Detailed Daily Lebanese & Lebanese Related LCCC English New Bulletin For August 28/2018
Compiled & Prepared by: Elias Bejjani

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Bible Quotations
False Teachers and Their Destruction
The Bible: 2 Peter 2/But there were also false prophets among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you. They will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the sovereign Lord who bought them—bringing swift destruction on themselves.  Many will follow their depraved conduct and will bring the way of truth into disrepute.  In their greed these teachers will exploit you with fabricated stories. Their condemnation has long been hanging over them, and their destruction has not been sleeping.  For if God did not spare angels when they sinned, but sent them to hell,[a] putting them in chains of darkness[b] to be held for judgment;  if he did not spare the ancient world when he brought the flood on its ungodly people, but protected Noah, a preacher of righteousness, and seven others;  if he condemned the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah by burning them to ashes, and made them an example of what is going to happen to the ungodly; and if he rescued Lot, a righteous man, who was distressed by the depraved conduct of the lawless  (for that righteous man, living among them day after day, was tormented in his righteous soul by the lawless deeds he saw and heard)—  if this is so, then the Lord knows how to rescue the godly from trials and to hold the unrighteous for punishment on the day of judgment.  This is especially true of those who follow the corrupt desire of the flesh[c] and despise authority. Bold and arrogant, they are not afraid to heap abuse on celestial beings;  yet even angels, although they are stronger and more powerful, do not heap abuse on such beings when bringing judgment on them from[d] the Lord. 12 But these people blaspheme in matters they do not understand. They are like unreasoning animals, creatures of instinct, born only to be caught and destroyed, and like animals they too will perish.  They will be paid back with harm for the harm they have done. Their idea of pleasure is to carouse in broad daylight. They are blots and blemishes, reveling in their pleasures while they feast with you.[e] With eyes full of adultery, they never stop sinning; they seduce the unstable; they are experts in greed—an accursed brood!  They have left the straight way and wandered off to follow the way of Balaam son of Bezer,[f] who loved the wages of wickedness.  But he was rebuked for his wrongdoing by a donkey—an animal without speech—who spoke with a human voice and restrained the prophet’s madness. These people are springs without water and mists driven by a storm. Blackest darkness is reserved for them.  For they mouth empty, boastful words and, by appealing to the lustful desires of the flesh, they entice people who are just escaping from those who live in error. They promise them freedom, while they themselves are slaves of depravity—for “people are slaves to whatever has mastered them.” 0 If they have escaped the corruption of the world by knowing our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and are again entangled in it and are overcome, they are worse off at the end than they were at the beginning.  It would have been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than to have known it and then to turn their backs on the sacred command that was passed on to them.  Of them the proverbs are true: “A dog returns to its vomit,”[g] and, “A sow that is washed returns to her wallowing in the mud.”""

نشرات اخبار عربية وانكليزية مطولة ومفصلة يومية على موقعنا الألكتروني على الرابط التالي

Daily Lebanese/Arabic - English news bulletins on our LCCC web site.Click on the link below

Titles For The Latest LCCC Bulletin analysis & editorials from miscellaneous sources published on August 27-28/18
Cabinet deadlock enters third month as pressure mounts/Georgi Azar/Annahar/August 27/18
Salam withdraws election appeal amid "pressure on PM"/Georgi Azar/Annahar/August 27/18
Analysis/How the Saudis Made Canada the Loneliest Country in the World/Zvi Bar'el/Haaretz/August 27/18
US Aid, Palestinian Wakaha/Bassam Tawil/Gatestone Institute/August 27/2018
Democracy Needs the Press as the ‘Opposition Party/Noah Feldman/Bloomberg/August 27/18
Don’t Forget the Tsar’s Number/Ghassan Charbel/Asharq Al Awsat/August 27/18
Trump and his Arab and Iranian rivals/Abdulrahman al-Rashed/Al Arabiya/August 27/18
The Last American Statesman: McCain/Walid Jawad/Al Arabiya/August 27/18
Iraq and the new Ottoman Janissaries/Mashari Althaydi/Al Arabiya/August 27/18
US would like better relations with Turkey, but it is not a necessity/Ellen R. Wald/Arab News/August 27/18

Titles For The Latest LCCC Lebanese Related News published on August 27-28/18
Aoun says Hariri can form Cabinet if he follows set criteria: Reports
Report: Lebanese President Says Hariri ‘Confused’ in Govt. Formation
Aoun receives letter from Rwandan President
Berri meets Walid and Taymour Jumblatt
Bassil meets with Papierz, Mushikiwabo
MP alKhalil discusses parliamentary cooperation with Swiss President
Yemen Files Complaint at Security Council against ‘Hezbollah’
KSA Ambassador: Over 20 Agreements to Be Signed with Lebanon After Govt Formation
'Don't Play with Justice', Mustaqbal Tells Nasrallah
Jumblat: Domestic Challenges as Important as STL, if Not More So
Aoun Meets Swiss President, Urges Hariri to 'Take Initiative'
Report: No STL Ruling in Sept., Nasrallah Speech Reflects ‘Uneasiness’ with Tribunal
Khalil Announces Solution to Housing Loans Crisis
Berri Calls for Joint Parliamentary Committee Meeting
Geagea: Govt. Obstruction an Attempt to Curtail LF
Aoun waiting for Hariri's Cabinet lineup
Cabinet deadlock enters third month as pressure mounts
Salam withdraws election appeal amid "pressure on PM"

Titles For The Latest LCCC Bulletin For Miscellaneous Reports And News published on August 27-28/18
Syrian Observatory: Russia Justifies Regime Offensive on Idlib by Promoting Chemical Attack Claim
Israeli Intelligence Minister Calls for ‘Civilian Separation’ from Gaza
Erdogan: ‘We Will Bring Peace and Safety to Syria, Iraq’
ISIS Claims Responsibility for Libya Checkpoint Attack, GNA Arrests Perpetrators
ISIS Claims Arish Terror Attack in Egypt
Macron Says Assad Staying in Power would be 'Grotesque Error'
Iran Urges UN Court to Halt 'Economic' Strangulation by US
Iran, Syria Sign Defense, Reconstruction Deal
Saudi-Led Coalition Accuses U.N. of Bias in Yemen
Iran, Russia, Turkey to Hold Syria Summit Next Week,Turkish TV
Canada Holds Firm in Human Rights Dispute with Saudi Arabia
Israel Reopens People Crossing with Gaza Strip
Iran Student Gets 7 Years for Taking Part in Protest
Turkish Lira Tumbles as Volatility Returns After Holiday Week
The Latest LCCC Lebanese Related News published on August 27-28/18
Aoun says Hariri can form Cabinet if he follows set criteria: Reports
The Daily Star/August 27/18/BEIRUT: President Michel Aoun said in comments published Monday that Prime Minister-designate Saad Hariri can come up with a Cabinet lineup that suits all political parties if he follows a unified criteria for the allotment of ministerial seats in the government-formation process. “President Aoun stressed that Hariri is capable of finalizing a Cabinet lineup that satisfies everyone if he uses one criterion,” Saudi-owned Asharq al-Awsat newspaper quoted Aoun as saying to visitors at Baabda Palace. “At the end, we can work for Lebanon’s interests without [compromising] the interests of any country or side.” Aoun, according to the paper, said that he generally doesn’t interfere in what the premier-designate is doing, but that he had two requests for Hariri: to use a unified standard in the government and not to dismiss any side in the formation process. He was referring to repeated calls for a Cabinet that reflects the results of the May 6 parliamentary elections. Aoun’s comments come as the government formation has entered its third month of deadlock. Hariri, who was tasked with forming the government following May's elections, has been stymied in his attempts as he has struggled to meet competing demands from various political sides. The obstacles to government formation have centered on the issue of representation in the next Cabinet. They have included the dispute between the Lebanese Forces and the Free Patriotic Movement over the allocation of Christian seats, the question of Sunni representation from outside the Future Movement, and the Druze dispute between Progressive Socialist Party head Walid Joumblatt and his rival, MP Talal Arslan. The latter two have been all but resolved, while the wrangling between the LF and the FPM continues. Those who visited Aoun, the paper noted, said the president expressed his surprise that some parties wanted a Cabinet share bigger than their size “at the expense of others.” With no breakthrough in sight, the president is said to be planning to a series of proposals that would help resolve the government formation crisis. This comes after recent reports that Aoun may eventually move to revoke Hariri’s designation. Nevertheless, according to Asharq Al-Awsat, Aoun said that he didn’t want to go into detail about such a potential action at the time being. “The five-to-six-month period [for the formation] might be an acceptable time, but the country can’t be kept in this situation much longer,” Aoun said.

Report: Lebanese President Says Hariri ‘Confused’ in Govt. Formation

Beirut - Thaer Abbas/Asharq Al Awsat/Monday, 27 August, 2018/President Michel Aoun sees that Prime Minister-designate Saad Hariri is “confused” in handling the issue of the cabinet formation. The president’s visitors told Asharq Al-Awsat on Sunday that Aoun was not interfering in Hariri’s mission, but he had asked the PM-designate only two things: First, to adopt unified norms in the cabinet formation and, second, keep no party outside the process. Aoun’s visitors denied the presence of any problem between the two men. “I like him very much,” Aoun was quoted as saying when speaking about Hariri. “Even when we had disputes in the past, I did not target him at the personal level and we have been in continuous touch,” the president said. Aoun explained that in politics, he had no enemies. Asked whether he was discussing withdrawing the designation of Hariri from forming a government, he was quoted as saying that he does not currently wish to discuss the matter. “A period of five to six months might be acceptable to form the cabinet. However, we cannot leave the country without a government for a longer time. There are jurisprudences in this regard,” the sources said. The president also expressed surprise at the demands of some Lebanese politicians who are trying to take more than their fair share in the government formation. Visitors quoted Aoun as saying that the last parliamentary elections had revealed the size of each party, adding that “the main problem is that some officials want to take more than the size of their actual representation at the expense of others.”
Aoun receives letter from Rwandan President
Mon 27 Aug 2018/NNA - President Michel Aoun welcomed at Baabda palace on Monday, the Foreign Minister of Rwanda, Louise Mushikiwabo, who conveyed to him a letter from his Rwandan counterpart Paul Kagame, hereby highlighting the strong ties between the two countries. The letter also included Kagame's request upon Lebanon to back Minister Mishikiwabo's candidacy to the post of the General Secretary of the International Organization of La Francophonie. During the meeting, Aoun extolled the role assumed by the International Organization of La Francophonie and that of Lebanon in spreading francophone values in its neighborhood. "Lebanon has presented its candidacy to host a regional Francophonie office in the Middle East. In case it is approved, this office will be the first in the region," he said. He also highlighted Lebanon's wish to become an international dialogue center for cultures, civilizations, and religions.

Berri meets Walid and Taymour Jumblatt
Mon 27 Aug 2018/NNA - Speaker of the House, Nabih Berri, is currently meeting at his Ain-el-Tineh residence, with the Democratic Gathering's head, Walid Jumblatt, accompanied by his son MP Taymour Jumbatt and former minister Ghazi Aridi, in presence of Caretaker Finance Minister Ali Hassan Khalil, National News Agency correspondent reported on Monday.

Bassil meets with Papierz, Mushikiwabo
Mon 27 Aug 2018/NNA - Caretaker Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil, on Monday welcomed at Villa Boustros Polish Deputy Foreign Minister, Plenipotentiary Minister, Andrezej Papierz, accompanied by Foreign Intelligence Chief, Piotr Krawczyk. Talks reportedly touched on the Polish proposal to fund the repatriation of 100 displaced Syrian families from Lebanon to their country. The Lebanese side welcomed the Polish repatriation funding proposal, and suggested the idea of providing prefabricated houses that could be easily manufactured and installed in the safe areas of Syria. The Foreign Ministry lauded the Polish proposal as a positive initiative by a European country that deals with the issue of displacement in a realistic way away from political calculations, and sets as a role model for countries wishing to achieve a safe and dignified return for refugees. On the other hand, Minister Bassil received Rwandan Foreign Affairs Minister, Louise Mushikiwabo, who briefed him on her candidacy for the Secretary General post at International Organization of La Francophonie (OIF). Minister Mushikiwabo said that talks also dwelt on the importance of supporting young people, not only in terms of securing job opportunities but also reinforcing sense of belonging.

MP alKhalil discusses parliamentary cooperation with Swiss President
Mon 27 Aug 2018/NNA - Head of the Lebanese-Swiss Friendship Committee, MP Anwar al-Khalil, visited President of the Swiss Confederation, Alain Berset, at his stay residence on Monday, and discussed with him the means to bolster the joint parliamentary cooperation.
Speaking to reporters following the meeting, MP al-Khalil indicated that Berset had notified him that the cooperation ties would be activated.

Yemen Files Complaint at Security Council against ‘Hezbollah’
New York, Riyadh – Asharq Al-Awsat/Monday, 27 August, 2018/The Yemeni government filed a complaint to the United Nations Security Council against the Iran-backed Lebanese “Hezbollah” party over its meddling in its internal affairs, reported It said that the Iran-backed Houthi militias were being ordered by “Hezbollah” to hinder the UN-sponsored Geneva talks set for September 6. The complaint referred to a recent speech by “Hezbollah” chief Hassan Nasrallah on June 29 in which he announced that his party members hope to fight in Yemen alongside the Houthis. The government urged the Security Council to investigate “Hezbollah’s” meddling in Yemen. On Saturday, Saudi air defenses intercepted and destroyed a ballistic missile fired by the Houthis against the Kingdom. Saudi-led Arab coalition spokesman Colonel Turki al-Maliki said that the missile was launched at the Najran region and deliberately directed at residential areas. The air defenses destroyed the missile and no one was injured in the incident, he added. This brings the total number of rockets fired by the Houthis against the Kingdom to 181, he remarked.

KSA Ambassador: Over 20 Agreements to Be Signed with Lebanon After Govt Formation
Beirut- Asharq Al Awsat/Monday, 27 August, 2018/The Saudi Charge d'Affaires, Walid Al-Bukhari, said on Saturday that more than 20 project agreements have been drafted, pending the new government’s formation for signature. Bukhari hoped for a “qualitative leap” in bilateral relations following the new cabinet formation, saying: “The Saudi Kingdom is keen on promoting its relations with Lebanon in various fields, with the Lebanese best interests at heart.” He added that his country was seeking to strengthen “the finest relations with Lebanon based on mutual respect and joint benefits, and hopes for stability and a flourishing future for Lebanon."Bukhari's words came during a luncheon banquet held in his honor by the Lebanese-Saudi Business Council in Beirut, in presence of political officials and prominent dignitaries. For his part, the head of the Saudi-Lebanese Business Council Raouf Abu Zaki wished the return of Gulf tourists to Lebanon as soon as possible. “The timing of this meeting evokes the time when our Gulf and Arab brothers were vacationing in Lebanon,” he said. “It is time to restore the full natural relations; enough missing opportunities. The return of tourism, investment and economic growth is beneficial to all,” he added. Abu Zaki went on to say: “The Kingdom is witnessing many changes. Its program offers giant projects that will create jobs for all.”He also emphasized the opportunities in the programs approved within the CEDRE Conference, highlighting the prospects of Saudi investments in this regard.
'Don't Play with Justice', Mustaqbal Tells Nasrallah
Naharnet/August 27/18/Al-Mustaqbal Movement sources have snapped back at Hizbullah chief Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah over his latest remarks on the Special Tribunal for Lebanon. Nasrallah's statement "don't play with fire" in his Sunday speech was “unfortunate because it reminded the Lebanese of the atmosphere of the May 7,” 2008 incidents, LBCI TV quoted the Mustaqbal sources as saying. “Al-Mustaqbal Movement's arena is the arena of justice and law, not the arena of civil war, and the movement will only tell Sayyed Nasrallah a few words: don't play with justice,” the sources added. Nasrallah on Sunday warned parties allegedly “betting on the STL” against what he called “playing with fire.”“Some March 14 circles are saying that the main reason behind delaying the formation of the government is that the Special Tribunal for Lebanon will issue its ruling in September and that there will be a new situation in the country to capitalize on,” Nasrallah said. “The STL does not mean anything to us at all and its rulings are of no value regardless whether they are condemnation or acquittal rulings,” he added. “To those betting on the tribunal: do not play with fire. Period,” Nasrallah warned. The STL Trial Chamber has scheduled oral closing arguments in the Rafik Hariri assassination case for the period between Sep. 11 and Sep. 21. Four Hizbullah operatives are being tried in absentia over their alleged role in the killing. The STL Prosecution has recently submitted a “Final Trial Brief” that explains the links between Hizbullah and the supposed assassination squads and draws attention to meetings and phone calls between senior Hizbullah and Syrian officials prior to the February 2005 attack.
Jumblat: Domestic Challenges as Important as STL, if Not More So
Naharnet/August 27/18/Progressive Socialist Party leader Walid Jumblat pointed out Monday that the country's domestic challenges could be “more important” than any developments related to the Special Tribunal for Lebanon. “The STL is existent and the government is financing this tribunal. The court has condemned individuals and history cannot stop because of these individuals. The domestic financial challenges are as important as the STL, if not more so,” Jumblat said when asked whether there is a link between the delay in the Cabinet formation process and any expected developments related to the STL. Jumblat was speaking to reporters after meeting Speaker Nabih Berri in Ain el-Tineh. The STL is trying four Hizbullah operatives in absentia over the 2005 assassination of ex-PM Rafik Hariri. The STL's prosecution has described the group's slain military commander Mustafa Badreddine as “the leader of the three-man team that coordinated the attack.” Separately, Jumblat stressed that there is no “Druze obstacle” blocking the formation of the new government. “There is no Druze obstacle. We're the ones who won the elections, unless we want to repeat the elections,” the Druze leader told reporters. “We must quickly overcome the governmental crisis because the economic situation cannot withstand further delay. Caretaker Finance Minister Ali Hassan Khalil has put us in the picture of scary facts,” Jumblat said. As for the demands of the Lebanese Forces, the PSP leader said: “The deputy premier post does not actually exist but the LF's demands are justified within the framework of a national unity government.”

Aoun Meets Swiss President, Urges Hariri to 'Take Initiative'
Naharnet/August 27/18/President Michel Aoun on Monday urged Prime Minister-designate Saad Hariri to “take the initiative” regarding the stalled Cabinet formation process. “Pluralism creates problems during the formation process. We are listening to the demands and seeking to create consensus,” Aoun said at a joint press conference with visiting Swiss leader Alain Berset at the Presidential Palace in Baabda. “PM-designate Hariri has explored all the demands and stances and he is the one who will form this government, whereas the president's jurisdiction it to approve and sign. That's why the PM-designate must take the initiative and begin forming the government,” Aoun added. He also noted that the new government should properly reflect the representation of political parties. “Lebanon welcomes the Russian initiative as for the return of Syrian refugees to safe areas in their country. I asked the Swiss president to support this step and to not link it to a political solution in Syria,” he added. For his part, Berset said: “We are well aware of the challenges that have been facing Lebanon because of the war in Syria. We fully support this country as it faces a difficult phase.”Berset, accompanied by his wife and heading a Swiss delegation, had arrived in Beirut on Sunday. He is is expected to later hold talks with senior Lebanese officials during his official trip. Media reports said the visit aims to strengthen relations at various levels between Lebanon and Switzerland's seven-member Federal Council, the country's executive branch, which Berset heads. “It comes in the framework of preparations for a series of cooperation agreements between the two countries,” reports said.

Report: No STL Ruling in Sept., Nasrallah Speech Reflects ‘Uneasiness’ with Tribunal
Naharnet/August 27/18/The Special Tribunal for Lebanon “will not issue a ruling in September” as circulated in media outlets, and the remarks made by Hizbullah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah about the court “reflect his uneasiness” with its outcome, al-Joumhouria daily reported on Monday. “The STL will not issue a ruling in September. The fact that Hizbullah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah has raised the issue (during his latest speech) shows how distressed he is by the STL,” ministerial sources told the daily on condition of anonymity. They added that Nasrallah’s remarks reflects the “extent of his annoyance” with the Special Tribunal for Lebanon, established to try the accused in the 2005 assassination case of former PM Rafik Hariri.They expressed surprise that he raised the issue “because it was not mentioned, not as an incentive nor as an obstacle, in the discussions tackling the formation of the government,” they told the daily. They assured that the discussions between political parties and officials in order to lineup a government have never mentioned the STL. “All through the Cabinet formation process, no one has presented the STL as an obstacle hampering its path. The STL has a continuous course in The Hague, whether it means something to some or not,” they stressed. On Sunday, Nasrallah said “some March 14 circles are saying that the main reason behind delaying the formation of the government is that the Special Tribunal for Lebanon will issue its ruling in September and that there will be a new situation in the country to capitalize on.”“The STL does not mean anything to us at all and its rulings are of no value regardless whether they are condemnation or acquittal rulings.To those betting on the tribunal: do not play with fire. Period,” Nasrallah warned. The STL Trial Chamber has scheduled oral closing arguments in the Rafik Hariri assassination case for the period between Sep. 11 and Sep. 21. Four Hizbullah operatives are being tried in absentia over their alleged role in the killing. The STL Prosecution has recently submitted a “Final Trial Brief” that explains the links between Hizbullah and the supposed assassination squads and draws attention to meetings and phone calls between senior Hizbullah and Syrian officials prior to the February 2005 attack.

Khalil Announces Solution to Housing Loans Crisis
Naharnet/August 27/18/Caretaker Finance Minister Ali Hassan Khalil on Monday promised a solution to the ongoing housing loans crisis. During a meeting with Rony Lahoud, the director general of the Public Corporation for Housing, Khalil said the ministry has agreed to pay the controversial mortgage interest increase for new loans. “Efforts are underway to prepare the legal mechanisms related to this approval as soon as possible,” Khalil added. Khalil and Lahoud also discussed the “proposed formulas” for the mechanism in order to “resolve the housing loans crisis,” the National News Agency said. The central bank has recently issued a memo revising loan interests backed by it as the housing bank sharply toughened its lending terms. According to reports, the housing bank raised the interest rate from 3% to 3.75% as it lowered the payment period from 30 to 20 years. The interest rate for Lebanese expats was meanwhile raised from 2% to 2.75% with an unchanged 30-year payment period. Under the new reported terms, the bank would also withhold loans from anyone who inherits a house outside Beirut and anyone who benefited from a housing bank loan in the

Berri Calls for Joint Parliamentary Committee Meeting

Naharnet/August 27/18/Speaker Nabih has called the joint parliamentary committees for a meeting on Thursday, media reports said Monday. The meeting will be held at 10:30 a.m. to continue the discussions of the draft laws. The meeting at the parliament will gather the committees of National Defense and Interior; Finance and Budget; Higher Education and Culture; Public Health, Labor and Social Affairs; Agriculture and Tourism; Environment; National Economy, Trade, Industry and Planning; and Public Works, Transport, Energy and Water.

Geagea: Govt. Obstruction an Attempt to Curtail LF

Naharnet/August 27/18/Lebanese Forces leader Samir Geagea noted Monday that some parties are “obstructing” the formation of the new government in an attempt to “curtail” the LF. “It is lamentable that some parties are continuing to obstruct the formation of the government and the interests of the country and its citizens for the sole reason of attempting to curtail the Lebanese Forces,” Geagea tweeted. The LF is demanding to get five seats in the new government in light of the gains it made in the latest parliamentary elections while the Progressive Socialist Party is demanding three seats. The Free Patriotic Movement is opposing the demands of the two parties. Some parties, such as Hizbullah and the FPM, have meanwhile suggested that foreign countries, especially Saudi Arabia, are behind the ongoing delay.

Aoun waiting for Hariri's Cabinet lineup
The Daily Star/August 27/18/BEIRUT: President Michel Aoun said Monday in a joint news conference with his Swiss counterpart, Alain Berset, that he is waiting for Prime Minister-designate to present him with a Cabinet lineup. Aoun’s remarks came in response to a question on the government formation. Political and sectarian “diversity creates a problem when it comes to the formation [of a Cabinet]. We listen to the demands, and we aim to create agreement,” Aoun said. “Premier[-designate] Hariri [is now familiar] with all the demands and positions, and he will form the Cabinet, while the president’s prerogative is to agree and sign [it]. So the designated premier should take the initiative and go ahead with the formation.”Aoun’s comment comes as the government formation has recently entered its third month of deadlock. Hariri, who was tasked with forming the government following May's elections, has been stymied in his attempts as he has struggled to meet competing demands from various political sides. The obstacles to government formation have centered on the issue of representation in the next Cabinet. They have included the dispute between the Lebanese Forces and the Free Patriotic Movement over the allocation of Christian seats, the question of Sunni representation from outside the Future Movement, and the Druze dispute between Progressive Socialist Party head Walid Joumblatt and his rival, MP Talal Arslan. The latter two have been all but resolved, while the wrangling between the LF and the FPM continues.

Cabinet deadlock enters third month as pressure mounts
Georgi Azar/Annahar/August 27/18
Aoun's comments came during a news conference alongside his Swiss counterpart, Alain Berset, during which he assured that Hariri is now "familiar" with the demands of each bloc.
BEIRUT: With Lebanon's government formation entering its third month of deadlock, President Michel Aoun maintained Monday that he is awaiting a Cabinet lineup from Prime Minister-designate Saad Hariri. Aoun's comments came during a news conference alongside his Swiss counterpart, Alain Berset, during which he assured that Hariri is now "familiar" with the demands of each bloc. "The designated premier should take the initiative and form the Cabinet" before "I sign off on it," Aoun said. One of the stumbling blocks hindering the formation of the Cabinet is Progressive Socialist Party leader Walid Jumblatt's insistence on naming the three Druze ministers, casting aside his rival and Lebanese Democratic Party leader Talal Arslan, stemming from the PSP securing all except one of the nine Druze seats in Parliament. Jumblatt held talks with House Speaker Nabih Berri at the latter's Ein El Tineh residence in Beirut Monday, with discussions focusing on the government formation, which has failed to come to fruition ever since Cabinet entered its caretaker mode on May 21. Following his meeting, Jumblatt reiterated the need to form a swift government to lift "the country from its economic slump."The ongoing Syrian refugee crisis has taken its toll on Lebanon's economy, with over 1.5 million displaced scattered across its territory according to authorities. Lebanese politicians have continuously called for their return to areas deemed safe, with Aoun stressing once the again that the repatriation effort "should not be tied to a political resolution of the conflict."Russia has taken a leading role in paving the way for refugees to depart Lebanon, forming a joint Lebanese-Russian commitee to establish a number of centers in refugee-populated areas. "We welcome Russia's initiative," Aoun said. Meanwhile, the European Union threw its support behind Lebanon's call for the mandate renewal the United Nations peacekeeping forces in Lebanon with EU High Representative of Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Federica Mogherini underscoring the important role it plays. The 10,500-strong United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon has been stationed along the southern border since 1978 when it was charged with confirming the withdrawal of Israeli forces from a demilitarized zone between the two countries.

Salam withdraws election appeal amid "pressure on PM"
Georgi Azar/Annahar/August 27/18
Salam ran against Prime Minister-designate Saad Hariri in Beirut's second district as part of the Beirut al-Watan which he headed before submitting an appeal citing irregularities in the electoral process.
BEIRUT: Salah Salam, who unsuccessfully ran in this year’s parliamentary elections, withdrew Monday his appeal in front of the Constitutional Council in light of the "political campaigns aimed at undermining the position of the Prime Minister."
Salam ran against Prime Minister-designate Saad Hariri in Beirut's second district as part of the Beirut al-Watan list which he headed before challenging the results citing irregularities in the electoral process. A total of six appeals were presented in Beirut II.
Salam said that he revoked his appeal to "safeguard the Suuni post of Prime Minister under the Taef accord:", and avoid any unnecessary divisions within his community. "In response to the wishes and positions of the people of Beirut and the efforts of its activists to maintain unity at this critical stage, I hereby withdraw my appeal."Under the Taef accord, which ended Lebanon's bloody civil war in 1990, certain powers were transferred away from the Presidency, reserved for Maronites, and vested it in a Cabinet equally divided between the Muslims and Christians; while Sunnis retained the post of Prime Minister and Shiites that of the House Speaker.
Hariri was tasked with forming a new Cabinet shortly after the conclusion of the parliamentary elections on May 6, but has faced immense pressure while juggling the demands of the country's opposing parties. The Lebanese Forces and Gebran Bassil's Free Patriotic Movement have been at loggerheads over their respective shares of ministerial posts, with Hariri steadfast in his opposition to grant any coalition veto power - the equivalent of 10 posts - in a Cabinet of 30 ministers. The FPM and their allies are seeking 11 ministries including those of the President, essentially granting them the much sought after veto power in a 30-member Cabinet, with the LF reportedly rejecting a package of four ministries, demanding either the deputy premier post or a sovereign portfolio. The Free Patriotic Movement and its allies secured 29 MPs while the Lebanese Forces captured 15 seats in the 128 member parliament. Another factor is Saudi Arabia's alleged pressure on Hariri to delay the formation of Cabinet pending a shift in the regional power dynamics that would tip the local power balance in favor of the pro-Saudi camp, in a bid to downsize the share of Hezbollah and its allies in the government.

The Latest LCCC Bulletin For Miscellaneous Reports And News published on August 27-28/18
Syrian Observatory: Russia Justifies Regime Offensive on Idlib by Promoting Chemical Attack Claim
London - Asharq Al-Awsat/Monday, 27 August, 2018/Recent Russian warnings of an imminent chemical attack in opposition-held Idlib were aimed at justifying the military operation that the Syrian regime has been preparing for, said the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. The Britain-based rights monitor added that Russia has promoted and fabricated these lies through its media outlets and its ministry of defense. It noted the regime’s weeks-long buildup of vehicles, forces and fortifications in an anticipation for the announcement of the imminent offensive. These preparations have sparked fear among the citizens in the Idlib province, said the Observatory. Over the weekend, the Russian Defense Ministry said it monitored the delivery of “eight chlorine tanks” to a village located eight kilometers from Idlib’s Jisr al-Shughur town in order to “stage” a chemical attack. Reliable sources confirmed to the Observatory that the shipments reported by Russia were shipments that are periodically sent to water purification plants and pumping stations to sterilize water.

Israeli Intelligence Minister Calls for ‘Civilian Separation’ from Gaza
Ramallah – Asharq Al-Awsat/Monday, 27 August, 2018/Israeli Intelligence Yisrael Katz criticized on Sunday Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman for saying that he has “nothing to do” with any talks on a long-term ceasefire agreement with Hamas in Gaza. He claimed Lieberman is being untruthful about not being involved in truce talks with the Palestinian group. Katz said on a radio show that the defense minister said he is not involved in the truce and “all Israeli citizens should feel bad if that is the announcement that was made. The issue of Gaza requires thought and decisions.”He indicated that he does not need to leak from cabinet meetings that the defense minister is involved in what’s happening, asserting: “Of course he’s involved.” Katz called for a strategic decision on how to relinquish civil responsibility for Gaza. He noted that the security cabinet has not heard a single proposal to overthrow Hamas for the last three years. On Friday, speaking during a visit to Israeli communities in the Gaza periphery, Lieberman said he is not involved with and does not believe in an accord with Hamas.“I’m not involved in the issue of an accord, I don’t believe in it. The only accord is the reality on the ground.”Lieberman’s denial also appeared to contradict the assertions of Education Minister Naftali Bennett, who heavily criticized the defense minister for what he has seen as a faulty strategy in Gaza and has vowed to oppose any accord with Hamas. Lieberman said that Israel would do all it takes to ensure calm for communities near Gaza.“First and foremost we want calm on the security front. If we decide there’s no choice and we need to launch a military operation, we’ll do what needs to be done. We’ll set the time and we’ll set the terms.”Lieberman noted that the Palestinian group’s main goal is the destruction of Israel, so “I don’t think we have anything to talk about with Hamas. The only thing we’re saying through the Egyptians and through others and they understand this [is] there will be no movement and no new agreements…until there is a solution on the captives and missing persons.”Egypt, which is working to resume the talks between the Palestinian Authority and Israel, is trying to persuade Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to participate. However, Abbas is unhappy with the agreement between Israel and Hamas because he sees in them their approval of the United States’ so-called “deal of the century.”

Erdogan: ‘We Will Bring Peace and Safety to Syria, Iraq’
London-/Asharq Al Awsat/Monday, 27 August, 2018/Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan vowed on Sunday to bring peace and safety to Iraq and areas in Syria not under Turkish control and said terrorist organizations in those areas would be eliminated.Turkey, which has backed some rebel groups in Syria, has been working with Russia, which supports Head of the Syrian regime Bashar al-Assad, and Iran for a political resolution to the crisis. It has so far carried out two cross-border operations along its border with Syria and set up a dozen military observations posts in the northern Syrian region of Idlib. “It is not for nothing that the only places in Syria where security and peace have been established are under Turkey’s control. God willing, we will establish the same peace in other parts of Syria too. God willing, we will bring the same peace to Iraq, where terrorist organizations are active,” Reuters quoted Erdogan as saying in the southeastern province of Mus to commemorate the anniversary of the Battle of Manzikert of 1071.

ISIS Claims Responsibility for Libya Checkpoint Attack, GNA Arrests Perpetrators
Cairo – Khaled Mahmoud/Asharq Al Awsat/Monday, 27 August, 2018/Libya’s Government of National Accord (GNA) vowed on Sunday to punish the perpetrators of last week’s terrorist attack against a security checkpoint east of the capital Tripoli on Thursday. The GNA Justice Ministry said it will not allow the attackers to escape punishment, ordering the general prosecutor to take the necessary legal measures against them. It urged society to “stand against terrorism and defeat it.”Such crimes will only make the Libyans more determined to combat terror, it added. The ISIS terrorist group claimed responsibility for the attack, but it did not provide any evidence to support its claim. On Saturday, GNA Interior Minister Abdulsalam Ashour announced that the perpetrators of the attack were arrested and investigations are underway with them. The plotters themselves remain at large, he revealed, adding that all of the suspects are Libyan. Preliminary investigations showed that they belong to ISIS. The minister denied that the terror group had established a solid footing in Libya, saying that ISIS is taking advantage of the remote areas in the South to carry out its activities. Ashour stressed that his ministry was working on halting terrorist acts in the country. Thursday’s attack targeted a GNA special operations checkpoint. It took place between the towns of Zliten and Khoms on the coastal road leading from Tripoli to the port city of Misrata, an area in which ISIS members are known to be operating, according to the Zliten mayor.

ISIS Claims Arish Terror Attack in Egypt
Cairo - Mohammed Nabil Helmi/Asharq Al Awsat/Monday, 27 August, 2018/The ISIS terrorist group claimed responsibility on Sunday for the al-Arish ambush against Egyptian police, saying that 15 soldiers were killed and wounded in the attack.Egyptian official media had initially said that four terrorists were killed in a failed ambush. It did not disclose the number of police casualties. The official MENA news agency, however, reported on Sunday that four recruits were killed and nine others wounded in the attack in the northern Sinai region. It did not reveal the identities of the victims, but two military funerals were held on Saturday. Ahmed Ali Youssef Jalal, 22, was laid to rest in the Luxor region, while Mustafa Ahmed Abd Rabo, 21, was laid to rest in al-Faiyum. ISIS, for its part, did not disclose the number of its victims in the attack. An informed source told MENA on Saturday that the police confronted the attackers, leaving four of them dead, while the rest fled the area. The security forces seized ten explosives at the scene, as well as four automatic weapons, rocket-propelled grenades, three explosives belts, hand grenades, a camera and a mobile phone. Terrorist activity spiked in the northern and central Sinai regions after the ouster of Muslim Brotherhood President Mohammed Morsi in 2013. The army and security forces have since February 9 been waging a campaign to eliminate terrorists from the peninsula.
Macron Says Assad Staying in Power would be 'Grotesque Error'
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/August 27/18/French President Emmanuel Macron said on Monday that a "return to normal" in Syria that left its leader Bashar al-Assad in power would be a "grotesque error," in comments seemingly directed at his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin. "We can see those who would like to return to normal as soon as the war against Daesh (the Islamic State group) is finished: Bashar al-Assad would stay in power, the refugees... will return and Europe and few others would help with reconstruction," Macron said. But "such a scenario would be a grotesque error," he added.After coming to power in May last year, Macron shifted French policy towards prioritizing the destruction of the Islamic State group rather than ousting Assad, warning of a "failed state" if the leader were forcibly removed. But he has previously called the Syrian leader an "enemy of the Syrian people" who should ultimately face a war crimes court. Macron's latest comments during a major foreign policy address to French ambassadors appeared to be a rebuke to Putin, who is Assad's biggest backer. On August 18, Putin called on Europe to financially contribute to the reconstruction of Syria to allow millions of refugees to return home. After more than seven years of brutal war, Macron warned in Monday's speech that Assad was on the verge of creating a fresh humanitarian crisis in Idlib province.
The regime says it is determined to retake the northwestern province on the Turkish border -- Syria's last major rebel stronghold -- amid speculation of a looming Russian-backed assault. "The situation is alarming because the regime is threatening to create another humanitarian crisis in Idlib province and until now has shown no desire to negotiate the slightest political transition," Macron said. "This means reinforcing pressure on the regime and its allies, and I expect Russia and Turkey to take account of their roles and the commitments they have made," he added. "Since day one I have considered Daesh to be our principal enemy, and I have never made the ousting of Bashar al-Assad a condition of our diplomatic or humanitarian action in Syria," he said. But he accused Assad of "creating thousands of refugees" and "massacring his own people."

Iran Urges UN Court to Halt 'Economic' Strangulation by US
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/August 27/18/Iran on Monday demanded the UN's top court suspend US nuclear-linked sanctions against Tehran, accusing Washington of plotting its "economic strangulation". The Islamic Republic launched a suit at the International Court of Justice in The Hague over US President Donald Trump's decision to reimpose the sanctions that had been lifted in a 2015 accord. Iran says Trump's move breaches a 1955 treaty. It told the court the measures were already devastating its economy and threatening the welfare of its citizens. "The United States is publicly propagating a policy intended to damage as severely as possible Iran's economy and Iranian nationals and companies," Iran's lawyer Mohsen Mohebi told the court. "This policy is nothing but naked economic aggression against my country," he added. "Iran will put up the strongest resistance to the US economic strangulation, by all peaceful means."US lawyers are due to give their response in arguments before the court on Tuesday. Sanctions had been lifted under a 2015 multilateral agreement in return for Iran committing not to pursue nuclear weapons. But Trump reimposed unilateral sanctions three weeks ago. He said they were needed to ensure Iran never builds a nuclear bomb. A second wave of punitive measures are due to hit Iran in early November, targeting its vital energy sector including oil exports.
- 'Irreparable prejudice' -The US measures have added to Iran's economic woes, helping to fuel strikes and protests from across the country and political spectrum. In the latest blow, Iran's parliament impeached Economy Minister Masoud Karbasian on Sunday.
Tehran filed its case before the ICJ in late July, calling on the Hague-based tribunal's judges to order the immediate lifting of sanctions pending a definitive ruling. It said the sanctions would cause it "irreparable prejudice". It argues they breach the 1955 Treaty of Amity and Economic Relations between Iran and the United States. 'One-sided deal' -The ICJ is expected to take a couple of months to decide whether to grant Tehran's request for a provisional ruling. A final decision in the case may take years.
The 2015 deal was signed by Iran and the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council plus Germany. Trump, who took office in 2016, called it a "horrible one-sided deal." He said it "failed to achieve the fundamental objective of blocking all paths to a Iranian nuclear bomb." To the horror of the other signatories, Trump pulled out and announced in May that he would reinstate sanctions. Neither war, nor negotiations' -Tehran says that the new sanctions are already hurting its economy. Iran's currency the rial has lost around half its value since April. In a court filing at the ICJ, Iran's lawyers said the US sanctions threaten tens of billions of dollars' worth of business deals with foreign companies. International companies including France's Total, Peugeot and Renault, and Germany's Siemens and Daimler, have suspended operations in Iran since Trump announced the US withdrawal from the nuclear deal in May. Air France and British Airways announced Thursday they would halt flights to Tehran next month, saying they were not commercially viable. The British carrier added however that the decision was unrelated to the fresh sanctions. Trump said the sanctions would turn up the financial pressure on Tehran to come to a "comprehensive and lasting solution" regarding its activities such as its "ballistic missile programme and its support for terrorism." Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei this month appeared to rule out any immediate prospect of talks, saying "there will be neither war, nor negotiations," with the US. Washington's lawyers will present their case on Tuesday, with a second round of arguments on Wednesday and Thursday. Experts expect the US to challenge the ICJ's jurisdiction. The ICJ was set up in 1946 to rule in disputes between countries.

Iran, Syria Sign Defense, Reconstruction Deal
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/August 27/18/The defence ministers of Iran and Syria have signed an agreement on military cooperation and reconstruction in the war-torn country, Iranian media reported on Monday. "Syria is passing through the crisis stage and entering the reconstruction phase," said , according to the Tasnim news agency. Hatami is on the second day of a two-day visit to Damascus, during which he held "detailed negotiations" with his counterpart Ali Abdullah Ayoub and Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, according to Tasnim. The "defence and technical agreement" provides for the continued "presence and participation" of Iran in Syria, Hatami added. Tehran has provided steady political, financial, and military backing to Assad as he has fought back a seven-year uprising.

Saudi-Led Coalition Accuses U.N. of Bias in Yemen
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/August 27/18/The Saudi-led military coalition fighting in Yemen on Monday accused the United Nations of "biased" reports on air strikes that allegedly killed 26 children in rebel-held parts of the country. "The coalition is surprised by the ... biased positions of some reports," said coalition spokesman Turki al-Maliki, adding that the information was "prejudiced" and based on "rebel stories."

Iran, Russia, Turkey to Hold Syria Summit Next Week,Turkish TV

Agence France Presse/Naharnet/August 27/18/The presidents of Iran, Russia, and Turkey will meet on September 7 in Iran for their third tripartite summit on seeking to end the conflict in Syria, Turkish state television said Monday. President Recep Tayyip Erdogan will travel to Iran to meet with his Russian and Iranian counterparts Vladimir Putin and Hassan Rouhani, state-run TRT Haber television said. Private NTV television added the summit would be held in the northern Iranian city of Tabriz. A Turkish presidential official contacted by AFP could not immediately confirm the reports. However, the presidency has invited Turkish journalists to cover a trip by Erdogan to Iran on September 7. Erdogan had previously indicated that he planned to host a summit on September 7 in Istanbul on Syria with Putin and also French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel. But press reports over the last weeks have suggested that such a meeting was increasingly unlikely and was set to be replaced by the latest three-way summit between Iran, Russia and Turkey. The three leaders have previously held summits in the Russian resort city of Sochi and the Turkish capital Ankara. Ankara, Moscow and Tehran are backing peace talks based in the Kazakh capital Astana which they insist are aimed at reinforcing, rather than undermining, a UN peace process in Geneva. Iran and Russia are the main allies of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and their military interventions in Syria are widely seen as tipping the balance of the seven year civil war in the regime's favour. Turkey has backed rebels seeking to oust Assad but since late 2016 has been working increasingly closely with Iran and Russia to bring peace to Syria. A major item on the agenda at the summit is expected to be the rebel-held northwestern Syrian province of Idlib which Assad wants to re-capture, to crown a string of military successes. But Turkey has said a military operation to take Idlib risks provoking a humanitarian "catastrophe", warning that 3.5 million people are crammed into the region.

Canada Holds Firm in Human Rights Dispute with Saudi Arabia

Agence France Presse/Naharnet/August 27/18/Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland refused to give ground in a dispute with Saudi Arabia on Monday, saying her country would "always stand up for human rights around the world". While she did not cite the kingdom by name, Freeland told a gathering of German diplomats in Berlin that "Canada will always stand up for human rights around the world, very much including women's rights."That would hold true "even when we are told to mind our own business, or that matters such as these should only be discussed in private, between leaders, behind closed doors. And even when speaking up brings consequences," she added. Ottawa and Riyadh are at loggerheads over Canadian criticism of Saudi Arabia's human rights record. Earlier this month the Saudi government expelled Canada's ambassador, recalled its own envoy and froze all new trade and investments after the North American nation denounced a crackdown on rights activists there. "We count on and hope for Germany's support" in defending human rights, Freeland added.

Israel Reopens People Crossing with Gaza Strip
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/August 27/18/Israel reopened its only crossing for people with the Gaza Strip on Monday, a week after shutting it over violence along the border with the Palestinian enclave. The reopening, following days of relative calm, comes as Egypt holds talks with Palestinian officials as part of efforts to reach a long-term truce with Israel. A spokeswoman for the Israeli defense ministry unit that oversees the Erez crossing confirmed it had opened as planned on Monday morning. On Sunday night, Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman said the crossing was being reopened due to "calm that has been maintained over the past week." Israel closed the crossing except to humanitarian cases on August 19, after another round of protests and clashes on the border with the Hamas-run Gaza Strip. It has enforced an air, land and sea blockade on the Gaza Strip for more than a decade, but grants permission to a limited number of people to cross for various reasons. An average of around 1,000 Gazans cross through Erez each day, mostly those in need of medical care but also businesspeople, students and others, Israeli authorities say. A second crossing with Israel, Kerem Shalom, is for goods. There have been months of tension along the border and several military-flare ups, but recent weeks have seen relative calm. Egyptian and United Nations officials have been mediating indirect talks on a long-term truce between Israel and Islamist movement Hamas, which have fought three wars since 2008. Egyptian officials have held talks with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas' Fatah this week in a renewed bid to reconcile the movement with Hamas. The two factions have been deeply divided for more than a decade and Abbas is opposed to any truce with Israel that bypasses his Palestinian Authority, based in the occupied West Bank. Mass protests and clashes erupted on the Gaza border on March 30 and have continued at varying levels since. At least 172 Palestinians in Gaza have been killed by Israeli fire since the protests began. One Israeli soldier has been killed during that time. Gaza's only other border is with Egypt, but the Rafah crossing with the enclave had largely been kept closed in recent years. Cairo opened it in mid-May and it has mostly remained so since.

Iran Student Gets 7 Years for Taking Part in Protest
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/August 27/18/A 21-year-old student in Iran has been sentenced to seven years in prison for taking part in university protests, her lawyer and Iranian media said on Monday. Parisa Rafei, an arts student at the University of Tehran, was convicted of "assembly with the intention of acting against national security, propaganda against the system and disrupting public order", according to reformist newspaper Shargh. Her lawyer, Saeed Khalili, described the sentencing as "unfair and unreasonable" on Twitter. He was also quoted by Shargh as saying: "In my view, none of these charges are logical or a legally sufficient reason to indicate that she has committed a crime." Khalili said the alleged crimes were focused on a student union demonstration in early December over issues such as dormitory opening hours. "All these actions are within the framework of law and rights stated in the constitution," Khalili added. A total of 45 of her fellow students are also behind bars for their part in much broader unrest that swept the country later in December, according to an article in the reformist Etemad newspaper. It said at least two of the students have been given sentences of eight years, without providing details, and that all the cases were due to be completed within the next month.

Turkish Lira Tumbles as Volatility Returns After Holiday Week
Bloomberg/Monday 27th August 2018/The lira slid on Monday with volatility rebounding, ending a week of relative calm as Turkish markets opened after public holidays. The dollar surged as much as 3.2 percent against the lira to 6.1951 as concerns over Turkey’s economy and U.S. sanctions continued to linger. One-month implied lira volatility, a gauge of expected swings in the currency, jumped above 40 percent after dropping during holidays last week. The lira has been battered in the past month as the U.S. started imposing sanctions on two Turkish ministers amid a spat over a detained U.S. pastor, adding to investor concerns over the government’s economic policies. Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has called the turmoil an “economic war” waged by Washington. JPMorgan Chase & Co. has revised its forecast for Turkey’s growth next year to 1.1 percent from 2.8 percent, citing “worsening financial conditions and tighter liquidity conditions,” economist Yarkin Cebeci wrote in a report. “Coordinated policy action by the policy makers could put Turkey on a soft landing path where rebalancing is achieved with manageable collateral damage.”

The Latest LCCC Bulletin analysis & editorials from miscellaneous sources published on August 27-28/18
Analysis/How the Saudis Made Canada the Loneliest Country in the World
زيفي برئيل من الهآررتس: كيف حولت السعودية كندا إلى دولة معزولة في العالم

Zvi Bar'el/Haaretz/August 27/18
Western leaders wooing Saudi money aren’t going to nag the crown prince about Riyadh’s executions of human rights activists
“If it is comparatively easy for the Saudis to lash out at Canada, a relatively small trading partner, they might be given more pause if criticism came from countries on which they are more reliant – not least the United States, which under Donald Trump has fostered a relationship cozier than ever,” the Canadian daily The Globe and Mail wrote in an editorial.
The paper, like the Canadian people, isn’t angry only at Riyadh, which plans to execute Israa al-Ghomgham, a young Shi’ite woman arrested in 2015 on charges of participating in a demonstration for Shi’ite rights. It’s also angry at the deafening silence of other world leaders.
Two weeks ago, Canada boldly announced that it was “extremely concerned” about the recent arrests of human rights activists in Saudi Arabia. As a result, it suffered a resounding blow from Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman: He ordered the Canadian ambassador to leave the country in 24 hours, imposed an economic boycott on Canada and told Saudi students in Canada to come home.
“The Canadian statement is a blatant interference in the Kingdom’s domestic affairs,” the Saudi Foreign Ministry said in a statement. “It is a major, unacceptable affront to the Kingdom’s laws and judicial process, as well as a violation of the Kingdom’s sovereignty.”
Canada has now become the loneliest country in the world.
The West’s excitement over the crown prince’s decision to let women drive; his arrests on corruption charges of several billionaires, including members of the ruling family; and his effort to enact religious reforms in the kingdom, which have included arrests of members of the morality police, all led experts on Saudi Arabia to talk about a new era under a leader whom other Arab states might see as a model. New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman, who interviewed the crown prince a year ago, went overboard in praising the young leader.
But following the recent wave of arrests, including of women who demonstrated against the law requiring women to have male guardians, it seems unlikely that Friedman would reiterate his flattering words.
In a Twitter account in which Saudi women demand the abolition of guardianship, you can view a short video showing two Saudi women garbed in black from head to toe. As the caption puts it: That’s how they want the Saudi woman. They fear she’ll seduce them and rouse their desire, because they’re like animals.
The account won a supportive comment from a man named Hassan al-Baladi, who wrote that women aren’t the only ones seeking to abolish the guardianship laws. “We’re ashamed that our female partners in the homeland are excluded and humiliated under a regime built by men obsessed with honor,” he said. “Honor means not oppressing anyone.”
People who make comments like that have become targets of persecution. Recently, the regime blocked web users from accessing the Nasawiya online radio station that broadcasts from outside Saudi Arabia because the station urged women to hold an open, critical conversation about male guardianship.
Iran is still beating Saudi Arabia in the competition over which country can do more harm to human rights, but Riyadh appears to be closing the gap. Last year, Iran executed 507 people, while Saudi Arabia executed 147.
In Saudi Arabia, executioners are government officials defined as “religious functionaries.” They require no qualifications beyond the physical ability to lop off heads or limbs (depending on the verdict). Three years ago, the government announced that it was seeking to hire eight new executioners; the announcement included instructions for how to download application forms from the web.
Executioners earn a bonus of $1,000 per head on top of their regular salary, which comes to about $400 a month. They can also hold second jobs – for instance, as jailers, who earn between $2,000 and $4,000 a month.
But unlike Iran, Saudi Arabia is considered pro-Western. Even more important, it’s a major customer for American and European defense contractors.
Last year it signed a contract to buy $110 billion in military equipment from the United States. In 2016 it bought more than 790 million pounds ($1 billion) in arms from the European Union, and this year it signed a contract to buy 48 British fighter jets at a cost of billions of dollars.
With fat contracts like these, no Western country will risk criticizing the kingdom’s human rights violations. It’s unrealistic to expect leaders who are wooing the crown prince’s money to nag him about indictments of human rights activists or pressure him to commute the death penalty imposed on Ghomgham and others like her.
The rise of a new generation of young Arab leaders starting in the late ‘90s gave many people hope similar to that inspired by the Arab Spring. But so far, these young leaders have merely become older leaders who are continuing their fathers’ legacy.
“The system” and the traditions of control are apparently stronger than the leaders. And the Saudi crown prince has yet to prove himself an exception to this rule.

US Aid, Palestinian Wakaha
Bassam Tawil/Gatestone Institute/August 27/2018
It is clear that the Palestinian boycott of the US administration did not include receiving funds from the Americans.
The Palestinians are entitled to voice their anger at the US. However, if they are so fed up with the US that they are even boycotting US administration officials, why are they demanding that the Americans continue to supply them with hundreds of millions of dollars each year?
The Palestinians are trying to blackmail the US by claiming, absurdly, that the recent US decisions jeopardize the two-state solution and prospects for peace in the Middle East. These are the very Palestinians, however, who have refused to resume peace talks with Israel for the past four years, since long before Trump was elected as president.
The question of Palestinian responsiveness is once again on display as Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas and his senior officials in Ramallah step up their verbal attacks on the US administration after its decision to cut $200 million in American financial aid to the Palestinians.
Abbas and the PA leadership are again behaving like spoiled, angry children whose candy has been taken away from them, hurling abuse at the Trump administration. Recall that earlier this year, Abbas called US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman a "son of a dog."
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas called David Friedman, the US Ambassador to Israel, a "son of a dog" in a televised speech, on March 19, 2018. (Image source: MEMRI video screenshot)
For the past 9 months, the Palestinian leaders have been waging a massive and unprecedented campaign of incitement and abuse against Trump and his administration. This campaign began immediately after Trump announced his decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital in December 2017, and the campaign is continuing to this day as a reply to the US decision to slash $200 million from the American financial aid to the Palestinians.
Significantly, the PA and its leaders were the ones who initiated the crisis with the US administration. Their dissatisfaction with Trump's announcement on Jerusalem may be understandable, but they chose to take their protest to an extreme by boycotting the US administration and waging a smear campaign against Trump and his "Jewish advisors and envoys."
It is clear that the Palestinian boycott of the US administration did not include receiving funds from the Americans. One the one hand, the Palestinians have been boycotting and badmouthing US administration officials. On the other hand, Abbas and his representatives are now crying that the US administration is slashing $200 million of its financial aid to the Palestinians. If this isn't cheek in its finest form, what is?
The Arabic word for cheek, by the way, is wakaha. Were Abbas to behave in the same manner towards an Arab country for cutting financial aid to the Palestinians, he would have been accused by his Arab brothers of displaying wakaha at its best. Abbas, however, would think ten times before he uttered a bad word against any Arab country.
The Palestinians are basically telling the Americans: We have the right to condemn you every day, to burn your flags and photos of your president, to incite against you, to launch weekly protests against you, to accuse you of being under the "influence of the Jewish and Zionist lobby" and, at the same time, we have the right to continue receiving US taxpayer money.
Judging from their actions and assertions in the past few months, the Palestinians have turned the US into an enemy. They consider the US to be in "collusion" with the Israeli government and a "full partner in Israeli crimes against the Palestinians." They say they no longer trust the US to play any role in a peace process with Israel because of the Trump administration's "blind bias" in favor of Israel and its "hostile" policies towards the Palestinians.
The Palestinians, of course, are entitled to voice their anger at the US. However, if they are so fed up with the US that they are even boycotting US administration officials, why are they demanding that the Americans continue to supply them with hundreds of millions of dollars each year? Where's the vaunted Arab dignity, which requires an Arab not to humiliate himself in return for money, especially if it comes from someone you consider an enemy?
The answer to this question can be found in a statement issued on August 25 by PLO Secretary-General Saeb Erekat in response to the US decision to cut the $200 million in aid to the Palestinians. "The international community is not doing the Palestinians a favor by providing them with financial aid," Erekat argued. "This is a due duty of the international community, which bears responsibility for the continued Israeli occupation."
Erekat's statement reflects a long-standing Palestinian position according to which the US and the rest of the international community owe the Palestinians money for supporting Israel's existence. The Palestinian position stems from a belief that the international community, specifically the Americans and Europeans, were responsible for the establishment of Israel in 1948 at the cost of the Palestinians. This position was best echoed by Abbas himself, who has said that Israel is a "colonial project" imposed on the Palestinians by Western powers.
This attitude means that the Palestinians have never seen the massive financial aid they have received from the West as a gift but rather as something that the world owes them for imposing a "colonial project" on them. The billions of dollars the Palestinians have received in the past few decades have evidently left no positive impression on the Palestinians, who feel that the funds are something they are fully entitled to because of the world's support for the existence of Israel.
The Palestinians, in other words, apparently do not feel they have to be grateful to those who have been funding them for decades. If the Europeans were to take a similar decision today and cut funding to the Palestinians, they too would be condemned by Abbas and his officials for being "hostile" towards the Palestinians and "biased" in favor of Israel.
The ongoing Palestinian rhetorical attacks on the US administration are dangerous because they further radicalize the Palestinian public and turn the Americans into an enemy in the eyes of many Palestinians. In recent months, we have seen increased hostility towards American officials and citizens visiting the West Bank as a direct result of this incitement.
Last July, the US Consul-General in Jerusalem was forced to cancel a visit to the Palestinian city of Nablus after Palestinians threatened to stage protests against him and his entourage.
A month earlier, Palestinian protesters expelled a US consular delegation from the city of Bethlehem and threw tomatoes at their vehicles. No one was hurt, but the incident, which was documented on camera, was impolite and degrading for the Americans.
The Palestinians are now accusing the US of attempting to "blackmail" them by cutting the funds. According to the Palestinians, the US administration wants to force them to accept Trump's yet-to-be-unveiled plan for peace in the Middle East.
It is worth noting, however, that the US administration has not yet presented its purported plan to the Palestinians or to any other party. So how can the US administration be trying to pressure or "blackmail" the Palestinians when no peace plan has ever been made public? Can the Palestinians point to one US administration official who asked them to accept the unseen plan or support Trump's policies? Of course not.
There is indeed blackmail going on -- but in precisely the opposite direction. The Palestinians are trying to blackmail the US by claiming, absurdly, that the recent US decisions jeopardize the two-state solution and prospects for peace in the Middle East.
These are the very Palestinians, however, who have refused to resume peace talks with Israel for the past four years, since long before Trump was elected as president.
Common sense would have it that the US has a right to demand something from any party it helps to support -- including the Palestinians. But the Palestinians see things differently. In their view, billions of dollars are owed to them as some sort of divine right. And if their behavior calls into question whether they deserve that money -- well, those asking questions can just go back where they came from.
*Bassam Tawil is a Muslim Arab based in the Middle East.
© 2018 Gatestone Institute. All rights reserved. The articles printed here do not necessarily reflect the views of the Editors or of Gatestone Institute. No part of the Gatestone website or any of its contents may be reproduced, copied or modified, without the prior written consent of Gatestone Institute.

Democracy Needs the Press as the ‘Opposition Party’

Noah Feldman/Bloomberg/August 27/18
What’s the main value in a free press? To hear the press tell it — as in many of the 350-plus editorials published in coordination last week in response to the president's anti-press rhetoric — the answer is factual, objective coverage of events.
But that’s not what the framers of the Constitution thought, or what Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes had in mind when he crafted modern free-press jurisprudence during World War I. It also doesn’t match how most newspaper writers thought of themselves until the emergence of journalism as a “profession” in the post-World War II period.
The classic reason for valuing a free press is that it expresses a variety of opinions, especially those that differ from the government. That in turn fuels democracy, which requires disagreement with those in office so that the public can consider choosing new leaders instead.
It’s crucial to keep in mind the value of opinion in an era when editorials and opinion journalism are being constantly questioned. President Donald Trump accuses the media of being “the opposition party,” implying a failure of objectivity. But it’s not a bad thing for opinion journalism, including the editorial boards of major newspapers, to see themselves as the opposition to Trump. Opposition like that keeps democracy alive, and constitutes one of the core responsibilities of a free press.
To be clear, I’m not speaking against the journalistic aspiration to discover and report facts. There is a difference between factual truth and lies. Because no one else in society seems to have the time or the interest to police that boundary, the press should try its best to do so.
Rather, I’m pointing out that the need for fact-checking wasn’t the basis for the traditional view that a free press is necessary for democracy.
Consider James Madison, the author of the First Amendment. He gave press freedom little thought when he was actually drafting the amendment, coming to focus on it only when partisan battles between his Republican Party and Alexander Hamilton’s Federalists began to define national politics.
Hamilton and his supporters used a newspaper called the Gazette of the United States to promote Federalist views, even publishing anonymous essays by John Adams, then the serving as vice president. Madison, with encouragement and help from Thomas Jefferson (then secretary of state), facilitated the creation of a competing newspaper, the National Gazette, to combat Hamilton — by offering a Republican perspective.
The dueling newspapers existed to present dueling opinions. No one on either side thought that either newspaper was objective. Indeed, it is doubtful whether the idea of factual objectivity as a journalistic goal was even imagined in 18th century America.
When, as president, Adams signed the Sedition Act passed by the Federalist Congress, he used it to prosecute Republican newspaper editors. Many were convicted, imprisoned and fined for insulting the Adams administration.
Madison sprung into action, composing a report adopted by the Virginia legislature that contained the first detailed defense of the First Amendment. He argued that a free press was necessary to ensure free elections, because only a free press could provide the people with the ideas they needed for “the just exercise of their electoral rights.” This was a defense of opinion journalism — exactly what the Sedition Act punished.
More than a century later, when the Supreme Court first articulated the value of a free press and free speech, Holmes famously wrote that the First Amendment should be understood in terms of the metaphor of a marketplace of ideas. “The best test of truth,” he wrote, “is the power of the thought to get itself accepted in the competition of the market. ... That, at any rate, is the theory of our Constitution.”
Holmes left no doubt that he was thinking about opinions, not objective facts. “We should be eternally vigilant,” he warned, “against attempts to check the expression of opinions that we loathe and believe to be fraught with death, unless they so imminently threaten immediate interference with the lawful and pressing purposes of the law that an immediate check is required to save the country.”
Holmes’s whole theory rested on his philosophical pragmatism. Opinions were provisional, not objectively provable. Even the very idea of the freedom of speech, he said “is an experiment, as all life is an experiment.”
The upshot is that we need to remember that a free press preserves democracy mostly by allowing for the expression of alternative points of view. An autocratic or dictatorial government seeks to suppress differences of opinion just as much, or more, than it seeks to suppress facts.
The coordinated editorials last week are a case in point. They are expressions of opinion, not fact. By airing those opinions, the newspapers created a news cycle of their own, one focused on the press itself, rather than Trump’s criticisms of it.
It’s great that newspapers try to be objective. But the human limitations of editors and writers mean this can only ever be an aspiration, not a fully accomplished reality.
That’s OK. The justification for a free press doesn’t depend on its being objective. To the contrary, a free press is necessary for democracy because it preserves the multiplicity of opinions and points of view.

Don’t Forget the Tsar’s Number
Ghassan Charbel/Asharq Al Awsat/August 27/18
Austrian Foreign Minister Karin Kneissl has the right to get married. Obviously, the country’s chancellor is present and surrounded by his senior aides. She has the right to determine with her groom the list of Austrian and foreign guests. But she went far when she invited a man who looks like James Bond, but who’s more famous and exciting.
When it comes to diplomacy, timing has a decisive impact. Just as in hunting. You must shoot at the right moment, otherwise, your arrow will miss the target. Thus, Vladimir Putin chose to appear at the Austrian wedding on his way to Berlin to meet with Chancellor Angela Merkel.
A master in the image industry and the distribution of messages, he arrived carrying a bouquet of flowers. He did not forget to take with him a group of Cossacks to cheer up the guests with Russian folklore. The invitees were soon stunned. The Tsar in the middle of the circle surrounds the bride with his hands and dances with her, contemplating her with a studied innocent and tender look. At the end, he bowed with reservation to his dance partner, who took more time bending. He talked with some of the attendees and left.
Soon, photos of the dance spread like wildfire. Voices rose from parties and personalities. Does the foreign minister have the right to dance with the man who annexed the Crimea, destabilized Ukraine, reversed the path of war in Syria, and sent merciless gifts to “rebel agents” on European soil?
Can Austria assume the presidency of the European Union when its foreign minister bends in front of the "enemy of the Union"? What about the neutrality that characterized the Vienna policy despite its belonging to the European Union?
Chancellor Sebastian Kurz had to give an explanation. “Our position in Europe did not change because of a wedding. Our foreign policy towards Russia is clear. We helped shape and are committed to all the European Union’s decisions.”
Putin also intervened to say that the visit was “very private”, without forgetting to praise Austria’s role in the dialogue. The bride considered that she did not over-bend and that she learned this move during her dance course, in response to the opposition Socialist Party’s statement that the scene was “provocative and embarrassing.”
Others defended the bride, saying that she was not extremist, despite the fact that she was chosen by the right-wing “Freedom Party”, which has ties with Putin’s “United Russia”.
The Europeans were confused by seeing Putin dancing at the Austrian party. They forgot that Putin had performed on the Syrian arena a military and diplomatic dance that changed the equations and balances of power and fates. In Syria and its vicinities, the Tsar’s telephone number became a guarantee, a key and a mandatory crossing.
The Syrian Regime cannot forget the Tsar’s number, while his troops are based on its territory. This number must be used to seek assistance in the face of any US or Western draft resolution on Syria at the Security Council. It is also necessary to convince Israel to limit its air and missile attacks on the military targets of Iran and its allies. The number is also essential to operate in the “de-escalation zones” and to draw Turkey into the Russian program. The Russian role is an urgent need in any attempt by the regime to bring back part of the Syrians who fled to neighboring countries.
Turkey does not need anyone to remind it of the Tsar’s number. It recorded it and saved it by heart and walked the path of Astana. It has asked for Russian missiles, overlooking the fact that they were Atlantic. It looked at Syrian developments with Russia’s eyes, in exchange for a Kremlin pass to abort the Kurdish dream of “self-administration.” The Kurds themselves did not find but the Russian number to control the Turkish uprising against them, and later restrain the regime’s desire to discipline them.
Iran cannot ignore the Tsar’s number. It needs it at the Security Council, against US sanctions, and in the remnants of the nuclear deal. It also needs it for the military presence in Syria. It is true that the Russian role in Syria necessarily reduces some of the Iranian role, but it is also true that Russia needs the Iranian card in any major compromise with America.
Jordan first realized the importance of the Tsar’s number. Communication is necessary especially when it comes to the situation in southern Syria. It is also necessary for the issue of the return of Syrian refugees and the security of the Syrian future as a whole. Jordan also wants to remove pro-Iranian militias from its borders and Moscow is more capable of helping in this matter.
Lebanon does not need anyone to remind it of the value of the Russian number. Saad al-Hariri recognizes the importance of Moscow in reducing Syrian pressure for full normalization. Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil discussed with Lavrov the Orientalist concerns, as if urging Russia to act as a guarantor of coexistence and minorities. Walid Jumblat only found the Russian number to resort to when he was worried about the Syrian Druze, who were subjected to a massacre by ISIS.
One can say that Benjamin Netanyahu has already preceded many in using the Russian number. A hotline links him to Putin. He visited Moscow more than he visited Washington. The Kremlin master gave him the right to attack the military structure of Iran and its allies on Syrian soil. Putin’s commitment to Israel’s security was evident in reviving the disengagement agreement between Syria and Israel and the participation of Russian soldiers in ensuring respect for it.
What Putin did in the Middle East is more important and dangerous than his Austrian dance. In the Middle East, don’t forget the Tsar’s number, as you may need it today, or maybe tomorrow.

Trump and his Arab and Iranian rivals
Abdulrahman al-Rashed/Al Arabiya/August 27/18
The cheerfulness of media outlets affiliated with Iran, Hezbollah and Islamic groups that support them and of Qatari media outlets over the idea that Trump’s days are numbered is merely wishful thinking as a result of fearing him and failing to confront him.
This does not deny the authenticity and the depth of the crisis the president is going through. However, many analyses are based on wishful thinking and gratification of one’s thirst for revenge. This will negatively impact these governments if these expectations turn out wrong.
We have not forgotten that this is what happened to them after the last US elections as these same outlets asserted that the defeat of Trump’s rival Hillary Clinton was a defeat of Washington’s traditional allies in the region. This was based on Trump’s statements during his electoral campaign. Results have shown that the opposite is true. Trump’s policy is the best thing to happen to Gulf countries in years and it has been a horrible nightmare to Iran. Among this wishful thinking, the media outlets in the opposing camp gambled that the Trump administration will back down and sell its stances in issues related to the Iran nuclear deal, thwart the Qatar boycott, impose a solution and concessions in the Yemeni war and withdraw from dealing with the Syrian and Iraqi crises. After around two years, however, the result has been the complete opposite.
What about his current crisis? Nothing can be asserted. Most probably Trump will serve the rest of his presidential term and if he doesn’t, it will be for reasons and amid circumstances that are much more serious than we’re hearing and witnessing now.
A long road
The US is a state of institutions and Trump’s opponents cannot get rid of him without long procedures. The US has a presidential system that’s different than the European parliamentary system where the party usually handles getting rid of its head in case things get complicated, like what happened to Margaret Thatcher who although she was one of the greatest British prime ministers, her party ousted her before she finished her third term as premier as a result of the massive protests against the unpopular poll tax.
The idea that Trump’s days are numbered is merely wishful thinking as a result of fearing him and failing to confront him.
The US president is higher than his party and he can only be removed from his post via legal impeachment or death. In order to impeach him, a sweeping majority is required, two thirds of the Senate, that must be convinced of convicting him.
Trump’s issue remains a US domestic affair that will not alter and change the country’s major policies. The vice president and most of the republicans adopt most of Trump’s foreign proposals, including those on Middle East issues.
Therefore, Trump’s era will go on, with or without him until the end of 2020. The policies will stay, i.e. pursuing Iran and restraining it in an unprecedented manner and supporting legitimacy in Yemen and the war against separatist militias. This policy may even be stricter in Iraq and Syria against Iran and parties under its leadership. Trump’s policies will hence stay during this entire era, and they will most probably last until the era that follows considering that they’ve restored foreign policy to what it was before Obama’s second anomalous presidential term.

The Last American Statesman: McCain

Walid Jawad/Al Arabiya/August 27/18
The death of John Sidney McCain this past Saturday signaled the end of an error in America’s history. McCain who died at 81 years of age embodies the American ethos in ways that harken back to the era of American heroes and patriotic icons. He lived many lives all rolled up into one: a fighter-pilot, POW, a decorated hero, political icon, and self-styled maverick. But more importantly, and perhaps the most defining of his virtues, his decency as a human being. Although making this summary judgment diminishes the complexity of the independent man who was known for never shying away from a principled stance.
At a town hall-style event he held during campaigning for the presidency against Barack Obama in 2008, a lady proclaimed her distrust in Obama saying “I can’t trust Obama. I have read about him, and he’s not, um, he’s an Arab,” in his appearance in Lakeville, Minnesota in October of that year. McCain responded by saying "no, ma'am he is a decent family man, citizen, who I happen to have disagreements with on fundamental issues and that's what this campaign is all about." At the time my response was negative toward candidate McCain as his answer suggests decency and being an Arab were mutually exclusive. But as I reflect on the man 10 years later, I came to understand his answer in a different light; it was not about a philosophical discussion over ethnicity or stereotypical ideas attached to the Arab world, rather he was making a strong stand to defend the honor of the political system and the men and women who dedicate their lives to serving the nation.
It was revealing by him affirming Obama's patriotism and refraining from doubling down on the "bad" Arab stereotypical idea. At a time when 9-11 was still fresh in the psyche of the American people. Islam and Arab were perceived to be the enemy of the American people. What he didn’t say, spoke volumes. He was never fazed by the jeers of many of his supporters as he repeatedly confirmed his belief in Obama’s patriotism. He lost the presidency, in part, to his unwavering commitment to playing the political game for the higher purpose of country and decency. His defeat provided him a renewed vigor to reaffirm his maverick status in US Senate.
Though McCain took aggressive positions, he was able to strike the elusive balance between power and cooperation grounded in the reality of patriotism.
As a Republican, McCain advanced the ideals of his party by taking principled stands for what he believed in. He withheld his initial support of the Republican Party presidential nominee, Donald Trump, in the last elections after the leaked tapes of Trump’s locker-room talk surfaced. The relationship between the two men never recovered. As the Republicans in Congress moved to deliver on Trump’s election promise to repeal Obama Care, the Affordable Care Act, he was the last to walk onto the Senate floor to cast his vote. No one was sure of his decision. Senators, the White House, and the nation held its collective breath. In a dramatic fashion before the gathering Republican leadership, he held up his hand before his decision. The same right arm he can’t raise above his head after years of torture in a Vietnamese camp as a prisoner of war. (POW). An audible gasp could be heard signaling the tiebreaking vote; thumb down. The Republican Party holds the majority in both chambers of Congress, House, and Senate have failed to pass a vote to repeal and replace the controversial Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare.
In responding to reporters after the vote with the a bandage upon his forehead covering the scar of brain cancer surgery he said “We must now return to the correct way of legislating and send the bill back to committee, hold hearings, receive input from both sides of aisle, heed the recommendations of nation’s governors, and produce a bill that finally delivers affordable health care for the American people,” he stood for his principle continuing “We must do the hard work our citizens expect of us and deserve.”
Capture and Release
He followed in the footsteps of his father and grandfather, both four-star naval officers, but he never achieved the same highest rank of his lineage. He left the Navy as a Captain after years in captivity in Vietnam. His plane was shot down and held captive for over five years. The capture and torture by themselves would make a hero out of any one soldier, but to know that he passed up on the opportunity to be released because he wanted to deny his captors the opportunity to use the occasion for propaganda. McCain was accused of being a reckless person, but that episode revealed the essence of the man; principled and stubborn. This is a moment of reflection for the US to re-examine its soul and reconfigure its identity. The US has lost its way moving far from the ideals upon which it was built. There is no doubt in the intention of politicians on both sides of the aisle; they are inspired by the values that were entrusted to them. The dividing line is between those who are committed to carrying American’s values forward and those who feel obligated to revert the country to the purity of those ideals. The US cannot afford approaching the international community with the singular objective of winning a zero-sum game. The US is strongest when it finds ways to strike mutually beneficial options with allies, friends, and adversaries.
Though McCain took aggressive positions, he was able to strike the elusive balance between power and cooperation grounded in the reality of patriotism. McCain’s legacy will continue to guide a generation through his words and principled actions. It behooves legislators and politicians to be guided by McCain’s disciplined principles to decency sans political dogma.

Iraq and the new Ottoman Janissaries
Mashari Althaydi/Al Arabiya/August 27/18
On June 9, 1826, the forces of Ottoman Sultan Mahmud II, the sultan of Ottoman administrative reforms and aka Sultan Adli, deployed in the horse field in Istanbul where Janissaries forces that rebelled against the sultan and the state had gathered. The frightening Janissaries suffered a horrible defeat, and 6,000 of them were killed. The next day, Sultan Mahmud II issued a decision to disband the entire Janissaries corps and its military troops and cancel their legions’ names and banners.
A group of historians thus viewed that day as a new and “modern” birthdate of the Ottoman state. Today, with the difference in time and characteristics, we see how the sectarian Iraqi Popular Mobilization somehow resembles the role, harm and defiance of the Ottoman Janissaries against the state’s well-being and health. The birth of these Popular Mobilization militias, which have a sectarian Shiite fragrance and which are clearly organically linked to the Khomeini mentality in Tehran, was accompanied with controversy, clamor, anger and suspicions as well as with a poisonous stimulation of the militant, sectarian and nationalistic atmosphere from all parties.
The card of the Popular Mobilization Forces which is led by Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, Hadi Al-Amiri’s companion, has now become a card which politicians of Shiite parties are playing by courting them at one point and keeping away from them at another.
Comparing the Iraqi Shiite Popular Mobilization to the Ottoman Janissaries may seem preemptive and shocking to some but this is how it is, if Iraq wants to heal from the disease of the non-state.
Among those is Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, also the commander-in-chief of the armed forces, whose office recently issued an interesting memorandum emphasizing the importance of “not politicizing the Popular Mobilization Committee.” This came in response to an order issued by the Mobilization’s command to move their troops and get them out of some Sunni cities, to flatter Sunni parties which among their principles are the exit of the Popular Mobilization from their cities. Some Iraqi observers think this is a “move” by the two allies, Amiri and Maliki, to gain the Sunni voice, of course temporarily, and that is directed against the Sadr-Abadi alliance.
The Popular Mobilization itself and via its militant symbols does not have any special appreciation of Abadi as it’s closer to the “mujahid” Hadi Al-Amiri and his ally Nouri al-Maliki. This is why it said in its statement that Abadi is blandishing foreign powers “to win a second term.”
Aws al-Khafaji, the head of Abu al-Fadl al-Abbas Brigades, clearly stated who these foreign powers are before as he said: “Isolating Abadi’s government is the only way to restore the Iraqi decision that’s dependent on Washington.” Abadi has previously flirted with the leadership and gangs of the Popular Mobilization and stressed on rejecting to disband it and even elaborated in glorifying it. Let’s go back to the beginning of the article. Comparing the Iraqi Shiite Popular Mobilization to the Ottoman Janissaries may seem preemptive and shocking to some but this is how it is; if Iraq wants to heal from the disease of the non-state and break free from the authority of “the Janissaries’ new aghas.” According to the Ottoman history, the Janissaries’ chief, the agha of the Janissaries, had a special headquarters in Istanbul and offices in the areas where the troops operated, and he was one of the most prominent figures in the Ottoman state. The old and new aghas resemble each other!

US would like better relations with Turkey, but it is not a necessity
Ellen R. Wald/Arab News/August 27/18
The US-Turkey relationship has taken a sharp turn for the worse this summer. Just over a month ago, President Donald Trump fist-bumped Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and commended Turkey for contributing its share to the NATO defense budget. Now the two countries may be as far apart as they have been since the end of World War I 100 years ago.
From the US perspective, the driving concern is Turkey’s detention of the American pastor, Andrew Brunson. Turkey has held Brunson since October 2016, when Erdogan’s forces purged the country of any opposition or suspected parties following an alleged failed coup. The Turkish government arrested military officers, academics, journalists, bureaucrats and others. Among those arrested were some foreigners, including Brunson. He had lived in Turkey for more than 20 years at the time and was seeking to become a permanent resident. Other American citizens arrested in Turkey include a NASA physicist and a chemistry professor.
The arrests of Brunson and others occurred before Trump was elected. The following year, Turkey offered to release Brunson in exchange for Fethullah Gulen, an Islamic preacher who lives in the US. Gulen and Erdogan were once political allies, but Erdogan now presents Gulen as a main political opponent and a threat to the Turkish government. From an American perspective, it was absurd for anyone in Turkey to think the US would exchange an American resident for a citizen. The US government would not arrest someone simply to appease the Turkish leader’s political concerns.
After growing pressure from the US, Turkey did release Brunson to house arrest on July 25, but that did not satisfy the American calls for his freedom. The following day, Vice President Mike Pence warned that Turkey would face significant sanctions if Erdogan did not release Brunson completely. Trump doubled steel and aluminum tariffs on Turkey. In the ensuing month, tensions have continued to rise.
Facing the economic ire of the US, Turkey’s currency, the lira, has plummeted in value. It was already suffering before Pence’s demand and the increased American tariffs, but then it dropped even more. A year ago, one lira was worth about 30 American cents. Before Pence’s statement it was worth about 20 cents. In the following weeks, it dropped another 30 percent. Now it is worth about 16 cents. This could be catastrophic for the Turkish economy.
Erdogan is using the US as a foil to demonstrate his own toughness to the people of Turkey, but the recent crises are not significant enough to keep Trump awake at night.
Meanwhile, the US is comfortable driving a hard bargain with Turkey. Last week, Turkey offered to release Brunson in exchange for the forgiveness of billions of dollars of fines on a Turkish bank. The US rejected the offer.
Erdogan has become an increasingly authoritarian leader. He was first elected president in 2014, but served as Prime Minister between 2003 and 2014. Since becoming president, he has consolidated his power and engaged in increasingly despotic and repressive policies. He no longer permits criticism or dissent. Erdogan needs his people to see him as a strong leader who does not acquiesce to the US.
Moreover, in recent years, Turkey has increasingly aligned itself with Russia. Under Erdogan, Ankara, which was once friendly with Israel, has acted increasingly antagonistically toward Tel Aviv’s ally the US and generally done little to ease tensions across the region. In addition, Turkey has steadily increased the amount of oil and gas it purchases from Iran. In the first quarter of 2018, Turkey purchased just over half of its oil from Tehran, and it has not indicated that it plans to halt or decrease these purchases despite the threat of American sanctions.
Erdogan is clearly demonstrating his independence from American friendship and doing so in a hostile manner. This month, in response to the drop in the lira’s value, Erdogan exclaimed: “US has dollars; we have God.” Erdogan is using the US as a foil to demonstrate his own toughness to the people of Turkey.
On the other side, for the Trump administration, Turkey is a relatively minor player that has proven to be an unreliable ally. For example, Turkey refused to allow the passage of American military forces to invade Iraq in 2003. The Turkish military, despite its relatively large size, does not pose a threat to the US. Washington should be concerned about Turkey buying Iranian oil in contravention of its sanctions, but that is not significant enough to keep the president awake at night. Perhaps Turkey’s most important role is its age-old position at the crossroads between Asia and Europe. Turkey is, in fact, a NATO member, but it is also now a Russian ally. It also controls access from Russia’s only reliable warm water ports in the Black Sea to the Mediterranean Sea. It would benefit the US if relations with Turkey were better, but it is not a strategic necessity.
To Trump, the image the US presents to the world is more important than relations with Turkey. It helps Trump politically to fight for Brunson’s release because he can craft an image as a president who will not permit the capricious detention of Americans.
Trump’s message to other nations is that, if you want peace and prosperity, the US is your partner. But you will suffer if you try to hurt the US or American citizens.
Ellen R. Wald, Ph.D. is a historian and author of “Saudi, Inc.” She is the president of Transversal Consulting and also teaches Middle East history and policy at Jacksonville University. Twitter: @EnergzdEconomy