February 08/2018
Compiled & Prepared by: Elias Bejjani


The Bulletin's Link on the lccc Site 


News Bulletin Achieves Since 2006
Click Here to enter the LCCC Arabic/English news bulletins Achieves since 2006


Bible Quotations
If you bite and devour each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other
Galatians 05/13-26: " You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love. For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” If you bite and devour each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other. What I say is this: let the Spirit direct your lives, and you will not satisfy the desires of the human nature. For what our human nature wants is opposed to what the Spirit wants, and what the Spirit wants is opposed to what our human nature wants. These two are enemies, and this means that you cannot do what you want to do. If the Spirit leads you, then you are not subject to the Law. What human nature does is quite plain. It shows itself in immoral, filthy, and indecent actions; in worship of idols and witchcraft. People become enemies and they fight; they become jealous, angry, and ambitious. They separate into parties and groups; they are envious, get drunk, have orgies, and do other things like these. I warn you now as I have before: those who do these things will not possess the Kingdom of God. But the Spirit produces love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, humility, and self-control. There is no law against such things as these. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have put to death their human nature with all its passions and desires. The Spirit has given us life; he must also control our lives. We must not be proud or irritate one another or be jealous of one another.

Titles For Latest LCCC Bulletin analysis & editorials from miscellaneous sources published on February 07-08/18
Lebanon Elections: Zahle Tripartite Alliance in the Making/Beirut - Paula Astih/Asharq Al Awsat/February 07/18
Hezbollah contains its Christian ally and keeps Lebanon under control/Diana Moukalled/Arab News/February 07/ 2018
On the state of shock for Christians in Lebanon/Ali Al-Amin/Al Arabiya/February 07/18
10 Things to Read to Understand America/Noah Smith/Asharq Al Awsat/February 07/18
Saudi Arabia Denies Report of Historic Approval of Flights to Israel Using Its Airspace/Anshel Pfeffer and Rina Rozenberg Kandel/Haaretz/February 07/18
Explained The Real Reason Behind the UAE-Qatar Crisis and How It Benefits Iran at the Expense of the U.S./Haaretz and Reuters/February 07/18
Death of Democracy? - Part I/Denis MacEoin/Gatestone Institute/February 07/2018
Rod Rosenstein Should Not Be Fired, but Should He Be Recused/Alan M. Dershowitz/Gatestone Institute/February 07/2018
Victory is impossible in the wars of the Middle East/Raghida Dergham/February 7, 2018
Ten observations on the margins of the Arab crises/Ahmed Abul Gheit/Al Arabiya/February 07/18

Titles For Latest LCCC Lebanese Related News published on February 07-08/18
Tenenti: Israel has already begun to carry out works south of Blue Line
Aoun meets IMF delegation: Cabinet shall soon study 2018 state budget draft
Reports: Tillerson to Visit Lebanon Soon
Higher Defense Council Instructs LAF to Confront Any Israeli Border Violation
Israel Begins Constructing Controversial Wall on Lebanon Border
Officials Start Signing Decree Merging Officers Seniority Decree with Promotions
Lebanon, Russia to Sign Military Cooperation Treaty
Cabinet to Resume Its Sessions on Thursday
Shorter Announces 'Rebecca Dykes Chevening Scholarship' at Beirut Ceremony
U.S. Attorneys Rest in Case of Lebanese Man Murder
Liberia's former president arrives in Beirut
Clash in Ain el-Hilweh develops into shooting
Body of late Singer Nuhad Tarabay arrives in Beirut
Riachy visits GLC: I will not yield efficiency in favor of quotas in Tele Liban file
In memory of Rebecca: The Rebecca Dykes Chevening Scholarship and Fund
Public institutions to close on February 14 in commemoration of Prime Minister Hariri
Jumblatt, Satterfield review local, regional developments
Minister of Finance meets IMF delegation
Lebanon Elections: Zahle Tripartite Alliance in the Making
'Losing Opportunities', Lebanon Campaigns for More Women in Parliament
Hezbollah contains its Christian ally and keeps Lebanon under control
On the state of shock for Christians in Lebanon/Ali Al-Amin/Al Arabiya

Titles For Latest LCCC Bulletin For Miscellaneous Reports And News published on February 07-08/18
Israeli Jets Use Lebanese Airspace to Attack Syrian Position
Syria: More Deaths in Air Strikes on Eastern Ghouta
Cairo to Ankara: We Will Confront Any Attempt to Violate our Mediterranean Sovereignty
Moroccan FBI Dismantles 49 Terrorist Cells
Egypt’s Interior Minister Calls for Concerted Arab Efforts to Confront Terrorist Organizations
UAE, Egypt Jointly Call for Facing Interference in Arab Countries’ Affairs
Paris Says 'All Indications' Syria Using Chlorine Weapons
Syria Says Intercepted Israeli Strikes from Lebanon Airspace
Death Toll Soars as Syria Regime Pounds Rebel Enclave
Pence Announces 'Toughest' U.S. Sanctions on North Korea
Latest Lebanese Related News published on February 07-08/18
Tenenti: Israel has already begun to carry out works south of Blue Line
Wed 07 Feb 2018/NNA - UNIFIL Official Spokesperson, Andrea Tenenti, on Wednesday announced in a statement that the Israeli side has already begun to carry out works south of the Blue Line. "We are in contact with the parties on both sides of the border to resolve this issue and prevent any tension or escalation," Tenenti said.

Aoun meets IMF delegation: Cabinet shall soon study 2018 state budget draft
Wed 07 Feb 2018/NNA - President of the Republic, General Michel Aoun, informed a delegation of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) that the Cabinet shall soon begin studying the 2018 state budget draft law, in preparation for its approval and referral to the Parliament.
President Aoun received on Wednesday morning at the Baabda palace the IMF delegation, under the chairmanship of Christopher Garvis, whereby he stressed that the state budget shall be in harmony with the current economic circumstances in the country. Aoun also pointed out that Lebanon shall attend the Paris Conference with a working paper that notes a series of investment projects, in conjunction with planned measures to be adopted to strengthen the state's financial resources, reduce expenses and abolish unnecessary expenditures. The President thanked the IMF mission for its assistance to Lebanon, stressing that mainstreaming mechanization through a strategy to be announced shortly, helps to combat corruption and bribery, increases the level of administrative performance and increases state resources. Garvis, for his part, reiterated the IMF's interest in the financial and administrative reforms currently undertaken in Lebanon, voicing the Fund's readiness to assist Lebanon in the completion of the economic development process.

Reports: Tillerson to Visit Lebanon Soon
Naharnet/February 07/18/U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson will soon visit Lebanon and his talks with Lebanese leaders will tackle the upcoming parliamentary elections, media reports said. Acting Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs David Satterfield is already in Lebanon for meetings with Lebanese officials. He arrived in Beirut on Tuesday. According to al-Akhbar newspaper, Tillerson will arrived in Lebanon in mid-February on a one-day visit during which he will meet with President Michel Aoun, Speaker Nabih Berri, Prime Minister Saad Hariri and Foreign Minister Jebran Bassil. The daily noted that the agenda of Satterfield's visit is not linked to that of Tillerson. “Tillerson's visit to Beirut is part of a regional tour that involves Egypt, Jordan and Turkey. He will also participate in a ministerial meeting for the international anti-terror coalition in the Kuwaiti capital on February 13,” al-Akhbar said. It quoted Beirut-based Western diplomatic sources as saying that the U.S. top diplomat's visit will focus on the upcoming parliamentary polls. “The regional files will also be part of Tillerson's agenda, in addition to the topics that were discussed during Hariri's last visit to the U.S. capital and the preparations for the Paris, Brussles and Rome conferences,” the sources added. As for Satterfield's visit, the sources said the U.S. official will focus on “the issue of demarcating the maritime border between Lebanon and the Israeli enemy and will attempt to contain the latest tensions between the Lebanese and Israeli sides over the occupation forces' construction of a border wall.” Satterfield's talks will also tackle Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman's latest threats over the offshore gas block dubbed Block 9.

Higher Defense Council Instructs LAF to Confront Any Israeli Border Violation
Naharnet/February 07/18/The Higher Defense Council convened Wednesday at the Baabda Palace and instructed the Lebanese Armed Forces to confront any Israeli territorial or maritime border violations. “The Council's meeting was dedicated to discussing the issue of the so-called cement wall off the southern border and within Lebanese territory, in addition to the claims that were launched by Israel's defense minister about the ownership of Block 9 within the territorial waters that are under Lebanese judicial sovereignty,” a statement issued after the meeting said. “Following discussions, it turned out that this wall, should it be constructed, will be considered an encroachment on Lebanese territory and will represent a blatant violation of U.N. Security Council Resolution 1701,” the statement added. “Israel is also encroaching on 860 square kilometers of the Exclusive Economic Zone” in Lebanon's territorial waters, the statement said. “Accordingly, and after deliberations, it was decided to continue the efforts at various regional and international levels to preserve Lebanon's rights. The Higher Defense Council has given instructions to confront these violations and prevent Israel from building a so-called wall of separation on Lebanese soil,” the statement said. The conferees also rejected “the Israeli statements and claims related to the oil and gas resources in Lebanese territorial waters.”The meeting was presided over by President Michel Aoun and attended by Prime Minister Saad Hariri; the ministers of defense, foreign affairs, finance, interior and economy; and the chiefs of the army and security agencies. The statement by the Higher Defense Council comes amid escalating tensions between Lebanon and Israel, who are technically at war. At the heart of the current dispute is a new oil and gas exploration deal on the countries' maritime borders. Israel contests Lebanon's rights to Block 9. Meanwhile, Lebanon is protesting a controversial wall that Israel is planning to build along its southern border. Lebanon says it would encroach on its territory.

Israel Begins Constructing Controversial Wall on Lebanon Border
Associated Press/Naharnet/February 07/18/Israel on Wednesday started constructing a controversial wall along its border with Lebanon, a barrier that Lebanon says would encroach on its territory.
Andrea Tenenti, spokesperson for the United Nations peacekeeping force in Lebanon known as UNIFIL, confirmed the beginning of works in the Naqoura area and said the force is "fully engaged with both parties in order to find common solutions.""Any work that is conducted along the Blue Line should be predictable and also coordinated with UNIFIL in order to prevent misunderstanding and decrease tension," he told The Associated Press in an interview at the UNIFIL base in Naqoura. Lebanese and Israeli military officials had on Monday attended regular U.N.-sponsored talks on the border. Tenenti said both parties demonstrated their commitment to preserve stability. Israel has in recent days escalated its threats against Lebanon over Lebanon's invitation for offshore gas exploration bids on the maritime border between Lebanon and Israel. Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman has described as "very provocative" Lebanon's exploration tender and suggested that Lebanon had put out invitations for bids from international groups for a gas field "which is by all accounts ours." His comments drew sharp condemnation from Hizbullah and Lebanese officials, including Prime Minister Saad Hariri, who described Lieberman's comments as a "blatant provocation that Lebanon rejects."Israel and Hizbullah fought a devastating month-long war in 2006. Earlier on Wednesday, Lebanon's Higher Defense Council instructed the country's military to confront Israel if it goes ahead with plans to build the controversial border wall, labeling it as an "aggression" against Lebanese sovereignty.

Officials Start Signing Decree Merging Officers Seniority Decree with Promotions
Naharnet/February 07/18/Officials on Wednesday started signing a new decree merging the disputed officers seniority decree with the stalled promotions decree, TV networks said. “As part of the solution that was agreed on in yesterday's tripartite meeting at the Baabda Palace, the promotions and the seniority decrees have been combined and the relevant officials have started signing the new decree,” LBCI television reported. It said the new decree will carry the signatures of President Michel Aoun, Prime Minister Saad Hariri, Finance Minister Ali Hassan Khalil and Defense Minister Yaacoub Sarraf. MTV confirmed that Khalil has signed the decree. The seniority decree grants one-year seniority to a number of officers. Speaker Nabih Berri was infuriated after it was signed by Aoun, Hariri and Sarraf without being referred to the finance minister to place his own signature on it. Berri and Khalil had insisted that the decree should have also carried the finance minister's signature. Aoun and his aides argued that the decree did not require Khalil's signature because it did not entail any “financial burden,” a point Berri and officials close to him had argued against. The officers in question were undergoing their first year of officer training at the Military Academy when Syrian forces ousted Aoun's military government from Baabda in 1990. They were suspended by the pro-Damascus authorities until 1993 before they resumed their officer training course as second-year cadets.

Lebanon, Russia to Sign Military Cooperation Treaty
Naharnet/February 07/18/Lebanon and Russia are preparing to sign a military cooperation treaty that involves a “comprehensive framework for coordination” and “joint activities” between the armies of the two countries, media reports said. An official Russian government website for documents and information has published a government decree authorizing the Russian Defense Ministry to conduct “necessary talks with the relevant Lebanese authorities to draft a final format of the treaty.” According to the decree, the treaty involves “exchanging information on defense means and enhancing international security capabilities; activating anti-terror cooperation; improving joint cooperation in the fields of cadre training, military exercises and armed forces building; exchanging IT expertise; and establishing mechanisms for cooperation between the two countries' armies in the various military fields.”

Cabinet to Resume Its Sessions on Thursday

Naharnet/February 07/18/The Cabinet will resume its sessions on Thursday with an agenda containing 93 items most of them ordinary, media reports said. “The Cabinet will issue a stance on the files of Israel's border wall and its ownership claim regarding Block 9,” ministerial sources told al-Joumhouria newspaper in remarks published Wednesday, referring to an offshore gas block in which Lebanon intends to launch exploration and drilling operations. “It will underline that it is part of Lebanon's Exclusive Economic Zone and not Israel's,” the sources added. The Cabinet will also tackle suspending Article 84 of the electoral law which stipulates the use of magnetic voting cards in the May parliamentary elections. “The measure is aimed at preventing any constitutional appeal that could be filed” against the results of the polls. The Cabinet did not meet last week due to Prime Minister Saad Hariri's visit to Turkey and amid skyrocketing political tensions between the Free Patriotic Movement and the AMAL Movement that escalated into three days of unrest and street protests. The Cabinet session will come two days after a reconciliatory Baabda meeting in which President Michel Aoun, Speaker Nabih Berri and Prime Minister Saad Hariri agreed to turn the page on disputes and reactivate the work of state institutions.

Shorter Announces 'Rebecca Dykes Chevening Scholarship' at Beirut Ceremony
Naharnet/February 07/18/In memory of Rebecca Dykes, the slain UK Embassy employee, a commemoration ceremony was held Wednesday at the Mar Elias Church in Beirut's Kantari area. The service was attended by British Ambassador to Lebanon Hugo Shorter, embassy staff and Rebecca's family. Also present were Minister of State for Women's Affairs Jean Oghassabian representing President Michel Aoun and Prime Minister Saad Hariri, MP Yassine Jaber representing Speaker Nabih Berri, Brig. Gen. Omar Murad representing Army chief General Joseph Aoun and Defense Minister Yaacoub Sarraf, Col. Imad Dimashkiyeh representing General Security chief Maj. Gen. Abbas Ibrahim, General Elias Toubaji representing ISF chief Maj. Gen. Imad Othman, in addition to ambassadors, ministers, embassy friends, and partner organizations with which Rebecca worked during her time in Lebanon. Guests were welcomed by the Archbishop of Beirut Boulos Matar, representing Maronite Patriarch Bechara al-Rahi. The order of service included a tribute to Rebecca’s life, her work in Lebanon, the values she lived for and testimonials from friends and partner organizations. Ambassador Shorter also spoke about the Rebecca Dykes fund and announced 'The Rebecca Dykes Chevening Scholarship' that will be granted each year to a female Lebanese or Palestinian residing in Lebanon to pursue her Masters Degree in the UK in subject areas related to Gender Studies, Peace and Conflict Studies, Development and Human Rights and Refugee and Migration Studies. For her legacy to be made known to others working in the humanitarian field, Rebecca's family hopes to raise sufficient funds to establish the Rebecca Dykes Foundation, which will focus on humanitarian and stabilization work for refugees and other vulnerable communities, with a particular emphasis on female empowerment and the prevention of violence against women. For donations, you can visit Rebecca's JustGiving page:

U.S. Attorneys Rest in Case of Lebanese Man Murder

Associated Press/Naharnet/February 07/18/The jury hearing the case of an Oklahoma man charged with first-degree murder and a hate crime in the killing of his Lebanese neighbor has been dismissed after attorneys trying the 2016 case rested. A judge sent jurors home for the day in the Stanley Majors trial, clearing the way for closing arguments on Wednesday, when the jury is also expected to get the case. Majors is on trial in Tulsa district court for the fatal shooting of Khalid Jabara, 37, and has pleaded not guilty to the charges.
Prosecutors said Majors, 63, was motivated by hatred and jealousy and bombarded Jabara and his family for years with racial epithets before the 2016 slaying. His taunts included calling the Jabaras Muslim when they are Christian. Defense attorneys tried to show Majors was mentally ill at the time of the shooting. His lawyers on Monday brought a psychiatrist who testified that Majors was unable to fully understand or appreciate his actions when he shot Jabara. Majors' attorneys also argued that he believed Jabara's family targeted him because he's gay. Majors' conflict with the Jabara family also put him at odds with his late husband, Stephen Schmauss, who came to befriend Jabara and thought of him as an apprentice, teaching him how to use power tools and computer circuitry. Schmauss told The Associated Press in a 2016 interview that his husband was "textbook bipolar" and a diabetic who refused to take any medication. Schmauss insisted that anything Majors said to the Jabara family was "done under the bipolar situation."

Liberia's former president arrives in Beirut
Wed 07 Feb 2018/NNA - Liberia's former president Ellen Johnson Sirleaf on Wednesday evening arrived at Beirut Rafic Hariri International Airport, on top of a delegation, where she will meet with Lebanese officials. Greeting her at the Airport had been Diplomats Ziad Riachi and Lama Murad of the Lebanese Foreign and Expatriates Ministry. During her visit to Lebanon, Sirleaf will meet with Foreign and Expatriates Minister Jibran Bassil and other officials. The Liberian former president will also tour a number of Lebanese areas.

Clash in Ain el-Hilweh develops into shooting

Wed 07 Feb 2018/NNA – An NNA correspondent reported hearing gunfire inside the Ain al-Hilweh camp following the escalation of a clash into exchanged shooting. The Palestinian Joint Force is working to contain it.

Body of late Singer Nuhad Tarabay arrives in Beirut
Wed 07 Feb 2018/NNA - The body of the late Lebanese singer Nouhad Tarabay, who passed away in the French capital, Paris, arrived Wednesday evening to Beirut’s International Rafic Hariri airport.
The renowned Singer and Composer Nouhad Tarabay died of a heart attack in Paris on Jan. 26. Scores of cultural, artistic and media dignitaries poured into the Airport's VIP lounge to welcome the arrival of the deceased singer's body. Tarabay will be laid to rest in his hometown Sawfar upcoming Friday.

Riachy visits GLC: I will not yield efficiency in favor of quotas in Tele Liban file
Wed 07 Feb 2018/NNA - Information Minister Melhem Riachy visited the headquarters of the General Labor Confederation and held a meeting with GLC President, Beshara Asmar, and members of the Executive Council. "We are in favor of any real project to fight corruption," assured Minister Riachy, echoing the calls of workers, the General Labor Confederation and all the needy and poor. "We are unyieldingly pushing at the cabinet in favor of restoring your rights. (...) What is even more serious than corruption is not believing that we have the possibility of building a real state." he said.
"When we change our way of thinking, then we can build the country and protect the Taif agreement which brought us together, and move to the Third Republic; the real Republic of Lebanon and the State in every sense of the word.""The transition to the third republic under the ceiling of the Taif Agreement is natural and necessary, and the role of the GLC is fundamental and strategic in this transition. (...) We will stand by your side in terms of fighting foreign labor and calling upon public institutions to carry out their tasks properly," Riachy went on to say,, calling for a memorandum of understanding with the Ministry of Information to put official outlets - such as the state media - at the disposal of the General Labor Confederation. Asked about Tele Liban, the minister said "it was said that the exam is against the norm and that Tele Liban is a private company, and here I confirm that this idea is wrong. According to the decision of the Civil Service Council, Tele Liban is a company owned by the Lebanese State and represented by the Ministry of Information and the Minister of Information. Thus the TV is subject to the mechanism that we saw fit, which is the exam." "The three names that have been selected are now suspended at the cabinet for reasons beyond logic and out of the television framework," he argued, calling upon the president and the prime minister to put Tele Liban's dossier on the agenda of the cabinet so as to approve a new board of directors. "I will not back down on efficiency in favor of quotas in Tele Liban," Riachy assured. "We stand against the prevailing chaos and we are determined to build the Third Republic in Lebanon the way we deem fit," he concluded. Asked about linking the National News Agency file to the Tele Liban case, the Minister said the NNA is second category and does not require a cabinet decision. I am asked to accept the swap between Tele Liban and the National News Agency. I will not agree on such a swap."

In memory of Rebecca: The Rebecca Dykes Chevening Scholarship and Fund

Wed 07 Feb 2018/ NNA - In loving memory of Rebecca Dykes, a commemoration ceremony was held at Mar Elias Church - Kantari. The service was attended by British Ambassador Hugo Shorter, embassy staff and Rebecca's family. Also present were Minister of State for Women Affairs Jean Ogassapian representing President General Michel Aoun and Prime Minister Saad Hariri, MP Yassine Jaber representing Speaker of Parliament Nabih Berri, Brigadier General Omar Murad representing Lebanese Army Commander General Joseph Aoun and Minister of Defense Yacoub Sarraf, Colonel Imad Dimashkiyeh representing Surete General Director General Major General Abbas Ibrahim, General Elias Toubaji representing ISF Director General Brigadier General Imad Osman, in addition to ambassadors, ministers, embassy friends, and partner organisations who Rebecca worked with during her time in Lebanon. Guests were welcomed by the Archbishop of Beirut Bishop Boulos Matar, representing Maronite Patriarch Bechara El Rai. The order of service included a tribute to Rebecca’s life, her work in Lebanon, the values she lived for and testimonials from friends and partner organisations. Ambassador Shorter also spoke about the Rebecca Dykes fund and announced 'The Rebecca Dykes Chevening Scholarship' that will be granted each year to a female Lebanese or Palestinian residing in Lebanon to pursue her Masters Degree in the UK in subject areas related to Gender Studies, Peace and Conflict Studies, Development and Human Rights and Refugee and Migration Studies. For her legacy to be made known to others working in the humanitarian field, Rebecca's family hopes to raise sufficient funds to establish the Rebecca Dykes Foundation, which will focus on humanitarian and stabilisation work for refugees and other vulnerable communities, with a particular emphasis on female empowerment and the prevention of violence against women. -- Press release

Public institutions to close on February 14 in commemoration of Prime Minister Hariri
Wed 07 Feb 2018/NNA - Prime Minister Saad Hariri issued a memorandum bearing the number 7/2018 and ordered the closure of all public administrations, public institutions, municipalities and public and private educational institutions on Wednesday 14/2/2018 on the 13th commemoration of the martyrdom of Prime Minister Rafic Hariri and his companions.

Jumblatt, Satterfield review local, regional developments

Wed 07 Feb 2018/NNA - Democratic Gathering leader, MP Walid Jumblatt, met with Deputy Assistant Secretary of State David Satterfield, accompanied by US Ambassador to Lebanon Elizabeth Richard, in the presence of Minister of Education Marwan Hamadeh.
The meeting reviewed the latest political developments in Lebanon and the region.

Minister of Finance meets IMF delegation
Wed 07 Feb 2018/NNA - Minister of Finance, Ali Hassan Khalil, met with a delegation of the International Monetary Fund under the chairmanship of Christopher Garvis, with talks touching on issues of common interest between Lebanon and the Fund, including the fourth article related to the finances of cooperating countries. Garvis stressed "the importance of approving the budget as soon as possible, and the need for public reforms, especially on the issue of electricity and the need to involve the private sector in state projects."
Minister Khalil presented to the delegation the tax improvements and reforms included in the budget of 2018, expressing "optimism over the adoption of this budget as soon as possible."

Lebanon Elections: Zahle Tripartite Alliance in the Making
Beirut - Paula Astih/Asharq Al Awsat/February 07/18
/Most of Lebanon’s political parties have not yet announced their electoral alliances and candidates for the upcoming parliamentary elections in May, although the Interior Ministry had on Monday said that candidates could now officially submit their candidacies. Observers believe that political blocs have left doors open to all possibilities in search for options that would enable them to garner the largest number of parliamentary seats. The electoral battle in the town of Zahle, in the Bekaa governorate, has a special significance given the sectarian and confessional diversity of its residents. The results of the last elections in 2009 constituted a big shock to the March 8 forces, which were expecting a victory that ended with a dramatic loss after the rival March 14 camp won the city’s seven parliamentary seats. There are 172,555 voters in Zahle, distributed between Sunnis, Shi’ites, Maronites and Armenians, but the Catholics have a major presence, with 32,295 voters. According to the latest available data, the Free Patriotic Movement (FPM), founded by President Michel Aoun, will forge an alliance with the Future Movement, a union that will also be seen in most of the electoral districts. Sources in the FPM told Asharq Al-Awsat that a tripartite alliance would likely be reached in the city, combining Aoun’s movement, the Future and Lebanese Forces (LF), pointing out that the agreement with the LF in Zahle was easier than some people might think. “Ongoing consultations between us are focusing on the means to establish an electoral alliance in Lebanon as a whole, with the possibility of separation in a number of constituencies, provided that the number of districts, which unite us on the same list, is greater than that of districts where we fight the electoral battle alone,” the sources told Asharq Al-Awsat. The seven electoral seats are distributed as follows: two Catholic seats, one Armenian Orthodox, one Greek Orthodox, one Maronite, one Sunni and one Shi’ite seat. Electoral expert Antoine Mukheiber told Asharq Al-Awsat that he expected that the Future Movement would be capable of winning two seats in the city, one Sunni and another Christian. The Shi’ite “Hezbollah” and Amal Movement duo would probably win the single Shi’ite seat, according to Mukheiber, but would be able to take two parliamentary seats if it allied with MP Nicolas Fattoush or General Manager of Zahle Electricity Company Asaad Nakad. As for the FPM, he noted that it would likely win only the Maronite seat, just like the LF and Popular Bloc, ruling out the possibility for the Kataeb Party and civil society groups to achieve any significant breach.
'Losing Opportunities', Lebanon Campaigns for More Women in Parliament
Asharq Al Awsat/February 07/18/In a country where women occupy only three percent of the parliament seats, Lebanon's first women's affairs minister - a man - is supporting a campaign to attract more female politicians. The government's decision to appoint him as women's minister in 2016 attracted some criticism. But Jean Oghassabian said the responsibility to support gender equality is not limited to a woman. His ministry, along with the United Nations and European Union, is behind a campaign to encourage more women to run for Lebanon's first legislative election in nearly a decade, which is scheduled for May 6. Since the beginning of the year, billboards and television advertisements have carried the slogan "Half the society, half the parliament". Currently, only four women sit in the 128-seat parliament. "The legal institution in Lebanon, mainly the parliament and the government are losing half of the human power in Lebanon," Oghassabian told the Thomson Reuters Foundation at his office in Beirut. "So for me it is not a question of numbers, it is a question of potential, we are losing opportunities," he said. Women could bring a new approach to legal, social and economic issues, he added.Oghassabian said there is a "huge responsibility and role to play for men because they are the main obstacles" to women's participation in politics, which is often due to sexist attitudes. Victoria El-Khoury Zwein, a potential candidate with a new party called "Sabaa", meaning seven in Arabic, agreed that a "patriarchal society" is holding Lebanon back. Parties have no political will to involve women, as they see them in stereotypical roles connected only to family, she said. "I don't know if the campaign will change the results, but I hope it changes the perception of women," said Zwein. She recommended that Lebanon reserve 33 percent of parliamentary seats for women. Last year the country passed a new electoral law, but with no quota for women's representation in parliament. Other countries have incorporated women's participation into electoral law. For example, Jordan reserves 15 seats for women in parliament. Zwein said it is "frustrating" to see other countries like Algeria, Morocco and Tunisia succeed in having more female participation in politics while Lebanon is behind. "The role of women in parliament will positively affect women's rights, but it will not be limited to just that," she said. "All issues in the country are women's issues."

Hezbollah contains its Christian ally and keeps Lebanon under control
Diana Moukalled/Arab News/February 07/ 2018
Lebanon has managed to overcome a verbal clash between its Minister of Foreign Affairs Gebran Bassil, who is supported by his father-in-law and President Michel Aoun, and the Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri, who is backed by Hezbollah. The clash started when Bassil described Berri as a “bully” in a video that was leaked last week, triggering a mini street war.
In two days of partisan and media incitement, people spilled out on to the streets and showed the extent to which the alliance between the Amal Movement and Hezbollah on one side and Aoun’s Christian Free Patriotic Movement on the other side is abnormal in the Lebanese context.
The hysteria mobilized youngsters from the Amal Movement to take to the streets with the aim of attacking the FPM headquarters. The FPM’s supporters have allowed such behavior in the past, when they opened the roads to these youngsters and removed all barriers in previous moments of anger. They allied with them during the elections and contributed to an occupation of the center of Beirut. But the alliance ended, and this was the supporters of the Amal Movement saying that they are the masters of the street and that the authority of President Aoun ends as soon as they decide. They say that the security forces are mere observers.
In spite of the populist blackmailing, which was performed last week through the emoting of the crowds and media campaigns, the tension was eased and overcome. Hezbollah even announced its continued commitment to its 12-year-old alliance with the FPM. It seems Hezbollah tolerated Bassil’s statements, in which he said: “Unfortunately, Hezbollah is taking options which do not serve the interests of the Lebanese state, and all of Lebanon is paying the price for that.” Hezbollah had already tolerated another statement by Bassil, in which he said “we don’t have an ideological dispute with Israel.”
Group tolerates controversial comments by Foreign Minister Bassil, hinting at a change in direction ahead of potential further US sanctions and the upcoming general election.
So why did Hezbollah tolerate what was said by its Christian ally? And what if another Lebanese faction used the same words as Bassil; for example, what if Prime Minister Saad Hariri had said that? He and any other politician would have been accused of national betrayal, to say the least. Hezbollah had mobilized its media arsenal to incite people against a movie by Lebanese director Ziad Doueiri, accusing him of normalizing Israel by filming there, but it tolerated everything that was said by Bassil.
This presumed indulgence hints that some changes must have obliged Hezbollah to smooth over one of the most dangerous moments its alliance with Aoun has seen. Hezbollah intervened and the outcome of the clash between Bassil and Berri was decided in favor of the minister. This indicates that Hezbollah wishes to suggest that its alliance with Aoun doesn’t mean a complete adherence to its positions.
This change in Hezbollah’s direction serves two purposes: The first is external in light of anticipated new American sanctions against Lebanon due to the insistence of the international community, and Europe in particular, that the government distances itself from Hezbollah’s regional agendas. The second purpose relates to the upcoming general election, as Bassil is expected to harvest votes as he challenges his opponents on their messages focusing on the weapons of Hezbollah.
There are some indications that there isn’t an essential conflict between the two sides, and that Hezbollah gave Bassil the green light in order to provide the president with a wider margin of maneuver — especially given that Lebanon is on the verge of further US sanctions that will not distinguish between Hezbollah and the Lebanese economy. What enhances this probability is that there is an overwhelming international desire to develop a Lebanese direction that diverges from that of Hezbollah and Iran, but it seems that we have not yet reached that moment and Lebanon is still under control.
Diana Moukalled is a veteran journalist with extensive experience in both traditional and new media. She is also a columnist and freelance documentary producer.
Twitter: @dianamoukalled

On the state of shock for Christians in Lebanon
Ali Al-Amin/Al Arabiya/February 07/18
The confrontation that recently erupted between the Free Patriotic Movement and the Amal Movement in Lebanon exposed the disharmony between allies, which has existed ever since the FPM joined the so-called March 8 coalition, or the resistance coalition which is led by Hezbollah and which was formed in 2005 when the Syrian army exited Lebanon. According to the Memorandum of Understanding, signed between Hezbollah and the FPM which was then led by Michel Aoun in February 2006, the FPM would accept the strategic choices which concern Hezbollah on the regional and local levels (basically maintaining its arsenal) in exchange of supporting Aoun to become president. The MoU also included the Christian concept of the alliance of the minorities as a source of security to Christians. Aoun led the project of establishing a Christian alliance in the Middle East with Iran thinking it will protect Christian presence in the region. This indicated that the source of threat is the Sunni majority in the Arab world. The agreement between Aoun and Hezbollah thus turned its back to the Arab structure and turned its face toward Iran. Perhaps he and the group he represents thought that after Aoun becomes president, they will become a partner in the axis which Iran leads through Hezbollah in Lebanon. However, last week’s developments in Lebanon revealed the nature of the relation between the FPM and Hezbollah. The confrontation erupted due to Aoun’s son-in-law, FPM leader and Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil, who spoke against Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri in a leaked video. Ties between the two Shiite parties, i.e. Hezbollah and the Amal Movement, which is led by Berri, is based on a solid and strong base of interests, while relations between Hezbollah and the FPM do not, and they have a weak base that can collapse or disintegrate. The Christians now feel that what they did in favor of the Iranian project against Arab project led by Saudi Arabia did not provide them security
Mediator’s role
Ever since the conflict erupted, the FPM and Amal, Hezbollah stood by Berri while maintaining its role as the mediator to amend relations between them. Hezbollah, however, clearly said that its priority is Berri. When Berri’s supporters took to the street last week in predominantly Christian areas, Hezbollah did not object to this behavior which was much worse than what Bassil said about Berri. Later on, Bassil’s interview with a French magazine expressed the Christian shock when he said that some domestic options adopted by Hezbollah harm Lebanon’s interest. What Bassil meant is that Hezbollah is not ready or does not desire to support the option of the state when this option conflicts with the interests of its allies who are involved in corruption. Bassil was indirectly talking about Hezbollah’s relations with Berri whom the FPM believes obstructs the option of the state.
The Christian shock within the FPM, which bet on the alliance with Hezbollah to restore respect to the state and to the Christians’ role, is not a result of Hezbollah’s interferences in other countries. Aoun actually defended Hezbollah’s role in fighting alongside the Assad regime and Bassil played his part in terms of defending Hezbollah and its arms. As a foreign minister, he did what he had to do to serve Hezbollah’s interests at the Arab League, the UN and the EU. The shock is a result of the militant and violent deployment of Berri’s supporters in Christian areas. These developments last week made the Christians realize the size of “political Shiite” encroachment in the country.
This comes after the requirements of the agreement between Hezbollah and the FPM came to an end especially after Saad Hariri got involved in the settlement and given the stronger Iranian influence on the country. These developments showed that Hezbollah has succeeded in imposing what it wants since 2006.
Its arms were kept out of the authority’s debates and the party invested in the Christian cover to strengthen its influence within the state. The cover which the FPM provided has thus become less important than it was before especially that Hezbollah has become a reference that acts upon the power of the fait accompli.
Sectarian imbalances
The FPM was thus shocked when it realized that some Shiite politicians impose themselves in ways that lead to political and sectarian imbalances. This may have been accepted before Aoun became president; however, it’s shocking if it continues after he became president. Christians in the past 10 years mainly feared the Sunnis. However, some parties close to the FPM said Hezbollah and Amal which engaged the country in foreign adventures via Hezbollah reflect the approach of “either I rule or there will be political vacuum,” i.e. everything must go their way. FPM officials are now discussing their role in the state and Hezbollah’s role in terms of restoring state institutions’ respect.
They’re also reconsidering their calculations given their fear of the results of the Shiite political encroachment especially that Hezbollah has directly and indirectly told the FPM that what it did to make Aoun become president was in exchange for what the latter did in terms of providing a Christian cover.
Boris Johnson to Al Arabiya: Iran ‘up to no good’ with catastrophic policies . The challenges of building the state is another matter that does not obligate Hezbollah to stand behind Aoun. The Christians now feel that what they did in favor of the Iranian project against the Arab project led by Saudi Arabia did not provide them with security. Facts have revealed that there is a hostile demagogy ruling the Shiite street. A Free Patriotic Movement official said the way Amal supporters took to the street marked an insult against the Shiites, adding that their behavior does not suit the Shiite sect or the Parliament speaker’s status.
The problem which the FPM actually realizes is that having the Christians stand behind Iran’s project should have been followed with serious measures that make the Christians feel that that the road towards the state of institutions is smooth. These measures should have been taken by Hezbollah after it announced its victories in Syria and Lebanon.
Given the price which the Christians paid to break the Arab and Saudi project in Lebanon, they must be promised that the state will restore it role now that everyone, willingly or forcibly, accepted to serve Hezbollah’s and Iran’s strategic interests in Lebanon and its surrounding countries.
The Christians’ shock is still at the beginning. The parliamentary elections which will be held in May foreshadow a conflict in which Bassil is trying to stand before his rivals who bet he will be the loser since the fact that Aoun became president did not change and will not change the path of the state which is heading towards collapse.

Latest LCCC Bulletin For Miscellaneous Reports And News published on February 07-08/18
Israeli Jets Use Lebanese Airspace to Attack Syrian Position
Asharq Al Awsat/February 07/18/Israeli jets carried out on Wednesday an airstrike against a position in a rural area near the Syrian capital Damascus. The strike were carried out from Lebanon’s airspace, said a statement from the Syrian regime forces. The attack took place at 03:42 am local time, it said, while revealing that Syria’s air defense system had destroyed most of the Israeli missiles. It did not however give details of any damage or casualties. In Jerusalem, an Israeli military spokeswoman said: “We do not respond to such reports.” The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which monitors the Syria war through activists on the ground, said the airstrike targeted positions of regime forces and their allies in the area of Jamraya, northwest of Damascus. The area is home to a regime research center that was also hit in December. Wednesday's report was the second such accusation in less than a month. The regime forces on January 9 accused Israel of launching missiles targeting military outposts in the area of Qutayfeh, in the Damascus countryside. The forces said that attack caused material damage. The Israeli air force has said it has struck arms convoys of the regime and its ally Lebanon’s “Hezbollah” nearly 100 times since the war in Syria began more than six years ago.It has grown deeply alarmed by Iran’s expanding clout during the conflict, and has warned it would act against any threat from Tehran.

Syria: More Deaths in Air Strikes on Eastern Ghouta
Asharq Al Awsat/February 07/18/Fresh air strikes killed 23 civilians including five children in a rural part of the rebel-held Eastern Ghouta enclave near Damascus on Wednesday, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said. The area suffered some of its worst bloodshed in years Tuesday and the toll continued to mount overnight. "The death toll from air strikes that targeted Eastern Ghouta villages increased to 23 people, including five children," the Britain-based war monitor said in a statement. Civilians had been bracing for more raids as the regime appeared intent on ratcheting up the pressure on the area. Home to an estimated 400,000 people, the Eastern Ghouta region has been included in a de-escalation deal that was meant to bring calm to several zones across the country. But bombardment there has increased in recent days, including with suspected chlorine-filled munitions. On Wednesday, French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said that "all indications" pointed to the Syrian regime's use of chlorine weapons in Syria. "All indications... tell us today that chlorine is being used by the regime at present in Syria," he told BFM television. Chlorine is suspected of having been used on two occasions this month alone on Eastern Ghouta. The US State Department said on Monday it had recorded six suspected chemical attacks in Syria in the past 30 days.

Cairo to Ankara: We Will Confront Any Attempt to Violate our Mediterranean Sovereignty
Asharq Al Awsat/February 07/18/Egypt announced on Wednesday that it will confront any attempt to undermine its sovereignty over its Exclusive Economic Zone in the Mediterranean Sea. Foreign Ministry spokesman Ahmed Abou Zeid said that the legality of the 2013 agreement signed between Egypt and Cyprus over marine border demarcation cannot be disputed. He stressed that it adheres to international law and has been submitted to the United Nations as an international treaty. Abou Zeid added that Egypt will “confront any attempt to violate” his country’s rights in the Mediterranean. His remarks come two days after Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu declared that Ankara does not recognize the deal. The minister said that Turkey was planning to start drilling for offshore gas and oil in the Mediterranean. He deemed the Egyptian-Cypriot agreement as “legally void.”

Moroccan FBI Dismantles 49 Terrorist Cells

Asharq Al Awsat/February 07/18/Chief of Moroccan Central Bureau of Judicial Investigation (BCIJ), Nicknamed “Morocco's FBI”, Abdelhak El Khayyam said the Bureau has dismantled 49 terrorist cells, including 44 groups loyal to ISIS, and arrested 772 people on terrorism charges since its creation in 2015. Khayyam told French paper Le Monde that 97 Moroccan foreign fighters who returned from conflict zones were also arrested, including 84 returnees from Iraq and Syria and 13 from Libya, and 53 others were expelled from other countries.
“As part of its pro-active approach busting cells before they move into action, the BCIJ has dismantled last week a terrorist cell and arrested its seven members in the cities of Tangier and Meknes,” he said. At the legal level, Morocco adopted a new law in 2015, which stipulates arresting individuals who join terrorist groups abroad and sentencing them to 15 years in jail, Khayyam added. He warned of the dangers and difficulty to monitor radicalization, which has found a welcoming environment on the internet. Khayyam also brought up the issue of radicalization among Moroccan expatriates in Europe. He explained that Moroccan-born bi-nationals who have been involved in the terrorist attacks in Europe in recent years, notably Paris (2015) and Brussels (2016), were known by the police as they have fought alongside terrorists in conflict zones. He noted that due to the lack of a judicial basis, they could not be interrogated by the police. “Many of these young bi-nationals have become radicalized in prisons,” he said, adding that this shows that they were not integrated well into society. In this context, Khayyam also voiced satisfaction with the level of intelligence cooperation with Western partners. “We have liaison officers in the partner countries and Western liaison officers in Morocco,” he said. Responding to a question on increased terrorist threats, Khayyam said that ISIS has not disappeared. “There has been a relocation: as they moved to the Sahel-Saharan region and Libya. When they find troubled areas, they settle down.” While stressing the importance of a trans-border cooperation between security services, Khayyam deplored the lack of cooperation with Algeria while sounding the alarm bell as to the surge in Algeria’s south of terrorist groups such as the Polisario militias and al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb.

Egypt’s Interior Minister Calls for Concerted Arab Efforts to Confront Terrorist Organizations
Asharq Al Awsat/February 07/18/Egypt’s Interior Minister Major General Magdy Abdel Ghaffar stressed the necessity of concerted Arab and international efforts to confront the terrorist organizations and take decisive positions towards their financiers and supporters. This came during Abdel Ghaffar’s meeting with Jordanian Ambassador to Cairo Ali al-Ayed on Tuesday. The Minister stressed the distinguished relations between the two countries and the importance of their role in all issues of the Middle East, praising the care given by the Jordanian authorities to the Egyptians residing in the Kingdom, which reflects the deep relations between the two sides. Abdel Ghaffar assured the keenness of the interior ministry to extend the bridges of communication with the Arab security agencies and willingness to boost mechanisms of exchanging experiences and information with the Jordanian side based on full belief in the importance of supporting the message of security and stability in Arab countries. During the meeting, the two parties reviewed the overall security developments at the regional level and the impact of conflicts in the Middle East on the spread of terrorism and extremist ideologies. For his part, Ayed praised the security victories achieved by the Egyptian Ministry of Interior in the fight against terrorism, which represent a key factor in restoring security and stability and providing a safe environment that allows the continuation of development and construction efforts at an accelerated pace.He affirmed the positive developments witnessed by Egypt at all levels, pointing out to the restoration of its leadership and effective role in its regional and international environment. He also highlighted the consensus of the Egyptian-Jordanian visions on all issues related to Arab national security and expressed his country's aspiration to strengthen the relations of security cooperation with the Egyptian security services.

UAE, Egypt Jointly Call for Facing Interference in Arab Countries’ Affairs
Asharq Al Awsat/February 07/18/Egypt and the UAE have called for preserving the unity and sovereignty of Arab states facing crises, by safeguarding capabilities of their peoples and empowering their national institutions to maintain security and support growth and development.
Underlining the necessity to confront interference in the internal affairs of Arab states, the two countries asked for further cooperation and concerted efforts by the international community in tackling the scourge of terrorism and extremism and reaching political solutions to the various crises in the Middle East. This came during a meeting between Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, UAE Vice President and Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai, Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces and Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi in Abu Dhabi. Discussions touched on means of enhancing bilateral cooperation at the various political, development and economic levels. Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum and Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan affirmed their country’s firm position in support of Cairo in its war against extremism and terrorism. They also expressed their confidence in the ability of Egypt and its people to confront terrorism and carry on the path towards development with the aim to achieve progress and prosperity. Sisi, for his part, praised the role assumed by the UAE under the leadership of Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan in promoting joint Arab action and facing the challenges in the Arab region during this difficult phase. He also stressed his keenness on the security of the Gulf, which he said was an integral part of the Egyptian national security. Ambassador Bassam Radi, spokesman for the Egyptian presidency, said that talks focused on ways to strengthen and develop bilateral relations in various fields.

Paris Says 'All Indications' Syria Using Chlorine Weapons
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/February 07/18/France said Wednesday that "all indications" suggest the Syrian regime is using chlorine weapons in its nearly seven-year civil war against rebel forces. "All indications... tell us today that chlorine is being used by the regime at present in Syria," Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian told BFM television. "I'm weighing my words because as long as we haven't completely documented this we have to stay prudent," he said. U.N. war crimes investigators said Tuesday that they were studying "multiple" reports that chemical weapons have been used in the rebel-held zones of Eastern Ghouta, near Damascus, and in the northwestern Idlib Province in recent weeks. The United States said this week there was "obvious evidence" of recent chlorine gas attacks, including in Eastern Ghouta. Asked how France would respond, Le Drian pointed to the "partnership against impunity" agreed by two dozen countries in January to ensure that perpetrators of chemical attacks in Syria are held accountable. But he did not allude to any other response, including military retaliation, that France might take against the regime of President Bashar Al-Assad if the attacks are confirmed. Shortly after taking office last year, French President Emmanuel Macron said chemical attacks in Syria would be a "red line" for France. Le Drian also said Kurdish forces fighting the Islamic State group in northeast Syria had detained "about 100" French jihadists."We're being told that about 100 have been arrested by the Kurds in Syria," he said. French officials have shown little inclination to repatriate any of these captured fighters, as well as those facing potential death penalties in Iraq, saying they should face local courts.

Syria Says Intercepted Israeli Strikes from Lebanon Airspace

Agence France Presse/Naharnet/February 07/18/Syrian air defense systems intercepted an Israeli air attack on a military position near the capital Damascus on Wednesday, the army said. "This morning, Israeli warplanes fired several missiles from Lebanese airspace on one of our military positions in the Damascus countryside," said an army statement carried by state media. "Our air defense systems blocked them and destroyed most of them." An AFP correspondent in Damascus heard loud blasts around 3:30 am (0130 GMT). The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a Britain-based monitor of the war, said at least some Israeli missiles had hit military targets near Damascus. "Syria's air defense system blocked some of the missiles, but others hit ammunition depots near Jamraya," Observatory head Rami Abdel Rahman said. Jamraya, which lies just over 10 kilometers (seven miles) northwest of Damascus, is home to several military positions and a branch of the Syrian Scientific Studies and Research Center (SSRC). The U.S. has repeatedly imposed sanctions on the SSRC for its alleged role in chemical weapons production. France has also imposed sanctions on the agency. An Israeli air strike hit the facility in May 2013 and another hit an SSRC branch in western Syria in September. Israel has carried out dozens of air strikes on the Syrian armed forces and their allies since the civil war broke out there in 2011. It says it is aiming to stop advanced weapons deliveries to Lebanon's Hizbullah, with which Israel fought a month-long war in 2006.

Death Toll Soars as Syria Regime Pounds Rebel Enclave

Agence France Presse/Naharnet/February 07/18/Fresh regime strikes killed 15 civilians Wednesday in a rebel-held enclave near Damascus where overwhelmed medics were still treating the survivors of the Syrian conflict's bloodiest day in months. The district of Eastern Ghouta, controlled by jihadist and rebel factions, suffered some of its worst bloodshed in years Tuesday and the toll continued to mount overnight. "The civilian toll is now 80. Two wounded people died after midnight," said Rami Abdel Rahman, head of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. "This was the highest civilian toll in Syria in nearly nine months, and one of the bloodiest days for Eastern Ghouta in several years," the head of the Britain-based monitoring group told AFP. Nineteen children and 20 women are among the dead, and around 200 were wounded. There was no respite for Ghouta residents as regime warplanes returned on Wednesday morning and carried out strikes that killed 15 civilians and wounded dozens. Eight were killed in the town of Hammuriyeh, four in the town of Beit Sawa, and three in the main town of Douma, the Observatory said. Civilians had been bracing for more raids as the regime appeared intent on ratcheting up the pressure on Eastern Ghouta, a rebel pocket on the capital's doorstep. "Please break up all gatherings and clear the streets," blared an announcement from mosque minarets in Douma. Surrounding areas and villages had been heavily battered by raids on Tuesday, flooding Douma's hospitals with wounded children. Home to an estimated 400,000 people, the Eastern Ghouta region has been included in a de-escalation deal that was meant to bring calm to several zones across the country. Chlorine' use in Syria  But bombardment there has increased in recent days, including with suspected chlorine-filled munitions. On Wednesday, French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said that "all indications" pointed to the Syrian government's use of chlorine weapons in Syria. "All indications... tell us today that chlorine is being used by the regime at present in Syria," he told BFM television. Chlorine is suspected of having been used on two occasions this month alone on Eastern Ghouta. The U.S. State Department said on Monday it had recorded six suspected chemical attacks in Syria in the past 30 days. Syria has repeatedly denied using chemical weapons. On Wednesday, Syria's army intercepted an Israeli attack on a military position in Jamraya, northwest of Damascus. Jamraya is home to several military positions and a branch of the Syrian Scientific Studies and Research Center (SSRC), suspected of playing a leading role in chemical weapons production. An Israeli air strike hit the facility in May 2013. "This morning, Israeli warplanes fired several missiles from Lebanese airspace on one of our military positions in the Damascus countryside," said an army statement carried by state media. "Our air defense systems blocked them and destroyed most of them."The Observatory said an arms depot in Jamraya had been hit, but it could not confirm whether research facilities had been damaged.
'Breaking point'
The United Nations has said it is looking into reports of chemical attacks in Syria, and called on Tuesday for a month-long ceasefire across the country for civilians' sake. The de-escalation zones, according to the U.N.'s regional humanitarian coordinator for Syria, were not doing enough to stem the violence. "There is a misperception that de-escalation areas have resulted in peace and stability," Panos Moumtzis told reporters in Beirut. "Eastern Ghouta is as de-escalation area. If anything, there has been a serious escalation... The conflict in Syria is far from over," Moumtzis said.
The situation had grown more dire than ever before because of the multiple fronts raging at the same time. "It's the first time -- between Eastern Ghouta, Idlib, Afrin -- we have multiple fronts with people in extreme danger without a view to a solution," he said. "Now, we feel we've reached a breaking point."
More than 340,000 people have been killed and millions displaced since the conflict in Syria erupted in March 2011.

Pence Announces 'Toughest' U.S. Sanctions on North Korea

Agence France Presse/Naharnet/February 07/18/U.S. Vice President Mike Pence said Wednesday Washington would soon unveil its "toughest sanctions ever" on North Korea, adding that the regime in Pyongyang would not be allowed to "hijack" the upcoming Olympics. Speaking in Japan before attending the opening ceremony of the Winter Games in South Korea, Pence pledged that Washington would "intensify its maximum pressure campaign" on the North, working with Tokyo. "I'm announcing today that the United States will soon unveil the toughest and most aggressive round of economic sanctions on North Korea ever," he said, without giving further details. Pence's three-day visit to Japan came as Washington seeks to bolster ties with its allies in the region and maintain pressure on the regime in Pyongyang despite a recent thaw on the peninsula. "All options are on the table and the U.S. has deployed some of our most advanced military assets to Japan and the wider region to protect our homeland and our allies and we will continue to," vowed Pence. To highlight what Washington calls the regime's human rights "abuses", the vice president will attend the opening ceremony of the Pyeongchang Olympics with the father of the late former North Korea prisoner Otto Warmbier.
The U.S. and North Korea have been locked in a fierce war of words.
U.S. President Donald Trump has mocked North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un as "rocket man" and the young dictator has threatened to rain nuclear destruction on the United States. But Kim has taken a more conciliatory tone in 2018, calling for detente with the South Koreans and accepting an invitation for his country to participate in what is being billed as the "peace Olympics."The two Koreas held a rare high-level meeting last month and the North's ceremonial head of state is due to arrive Friday, the highest-ranking Pyongyang official ever to visit the South. Nevertheless, the peninsula remains tense, with the North slamming anti-Pyongyang activists who protested against its participation as a "spasm of psychopaths."For his part, Abe said that Japan and the U.S. had "confirmed... that we can never accept a nuclear-armed North Korea."Abe added that the allies would urge other countries not to be "captivated by the charm offensive of North Korea."
'Hijack the Games'
En route to Japan, Pence declined to rule out a meeting with the North Korean delegation also attending the opening ceremony, offering the faintest hope of a diplomatic breakthrough. "I have not requested a meeting, but we'll see what happens," Pence said during a stop in Alaska. However, he appeared to take a tougher line in Tokyo, saying that North Korea must not be allowed to "hijack the message and imagery of the Olympic Games." "We will not allow North Korea to hide behind the Olympic banner the reality that they enslave their people and threaten the wider region," he said. It is not clear how long any respite in tensions will last after the Games, especially when the United States and South Korea resume their delayed joint annual military exercises, a perennial irritant for Pyongyang. North Korea's official KCNA news agency warned on Tuesday the resumption of the drills will throw the Korean peninsula back to "the grim phase of catastrophe." Earlier Wednesday, Pence inspected Japan's missile defense system and stressed the "unwavering" commitment to what he called a "critical" alliance. He will address troops at a U.S. air base outside Tokyo on Thursday before heading on to South Korea.

Latest LCCC Bulletin analysis & editorials from miscellaneous sources published on February 07-08/18
10 Things to Read to Understand America

Noah Smith/Asharq Al Awsat/February 07/18
The US in the 21st century can be a bewildering place, even for its own residents. The political turmoil, the kaleidoscope of radical online social movements, the presence of vast wealth combined with often stunning inequality; these things not only baffle foreigners, they often mystify Americans as well. People living in the U.S. often see only a small slice of the country, defined by their town, their occupation and their social circle.
Since the turn of the century, a number of important new trends have either emerged or intensified that have changed the nation to its core. Not all of these trends have been written up satisfactorily in books and papers, but many have. Whether you live in the US or out of it, here is a reading list that will help deepen your understanding of modern America.
No. 1. “Diversity Explosion: How New Racial Demographics are Remaking America” by William H. Frey
In 1980 the U.S. was 83 percent non-Hispanic white. Since 2012, fewer than half of the children born in the country have been such. No one has chronicled this rapid demographic transformation better -- or with a more neutral, clinical eye -- than demographer William H. Frey. This book doesn’t just lay out the numbers, but shows detailed maps of how the ethnic composition of each of the country’s regions has evolved. The key fact is that Hispanics and Asians, once confined to a few regions and cities in the country, are rapidly spreading to outlying regions. There’s little doubt that this has created political and social unrest in areas that once had white supermajorities. It also has great relevance for electoral politics.
No. 2. “The New Geography of Jobs,” by Enrico Moretti
This slim volume by one of the world’s top urban economists explains why some cities in the US have flourished while others languish. Knowledge industries, and clusters of smart, educated workers, have become increasingly important not just to a region’s prosperity, but to its physical and social health. Large cities, technology hubs and college towns are pulling away from the rest in both economic and social terms.
No. 3. “The China Shock,” by David Autor, David Dorn and Gordon Hanson
This landmark economics paper, which really deserves to be turned into a book, details how opening up trade with China in the 2000s was fundamentally different from anything the U.S. had experienced before. Whereas in past eras, manufacturing workers displaced by foreign imports mostly managed to find jobs elsewhere in the industry for similar pay, Chinese competition was so vast, sudden and comprehensive that most displaced workers ended up taking huge wage cuts or going on the welfare rolls. The sudden devastation of American manufacturing has undoubtedly had broad social implications.
No. 4. “We Were Eight Years in Power: An American Tragedy,” by Ta-Nehisi Coates
In this series of essays, Coates, arguably the country’s most important writer and intellectual, vividly narrates the racial politics of the 2010s. The presidency of Barack Obama seemed to herald a new era in race relations, but a series of highly publicized police killings and the election of Donald Trump dashed that hope. The racial divide, and the events that have exacerbated it, are crucial to any understanding of modern American politics and society.
No. 5. “Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in America,” by Barbara Ehrenreich
Beginning in the 1980s, American politics was increasingly dominated by leaders who believed in the fundamental efficacy of markets. But in many ways, people were not fully prepared to cope with the new free-market world. The transaction costs, uncertainties and unfairness of daily life in the new, do-it-yourself America overwhelmed many poor and working-class people, and even some in the middle class. Few document the exhaustion of modern capitalism better than Ehrenreich. Her book should be paired with the more recent “Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City,” by Matthew Desmond.
No. 6. “The Big Sort: Why the Clustering of Like-Minded America is Tearing Us Apart,” by Bill Bishop
There are many divides in American society -- racial, economic, gender and religious. But perhaps no divide is as powerful or as pernicious as the partisan political polarization that has emerged in the last few decades. Bishop chronicles how the populace has been geographically separating itself into clusters of like-minded individuals, producing the feeling of two separate countries co-existing in the same space.
No. 7. “The Rise and Fall of American Growth: The US Standard of Living since the Civil War,” by Robert Gordon
Americans, traditionally, are a people accustomed to growth. The spread of the populace from East to West, the Industrial Revolution, the technology booms of the 20th century and the financial bull markets of 1980-2008 all presented the feeling of boundless, limitless frontiers to be explored and conquered. But just as the frontiers of the West closed a century ago, economic frontiers may be closing now. In this book, economist Robert Gordon presents the reality of slowing productivity growth, and makes the case that technological progress will be slow for the foreseeable future. For a contrary, more optimistic case, try “The Second Machine Age: Work, Progress, and Prosperity in a Time of Brilliant Technologies,” by Erik Brynjolfsson and Andrew McAfee.
No. 8. “Mortality and Morbidity in the 21st Century,” by Anne Case and Angus Deaton
The US has become substantially less healthy than other developed nations. Though mortality rates among black Americans have plunged dramatically, they are still high. More ominously, mortality rates among white Americans -- particularly those without a college education -- have risen slightly, driven in part by the opiate epidemic, alcoholism and suicide. Economists Anne Case and Angus Deaton document this ominous trend, which seems to confirm the existence of a social malaise among working class white Americans.
No. 9. “Income and Wealth Inequality: Evidence and Policy Implications,” by Emmanuel Saez
Inequality has risen in most countries around the world, but in the US it has reached levels usually only seen in developing nations. While books such as economist Thomas Piketty’s “Capital in the Twenty-First Century” have presented grand, sweeping theories of inequality, I prefer to start with the blunt facts of the matter. Saez, Piketty’s frequent co-author, lays out the numbers in this paper.
No. 10. “Concrete Economics: The Hamilton Approach to Economic Growth and Policy,” by Stephen S. Cohen and J. Bradford DeLong
With the US beset by economic problems ranging from inequality to slow growth to the decline of whole regions, why hasn’t the government done more to help? In this short, readable volume, historian Stephen Cohen and economist Brad DeLong opine that in the last few decades, American policy makers have shunned the idea of deliberate and industrial policy and chosen instead to step back and let the market go where it will. This, they argue, has led to a financialized economy where capital sloshes around (yielding big fees for financiers) but rarely makes the big, bold bets necessary to get the economy moving again.
These books and papers don’t touch on all the changes coursing through the US A number of very important trends are omitted -- changing gender roles, gay rights and the stunning and rapid decline of Christianity, to name just three. A full understanding of the trends affecting American society would require one to read more books and papers than I can personally recommend. But the basic trends outlined in the list above -- rising diversity and racial division, inequality and the discontents of a free-market world, political polarization, and the threats of foreign competition and slowing growth -- are essential to making sense of the turmoil and chaos roiling the superpower.

Saudi Arabia Denies Report of Historic Approval of Flights to Israel Using Its Airspace
Anshel Pfeffer and Rina Rozenberg Kandel/Haaretz/February 07/18
If confirmed, Saudi Arabia's move would be the first public recognition of its warming ties with Israel and would be huge blow to El Al
Saudi Arabia has granted Air India approval to operate direct flights from Delhi to Tel Aviv, sources in the Israeli flight industry told Haaretz. If confirmed, this would be the first time the Saudis are allowing commerical flights to Israel to use their airspace. According to Reuters, a spokesman for Saudi Arabia's General Authority of Civil Aviation denied the report, saying the agency had not granted Air India permission to operate direct flights from Delhi to Tel Aviv.  If true, Riyadh's approval would mean that the duration of flights from India to Israel will be shortened by two-and-a-half hours, compared to the route currently in use. The new route would allow the airline to reduce fuel costs and sell cheaper tickers to passengers. Only one carrier currently operates direct flights from Israel to India, El Al, which flies an 8-hour route from Tel Aviv to Mumbai. The route crosses the Red Sea south of Yemen, then turns east to India. Since New Delhi is a new destination from which there are no flights to Israel, the aviation company will be getting a 750,000 euro grant from the Tourism Ministry for operating the new line, according to a calculation of 250,000 euros per weekly flight. This grant could be, among other things, the impetus for Air India to launch the line. This is not the first time Air India asked Israeli authorities for such approval. Last year, the airline asked the Israel Airports Authority's to allow it to fly to and from Israel. This was not implemented, however, due to the airline's insistence to operate the shorter route. Discussions on the matter evolved during Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's visit to India last month, where intensive talks were held between the two countries in order to approve the flight route over Saudi Arabia.
Air India's Delhi-Tel Aviv route could be the first concrete and public piece of evidence to the warming of ties between Israel and the Saudi leadership. Though we have known for years of quiet coordination on security issues, there has not yet been any tangible evidence above the surface.
For seventy years now, Saudi airspace has been closed not only to Israeli aircraft, but to those of other nations with a flight-path to Israel. In recent decades there have only been two flights, that we know of, which have flown directly from Saudi Arabia to Israel: the U.S. Air Force One bearing Presidents George W. Bush and Donald Trump, respectively. It is not rare to see on the air-travel tracking websites private business jets flying from Saudi airports and other destinations in the Arabian Gulf toward Israel. However all these flights make a short stop-over first in Amman airport.
A direct Air India flight through Saudi airspace will not only be a sign of the warming relations between Jerusalem and Riyadh, but also of the growing interests and influence of India's Prime Minister Nardendra Modi in the region. He visited Israel last month and is expected in Jordan and Ramallah next week.
Beyond the diplomatic implications, such direct flights will be a blow to Israel's flagship carrier El Al, which is not expected to receive at this point similar overflight privileges. Air India will now be able to operate a flight which will be at least three hours shorter and most likely significantly cheaper, than El Al's Mumbai service which has to make a long detour around the Arabian peninsula. Following the reports, Michael Strausberger, El Al's recently appointed vice president for commercial and industry affairs, said he expects that the same approval would be given to Israeli airlines. "We at El Al, and I assume that other Israeli airlines share our view, hope and believe that Saudi Arabia will also allow Israeli airlines, who fly from or to Israel – and not only foreign airlines – to fly over its territory," Strausberger said.
The big winner - and losers
If the new route is indeed approved, the big winner would be, without a doubt Benjamin Netanyahu. Not only would he be able to claim a major achievement thanks to his public diplomacy with India and secret relations with the Saudi leadership, he and his supporters could say that his vision of improved ties with the Arab world, without Israel having to make concessions to the Palestinians, was becoming a reality. It is still unclear of course whether there is any form of quid pro quo that Israel would give the Saudis for such approval, but it is unlikely to have been on the Palestinian issue. The Saudis, like the Egyptians and other Arab regimes, are nowadays barely paying lip-service to the Palestinian cause. And the biggest losers of such a move, are of course, the Palestinians. Once again it could be proven that the great Arab nation doesn't really care for them. A Saudi agreement for flights through its airspace, if confirmed, follows a rather weak chorus of condemnation for Trump's recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital and despite the total absence of a diplomatic process. Even at the height of the Oslo Accords, the Palestinians refused to make such a gesture. Aaron David Miller, a former senior American diplomat tweeted that "we tried for 20 years to get them (the Saudis) to do stuff like this. And got nada." Now, in the wake of improved secret relations, largely due to the joint enemy, Iran, Israel seems to be getting this gesture, seemingly without paying anything in return.
**Reuters contributed to this report.

Explained The Real Reason Behind the UAE-Qatar Crisis and How It Benefits Iran at the Expense of the U.S.
Haaretz and Reuters/February 07/18
The increase in tension comes seven months after the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Egypt imposed travel and trade sanctions on Qatar over accusations of supporting terrorism. A rise in tension between Qatar and the United Arab Emirates in a row over military flights threatens U.S. strategic interests in the Gulf and could benefit regional rival Iran to the dismay of Israel and Saudi Arabia. Abu Dhabi says Qatari air force jets intercepted two UAE civilian aircraft on commercial flights to Bahrain last month, and Doha says UAE military aircraft violated its airspace on Dec. 21 and Jan. 3. Each denies the other's accusations and the two energy-producing states have sought to ease the dispute. The risk of a confrontation between them has increased but a war between them is unlikely, regional experts say. The increase in tension, seven months after the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Egypt imposed travel and trade sanctions on Qatar over accusations -- denied by Doha -- that it supports terrorism and regional rival Iran, has alarmed Washington.
"When you have Qatari (military) planes being scrambled near a civilian airliner, it runs the risk of an incident that, even unplanned, could result in the loss of lives and escalate this into an situation Gulf countries have never had among each other," said a Western diplomat, speaking on condition of anonymity.
Gabriel Collins, an expert on financial sanctions at Rice University in Texas, said "military posturing" against a background of underlying tension because of the diplomatic and trade sanctions "left space for a miscalculation." "A very small spark can, in a worst-case scenario, light a huge fire," he said.
U.S. Defense Secretary James Mattis has said the fracturing of ties among its Gulf Arab allies hinders Washington's fight against Islamic State and "countering the spread of Iran's malign influence".
Iran has criticised the restrictions on Qatar and called for the rift to be resolved through dialogue. Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif has lamented what he called a "dialogue deficit" in the region. The Gulf is a strategically important area for the United States. The U.S. Fifth Fleet is based in Bahrain and the Al Udeid Air Base in Qatar is a centre of its air operations against Islamic State. The United States considers both Qatar and the UAE to be critical regional partners," a U.S. Air Forces Central Command spokesman in Qatar said in response to a Reuters request for comment on the incidents. He called for "meaningful solutions to reduce tensions."The base would be crucial if the United States were to go to war with Iran, which Washington says sponsors terrorism and is a threat to stability and U.S. interests in the Middle East. Tehran denies the accusations.
Regional rivalry
Predominantly Sunni Muslim Saudi Arabia also sees Iran as a threat to regional stability and regards the Islamist Republic, which is majority Shi'ite, as its main rival in the region. But more than any of the countries boycotting Qatar, the UAE bristles at alleged Qatari support for Islamists throughout the region and maintains a hard line against the Muslim Brotherhood, branches of which are supported by Doha in some countries. There are trade risks for the West as well as security concerns. "The rivalry between Saudi Arabia and its Gulf allies with Iran is raging. These are key trade and security partners to the West for decades and if they are divided and very nearly coming to military blows, in this zero-sum atmosphere, Iran stands to gain and the U.S. to lose," another Western diplomat said.
An Arab official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the UAE, because of its competing regional vision with Qatar, wanted to pile pressure on Doha to signal a reconciliation is not close and the boycott will not soon end. "Saudi Arabia and the other quartet countries have little to fear for their economies from this crisis, though Qatar does," the official said. "Also, because the UAE is so interested in enforcing its demands on Qatar and curtailing its activities in the region, that makes the two countries eager to prove in this phase that they won't be giving up soon and can escalate if necessary."
U.S. President Donald Trump appears to have softened his view of Doha. He initially blessed the boycott, accusing Doha of funding terrorism "at a very high level." But he offered in September to mediate and this month telephoned Qatar's ruler, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani, to thank him for his counter-terrorism efforts. The change follows a charm offensive by Doha, which in recent months has hosted several right-wing commentators close to the president and matched the UAE's lobbying efforts in Washington. The change appears to reflect a political calculation among the Gulf states' Western partners that Qatar would not risk allowing the rift with the UAE to deteriorate further, one of the Western diplomats said.

Death of Democracy? - Part I
Denis MacEoin/Gatestone Institute/February 07/2018
"The result of 25 years of multiculturalism has not been multicultural communities. It has been mono-cultural communities... Islamic communities are segregated." – Ed Husain, former Muslim extremist.
This approach, giving social-services, is based on the belief -- oft-refuted -- that Muslim extremists (both Muslims-by-birth and converts) have suffered from deprivation. It also greatly rests on the naïve assumption that rewarding them with benefits -- for which genuinely deprived citizens generally need to wait in line -- will turn them into grateful patriots, prepared to stand for the national anthem and hold hands with Christians and Jews.
The British government has shown itself incapable of enforcing its own laws when it comes to its Muslim citizens or new immigrants. Rather than stand up to our enemies, both external and internal, are we so afraid of being called "Islamophobes" that we will sacrifice even our own cultural, political, and religious strengths and aspirations?
For many complex reasons, Europe is in an advanced state of decline. In recent years, several important studies of this condition have appeared, advancing a variety of reasons for it: Douglas Murray's The Strange Death of Europe: Immigration, Identity, Islam, James Kirchik's The End of Europe: Dictators, Demagogues, and the Coming Dark Age, as well as Christopher Caldwell's ground-breaking 2010 study, Reflections on the Revolution in Europe: Immigration, Islam and the West. Soeren Kern at Gatestone Institute has also been detailing the steady impact of immigration from Muslim regions on countries such as Germany, Sweden, and the United Kingdom.
It is clear that something serious is happening on the continent in which I live.
The threat is not restricted to Europe, but has a global dimension. Michael J. Abramowitz, President of Freedom House, writes in his introduction to the organization's 2018 report:
A quarter-century ago, at the end of the Cold War, it appeared that totalitarianism had at last been vanquished and liberal democracy had won the great ideological battle of the 20th century.
Today, it is democracy that finds itself battered and weakened. For the 12th consecutive year, according to Freedom in the World, countries that suffered democratic setbacks outnumbered those that registered gains. States that a decade ago seemed like promising success stories—Turkey and Hungary, for example—are sliding into authoritarian rule.
For Douglas Murray, immigration and the problems it is throwing up are the key topic. He is uncompromising in his negative response to the social change that has been brought about by the excessive and barely controlled immigration of people who, for the most part, do not share the most basic values of the countries in which they now live.
Certainly, Europe's current state of decline owes much to the widely recognized fact that Muslims are the first newcomers to Europe who, over several generations, are resistant to integrating into the societies of which they now form a part. This rejection of Europe's humanitarian, Judeo-Christian values applies, not just to the successive waves of refugees and economic migrants who have washed up on the shores of Greece, Italy and Spain since the start of the Syrian civil war, but to generations of Pakistanis and Bangladeshis in the UK, North Africans in France, and Turkish "guest workers" in Germany.
A former Muslim extremist, Ed Husain, writes in his book, The Islamist: Why I Joined Radical Islam in Britain, what I Saw Inside and why I Left:
The result of 25 years of multiculturalism has not been multicultural communities. It has been mono-cultural communities.... Islamic communities are segregated. Many Muslims want to live apart from mainstream British society; official government policy has helped them do so. I grew up without any white friends. My school was almost entirely Muslim. I had almost no direct experience of 'British life' or 'British institutions'. So it was easy for the extremists to say to me: 'You see? You're not part of British society. You never will be. You can only be part of an Islamic society.' The first part of what they said was true. I wasn't part of British society: nothing in my life overlapped with it.
According to Ed Husain (right), a former Muslim extremist, "The result of 25 years of multiculturalism has not been multicultural communities. It has been mono-cultural communities... Islamic communities are segregated." (Image source: CNN video screenshot)
In July 2015, arguing for an anti-extremism bill in parliament, Britain's prime minister at the time, David Cameron, admitted:
"For all our successes as a multi-racial, multi-faith democracy, we have to confront a tragic truth that there are people born and raised in this country who don't really identify with Britain – and who feel little or no attachment to other people here. Indeed, there is a danger in some of our communities that you can go your whole life and have little to do with people from other faiths and backgrounds."
Countless polls and investigations reveal that refusal to integrate is no figment of the supposedly "Islamophobic" political "right". A 2006 poll carried out by ICM Research on behalf of the Sunday Telegraph, for example, presented worrying findings: 40% of British Muslims polled said they backed introducing shari'a law in parts of Britain, and only 41% opposed it, leaving another 20% unclear. Sadiq Khan, the Labour MP involved with the official task force set up after the July 2005 attacks, said the findings were "alarming". Since then, similar findings have shown that the younger generation of Muslims is more conservative, even radical, than their parents or grandparents:
Commenting on a major 2016 ICM poll of Muslim opinion, Trevor Phillips, who had been Britain's foremost advocate of multiculturalism, said that, with respect to the Muslim community, he had made a 180° turn:
"for a long time, I too thought that Europe's Muslims would become like previous waves of migrants, gradually abandoning their ancestral ways, wearing their religious and cultural baggage lightly, and gradually blending into Britain's diverse identity landscape. I should have known better."
Another major 2016 review on social equality carried out on behalf of the British government by Dame Louise Casey, found Muslims the least well integrated community. In summarizing her work for the National Secular Society, Benjamin Jones wrote:
"Despite decades of failures, it is worth noting that problems integrating Muslim minorities are hardly rare around the world, and this is not a problem unique to the United Kingdom. That brings us to the final unsayable thing – well known to most British people but unmentionable to officials and politicians: Islam is a special case."
Polls carried out in other countries across Europe showed similar or worse results.
Those are only one half of a more complicated and disturbing picture. While Muslims find it hard to abandon the prejudices, doctrines, and outright hatreds (for Jews, for example) that they have imported from their home countries -- or developed as young men and women while living in European states where they were born and raised -- vast numbers of non-Muslims, including politicians, church leaders, civil servants, policemen and women, and many well-meaning people bend over backwards to accommodate them and the demands they make on their host societies.
It would take a book to summarize all the episodes in which Western officialdom, notably in Europe, has abandoned its own historical values in order to protect Islam and radical Muslims from criticism and rebuke. We are not speaking of the proper interventions of the police, courts, and social agencies to safeguard ordinary Muslims from physical attacks, vituperative insults, assaults on mosques, or basic denials of the rights they are entitled to enjoy as citizens of Western countries – much as we expect them to protect Jews, ethnic minorities, or vulnerable women from similar expressions of physical and verbal bigotry. Providing such support for the victims of prejudice should be applauded as an essential expression of post-Enlightenment liberal democratic values. Legislating and acting against outright discrimination is, perhaps, best exemplified in the way post-World War II German governments have criminalized anti-Semitism and Holocaust denial.
Ironically, what anti-Semitism there is today in Germany comes increasingly from Muslims.
According to Manfred Gerstenfeld: Jens Spahn, a board member of Chancellor Merkel's Christian Democrat Union (CDU), and a possible successor to Merkel, remarked that the immigration from Muslim countries is the reason for the recent demonstrations [about immigrants] in Germany.
Stephan Harbarth, deputy chairman of the CDU/ CSU faction in the Bundestag — the German parliament — said, "We have to strongly confront the antisemitism of migrants with an Arab background and those from African countries."
The CDU interior minister of the federal state of Hessen, Peter Beuth, remarked, "We have to avoid an immigration of antisemitism." He said this after a study on behalf of the state's security service concluded that antisemitism among Muslims "both quantitatively and qualitatively has at least as high relevance as the traditional antisemitism of the extreme right."
Despite this moral response, European countries, including Germany, have shown genuine weakness when face-to-face with radical Islamic ideology, hate preachers, and basic Muslim values regarding women, non-Muslims, LGBT people, and obedience to Western laws.
Before looking at some of the reasons, motivations, and outcomes of this deeply pervasive weakness, here are a handful of examples of pusillanimity from the UK alone.
Last October, it was reported that Queen's Counsel Max Hill, who acts as the British government's independent reviewer of terrorism legislation, argued that British fighters for Islamic State, who had returned or planned to return to the UK, should not be prosecuted but reintegrated into society on the grounds that they had acted "naively". This lenience extended to hate preachers who had given sermons and lectures exhorting Muslims to take direct action that has in the past led to actual terrorist attacks.
Before that, Prime Minister David Cameron and then Home Secretary Theresa May had "proposed measures including banning orders, extremism disruption orders and closure orders, which would allow premises used by extremists to be shut, and make it easier to restrict the activities of individuals and organisations."
In 2015, May had proposed a counter-extremism strategy which said laws would be introduced to "ban extremist organisations that promote hatred and draw people into extremism" and "restrict the harmful activities of the most dangerous extremist individuals". Mrs May also vowed to use the law to "restrict access to premises which are repeatedly used to support extremism". Yet Max Hill QC, the man in charge of British terrorist legislation wants none of that. And May's counter-terrorism measures, proposed again since she became Prime Minister, remain unlegislated.
The same month (October 2017) that Hill undertook the rehabilitation of jihadists and hate preachers, it was reported that the British Home Office (formerly run by Theresa May, now by Amber Rudd MP) was "looking at a new strategy to reintegrate extremists that could even see them propelled to the top of council house waiting lists if needed".
Extremists who had nowhere suitable to live could be put in social housing by the local council and could have their rent paid if necessary, according to reports. They could also be given priority on waiting lists and helped into education and training or found a job with public bodies or charities.
This proposal would include returnees from the Islamic State in Syria, and overall would include some 20,000 individuals known to the security services. Around 850 British subjects have gone to Syria to fight or support fighters, and 350 of them have come back home, with only a tiny handful so far prosecuted.
This approach, giving social services, is based on the belief -- oft-refuted -- that Muslim extremists (both Muslims-by-birth and converts) have suffered from deprivation. It also greatly rests on the naïve assumption that rewarding them with benefits -- for which genuinely deprived citizens generally need to wait in line -- will turn them into grateful patriots, prepared to stand for the national anthem and hold hands with Christians and Jews.
We now therefore use double standards: one for Muslims and one for the rest of our population. On January 16, 2018, in England, Daniel Grundy, was jailed for six months on a charge of bigamy. However, Muslim men in polygamous marriages are rewarded by the state: Husbands living in a "harem" with multiple wives have been cleared to claim state benefits for all their different partners.
A Muslim man with four spouses - which is permitted under Islamic law - could receive £10,000 a year in income support alone.
He could also be entitled to more generous housing and council tax benefit, to reflect the fact his household needs a bigger property.
Ministers have decided that, even though bigamy is a crime in Britain, polygamous marriages can be recognised formally by the state - provided they took place overseas, in countries where they are legal.
Actually, British Muslim men do not even have to go abroad to find wives. At least one Muslim dating site run from the UK offers contact with Muslim women who are eager to enter into polygamous marriages. It has not been closed down. The British government has shown itself incapable of enforcing its own laws when it comes to its Muslim citizens or new immigrants.
In a similar vein are official attitudes to a common Muslim practice of female genital mutilation, which has been illegal in the UK since 1985. Politico reported last year:
"Medical staff working in England's National Health Service recorded close to 5,500 cases of female genital mutilation (FGM) in 2016, but no one has been successfully prosecuted since the practice was banned over 30 years ago."Meanwhile, the practice is rising. The police and the Crown Prosecution Service are too frightened of seeming racist or "Islamophobic" to apply the law. Max Hill's notion that departing fighters have been naïve is itself a staggering misconception on the part of a man educated at Newcastle's prestigious Royal Grammar School and Oxford University. No one heading for Syria will have been blithely unaware of the multitude of videos broadcast by the mainstream media and all the social media, showing the beheading of hostages, the executions of homosexuals, the lashing of women, the heads spiked on fences, the use of children to shoot victims or cut their throats, and all the other excesses committed by the terrorist group.
Rather than stand up to our enemies, both external and internal, are we now so afraid of being called "Islamophobes" that we will sacrifice even our own cultural, political, and religious strengths and aspirations? The next part of this article will examine just how major this betrayal has been and how much greater it will become.
**Dr. Denis MacEoin taught Arabic and Islamic Studies and has written books and numerous articles about Islam, including a large volume entitled Obstacles to Integration, not yet published. He is a Distinguished Senior Fellow at New York's Gatestone Institute.
© 2018 Gatestone Institute. All rights reserved. The articles printed here do not necessarily reflect the views of the Editors or of Gatestone Institute. No part of the Gatestone website or any of its contents may be reproduced, copied or modified, without the prior written consent of Gatestone Institute.

Rod Rosenstein Should Not Be Fired, but Should He Be Recused?
Alan M. Dershowitz/Gatestone Institute/February 07/2018
Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein should not be fired. He is a distinguished public servant with a bipartisan reputation for fairness. But there is a real question whether he should be recused from participating in any investigation by the special counsel of alleged obstruction of justice by the president.
Five facts are indisputable. First, Rosenstein is currently supervising Robert Mueller, who he appointed to be special counsel to investigate the Russia matter and all ancillary issues. Second, these ancillary issues include any possible obstruction of justice growing out of the Russia investigation. Third, President Trump's firing of former FBI Director James Comey may be an important building block in any possible obstruction case against the president. Fourth, Rosenstein played a central role in that firing, having written the memorandum justifying the president's action. Fifth, Rosenstein would be an important — perhaps the most important — witness in any investigation of the reasons behind the firing.
Pictured: Attorney General Jeff Sessions (left) administers the oath of office to Rod Rosenstein (center) to be the Deputy Attorney General of the United States, on April 26, 2017. (Image source: US Department of Justice)
The question is whether a lawyer should both supervise an investigation and be an important witness in that very investigation. Attorney General Jeff Sessions recused himself because he might have been a witness or subject of the Russia investigation. Rosenstein might be a more central witness in any obstruction of justice investigation by the prosecutor who he is supervising.
One possible reason for why Rosenstein should not recuse himself would be if Mueller were not investigating alleged obstruction of justice by the president based on his firing of Comey. Perhaps Mueller realizes that charging a president with obstruction of justice for performing a constitutionally authorized act such as firing the director of the FBI would raise grave constitutional issues. Perhaps, therefore, that is not part of his current investigation. If it is not, then Rosenstein has no clear conflict of interest. But the available evidence suggests that Mueller is looking into the Comey firing.
Although Rosenstein's remaining on the case does not violate the so-called "advocate-witness" rule that prohibits a lawyer being both an advocate and a witness at the same trial, it raises concerns about potential conflicts of interest. The advocate-witness prohibition is designed to prevent confusion over roles by the jury at trial. It does not deal with the broader issues of conflict of interest and the appearance of conflict.
In the Rosenstein matter, the supervising prosecutor has a potential stake in whether the line prosecutor will call him as a witness, or will cross-examine him if he were to be called as a defense witness. Even more worrisome is the possibility – unlikely as it seems — that the supervising attorney may become a subject or target of the investigation. He could be named as a co-conspirator if Mueller believed that he knowingly provided a cover to hide the president's real intentions in firing Comey.
The more likely problem grows out of the possibility that President Trump's lawyer would try to shift the responsibility for the firing of Comey from the president to the author of the memo justifying the firing, namely Rosenstein. "Advice of counsel" is a recognized defense, especially where state of mind — alleged corrupt intent — is at issue.
If President Trump's lawyer were to make this argument to the special counsel and his supervisor, could Rosenstein fairly consider and assess it? Would he have a conflict if he had to evaluate his own role in the firing? In an ordinary criminal case, recusal is not required based on speculation possibilities. But this is no ordinary case. When it is the president, or those around him, who are being investigated, everyone involved in the investigation and charging decisions must be "Caesar's Wife," beyond any suspicion or even appearance of conflicting interests.
Does Rosenstein's continuing involvement in the Russia probe and possible obstruction of justice pass that daunting test? That is the relevant question, and more attention should be paid to that ethical issue than to the political question of whether or not he should be fired.
Alan M. Dershowitz is the Felix Frankfurter Professor of Law, Emeritus, at Harvard Law School and author of "Trumped Up: How Criminalization of Political Differences endangers Democracy."
© 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.

Victory is impossible in the wars of the Middle East
Raghida Dergham/February 7, 2018
Despite escalating rhetoric and threats, all players already understand that there can be no winner in any war taking place or that could take place in the Middle East. Neither the United States, Russia, Turkey, Israel, nor Iran and her proxies can prevail in their wars. It follows that the coming confrontation in the region will not take the form of direct military involvement, for example between the US and Iran. Rather, the US will probably work to destabilize and target Iran and her proxies financially, with the option of preempting Iran militarily outside its borders kept open if needed. Indeed, the Trump administration has made is absolutely clear that it intends to scrutinize Iran’s actions at home and in the region, and that it has no qualms about tearing apart the nuclear deal if Tehran were to provide it with any pretext to do so. Yet these are the limits of any Iranian-American confrontation.
Recently, the deputy commander of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards (IRGC) Gen. Hossein Salami said that Iran had carried out an assessment of the strengths and the weaknesses of the enemy, declaring, “We are fully aware of US air and sea capabilities surrounding Iran…and consider war to be a realistic scenario for which we are preparing.” Escalating his rhetoric against Washington, Salami boasted of the accuracy of Iran’s ballistic missiles and their ability to hit US naval targets should they initiate military action. “I am saying that today we can launch a missile, which can hit a moving vessel with hundred percent accuracy – and it is not a cruise missile, it is a ballistic missile,” Salami claimed, saying Iran has an offensive strategy and can conduct intensive strikes against enemy bases and confront their forces at sea.
In truth however, this defiant tone reflects in its folds a structural weakness and anxiety in Iran. The IRGC know well they cannot triumph in any battle with the US no matter how vehemently they claim otherwise. And a real anxiety is the ability of the US to destabilize the regime in Tehran of which the IRGC is a core component. This is perhaps why Gen. Salami was keen to over-inflate Iran’s military capabilities, when he spoke about the IRGC’s many “missile cities”, and made provocative claims such as by saying that the Syrian and Iraq armies constitute a “strategic depth” for Iran’s rules of engagement with the enemy.
No doubt, Washington will have taken note of these exaggerations and felt relief at the ‘increased heart rate’ in the ranks of the IRGC, pressuring which is part and parcel of US strategy.
Yet remarks by Israel’s prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who claimed that Israel is “the central factor in the Middle East blocking the spread of radical Islam being led by Iran and Islamic State”, remains empty rhetoric meant for media consumption. For even as he spoke about this Israel’s ‘pivotal role’, he was backing down from threats of war with Hezbollah in Lebanon and Syria in the northern front and with Hamas in Gaza in the southern front. For one thing, the Israeli premier knows well he cannot prevail in these wars and has nothing to gain in a direct confrontation. Which is why he has been maneuvering and cutting deals instead, especially with the US and Russia.
Russia had prematurely rushed to declare victory in Syria, prompting the US to give it a quick reality check. Moscow is currently engaged in a low-grade confrontation with Washington on the Syrian battlefield, amid fears the US is attempting to ‘Afghanize’ the pushback against Russia there, similar to what happened when the US supplied shoulder-mounted anti-air missiles to the mujahidin fighting the Soviet invasion, triggering the eventual collapse of the USSR following its heavy losses and withdrawal from Afghanistan. Moscow is therefore suspicious of Washington’s intentions, and sees signs the US wants to increase the cost of its intervention in Syria to prevent a Russian victory or even bring out a defeat for Russia in Syria.
Turkey too will not taste victory in its wars in Syria – even as it has expanded its operations beyond Afrin to Manbij and east of the Euphrates, warning US soldiers and hinting at the possibility of confrontation with American forces in Syria. For their part, the Kurdish factions had too hastily claimed victory, yet ended up on the back foot in Iraq and Syria, their national aspirations suffering major setbacks.
Likewise, the IRGC, Iraq’s Popular Mobilization, Lebanon’s Hezbollah, and Syria’s president Bashar al-Assad had dismissed skeptics of their victory as a joke, but the joke then became on them. In short, no one has won in Syria – or in Iraq, Lebanon, Yemen, and Libya.
In Syria, nothing indicates the war is about to end, or that Assad would remain in power indefinitely, particularly after Washington made it clear to Moscow it is determined to prevent a victory by Assad and his allies, the IRGC and Hezbollah. Washington may use military force against Syrian sites linked to prohibited chemical weapons, and has launched strict sanctions against Hezbollah covering its operations in Lebanon, Europe, and South America. The US is also preparing additional measures targeting the IRGC and supporting Iranian opposition groups. In short, Washington is determined to contain Iranian influence outside the borders of the Islamic Republic, including militarily in the Arab region.
Iran’s reactions to all this are extraordinarily nonchalant. For example, echoing the IRGC comments about Syria and Iraq’s strategic depth for Iran, Ali Velayati, top adviser to Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, said Iran’s influence in the region was “inevitable” and vowed it would continue.
Velayati suggested the protests in his country were the work of ‘agents’, and concluded the “jihad” abroad of Qods Force commander Qassem Soleimani alongside the guidance of the supreme leader were crucial for the protection of the regime in Tehran.
This is although Iranian President Hassan Rohani warned the pillars of the regime of a similar fate to the deposed Shah if they continued to ignore the demands of the citizens. However, Khomeini’s adviser and the IRGC deputy commander have already decided that the slogans shouted by the protesters to withdraw from Syria, Iraq, and Lebanon would invalidate the victory they are claiming, even as they know this victory is impossible.

Ten observations on the margins of the Arab crises
Ahmed Abul Gheit/Al Arabiya/February 07/18
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.
Frank dialogue between Arab countries on the crises and threats is the only way to form a united and firm stance that would lead the Arabs to a position of power against their adversaries
Strategic void
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.
‘United strategy’
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.
Common threat
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.
Political ideas
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.