February 07/2018
Compiled & Prepared by: Elias Bejjani


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Bible Quotations
I do not call you servants any longer, because servants do not know what their master is doing. Instead, I call you friends, because I have told you everything I heard from my Father
John 15/01-17: " “I am the real vine, and my Father is the gardener.  He breaks off every branch in me that does not bear fruit, and he prunes every branch that does bear fruit, so that it will be clean and bear more fruit.  You have been made clean already by the teaching I have given you.  Remain united to me, and I will remain united to you. A branch cannot bear fruit by itself; it can do so only if it remains in the vine. In the same way you cannot bear fruit unless you remain in me. “I am the vine, and you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will bear much fruit; for you can do nothing without me.  Those who do not remain in me are thrown out like a branch and dry up; such branches are gathered up and thrown into the fire, where they are burned.  If you remain in me and my words remain in you, then you will ask for anything you wish, and you shall have it.  My Father's glory is shown by your bearing much fruit; and in this way you become my disciples.  I love you just as the Father loves me; remain in my love.  If you obey my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have obeyed my Father's commands and remain in his love. “I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.  My commandment is this: love one another, just as I love you.  The greatest love you can have for your friends is to give your life for them.  And you are my friends if you do what I command you.  I do not call you servants any longer, because servants do not know what their master is doing. Instead, I call you friends, because I have told you everything I heard from my Father.  You did not choose me; I chose you and appointed you to go and bear much fruit, the kind of fruit that endures. And so the Father will give you whatever you ask of him in my name.  This, then, is what I command you: love one another.

Titles For Latest LCCC Bulletin analysis & editorials from miscellaneous sources published on February 06-07/18
It never ended/Walid Phares/Face Book/February 06/18
The “Brothers” Berri and Bassil/Elie Aoun/February 05/18
Lebanon Tells Israel Its Border Wall Violates Sovereignty/Jerusalem Post/February 06/18
US Sanctions On Hamas & Hezbollah Indirectly Target Iran/Michael Wilner/Jerusalem Post/February 06/18
Lebanese Leaders Warn Against 'Israeli Threat' as Sides Fight Over Border Wall/Reuters/Haaretz/Feb 06, 2018
France: Migrant Crisis Spirals Out of Control/Soeren Kern/Gatestone Institute/February 06/2018
Palestinians: The Atrocities No One Talks About/Khaled Abu Toameh/Gatestone Institute/February 06/2018
The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC): Serving Canada or Serving Islamists/Tom Quiggin/Gatestone Institute/February 06/2018
Love, the Qatari Way/Abdulrahman Al-Rashed/Asharq Al Awsat/February 06/18
Ten Observations on the Margins of the Arab Crises/Ahmed Abul Gheit/Asharq Al Awsat/February 06/18

Titles For Latest LCCC Lebanese Related News published on February 06-07/18
It never ended
The “Brothers” Berri and Bassil
Lebanon Faces Threat of Returning Extremists
Conditions ripe for progress in water, energy sectors: Aoun
Lebanon Tells Israel Its Border Wall Violates Sovereignty
US Sanctions On Hamas & Hezbollah Indirectly Target Iran
Lebanese Leaders Warn Against 'Israeli Threat' as Sides Fight Over Border Wall
UNIFIL Head Chairs First Tripartite Meeting in 2018
Change and Reform Urges Hizbullah to Show 'Commitment to State-Building'
Hizbullah Supporter Handed Over after Shooting 2 Men in Aramoun
Judge Accepts Lawsuit Accusing Saudi Minister of 'Sowing Discord'
U.S. Continues Military Deliveries to Lebanese Army
Aoun Says Energy Ministry Made Significant Achievements in a Single Year
Jumblat Says Won't Visit Saudi Arabia, Describes Ties as 'Stiff'
Report: Easing Tensions, Israeli Threats to be Tackled in Baabda Meeting
Differences 'Resolved' at Baabda Meeting, Parties Plan Action over Israeli Threats
Psychiatrist: U.S. Suspect in Lebanese Man's Death Schizophrenic

Titles For Latest LCCC Bulletin For Miscellaneous Reports And News published on February 06-07/18

Israel to Re-examine Construction of Gaza Strip Port, Airport on Artificial Island
Tehran Denies Knowing About US-European Move to Modify Nuclear Deal
Saudi ICC: UN Recognition of Funding Gap is Step to Address Trade Problems
Israel to Replace 6,000 Africans, Palestinians with Foreign Workers
Israeli Security Report Reaffirms ISIS Presence in Sinai, Somalia, Kashmir
UN Condemns Continued Chemical Attacks in Syria
Syria: Turkish Incursion, Friction with Assad Loyalists
Iran President Rules Out Negotiations over Missiles
Body of 'Hero' Russian Pilot Killed in Syria Brought Home
Russia Condemns Site for Revealing Salary of Pilot Killed in Syria
Iraq Publishes Most Wanted List Headed by IS Leader
HRW Urges Review of Moroccan Activist's Jail Sentence
Uprooted, Again: War Catches Up with Syrians in Idlib
Hundreds of Syrian Kurds Protest in Beleaguered Afrin

Latest Lebanese Related News published on February 06-07/18
It never ended
Walid Phares/Face Book/February 06/18
I often receive messages from friends in Lebanon about clashes here and there and their concerns about "the return of the war." My answer to them has and will continue to be: it has never really ended, it morphed into terror, intimidation and corruption. What ended in 1990 was the ability of one group to resist, and what resumed was the ability of one force, to subdue the rest. That's it folks. Harvesting the choice made 28 years ago..

The “Brothers” Berri and Bassil
Elie Aoun/February 05/18
With regard to the recent “quarrel” between Lebanese Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri and the Foreign Minister Gibran Bassil, it is never sufficient to look at the political aspects and the spoken rhetoric. We must always analyze the root causes.
Mutual forgiveness and apologies for a staged “fight” may relieve temporary political symptoms but does not cure the disease. Those who truly rule Lebanon and rule both Berri and Bassil are certain clergymen and secret societies.
Berri is a member of Freemasonry. Bassil is a member of the Rotary Club, which is nothing more than a Freemason branch – as evidenced by the Freemason logo placed (on certain occasions) within the Rotary logo.
Therefore, Berri and Bassil are “brothers” in the “Brotherhood,” leading us to conclude the following:
Firstly, although these groups pretend to have humanitarian and business objectives, their role is more sinister than what is declared in public.
Politically, they elevate certain individuals to political power, at the expense of other more qualified individuals, and then “guide” them and use them to advance their own agenda.
The Freemason and Rotarian politicians take an oath of loyalty to their own “club.” That oath supercedes any loyalty to a political party, a country, or a constitution.
Berri and Bassil can say whatever they want against each other, but none of them will produce any evidence that would expose the corruption of the other. Now you know the reason why.
Secondly, both Freemasonry and Rotary are involved in “dark” spirituality.
From an Islamic perspective, the Islamic Fiqh Council considers the Rotary as a branch of Freemasonry which aims for “destruction,” and “whoever associates with it, knowing its reality and objectives, is an unbeliever.”
From a Catholic perspective, there is a 1738 papal bull that bans Catholics from entering Freemasonry (and, technically, a prohibition that includes all of its branches).
These prohibitions would not have been issued if Freemasonry and Rotary Club were solely humanitarian and business in nature. Said prohibitions reflect a reality of these societies’ involvement in “dark” spirituality.
In a recorded video of a Freemasonic initiation ceremony held in a Turkish Freemason lodge, the new recruits are told that they will be taken into “the dark zone” and not to tell anyone of what they see or hear.
— at 1:38 of the following video:
A sword is held to the initiates’ chest as a reminder of the severe punishment that would befall on them if they do not keep their promises.
— at 2:47 of the video:
Later in the video, a ritual exposes Freemasons sacrificing a goat in a lodge.
— at 6:08 of the video:
Pursuant to the Code of Cannon Law 685(§2), relating to separation or transfer of members from one religious institute to another: “Through profession in the new institute, the member is incorporated into it while the preceding vows, rights, and obligations cease.”
As a result, and from a religious perspective, neither Berri is a Muslim nor Bassil is a Christian. By taking vows in the new spiritual institute (Freemasonry or Rotary), their preceding vows (in Christianity or Islam) ceased.
It should be noted that at least 100,000 Lebanese belong to Freemasonry, including half of the Lebanese parliament and half of the Cabinet.
Do we still wonder why the country’s situation does not improve and a multitude of problems with available solutions are never resolved? Do we still wonder why the real truth behind assassinations or corruptions is never exposed? The participants are members of the same club and cannot by oath expose one another.
The root cause of Lebanon’s problems is not political, but spiritual: Many of those who are in government and various political parties belong to the “dark zone” – and we should not expect light from darkness.
In conclusion, there are those who pretend to be defending “Christian rights” while their conduct has nothing to do with being a Christian: They alienate true patriots, make no meaningful contribution to their community, and select certain individuals on their parliamentary list that make no meaningful contribution to their community or the country.
At other times, these same individuals pretend to support a “secular state.” Whatever that means, in practice they do not pursue viable policies to resolve many of Lebanon’s problematic issues.
All sides are eloquent in making promises and pointing out faults of other political parties, while they themselves deliver noting meaningful to the Lebanese population. They only offer delusions of being different, when in reality they are all members of the same “club” and belong to the same “dark zone.”
In Matthew 7:6, we are told: “Don’t give that which is holy to the dogs, neither throw your pearls before the pigs, lest perhaps they trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you to pieces.”
That is exactly what has been taking place for generations in Lebanon: Good-hearted Lebanese dedicate their time, money, energy, and efforts behind this or that political party — only to be betrayed and their sacrifices are trampled upon, and the leadership of these parties work against all the ideals it once claimed to uphold.
In an election year, vote for truly independent sovereign individuals, stay away from the major political parties, and do not throw your votes…

Lebanon Faces Threat of Returning Extremists
Nazeer Rida/Asharq Al Awsat/February 06/18
Lebanon faces a new security threat embodied by extremists, who are currently returning from battlefields where they fought in the ranks of terrorist organizations in Syria and Iraq. The threat was intensified on Monday after the Lebanese army announced the killing of a military officer and a wanted suspect in a shootout in the northern city of Tripoli. The military did not reveal the charges that the suspect was wanted for, only describing him as a “terrorist” fugitive. An Army Command statement said that the military had killed terrorist Hajer al-Abdullah after an exchange of gunfire during a search carried out by an army unit in Bab al-Tabbaneh in Tripoli. His brother Bilal was arrested in the raid.
"Weapons and ammunition were seized and an investigation was opened under the supervision of the competent judicial authorities," continued the statement.
Later, the Lebanese National News Agency said that a military officer was declared dead and a number of others injured during a number of other raids against fugitives. A military source told Asharq Al-Awsat that those extremists were illegally smuggled into Lebanon from Syria. He explained that although the army is enforcing “strict measures” along the borders with Syria, those terrorists benefit from the weather conditions and the difficult terrain to illegally enter Lebanon. “Hajer al-Abdullah, who was killed during Monday’s army raid, planned terrorist attacks,” the source added. He said that Abdullah “fought in the ranks of ISIS in Syria and had returned to Lebanon 15 days ago.”The military source said that as of yet there is no information about the exact number of extremists who had returned to Lebanon from Syria and Iraq.
“However, the Lebanese army and its intelligence are closely following-up on the matter,” he said.

Conditions ripe for progress in water, energy sectors: Aoun
The Daily Star/Feb. 06, 2018/BEIRUT: President Michel Aoun Tuesday lamented past failures to improve the country’s energy and water sectors, but said that the present atmosphere was finally fit for improvement. Speaking to Energy and Water Minister Cesar Abi Khalil at Baabda Palace, Aoun said political obstacles that previously prevented the implementation of improvement plans have now ceased. “Today, the general atmosphere is better, despite the difficulties that still exist,” a statement from the presidency’s office quoted Aoun as saying. Aoun pointed out that the failure to implement the electricity project - approved by the government in 2010 to be fully implemented by the end of 2014 - caused a $37 billion deficit, which added to the country’s mounting national debt. “Unfortunately,” Aoun said, “officials could not secure enough funds in time to implement the plan ... The obstacles were not material but political.”A delegation from the ministry that attended the meeting painted a hopeful picture of the sectors’ future, despite the discouraging past. “Today, we are witnessing the improvement of the water and electricity situation year after year, and the exploration of gas and oil has also been commissioned,” Aoun said. During the meeting, Khalil reflected on the ministry’s activities and projects carried out over the past year. “There are two new factories [producing electricity] ..., we solved problems in transmitting electricity to major areas, and [problems in] another area are about to be resolved,” Khalil said. The ministry also tackled water shortage issues across the country and built a new dam, he said. “Water has been secured to a lot of areas through networks, and this decreases water [otherwise] wasted on the streets,” Khalil said, adding that another dam will be built before the end of March. The two also discussed developments in the oil sector, as well as oil exploration contracts signed during Aoun’s presidency. Aoun called on the Ministry of Energy and Water to continue to invest its efforts in implementing plans that would “benefit everyone” through economic advances, improvements in living conditions and increased revenues to the state.

Lebanon Tells Israel Its Border Wall Violates Sovereignty
Jerusalem Post/February 06/18
Lebanon has agreed on regional and international levels to prevent Israel from continuing construction of its border wall on its northern border, a wall Beirut alleges violates its sovereignty. According to a statement released by the Lebanese President Michel Aoun a meeting held with Prime Minister Saad Hariri and Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri discussed "the Israeli threats, and saw them as a clear violation of Security Council Resolution 1701 and a direct threat to the stability of the border region.”At the meeting the three leaders agreed to “continue to move at various regional and international levels to prevent Israel from building the wall within the Lebanese border and the possibility of its encroachment on oil and gas wealth in Lebanese territorial waters,” the statement continued.  In a regular tripartite meeting of military officers from Israel and Lebanon chaired by UN Peacekeepers on Monday, Lebanon said that the wall passes through territory that belongs to Lebanon but which is located on the Israeli side of the U.N.-designated Blue Line, which demarcated Israel's withdrawal from southern Lebanon in 2000.
"The Lebanese side reviewed the matter of the wall which the Israeli enemy intends to build ... confirming the position of the Lebanese government rejecting the construction of this wall as it violates Lebanese sovereignty," the Lebanese army said in a statement after Monday's meeting.
Tripartite meetings have been held regularly under the auspices of UNIFIL since the end of the 2006 war, and is an essential conflict management mechanism between the two parties. In a statement, UNIFIL said the meeting had received great attention "due to engineering works south of the Blue Line previously announced by the Israeli side" Beary noted there had been a "period of relative calm" since the last tripartite meeting."However, there has been a great deal of activity along the Blue Line. I would like to acknowledge the restraint exercised by both parties in decreasing tension and maintaining stability. No one wants to return to a period of escalating tensions and a breach of the cessation of hostilities," he said. Aoun, Hariri and Berri met with UNIFIL force commander Major General Beary in late January over the issue of Israel’s construction where Lebanon accused Israel of undermining peace with its construction, stressing that it “isn’t compatible with the efforts that (UNIFIL) is exerting in cooperation with the Lebanese army to preserve security and stability along the southern border."
The construction of the wall was also criticized by Hezbollah’s Secretary General Hassan Nasrallah who warned Israel against the continuing construction.
Israel and Hezbollah fought a deadly 33-day war in 2006, which came to an end under UN Security Council Resolution 1701 which called for disarmament of Hezbollah, for withdrawal of the Israeli army from Lebanon, for the deployment of the Lebanese army and an enlarged UN force in the south.
Lebanon also accused Israel of violating its airspace on Monday over the Sheeba farms, Jordan’s Petra news agency quoted a Lebanese security source as saying. According to the source, Israel carried out reconnaissance missions at medium altitude over the villages of Arqub, Marjayoun and Hasbaya all the way to the eastern and western Bekaa Valley.
Disagreement over the wall and Lebanon's plans to explore for offshore oil and gas in disputed maritime waters have elevated tensions between Israel and Lebanon. The two countries have an unresolved maritime border dispute over a triangular area of sea of around 860 sq km that extends along several blocks for exploratory offshore drilling Lebanon put for tender last year. "The block lies entirely within Lebanon's territorial and economic waters," the army statement said. A commander in the Lebanese army also stated Monday that three Israeli warships violated Lebanese territorial waters near Ras al-Naquoura on several occasions.
In a recent interview with The Jerusalem Post Rear Admiral (Ret.) Professor Shaul Chorev warned that this unsettled dispute could potentially lead to an escalation between Israel and Lebanon. “Israel is ignoring Lebanon’s claim to these waters,” he said, adding that from what he understood the United States is implicitly supporting Lebanon’s claims over those of Israel. On Monday Aoun slammed recent remarks made by Israel’s Defense Minister, Avigdor Lieberman, claiming that his words represent Israel’s true intentions. “What Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman said clearly reflects the truth of the Israeli intentions,” Aoun told Greek Defense Minister Panos Kammenos who was in Beirut. Israel is highly dependent on the sea and a senior naval officer warned yesterday that Hezbollah has long-range missiles, including precision ballistic missiles received from Iran, which can hit the rigs and ships inside the Israel’s exclusive economic zone.
“We believe that Hezbollah has the ability to strike any spot in our waters” he said.

Analysis: US Sanctions On Hamas & Hezbollah Indirectly Target Iran

Michael Wilner/Jerusalem Post/February 06/18
Attorney-General Jeff Sessions announced the creation of a team to combat Hezbollah’s drug-trafficking operations.
WASHINGTON – The Trump administration has laid out several new sanctions designations over the last month that target individuals and entities connected to Hamas and Hezbollah who have strong links to the Iranian government.
The newly aggressive posture against Tehran’s proxy network are part of the administration’s broader strategy to push back against Iran’s activities in the region, which it views as hegemonic and destabilizing to the greater Middle East. The Treasury Department is leading the way, while the State Department hopes to persuade European powers to adopt a tougher approach toward Tehran for its regional behavior and ballistic-missile program. The US says Iran was emboldened by a 2015 international agreement on the Islamic republic’s nuclear program.
Last month, Attorney-General Jeff Sessions announced the creation of a team to combat Hezbollah’s drug-trafficking operations. Last week, Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin announced new sanctions against six people and seven businesses associated with Hezbollah, in what Mnuchin characterized as the “first wave” of many sanctions to come.
“We will be relentless in identifying, exposing and dismantling Hezbollah’s financial support networks globally,” Mnuchin said.
White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders put it more bluntly, writing on Twitter: “We will no longer allow corrupt Hezbollah and other Iranian regime cronies to hide their crimes behind front companies. More to come.”
Also last week, the State Department said that Ismail Haniyeh, the leader and president of the Hamas’s political bureau, and Harakat al-Sabireen, an Iranian- backed group operating in Gaza and the West Bank, were “sponsored and directed by Iran.” It designated both as “Specially Designated Global Terrorists,” a classification that comes with some of the government’s harshest sanctions.
These sanctions against the proxies are in addition to a slew of new sanctions that have directly targeted the Iranian government over human-rights abuses, missile work and support for terrorism. In short, the Trump administration has in the past year “more than tripled the number” of US sanctions on Iran and its proxies, US Vice President Mike Pence told the Knesset during his visit to Israel last month.
The interagency effort has even brought in Jason Greenblatt, the president’s special representative for international negotiations, who is squarely focused on restarting Israeli-Palestinian peace talks. Greenblatt is not involved in Iran policy, but is involved in efforts to forge Israeli-Arab peace, inseparable from concerns over Tehran’s regional ambitions.
“Imagine what the people of Gaza could do with the $100 million Iran gives Hamas annually, that Hamas uses for weapons and tunnels to attack Israel,” Greenblatt tweeted this week. “Iran spends almost a billion dollars a year sponsoring terrorism in Lebanon, Israel and West Bank/ Gaza. This blood money only increases violence and does nothing to help the Palestinian people.”
Congress is doing its part as well. Last October it passed with bipartisan support three bills that address Hezbollah activity. One encourages the European Union to fully designate all of Hezbollah a terrorist organization, after the transcontinental body listed only its “military wing” as such in 2013. Another would sanction individual members of Hezbollah for war crimes for their use of human shields. The third would beef up a 2015 sanctions law targeting Hezbollah’s financing, requiring the president to report annually to Congress on the net worth of the group’s leaders.
US officials say this is just the beginning of a concerted effort to stop Iran’s push toward dominance by creating a “Shi’a crescent,” reaching from Tehran to the Mediterranean and up against Israel’s northern and eastern borders. The Israeli government welcomes this newly proactive strategy and now hopes Europe will get on board.
In a message to Britain, France and Germany, Trump threatened to withdraw from the Iran nuclear deal if the allies fail to join him in targeting Iran’s proxies. “They should designate Hezbollah – in its entirety – as a terrorist organization,” Trump said, echoing the congressional bill.
On January 12, the president started a 120-day clock on talks with Europe to negotiate an addendum to the Iran nuclear deal. Trump’s aides say he is willing to remain a party to the agreement, for now, if Europe takes concrete actions against Iran’s “malign activities” and ballistic-missile work and agrees to seriously discuss his concerns with the deal.
“They should join us in constraining Iran’s missile development and stopping its proliferation of missiles, especially to Yemen,” Trump continued. “They should join us in countering Iran’s cyberthreats. They should help us deter Iran’s aggression against international shipping. They should pressure the Iranian regime to stop violating its citizens’ rights. And they should not do business with groups that enrich Iran’s dictatorship or fund the Revolutionary Guard and its terrorist proxies.”

Lebanese Leaders Warn Against 'Israeli Threat' as Sides Fight Over Border Wall

Reuters/Haaretz/Feb 06, 2018
Israel is 'a direct threat to the stability' of the border region, said a joint statement by Lebanese leaders
Lebanon's three top leaders accused Israel on Tuesday of threatening the stability of the border region between the two countries, where calm has largely prevailed since a 2006 war, amid rising tension over territorial and maritime boundaries. President Michel Aoun, Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri, and Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri agreed to act to prevent Israel from building a wall on Lebanese land at the frontier, and threatening an offshore energy block in disputed waters. Israel says the wall is being built on its territory. Arguments over the wall and Lebanon's plans to explore for offshore oil and gas in the disputed maritime waters have elevated tensions between Israel and Lebanon, which is home to the powerful Iran-backed Shi'ite group Hezbollah. The Lebanese-Israeli border has been calm since the month-long war of 2006 between Israel and Hezbollah which killed around 1,200 people in Lebanon, mostly civilians, and 160 Israelis, most of them troops. Israel says the wall it is building is on Israeli sovereign land. The Lebanese government says it passes through territory that belongs to Lebanon but which lies on the Israeli side of the Blue Line, where the U.N. demarcated Israel's withdrawal from southern Lebanon in 2000.
The three leaders met to study the recent "Israeli threats, and saw in them ... a direct threat to the stability" of the border region, the president's office said in a statement. They agreed to take measures "at various regional and international levels to prevent Israel from building the cement wall...and from the possibility of infringing on Lebanon's oil and gas wealth and its (territorial) waters," it said.  Last week, Israeli Defence Minister Avigdor Lieberman called Lebanon's first offshore oil and gas exploration tender "very provocative" and urged international firms not to participate. Lebanon has an unresolved maritime border dispute with Israel over a triangular area of sea of around 860 sq km (330 square miles). The zone extends along the edge of three of five energy blocks that Lebanon put to tender early last year.

UNIFIL Head Chairs First Tripartite Meeting in 2018
Naharnet/February 06/18/UNIFIL Head of Mission and Force Commander Major General Michael Beary chaired the first tripartite meeting of 2018 on Monday with senior officials from the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF) and the Israeli army at the UN position at Ras Al Naqoura, a UNIFIL press release said. Discussions centered around the liaison and coordination arrangements provided by UNIFIL to ensure that there is no misunderstanding or miscalculation along the Blue Line in order to ensure a continued climate of calm and stability, said the release. There has been great attention on this tripartite meeting due to engineering works south of the Blue Line previously announced by the Israeli side. UNIFIL’s position on the construction works proposed by the Israeli army is that any activity close to the Blue Line should be predictable, with sufficient prior notification to allow for coordination by the parties, so as to avoid misunderstandings and prevent incidents. The discussions were useful and allowed both parties to assert their positions. It was agreed to continue to use the Tripartite forum to address the issue.
Beary welcomed the confidence expressed by both parties in its liaison, coordination arrangements and the Tripartite forum to help facilitate the calm and stability that has been achieved in southern Lebanon.
“UNIFIL stands ready 24/7 for any follow-up meetings,” the Head of Mission/Force Commander told both parties, while encouraging them to “examine the benefits that can be achieved by reaching agreement through close coordination.”
Both sides also confirmed their commitment to further use UNIFIL’s tripartite and liaison mechanisms to address any issues that could provide potential for tensions and to minimize the scope for any possible misunderstandings among the parties. They also reaffirmed their support in the implementation of UNIFIL’s mandate under UN Security Council resolution 1701 (2006) and the operational paragraphs of Security Council resolution 2373 (2017).
“We have again experienced a period of relative calm in the Area of Operation (AO) since our last meeting,” said Beary. “However, there has been a great deal of activity along the Blue Line. I would like to acknowledge the restraint exercised by both parties in decreasing tension and maintaining stability. No one wants to return to a period of escalating tensions and a breach of the cessation of hostilities.”Beary also emphasized the strategic importance of UNIFIL’s troops deployed on the ground – especially its Liaison Branch - who are playing a paramount role along the Blue Line to defuse tensions.
Tripartite meetings have been held regularly under the auspices of UNIFIL since the end of the 2006 war. They have become an essential conflict management and confidence building mechanism between the parties.
UNIFIL currently has around 10,500 peacekeepers who carry out some 13,500 operational activities per month, by day and night, in the area of operations. The mission also has about 900 civilian staff. UNIFIL is complemented by a six-vessel Maritime Task Force.

Change and Reform Urges Hizbullah to Show 'Commitment to State-Building'
Naharnet/February 06/18/The Change and Reform parliamentary bloc on Tuesday called on its ally Hizbullah to “show the same level of commitment to the principle of building the state.” “On the anniversary of the memorandum of understanding between the Free Patriotic Movement and Hizbullah, the belief is deepening day after day that the two giants who signed this agreement had foreseen the major national necessities that required this understanding,” said the bloc in a statement issued after its weekly meeting. “Twelve years from the Mar Mikhael declaration, we are deep-rooting it among the Lebanese so that no one manages to undermine it,” Change and Reform added, noting that it is counting on the MoU to “build a strong and just state.”Stressing that “national unity is the immune fortress that protects the country” and that “the state is the sanctuary,” the bloc described the army as “the backbone of a strong state.”
“We hope our ally will show the same level of commitment to the principle of building the state,” Change and Reform added. Earlier in the day, FPM chief Jebran Bassil tweeted that “the Mar Mikhael agreement strengthens Lebanon and protects it from the terrorism of Israel and the takfiris while preventing any domestic strife.” Hizbullah hd on Monday expressed “utmost keenness” on the 2006 memorandum of understanding, describing it as a “historic event.”The memorandum “carved a new path on the Lebanese arena and it has proved effective throughout all the stages that Lebanon has gone through – from the hostile July war in 2006 to the war on terror over the past few years to the various events that the country witnessed throughout more than a decade,” Hizbullah said. The landmark agreement was signed by Hizbullah chief Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah and the FPM's founder, President Michel Aoun, during a Feb. 5, 2006 ceremony at the Mar Mikhael Church in the Beirut southern suburb of Shiyyah. In a recent interview with the Magazine weekly, Bassil said “the alliance with Hizbullah is still ongoing” but this does not mean that the two parties “have become one and the same.”“We are in agreement on the foreign issues and we will remain a guarantee for Hizbullah inside Lebanon should the country face an aggression from Israel or terrorist groups. But unfortunately, in the domestic files we are encountering choices that do not contribute to building the state in Lebanon,” Bassil lamented.

Hizbullah Supporter Handed Over after Shooting 2 Men in Aramoun
Naharnet/February 06/18/A Hizbullah supporter was handed over to security forces Tuesday evening after he shot and wounded two men during a personal dispute in the Aley District town of Aramoun, the National News Agency said. NNA said the shooter, identified as Hajj Abu Fadi Nael, was handed over after the Progressive Socialist Party's leadership and MP Akram Shehayyeb communicated with Hizbullah, which “lifted the political cover off” the man. The agency identified the injured as Jawad Bou Ghannam and Yamen Malaeb, saying they were transferred to hospital with gunshot wounds to their legs.
Nael owns a butcher shop in the area, according to NNA. Protesters blocked the Aramoun road in the wake of the incident as the army deployed in the area to preserve security, the agency said.

Judge Accepts Lawsuit Accusing Saudi Minister of 'Sowing Discord'
Naharnet/February 06/18/A Lebanese judge on Tuesday accepted to look into a lawsuit filed against firebrand Saudi State Minister for Gulf Affairs Thamer al-Sabhan, who was in charge of the Lebanon file during Prime Minister Saad Hariri's resignation crisis. “Beirut First Examining Magistrate Ghassan Oueidat has decided to accept the lawsuit filed by liberated captive Nabih Awada through his lawyer Hassan Bazzi against Saudi State Minister for Gulf Affairs Thamer al-Sabhan on charges of sowing discord among the Lebanese, inciting them to strife and disrupting Lebanon's ties with a foreign state,” the National News Agency said. Awada had served time in Israeli prisons. “The lawsuit was filed on January 31 and Judge Oueidat has decided to proceed with the lawsuit and will soon set a date for Sabhan's interrogation,” NNA added. The fiercely anti-Iran Saudi minister has been suspected of playing a key role in the hurried and ultimately unsuccessful resignation of Hariri in November. For days before Hariri's surprise resignation, which the kingdom is widely believed to have orchestrated, al-Sabhan issued threats against Lebanon's government as well as Iran and its ally Hizbullah via Twitter, unnerving many Lebanese who feared being dragged into the forefront of the Saudi-Iranian rivalry. On Twitter, al-Sabhan has referred to the Iranian-backed Hizbullah — which means "Party of God" in Arabic — as the "Party of Satan."A few days before Hariri's resignation, al-Sabhan warned in an interview with Lebanon's MTV that there would be "astonishing" developments to “topple” Hizbullah. He also said that Lebanon's government — headed by Hariri — would be dealt with as a hostile government that's declared war against Saudi Arabia because of Hizbullah's power-sharing role. "It is up to (Lebanon's) leaders to decide whether it is a state of terror or peace," al-Sabhan wrote on Twitter two days after Hariri's resignation. Mediation by France, a close ally of both Saudi Arabia and Lebanon, helped reverse the resignation and return Hariri to his post.According to media reports, al-Sabhan is no longer in charge of the Lebanon file.

U.S. Continues Military Deliveries to Lebanese Army
Associated Press/Naharnet/February 06/18/Over the last week the United States has delivered ammunition, grenade launchers, and Bradley Fighting Vehicles valued at more than $11.7 million to the Lebanese Armed Forces, the U.S. Embassy in Beirut said on Tuesday. “On February 1, the LAF received two hundred MK-19 Automatic Grenade Launchers. On February 3, the United States delivered eight new Bradley Fighting Vehicles to the LAF, part of a package valued at more than $100 million,” the Embassy said in a statement. “Today, the United States delivered 827 Copperhead artillery rounds to the Lebanese Armed Forces. Valued at more than $1.4 million, this ammunition replenishes LAF stockpiles used to defeat ISIS (Islamic State group) in Operation Fajr al Jouroud,” the Embassy added. It stressed that the United States “remains committed to a secure, stable, democratic, and prosperous Lebanon.”“With U.S.-provided weapons, equipment, and training, the LAF continues to develop combat capabilities that will ensure that the LAF remain a nationally unifying force, a bulwark against extremism and terrorism, and the only legitimate defender of Lebanon,” the Embassy added.

Aoun Says Energy Ministry Made Significant Achievements in a Single Year
Naharnet/February 06/18/President Michel Aoun said on Tuesday the accomplishments made by the energy ministry within a one-year time period at the level of building dams and signing international deals on the country's oil and gas wealth were “achievements delayed for years by fabricated obstacles.” “The ministry of energy has made several achievements at the level of dams, oil and gas that have been previously delayed by fabricated hindrances,” Aoun told a visiting delegation led by Energy Minister Cesar Abi Khalil. Lebanon will sign this week deals with a consortium of international oil and gas explorers-- France's Total, Italy's ENI and Russia's Novatek-- and would be ready to begin drilling by 2019. In December, Lebanon approved a first bid to search for oil and gas in two blocks off the country's Mediterranean coast, including one that Israel says belongs to it. Lebanon is looking to tap potential oil and gas reserves after major offshore discoveries by neighboring Israel and Cyprus. On December 14, it approved a bid on blocks four and nine -- just two of the five that were offered. Block nine is the disputed block with Israel.

Jumblat Says Won't Visit Saudi Arabia, Describes Ties as 'Stiff'
Naharnet/February 06/18/Progressive Socialist Party leader MP Walid Jumblat said he is likely to turn down Saudi Arabia's invitation to the Kingdom to restore an alliance between the March 14 camp components, adding that he had advised Foreign Minister Jebran Bassil to apologize to Speaker Nabih Berri over his remarks, al-Akhbar daily reported on Tuesday. “I will not go to Saudi Arabia if an invitation was extended to me with the aim of restoring the March 14 alliance or for waging the elections in a united front,” he told the daily in an interview. “I have not traveled before because I don’t want to be part of one axis against another and I will not do it today,” he added, describing his relations with Saudi Arabia as “stiff.”Media reports claimed that Saudi Arabia plans to invite components of the March 14 camp to Riyadh in a bid to restore their “now-broken” alliance and encourage them into waging the upcoming parliamentary elections as a united front. Jumblat said SA may blame him for remarks he made about what he described as “futile Saudi war in Yemen,” and the privatization of “Aramco oil firm”, as well as his position following the crisis of now-reversed resignation of Prime Minister Saad Hariri from Riyadh. However, the MP stressed: “I have not yet received an invitation in that regard, but the Saudi Ambassador to Lebanon Walid al-Yaacoub has not visited me and I consider this an indicator,” he added. On the “derogatory” remarks made by Foreign Minister Jebran Bassil about Speaker Nabih Berri, Jumblat said he advised the minister to make a direct “apology to the Speaker.”

Report: Easing Tensions, Israeli Threats to be Tackled in Baabda Meeting
Naharnet/February 06/18/President Michel Aoun and Speaker Nabih Berri will hold their first meeting in two months since their row over a seniority decree in the Presence of Prime Minister Saad Hariri in a bid to “ease tensions” and address Israel's threats about Lebanon's oil and security, media reports said on Tuesday. Al-Joumhouria daily said the meeting at Baabda Presidential Palace will begin “bilaterally” before noon between Aoun and Berri. Hariri's arrival may be delayed due to his commitment to sponsoring a celebration launching the new vision strategy for OGERO. Some have described the meeting as an opportunity to ease tensions mainly between Aoun and Berri following a spat over a decree promoting a number of officers and the “derogatory” remarks made by Free Patriotic Movement chief Jebran Bassil about Berri. The atmospheres suggests positive intentions to distance the country from negativity and ease tensions with a sense of responsibility following the angry street reactions against the backdrop of Bassil's remarks which almost threw the country off balance, added the daily. The daily quoted unnamed sources closely following up on the issue who said that talks will mainly focus on Israel's security threats and the latest remarks made by its defense minister about Lebanon's Block 9 oil field.

Differences 'Resolved' at Baabda Meeting, Parties Plan Action over Israeli Threats
Naharnet/February 06/18/A tripartite meeting at Baabda Palace between President Michel Aoun, Speaker Nabih Berri and Prime Minister Saad Hariri in a bid to ease political tensions concluded “positively” and the officials announced that differences have been resolved, as they planned action against Israeli threats against Lebanon. Speaker Nabih Berri, who left the hall with a smile on his face, told reporters at the Presidential Palace: “The meeting was productive,” and announced that the Presidency will issue an official statement about the meeting. He did not give further details. For his part, Prime Minister Saad Hariri also hailed the outcome of the meeting and said: “It was positive and productive. You will all witness cooperation among us all in the interest of the Lebanese.”He assured that the differences between Berri and Aoun have been resolved. An official statement was later issued by Baabda Palace assuring that the interlocutors have agreed that “Lebanon's civil peace shall not be threatened by political differences.”They also “agreed to address what happened in the previous days through the State institutions and the Constitution.”They reiterated “adherence to the National Pact agreement to preserve national coexistence and deter any threats against civil peace.”Highlighting Israel's threats against Lebanon's security and oil wealth, the statement said: “Israeli threats are a flagrant violation against UN Resolution 1701 and directly threaten stability prevailing on the border area since 2006.”“We will continue to move at various regional and international levels to prevent Israel from building the cement wall and its potential encroachment on oil and gas wealth in Lebanese territorial waters,” it added. “A series of actions will be presented to the High Defense Council at an extraordinary meeting to be held tomorrow afternoon, with a view to taking appropriate decisions that will prevent Israeli encroachment and prevent any security deterioration in the border area,” it added. The meeting comes several days after Aoun held phone talks with Berri at the Premier's request in order to ease skyrocketing tensions between their supporters against the backdrop of a leaked video footage of Aoun's son-in-law and Foreign Minster Jebran Bassil calling Berri a “thug.” The initial row began over a seniority decree promoting a number of army officers that did not carry the signature of the finance minister. Moreover, the latest statement by Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman on Lebanon's offshore gas bloc accelerated the necessity for Lebanon's senior officials to meet. Lieberman described as "very provocative" Lebanon's tender on exploring gas in Block 9. This gas field "is by all accounts ours," the Israeli minister said.

Psychiatrist: U.S. Suspect in Lebanese Man's Death Schizophrenic

Associated Press/Naharnet/February 06/18/An American psychiatrist has testified that an Oklahoma man charged with a hate crime in the fatal shooting of his Lebanese neighbor was mentally ill at the time with untreated schizophrenia. Stanley Majors is on trial in Tulsa for the fatal shooting of 37-year-old Khalid Jabara. Prosecutors allege Majors bombarded Jabara and his family for years with racial epithets before the 2016 shooting. Dr. Jason Beaman testified Monday that Majors was unable to fully understand or appreciate his actions when he shot Jabara because of his untreated schizophrenia. Defense attorneys are trying to show Majors was mentally ill at the time of the shooting. They argue that the 63-year-old Majors feared Jabara's family targeted him because he's gay. The defense is expected to rest its case Tuesday.

Latest LCCC Bulletin For Miscellaneous Reports And News published on February 06-07/18
Israel to Re-examine Construction of Gaza Strip Port, Airport on Artificial Island

Asharq Al Awsat/February 06/18/After more than a year of delay, the Israeli government agreed to re-examine a project proposed by the Minister of Communications and Intelligence, Israel Katz, to build an island in the Mediterranean Sea opposite to the Gaza Strip, and to establish a seaport and airport in an attempt to break the siege and solve the severe humanitarian crisis faced by the Palestinian people there. The decision came in the wake of a warning issued to the government by the Israeli Army Chief of Staff General Gadi Eizenkot, during a meeting on Sunday, in which he said that there was a strong possibility of a violent explosion in the Gaza Strip during the current year, due to the deteriorating humanitarian situation. The construction of the artificial island at the heart of the sea is the best solution to the Gaza crisis, Katz said. He stressed that Israel was primarily concerned that the lifting of the blockade would lead to the entry of quantities of weapons and terrorists into the Strip, but added that imposing control on all shipments entering and exiting the city could resolve this issue. Israel must insist on the continuous presence of foreign observers with permanent representatives from Israel and Egypt, the two states bordering Gaza and hence concerned with the defense of their security, according to the Israeli minister of communications. Katz stressed that his project would need years of planning and action, noting that during this period, Hamas must release the dead and living Israeli detainees.
“Israel has to take concrete steps to prevent the collapse of the Strip,” Eizenkot said, adding that he presented the government with possible scenarios in the wake of the deteriorating situation in Gaza.

Tehran Denies Knowing About US-European Move to Modify Nuclear Deal
Asharq Al Awsat/February 06/18/Spokesman of Iranian Ministry of Foreign Affairs Bahram Ghasemi said Iran had no information about the forming of a joint working group to amend the Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) and had not received such remarks formally from the European Union.
At his weekly press conference on Monday, Ghasemi responded to a question about news reports on formation of joint working group to fix what the US sees as flaws in the Iranian nuclear deal between three European countries and the United States to edit or add articles to the JCPOA.
He dismissed rumors on agreement between three European countries to form a working group aimed at ‘fixing’ the JCPOA, adding “we have not received any official statement from the EU and these three European countries about this decision,” referring to the UK, Germany and France which are all parties to the 2015 nuclear deal, according to ISNA. Referring to contacts between Tehran and the European Union, Ghasemi said his country had not received a formal request from the European Union to negotiate the ballistic missile program. “In the contacts and negotiations with EU officials, we have made our point of view and heard their point of view," he said. The Iranian diplomat rejected rumors on French President Macron’s conditions for visiting Iran and holding meetings with senior officials, including Ali Khamenei, adding that the date for the visit has not been set yet; It will take place after the visit of French foreign minister. On the Syrian file, Ghassemi announced that Tehran will continue its consultations with Ankara "seriously" in the coming days on the Turkish operation in Afrin, denying "neutralizing" his country in the developments witnessed north Syria. He also underlined Iran's key role in the region and said that Tehran will continue to actively participate in Astana talks on Syria. "The three countries involved in Astana peace talks on Syria are still firmly working together," said the spokesman, urging Ankara to stop its military operations in Syria's Afrin region and to respect the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Syria. Bahram Qassemi warned the Turkish authorities against their operations in Afrin that could lead to the return of instability and terrorists to Syria. "The Turkish government should reconsider. Whatever concerns Syria can be pursued through the Astana process," he said.

Saudi ICC: UN Recognition of Funding Gap is Step to Address Trade Problems
Riyadh - Fatah al-Rahman Youssef/Asharq Al Awsat/February 06/18/The Saudi International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) has described the United Nations' recognition of a $1.6 trillion trade finance gap during the UN annual development financing review as an important step in tackling global trade problems. The UN stressed the importance of ensuring adequate and cost-effective commercial financing for small businesses and businessmen, citing the severe shortfall in allocations reported by the Asian Development Bank and the ICC. Chairperson of the ICC at the Council of Saudi Chambers and member of the executive board of the International Chamber in Paris Yassin Al Srour described the decision to authorize an official UN review of the $1.6 trillion trade finance gap as a significant step in the level of international trade and economy. He also outlined the importance of what was presented by the United Nations Development Financing Forum on securing commercial finance for small businesses and entrepreneurs. The UN move will be part of the UN annual assessment of the progress made in supporting financing for sustainable development, with the results and recommendations issued in April 2018, Al Srour added, noting that it will positively affect Saudi Arabia in light with expectations of growth of its economy by 1.5 percent, which will reflect positively on the growth of Saudi foreign trade. The UN resolution was a welcome step in addressing this chronic problem now, he said, explaining that this was a complex global problem requiring a coordinated global response in the context of the United Nations 2030 Sustainable Development Plan. Al Srour touched on Saudi efforts to boost exports in the world markets efficiently and competitively, adding that ICC will continue to participate in this process for its unique position as an observer within the UN system.

Israel to Replace 6,000 Africans, Palestinians with Foreign Workers
Tel Aviv/Asharq Al Awsat/February 06/18/Israeli government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu approved to bring in 6,000 foreign workers to work under official permits, which will effectively lead to the deportation of tens of thousands of African asylum-seekers. The decision was made at the end of a cabinet session on Sunday after a heated debate that refused to grant work permits to Palestinian workers. Negev and Galilee Minister of the Development Aryeh Deri, also one of the Shas party founders for Oriental Jews, had put forward a proposal to bring Palestinian workers to work at construction and industrial sites in Israeli towns. “It is better and less costly for Israel to bring workers from our neighbors in the West Bank and even the Gaza Strip. They know us and we know them. They are close. While providing foreign workers with a place to stay and expensive working conditions, the Palestinians could return to sleep at home,” Deri explained. “Many of them (Palestinians) are fluent in Hebrew. And bringing them here contributes to improving their economic and social conditions, and this helps us to improve security conditions for us and them.”“Bringing the Palestinians, while expelling African workers, is more understandable for the countries of the world-- but expelling Africans and bringing workers from Eastern Europe will result in world countries accusing Israel of racism against blacks," Deri added. “This accusation will not apply if we bring in Palestinian workers,” he suggested. Israel needs 20,000 foreign workers by next summer. There has been a long debate within Israeli society about bringing workers from China, Europe or the Palestinian territories.

Israeli Security Report Reaffirms ISIS Presence in Sinai, Somalia, Kashmir
Tel Aviv/Asharq Al Awsat/February 06/18/Terror group ISIS, which was defeated in both Syria and Iraq, has moved its activities to Egypt's Sinai and other impoverished areas of the world, such as Kashmir and Somalia, but a portion of it has remained in the two countries and carried out suicide terrorism, Israeli security forces’ reports said on Monday.Security sources said that after ISIS’ defeat in Iraq and Syria, there was a significant decline in the group’s capabilities, popular bases, funding and operations, but seeks to reorganize the ranks and spread of its forces. “This is a development that should be of concern to Israel, all Red Sea countries and the entire Middle East region and the concern of all those who use the Red Sea in the world,” sources said. According to estimates by the Israeli army and intelligence, the number of ISIS forces in the Sinai reaches several thousands. Most of them were fighters in Iraq and Syria. They were trained and experienced. Some of them were trained by former officers of the Iraqi Baath Army and participated in combat fighting for three years and more. Some of them came from western armies and joined ISIS in Europe after military service and know a lot about weapons and methods of fighting used by regional armies. An Egyptian security source said recently that Egyptian authorities had been suspicious that an infiltrator attempted going behind army lines in Sinai, as he continued to aggressively attack army bases and patrols, inflicting heavy damage. The Israeli estimates for ISIS, which agree with world-wide reports, say that ISIS members at their peak were 40,000 men strong, from 120 countries in the world. It is estimated that at least one-quarter of them have been killed in Syria and Iraq battles over the past four years, and that a quarter of them have joined al-Qaeda, which continues its terrorist activity at a slower pace. But the others sought a way to escape by paying bribes to border guards and managed to escape through Turkey to various countries of the world. With the mounting defeats, many fled to Libya. The Israeli report says the number of people who have returned home in Europe is much lower than previously estimated, and does not exceed 1,500. Some of them left the organization and another was preparing to carry out operations on European soil. Syrian Kurdish forces have arrested several hundred activists who tried to escape via Turkey, detaining them for interrogation involving ISIS methods of operation, network work methods, financing and so on.

UN Condemns Continued Chemical Attacks in Syria
New York - Ali Barda/Asharq Al Awsat/February 06/18/Calls advocating the establishment of an independent and impartial international commission to probe chemical attacks in Syria have risen at the United Nations Security Council in recent days, with the US accusing the Russia on Monday of impeding efforts in this regard. US Ambassador Nikki Haley to the UN blamed Moscow with obstructing the adoption of a resolution condemning chlorine gas attacks in Syria. Haley told the Security Council that there was "obvious evidence from dozens of victims" to corroborate the chlorine attacks in Eastern Ghouta.
"Now we have reports that the Assad regime has used chlorine gas against its people multiple times in recent weeks, including just yesterday," Haley said, referring to the Syrian regime head Bashar al-Assad. UN High Representative for Disarmament Affairs Izumi Nakamitsu was briefing the Council on the work being undertaken by the UN and the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) Fact Finding Mission (FFM) to look into all allegations of the use of chemical weapons in Syria. “New reports by the FFM are pending. Should they conclude that there has been the use, or likely use, of chemical weapons in any of these alleged incidents, our obligation to enact a meaningful response will be further intensified,” Nakamitsu added. She said that the complete destruction of the regime’s 27 above-ground facilities should be completed within two months, and added that the FFM was due to submit a report “very soon.”The majority of allegations involve the use of chlorine gas. Meanwhile, allegations of chemical weapon use were continuing, she said, “including only this past weekend in the town of Saraqeb.” According to news reports, nine people have been treated with breathing problems, after a bomb believed to be filled with the toxic gas was dropped on the opposition-held town, in the Idlib province .Nakamitsu said that the situation made it “abundantly clear our continuing and collective responsibility to ensure that those responsible are held to account.” She said that another FFM team has been looking into allegations of the use of chemical weapons by other warring parties, brought to their attention by the Syrian regime. She said its report was pending. Responding to a question by Asharq al-Awsat, UK Deputy Permanent Representative to the UN in New York Jonathan Allen said his country was "deeply concerned about the three reports of the Syrian regime using chlorine attacks in Eastern Ghouta.“A Russian joint independent investigative mechanism means risking giving Assad a sense of impunity,” he continued.

Syria: Turkish Incursion, Friction with Assad Loyalists

Asharq Al Awsat/February 06/18/Moscow, New York, Ankara - Raed Jaber, Ali Bardi, Saeed Abdel Razek
Syrian opposition sources said the Turkish Army pounded on Monday positions controlled by the Syrian regime and Iranian-backed militias supporting Bashar Assad. Rockets were launched from advanced positions set by the Turkish Army in the area of al-Ayss near Aleppo, in a new military friction between the two forces after a Turkish convoy was attacked while driving to the area, according to the sources. The leader of the Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG), Sipan Hamo, told Asharq Al-Awsat on Monday, “Washington has informed our units that it will not allow the Turkish Army and Syrian opposition forces to enter to Manbij, in the northeast of Aleppo.”Hamo added that his forces already destroyed 11 Turkish tanks and others owned by Ankara-backed opposition forces, a development that would deepen differences between Turkey and the US. At the diplomatic level, voices escalated again during a Security Council session held on Monday in New York calling for the establishment of a new independent and neutral international panel investigating the use of chemical weapons in Syria. UN High Representative for Disarmament Affairs Izumi Nakamitsu briefed the Council on Monday on the work being undertaken by the UN and the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) Fact Finding Mission (FFM) to look into all allegations of the use of chemical weapons in Syria. “New reports by the FFM are pending. Should they conclude that there has been the use, or likely use, of chemical weapons in any of these alleged incidents, our obligation to enact a meaningful response will be further intensified,” she said. Also during the UN Security Council meeting to discuss Syria Monday, US Ambassador Nikki Haley told council members “It’s a true tragedy that Russia has sent us back to square one in the effort to end chemical weapons use in Syria.”She added that the US “will not cease in our efforts to know the truth of the Assad regime and ensure that that truth is known and acted on by the international community.”

Iran President Rules Out Negotiations over Missiles
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/February 06/18/Iran's President Hassan Rouhani said Tuesday that negotiations on the country's missiles program were out of the question. "We will negotiate with no one on our weapons," said Rouhani in a press conference in Tehran.
"Iranian-made missiles have never been offensive and never will be. They are defensive and are not designed to carry weapons of mass destruction, since we don't have any," he said. He reiterated that the nuclear deal signed in 2015 with six world powers could not be renegotiated, despite threats from U.S. President Donald Trump to reimpose sanctions unless fresh curbs were put on Iran's missiles and regional behavior. "The key to the problems between Tehran and Washington is in Washington's hands. They need to stop their threats and sanctions and pressure, and automatically the situation will improve and we can think about our future," Rouhani said.

Body of 'Hero' Russian Pilot Killed in Syria Brought Home
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/February 06/18/The body of a Russian pilot killed in fighting with Islamists in Syria has been brought back to his home country, the defense ministry in Moscow said Tuesday. "In cooperation with Turkish colleagues, Russian military intelligence brought back to Russia the body of an attack pilot, Major Roman Filipov, who died as a hero on February 3," the defense ministry said. In a separate statement, the Kremlin said that the Hero of Russia award, the country's top honor, had been posthumously bestowed upon Filipov for his "heroism, courage and bravery."
Filipov will be laid to rest on Thursday with military honors in line with his family's wishes in the city of Voronezh, some 500 kilometers (310 miles) south of Moscow, the defense ministry said. After Filipov's warplane was shot down over Syria's Idlib province on Saturday he parachuted to the ground and was killed in a clash with Islamists as they tried to take him hostage. Moscow said its Su-25 warplane had been shot down by a portable anti-aircraft missile system. Armed with an automatic pistol, the badly wounded pilot opened fire on the rebels closing in on him and then blew himself up with a hand grenade to avoid capture. Before taking his own life he shouted "This is for our guys!", according to video footage released by Islamists and broadcast by national television in Russia. Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS), a powerful jihadist-dominated alliance, said the Russian warplane had been shot down in retaliation for a ferocious bombing campaign by Russian warplanes over Idlib. Moscow says Filipov's plane was shot down during a mission to monitor a ceasefire in the so-called Idlib de-escalation zone set up by Russia, Turkey and Iran to reduce violence in the war-torn country. Russia's defense ministry also said it had asked Turkey for help in receiving the wreckage of the Su-25 warplane. Russian experts want to identify the origin of the anti-aircraft missile system used to shoot down the plane. President Vladimir Putin announced on a visit to Syria in December that the task of Russian forces in Syria had been largely completed. More than 40 Russian servicemen have reportedly been killed in Syria since Moscow's intervention in the conflict on the side of President Bashar al-Assad in 2015.

Russia Condemns Site for Revealing Salary of Pilot Killed in Syria
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/February 06/18/The Russian defense ministry has criticized an independent news website for publishing the average salaries of military officers after a Russian pilot's plane was downed over Syria. Saint Petersburg's respected news website Fontanka revealed late Monday that with basic information anyone can access the personal files of servicemen on the ministry's online database. "A pilot with the title of major receives on average a little over 100,00 rubles ($1,750) after taxes," the media outlet said. It suggested that Major Roman Filipov -- who was killed on Saturday in fighting with Islamists after his warplane was downed in northwest Syria -- received as much. Russia hailed Filipov as a national hero after he reportedly parachuted out of his Su-25 warplane into a Syrian rebel stronghold and killed himself with a hand grenade before he could be captured by Islamists. Fontanka said the database showed that Russian pilots can also receive bonuses of 140,000 rubles ($2,450). The website said that while the ministry "probably meant well," its database posed a potential danger for Russian soldiers. The defense ministry lashed out against the Fontanka report, titled "The defense ministry has disclosed the salaries of servicemen to possible enemies", as lacking "an elementary understanding of decency and journalistic ethics.""We are sure that law enforcement agencies will give their appraisal of what happened in accordance with Russian law," the ministry said in a statement carried by Russian news agencies. Fontanka's chief editor Alexander Gorshkov defended the report in an interview with Echo of Moscow radio. "This is not a question of journalistic ethics," he said. "It is a question of the safety of our servicemen fulfilling their duty in different places around the world." If a serviceman is taken prisoner, Gorshkov said, all his captors need to know is his date of birth in order to access his files on the defense ministry's website. "If I were them, I would not be talking about ethics but would close this loophole as fast as possible," he said. Hayat Tahrir al-Sham, a powerful jihadist-dominated alliance in Syria, said it shot down the Russian plane in retaliation for a ferocious bombing campaign by Moscow's warplanes over Idlib.

Iraq Publishes Most Wanted List Headed by IS Leader
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/February 06/18/Iraqi authorities published a list of most wanted fugitives on Tuesday headed by elusive Islamic State group leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi and his number two. It was the second list Iraq had published this week of people wanted on suspicion of belonging to the Islamic State group, al-Qaida or the Baath Party of executed dictator Saddam Hussein. "They are more dangerous than those who appeared on the first list published on Sunday and they are wanted internationally whereas the others are wanted only by the Iraqi courts," a security official told AFP. The IS leader appears on the list under his real name Ibrahim Awad Ibrahim Ali al-Badri al-Samarrai. His deputy is listed as Abdel Rahman al-Qaduli rather than his nom de guerre Abu Alaa al-Afari. Seven other Iraqis are on the list as are five foreigners -- two Saudis, a Jordanian, a Yemeni and a Qatari. They include those alleged to belong to IS and al-Qaida, with some accused of involvement in financing or fighting in Afghanistan. Sunday's list contained the names of 60 wanted suspect, all but one of them Iraqis. It includes the name of Saddam's daughter Raghad, who lives in neighboring Jordan. It also features 28 suspected IS jihadists, 12 from al-Qaida and 20 Baathists.

HRW Urges Review of Moroccan Activist's Jail Sentence
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/February 06/18/Human Rights Watch called on Morocco Tuesday to urgently reexamine the sentencing of an activist to five years in prison based on a confession that it said may have been coerced. El Mortada Iamrachen, a 31-year-old member of a protest movement in Morocco's neglected northern Rif region, was convicted in November of "defending terrorism" and incitement. A court is expected to hear his appeal on Wednesday. New York-based HRW said Iamrachen's conviction was based on a "possibly coerced confession." "Once again, a Moroccan activist is thrown in prison after his contested confession is used to convict him," said the group's Middle East and North Africa director Sarah Leah Whitson. "This may well not be a terrorism case at all, but rather a twisted effort to punish yet another leader of a protest movement that the Moroccan government seems determined to crush."HRW said Iamrachen was accused of praising and inciting acts of terrorism in Facebook posts about news including the assassination of Russia's ambassador in Turkey in December 2016. In another post, the activist wrote of telling a journalist that al-Qaida leader Ayman al-Zawahiri had ordered him to import weapons into the Rif region, but he said in court that the post was sarcastic, according to HRW. The court rejected his claim that his confession had been coerced by police who threatened to publish private pictures of his wife that were found on his laptop, the rights group said. Iamrachen was a member of the al-Hirak al-Shaabi, or "Popular Movement", a group calling for jobs and an end to graft in the Rif region. More than 400 people have been detained since May, including the protest movement's leader, and dozens sentenced to prison over the unrest.

Uprooted, Again: War Catches Up with Syrians in Idlib
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/February 06/18/The shabby, mud-covered tent in northwest Syria is the only home Abu Khaled's family has left. Uprooted four times in six years, they say war is practically stalking them. "As soon as we settle down somewhere for a year or a little more, the bombardment arrives and we change places," says the elderly man, originally from a neighboring province. The tent where he, his wife, and his 12 children now live is pitched alongside dozens more in Syria's Idlib, the only province that still largely escapes government control. More than a million Syrians from other parts of the country now live in the northwestern province, after they fled fighting or as a result of negotiated settlements to escape suffocating sieges. In Idlib, they hoped to find a shred of normalcy and stability -- but since late 2017, the province has been the target of a blistering Russian-backed government offensive. "I lost my land, my trees, my home. I left my house only with the clothes I had on my back," says Abu Khaled, a native of the neighboring province of Hama. He fled Hama in 2012, settling in Idlib province. Battered by rain, the makeshift camp where he now lives outside the town of Sarmada has turned into a massive mud pit. Rows of tents made of plastic tarpaulins, blankets and curtains are stained with dirt, and chunks of mud are wedged into pairs of shoes piled outside. Young girls wash a saucepan in a large brown puddle and men slip and slide past the tents.
'Day of tears and blood'
Rebels and jihadists overran Idlib in 2015. But since then, hardliners have expanded their control and the influence of mainstream rebels has shrunk drastically. At the same time, the province's population has swollen, particularly with tens of thousands of people -- rebels and civilians -- bussed out of besieged opposition enclaves elsewhere. Abu Mohammed, 48, was among them. Along with his wife and six children, he was bussed out of the town of Daraya near Damascus in August 2016 under a negotiated settlement to end years of crippling government siege. "It was a day of tears and blood. You're in the bus, you can't speak -- you're leaving your town behind," he recalls. They settled in Jarjanaz, a town in Idlib province. But a little more than a year later, they found themselves fleeing the government assault on Idlib. "The strikes started to escalate and people were sending their women and children away. Two rockets and some barrel bombs hit near our house," says Abu Mohammed. They moved closer to Idlib city in December, now living in a sparsely furnished apartment. "There's no work here. Jarjanaz had become like our second home -- we knew everyone," says Abu Mohammed, a scarf tied around his head.
13 months, five homes
Marwa Taleb and Saleh Abu Qusay were similarly displaced. In December 2016, the married couple was bussed out of their native Aleppo, Syria's second city, under one of the war's most controversial evacuation deals. The agreement capped a ferocious month-long government assault on the city and several months of siege, and saw tens of thousands of civilians and rebels evacuated. In the 13 months since they left Aleppo, Taleb and Abu Qusay have been displaced five times. "As soon as we start to get settled and can take a breath, there are new strikes and we have to pick up our things and leave," says Taleb. With tears in her eyes, she clutches her bulging belly -- Taleb is eight months pregnant. "What will be my daughter's future? Will she be homeless like us, or will she have a better life?" asks the 20-year-old, her voice breaking with emotion. From their native Aleppo, the couple have kept a few souvenirs: books, a wool cap knitted by Marwa, and a Japanese print hung on the wall of their temporary home. "I grabbed it from the rubble of a destroyed home in Aleppo," recalls Abu Qusay, dressed in a hooded sweatsuit. The day they left Aleppo has been frozen in time in a now famous photograph they keep saved on their laptop. In it, their backs are to the camera, with Marwa leaning into her husband who is carrying an automatic rifle. They gaze at the remnants of a building heavily damaged in bombardment and clashes. It is tagged with a short Arabic phrase in black graffiti.
"We'll come back, my love. December 15, 2016."

Hundreds of Syrian Kurds Protest in Beleaguered Afrin
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/February 06/18/Hundreds of Kurds bussed in from across northern Syria demonstrated Tuesday in Afrin in a show of solidarity with residents of the enclave that Turkey attacked last month. Holding olive branches and portraits of Kurdish fighters killed since the start of the assault on January, they marched in the town center to the sound of traditional music. The demonstrators, most of whom had come from Qamishli and Hasakeh, the two main cities in northeastern Syria's Kurdish heartland, chanted slogans such as "We are with you until death, Afrin". "Down with mercenaries, down with Erdogan," some shouted, in reference to Syrian rebels Ankara is using as proxies on the ground and to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. The hawkish leader fears the consolidation of Kurdish influence along his country's border and describes the Kurdish militia there as a terrorist group. The People's Protection Units (YPG) -- which has ties with Turkey's outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) -- was the U.S.-led coalition's main ground partner in the fight against the Islamic State jihadist group in Syria. "We came all this way to tell our brothers in Afrin they are not alone and that we are with them," Qamra Ali, a woman in her fifties from the city of Qamishli. Many Syrian Kurds feel their forces are being poorly rewarded for doing much of the heavy lifting in some of the toughest battles against IS over the past three years. Protests have been staged in Syria's Kurdish regions as well by the Kurdish diaspora in the region and beyond to demand action against Turkey and greater U.S. support.

Latest LCCC Bulletin analysis & editorials from miscellaneous sources published on February 06-07/18
France: Migrant Crisis Spirals Out of Control
Soeren Kern/Gatestone Institute/February 06/2018
French Interior Minister Gérard Collomb described the level of violence in Calais as "unprecedented." He attributed the fighting to an escalating turf war between Afghan and Kurdish gangs seeking to gain control over human trafficking between Calais and Britain, which many migrants view as "El Dorado" because of its massive underground economy.
During his visit to Calais, Macron outlined his government's new immigration policy: food and shelter for those entitled to remain in France, and deportation of those in the country illegally.
"Emmanuel Macron did it. Never before has a president of the Republic fallen into unpopularity so fast and then become popular again." — Paris Match.
Hundreds of Africans and Asians armed with knives and iron rods fought running street battles in the northern port city of Calais on February 1, less than two weeks after French President Emmanuel Macron visited the area and pledged to crack down on illegal immigration.
The clashes plunged Calais — emblematic of Europe's failure to control mass migration — into a war zone and reinforced the perception that French authorities have lost control of the country's security situation.
The mass brawls, fought in at least three different parts of Calais, erupted after a 37-year-old Afghan migrant running a human trafficking operation fired gunshots at a group of Africans who did not have money to pay for his services. Five Africans suffered life-threatening injuries.
Within an hour, hundreds of Eritreans, Ethiopians and Sudanese took to the streets of Calais and attacked any Afghans they could find. More than a thousand police officers using batons and tear gas were deployed to restore order. Two dozen migrants were hospitalized.
French Interior Minister Gérard Collomb described the level of violence in Calais as "unprecedented." He attributed the fighting to an escalating turf war between Afghan and Kurdish gangs seeking to gain control over human trafficking between Calais and Britain, which many migrants view as "El Dorado" because of its massive underground economy. Each day around 40 ferries depart Calais for Britain.
Vincent de Coninck, director of the charity Secours Catholique du Pas-de-Calais, said that rival gangs were trying to secure control over access to the port of Calais in order to induce payments of €2,500 ($3,100) from migrants seeking to stow away on trucks crossing the English Channel.
De Coninck added that the situation in Calais had deteriorated since January 18, when Macron and British Prime Minister Theresa May signed the so-called Sandhurst Treaty, in which May pledged to speed-up the processing of migrants hoping to travel to Britain from Calais.
According to de Coninck, Macron and May failed adequately to explain the contents of the new treaty. This failure, he said, had created false hopes among migrants from Africa and elsewhere that the treaty would improve their chances of reaching Britain. De Coninck further said that hundreds of new migrants had arrived in Calais during the two weeks since the treaty was signed. The surge of new arrivals, he said, had created an "imbalance" between Africans and Asians — thereby increasing inter-ethnic tensions.
François Guennoc, vice-president of the Calais charity L'Auberge des Migrants, echoed the view that the new treaty had created false expectations. "It gave people hope to reach England," he said.
"People arrived suddenly, about 200, mainly underage people and women who arrived in Calais because they thought that the Home Office said they could go directly to England. Then they thought the Home Office was lying. People were upset. It was crazy."
Europe's migration crisis has emerged as the first major test facing President Macron, who appears to be seeking out a middle-ground compromise position on the issue: he has promised to pursue "humanitarianism" by speeding up the processing of asylum requests while also pledging to pursue "firmness" by deporting those who do not qualify.
During the presidential campaign, Macron, who ran as a centrist, repudiated the anti-immigration positions of his opponent, Marine Le Pen. He campaigned on a platform of open borders and promised to establish France as "the new center for the humanist project." Since assuming office on May 14, 2017, however, Macron appears to have incorporated many of Le Pen's ideas.
In an essay published by Le Monde on January 2, 2017, Macron wrote that German Chancellor Angela Merkel's decision to allow in more than a million migrants from Africa, Asia and the Middle East had "saved the collective dignity" of the European people. He added that he would not tolerate the "rebuilding of walls in Europe" and criticized the "abject simplifications" made by those who say that "by opening the borders to migrants, the chancellor exposed Europe to severe dangers."
On July 27, 2017, however, after less than three months in office, Macron warned that 800,000 migrants in Libya were on their way to Europe. He announced a plan to establish immigration centers in Libya to vet asylum seekers there. He said his plan would stem the flow of migrants to Europe by discouraging economic migrants from embarking on the Mediterranean crossing to Europe. "The idea is to create hotspots to avoid people taking crazy risks when they're not all eligible for asylum," Macron said. "We'll go to them."
In that same speech, though, Macron appeared to encourage migrants to make their way to France. He pledged housing for all newcomers "everywhere in France" and "from the first minute." He added: "By the end of this year, I do not want to have any men and women living on the streets, in the woods. I want emergency accommodations everywhere."
On August 8, 2017, the French Interior Ministry reported that more than 17,000 migrants attempted to board UK-bound trucks and trains at the port and Eurotunnel in Calais during the first seven months of 2017. The figures showed that the closure of "The Jungle" in October 2016 had failed to deter migrants in Calais from reaching Britain.
Pictured: Migrants at "The Jungle" migrant camp in Calais, France on October 28, 2016, shortly before the camp was closed by French authorities. (Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)
In September 2017, the French government asked the European Union for permission to maintain border controls within the passport-free Schengen zone for as long as four years due to the continuing threat of Islamic terrorism, according to a classified document leaked to The Guardian. On October 3, France extended border controls for another six-month period, to April 30, 2018.
On October 15, two weeks after a Tunisian migrant stabbed to death two women in Marseille, Macron pledged to deport any migrant who commits a crime. "We will take the most severe measures, we will do what we must do," Macron said. "We are not taking all the steps that should be taken. Well, that is going to change." Analysts said that nuances in French law would make the pledge impossible to implement.
On November 20, in a circular leaked to the press, Interior Minister Gerard Collomb ordered prefects, representatives of the state in each of the 96 departments in mainland France, to deport all failed asylum seekers. He also ordered them to submit a report, by the end of February 2018, that would provide
"details about the fight against irregular immigration in your department in 2017, and your plan for the implementation of these instructions in the coming months. (...) The fight against irregular immigration is the responsibility of each prefect of each department. It is necessary to act quickly."
The leak of the so-called Collomb Circular marked the beginning of an organized resistance movement among French political and media elites to Macron's migration policies. In an open letter published by Le Monde, for instance, a group of intellectuals and trade unionists, many of whom had supported Macron during the presidential campaign, criticized his migration policy: "Mr. Macron, your policy contradicts the humanism you advocate!"
On December 4, in an interview with RTL, Interior Minister Collomb said the government was working on a reform of migration policy. "There are 95,000 asylum applications a year, that is, a big city every year. If we welcomed everyone, we could not do it in good conditions. We have decided to welcome those who are refugees from theaters of war, who are political prisoners, but at the same time to try to pursue a policy that allows economic migration to be carried out in other ways."
On December 12, Interior Minister Collomb ordered regional authorities to establish "mobile teams" to force undocumented migrants out of emergency shelters. The measure produced a strong backlash from charities, which said the shelters are sacrosanct.
On January 9, 2018, the French Office for the Protection of Refugees and Stateless Persons reported that in 2017, more than 100,000 people had requested asylum in France, a "historic" number and an increase of 17% compared to 2016.
On January 14, Interior Minister Collomb announced a plan to establish 400 detention centers to deport economic migrants in the country illegally. "Refugees are welcome, economic migrants are not," he said.
On January 16, during his visit to Calais, Macron outlined his government's new immigration policy: food and shelter for those entitled to remain in France, and deportation of those in the country illegally.
On January 18, Macron traveled to Britain, where signed the Sandhurst Treaty, which reduces the processing time for migrants hoping to travel to Britain from Calais from six months to one month for adults, and 25 days for children. The new treaty, far from solving the migrant crisis, appears to be exacerbating it.
In an analysis published by Paris Match, pollsters Chloé Morin and Marie Gariazzo said that conflicting voter reactions to the "Macron method" of compromise on migration policy "reflects the contradictions of his electorate":
"Quantitative studies indicate, a priori, that a clear majority of French voters support a more restrictive migration policy.... The heart of the government's policy...guarantees the inviolability of the right to asylum while challenging the country's ability to welcome all the world's misery....
"It is not certain that the Macronian gamble — finding a balance between firmness and humanity — is a long-term winner. Emmanuel Macron appears at this stage to be supported by his base. But we find among them an expectation of firmness ('we must not be overwhelmed,' 'laxity would have negative consequences for our country') as well as one of humanity ('we must help those fleeing wars and persecutions,' 'It is morally indisputable to welcome foreigners in emergency, distress') ....
"This discourse is thus systematically caught between those on the one hand who — often on the right, but sometimes even in the heart of the Macronian base — judge his policy as too 'lax,' and on the other hand, those who are indignant over its firmness ....
"It is very likely that a large part of those at the center of the political spectrum, particularly in the center-left, will accept the government's narrative and subscribe little-by-little to the logic of 'selective immigration.' Thus, the official discourse could contribute in the long term to a shift of the 'moderate' population on the subject of migration from one of humanity towards one of firmness."
Macron's popularity ratings have experienced an "unprecedented" rebound since he pursued a harder line on immigration, according to the French pollsters Ifop. His job approval rating jumped by 10 percentage points since October to 52%. Previously, Macron's popularity rating registered the biggest decline for a new president since 1995.
"Emmanuel Macron did it," Paris Match reported. "Never before has a president of the Republic fallen into unpopularity so fast and then become popular again."
Soeren Kern is a Senior Fellow at the New York-based Gatestone Institute. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook
Appendix: A Brief History of the Migrant Crisis in Calais
Migrants from across the developing world view Britain as "El Dorado" because of its massive underground economy, which totaled approximately £223 billion (€250 billion; $311 billion) in 2016, or 11.5% of GDP, according to the International Monetary Fund.
In addition, the Identity Documents Act 2010, which entered into effect January 2011, abolished national identity cards. The change, driven by civil liberties concerns over unnecessary data collection and intrusion by the state, allows illegal migrants in Britain to remain inconspicuous.
Moreover, unlike France, migrants from war-torn countries who reach Britain can easily apply for refugee status, which provides them with permission to reside in the United Kingdom for an initial period of five years — with the right to work and access welfare benefits. Lawful residence in the UK for a continuous period of five years qualifies an individual to apply for British citizenship.
This combination of factors has turned Britain into a magnet for migrants. More than 865,000 non-EU migrants were granted permission to live in Britain in 2016 — a rate of one every 36 seconds, according to Eurostat.
Migrants have been gathering in Calais, France's closest point to Britain, in large numbers ever since the Channel Tunnel linking France and Britain opened in May 1994, and the Schengen Agreement, which abolished border controls between France and most of its EU neighbors (but not the UK), entered into force in March 1995.
In 1999, the French government asked the Red Cross to build a migrant "reception center" in Sangatte, situated around ten kilometers west of Calais, to accommodate a growing number of migrants on the streets of Calais and surrounding areas. The Sangatte camp, which was housed in a giant warehouse near the entrance to the Channel Tunnel, had a capacity for 600 people.
Far from resolving the migrant problem in Calais, the Sangatte facility served as a magnet, quickly drawing thousands more people to the area. Within months, some 2,000 migrants were living in the camp in increasingly cramped conditions. Many of those staying at Sangatte tried to jump onto slow-moving trains at the entrance to the Channel Tunnel, or hide inside trucks crossing to Britain on ferries.
At the time, French authorities reported a massive increase in the number of arrests in or around the Channel Tunnel. In 1999, 8,000 people were arrested in Calais for immigration offenses. By 2001, that number had jumped ten-fold to 80,000 arrests. Eurotunnel, the company that manages and operates the Channel Tunnel, said that in 2001 alone, 54,000 people had "attacked" the terminal in Calais and 5,000 had gotten through. Many of those were living in Sangatte.
The Sangatte camp was closed in late 2002, after a series of riots between Afghan and Kurdish migrants. In all, some 67,000 migrants stayed at the facility during its three years in operation.
In February 2003, France and Britain signed the Treaty of Le Touquet, which allows for so-called juxtaposed controls, meaning that travelers between the two countries now clear immigration in the country of departure rather than upon arrival. In effect, the treaty pushed parts of the British border to France. By doing so, it exacerbated the migration bottleneck in Calais.
As part of the agreement to close Sangatte, Britain took in 1,200 migrants. Those who remained in France were sheltered in at least a dozen different squats both inside Calais and on its outskirts. These camps — Africa House, Fort Galloo, Leader Price/Sudanese Jungle or Tioxide Jungle — have been repeatedly raided or bulldozed by French police, only for other squats to crop up elsewhere.
Many of the migrants housed at Sangatte moved a few kilometers east to a disused industrial zone called "The Dunes." Situated just steps from the Port of Calais, the area would eventually become known as "The Jungle."
On September 22, 2009, French police bulldozed "The Jungle" and rounded up hundreds of migrants hoping to stow away on trucks headed for Britain. A day later, Calais Mayor Natacha Bouchart said she had "spotted between fifteen and twenty new squats" nearby. She also reported that Afghan migrants were establishing makeshift camps at the Hoverport, an unused collection of buildings which closed in 2005 after the last hovercraft sailed from Dover to Calais.
September 12, 2014. Police in Calais warned that migrants were becoming increasingly violent in their quest to reach Britain. Gilles Debove, the Calais area delegate for the French police union, said tear gas was being used to stop "mass onslaughts" on vehicles about to cross the Channel:
"The other day, two to three hundred migrants tried to get into a lorry park and we fired tear gas to scatter them because there are too few of us to control situations like this any other way. We're also facing an increase in crimes by migrants who mug people, steal mobile phones and carry out sexual assaults."
November 11, 2015. More than 250 French riot police were deployed to "The Jungle" after weeks of unrest. Local government official Fabienne Buccio said the rise in violence was due to the frustration of migrants at being prevented from reaching Britain.
December 17, 2015. Around 1,000 migrants stormed the Channel Tunnel in a bid to reach Britain. Police, who used tear gas to disperse them, said the number seeking to cross the Channel in a single day was "unprecedented." Many of the migrants who were turned away moved back to "The Jungle" to try again.
January 19, 2016. French authorities leveled one-third of "The Jungle" to create a 100-meter "buffer zone" between the camp and an adjacent highway that leads to the ferry port.
February 7, 2016. The migrant crisis spread to other parts of France due to an increased police presence in Calais. Migrant camps sprouted up in the nearby ports of Dunkirk, Le Havre, Dieppe and Belgium's Zeebrugge, as migrants sought new ways to cross the English Channel to Britain.
February 29, 2016. After a court in Lille approved a plan by the French government to evict 1,000 migrants from "The Jungle," demolition teams began dismantling the southern part of the camp. The government tried to relocate the migrants to official accommodations inside converted shipping containers in the northern part of the camp. But most refused the offer, fearing they would be forced to claim asylum in France. "Going to Britain is what people here want," Afghan migrant Hayat Sirat said. "Destroying part of the jungle is not the solution."
March 7, 2016. Migrants evicted from "The Jungle" moved to a new camp in Grande-Synthe near the northern port of Dunkirk, just up the coast from Calais. Critics said that the new camp risks becoming a "new Sangatte," referring to the Red Cross center in Calais that was closed in 2002.
May 31, 2016. Migrants evicted from Calais moved to Paris and established a massive squatter camp at the Jardins d'Eole, a public park near the Gare du Nord station, from where high-speed Eurostar trains travel to and arrive from London. The area, which became so dangerous that the government classified it as a no-go zone (Zone de sécurité prioritaires, ZSP), has become a magnet for human traffickers who charge migrants thousands of euros for fake travel documents, supposedly for passage to London.
August 11, 2016. In an interview with Le Figaro, a French counter-terrorism officer warned that Islamic State jihadis were hiding in "The Jungle" camp. "What is happening in 'The Jungle' is truly mind boggling," he said. "Our officers are rarely able to penetrate the heart of the camp. It is impossible to know if a jihadi from Belgium, for example, is hiding in the camp. This camp is a blind spot for national security."
September 5, 2016. Hundreds of French truck drivers, businessmen and farmers blocked off the main route in and out of Calais, in an attempt to pressure the French government to close "The Jungle." The blockage brought to a standstill the route used by trucks from all over Europe to reach Calais and Britain.
September 12, 2016. A document leaked to Le Figaro revealed the government's plan, dated September 1, to relocate 12,000 migrants from Calais to other parts of France. The migrants would be relocated to around 60 so-called Reception and Orientation Centers (centres d'accueil et d'orientation, CAO), each with a capacity for between 100 and 300 migrants.
September 13, 2016. The President of the Alpes-Maritimes region, Eric Ciotti, criticized the government's "irresponsible" plan to relocate migrants in Calais to other parts of France. He said the plan would "proliferate a multitude of small Calais, genuine areas of lawlessness that exacerbate lasting tensions throughout the country." He added:
"This plan reflects the resignation of the government in the face of massive illegal immigration. It weakens national cohesion under a false pretext of humanity which hides a dangerous ideology that denies any distinction between foreigners who seek asylum, who France should decently receive, and those who are economic migrants, whom we can no longer tolerate, and who should be returned to their countries of origin.
"The only solution is to deport, without delay, all illegal immigrants who do not intend to remain on our territory, and to place asylum seekers in centers dedicated to the study of their cases."
September 14, 2016. The President of the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes region, Laurent Wauquiez, expressed anger at the government's "diktat" to relocate 1,800 migrants from Calais to his region. He said: "This is madness and it is not a matter of solidarity. The problem of Calais is not solved by multiplying Calais throughout France. We expect the government to solve the problem of Calais, not move it to other parts of the country."
September 16, 2016. Steeve Briois, the Mayor of Hénin-Beaumont and Vice President of the National Front, criticized the government's plan to relocate migrants from "The Jungle" to the rest of the country. He said:
"This crazy policy would consequently multiply mini-Calais on the entire national territory, without consulting the people and local elected officials. This forced policy of the Socialist government is simply unacceptable; it seriously threatens public order and the safety of our citizens."
September 20, 2016. Construction work began on a wall to prevent migrants at the camp from stowing away on cars, trucks, ferries and trains bound for Britain. Dubbed "The Great Wall of Calais," the concrete barrier — one kilometer (half a mile) long and four meters (13 feet) high on both sides of the two-lane highway approaching the harbor — will pass within a few hundred meters of "The Jungle."
September 21, 2016. A whistleblower reported that volunteer aid workers at "The Jungle" were forging sexual relationships with migrants, including children. "I have heard of volunteers having sex with multiple partners in one day, only to carry on in the same vein the following day," he wrote. "And I know also, that I'm only hearing a small part of a wider scale of abuse." He added that the majority of cases in question involved female volunteers and male migrants. "Female volunteers having sex enforces the view (which many have) that volunteers are here for sex," he wrote.
October 25, 2016. French authorities began dismantling "The Jungle." The government said that 4,014 migrants had been relocated or re-sheltered from the camp.
March 3, 2017. Calais Mayor Natacha Bouchart banned local aid groups from distributing free food near the former "Jungle" camp. "I took this decision to make sure that no permanent base or squat is created around Calais," she said.
April 28, 2017. Emmanuel Macron pledged that, if elected president, he would seek to renegotiate the Le Touquet treaty, which allows British border police to operate in Calais.
June 19, 2017. A Polish truck driver was killed when his truck crashed into another truck that had been stopped on the A16 motorway about 15 kilometers from Calais by migrants seeking to stow away to Britain. Nine Eritrean migrants found in one of the trucks were arrested and were expected to be charged with involuntary homicide, disrupting traffic and endangering people's lives.
July 7, 2017. French police forcibly removed 2,500 African migrants from Porte de la Chapelle in northern Paris, which has become a gathering point for migrants since the closure of "The Jungle" in Calais.
July 26, 2017. Human Rights Watch accused French police of systematically abusing asylum seekers and migrants, disrupting humanitarian assistance, and harassing aid workers, "behavior that appears to be at least partly driven by a desire to keep down migrant numbers."
August 8, 2017. The French Interior Ministry reported that more than 17,000 migrants attempted to board UK-bound trucks and trains at the port and Eurotunnel in Calais during the first seven months of 2017. The figures showed that the closure of "The Jungle" in October 2016 had failed to deter migrants in Calais.
August 18, 2017. French police forcibly removed 2,000 African migrants living on sidewalks at Porte de la Chapelle in northern Paris. Interior Minister Gerard Collomb said the police action proved that the system for handling migrants is "dysfunctional."
September 17, 2017. French police forcibly removed hundreds of migrants from a forest on the northern coast near Calais over fears it could become a magnet for others hoping to head to Britain. Some 350 men, women and children, most of them Iraqi Kurds, had been living for weeks in squalid conditions on the edge of Grande-Synthe.
October 25, 2017. A year after "The Jungle" camp in Calais was razed, the charity Help Refugees reported that between 800 and 2,000 migrants were still gathered there.
November 8, 2017. French police arrested three Iraqis accused of smuggling up to 40 migrants a day to Calais and into Britain in refrigerated trucks.
December 10, 2017. Paris residents furious that hundreds of migrants are sleeping on the streets of their neighborhood threatened to launch a hunger strike unless French authorities remove the squalid makeshift camps. Pierre Vuarin, a spokesman for a neighborhood association, said: "The pavement is sometimes soaked in urine and the streets aren't cleaned every day. Some people have sold their flats at knockdown prices and others have suffered mental breakdowns."
December 22, 2017. Abdullah Dilsouz, a 15-year-old Afghan migrant, was crushed to death after he was run over by a truck near the port of Calais.
January 9, 2018. More than 100,000 people requested asylum in France in 2017, a "historic" number and an increase of 17% on the year before, according to the French Office for the Protection of Refugees and Stateless Persons (OFPRA). The principal country of origin for asylum seekers in France in 2017 was Albania, followed by Afghanistan, with 5,987 requests. Of that number, 83% were granted refugee status.
January 16, 2018. On an official visit to Calais, President Emmanuel Macron said he would not tolerate building another "Jungle" camp in Calais: "In no way will we allow illegal routes to be developed here. In no way will we let a 'Jungle' spring up, or an illegal occupation of the territory."
January 18, 2018. President Macron and British Prime Minister Theresa May signed the so-called Sandhurst Treaty, which "complements" the Le Touquet treaty. The treaty requires Britain to reduce the processing time for migrants hoping to travel to Britain from Calais from six months to one month for adults, and 25 days for children. It also requires Britain to pay £44.5 million (€50 million; $62 million) for extra security measures in France to prevent another "Jungle" camp from forming in Calais and other ports. The extra cash will go towards fencing, CCTV and other detection technology.
February 1, 2018. Hundreds of African and Asian migrants armed with knives and iron rods fought running street battles in Calais. Two dozen migrants were injured in what the French government dubbed "unprecedented" scenes of violence among those seeking to reach Britain.
February 3, 2018. The Guardian reported a 25% increase in the number of migrants in Calais. It attributed the surge on the Sandhurst Treaty, which raised "false hopes" that it would be easier to reach Britain.
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Palestinians: The Atrocities No One Talks About
Khaled Abu Toameh/Gatestone Institute/February 06/2018
Why the need to keep reminding the world of the plight of the Palestinians in Syria? It is because the international community and pro-Palestinian groups around the world do not seem to care about the atrocities that are being committed against Palestinians in Syria or any Arab country because they were not committed by Israel.
The 82-year-old Mahmoud Abbas, meanwhile, has made clear where his priorities stand. Instead of searching for ways to help his people in Syria and the Gaza Strip, where hospitals are facing a deathly shortage of fuel and medicine, Abbas has just spent $50 million to purchase a "presidential plane."
Abbas, however, could not care less. In his view, the needs of his people are the responsibility of the world. He wants everyone but himself to continue funneling financial aid to the Palestinians. For him, delivering a speech before the EU Parliament or the UN General Assembly easily takes precedence over the Palestinians who are dying due to lack of medicine and food.
A Palestinian refugee camp has been under siege for more than 1,660 days. Hundreds of the camp residents have been killed, while tens of thousands have been forced to flee from their homes.
Those who have remained in the camp -- mostly the elderly, women and children -- live in unspeakable sanitary conditions and drink polluted water.
More than 200 Palestinians from the camp, which has been under siege since 2103, have died as a result of lack of food or medicine. The conditions in the refugee camp, by any standard, are horrific.
Why have most of us not heard about the hair-raising "living" conditions that characterize this camp? Because it is not located in the West Bank or the Gaza Strip.
The name of the camp is Yarmouk, and it is located about five miles from the Syrian capital of Damascus.
More than 100,000 Palestinians used to live in the 2.11 square-kilometer Yarmouk camp before the civil war erupted in Syria in 2011.
By the end of 2014, the number of the camp residents had plummeted to 13,000.
Since 2012, the camp has been the scene of intense fighting among various parties: the Syrian opposition forces, the Syrian Army and its allies in the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine - General Command (PFLP-GC), a Palestinian terror group headed by Ahmed Jibril, and Islamic State (ISIS).
The Yarmouk Palestinian refugee camp in Syria has been under siege by the Syrian army for more than 1,660 days. Pictured: Residents of Yarmouk line up to receive food supplies, on January 31, 2014. (Image source: UNRWA)
In 2015, ISIS managed to take control of large parts of Yarmouk camp despite the siege imposed by the Syrian Army and the Palestinian terror group PFLP-GC.
The lives of the Palestinian residents of the camp have been turned into hell.
It is not as if before conditions inside the camp were good. There were times when the Syrian Army and the PFLP-GC used heavy artillery to bomb houses and schools, thereby killing scores of residents, including women and children.
The Syrian Army and its proxy Palestinian terror group surround the camp from all directions, preventing the entry of food and medicine. Within the confines of the camp, ISIS commits almost daily atrocities against the residents.
Last week, for example, ISIS terrorists dragged two Palestinian men to a public square and executed them in front of stunned residents. The two men were identified as Ramez Abdullah and Bashar Said. Abdullah was shot in the head, while Said had his throat slit in customary ISIS-style.
An ISIS "court" had found the two guilty of spying for the PFLP-GC and Aknaf Beit Al-Makdis ("Supporters of Jerusalem"), a Palestinian rebel group that has been fighting against ISIS inside Yarmouk camp.
Such public executions are far from uncommon on the streets of Yarmouk.
In February 2107, ISIS executed camp resident Mohammed Attiyeh. A month later, another four Palestinians were executed by the terror group. In July the same year, ISIS executed Palestinian teenager Mohammed Elayan after convicting him of helping wounded fighters belonging to an anti-ISIS group.
A few days ago, ISIS terrorists in the camp arrested a woman after she refused to submit to a body search at a checkpoint. Camp residents say they now fear for the life of the woman, who was not identified by name. Her fate is not likely to be better than the scores of camp residents whose whereabouts remain unknown after being taken into custody by ISIS.
As if this were not enough, sources inside the camp are reporting that ISIS terrorists have also been confiscating food from stores and homes.
In addition, ISIS continues to prevent patients from leaving the camp for medical treatment, according to the Action Group for Palestinians of Syria.
"The humanitarian crisis in Yarmouk camp has reached new heights," the group said. "The lack of food and medicine has resulted in the outbreak of several diseases among the camp residents."
The plight of Yarmouk camp is a microcosm of the tragedy that has befallen the Palestinians in Syria since the beginning of the civil war in that country.
Figures released by the Action Group for Palestinians of Syria show that 3645 Palestinians have been killed since 2011. The victims include 463 women. Another 1656 Palestinians are being held in various prisons belonging to the Syrian government. They include 105 women.
In Yarmouk camp, 204 Palestinians have died as result of lack of food and medicine. Yarmouk camp has been without running water for more than 1237 days. Another Palestinian camp, Dera'ah, has been without water supply for more than 1398 days.
Altogether, since the beginning of the civil war, more than 85,000 Palestinians have fled Syria to Europe. An additional 30,000 have found refuge in Lebanon, while 17,000 have chosen to settle in Jordan, 6,000 in Egypt and 8,000 in Turkey.
Another report revealed that 11 Palestinians were killed in Syria in January 2018. Ten were shot dead during fighting between warring parties, while one died as a result of torture in a Syrian government prison.
Why the need to keep reminding the world of the plight of the Palestinians in Syria? It is because the international community and pro-Palestinian groups around the world do not seem to care about the atrocities that are being committed against Palestinians in Syria or any Arab country because they were not committed by Israel.
Still, it is hard to understand the apathy of the Palestinian Authority leadership in Ramallah, whose representatives have more urgent matters on their minds.
While his people are being killed, starved, displaced and denied medical treatment in Syria, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas appears to be more concerned about US President Donald Trump's recent announcement recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.
Picking a fight with the US administration has become a daily national sport for Abbas and his top officials in Ramallah. Hardly a day passes without another Palestinian Authority statement strongly denouncing Trump and his administration's policies toward the Palestinians. But when it comes to the suffering of Palestinians in Syria, Ramallah is mute.
Palestinian leaders who hold regular meetings in Ramallah simply ignore the atrocities their people face in the Arab countries, especially Syria. Instead, the leaders devote most of their time to issuing condemnations of Israeli settlements and the Trump administration, as if Palestinians are not being killed by the thousands in an Arab country.
The 82-year-old Abbas, meanwhile, has made clear where his priorities stand. Instead of searching for ways to help his people in Syria and the Gaza Strip, where hospitals are facing a deathly shortage of fuel and medicine, Abbas has just spent $50 million to purchase a "presidential plane."
The money Abbas spent on the new plane could have saved the lives of thousands of Palestinians in Syria and the Gaza Strip.
Abbas, however, could not care less. In his view, the needs of his people are the responsibility of the world.
He wants everyone but himself to continue funneling financial aid to the Palestinians. For him, delivering a speech before the EU Parliament or the UN General Assembly easily takes precedence over the Palestinians who are dying due to lack of medicine and food. With such leaders, the Palestinians do not need enemies.
**Khaled Abu Toameh, an award-winning journalist, is based in Jerusalem.
© 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.

هيئة الإذاعة الكندية السي بي سي: هل هي بخدمة كندا أم بخدمة الإسلاميين
The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC): Serving Canada or Serving Islamists?

Tom Quiggin/Gatestone Institute/February 06/2018
In practice, the CBC only respects sensibilities when it comes to Islamists such as ISIS or to those who attacked Charlie Hebdo. When it comes to attacking Christians and Jews, the CBC exercises no such restraint.
The CBC also quotes organizations such as the National Council for Canadian Muslims, formerly known as CAIR CAN, which the CBC has referred to as a civil rights group. But they failed to note that CAIR CAN was formed to support its parent organization, CAIR USA, which is a listed terrorist group in the United Arab Emirates. It also does not mention that CAIR USA was formed in part by supporters of Hamas and that it has had multiple run-ins with terrorism financing.
Similarly, when supporting a variety of Islamist issues, the CBC quotes as a source the Canadian Council of Imams. The CBC does not reveal, however, that the Vice President of the Council of Imams, Hakim Quick, believes that the position of Islam on homosexuality is death. It also does not state that the "Emir" of the council is also the head of the Islamic Circle of North America (ICNA). The ICNA believes that Islam is not compatible with democracy, women are inferior and wife beating is permissible.
As a criminal and federal court expert on terrorism, specifically jihadist-based terrorism, my opinion is that the CBC has willfully assisted Islamists in the creation of the social, cultural and political spaces necessary for extremism to grow. By deliberately sheltering even ISIS supporters acting out in Canada from public scrutiny, the state broadcaster is failing the Canadian public.... This failure appears willful, intentional, and consistent over time.
Canada's state broadcaster, the Canadian Broadcast Corporation (CBC) consistently supports the Islamist cause, including direct cooperation with terrorist front groups. This support extends to editing domestic Canadian stories to ensure that even ISIS is not criticized in the domestic context. Given that the CBC is owned by the Government of Canada and funded by taxpayers with a billion dollar a year subsidy, the question arises as to whom they serve.
The CBC deliberately removes references to ISIS and other Islamist groups when it would reflect poorly on the terrorist group's presence and influence in Canada. On February 19, 2016, for instance, the CBC ran a story concerning events at Maisonneuve College in Montreal. The bland title was "Collège de Maisonneuve teachers' union wants action over alleged library threats."
In this CBC story, the teacher's union demanded that the college management intervene after threats made to staff in the college's library. Line Légaré, the college's spokesperson, stated teachers had intervened and asked students to lower their voices because they were "quite loud, more than we would like for a library." Police had reported violence in the parking lot on one evening.
By contrast, La Presse, a Montreal based French language newspaper reported the same situation in a story titled "Tensions et intimidation au collège de Maisonneuve" ("Tensions and Intimidation at Maisonneuve College"). The reporting by La Presse stated that the students causing the problems had tried to leave Canada to become ISIS fighters. Additionally, five more Maisonneuve students had succeeded in leaving to be fighters in Syria and Iraq in January 2015, while four other Maisonneuve students had also tried to leave Canada in May of 2015. These included one student who was involved in a violent confrontation that resulted in the police being called. The ISIS-supporting students had taken down the license plate numbers of the staff and had blocked non-Muslim students from using a common space.
The La Presse story also revealed that the ISIS students had tried to take over an entire floor of the library and only allow students who supported ISIS to use the space.
The CBC version excluded any mention of the students who had tried to leave the country to fight for ISIS, and no mention was made that ISIS sympathizers who had tried to leave for ISIS were the key players. The CBC story only focuses on students with "loud voices."
Cooperating with Islamist Fronts
The CBC cooperates with Al Jazeera, which has a long history of being a mouthpiece for the Government of Qatar and the Muslim Brotherhood, especially Al Jazeera in Arabic, which has little if anything to do with the English-language version.
The Muslim Brotherhood is listed as a terrorist group in number of Middle Eastern countries, while the United Kingdom says that membership of, association with, or influence by the Muslim Brotherhood should be considered as a possible indicator of extremism. The Motto of the Muslim Brotherhood is:
"Allah is our objective; the Prophet is our leader; the Quran is our law; Jihad is our way; dying in the way of Allah is our highest hope."
The Muslim Brotherhood itself has just called for a global uprising against the United States. Typically, the Arab language declaration called for a violent uprising while the English language version called for protests.
Al Jazeera also has a history of glorifying extremist Islamist figures such as Osama bin Landen. As the New York Times Magazine noted in November of 2001, "A huge, glamorous poster of bin Laden's silhouette hangs in the background of the main studio set at Al Jazeera's headquarters in Doha, the capital city of Qatar."
Journalists from Al Jazeera finally quit the organization en masse in 2013 when it leadership imposed rules requiring favoritism for the Muslim Brotherhood. Al Jazeera had been seen for years as little more than a front for the Government of Qatar. But it is Qatar that shelters the Iranian-backed leadership of Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood.
The CBC began working with Al Jazeera on a documentary in 2014, immediately after the Al Jazeera journalists had quit in protest in 2013. The Al Jazeera journalists in question had quit as they did not want to work for an organization that had told them to support, among others, the efforts of the Muslim Brotherhood and its government in Egypt. With the Muslim Brotherhood's long-time affiliation to terror and violence, this is an understandable position.
The CBC, on the other hand, cooperated with Al Jazeera on projects such as a documentary on the life of Omar Khadr, who murdered US Army Sergeant Speers, spent ten years in Guantanamo Bay Prison, and then won $10.5 million settlement in a lawsuit against the Canadian government, as well as an official "apology." The murdered soldier's widow received nothing.
The CBC documentary, Omar Khadr: Out of the Shadows, was initially broadcast in May, 2015. Al Jazeera English, Al Jazeera Arabic and Al Jazeera America were all listed as cooperating partners.
The documentary was well received by some sections of the media. Others, however, felt that the entire CBC effort was a whitewash and that the journalists involved lacked objectivity and balance. Among the complaints were that Omar Khadr was referred to as a translator, overlooking his conviction for murder. Omar Khadr's father and family were referred to as humanitarians, again overlooking his role as a financier of Al Qaeda. Ahmed Sayed Khadr was noted by Al Qaeda as a "martyr" and he was complimented for throwing his son Omar in the furnace of battle. Omar Khadr was never asked about how he felt about making explosives for the jihadist cause.
Further complicating the issue was that Canada at the time was using its air force to bomb ISIS, a group which Qatar was often seen to be supporting. Canadian special forces were also on the ground in undetermined locations at the same time, believed to be supporting local opponents of ISIS. For CBC to be cooperating with Qatar and its mouthpiece Al Jazeera while the Canadian military had forces on the battlefield is questionable, although probably not illegal. Whether CBC should have disclosed these issues is still a question.
Of general interest, Al Jazeera America (closed April 2016) was created when it took over Current TV, major shareholders of which included Al Gore, Joel Hyatt, and Ronald Burkle. Before it was Current TV, the channel had been called News World International, whose majority holder was the CBC.
Editorial Policies and "Immersion Piss Christ"
The CBC claims that it respects religious sensibilities, a "moral signal" repeated after the jihadist murders of 12 writers and cartoonists at the French satirical magazine, Charlie Hebdo in January 2015.
In 2015, David Studer, CBC's director of Journalistic Standards and Practices sent an email to CBC's news staff. The email stated that "We are being consistent with our historic journalistic practices around this story, not because of fear, but out of respect for the beliefs and sensibilities of the mass of Muslim believers about images of the Prophet. Similarly, we wouldn't publish cartoons likely to dismay or outrage mainstream followers of other religions."
Tony Burman was formerly the editor in chief of CBC news. When discussing the idea of publishing the Mohamed cartoons, he was quoted as saying:
"Tony Burman of the CBC explained that 'most media in Canada dealt with the story in the same way.' The CBC felt that it could 'easily describe the drawings in simple and clear English without actually showing them. That was indeed, without embarrassment, as an act of respect not only for Islam but for all religions.' Burman also felt there was no reason to offend part of its audience for 'absolutely no public value."'
It is difficult to tell if Burman's concerns around publishing the Mohammed cartoons were driven by an altruistic view or his own views. Tony Burman had also worked for the Al Jazeera, in both Doha as managing director for their English Network and in the Washington DC office as chief strategic advisor for Al Jazeera in the Americas. The announcement noted that "Burman used to head up the CBC."
In practice, however, the CBC only respects such sensibilities when it comes to Islamists such as ISIS or those who attacked Charlie Hebdo. When it comes to attacking Christians and Jews, the CBC exercises no such restraint. For instance, the CBC ran, and still displays, the "Immersion Piss Christ" story. This consists of an "award winning photo" in which a plastic crucifix is submerged in a small glass tank of the artist's urine. The story contains the image, which directly contradicts Burman's statement that they could "easily describe the drawings in simple and clear English without actually showing them."
The CBC also ran multiple articles on (then) newly elected Conservative Party leader Andrew Scheer in which they showcased his Christian faith. In a scathing article, a CBC reporter describes how "Religion most often involves a deep commitment to telling other people how to live their lives." The general thrust of the article is that Scheer cannot be trusted because of his faith. Running a story on party leader Andrew Scheer is completely acceptable, it seems, and questions about his faith are fair points of discussion.
CBC's institutionalized bias is highlighted, not by how it treats Conservative leader Andrew Scheer, but rather its silence on how it treats others.
Canada's Saudi born Liberal junior cabinet minister Omar Algebra is an open supporter of Sharia Law and has a long series of dubious connections to Islamist front groups. He has stated that he did not think that Hamas and Islamic Jihad are terrorist groups. CBC has never run an article on the value systems of an Islamist Canadian politician who believes in Sharia Law. Al Jazeera, however, did run a glowing piece on Omar Alghabra and his friendship with Liberal leader Justin Trudeau.
Member of Parliament Iqra Khalid, born in Pakistan, has written documents that openly support Salafism, Sharia Law and speak out against any form of modernization in Islam. Yet the CBC remains silent on whether her faith and writings should be put under examination. This despite the fact she proposed the anti-Islamophobia Parliamentary Motion M-103, seen by many as an anti-free speech effort.
The Minster for the Status of Women, is Maryam Monsef, was born in Iran or Afghanistan, depending on which story one believes. She has openly stated that she is "fascinated" by Sharia. The CBC remains silent; it has never run a critical article on whether a Minister for the Status of Women who believes in Islamic law, Sharia, is suitable for public office in Canada.
The CBC also quotes organizations such as the National Council for Canadian Muslims, formerly known as CAIR CAN. The CBC has referred to the NCCM/CAIR CAN as a civil rights group, but fails to note that it was formed to support its parent organization, CAIR USA, which is a listed terrorist group in the United Arab Emirates. It also does not mention that CAIR USA was formed in part by supporters of HAMAS and that it has had multiple run-ins with terrorism financing.
Similarly, when supporting a variety of Islamist issues, the CBC quotes as a source the Canadian Council of Imams. The CBC does not reveal, however, that the Vice President of the Council of Imams, Hakim Quick, believes that the position of Islam on homosexuality is death. It also does not state that the "Emir" of the council is also the head of the Islamic Circle of North America (ICNA). The ICNA believes that Islam is not compatible with democracy, women are inferior and wife beating is permissible.
In short, the very groups the CBC relies on for commentary are Islamist in nature. These groups often advocate gross violations of human rights. The CBC is either aware of this and ignores it, or the people there are incompetent and do not check what their sources advocate.
The CBC appears to have a willful policy of protecting Islamists, including ISIS in Canada, from public exposure. Students who had tried to leave Canada to fight for ISIS were using violence and threats of violence to express their will to force their control over parts of a public educational institute. Yet the national broadcaster deliberately sent parts of the story down the memory hole by excluding any reference to ISIS sympathizers of any culpability for their actions.
The CBC also grants a free pass to those politicians who have been openly identified as Islamists, yet attacks Christians who have stated they will not bring their personal faith into the public realm.
CBC accepts cooperation and assistance from front groups for known terrorism entities, such as the Muslim Brotherhood. Is it just a coincidence that they then whitewash stories about known Islamists such as Al Qaeda terrorist and financier Ahmed Said Khadr and his son Omar?
Al Jazeera journalists appear to have had enough intellectual honesty and moral strength to quit Al Jazeera, rather than be foot soldiers for a terrorist front group. What does this say for the CBC, who continued cooperating with Al Jazeera?
Canada has a significant Islamist problem, including embracing members of Islamist front groups that use, Canadian political parties as points of entry for expanding their influence. This problem includes five Islamist inspired terrorist attacks or attempted attacks in the last four years. Additionally, the Soufan Group, which provides strategic security intelligence services to governments and multinational organizations, suggests that 180 ISIS fighters were from Canada, but only 129 came from the USA. Given that the USA has a population roughly ten times of that of Canada, the numbers suggest that the problem of radicalization is far greater in Canada than in the US.
As a criminal and federal court expert on terrorism, specifically jihadist-based terrorism, my opinion is that the CBC has willfully assisted Islamists in the creation of the social, cultural and political spaces necessary for extremism to grow. By deliberately sheltering even ISIS supporters acting out in Canada from public scrutiny, the state broadcaster is failing the Canadian public. By granting Islamist politicians in Canada immunity from scrutiny for their beliefs, the state broadcaster is compounding its errors.
This failure appears willful, intentional, and consistent over time. As such, in the event of another Islamist inspired terrorist attack in Canada, or in the event of a terrorist attack in the USA carried out by a Canadian, the CBC may be exposed to a libel suit in the Federal Court of Canada for its institutional support of the Islamist cause. This support has helped to create the political, social and cultural spaces in Canada where Islamist extremism grows.
Tom Quiggin is a former military intelligence officer, a former intelligence contractor for the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and a court appointed expert on jihadist terrorism in both the Federal and criminal courts of Canada. Much of the material for this article comes from the recently published book, "SUBMISSION: The Danger of Political Islam to Canada – With a Warning to America", written with co-authors Tahir Gora, Saied Shoaaib, Jonathon Cotler, and Rick Gill with a foreword by Raheel Raza.
© 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.

Love, the Qatari Way
Abdulrahman Al-Rashed/Asharq Al Awsat/February 06/18
We no longer hear much about the dispute with Qatar, except from Doha's side where officials deliver statements and conduct interviews. Its foes are now concerned with their own issues, such as Iran and Yemen and their regional and international relations, which angered Doha that wants to turn its dispute with Egypt, Saudi Arabia, UAE and Bahrain into an issue that occupies the international public opinion.
However, sovereignty grants each country the right to choose its own friends and states to which it opens its markets. Choosing to ban Saudi Arabia’s al-Marai dairy company from selling its products in Doha, or stopping share trading of Qatari companies in the UAE stock market, and closing Bahraini airspace in the face of Qatar Airways are matters that concern those states.
For over 50 years, US boycotted Cuba, less than 100 miles away from Florida. Given the different circumstances, because unlike poor Cuba, Doha has easily enough income to feed the entire population of India, So, what is the problem if the quartet treated Qatar the same way US did with Cuba?
In order to attract media attention, Qatar has been repeating the story that there was an intention to invade it, topple its Emir and install an alternative ruler. Qatari delegations made these accusations that appealed to each country they visited and thanked the leaderships for their "support."
Iranian officials went as far to claim, in an official statement, that their country prevented an imminent invasion of Qatar. The Qataris went on to repeat the same narrative in Turkey, and thus Turkish officials declared they were the ones who prevented the invasion.
In Washington, Qatar's Defense Minister said that, had it not been for the US, Saudi and Emirati troops would have invaded his country. US officials, in turn, said they had heard about military preparations against Qatar. Surely we can't forget that the first statement in this regard came from the Emir of Kuwait, who claimed early in September: “We succeeded in stopping the military intervention.”
Obviously, Qatari officials have been repeating the same narrative, with some modifications that suit all the governments they visit, in order to involve them in the crisis and grant each one the alleged role of heroism.
There were never any attempt to invade Qatar or any intention to do so; not out of respect for the leadership of Doha, but because these governments are fully aware of the dangers of invasion and regime change by force. Saddam Hussein’s invasion of Kuwait comes to mind.
Largest US military base in the region is in Qatar, so who would be so adventurous as to take such a risk? Qatar always exaggerates every issue.
It is possible that Qatar deliberately spread such rumors to disturb the already scared officials terrified of possible outcomes to their hostile actions against neighboring countries, and their 20-year efforts to support any external or internal threats against them. Both Saudi Arabia and UAE won't consider an invasion to discipline Doha. It is enough for them to boycott it, ignore, and continue without it. However, like attention-seeking children, officials in Doha cannot tolerate being ignored or boycotted, although they will have to get used to it.
In the end, while Qatar is wasting its money trying to convince the super powers to intervene and reach a reconciliation, we tell the Doha regime: it's time you realize there is no compulsion in love.

Ten Observations on the Margins of the Arab Crises
Ahmed Abul Gheit/Asharq Al Awsat/February 06/18
The Arab citizen is right to feel wary of the new year and what it holds in store for our countries. He is right due to the mounting dangers of crises, rising tensions in rivalries and establishment of popular currents that are reforming politics in many influential countries.
Amid all this, we find the Arab world in the position of defending its existence and vulnerable to threats to its interests and very identity. This was recently demonstrated in the crisis created by the American administration after it recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. This sparked real concerns among the Arab people over the fate of one of the most fundamental issues that define the Arab identity.
The Arab crises have become so severe and so numerous that the people have grown accustomed to them and they are now seen as a norm in the region. This is a very dangerous situation where the belief is that those in power are steering the crises, not resolving them, and that the people should grow used to this reality instead of tackling the roots of the problems. Managing the crisis is not a sufficient strategy to extinguish the raging fires. If we do not take immediate action to douse them, then they will spread to their surroundings and to new farther regions.
It is not my intention in this article to list the dangerous crises in the Arab world and detail their developments. I am here to present the concerned Arab reader with ten observations on the margins of these crises. I noted them through witnessing various joint Arab meetings over the past year. I will list them below, hoping that it would prompt the readers to engage in an open dialogue:
One: Though they may seem unconnected geographically, the Arab crises are similar in their nature, have the same players and are united by common factors. The majority of these crises are a direct result of “strategic vacuum” that emerged in the aftermath of the 2011 developments. These events led to a number of dangerous conflicts that weakened and toppled governments, political entities and security systems that used to control a massive number of people and large areas of lands.
The conclusion was the emergence of a dangerous vacuum on the security and political scenes in the heart of the Arab world and its margins. This vacuum is at the core of current regional conflicts because politics cannot tolerate vacuum and security cannot exist without a ruling authority.
The race to fill this strategic void gave the opportunity for regional, neighboring and international powers to clash over establishing a foothold in the area. This gave free rein for ambitions to redraw the region and reap “rewards.”
Two: The 2011 cataclysm took place at a time when the Arab system was not at its best. In fact, – and there is no better way to describe it – it was divided on itself and between various rival fronts. The conflicts that erupted after 2011 widened the divide and developed into proxy and armed conflicts involving many parties from within and beyond the region. The conflicts have become so complex that it is difficult to ascertain the interests of each player. This situation could have destroyed the Arab world had the Arab policies continued in their state of fragmentation.
Three: The Arabs have not stood idly by and observed the chaos. Instead several Arab people and leaderships realized the need to regain the initiative and form an Arab front to confront the most dangerous challenges facing the national state. An agreement gradually began to emerge between the main Arab countries on how to label the danger and identify its threat. This, in my opinion, was the real starting point for resolving this crisis.
The Arab countries realized that the danger was not directed against the interests of this country or that, but it was directed against the very concept of the modern national state. The threat, therefore is comprehensive and dangerous in its scope. Confronting it requires a united plan of action and coordination between Arab countries.
It has become clear in the Arab world to witness those who are loyal to the national state and those who oppose and do not recognize it. These sides instead are loyal to the rivals of the state and hide behind “religious politics” or “politicizing religion”. They also do not hesitate to mix political practices with violence. This image became clearer after 2014 amid the unprecedented emergence of terrorist groups that was embodied in ISIS’ success in controlling vast territories in the region. This situation, despite its catastrophe, helped unify the vision between the vast majority of Arab countries over their common fate.
Four: Despite this consensus among the main Arab countries in determining common threats, and despite the success in confronting some of these dangers, starting with ISIS, I can say that a “united strategy” in dealing with them is still absent. A clear agenda that unites all Arab countries is still unavailable. For example, we do not have what we can call an “Arab policy on the Syrian crisis.” Yes, there are resolutions issued by the Arab League that define the unanimous Arab position on this crisis, but a “strategic plan of action” is still missing. There are, unfortunately, Iranian, Turkish and Russian strategies on Syria, but not an Arab one. This can also be applied to Libya in that there are collective efforts exerted by countries to tackle the chaos there, but no collective Arab action to unify them.
Five: This unfortunate situation has therefore resulted in the lack of any serious collective and comprehensive discussions of strategic Arab issues. There are dangers that are being confronted by each state or by a number of states. These threats are dealt with individually and often as a reaction and not through an initiative. For example, an Arab capital may come under some threat and then the Arab League would be called to convene to issue a resolution on the matter. Such action, even though it is important, does not act as a comprehensive strategy to confront threats.
Six: The national Arab security is still being dealt with as a file from among many others. There is the file of combating terrorism, another on the ongoing Israeli occupation, a third on the Iranian threat, a fourth on Turkey’s ambitions, others on refugees…. This current approach of dividing files and issues impedes the possibility of collecting a united Arab force to effectively deal with any of these dangerous and pressing files. Instead, each Arab country or group of Arab countries are left to deal with what they perceive as a direct threat to it or their security, existence and interests.
National Arab security, from what I understand, is a single comprehensive file that includes several issues that should be dealt in connection to each other and not in increments. A mechanism should be reached that allows for frank discussions between Arab countries to set an agenda of priorities of Arab national security. Seven: Regional adversaries are exploiting this situation in their interest and they are taking advantage of the flaws in the Arab body. Tackling this interference and these threats as a single file is the only way I see to effectively confront this meddling.
Moreover, the threat to Riyadh from Iranian-made rockets provided to the Houthis is in fact a threat against all Arab capitals, from as far away as Muscat to Rabat. Arab forces should be mobilized to confront this threat so that a clear message is delivered to adversaries that they are not facing a country or two, but a massive human, economic and military bloc. For example, when a state such as Egypt, whose population makes up a third of the Arab people, has its water security threatened, then this issue should be addressed due to the major social and economic repercussions it may have. This threat is viewed as regional one and it should be dealt with as such.
Discussing all issues in this comprehensive and interlinked way is the only way that will allow each Arab side to frankly voice its concerns and, more importantly, specify what it expects from others. The best way to conduct this frank discussion is through the Arab League, which today is the only available way to achieve consensus and later united Arab action over any issue or cause. It is still the most capable organization to host such a discussion and work on developing and translating it into a work plan and strategy.
Eight: The effective way to deal with the regional threats and spiteful agendas against the Arab world, lies in filling the loopholes that the opponents have escaped through. Cementing national countries and resolving conflicts and internal clashes represent the best strategy to confront regional meddling that has found a place for itself in this mess.
Nine: The Arab scene is not completely ruined by destruction. There are some signs here and there that there is a will among several leaderships and peoples to end this “crisis of civilization”. For example, I will highlight the great efforts undertaken by the Gulf, Egypt and Maghreb to radically “change the social-economic situation”. These efforts reflect a major desire to defy challenges and problems and join the current age. They are also focused on a fundamental truth that half of the Arab population is less than 24 years old, meaning we are living our future today. We should not deal with the present as an extension of the past, but it should be a short bridge to a future that is rapidly taking shape before our eyes.
While I do acknowledge the development efforts, I can honestly say that they will remain vulnerable to failure if we cannot provide the stable regional environment that will enable them to continue on growing. This is what I call “fortifying growth” and it cannot be possible without a collective security strategy that provides security to everyone. This will consequently defeat terrorism, eliminate extremism and reform the predominant culture of societies.
Ten: Coordinating Arab stances and reorganizing the Arab internal scene are no longer ideological visions or theoretical political ideas, but they are facts that impose themselves on the ground and challenges on the agenda of Arab work. It is my deep conviction that Arab countries are all in one boat: They either all reach the harbor of safety or, God forbid, they will lose their way together.
Arabism today is not a sentimental slogan, but a political and strategic necessity. It is the only idea that can unite all defenders of the national state in confronting terrorist groups, saboteurs, secessionists and advocates of sectarianism. Arabism in its new modern look is open and accepting of diversity without the need to eliminate the other. It is the way to pull back together what has been fragmented and restore what has been lost. The rule of law, ensuring equal opportunities and respecting different identities within a modern state – a state for all of its citizens – are fortifications that protect the state itself from the dangers of fragmentation and chaos.
Finally, I say that frank dialogue between Arab countries on the crises and threats, whether internal, regional or international, is the only way to form a united and firm stance that would lead the Arabs to a position of power against their adversaries – and how many they are. This will enable them to confront threats that do not jeopardize the state itself, but the entire Arab entity and its common identity, starting with the recent danger against the Palestinian cause and the city of Jerusalem. These blatant attempts to eliminate the cause should be a warning bell to all sides and it demands that we mobilize all of our energies in collective work.
Amid all of these dangerous challenges, I have never lost the hope that the Arab world will be able to treat its wounds, pull itself back together and catch up with this age. The darkest days are always followed by the rising dawn.