Detailed Lebanese & Lebanese Related LCCC English New Bulletin For August 30/2018
Compiled & Prepared by: Elias Bejjani

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Bible Quotations
The harvest is plentiful, but the labourers are few; therefore ask the Lord of the harvest to send out labourers into his harvest
Matthew 09/36-38: "When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, ‘The harvest is plentiful, but the labourers are few; therefore ask the Lord of the harvest to send out labourers into his harvest""

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 29-30/18
In Lebanon, Russia Uses Softer Touch to Win Influence/Beirut/Asharq Al Awsat/August, 29/18
Analysis: Electricity in Lebanon, understanding the real problem/Reem Khamis/Annahar/August 29/18
NATO Confirms Russian Naval Buildup Off Syria, Calls for Restraint/Haaretz/August 29/18/
Iran, Russia Prepare to Battle Each Other Over Control of Post-war Syria/Amos Harel and Amir Tibon/Haaretz/August 29/18
Iran at the Hague: Remembering America as a ‘Best Friend’/Amir Taheri/Asharq Al Awsat/August 29/18
Facebook Is Making the US a Political Dystopia/Leonid Bershidsky/Bloomberg/August 29/18
Should It Be Illegal for Prosecutors to "Flip" Witnesses?/by Alan M. Dershowitz/Gatestone Institute/August 29/18
William Kilpatrick: “Islam’s Thousand Year War on Christendom”/Raymond Ibrahim/August 29/18
Ahmadinejad’s preoccupation with Serena Williams outfit/Mashari Althaydi/Al Arabiya/August 29/18
McCain’s glory and his fatal mistake/Mamdouh AlMuhaini/Al Arabiya/August 29/18
China’s geo-economic interests and Middle East energy industry/Sabena Siddiqui/Al Arabiya/August 29/18
When the Brotherhood’s ‘bankrupt’ speaks!/Jameel al-Thiyabi/Al Arabiya/August 29/18

Titles For The Latest LCCC Lebanese Related News published on August 29-30/18
Aoun Refuses to Bow to Jumblat's 'Moodiness', Geagea's 'Conditions'
President Aoun, Maronite Patriarch Confer over Government Formation
Samy Gemayel Salutes Kataeb Founder on Commemoration Day
Berri to Convoke Parliament if No Government Is Formed Soon
Hariri Threatens to Expose Obstructors of Government Formation
New Government May be Delayed to Early 2019
Othman Slams 'Inaccuracy' after Reports Say Top Officer 'Facilitating Prostitution'
MPs Loyal to Aoun, Hariri Trade Jabs over Government
Al-Sayyed to Hariri: Formation of Govts. Needs Statesmen
Mustaqbal Slams Parties Blaming Hariri for Delay, 'Sabotaging' His Ties with Aoun
Syrian Ambassador to Lebanon: Normalization Exists
In Lebanon, Russia Uses Softer Touch to Win Influence
Statement by Minister of Foreign Affairs on International Day Against Nuclear Tests
Le Drian confirms support for government and reforms in Lebanon
Rally in front of Beirut Municipality, Parliament demands establishment of sanitary landfills
Aoun, French Senators tackle environmental initiative for Tripoli
Egypt says 20 militants killed in Sinai, western desert
Hariri discusses ecological project for Tripoli with French senators
Analysis: Electricity in Lebanon, understanding the real problem

Titles For The Latest LCCC Bulletin For Miscellaneous Reports And News published on August 29-30/18
Israel Renews Threat to Attack Iran Targets in Syria
Israel Says Won’t Allow Iran to Establish Itself Militarily in Syria
NATO Confirms Russian Naval Buildup Off Syria, Calls for Restraint
Thousands of Syrians Start Returning to Daraya
US Warns Assad against Chemical Attacks, UK Says Russia’s Accusations Are ‘Outlandish’
Russia’s Lavrov, Saudi FM Jubeir pledge counter-terrorism efforts
After Stinging Defeats, ISIS Revamps to Survive
Egypt Sentences to Death Six for Assassinating Policeman, Attempting to Kill Others
Iraq: 17,000 People Sick from Contaminated Water
11 Killed in Western Iraq Suicide Car Bombing
Iran Foreign Minister in Surprise Erdogan Talks
Khamenei Says Ready to Abandon Nuclear Deal if Needed
War of Words between Hamas, Fatah on Truce with Israel
Brazil Deploys Military to Boost Security at Venezuela Border
The Latest LCCC Lebanese Related News published on August 29-30/18
Aoun Refuses to Bow to Jumblat's 'Moodiness', Geagea's 'Conditions'
Naharnet/August 29/18/President Michel Aoun is refusing to bow to Progressive Socialist Party chief Walid Jumblat's “moodiness” or to Lebanese Forces leader Samir Geagea's “conditions,” despite his enthusiasm to see the new government formed soon, media reports said. “Aoun is among those most keen on the formation of the government, but strictly according to the results of the parliamentary elections without any deviation,” al-Joumhouria newspaper quoted “credible” sources as saying in remarks published Wednesday. The sources stressed that, “most importantly, he will not bow to any conditions, especially the LF's conditions and PSP chief Walid Jumblat's demand on monopolizing Druze representation.”“The president refuses that the government be under the mercy of Jumblat's moodiness should he gain the ability to threaten its existence” by stripping it of binding Druze representation, the sources added.

President Aoun, Maronite Patriarch Confer over Government Formation Wednesday 29th August 2018/maronite patriarch bechara al-rahi
Maronite Patriarch Bechara al-Rahi on Wednesday said that President Michel Aoun is optimistic regarding the formation of a new government, saying that Prime Minister-designate Saad Hariri will be visiting Aoun within the few coming days so as to submit to him a draft line-up. Following his meeting with Aoun at the Baabda Palace, Al-Rahi stressed that it is the right of Syrian and Iraqi refugees to return to their homelands, adding that this should not be linked to a political solutions in their countries.

Samy Gemayel Salutes Kataeb Founder on Commemoration Day 29th August 2018/Kataeb leader Samy Gemayel on Wednesday invoked the memory of the party founder Pierre Gemayel on the 34th anniversary of his passing, praising him as an example of bravery. “Pierre Gemayel, you will remain a model of courageous and impartial nationalism,” Gemayel tweeted. MP Elias Hankache also hailed Gemayel on his commemoration day, saying that he laid the foundations of a cause that will never die. Pierre Gemayel was born in November 1905 in Bickfaya, into a Maronite family. His father Amine Bachir Gemayel and his uncle were forced to flee to Egypt after being sentenced to death in 1915 for opposing Ottoman rule, returning to Lebanon only at the end of World War I.Gemayel studied pharmacy at the French faculty of medicine in Beirut, where he later opened a pharmacy. He also had an interest in sport, and attended the 1936 Olympic games in Berlin. After the games, he also visited various Central European countries. Upon his return to Lebanon later that year, Gemayel founded the Kataeb Party which survived a French attempt to forcibly dissolve it in 1937 and took part in an uprising against the French Mandate in 1943. It was not until the events of 1958 that Gemayel emerged as a leader of the far right movement that opposed a Nasserist and Arab-nationalist inspired attempt to overthrow the government of President Kamil Chamoun. Gemayel was appointed a cabinet minister in a four-member Unity government. Two years later, Gemayel was elected lawmaker. In 1958, Gemayel was appointed deputy to then Prime Minister Rachid Karami. He was appointed as minister of public works in 1970 and took part in another government line-up in 1984. In the 1970s, he staunchly opposed the armed Palestinian presence in Lebanon. In 1976, he joined other prominent Christian leaders to oppose the Syrian scheme to occupy Lebanon. Gemayel was still in office when he died of a heart attack in Bickfaya on August 29, 1984. He was at the age of 78.

Berri to Convoke Parliament if No Government Is Formed Soon Wednesday 29th August 2018/Speaker Nabih Berri on Wednesday renewed his call for the swift formation of the government, saying that he will opt for "urgency legislation" if no Cabinet takes charge soon. “The economic situation has become unbearable and laws must be ratified to address urgent files,” Berri was quoted as saying during his weekly meeting with lawmakers. “I will call for a Parliament session as soon as committees finish discussing certain draft laws, notably those pertaining to pressing financial issues,” he added.

Hariri Threatens to Expose Obstructors of Government Formation Wednesday 29th August 2018/Prime Minister-designate Saad Hariri on Tuesday threatened to expose those who are obstructing his mission to form a new government, rejecting individual and unfounded interpretations of the Constitution regarding the period of the government formation process. "If the government is not formed soon, I will name those hindering the process," he told reporters at his Downtown Beirut residence. "Let no one set any deadlines for me. Constitutional lectures made by this or that minister do not concern me." Hariri said that he had contacted President Michel Aoun and agreed to meet with him soon, adding that he will resume talks with political forces within the next few days. The PM-designate also commented on the latest speech delivered by Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah, saying that the group's position regarding the Special Tribunal for Lenanon has not changed. Hariri accused the Syrian regime of blackmailing Lebanon by conditioning the normalization of ties in order to reopen the Nassib border crossing.

New Government May be Delayed to Early 2019
Naharnet/August 29/18/The Cabinet formation process has witnessed no positive developments and the current complications are threatening to delay the creation of the new government until early 2019, media reports said. “New hurdles are surfacing everyday and the parties concerned are not announcing their true stances,” al-Joumhouria newspaper reported Wednesday. “Any of the parties has not shown willingness to offer concessions regarding its demands, which more and more confirms that largely domestic reasons are behind the delay,” the daily added. On Tuesday, Prime Minister-designate Saad Hariri had warned that he would “name the obstructors” if the government was not formed soon. All parties are still clinging to their demands, with the Progressive Socialist Party insisting on three Druze seats and the Lebanese Forces asking for a significant share that reflects the gains it made in the latest parliamentary elections. And after the weekly meeting of the Strong Lebanon bloc on Tuesday, Free Patriotic Movement chief MP Jebran Bassil emphasized that the president should have a share in the government in order to put the “strong president” idea into action.

Othman Slams 'Inaccuracy' after Reports Say Top Officer 'Facilitating Prostitution'

Naharnet/August 29/18/Internal Security Forces chief Maj. Gen. Imad Othman lamented Wednesday what he called “inaccuracy,” after media reports said the head of the ISF's Bureau for Combating Morality Crimes had been detained on charges of “involvement in running prostitution rings.”“What is being circulated lacks the least requirements of accuracy and can be labeled as repugnant defamation,” Othman said in a statement. “The Directorate General of the ISF is the only side entitled to announce the results of its investigations and it rejects all the circulated reports and fabrications,” the ISF chief added. The aforementioned bureau's chief, Colonel Johnny Haddad, was “summoned to interrogation Monday evening and subsequently detained in connection with financial ties to the owner of a touristic project in the Choueifat area suspected of being used for illegal prostitution,” media reports said on Wednesday. “Five policemen were summoned to interrogation on Tuesday morning and three of them were detained as the two others were freed,” the reports added.

MPs Loyal to Aoun, Hariri Trade Jabs over Government
Naharnet/August 29/18/Lawmakers from the blocs of President Michel Aoun and Prime Minister-designate Saad Hariri on Wednesday exchanged tirades over the delay in the Cabinet formation process. “Dear PM-designate, it is true that the Constitution does not stipulate a deadline, but what's more correct is that it is not written due to the simple fact that it is linked to the regularity of the state's functions,” Strong Lebanon bloc MP Ziad Aswad tweeted, adding that the current government should not continue acting in caretaker capacity indefinitely. “The deadline of commitment, the ethics of governmental work and keenness on the work of state institutions is shorter than any written deadline,” the MP added. Al-Mustaqbal bloc MP Mohammed al-Hajjar was quick to snap back on Twitter. “Dear colleague Ziad Aswad... Your tweet to the PM-designate is 'Jreissati-like' par excellence,” Hajjar tweeted, referring to caretaker Justice Minister Salim Jreissati. “But the ethics of political action require facilitating the formation process, not obstructing it. You can ask your president,” the MP added. Aoun and Hariri themselves have traded veiled jabs in recent days. On Monday, the president noted that Hariri “is the one who will form this government, whereas the president's jurisdiction is to approve and sign.”“That's why the PM-designate must take the initiative and begin forming the government,” Aoun added. Hariri hit back on Tuesday, saying “the issue of the government's formation is everyone's responsibility” and warning that he could soon name those who are “obstructing” the formation process.

Al-Sayyed to Hariri: Formation of Govts. Needs Statesmen

Naharnet/August 29/18/MP Jamil al-Sayyed lashed out Wednesday at Prime Minister-designate Saad Hariri, noting that he is “not a statesman.”“More than two weeks ago, I said that foreign forces were forbidding Hariri from forming the government, and I mentioned in the tweet that I would apologize to Hariri should he form the government within two weeks! The time has passed and he has not dared to form it,” al-Sayyed tweeted. “The formation of governments needs statesmen driven exclusively by the interests of the country and its people. This man is nonexistent,” the lawmaker, who is close to Damascus and Hizbullah, added.

Mustaqbal Slams Parties Blaming Hariri for Delay, 'Sabotaging' His Ties with Aoun
Naharnet/August 29/18/Al-Mustaqbal parliamentary bloc on Tuesday blasted political parties blaming Prime Minister-designate Saad Hariri for the delay in the government formation process, as it warned that some are seeking to “sabotage” his ties with President Michel Aoun. “Some stances and legal recommendations have suggested that the PM-designate will step down from the mission of forming the government or that parliament should be tasked with taking a decision in this regard. The bloc warns that there are non-innocent calls that violate the Constitution's stipulations, the spirit of the Taef Accord and the requirements of national accord,” said the bloc in a statement issued after its weekly meeting. Mustaqbal also criticized parties “insisting on blaming the PM-designate for the government delay,” accusing them of “reversing the facts and ignoring the real reasons behind the crisis.”And warning that “there is a growing rhetoric that contradicts with the settlement that restored the role of state institutions and put an end to a presidential void that lasted for more than two years,” the bloc underlined that “cooperation between President Michel Aoun and PM-designate Saad Hariri was not a political stroll that ends with the completion of a certain event.”“It has been and will always be the basis in the project of protecting the country,” the bloc added. Accordingly, it urged an end to perceived attempts at “sabotaging the ties” between Aoun and Hariri and stressed the importance of “immunizing the political settlement and all the breakthroughs it created.”
Syrian Ambassador to Lebanon: Normalization Exists
Beirut - Asharq Al-Awsat/Wednesday, 29 August, 2018/Syrian Ambassador to Lebanon Ali Abdel Karim said that the relations between Lebanon and Syria were real “as long as I am an ambassador to Lebanon and there is also a Lebanese ambassador to Syria.”
He continued: “Brotherly ties between the two countries necessitate a more realistic and more tolerant rhetoric, and further respect.”Following his meeting with Speaker Nabih Berri, the ambassador expressed his discontent with some parties’ criticism of the relations with Syria, saying: “The unfortunate discourse of some calls for lamentation; normalization exists, so do the roots of one family.”Responding to the reporters’ questions, Abdel Karim emphasized that while Syria needed Lebanon, “Lebanon needs Syria more, and both countries are governed by a geographical relationship, history and common families; and any words outside this context should be reconsidered by their owner because such speech shameful.”

In Lebanon, Russia Uses Softer Touch to Win Influence
Beirut/Asharq Al Awsat/August, 29/18
In a dimly-lit classroom in a Lebanese mountain town, students of all ages pore over Cyrillic workbooks and repeat carefully after their blonde instructor. "Privet. Kak dela?" -- "Hello, how are you?"
Moscow may have won influence in war-torn Syria through its blistering military intervention, but it is adopting a softer approach in neighboring Lebanon, where France and the US have held stronger sway. Whether through cultural outreach, planned business deals or traditional diplomacy, Russia appears to be trying to put down deep roots in the tiny Mediterranean country. In her classroom at the Russian-Lebanese Cultural Center, nestled in the town of Aley, instructor Galina Pavlova says she hopes her native tongue will find more fans among Lebanese, who in addition to Arabic often speak French and English. "We don't want France and the United States to be the only ones present in Lebanon -- Russia is a very important country too," she tells AFP. The Aley center is one of three new such hubs to have opened in Lebanon this summer alone, established with the backing of Moscow's embassy in Beirut. "This expansion falls within the framework of a strategy aiming to strengthen Moscow's presence in the Middle East," says Imad Rizk, who heads the Isticharia Centre for Strategic and Communication Studies. Ties between Moscow and Beirut intensified in the 1950s with the rise of Lebanon's left, before fading after the collapse of the Soviet Union. "Lebanon, still strongly associated to the West, is one certainly symbolic piece of (Russia's) broader desire to remodel the world governance," says Julien Nocetti, a specialist in Russia's role in the Middle East. The aim, he says, is to hasten "the coming of a post-West world order."
'Put down roots'
As new cultural centers open, Moscow is also boosting to 60 the number of university scholarships it gives to Lebanese students this year and deepening its economic ties to Beirut. It nearly doubled the value of its exports to the tiny country from $423 million in 2012 to $770 million last year, according to Lebanese customs data. The two countries are in talks over potentially opening a "green corridor" for Lebanese agricultural exports to Russia. And Novatek, one of Russia's largest natural gas producers, is part of a consortium expected to begin exploring for gas off Lebanon's coast next year. Lebanon's top diplomat Gebran Bassil traveled to Moscow recently, encouraging more Russian companies to take part in a new upcoming tender for further exploration. Beirut is relying on external help to revive its struggling economy, and in April a donor conference raised $11 billion in low-interest loans and aid for the state to improve basic public services. "We hope to make the Russians participate in the vast project to modernize Lebanese infrastructure," says Jacques Sarraf, who heads the Lebanese-Russian Business Council. In addition, Sarraf says, "Russian businesses intend to put down roots in Lebanon's north ahead of Syria's reconstruction."But the process is complicated, with both Syrian and Russian firms facing European and American sanctions that have left Lebanese banks "reluctant to deal with their Russian counterparts," he adds. Lebanon's banking sector is already being carefully monitored by the US Treasury, which is seeking to weaken the powerful Iran-backed Hezbollah movement by targeting "suspicious" banking.
Influence through repatriation?
Lebanon's growth has slowed to a crawl in recent years as political divisions have paralyzed the government and services have been strained by the arrival of 1.5 million Syrian refugees. Moscow is looking to lend a helping hand there too, launching an initiative in July to repatriate refugees from around the region. The proposal has been welcomed by the political class in Lebanon, which hosts some 900,000 refugees who could return to Syria, according to President Michel Aoun, who is close to both Damascus and Hezbollah. Moscow has also proposed a billion-dollar defense contract to arm Lebanese troops, but Beirut pulled out at the "last minute," says Sarraf. Such a deal could have jeopardized the sizeable US support Beirut receives from the US, including the $1.7 billion it has received in military aid since 2006. Aram Nerguizian, co-director of the Carnegie Middle East Center's department on civil-military relations, says Lebanon's ties to the US were at stake. "If Lebanon accepts or even insinuates an intent to accept a Russian credit line for the purchase of Russian defense articles, it will have significant -- and potentially irreversible -- geopolitical consequences on Lebanon's existing bilateral and multilateral commitments and partnerships, especially ties to the US," he tells AFP.

Statement by Minister of Foreign Affairs on International Day Against Nuclear Tests
August 29, 2018 - Ottawa, Ontario - Global Affairs Canada
The Honourable Chrystia Freeland, Minister of Foreign Affairs, today issued the following statement:
“Canada is firmly committed to the goal of a world free of nuclear weapons and nuclear testing, which remains a significant threat to international peace and security.
“The Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty [CTBT] is an integral component of the global non-proliferation and disarmament regime, and Canada strongly supports efforts toward its full ratification. The entry into force of the Treaty will provide tangible security benefits for all states, and help to advance our collective efforts to halt the spread of nuclear weapons and eliminate existing arsenals.
“As North Korea’s behaviour over the past several years has shown, test explosions have harmful and destabilizing consequences that threaten global peace and security. Canada welcomes the recent high-level inter-Korean dialogue and ongoing engagement between the United States and North Korea. We urge North Korea to follow up by taking concrete, verifiable action to dismantle its weapons of mass destruction programs. The signing and ratification of the CTBT would be an important step to demonstrate its genuine intent to halt nuclear testing.
“Canada is an active leader in efforts to end nuclear testing, including through our strong contributions to the CTBT, its organization, and the International Monitoring System. Canada currently hosts 16 of the CTBT organization’s monitoring stations and laboratories, and has contributed valuable data following North Korea’s nuclear tests.
“We know that nuclear disarmament is possible, and we will continue to do our part to advance collective efforts toward this goal.”

Le Drian confirms support for government and reforms in Lebanon
Wed 29 Aug 2018/NNA - Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs of the French Republic, Jean-Yves Le Drian, confirmed Wednesday his support for the Lebanese government and the economic reforms contained in the recommendations of the "CEDRE" conference.
Speaking at the Ambassadors' Conference held in Paris, the head of French diplomacy also announced France's support for Lebanon's dissociation policy away from regional conflicts.

Rally in front of Beirut Municipality, Parliament demands establishment of sanitary landfills
Wed 29 Aug 2018/NNA - A number of activists gathered this Wednesday in front of the Municipality of Beirut in protest against waste incinerators. Attending the rally was MP Paula Yaacoubian, the NNA correspondent said. "A sustainable solution, if implemented in the treatment of waste, will be the final resolution to all crises, including the electricity and housing crises," said one of the activists, calling, on behalf of all, for the establishment of sanitary landfills. Protesters then headed to the House of Representatives, demanding "the Environment Committee to hold the Ministry of Environment accountable, and to have a solution found through the Committee within the House of Representatives.”
Activists later went to the Riad Solh square, according to the same source.

Aoun, French Senators tackle environmental initiative for Tripoli
Wed 29 Aug 2018/NNA - President of the Republic, General Michel Aoun, informed members of the French Senate who visited him at the Baabda Palace this Wednesday that he “pays special attention to the environment in Lebanon and the importance of preserving it and encouraging projects that protect biodiversity and natural resources which have become under direct threat due to neglect, on the one hand, and lack of attention to safe and modern waste treatment, on the other hand." He underscored the importance of education in schools and universities "to encourage students since childhood to respect the environment," pointing out that "the national economic plan gives the environmental issue a key space, so as to keep pace with the process of advancement."The president also stressed the importance of bilateral and multilateral cooperation to protect the environment, especially the initiative by members of the French Senate to organize a symposium in Paris on September 10 to dwell on environmental issues, especially in the city of Tripoli. The delegation members underlined the need to fight pollution, pointing out that their goal is to work with the association "We Are Tripoli" and the city's figures to render Tripoli an ecological capital par excellence, as it is as an economic capital. On a different note, President Aoun received a delegation of the Amal movement comprised of caretaker Finance Minister, Ali Hassan Khalil, MP Ali Bazzi and lawyer Ali Abdullah, who invited the Head-of-State to attend the ceremony to be held next Friday in Baalbek on the 40th commemoration of the vanishing of Imam Moussa al-Sadr and his companions.

Egypt says 20 militants killed in Sinai, western desert

Wed 29 Aug 2018/NNA - Egypt says its security forces have killed at least 20 suspected militants in recent days in the restive northern Sinai Peninsula and along its porous border with Libya. The military said in a statement Wednesday that forces destroyed 18 hideouts and weapons depots, dismantled 41 explosive devices and arrested 83 suspects. The military says airstrikes destroyed 39 vehicles containing weapons and ammunition in the Western Desert. Egypt launched a nationwide operation against militants in February. It has struggled to combat a long-running insurgency in the Sinai that is now affiliated with Daesh (ISIS) group.--Associated Press

Hariri discusses ecological project for Tripoli with French senators
Wed 29 Aug 2018/NNA - Prime Minister-designate Saad Hariri received today at the Center House a delegation of members of the French Senate that included senators Nathalie Goulet, Joel Guerriau and Corinne Feret, in the presence of MP Dima Jamali, former MP Nabil de Freige and Mr. Omar Harfoush. Discussions focused on an ecological initiative for Tripoli, and continued over a lunch hosted by Prime Minister Hariri. After the meeting, Goulet said: "We visited Tripoli to try to better cooperate on sustainable development and citizen ecology. On September 10th, in Paris, there will be a conference in the Senate on citizen ecology with Tripoli as a model. This is unique and we wanted to see things on the ground. We had a wonderful surprise, the Tripoli Chamber of Commerce and Industry decided to adopt the "zero plastic bag" soon. These are very important measures. Then we will work on food waste, which is also a real subject. Nobody likes to throw away food and it is very important to be able to cooperate between parliamentarians, because the parliamentary level is closer to the people and allows the exchange of experiences. The parliamentarians of Tripoli joined our action. This morning, we were received by President Aoun, which was an honor for modest French parliamentarians who came to cooperate. We had this meeting with Prime Minister Hariri, who of course also supports this action. All good fairies are around this cradle and we will really try to make it a model for the rest of Lebanon. We know the situation in Lebanon and the regional situation. Today, to make Tripoli the second largest economic city in the country, it is also necessary to reconcile ecology and sustainable development. It is an absolute necessity and I really thank Omar Harfouch and Dima Jamali for wanting to associate us to this project. There will be a continuation, we are here for a while, we will make a roadmap, and we will see you soon on the ground." For her part, Jamali said: We informed Prime Minister Hariri about the meetings we held and the tours we conducted in Tripoli, which were very good and resulted in a cooperation with the Chamber of Commerce and Industry to reduce the use of plastic bags in the city. There is also cooperation on Tripoli between the French Senate and the Lebanese Parliament, to work on projects aimed at alleviating the environmental crisis in the city. Prime Minister Hariri expressed his full support for this project. Hariri also received the Ambassador of Belarus to Syria and Lebanon Alexander Ponomarev, in the presence of the Vice-President of the Lebanese-Belarussian Business Council Abdel-Wadoud Nsouli. The meeting focused on the bilateral relations between the two countries.
Analysis: Electricity in Lebanon, understanding the real problem
Reem Khamis/Annahar/August 29/18
The failure of the Lebanese government to re-organize the electricity sector is leading to deficits on the public budget.
BEIRUT: The Energy sector in Lebanon has been facing many challenges over the years. The outbreak of the Civil War from 1975 until 1990 caused the electricity sector in the country to lag behind global and regional electricity trends, due to the destruction and damage of the electricity infrastructure, as well as the impairment of managerial, operational, technical and financial capacities of the state-owned Electricite Du Liban (EDL).
As electricity fails, desperate Venezuelans buy spoiled meat
During this time, illegal links and connections to the electricity networks were facilitated as well as fraud and theft, such as manipulating the meters. Illegal connections cause great mechanical and technical damages to the grid and cause additional maintenance and repair costs.
These practices have thus weakened the financial abilities of the electricity supplier and the government and persisted even after the end of the war and, unfortunately, they’re still present until today.
Following the end of the Civil War, a restoration plan was launched in order to improve the transmission and supply networks and to expand the generating capacity. Nevertheless, this strategy proved to be ineffective as the electricity supply did not meet the demand.
The government was neither proactive nor innovative; instead, it followed the same old patterns for electricity production, relying on petroleum. Moreover, it didn’t take into account the population growth and the continuous increase for energy demand over the years. It also didn’t take into account the financial consequences that could rise from the increase of fuel price. Along with that, corruption and political instabilities remained present, hindering the energy sector from developing.
Lebanon’s electricity system was also affected by the outbreak of the Civil War in Syria in 2011. First, the inflow of Syrian refugees to the country amplified demand for electricity, as the country welcomed over 1.5 million immigrants. Second, a study done by the UN and the Government in 2017 shows that “at least 45 percent of electrical connections done by Syrian households to the grid are done in an illegal manner.”
Technical Challenges
Technical challenges and barriers have also stood in the way of improving the situation of the energy sector in Lebanon. A major challenge is having to deal with technical damages and losses caused by illegal connections to the grid, which causes a fall in the generation capacity to almost 50 percent.
Old power plants have also limited the efficiency of electricity production in Lebanon. Most of the electricity power plants in Lebanon are between 25 to 45 years old and some are even older. The problem with aged power plants is that they require more maintenance and lead to a decrease in capacity output in comparison to the initial design capacity. A Lack of maintenance and technical supervision accentuates the problem and has resulted in limited plant efficiency.
Some plants – the Beddawi and Zahrani power plants – were constructed and equipped with “combined cycle gas turbines,” initially planned and designed to best function using natural gas, thus reaching greater efficiencies than “open-cycle gas turbine.” However, due to the lack of natural gas supply, these energy plants are running on gas oil which reduces the efficiency of the operation and lead to a lower output than expected.
Even when the installed plants are operated in full capacity, generating approximately 2700 MW, the supply is not enough to cover the demand at peak time. Furthermore, due to the aging of the power plants, as well as the technical losses in the transmission and distribution networks, the gap grows even bigger between the demand and the supply, leaving citizens with almost 1300-1500 MW power shortage.
Management Challenges
The failure of the Lebanese government to re-organize the electricity sector is leading to deficits on the public budget. These losses are the results of technical challenges as well as weak organizational and operational administration and frameworks.
EDL is being greatly subsidized and has been increasingly costing the country reaching 25% of its annual state budget. This has resulted in the decrease of government expenditure on other fundamental matters such as social security, infrastructure, education, health and other social and economic development projects
Corruption has played a great role in weakening the electricity system, which has caused people to lose trust in the government, and as a matter of expediency, to rely on privately owned diesel generators.
Private electricity providers have become an integrated part of the grid, which led President Michel Aoun to make a decision recently, requiring generator owners to install meters. The situation highlights the problem, as in an ideal system, private diesel generators shouldn’t be an alternative energy resource as they pollute the environment.
Noting also, it’s a privately owned parallel network to what was supposed to be a working state-system.
The electricity deficit should shift to renewable, rather than fuel-based options. A new mindset is needed instead of relying on petroleum for electricity production.
Despite high electricity rates, the awareness to rethink and reduce the energy consumption at a household level is weak. Adding to that, the consciousness toward the reliance and the use of renewable energy among industries, as well as households, is still underdeveloped.
The portion of renewables in gross energy consumption is marginal compared to the reliance on fuels; as fuel-based sources constitute a great percentage of electricity consumption, while hydraulic sources cover a marginal share.
The challenges in the energy sector in Lebanon expand on various scales, as the problem starts on a country level with political instabilities, corruption, weak and inefficient electricity production and main reliance on fuel-based electricity.
The issue drags on regional level with technical losses during the transmission phase. Furthermore, the problem is also at a community level, as not all distributions are legal, and illegal connections to the grid are still common and causing damages to the network; and lastly, unsustainable consumption pattern is observed at a household level due to the lack of awareness and consciousness.
The results are obvious in the daily blackouts, which are so expected at certain times, to the point where Lebanese citizens can set their phone to alert at certain hours of the day.
**Reem Khamis holds a masters in Environmental and Energy Management at the University of Twente in the Netherlands. Her thesis was an emphasis on urban resilience and climate change adaptation in megacities. Rim is currently undergoing her PhD studies in Environmental and Energy Solutions at the University of Pau and Pays de L'Adour in France focusing on climate change adaptation in medium-sized European cities.

The Latest LCCC Bulletin For Miscellaneous Reports And News published on
August 29-30/18
Israel Renews Threat to Attack Iran Targets in Syria
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/August 29/18/Israel on Wednesday renewed its threat to attack Iranian military targets in Syria, after Tehran and Damascus signed an accord on security cooperation. "The accord concluded by (Syrian President) Bashar al-Assad and Iran constitutes a test for Israel: Our response will be loud and clear," Intelligence Minister Yisrael Katz said on Israeli public radio. "We will not allow Iran to establish itself militarily in Syria," he said. "We will react in Syria with all our might against any Iranian target that threatens Israel, and if the Syrian army's air defense intervenes against us, it will pay the price." Iran's military attache to Damascus said Tuesday that his country's military advisers would remain in Syria under the defense agreement signed the previous day. "Support for Syria's territorial integrity and the independence of Syrian sovereignty were also emphasized in the agreement," Brigadier-General Abolghasem Alinejad said. Tehran has provided steady political, financial and military backing to Assad as he has fought back against a seven-year uprising. Israel has sought to avoid direct involvement in the conflict but acknowledges carrying out dozens of air strikes in Syria to stop what it says are deliveries of advanced weaponry to Lebanon's Hizbullah. It has also pledged to prevent its arch foe Iran from entrenching itself militarily in Syria and a series of strikes that have killed Iranians in Syria have been attributed to Israel.
Israel Says Won’t Allow Iran to Establish Itself Militarily in Syria
Asharq Al-Awsat/Wednesday, 29 August, 2018/Israel renewed on Wednesday its threat to attack Iranian military targets in Syria, after the two allies signed an accord on security cooperation. The "defense and technical agreement" provides for the continued "presence and participation" of Iran in Syria, according to Iran's Defense Minister Amir Hatami, who has visited Damascus. But Israeli Intelligence Minister Yisrael Katz said on public radio that “the accord concluded by (the head of the Syrian regime) Bashar Assad and Iran constitutes a test for Israel: Our response will be loud and clear." "We will not allow Iran to establish itself militarily in Syria," he warned. "We will react in Syria with all our might against any Iranian target that threatens Israel, and if the Syrian army's air defense intervenes against us, it will pay the price." Like Hatami, Iran's military attache to Damascus said Tuesday that his country's military advisers would remain in Syria under the defense agreement signed the previous day. "Support for Syria's territorial integrity and the independence of Syrian sovereignty were also emphasized in the agreement," Brig.-Gen. Abolghasem Alinejad said. Tehran has provided steady political, financial and military backing to Assad.

NATO Confirms Russian Naval Buildup Off Syria, Calls for Restraint
Haaretz/August 29/18/
'It is important that all actors in the region exercise restraint and refrain from worsening an already disastrous humanitarian situation in Syria,' a NATO spokesman told Haaretz in a statement.
NATO confirmed a large scale Russian navy buildup in the Mediterranean Sea off Syria on Tuesday. “The Russian Navy has dispatched substantial naval forces to the Mediterranean, including several ships equipped with modern cruise missiles,” NATO spokesperson Oana Lungescu confirmed to Haaretz in a statement.Russian media on Tuesday called the deployment Moscow's largest naval buildup since it entered the Syrian conflict in 2015. The reinforcement comes as Russia's ally, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, is believed to be considering an assault on the last big rebel-held enclave, Idlib in the north. Lungescu said, “Many NATO Allies border the Mediterranean, and our navies constantly operate there, so we monitor naval activity in the region, including that of Russia.”“We will not speculate on the intention of the Russian fleet, but it is important that all actors in the region exercise restraint and refrain from worsening an already disastrous humanitarian situation in Syria,” added the spokesperson. “NATO is not present in Syria, but we support the efforts of the United Nations to achieve a lasting political resolution to the conflict.”Russia claimed on Monday that the U.S. is preparing for a possible strike on Syria. Major-General Igor Konashenkov was quoted by agencies as saying that the USS Ross, a guided-missile destroyer, had entered the Mediterranean on Aug. 25 armed with 28 Tomahawk cruise missiles capable of hitting any target in Syria
Russian intervention
Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu said on Tuesday that the Russian military was in talks with leaders of armed groups in Syria's rebel-held Idlibprovince to reach a peace settlement, Russian news agency RIA reported. Shoigu said the aim of the Idlib talks was to reach peaceful resolution similar to the settlements in Syria's Eastern Ghouta and Deraa, RIA said. The Russian Navy has dispatched the biggest task force to the Mediterranean Sea since the start of Russia's intervention in the Syrian conflict in September 2015, Russian daily Izvestia reported.
* The task force includes 13 warships and two submarines
* Most of the ships carry 'Kalibr' cruise missiles
* Several more ships are reportedly on their way to join the task force
* Izvestia cites military experts as saying the fleet will be able to support the Syrian army's campaign in rebel-held Idlib Province
* Russia intervened in the Syrian Civil War in 2015 backing the government of President Bashar al-Assad

Thousands of Syrians Start Returning to Daraya
Asharq Al Awsat/Wednesday, 29 August, 2018/Thousands of Syrians began returning to Daraya on Tuesday, state media said, for the first time since government forces clawed back the Damascus suburb from rebels two years ago. The town was one of the major centers of the uprising against President Bashar al-Assad and suffered massive damage during the fighting, forcing most of its people to leave. Assad’s military and its allies regained control of Daraya after years of bitter siege and bombing. Many who did not want to live under state rule left along with rebel fighters under a surrender deal in August 2016. Civilians and fighters who feared state rule were bussed out to insurgent territory in the north, while others - who most likely are those now returning to the town - were displaced to government territory around the capital. Displaced people were returning after Daraya was “purged of remnants of the terrorists and the main services were reinstated”, state TV said. State news agency SANA showed pictures of crowds gathering under large government flags and photos of Assad. Behind them, rows of buildings, their windows blown out, appeared pitted with shellholes and showed heavy damage from fighting. Russia's defense minister said on Tuesday that war-torn Syria would be ready to accept one million returning refugees, following Moscow-backed reconstruction work. "Since 2015, when towns and villages gradually started to be freed, more than one million people have returned home," Sergei Shoigu said in comments reported by Russian news agencies. "Now every opportunity has been created for the return of roughly one million (more) refugees," he told journalists. "Huge infrastructure reconstruction work is ongoing, the rebuilding of transport routes and security points so that Syria can begin accepting refugees."Russia, a long-time ally of Syria, launched a military intervention in 2015 to support the Bashar al-Assad's regime, a move that changed the course of the war. Assad and his allies have since recovered swathes of territory and the government is turning its attention to post-conflict reconstruction, with the aid of Moscow. The war that erupted in 2011, one of the most devastating conflicts since World War II, has displaced more than half of Syria's population, including more than five million beyond its borders. Most of them fled to neighboring countries, particularly Turkey, Jordan and Lebanon. Presidents Vladimir Putin and Donald Trump discussed the return of refugees at a summit in Helsinki last month. Moscow later said it had put forward plans to Washington to cooperate on their return to Syria but details have yet to be confirmed.
US Warns Assad against Chemical Attacks, UK Says Russia’s Accusations Are ‘Outlandish’
New York - Ali Barada/Asharq Al Awsat/Wednesday, 29 August, 2018/The United States has warned that it would respond appropriately to any chemical weapons attack by the regime of Bashar Assad, as members of the United Nations Security Council exchanged counter accusations on the deteriorating humanitarian situation in Syria and the threat to the lives of millions of civilians in Idlib province. US Representative to the UN Economic and Social Council Kelley Currie expressed concern to the Council that the Assad regime could once again use chemical weapons against its people, warning that “the United States, France and the United Kingdom are committed to responding appropriately to any such attacks.”The use of chemical weapons against civilian populations as part of the assault on Idlib would have “devastating consequences for humanitarian conditions on the ground” and would further erode the international regime prohibiting the use of chemical weapons, Currie said. She spoke after John Ging, Director of Operations and Advocacy for the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, told the Council that recent weeks have seen a further serious deterioration of the humanitarian situation in northwest Syria. Noting that aid partners are finalizing a comprehensive readiness plan for the northwest, he nevertheless said some 2.1 million people remain in need in areas under the control of armed groups. Emergency Relief Coordinator Mark Lowcock is in Damascus “to engage with the government on how best to scale up the collective humanitarian response,” he said. But Russia's envoy, Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia, said the US has illegally created an airbase in southern Syria close to a refugee camp. “To make a show of being humane to an audience is not necessary,” he insisted. “What is necessary is concrete assistance.” "We need to decouple moderate groups from terrorist groups" in Idlib, he said. He again accused Hayat Tahrir al-Sham of preparing a chemical attack, which Moscow says the West will use to justify a strike against Syrian forces. Russia also claims British special forces are helping the militants, including by possibly supplying chlorine, allegations vehemently denied by Britain's Ambassador Karen Pierce who called them "baseless" and "outlandish." The heated exchange of accusations came after the Security Council held closed-door talks in which the Russian ambassador made further accusations on the possibility of the Syrian opposition’s use of chemical weapons. But a diplomat who attended the session said Nebenzia provided no evidence.
Russia’s Lavrov, Saudi FM Jubeir pledge counter-terrorism efforts
Staff writer, Al Arabiya/EnglishWednesday, 29 August 2018/Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov announced on Wednesday, during a meeting with his Saudi counterpart Adel al-Jubeir, a koint projects between the two countries worth $2 bln. Both diplomats held a press conference after their meetings where Jubeir said that Saudi Arabia “seeks to strengthen trade relations with Russia and coordinate with them politically”. “We consult with Russia on the situation in Yemen and the efforts made by the UN envoy to Yemen,” Jubeir told reporters. “We also discussed the Syria situation with the Russian side and the need to implement UN Resolutions. Lavrov also confirmed that Russia is coordinating with Riyadh regarding a potential visit by President Vladimir Putin to Saudi Arabia soon.
After Stinging Defeats, ISIS Revamps to Survive
Asharq Al Awsat/Wednesday, 29 August, 2018/Four years after announcing its cross-border "caliphate" in Iraq and Syria, a stinging string of defeats has pushed the ISIS terrorist group to reorganize and change strategy to survive. Having lost all urban centers under its control in Iraq and pinned down to its last desert holdouts in Syria, ISIS has changed its administrative structure and shifted its focus away from operating the state-like apparatus it once ran. ISIS will have to find "a new way of doing things, especially to recruit after heavy losses", an Iraqi security official, who asked to remain anonymous, told AFP. At its peak, the self-proclaimed caliphate included 35 "wilaya" (provinces) mostly set within a swathe of territory spanning either side of the border between Syria and Iraq. But following major military defeats -- including the militants' loss of their de facto capitals of Raqqa in Syria and Mosul in Iraq -- ISIS propaganda outlets now only mention six "wilaya". Former ISIS provinces like Mosul, Raqqa and Kirkuk -- an oil-rich province in Iraq -- no longer exist. Instead, the term "wilaya" is now used to refer to large chunks of territory like Iraq and Syria, along with Somalia, East Asia, Tajikistan and the Egyptian Sinai. The administrative reshuffle marks a clear switch from 2014, when ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi boasted of having erased the "imperialist" design that divided the Middle East. The proclamation was made with great fanfare as militants drove bulldozers across the Syrian-Iraqi border, symbolically destroying one of the frontiers drawn up by colonial powers as they carved out the modern Middle East from the ruins of the Ottoman Empire after World War I. After years battling ISIS, Iraqi troops are now redeployed along most of the border with Syria, across which extremists and weapons have long flowed unimpeded. On the Syrian side, separate offensives by forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and a US-backed coalition have pushed ISIS militants out of most of the territory they once controlled. "The change proves Daesh's weakness and the loss of much of its leadership," the security official told AFP, using an Arabic acronym for ISIS. ISIS's restructure "shows its central command lacks confidence in its wilaya commanders in Iraq and that it is reducing their powers to one (central) leadership," the official said. Iraqi authorities regularly announce the arrest or death of ISIS leaders and relatives of Baghdadi, such as his son, who was killed in Syria in July by Russian missiles. Baghdadi himself was thought to have been killed several times, and the US has offered up a $25 million reward for information leading to his capture or death. In a purported new audio message released on Wednesday to mark the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Adha, Baghdadi called on his followers to "not give up the jihad against their enemy". "Baghdadi's speech was one of consolation and condolence," said Hisham al-Hashemi, an expert on radical groups. It was an "acknowledgment of defeat... but (Baghdadi) urged those remaining to persevere", he said. The security official said that after losing ground in Iraq and Syria, "ISIS leadership is now focused on a global vision" modeled on Al-Qaeda. Its cross-border state now destroyed, ISIS is instead likely to focus on spreading shock and terror around the world through dramatic attacks. In a first, Baghdadi used his 55-minute recording to call for attacks in the West, saying an operation there would be "worth a thousand" at home. Much of the address was reminiscent of approaches long used by Al-Qaeda, according to Hashemi. In it, the ISIS leader scorns the US, blasts Shiite Iran, and calls on Sunni Muslims in Iraq to denounce the Shiite-dominated paramilitary units of the Hashed al-Shaabi.

Egypt Sentences to Death Six for Assassinating Policeman, Attempting to Kill Others
Cairo- Mohammed Nabil Helmi/Asharq Al Awsat/August 29/18/An Egyptian court on Tuesday sentenced six people to death for attacking a security checkpoint north of Cairo and killing a policeman. The Cairo Criminal Court handed various prison sentences to six others in the case that dates back to 2016. Militants attacked a security checkpoint in al-Khosous district in Qalubiya province, killed a non-commissioned police officer and attempted to kill other officers, prosecutors said. The court, headed by Judge Shaaban al-Shami, issued its verdicts in the case on Tuesday. It also jailed two people for life and four others, including three minors, for terms ranging from three to 15 years. Sentences against the accused in the case are not final. Defendants have the right to appeal the verdict before the Court of Cassation. They were sentenced for allegedly forming and supporting a terrorist group to try to topple the government and attack police and armed forces personnel. The prosecution accused the defendants of establishing and leading a terrorist group in 2016, contrary to the provisions of the law, aimed at disrupting the constitution and laws, preventing state institutions and public authorities from carrying out their work and attacking police and armed forces, as well as training on the use of firearms to kill policemen. They also committed the crime of assassinating Mustafa Mohamed Amin, the police sergeant, deliberately while he was at a security point in the town of Al Khosous, according to the indictment, in addition to assassinating police officer Khalid Mohieddin and other security men. The indictment added that they "possessed firearms, including machine guns, rifles, cartridges and ammunition of which cannot be authorized to be used, and manufactured two explosive devices."

Iraq: 17,000 People Sick from Contaminated Water
Baghdad/Asharq Al-Awsat/Wednesday, 29 August, 2018/A severe water contamination crisis that has hit Iraq, especially in Basra governorate, has raised fears of a cholera outbreak. Minister of Health Adeela Hamoud announced during her last visit to Basra that 1,500 severe cases of diarrhea had been recorded, but there was no cholera in the region. Meanwhile, Director-General of the Public Health Directorate in Basra Riad Abdul-Amir said that about 17,000 cases of colic and diarrhea were reported due to contaminated water over the past two weeks, warning that around 20 percent of those cases carried the symptoms of cholera. "The hospitals in Basra receive about 1,500 such cases on a daily basis," Abdul-Amir said. On Monday, Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi urged local authorities to address the water contamination issue and ensure sufficient water deliveries from the Tigris and Euphrates rivers. The Prime Minister directed the Defense and Transportation Ministries to ensure the safe transfer of drinking water to the province. He also asked the Ministry of Energy to provide fuel for water tankers heading to Basra. The religious authority in Najaf and the Secretariat of Hussein Shrine in Karbala also addressed the issue and formed a crisis unit to help the people overcome the crisis. "The Representative of Supreme Religious Authority, Sheikh Abdul-Mehdi El-Kerbelaey, held an extensive meeting with various officials of the Shrine, including those from the finance, maintenance, electricity and mechanisms departments, to discuss the formation of a crisis unit to save the people of the city of Basra," the media department of the Shrine said in a statement. The statement pointed out that Kerbelaey ordered the members of the cell to visit Basra to proceed with the maintenance of desalination plants and street lights, in addition to providing the residents with suitable drinking water. Kerbelaey said during the Friday sermon that despite all appeals to the government “for a temporary solution for water contamination in Basra, the efforts the government is making are still below the threshold for a temporary relief.”The Iraqi High Commission for Human Rights in Basra indicated that Abo al-Khasib General Hospital in Basra receives daily more than 400 people sickened by polluted water. A delegation of the Commission visited the hospital and met with dozens of citizens suffering from symptoms caused by contaminated water. The Commission noted that Abo al-Khasib is the only hospital capable of treating such cases. Sources in Basra told Asharq Al-Awsat that the Directorate of Education warned that cholera could spread among students at the start of the academic year due to polluted water in schools. The sources confirmed that citizens staged a demonstration outside the Department of Health, protesting the absence of solutions to the crisis. The Syndicate of Journalists in Basra also organized a protest, urging the central and local governments "not to make unrealistic promises and to take practical steps to address the crisis."

11 Killed in Western Iraq Suicide Car Bombing
Asharq Al-Awsat/Wednesday, 29 August, 2018/A suicide bomber blew up a vehicle in the town of Al-Qaim in western Iraq on Wednesday, killing at least 11 people and wounding 16 others, police said. Among the wounded, 11 were civilians and the other five were security personnel, police Captain Mahmud Jassem told AFP. Maj. Gen. Qasem al-Dulaimi said the attacker drove a booby-trapped vehicle into a joint security checkpoint managed by the Iraqi army and the Popular Mobilization Forces at the southern entrance to the town. ISIS claimed responsibility for the attack, according to its news agency Amaq.The town on the Syrian border was one of the last in Iraq to be recaptured from ISIS in November 2017.

Iran Foreign Minister in Surprise Erdogan Talks

Agence France Presse/Naharnet/August 29/18/Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif was on Wednesday holding previously unannounced talks with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Ankara, the Turkish presidency said.Zarif went into the talks at the headquarters of Erdogan's ruling party, as expectations grow of an offensive in the Idlib province of northwest Syria bordering Turkey by Tehran's ally President Bashar al-Assad.

Khamenei Says Ready to Abandon Nuclear Deal if Needed
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/August 29/18/Iran's supreme leader warned Wednesday the country could abandon its nuclear deal with world powers if it no longer served its interests, even as economic and political pressure mounted on the government. "Naturally, if we reach the conclusion that (the nuclear deal) is no longer maintaining our national interests, we will put it aside," Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said in a meeting with the cabinet, according to his website. He said Iran must not "pin its hopes" on Europe, despite European efforts to salvage the nuclear deal following the withdrawal of the United States. The government of President Hassan Rouhani has been battered by the return of U.S. sanctions, which has triggered a rapid departure of foreign firms and ended his hopes of attracting large-scale investment. His political enemies are circling, with parliament announcing that two more of his ministers could be impeached in the coming days. The labour and economy ministers have already been sacked by parliament this month and motions have been accepted to vote on impeaching his industries and education ministers in the coming days. Khamenei insisted the political tumult was a sign of the strength of Iran's democracy. He praised the tough questioning Rouhani received in parliament on Tuesday as "a glorious show of the power of the Islamic republic and the self-confidence of officials."Differences between officials are "natural", he added, though he said they should not be covered by the media "because the people would become worried."Tuesday's grilling in parliament was the first for Rouhani in five years as president, and lawmakers slammed his handling of five economic issues, ranging from unemployment to the collapsing value of the currency. In voting at the end of the session, they declared they were unsatisfied with four of his responses.
'Day and night'
Under parliamentary rules, the issues could then have been referred for judicial review, but parliament speaker Ali Larijani -- a close ally of Rouhani -- said on Wednesday there were no legal grounds for doing so. Parliament can theoretically impeach Rouhani, but he has the protection of Khamenei, who has previously said removing the president would "play into the hands of the enemy." Instead, Khamenei called on officials to work together "day and night" to resolve the country's economic problems. Iran's currency has lost around half its value since the U.S. announced it was withdrawing from the nuclear deal in May, and further pain is expected when sanctions on its crucial oil sector are reimposed in November. Conservative opponents of Rouhani, who have long opposed his outreach to the West, are smelling blood. Next in their sights is his minister of industry, mines and business, Mohammad Shariatmadari, who is accused of failing to prevent high inflation, particularly in the car industry. A motion was also filed on Wednesday to vote on the impeachment of Education Minister Mohammad Bathaei, over a series of issues linked to school budgets, the curriculum and alleged mismanagement.

War of Words between Hamas, Fatah on Truce with Israel
Ramallah - Kifah Zboun/Asharq Al-Awsat/Wednesday, 29 August, 2018/Fatah and Hamas movements have stepped up their dispute over a truce deal with Israel in the Gaza Strip as Egypt has sought to push inter-Palestinian reconciliation forward. Fatah has presented a comprehensive response to the Egyptian reconciliation document and warned that it will have an immediate response if Hamas strikes a truce deal with Israel before completing the reconciliation process. Hamas rejected the warning, accusing the Palestinian Authority (PA) of besieging Gaza. Member of Fatah Central Committee Hussein al-Sheikh asserted that a ceasefire is not possible before “achieving reconciliation.” He warned that the Palestinian leadership will consider other alternatives if reconciliation is not achieved. Sheikh didn’t refer to Egypt’s role in the process, but said Hamas and others want to topple the PA to satisfy Israel and the US.
He added that if President Mahmoud Abbas accepted the truce according to the standards set by Israel, he would immediately win praise and receive the Nobel Prize. The Fatah member asserted that the movement supports a comprehensive truce that must include the West Bank and not just the Gaza Strip.
Abbas has reportedly criticized the potential ceasefire agreement between Israel and Hamas, saying in private conversations that such a deal would only be reached “over my dead body,” according to a top Fatah official. The official explained that if the “agreement is signed without the PA’s permission, it will be considered illegal and amount to treason.” According to the official, Abbas was also furious at Egypt. Hamas responded to the criticism, claiming there is a “national consensus” among the Palestinian people in favor of a long-term Gaza ceasefire with Israel.
Hamas spokesperson Abdel Latif al-Qanua slammed Fatah, saying Hamas is not playing a role in an international deal that gives up Palestinian lands, recognizes the occupier or destroys the national project, “as you did.”
“We didn’t recognize the Zionist entity and sanctify the security coordination, as you did at the expense of our people,” he added.
Hamas dismissed the PA criticism as “worthless” and asserted it was “not fooling anybody — the people still support the resistance and we will keep our hand on the trigger to defend the Palestinian people from the Zionist occupation.”The statement called on the PA and Fatah to withdraw their recognition of Israel, stop the security coordination with it and lift the sanctions imposed on Gaza. Qanua’s verbal attack on Fatah came as another senior Hamas official, Osama Hamdan, accused Abbas of disrupting the completion of intra-Palestinian reconciliation. Hamdan said on Monday that even if a ceasefire is achieved with Israel, Hamas will continue to "build its capabilities because it has no faith in the Zionist enemy." "The ceasefire arrangement does not include the construction of a seaport or an airport outside the Palestinian territories; everything published so far on this matter is a lie," declared Hamdan. “If a ceasefire is achieved, then we will not delay the lifting of the siege and the sanctions on the Gaza Strip,” he concluded. Member of the Central Committee of Fatah Movement and Executive Committee of the Palestinian Liberation Front Azzam al-Ahmad offered the movement’s final response to the Egyptian document, saying it included mechanisms on the implementation of reconciliation. Ahmad added that the message stipulated the importance of implementing all clauses that Fatah and Hamas have agreed on. He hoped the demands will be met, including the return of ministers to Gaza to assume their work normally, ending the mission of the committee assigned to study the situation of employees hired by Hamas during the division, and terminating the committees in charge of reconciliation, public freedoms, and security. “We want to settle the issue and focus on confronting the malign US strategy biased to Israel,” Ahmad stated, asserting that a ceasefire agreement with Israel should be reached only after achieving reconciliation. Egypt has informed the Palestinian factions that the talks will be postponed. Fatah is now waiting for Cairo’s response after meeting with Hamas officials. Fatah wants comprehensive empowerment, including the security services, the judiciary, land authority and tax collection, and Hamas wants a partnership that will ensure that its employees, including the military, are taken into account and the sanctions are lifted on the Gaza Strip. Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah renewed his call on Hamas to respond to the president's plan to restore national unity without conditions or restrictions.

Brazil Deploys Military to Boost Security at Venezuela Border
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/August 29/18/Brazilian President Michel Temer signed a decree Tuesday to send the army to "guarantee law and order" on the border with crisis-hit Venezuela after recent violent clashes. Earlier this month, more than a thousand homeless Venezuelan immigrants who had flooded over the border into Brazil's northwestern Roraima state were driven back by an angry mob that rampaged through their makeshift tent following rumours a local shopkeeper had been brutally beaten by migrants. Temer said his measure was aimed at providing "security for Brazilian citizens but also Venezuelan immigrants fleeing their country."He also branded Venezuela's crisis as "tragic," saying it "threatens the harmony of practically the entire continent."Temer called on "the international community to adopt diplomatic measures" to halt the Venezuelan exodus, as economic and political crises under President Nicolas Maduro's regime drive hundreds of thousands to leave in hope of finding a better life elsewhere. "Brazil respects the sovereignty of other states but we have to remember that a country is only sovereign if it respects its people and looks after them," he added in an ominous warning to Maduro.
The United Nations says some 2.3 million Venezuelans are living outside their homeland, with 1.6 million of those having left since 2015. Oil-rich but over-reliant, Venezuela is in a fourth year of recession brought on by a crash in oil prices in 2014. Some 96 percent of the country's revenue is generated through crude. The exodus has strained Venezuela's neighbours, Colombia and Brazil in particular, but also other countries hosting thousands of migrants such as Ecuador, Peru and Chile.Like Brazil, Peru has seen outbreaks of anti-Venezuelan xenophobia.
Urgent situation
"It's not just Brazil enduring the consequences, but Peru, Ecuador, Colombia and other Latin American countries," Temer said in a televised address. "That's why we urgently have to find the way to change this situation." Some 60,000 refugees are in Brazil, while Peru recently tightened its border controls on Venezuelans after seeing more than 400,000 enter the country. Temer didn't reveal how many soldiers would be deployed to Roraima, but Defense Minister Joaquim Silva e Luna said "troops are already in place" at the border. Security Minister Sergio Etchegoyen warned that Brazil "needs to discipline" the influx of migrants. Meanwhile, Brazil said it was negotiating with Caracas to avoid Venezuela's state electricity provider Corpelec turning off the lights in Roraima over a $40 million unpaid debt. Brazil can't pay it because of European Union and United States sanctions against Venezuela. Brazil's Foreign Minister Aloysio Nunes told AFP the country wanted to settle its debt but was struggling to find "a financial path" without breaking "the restrictions and sanctions applied by Europe and the United States" against Maduro and his government. Nunes said Brasilia has proposed an "exchange of accounts" since Venezuela is indebted to Brazil "far more than the $40 million we owe the company."Any electricity cut would not only hit hard the small and impoverished state of Roraima, but also the thousands of Venezuelans who have fled there, thus exacerbating their already precarious situation. Brazil has studied potential short and long-term solutions for Roraima's electricity but those are both costly and harmful to the environment, while there is also the possibility of inciting a territorial conflict with indigenous people in the area.

The Latest LCCC Bulletin analysis & editorials from miscellaneous sources published
August 29-30/18
Iran, Russia Prepare to Battle Each Other Over Control of Post-war Syria
إيران وروسيا تستعدان للمواجهة من أجل السيطرة على سوريا ما بعد الحرب

عاموس هريل وامير تايبون من الهآررتس:
Amos Harel and Amir Tibon/Haaretz/August 29/18
U.S. sanctions are pushing Iran to try and carve out even more profits from Syria's post-war reconstruction
The events of the past days in Syria have one thing in common: as the war in Syria is entering its final stages, a new battle is emerging. Both Russia and Iran, who supported the Assad regime throughout the civil war, are expecting to reap the benefits of Assad’s victory. While the two countries have long been allies in the Syrian arena, their interests sometimes diverge, especially as both are eyeing the financial rewards of Syria’s upcoming reconstruction process.
The tensions in Syria escalated on Tuesday when Russia moved naval forces towards the Syrian coast and NATO criticized Moscow for its aggressive moves. Russian media called the deployment Moscow's largest naval buildup since it entered the Syrian conflict in 2015. The reinforcement comes as Russia's ally, Syrian President Bashar Assad, is believed to be considering an assault on the last big rebel-held enclave, Idlib in the north.
The Russian naval force was sent to the region at the same time that the Syrian regime announced the signing of a new security agreement with Iran, following a visit by Iran’s Defense Minister to Damascus earlier this week. As part of the agreement, Iran will help rebuild Syria’s military and defense industries.
Israel believes the Iranians are sending a message: we are here to stay. The rehabilitation of the Syrian army, which is in very poor condition after the war, is not high on the list of threats that concern Israel.
Russia and Iran have both supported Assad over the past seven years. During this time, they did not directly clash with each other in Syria, but Israeli officials believe the two countries are at odds on some issues related to Syria’s future. The contracts for Syria's reconstruction, for which both countries are vying, will likely include some of Syria’s oil reserves – at least those that have survived the war. A behind-the-scenes battle over who will control the Assad regime in the “new Syria” is now already under way.
One country that is likely going to stay out of the infighting over the reconstruction process is the United States. The Trump administration has no clear policy on the “day after” in Syria, except for one principle: No American money will be spent on it
The American ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley, made that point clear at a speech she gave on Tuesday in Washington, explaining that Russia and the Assad regime “own” Syria now. “You broke it, you own it,” Haley said at a summit organized by the Foundation for Defense of Democracies.
Haley added that perhaps Russia and Assad expect the United States to lead the reconstruction process of Syria, but “we are going to stay out of it.” Russia and the Assad regime, she said, “now own a great pile of rubble” in Syria.
The concern is that without any American involvement, the “great pile of rubble” could turn into a future source of income for Iran, exactly at the same time that its economy is being put under pressure because of U.S. sanctions. In Damascus, the Iranian Defense Minister spoke about Iran’s commitment to Syria’s reconstruction, hinting at such a calculation.
One of Tehran’s goals is to take over Syria’s telecom industry, which was damaged during the war, but not completely destroyed. Matthew Brodsky, a Middle East analyst in Washington, recently published a review of the Assad regime’s financial situation, in which he mentioned telecom agreements between Iran and Syria that have already been signed, explaining that “the telecommunications sector is clearly important to Iran not only for the financial return but for eavesdropping on the population. Hezbollah’s telecommunications contracts in Lebanon have paid enormous dividends in this regard.”
Brodsky, who is a senior fellow at the Security Studies Group think-tank, also mentioned a deal between Iran and Syria that will allow Iran to develop phosphate mines in Syria, although it is not clear if Iran will have exclusive rights to those mines or have to share them with Russia. In addition, he wrote about leases between Iran and the Syrian regime involving some 12,000 acres of land in Homs and Tartous provinces, which could be used for building oil and gas terminals.
Another financial benefit for Iran that could emerge from the reconstruction process is the transfer of agricultural lands in Syria, which were left behind by Syrian citizens turned refugees over the last seven years, into Iranian hands. Brodsky wrote about the Assad regime's “repopulation schemes” that would turn some of those lands over to members of the pro-Iranian Shi’ite militias, as a means of helping them entrench their presence in Syria. Some in Israel believe these lands will also, at some point, host new construction projects, which will be built by Iranian companies.
Two weeks ago, Ariane Tabatabai, an expert on Iran and a political scientist at the Rand Corporation, told Haaretz that Israel’s goal of getting Iran out of Syria is unrealistic, in light of the Islamic Republic’s expectation to make profits from the reconstruction process. “It’s hard to see them going anywhere,” she said. “The Russians don't have the will to take Iran completely out of Syria. The Iranians have a significant presence in Syria, and Russia has no incentive to try and force them out, something they may not even be able to achieve.” The American sanctions only increase Iran’s interest in carving out whatever profits it can from Syria’s reconstruction, she added.
In order to see the benefits it hopes to get, however, Iran will also need other countries – mostly China, Europe and the Gulf countries – to invest in Syria’s reconstruction. Over the last few days, there have been calls from human rights groups and former European officials not to invest in Syria’s reconstruction as long as Assad continues to commit massive human rights violations.
Carl Bildt, a former Swedish Foreign Minister, tweeted this week that “we should not listen to Russian pleas for money to rebuild what they bombed in Syria. All signs point at Assad blocking returns [of Syrian refugees] and wanting to profit from reconstruction.”
Ken Roth, executive director of Human Rights Watch, expressed a similar view, writing in the British newspaper The Independent: “Long before any talk of providing reconstruction assistance for Syria, which in any event would require lifting separate targeted sanctions, European governments should call out Russia’s complicity in Syria’s war crimes and vigorously press the Kremlin to end these atrocities and stop underwriting Syria’s repression.”
It was the deployment of the Russian air force three years ago that tilted the scales of the war in favor of Assad, who at that time controlled only a quarter of the country's territory. Even today, Russia maintains its military presence in Syria to ensure the regime's upper hand. But it has other strategic interests, primarily maintaining access to the Mediterranean through the port under its control in Tartous in northern Syria.
Last month, the Assad regime completed its takeover of the Syrian Golan Heights, and after Russia agreed with Iran that Iranian forces would be kept at a distance of 85 kilometers from Israel's border with one notable exception: Iranians are still present in and around Damascus.
In Israel, meanwhile, tension has been noted even within the close alliance of Iran and the Assad regime. In recent weeks, there were two incidents in the eastern part of Syria, close to the border with Iraq, in which the Syrian military attacked Shi’ite militias associated with Iran. These attacks appear to be part of a local, internal fight over dominance in that specific region, which is critical for Iran’s plans of creating a “land bridge” to the Mediterranean through Iraq, Syria and Lebanon.
The same area was the site of an air strike two months ago, which some media outlets reported was conducted by Israel.
The bottom line is that the war in Syria has already been won by Assad. But now the fight over the “day after” is beginning, and it will include power struggles between all the different parties active in the Syrian arena.

Iran at the Hague: Remembering America as a ‘Best Friend’
Amir Taheri/Asharq Al Awsat/August 29/18
More than six decades after Iran first filed a suit with the International Court at The Hague, the Islamic Republic has returned to “demand justice” from the 15 judges sitting on its benches.
Iran first went to the court in June 1951 when then Prime Minister Mohammad Mossadegh filed a suit to force Great Britain to accept Iran’s decision to nationalize its oil industry and dispossess the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company which was partly owned by the British government.
The Oil Nationalization Act had been passed by the Iranian National Assembly (Majlis) on 15 March and received the royal assent two days later. Six weeks later the Shah appointed Mossadegh as Prime Minister with the mission to carry out the nationalization act.
Taking the case to the International Court was part of Iran’s efforts to mobilize international support for nationalization. After months of deliberation, the court voted in favor of Iran, a decision that was disdainfully ignored by London.
On Monday, Iran returned to lodge another complaint, this time against the United States, for alleged breach of a treaty signed by the two nations in 1955. According to Iran’s lawyers in the first sessions of the court hearing, by re-imposing some sanctions on Iran President Donald Trump’s administration has violated at least six provisions of the treaty.
The lawyers have applied for “a temporary stay” on the sanctions pending a final judgment by the court, a judgment that might take years to be finalized.
“Tehran’s political aim is to obtain a few months of delay in the imposition of new sanctions by Trump,” says Mohsen Golara, an Iranian jurist. “The hope is that such a delay would last until after the mid-term elections in the United States in which President Trump’s Republican Party may lose its majorities in the Congress.
Iran’s sympathizers in the US, including former Secretary of State John Kerry, have privately advised Iranian leaders to play for time by sticking to the “nuke deal” made under President Barack Obama, pending a weakening of Trump’s position as president.
This is important because Trump intends to impose new sanctions through what is known as Executive Order, a constitutional instrument that allows the president to bypass the Congress in certain domains. In exchange, the Congress has the constitutional right to annul any executive order it might regard as “exceeding the president’s constitutional powers.”
Trump isn’t the first US president to use the executive order device to impose sanctions on Iran. The first such order, numbered 12170, was issued by President Jimmy Carter in 1980 to seize Iranian assets in the US. At the time Iran had some $22 billion of its oil revenues deposited in two major American banks.
Carter’s move came in response to the seizure of the US Embassy in Tehran and the holding of its diplomats as hostages. Technically, the seizure of the embassy and its diplomats was a 'casus belli' (an act of war) but Carter hoped to ensure the release of the hostages through diplomatic channels. An executive order imposing sanctions was regarded as a good compromise for a president who did not wish to use force.
In the end, direct and indirect talks did ensure the release of the hostages with the signature of the Algiers Agreement in January 1981. Iran promised to no longer seize American hostages, a promise it did not keep by proceeding to seize more than a dozen other hostages, this time through Hezbollah proxies in Lebanon. The Americans reciprocated the bad faith by delaying the release of Iran’s frozen assets for decades.
After Carter, all US presidents issued executive orders on relations with Iran, often to impose new and tougher sanctions. Obama was the only exception in the context of his tacit support for the Islamic Republic. The 1955 agreement now under discussion at The Hague is called “Treaty of Friendship, Economic Relations and Consular Rights”. Its signature gave Iran a place among nations enjoying a privileged position in relations with the United States. Negotiated by Iran’s Foreign Minister at the time Abdullah Entezam and his US counterpart John Foster Dulles the treaty gave Iran most favored nation access to the US market with export guarantees and credit facilities backed by the federal government.
More importantly, it opened the way for Iran to purchase military hardware from the US, starting a process at the end of which in the 1970s Iran had access to the most sophisticated American weaponry bar nuclear arms. The 1955 treaty marked the beginning of growing US influence in Iran and led to the signing of 18 other treaties and agreements which established a firm alliance between the two nations. One such agreement, under the US Atoms for Peace Program, saw the installation of Iran’s first nuclear reactor, fully paid and for years managed by the US. (It started full operations in 1959). The US also offered scholarships for the first 20 Iranians who studied nuclear sciences in American universities.
Another adjunct accord provided for the training of Iranian military and intelligence personnel in the US, especially fighter pilots and technicians. Close cooperation between the CIA and SAVAK, Iran’s security service, began with that treaty.
The 1955 treaty also established a process of economic negotiations that in 1975 led to the $50 billion trade contract signed by Iran’s then Economy Minister Hushang Ansary and the US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger. At the time, the agreement was dubbed “the biggest trade deal in human history.”Iran might find it hard to win a favorable decision at The Hague for two reasons. The first is that the US could argue that the sanctions envisaged by Trump are related to the “nuke deal” which is not related to the 1955 treaty. And since “the nuke deal” has no legal status it would be hard for Iran to build a case around its alleged violation.
That point was highlighted by Seed Jalili, the former Secretary of Iran’s High Council of National Security, in his speech this week. He said: “They {President Rouhani’s team} claim that the nuke deal {JCPOA} is a UN Security Council document and that anyone who violates it violates a UN decision. If that is the case, why don’t you take the issue to the Security Council?”
Jalili is being disingenuous.
Rouhani and his team often claim that the UN Security Council somehow endorsed JCPOA in one of its seven resolutions on the Iran nuclear issue. However, they also insist that Iran has never accepted any of those resolutions. In other words, they demand that everyone respect the JCPOA on the basis of a UN resolution that Tehran itself rejects.The second reason why Iran’s chances of winning at The Hague are slim is that the 1955 treaty clearly states, in its Article II, that the signatories could take their complaints to the International Court of Justice only after negotiations between them have failed to produce a compromise. Well, Trump says he is ready to enter negotiations with Iranians without any preconditions. However, ” Supreme Guide” Ali Khamenei, the ultimate decision-maker in Tehran, has formally forbidden any talks with the US on any subject. Going to The Hague may be a ploy by Rouhani, now isolated and fighting for his political survival, to evoke the memory of Mossadegh and hide his inability to show a way out of the maze Iran finds itself.

Facebook Is Making the US a Political Dystopia
Leonid Bershidsky/Bloomberg/August 29/18
US elections are threatening to become the “World Cup of information warfare, in which US adversaries and allies battle to impose their various interests on the American electorate.” That powerful statement comes from a knowledgeable source: Facebook’s former Chief Security Officer Alex Stamos, who left the company this month.
Stamos suggested ways to avoid this dystopian future in a post for the blog Lawfare. He confessed that his “personal responsibility for the failures of 2016 continues to weigh” on him. But he hasn’t been able to strike enough distance from Facebook to admit that it’s the social networks’ key features, not their security bugs, that are responsible for making US democracy and its marketplace of ideas vulnerable to dishonest, unscrupulous actors, both foreign and domestic.
His proposals include legal standards to fight online disinformation and a cybersecurity agency, separate from law enforcement or the intelligence agencies, that would be focused on defending against threats. Stamos, who will teach at Stanford University in September, also wrote it was necessary to decide “how finely political influence campaigns should be allowed to divvy up the electorate, even when those campaigns are domestically run and otherwise completely legal.” He calls for quicker law enforcement, political and cyber responses to meddling.
This all makes sense — up to a point.
There is no way for any censor, with or without government authority, to determine that information is false before the social networks’ viral distribution mechanisms disseminate it far and wide. Unlike a professional media organization, no one on Facebook or Twitter is legally or ethically obliged to correct false information. Nor are the platforms themselves. Besides, there’s often no single source for the disinformation — lots of entities, fake and legitimate, can spread it at the same time.
The advent of the social networks has made media a free-for-all. If anyone, named or anonymous, foreign of domestic, paid or not, sane or crazy, honest or crooked can be a news source with an unlimited distribution potential, there’s no way to rein in disinformation. In this kind of marketplace, anything goes because everyone competes for attention on the same terms. That’s the great democratic appeal of social media.
It’s also what powers Stamos’s bleak vision of an infowar World Cup, in which US adversaries such as Iran, China and North Korea, domestic influence groups, along with US allies seeking to promote candidates, can use the same tricks as the Russians, whose social network campaign in the 2016 presidential election “required only basic proficiency in English, knowledge of the US political scene available to any consumer of partisan blogs, and the tenacity to exploit the social media platforms’ complicated content policies and natural desire to not censor political speech.”
Stamos clearly is uneasy about the microtargeting of political messages to specific voters. But microtargeting is the core of the social media platforms’ business models. If it’s legitimate for selling goods, why shouldn’t it be used to spread ideas? If direct political messaging were regulated but microtargeting wasn’t, political actors would find other ways to propagate their message: books, media articles or charitable causes. That kind of regulation probably won’t be a deterrent. When Russia banned alcohol advertising on television, companies started taking out ads for mineral water with the same labels as their vodka.
The social networks are extremely efficient at spreading information within filter bubbles that exclude those who don’t belong, with economics based on slicing and dicing the audience after pressuring people to give up as much personal data as possible. Any regulation that doesn’t change these basic rules will be unable to fend off Stamos’s vision of the evolution of American politics. Any regulation that does change these operating principles will threaten to kill off social media as we know it.
Maybe that wouldn’t be the worst outcome, given the emerging links between the platforms and politically motivated violence. The transformation of social media could be the path toward a cleaner, more honestly competitive democracy, too. It’s likely too late, however, to try squeezing the toothpaste back into the tube; it’s not just the 2018 midterms that it’s “too late to protect,” as Stamos writes, but all elections in the social media-infested US Unless, of course, voters eventually take matters into their own hands and learn to resist online manipulation.

Should It Be Illegal for Prosecutors to "Flip" Witnesses?
by Alan M. Dershowitz/Gatestone Institute/August 29/18
It is already illegal for a lawyer to offer a witness a valuable consideration for providing testimony -- if the lawyer is a defense attorney. If any defense attorney offers a witness an inducement to testify favorably to his client -- even if his testimony is 100% truthful -- that lawyer will be disbarred, prosecuted and imprisoned. But it is perfectly legal, indeed widely regarded as commendable, for prosecutors to offer major inducements in order to get witnesses to testify against their targets.
Here is what the statute says: "Whoever... directly or indirectly, gives, offers, or promises anything of value to any person, for or because of the testimony under oath or affirmation given or to be given by such person as a witness" is guilty of a felony. [U.S. Code § 201 (c)(2), emphasis added]
Every day, these tactics are being used against ordinary Americans caught up in our deeply flawed criminal justice system that relies far too heavily on the testimony of flipped witnesses.
Recently President Trump said that "flipping" a witness to incriminate a prosecutorial target "almost ought to be outlawed," saying that individuals who flip are often untruthful.
This statement raises the important question of whether it should be illegal to offer a witness a valuable consideration for providing testimony, as prosecutors allegedly did with Lt. Gen. Michael T. Flynn.
Interestingly, it is already illegal for a lawyer to do that -- if the lawyer is a defense attorney. If any defense attorney offers a witness an inducement to testify favorably to his client -- even if his testimony is 100% truthful -- that lawyer will be disbarred, prosecuted and imprisoned. But it is perfectly legal, indeed widely regarded as commendable, for prosecutors to offer major inducements in order to get witnesses to testify against their targets. These inducements include money, freedom from imprisonment and even life itself.
There are cases in which courts have allowed prosecutors to pay witness's contingent fees -- that is, bonuses -- if their testimony results in convictions. There are cases in which prosecutors have threatened to seek the death penalty unless a witness flips against a co-defendant. There are cases in which prosecutors threaten to prosecute wives, children, parents and siblings of witnesses unless they flip, to offer 10- or 20-year reductions in sentences in exchange for favorable testimony.
No wonder Judge T.S. Ellis, who presided over the first Manafort trial, observed that flipped witnesses sometimes have an inducement not only to "sing" but to "compose" -- that is, to embellish. Michael Cohen may have been composing when he said through his lawyer, that President Trump knew about the Trump Tower meeting between his son (Donald Trump Jr.) and a Russian. Cohen's lawyer has now, commendably, walked back this accusation.
You might wonder how all this is legal in light of the federal statute that prohibits the payment of anything of value in order to influence the testimony of a witness. Here is what the statute says: "Whoever... directly or indirectly, gives, offers, or promises anything of value to any person, for or because of the testimony under oath or affirmation given or to be given by such person as a witness" is guilty of a felony. [U.S. Code § 201 (c)(2), emphasis added]
A literal reading of the statute would encompass the offers and threats routinely made by prosecutors to secure the testimony of witnesses. After all, it applies to "whoever," and "any," but the courts have ruled that prosecutors are exempt from the words of the statute. Only defense attorneys and their clients are covered by it, despite the broad language.
Several years ago, a U.S. Court of Appeals applied the language of the statue to prosecutors, raising questions about the entire process of paying witnesses for their testimony. But that decision was quickly reversed by a ruling that continued the exemption of prosecutors from the coverage of the statute.
The only requirement is that prosecutors must inform the judge, jury and defense attorneys of all payments and promises made to witnesses. But such disclosure would not be enough to exempt defense attorneys or defendants from the criminal penalties provided by the witness tampering statute. This disparity unlevels the playing field of our adversary system of justice.
Civil libertarians and criminal defense attorneys have long been skeptical of the widespread tactics used by prosecutors to intimidate, induce, buy or rent witnesses. We understand how central this tactic is in the way prosecutors bring cases today. Coupled with the other side of the coin -- under which defendants who go to trial receive multiples of the sentence they would have received had they pleaded guilty -- these twin tactics explain why so few cases today ever get before a jury: Fewer than 10% in federal court. It is far more advantageous to cooperate with prosecutors than to challenge them.
Notwithstanding the importance of these tactics, they should raise troubling concerns among anyone concerned with basic fairness.
So, I welcome President Trump's statement about the unfairness of our present system of flipping witnesses, even though I realize it is somewhat self-serving. Would he and his supporters be equally concerned if a Special Counsel or other prosecutors were using these tactics against his political opponents? Nevertheless, it is important to have these issues raised and debated by all Americans. Today they are being used against Republicans, tomorrow they may be used against Democrats, and every day, they are being used against ordinary Americans caught up in our deeply flawed criminal justice system that relies far too heavily on the testimony of flipped witnesses.
*Alan M. Dershowitz is the Felix Frankfurter Professor of Law Emeritus at Harvard Law School and author of "The Case Against Impeaching Trump," Skyhorse Publishing, July 2018.
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William Kilpatrick: “Islam’s Thousand Year War on Christendom”
Raymond Ibrahim/August 29/18
Editor’s note: Author and former Boston College instructor, William Kilpatrick, has just written the first review of my book, Sword and Scimitar, which was released yesterday. Published by Crisis Magazine and titled, “Islam’s Thousand Year War on Christendom,” Kilpatrick’s review follows:
At a time when Catholic youth are taught that Islam means peace, pilgrimage and prayer, and Catholic adults are under the impression that Muslims are a misunderstood minority who only want to share their values and their baba ghanoush, it’s refreshing to occasionally make contact with reality.
I mean “refreshing” here in the sense that a dive into chilly waters is refreshing. I just finished reading Raymond Ibrahim’s Sword and Scimitar, a history of fourteen centuries of war between Islam and the West, and the effect is similar to the shocked-awake effect of a plunge into cold water.
Not that I didn’t have a general acquaintance with the history, but one tends to forget the details, and the devil, as they say, is in the details. Ibrahim supplies plenty of those. Moreover, the details are so shocking that one is inclined to think that the devil was intimately involved in the centuries-long jihad against Christendom.
Indeed, that’s exactly what many Christians of those times did think. Muhammad and Islam were frequently referred to by popes and peasants alike as “demonic,” “diabolic,” and “satanic.” For their part, Muslims had a particular hatred of Christians. They considered the Christian belief in Christ’s divinity to be a great sin against Allah. Wherever Muslim armies went they desecrated and destroyed churches, broke crosses and statues, and made a particular point of violating nuns and torturing priests and monks.
In short, the violent conflicts between Muslims and Christians were primarily religious wars, not, as many modern historians suggest, wars for resources or national interests. Some historians, it seems, are less interested in past events than in finding ways to fit those events into contemporary narratives. Their primary source is their own subjective “modern” outlook. By contrast, Ibrahim, who reads both Arabic and Greek, lets the Muslim and Christian witnesses to past events speak for themselves. Thus, when speaking of the Janissaries—Christian boys who were snatched from their parents and forced to become soldiers of Islam—Ibrahim, relying on centuries-old manuscripts, recounts the horror of the abductions, the abuse of the boys, and their transformation into Islamic true believers who were then turned loose against their former kin. By contrast, according to modern academics, the indoctrination of the Janissaries was “the equivalent of sending a child away for a prestigious education and training for a lucrative career.”
Despite the passage of more than a thousand years, the Muslim-Christian conflict was marked by certain constants. There is a remarkable continuity of belief and behavior—especially on the part of the Muslims.
One of the recurring themes is that of world conquest commanded by Allah. Muslims justified all of their wars and depredations during this immense stretch of history by referring to the Koran and to the words and deeds of Muhammad. Muslim leaders did not look upon their conquests as simply local affairs, but as stepping stones to subjugating the earth. Thus, two common refrains across the centuries were “we will stable our horses in Constantinople” and “we will stable our horses in Rome”—and this from warlords who may have been more than a thousand miles distant from either Rome or Constantinople. When, in 1786, Thomas Jefferson and John Adams inquired of Tripoli’s ambassador to Britain why the Barbary States preyed on American shipping, they were informed that according to the laws of their prophet, Muslims had a “right and duty” to make war on all nations that did not acknowledge their authority.
Another constant over the centuries is what Ibrahim calls the “win-win” bargain. Whether a Muslim lived or died in battle, he was guaranteed a reward either way. If he survived a raid or battle he would be rewarded with plunder, slaves, and concubines. If he died, all his sins would be forgiven by Allah, and he would be saved from the tortures of hell. In addition, he would be rewarded in paradise with food, drink, and seventy-two “eternally young” virgins (houris). Indeed, Muslim officers and preachers would circulate among the troops before battle, reassuring them of their immortal rewards should they die in battle. Many early chronicles attributed Muslim zeal and fanaticism in battle to the “win-win” incentive.
Still another constant was slavery. One modern historian observes that “the Islamic jihad looks uncomfortably like a giant slave trade.” The number of the enslaved was astronomical. It was not unusual for a campaign to result in the enslavement of 100,000 people. Between 1530 and 1780, the Barbary Coast Muslims enslaved at least a million Europeans. Some three million Slavs—Poles, Lithuanians, Russians, and Ukrainians—were enslaved between 1450 and 1783. Millions more were taken captive by the Muslim conquerors of Spain. One caliph, Abd al-Rahman III, had 3,750 slaves and 6,300 concubines.
Slaving raids were also carried out in Ireland, England, Denmark, and as far away as Iceland and Scandinavia. Slaves were used for labor, as soldiers, and as concubines. White slaves were highly prized, especially blonde and red-headed girls and women. Black slaves were routinely castrated. Although few Americans are aware of the fact, the Arab and Ottoman slave trade lasted far longer than the Atlantic slave trade and resulted in the loss of many more lives.
Even America did not escape the reach of Islamic jihad. In its formative years, as Ibrahim points out, America was forced to make jizya payments—amounting to 16 percent of the federal budget—to Algeria for the release of captured American sailors. Indeed, America’s first war as a nation was a war against Islam. Over a period of thirty-two years, the American navy fought an intermittent war to put an end to the Barbary States’ attacks on American shipping. That is what is referred to by the “shores of Tripoli” in the Marine Corps hymn.
Sword and Scimitar puts to rest several important myths. One of these myths is that Christians were the aggressors in this long and bloody conflict. This is decidedly not the case. For example, the modern idea that “the crusades were unprovoked wars of conquest” is demonstrably false. As Ibrahim points out, the crusades were a very belated response to 400 years of Muslim conquest. Two-thirds of the Christian world had already been devoured by Muslim armies before Pope Urban II made his appeal to the knights of Christendom. Many regions which are now solidly Muslim were once Christian. All of the twenty-two nations which now comprise the “Arab world” in the Middle East and North Africa were Christian. The same is true of Turkey, whose capital, Constantinople, was once the center of Christendom.
Perhaps the major lesson of Ibrahim’s timely book is that little has changed over the centuries. One of the misleading myths of our time is that al-Qaeda, ISIS, Boko Haram, and other major terrorist groups have perverted the meaning of Islam. They are variously described as having “hijacked,” “distorted,” or “misunderstood” the true message of Islam. History says otherwise. According to Ibrahim, “this book…records a variety of Muslims across time and space behaving exactly like the Islamic State and for the same reasons.” “Muslim hostility to the West,” he observes, “is not an aberration but a continuation of Islamic history.” Against today’s wishful thinking about Islam’s peaceful intentions, Sword and Scimitar documents “what Muslims have actually done to and in the West for centuries.”
The historical record also reveals two perennial weaknesses of the Western response to Islam… Keep reading

Ahmadinejad’s preoccupation with Serena Williams outfit
Mashari Althaydi/Al Arabiya/August 29/18
The histrionics of former Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad never end with the most recent one being his glorious defense of tennis player Serena Williams’ right to wear the full-length skin-tight black cat-suit.
The French Tennis Federation deemed it as dress code violation and said it would no longer be allowed at the next French Open tennis tournament.
Ahmadinejad, who while delivering an address at the UN, famously said that Imam Mahdi appeared to him and he was surrounded by a halo of light, wrote on Twitter: “Why is the French Open disrespecting Serena Williams?”
He then added the more important message: “Unfortunately some people in all countries including my country haven’t realized the true meaning of freedom.”
One of the last things one can believe is that a Khomeini project, that has been so deeply immersed in his ideology, since early days, cares about the freedom of women in France or America. This is a joke that cannot be taken seriously. It is as if you believe that ISIS’s Baghdadi cares about protecting white dolphins or black seals in the North Pole from being hunted.
The truth remains that the former Iranian president is not preoccupied with the design and color of Serena’s outfit, the African-American tennis player, but with arguing with the authorities. He has decided to shift to the role of the opposition figure and the people’s hero and ride the wave of popular anger against corruption and decline of the Iranian authority, beginning with the Supreme Leader Khamenei himself.
Prior to that, Ahmadinejad posted a video calling on Iranian President Hassan Rouhani to resign. “Mr. Rouhani, the people do not accept you. You, the fundamentalists and the reformists are all accomplices in what’s happening.”The truth remains that former Iranian president is not preoccupied with design and color of Serena’s outfit but with arguing with the authorities
Popular anger
Ahmadinejad is trying to draw a new image of himself and is flirting with popular anger in Iran. He is aligning himself with the youth, who reject the rigidity of authorities.
Preventing women from attending football matches and sports events and oppressing is a behavior that’s familiar to Tehran’s rulers, and this includes the phase when Ahmadinejad himself was president.
Therefore, he does not have any moral legitimacy today to lead this speech of individual rights, including lifting chains off women. In 2015, the Iranian authorities detained Iranian-British woman Ghoncheh Ghavami after she tried to watch a men-only volleyball match. She was sentenced to one year in prison. Ahmadinejad is chattering about these things to spite today’s rulers. His approach has upset the head of the Khomeini regime as, in December 2017, Khamenei harshly criticized Ahmadinejad’s stances and accused him of spreading “absurdities” against state institutions. The tales and falsehoods of Khomeinist and populist Mahmoud Ahmadinejad are endless, and Khamenei’s cry today is: “Even you Nejad”.

McCain’s glory and his fatal mistake
Mamdouh AlMuhaini/Al Arabiya/August 29/18
Late Senator John McCain talked much about patriotism and values of self-sacrifice for the sake of the nation but he, like most, did not care much about these things if they contradicted his own interests, especially if it meant him becoming America’s next president.
This is what happened after he nominated Sarah Palin, then-Alaska’s governor, to be his vice presidential nominee during his presidential campaign. He chose her for one reason, to fight the glamor surrounding media fame of his charismatic rival Barack Obama.
The old McCain had history by his side but did not own the present and modern media outlets that seek today’s celebrities and not heroes of the past.
To fill this vacuum, he chose a beautiful woman that wears glamorous clothes to attract attention to his campaign and to decrease attention in his rival’s campaign. However, this proved to be a fatal mistake. “How can he trust someone like this naïve woman with America if something happens to him or he dies, and this is probable considering his age.” This is what McCain’s critics, including respected Republican figures like Dick Cheney, said. Cheney said that McCain’s decision to select Palin as his VP indicates he lacks prudence and shows he is not fit to be president.
It turned out that Palin harmed him a lot instead of benefiting him. She was an easy target for the liberal media, which repeatedly made her fall into traps.
For example, journalist Katie Couric asked her a simple question about the magazines she reads but Palin stuttered and didn’t answer. This showed Palin in poor light, as an ignorant woman. McCain tried to confront these attempts to entrap her and utilized his experience in fighting with politicians and journalists but he could not get her on her feet.
Palin was a smart and opportunistic woman as she benefitted from McCain while his dream collapsed before his eyes for the second time. She used the entire opportunity to receive cheques and for magazine covers, books, programs, interviews and reality shows about hunting that brought her millions.
It is said that McCain strongly regretted his decision, which is considered the saddest stage of his life, a black mark that stained his image as a noble man who put his country before himself. John McCain was the man of the world order. He was aware of the importance of America’s allies who contributed toward solidifying this order and brought stability and peace
Glorious phases
However, there are other glorious and happy phases which eventually shaped his legacy and made the news of his departure a world event.
In his early days, McCain, who was a pilot, was taken hostage in northern Vietnam, for five years. He was tortured, starved, humiliated and his hand and ribs were repeatedly broken. After being released from captivity, he was viewed as a hero in the eyes of the American people as he did not reveal any secrets and did not betray the army’s brotherhood.
He wrote about the torture methods in the Vietnamese prison and which borrowed the methods of the Middle Ages’ prisons, such as heavy chains which the prisoner drags with his feet. His stance on the Syrian revolution is considered one of the noblest. If McCain had been president, it is almost certain that Syria would have been different from what it currently is. He was the voice of conscience, which never kept silent over the horrific massacres committed by the Assad regime and the Iranian militias.
McCain morally tormented his president Obama and reminded him of the horrific photos of dead infants wrapped in shrouds but all his attempts failed.
McCain was the man of the world order and he was aware of the importance of America’s allies who contributed toward solidifying this order and brought stability and peace and fought rogue regimes like Tehran and terror groups like al-Qaeda. Hence, we can understand his strong relationship with Saudi Arabia.
His relationship with Trump deteriorated before it even began although Trump has done almost everything he called for. He punished Assad, besieged Iran, resumed the war on terrorism and restored warmth to cold ties with friends.
On the domestic level, he decreased taxes and revived the economy. Despite that, he did not gain his respect and affection and dealt a treacherous stab to Trump when he voted against repealing Obamacare.
The Republicans
There are three explanations of this position. The first one is that McCain joined the group of Republicans who believe that Trump hijacked the Republican Party and tore it apart. This stance aims to maintain traditions and stop the iron-clad Trump from running over all what’s left of conservative values.
The second one is based on personal dislike between the two men. Following McCain’s sharp criticism, Trump launched a scathing attack on him and doubted his glory at the Vietnam War by saying that heroes do not get captured.
Ever since, McCain held a grudge against him and wrote in his will that he did not want Trump to attend his funeral. Let us not forget that McCain whose dream was to become president saw Trump achieve this dream.
The third explanation is the difference between the two men. McCain sometimes appeared as a grumpy old man, as an idealistic and preaching man to the extent of intransigence and boredom. Trump, however, is realistic and loud to the extent of being rude and crude.
Due to this mutual dislike, Trump reluctantly ordered lowering the American flag. But media outlets allied to McCain’s position on Trump, focused on the president as a man who is an outcast and hated by respectable Republican figures – and not only by leftists and opposing circles.

China’s geo-economic interests and Middle East energy industry

Sabena Siddiqui/Al Arabiya/August 29/18
Strategically located near most of the major energy consuming countries in Europe and Asia, the Middle East plays an intrinsic geo-economic role. However, since 2014, ups and downs in oil prices have disturbed the dynamics of the Middle Eastern energy industry.
As the political climate changed the regional equation, it evoked concern in countries dependent on the Middle East for their energy supply. Most of all, China’s energy security became prone to risks and this factor raised its stakes in the geopolitics of the Middle East.
Being one of the fastest growing global economies today, China needs dependable energy to keep its 6 percent growth rate sustainable. Consuming nearly one fourth of global energy supplies per annum, China cannot afford to lose its energy supply for any reason.
At home, it has limited domestic energy reserves with oil supplies at just 1.5 percent and gas at only 2.9 percent. Trying out alternative means of energy such as nuclear and renewables while working on energy efficiency, China has tried to reduce its energy security risks since a while. Nevertheless, China is heavily dependent on imported energy supplies and is a major trade partner of most of the oil and gas producing nations in the Middle East. Even as China’s energy imports surge, the domestic demand for energy also grows in Middle Eastern countries. Considering other options, China tried to diversify its sources of oil supply since 2015 but remains one of the top three importers from Saudi Arabia, Iraq and Iran. Thus, helping maintain peace and prosperity in the Middle East is China’s top-most priority.
China is heavily dependent on imported energy supplies and is a major trade partner of most of oil and gas producing nations in the Middle East
Investor in the Arab world
Consequently, China increased its investments in infrastructure and construction projects such as ports, pipelines and roads worth $29.5 billion, becoming the largest investor in the Arab world since 2016.
Creating new industries not only extended China’s economic interests beyond energy trade in the region, it also helped diversify the economies of the Arab world. During Saudi King Salman’s visit to Beijing in March 2017, commercial agreements totaling $65 billion were inked in renewable energy, oil and space sectors.
Planning a new Suez Canal, Egypt-China cooperation is also underway while a Sino-Oman Industrial City worth $10.7 billion has been built in Duqm, Oman, with Chinese investment.
Planning development in line with the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), both Jordan and Saudi Arabia are also engaged in consultations with China over various prospects.
Enhancing commercial engagement, an Arab Summit of 21 nations was recently arranged for foreign ministers in Beijing. Launching an “oil and gas plus” model to speed up economic growth in the region, President Xi pledged $20 billion in loans as well as $106 billion in financial aid to nations in the Middle East.
On the occasion, Saudi Arabian Foreign Minister Adil al-Jubeir said: “Beijing is a political, economic and security partner. The crises and challenges that China and the Arab world have experienced are identical, both the Arabs and the Chinese aspire to strengthen and intensify their co-operation in all fields.”
Elevating ties to a “strategic partnership”, Xi has also visited the Arab region recently on his first foreign trip abroad since his re-election this March. Providing strong trade routes according to the vision of BRI, countries of the Gulf Co-operation Council (GCC) can avail of the BRI as a bridge to market their commodities.
Cooperation forum
Policy coordination mechanisms such as the China-Arab Cooperation Forum and the Strategic Dialogue between China and the GCC states have been formulated to speed up the engagement.
According to Beijing, “any type of bilateral cooperation (with China) can be considered part of the Belt and Road”, a “1+2+3’ cooperation pattern was adopted under the Arab Policy Paper published in 2016 which specified collaborations in energy, construction, industry, renewable energy and trade as well as innovative fields of space and nuclear energy.
Presenting a slew of possibilities for the entire region, an international financial exchange would cater to BRI trade. A pioneer in “green development”, China plans green pilot zones along the BRI with the requirement that all participants comply with Chinese standards.
Negotiating for a “free trade” agreement between China and the Arab nations, Beijing also plans to grant special trading privileges along with financing facilities. Thus, the economic relationship between China and the Middle East is on an upward trajectory as it expands beyond oil. Finally, the demand for artificial intelligence, fintech, automated cars and renewable energy is growing in the Middle East. Leading in all these fields, China is the best option in all these sectors of development while it also provides financing.
In fact, a new financial consortium would be created with a $3 billion fund for an “industrial revival”. In the long run, trade expansion would strengthen relations between Arab countries and the rest of the world.

When the Brotherhood’s ‘bankrupt’ speaks!
Jameel al-Thiyabi/Al Arabiya/August 29/18
Yusuf al-Qaradawi has no achievement of note to brag about despite his old age. His career in politicizing religion is filled with what’s shameful and with atrocities as well as with creating crises and deceiving the credulous with his fatwas (religious edicts).
This year’s Hajj (1439H) provided an opportunity for exposing more of the contradictions of Qaradawi, who considers himself the godfather of the Muslim Brotherhood whose schemes, proposals, lies and truth as a terror group has been exposed.
The ‘mufti of terror’
The mufti and preacher of terrorism “offensively” tweeted against Qatar’s pilgrims, claiming that God does not want their Hajj! Is he being rude to God, or did he make this statement because he is an agent and follower of the two-Hamad regime? Or is this a result of decrepitude which he, Qatar and the Brotherhood suffer from? Qaradawi’s tweet is a clear example that this destructive organization is bankrupt. Qaradawi has exposed himself and the Muslim Brotherhood and revealed the extent of his ignorance and fake ideas.
When it comes to Qaradawi, this is not surprising. He has satiated the world with his shameful fatwas that have claimed that “jihad” is necessary against all Arab and Islamic regimes and that permitted suicide bombings. This is in addition to his stances in support of the terrorist Lebanese Hezbollah which has been established, funded and armed by Iran which the two-Hamad regime describes as “honorable”.
It has been proven by facts, figures, records and photos that Qatari pilgrims were well received and welcomed. It’s clear that Qaradawi said what he said because he lives in Doha at the expense of the regime and because he wants to satisfy the latter via his heresies which no longer have any effect now that his ill intentions and conspiracies have been exposed.
If only he were consistent and a man of principle. He seems to make a contradictory statement on an almost daily basis. He praises Gaddafi and then calls for killing him off. He praises the slaughterer Bashar al-Assad and then joins the “chorus” of supporting Al-Nusra Front which branched from the Brotherhood to topple Assad’s regime. Instead of being an advisor to his two losing Hamad masters and urging them to stop politicizing Hajj and deal with it like it must be dealt with as the fifth pillar of Islam, he supported their unjustifiable actions in such a despicable manner that does not sit with his claim of heading an organization that falsely states it has a peaceful role.
Stopping Qataris from Hajj
Undoubtedly, Qaradawi is a liar and deceiver. He has, before anyone else, tried with his offensive tweet to give religious justification for the policies of the Doha regime which continued to close the door on its citizens who desire to perform Hajj. It would have been appropriate if he had advised the Qatari regime not to politicize Hajj and to allow the Qataris who wish to perform it to go to Saudi Arabia instead of tracking down Hajj registration websites and shutting them down and intimidating the Qataris from traveling for Hajj.
However, there are people who find foolishness virtuous to achieve the purpose of turning back the clock. When they cannot accomplish this aim – which they know is impossible – they resort to an evil rhetoric and plan campaigns to promote “exposed” lies.
Saudi Arabia facilitated and provided all possible amenities to Qataris in performing their Hajj. However, these efforts were met by stubbornness and lies from the two-Hamad regime. This Qatari approach that has been used to arouse a dislike in a pillar of Islam and to mitigate the popular Qatari discontent because of preventing them from performing Hajj will not prove effective in hiding the seriousness of the crime which the Qatari authorities committed when they prevented people from performing Hajj!
A characteristic of the Muslim Brotherhood’s guides and preachers is allowing themselves what’s prohibited – they prohibit to people what God Almighty has permitted. There is no need to say that Qaradawi’s tweet indicates a deviation from religious thought. He has twisted religious texts to satisfy his Hamad masters. In the end, however, his talk is nothing more than utter nonsense.
It has been proven by facts, figures, records and photos that Qatari pilgrims were well received and welcomed. It’s clear that Qaradawi said what he said because he lives in Doha at the expense of the regime and because he wants to satisfy the latter via his heresies which no longer have any effect now that his ill intentions and conspiracies have been exposed.
It is certain Qaradawi is only the sheikh of terrorists and the Brotherhood’s guide to delusions, destruction, conspiracy and destruction. What he said reveals the grudge he has had towards Saudi Arabia and towards the annual pilgrimage during which Muslim hearts reconcile and Muslims stand reassured in the worship of God ignoring people like him who lead to destruction.