Detailed Lebanese & Lebanese Related LCCC English New Bulletin For August 31/2018
Compiled & Prepared by: Elias Bejjani

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Bible Quotations
I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the sharing of his sufferings by becoming like him in his death, if somehow I may attain the resurrection from the dead.
Letter to the Philippians 03/07-14: "Yet whatever gains I had, these I have come to regard as loss because of Christ. More than that, I regard everything as loss because of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things, and I regard them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but one that comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God based on faith. I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the sharing of his sufferings by becoming like him in his death, if somehow I may attain the resurrection from the dead. Not that I have already obtained this or have already reached the goal; but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. Beloved, I do not consider that I have made it my own; but this one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on towards the goal for the prize of the heavenly call of God in Christ Jesus."

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 30-31/18
Reuters expose a tip of Iran propaganda, linked to two attacks against Walid Phares over 7 years/Dr. Walid Phares/Face Book/August 30/18
The U.S' new embassy: A beacon of continued support/Georgi Azar/ Annahar/August 30/18
Hariri to present Cabinet draft this week/Hussein Dakroub/The Daily Star/August. 30/18
Iran’s incitement of tension in Lebanon/Radwan al-Sayed/Al Arabiya/August 30/18
Opinion/Hamas Is a Distraction. It’s Hezbollah and Iran Who Can Rain Down Unprecedented Destruction on Israel/Chuck Freilich/Haaretz/August 30/18
Iran and the Misleading Internet Propaganda/Salman Al-dossary//Asharq Al-Awsat/August, 30/18
Italy: Interior Minister Accused of Kidnapping Migrants/Soeren Kern/Gatestone Institute/August 30/18
Is Canada Prepared for the Threat of Returning Jihadists/A. Z. Mohamed/Gatestone Institute/August 30/18
Does an organized opposition to Tehran regime exist/Dr. Majid Rafizadeh/Arab News/August 30/18
Iranian expansionism likely to be first victim of US sanctions/Ellen R. Wald/Arab News/August 30/18
Iran’s Response to Sanctions? Ignore Them/Patrick Clawson/The Washington Institute/August 30/18
The Arab wave in US Congress/Walid Jawad/Al Arabiya/August 30/18

Titles For The Latest LCCC Lebanese Related News published on August 30-31/18
MP Nadim Gemayel: Perfect Way to Commemorate Bachir Is to Believe in Lebanon
No Regional 'Green Light' but Hariri to Present Line-Up 'within 24 Hours'
Riachi Says 'Atmosphere Positive', Meets Berri as Khalil Meets Hariri
Ferzli Says Berri May Meet Assad Soon
Hariri Offers Geagea '5 Seats', to Meet Jumblat, Bassil
MP Nadim Gemayel: Perfect Way to Commemorate Bachir Is to Believe in Lebanon
Kataeb leader Samy Gemayel Hails Army on Border Offensive Anniversary
Divorced women can now include kids in family record
Loyalty to Resistance: Delay in forming government triggers new complications
Fenianos blames airport crisis on lack of funding
The U.S' new embassy: A beacon of continued support
Hariri to present Cabinet draft this week
Iran’s incitement of tension in Lebanon

Titles For The Latest LCCC Bulletin For Miscellaneous Reports And News published on August 30-31/18
IAEA Says Iran Still Abiding by Nuclear Deal Terms
Report: Iran-based Political Influence Operation Bigger, Persistent
Russia to Hold Mediterranean Drills amid Rising Tension over Idlib
Exclusive: Ordeal of Southern Syria Residents Far From Over
U.N. Syria Envoy 'Ready to Go to Idlib' to Help Humanitarian Corridor
Damascus Vows to 'Liberate All of Syria' regardless of Western 'Aggression'
Syria will ‘go all the way’ in Idlib offensive as UN envoy offers to help civilians leave
France says Iran ‘cannot avoid’ expanded talks on nuclear issue
US Navy seizes weapons shipment from dhow in waters off Yemen
Trump Warns of Violence around Midterms
Top White House Lawyer to Leave as Russia Probe Heats Up
Hurdles remain on path to Iraqi government formation
Sisi Appoints Raft of New Governors in New Shake-Up
The Latest LCCC Lebanese Related News published on August 30-31/18
Reuters expose a tip of Iran propaganda, linked to two attacks against Walid Phares over 7 years
Dr. Walid Phares/Face Book/August 30/18
Reuters expose a tip of Iran propaganda, linked to two attacks against Walid Phares over 7 years
"Cedars Revolution" (CR) tweeted a link to a Reuters report exposing the Iran propaganda machine for creating a wide social media web to influence the US and the West. "CR" also links this propaganda web to two waves of smear attacks against Walid Phares. One led by radical publication "Mother Jones" as well as "Daily Beast," "," "The New Republic", "Politico" after Phares appointment as senior national security advisor for Presidential candidate Mitt Romney in 2011. And another wave by the same network of "bloggers and journalists" but this time led by the Washington Post, New York Times and USAToday, after the naming of Phares as foreign policy advisor to Donald Trump in 2016. It looks like the two waves were linked and performed by the same network of operatives, one side of which was exposed by Reuters.
Below the tweet by "CR" and links to the Reuters report, as well as links showing the hand of the pro Iran regime lobby attacking systematically in 2011 ad in 2016.
More investigation are underway
MP Nadim Gemayel: Perfect Way to Commemorate Bachir Is to Believe in Lebanon Thursday 30th August 2018/MP Nadim Gemayel on Wednesday called on political forces to engage in a dialogue to discuss what Lebanon they want to build, stressing the need to eradicate nepotism and favoritism as sought by martyr President Bachir Gemayel.
"The perfect way to commemorate Bachir Gemayel is to believe in Lebanon and pledge full allegiance to this country," he said during an episode on MTV marking the 36th election anniversary of the late president. "We must forget about shares and agree on forming a government in which no one would hold the obstructive third power. We must focus our attention on how to build a powerful and strong state where the anti-corruption fight would be translated into actions, not mere words." "Had Bachir still been alive, scores of public employees would have been in prison so that he teaches everyone a lesson that public funds must not be squandered or stolen," the lawmaker said. "If we want to build a real state, then we must rise up to the dream of Bachir."

No Regional 'Green Light' but Hariri to Present Line-Up 'within 24 Hours'
Naharnet/August 30/18/Prime Minister-designate Saad Hariri will present a draft Cabinet line-up to President Michel Aoun within 24 hours although the formation of the new government has not yet received the needed “regional green light,” media reports said. “Hariri will submit a government line-up to the president in the next 24 hours, but this line-up won't necessarily be the solution, but rather a draft solution, seeing as the current period is for resolving the (domestic) obstacles pending a regional green light that would lead to the formation of the Cabinet,” informed sources told al-Joumhouria daily in remarks published Thursday. “The regional atmosphere is not appropriate yet for an easy formation of a government in Lebanon. Look at Iraq and Iraq's government. Look at the Iranian-American-Saudi influence in Iraq and Syria, whose balances have not crystallized until the moment. This means that Lebanon is still in the waiting room,” the sources added. Turning to the domestic obstacles, the sources noted that the so-called Druze obstacle seems to have been resolved. Speaker Nabih Berri “will choose a 'consensus Druze minister' who would also be endorsed by Progressive Socialist Party chief ex-MP Walid Jumblat,” the sources said. As for the representation of the Lebanese Forces, the sources noted that Hariri has a proposal in this regard. “He likely raised it with (LF leader Samir) Geagea during their meeting last evening,” the sources said. “If Geagea accepted it, this means that the Cabinet line-up has received a 'yellow light' while rejection means that there will be no solution anytime soon,” the sources went on to say.

Riachi Says 'Atmosphere Positive', Meets Berri as Khalil Meets Hariri
Naharnet/August 30/18/Caretaker Information Minister Melhem Riachi held talks Thursday with Speaker Nabih Berri over the new government, in the presence of caretaker Finance Minister Ali Hassan Khalil. Khalil arrived at the Center House after the meeting for talks with Prime Minister-designate Saad Hariri. Riachi confirmed to reporters that the “atmosphere is positive” as he arrived in Ain el-Tineh for talks with Berri. “We discussed the Cabinet formation process and the sizes reflected by the results of the parliamentary elections,” Riachi announced after the meeting. “The LF will not offer concessions but rather utmost facilitations in order to help PM-designate Saad Hariri in forming a government that can revitalize the country,” the minister added. “The obstacle is not in our court and we have offered more than we can bear. We are not the ones forming the government in order to be able to say whether it will be formed soon or not,” he went on to say, in response to a reporter's question.

Ferzli Says Berri May Meet Assad Soon

Naharnet/August 30/18/Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri could soon meet with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, Deputy Speaker Elie Ferzli has said. “A meeting between Speaker Nabih Berri and Syrian President Bashar al-Assad is possible at any given moment,” Ferzli said in an interview with al-Mayadeen television. His remarks follow a visit to Ain el-Tineh by Syrian Ambassador to Lebanon Ali Abdul Karim Ali. “There is speculation that Speaker Berri could go to Damascus before or after the rally that the AMAL Movement will organize tomorrow at 5:30 pm in Baalbek to mark the 40th anniversary of the disappearance of the movement's founder Imam Moussa al-Sadr,” al-Liwaa newspaper reported. Berri has not met with al-Assad since the eruption of the Syrian conflict in 2011.Ferzli also told al-Mayadeen that “President Michel Aoun's decision to meet with whomever he wants, including Assad, is a sovereign decision.”“The ties between presidents Aoun and Assad have never been severed and the ties between Lebanon and Syria are historic and pivotal,” Ferzli, who is close to Aoun and Damascus, added. “We only want the relation with Syria to serve Lebanon's interest before anything else and the Lebanese-Syrian relation will not resemble the previous era at all,” Ferzling went on to say, noting that “Lebanon will not be a corridor or a launchpad for conspiracies against Syria and vice versa.”

Hariri Offers Geagea '5 Seats', to Meet Jumblat, Bassil
Naharnet/August 30/18/Prime Minister-designate Saad Hariri and Lebanese Forces leader Samir Geagea discussed the possibility of granting the LF five ministerial seats during their meeting Wednesday evening, media reports said. Under the reported solution, the LF would give up its demand get the deputy PM post and its demand to get a so-called sovereign ministerial portfolio in return for getting five instead of four seats, highly informed sources told al-Liwaa newspaper in remarks published Thursday. LF sources meanwhile described the meeting as full of “positivities” and noted that the LF is showing “flexibility” but does not have the intention to “give up any representational right” in light of the gains it made in the May parliamentary elections. Hariri will also meet in the coming days with Progressive Socialist Party leader Walid Jumblat and Free Patriotic Movement chief MP Jebran Bassil, al-Liwaa quoted sources informed on the formation process as saying.

MP Nadim Gemayel: Perfect Way to Commemorate Bachir Is to Believe in Lebanon Thursday 30th August 2018/MP Nadim Gemayel on Wednesday called on political forces to engage in a dialogue to discuss what Lebanon they want to build, stressing the need to eradicate nepotism and favoritism as sought by martyr President Bachir Gemayel.
"The perfect way to commemorate Bachir Gemayel is to believe in Lebanon and pledge full allegiance to this country," he said during an episode on MTV marking the 36th election anniversary of the late president. "We must forget about shares and agree on forming a government in which no one would hold the obstructive third power. We must focus our attention on how to build a powerful and strong state where the anti-corruption fight would be translated into actions, not mere words." "Had Bachir still been alive, scores of public employees would have been in prison so that he teaches everyone a lesson that public funds must not be squandered or stolen," the lawmaker said. "If we want to build a real state, then we must rise up to the dream of Bachir."

Kataeb leader Samy Gemayel Hails Army on Border Offensive Anniversary Thursday 30th August 2018/Kataeb leader Samy Gemayel Thursday saluted the Lebanese Army one year after the "Dawn of the Outskirts" operation, hailing the military as the symbol of Lebanon’s sovereignty. Lebanon celebrates the one-year anniversary of the beginning of the Fajr Al-Joroud (Dawn of the Outskirts) operation which succeeded in expelling ISIS militants from the outskirts of Lebanese northeastern border towns of Al-Qaa and Ras Baalbeck.

Divorced women can now include kids in family record

Annahar Staff /August 30/18/BEIRUT: In a bid to further equality between the sexes, authorities issued a circular Wednsday authorizing the inclusion of divorced women's children on their family record. The Director-General for Personal Status at the Ministry of the Interior Brigadier Elias El Khoury issued a statement saying the move would seek to "enhance equality between all Lebanese citizens."

Loyalty to Resistance: Delay in forming government triggers new complications
Thu 30 Aug 2018/NNA - The "Loyalty to the Resistance" bloc held its regular meeting this Thursday at its headquarters in Haret Hreik under the chairmanship of MP Mohammad Raad, with talks featuring high on the latest developments in Lebanon and the region. "Forty years after the sinful crime -- that led to Imam Moussa Al-Sadr's vanishing along with his two companions -- the Lebanese now witness that Imam Sayyed Moussa Al-Sadr is still present and influential in the Lebanese equation at the level of the nation, the State and the citizens. His vision continues to inspire the most powerful national political forces in Lebanon," the statement issued in the wake of the meeting read. "Today, as we share with our brothers in the Amal movement, our allies within the Lebanese political forces, and our national army the tasks of defending Lebanon, resisting its Zionist and takfiri enemies, and building a strong and guarded state governed by law and managed by institutions, we are also in the process of putting the balanced development program on track, renewing the vitality of administrations, fighting corruption, controlling waste of public funds, and giving the most disadvantaged regions priority in implementing infrastructure plans, enhancing services and providing jobs," the statement added. "The bloc emphasizes the negative impacts of the delay in forming a government and the consequent damage to Lebanon and the Lebanese, as well the major waste of time and the absence of a specific criterion on which basis participation is achieved and representation is balanced.”“The President-designate understands that the delay in forming the government will trigger new complications, especially if it turns out that discretion is the standard adopted," the Loyalty to Resistance MPs stressed in their joint statement.
"The opportunities for Lebanon to invest in its water and oil resources require a national government that enjoys full prerogatives and provides protection, especially as the enemy continues its intensive looting of oil and gas fields.""Lebanon is urged to exploit the developments in the region in reviewing its strategic position and reconsidering some of its regional and international relations in the light of its commitment to protecting its national sovereignty and preventing the Israeli enemy from infiltrating through by means of normalizing its relations with some Arab countries in a relentless attempt to break into the region, either by its economic production or by its political projects," the bloc concluded.

Fenianos blames airport crisis on lack of funding
Annahar Staff /August 30/18/BEIRUT: Caretaker Minister of Public Works and Transport Youssef Fenianos apologized Thursday for the insufferable congestion being experienced by travelers at Beirut's Rafik Hariri airport, laying the blame at the lack of funding. "I warned that this will happen, we needed a funding of 100 million dollars but received 18 million only," he said during a news conference, adding that he's ready to stand trial over the current crisis. Fenianos then maintained that the recent enhancements to the airport's security apparatus would be completed by the end of the year.

The U.S' new embassy: A beacon of continued support

Georgi Azar/ Annahar/August 30/18
The state-of-the-art complex, designed by Morphosis Architects with Arne Emerson at the helm, will cover an area of 44.3 acres juxtaposed to the current embassy and is set to be completed by 2023.
BEIRUT: Located in the suburbs of Aoukar approximately 16 km northeast of Beirut, the new 1 billion dollar U.S embassy is indicative of the western nation's "enduring friendship and important bilateral partnership" with Lebanon, Deputy Chief of Mission Edward White told Annahar. During a luncheon at his residence Thursday, which brought together a number of local architects including the leading Morphosis team members tasked with constructing this massive project, White reiterated that the U.S would stand alongside Lebanon for years to come. The state-of-the-art complex, designed by Morphosis Architects with Arne Emerson at the helm, will cover an area of 44.3 acres juxtaposed to the current embassy and is set to be completed by 2023.
"The project is defined by an intersection between landscape and urban planning," Emerson said. The multi-building complex is set to include a Chancery, a Marine security guard residence, a housing complex, as well as support and community spaces.
The design draws on local building techniques to "incorporate Lebanese values", using hillside planning that integrates architecture with the available landscape to inform security, function, and performance. After the Vatican signed off on the venture, given that the land was previously owned by the Catholic Church, construction of the grandiose scheme began in 2017 with the aim of "supporting the U.S diplomatic mission."
It is expected to house between 400 and 600 residents, including marines, diplomats, and workers, with Emerson steadfast in his goal to achieve safety, efficiency, and an environmentally sustainable structure. "We want to be good neighbors," Emerson said, maintaining that 25 percent of the entire complex will be powered by green energy, while the Chancery itself is expected to be a net zero building, meaning the total amount of energy used by the building on an annual basis is roughly equal to the amount of renewable energy created on the site. Taking advantage of the mild Mediterranean climate, natural lighting and airflow are used extensively to reduce energy usage and "improve the interior's ambiance."
Captured rainwater will also be used for irrigation, while wastewater will be treated in-house and re-integrated into the irrigation grid. The endeavor is also emphasizing on using local products, mainly concrete which is found in abundance within Lebanon. Durable, locally sourced materials, such as sculpted pre-cast concrete, stone and metal panels are used to improve longevity and reduce the energy footprint during construction. "This will be one of the most sustainable embassies in the world," Emerson said.
Democratic Gathering calls for national unity government
Thu 30 Aug 2018/NNA - The "Democratic Gathering" on Thursday held its monthly meeting headed by Bloc head MP Teymour Jumblatt, at the latter's office in Clemenceau. The meeting broached most recent developments on the local arena, including the government formation dossier and the current socio-economic and political situation. The bloc stressed that the current crises amidst the simmering socio-economic conditions in the country and the serious regional developments requires "fortifying our internal situation by taking urgent and decisive steps to break the vicious circle in the government dossier, and go towards the formation of a government of national unity in accordance with adopted norms." The bloc called for respecting prerogatives, facilitating the task of the PM-designate, removing hurdles in the path of government formation, and staying away from certain legal judgments and futile constitutional heresies. The Democratic Gathering also stressed the dire need to swiftly address and resolve standing financial and economic dossiers that concern Lebanese citizens. The bloc called for a swift solution to the housing crisis, and the need to commence with the expansion plan designed for the airport.

Hariri to present Cabinet draft this week
Hussein Dakroub/The Daily Star/August. 30/18
BEIRUT: Prime Minister-designate Saad Hariri is set to present President Michel Aoun with a draft Cabinet formula later this week after holding another round of talks with parliamentary blocs, official sources said Wednesday.
The moves are part of Hariri’s efforts to resolve a monthslong deadlock in forming government.“During the phone conversation between the two leaders [Monday], Prime Minister Hariri told President Aoun that he will hold further consultations with various leaders on the government formation crisis before he meets him later this week to present a Cabinet lineup,” a source at Baabda Palace told The Daily Star.
The source said the draft Cabinet formula, the first to be presented by Hariri since he was designated to form a new government on May 24, would distribute key and other ministerial posts among the country’s major blocs but would not include names of potential ministers.
This comes as Hariri met Wednesday night with Lebanese Forces leader Samir Geagea as part of a new round of intensified consultations with rival factions aimed at breaking the deadlock that has entered its fourth month with no solution in sight. The pair’s talks centered on resolving the problem of Christian representation in the new government, an issue that is fiercely contested between the LF and the Free Patriotic Movement, the country’s two leading Christian parties. The meeting was held at Hariri’s Beirut Downtown residence and was also attended by LF caretaker Information Minister Melhem Riachi and caretaker Culture Minister Ghattas Khoury, an adviser to Hariri. It addressed the general political situation, particularly the formation of a new government, a statement from the premier-designate’s media office said. Geagea did not speak to reporters after the meeting, which included a dinner hosted by Hariri. Maronite Patriarch Beshara Rai, who discussed with Aoun the difficulties facing the formation of a new government, quoted the president as saying he was optimistic and was waiting for Hariri’s draft.
“I felt that the president is optimistic, especially since he said that the prime minister-designate will come to the presidential palace carrying with him a Cabinet lineup,” Rai told reporters after meeting Aoun at Baabda Palace. “The president is optimistic and patient.”Asked to comment on a reported rift between the president and the prime minister-designate over the issue of prerogatives in the government formation, Rai said: “The president has been clear, stressing that the prime minister-designate is the one who forms the government and later he presents his Cabinet lineup to the president who will approve it and sign it.
“What I understood from President Aoun during my meeting with him is that the prime minister-designate will present to the president a Cabinet lineup within the next two days. This is good news because the country can no longer endure [any further delays].”
Hariri also plans to meet separately with caretaker Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil, the FPM leader, and former MP Walid Joumblatt, leader of the Progressive Socialist Party, in an attempt to narrow differences over the problems of Christian and Druze representation, the two issues blocking the formation of a national unity government representing all parties, a political source said. The source added that Hariri was also expected to meet with officials from the Marada Movement, headed by former MP Sleiman Frangieh, whose party is insisting on either retaining the Public Works Ministry or being allocated the Energy Ministry instead.
The fresh talks come against the backdrop of dwindling chances that any major breakthrough could be achieved anytime soon as political rivals stick to their demands for key portfolios.
“There are still two major obstacles holding up the government formation. These are: The Lebanese Forces’ insistence on being allocated a sovereign [ministry] among the four ministerial portfolios it has been offered; and Joumblatt’s insistence on naming the three Druze ministers,” a source familiar with the government formation process told The Daily Star.
Another political source said that while Aoun was determined to see a quick formation of the government, “he would not bow to the Lebanese Forces’ demand for a sovereign ministry and Joumblatt’s attempt to have a monopoly over the Druze representation.”
Bassil is at the center of an escalating dispute with the LF over Cabinet shares for the Christian community. He has been accused by Geagea and LF ministers and lawmakers of seeking to prevent the LF from obtaining a significant Cabinet share based on the results of the May 6 elections, when the party boosted its representation from eight to 15 MPs.
The Druze representation poses a major hurdle to the government formation that has so far defied a solution, amid insistence by Joumblatt on appointing the three ministers reserved for the Druze sect in a 30-member Cabinet. Joumblatt’s demand is aimed at preventing his Druze rival, MP Talal Arslan, from being named a minister. Bassil is backing Arslan, an ally of the FPM, in his request to be named a minister.
As the Cabinet crisis drags, the Future Movement’s parliamentary bloc Tuesday warned against attempts to undermine the 2016 political settlement that led to Aoun’s election as president and brought Hariri back to the premiership through constitutional interpretations aimed at setting a deadline for the government formation. Hariri also struck back at critics who blame him for the delay, stressing that nothing dictates the period of government formation except the Constitution.
The Future bloc issued a tough statement responding to reports that caretaker Justice Minister Salim Jreissati was preparing to present to Aoun with a constitutional interpretation that would set a deadline for the prime minister-designate to form a government. Jreissati, a constitutional expert, belongs to the FPM founded by Aoun.
Meanwhile, Speaker Nabih Berri said he would call for legislative sessions if a government was not formed soon. During his weekly meeting with lawmakers at his Ain al-Tineh residence, Berri reiterated the urgency to form a national unity government. “Speaker Berri stressed the need to accelerate the government formation. Solutions to problems facing the country begin with the presence of a national unity government,” MP Ali Bazzi from Berri’s parliamentary bloc quoted the speaker as saying.
Berri told lawmakers he would call for a legislative session after parliamentary committees finish studying a series of draft laws, especially those related to the financial situation.
There is a debate on whether Parliament can convene for legislation while the government is functioning in a caretaker capacity.

Iran’s incitement of tension in Lebanon

Radwan al-Sayed/Al Arabiya/August 30/18
After Iran’s supreme leader finally slammed the United States and said he would not negotiate, asserting that he had guaranteed the US would lose everywhere, Nasrallah on cue resumed his diatribe against Saudi Arabia and even brazenly received a Houthi delegation, as reported by Hezbollah’s media.
Observers now know the tactic, which Iran will resort to in the conflict with the United States. It is now pushing its proxies to create tensions everywhere, especially in Iraq, Syria and Lebanon. In Iraq, Iran’s proxies have showed hostility towards Abadi, Sadr and Hakim and they’re pushing towards a government formed by the Maliki and Amiri blocs, although they know that there are thousands of American soldiers in Iraq and that they cannot do whatever they want.They are even aware that if their favored alliance ends up forming the government, the Americans may withdraw, chaos may ensue, and ISIS may even return. However, they do not care about this as what they care about is showing that they’re capable of upsetting the Americans.In Lebanon, Nasrallah is trying to provoke Arabs and Lebanese political parties, particularly the prime minister. His intention is to show he has control over Lebanon and that he can exercise it in any way Iran wants
Nasrallah’s bluster
Under pressure from Israel and Russia, the Iranians withdrew to a base, which is 138 km away from the borders of the Zionist entity. The Russians have promised they will force them to leave Syria in time, but the Iranians still say that they’re solidifying their presence there, especially on the Iraqi borders and in the areas close to Idlib, beyond Homs and Aleppo. They are competing with the Turks to win the Russians’ support. The Iranians are doing so to launch an assault on Idlib, while the Turks’ purpose is the opposite. Putin is making both of his two allies wait to see if it is possible to strike a deal with the Europeans and Americans and take something in exchange of returning the refugees from Lebanon and Jordan. If he can strike a deal, he is prepared to stop the Iranians and their ally (Bashar al Assad) from causing another conflict. Yet, if the Europeans do not pay up, he may be willing to push his air fleet into combat, and this is something which the Europeans and Turks fear.
In Lebanon, Nasrallah is trying to provoke Arabs and Lebanese political parties, particularly the prime minister. His intention is to show he has control over Lebanon and that he can exercise it in any way Iran wants, although he knows that any action may result in a war with Israel and that the paralysis of the Lebanese administration and its failure to form a government would mean economic collapse and further siege as part of besieging his party. This would mean that the country can’t be used as a supply line of the Shiite crescent. However, as mentioned before, the higher goal now is to vex the United States and Saudi Arabia at any cost. In Gaza, Hezbollah tried to push Hamas to wage war against Israel but Hamas is now seeking to make peace with Israel through Egyptian mediation and an arbitrator from the United Nations. So will Iran succeed in pushing Hamas back to war? This is what will be revealed in coming weeks. In Lebanon, there is a view that Iran’s control over the country is even stronger than that over Iraq. In Iraq, there are opponents of Iran, while there are no real adversaries of Iran in Lebanon. All the different parties say that Hezbollah does not use “its weapons at home”, which is not true.
Hezbollah controls the airport, the port and many other official institutions, and it controls the decisions of the army. It laughs in the face of those who remind it of the dissociation policy saying: “There will be no dissociation from Assad and the Houthis whatever be the costs, even if the cost is war.” It claims “the resistance” is stronger than all the armies of the Arab countries and stronger than that of Israel. This implies, of course, that it is stronger than the Lebanese army. No political party responded to his speech, and only few Arab officials mentioned the dissociation policy.
Lebanon’s agony
Will Hezbollah proceed and use its weapons in the south? The Americans are complaining that the party has returned south of the Litani River with its weapons, which is a violation of UN Resolution 1701. Renewing the international forces’ mandate is due in September, and the president has declared that the process will go on without any troubles. Nasrallah's speech about launching wars everywhere coincided with the president’s decision to regulate the fees of private power generators on the first of October. There are power cuts across the country for several hours a day so residents subscribe to get power from private power generators. This problem and others are the concern of officials. No one cares about the dominance of Hezbollah, or how Lebanon has been sucked into the Iranian axis. Now Gebran Bassil, Nasrallah and others want to forcefully normalize relations with Syria that despite its hardships has been selling electricity to Lebanon. Meanwhile Lebanese state institutions are incapable of modernizing and reforming the electricity sector and insist on the continuity of corruption in it! There is no might nor power except in Allah!

The Latest LCCC Bulletin For Miscellaneous Reports And News published on
August 30-31/18
IAEA Says Iran Still Abiding by Nuclear Deal Terms
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/August 30/18/Iran is sticking to the terms of its nuclear deal with world powers, a U.N. atomic watchdog report showed Thursday, despite ongoing uncertainty over its future. The report from the International Atomic Energy Agency showed that Iran was still complying with the key parameters of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), agreed in 2015 by Iran and the U.S., China, Russia, Britain, France and Germany.It comes despite the future of the deal being thrown into doubt after U.S. President Donald Trump withdrew from the pact in May and re-imposed U.S. sanctions. The latest report says the IAEA had had access "to all the sites and locations in Iran which it needed to visit."The agency repeated language in its previous report emphasizing the importance of "timely and proactive cooperation in providing such access" on Iran's part. A senior diplomat with knowledge of the issue said that the language was a way "to send a message to Iran to prevent potential problems" rather than being caused by any particular behavior on the part of the Iranians. The report said Iran's stockpiles of low-enriched uranium and heavy water had both slightly increased since the last report in May, but were still under the limits agreed in the deal.Iran's economy has been battered by the return of U.S. sanctions following Trump's decision, undermining support for the deal within Iran.
No avoiding' further talks
On Wednesday Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said Tehran should be ready to "set aside" the JCPOA if it is no longer in the country's national interests. However, Khamenei said talks should continue with European states, who have been trying to find a way to salvage the agreement. Last week, the EU agreed an 18 million euro package of assistance to Iran "for projects in support of sustainable economic and social development" in the Islamic Republic, the first tranche of a wider package worth 50 million euros. Most foreign firms have abandoned investment projects in Iran, and the next phase of renewed U.S. sanctions in November will hit the crucial oil sector. Speaking on Thursday while attending meetings of EU foreign and defense ministers, the EU's foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini said that despite disagreements with Iran over other issues, "we believe that addressing regional disagreements with Iran can be done in a more effective manner if we maintain the nuclear deal in place." French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian, also speaking in Vienna, said that in his opinion Iran was respecting "the fundamentals of the JCPOA".However, he added that "Iran cannot avoid discussions, negotiations on three other major subjects that worry us," namely Iran's ballistic missile program, the long-term future of its nuclear program and its role in conflicts in the wider region. In June, in a bid to mount pressure on the Europeans, Iran announced a plan to increase its uranium enrichment capacity with new centrifuges in the event that the agreement collapses, while still denying any desire to build a nuclear weapon. Under the 2015 agreement, Iran can only enrich uranium to 3.67 percent -- far below the roughly 90-percent level needed for nuclear weapons.
Report: Iran-based Political Influence Operation Bigger, Persistent
London - Asharq Al-Awsat/Thursday, 30 August, 2018/An apparent Iranian influence operation targeting internet users worldwide is significantly bigger than previously identified, Reuters has found, encompassing a sprawling network of anonymous websites and social media accounts in 11 different languages. Facebook and other companies said last week that multiple social media accounts and websites were part of an Iranian project to covertly influence public opinion in other countries. A Reuters analysis has identified 10 more sites and dozens of social media accounts across Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and YouTube. US-based cyber security firm FireEye Inc and Israeli firm ClearSky reviewed Reuters’ findings and said technical indicators showed the web of newly-identified sites and social media accounts - called the International Union of Virtual Media, or IUVM - was a piece of the same campaign, parts of which were taken down last week by Facebook Inc, Twitter Inc and Alphabet Inc. IUVM pushes content from Iranian state media and other outlets aligned with the government in Tehran across the internet, often obscuring the original source of the information such as Iran’s PressTV, FARS news agency and al-Manar TV run by the Lebanese group Hezbollah, Reuters reported. PressTV, FARS, al-Manar TV and representatives for the Iranian government did not respond to requests for comment. The Iranian mission to the United Nations last week dismissed accusations of an Iranian influence campaign as “ridiculous.” The extended network of disinformation highlights how multiple state-affiliated groups are exploiting social media to manipulate users and further their geopolitical agendas, and how difficult it is for tech companies to guard against political interference on their platforms, according to Reuters. In July, a US grand jury indicted 12 Russians whom prosecutors said were intelligence officers, on charges of hacking political groups in the 2016 US presidential election. US officials have said Russia, which has denied the allegations, could also attempt to disrupt congressional elections in November. Ben Nimmo, a senior fellow at the Atlantic Council’s Digital Forensic Research Lab who has previously analyzed disinformation campaigns for Facebook, said the IUVM network displayed the extent and scale of the Iranian operation. Facebook spokesman Jay Nancarrow said the company is still investigating accounts and pages linked to Iran and had taken more down on Tuesday.
“This is an ongoing investigation and we will continue to find out more,” he said. “We’re also glad to see that the information we and others shared last week has prompted additional attention on this kind of inauthentic behavior.”Twitter referred to a statement it tweeted on Monday shortly after receiving a request for comment from Reuters. The statement said the company had removed a further 486 accounts for violating its terms of use since last week, bringing the total number of suspended accounts to 770. “Fewer than 100 of the 770 suspended accounts claimed to be located in the US and many of these were sharing divisive social commentary,” Twitter said. Google declined to comment but took down the IUVM TV YouTube account after Reuters contacted the company with questions about it. A message on the page on Tuesday said the account had been “terminated for a violation of YouTube’s Terms of Service.” The organization does not conceal its aims, however. Documents on the main IUVM website said its headquarters are in Tehran and its objectives include "confronting with remarkable arrogance, western governments and Zionism front activities."
IUVM uses its network of websites - including a YouTube channel, breaking news service, mobile phone app store, and a hub for satirical cartoons to distribute content taken from Iranian state media and other outlets which support Tehran’s position on geopolitical issues.
Reuters recorded the IUVM network operating in English, French, Arabic, Farsi, Urdu, Pashto, Russian, Hindi, Azerbaijani, Turkish and Spanish. Much of the content is then reproduced by a range of alternative media sites, including some of those identified by FireEye last week as being run by Iran while purporting to be domestic American or British news outlets. For example, an article run by in January by Liberty Front Press reported on the battlefield gains made by the regime of Iranian ally Bashar al-Assad. That article was sourced to IUVM but actually lifted from two FARS news agency stories. Liberty Front Press is one of the pseudo-US news sites exposed by FireEye. FireEye analyst Lee Foster said, one of the biggest IUVM websites, was registered in January 2015 with the same email address used to register two sites already identified as being run by Iran. ClearSky said multiple IUVM sites were hosted on the same server as another website used in the Iranian operation.

Russia to Hold Mediterranean Drills amid Rising Tension over Idlib

Asharq Al-Awsat/Thursday, 30 August, 2018/Russia announced on Thursday major military drills in the Mediterranean Sea amid growing tensions over the northern Syrian province of Idlib. The Defense Ministry told Russian news agencies that Moscow will deploy 25 ships, including a missile cruiser, and 30 jets for the maneuvers in the first week of September. The military said the drills will focus on anti-air and anti-submarine defense. The ministry said Moscow has notified international organizations of the drills, which may make it dangerous for aircraft and ships to operate in the area. The drills were announced after NATO reported a Russian naval buildup in the Mediterranean. Russia has provided crucial military support for the regime of Bashar Assad, which is expected to mount an offensive in Idlib, the last major opposition stronghold in Syria.
The Kremlin on Thursday called Idlib a hotbed of terrorists and said not tackling the problem was not a good option. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov made the comments to reporters on a conference call while answering a question about the naval drills in the Mediterranean.
UN Syria envoy Staffan de Mistura called on Russia, Iran and Turkey on Thursday to forestall a battle in the province which would affect millions of civilians. It would be better to set up humanitarian corridors to evacuate civilians than rush into a battle which could turn prove to be a "perfect storm,” he told reporters in Geneva.

Exclusive: Ordeal of Southern Syria Residents Far From Over
Daraa (southern Syria) - Riyad al-Zein/Asharq Al-Awsat/Thursday, 30 August, 2018/Calm has prevailed in southern Syria since a Russian-sponsored reconciliation deal came into force earlier this month following the pullout of opposition fighters, which paved way for regime forces to enter the region under Moscow’s supervision. Residents, who had fled the heavy fighting in southern Syria, have begun to trickle back to their towns and villages. The Syrian regime -- with Russian air support -- launched a major military operation in Daraa in June, leading to a major displacement crisis. But the regime regained control of the area in July. Now that many residents are back, they are afraid of possible arrests in regime raids after more than 70 young men were apprehended on the first week of their return to their villages in north Daraa. A resident of Daraa’s western countryside, who spoke to Asharq Al-Awsat on condition of anonymity for fears of retribution, said that southern Syria lacks basic services such as water and electricity. Some towns have plunged in total darkness, while others are witnessing a 20-hour rationing, he said. Residents are transporting water from wells on their cars and tractors, and are buying bread from bakeries outside the region despite promises by the regime on the return of services. Furthermore, the security situation is not very stable, said the man. The regime has erected many checkpoints, spreading fears among residents that they would get arrested or their houses searched. Another resident from Daraa’s eastern countryside, also speaking on condition of anonymity, complained of similar problems. The lack of basic services is coupled with fears of arrests, he told Asharq Al-Awsat. “My situation is similar to thousands of men in southern Syria, who would either be arrested, dragged to military service or be able to start a new life,” he said. A member of the factions that have reached a settlement with the Syrian regime through Russian sponsorship said the factions in Daraa would either join the regime’s fifth legion, which is run by Russian forces, the fourth legion run by Maher Assad, the brother of regime head Bashar Assad, or the border guards. Most of them decided to stay in Daraa rather than be part of the deal to evacuate opposition fighters to Idlib, he said.

U.N. Syria Envoy 'Ready to Go to Idlib' to Help Humanitarian Corridor
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/August 30/18/The U.N.'s Syria peace envoy offered Thursday to personally travel to Idlib to help ensure civilians can leave through a humanitarian corridor amid fears of full-scale military operations in the area. "I am once again prepared … personally and physically to get involved myself, with the government cooperation this time… to ensure such a temporary corridor would be feasible and guaranteed for the people so that they can then return to their own places once this is over," Staffan de Mistura told reporters in Geneva.

Damascus Vows to 'Liberate All of Syria' regardless of Western 'Aggression'

Agence France Presse/Naharnet/August 30/18/Syria's foreign minister said Thursday Western “aggression” would not prevent Damascus from retaking all Syrian territory, amid fears of an imminent government offensive against the rebel-held province of Idlib.
"A tripartite aggression or not, it will not influence our determination to liberate the entire Syrian territory," Walid Muallem said in Moscow after talks with his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov.

Syria will ‘go all the way’ in Idlib offensive as UN envoy offers to help civilians leave
Arab News/August 30/2018/GENEVA: The UN’s Syria peace envoy offered Thursday to travel to Idlib to help ensure civilians can leave through a humanitarian corridor as the regime warned it would “go all the way” to recapture the province .Fears are growing that a government offensive to retake the last major region controlled by rebels is imminent. “I am once again prepared... personally and physically to get involved myself... to ensure such a temporary corridor would be feasible and guaranteed for the people so that they can then return to their own places once this is over,” Staffan de Mistura said in Geneva. His comments came amid fears the Syrian government, backed by long-time ally Russia, is mobilizing for a military offensive to retake Idlib. Syrian foreign minister Walid Al-Moualem said on Thursday their main targets were hardline Al-Nusra militants, Reuters reported. Speaking after talks with Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov, Moualem said Syrian forces would not use chemical weapons in any offensive and that it did not have such weapons. Syria would try to avoid civilian deaths, he added. Idlib, which borders Turkey, is home to nearly three million people, up to half of whom are rebels and civilians transferred en masse from other territory that has fallen to Syrian troops after intense assaults, AFP reported. A major military operation in Idlib would pose a particular humanitarian nightmare because there is no nearby opposition territory left in Syria where people could be evacuated to. “There is no other Idlib,” de Mistura said, stressing the need to ensure civilians can evacuate to nearby areas under government control, with guarantees their rights will be respected once they get there. “It would be a tragic irony frankly if at almost the end of... a territorial war inside Syria, we would be witnessing the most horrific tragedy to the largest number of civilians,” he said. De Mistura stressed the need for “constructive, effective” support from Damascus, since the possible corridor would most likely need to lead into government-controlled territory.
“Short of going to Turkey, the civilians have no other option in order not to be where fighting may take place.”
The most important thing, he said, was to avoid “a hurried escalation,” which could easily lead to “the worst-case scenario.”“It would be quite tragic at this stage, having seen how difficult the seven years (of Syria’s war) have been.”More than 350,000 people have been killed and millions displaced since Syria’s war started in 2011 with the brutal repression of anti-government protests. Two years ago, de Mistura offered to go to eastern Aleppo and to personally escort Al-Nusra fighters out of the besieged city. “Al-Nusra refused my offer to accompany them out, and they went to Idlib, and we lost two months at least and thousands of people died because of that,” he said. The UN envoy said there were an estimated 10,000 Al-Qaeda and Al-Nusra fighters in Idlib, along with their families.While he stressed the legitimacy of battling such “UN-identified terrorists,” he insisted efforts to defeat them did not justify putting the lives of some 2.9 million people in the area at risk. “There is and can be no justification... to not avoid using heavy weapons in densely populated areas,” he said. On Wednesday, UN chief Antonio Guterres warned that full-scale military operations in Syria’s Idlib province could lead to a “humanitarian catastrophe” and cautioned against the use of chemical weapons. De Mistura echoed that concern. “The issue of avoiding the potential use of chemical weapons is indeed crucial,” he said, stressing that such use “would be totally unacceptable.”“We are all aware that both the government and Al-Nusra have the capability to produce weaponized chlorine, hence an increased concern by all of us.”

France says Iran ‘cannot avoid’ expanded talks on nuclear issue
Arab News/August 30/2018/VIENNA: Iran “cannot avoid” talks on thorny issues like its ballistic missile program and role in Middle East conflicts, French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian warned Thursday, as France leads the work to rescue the beleaguered nuclear deal with Tehran.
“Iran must respect the fundamentals of the JCPOA (nuclear deal) and I think that is the case, but Iran cannot avoid discussions, negotiations on three other major subjects that worry us,” Le Drian said as he arrived for a meeting of EU foreign ministers in Vienna.
France are among several countries, including Germany, UK, Russia and China, continuing to try and salvage the deal after US President Donald Trump decided to pull the US out unilaterally in May. The comments came after a confidential quarterly report seen by AP released by the International Atomic Energy Agency, which shows Iran continues to comply with the nuclear deal even after the withdrawal of the US. In the report, distributed to member states, the IAEA said Iran has stayed with key limitations set in the so-called Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, or JCPOA. The deal exchanges economic incentives for nuclear guarantees. Since the American withdrawal and re-imposition of sanctions, Iran’s economy has already started to struggle and its currency has plummeted in value.
The other five nations have affirmed their commitment to the deal, which limits Iran’s enrichment and stockpiling of material that could be applied to a nuclear weapons program. In exchange, Tehran was granted widespread relief from international trade, oil and banking sanctions. The nations have said it will take time, however, to negotiate the details of the guarantees that Iran is looking for. In the report, the IAEA said it had been given access to all sites in Iran that it needed to visit and that inspectors confirmed Iran has kept within limits of heavy water and low-enriched uranium stockpiles.

US Navy seizes weapons shipment from dhow in waters off Yeme
Arab News/August 30/2018/JEDDAH: The US Navy seized hundreds of small arms, including AK-47s, from an unflagged boat in the Gulf of Aden, a US defense official said on Wednesday. Similar vessels intercepted in the same waters in recent years were shipping weapons to the Houthi militia in Yemen from their backers in Iran. The defense official told Reuters that the incident took place on Tuesday and the boarding was carried out by the crew of the Jason Dunham destroyer. The unflagged vessel was a traditional dhow. The defense official declined to comment on the destination of the small vessel, but it was being investigated. He added that the US Navy and allied ships have carried out similar operations in the past, including seizing drugs from vessels in the area. The Arab coalition, which is supporting Yemen’s government forces in the war against Houthi militia, has repeatedly accused Iran of shipping weapons, including ballistic missile components, to the group. Weapons seized by the US Navy from a dhow in 2016 that were believed to be on the way to Yemen. (US NAVY) In September, Vice Adm. Kevin M. Doneganthe, the top American navy commander in the Middle East, said Iran was smuggling illicit weapons and technology into Yemen, that enabled the Houthis to fire increasingly more sophisticated missiles into Saudi Arabia. In 2016, the British-based Conflict Armament Research provided detailed evidense of the arms smuggling route between Iran and Yemen. The group found that weapons seized from Iranian-made dhows by international warships in the Arabian Sea matched similar weapons captured from the Houthis. In October 2016,US ships intercepted five Iranian arms shipments bound for Yemen. The Gulf of Aden is one of the world’s busiest shipping routes connecting Europe to Asia and the Middle East, with Yemen to the north, Somalia to the south and the Arabian Sea to the east

Trump Warns of Violence around Midterms
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/August 30/18/U.S. President Donald Trump raised the specter of violence around upcoming midterms Wednesday, saying he did not want to see "unnecessary" unrest days after he reportedly warned evangelical leaders of violent change if Republicans lose control of Congress. When asked by a reporter why he had on Monday suggested there would be violence around the November elections, Trump simply said "because that's the way." "If you look at what happens ... there's a lot of unnecessary violence all over the world, but also in this country, and I don't want to see it," he said.
At a meeting with evangelical leaders at the White House, Trump had said everything was at stake for his conservative agenda if his party loses, according to an audiotape of the meeting obtained by the Times. Democrats "will overturn everything that we've done and they'll do it quickly and violently," Trump reportedly said. "They will end everything immediately.""When you look at Antifa," he added, referring to militant leftist anti-fascism groups, "and you look at some of these groups, these are violent people."Monday did not mark the first time Trump has warned of violence if things did not go his way. During the 2016 presidential campaign, he said his supporters would probably react violently if he did not win the Republican nomination. "I think you'd have riots," Trump warned. The Times said reporters were allowed to listen in on brief comments by Trump during the Monday meeting with ministers and pastors, and heard him talk about abortion, religious freedom and youth unemployment. But after the press was shown out of the room, Trump changed the subject and suggested how the evangelical leaders could help Republicans win in November, the Times reported. "I just ask you to go out and make sure all of your people vote," Trump said. "Because if they don't -- it's Nov. 6 -- if they don't vote we're going to have a miserable two years and we're going to have, frankly, a very hard period of time because then it just gets to be one election -- you're one election away from losing everything you've got."

Top White House Lawyer to Leave as Russia Probe Heats Up
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/August 30/18/Donald Trump has said that White House counsel Don McGahn will be leaving his post, signaling more upheaval in the U.S. president's legal team as the probe into Russia's election interference closes in on his inner circle.McGahn, who has advised Trump on dealing with Special Counsel Robert Mueller's Russia probe, also has been interviewed at length as a cooperating witness by Mueller's team. He will be leaving his White House post "in the fall," Trump said via Twitter. The 50-year-old lawyer is one of the few people left in the White House who had a senior role in Trump's election campaign, where McGahn was general counsel. His replacement, according to media reports, could be his current deputy White House counsel Emmet Flood, a Washington veteran who represented president Bill Clinton when he faced impeachment in the late 1990s. Trump also maintains a team of private lawyers led by former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani to deal with his personal legal troubles.
Helped fill courts with conservatives
McGahn's departure will come "shortly after the confirmation (hopefully) of Judge Brett Kavanaugh to the United States Supreme Court," Trump said. "I have worked with Don for a long time and truly appreciate his service!" he added. But despite that assertion, Trump made the announcement on Twitter without first telling McGahn, The New York Times reported, citing people close to the president and the lawyer. As the president's official legal advisor, McGahn has served Trump well, advising on relations with Congress and the Justice Department as well as dealing with Mueller. He has also been at the center of one of the Trump administration's biggest political successes: placing dozens of pro-Republican, conservative judges on the Supreme Court and other federal courts around the country. McGahn was instrumental in Trump's nomination of both Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh -- judges with strong conservative records -- to the Supreme Court. But his personal relations with Trump have been formal and at times testy, as he has tried to protect the president from a slew of accusations and investigations into his personal behavior, his business, and his campaign's alleged collusion with Russians in the 2016 election. According to media reports, McGahn has struggled to prevent the president from acting on his impulses to interfere dangerously in the Russia investigation. He also has had to mediate the deep tensions between Trump and the Justice Department over the probe. According to the New York Times, McGahn threatened to quit in June 2017 rather than carry out Trump's directive to fire Mueller, just weeks after he was named.McGahn has also pushed back when Trump has sought to oust Attorney General Jeff Sessions, also out of frustration over the Mueller probe.
Witness against Trump?
Those and other episodes, including the firing of FBI director James Comey, have made McGahn a potentially important witness as Mueller examines whether Trump illegally tried to obstruct the investigation -- an offense that could lead to impeachment.Earlier this month, The New York Times reported that McGahn had "cooperated extensively" with Mueller's team, taking part in at least three interviews totaling 30 hours.Trump, who has repeatedly called the probe a "rigged witch hunt," said he had authorized his team to "fully cooperate" with investigators. But the Times said McGahn's cooperation arose in part from a feeling that he needed to protect himself, and speculation quickly mounted about whether McGahn's testimony could harm the president. Trump suffered a one-two punch in court this month, when his longtime personal lawyer Michael Cohen pleaded guilty to campaign finance violations and former campaign manager Paul Manafort was found guilty of tax and bank fraud.

Hurdles remain on path to Iraqi government formation
August 30, 2018/ Arab News/August 30/2018/
Iraq’s Supreme Court recently ratified the results of May’s parliamentary elections, following a manual recount triggered by allegations of fraud. With the Sairoon Alliance, backed by populist Shiite preacher Muqtada Al-Sadr, confirmed as the leading bloc with the same 54 seats it won in May, Iraq’s constitutional stalemate could be on the verge of a much-needed breakthrough. There are, however, potential hurdles on the way. From the necessary legal steps for the confirmation of the new Cabinet and the ongoing competition between the different blocs, to the mounting effects of US-Iran tensions in Iraq, this process could still prove anything but smooth. Crucially, the present context leaves very little room for further slippages.
For a new Cabinet to be in place, Iraqi members of parliament first need to convene within 30 days to elect a new speaker and new president. Then the president will officially request the leader of the largest political bloc to form a government. The prime minister designate has another 30 days to indicate the names of the ministers that will form the new Cabinet, which need to be approved by an absolute majority in parliament. All of these steps have to happen within 90 days from the ratification of the election results. According to a decree issued on Monday by President Fuad Masum, the parliament’s first session is now scheduled for Sep. 3. The procedural details should be the least of all worries. Rather, the political establishment in Baghdad often fails to grant priority or full attention to the most critical challenges of the moment. The way Daesh took control of key cities and huge swathes of territory under the apathetic watch of former Prime Minister Nouri Al-Maliki is a stark reminder of that. The premiership of Al-Maliki’s successor, Haider Abadi, now in caretaker capacity, represented a step forward in some important respects, such as the effort to prioritize a national unity discourse over Al-Maliki’s sectarian approach. What it did not do, however, was resolve the most pressing governance issues and vices that have spread throughout state institutions. Unsurprisingly, July and August were marked by some of the most significant protests the country has witnessed in years, with people rallying against corruption, unemployment and poor governance, including an energy and water crisis in the south.Attempts to form a government in Iraq in race against time amidst competition between the various alliances and the effects of US sanctions on Iran.
In late July, Grand Ayatollah Ali Al-Sistani, who had refrained from intervening in the coalition-building efforts, issued, during a Friday sermon that was delivered in Karbala by one of his representatives, a damning verdict of the political establishment for its inability to put personal and party priorities over national ones. The harsh but pertinent sermon also called on the current government to meet the demands and concerns of protesters and urged the swift formation of a governing coalition, whose members should be selected on the basis of competence and expertise.
On Aug. 19, the Nasr coalition led by Abadi and Al-Sadr’s Sairoon bloc announced an alliance with Al-Hikma and Al-Wataniyah with the goal of forming a government. But, as it stands, this alliance is still 28 seats short of a majority.
The rivalry between the Shiite nationalist Abadi-Al-Sadr alliance and the staunchly pro-Iranian camp, represented by the State of Law Coalition led by Al-Maliki and the Fatah Alliance of Hadi Al-Amiri, is at full steam. This has shifted the coalition-building efforts to the Kurdish parties and Sunni blocs.
Al-Sadr’s representatives visited Irbil and reportedly offered Kurdish militias a return to Kirkuk in exchange for an alliance. Taken together, Kurdish parties account for 55 parliamentary seats. Feeling the opportunity to be kingmakers, the two main Kurdish parties — the Kurdistan Democratic Party and the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan — are aligning their demands on complex issues such as relations between Baghdad and Irbil, the future of disputed territories, oil, budget allocations and more.
The controversial Popular Mobilization Units have also featured in the competition between the two main Shiite blocs. Reportedly, the Al-Maliki-Al-Amiri alliance orchestrated a decision to withdraw the militias from city centers across Iraq as a means to lure the Sunnis into their alliance.
Yet another factor that could complicate matters is the growing US-Iran tensions. Iraq is a leading destination for Iranian exports and, with US sanctions on Tehran again in place, Iraqi compliance would mean more trouble for an Iranian government already under pressure economically. It would also spell trouble for Baghdad, which would face a spike in prices on various imports and would need to look elsewhere to replace them.
Abadi’s hint that Iraq would broadly comply with US sanctions generated a strong reaction from Tehran and could lead to a determined Iranian move to sideline the current PM. There are no easy choices for the present caretaker government on this. Non-compliance would most likely place the Iraqi government at odds with the US administration and risk an essential line of support. Al-Sadr’s unpredictability and populist leanings could pose some challenges too. During July’s protests, he threatened to stay away from government and opt for a “patriotic opposition.” The leader of the Sadrist Movement has also set the condition that the next prime minister needs to be an independent, which would, in principle, exclude Abadi.
**Manuel Almeida, PhD, is a visiting fellow at the Middle East Centre of the London School of Economics and Political Science, where his research focuses on social contract in the Arab state and its impact on governance and sustainable development. He is also partner at Firma, covering emerging markets and geopolitical risk. Twitter: @_ManuelAlmeida
Sisi Appoints Raft of New Governors in New Shake-Up
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/August 30/18/Egypt's President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi on Thursday appointed a string of new governors to key regions, the latest shake-up since winning re-election in March. Sisi has reshuffled a host of top officials since claiming a second term with 97 percent of the vote, as he looks to press on with economic reforms and bolster security. In the latest move he replaced 22 of Egypt's 27 regional governors, including in northern Sinai where the military is currently conducting a major operation against jihadist fighters. The majority of the new appointees are drawn from the senior army and police ranks favored by ex-military chief Sisi. But they also include Manal Mikhail in Damietta province, who became the first Christian woman ever appointed to such a position in the majority Sunni Muslim country. "Egypt expects lots of effort, collective action and dedication to further development," Sisi said in a statement released by the presidency.  In June Sisi shook up his government by replacing a number of his top team, including the defense and interior ministers. Sisi won re-election in March against only one opponent, widely viewed as a token candidate, after more serious challengers were sidelined or arrested.  He first won the presidency in 2014, a year after ousting president Mohamed Morsi amid mass protests against the Islamist's rule. Egypt is currently struggling to boost its economy after implementing a raft of painful reforms that have seen sharp price hikes. The authorities are also trying to put an end to a bloody Islamist insurgency that spread across the country after Morsi was toppled.

The Latest LCCC Bulletin analysis & editorials from miscellaneous sources published
August 30-31/18
Opinion/Hamas Is a Distraction. It’s Hezbollah and Iran Who Can Rain Down Unprecedented Destruction on Israel
شاك فيريلش من الهآررتس: حماس هي للإلهاء أما الخطر فهو من حزب الله وإيران وفي قدرتهما تدمير غير مسبوق لإسرائيل

Chuck Freilich/Haaretz/August 30/18
If Israel had true leaders, they'd be telling the Israeli public to calm down about Gaza and the limited threat Hamas poses, and focusing on the exponentially more serious threat of Hezbollah and Iran
At a time when most people around the world are enjoying the lazy, lethargic closing days of late summer, Israel is facing Hamas’ never-ending threats. Hamas, however, is a distraction from the real threat – Hezbollah, and the growing Iranian presence in Syria. Israel has the upper hand in the conflict with Hamas in Gaza, but the threat from Hezbollah and Iran are of a different magnitude.
Hamas threatens Israel in four primary ways. The first, its cross-border tunnels, designed to target Israel’s civilian home front, has already been largely thwarted by the underground barrier Israel is building, and should be essentially neutralized when the barrier is completed next year.
The second threat, Hamas’ attempts to cross the border fence under the rubric of "marches of return," has also largely been thwarted – at a price to Israel’s international standing – by fire against "nonviolent demonstrators," many of whom happen to be Hamas fighters.
The danger is twofold: that the ongoing but limited conflict will ultimately lead to a major confrontation, or that Hamas may finally learn what nonviolent conflict really means
If 100,000 truly nonviolent Gazans (or East Jerusalemites, or West Bank residents), armed solely with flowers, were to storm the border fence between Gaza and Israel, or the West Bank separation fence or checkpoints, Israel would face a serious problem.
Shooting nonviolent protestors en masse is clearly unacceptable. In the meantime, the Palestinians’ seemingly inexhaustible well of hatred, and never-ending ability to choose the wrong options, has saved us from this dilemma.
Astonishingly, the third threat, of burning kites, has managed to drive the Israeli public and political arena crazy for months. To be sure, these simple kites, whose level of sophistication brings us back to the dawn of humanity, can kill. One kite landed in an Israeli nursery school while the children were playing outside, and only by a miracle was a catastrophe averted.
Nevertheless, not a single person has been hurt to date by "kite terrorism" and the fires they cause have been blown out of proportion. Most of the damage has been to agricultural fields, which are rapidly plowed under and thus the damage is no longer visible.
Despite all our empathy for the farmers and the other Israelis whose homes border Gaza, a policy of restraint is infinitely preferable to a large-scale military operation, which would not change much of significance. The financial cost of the kites’ damage is equivalent to only a few hours of warfare, and that’s before mentioning the cost in lives.
The fourth threat, Hamas rockets, has also essentially been neutralized at the national level by Israel’s rocket defense systems, and is thus limited today primarily to the Gaza border communities.
This is certainly not satisfactory, even "unacceptable" – a term that should be banned from the Hebrew language, since every possible "unacceptable threat" has happened and we have learned to live with them – and mortars, as opposed to rockets, remain a significant problem.
Nevertheless, communities in Israel’s north and south lived under far more severe threats for decades. Unfortunately, this has been the price of our national sovereignty for 70 years, and some proportion is warranted.
A future conflict with Hezbollah and Iran will be an entirely different story.
Israel’s civilian home front and military rear are likely to suffer unprecedented destruction. The IDF continues to adhere to an offensive strategy and ethos, but the debatably good old days, when our forces could sally forth, conquer territory and achieve decisive victory, are apparently gone forever. The last thing that Israel needs today is to conquer additional populated territory, and without conquering territory it is almost impossible to achieve decisive victory.
For these and other reasons, the IDF does not yet have an effective offensive response to the Hezbollah rocket threat, even though we have been facing it for decades, except at the price of an all-out war and heavy casualties. As long as the price of the "solution" is worse than the danger posed by the threat, Israel’s governments will prefer a different route.
Given these circumstances, Israel has been forced to adopt an increasingly defensive and diplomatic response. By way of example, Israel has deployed various rocket defense systems such as Iron Dome, built border fences on all fronts, is now constructing additional defensive obstacles on the northern and Gazan borders, and is building "virtual defenses" against cyber threats.
Israel’s defensive response is already significantly better than it used to be, but the problem is cost, especially the number of batteries and especially missiles required for missile and rocket defense. At the levels currently planned for deployment, the IDF will have to give priority to defending vital military installations and civilian infrastructure, such as airbases and power plants, over population centers, in order to ensure its ability to continue fighting in a major future conflict with Hezbollah. The public will remain partially exposed and vulnerable.
While Hamas was busy launching kites, a constructive new trial balloon, unfortunately rare in our national skies, was recently launched, calling for the allocation of an additional 30 billion shekels for defense, including a national rocket and missile shield. Encouragingly, the initiative appears to have survived initial coalition sparring and attempts to shoot it down and may actually become official policy.
Such a defensive shield need not be completely hermetic, but should be able to achieve two primary objectives: First, it should eliminate the need to prioritize the defense of vital military installations and civilian infrastructure over population centers. Second, it should neutralize the Hezbollah rocket threat, in the sense that the home front can continue functioning during wartime at a level similar to that achieved during the last round of hostilities against Hamas in 2014.
Such a shield would cost an estimated $7-10 billion. The U.S. has committed to funding $5 billion for rocket and missile defense over the next decade – for the Iron Dome, David’s Sling and Arrow systems – and Israel should ask the Trump administration to "frontload" it even at the expense of other needs. Israel can cover the rest.
Diplomacy has long gotten a bad rap in Israel, but it is critically important today vis-a-vis Israel’s main adversaries – Hamas, Hezbollah and Iran – especially when wedded to a coherent military strategy. Diplomatic efforts with Egypt (and indirectly with Hamas), for example, may prove to be the best means of achieving long term quiet along the Gaza border.
Israel can continue beating the Palestinians militarily for decades, but there is no military solution to the conflict with them. Russian diplomacy is probably the best means of limiting the Iranian presence in Syria.
It may be hard to see, but Hamas is actually in dire straits in the face of Israel’s overwhelming military superiority. We are rapidly neutralizing their military capabilities and depriving them of the ability to cause us significant harm.
The economy and infrastructure in Gaza are in shambles, and their isolation in the international arena and among Arab states is deepening. The Palestinian Authority is hostile to Hamas and pressuring it, and the public in Gaza is showing signs of growing despair over their plight and leadership.
If Israel had a national leadership worthy of the name, the message to the people on Hamas would be clear. Instead of playing on public fears, they’d be saying: keep calm and cool it.
The conflict with Hamas is certainly not pleasant, but it’s not terrible. If fighting breaks out, Israel will continue to prosper, while Gaza will sink ever deeper into the abyss. A few limited ops, some diplomacy, a bit of patience and steadfastness, and that too shall pass.
*Chuck Freilich, a senior fellow at Harvard’s Belfer Center and adjunct professor at Tel Aviv University, is a former Israeli deputy national security adviser. He is also the author of Israeli National Security: A New Strategy for an Era of Change, Oxford University Press, 2018

Iran and the Misleading Internet Propaganda
Salman Al-dossary//Asharq Al-Awsat/August, 30/18
Not only have the US sanctions besieged the Iranian regime, as Internet giants interfered to stop Tehran’s illegal attempts to influence Internet users around the world, after Reuters revealed Wednesday a wide platform of Iranian anonymous websites and accounts on social media in 11 different languages, where the network publishes information in several languages including English, French, Arabic, Persian, Urdu, Pashto, Russian, Hindi, Azerbaijani, Turkish and Spanish.
Ten websites have been discovered, along with hundreds of fake Iranian accounts on various sites such as YouTube, Instagram, Facebook and Twitter. Iran’s International Union of Virtual Media (IUVM) uses its network of sites, including YouTube, the breaking news service, the mobile phone application store and the network of satirical images in order to disseminate information from the Iranian television, the government news agency (FARS), and Hezbollah’s Al-Manar TV network. This information goes to fictitious pages that appear to be reliable news sites from the United States or the United Kingdom. Then, these sites publish their news on the network without the readers being able to know the source of the information and whether it is correct.
The disclosure of the network comes as Facebook and other companies say many social networking accounts and websites are part of an Iranian project to secretly influence public opinion in other countries.
Iran’s misleading propaganda is a simple part of a major strategy through which the public opinion of any country is manipulated and guided so that it appears to be emanating from within, while the magnitude of the negative impact coming from outside is devastating. This strategy has not only exploited the great chaos of social media, but also the reliable sites on the Internet, to give great credibility to the false information when promoted on social networking platforms.
This has led a number of technology companies to launch a war against the Iranian government, after accusing it of being behind operations of “misleading propaganda” over the internet, which have targeted users in many countries of the world, beginning with the United States, the United Kingdom and some countries in the Middle East.
Facebook and Twitter have both announced that they have deleted hundreds of accounts, most of which are located in Iran, when they turned out to be adopting a coordinated “misleading behavior.” The two companies have received information from FireEyes for electronic security, confirming that the accounts promote Iranian propaganda including a discussion on issues that are against several countries in the Middle East, mainly Saudi Arabia. Google then announced the removal of 39 channels on YouTube linked to state-run Islamic Republic of Iranian Broadcasting (IRIB).
Without strict international laws to combat misinformation coming from the internet, it would be impossible to control the social networks that have become the spearhead through which billions of people exchange false information.
Without clear mechanisms by the internet giants - Google and Twitter – that help to speed up the closure of accounts that mislead and spread extremism and fabricated news, misinformation and deception will continue on a large scale. Unfortunately, misleading propaganda cannot be discovered until it has falsified facts and published thousands of false news among billions of people.
As much as the internet provides great positive services to more than three billion people in the world, it has become at the same time a threat to internet users because it is now manipulated for purposes far from the goals of British Inventor Tim Berners-Lee, who says he is "concerned" about his invention 29 years after he presented the original proposal for the Web that the world needs every day.

Italy: Interior Minister Accused of Kidnapping Migrants
"Being investigated for defending the rights of Italians is a disgrac
Soeren Kern/Gatestone Institute/August 30/18
"The investigation notice sent to [Interior Minister Matteo] Salvini could in fact be seen as a direct attempt to prevent a minister from carrying out his political activity in accordance with the vote expressed by the majority of Italians on the basis of precise electoral commitments." — Gianni Alemanno, former Mayor of Rome, denouncing the investigation into Salvini as unconstitutional.
"I am amazed at the astonishment of a political left that now exists only to challenge others and believes that Milan should not host the president of a European power, as if the left has the authority to decide who has the right to speak and who does not — and then they wonder why no one votes for them anymore." — Matteo Salvini, Italian Interior Minister.
Opinion polls show that Salvini's anti-immigration stance has boosted his League party's approval rating.
Italy's Interior Minister Matteo Salvini is under formal investigation for "kidnapping" after he refused to allow illegal migrants to disembark from a ship at a Sicilian port. The investigation, a political move aimed at blunting the government's hardline stance on illegal immigration, has threatened to plunge Italy into a constitutional crisis over the separation of powers.
Sicilian Prosecutor Luigi Patronaggio said that the investigation into Salvini, the head of the anti-immigration League party, would focus on "kidnapping, illegal arrest and the abuse of power."
Salvini responded:
"If he wants to interrogate me or even arrest me because I defend the borders and security of my country, I am proud and I look forward to it with open arms. Being investigated for defending the rights of Italians is a disgrace."
Salvini added that we could not be "cowed" and that he would not reserve his right to immunity from prosecution: "I only did my job as minister and I am ready to do it again."
The investigation was initiated after Salvini, who is also deputy prime minister, prevented 150 mostly Eritrean migrants from leaving the Italian Coast Guard ship Diciotti unless other European Union member states agreed to take some of them in.
On August 15, the Diciotti rescued approximately 190 migrants from the Mediterranean Sea, and on August 20, the ship docked in Catania, Sicily. Roughly 30 unaccompanied minors were allowed to disembark, and subsequently another 13 women and men were allowed to leave the ship for medical reasons.
Salvini refused to allow the remaining passengers to disembark, arguing that other EU member states should share the burden of mass migration. More than 600,000 migrants arrived in Italy over the past four years. Under EU rules — known as the Dublin Regulation — migrants must seek asylum in their country of arrival, which, for reasons of geography, places an inordinate burden on Italy.
On August 22, Deputy Prime Minister Luigi Di Maio tweeted:
"Italy is no longer the refugee camp of Europe. On my orders, no one disembarks from the Diciotti."
On August 23, Di Maio threatened to withhold Italian payments to the European Union if a top-level EU meeting in Brussels scheduled for August 24 failed to find a long-term solution to the issue of migrant rescues. In an interview on Italian TV, which he also posted on his Facebook account, Di Maio said:
"If tomorrow nothing comes out of the European Commission meeting, if they decide nothing regarding the Diciotti and the redistribution of the migrants, the whole Five Star Movement [Di Maio's party] and I will no longer be prepared to give €20 billion euros ($23 billion) to the European Union every year."
On August 24, after the EU meeting failed — predictably — to produce a solution for the Diciotti migrants, Di Maio wrote on Facebook:
"Today the European Union has decided to turn its back on Italy once again. At this point, Italy must take unilateral measures. We are ready to cut the funds we give to the European Union. They want €20 billion paid by Italian citizens? Let them demonstrate that they deserve it by taking charge of a problem that we can no longer tackle alone. The borders of Italy are the borders of Europe."
European Commission spokesman Alexander Winterstein responded:
"Let's not engage in finger-pointing. Unconstructive comments, let alone threats, are not helpful and they will not get us any closer to a solution. The EU is a community of rules and it operates on the basis of rules, not threats."
In a subsequent interview with the public broadcaster RAI, De Maio said:
"The EU was born of principles like solidarity. If it is not capable of redistributing 170 people, it has serious problems with its founding principles."
On August 26, the Italian government announced that the remaining 150 migrants would be allowed to disembark after a deal was struck with the Roman Catholic Church, Albania and Ireland. Under the agreement, Italian bishops pledged to take most of the migrants under their care. The migrants will go to a Catholic center at Rocca di Papa near Rome. Albania, which is not an EU member, and Ireland, which is an EU member, would each take 20 people.
Speaking to League supporters, Salvini said:
"Do you know where some of the migrants will end up as they disembark in the next few hours? In a miraculous result, unseen for the last 20 years, some of the migrants will go to Albania.
"In this instance, the Albanian government showed to be better than the French government.
"I say thank you to Albania and shame on you to France as well as all of the others that couldn't be bothered to care.
"A lot of talk but very little action from them."
The former Mayor of Rome, Gianni Alemanno, denounced the investigation into Salvini as unconstitutional:
"As Secretary of the National Movement for Sovereignty, I have asked our legal department to verify the possibility of denouncing Prosecutor Patronaggio pursuant to Article 294 of the Penal Code, which sanctions 'attacks against political rights of the citizens.' Why such a move? This article states: 'Anyone who violates, threatens or deceives completely or partially and prevents the exercise of a political right is punished with imprisonment from one to five years in application of Articles 48 and 49 of the Constitution."
"The investigation notice sent to Salvini could in fact be seen as a direct attempt to prevent a minister from carrying out his political activity in accordance with the vote expressed by the majority of Italians on the basis of precise electoral commitments."
Alemanno added that the national interest is not to suffer "the invasion of illegal immigrants in the complete indifference of Europe." This is why "the courageous and difficult choices of Salvini," which are "connected to these objectives," are the consequence of an "explicit mandate given by the voters in the exercise of their political rights." Therefore, Alemanno said, Salvini must not be prosecuted.
European Parliament President Antonio Tajani, an Italian, said that it was unwise criminally to prosecute a policy like Salvini's hardline stance on immigration:
"You cannot try a political stance. In the end, Salvini will be acquitted by the ministerial court and then it becomes only a propaganda clash that does not solve the real problem: neither the immigration problem nor the that of the separation of powers."
Former President of the Italian Chamber of Deputies Pier Ferdinando Casini said that the investigation was a purely political move:
"The Public Prosecutor of Agrigento [Sicily], Luigi Patronaggio, yesterday kicked off the campaign for the European elections [to be held in May 2019]. This has happened and will always happen every time the policies of politics and justice are confused."
Accusations that Patronaggio's investigation into Salvini is motivated by politics appears to be confirmed by a September 2017 interview with La Stampa, in which the prosecutor shared Salvini's position on illegal immigration:
"The reasons why migrants arrive in Italy may not only be linked to economic needs. There are people who do not want to be identified, people already expelled from Italy in the past or just released with amnesty from Tunisian prisons or maybe that took part in the 2011 riots [Tunisian Revolution in January 2011]
"Among them there may also be people linked to international terrorism, which is why I think we are facing a dangerous immigration."
Opinion polls show that Salvini's anti-immigration stance has boosted his League party's approval rating to around 30% — more than a 10 point jump from its showing in the March 2018 election — and is now level with the Five Star Movement with which it has governed Italy since early June.
Almost 60% of Italians favor closing the country's ports to migrant ships, according to the polling firm, Ipsos Italia, in a recent survey published by Corriere della Sera.
*Soeren Kern is a Senior Fellow at the New York-based Gatestone Institute.
© 2018 Gatestone Institute. All rights reserved. The articles printed here do not necessarily reflect the views of the Editors or of Gatestone Institute. No part of the Gatestone website or any of its contents may be reproduced, copied or modified, without the prior written consent of Gatestone Institute.

Is Canada Prepared for the Threat of Returning Jihadists?
هل كندا جاهزة لمواجهة خطر عودة الجهاديين
A. Z. Mohamed/Gatestone Institute/August 30/18
Canada's intelligence service stated that some 60 "returnees" -- fighters who had returned to Canada -- "have the potential to pose a significant threat to our national security." In other words, there are dozens of jihadis roaming free in Canada, without being apprehended or charged by authorities.
The noise surrounding the debate over jihadist returnees has been drowning out the country's intelligence service assessment about the threat they pose to Canada's national security -- a threat that the Trudeau government is ill-prepared, ill-equipped and ideologically ill-suited to confront.
Prevention, investigation and prosecution of terrorists should be the top priority, ahead of rehabilitation and reintegration.
According to the website of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS), under the section "National Security Threats - Terrorism":
"Terrorism, including terrorist travel and the radicalization of Canadians, is the most prominent threat to Canadian interests and our national security. The intelligence community has never before faced a terrorist threat of this scope, scale, and complexity."
The CSIS text, last modified on January 27, 2017, also notes that, despite ISIS's huge losses, "its ideology continues to hold global appeal, including among susceptible Canadians," and Canadians with extremist Muslim views "continue to engage in a range of terrorist activity, in Canada and abroad."
By January 2017, CSIS was aware of:
"approximately 180 individuals with a nexus to Canada who are engaged in terrorist activity abroad, approximately half believed to be in Syria or Iraq.
"The activities of these extremist travellers vary widely, ranging from planning operations, training, and logistical support, to fundraising and studying at extremist institutions."
The number of "people suspected of travelling overseas to engage in terrorist activity" increased to about 250 by November 2017, according to Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale.
CSIS also stated that some 60 "returnees" -- fighters who had returned to Canada -- "have the potential to pose a significant threat to our national security." In other words, there are dozens of jihadis roaming free in Canada, without being apprehended or charged by authorities.
CSIS noted that returnees may behave in a number of different ways, "from returning to normality, to radicalizing others, to financing or facilitating the travel of others, or to engage in attack planning." Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's Liberal Party government and its supporters in academia and the media, however, seem to focus mainly on a wish that the returnees' resume normal lives, and promote the argument that such people are open to rehabilitation. The government has thus chosen to welcome the returnees with open arms, and to aim, seemingly by wishing, for their rehabilitation and re-integration; it also has an array of flawed excuses to support its choice.
Goodale, however, although he says that the chance of reintegrating returning ISIS fighters is "pretty remote."
"Goodale admits pursuing charges against these people is difficult. So far charges have been brought in two cases since the Liberals came to power. The challenge, Goodale said, is in translating intelligence that Canadian security agencies have on these people into evidence that will stick in court."
Meanwhile, Lorne Dawson, project director for the Canadian Network for Research on Terrorism, Security and Society (TSAS) -- which receives money for research through a fund administered by the Centre for Community Engagement and Prevention of Violence, established by the federal government -- claims that returnees can be rehabilitated.
"Dawson said that many terrorist travellers are disillusioned by the time they return home, and others suffer from trauma. Others, he said, may be focused on returning to a more normal life after feeling they have fought for their cause overseas.
"'No credible expert in the world thinks you arrest your way out of jihadist radicalization -- it's a social movement,' Dawson told the Canadian Press. 'You can't possibly arrest all the people who are engaged with this ideology.'"
It is not clear whether Dawson's statements are based solely on "talking with" returnees. He seems to be misinforming Canadians by blurring the distinction between jihadist ideology and mainstream Islam, and between jihadist ideology and operational or actual jihad. It is notable that, while touting rehabilitation, Dawson also skillfully avoids taking responsibility for his position, by saying: "You could rehabilitate them... but only with a very careful effort, which we're not well-equipped for in Canada right now."
The noise surrounding the debate over jihadist returnees has been drowning out the country's intelligence service assessment about the threat they pose to Canada's national security -- a threat that the Trudeau government is ill-prepared, ill-equipped and ideologically ill-suited to confront.
This is not to say that there should be no debate or discussion. On the contrary, containing the threat posed by jihadist returnees should not be one-dimensional. However, prevention, investigation and prosecution of terrorists should be the top priority, ahead of rehabilitation and reintegration. The appointment of a special prosecutor to handle terrorism-related trials and the development of precise rules and guidance in the collection and use of secret intelligence in court cases are urgently recommended.
**A.Z. Mohamed is a Muslim born and raised in the Middle East.
© 2018 Gatestone Institute. All rights reserved. The articles printed here do not necessarily reflect the views of the Editors or of Gatestone Institute. No part of the Gatestone website or any of its contents may be reproduced, copied or modified, without the prior written consent of Gatestone Institute.

Does an organized opposition to Tehran regime exist?
Dr. Majid Rafizadeh/Arab News/August 30/18
When it comes to Iran’s opposition and dissidents, the regime has long been investing significant political and financial capital in running covert disinformation campaigns, propagating fake news, and misleading the public, both domestically and globally.
The Iranian regime and its loyalists have capitalized on disseminating several key arguments and narratives. Some of these arguments include: There exists no opposition against the Islamic Republic; if there are any oppositional groups, they are scattered, trivial, weak and unorganized; those who oppose the Islamic Republic are “monafeghin” — hypocrites, or betrayers.
Mastering the skill of creating inflammatory mantras, the regime has also coined slogans against the opposition, such as “marg bar monafeghin,” meaning “death to the hypocrites.”
There are several objectives behind such efforts by the ruling mullahs. The theocratic establishment is trying to delegitimize its opposition, to divide and conquer, as well as to project to the international community that no credible and legitimate alternative to the Islamic Republic exists.
As a result, the regime seeks to illustrate that the only option for the Iranian people and the international community is to accept the current political rule. To debunk the regime’s fallacy, one issue ought to be addressed adequately: Is there an organized and robust Iranian opposition?
In order for an oppositional group, or any political organization or social movement, to be considered formidable and legitimate, it ought to meet several critical characteristics. These include: Having strong leadership; sociopolitical and socioeconomic influence; clear objectives; written rules; transparency; inclusiveness and accountability; enjoying considerable support from various sectors; launching effective and dynamic campaigns; having dedicated and active followers; being organized into clear organizational divisions; and being politically and financially independent from outside influence and interests.
Regardless of whether some may agree or disagree with the mission of a particular political organization, if the party has these qualities then it is undoubtedly strong and influential.
After the extensive research I have conducted based on the aforementioned factors, when it comes to Iran’s opposition, one group appears to meet these characteristics: The National Council for Resistance of Iran (NCRI). In other words, the Iranian regime’s argument that there exists no organized opposition is totally inaccurate.  In terms of sociopolitical and socioeconomic influence, as well as organizational qualities and support from people, the NCRI does wield a noticeable amount of power. Every year, the NCRI organizes the world’s largest gathering of those who advocate freedom and democracy in Iran. The mass “Free Iran” rally is held in Paris every year.
The event attracts tens of thousands of people, who come together from all around the world in order to make their voices heard, and in the hope of freeing and liberating their homeland. They rally and demand regime change in Iran, advocating for a democratic, non-extremist, pluralistic, and non-fundamentalist government. Despite the Iranian regime’s efforts to portray a sham picture that there is no organized opposition to its rule, the NCRI is a robust group with influence, strong leadership and a clear mission.
The oppositional group enjoys support from ordinary people and also from hundreds of prominent international personalities, notable politicians, dozens of Nobel laureates, and important lawmakers from the US (from both the Democratic and Republican parties), France, other European countries (both liberals and conservatives), Canada, Australia and large delegations from Arab and Middle Eastern nations.
The opposition group also frequently organizes other campaigns and rallies, such as in Washington and in front of the UN in New York, to raise awareness and protest against the Iranian regime’s human rights violations.
In addition, the group is the oldest Iranian opposition group, with its origins dating back to the 1960s. An organization that has survived more than 50 years and two political establishments — the theocratic rule of the Islamic Republic and the autocratic establishment of Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi — cannot be considered an unimportant political party.
Whether one agrees or disagrees with the group’s goals, it should be given credit for abiding by the same mission for over five decades: Setting up a democratic, inclusive and pluralistic system of governance in Iran. This mission meant advocating for regime change under the Shah and later under the ayatollahs.
When it comes to influence and having connections inside Iran, the NCRI has shown its political clout to the international community. It was this oppositional group, not the International Atomic Energy Agency or the US, which first revealed Iran’s clandestine nuclear activities at two major sites, Natanz and Arak, in 2002. The group has continued to reveal significant intelligence about Iran’s covert activities in connection with its ballistic missile and nuclear programs. Due to the NCRI’s connections in Iran, its information is said to have a high level of credibility. Frank Pabian, an adviser on nuclear non-proliferation matters at the Los Alamos National Laboratory, previously told the New York Times that the NCRI is “right 90 percent of the time.”
In sum, despite the Iranian regime’s efforts to portray a sham picture that there is no organized or legitimate oppositional group against its rule, a robust opposition with influence, strong leadership and clear mission does exist.
* Dr. Majid Rafizadeh is a Harvard-educated Iranian-American political scientist. He is a leading expert on Iran and US foreign policy, a businessman and president of the International American Council. Twitter: @Dr_Rafizadeh

Iranian expansionism likely to be first victim of US sanctions
Ellen R. Wald/Arab News/August 30/18
The new sanctions against Iran are technically imposed by only one country: The US. However, because Washington has threatened to impose secondary sanctions on countries that do not abide by them, most other countries will likely comply. As a result, the effect of the sanctions is a global denial of economic activity with Iran. Nevertheless, it is vital to understand that these sanctions are actually the work of just one country and as such are intended to pursue the interests of that country.
The primary interest of the US vis-a-vis Iran is to prevent it from becoming a nuclear power. It is now abundantly clear that Iran has desired nuclear weapons technology for some time. The US considers this possibility to be a direct threat to the safety of the country and its people, as well as a threat to America’s Middle East allies. There is the fear that this technology, in the hands of a revolutionary Iranian regime, would be used to further destabilize the region, impose Iran’s will, and possibly empower terrorist organizations. However, Iran has proven committed to its nuclear ambitions and it may take a while for the new sanctions to work in this regard.
Another important goal of the US sanctions is to compel Iran to return American citizens who are being held hostage by the regime in Evin Prison on bogus charges. Unlike the previous American administration, the Trump White House has made it clear that it considers the return of American hostages vital. Also, in a shift from its predecessor, the Trump administration seems unwilling to pay ransoms for the hostages currently held by Iran. Rather, the US is using pressure and threats against Iran in the hope of securing the release of Americans. It is a tactic that the US recently used successfully to free three Americans from North Korea and is currently using to try to free an American pastor being held in Turkey. However, Iran has recently used its hostages as bargaining chips so it may not free Americans until it is absolutely forced to or is given something substantial in return.
The poor state of Iran’s economy means the regime’s terrorism and paramilitary support just might be its first rogue policy to be hit by the strength of US sanctions.
On the other hand, the sanctions may ultimately prove most successful in the short term at effectuating a third goal, even more than they may be effective in preventing nuclear proliferation and securing the freedom of captive Americans. That is, the sanctions may be most successful at reducing Iran’s deleterious interference in other countries regionally and even beyond. Iranian support of terrorist groups, as well as direct influence by its Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, threatens regional and international stability. Iran supports terrorist or paramilitary groups in Gaza, Yemen and Lebanon. It sends its own forces into Syria and Iraq. From an American perspective, recent revelations that Iran assisted Al-Qaeda, allegedly planned a bomb attack in Paris and has sent agents to scope out buildings in the US brought home the need to restrict its militant activities on the international scene.
It seems possible that the US sanctions could actually have the greatest and most immediate impact on Iran’s international expansionist actions. Over the past year, even before the new US sanctions were announced, Iran has been experiencing widespread economic protests, strikes and demonstrations. A major theme coming out of many of these protests is anger over the amount of money and effort the regime spends abroad, while the Iranian economy struggles. These protests have blamed the Iranian government for failing to provide clean water and for the massive currency devaluations that are harming Iranian businesses and sapping the savings and purchasing power of Iranian citizens. Protesters have called out the Iranian regime for focusing on activities in Syria and Gaza while ignoring the plight of its people at home.
If the protests in Iran are any indication, the regime may be forced to cut back or perhaps halt its international expansionist activities as a result of pressure from its people, who are struggling under an already poor economy. Iran might no longer be able to afford its support of terrorism and military expansionism while its people suffer. Now, the US-imposed economic sanctions will only exacerbate the economic problems, and it is clear that at least a segment of Iranian society sees those economic problems in comparison to the fortunes being spent to destabilize the region and the world.
When Washington announced it would be reinstating sanctions unilaterally in May, much of the global debate was whether the sanctions could be effective if led by only one country. Now that so many countries and businesses have already halted or begun winding down business with Iran, it appears clear that the sanctions will, in fact, be felt by the Iranian regime. Today, the debate is what change to look for from Iran as a result. Because Iranian citizens have already connected a bad economy with their government’s international expansionism, Iran’s terrorism and paramilitary support just might be its first rogue policy to be hit by the strength of these sanctions.
**Ellen R. Wald, Ph.D. is a historian and author of “Saudi, Inc.” She is the president of Transversal Consulting and also teaches Middle East history and policy at Jacksonville University. Twitter: @EnergzdEconomy

Iran’s Response to Sanctions? Ignore Them
باترك كلوسون من معهد واشنطن: إيران تتعامل مع العقوبات ةبتجاهلها

Patrick Clawson/The Washington Institute/August 30/18
The current Iranian narrative—that economic problems stem from domestic mistakes rather than foreign pressure—complicates the U.S. policy of using sanctions to force change.
On August 28, President Hassan Rouhani answered questions before the Majlis about Iran’s economic problems, only the second time in the Islamic Republic’s history that a president has come before the parliament. He was asked about unemployment, slow economic growth, the fall of the rial, cross-border smuggling, and the fact that Iranian banks still lack access to global financial services. The Majlis formally voted to reject his explanations on most of these issues; only his answers about bank access were accepted.
This came on the heels of the parliament’s August 26 vote booting out Finance Minister Masoud Karbasian. In fact, the president is under pressure to change his entire economic team: he already sacked the Central Bank governor, while the Majlis threw out the labor minister and is now considering a motion against the minister of industry, mine, and trade.
U.S. officials may argue that most of Iran’s economic problems are due to renewed American sanctions, and they are largely correct—but that is not the central complaint being voiced in Tehran. In an August 16 speech, Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei spoke at length on the theme, concluding that “although sanctions have played a role, the main source of the current economic problems can be traced back to internal mismanagement and actions.” Indeed, for all the Western focus on the problems that Iran’s banks have had connecting to the world financial system, that was the one issue on which Rouhani could satisfy the Majlis. If U.S. officials aim to increase public pressure on the regime, they will need to address a domestic narrative in which perception is rapidly becoming reality.
One of the key arguments in Khamenei’s speech is essentially correct: “Economic experts and many officials agree that today’s livelihood problems do not emerge from foreign sanctions; rather, they are tracked down to our internal issues.” Domestic commentators are nearly unanimous on this point even though it understates the impact that sanctions have had.
State television is giving ample coverage to the country’s many corruption scandals, airing trials for the first time in decades. For example, three mobile phone importers are being prosecuted for acquiring handsets at a favorable official exchange rate and selling them at inflated prices. In one case, a dead person’s name was used to import thousands of phones.
Indeed, many Iranians blame the recent currency collapse on corrupt manipulation of the gaps between official and free market rates. Khamenei voiced this widely heard complaint in his speech: “The foreign currencies provided were either used by a small group or sold to smugglers who took it abroad or sold it to those who hoarded it, to sell it later for two or three times the value and gain an overnight fortune.” Ahmad Araqchi, the Central Bank deputy governor in charge of foreign currency affairs, was arrested on exactly this charge.
When judiciary chief Sadeq Larijani wrote to the Supreme Leader earlier this month asking for new anti-corruption courts, Khamenei not only approved the proposal, he directed the courts to impose maximum sentences on those “disrupting and corrupting the economy.” On August 12, the judiciary announced that 67 people had been arrested on charges of corruption, and 100 government employees have been restricted from leaving Iran.
The anti-corruption campaign has resonated well with the public—not surprising given that Transparency International’s 2017 Corruption Perception Index ranked Iran 130th out of 180 countries. Many Iranians have also been using the social media campaign “Where is your kid?” to complain that the children of government officials lead lavish lifestyles far out of touch with those of everyday people.
These problems have been exacerbated by just plain bad policymaking. The Central Bank’s failure to stabilize the banking system or prop up the falling rial largely resulted from a series of stunningly stupid policy decisions, such as the short-lived effort to outlaw ubiquitous free market exchange dealers. Meanwhile, crucial bank structural reforms have yet to step up their glacial pace.
In contrast, Iranian politicians and television programs have little to say these days about U.S. sanctions. On August 27, the International Court of Justice began hearing Tehran’s complaint against the United States for allegedly violating their 1955 Treaty of Amity, Economic Relations, and Consular Rights (yes the treaty is still in force; no, it does not prohibit sanctions). Blaming the United States for economic problems was also an element of the August 16 Qom clerics rally. Yet this line of complaint is now the exception rather than the rule—and even then, the focus is on blaming the president for trusting the United States. For his part, Rouhani often brings up U.S. pressure when he defends his economic policies, but that excuse does not resonate well, as evidenced by this week’s Majlis votes against him.
Meanwhile, the free market rate for the rial stabilized this month, but the damage was already done—the currency has plummeted from 38,000 per dollar a year ago to 107,000. The regime still maintains a special official exchange rate of 42,000 rials per dollar, but this is available only to the politically well connected. It also offers an intermediate rate for exporters of non-oil goods. Almost to a person, Iranians view the rial’s collapse as a barometer of the economy’s health, and they blame the Rouhani government for this development.
The irony is that depreciating the currency is good economic medicine for problems that likely stem from lower export earnings. The classic prescription for a country in that situation is to devalue, which makes imports more expensive and exports more attractive. This effect is clearly happening in Iran, with consumers cutting back on foreign travel and purchases of foreign goods.
The depreciation also means that the government gets more rials from each dollar of oil revenue. As measured in rials, government revenue from oil exports will be up in 2018/19 compared to the budget; the revenue would go even higher if Tehran allowed its official exchange rate to approach the free market rate. So far, though, the government has stuck with the special rate and eschewed any increase in wages.
The downside of the depreciation is that it drives prices up. The monthly inflation rate announced by the Central Bank for July 22-August 21 was 5.2 percent, and if that pace is sustained for a year, the resultant annual rate would be 84 percent. Bringing inflation down to single digits was the proudest achievement of Rouhani’s first term, and in theory he could do it again by following a strict monetary policy. Yet the shaky banking system is in no position to implement that measure even if he were willing to take such a big political gamble.
In short, the rial’s collapse has been good for macroeconomic stability: the budget may run a surplus, and the trade balance will improve. But it is risky for political stability: the real incomes of wage earners are plummeting at a time of sporadic public protests.
Senior Iranian officials seem relaxed about the renewed U.S. sanctions, despite the apparent failure of their initial response. When Washington withdrew from the nuclear deal earlier this year, Tehran’s mantra was that the other parties (Europe, Russia, and China) would have to provide benefits as recompense. That seems less and less likely, as major firms from those countries—even government-owned ones—have announced their withdrawal from Iran. For instance, the regime seemed sure that the China National Petroleum Corporation would take over Phase 11 of the South Pars gas project after Total pulled out, but the Wall Street Journal reported on August 21 that Beijing has shown little interest. And on August 8, the Journal noted that the Chinese oil firm Sinopec “is now struggling to find appropriate banking channels” for its planned $3 billion investment in the Yadavaran oil field.
As for Iran’s next response to renewed sanctions, the regime’s thinking is unclear. One approach would be to wait out President Trump in the expectation that he will not be reelected, but there are few signs that Iran is consciously pursuing this strategy.
Whatever the case, the sharp drop in the rial’s value has convinced the Trump administration that the president’s May 8 prediction was correct: “Iran’s leaders will naturally say that they refuse to negotiate a new deal...But the fact is they are going to want to make a new and lasting deal, one that benefits all of Iran and the Iranian people.” Maybe U.S. pressure will bring Iran to that point, but at least so far, Tehran is insisting that its economic problems are homegrown. The challenge for Washington is how to turn the heat up fast and far enough that Khamenei admits these problems are rooted in his confrontational foreign policy. The most likely scenario is that each side tries to get the other to blink: Washington by increasing pressure, and Tehran by waiting until Trump leaves office.
**Patrick Clawson is the Morningstar Senior Fellow and director of research at The Washington Institute.

The Arab wave in US Congress
Walid Jawad/Al Arabiya/August 30/18
Can the swell of Arab-American candidates create a wave in this 2018 election cycle?
At least 75 Arabs are running for public office in local and national races this November according to the Arab-American Institute.
Five of those candidates are fighting to keep their seats as members of Congress: Justin Amash, Ralph Abraham, Garret Graves, Darin LaHood, Charlie Crist. Arab-Americans are a fixture in American political life since the great wave of the 1970s when six won seats to the US House of Representatives. The possibility of a second wave, come this November, is palpable with 23 candidates winning their primary races so far ahead of the general elections. While equal number have lost their primary races, the rest of the candidates are still fighting for the chance to represent their party on Election Day less than ten weeks away. This is a very strong showing. Each one of these candidates has an impressive story to tell. They have endured trials and tribulations just to make it this far along the process on the road to winning public office.
One such race is the return of Donna Shalala to the national spotlight after winning the Democratic House of Representatives Florida primary seat. Shalala, the former Health and Human Services secretary under President Clinton, prevailed in a crowded field of Democratic candidates on Tuesday.
More Arab-American and other independent, patriotic Americans winning legislative seats will lead to better chances for resolving the Palestinian-Israeli conflict peacefully
Rashida Tlaib
The name Rashida Tlaib has been reverberating in mainstream media over the past few weeks. Rashida, this Palestinian-American-Women, has secured the Democratic party nomination to run unopposed for Detroit's 13th District.
Once she assumes her responsibilities in January as the first Muslim-American female Congresswoman, Palestinians will have a strong voice in the hallowed chambers on Capitol Hill. Tlaib’s winning her Democratic Party’s nomination is groundbreaking. In addition to her being a woman, she is a first generation Arab-American born to a Muslim Palestinian immigrant. J Street, the liberal-leaning Jewish organization, endorsed Tlaib, helping her secure her election bid. But shortly thereafter, the organization withdrew its endorsement citing concerns over news reports confirming her belief in a one-state solution for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Herein lies the disconnect. The one state solution is neither the goal of J Street nor the official position of the Palestinian government.Rashida Tlaib will not be the only Palestinian voice in Congress if Ammar Campo-Najjar unseats Duncan Hunter. But will their voices along with other Arab-American legislators advance the Palestinian cause?
The one-state solution is not an option in the current political climate. But with her in Congress and with more people supporting her vision, the Palestinians themselves might find it beneficial to consider her vision. Seeing that the two-state solution is not a workable option, a different goal must be put in place.
The immediate goal must be ending the unjust situation of suffering for many decades and multiple generations as soon as practically possible. A state of Israel with equal rights for its Palestinian citizens, including those in Gaza and the West Bank and displaced refugees.
Although her win is one more victory for the Arab American community, this multifaceted community is not effective in advancing the Palestinian cause as other ethnic American communities are effective in advancing theirs.
Arab-Americans might be lifted by the Blue Wave that will probably tip the political balance in favor of the Democrats.
Most observers are confident the American electorates will hand Democratic candidates a big win this November allowing the party to regain control of the House of Representatives and possibly, with much slimmer odds, the Senate. Such an outcome will allow Congress to play a balancing role to that of President Donald Trump.
The multidimensional Ammar
As for Ammar, he holds a complex identity as the grandson of a Palestinian who participated in the terrorist attack on the Israeli Olympic team in 1972.
His grandfather, Muhammad Yusuf al-Najjar, was a member of the “Black September” organization. He has been expending a significant amount of energy and resources fighting accusation of terrorism in both English and Spanish.
His mother is from Mexico allowing him to connect with the Spanish speaking citizenry of California’s 50th district, which includes San Diego. Although he was trailing Rep. Hunter earlier in the race by a significant margin, Ammar’s chances became much better in light of the latest campaign fund indictment of Hunter.
Ammar takes a defensive posture against accusations related to his Arab lineage. “This is another ploy from out-of-touch forces, who play identity politics and don’t want to talk about the issues,” said the 29-year-old candidate defending himself.
“Obviously, people make a lot of assumptions about me that are not accurate,” he stated before going on the attack. Last night, Ammar proclaimed that his opponent is not worthy of representing the people of his electoral district,” We don’t have a lawmaker anymore. We have a lawbreaker.”
Arab schism
Justice for Palestinians will be achieved in the US. More Arab-American and other independent, patriotic Americans winning legislative seats will lead to better chances for resolving the Palestinian-Israeli conflict peacefully.
The drawback for Palestinians is the “Made in USA” nature of any proposed solution. These Arab-American politicians might have Arab roots or recognizable surnames, but they are Americans first and foremost. It is not a criticism; it is a fact that is built in the American political system. A system that advances equality and the rights of its citizens. A self-correcting system that protects minorities when injustice befalls them.
In part, Islamophobia, anti-Arabism, and America’s policies toward the Middle East all inspired Arab-American candidates to run in this unjust cultural and political environment. Their Arab roots inspired them to run for office, but its American patriotism that wins them votes.