a lot of collaboration between the SDF and
ISF (Iraqi Security Forces) because it used to be that they would just come
to the coalition, but now, we have them talking to each other as well," said
Ryan. The Iraqi military has carried out several air strikes against ISIS in
Syria since last year, the last of which a few days ago, with the approval
of the regime of Bashar al-Assad and the US-led coalition. SDF operations to
finish off the militants on the Syrian side have been delayed by hundreds of
explosive devices planted by ISIS, according to Ryan.
Gun Shops Thrive in Baghdad
Baghdad - Asharq Al-Awsat/Monday, 20 August, 2018/In the middle of Baghdad's
busy commercial neighborhood of Karrada, where most retail outlets sell home
appliances, shoppers can now also buy handguns and semi-automatic rifles
legally for the first time in decades. After the toppling of Saddam Hussein
in 2003, illegal weapons trade flourished across the country. Looted guns
from ransacked police stations and military bases were sold in streets and
public areas to residents seeking to protect themselves in a state that was
largely lawless. The authorities have since been battling to curb illegal
weapon sales and the government has stepped up efforts to control gun
ownership through regulation. According to Reuters, the latest initiative
came into force this summer and allows citizens to own and carry handguns,
semi-automatic rifles and other assault weapons after obtaining official
authorization and an identity card that also details the individual's
weapons.Previously, gun sales were restricted to firearms for hunting and
sport. Hamza Maher opened his new gun shop in Karrada after receiving
official approval from the Interior Ministry and says there has been growing
demand for his wares. "Customers are mainly men, but the number of women
buyers is growing," said Maher inside his shop, where a variety of pistols
and assault rifles are on display. "The reason for buying is self-defense,
and it's safer for citizens to buy a weapon from an authorized store instead
of from an unknown source."Pistol prices in Maher's shop range from $1,000
to $4,000, while Kalashnikov assault rifles can be had from as little as
$400 up to $2,000, depending on the brand and manufacturing origin, he said.
Haider al-Suhail, a tribal sheikh from Baghdad, welcomed the legalization of
gun stores. "Yes, it will decrease crime," he said on a visit to Maher's
shop to buy assault rifles for his ranch guards. "The criminal who plans to
attack others will understand that he will pay heavy price."''
Shots Fired at US
Embassy in Turkey
Asharq Al-Awsat/Monday, 20 August, 2018/Several gunshots were fired early
Monday morning from a vehicle at a security booth outside the US Embassy in
the Turkish capital, causing no casualties, police and the embassy
spokesperson said. The attack coincided with a deepening row between Ankara
and Washington over the trial of a US pastor in Turkey. The US has imposed
sanctions and increased tariffs that sent the Turkish lira tumbling last
week. A police officer told Reuters at the scene the drive-by shooting
occurred around 5 a.m. and that nobody was hurt. The embassy is closed this
week for Eid al-Adha holiday. "We can confirm a security incident took place
at the US Embassy early this morning. We have no reports of any injuries and
we are investigating the details," said David Gainer, the embassy
spokesperson. "We thank the Turkish National Police for their rapid
response." Private Ihlas news agency said four to five rounds were fired
from a moving white car and targeted the booth outside Gate 6 at the
embassy. Police teams were searching for the assailants, who fled in the car
after the attack, CNN Turk said. One shot hit a window in a security cabin,
causing no casualties. Video footage from broadcaster Haberturk showed
police teams inspecting one of the entrances to the embassy and apparent
damage caused by a gunshot could be seen in one window. It said empty
cartridges were found at the scene.
The US Embassy in Ankara and the consulate in Istanbul have been the targets
of attacks by militants and have faced numerous security threats in the
Iranian Criticism to Europe’s Hesitation in Protecting Nuclear Deal
Asharq Al-Awsat/Monday, 20 August, 2018/Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammad
Javad Zarif said Sunday that European countries have failed to present an
action plan following fresh US sanctions on Tehran. “The Europeans have so
far expressed their stance, but have failed to present an action plan ... We
believe that Europe is not ready yet to pay a price," Zarif was quoted as
saying by the Young Journalists Club (YJC) website. He said European
governments had put forward proposals to maintain oil and banking ties with
Iran after the second phase of US sanctions return in November. But he told
the website that these measures were more "a statement of their position
than practical measures". US President Donald Trump pulled out of the 2015
nuclear deal in May, and began reimposing sanctions earlier this month that
block other countries from trading with Iran.
A second phase of sanctions targeting Iran's crucial oil industry and
banking relations will return on November 5. Europe has vowed to keep
providing Iran with the economic benefits it received from the nuclear deal,
but many of its bigger companies have already pulled out of the country for
fear of US penalties. Zarif also tweeted on Sunday that the formation of a
new Iran "Action Group" in the US State Department to coordinate Trump's
pressure campaign against Iran aimed to overthrow the country, but it would
fail. US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Thursday named senior policy
adviser Brian Hook as special representative for Iran in charge of the Iran
Action Group to coordinate Trump's pressure campaign against the country.
Zarif tweeted that "65 years ago today, the US overthrew the popularly
elected democratic government of Dr. Mossadegh, restoring the dictatorship &
subjugating Iranians for the next 25 years. Now an “Action Group” dreams of
doing the same through pressure, misinformation & demagoguery. Never
again."In 1953, the United States helped orchestrate the overthrow of freely
elected nationalist Prime Minister Mohammed Mossadegh, restoring to power
Shah Mohammed Reza Pahlavi. The shah was toppled in Iran's 1979 Islamic
Revolution. Also Sunday, Iran's vice president Eshaq Jahangiri said the
government was seeking solutions to sell oil and transfer its revenues
despite fresh US sanctions. "We are hopeful that the European countries can
meet their commitments but even if they cannot, we are seeking solutions to
sell our oil and transfer its revenues," Jahangiri was quoted as saying by
the state news agency IRNA.
Canada welcomes offer of Eid al-Adha ceasefire by
Government of Afghanistan
August 20, 2018 - Ottawa, Ontario - Global Affairs Canada
Global Affairs Canada today issued the following statement:
“Canada welcomes the offer of a ceasefire by the Government of Afghanistan
starting on the Eid al-Adha holiday. We urge the Taliban to agree to the
ceasefire, which will help to reduce levels of violence and create space for
peace talks as demonstrated by the success of the Eid al-Fitr ceasefire in
June of this year. “We are saddened by the increase in senseless attacks
against Afghan civilians and security forces, including the August 15 attack
on an education centre in Kabul and the coordinated attacks against the city
of Ghazni and surrounding areas.
“Canada continues to support the people of Afghanistan’s efforts to move the
peace process forward. We share the view that a sustainable and lasting
peace can be achieved only if women and girls are included as equal
participants in all decision-making processes.
“We call on all parties to the Afghan conflict to redouble their efforts and
pursue all options for a lasting end to the conflict.”
Netanyahu and Top Trump Aide Call on Europe to Pressure Iran
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/August 20/18/Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin
Netanyahu and US President Donald Trump's national security adviser met in
Jerusalem Monday and called on European nations to do more to pressure Iran.
John Bolton arrived in Israel on Sunday for three days of talks expected to
focus mainly on Iran and its presence in Syria. Netanyahu strongly urged
Trump to withdraw from the nuclear deal between Israel's main enemy Iran and
world powers, and the US president did so in May, resulting in the
reimposition of sanctions. Israel and the United States have been closely
aligned on their approach to Iran since Trump took office. "I frankly
believe that all countries who care about peace and security in the Middle
East should follow America's lead and ratchet up the pressure on Iran,"
Netanyahu told journalists. "Because the greater the pressure on Iran, the
greater the chance that the regime will roll back its aggression. And
everybody should join this effort." The comments were a veiled reference to
European countries, which are seeking to save the nuclear deal and have
vowed to keep providing Iran with the economic benefits it received from the
accord. They argue that the nuclear deal is working as intended in keeping
Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons for now. Bolton said "it's a question of
the highest importance for the United States that Iran never get a
deliverable nuclear weapons capability.""It's why President Trump withdrew
from the wretched Iran nuclear deal," he said, speaking alongside Netanyahu.
"It's why we've worked with our friends in Europe to convince them of the
need to take stronger steps against the Iranian nuclear weapons and
ballistic missile programme." The United States and Israel argue the deal
was too limited in scope and timeframe while also allowing Iran to finance
militant activities in the region due to the lifting of sanctions. Bolton's
trip will also take him later in the week to Ukraine and Geneva, where he
will meet with his Russian counterpart Nikolai Patrushev on Thursday. The
meeting in Geneva is a follow-up to Trump's highly controversial July summit
with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Helsinki, according to the White
House. Iran is backing Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in his country's
civil war along with Russia and Lebanese Shiite militant group Hezbollah.
Netanyahu has pledged to prevent Iran from entrenching itself militarily in
neighbouring Syria, and a series of recent strikes that have killed Iranians
there have been attributed to Israel. He has also pressed Putin to guarantee
that Iranian forces in Syria and their allies, such as Hezbollah, will be
kept far away from the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights.
Multiple Attacks Claimed by IS on Police in Chechnya
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/August 20/18/Armed assailants injured several
policemen in attacks in three locations in the Russian republic of Chechnya
on Monday, as the Islamic State group claimed responsibility. Russia's
Investigative Committee said it had launched probes into three separate
attacks against police, including a failed suicide bombing. In the first
attack on Monday morning, two men entered the district police department in
the town of Shali and wounded a pair of policemen with knives, investigators
said in a statement.The two assailants were shot dead, Chechnya's interior
ministry said. In the village of Mesker-Yurt north of Shali, a man with a
backpack attempted a suicide bombing near a police post but "police officers
and civilians were not harmed by the blast," the Investigative Committee
said. The third incident occurred on the outskirts of the Chechen capital
Grozny, where a man attempted to run over a traffic policeman in his car and
subsequently hit two more officers as he was chased. "The criminals were
neutralized," the Investigative Committee said. IS claimed responsibility
for the attacks, the SITE monitoring group reported, citing the jihadists'
main propaganda agency Amaq. "Fighters from the Islamic State attacked
Chechen police officers and elements in Grozny and Shali in Mesker-Yurt,"
Amaq said, according to SITE. Chechnya's strongman leader Ramzan
Kadyrov, who was visiting Saudi Arabia on Monday, said extremist propaganda
that "confuses the young men" was to blame for the assaults.
He said the attacks were staged on Monday to "darken" the festivities ahead
of Tuesday, when Muslims begin to celebrate the Islamic Eid al-Adha holiday.
He said the man who attempted to stage the suicide bombing was injured and
was in hospital. "The situation in Grozny and Chechnya is absolutely calm,"
he said. Chechnya's interior minister Ruslan Alkhanov said the assailants
"attempted to destabilize the situation in Chechnya" but have been stopped.
He said no officers were killed. Moscow battled separatists in two brutal
wars in the 1990s in Chechnya and has since installed Kadyrov, a former
separatist turned Kremlin loyalist, to rule the republic with an iron fist.
After the defeat of Chechen insurgents, Russian authorities have been locked
in a simmering conflict with Islamist militants from across the North
Caucasus that has killed scores of civilians and police.
Egyptian Army Officer Killed in Sinai Roadside Blast
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/August 20/18/An Egyptian army captain has been
killed by an improvised explosive device blast in North Sinai during a
campaign to eliminate jihadists, medics said on Monday. The officer died
Sunday evening after an explosion hit his vehicle west of the coastal city
of El-Arish, a local medical source said. The Egyptian army has since
February been conducting a major operation focused on the Sinai Peninsula to
wipe out jihadists from the Islamic State group. The military says that over
250 suspected jihadists and at least 35 soldiers have been killed in its
"Sinai 2018" operation. Jihadists launched an insurgency in Sinai after the
2013 military overthrow of Egypt's Islamist president Mohamed Morsi, who was
forced out by the military in the face of mass protests against his rule.
The Latest LCCC Bulletin analysis & editorials from miscellaneous
Anti-Christian Slaughter Escalates in Nigeria
المذابح التي تستهدف المسيحيين في نيجيريا هي بإزدياد
Lela Gilbert/The Media Project/August 19/18
(Note: First posted by Faith and Freedom Insider Lela Gilbert at Newsmax.com)
The European Centre for Law and Justice this week filed an official request
asking the UN to “recognize and put an end to the atrocities being carried about
against Christians in Nigeria.”
The Aug. 13 document presented to the UN’s Human Rights Council urges it to step
in and stop the slaughter of Christians in Nigeria, especially the violence
perpetrated by the extremist Boko Haram group.
“Increasingly,” warns the Aug. 13 letter, “Nigeria has become home to radical
groups that seek to eliminate Christianity from the country.”
Horrific reports have circulated via social media of late regarding bloodthirsty
jihadi attacks on Nigerian Christians. So far in 2018, 6,000 innocent victims
have been maimed or murdered.
That grisly news comes from a press release from devastated church leaders in
Nigeria’s Plateau State, declaring that thousands of children, women, and the
elderly have been brutalized — with many killed — in night raids by armed Fulani
As the Faith & Freedom column previously reported, churches have been attacked,
family farms have been confiscated, and homes have been torched with entire
families burned to death inside.
“There is no doubt,” the church leaders’ press statement affirms, “that the sole
purpose of these attacks is aimed at ethnic cleansing, land grabbing and
forceful ejection of the Christian natives from their ancestral land and
Open Doors, a well-established and trustworthy watch-dog organization that
documents Christian persecution, recently reported that in late June 2018 a
dozen Christian villages were completely wiped out in a four-day massacre.
“Most of the victims were in their homes sleeping when the attacks began … when
Muslim Fulani militant herdsmen began their killing spree…In only days, a dozen
villages in Nigeria’s Plateau state were wiped out….As many as 200 Christians
had been killed, however, some residents fear the death toll may be even higher,
as more bodies are yet to be recovered, while others were burned beyond
Newsmax contacted a Nigerian friend who must remain anonymous for safety
reasons. He acknowledged that our report on Nigeria earlier this year was
correct, but that the upheaval carries on.
He explained: “It is regrettable that the killings by the herdsmen have
continued unabated. Worse still, the security agencies do not seem to be able to
curb the killings. This has led to accusations that the government is either
complicit or laissez-faire in its handling of the killings. It is definitely not
showing enough concern about the issue, and can therefore be justifiably accused
of failing in its primary duty of protecting the lives and property of its
Some international news media sources remain either ill-informed or, worse,
deceitful in their reporting. They depict the killings simply as
community-centered land conflicts while ignoring altogether the menacing
religious aspects of the attacks.
Thankfully, a number of responsible and knowledgeable observers have
courageously acknowledged that the attacks specifically target Christians.
In March 2018, Newsmax amplified two clear and uncompromising voices. They
offered their perspectives about Nigeria, its importance in the world, and the
global threat posed by its deterioration into a failed state.
One was former Rep. Frank Wolf, R-Va., a Distinguished Senior Fellow for
21Wilberforce who served 34 consecutive years in the U.S. House of
Representatives, remains a stalwart champion of international human rights,
religion freedom, and persecuted minorities.
Wolf reminded Newsmax that Nigeria is the largest nation in Africa, with a
population of 186 million. Of those about 86 million, or 46 percent, are
Year after year, Nigeria is the top economic performer in Africa. It is also a
key regional force, capable of stabilizing — or destabilizing — the surrounding
countries — Niger, Chad, Burkina Faso, and Mali.
Rep. Wolf quoted a somewhat unexpected expert, but one who also understands the
significance of Nigeria: Bono, of U2 fame.
A human rights activist himself, Bono has invested considerable time in Africa.
Bono told The New York Times in September 2016: "There's so much strategic
importance in Nigeria — that's why it's odd that there's not more focus on
“It's pathetic. If Nigeria fails, Africa fails. If Africa fails, Europe fails.
And if Europe fails, America is no longer America."
President Donald Trump has added his own voice to the discussion. At the White
House, during a meeting with Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari, Trump spoke
out on behalf of Nigeria’s beleaguered Christians.
“We are deeply concerned by religious violence in Nigeria including the burning
of churches and the killing and persecution of Christians. It’s a horrible
story,” President Trump told Buhari.
“We encourage Nigeria and the federal state and local leaders to do everything
in their power to immediately secure the affected communities and to protect
innocent civilians of all faiths including Muslims and including Christians.”
President Trump’s words are unprecedented. But freshly calculated actions on the
part of the U.S. State Department — in support of the President’s concerns — may
also be necessary.
A recent report from the Atlantic Council raises a key problem:
“…it is mind-boggling that in Nigeria, Africa’s most populous country and its
biggest economy, there is no U.S. diplomatic presence north of the capital of
Abuja, located in the country’s geographical center. Thus, the entire northern
part of the country, which is home to more than 90 million predominantly Muslim
people who would, by themselves, constitute Africa’s third most-populous country
— and in the middle of the geopolitically sensitive Sahel region at that — has
been entirely bereft of U.S. diplomatic presence (and the ongoing intelligence
and other monitoring capabilities that come with such a mission) ever since the
consulate in Kaduna was closed in 1991 for budgetary reasons.”
Perhaps bolstering up America’s diplomatic representation in northern Nigeria —
along with the proclamations of the U.S. president and the prayers of the
faithful — could turn the surging, destructive tide in jihad-targeted,
Religion News, Africa
Primary Feature, Lela Gilbert
Les prisons secrètes multifonctions du Hezbollah au Liban et en Syrie
Sandra NOUJEIM/L'Orient-Le Jour/August 20/18
Outre Beyrouth et la Békaa, les centres de détention mis en place par la
milice pro-iranienne dans ses zones d’influence en Syrie serviraient entre
autres à « une purge démographique », selon Fidaa Itani, journaliste exilé à
Londres, interrogé par « L’Orient-Le Jour ».
Plusieurs localisations de prisons secrètes du Hezbollah à Beyrouth ont été
énumérées samedi par un jeune chiite, Ali Walaa Mazloum, dans un post
Facebook repris par plusieurs médias en ligne. Fils de Hussein Mazloum,
alias hajj Walaa, ancien cadre du Hezbollah mort au combat en Syrie,
l’auteur du post – injoignable depuis hier, selon un proche du jeune homme,
interrogé par L’OLJ et qui a requis l’anonymat, et qui avait pourtant réussi
à le contacter samedi – affirme avoir été détenu et torturé pendant environ
un an dans l’une des prisons secrètes du parti chiite dans la banlieue sud.
Il en répertorie cinq en les situant avec précision par rapport aux
commerces ou établissements environnants, photos à l’appui : la prison
centrale située à Haret Hreik dans un abri souterrain relevant de la
Fondation Beydoun pour la vente de chaises, une autre à Bir el-Abed
(derrière le siège de la coopérative islamique), une troisième aménagée au
septième étage du centre d’interrogatoire situé près du complexe d’al-Qaëm,
la prison de Bir el-Abed près du complexe de Sayida Zaynab, et une dernière
située près du complexe d’al-Moujtaba, derrière le siège de la télévision
Ces prisons, dit-il, sont « gérées par les deux unités de protection et de
sécurité préventive » du parti et servent à accueillir « certains partisans
qui ont commis des violations, ou certains Libanais (non partisans) et
étrangers ». Ceux-ci sont séquestrés après avoir été « arrêtés ou kidnappés
pour différents griefs ». « Dans ces prisons, le prisonnier est complètement
interdit de voir la lumière du jour, étant astreint à rester dans une
cellule d’isolement de 1,5 mètre de longueur et d’un mètre de largeur. Il
lui est interdit de voir la télévision, de s’informer de ce qui se passe à
l’extérieur, ni même de disposer de mouchoirs, de crayons ou de papiers »,
témoigne-t-il, avant de mentionner « les coups et la torture par tous les
moyens, physiques et mentaux, subis par les prisonniers ». S’ils ne
subissent pas une « privation prolongée d’alimentation », les prisonniers ne
sont servis que « d’aliments de très mauvaise qualité et nuisibles à la
santé ». Le seul contact autorisé entre les prisonniers et leurs proches se
fait par visite d’une demi-heure par mois ou tous les deux mois, à condition
que le prisonnier ne s’exprime pas sur les conditions de sa détention, «
sous peine d’être torturé et privé de visites pendant quatre mois au moins
et de subir une torture en parallèle », ajoute cet homme originaire de
« J’ai subi avec ma famille toutes formes d’humiliation (…). J’entends
intenter bientôt une action en justice (…), ce post pourrait me ramener en
prison (…), mais je n’ai plus rien à perdre », conclut l’ex-partisan qui a
voulu révéler « l’autre face du Hezbollah ».
Des sources du Hezbollah citées par la LBC confirment l’arrestation de M.
Mazloum « pour son implication dans un trafic de drogue en Syrie ». Ce qui
veut dire que le parti chiite a décidé de lever sa couverture sur les
activités de son partisan pour des raisons qu’il reste à vérifier.
Mais, par-delà ce cas en soi, ce qu’il rapporte sur les prisons du parti
chiite est confirmé par plus d’une personne interrogée par L’Orient-Le Jour.
Sur la forme, le chercheur Lokman Slim, chiite indépendant, précise ainsi
que « l’existence de ces prisons est une lapalissade pour les Libanais
habitués aux méthodes du Hezbollah, notamment sa base populaire. Ce n’est un
secret pour personne que les centres religieux constituent une couverture
pour les centres de détention, ou les activités militaires du Hezbollah ».
Sur le fond, la brève mention que Ali Mazloum fait sur l’arrestation
d’étrangers est vérifiée par des informations que L’OLJ a pu obtenir sur
deux cas de séquestration d’Européens. Il y a trois mois, un couple
d’Allemands, arrêté dans la banlieue sud, aurait passé trois jours dans un
centre de détention du Hezbollah, avant d’être livré à la Sûreté générale
puis refoulé du territoire pour liens de parenté avec un journaliste basé à
Jérusalem, apprend-on de sources diplomatiques accréditées à Beyrouth. Une
citoyenne suisse aurait elle aussi été séquestrée pendant 48 heures puis
libérée selon le même mécanisme, après avoir pris des photos dans la
banlieue sud, rapportent ces mêmes sources. Pour rappel, le représentant du
Parti socialiste français auprès de l’Internationale socialiste, Karim
Pakzad, avait été appréhendé par des éléments armés du Hezbollah en 2008
pour avoir pris des photos d’une mosquée dans la banlieue sud. Sa détention
de quelques heures avait été reconnue par le parti chiite, après la
condamnation de l’incident par le Quai d’Orsay.
Réfugiés syriens remis à Damas
Il y a par ailleurs des informations que livre à L’OLJ le journaliste Fidaa
Itani, exilé à Londres, jadis proche du Hezbollah, et qui avait eu
l’occasion de faire une tournée dans l’un de ses centres.
Il s’attarde sur les cas d’arrestations de réfugiés syriens dans les geôles
du Hezbollah, et étaye ce faisant la thèse de Ali Mazloum. « Dans la foulée
des attentats terroristes ayant visé la banlieue sud entre 2012 et 2013, des
milliers de réfugiés syriens ont été arrêtés dans les prisons du Hezbollah
dans la banlieue sud, le plus souvent arbitrairement, subissant des
interrogatoires de plusieurs mois, avant d’être livrés soit à l’État
libanais, soit au régime syrien », affirme M. Itani, qui pose la question
subsidiaire de savoir comment des Syriens ayant fui le régime et censés
bénéficier d’une protection onusienne se voient ainsi livrés à leur bourreau
en Syrie, depuis le territoire libanais, et sous l’égide du Hezbollah ? Il
souligne en outre que des agents de services libanais sont même soupçonnés
d’avoir pris l’initiative de livrer au parti chiite certains opposants
syriens présents au Liban. Nombreux sont ceux qui sont portés disparus
Et ceux qui parmi les Syriens ont été libérés et sont restés au Liban
opposent un silence complet à toute question sur leur expérience dans les
prisons du Hezbollah, constatent de pair MM. Itani et Slim.
Des chiites naturalisés syriens
Fidaa Itani révèle par ailleurs l’existence d’autres centres de détention du
parti chiite en dehors de la capitale, précisément à Baalbeck et dans le
Hermel (Békaa-Nord), limitrophe de la Syrie. D’autres se situeraient en
territoire syrien, là où le Hezbollah a une emprise « totale », comme
Qousseir (qui fait face au Hermel) ou Sayida Zeinab (dans le rif de Damas) –
une emprise opposable même aux services de renseignements syriens. « Il faut
savoir que là où il y a une zone sécurisée du Hezbollah, ou un dépôt d’armes,
il y a un centre de détention central ou secondaire, parfois itinérant »,
précise-t-il. « Aussi bien au Liban qu’en Syrie, les prisons du Hezbollah
accueillent des Syriens de l’opposition civile, des islamistes, des membres
du Front al-Nosra ou des membres de l’État islamique (ces derniers sont
souvent transformés en agents du Hezbollah) » , ajoute le journaliste.
Ces centres de détention ont des finalités militaires, certes, mais sont
devenus aussi, en Syrie notamment, « les centres du pouvoir iranien », le
support de sa politique expansionniste. Ils constituent un lieu de
répression pour les Syriens civils qui refusent de coopérer avec le
Hezbollah sur des questions qui sont pour lui d’ordre stratégique, comme la
vente de leurs terrains. Fidaa Itani donne l’exemple de propriétaires de
terrains situés dans les environs de zones de combats, comme à Zabadani (aux
environs de Madaya), où les habitants sunnites ont fini par vendre leurs
propriétés foncières à la milice chiite, souvent par la force, après un
passage dans l’un de ses centres de détention. Cet exemple se serait
reproduit à Baba Amr (Homs). Si le Hezbollah a tenu à acheter les terrains
alors qu’il aurait pu les confisquer de facto, c’est qu’il « tient à établir
une présence chiite irrévocable sur le long terme », fait remarquer M. Itani.
Cette « purge démographique », selon lui, aboutit progressivement à une
recomposition du territoire syrien sur des bases communautaires, qui se
confirme rapidement : le Hezbollah aurait déjà offert aux familles de ses «
martyrs » des propriétés foncières en Syrie et « des milliers de chiites,
libanais ou non, auraient été naturalisés syriens ». « La Syrie qui comptait
un maximum de 300 000 chiites avant la guerre en compte désormais près de
800 000 », affirme avec certitude le journaliste.
Denmark as a Model for American Socialists?
Lars Hedegaard/Gatestone Institute/August 20/2018
Danes actually pay for their brand of socialism through heavy taxation. In
Denmark, everyone pays at least the 25% value-added tax (VAT) on all
purchases. Income tax rates are high. If you receive public support and are
of working age and healthy, the state will require that you look for a job
or it will force a job on you.
In Denmark, it is uncomplicated for enterprises to fire workers, which gives
them great flexibility to adapt to shifting market conditions. In fact,
Denmark is more free-market oriented than the US.
"Very high taxes and the vast public sector clearly detract in the
capitalism index and reduce economic freedom. But Denmark compensates by...
relatively little regulation of private enterprise, open foreign trade,
healthy public finances and more. This high degree of economic freedom is
among the reasons for Denmark's relatively high affluence." — Mads Lundby
Hansen, chief economist of Denmark's CEPOS think tank.
Here are some facts to consider before American "democratic socialists" look
to Denmark for guidance, as Senator Bernie Sanders did during the 2016
First of all, Danes actually pay for their brand of socialism through heavy
taxation. In Denmark, everyone pays at least the 25% value-added tax (VAT)
on all purchases. Income tax rates are high. If you receive public support
and are of working age and healthy enough to work, the state will require
that you look for a job or it will force a job on you.
The willingness of all the Danes to pay high taxes is predicated on the
country's high degree of homogeneity and level of citizens' trust in each
other, what sociologists call "social capital." By and large, Danes do not
mind paying into the welfare state because they know that the money will go
to other Danes like themselves, who share their values and because they can
easily imagine themselves to be in need of help -- as most of them, from
time to time, will be.
Whenever politicians propose tax cuts, they are met with vehement
opposition: So, you want to cut taxes? What part of the welfare state are
you willing to amputate? And that ends the debate.
Danes, in contrast to American socialists gaining ground in the Democratic
Party, are increasingly aware that the welfare state cannot be sustained in
conditions of open immigration. A political party agitating for "no borders"
could never win a Danish election. Danes do not suffer from historical
guilt: they have not attacked any other country for more than two centuries
and have never committed a genocide.
Moreover, there is an even deeper truth to ponder: Denmark is not really
socialist but constitutes a sui generis fusion of free-market capitalism and
some socialist elements. Denmark has no minimum wage mandated by law. Wages,
benefits and working conditions are determined through negotiations between
employers and trade unions. 67% of Danish wage-earners are members of a
union, compared to 19% in Germany and 8% in France. Strikes and lockouts are
common, and the government will usually stay out of labor conflicts unless
the parties are unable to agree.
It is uncomplicated for enterprises to fire workers, which gives them great
flexibility to adapt to shifting market conditions. To alleviate the pain,
the state has in place a number of arrangements such as generous
unemployment benefits and programs to retrain and upgrade redundant workers.
Danish companies must make ends meet or perish. They generally will not get
handouts from the government.
Denmark is more free-market oriented than the US. According to the Heritage
Foundation's 2018 Index of Economic Freedom, Denmark is number 12, ahead of
the United States (number 18). Venezuela is at the bottom, one place ahead
of number 180, North Korea.
Mads Lundby Hansen, chief economist of Denmark's respected pro-free-market
think tank CEPOS, comments:
"Very high taxes and the vast public sector clearly detract in the
capitalism index and reduce economic freedom. But Denmark compensates by
protecting property rights, by low corruption, relatively little regulation
of private enterprise, open foreign trade, healthy public finances and more.
This high degree of economic freedom is among the reasons for Denmark's
relatively high affluence."
Trish Regan recently claimed on Fox Business that Danes pay a "federal tax
rate" of 56% on their income. This is misleading. The 55.8% is the levied on
the marginal tax for the top income bracket, only on the part of their
income above DKK 498,900 ($76,500). Any income under DKK 498,900 is taxed at
lower rates. And the 55.8% marginal rate does not represent a "federal" or
"national" rate. It represents the total of all taxes on income: national
tax, regional tax, municipal tax and labor market tax. It does not, however,
include Denmark's 25% value-added tax (VAT), paid on all purchases.
Regan also claimed that Danes pay a 180% tax on cars. While it is true that
there was once a maximum tax of 180% on care in Denmark, the vehicle tax
rates have been lowered in recent years. Today, the first DKK 185,100
($28,400) of the price of a gas- or diesel-powered car is taxed at 85%, and
if the car's price is above DKK 185,100, the remaining amount is taxed at
150% -- which is of course bad enough.
Denmark's total tax burden amounts to 45.9% of GDP, the highest of all
countries in the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development
As pointed out in the Fox Business segment, all education for Danes is
tuition-free, all the way through to a Ph.D. Not only that; the state will,
within certain time constraints, pay students to study. For students at
university level no longer living with their parents, the monthly cash grant
comes to almost $1,000 per month. No fewer than 325,000 students out of a
total population of 5.6 million benefit from this generous arrangement
setting the state back to the tune of DKK 20.9 billion or 1% of GDP (latest
2018 figures just in and supplied by Mads Lundby Hansen). Denmark even pays
student support to 20,000 foreign students.
Attempts by fiscal conservatives to cut down on payments to students have
been successfully resisted by the vociferous and influential student
organizations; at present it would appear impossible to muster anything like
a parliamentary majority to limit the student handouts.
Fox Business is right that a great many Danes are on public transfer
payments. Government figures from 2017 indicate that 712,300 Danes of
working age (16-64) -- not including recipients of student benefits -- get
public financial support. But Regan's claim that most Danes do not work is
ludicrous. According to Statistics Denmark, 69.9% of Danes aged 16-64 are
active in the labor market.
How can Denmark pay for its comprehensive welfare state, which includes free
medical care regardless of the severity of your condition? Regan claims that
Denmark is "heavily in debt." Not so. As it turns out, Denmark is among the
least indebted countries in the world, even when compared to other Western
countries. The Danish government's gross debt stands at 35.9% of GDP.
Compare that to, e.g., The United Kingdom (86.3 %), The United States
(108%), Belgium (101%), Canada (86.6%), France (96.3%), Germany (59.8%), The
Netherlands (53.5%), Italy (129.7%), Spain (96.7%) and even Switzerland
Comparing Denmark to the US, Madsen notes that the latter has a problem with
fiscal sustainability that may necessitate tax increases. Denmark enjoys
what he labels fiscal "oversustainability" ("overholdbarhed").
At a time when socialism appears to be popular among certain sections of the
American population, its proponents would do well not to cite Denmark as a
model. The Danish fusion of free-market capitalism and a comprehensive
welfare state has worked because Denmark is a small country with a very
homogeneous population. This economic and social model rests on more than
150 years of political, social and economic compromises between peasants and
landowners, business-owners and workers, and right- and left-leaning
political parties. This has led to a measure of social and political
stability that would be hard to emulate in much larger and more diverse
counties such as the United States.
*Lars Hedegaard, President of the Danish Free Speech Society, is based in
© 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
China's Path to Global Hegemony: Latest Target
Debalina Ghoshal/Gatestone Institute/August 20/2018
China reportedly intends to build a railway through Iran and Turkey into
Syria. Meanwhile in Greece, a Chinese state-owned company, Cosco, "purchased
a controlling stake in the port of Piraeus, near Athens." Piraeus is the
biggest and busiest port in Greece and the busiest container port in the
were to invest large amounts of money into the reconstruction of Syria,
which has long been a hub for terrorist groups, Chinese funds could easily
fall into the hands both of corrupt members of the Assad regime and of
Hezbollah, the regime's main supporting terrorist organization. Chinese
reconstruction funds could also be diverted to purchasing nuclear weapons
technology from Iran and North Korea.
China's Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) – a term coined in 2013 by Chinese
President Xi Jinping to evoke the ancient Silk Road trade routes connecting
China with lands to its west – should be cause for great concern in the
West. Although it is described by the European Bank for Reconstruction and
Development (EBRD) as "a long-term project which, for years to come, will
give China a key role in guiding and supporting cultural, economic,
political, and trade developments around the world," it is actually part of
China's increasingly apparent plan for regional and global hegemony.
China's President Xi Jinping. (Image source: kremlin.ru)
The BRI, which "encompasses nearly 70 countries," seemingly aims to counter
American influence by achieving dominance – not merely in the realm of trade
and culture, but in strategic and military matters, as well -- in South and
Central Asia, the Middle East and Africa. China's hegemonic objectives are
likely what has led Beijing not only to set its sights on countries such as
Iran, Qatar and Turkey, but on Syria, which "controlled overland access to
both Europe and Africa in ancient Silk Road times when, after the desert
crossing via Palmyra, goods reached the Mediterranean on their way to Rome."
More recently, Syria also produced significant amounts of crude oil during
As a result, China appears to be vying for the opportunity to play a key
role in the reconstruction of Syria, which has been devastated by the bloody
civil war that has been raging there for more than seven years. With much of
the West making any funds it provides for the rebuilding of the war-torn
country conditional on "a transition away from [Syrian President] Assad" –
and with Assad making it clear that "his country would need foreign aid to
help with the rebuild but that western companies were not welcome" – Beijing
would, it seems, like to fill the vacuum. Offering both humanitarian aid and
investments for reconstruction would be the perfect way for China to promote
the BRI in Syria.
China's plans may involve investing in a railway from the port city of
Tripoli in Lebanon to the Lebanon-Syria border, which "would provide China
with a means to transport materials from Tripoli into Syria, where Beijing
could not only take advantage of the politically contentious issue of
reconstruction in the country, but also set itself up long-term as a
regional power." Without such a railway, the only other plausibly efficient
entry points for Chinese goods into Syria are the Mediterranean ports of
Latakia and Tartus. According to Lebanon's Daily Star:
"Syria has two major Mediterranean ports in Latakia and Tartous, but both
present issues to Beijing. First, neither is deep enough to take large
container ships. Second, Syria's powerful ally Russia has a major military
presence in both, with an air base in Latakia and a naval base in Tartous."
In addition, China reportedly intends to build a railway through Iran and
Turkey into Syria. Meanwhile in Greece, a Chinese state-owned company, Cosco,
"purchased a controlling stake in the port of Piraeus, near Athens." Piraeus
is the biggest and busiest port in Greece and the busiest container port in
the Eastern Mediterranean.
Equally significant is that in July 2017, Chinese warships conducted
live-fire drills in the Mediterranean, while on their way to take part in
joint naval exercises with Russia, off the coast of St. Petersburg and
Kaliningrad. The growing military cooperation between Beijing and Moscow
could pose an even greater threat now that China is moving to gain a
foothold in Syria through the BRI.
If China were to invest large amounts of money into the reconstruction of
Syria, which has long been a hub for terrorist groups, Chinese funds could
easily fall into the hands both of corrupt members of the Assad regime and
of Hezbollah, the regime's main supporting terrorist organization (also
backed by Iran), as well as Hamas, which used to maintain an external
headquarters in Syria. Chinese reconstruction funds could also be diverted
to purchasing nuclear weapons technology from Iran and North Korea.
According to an analysis by the Center for Strategic and International
Studies, "China's expanding maritime strategy and increasing assertiveness
in land reclamation and territorial claims have been a key driver of a
strengthening alignment," among members of the Quadrilateral Security
Dialogue between India, Japan, Australia and the US, which was established
in 2007-2008. And well it should.
Contrary to President Xi's claim, the Belt and Road Initiative is not a
benign project for world "peace and cooperation, openness and inclusiveness,
mutual learning and mutual benefit." It is a dangerous path towards what
clearly seems China's wish for global domination.
*Debalina Ghoshal, an independent consultant specializing in nuclear and
missile issues, is based in India.
© 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
America’s Global Order Can Be Saved
Hal Brands/Bloomberg/August 20/18
Although the US has been doing it for decades, the task of defending the
liberal order has never been an easy sell to the American people. This is
not just because “liberal international order” is a term that, although
beloved by academics and policy wonks, hardly resonates with the average
It is also because defending the liberal order has required making
extraordinary exertions: defending faraway countries, patrolling distant
frontiers, catalyzing collective action on myriad diplomatic and economic
challenges. It means accepting the idea that the US will make the world’s
problems its own. That is a lot to ask of any country, particularly one as
geographically fortunate and naturally secure as the US.
Historically, domestic consensus in support of US internationalism was
supported by a three-legged stool of fear, hope and political leadership.
For much of the postwar era, the memory of the traumas that had befallen the
US during World War II — the last time the international order had collapsed
— and the omnipresent threat from a totalitarian Soviet enemy convinced
Americans on the whole that the costs of global engagement were ultimately
less than the costs of geopolitical withdrawal.
Yet fear was always complemented by hope. There was a shared sense that the
US was undertaking a grand mission to vindicate democratic values and
improve the lot of humanity. This aspiration not simply to live in the
world, but fundamentally to transform it, traces back to the very founding
of the republic. Later, it helped inspire the Marshall Plan, the creation of
alliances that bound America to its fellow democracies, the promotion of
human rights and liberal political values, and other key elements of
Washington’s order-building project.
Critically, domestic support for that project was also a product of
determined political leadership by America’s elites. From the earliest days
of the postwar era, US officials understood that there were still strong
isolationist tendencies in the body politic. So they undertook a
multi-decade public education campaign on the imperatives of global
They drew vivid — and sometimes exaggerated — pictures of the threats posed
by Moscow and other malign actors, and made the case that shaping the world
was critical to America’s own well-being. "We are assuming the
responsibility which God Almighty intended,” Harry Truman explained in 1949,
“for the welfare of the world in generations to come.”
For decades thereafter, virtually every president — even those who came into
office preaching retrenchment — came to see it as his responsibility to
rally Americans to the cause of building and preserving the liberal order.
Today, however, all three legs of the stool have grown weaker. The end of
the Cold War and the disappearance of the Soviet Union made it harder to win
support on the basis of fear. The 9/11 attacks provided, for a brief time,
another reminder that there remained serious dangers in the world, but the
stimulus wore off amid long and unsatisfying wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Those wars also damaged the “hope” leg of the stool, leading to a growing
perception that energetic US statecraft was as likely to mess up the world
as to make it better. Combined with the impact of the great recession and
its aftermath, they led many Americans to conclude that the US should
concentrate, as President Obama put it, on nation-building at home rather
than nation-building abroad.
The political leadership leg of the stool has collapsed even more
spectacularly. Barack Obama, for all his virtues, always manifested a
certain ambivalence about America’s expansive global role. Donald Trump has
taken a far starker view. He portrays the liberal order as the cause of many
of America’s problems; he harps on the things the US has gotten wrong in the
world rather than the things it has gotten right. The US president is no
longer the chief defender of the liberal order; he is its chief critic.
Admittedly, public opinion polling shows that Americans’ views of alliances,
trade and other international initiatives have not changed remarkably during
Trump’s tenure. But the president has the world’s strongest megaphone, and
the longer he inveighs against that order and the US role in sustaining it,
the weaker domestic support for that endeavor will become.
So how might a post-Trump cohort of American leaders rebuild support for a
robust defense of the liberal order? It will require strengthening all three
legs of the stool.
For starters, there must be a public education campaign about the growing
dangers to US security and the world America has helped to build. This is
not really a matter of focusing on threats like ISIS, North Korea and Iran,
troubling as they are. Rather, it should center on the threats posed by the
authoritarian great powers: Russia and especially China.
Although Russia’s power base is limited, it has shown a propensity to use
violence to upset the liberal order in Europe, and it has demonstrated an
ability to sow political instability in the US and other Western countries.
China is a totalitarian regime that could ultimately prove every bit as
powerful and threatening as the Soviet Union during the Cold War, and it has
already proclaimed its intention to compete with the US for global
leadership. Americans need to understand that if these countries succeed in
reshaping things to their liking, the world will be less peaceful, less
democratic and less congenial to the security and well-being of the US.
Equally important will be rediscovering positive, hopeful narratives. This
does not mean whitewashing the history of US foreign policy or sweeping the
nation’s various mistakes and misdeeds under the rug. Yet if self-criticism
is admirable, what is more important today is to remind Americans of the
great successes the US has had in building a better world — one that has
seen democratic values spread far and wide, countless people lifted out of
poverty, and the longest period of great-power peace in the modern era —
because that will be critical in rallying them to the task of defending the
international order today.
Finally, all these efforts must feature strong and vocal leadership from the
top. US officials must explain, in everyday language, why the liberal order
is worth American sacrifice. They must explain what the consequences of its
collapse would be. This is not an impossible task: The question of whether
the liberal order will be preserved is ultimately a question of whether a
world in which the US itself has thrived will endure or perish.
But if the American president doesn’t make that argument, we can hardly
expect Americans to buy into it on their own.
Kofi Annan … A History of Many Wounds
Ghassan Charbel/Asharq Al-Awsat/August 20/18
It is rare for a face to tell both the history of its owner and that of the
world. Kofi Annan’s face was of that rare cloth. He bore the deep sadness
from the African continent and carried with him a clear stubbornness in
seeking a more humane and less brutal world. Annan passed away without
retiring his will or sadness.
History likes to shed the spotlight on larger-than-life figures. Those who
destroy their countries or neighbors. Annan’s biography was neither exciting
nor loud. He did not lead a revolution or leave corpses in his wake. The
only weapons he trained on was international legitimacy. This is a shiny and
fragile weapon. It could help you at times and betray you at others.
When we first became journalists, we relished covering stories about brutal
leaders. Emperor Bokassa and his obsession with Napoleon. The oddities of
Idi Amin and his heavily medaled chest. The horrors of Mobutu Sese Seko, who
ordered a waiter thrown to the crocodiles because he made an error when the
president was hosting a French businessman on his yacht.
Annan was not born from the same cloth as these figures. He did not rise
from military barracks or backrooms of deceit. He chose early on to pursue a
path at the UN where he made a name for himself there for four decades.
His appointment as UN secretary general was like appointing a soldier to
command the army. The man already new the place in detail. He new of the
negotiations, jurisdictions, budget, bureaucracy and peacekeeping missions.
He knew very well that the UN was strong when powerful figures lent it some
of their clout through their consensus. He knew that the UN would be
crippled when the Security Council would be turned into an arena to settle
scores and for the veto to be wielded to hinder resolutions. He knew that
the international organization could not impose its resolutions except
through the force of powerful countries and sometimes with their armies.
Major powers are not running a charity, but they operate according to a
network of interests, not principles.
The UN secretary general is expected to be a strong swimmer against powerful
waves. He should learn how to suppress the urge to make loud statements,
which deprived Boutros Ghali of another term in office. The secretary
general must always swim with the UN permanent members. He should also not
neglect the suffering of smaller countries and that the UN was established
for peoples, not just governments. At times of consensus, the swimmer would
appear like the leader. At times of international tensions, he would appear
like a confused mediator struggling to stay afloat.
Annan knew that establishing a world that was less dark demanded more than
striking difficult agreements on difficult decisions. He realized the
importance of raising international attention on development, education,
economy and respecting human dignity and central rights. He also realized
the importance of the UN shedding light on the environment and climate
change. He showed great attention to bolstering the policy of building
bridges between races, religions and sects and reaping the fruit of
scientific, technological, human and cultural progress.
From his office at the UN, Annan saw that the world was being flung between
two vicious storms. The first took place when al-Qaeda carried out the
September 11 attacks in order to ignite a war between the West and Islamic
world. It was not easy to contain the ire of the wounded American empire,
whose symbols of success and prosperity were targeted. The second took place
when the American military overthrew the Saddam Hussein regime without
international consent. The patient diplomat had no choice but to declare
such a step as illegal from the UN perspective.
The international divisions reminded the secretary general of the limits of
his role when conflicts between major capitals raged. He was reminded of
this when he tried to approach the volatile Syrian crisis in his role as UN
and Arab League envoy, but was later left with no choice but to step down.
Throughout his long UN career, Annan was witness to many complicated crises,
dangerous behaviors and wide-scale massacres. It is not easy for a UN
secretary general or international envoy to admit the limits of
international action and wash his hands clean of crises. This is why Annan
was bitter. He had hoped that the UN could have succeeded in easing the
suffering in Rwanda and Srebrenica. He had hoped that it would succeed in
containing the Syrian slaughter and preventing Iraq from slipping into the
abyss. The UN employee, who believes in peace, feels a sense of
responsibility for his failure to avert the piling up of bodies in this
country or that. He feels a sense of failure in curbing the flow of refugees
and stopping the killing machines of governments or militias.
Annan will make a long and painful testimony when he stands before the trial
of history. The catastrophes that erupted after the two above-mentioned
storms waned were not easy to confront. Previous safety valves were no more
and regional wolves were let loose from their dens. Nuclear dreams,
long-range rockets and merciless interventions. The international scene
always needs someone to deter others and to clip their claws. The UN
secretary general, however, was destined to make do with doctors who helped
spread the disease and rubbed salt in the wounds.
Annan was a major witness during a rich and dangerous period in the world.
He passed away still bearing many wounds, including those inflicted by those
questioning his integrity after his son was embroiled in deals linked to the
Oil-for-Food Program in Iraq.
Annan’s death is a loss for the dreamers of a less brutal world.
Erdogan Makes Some Worrying Friends
Therese Raphael/Bloomberg/August 20/18
Relations between the US and Turkey have been deteriorating almost as fast
as the Turkish lira. In a speech on the Black Sea coast Saturday, Turkish
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan made the ultimate dig against an ally: He
threatened to switch teams.
“Before it is too late, Washington must give up the misguided notion that
our relationship can be asymmetrical and come to terms with the fact that
Turkey has alternatives,” he told the crowd. If the “disrespect” continues,
his government will seek “new friends and allies.” On Tuesday, he doubled
down, calling for a boycott on US electronic goods such as the iPhone.
By new friends, Erdogan means Russia — and to a lesser extent Iran. As with
Turkey, both are led by proud authoritarians, face US sanctions and blame
their economic woes on external enemies. They share a deep distrust of the
West and have been cooperating in the Syrian conflict, while also
strengthening bilateral economic ties.
No wonder the lira, despite Tuesday’s modest rebound, has been hammered,
with Russia and Iran’s currencies suffering too. There is something deeply
unsettling about one of America’s longest standing allies threatening to
link up with a historical rival and a sworn enemy instead. But is the threat
Russia and Turkey have a history of cooperation and conflict. The two have
fought each other in at least half a dozen wars, won mostly by Russia. But
it was the post-1917 Bolshevik government in Moscow that reached out to
support Turkey’s post-Ottoman nationalists. Lenin even enthused that the new
Asian leaders might prove quick studies, “go over to the Soviet system, and,
through certain stages of development, to communism.” The steel and aluminum
industries that are the subject of Donald Trump’s new tariffs were built
with Soviet help in the 1960s.
Still, Turkey’s NATO anchor, its European Union accession hopes and its
close relationship with the US once meant that ties with Moscow were mostly
managed on an ad hoc basis. The two were at such odds in Syria, where Turkey
has long opposed Bashar al-Assad, that relations broke down completely after
Turkey downed a Russian fighter plane in 2015. Erdogan apologized to Putin
in 2016 and the two have grown closer ever since.
A combination of things has prompted the change. After the defeat of Turkish
proxies in Syria by Russia, Erdogan’s focus shifted to containing Syrian
Kurdish forces, whom he fears will link up with the PKK (Kurdistan Workers’
Party) in Turkey to pose a threat there.
The changes on the ground in Syria and a growing distrust between Turkey and
the US, culminating in the dispute over the Turkish arrest of an American
pastor, eased the way to a further warming of relations with Moscow.
Turkey’s decision to buy Russian S-400 surface-to-air missiles, an
unprecedented move for a NATO member, was like a blood bond.
And yet it’s odd that a cozy relationship with Russia carries the same
imbalance of power that Erdogan so resents in his relationships with Western
countries. In fact, Russia seems to be pulling all the strings.
Russia supplies more that half of Turkey’s gas resources, and the new
TurkStream pipeline, which Gazprom plans to complete next year, will
increase that dependency. Erdogan also handed Rosatom, Russia’s state-owned
atomic energy company, the rights to build the Akkuyu nuclear power plant in
Turkey — a $20 billion showcase of Russian-Turkish cooperation. Rosatom
provided the financing and got 51 percent ownership. Akkuyu will reportedly
supply 10 percent of Turkey’s energy needs.
Turkey’s trade with Russia is growing, but it’s nothing like its economic
interests in Europe. More than 80 percent of all foreign direct investment
in Turkey between 2002 and 2016 came from the West. Only 6 percent comes
from Russia. Exports to Russia rose sharply in 2017, but are still less than
2 percent of the total, well behind Germany, the US and even Iraq.
It’s hard to see how Erdogan can squeeze much more from Moscow trade, given
Russia’s own economic constraints. He has spoken of using national
currencies rather than the dollar in Turkey’s trade with Russia and other
countries, an idea Russia endorses. But how is that realistic? Russia’s
Soviet predecessor had to use barter, counter-trade and various bilateral
clearing agreements to get around the fact that the ruble wasn’t freely
convertible, mostly trading within the Communist bloc that way. A
national-currency based trade doesn’t sound a long way off from the old
Erdogan is too wily not to recognize the limits of his Russia friendship.
But Putin has astutely played to the Turkish leader’s worst fears about the
West and his internal enemies. The burgeoning relationship reflects both
Erdogan’s desire to distance Turkey from the US and his twin domestic
priorities: preventing another coup and preparing for any challenge from
Kurdish insurgents. Economic considerations are secondary; at least for now.
But things can change quickly in febrile times. Erdogan has shown he can
pivot when it makes sense, just as he embraced cooperation with Moscow in
Syria. He may tire eventually of replacing one subservient relationship with
Turkey: Economic Crisis or Conspiracy?
Salman Al-dossary/Asharq Al-Awsat/August 20/18
Six weeks after Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s re-election as president, the Turkish
lira is witnessing an unprecedented and disastrous decline. The currency had
lost more than 40 percent of its value since the beginning of the year.
Couple that with US sanctions, while keeping in mind that the aluminum and
steel tariffs are only part of the crisis rattling the Turkish economy.
Turkish officials, starting with Erdogan and his foreign minister, were
quick to declare that a conspiracy was being plotted against their country
and which left the economy in ruins. The economy is being weighed down by
massive foreign debt and very high inflation, which is edging on 15 percent.
Standards and Poor’s expected inflation to reach its peak, at 22 percent,
over the next four months.
Of course, blaming everything on a conspiracy is easier for politicians than
to acknowledge what was really happening in the country. It was difficult
for them to admit the fragility of the Turkish economy, which could do
without reckless political decisions that could lead the country towards the
edge of the abyss.
Erdogan, who has since 2002 won five terms in parliament, three local
elections and two presidential elections through popular votes, has
completely based his successes on the major economic improvement. It is this
improvement that allowed him to rise to the top of the country’s political
scene. His rivals and allies within and outside the ruling party have come
and gone, while he alone remains – as prime minister, head of the party and
later as president. The position changes, but the leadership remains.
The time has come for the figure, who achieved economic growth and improved
living conditions, to face the moment when the economic honeymoon ends. He
chose to toss the ball in the famous “conspiracy” court, ridding himself of
the economic burden, which he had a hand in exacerbating. Populist rhetoric
appeals to the people and blaming problems on the imperialist West is as
attractive. However, Turkey’s crisis remains unprecedented and monetary and
financial authorities appear to have no solution. No one wants to confront
the crisis with necessary economic solutions, such as austerity measures,
raising interest rates or slightly curbing economic growth.
We must point out Qatar’s awakening and backing of Turkey in this crisis.
Turkish newspapers had criticized Doha’s “ungratefulness” and silence over
economic crisis, prompting Qatar to take immediate action to save its ally.
The bad news is that the 15 billion dollars that it pledged to invest in
Turkey will only do so much. The economy needs immediate support of nearly
150 billion dollars, while also taking into account that Turkish companies
owe more than 340 billion in debt.
No country in the world, regardless of how powerful or rich it is, can
immediately provide this massive financial support. Only the International
Monetary Fund has these means and Ankara is, so far, rejecting this option
because of its insistence and conviction that it is absolutely not facing an
economic crisis, but a political conspiracy.
Turkey and Iran, fundamentalism and sectarianism
Abdullah bin Bijad Al-Otaibi/Al Arabiya/August 20/18
What’s strange in the Middle East is that it’s a region where ringing
slogans still work more than realistic policies and where backward
identities work more than modern values. The clearest examples are the two
states which adopt flagrant projects of fundamentalism and sectarianism,
Turkey and Iran.
Ever since Turkish President Erdogan managed to control the pillars of the
state in Turkey and strengthen his influence and his party’s influence
within a clear strategy that used announced and unannounced policies,
eliminated all rivals, whether parties and movements, and dealt a major
strike that’s directed at his leaders and mentors from Necmettin Erbakan to
Fethullah Gulen, Turkey has been facing escalating crises and problems.
The most recent crisis and the worst is the current crisis with the US due
to the detention of an American citizen for reasons that seem unclear. The
crisis of the Turkish lira began before the American sanctions were imposed,
so it worsened after the Trump administration imposed the sanctions and
confirmed that it will impose more sanctions based on how the Turkish stance
The announced Turkish policy has an orientation to create a new model that
seeks to evoke a deep past and that evades the legacy of Mustafa Kemal
Ataturk and the modern Turkish state. It’s doing so via a strong alliance
with the Muslim Brotherhood in Arab countries and the world, i.e. give up
the Ataturk secularism and head towards fundamentalism and political Islam.
What the Turkish and Iranian models confirm is that ideology does not
produce a successful economy, slogans do not build strong and coherent
states and developmental examples cannot be driven from the past but they’re
built in the present and the future.
This is accompanied with the secret dream of restoring the Ottoman Caliphate
and the conviction that the model of pragmatic fundamentalism can go
centuries back in time towards a fake illusion that’s being marketed as
something that happened once and can be restored. This fundamental approach
is well-known in the discourse of all political Islam groups. Despite the
failure of this approach over eight decades, these groups insist it is the
most successful and market the idea that it’s actually Islam itself.
The Turkish policy is also well-known for adopting contradictions as it
fully supports the Brotherhood Hamas Movement in Gaza and sends symbolic
ships that bear ringing slogans while it has agreements with Israel and wide
military cooperation with it. Although it’s keen on appearing as a strong
state that does not back down, it backs down and apologizes in a strange
way. The clearest example is the warm apology conveyed to Russian President
Vladimir Putin after downing the Russian warplane in Syria. This is in
addition to threats made against Israel and then backing down and
establishing more relations.
It’s unlikely that Turkey will adopt “strategic stubbornness” like its ally
Qatar did as those who got used to making concessions will make concessions
again. The Qatari support to Turkey via $15 billion is just a drop in the
ocean in terms of Turkey’s actual needs amid its suffocating crisis. Qatar
is risking its more important relation with Washington especially that Qatar
has been boycotted by four Arab states, and ever since the boycott, there
has been strict supervision over the activity of its funds to limits its
continuous support of terrorism in the region and the world.
Decline of the Turkish lira
The historical and unprecedented decline of the Turkish lira versus the
American dollar and the investors’ decision to go against the government’s
wishes and transferring more of their money into foreign currencies,
particularly to the USD, are an important indicator of the distrust and
worry. The lira’s decline more than 40% in a short period of time is not
reassuring and the capital is a coward. The image is clearer when looking at
the Iranian example, and this is for several reasons. The Iranian model is
four decades old. This is in addition to its blatant sectarian nature that’s
announced in the constitution and its policy in spreading the stability of
chaos, supporting destruction and sponsoring all forms of terrorism via
Shiite militias and Sunni organizations.
American President Donald Trump’s strategy towards Iran is clear, and it is
getting clearer with time. The statements of the administration officials
push towards more sanctions and further international mobilization against
the mullahs’ regime amid keenness to support the Iranian people who are
revolting against the sectarian fundamental regime. Trump has more than once
welcomed negotiating with the regime according to new conditions that differ
from those of the old miserable agreement which he withdrew from because
it’s the “the worst deal ever.”
As we anticipate a new round of American sanctions against the Iranian
regime, major international companies have begun withdrawing from Iran.
Since some European countries have announced their opposition of the new
American strategy against the Iranian regime, the major companies are
concerned over their interests with the US and they are not concerned about
the European political arguments. The new round of sanctions which include
Iranian oil will be implemented on November 4.
The effect of American sanctions against the Iranian regime will not unfold
immediately but gradually and continuously. It’s similar to the snowball
effect. This is how international and regional sanctions work. Time is
Iran’s worst enemy as the more time passes, the more the regime suffocates
and will be forced to surrender.
Despite all the slogans made by the Iranian regime and the tone of defiance,
it actually gives in and fears escalation so it settles with making
statements that save face without angering or provoking the US. Despite the
toughness they display, Iran’s mullahs do not only yield in major crises but
they also sip poison, like the famous Khomeini statement in the end of the
1980s. The resemblance between the Turkish and Iranian models in the current
circumstances does not mean a match. There are some differences which can be
taken into consideration. However, the big picture paves way to compare
between the two models, their ruling vision, the announced purposes and the
adopted paths. This comparison means that the “best model” and “example” is
in the past and not the present. What the Turkish and Iranian models confirm
is that ideology does not produce a successful economy, slogans do not build
strong and coherent states and developmental examples cannot be driven from
the past but they’re built in the present and the future. A comparison can
be made with the Saudi model that’s being built in the region, as beauty is
enhanced by contrast.
From Abu Muslim al-Khorasani to Qassem Soleimani, and
Mashari Althaydi/Al Arabiya/August 20/18
I have recently watched an old video of Revolutionary Guard Corps’ Quds
Force commander Qassem Soleimani in which he was talking in a “Persian”
nationalistic way and not a Shiite, religious and “Karbala-like” way, as if
he was a preacher of Shah Pahlavi or as if he’s a student of nationalist
Persian thinker Ahmad Kasravi! The supporters of the Khomeini regime have
sung songs and written poems about Qassem Soleimani, and he was presented as
a brave “Persian” hero like Rostam or Abu Muslim al- al-Khorasani! For
example these days, Soleimani is active in gathering Iraqi Shiite parties in
support of Iran and preventing any distance between Baghdad’s rulers and
Tehran’s reference despite the loudness of Muqtada al-Sadr and his people.
Iran did not settle with dispatching Soleimani to intervene in the
negotiations to form a cabinet, as he has been in Najaf for several days
now, but it also involved Mohammed al-Kawtharni, the man in charge of Iraqi
affairs in the Lebanese Hezbollah Party, to mediate and bring together
Shiite political parties who support Iran. This is according to Asharq Al-Awsat
Speaking of Iraqi Shiite parties in support of Iran, the name of the
Khorasani militias, which is considered one of the Mobilization Forces’ most
dangerous militia in shape and content, has surfaced. It’s an announced
organic substantial part of the Revolutionary Guards and which is managed by
Qassem Soleimani himself, according to the Tasnim news agency which is
affiliated with the Revolutionary Guards. According to a report published by
Al-Quds Al-Arabi daily, some analysts in Iran think that selecting this name
for the Khorasani Brigades implies that the militias will play the role of
Abu Muslim al- al-Khorasani who toppled the Umayyad Caliphate and avenged
for the Persians.
Past and present
According to the dictionary of Islamists themselves, including Khomeini,
mixing between Islamic religious slogans and the mentality of Persian
“Jahiliyyah” vendetta is what draws the comparison between Abu Muslim al-Khorasani
from the past and Soleimani at present!
In the history he wrote about the Umayyad and the Abbasid, Egyptian
historian Mohammed al-Khudari explained the reason as to why the real
founder of the Abbasid state Caliph Al-Mansur ordered killing Abu Muslim al-
al-Khorasani. “It’s because Abu Muslim wanted to be in command of Khorasan,
topple Al-Mansur and then select another man for the caliphate who is under
his command and authority so the decision is that of the people of Persia.”
(Page: 431) We’re not recalling a “mummified” historical figure but a figure
that’s active in the Iranian political sentiment, or in its elite, and proof
to that is that Abu Muslim’s biography was included in the history
curriculum in intermediate school. There is a football team in Mashhad
called Abu Muslim al-Khorasani club.
The difference so far is the violent end of Abu Muslim al-Khorasani at the
hands of Al-Mansur and the destruction of his hybrid dreams between religion
and nationalism. So will the circle of resemblance between Qassem al-Khorasani,
or al-Soleimani, be complete with his predecessor Abu Muslim?
We are still spreading out the carpets of history.
The impact of US sanctions on militias
Radwan al-Sayed/Al Arabiya/August 20/18
Recently, demonstrations broke out in Saladin Governorate because militant
organizations are still in control there as well as in neighboring Diyala
and in Al-Anbar, Nineveh and Mosul. The Governor of Saladin named militias
such as As’ib Ahl al-Haq, al-Nujaba and Hezbollah Movement in Iraq.
The main reason for protests is that some militias which belong to the
Popular Mobilization Forces that was recognized by the ruling Shiite
authority to fight ISIS in 2015 kidnapped and killed tribal leaders.
Militias rule the roost
Interestingly, the protesters did not dare demand the dissolution of these
militias, but demanded that they be moved to the Iraq-Syria border, to be
replaced by the army as well as the federal and local police!
Iran has tested that whenever it bargains with US by threatening Israel, the
bargain succeeds.Tens of thousands of these militia members - especially the
Badr militia which is led by Hadi al-Amiri who is nominating himself for the
premiership because his bloc won the second place in recent general
elections, falling behind the party led by Moqtada Al Sadr - receive
salaries from the government as they are considered to be wings of the army.
The Iraqi parliament voted on this in the end of 2015.
As it’s clear, these wings have not settled with official salaries and have
become a party of the semi legitimate administration of Sunni provinces and
practice bribery, blackmailing, intimidation and murder if they’re not
always paid what they ask for.
In 2016, a famous operation was carried out between Al-Anbar and Saladin
governorates; when so-called Qatari ‘fishermen’ were detained. They were not
released until a ransom was paid but there have been conflicting reports
over the ransom’s amount and according to semi-official information, it
reached $1.15 billion. Thus, if the question is how much American sanctions
will impact Iran’s funding of these militias, the answer would be that these
‘Iranized’ militias would not be greatly affected, as they and other corrupt
parties have been receiving their wages from inside Iraq for years, either
by receiving funds from the Iraqi army or by exploiting their control over
Sunni governorates and their infiltration of penetrating the security
apparatuses and the administration.
Americans and the Arabs are hoping that if Abadi remains the prime minister
and allies with the Sadr movement, the Wisdom movement and some Sunni
parties, the political and security control of the abovementioned militias
would decline. However, corruption and financial extortion of people will
most probably not decline. What is being said about Iraq can also be said
about Lebanon. Hezbollah has begun establishing its ‘statelet’ in Lebanese
areas which have a Shiite majority but after its occupation of Beirut in
2008, it fully infiltrated the Lebanese state as it seized control of the
port, airport and the army’s intelligence. It also divided ministries that
make revenues with other political parties. Even if we assume that strict
supervision over banks and money transfer will prevent Hezbollah from making
revenues of drugs and money laundering, a quarter to one third of the
Lebanese state’s revenues are still under its control. Therefore, if it
saves a little, it can manage without direct Iranian funds.
Iran’s funding of proxies
It is well known that Hezbollah has been receiving steady flow of funds from
Iran since 1982, which peaked on three occasions — after the 2006 war,
during its intervention in Syria and since the time it lent support to
Houthis in Yemen. It is said that between 2012 and 2015, money spent on
military experts who went to Yemen from Lebanon and money allocated for
other forms of aid was spent from then-Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri Al
Maliki’s office, but now most of the funding for the Houthis comes from
Over the last five years, Hezbollah’s forces in Syria never dropped below
the strength of 10,000, and sometimes even reached the figure of about
20,000. However, it’s now said to number around 8,000 and is reportedly
dispersed along the Lebanese-Syrian border, as well as entrenched in Al
Qusayr, Homs and Aleppo and deployed on the Syria-Iraq border.
It is reported that Iran has spent $30 billion in Syria, which includes
about $6 billion to $8 billion on Hezbollah and its equipment. If this
period is about to come to an end, the Iranian-backed party shrinks on
Lebanese territories while holding on to its weapons and controls the
Lebanese state along with other corrupt parties, it will not need more
funding from Iran, which is currently feeling the squeeze of US sanctions.
As for Syria, it’s where Iran spent the most. Apart from the open line of
credit to the Assad regime, the Iranians have certainly spent and are still
spending on the Iraqi, Pakistani and Afghan militias, which they had formed,
trained and dispatched to help Assad’s forces. These forces kept the regime
from falling until Russia intervened in 2015.
There are still about 3,000 Iraqis, 15,000 Pakistanis and Afghans, and about
5,000 of the Revolutionary Guards. An Iranian credit line still extends for
the regime. However, Iran may now have to withdraw its militias and probably
some of its Revolutionary Guards forces from Syria, not only because of
financial pressures but because of the pressure exerted by Israel and
Russia. It is obvious that Russia is now trying to find funding alternatives
for the Syrian regime via the issues of reconstruction and return of
refugees, and via Europeans and others who are also ready to come to the aid
of Assad, both publicly and in secret. On the other hand, Iran has a huge
and long-term investment in “Assad’s Syria” and it will not easily give up
on this investment, nor would it give up on Hezbollah, despite the huge
expenditure. However, what is more important: internal stability or Syria or
Hezbollah or Palestine and its organizations?! This is a difficult equation,
but its imbalance would not appear unless the crisis and sanctions period
Turning Palestinian cause into a ruse
Few months ago as well as now, Iranian protestors chanted against Palestine
and even against Jerusalem considering that the policies of exporting the
revolution, liberation and establishment of Hezbollah are all linked to the
conflict with Israel.
In Palestine, Iran has had the Islamic Jihad since the 1980s, and it has had
Hamas since the second half of the 1990s and other smaller factions that
converted to Shiism after 2010. However, Iran’s support for these militias
was never linked to the liberation of Palestine, despite the huge
mobilization campaigns on Jerusalem Day since Khomeini’s times. It’s
actually linked to arguments with the US. Ever since Clinton’s era to
Trump’s term, Iran has tested that whenever it bargains with US by
threatening Israel, the bargain succeeds. Hence the 2006 war happened, Hamas
took over Gaza in 2007 and afterwards secret then public negotiations were
held between the US and Iran. When Hamas’ behavior incited a small or a
major war on Gaza, this meant a crisis in negotiations over the nuclear
program! Then after developments in Syria and Yemen, Nasrallah repeatedly
said without caring about revealing what’s hidden that the war in Syria is
more important than fighting against Israel and that the war in Yemen has a
higher significance than any other struggle!
Converting to Shiism and harassment of the Arabs, specifically Saudi Arabia,
are the two permanent priorities. The Iranians, Nasrallah and probably even
Hamas now know that harassing Israel during Trump’s term in office would
lead to huge destruction.
Thus, I believe that Iran will continue to support Palestinian militias with
the minimum but if it does not benefit, it will not advise Hamas to go to
war to upset America and Israel. I have heard from Palestinians belonging to
Hamas and Al-Jihad in Lebanon that they are facing financial problems and
that the Iranians are delivering scant finances to armed groups. Thus,
indirect negotiations have already started between Hamas and Israel for the
sake of peace. Meanwhile, the Egyptians are also hoping that their attempts
to reconcile between Hamas and the Palestinian Authority would succeed this
Iran has for a long time invested in causing disturbances and destruction in
Arab countries. So will Iran change its strategic thinking, not just because
of its financial constraints, but also as part of an over-all revision of
the benefits of such a policy for the Islamic Republic since the four
decades of the revolution? Would it review its policy of spreading
destruction in the Arab world, even in a country having a Shiite majority
Question: "What does the Bible mean that we are not to
Answer: Jesus’ command not to judge others could be the most widely quoted
of His sayings, even though it is almost invariably quoted in complete
disregard of its context. Here is Jesus’ statement: “Do not judge, or you
too will be judged” (Matthew 7:1). Many people use this verse in an attempt
to silence their critics, interpreting Jesus’ meaning as “You don’t have the
right to tell me I’m wrong.” Taken in isolation, Jesus’ command “Do not
judge” does indeed seem to preclude all negative assessments. However, there
is much more to the passage than those three words.
The Bible’s command that we not judge others does not mean we cannot show
discernment. Immediately after Jesus says, “Do not judge,” He says, “Do not
give dogs what is sacred; do not throw your pearls to pigs” (Matthew 7:6). A
little later in the same sermon, He says, “Watch out for false prophets. . .
. By their fruit you will recognize them” (verses 15–16). How are we to
discern who are the “dogs” and “pigs” and “false prophets” unless we have
the ability to make a judgment call on doctrines and deeds? Jesus is giving
us permission to tell right from wrong.
Also, the Bible’s command that we not judge others does not mean all actions
are equally moral or that truth is relative. The Bible clearly teaches that
truth is objective, eternal, and inseparable from God’s character. Anything
that contradicts the truth is a lie—but, of course, to call something a
“lie” is to pass judgment. To call adultery or murder a sin is likewise to
pass judgment—but it’s also to agree with God. When Jesus said not to judge
others, He did not mean that no one can identify sin for what it is, based
on God’s definition of sin.
And the Bible’s command that we not judge others does not mean there should
be no mechanism for dealing with sin. The Bible has a whole book entitled
Judges. The judges in the Old Testament were raised up by God Himself
(Judges 2:18). The modern judicial system, including its judges, is a
necessary part of society. In saying, “Do not judge,” Jesus was not saying,
Elsewhere, Jesus gives a direct command to judge: “Stop judging by mere
appearances, but instead judge correctly” (John 7:24). Here we have a clue
as to the right type of judgment versus the wrong type. Taking this verse
and some others, we can put together a description of the sinful type of
Superficial judgment is wrong. Passing judgment on someone based solely on
appearances is sinful (John 7:24). It is foolish to jump to conclusions
before investigating the facts (Proverbs 18:13). Simon the Pharisee passed
judgment on a woman based on her appearance and reputation, but he could not
see that the woman had been forgiven; Simon thus drew Jesus’ rebuke for his
unrighteous judgment (Luke 7:36–50).
Hypocritical judgment is wrong. Jesus’ command not to judge others in
Matthew 7:1 is preceded by comparisons to hypocrites (Matthew 6:2, 5, 16)
and followed by a warning against hypocrisy (Matthew 7:3–5). When we point
out the sin of others while we ourselves commit the same sin, we condemn
ourselves (Romans 2:1).
Harsh, unforgiving judgment is wrong. We are “always to be gentle toward
everyone” (Titus 3:2). It is the merciful who will be shown mercy (Matthew
5:7), and, as Jesus warned, “In the same way you judge others, you will be
judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you” (Matthew
Self-righteous judgment is wrong. We are called to humility, and “God
opposes the proud” (James 4:6). The Pharisee in Jesus’ parable of the
Pharisee and the tax collector was confident in his own righteousness and
from that proud position judged the publican; however, God sees the heart
and refused to forgive the Pharisee’s sin (Luke 18:9–14).
Untrue judgment is wrong. The Bible clearly forbids bearing false witness
(Proverbs 19:5). “Slander no one” (Titus 3:2).
Christians are often accused of “judging” or intolerance when they speak out
against sin. But opposing sin is not wrong. Holding aloft the standard of
righteousness naturally defines unrighteousness and draws the slings and
arrows of those who choose sin over godliness. John the Baptist incurred the
ire of Herodias when he spoke out against her adultery with Herod (Mark
6:18–19). She eventually silenced John, but she could not silence the truth
Believers are warned against judging others unfairly or unrighteously, but
Jesus commends “right judgment” (John 7:24, ESV). We are to be discerning
(Colossians 1:9; 1 Thessalonians 5:21). We are to preach the whole counsel
of God, including the Bible’s teaching on sin (Acts 20:27; 2 Timothy 4:2).
We are to gently confront erring brothers or sisters in Christ (Galatians
6:1). We are to practice church discipline (Matthew 18:15–17). We are to
speak the truth in love (Ephesians 4:15).
Recommended Resource: Who Are You to Judge? by Erwin Lutzer
The Battle of Yarmuk: History’s Most Consequential
Raymond Ibrahim 0 Comments/National Review Online/August 20/18
Editor’s Note: The following account is excerpted and adapted from the
author’s new book, Sword and Scimitar: Fourteen Centuries of War between
Islam and the West.
On this date, August 20, in 636, the first major military clash between
Islam and the West was fought. The Battle of Yarmuk is now little
remembered, but its outcome forever changed the face of the world, with
ripples felt even today.
Four years earlier, in 632, the prophet of Islam had died. During his
lifetime, he had managed to rally the Arabs under the banner of Islam. On
his death, some tribes that sought to break away remained Muslim but refused
to pay taxes, or zakat, to the caliph, Abu Bakr, Muhammad’s successor.
Branding them all apostates, the caliph initiated the Ridda (“apostasy”)
Wars, which saw tens of thousands of Arabs beheaded, crucified, or burned
alive. In 633, these wars were over; in 634, so was the life of Abu Bakr. It
would fall to the second caliph, Omar bin al-Khattab (r. 634–44), to direct
the full might of the once feuding Arabs — now one tribe, one umma — against
Almost instantly, thousands of Arabs flooded into Christian Syria,
slaughtering and pillaging. According to Muslim historians, they did that in
the name of jihad — to spread Allah’s rule on earth. Emperor Heraclius, who
had just experienced a decade of war against the Persians, proceeded to
muster his legions and direct them to Syria, to quash these latest upstarts.
Roman forces engaged the invaders in at least two significant battles,
Ajnadayn (in modern-day Israel, in 634) and Marj al-Saffar (south of
Damascus, 635). But “by Allah’s help,” writes Muslim chronicler al-Baladhuri
(d. 892), “the enemies of Allah were routed and shattered into pieces, a
great many being slaughtered.”
Heraclius had no intention of forsaking Syria, for centuries an integral
part of the Roman Empire. He had recently recovered it from the Persians and
was not about to abandon it to the despised Saracens, So, by spring 636, the
emperor had managed to raise a large multiethnic army, recruited from all
over Christendom, according to al-Waqidi (747–823), a Muslim chronicler and
the author of Futuh al-Sham, the only detailed (though often suspect)
account of the Arab conquest of Syria. (Unless otherwise indicated, all
direct quotes that follow are from Futuh and translated by me.) Some 30,000
Christian fighters began their march south. Muslim forces, numbering
approximately 24,000 — with women, slaves, children, camels, and tents in
tow — withdrew from their recently conquered territories and congregated by
the banks of the Yarmuk River in Syria. The landscape was dominated by two
ravines, one along the Yarmuk and the other along the Wadi Ruqqad, each with
a vertical drop of 100 to 200 feet — a deadly prospect for anyone fleeing in
The Arabs dispatched a hurried message to Caliph Omar, complaining that “the
dog of the Romans, Heraclius, has called on us all who bear the cross, and
they have come against us like a swarm of locusts.” Given that “to see
Christendom fall” was Omar’s “delight,” to quote from the Shahnameh, that
“his meat was their humiliation,” and that “his very breathing was their
destruction,” reinforcements were forthcoming.
Heraclius appointed Vahan, an Armenian and a hero of the Persian Wars, as
supreme commander of his united forces. The supreme leader of the Arabs was
Abu Ubaida, but Khalid bin al-Walid, whom Muhammad had dubbed the “Sword of
Allah,” commanded thousands of horsemen and camel riders behind the infantry
and influenced military decisions.
Before battle, Vahan and Khalid met under a flag of truce to negotiate. The
Armenian commander began by diplomatically blaming Arabia’s harsh conditions
and impoverished economy for giving the Arabs no choice but to raid Roman
lands. Accordingly, the empire was pleased to provide them with food and
coin on condition that they return home. “It was not hunger that brought us
here,” Khalid responded coolly, “but we Arabs are in the habit of drinking
blood, and we are told the blood of the Romans is the sweetest of its kind,
so we came to shed your blood and drink it.
Vahan’s diplomatic mask instantly dropped and he launched into a tirade
against the insolent Arab: “So, we thought you came seeking what your
brethren always sought” — plunder, extortion, or mercenary work. “But, alas,
we were wrong. You came killing men, enslaving women, plundering wealth,
destroying buildings, and seeking to drive us from our own lands.” Better
people had tried to do the same but always ended up defeated, added Vahan in
reference to the recent Persian Wars, before continuing:
As for you, there is no lower and more despicable people — wretched,
impoverished Bedouins. . . . You commit injustices in your own nation and
now ours. . . . What havoc you have created! You ride horses not your own
and wear clothes not your own. You pleasure yourselves with the young white
girls of Rome and enslave them. You eat food not your own, and fill your
hands with gold, silver, and valuable goods [not your own]. Now we find you
with all our possessions and the plunder you took from our coreligionists —
and we leave it all to you, neither asking for its return nor rebuking you.
All we ask is that you leave our lands. But if you refuse, we will
The Sword of Allah was not impressed. He began reciting the Koran and
talking about one Muhammad. Vahan listened in quiet exasperation. Khalid
proceeded to call on the Christian general to proclaim the shahada and
thereby embrace Islam, in exchange for peace, adding: “You must also pray,
pay zakat, perform hajj at the sacred house [in Mecca], wage jihad against
those who refuse Allah, . . . befriend those who befriend Allah and oppose
those who oppose Allah,” a reference to the divisive doctrine of al-wala’ wa
al-bara’. “If you refuse, there can only be war between us. . . . And you
will face men who love death as you love life.”
“Do what you like,” responded Vahan. “We will never forsake our religion or
pay you jizya.” Negotiations were over.
Things came to a head, quite literally, when 8,000 Muslims marching before
the Roman camp carried the severed heads of 4,000 Christians mounted atop
their spears. These were the remains of 5,000 reinforcements who had come
from Amman to join the main army at Yarmuk. The Muslims had ambushed and
slaughtered them. Then, as resounding cries of “Allahu akbar” filled the
Muslim camp, those Muslims standing behind the remaining 1,000 Christian
captives knocked them over and proceeded to carve off their heads before the
eyes of their co-religionists, whom Arabic sources describe as looking on in
So it would be war. On the eve of battle, writes historian A. I. Akram, “the
Muslims spent the night in prayer and recitation of the Quran, and reminded
each other of the two blessings that awaited them: either victory and life
or martyrdom and paradise.”
No such titillation awaited the Christians. They were fighting for life,
family, and faith. During his pre-battle speech, Vahan explained that “these
Arabs who stand before you seek to . . . enslave your children and women.”
Another general warned the men to fight hard or else the Arabs “shall
conquer your lands and ravish your women.” Such fears were not unwarranted.
Even as the Romans were kneeling in pre-battle prayer, Arab general Abu
Sufyan was prancing on his war steed, waving his spear, and exhorting the
Muslims to “jihad in the way of Allah,” so that they might seize the
Christians’ “lands and cities, and enslave their children and women.”
The battle took place over the course of six days. (For a more detailed
examination of Yarmuk, see my master’s thesis, 2002, The Battle of Yarmuk:
An Assessment of the Immediate Factors behind the Islamic Conquests.) The
Roman forces initially broke through the Muslim lines and, according to
colorful Muslim sources, would have routed the Arabs if not for their women.
Prior to battle, Abu Sufyan had told these female Arabs that, although “the
prophet said women are lacking in brains and religion” (a reference to a
hadith), they could still help by striking “in the face with stones and tent
poles” any Arab men who retreated from the battle to camp. The women were
urged to persist until the men returned to battle “in shame.”
Sure enough, whenever broken ranks of Muslims fell back, Arab women hurled
stones at them, struck them, and their horses and camels, with poles,
taunting them: “May Allah curse those who run from the enemy! Do you wish to
give us to the Christians? . . . If you do not kill, then you are not our
men.” Abu Sufyan’s wife, Hind, is said to have fought the advancing Romans
while screaming “Cut the extremities [i.e., phalluses] of the uncircumcised
ones!” On witnessing her boldness, the Arab men are said to have turned and
driven back the advancing Romans to their original position.
On the fourth day, the Muslims managed to reverse the tables and advance
against a broken line of retreating Christians. No women were present to
chastise the retreating Romans, and a multitude of archers unleashed volley
after volley on the rushing Arabs. “The arrows rained down on the Muslims. .
. . All one could hear was ‘Ah! My eye!’ In heavy confusion, they grabbed
hold of their reins and retreated.” Some 700 Muslims lost an eye on that
Concerning the sixth and final day of battle, Muslim sources make much of
the heavy infantry of the Roman army’s right flank, referring to its
soldiers as the “mightiest.” These warriors reportedly tied themselves
together with chains, as a show of determination, and swore by “Christ and
the Cross” to fight to the last man. (The Arabs may have mistaken the
remarkably tight Roman phalanx for fetters.) Even Khalid expressed concern
at their show of determination. He ordered the Muslims at the center and
left of the Arab army to bog down the Christians, while he led thousands of
horsemen and camel-fighters round to the Roman left faction, which had
become separated from its cavalry (possibly during an attempt at one of the
complicated “mixed formation” maneuvers recommended in the Strategikon, a
Byzantine military manual).
To make matters worse, a dust storm — something Arabs were accustomed to,
their opponents less so — erupted around this time and caused mass chaos.
The Romans’ large numbers proved counterproductive under such crowded and
chaotic conditions. Now the fiercest and most desperate fighting of the war
ensued. Everywhere, steel clashed, men yelled, horses neighed, camels
bellowed, and sand blew in the face of the confused mass. Unable to maneuver,
most of the Roman cavalry, carrying along a protesting Vahan, broke off and
withdrew to the north.
Realizing that they were alone, the Christian infantry, including the
“chained men,” maintained formation and withdrew westward, to the only space
open to them. They were soon trapped between an Islamic hammer and anvil: A
crescent of Arabs spreading from north to south continued closing in on them
from the east, while a semicircle of the Wadi Ruqqad’s precipitous ravines
lay before the Christians to the west. (Khalid had already captured the only
bridge across the wadi.)
As darkness descended on this volatile corner of the world, the final phase
of war played out on the evening of August 20. The Arabs, whose night vision
was honed by desert life, charged the trapped Romans, who, according to al-Waqidi
and other Muslim historians, fought valiantly. The historian Antonio
Santosuosso writes that
soon the terrain echoed with the terrifying din of Muslim shouts and battle
cries. Shadows suddenly changed into blades that penetrated flesh. The wind
brought the cries of comrades as the enemy stealthily penetrated the ranks
among the infernal noise of cymbals, drums, and battle cries. It must have
been even more terrifying because they had not expected the Muslims to
attack by dark.
Muslim cavalrymen continued pressing on the crowded and blinded Roman
infantry, using the hooves and knees of their steeds to knock down the
wearied fighters. Pushed finally to the edge of the ravine, rank after rank
of the remaining forces of the imperial army, including all of the “chained
men,” fell down the steep precipices to their death. Other soldiers knelt,
uttered a prayer, made the sign of the cross, and waited for the onrushing
Muslims to strike them down. No prisoners were taken on that day. “The
Byzantine army, which Heraclius had spent a year of immense exertion to
collect, had entirely ceased to exist,” writes British lieutenant-general
and historian John Bagot Glubb. “There was no withdrawal, no rearguard
action, no nucleus of survivors. There was nothing left.”
As the moon filled the night sky and the victors stripped the slain, cries
of “Allahu akbar!” and “There is no god but Allah and Muhammad is his
messenger” rang throughout the Yarmuk valley.
Following this decisive Muslim victory, the way was left wide open for the
domino-like Arab conquests of the seventh century. “Such a revolution had
never been,” remarks historian Hilaire Belloc. “No earlier attack had been
so sudden, so violent, or so permanently successful. Within a score of years
from the first assault in 634 [at the Battle of Ajnadayn], the Christian
Levant had gone: Syria, the cradle of the Faith, and Egypt with Alexandria,
the mighty Christian See.”
Without the power of hindsight afforded to historians living more than a
millennium after the fact, even Anastasius of Sinai, who witnessed Muslim
forces overrun his Egyptian homeland four years after Yarmuk, testified to
the decisiveness of the battle by referring to it as “the first terrible and
incurable fall of the Roman army.” “I am speaking of the bloodshed at Yarmuk,
. . . after which occurred the capture and burning of the cities of
Palestine, even Caesarea and Jerusalem. After the destruction of Egypt there
followed the enslavement and incurable devastation of the Mediterranean
lands and islands.”
Indeed, mere decades after Yarmuk, all ancient Christian lands between
Greater Syria to the east and Mauretania (encompassing parts of present-day
Algeria and Morocco) to the west — nearly 4,000 miles — had been conquered
by Islam. Put differently: Two-thirds of Christendom’s original, older, and
wealthier territory was permanently swallowed up by Islam. (Eventually, and
thanks to the later Turks, “Muslim armies conquered three-quarters of the
Christian world,” to quote historian Thomas Madden.)
But unlike the Germanic barbarians who invaded and conquered Europe in the
preceding centuries, only to assimilate into the Christian religion,
culture, and civilization and adopt its languages, Latin and Greek, the
Arabs imposed their creed and language onto the conquered peoples so that,
whereas the “Arabs” were once limited to the Arabian Peninsula, today the
“Arab world” consists of some 22 nations across the Middle East and North
This would not be the case, and the world would have developed in a
radically different way, had the Eastern Roman Empire defeated the invaders
and sent them reeling back to Arabia. Little wonder that historians such as
Francesco Gabrieli hold that “the battle of the Yarmuk had, without doubt,
more important consequences than almost any other in all world history.”
It bears noting that if most Westerners today are ignorant of that encounter
and its ramifications, they are even more oblivious as to how Yarmuk
continues to serve as a model of inspiration for modern-day jihadis (who, we
are regularly informed, are “psychotic criminals” who have “nothing to do
with Islam”). As the alert reader may have noticed, the continuity between
the words and deeds of the Islamic State (ISIS) and those of its
predecessors from nearly 1,400 years ago are eerily similar. This of course
is intentional. When ISIS proclaims that “American blood is best and we will
taste it soon,” or “We love death as you love life,” or “We will break your
crosses and enslave your women,” they are quoting verbatim — and thereby
placing themselves in the footsteps of — Khalid bin al-Walid and his
companions, the original Islamic conquerors of Syria.
Indeed, the cultivated parallels are many. ISIS’s black flag is
intentionally patterned after Khalid’s black flag. Its invocation of the
houris, Islam’s celestial sex-slaves promised to martyrs, is based on
anecdotes of Muslims dying by the Yarmuk River and being welcomed into
paradise by the houris. And the choreographed ritual slaughter of
“infidels,” most infamously of 21 Coptic Christians on the shores of Libya,
is patterned after the ritual slaughter of 1,000 captured Roman soldiers on
the eve of the Battle of Yarmuk.
Here, then, is a reminder that, when it comes to the military history of
Islam and the West, the lessons imparted are far from academic and have
relevance to this day — at least for the jihadis.
*Raymond Ibrahim is the author of SWORD AND SCIMITAR: Fourteen Centuries of
War between Islam and the West.