January 04/2018
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
Brothers and sisters, if someone is caught in a sin, you who live by the Spirit should restore that person gently
Galatians 06/01-18/Brothers and sisters, if someone is caught in a sin, you who live by the Spirit should restore that person gently. But watch yourselves, or you also may be tempted. Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.  If anyone thinks they are something when they are not, they deceive themselves.  Each one should test their own actions. Then they can take pride in themselves alone, without comparing themselves to someone else,  for each one should carry their own load.  Nevertheless, the one who receives instruction in the word should share all good things with their instructor. Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. Whoever sows to please their flesh, from the flesh will reap destruction; whoever sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life.  Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.  Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.  Not Circumcision but the New Creation See what large letters I use as I write to you with my own hand! Those who want to impress people by means of the flesh are trying to compel you to be circumcised. The only reason they do this is to avoid being persecuted for the cross of Christ. Not even those who are circumcised keep the law, yet they want you to be circumcised that they may boast about your circumcision in the flesh.  May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world. Neither circumcision nor uncircumcision means anything; what counts is the new creation. Peace and mercy to all who follow this rule—to the Israel of God. From now on, let no one cause me trouble, for I bear on my body the marks of Jesus. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit, brothers and sisters. Amen.

Titles For Latest LCCC Bulletin analysis & editorials from miscellaneous sources published on January 03-04/18
Analysis Iran Spends Billions on Proxy Wars Throughout the Mideast/Anshel Pfeffer/Haaretz/Junuary 03/18
Obama Betrayed Iranian People; Trump Stands with Them/Majid Rafizadeh/Gatestone Institute/January 03/2018
Palestinians: Always on the Wrong Side/Bassam Tawil/Gatestone Institute/January 03/2018
Pay Attention to Latin America and Africa before Controversies Erupt/John R. Bolton/Gatestone Institute/January 03/2018
Iran's Crisis is Deeper than the Price of Bread/Abdulrahman Al-Rashed/Asharq Al Awsat/January 03/18
Soft Sands and Stormy Winds in the Arab World/Amr Moussa/Asharq Al Awsat/January 03/18
Is there a Second Revolution in Iran/Maziar Bahari/The Washington Post/January 03/18

Titles For Latest LCCC Lebanese Related News published on January 03-04/18
Presidency criticizes media for citing anonymous Baabda sources
France Indicts 'Lebanese Connection' Money Laundering Network
Maronite Bishops Warn Against Restricting Freedoms in Lebanon
Berri Calls on Arab Countries to Close Embassies in Washington
Palestinian Militant Says He Has Moved to Syria
Nejmeh Square blockade lifted
Berri meets Saudi Ambassador
Berri: For adherence to norms and constitution in terms of officer promotion decree
Hariri receives US and Chinese ambassadors
Kataeb pledges continual national struggle to restore state's sovereignty
Hariri meets new Saudi envoy at Grand Serail
Siniora receives new Saudi envoy
Lebanese Army Commander meets Abu Faour, Shehayeb
Hasbani confirms some cancer drugs available in Karantina

Titles For Latest LCCC Bulletin For Miscellaneous Reports And News published on January 02-03/18
Statement by The Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister on protests in Iran
Iran’s Reza Pahlavi: US should clear way for tech companies to help Iranians
Head of Iran Guards announces 'end of the sedition'
At least 7 Russian planes destroyed by shelling at Syrian air base
US envoy Nikki Haley on Iran’s deadly protests: ‘We must not be silent’
Trump: US to Throw Support behind Iranian Protesters at Appropriate Time
Arab Coalition Thwarts Houthi Ballistic Attack against Saudi Arabia Last Week
Israel Approves Preliminary Legislation to Facilitate Death Penalty against ‘Terrorists’
UN Expresses Concern over Violence in Iranian Protests
Russia Urges Citizens to Exercise Caution in Iran
Saudi King Salman Holds Talks with Cypriot President on Latest Regional Developments
Pence Moves Visit Date a 2nd Time, Hoping to Be Hosted in Bethlehem
Saudi King Receives Egypt’s Parliament Speaker

Latest Lebanese Related News published on January 02-03/18
Presidency criticizes media for citing anonymous Baabda sources
The Daily Star/Jan. 03, 2018/BEIRUT: The presidency Wednesday criticized media reports that cite anonymous Baabda Palace sources, and said that official presidential statements are the only legitimate sources related to President Michel Aoun. "Recently, there has been an increase in news that is citing Baabda sources," the presidency wrote in an official tweet. "Let it be known, putting the content [of the information] aside, that there is only one source in Baabda that officially [represents the presidency] - and that is the presidency’s office." The tweet came as several media outlets have been citing anonymous Baabda sources to report on an ongoing dispute over a decree promoting a number of Lebanese Army officers who served under Aoun in the late 1980s when he was an Army commander.

France Indicts 'Lebanese Connection' Money Laundering Network 03rd January/Colombian drug traffickers who wish to export drugs to Europe without attracting attention have been resorting to Lebanese secret bankers in France, the French magazine Le Nouvel Observateur revealed.
These bankers are capable of moving large funds under the Hawala system; an alternative remittance channel that exists outside of traditional banking systems. Transactions between Hawala brokers are done without promissory notes because the system is heavily based on trust. Hawala works by transferring money without actually moving it. In a hawala transaction, no physical movement of cash is there. Hawala system works with a network of operators called Hawaldars or Hawala Dealers. A person willing to transfer money, contacts a Hawala operator at the source location. The hawala operator at that end collects the money from that person who wishes to make a transfer. He then calls upon his counterpart or the other Hawala operator at the destination place/country was the transfer has to be made. Now the hawala operator at the tranferee’s end, hands over the cash to the intended recipient after deducting a certain amount of commission. In January 2016, a large network of money laundering was dismantled. At the time, the press referred to it as the “Lebanese Connection”. The network, operating since 2012, had moved tens of millions of euros per year, as it worked with the so-called El Chapulin, a notorious Colombian drug trafficker. Last week, Paris general prosecutor charged fifteen people with being part of this network. The legal case has been called “Cedar”, in reference to the tree which is regarded as the emblem of Lebanon.
Once collected from all over Europe, cash of the trafficked cocaine was used to buy watches, jewelry or luxury cars which were then forwarded and re-sold in Lebanon or West Africa. The proceeds of the sale went to South America via exchange offices.
The head of the network is identified as 32-year-old Mohammad Ammar, dubbed as Alex. Following his arrest in Miami in 2016, Ammar admitted to working as a secret banker for La Oficina, a well known cartel in Colombia's Medellin region.
Mohammad Ammar relied on a trio of Lebanon-based supervisors, one of whom is the husband of a well-known local singer. Another accomplice is identified as Mohammad N., the head of an exchange company based in Beirut, who was arrested in February 2016 upon his arrival at the Roissy-Charles de Gaulle airport. In order to communicate with each other, the members of the network used a coded language based on car models. For example, “BMW 650" is used to refer to a €650.000 transaction. The locations where money was collected were also subject to a coded language, with Belgium being dubbed as “Oven” while the Netherlands was referred to as the “Mill”.The cashflow was facilitated by the head of the Intelligence Bureau at the Beirut airport, the magazine reported. All detainees denied they had known that the money resulted from drug trafficking. Ali Z. told investigators that funds originating from Africa were moves by African diplomats, while another detainee claimed that money was laundered by a Libyan singer in France. Hezbollah stands in the middle of this network, the French magazine revealed, noting that the United States' Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) suspects that the two heads of the money laundering network also worked for Hezbollah. More surprisingly, the network also served the interest of Hezbollah’s enemies. During interrogations, Abdel M., the driver of a Lebanese businessman in France, claimed to have delivered €250,000 in cash to a person who had been presented to him as the Lebanese lawyer of the Hariri family. Being questioned by the French police, the lawyer alleged that the money was intended for Fahd Hariri, the brother of Lebanon's Prime Minister Saad Hariri. According to information obtained by the French magazine, Fahd Hariri had resorted to the Hawala network since 2014 to obtain cash during his stays in France, knowing that his bank withdrawals were limited to only 25,000 euros; a sum that did not cover all his needs.

Maronite Bishops Warn Against Restricting Freedoms in Lebanon 03rd January/The Council of Maronite Bishops on Wednesday condemned the suppression of the freedom of expression in Lebanon, voicing suprise over the measures taken against citizens and journalists. "This has aroused warnings against slipping towards the restriction of freedom of expression, press and media," read a statement issued following the Council's monthly meeting, stressing the need for the judiciary alone to solve disputes. The Maronite bishops also voiced deep concern over claims that public sector tenders lack transparency as they have taken a partisan aspect, calling on officials to prioritize the state's welfare over all else. “We call on officials to work diligently to implement the relevant laws in force, to preserve the public interest, to prevent squandering under any form, and to enforce transparency on everyone at all stages of public tenders,” the statement noted. The Maronite Bishops urged the State to do what is needed to reach a solution that appeases teachers, parents and private schools, pointing out that the State has to make sure that education is guaranteed to everyone.

Berri Calls on Arab Countries to Close Embassies in Washington 03rd January/Speaker Nabih Berri on Wednesday said that Arab countries should close their embassies in Washington in response to U.S. President Donald Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and to move his country's embassy there. In a pre-recorded statement made at a session of the Palestinian Legislative Council in Gaza, Berri warned of a broader scheme to topple all Arab capitals after the Jerusalem decision, urging unity as "the only weapon left in the face of occupation."Berri's statement mentions that it was made on behalf of Lebanon’s Parliament. The House speaker suggested the launching of a fundraising campaign to build a headquarters for the Palestinian Legislative Council in Jerusalem.

Palestinian Militant Says He Has Moved to Syria 03rd January/Islamist fugitive Bilal Badr announced on Tuesday that he has moved to Syria, thus leaving the Ain Al-Helwe refugee camp where his group had instigated intense clashes against mainstream Palestinian groups in the settlement in March and August 2017. A statement issued by Badr, the leader of a hardline militant group with ties to Al-Qaeda, did not specify when or how he had traveled to Syria. The Palestinian militant addressed thanked his supporters for helping his wife who was briefly arrested by the Lebanese Army on Monday, telling them that he had moved to "the land of jihad and glory [...] to support the religion of God". Reuters quoted Islamist sources in Ain el-Hilweh as saying that Badr had gone to Syria's Idlib province which is controlled by Hayat Tahrir al-Sham, a jihadist alliance spearheaded by the former al-Qaeda affiliate in the country.

Nejmeh Square blockade lifted
Nahar/January 03/18/BEIRUT: Speaker Nabih Berri ordered Wednesday security forces to ease access to Nijmeh Square, re-establishing pedestrian access to the area after years of restrictions following mass protests in Downtown Beirut. In a statement issued, Berri ordered the removal of barricades, barbed wires and cement blocks surrounding Lebanon's Parliament in an effort to "assist business owners, restaurants, hotels, and offices in resuming their work." The decision comes days after the square witnessed one of the largest gatherings on New Year's Eve.
In the midst of the YouStink protests that came about as a result of the government's failure to manage the country's waste crisis, Lebanon's Parliament blocked all access to the square, a development which severely hurt the country's once leading tourist destination.

Berri meets Saudi Ambassador
Wed 03 Jan 2018/NNA - House Speaker Nabih Berri received on Wednesday the new Saudi ambassador to Lebanon, Walid al-Yaaqoub, who came on a courtesy visit. Talks reportedly touched on most recent developments and the bilateral ties. On emerging, Ambassador al-Yaaqoub said his visit was of protocol nature.

Berri: For adherence to norms and constitution in terms of officer promotion decree
Wed 03 Jan 2018/NNA - House Speaker Nabih Berri on Wednesday reiterated the need to adhere to the norms, laws in effect and constitution in the issue of the controversial officer promotion decree. "The situation remains the same regarding the officer seniority decree," visiting deputies within the Wednesday Gathering quoted Speaker Berri as saying. Berri wished the Lebanese prosperity and stability on the onset of the New Year, underlining the necessity of according daily living issues and all needed services to citizens utmost attention. "It is ripe time to provide electricity, water, medication and all needed services to citizens in all Lebanon," he said.

Hariri receives US and Chinese ambassadors

Wed 03 Jan 2018/NNA - The President of the Council of Ministers Saad Hariri received today at the Grand Serail the US Ambassador to Lebanon Elizabeth Richard, who congratulated him on the occasion of the new year. They discussed the developments and the bilateral relations.
Hariri also met with the Chinese Ambassador to Lebanon Wang Kejian. Hariri also received a delegation from State Security headed by its General Director, Major General Tony Saliba. Later on, he met with a delegation from General Security, headed by its Director General, Major General Abbas Ibrahim. Both delegations congratulated him on the New Year. Hariri praised their efforts to preserve security and stability in the country.

Kataeb pledges continual national struggle to restore state's sovereignty

Wed 03 Jan 2018/NNA - The Lebanese Kataeb Party on Wednesday congratulated the Lebanese on the New Year, pledging to continue its national struggle to restore the State's sovereignty and free decision and counter the authority's indulgence in power-sharing quotas, squandering and corruption. "The state with its own legitimate powers, solely, has the exclusive right to defend Lebanon," Kataeb stressed in a statement issued in the wake of its regular meeting, chaired by Party leader MP Sami Gemayel. The Party underlined that such a right is absolutely not endowed to any other state, party or group, rejecting any position coming out by whichever foreign side. On the other hand, Kaateb utterly rejected tampering with media liberties in Lebanon, voicing full solidarity with the Lebanese Broadcasting Corporation (LBC) and TV host Marcel Ghanem. "Kataeb shall follow up on the path of the case in preservation of public liberties and the dignity of free mediamen," statement read. The Phalange Party said that these practices come within the framework of the electoral campaign of the political class, with the aim of domesticating the free media and suppressing freedom of opinion and expression.

Hariri meets new Saudi envoy at Grand Serail
Wed 03 Jan 2018/NNA - Prime Minister Saad Hariri received on Wednesday evening at the Grand Serail the new Saudi ambassador to Lebanon, Walid al-Yaaqoub, who came on a protocol visit upon his assumption of his duties in Lebanon. The visit was a chance to dwell on most recent developments and the bilateral ties between the two countries. On emerging, Ambassador al-Yaaqoub described his meeting with Premier Hariri as "good and excellent."

Siniora receives new Saudi envoy
Wed 03 Jan 2018/NNA - "Future" bloc head Fouad Siniora received on Wednesday afternoon at his Bliss office the new Saudi ambassador to Lebanon, Walid al-Yaaqoub, who came on a courtesy visit upon his assumption of his duties in Lebanon. The visit was a chance to dwell on the overall situation and the bilateral ties between the two countries.

Lebanese Army Commander meets Abu Faour, Shehayeb
Wed 03 Jan 2018/NNA - Army Commander, General Joseph Aoun, on Wednesday received at his office in Yarzeh, MPs Wael Abu Faour and Akram Shehayeb, with whom he discussed the overall situation and current developments. General Aoun then met with the Customs Director General, Badri Daher, on top of a delegation of the Directorate. Talks reportedly touched on joint cooperation between the two institutions. The army commander also met with the Secretary General of the Lebanese-Syrian Supreme Council, Nasri Khoury, with whom he discussed the situation on the Lebanese-Syrian borders. Among General Aoun's itinerant visitors for today had been the President of the American University of Science and Technology (AUST) Dr Riad Sakr, on top of a delegation of the University.

Hasbani confirms some cancer drugs available in Karantina
Wed 03 Jan 2018/NNA - Deputy Prime Minister, Public Health Minister Ghassan Hasbani, said in a press conference held at the ministry's building on Tuesday that problems concerning the availability of some cancer drugs in Karantina have been resolved. "All the other cancer medicines will be available within the coming few days," Hasbani confirmed.

Latest LCCC Bulletin For Miscellaneous Reports And News published on January 02-03/18
Statement by The Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister on protests in Iran
January 3, 2018 - Ottawa, Canada - Global Affairs Canada
The Honourable Chrystia Freeland, Minister of Foreign Affairs, today issued the following statement on the ongoing protests in Iran:
“Canada is deeply troubled by the recent deaths and detentions of protesters in Iran. The Iranian people have the right to freely assemble and express themselves without facing violence or imprisonment.
“As we said last week, Canada is encouraged to see the Iranian people who are bravely exercising their basic right to protest peacefully. We call on the Iranian authorities to uphold and respect democratic and human rights, which are too often ignored.
“We remain concerned for the well-being of protestors and will continue to closely monitor the protests.”
Associated links
Canada closely monitoring ongoing protests in Iran
Adam Austen
Press Secretary
Office of the Minister of Foreign Affairs
Media Relations Office
Global Affairs Canada

Iran’s Reza Pahlavi: US should clear way for tech companies to help Iranians

Reuters, Washington/January 04/18
The Trump administration should encourage US technology companies to provide communication services to Iranians as they protest their country’s clerical rulers, said Reza Pahlavi, the last heir to the Iranian monarchy.
In an interview with Reuters on Wednesday, Pahlavi also criticized the Trump administration’s ban on travel to the United States by most Iranians, calling it “ridiculous”. Anti-government protests have gripped Iran for nearly a week in the most sustained challenge to the Islamic Republic’s clerical elite in almost a decade. Pahlavi has lived in exile for nearly four decades, since his father, the US-backed shah, was overthrown in the 1979 Islamic Revolution. The opposition to Iran’s clerical government is atomized, with no clear recognized leader. But some demonstrators have in recent days chanted slogans in favor of Pahlavi’s grandfather, Reza Shah, breaking a longstanding taboo.
Pahlavi said he wants to see Iranians “determine their own fate out of their own free will,” and praised US President Donald Trump and members of his cabinet for speaking in support of Iranian protesters.
But he said they also should take steps to ensure that Iranians have access to communication and social media tools, which they have used to share videos and messages documenting protests and clashes with security forces.
Iran, which bars the use of major social media platforms, also has restricted access to the Telegram messaging app, and Iranian users in recent days have reported major hurdles in accessing the internet.
“We need more than lip service. We need to see concrete actions,” Pahlavi said. “This has to be immediate ... As we speak, the regime is attempting yet again to try to shut down whatever it is, whether it’s Instagram or Telegram.” There is a precedent for this type of US intervention. In 2009, amid mass protests over a disputed election, an Obama administration official asked Twitter executives to delay scheduled maintenance so Iranians could continue to use the service to communicate.
Technology experts have documented numerous examples of commercial services being denied to Iranians, often because of concerns about running afoul of US sanctions.Activists have urged tech companies to loosen their Iran policies, but say the Trump administration could expand exemptions to make clear that some services are allowed.
State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said in a news briefing on Tuesday that the United States wants to see Iranians have access to social media and other tools. But when asked if Google was “over-interpreting” US sanctions on Iran by blocking access to one of its services there, Nauert said she had “no idea.”
The State Department did not immediately respond to a request for comment on what discussions if any it has had with tech companies.
Exemptions To Sanctions
The Obama administration approved exemptions to US sanctions that allowed for providing chat, email, social networking, photo sharing, web browsing, blogging and other personal communication services.
Twitter and messaging service Signal did not immediately respond to requests for comment. Facebook and Google declined to comment.
“The policies of these companies are not really clear,” said Amir Rashidi, an internet security researcher at the Center for Human Rights in Iran, a non-governmental organization based in New York.
Pahlavi critiqued the Trump administration’s decision to ban nearly all Iranian travelers and immigrants from the United States as part of a broader travel ban targeting several mostly Muslim countries. “Iranian diplomats still can travel (here) but innocent Iranians who in fact work and have built this country are barred from coming,” said Pahlavi, who lives in the United States. “Why? Because they’re under the so-called ban. That’s ridiculous.”
A State Department spokeswoman said US support for the Iranian people “is a fundamentally separate issue” from the travel ban.

Head of Iran Guards announces 'end of the sedition'
Wed 03 Jan 2018/NNA - Iran's Revolutionary Guards said Wednesday that the unrest that had rocked Iran over several days was at an end, and that a maximum of 15,000 people had taken part nationwide."Today we can announce the end of the sedition," said Mohammad Ali Jafari, commander of the Revolutionary Guards. "There were a maximum of 1,500 people in each place and the number of trouble-makers did not exceed 15,000 people nationwide," he said on the Guards' website. A total of 21 people have died in the unrest, with protesters attacking government buildings and police stations in some areas.--AFP

At least 7 Russian planes destroyed by shelling at Syrian air base
Reuters, Moscow/January 04/18/At least seven Russian planes were destroyed by rebel shelling at the Hmeymim air base in Syria on Dec. 31, Russian daily Kommersant reported late on Wednesday, citing two sources.  In the single biggest loss of military hardware for Russia since it launched air strike in Syria in autumn 2015, more than 10 servicemen were wounded in the attack by radical militants, the report said. At least four Su-24 bombers, two Su-35S fighters and an An-72 transport plane, as well as an ammunition depot, were destroyed by the shelling, Kommersant said on its website, citing two “military-diplomatic” sources. Kommersant said the Russian defense ministry had not commented. Reuters was not able to immediately reach the ministry. Earlier on Wednesday, the ministry said a Mi-24 helicopter had crash-landed in Syria on Dec. 31 due to a technical fault and two pilots died. Last month, Russia began establishing a permanent presence at Hmeymim and a naval base at Tartous although President Vladimir Putin has ordered a “significant” withdrawal of his military from Syria, declaring their work largely done.

US envoy Nikki Haley on Iran’s deadly protests: ‘We must not be silent’
AFP, United Nations/January 04/18/Washington's UN Ambassador Nikki Haley called Tuesday for an urgent UN meeting on deadly demonstrations in Iran, praising the "great bravery" of the protesters as French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian delayed a visit to Tehran amid the unrest. Nikki Haley, the US Ambassador to the United Nations, called on the international community to speak out on the unfolding protests in Iran, saying the US would seek emergency UN talks on the situation. "The people of Iran are crying out for freedom," Haley said at a news conference."All freedom-loving people must stand with their cause." She said the United States would be seeking emergency sessions of the UN Security Council and the Geneva-based UN Human Rights Commission in the coming days.Haley rejected as "complete nonsense" charges by Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei that the five-day-old protests were being fomented by the country's "enemies." "The freedoms that are enshrined in the United Nations charter are under attack in Iran. Dozens have already been killed. Hundreds have been arrested," she said."If the Iranian dictatorship's history is any guide, we can expect more outrageous abuses in the days to come," she said.

Trump: US to Throw Support behind Iranian Protesters at Appropriate Time

Asharq Al Awsat/January 03/18/US President Donald Trump reiterated on Wednesday his backing of the anti-government protests in Iran, saying the people will witness great support from Washington soon. He tweeted that the United States would throw its support behind those protesting in Iran at an “appropriate time.”“Such respect for the people of Iran as they try to take back their corrupt government. You will see great support from the United States at the appropriate time!” he said. The protests, which began last week out of frustration over economic hardships suffered by the youth and working class, have evolved into a rising against the powers and privileges of a remote elite especially Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei. Some 23 people have been killed since the protests began on Thursday. The violence has drawn international concern of an escalation in Iran, amid calls that the people’s right to freedom of expression and holding peaceful demonstrations be respected. United Nations chief Antonio Guterres called on Iranian security forces and demonstrators to avoid violence, expressing concern over the loss of life in the rallies.

Arab Coalition Thwarts Houthi Ballistic Attack against Saudi Arabia Last Week
Asharq Al Awsat/January 03/18/The coalition to restore legitimacy in Yemen announced on Wednesday that it had thwarted a ballistic missile attack by the Iranian-backed Houthis against Saudi Arabia last week. Spokesman for the coalition Turki al-Maliki said during a press conference that the alliance has thwarted 86 missile attacks against the Kingdom, the last of which was on Friday. He welcomed the Arab Parliament’s condemnation of Houthi strikes against Saudi Arabia and condemned the backing Houthi militias receive from some countries to destabilize the region.

Israel Approves Preliminary Legislation to Facilitate Death Penalty against ‘Terrorists’

Asharq Al Awsat/January 03/18/Israel on Wednesday approved preliminary legislation that would make it easier for a court to impose a death sentence on assailants convicted of murder in attacks classified as terrorism. The deeply controversial motion was brought by Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman, an ultra-nationalist in the conservative coalition government, who advocates tough action against Palestinian militants. Fifty-two of parliament’s 120 members voted in favor, and 49 were opposed. Israeli military courts - which handle cases involving Palestinians in the occupied West Bank - already have the power to issue the death sentence, although this has never been implemented. The only case of an execution in Israel was carried out against convicted Nazi war criminal Adolf Eichmann in 1962. Qadoura Fares, chairman of the Palestinian Prisoner Club which represents Palestinians jailed in Israel, denounced the vote as “an expression of the state of blindness and confusion in the policies of this fascist regime (where) extremist parties race to pass racist laws. “While the world moves toward repealing the death penalty, Israel is working to ratify this law, which is directed against the Palestinians,” Fares told Reuters. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu voted for the motion but said that such legislation required deeper discussion and that the matter would now be considered at ministerial level before further debate in the Knesset. In remarks to lawmakers, he said: “I think that in extreme cases, when somebody slaughters and laughs (as he kills), he should not spend the rest of his time in jail and should be executed.”Asked by an Israeli Arab lawmaker whether he would also apply this reasoning to Jewish militants convicted of killing Palestinians, Netanyahu said: “In principle, yes.”As the law stands now, a panel of three military judges must unanimously approve any death penalty in military courts. The bill would change the requirement to a majority instead of unanimity. Palestinians in the occupied West Bank face military courts when arrested by Israel. Israel abolished the use of capital punishment for murder in civil courts in 1954, though it can still in theory be applied for war crimes, crimes against humanity, genocide, treason, and crimes against the Jewish people. In July as Netanyahu visited with family members of three Israelis stabbed to death by a Palestinian, he expressed support for the death penalty in certain cases. "The death penalty for terrorists? - it's time to implement it in severe cases," he said while speaking with the family members.

UN Expresses Concern over Violence in Iranian Protests

Asharq Al Awsat/January 03/18/The secretary general of the United Nations called on Wednesday Iranian security forces and demonstrators to avoid violence in the ongoing anti-government protests in the country. Antonio Guterres expressed concern over the loss of life in the rallies, said a statement from his office as the death toll in the demonstrations reached 21 by Tuesday. “The secretary general ... deplores the loss of life in the protests. He urges respect for the rights to peaceful assembly and freedom of expression, and that any demonstrations take place in a peaceful manner,” Guterres’ spokesman Farhan Haq said in a statement.“Further violence must be avoided.”Earlier, the UN human rights chief called on Iran to rein in security forces to avoid further violence and respect the right of protesters to freedoms of expression and peaceful assembly. Zeid Ra'ad al-Hussein, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, said in a statement that more than 20 had been killed and hundreds arrested across Iran in the past week and he urged "thorough, independent and impartial investigations of all acts of violence that have taken place". Protesters "have a right to be heard", he said. There must be "a concerted effort by the authorities to ensure that all security forces respond in a manner that is proportionate and strictly necessary, and fully in line with international law". The protests, which began last week out of frustration over economic hardships suffered by the youth and working class, have evolved into a rising against the powers and privileges of a remote elite especially Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei. Defying threats from the judiciary of execution if convicted of rioting, protests resumed after nightfall with hundreds hitting the streets of Malayer in Hamadan province chanting: "People are begging, the supreme leader is acting like God!"Videos carried by social media showed protesters in the northern town of Nowshahr shouted "death to the dictator" – an apparent reference to Khamenei.

Russia Urges Citizens to Exercise Caution in Iran
Asharq Al Awsat/January 03/18/Russian Federation called upon its citizens in Iran and those planning to visit the country to exercise caution following the recent demonstrations in most Iranian cities. Russia believes the protests are a result of dissatisfaction with the social and economic situations in the country and accused protesters of carrying weapons against the authorities. The statement cautioning citizens was not issued by the Foreign Ministry, but rather came indirectly through the Federal Agency for Tourism of the Russian Federation. It issued an alert saying the ministry warned against the large-scale protest movements in the streets of major Iranian cities, including Tehran, Mashhad, Isfahan and Rasht.The statement added that according to the ministry’s information, riots and clashes between protesters and police officers were recorded. The statement did not refer to the authorities’ violence against protests and said that "some demonstrators are carrying arms."In light of these developments, the Federal Agency for Tourism advised Russian citizens in Iran and those planning to visit it, to be cautious and "to refrain as much as possible from visiting places where crowds of citizens are gathering."The Federal Agency, in its statement, also called on tourism companies organizing trips to Iran to warn their clients of the current situation in the country and take into account the information about situations in Iranian cities. Earlier, the Russian foreign ministry indicated that the current events are Iran’s internal affair, adding that "external interference destabilizing the situation is inadmissible.” Senator Konstantin Kosachev, who also chairs the Foreign Affairs Committee of the Russian parliament, said “external factors” have been involved in the protests, noting that Washington will seize every opportunity to destabilize Iran. He also criticized US President Donald Trump’s statements about the protests. “New year’s wave of protests in Iran, of course, in the first place is a symptom of certain internal political processes in the country. Socio-economic factors also influence the events, but they aren’t the worst in the region and in comparison with previous years for Iran,” Kosachev stated. However, the senator made light of claims of a US role in the protests, saying he doubted that the US was that influential in Iran, stressing that Iran is not vulnerable to foreign interference.

Saudi King Salman Holds Talks with Cypriot President on Latest Regional Developments
Asharq Al Awsat/January 03/18/Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman bin Abdulaziz held talks in Riyadh on Wednesday with Cypriot President Nikos Anastasiadis, reported the Saudi Press Agency (SPA). During the meeting, they discussed bilateral relations between the two countries and ways of enhancing them, in all fields, in addition to review latest regional developments. The two leaders witnessed a ceremony held for co-signing of an agreement, an executive program and a memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the governments of Saudi Arabia and Cyprus. An agreement to avoid double taxation on income and to prevent tax evasion was co-signed by Saudi Minister of Finance Mohammed bin Abdullah Al-Jadaan and Cypriot Foreign Minister Ioannis Kasoulides. An executive program was co-signed between the General Authority of Civil Aviation of the Kingdom and the Ministry of Transport of Cyprus. It was co-signed by the Minister of Transport, the Chairman of the General Authority for Civil Aviation, Dr. Nabil bin Mohammed Al Amoudi, and the Minister of Transport, Communications and Labor, Marios Demetriades for Cyprus, said SPA. A MoU was co-signed on the political consultations between the Saudi Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Cyprus, co-signed by the Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Dr. Nizar bin Obaid Madani and the Cypriote Foreign Minister Ionis Kasoulides. The ceremony was attended by a number of royal and non-royal princes, ministers, senior, civil and military, officials and the Saudi Ambassador to Greece and Cyprus. It was attended also by the accompanying delegation and the Cypriot ambassador to the Kingdom.

Pence Moves Visit Date a 2nd Time, Hoping to Be Hosted in Bethlehem
Asharq Al Awsat/January 03/18/Israeli political sources blamed US Vice President Mike Pence’s decision to postpone his scheduled visit to the Middle East, which starts in Egypt and ends in Israel, mid-this month, mainly to Palestinians refusing to host him and rejecting US mediation in negotiations to settle the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. Palestinians took a definitive stance against US mediation following the United States showing bias and recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. These sources said that Pence shifting the visit’s time for the second time in the past two weeks confirms that the Americans still hope "the Palestinians change their position and receive him in Bethlehem, with the aim towards resolving the differences arising from the promise US President Trump made and to examine the possibility of resuming negotiations."Initially, the visit was scheduled for December 20, and was postponed until further notice. The White House then announced that the postponement is so that Pence could stay in Washington until the vote on the "tax cuts" bill was finished. Later on, the White House confirmed that the visit would take place on January 14, however the list of officials expected to arrive in the country this month in Tel Aviv, did not include Pence. Israeli authorities said "Pence's visit to Israel, which was scheduled for mid-January, did not show up on the list of foreign officials visiting Israel during this month due to a number of difficulties regarding the overall agenda”. Although the White House made it clear that the vice president plans to arrive in Israel at the end of this month, Israeli sources have questioned it actually taking place, asserting that PM Benjamin Netanyahu plans to visit India, Munich and Davos by the end of January. Pence’s visit will be the first of a senior US official to Israel since Trump announced on December 6 Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. If received by the Palestinians, it will be the first public meetings between them and US officials after the announcement.

Saudi King Receives Egypt’s Parliament Speaker

Asharq Al Awsat/January 03/18/The Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman bin Abdulaziz received at Al-Yamamah Palace in Riyadh on Wednesday Egyptian Parliament Speaker Dr. Ali Abdel Aal and his accompanying delegation, the Saudi Press Agency reported. The Speaker conveyed to the King the greetings of Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, while the King sent his greetings to the President, SPA said. According to the news agency, King Salman and Abdel Aal reviewed fraternal relations between the two countries and aspects of cooperation between the Kingdom and Egypt in the parliamentary field. The audience was attended by Speaker of the Shura Council Dr. Abdullah bin Mohammed Al Al-Sheikh, Minister of State and Cabinet's Member Dr. Musaed bin Mohammed Al-Aiban, and Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Dr. Nizar bin Obaid Madani, SPA added.

Latest LCCC Bulletin analysis & editorials from miscellaneous sources published on January 02-03/18
Analysis Iran Spends Billions on Proxy Wars Throughout the Mideast.
إيران تنفق بلايين الدولارات على حروب في الشرق الأوسط من خلال وكلائها من الميليشيات
Anshel Pfeffer/Haaretz/Junuary 03/18
Here's Where Its Money Is Going

The debate taking place behind closed doors in Tehran seems to have spilled out onto the streets: whether to save the money for the stagnant economy at home
The protest wave began, according to Iranian sources, in the city of Mashad, and was originally organized by hard-line clerics – rivals of President Hassan Rohani who sought to capitalize on the unrest over unemployment and high prices. If this was indeed the motivation, it seems to have backfired, with protests quickly spreading to dozens of cities across Iran and now targeting not only the relatively “moderate” Rohani government but the more hard-line establishment around Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei and his allies, including the Revolutionary Guards.
One of the many slogans being heard at the protests is “No Gaza, No Lebanon, No Syria, My life for Iran!” – referring apparently to the billions Tehran has spent on its allies across the region, instead of investing in the stagnant economy at home.
It’s ironic that the protests, which were planned by Rohani’s hard-line rivals to pressure him, have backfired in such a way. In recent months, one of the major behind-the-scenes debates in the Iranian establishment has been whether to make a further major investment in Syria. As the Syrian civil war seems to be dying down, the Revolutionary Guards have sought to capitalize on the money they spent there and entrench their presence by building a permanent air base and docking facilities on the Mediterranean coast. This would mean spending at least hundreds of millions more, if not billions, on construction.
According to Western intelligence sources, the factions close to Rohani are against spending this money they say is needed for improving infrastructure and providing jobs at home. The debate taking place behind closed doors in Tehran seems to have spilled out onto the streets of Iran’s cities.
Iraq and the Arabian Peninsula
The extent of Iran’s funding for its allies and proxies in the region is impossible to assess accurately, in part because much of the funding comes in the form of arms and equipment, as well as the transport of fighters and supplies in aircraft operated by Iranian state-owned airlines. Iran extends invaluable support to its allies also through the services of its officers as military advisers and by setting up Shi’ite militias that it trains and deploys across the region.
Iran in recent years has invested billions in propping up its allies in Lebanon, the Gaza Strip, Yemen, Iraq, Saudi Arabia and Bahrain, but above all, since 2011, it has poured money in keeping Syrian President Bashar Assad in power.
Iran’s investment in the Assad regime over the past six and a half years has come in various forms and is difficult to quantify. Iranian state-owned banks set up credit lines for the Syrian government of $3.6 billion in 2013 and $1 billion in 2015 to let the regime buy oil and other goods from Iran.
The $4.6 billion does not include arms supplies, arriving daily in Iranian cargo aircraft at the Damascus airport, the deployment of thousands of military “advisers” of both Iran’s army and Revolutionary Guards – a thousand of whom are estimated to have been killed in action – and the much larger force of Shi’ite militias, mainly fighters from Afghanistan that Iran has organized and funded. Around 50,000 of these militia members have fought in Syria. They earn $300 a month, and Iran also pays for their weapons, travel and sustenance. In other words, Iran has spent billions more annually on the Assad regime over the last six years.
Around 100,000 Iranian-backed militia fighters have been operating in Iraq in recent years, both fighting the Islamic State and furthering Iran’s interests in neighboring territory. Though part of the funding for these militias comes also from Iraqi sources, the lion’s share of their pay and weaponry is financed by Tehran.
The Hezbollah model
Of course, of all the Shi’ite militias in the region, the one that has gained the most from Iran’s largesse is Hezbollah. Estimates of Iran’s funding for the Lebanese group reach anywhere from $60 million to $1 billion a year. It comes in the form of direct financial support, massive quantities of both basic conventional arms and advanced weapons systems, training facilities in Iran, and investment in construction projects in Lebanon to boost Iran and Hezbollah’s standing in the country. 
The model that Iran pioneered in Lebanon from the mid-1980s, of training and arming Hezbollah as its local proxy, has been replicated with anti-government Shi’ite underground groups in Saudi Arabia and Bahrain, and militias in Iraq since the U.S. invasion in 2003 and the Houthis in Yemen since at least 2015. In their case, the aid has come in the shape of long-range missiles as well, which the Houthis have been firing at Saudi Arabia, including Riyadh.
Not only Shi’ite groups have received arms and funds. Israeli intelligence has assessed the financial support to Islamic groups in Gaza at around $100 million annually, though this decreased since the beginning of the Syrian civil war, when Hamas, which was close to the Sunni rebel groups in Syria, temporarily cut its ties with Iran and the Assad regime. Over the last two years, those ties have been reestablished and the financial support for Hamas is now at around $50 million, while the more radical Islamic Jihad, which did not cut ties with Tehran, is receiving around $70 million.
The Revolutionary Guards, who have supervised these investments, have tried to make at least some of them profitable. Syria used much of the credit to pay for Iranian oil and gas, which Iran had no customers for when it was under sanctions and support for the Assad regime was given in part in return for mining rights in Syria and the lease of land for agriculture. But it will take time, probably years, until matters in Syria have calmed sufficiently for the Iranians to see any profits.
The Iranian nuclear deal, which ended most of the sanctions on Iran, has unfrozen tens of billions of dollars that have reached the regime’s coffers but have yet to be translated into prosperity trickling down to the Iranian people. The hard-liners’ attempt last week to channel the frustration with Rohani, whose government led the nuclear talks, seems to have resulted in an outburst of anger also at the hard-liners’ investment of billions that Rohani was less in favor of.
Either way, it could be bad news for both rival sections of the Iranian leadership. Once you push people out on the street, it becomes very difficult, if not impossible, to direct their fury.

Obama Betrayed Iranian People; Trump Stands with Them
Majid Rafizadeh/Gatestone Institute/January 03/2018
As a long-time Iranian, I can tell you that the support of the US and President Trump is invaluable to the ordinary Iranians: they feel helpless and alone in the face of the monsters who have been oppressing them for so long.
On Persian social media outlets and apps such as Telegram, which is extremely popular among Iranians, people are cheering the US support. People are asking the US to support them in other ways as well, in addition to helping them bypass the internet-blocks and shut-downs that the Iranian regime recently implemented.
If the Iranians succeed in changing this Islamist regime, it will bring down the highest state sponsor of terrorism, the leading regime in human rights violations, the top state sponsor of anti-Americanism and anti-Semitic propaganda. Iran, with its current regime, is a danger not just to its long-suffering people, but to everyone. These protesters, who are flooding the streets and demanding that their voices be heard, are committing acts of heroism that will be felt throughout the world and throughout history.
Remember, just eight years ago, that the people of Iran rose up in their millions against their Islamist dictatorship. The US administration at the time stayed abhorrently silent. People on the streets chanted, "Obama, Obama, are you with them [mullahs] or with us?"
Washington did not offer support. The administration's dismissal not only enabled the mullahs brutally to crush the demonstrations with impunity; the mullahs were even rewarded with a deal that would enable them to have a legitimate nuclear weapons capability down the road, as well as billions of dollars.
Obama and the Iranian regime sold the world the idea that the nuclear agreement, appeasement policies towards the mullahs, and the lifting of UN sanctions would supposedly help the Iranian people and make the Iranian government a constructive player. All facts show, then as now, that the opposite took place.
People are suffering financially in oil-rich Iran (as they are in oil-rich Venezuela). Unemployment among the youth has reached a record-high of roughly 31%, while approximately 60% of the Iranian population is under 30 years of age. Many of the youth are highly educated and tech-savvy but they cannot find jobs. Those who are older cannot afford medicine, food or shelter. Inflation has been skyrocketing.
Suppression of freedoms, and human rights violations have escalated, according to Amnesty International and other human rights groups. The extra billions of dollars in revenue, thanks to the wretched nuclear agreement that should have been cancelled months ago, are going not into the pockets of the people, but into the pockets of the Revolutionary Guards, Syria's President Assad, Hezbollah in Lebanon, the Houthis in Yemen, and other terrorist groups.
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani's proposed budget for 2018-2019 includes a significant increase for the military and ballistic-missile program while cutting subsidies for the poor.
US President Donald J. Trump, on the other hand, has been supporting and praising the bravery of the Iranian people, and publicly condemning any human rights violations committed by the Iranian regime against the people.
The Iranian regime, its agents and the mainstream leftist media is attempting to make readers and viewers believe that the US should be silent during this uprising.
How could a country based on freedom and civil rights be silent while other humans are being butchered because they desire that same freedom and those same rights? Is silence not a betrayal of justice, freedom and democracy? Is silence not a betrayal of the victims of Islamism, terrorism and violence, in the face of the acts being committed by the Iranian regime against innocent people in Iran and around the world? The Iranian regime is the top state sponsor of terrorism. It is ranked top in the world when it comes to executing people per capita. The regime, according to Amnesty International, is a leading executioner of children. As the regime continues to intensify its crackdown in the last few days, dozens of peaceful protesters have been shot dead.
As a long-time Iranian, I can tell you that the support of the US and President Trump is invaluable to the ordinary Iranians: they feel helpless and alone in the face of the monsters who have been oppressing them for so long.
On Persian social media outlets and apps such as Telegram, which is extremely popular among Iranians, people are cheering the US support. People are asking the US to support them in other ways as well, in addition to helping them bypass the internet-blocks and shut-downs that the Iranian regime recently implemented. It is hypocritical and heartbreaking to see that the international community and the United Nations simply watch while peaceful protesters are being beaten and killed: no words of condemnation have been spoken. The dictators and despots who form the UN's majority are doubtless worried that that might be next. Silence equals tolerance. Is this the message being sent to the protesters who are risking their lives to bring freedom not only to their nation but eventually to the entire world?
Protesters on Valiasr Avenue in Tehran, Iran this week. (Image source: VOA)
If the Iranians succeed in changing this Islamist regime, it will bring down the highest state sponsor of terrorism, the leading regime in human rights violations, the top state sponsor of anti-Americanism and anti-Semitic propaganda. Iran, with its current regime, is a danger not just to its long-suffering people, but to everyone. These protesters, who are flooding the streets and demanding that their voices be heard, are committing acts of heroism that will be felt throughout the world and throughout history.
**Dr. Majid Rafizadeh, is a business strategist and advisor, Harvard-educated scholar, political scientist, board member of Harvard International Review, and president of the International American Council on the Middle East. He is the author of "Peaceful Reformation in Iran's Islam". He can be reached at Dr.Rafizadeh@Post.Harvard.Edu.
© 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.

Palestinians: Always on the Wrong Side
Bassam Tawil/Gatestone Institute/January 03/2018
Palestinians also took to the streets to celebrate the 9/11 attacks carried out by al-Qaeda.
Another sign of Palestinian support for dictators and terrorists emerged in August 2017, when President Mahmoud Abbas sent the leader of North Korea, Kim Jong-Un, a telegram congratulating him for "Liberation Day."
Something good has come out of the fiasco surrounding the Palestinian ambassador's association with a global terrorist: The Indians realize now that Israel is their ally in the war on terrorism -- certainly not the Palestinians, who again and again align themselves with those who seek death and destruction.
The Palestinians have an old and nasty habit of placing themselves on the wrong side of history and aligning themselves with tyrannical leaders and regimes. Every time the Palestinians make the wrong choice, they end up paying a heavy price. Yet, they do not seem to learn from their mistakes.
The latest example of Palestinian misjudgments surfaced last week when the Palestinian Authority "ambassador" to Pakistan, Walid Abu Ali, shared a stage with UN-designated terrorist and Jamat-ul-Dawa leader Hafiz Saeed.
The two men appeared together at a rally that was held to protest US recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital. Thousands attended the rally in Rawalpindi, which was organized by the Defense of Pakistan Council, an alliance of religious parties dominated by Saeed's group.
Jamat-ul-Dawa has been blamed for the 2008 Mumbai attacks, which killed 166 people. Saeed is wanted by the US, which has offered a $10 million reward for his arrest. Pakistan, however, has turned down extradition requests and allows the terrorist to operate freely.
The appearance of the Palestinian Authority ambassador alongside Saeed drew sharp criticism from many Pakistanis and Indians alike.
Tarek Fatah, a Canadian-Indian writer and liberal activist who was born in Karachi, Pakistan, tweeted:
"Palestinian Ambassador to Pakistan, Walid Abu Ali, joins wanted jihadi terrorist Hafiz Seed on stage. Was the Palestinian Authority aware that Hafiz Saeed is the man who ordered the 2008 Mumbai attacks? Did the Palestinian Authority authorize this validation of India's enemy No. 1?"
Thousands took to social media to express their outrage over the joint appearance of the PA envoy and the wanted terrorist. Many Indians criticized their government for voting against US President Donald Trump's announcement recognizing Jerusalem as Israel's capital in the UN General Assembly. They also called on the Indian government to correct its mistake by strengthening its ties with Israel.
Anil Kumar Sharma wrote:
"Palestinians have slapped across the face the Indian government, which has recently betrayed Israel by voting in favor of the Palestinians (at the UN General Assembly). Hope this would jolt the Indian government to see the ground realities and formulate a totally pro-Israeli West Asia policy and follow US and move our embassy to Jerusalem."
Amitava Sarker commented: "India should have a strong practical policy on the Middle East. Again, we should know that progressive Israel is our friend and not fundamental Muslim countries."
Arvind Singh tweeted: "This is the proof that Palestinians support terrorism. We support them instead of supporting our friend, Israel."
Bobby Kapoor: "India sides with Palestine as recently as the UN vote while the Palestinian Authority sides with a global terrorist. India should review its policy towards Palestine."
Dhiraj Punj: "Huge embarrassment for Indians individually and for India as a nation. India votes for Palestine, and they (Palestinians) join Hafiz Saeed. Foreign policy disaster!!!"
Gpebble: "The Indian government must support Jerusalem as Israel's capital in response to this ugly brotherhood of Palestine and Hafiz Saeed the terrorist generator."
Harvey Kribs: "Palestinians are Islamic supremacists who seek Islamic hegemony in the Middle East in the same way Islamic terrorists seek Islamic hegemony in South Asia. If one puts an end to Palestinianism, the rest of the radical Islamists will fall by the wayside."
Alarmed by the strong reactions, the Palestinian Authority, in an unprecedented move, announced that it was recalling its ambassador to Pakistan.
A statement issued by the Palestinian Authority in Ramallah said that the Palestinians were committed to preserving their good relations with India. "Palestine is keen on supporting India's war against terrorism," the statement read. "Palestine and India are true partners in the war on terrorism." The Palestinian Authority claimed that the participation of its ambassador in the rally alongside Hafiz Saeed was an "unintentional and inexcusable error."
An "unintentional error"?
How, precisely, was the ambassador unaware of Hafiz Saeed's presence at the rally when he posed proudly for a "photo op" with the terrorist?
The Palestinians have a long record of making such "mistakes." Forging alliances with mass murderers and terrorists goes back to the days of Haj Amin Al-Husseini, the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, who had close ties with Adolf Hitler and Nazi Germany. According to British records, Husseini told Hitler during a meeting in 1941: "The Arabs were Germany's natural friends because they had the same enemies as had Germany, namely the English, the Jews, and the Communists." He also thanked Hitler for supporting "the elimination of the Jewish national home."
Later, the Palestinians threw in their lot with the Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein and supported his invasion of Kuwait in 1990. Kuwait was one of many wealthy Arab countries that used to provide the Palestinians with billions of dollars in aid every year. When Kuwait was liberated a year later by the US-led coalition, hundreds of thousands of Palestinians were deported from Kuwait and other Gulf countries. When Saddam fired rockets at Israel during the first Gulf War, the Palestinians took to the streets to dance and cheer.
Palestinians also took to the streets to celebrate the 9/11 attacks carried out by al-Qaeda. In the past decade, they have also rejoiced each time Hamas or Hezbollah fired rockets or carried out suicide attacks against Israel. Scenes of Palestinians handing out sweets in the aftermath of suicide bombings and other terror attacks are commonplace on the Palestinian street.
Another sign of Palestinian support for dictators and terrorists emerged in August 2017, when President Mahmoud Abbas sent the leader of North Korea, Kim Jong-Un, a telegram congratulating him for "Liberation Day." In his letter, Abbas said the Korean people "sacrificed the most precious sacrifices for its freedom and honor" and expressed his appreciation to the support North Korea has shown the Palestinian people in their fight for freedom."
So, Palestinian history is packed with support for terrorists and despots. The Palestinian Authority ambassador's participation in a rally together with Hafiz Saeed was anything but an "unintentional mistake." In fact, it reflects a long-standing Palestinian tradition of siding with evil and ruthless leaders, regimes, groups and terrorists.
The response from many Indians is encouraging. Something good has come out of the fiasco surrounding the Palestinian ambassador's association with a global terrorist: the Indians now know the depth of Palestinian admiration for, and glorification of, terrorists and their thirst for violence. The Indians also realize now that Israel is their ally in the war on terrorism -- certainly not the Palestinians, who again and again align themselves with those who seek death and destruction.
*Tarek Fatah, a Canadian-Indian writer and liberal activist who was born in Karachi, Pakistan, tweeted: "Palestinian Ambassador to Pakistan, Walid Abu Ali, joins wanted jihadi terrorist Hafiz Seed on stage. Was the Palestinian Authority aware that Hafiz Saeed is the man who ordered the 2008 Mumbai attacks? Did the Palestinian Authority authorize this validation of India's enemy No. 1?" (Image source: Tarek Fatah/Wikimedia Commons)
© 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.

Pay Attention to Latin America and Africa before Controversies Erupt
John R. Bolton/Gatestone Institute/January 03/2018

Latin America and Africa have rarely rated as top U.S. foreign policy priorities in recent years, but 2018 may change that. Political instability and the collapse of national governments, international terrorism and its associated financing, and great power competition for natural resources and political influence could all threaten significant American national security interests next year. If several simmering controversies erupt simultaneously, Washington could find itself facing these crises with little or no strategic thinking to guide our responses.
In the Western Hemisphere, Cuba as of now is scheduled on April 19 to see the end of official leadership by the Castro brothers. Since seizing power from Fulgencio Batista in 1959, Fidel and Raul have embodied global revolutionary Marxism, defying U.S. opposition and repressing domestic dissent without compunction. But while loath to admit it, the Castros were always sustained by external assistance, by the Soviet Union until its 1991 collapse in turn prompted a near-terminal regime crisis in Cuba, and more recently by Venezuela's dictatorship.
Moreover, despite Barack Obama's revealingly ideological effort to extend a lifeline by granting the Castro regime diplomatic recognition, economic conditions did not improve and domestic political repression only intensified. Even beyond Cuba's open contempt for Obama's concessions, however, 2017's still unexplained sonic attacks on American diplomatic personnel crossed the line. Denied by Havana but hard to imagine without its connivance, these attacks concentrated the new Trump administration's attention. In November, the White House rolled back many of Obama's changes, serving notice that harming Americans was unacceptable.
Now, with Venezuela on the ropes, the revolutionary legitimacy of the Castros set to disappear, and U.S. pressure increasing, how long the regime survives is an open question. Whoever follows Raul Castro may well be Cuba's version of Egon Krenz, East Germany's last Communist ruler after the Berlin Wall fell in 1989.
One major unknown is whether Vladimir Putin will see a strategic opportunity to reassert Russian influence in the failed Marxist paradise, or in other hemispheric weak points. Both Nicaragua (where, incredibly, the Sandinistas remain in power) and Honduras (which President Trump is trying to rescue from misguided Obama policies) are possibilities. While tensions will not likely return to Cold War levels, when U.S.-Soviet crisis over Cuba came close to igniting nuclear war, Russian meddling in Latin America could inspire Trump to reassert the Monroe Doctrine (another casualty of the Obama years) and stand up for Cuba's beleaguered people (as he is now for Iran's).
One major unknown for 2018 is whether Russian President Vladimir Putin will see a strategic opportunity to reassert Russian influence in Cuba. Pictured: Vladimir Putin meets with Cuban regime head Raul Castro at the UN in New York, on September 28, 2015. (Image source:
Venezuela's tragic decline, first under Hugo Chavez's comic-opera regime and now under Nicolas Maduro, his dimwitted successor, accelerated in 2017. A country that once had near-European living standards has seen its petroleum industry collapse through corruption, criminal negligence and lack of investment, with devastating consequences.
Moreover, foreign penetration of Venezuela remains unprecedented. Maduro relies on Cuban military advisers, and Iran and others maneuver to retain access to the country's extensive uranium reserves, using its banking system for extensive money laundering and other illicit transactions. Hezbollah, exploiting the long history of expatriate Middle Eastern trading networks in Latin America, remains a murky but continuing threat, and narcotics empires are taking advantage of the rising chaos to operate in both Columbia and Venezuela.
Fortunately, at least some countries, like Argentina and Chile, show signs of restabilizing and overcoming misguided economic policies. On the other hand, as Brazilians themselves say, "Brazil is the country of the future, and always will be." While Washington continues debating Mexican border policy, broader hemispheric threats, essentially ignored during the Obama administration, continue to grow, as 2018 may prove to our dismay.
Africa, in 2017 and before, has been ravaged by spreading anarchy and Islamic terrorism. Somalia effectively disintegrated decades ago, southern Sudan's bloody civil war continues (and Sudan's Darfur massacres remain etched in our memory), Boko Haram has torn open the seam between Muslims in the Saharan and Christians and animists in sub-Saharan Africa, and destabilizing terrorists or warlord groups, often armed by collaborating with similar groups in the collapsed state of Libya, have rampaged across the continent. Of these, Boko Haram's threat to Nigeria's stability and unity is the most significant, especially given Nigeria's substantial oil reserves.
While the ISIS caliphate in Syria and Iraq was essentially destroyed in 2017, its leaders had exfiltrated over time, escaping to Africa, Afghanistan and elsewhere. Throughout northern Africa, therefore, ISIS and other terrorists could well become more visible next year as weak governments come under increased threat. France, for example, saved Mali from likely terrorist takeover in 2013, and more such threats could now emerge. Africom, the newest U.S. combatant command, faces its most extensive challenges and considerable attention to its counterterrorism efforts.
More broadly, Kenya saw internal political discord and external interference in 2017 that all but shattered confidence in national institutions. Similarly, South Africa's African National Congress, which brought the country to independence and ruled it thereafter, nearly disintegrated in a just-concluded leadership contest to succeed President Jacob Zuma as the party's head. On the other hand, successful elections in Liberia to succeed President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf mean that, for the first time in that nation's history, there could be a peaceful transformation from one democratically elected leader to another. Moreover, Robert Mugabe's fall in Zimbabwe was good news, although there is no guarantee the country will escape from his autocratic regime.
In both Latin America and Africa, China's presence has grown significantly in recent decades, often through substantial foreign aid infrastructure projects or investments in natural resources, designed to feed China's industrial production demands. Beijing's competition with Washington has been largely one-sided, since we have long had wholly inadequate strategic understanding of the implications of China's incursions, and no coherent response. Russia has been less involved in the race for natural resources, but its increased visibility, especially in our hemisphere, are part and parcel of Putin's efforts to reassert Russia's presence as in Cold War days.
In both of these critical regions, we need greater U.S. involvement, hopefully guided by more comprehensive thinking rather than ad hoc responses to erupting crises. This same advice could have been given for decades. Whether it will change in 2018 remains to be seen.
John R. Bolton, former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, is Chairman of Gatestone Institute, a senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, and author of "Surrender Is Not an Option: Defending America at the United Nations and Abroad".
**This article first appeared in The Hill and is reprinted here with the kind permission of the author.
© 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.

Iran's Crisis is Deeper than the Price of Bread
Abdulrahman Al-Rashed/Asharq Al Awsat/January 03/18
After toppling the Shah in Iran, Ayatollah Khomeini succeeded in one thing: eliminating the strongest, richest and the most successful country in the Middle East.
Khomeini established on the rubble of the modern Pahlavi empire a backward religious state with old left-wing economic ideology. Iran was a successful model in the eyes of the West and it was way ahead of other countries.
Then, Khomeini disappointed everyone who supported him and all those who thought well of him. Iran's youth hoped the Shah's successor will bring a comprehensive democratic system. Ethnic minorities thought that after the Shah's removal, dominant Persian nationalism will end and a unified Iran for all will be established. Communists thought he would be their ally against the US, the Shah's ally.
Meanwhile, US officials thought religious scholars were better than the communist Tudeh Party of Iran, which will also block the way before the Soviets who were occupying neighboring Afghanistan. In addition, they thought they could work together with the clerics later on. The Arab people believed Khomeini's pledges to liberate Jerusalem from the Israelis and Arabs in the Gulf hoped the Shah's departure would end the dispute over the islands, Bahrain, and Iraq.
They were all wrong. After Khomeini assumed power, Iranian youth paid the highest price. Universities were placed under the clerics' control and women were oppressed. The first victims of the newly-established regime were the leftists, who suffered the prejudice of the mullahs although they had helped it in Azadi (Freedom) Square.
Moreover, the regime suppressed ethnic minorities.
US officials realized that the religious right in the region was not the same as the right-wing in the West. The religious right was more hostile to the West than the Tudeh Party.
Tehran limited its dispute with Israel over Arab areas of influence. As for Arabs in the Gulf, they discovered that Khomeini considered them his main enemy and permanent target as he reawakened the old sectarian conflict.
Those who think that the economic crisis is the reason behind the people's protest against the regime of the Supreme Leader are underestimating the more dangerous and deep-rooted causes. The demonstrations of 2009 were larger, and they were led by people from within the regime who enjoyed their livelihood privileges. The roots of the current crisis are everything I mentioned above.
The regime had eliminated all local forces and distanced itself from others. When it failed, it was easy for all the people to rally behind their sole demand: Overthrowing the regime.
Bread is not the only problem with Hassan Rouhani's government, and oil prices are not their main argument against the Supreme Leader's regime. Rather, they oppose everything the regime represents.
The majority of Iranians are not religious and they have national pride and reject marginalization by the clergy. During the Shah's time, Iran was more civilized, open and advanced in science and industry. It all disappeared after a group of "dervishes" assumed power, believing that their sole duty was to harness the state to serve the Ayatollah and spread his teachings and fight for them all over the world.
This naive selfish way of thinking did not convince the majority of Iranian youth who produce the best movies, recite the best poems and hold parties in basements away from Basij informants' eyes. For many months, Iranian women published once a week their photos without the hijab in defiance of the mullahs.
The Iranian people harbor a genuine hatred for the regime. Some of the banners held during the demonstrations had slogans condemning support for religious movements in Lebanon, Syria and Iraq. This feeling is greater and far more dangerous than the demand for cheaper bread.
There are many enemies of the clerical regime abroad as well, including some of those who show their concerns, like Russia, which is locked in a dispute with Iran over the division of the Caspian Sea and several other issues.
This may pressure Tehran during the upcoming phase to change into real politics, treat its people according to their wishes and end its foreign adventures. If it does not make these changes, the antagonistic majority inside and outside Iran will succeed in toppling the regime.

Soft Sands and Stormy Winds in the Arab World
Amr Moussa/Asharq Al Awsat/January 03/18
The year 2017 witnessed important developments linked to the ongoing movement of change in the Arab world. Some indicate that military clashes and terrorist acts will decrease, such as in Iraq, Syria and Libya, while others indicate that they will continue, such as in Yemen and terror attacks in Egypt’s Sinai.
On the other hand, international efforts have intensified to reach political solutions that are still incomplete and expected to take shape in 2018. This is applied to the turbulent situation in the Fertile Crescent region, southern Arabian Peninsula and Arab countries in North Africa.
Based on the above, the Arab world is unstable and so are its neighbors in the Horn of Africa and the Sahel region.
As for Iran, Turkey and Israel, they complete the picture of the Middle East and they lie in wait to reap any rewards. They stand in a position of power, have smart administrations, strong tactics and the ability to maneuver that enables them to achieve strategic visions. These are assets that are completely absent from or partially available to other regional countries.
This is a very brief introduction to the situation in our region at a time when we bid farewell to an old year and welcome a new one. The welcome cannot be complete without acknowledging that the reconstruction of Arab societies, through real and comprehensive reform (in the fields of education, economy, justice and administration and imposing the rule of the constitution, law and democracy…), has not taken place. Its real beginning has not even started yet, which deals a blow to the movement of change or at least slows it down. It weakens the Arab strategic position at a time when regional balances are being assessed to see who can be a partner and who can be fragmented or indefinitely destabilized.
This situation demands Arab citizens to call on governments to exercise caution. The region is headed towards a new reality and the search is on for the “new regional system,” which will unavoidably be established. At this point a very honest proposal needs to be made.
Arab governments, or Arab rulers, do you want to keep on correcting the mistakes of the past or do you want to build a new Arab system that is based on a modern vision of Arab solidarity and that takes into consideration the factors of the 21st century and the aspirations of our mostly youthful societies? Conditions should be prepared for them because this century will reject and defeat all who remain frozen in a certain mentality or who believe that what took place in the 20th century can be replicated.
Or have you determined to put an end to the collective Arab life and each go your own way to achieve your interests and safety, even if it may be temporary and superficial?
On this note, let me say the following:
One: Whoever seeks the protection of major powers will remain exposed because in reality, this was never about protecting a country or its interests. It was about the more powerful pursuing their interests and once they are achieved, then the weaker player will be cast aside (we saw what happened to the Shah of Iran and the figures that were toppled in the “Arab Spring”, all of whom were thought to be “protected”).
Two: Whoever believes that he can use Israel in a plan or policy against Iran, for example, will discover that Israel is manipulating him and that Iran and Israel may at any moment reach an understanding that totally disregards Arab stances and their interests. The possibilities of this happening are clear to all who are aware of political games and their complexities.
Three: Those who believe that the US holds all cards, or at least 99 percent, of the regional game are mistaken. The situation is no longer the way it was in the 20th century. The cards have been distributed and several of them are being seized. The Arab world must obtain some of them. The ways to do so are well known in political science and it can happen, even if through certain conditions.
Four: Abandoning the Palestinian cause and claiming that we have more important problems would be a “grave strategic error.” The cause that we are clinging on to could create for the Arabs important political cards through which fair regional arrangements can be reached for the Palestinians and all the Arabs within a peaceful framework that falls in line with the new regional system. In this regard, we should closely examine the aftermath of Trump’s decision on Jerusalem.
Five: As for Iran, it is a country that has a long history in the region where Arabs make up a majority, either in countries or population. There is no doubt that old and new disputes exist on the Arab-Iranian scene. There is also no doubt that Arabs generally refuse the export of the revolution and the majority of Arab support the rise of a civil state, whose authorities are the constitution and laws and nothing else.
Senior Iranian officials’ proud declaration of victory and boasting that Tehran now controls four Arab capitals was very negatively received in the Arab world. In addition, concerns have been raised about the threats of Iran’s ongoing pursuit of its agenda to impose its hegemony over the region. At the same time, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammed Javad Zarif’s call for dialogue should not be disregarded and it should be viewed from a peaceful perspective. Time should be given to determine whether his call reflects a change and development in Iranian policy or if it is a political maneuver.
The relationship with Iran should be viewed from an Arab angle and it should be approached while keeping in mind the past, present and future dimensions of this relationship. A united Arab stance, should we reach it, will represent a political weapon that is greater than allying with this major power or that regional country. Neither alliance will harbor good intentions towards the Arabs and neither will honestly take their interests into consideration.
Six: As for Turkey, its ambitions to restore some of the power it enjoyed over the Arab world during Ottoman rule is emerging, through a 21st century approach. In this regard, Turkey will be seeking to achieve its interests, which do not necessarily coincide with Arab ones. It will seek to do so through a strong Turkish military, economic and political presence and in playing, as much as possible, an effective role in reshaping some regional countries and governments.
In this regard, Turkey is forming its alliances and is being selective in the locations it sets up base. We have seen several examples of this. It has a military base in Qatar, meaning the Gulf, and a dominant presence in the Sudanese island of Sawakin, putting it in the Red Sea. Ankara has a strong strategic political stance on Kurdish regions in Syria and Iraq, and alliances with extremist regional and international organizations, starting with the Muslim Brotherhood, all in coordination with Iran and its regional policy. In addition, Turkey is enjoying a positive policy with Russia and a special position with the United States and various other western alliances.
Given the above, Turkey has managed to garner very special strategic positions that are bolstered by its strong economy and successful management, even if President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s latest policies raise several questions.
In reality, we should be wary of Turkey’s ambitions, especially in regards to its alliance with the Muslim Brotherhood and its efforts to achieve a regional system with an Ottoman or religious identity.
We as Arabs, starting with Egypt and the Gulf, must closely and diligently study Turkey’s actions that make it a force in the Gulf and Fertile Crescent.
Seven: Israel. Our problems with Israel are related to the establishment of a Palestinian state, whose capital is East Jerusalem, ending the occupation of Arab land and thwarting its dreams of expanding to the Nile and the Euphrates. The reality is that the 2002 Arab initiative that was launched in Beirut is the key to reaching peace, ending enmity and paving the way for stability in the region.
At this point, we as Arabs should declare a clear stance against Israel’s obstruction of the two-state solution. We should propose a peace agenda that is based on two possibilities, either this or that, within a timeline and transparent international authority. With that I mean establishing an independent Palestinian state or one that brings together Israelis and Palestinians alike. Israel must choose.
The Israelis and Americans have made the Palestinian state option a mirage for Arabs to chase while Israel colonizes and “judaizes” Palestinian land.
The one-state option should be on the agenda of any negotiations table along with the option of the Palestinian state. We have negotiated over the latter for over a quarter of a century to no avail. Negotiations, should they be held, must be within a timeframe. Once they end and talks of a Palestinian state end, then so will talk of a Jewish state. We can then begin serious discussions on a single state for all Israelis and Palestinians.
Yes, it is time to officially and internationally propose the one-state option, regardless of Israel’s rejection of all fair peace options.
Eight: Ethiopia. It is considered a major country in the Horn of Africa, which includes the three Arab countries of Sudan, Somalia and Djibouti. Ethiopia also enjoys strong strategic ties with Egypt, which are represented now with the Renaissance Dam project and its threat to Egypt’s share of Nile waters.
There is no doubt that Ethiopia is part of the Arab and Islamic family that spans the Asian and African continents. Common interests should therefore be taken into consideration and problems with Addis Ababa must be resolved, starting with the Nile dam dispute. The dispute should be tackled through a major development and investment operation within a new regional framework.
The above is not simply a recap of 2017, but it is a preparation for the new year. It is a brief and quick examination of the rapidly moving regional situation that stands on soft sand and is being blown by stormy winds. The region is filled with demons, who are drawing a terrifying scene. There are however some glimmers of hope that can only be strengthened through restoring Arab consciousness and having leaders assume their responsibilities towards the current and upcoming generations according to a clear vision of the future. Experienced Arab leaders could help in drafting this vision within an Arab proposal for an Arab and regional security system. In this regard, it would be best to review the proposal that was made at the 2010 Arab League summit to set up a league of Arab neighbors or study the possibility of setting up a regional security and cooperation system in the Middle East.
These proposals have their conditions and demands and their establishment requires creating suitable Arab and regional factors, starting with Iran reconsidering its regional policies and actions, Turkey going back on its Ottoman ambitions and Israel ceasing its rejection of Palestinian rights. Can we as Arabs rise to the occasion?

Is there a Second Revolution in Iran?

Maziar Bahari/The Washington Post/January 03/18
On Thursday, Dec. 28, a group of people gathered in the city of Mashhad and demonstrated against the Iranian government’s economic policies. This demonstration happened in a city that is holy for 250 million Shi’ite Muslims around the world; it is where Reza, the 8th Shiite imam is buried. Imam Reza’s shrine is also a multi-billion-dollar conglomerate that owns a number of industries, banks, hospitals and, of course, seminaries across Iran. The conglomerate runs under the supervision of the supreme leader of Iran Ali Khamenei.
The presence of the Imam Reza conglomerate makes Mashhad the third-most-important city in Iran, after the capital Tehran and the city of Qom, where most Iranian grand ayatollahs live. Different security and intelligence services, including Iran’s Ministry of Intelligence, as well as the Revolutionary Guard Intelligence Unit and the police, keep a close eye on Mashhad to make sure it is safe for the millions of pilgrims from across Iran and up to 2.5 million Shi’ites from other countries who visit the city every year.
The symbolism of Thursday’s protests was therefore not lost on millions of Iranians in other cities who suffer from the same economic distress. If the people of Mashhad with all their constraints could do it, people in Rasht, Kermanshah, Isfahan, Sari and many other cities could take to the streets as well. Interestingly, unlike the 2009 Green Movement, which started in the capital, the recent protests were mostly in the provinces.
Encouraged by the small measure of space provided by the government for demonstrations in Mashhad, thousands of Iranians expressed their dissatisfaction with the government’s economic and foreign policies, and their anger at the Islamist government that has been in power since 1979. The protesters have included government and private-sector employees who’ve seen prices going higher every day in recent years, retirees who don’t receive their pensions on time, people who have lost money in different investment schemes, and others who believe they’ve been deprived of their rights as Iranian citizens.
Many protesters chanted against recent developments that have served to only add insult to their injuries – both in terms of the government’s domestic policies and its dreams of hegemony in the region.
On Dec. 10, President Hassan Rouhani presented his budget, which essentially would make life more expensive for citizens and, at the same time, include generous allocations for religious organizations in Iran and elsewhere. The slogan “Not Gaza, Not Lebanon, I Give My Life for Iran” was repeated in the protests across different cities. Many Iranians regard their government’s generous help to the Palestinian “Hamas,” Lebanese “Hezbollah,” Syrian Assad regime and Yemeni Houthis as unnecessary and even treasonous.
Despite people’s passion and energy, no one knows what is happening in Iran. Analysts are confused and mostly silent. And the people on the streets are not supporting any individual or group; they have chanted slogans against Rouhani and Khamenei, but unlike in 2009, there are no leaders to guide them.
Rouhani has, at the time of this writing, reportedly gathered his ministers and advisers to assess the situation. So far, Rouhani’s government has managed only to blame the demonstrations on its conservative critics. Rouhani’s vice president has implied that the hard-liners are using people’s economic problems to bring down the government. Some hard-liners have been happy about the anti-Rouhani slogans, but many of them have chastised protesters for chanting slogans against the supreme leader, who is supposed to be a sacred being.
Hundreds of people have been arrested in cities around Iran in the past 48 hours. No one has been released as of this writing. It would be interesting to know what their interrogations have been about and what charges are being brought against them.
The demonstrations have shown the dissatisfaction of Iranians with the regime as a whole — both the so-called pro-reform Rouhani and the conservative Khamenei. Dealing with this outbreak of hatred may unify the regime for a short while, but, inevitably, the factions will start their infighting again. Rouhani and Khamenei have different interests and bases of support. They cannot coexist peacefully and simultaneously cater to their constituencies.
Rouhani cannot ignore the destructive role of the ayatollah’s cohorts in the Revolutionary Guard and their firm grip on the economy. The Guards practically run Iran’s policies in the wider region — including supporting Bashar al-Assad and “Hezbollah” – and they have made a mockery of Rouhani’s attempts at rapprochement with Iran’s neighbors and the West.
The supreme leader, in turn, cannot satisfy millions of Iranians who want prosperity and freedom and also maintain the support of his fanatic die-hard supporters who have been enjoying power for the past four decades.
Is it a revolution? Not yet. Iran’s government is its own worst enemy and the Iranian people know it. Economic woes leading to infighting can bring down this corrupt and brutal system.
The Iranian people have learned, after living almost 40 years under the Islamic Republic, to gradually and intelligently raise their voices in peaceful protests that will provoke the government to tear itself apart.