January 08/2018
Compiled & Prepared by: Elias Bejjani

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Bible Quotations
Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of such things God’s wrath comes on those who are disobedient. Therefore do not be partners with them

Ephesians 05/01-25: " Follow God’s example, therefore, as dearly loved children and walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God’s holy people. Nor should there be obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking, which are out of place, but rather thanksgiving. For of this you can be sure: No immoral, impure or greedy person—such a person is an idolater—has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God. Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of such things God’s wrath comes on those who are disobedient. Therefore do not be partners with them. For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth) and find out what pleases the Lord. Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them. It is shameful even to mention what the disobedient do in secret. But everything exposed by the light becomes visible—and everything that is illuminated becomes a light. This is why it is said: “Wake up, sleeper, rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.” Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is. Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another with psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit. Sing and make music from your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ."

Titles For Latest LCCC Bulletin analysis & editorials from miscellaneous sources published on January 07-08/18
Our Corrupted Leaders Represent our distorted image/Elias Bejjani/January 06/2018
MP, Sami Gemayel's Interview by the Al Jadeed TV/ Kataeb Heading Towards Electoral Confrontation Alongside Opposition January 08/2018
An Open Letter to Hassan Nasrallah/Elie Aoun/January 07/18
GOLDSTEIN: Trudeau doesn’t understand the nature of evil/Toronto Sun/January 07/18
It's Time for the Census Bureau to Stop Dividing America/Ward Connerly and Mike Gonzalez/The Washington Post/January 07/2018
Iran and the Need for Change/Leonid Bershidsky/Bloomberg/January 07/2018
Iran Deserves a Different Regime/Eyad Abu Shakra/Asharq Al Awsat/January 07/18
Sharia for New Year's/Bruce Bawer/Gatestone Institute/January 07/18
Political Islam and Sharia Should Be Outlawed in Europe/Mirek Topolánek/Gatestone Institute/January 07/18
Crackdown won’t prevent change from coming to Iran/Baria Alamuddin/Arab News/January 08/2018

Titles For Latest LCCC Lebanese Related News published on January 07-08/18
Our Corrupted Leaders Represent our distorted image
MP, Sami Gemayel's Interview by the Al Jadeed TV
An Open Letter to Hassan Nasrallah
Power Barges Production in Jeopardy
Asmar Apologizes to Lebanese over Power Blackout, Announces Resumption of Work
Powerships to Cease Production if Fuel Oil Not Supplied
Lebanese Army Arrests 'Most Wanted Car Thief' in Bekaa
Report: Officers Decree Row Wavering between Breakthrough and Setback
Man Kills Sister-in-Law, Commits Suicide
Rahi calls on officials to preserve national unity
Kassas represents Riachy at NNA annual dinner: We hope to grant employees full time jobs
Hakim Urges Popular Revolution in Upcoming Parliamentary Polls
Lebanon’s Mismanagement Strikes Again

Titles For Latest LCCC Bulletin For Miscellaneous Reports And News published on January 07-08/18
Hundreds protest in Europe and US in solidarity with Iranian uprising
Iran’s Reformists Warn against ‘Exporting’ Internal Crisis
Iranian ex-president Ahmadinejad arrested for inciting unrest: Reports
GOLDSTEIN: Trudeau doesn’t understand the nature of evil
EU ambassador to Israel: 'Death penalty will not advance us'
Trump Defends his Intellect against Wolff’s ‘Fire and Fury’
Netanyahu Calls for Closure of UN Palestinian Refugee Agency
Syrian Forces Eye Rebel-Held Province after Defeat of IS
Syria Rebel Enclave is Assad Regime's Weak Spot
Saudi Cleric Held for Months without Charge, Says HRW
Afghan mercenaries being sent to Syria part of ‘vicious Iranian plot’
Tanker ablaze, 32 missing - mostly Iranians - after collision off China
Egypt ex-PM Ahmed Shafiq will not stand for president in 2018
Egypt refutes NYT report on tacit acceptance of Jerusalem move
Egypt's Coptic Christians celebrate Christmas amid tight security
One killed and another injured after blast in Sweden capital

Latest Lebanese Related News published on January 07-08/18
Our Corrupted Leaders Represent our distorted image
Elias  Bejjani/January 06/2018
We, the Lebanese are fully responsible for the miseries that Lebanon is facing.
Why? Because we allow corrupted and shameless leaders, politicians and clergymen to control our national decision making process and evilly run our country.
Our well know proverb says: "your leaders are an image of you".
Yes currently they are! And because we are opportunists, chameleons, selfish, puppets, subservient, stupid and ignorant we leave in position and power, leaders and terrorist parties like Hezbollah.
Our fate is in our hands and unless we change, our leaders will remain as we are.

MP, Sami Gemayel's Interview by the Al Jadeed TV/ Kataeb Heading Towards Electoral Confrontation Alongside Opposition Stalwarts Monday 08th January 2018,
Kataeb leader Samy Gemayel Sunday stressed that the discretionary policy adopted by the ruling authority has become apparent and undeniable amid the suppressing acts it is masterminding, saying that nothing will change unless people revolt against the current status quo.
“Why weren't all those who cast doubt over the authority's corruption referred to the judiciary just like me? It is because I am being politically targeted,” Gemayel said in an interview on New TV.
“I assure the Justice Minister [Selim Jreissati] that I will be working without any limits from now on,” he vowed. “The impertinent approach you are adopting reminds us of an era that has gone for good."
The Kataeb leader affirmed that he will keep on saying the truth no matter what, saying that he had the right to express his concern and fears over Lebanon's natural wealth after that only one bidder had been approved in the oil exploration tender process.
“Why weren't my statements regarding the power barges deal also referred to the judiciary? Is it because they know that I have watertight evidence proving its corruption?” he asked.
Gemayel stressed that the upcoming parliamentary polls will serve as an opportunity for the Lebanese to stop the ongoing erroneous policy, saying that whoever is preventing accountability, undermining sovereignty and dashing democracy is contributing to the destruction of the country.
“They are seeking to rig the upcoming elections by intimidating and muzzling the free people so that the Lebanese would not hear the truth.”
“We don't distinguish between the components of the ruling authority as we object to the entire system. We are open to anyone who decides to join the opposition's ranks,” he said.
Gemayel hoped that the Lebanese would relinquish their stubbornness and blind affiliations, saying that what matters to him as a lawmaker is to be assessed based on his stances and vision.
“Liberate yourselves from all constraints when you will go to cast your ballot; vote in accordance with your convictions and aspirations,” Gemayel said addressing the Lebanese. "Do not get tempted by electoral bribes. It is your right to get services in return for the taxes you pay. Do not let anyone make these services look as favors, because they are your basic rights."
“I call on the Lebanese to assume their responsibility by contributing to the much-aspired change that we have always sought in this country,” he added.
Gemayel noted that a clear vision regarding electoral alliances will be articulated by early February, adding that the Kataeb party will be fighting its electoral battle alongside civil society groups.
"We are heading towards a confrontation against the prevailing policy. We shall work hand in hand with whoever is convinced of our opposition."
The Kataeb leader stressed that the ruling authority is living in another world as it is totally disconnected from what the Lebanese are enduring in their daily lives, saying that the state should not dissociate itself from issues that concern Lebanon's sovereignty.
“I am convinced that the performance of the current ruling authority will not lead to anything positive,” he warned. “Relinquishing sovereignty and basing politics on partitioning is not the right way to build the country,"
Gemayel stressed that his stance is one and the same in Lebanon and abroad, saying that the state's decision-making power has been hijacked and democracy has been paralyzed.
“In my meetings abroad, I express the same stances that I say openly in Lebanon,” he affirmed.
“Unfortunately, Lebanon's defensive strategy is not being discussed and decided by the government. This was clearly proved during the border battles against terrorist groups that took place over the summer,” he noted.
“It wasn't the state who decided when and how the battle against terrorist groups should be fought; it wasn't even involved in the negotiations that happened,” he added. “Did any of the ministers approve the deal that secured the swap deal with ISIS and allowed militants to leave unpunished?"
The Kataeb leader reiterated that it is the people's right to know who allowed criminal ISIS militants to cross the border into Syria in air-conditioned buses, saying that it is also their right to know how things are being done and managed in the state.
Gemayel outlined the need for a minimum level of respect between the Lebanese for them to build their country together, deeming equality as indispensable.
"Equality is key to building the country as all the Lebanese, with no exception, should abide by the rule of law,” he said. “We want real partnership when it comes to determining Lebanon's fate and deciding how the country should be defended.”
Gemayel stressed that the Kataeb’s problem with Hezbollah is not based on sectarianism, saying that the issue lies in the party's illegal arms, violation of Lebanon's Constitution and sovereignty as well as suppression of the freedom of other local factions.
“Is it acceptable that Hezbollah chief decides the country’s defensive strategy, while the government keeps mum and remains idle?” he asked.
“Isn't there anyone other than Hezbollah chief to tell us what is the Lebanese state's plan and strategy to face threats?” he added. “What is the state's stance regarding the fact that there is a local faction that has its own, separate defensive strategy? Doesn't the government have any stance regarding the recent visits made by foreign militants to Lebanon?"
Gemayel renewed his call for integrating Hezbollah's capabilities and arms into the Lebanese Army, stressing that it is the exclusive duty and right of the state, not a certain party or sect, to defend the country.
“The biggest mistake that we made was accepting to be part of previous governments with only one minister who logically cannot change anything alone,” he said. “When we got to have three ministers in the previous government, the Kataeb party was constantly attacked and cornered so as to suppress its influence and prevent it from making any change."
Gemayel reiterated that the Kataeb party wouldn't have resigned from a government in which it had three ministers and wouldn't have voted against Aoun for president had it sought power.
The Kataeb chief deemed the ongoing row between President Michel Aoun and Speaker Nabih Berri over the officers promotion decree as politically driven, saying that it is illogical that the whole country has to suffer each time ties between the country's top leaders get bad.
“Unfortunately, the country's affairs are linked to partitioning; solutions are constantly pending under-the-table agreements between officials,” he said. “Personal interests are being favored over the country's welfare."
Asked about ties with the Lebanese Forces, Gemayel said that the party is obviously not satisfied with the government's performance and does not approve all the decisions being made, pointing out that talks with LF have yet to discuss any electoral alliance.

An Open Letter to Hassan Nasrallah
رسالة مفتوحة من إيلي عون إلى حسن نصرالله
Elie Aoun/January 07/18
In principle, those who claim to be liberators have a duty to preserve that liberation. Being liberators does not give them the right to undermine the country they liberated, or to place it under another occupation.
The vast majority of your interview with Al Mayadeen, few days ago, had nothing to do with Lebanon. Nevertheless, few comments are worth mentioning to shed a new light on a misguided ideology -- and to awaken those who wish to be awakened.
Firstly, in one of your statements, you mentioned Trump, Netanyahu, and what you called “those crazies.” That is true. Sometimes, the only reason why certain things happen is because those behind them are crazies.
It was U.S. crazies who were behind the rise of Da’esh, Al-Qaeda, and the killing of their own people on September 11, 2001 -- an event which they blamed on “Al-Qaeda“ to justify the wars that followed. Before that, it was U.S. crazies who assisted Khomeini to attain power in Iran -- the offspring of which is Hizballah. You have to respect “those crazies” because you owe your existence to them.
Why do you think they support terrorists and then turn around and wage wars and pass legislation against terrorism? If you know the correct answer, then you will understand how organizations similar to yours are useful to them. While you perceive yourselves as a “resistance,” they perceive you as useful fools to advance their hidden agenda.
Secondly, you state that the purpose of any future war is to attack the “resistance coalition.“ That is not true. If you truly believe that, then you are misguided.
A war has nothing to do with attacking “resistance,” but a plot for both Arabs and Jews to destroy each other. Did you ever ask yourself: “To whose benefit are Arabs and Jews continuously killing one another,“ or are you a participant in that plot to call for “hundreds of thousands” to engage in your “resistance”?
Both the Israeli Zionists and many Arab leaders, including the Palestinian Abbas, are Freemasons. In the event of war, it would be led by Freemasons on both sides.
Towards the end of their political careers, both Rabin and Sharon turned patriots. Do you know why Shimon Peres assassinated Rabin and later poisoned Sharon, and to whose benefit? Once you know the real reasons, then you will understand all that needs to be understood about Israeli politics.
Thirdly, you stated that the path followed by Trump and Netanyahu leaves the Palestinians with no option but to rally behind the “resistance.” That is also not true.
The Palestinians and the Arabs have in vain depleted many resources that could have established, not one, but ten Palestines. It is time that they wise up and understand clearly what they are dealing with, instead of chasing behind the banner of “resistance” which only lead them to more of the same -- endless killing from one generation to another.
The alternative solution to “resistance” is to rise above this madness and to lay the proper foundation for what could be described as a “constitutional republic.”
Unfortunately, Arabs had been misled by the concept of “democracy,” when in reality a pure democracy is one of the worst forms of government. A “constitutional republic” is the best hope for the Palestinians, Lebanese, and anyone else who wishes to rise from their present despair and become a viable nation.
Fourthly, you correctly stated that “to establish a true nation, there has to be a trustworthy (governmental) entity to which all sides would submit to adjudicate (a certain issue).” The question is: Which Lebanese governmental entities do you recognize as adjudicators of all the issues that relate to Hizballah?
With regard to Lebanese-Israeli relation, there is a 1949 Armistice Agreement between both nations which specifies that no aggressive action is to be undertaken by either side against the other. Both Hizballah (as a party on Lebanese soil) and Israel are obligated to abide by that which has already been “adjudicated.”
Finally, you stated at the end of the interview that we are supposed to “sacrifice for the people” and that “a person is awaiting his judgment in the eternal life.“
In your opinion, what would be the judgment of those who violate the Third Commandment by misusing the name of God? The name of your party disrespects God. The logo on your yellow flag dishonors God.
In your logo, there is an AK-47 raised above the name of “Allah.” Also, the two Ls in the name “Allah” are shaped in the form of a phallic symbol. Could you explain the reasons why, in addition to clarifying the meaning of the remaining symbols?
A true man of God is a witness to truth. From the entire religious hierarchy -- Christian, Muslim, and Druze -- how many can speak the truth about Hezbollah’s logo and protest its pagan and ungodly character?
Unfortunately, all major Lebanese political parties depict pagan and Freemasonic symbolism in their flags and logo -- with no apparent objections from any so-called “men of God.”
If you truly wish to make a genuine “sacrifice” for the people, the first step that you and the other political parties have to do is to throw all your political flags and logo in the garbage, where they belong. Raising these flags is a curse on Lebanon, and the country cannot heal without first a “spiritual cleansing.” The drastic rise in crimes, suicide, and other social ills in Lebanon is directly linked to the dark spirituality that is imposed on society by political and religious paganism.
You and the other political parties are not sacrificing for the people. Instead, you are sacrificing people for you and for your destructive ideology imposed on them by deception.

Power Barges Production in Jeopardy
Naharnet/January 07/18/Turkish power barges that cover the additional demand for electricity in Lebanon are threatened of halting production if they were not provided with sufficient fuel oil, LBCI TV station said on Sunday.
LBCI said the supply of Fatmagul alone has dropped from 200 megawatts (MW) to 70 MW on Sunday. While Orhan Bey will probably decrease its production to 70 MW as well. Moreover, the two vessels are threatened to halt production Monday evening if they were not supplied with fuel oil, thus depriving the country of 400 MW of power, it added.

Asmar Apologizes to Lebanese over Power Blackout, Announces Resumption of Work 07/18/Head of the General Confederation of Lebanese Workers, Bechara Asmar, apologized to all the Lebanese for the repercussions they had to endure due to the strike of workers at the Electricite du Liban, announcing that a positive pogress was reached during a meeting held at the Ministry of Energy earlier on Sunday. “It was agreed to apply a certain salary hike that would appease EDL employees in accordance with the salary scale law,” Asmar stated, noting that a meeting will be held with the Minister of Finance tomorrow to agree on the executive aspect of this agreement. “Repairs will resume immediately and the Turkish power barges will be supplied with fuel,” Asmar announced.

Powerships to Cease Production if Fuel Oil Not Supplied 07/18/The electricity supply provided by two Turkish powerships has been significantly cut down amid concerns that they will cease production as of Monday night if they are not supplied with the needed fuel oil. If this happens, the Lebanese will be deprived of a total power supply of 400 Megawatts. LBCI channel reported on Sunday that Fatmagul powership, docked off the Zouk plant, has dropped its production from 200 to 70 megawatts. Likewise, Orhan Bey powership, which has been anchored facing the Jiyeh power plant since August 2013, will also be generating no more than 70MW starting tomorrow. Lebanon has hired Turkish operator, Karadeniz Powership, to provide Lebanon with two barges that would jointly provide 20 percent of the country's electricity needs.

Lebanese Army Arrests 'Most Wanted Car Thief' in Bekaa
Naharnet/January 07/18/Military intelligence arrested one of the most wanted car thieves, Maher Tleis, in the Bekaa region, Asharq al-Awsat daily reported on Sunday. The army staged a raid at dawn on Saturday and managed to arrest Tleis after tightening the noose around his place of residence in al-Naqqar neighborhood east of Baalbek. A security source told the daily: “The hunting operation was one of the most valuable operations against active theft gangs in Bekaa. The Lebanese authorities have been following them repeatedly and actively since 2014.”Tleis is one of the most wanted car thieves in Lebanon. After stealing the vehicles, he smuggles them into Syria. He heads one of the largest gangs and is wanted on several arrest warrants. The Lebanese Army-Orientation Directorate said in a statement that Tleis is wanted “by the Interpol and on hundreds of court rulings for kidnapping and forming a gang suspected of stealing vehicles and producing counterfeit money. He is also wanted for planning attacks against the Army and on suspicion of drugs and arms dealing.”

Report: Officers Decree Row Wavering between Breakthrough and Setback
Naharnet/January 07/18/The row between President Michel Aoun and Speaker Nabih Berri over the signing of a decree promoting a number of officers will not “prolong for long” and will “hopefully” reach a positive outcome because the Premier fears it would cast a shadow on the government’s performance, the Kuwait al-Anbaa daily reported on Sunday. The daily quoted sources close to Prime Minister Saad Hariri who spoke on condition of anonymity, they said: “The disputed decree granting seniority to officers of the 1994 Session will hopefully reach a positive result anytime now. It is unreasonable for the relation between the two men to remain confusing. It could impact the government's work which Hariri is keen on distancing from political bickering.”Meanwhile, MP Mohammed Hajjar told the daily in an interview that “Hariri is determined to find a solution for the row because he realizes the threats could affect the whole country and government.”Hajjar stressed that Hariri plans to “intensify consultations next week in a bid to reach results that please both parties.”He pointed out that the situation in the country “does not bear more complications,” which may threaten the existing political settlement. Berri has stressed earlier that he will not change his stance over the decree even if he loses the support of all parties who currently share his viewpoint. He warned that the crisis could protract until the parliamentary elections in May. The spat between the Speaker and President Michel Aoun broke out after the president and the premier signed a decree granting one-year seniority to a number of officers. Berri and Finance Minister Ali Hassan Khalil have insisted that the decree should have also carried the finance minister's signature. Aoun and his aides have argued that the decree did not require Khalil's signature because it did not entail any “financial burden,” a point Berri and officials close to him have argued against. Ain el-Tineh sources have meanwhile warned that the decree would tip sectarian balance in favor of Christians in the army's highest echelons. The officers in question were undergoing their first year of officer training at the Military Academy when Syrian forces ousted Aoun’s military government from Baabda in 1990. They were suspended by the pro-Damascus authorities until 1993 before they resumed their officer training course as second-year cadets.

Man Kills Sister-in-Law, Commits Suicide

Naharnet/Naharnet/January 07/18/A retired Internal Security Forces First Adjutant has killed his brother's wife before turning the pistol to his head and firing a bullet that led to his inevitable death in north Lebanon's Anfeh, the National News agency reported on Sunday. The man, who was identified by his initials as M.G.S., has killed the woman over “family differences”, NNA said. Security forces have opened investigations into the incident.

Rahi calls on officials to preserve national unity
Sun 07 Jan 2018/NNA - Maronite Patriarch Beshara Boutros Rahi called on Lebanese officials to maintain the national unity and peace on the basis of a comprehensive development. "What we hope from our officials, is to devote themselves in building an internal peace based on cooperation and trust, preserving the national unity, applying a comprehensive development, and securing rights to every human being," Rahi said during Sunday's mass service in Bkirki on the occasion of the World Peace Day. Rahi concluded his sermon by saying "lack of peace causes war, conflicts and produce terrorism."

Kassas represents Riachy at NNA annual dinner: We hope to grant employees full time jobs
Sun 07 Jan 2018/NNA - Advisor to Information Minister, Andre Kassas, hoped Saturday night for the implementation of a project that aims at granting Information Ministry contractual workers full-time jobs in the near future. Representing Minister of Information, Melhem Riachy, advisor Kassas's words came at the NNA annual dinner, attended by Information Ministry Director General, Hassan Falha, and National News Agency Director, Laure Sleiman. During the dinner, a tribute was paid to NNA employees who have reached retirement age. Speaking during the dinner, Sleiman said that a new section, which covers affairs related to women and children, had been added to the NNA website. Sleiman also gave a briefing on the many activities, agreements and conferences that have been recently organized by the agency, adding that a conference with the Swedish Institute of Alexandria will be held next week. In turn, Information Ministry Director General, Hassan Falha, also delivered a word in which he hoped that the retirement plan for employees would be approved, noting that said plan is a right of workers. Falha concluded by saying, "employees at the Information ministry are family and must be a model for the Lebanese administration, where there is no place for corruption."

Hakim Urges Popular Revolution in Upcoming Parliamentary Polls 07/18/Former Minister Alain Hakim on Sunday hoped that the Lebanese would revolt against the current status quo in the upcoming parliamentary elections, reiterating that the Kataeb party will run for the polls only with parties that share the same constants with it. “The party is open to other political factions provided that they adhere to patriotism, commit to the state’s sovereignty and seek to boost its performance,” he said in an interview on Voice of Lebanon radio station. “We do not impose conditions on anyone same as no one imposes their conditions on us; it is only up to us to choose our alliances,” Hakim pointed out, while rejecting compromises made at the expense of one’s national stances and constants. “The real problem between President Michel Aoun and Prime Minister Saad Hariri is big and unnecessary as it has paralyzed the whole country and has forced the state to dissociate itself from internal problems. The government’s job is to solve problems knowing that state institutions must be the place to resolve crises,” Hakim said.

Lebanon’s Mismanagement Strikes Again
Matt Nash/ Executive Magazine/Posted on 05 January/18/ is an oasis. In a region synonymous with desert, the only significant stretches of sand in the tiny, water-rich country are along its 220-kilometer Mediterranean coast. It is the only place in the Middle East with a natural ski season, yet it still does not take on-the-ground snowfall measurements—assessments have been done by studying satellite photography and extrapolating estimates. For all its natural blessings, however, the outlook is bleak for Lebanon’s water sector. Data is admittedly scarce—one cannot manage what is not measured and monitored—but available indicators suggest that key sector management issues, like overexploitation of groundwater resources and gross mismanagement of wastewater, were not adequately addressed in 2017, nor will they be anytime soon. Lebanon’s current national water and wastewater strategy was written in 2010 and received cabinet approval in 2012, but it remains largely unimplemented. The Ministry of Energy and Water’s 2017 annual report—compulsory under the access to information law approved in February 2017—has not been published at time of writing, and the ministry did not respond to an interview request for this article. Problems in the water sector are well-studied, if still largely unaddressed. Five decentralized, regional “water establishments”—administrative offices still not fully endowed with their legally mandated decision-making and financial independence—are supposed to supply their regions with safe drinking water, continuous access to “utility water” for showering and cleaning, and wastewater-collection and treatment services. Three of the five water establishments are underfunded, and all of them are understaffed. The country’s drinking and utility water infrastructure is ageing: An estimated 20 percent of its households are not connected to the water network, and Lebanon’s wastewater infrastructure is barely complete, treating only 8 percent of the country’s wastewater, according to estimates from 2010.
The agriculture sector generally relies on inefficient flood irrigation, moving water from source to field through aged canals, compounding water loss. The country suffers annual water shortages, typically during the end of summer. Illegal wells are widespread, estimated to number nearly 60,000 in a country of only 10,000 square kilometers. Two studies on groundwater in Lebanon—one from UNDP in 2015 and another conducted by the American University of Beirut from 2013 to 2014—show seawater intrusion in coastal aquifers. The UNDP study suggested that all of the country’s most heavily relied-on groundwater sources were stressed.
Quality is also a concern. A 2016 study from UNICEF found that only 47 percent of the drinking water provided by Lebanon’s water establishments is free from E. coli bacteria. The study has not yet been published, but some of its findings are available in the 2017 Lebanon Relief Plan report, a document compiled by multiple government agencies with input from various aid organizations. Each of these studies, however, provides only a snapshot most relevant to the time data was collected. Continuous measurement and monitoring are the only ways Lebanon will be able to evaluate its water resources in order to properly manage them. For this to happen, the water sector must become a priority. Wastewater is the best example of an easy-to-neglect sub-sector that proves how far down the list of policy priorities the water industry appears. Lebanon has treatment plants, but resource-starved water establishments do not have the money or workforce to operate and maintain them. Worse, several of the country’s treatment plants are not connected to wastewater-collection networks because these networks can cost thousands of dollars per meter to build, and neither donors nor the government have ponied up the cash to do it.
As the country perhaps enters a new era as an oil and gas producer, it cannot continue to neglect this far more precious natural resource that causes such traffic problems the first time it returns each year.

Latest LCCC Bulletin For Miscellaneous Reports And News published on January 07-08/18
Hundreds protest in Europe and US in solidarity with Iranian uprising
Al Arabiya/January 07/2018/Hundreds of people took to the streets of several European capital cities, as well as in Canada and the US, expressing their solidarity with the Iranian uprising and calling for the Khamenei regime to step down. Hundreds carried out demonstrations in front of the Brandenburg Gate in Germany in support of Iranian protesters facing repression from the government in the past two weeks. People around the world held up Iranian flags and signs calling for the removal of the regime. The Iranian government has been accused of funding several militia around the world to prove their military existence in the region instead of using this money to help the Iranian people. Protesters in Germany called on the German government and the international community to condemn what they called ‘mass killings’ on the streets of Iran. They also called on the Iranian government to take serious steps in releasing protesters and opposition members who have been arrested. Similarly, hundreds of people crowded in front of the Iranian embassy in France, including French nationals and Iranian expats, to show solidarity with the uprising in Iran, and the martyrs who have been killed by Iranian forces so far. Protesters chanted slogans condemning the regime clerics and religious figures, and the government ‘wasting’ their money to support militias abroad. The mass Iranian protests sweeping the country have continued for almost two consecutive weeks. Protesters have been burning Khamenei pictures, and raising pictures of opposition figures like Maryam Rajavi. Iranian security forces have been cracking down on demonstrations where tens of demonstrators were reportedly killed.

Iran’s Reformists Warn against ‘Exporting’ Internal Crisis
London - Adel al-Salmi/Asharq Al Awsat/January 07/2018/A group of 16 prominent reformist figures issued a statement on Saturday rejecting claims that the widespread demonstrations in the country had been organized and instigated by foreigners, as lawmakers expressed their concerns for detained students. The statement issued by the 16 reformist political activists, who are close to former President Moahmmed Khatami, denied any foreign involvement in recent protests, adding that focusing on foreign issues and ignoring the real reasons for public resentment led to the protests. "Despite the fact that enemies of the country always try to take advantage of such events, we should know that any kind of foreign interference would not be possible without the existence of internal conditions," indicated the statement. The officials added that the government claim of foreign involvement is "an insult" to Iranians and leads to "overlooking the real causes of the protests. The statement came after Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, Secretary General of the Iranian National Security Council and a number of senior officials accused foreign countries of inciting the public protests in Iran, an issue that was given great attention by media outlets of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) and the fundamentalist movement. Reformist website Emtedad reported: "There is no doubt that the country's enemies are taking advantage of such events and supporting these protests, but we must bear in mind that foreign intervention at any level is not possible without paving the way for it internally.”According to the reformist statement, the signatories condemned "US interference," especially that of US President Donald Trump, in the "internal affairs of Iran."Although the statement emphasized the reason behind the protests is the economic crisis, it added that "without accepting such reforms, fundamental changes to resolve economic issues and reduce resentment cannot be achieved.” Activists said there is "a lack of understanding and agreement on key issues and a lack of political and social harmony." According to the statement, violence in protests continued due to lack of agreement on political issues, stressing that the spread of violence is a loss to all parties and would block the way to a political solutions to the crisis. Over the past few days, reformists were divided and reformist newspapers strongly criticized the protests, in which demonstrators chanted "Death to Rouhani", less than six months after he took office for a second term. Hours after the statement was published, Iranian media reported new statements by secretary of the Expediency Council Mohsen Rezaee, who said on Saturday that the recent riots in Iran were planned during a meeting which was held in Erbil two months ago. The meeting was attended by brother-in-law of former Iraqi President Saddam Husein and foreign officials. Meanwhile, night demonstrations continued on Saturday in Karaj, west Tehran, Isfahan and the southern port of Maashour, according to videos circulated by activists. In a rare move, protesters burned gas, electric and water bills. According to photos, the bills had "Death to Khamenei!" written on them. In related news, Tehran MP Mahmoud Sadeghi said about 90 students were detained during the protests, 10 of whom were still not accounted for. “It seems that the total number of detainees is around 90. The fate of ten students from universities in Tehran and some other cities is unknown, and we still do not know which body detained them,” news agency ILNA quoted Sadeghi as saying.'
Iran Parliament Holds Special Meeting on Protests
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/Naharnet/January 07/18/The Iranian parliament held a closed-door meeting on Sunday to discuss the deadly protests that hit the country last week, while more pro-regime rallies were held in several cities. Lawmakers interrogated Interior Minister Abdolrahmani Rahmani Fazli, Intelligence Minister Mahmoud Alavi and secretary of the Supreme National Security Council Ali Shamkhani, parliament's ICANA website reported. Some voiced concern over the internet controls put in place during the unrest, including a ban on Iran's most popular messaging app, Telegram, which officials said had been used to incite violence. "The parliament is not in favour of keeping Telegram filtering in place, but it must pledge that it will not be used as a tool by the enemies of the Iranian people," Behrouz Nemati, spokesman for the parliament's presiding board, wrote on Instagram, which was also temporarily blocked during the unrest. Many Iranians use Telegram as their main source of news and a way of bypassing the highly restrictive state media, with almost a third of Iran's 80 million people using the app daily. Some 9,000 online businesses have been disrupted by the blocking, semi-official news agency ISNA reported, quoting a report by the culture ministry's digital media centre. The protests began on December 28 over economic issues before quickly spiralling out of control and turning against the regime as a whole, leaving 21 dead and hundreds arrested. Pro-government rallies were again held in several cities on Sunday, this time in Qazvin, Rasht, Shahr-e Kurd and Yazd. Tens of thousands of people have participated in similar rallies in the past few days. The rallies are "the people's response to the rioters and troublemakers and their supporters," said state television. It also repeated official claims that the unrest was orchestrated by the United States, Israel and Saudi Arabia with the complicity of "anti-revolutionary" groups.

Iranian ex-president Ahmadinejad arrested for inciting unrest: Reports
ARAB NEWS/Sunday 7 January 2018/TEHRAN: The former Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is reported to have been arrested by authorities for allegedly inciting unrest against the regime, Al Arabiya reported, who were quoting earlier media reports with “reliable sources in Tehran.”The Iranian regime has reportedly arrested Ahmadinejad in Shiraz city for inciting unrest during the recent protests in the country and encouraging more demonstrations following statements he made earlier in Bushehr. Authorities are now seeking to place Ahmadinejad under house arrest with the approval of Ali Khamenei. During a visit to Bushehr city late December, Ahmadinejad had claimed Iran suffered from “mismanagement” and that the current president, Hassan Rouhani and his government, believed he “owned the land and that the people are an ignorant society,” the newspaper went on to report.“Some of the current leaders live detached from the problems and concerns of the people, and do not know anything about the reality of society,” they reported him saying.

GOLDSTEIN: Trudeau doesn’t understand the nature of evil
Toronto Sun/January 07/18
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau met with Joshua Boyle's family in mid-December.The Boyle Family / Twitter
Is Prime Minister Justin Trudeau so blinded by his naive belief that “diversity” and “inclusiveness” are Canada’s unique gifts to the world, that he’s undermining our safety and security?
Does he understand the nature of evil, that ideologies of hatred exist that no amount of Canadian “niceness” can appease?
New concerns about Trudeau’s judgment in these matters were raised by his ill-advised private meeting last month with freed Canadian hostage Joshua Boyle and his family, shortly after they were released from captivity in Afghanistan.
Boyle’s bizarre account of his years of incarceration under the Taliban — starting with his explanation he was kidnapped in 2012 while backpacking in Afghanistan with his pregnant wife — made many Canadians suspicious from the start.
Given these circumstances, bad enough Trudeau met privately in his office with Boyle — who was briefly married to Omar Khadr’s older sister — which Canadians only found out about when the Boyle family posted pictures of it on social media.
Last week we learned that while Boyle was meeting with Trudeau he was under investigation by Ottawa police, who laid 15 criminal charges against him, including sexual assault, assault, unlawful confinement, public mischief, uttering threats and administering a noxious substance.
Boyle has denounced his Taliban captors and is presumed innocent of the charges.
The relevant issue here is why, of all the Canadians requesting meetings with him, would Trudeau grant a private audience to Boyle?
This given the outstanding questions regarding his years in captivity and regardless of the criminal charges laid after his meeting with the PM.
But it’s just the latest controversy calling into question Trudeau’s judgment on matters of security, terrorism and global affairs.
Recall Trudeau’s recklessly naive tweet last January, amid controversy in the U.S. over President Donald Trump’s travel ban, that: “To those fleeing persecution, terror & war, Canadians will welcome you, regardless of your faith. Diversity is our strength #WelcomeToCanada.”
It went viral, prompting thousands of would-be asylum seekers to bolt for the Canadian border, illegally entering our country at unmanned crossings, overwhelming border security and our refugee determination process.
In this Aug. 7, 2017 file photo, a Royal Canadian Mounted Police officer informs a migrant couple of the location of a legal border station, shortly before they illegally crossed from Champlain, N.Y., to Saint-Bernard-de-Lacolle, Quebec.
Trudeau has stripped Canada of the ability to deport dual citizens convicted of terrorism.
That fulfilled his alarming pre-election boast that, “The Liberal party believes that terrorists should get to keep their Canadian citizenship. Because I do. And I’m willing to take on anyone who disagrees with that” because, “a Canadian is a Canadian is a Canadian.”
As if this was an issue about Trudeau’s machismo, as opposed to our security.
Trudeau says Canadians who fight for ISIS overseas can be deprogrammed when they return home, becoming “an extraordinarily powerful voice for preventing radicalization in future generations”, a possibility his own public safety minister, Ralph Goodale, describes as “pretty remote.”
As Liberal leader, Trudeau called for removing from Canada’s citizenship guide that we consider honour killings and female genital mutilation, “barbaric cultural practices”, while boasting to The New York Times as prime minister that, “There is no core identity, no mainstream in Canada.”
Trudeau insulted natural-born Canadians by declaring he’s “jealous” of immigrants because, “this is your country more than it is for others because we take it for granted,” a divisive twisting of the ideal that we are all equal as Canadians, no matter where we come from.
This combination of undated photos provided by their families shows, from left, Martin Richard, 8, Krystle Campbell, 29, and Lingzi Lu, a Boston University graduate student. Richard, Campbell and Lu were killed in the two explosions at the finish line of the Boston Marathon on Monday, April 15, 2013.
In the aftermath of the Boston Marathon bombing in April, 2013, which killed three people, including an eight-year-old boy, and wounded 260 others, Trudeau said, before anything about the terrorists was known, that, “there is no question that this happened because there is someone who feels completely excluded, completely at war with innocents, at war with a society.”
This Monday, April 15, 2013, file photo shows the scene where one of two explosions occurred near the finish line of the 2013 Boston Marathon.
It’s as if Trudeau can’t comprehend that evil can exist without provocation, or that billions of people endure injustices without murdering innocents.
Trudeau said he admires China’s “basic dictatorship” because it allows its leaders, to “turn their economy around on a dime and say, ‘we need to go green, we need to start, you know, investing in solar,’” as if green energy excuses totalitarianism, mass executions and the occupation of Tibet.
Marking the death of Fidel Castro, Trudeau, described the brutal Cuban dictator on behalf of Canadians, including many who suffered under him as, “A larger than life leader… a legendary revolutionary and orator” who, while “controversial” was recognized by “supporters and detractors” for “his tremendous dedication and love for the Cuban people who had a deep and lasting affection for ‘el Comandante.’”
Trudeau gets a hug from late Cuban President Fidel Castro at the arrival in front of Notre Dame Church prior to the funeral of his father Pierre Trudeau on Oct. 3, 2000
It’s one thing for Trudeau to mark the passing of his late father’s pal, another to gush over Castro in a way that provoked global mocking for its naiveté. And further evidence Trudeau doesn’t understand the nature of evil.

EU ambassador to Israel: 'Death penalty will not advance us'
Attila Somfalvi|/Ynetnews/January 07/18/Ambassador Giaufret says regarding death penalty bill capital punishment is violation of human dignity, human rights while also condemning terror attacks on Israelis; Giaufret also lauds increasing EU trade with Israel, stresses that EU donations to PA, UNRWA must not fund incitement, terror. The European Union's Ambassador to Israel Emanuele Giaufret expressed his disapproval for the death penalty for terrorists bill in a Ynet studio interview Sunday, saying, "Our position is that the death penalty is in violation of human dignity and human rights." Last week, the European Union (EU) released a statement saying that the death penalty was inhumane.  "We did not attack anyone," said Giaufret. "All EU countries abolished the death penalty, in fact, in order to join the EU, a country must abolish the death penalty. It is in the European Union's European Convention on Human Rights."Pressed on the inhumanity of those killing Israelis in the streets, the ambassador responded: "Definitely, it is inhumane to carry out terror attacks against civilians and those must be condemned. We consistently condemn them; we find any terror attack unacceptable. The question is what is the solution. We do not believe that the death penalty is conducive to progress. It is a mutual value of ours on which the EU disagrees with Israel and we want to make our stance clear."The EU's stance is unpopular among Israelis, but the ambassador insisted that it did not make the EU irrelevant. "Israeli exports to the EU during 2017 increased by 20 percent. The Union is the primary export market for Israeli products. 35 percent of Israeli production, $16 billion, goes to Europe—and it is increasing," said Giaufret.
The matter of UNRWA funding
Ambassador Giaufret also addressed President Donald Trump's recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital. "Nobody can deny the deep connection between the Jewish people and Jerusalem: a connection rooted in history, religion and emotions. It is not going anywhere," he said.
"Jerusalem is very important to the three monotheistic religions. It is important to the Palestinians and the Arab world as well. Jerusalem is a very sensitive issue… and we believe that the way to move forward towards a solution is through bilateral negotiations. That is why we differ in our stance on Jerusalem," Giaufret added. When confronted with the EU's lack of supervision over the funding it gives to organizations such as the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA), the ambassador responded: "We are big sponsors of the Palestinian Authority (PA) and UNRWA and expend much effort to ensure that our donations reach the right place. It is important that the funds given to the PA are used to fund democratic, transparent, institutions that do not contribute to incitement or terror. We do the same with UNRWA." The EU ambassador condemned the rockets fired at Israeli civilians from Gaza but stressed that deterioration of the situation needed to be avoided.  On the UNRWA topic, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu commented on the Trump administration's decision to freeze funding for UNRWA during a Cabinet meeting Sunday morning. "I fully agree with President Trump's criticism of UNRWA, which exacerbates the Palestinian refugee's problem," Netanyahu said. "UNRWA must cease to exist. It is an organization that was established for Palestinian refugees alone while there is another organization for all other refugees in the world." The prime minister continued: "The absurdity must stop. I recommended that assistance funds should be gradually transferred to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, with clear criteria for supporting genuine refugees."Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zohari issued a response: "The American decision to freeze funding for UNRWA is intended to destroy the Palestinian right of return. The decision is part of an American plan to deny the national rights of the Palestinians and completes Trump's decision on Jerusalem."

Trump Defends his Intellect against Wolff’s ‘Fire and Fury’
Washington - Heba El Koudsy/Asharq Al Awsat/January 07/2018
United States President Donald Trump defended himself against Michael Wolff’s highly critical book “Fire and Fury” that cover’s his first year as president. Trump, likely responding to discussion of his mental state raised by the book, took to Twitter Saturday describing himself as a "very stable genius," saying his two greatest assets are mental stability and being smart. “Michael Wolff is a total loser who made up stories in order to sell this really boring and untruthful book,” Trump said. Trump said he never granted Wolff an interview for the book and blamed former adviser Steve Bannon for granting Wolff access at the White House. Wolff has said he spoke to Trump but that the president may not have known he was being interviewed. “He used Sloppy Steve Bannon, who cried when he got fired and begged for his job. Now Sloppy Steve has been dumped like a dog by almost everyone. Too bad!” “Now that Russian collusion, after one year of intense study, has proven to be a total hoax on the American public, the Democrats and their lapdogs, the Fake News Mainstream Media, are taking out the old Ronald Reagan playbook and screaming mental stability and intelligence....,” Trump also tweeted. “....Actually, throughout my life, my two greatest assets have been mental stability and being, like, really smart. Crooked Hillary Clinton also played these cards very hard and, as everyone knows, went down in flames. I went from VERY successful businessman, to top T.V. Star....,” a following tweet said.“ President of the United States (on my first try). I think that would qualify as not smart, but genius....and a very stable genius at that!” Trump added in his final tweet. Bannon, formerly Trump’s chief strategist, is chairman of the so-called alt-right Breitbart News website. US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, another member of the Trump administration, defended the mental fitness of Trump countering claims made by the publisher who said he was unaware of what was going on in the White House. Wolff's book, "Fire and Fury - Inside the Trump White House," portrays Trump as unfocused, unprepared and petty while presiding over a chaotic White House. It sold out in minutes in Washington when it went on sale on Friday.

Netanyahu Calls for Closure of UN Palestinian Refugee Agency
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/Naharnet/January 07/18/Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday called for the closure of the United Nations agency for Palestinian refugees, days after US President Donald Trump threatened to cut Palestinian aid. Israel has long viewed the UN agency, known as UNRWA, as biased against it, an allegation the agency strongly denies, saying it is only providing necessary services to Palestinians. Israeli officials also criticise the agency's method of classifying refugees, with descendants also eligible to register. "UNRWA is an organisation that perpetuates the Palestinian refugee problem," Netanyahu said at the beginning of his weekly cabinet meeting. He said that while millions of other refugees around the world were cared for by the office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the Palestinians have their own body which also treats "great-grandchildren of refugees -- who aren't refugees." "This absurd situation must be ended," Netanyahu said. In June, Netanyahu said he had raised the issue with Washington's UN envoy Nikki Haley. On Wednesday, Trump threatened to cut aid worth more than $300 million annually to the Palestinians in a bid to force them to negotiate.
The United States has long provided the Palestinian Authority with much-needed budgetary support and security assistance, as well as an additional $304 million for UN programmes in the West Bank and Gaza. A Friday report on Israeli Channel 10 television said the US had frozen a payment due to UNRWA, but a spokesman for the UN organisation said on Saturday that they "have not been informed directly of a formal decision either way by the US administration."UNRWA runs hundreds of schools for Palestinian refugees in the Gaza Strip, the occupied West Bank, Israeli-annexed east Jerusalem, Lebanon, Jordan and Syria. It also distributes aid and provides teacher training centres, health clinics and social services. Many analysts, including Israelis, warn that closing the agency without having an effective replacement could lead to further poverty and perhaps violence. "While UNRWA is far from perfect, the Israeli defence establishment, and the Israeli government as a whole, have over the years come to the understanding that all the alternatives are worse for Israel," Peter Lerner, a former spokesman for the Israeli military, wrote in an opinion piece in Haaretz newspaper last week. "In an extreme situation, the administration of those refugees could fall on Israel's shoulders."

Syrian Forces Eye Rebel-Held Province after Defeat of IS
Associated Press/Naharnet/Naharnet/January 07/18/Syrian government forces and allied militiamen are advancing on the largest remaining rebel-held territory in the country's north, forcing thousands of civilians to flee toward the border with Turkey in freezing winter temperatures. The offensive on Idlib — a large province in northwestern Syria packed with civilians and dominated by al-Qaida-linked militants — was expected after the defeat of the Islamic State group late last year. Last week, Russia's Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said the main military operations against IS in Syria have ended and signaled that the focus would shift to al-Qaida-linked militants. The Idlib offensive carries significant risks. The province bordering Turkey is home to an estimated 2 million Syrians, including tens of thousands of people who fled fighting elsewhere. A full-blown government offensive could cause large-scale destruction and massive displacement. Turkey, a supporter of the rebels, has deployed military observers in the province as part of a de-escalation deal with Iran and Russia, but that has not stopped the fighting on the ground or Russian airstrikes against the insurgents. It is not clear how far the current offensive aims to reach, and recapturing the entire province is expected to be a long and bloody process. Opposition activists say the main target for now appears to be the sprawling rebel-held air base of Abu Zuhour, on the southeastern edge of the province, and securing the Damascus-Aleppo road that cuts through Idlib province.
Over the past two months, troops backed by Russian airstrikes have captured more than 80 towns and villages in the northern parts of the nearby Hama province and breached Idlib itself for the first time since mid-2015. The offensive gained more intensity on Christmas Day, when one of President Bashar Assad's most trusted and experienced officers took command of the operation to extend the government's presence toward Idlib and boost security for the road that links the capital, Damascus, with Aleppo, Syria's largest city. Brig. Gen. Suheil al-Hassan, also known among his troops as "Tiger," has led elite forces to many victories against insurgents since the conflict began nearly seven years ago. He has been credited most recently with the defeat of IS in much of eastern Syria, including the months-long battle for the city of Deir el-Zour. "Conditions on the ground are wretched for the rebels," said an opposition activist based in northern Syria who asked to be identified by his first name, Hassan, for fear of reprisals by insurgents. He said rebels are stuck in a two-front battle with government forces and remaining pockets of Islamic State militants. He said the Russian airstrikes have exacted a heavy toll.
Another opposition activist based in Hama province, Mohammed al-Ali, said the Russians and the Syrian government are "carpet bombing" villages before pushing into them. "The Russian airstrikes, weak fortifications and Islamic State attacks in Hama" have all helped government forces, he said by telephone. Hassan and al-Ali said it is highly unlikely that government forces would march toward the provincial capital, also named Idlib, because it would set up a costly battle with highly experienced and well-armed al-Qaida-linked insurgents. The province is dominated by the Levant Liberation Committee, which claims to have severed ties with al-Qaida but is widely believed to still be affiliated with it. Al-Hassan's chief mission for now appears to be securing the Damascus-Aleppo road. In December 2016, Assad's forces captured rebel-held parts of the city of Aleppo, marking the government's biggest victory since the conflict began. The main road to the capital remained perilous, however, with insurgents attacking it from the west and IS from the east. The troops have since driven IS back, but the western side remains exposed. Four days after al-Hassan took over operational command, troops managed to break through the militants' heavy defenses and capture the town of Abu Dali, a link between Hama, Idlib and Aleppo.
Since then, thousands of people have been fleeing with their belongings amid harsh cold weather toward safer areas further north, including Idlib city and areas near the border with Turkey. Pro-opposition media say that more than 5,000 families have fled the violence over the past two weeks, some renting homes or staying in tents in open fields, others left homeless. Last week, government forces advanced to within around 12 kilometers (8 miles) of Khan Sheikhoun, where a sarin nerve gas attack killed more than 90 people last year, prompting the U.S. to launch a missile attack on Assad's troops. Experts from the U.N. and other monitoring groups blamed the chemical attack on the government, which denied responsibility. The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which monitors the fighting through a network of activists, says that some 43 civilians, 57 militants and 46 pro-government forces have been killed since the offensive led by al-Hassan began on Dec. 25. "The regime wants to take the eastern part of Idlib province," said the Observatory's chief, Rami Abdurrahman. "Their aim is to remove any threat to the road" between Damascus and Aleppo, he said. Al-Hassan, a general with the country's powerful Air Force intelligence service, has led elite forces to victory in Aleppo and across much of eastern Syria. Russian President Vladimir Putin praised al-Hassan during a visit to Syria last month, where he met him along with Assad and Russian officers at the Hemeimeem air base. "Your Russian colleagues told me about your work and that you and your soldiers carry out the missions effectively," Putin told al-Hassan as Assad and Russian officers looked on. "I hope that this cooperation will bring more success in the future."

Syria Rebel Enclave is Assad Regime's Weak Spot
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/Naharnet/January 07/18/Syria's rebel-held enclave of Eastern Ghouta near the capital is the regime's Achilles heel, and because of this it faces an almost inevitable military offensive, experts say.
The battle-scarred region east of Damascus, which has been under near-daily bombardment and a crippling government siege since 2013, is strategically vital to President Bashar al-Assad. Despite residents facing a humanitarian crisis, rebels controlling the region have been able to use it as a launch pad for rocket and mortar attacks on the capital. Joshua Landis, director of the Centre for Middle East Studies at the University of Oklahoma, said the ongoing rebellion in Eastern Ghouta contrasted with the regime "presenting itself as the winner" of Syria's war elsewhere. "The persistence of the East Ghouta resistance has become a major embarrassment and liability for the Assad regime," he said. The Assad regime, militarily backed by its ally Russia, has retaken control of more than half of the country with a string of victories against rebel and jihadist forces. "It hopes to convince the international community that it faces little opposition any more save for the enclaves on the margins of Syria," Landis said. But rebel and jihadist groups managed this week to surround a regime base on the edge of Eastern Ghouta, prompting intensified regime air strikes there. Rami Abdel Rahman, head of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, said the enclave is the regime's "weak spot". "The factions there are strong and directly threaten Damascus," he told AFP. - Rebels 'remain popular' -Even though Eastern Ghouta was one of four "de-escalation zones" agreed under a deal between rebel and regime backers, fighting has continued there. The area is the target of near-daily regime air strikes and artillery fire that has killed thousands of people since 2011. Rebels have killed hundreds of civilians with mortar rounds and rockets fired at Damascus, although such attacks have waned since the regime seized several areas close to the capital.
The beleaguered 100-square-kilometre (40-square-mile) enclave's estimated 400,000 inhabitants are suffering severe shortages of food and medicine. Children there are particularly vulnerable to malnutrition. Despite the civilian suffering caused by the blockade, rebel groups in Ghouta "still have a popular base, because thousands of their fighters are from the region", Abdel Rahman said. Jaish al-Islam, a powerful Islamist rebel group that has recognised the de-escalation deal and takes part in United Nations-backed peace talks, is among the most powerful groups in Eastern Ghouta. It controls Douma, the largest city in the region, but shares power with Faylaq al-Rahman, another Islamist rebel group that controls the localities of Erbin and Hammuriyeh. - 'Whatever the cost' -But the offensive against the regime military base was the work of Ahrar al-Sham and an alliance dominated by the jihadists of Fateh al-Sham, a former Al-Qaeda affiliate. Syria analyst Sam Heller of the Century Foundation think tank said the regime had responded by intensifying its operations, "whatever the cost in terms of troops and reinforcements".Additional forces have been deployed to the area, according to pro-regime Syrian media. Heller said things were moving "towards a militarily settlement in the regime's favour" in areas held by Faylaq al-Rahman, Ahrar al-Sham and the Fateh-al Sham-dominated alliance. But the situation is different in areas controlled by Jaish al-Islam, he said. The group "is an armed force that is not to be underestimated, and it controls large residential areas that the regime would struggle to absorb", he said. He said talks between the group and Russia could lead to "a negotiated solution that would leave it in place once it has made some concessions". Landis said the de-escalation deal over the area would be "nibbled away at" in the coming weeks. "Assad has preferred until now to starve and bomb the Ghouta enclave rather than launch an expensive frontal attack," he said. Rights groups and the UN have criticised "reconciliation" agreements that see civilians evacuated following sieges and bombardment apparently aimed at forcing civilians to leave their homes. Such deals have seen rebels transferred to Idlib in the north, the only province in Syria fully outside regime control. "We should also expect that increased pressure will be applied to the Ghouta militias to surrender or agree to reconciliation or deportation to Idlib," Landis said.

Saudi Cleric Held for Months without Charge, Says HRW

Agence France Presse/Naharnet/Naharnet/January 07/18/A prominent Saudi cleric arrested in a crackdown on dissent has since been held for four months without charge or contact with the outside world, Human Rights Watch said Sunday. Salman al-Awda was among more than 20 people arrested in September in what the Saudi government has said was a crackdown on "intelligence activities... for the benefit of foreign parties against the security of the kingdom and its interests". Awda's family, however, believes he is being held over a tweet linked to neighbouring Qatar, with which Saudi Arabia has cut all ties over accusations of links to Iran and Islamist extremists, according to HRW. Awda has been held since then in solitary confinement and has been neither charged nor interrogated, said the New York-based watchdog. The cleric has reportedly been allowed one phone call, in October. Saudi activists have said Salman al-Awda's brother Khaled has also been detained for disclosing that the cleric had been arrested. Dozens of Saudi citizens have been convicted on charges linked to dissent and under the country's sweeping cybercrime law, particularly linked to posts on Twitter.

Afghan mercenaries being sent to Syria part of ‘vicious Iranian plot’
SYED TAUSIEF AUSAF/Arab News/January 07/2018/JEDDAH: Iran has shown that it will resort to any tool to prop up the Assad regime, including the increasing recruitment of Afghan men and children to fight in Syria, Iranian-American political scientist Majid Rafizadeh told Arab News on Saturday. He was reacting to an Agence France-Presse (AFP) report that more than 2,000 Afghans deployed by Iran have been killed fighting in Syria for the Assad regime. The Fatemiyoun Brigade of Afghan recruits has been fighting in Syria for five years, Zohair Mojahed, a cultural official in the volunteer force, told Iranian media. Rafizadeh said two Iranian organizations are behind the recruitment: The Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) and its elite Quds Force. “The Iranian regime preys on vulnerable people such as immigrant or poor families,” he said, adding that Human Rights Watch (HRW) recently described Tehran’s recruitment of Afghan children as “a grave violation of international law.” Mojahed told Iran’s reformist Shargh newspaper that the Fatemiyoun Brigade “has given more than 2,000 martyrs and 8,000 wounded for Islam.”His description of mercenaries as “martyrs” drew a sharp rebuke from Syrian opposition spokesman Yahya Al-Aridi, who told Arab News that they are Iran’s “hired guns” who did not die for Islam. “These Afghans are originally refugees in Iran. After the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, they took refuge in Iran and they’re being sent to Syria by Tehran to kill Syrians,” Al-Aridi said, adding that Islam is not a religion of violence, as is being wrongly portrayed by Mojahed. “They died to implement vicious and cunning Iranian plots. Those mercenaries are killed by Syrians who are defending themselves, their land and their children,” Al-Aridi said.Iran takes them to Syria and puts them on the frontline in order to invade Syrian territory and kill Syrians, he added. “Many of them were captured by Syrian freedom fighters, and they confessed to being paid by Iran $200 to $500 for their families in Afghanistan,” he said. “Iran doesn’t care whether they’re killed or stay alive.”

Tanker ablaze, 32 missing - mostly Iranians - after collision off China
AFP/Sunday 07 January/ 2018/BEIJING: A tanker carrying Iranian oil and run by the country’s top oil shipping operator was ablaze and spewing cargo into the East China Sea on Sunday after colliding with a Chinese bulk ship, leaving its 32 crew members missing, the Chinese government said.
Thick clouds of dark smoke could be seen billowing out of the Sanchi tanker, engulfing the vessel as rescue efforts were hampered by bad weather and fire on and around the ship, Mohammad Rastad, head of Iran’s Ports and Maritime Organization, told Iranian television.The Sanchi collided with the CF Crystal about 160 nautical miles off the coast near Shanghai on Saturday evening, the Chinese Ministry of Transportation said in a statement. The Panama-registered tanker was sailing from Iran to South Korea, carrying 136,000 tons of condensate, an ultra light crude. That is equivalent to just under 1 million barrels, worth about $60 million, based on global crude oil prices. “Sanchi is floating and burning as of now,” the ministry said. “There is an oil slick and we are pushing forward with rescue efforts.” State media CCTV showed pictures of the tanker ablaze and billowing plumes of thick dark smoke. It had sent four rescue ships and three cleaning boats to the site by 9 a.m. (0100 GMT) on Sunday, it added. South Korea also sent a ship and helicopter to help. A Korean Coast Guard official confirmed the tanker was still raging at 1 p.m. (0500 GMT). He declined to be identified as he was not authorized to speak to the media. The tanker’s 32 crew members were all Iranian nationals except for two Bangladeshi nationals, the Chinese transport ministry said. “There is a wide perimeter of flames around the vessel because of the spillage and search and rescue efforts are being carried out with difficulty,” Rastad said.
“Unfortunately, up to this moment, there is no news of the crew,” he said.CF Crystal’s 21 crew members, all Chinese nationals, were rescued and the ship suffered “non-critical” damage, China’s transport ministry said.
Major maritime incident
The incident marked the first major maritime incident involving an Iranian tanker since the lifting of international sanctions on Iran in January 2016.There was a collision involving an NITC-operated supertanker in the Singapore Strait in August 2016, but there was no loss of life or pollution. The Chinese government gave no details of the size of the spill. The Foreign Ministry said in a separate statement that the cause of the incident was under investigation.Reuters ship tracking data shows Sanchi was built in 2008 and was managed by the National Iranian Tanker Co. (NITC). Its registered owner is Bright Shipping Ltd. It was due to arrive at Daesan in South Korea from Kharg Island in Iran on Sunday, according to Reuters ship tracking. The Sanchi tanker, leased by Hanwha Total Petrochemical Co. Ltd, had “valid foreign insurance,” Iranian oil ministry spokesman Kasra Nouri told Iran’s state television.
Hanwha Total was not immediately available for comment. Sanchi collided with CF Crystal, registered in Hong Kong, which was carrying 64,000 tons of grain from the United States to China’s southern province of Guangdong, the government said.
CF Crystal, which was built in 2011, was due to arrive in China on Jan. 10, according to Reuters ship tracking data.

Egypt ex-PM Ahmed Shafiq will not stand for president in 2018
AFP, Cairo/January 07/2018/Former Egyptian premier Ahmed Shafiq on Sunday announced he will not stand in the 2018 presidential elections, reversing a pledge to challenge at polls set to be dominated by leader Abdel Fattah al-Sisi. Shafiq’s decision to scrap his candidacy came after he was returned from the United Arab Emirates, where he had been living in exile since 2012, back to Egypt last month. “I have decided to not run in the upcoming 2018 presidential elections,” Shafiq said in a statement posted online. “I saw that I will not be the best person.”Shafiq, appointed premier by former president Hosni Mubarak shortly before his overthrow in 2011, was seen as a main challenger for Sisi, who is expected to cruise to a new term despite not yet officially announcing his candidacy.

Egypt refutes NYT report on tacit acceptance of Jerusalem move
Al Arabiya/January 07/2018/Egypt’s State Information Service refuted the New York Times’ report by David Kirkpatrick which claimed that tapes he acquired reveal Egypt’s tacit acceptance of Donald Trump’s Jerusalem move. The NYT report said an Egyptian intelligence officer named Ashraf al-Kholi contacted hosts of “influential talk shows” in the country to tell them that instead of denouncing the move, they should convince viewers to accept it. SIS said the report named four figures as presenters of “influential talk shows” who are Mofid Fawzy, Saeed Hassaseen, Yousra and Azmi Megahed. “Fawzy has not hosted any television shows for years while Hassaseen stopped hosting his show weeks before Jerusalem’s developments and he’s currently not hosting any shows,” SIS said in a statement, adding that Hassaseen denied that anyone contacted him regarding Jerusalem and confirmed that he does not know anyone named Ashraf al-Kholi. “David Kirkpatrick stayed for a long time in Egypt in the past and he should know by now that Yousra is one of the most famous actresses in Egypt and the Arab world and has nothing to do with any television programs,” it also said. In a phone call with SIS, Yousra said she does not know anyone named Ashraf al-Kholi and never discussed Jerusalem with anyone. She also said that she has not made any statements about politics to the media and was not even in Egypt when developments regarding Jerusalem happened.
Actress Yousra to take legal action
Yousra added that she will resort to the judiciary for involving her in these alleged leaks which harm her reputation as a renowned actress.  As for Megahed, he also denied knowing anyone called Ashraf al-Kholi. SIS noted that the NYT said Kholi is an intelligence officer but failed to provide any evidence that he is one. It added that Egypt’s stance on international affairs must not be concluded via alleged leaks of an unknown figure as they are voiced by the president, minister of foreign affairs and other officials. It added that all the entities concerned have announced their clear position on Jerusalem and acted upon it at the UN and other international organizations, despite threats by the US representative at the UN to cut aid to Egypt. The statement added that it was inappropriate for a prominent newspaper like the NYT to publish such a report with such allegations.

Egypt's Coptic Christians celebrate Christmas amid tight security
Sun 07 Jan 2018/NNA - The head of the Coptic Church, Pope Tawadros II, led midnight mass in the cathedral of Egypt’s new administrative capital on Saturday, a service attended by President Abdel Fattah al Sisi. The mass, on the eve of Coptic Christmas which is celebrated on Jan. 7, was the first to be held in the newly-built cathedral and took place amid tight security. Sisi was cheered by worshippers as he entered the building. The new Egyptian capital, announced in March 2015, is intended partly to reduce crowding in Cairo. Some 45 km (28 miles) east of Cairo, the city, which has not yet been given a name, will be home to government ministries, housing and an airport. The celebrations were held days after attacks on a Coptic church and another Christian-owned shop that left more than 10 people dead. Egypt’s large Christian minority has increasingly been targeted in recent years by Islamist militants including Islamic State, which is waging an insurgency in the north of the remote Sinai Peninsula. --- Reuters

One killed and another injured after blast in Sweden capital
Sun 07 Jan 2018/NNA - One man has been killed and a woman injured in an explosion outside a metro station in Stockholm, Sweden, authorities said. Police said a man in his 60s sustained fatal injuries after he picked something off the ground which then detonated outside the Varby Gard underground station in Huddinge. The man was rushed to hospital while a woman, in her mid-40s, received "minor wounds" to her face and both legs. "The man was seriously hurt injured after he picked up something from the ground and this device exploded," a spokesman for Stockholm police, Sven-Erik Olsson said. He added that experts were examining the object. Swedish tabloids Aftonbladet and Expressen claimed the object may have been a hand grenade, but Mr Olsson dismissed the report as speculation. "I heard a huge bang," a local resident told Aftonbladet. Lars-Ake Stevelind, a rescue official, told Swedish broadcaster SVT "someone has used some type of explosive material" for the object and police are investigating it. Police said the station and surrounding area have been cordoned off while a bomb disposal squad carry out checks. Police were initially investigating the explosion as an attempted murder, but later said there is no reason to believe the couple was targeted. Mr Olsson said nothing has indicated the event was terror-related. --- Independent

Latest LCCC Bulletin For Miscellaneous Reports And News published on January 07-08/18
It's Time for the Census Bureau to Stop Dividing America
Ward Connerly and Mike Gonzalez/The Washington Post/January 07/2018
The American people are dangerously divided, but one event looming on the horizon has the potential to put us on a path toward unity: the US census.
If President Donald Trump makes no changes, the US Census Bureau in 2020 will again seek to shoehorn some 330 million Americans into official racial and ethnic categories. This system doesn't just ignore science. It also completely overlooks a burgeoning "mixed-race" population that resents arbitrary racial straitjackets. Why this unnecessary division? Because for four decades our government has been engaged in the unsavory practice of designating official groups, and standing against any reform is a coalition of special-interest liberal organizations that depend on it for funds and prestige.
Changing this status quo is therefore a fight Trump should relish. If he doesn't, the United States will continue its present evolution from a nation-state into a "state of nations" - something more akin to the Ottoman Empire, where people were stratified legally based on ethnicity and religion.
The president has the power to change the census. Many Americans believe the division into five ethnicities - white, black, Hispanic, Asian and Native American - has been around for as long as we've been collecting census data. Not so. The system goes back only to 1977, when the Office of Management and Budget issued Statistical Policy Directive No. 15. The groups were then jammed into the 1980 Census, with no input from voters. Science also didn't get a vote: Bureaucrats conjured up pan-ethnic groups such as "Hispanics" and "Asians" with no basis in anthropology, biology or culture. Today, this regime stands behind the identity-consciousness that is tearing the nation apart. Obviously, we need another approach. The Trump administration wants to change the census by asking a question on citizenship. Though important and with historical precedent, that modification doesn't go far enough. A more valuable reform would include getting rid of the official categories and asking simple national-origin questions ("Are your ancestors from Ecuador, Germany, Japan? Check as many boxes as apply.") and, perhaps, questions on races identified by anthropologists - not bureaucrats.
But even these are too reductionist. Today, you can spit into a vial, send it to genomics companies and discover that you are not "Irish," as you thought, but instead 60 percent English. Or you could be roughly 30 percent German, 45 percent Slavic, 15 percent Native American and 10 percent Bantu. The census's official categories ignore this rich diversity. Of late, mixed-race Americans who balk at being straitjacketed have gained a high-profile defender: Meghan Markle, the American engaged to Britain's Prince Harry. Markle detailed in Elle magazine a personal experience in her seventh-grade class that involved a mandatory census with only the standard race-box options.
When she complained, the teacher told her to check Caucasian "because that's how you look, Meghan." But she couldn't do that and hurt her African-American mom's feelings. When she told her father that night, he responded sagely, "If that happens again, you draw your own box."
Opposing this common-sense approach are the leaders of ethnic special-interest organizations such as UnidosUS, Asian Americans Advancing Justice, the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials and many others. They, along with academics from "critical theory" departments - the census "stakeholders" - have enormous influence over the racial questions in the census. Some have already come out strongly against the administration's proposed citizenship question, saying - without any evidence - that it will suppress responses by immigrants.
Such organizations benefit from billions of dollars in taxpayer money apportioned based on census data, as well as their ability to raise money privately. They justify the division of the country by claiming that civil rights enforcement depends on the census data. In fact, during the Obama administration, it was proposed that the Census Bureau add yet another pan-ethnic group for Americans with ancestry in the Middle East and North Africa. But the official categories often shed little light on policymaking. Groups such as "Asians" and "Hispanics" do not capture the different life experiences of Indian Americans and Korean Americans or Mexican Americans and Cuban Americans.
Trump has broad powers to say "Enough!" As president-elect, he complained to a crowd in Cincinnati, "For too long Washington has tried to put us in boxes. They separate us by race, by age, by income, by place of birth and by geography. They spend too much time focusing on what divides us."
It's well past time to recognize that the four-decade experiment has failed and has put our nation on the road to becoming merely a collection of tribes rather than one "indivisible," as our creed proclaims. Reforming the outmoded census would reflect the reality of our population and accentuate our identity as Americans.

Iran and the Need for Change
Leonid Bershidsky/Bloomberg/January 07/2018
In a country as repressive as Iran, it's difficult to gauge where the current countrywide protests are leading. But a bold theory that predicted the recent transition to democracy in Tunisia may offer some clues. In 2008, US demographer Richard Cincotta predicted that Tunisia — then under a well-established authoritarian regime — would probably democratize before 2020 based on the age structure of its population.  When Cincotta aired the forecast at a meeting of Middle East experts sponsored by the US State Department, the audience burst into laughter.
"One well-known Middle East scholar laughed until he was in tears," Cincotta recalled in a 2017 paper explaining his age-structural theory of state behavior. "Because the laughter did not subside, the session’s chair ended the question and answer session."
Today, Tunisia is the one success story of the Arab Spring chain of revolutions that began there in 2010. It is classified as "Free" by Freedom House, whose rating system Cincotta uses in his analysis.
The reason Cincotta picked it out among regional neighbors — including those that would soon live through revolutions, too — was that thanks to a sustained near-replacement fertility rate, the Tunisian population's median age was rapidly increasing, moving the country along Cincotta's age-structural scale. The scale has four stages: youthful (median age under 25), intermediate (under 35), mature (under 45) and post-mature (higher than 45).  In "youthful" countries with high fertility rates, schools are usually crowded, investment per student is low and competition for jobs among young people is intense. That raises their propensity to protest and increases the chance of a revolution. According to Cincotta, the probability that a regime controlling a population with a median age of 15 is free from civil conflict is about 60 percent. It goes up to 80 percent at an average age of about 27, and civil conflict becomes almost unthinkable when half the population is older than 40.  While a country is in a youthful phase, however, an uprising is highly unlikely to result in sustainable democratization. Today, Iranians are getting older. Thanks to successful fertility-control policies of the 1980s (now regretted by the country's religious leadership), Iran is rapidly going through the intermediate age-structural phase, just as Tunisia did. This, according to Cincotta, is a window for economic growth and political change favoring the middle class.
Countries in this phase usually have just enough resources for a workable education system, and there are plenty of young workers and consumers — and few enough dependents, both young and old — to ensure increases in prosperity, as well as demand for democracy. In the 2017 paper, Cincotta published his model's predictions of the probability of certain Middle Eastern countries' being declared "Free" in the current year by Freedom House.
The paper came out early last year, and Iran's democratization looked so unlikely that Cincotta was forced to add a disclaimer: "Ideological political monopolies (e.g., Iran) characteristically behave without deference to the order of the list." Now, after a week of protests and even riots that have combined economic and political demands, including liberalization and greater openness to the world, some lasting democratic change no longer looks out of the question.
It may not come through a violent revolution, though. In an article published by the Carnegie Endowment in December, but before the protests began, Cincotta and Karim Sadjadpour wrote:
As Iran’s youth bulge dissipates and the country’s median age increases, the population will likely become increasingly averse to risky, violent confrontations with the regime.
Some of the current protests' dynamics suggest that this prediction may turn out to be accurate. Young people under the age of 25 appear to be the driving force of the anti-government actions, and they definitely make up the bulk of the hundreds of activists detained by the authorities so far.
While the country's leaders have threatened tough action, and, indeed, some 20 people have been killed in street fighting, President Hassan Rouhani has offered some conciliatory rhetoric. He acknowledged the people's right to protest and the legitimacy of their economic gripes. That may mean concessions and a partial liberalization are likely. Just as the protests were starting, Tehran police announced that they would no longer arrest women for breaking the country's women dress code. Economic measures to pacify protesters unhappy about rising prices, corruption and inequality may well follow.
Iran's religious leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, has blamed Iran's "enemies" for the unrest. But perhaps the country's demographics have more to do with it than any foreign interference.
Though Cincotta's theory has been dismissed as simplistic and criticized for not providing robust proof of causation, it's intuitively convincing: A country with a young population has a relatively higher chance to change, and as it matures and more people have something to lose, this change is more likely to be peaceful and sustainable. The corrupt, highly unequal, repressive status quo is shaky in Iran because it doesn't fit the country's demographic window of opportunity.
Regardless of how change takes place in Iran, it's worth noting the high probability of democratization that Cincotta's method assigns to Turkey.
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's regime looks rock-solid and bent on tightening screws. But Iran, too, looked immutable just weeks ago, and so did Tunisian President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali's regime in 2008.

Iran Deserves a Different Regime
Eyad Abu Shakra/Asharq Al Awsat/January 07/18
From past experiences in the Middle East we have learned that it would be naïve to expect political change simply because people in the streets rose against the actions of a totalitarian police state. In several cases, before and after “the Arab Spring” of 2011, people left on their own were unable to properly resist bloody suppression long mastered by such regimes.
Throughout the Middle East, totalitarian police states have never hesitated in confronting popular uprisings by bullets, and sometimes, by chemical weapons. Indeed, while some, citing its “democratic” nature, distance the Mullahs’ regime in Tehran from the atrocious actions of the likes of Moammar al-Gadhafi in Libya, Bashar Al-Assad in Syria and the Houthis in Yemen, old and recent historical facts prove the opposite. Bloody suppression in Iran was widespread, just like assassinations, coups, “demographic engineering”, and uprisings of marginalized and maltreated minorities.
In fact, many violent and blood-stained experiences have been instrumental in creating the modern Iranian political identity. The decision made by the Safavids – although originally Turkic – to move their capital from Qazvin to Isfahan because it was better protected from the threats of Ottoman Turks, the displacement of Turkic tribes like the Qashqai and Afshars and their resettlement in southern Iran in the heart of Persian territories, in order to separate, disperse and contain them, were among the examples of the afore-mentioned “demographic engineering”.
Then, there are the systematic assassinations; from the era of Assassins (late 11th century), through the assassination of Nader Shah in 1747, to the recent murder of the Kurdish opposition leader Dr. Abdul Rahman Ghassemlou in 1989; in addition to the emergence sectarian and organizational “oligarchies” such as the Sarbadars of Khorassan during the 14th century.
Finally, there are the suppressed uprisings through the centuries of marginalized minorities, such as the Arabs, Kurds, Baluch and Turkmen; as well conquests and counter-conquests which have sown the seeds of hatred and feuds in several places at various times.
Given such a background, there is nothing new or surprising in an upheaval against Iran’s rulers. However, what is really unprecedented, since “the Khomeinist Revolution” of 1979, is the fact that the sectarian “legitimacy” the Khomeinist movement has claimed for itself, and used to conceal its nationalist aspirations and regional expansionist project, has fallen in the two capitals of “Khomeinism”… the two religious cities of Mashhad and Qum, of all places!
The slogans and banners raised in Iran’s two Shi’ite “sacred” cities have unveiled the true face of the regime and the IRGC (The Islamic Republic’s Revolutionary Guards), its tool of governance and control. They have uncovered the last facades of a false “legitimacy” that has crossed, since 1979, all boundaries of internal coexistence and regional goodwill.
During the early years of the “revolution”, when it began “to devour its own children”, accuse its leaders of treason, and exporting its problems and illusions, many impressions and convictions disappeared; yet, some preferred to ignore all the factors which caused the First Iran-Iraq War.
Many, then, blamed an Iraqi dictatorship which had shown a lot of patience towards the Shah’s regime that dreamt of becoming “the policeman of the Gulf” and the West’s regional partner during the Cold War, but refused to show the same patience towards a “revolution” calling for the liberation of Palestine!
Many others also preferred not to think of the deep meaning of “exporting the revolution, and the Khomeinists’ attempts to monopolize “true Islam”, which would spread destructive strife throughout the Muslim world, not just the Arab countries. Furthermore, there were those who refused to notice the Khomeinists’ attempts to gain exclusive rights to the Palestinian cause; although the “Iran – Contra Affair” was more than enough to alert those who believed the sincerity of the “Death to America” and “Death to Israel” slogans that Tehran had other intents. These intents have been actually laid bare in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon and Yemen, in addition to the Palestinian arena, where Tehran has exploited Fatah-Hamas political differences to destroy Palestinian unity.
In the name of confronting Saddam Hussein, Tehran founded inside Iraq several militias which have now become “The Popular Mobilization Force” - along the line of its IRGC - in order to become the real authority in the country. Before that, in Lebanon, under the pretext of “resisting” Israeli occupation and “liberating” South Lebanon, “Hezbollah” became the only militia allowed not to disarm among all other militias which had fought in the Lebanese War (1975-1990). Today “Hezbollah” is not only in effective control of Lebanon, but is also entrusted by Tehran to fight on its behalf outside Lebanon, including Syria.
Noteworthy in this venture is that, while Tehran and Al-Assad regime have supported and used “Sunni political groups” in Palestine to divide the Palestinians, they have made the Syrian versions of the same groups (and?) the ready-made excuse to abort and destroy the peaceful Syrian popular uprising, and uproot and displace millions of Syrians, as part of the Iranian “grand vision” for the Middle East.
Indeed, this vision has not been limited to “the Fertile Crescent” linking Iran with the Mediterranean Sea, but has grown extensively to become a larger crescent, comprising Bahrain, Eastern Arabia and Yemen. However, in politics as in business there is no free lunch. The Khomeinist regime, as it gradually metamorphosed into a Mafia-like security-business system, in which the IRGC play a major role, had to secure enough resources for its destructive expansionist venture. Thus, it was inevitable that some segments of Iran’s population would be deprived of their fair share from these resources now being spent on the regime’s nuclear dream and expansionist occupations.
Ordinary Iranians, have thus become the victim the regime has short-changed, used as cannon fodder, distorted its identity and culture, and hijacked its future and dreams.
The regime’s strategists, as well as its IRGC and mouthpieces of its lobbies overseas – namely in Washington – have frequently talked about Iran’s interest in fighting its way to the top, as a regional and global power, outside its territories. Some specifically said that not imposing Iran’s hegemony over Baghdad, Damascus, Beirut and Sanaa would mean having to confront its enemies in the street of its own cities.
However, the vast majority of Iranians are ordinary people preoccupied with their daily worries. They desire honest living, and ability to insure decent income for their families that would shield them from poverty, hunger, and illness. These people do not necessarily share the regime’s “strategists” and their henchmen their expensive murderous projects.
In short, the Iranian people deserve a different kind of regime!

Sharia for New Year's//الشريعة للسنة الجديدة
Bruce Bawer/Gatestone Institute/January 07/18
These extraordinary legal actions are almost exclusively reserved for the punishment of those who have criticized Islam.
On the contrary, it seems clear that the real reason for these prosecutions is that people in positions of authority fear violence by Muslims if their critics go unsilenced.
The same reporters and commentators who insist that it is absurd to worry about sharia coming to the West are, in fact, ideologically arm-in-arm with those in authority who are aggressively introducing sharia-style laws in the West, prosecuting speech that violates those laws, and issuing dark warnings -- in tones unbefitting public officials in a free country -- that you had better learn to be sharia-compliant or you will be sorry. The real lesson of all this is that we had better learn to be aggressive in our resistance to this proliferation of sharia-influenced prohibitions or we will, indeed, end up being very, very sorry.
Last September, a man named Mark Feigin posted five comments on the Facebook page of an Islamic center. They were not Islam-friendly. "THE MORE MUSLIMS WE ALLOW INTO AMERICA," he wrote, "THE MORE TERROR WE WILL SEE." He called Islam "dangerous" and said it has "no place in western civilization." A couple of his comments included vulgar or profane language. On December 20, the State of California sued Feigin, charging him with violation of a penal code that reads, in part:
"Every person who, with intent to annoy or harass, makes repeated telephone calls or makes repeated contact by means of an electronic communication device... to another person is... guilty of a misdemeanor."
According to the state Attorney General's office, Feigin was guilty of a crime because he had engaged in "repeated harassment" of people whose religion he sought to "mock and disparage."
Eugene Volokh, the UCLA law professor whose "Volokh Conspiracy" blog is a popular site of legal debate and discussion, wrote about Feigin's case on December 29, noting that by the Attorney General's logic, the state would be able to sue citizens who had written equally critical comments on, for example, an NRA or pro-Trump website. "This can't possibly be consistent with the First Amendment," Volokh said.
No, it certainly is not. But it is thoroughly consistent with Islamic law, sharia. The simple fact is that nowadays it would be exceedingly unlikely to see an individual in the Western world being prosecuted by a government for mocking and disparaging a gun-rights organization or a Christian politician. No, these extraordinary legal actions are almost exclusively reserved for the punishment of those who have criticized Islam.
Consider the case of Danish author Lars Hedegaard, convicted of hate speech in 2011 for mentioning in a private conversation in his own home that many Muslim women and girls are raped by members of their own families. (His conviction was later reversed by the Danish Supreme Court.) Or Dutch politician Geert Wilders, tried three times in the Netherlands -- the third time successfully -- for "hate speech" directed at Muslims. Or the late Italian author Oriana Fallaci, tried in both France and Italy for, respectively, "inciting religious hatred" and "defaming Islam." Or Finnish politician Terhi Kiemunki, found guilty of "slandering and insulting adherents of the Islamic faith" because she had "claimed that all of the terrorists in Europe are Muslims."
Every day in the Western world, a wide range of opinions on every subject under the sun are expressed in books, newspapers, magazines, speeches, and television and radio interviews. An extremely tiny fraction of these statements of opinion results in lawsuits for libel or personal defamation. And only rarely does a government prosecutor bring an individual up on charges for criticizing a group or a religion or for engaging in "hate speech."
Invariably, the subject at hand is Islam. Politicians and commentators justify these prosecutions on the grounds that Muslims in the West are a vulnerable minority and that speaking ill of their faith could encourage prejudice or even violence against them. On the contrary, it seems clear that the real reason for these prosecutions is that people in positions of authority fear violence by Muslims if their critics go unsilenced.
What such prosecutions amount to is the introduction of a key element of sharia law into the West. It is ironic, then, that on the day after Volokh posted his observations about the Mark Feigin lawsuit in California, the Guardian published an article by Ed Pilkington reporting that in the U.S., in the course of 2017, bills had been introduced in 18 state legislatures banning sharia law. "Legal experts point out that the bills are superfluous," wrote Pilkington, "as the US constitution is the supreme law of the land and any foreign laws are subservient to it."
According to one Elsadig Elsheikh, stated Pilkington, the real reason for the anti-sharia bills was to spread fear of American Muslims. "Even if these bills do not become law," said Elsheikh, who monitors these anti-sharia legislative efforts on behalf of something called the Hass Institute, "they help to subject Muslims to surveillance and other forms of exclusion and discrimination." Pilkington went on to quote other "experts" -- from the execrable Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) and the terrorist-linked Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) -- to the effect that anti-sharia laws "further marginalize and ostracize the Muslim community," normalize "Islamophobia," and so on.
Nowhere in Pilkington's article was there even a hint that sharia is, in fact, on the march in the West, marginalizing others, not least in his own country, the United Kingdom -- where, as we have seen, the police can seem to be less eager to pursue actual criminals than to torment those whom they consider guilty of hate speech. (Last June, for example, three men in Northern Ireland were arrested for displaying "anti-Islamic material," and two people in West Mercia were taken into custody for burning a Koran.) The sharia-style trials of Wilders, Hedegaard and others went unmentioned by Pilkington. So did the prosecution in California of Mark Feigin. Pilkington made no reference to the German court which, last June, actually "authorized a group of self-appointed Sharia police to continue enforcing Islamic law in the city of Wuppertal."
Nor did Pilkington take note of a German hate-speech law that compels online social networks to scrub offensive postings. The law, which went into effect on January 1, does not spell out what constitutes an offensive posting, but it does not have to: by now, everyone knows what such prohibitions are all about. It was under this law that New Year's postings by Beatrix von Storch and Alice Weidel, officials of the Alternative for Germany (AfD) party, were removed from Facebook and Twitter. Der Spiegel applauded these suppressive actions, but lamented that muzzling Storch and Weidel enabled them "to present themselves as a [sic] victim." Der Spiegel loftily dismissed an AfD official's statement that the new law means "the end of the freedom of opinion," even though it surely is, at the very least, an alarming and significant step toward stifling free speech. (To its credit, the popular daily Bild recognized the danger of the new law, and ran a headline that read, "Please spare us the thought police!" and called for the law to "be abolished immediately.")
The sinister bottom line here is that the same reporters and commentators who keep insisting that it is absurd to worry about sharia coming to the West are, in fact, ideologically arm-in-arm with those in authority who are aggressively introducing sharia-style laws in the West, aggressively prosecuting speech that violates those laws, and issuing dark warnings -- in tones unbefitting public officials in a free country -- that you had better learn to be sharia-compliant or you will be sorry. The real lesson of all this, of course, is that we had better learn to be aggressive in our resistance to this proliferation of sharia-influenced prohibitions or we will, indeed, end up being very, very sorry.
**Bruce Bawer is the author of the new novel The Alhambra (Swamp Fox Editions). His book While Europe Slept (2006) was a New York Times bestseller and National Book Critics Circle Award finalist.
© 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.

Political Islam and Sharia Should Be Outlawed in Europe
الإسلام السياسي والشريعة يجب أن يمنعان في أوروبا
Mirek Topolánek/Gatestone Institute/January 07/18

Translated by Josef Zbořil
"Let us look... at the parallel legal system that is gradually creeping into the EU....The emergence of these enclaves, reinforced by elite policies of multiculturalism, group identity politics, and the deconstruction of Western heritage, has contributed to the fracturing of Western European nations and has weakened the overall sense of mutual responsibility for one's fellow citizens." — Andrew Michta, The American Interest, June 6, 2017
The roots of the radical Muslim behavior that is now sweeping Europe can be traced to elements of Islamic law and doctrine created in the 7th century that are being maintained today. These include polygamy for men; allowing men to buy and sell women as sex slaves or concubines; divorce rights [for men that] discriminate against women; insistence on a dress code for women that includes hiding their faces; and discriminatory inheritance laws.
These are the types of laws that Muslim communities in Europe are pushing for and adhering to, and they are based on inequality of gender, religion, ethnicity and social status. In sharia law, there is no freedom of religion, speech, thought, artistic expression or the press...There is no united protection for all people. Justice is different for Muslims and non-Muslims, for men and women... There is no democracy... Jews and Christians are dhimmi, third-class citizens...
The following are excerpts of a speech delivered by Mirek Topolánek, former prime minister of the Czech Republic and former president of the European Council, at the Legal Salon in Prague on November 2, 2017.
Equality, in the legal sense, is based on the principle of freedom and the right of every person to dignity and equal treatment before the law [such that] the law... does not [make a distinction]... between people [based on] their economic or social status, age, ethnicity, [etc.]
The principle of equality is enshrined in the Charter of Fundamental Rights and Freedoms, a declaration that is part of the constitutional order of the Czech Republic...
The philosophical roots of the idea of human rights based on equality can be found not only, but especially, in European culture -- from the Code of Hammurabi, through the Cyrus Cylinder, the Magna Carta Libertatum, the US Declaration of Independence to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
The current concept and understanding of human rights as inalienable, definite and universal is a matter of the past four centuries, [culminating in] the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union, which includes equality as one of the basic human rights sets...
Yes, our law is based on equality.
Let us look, however, at the parallel legal system that is gradually creeping into the EU. As the American historian, Andrew Michta, recently wrote that there is an "increasingly permanent chain of "suspended communities" nesting within nations throughout the West. As these ethnic and cultural enclaves consolidate, they also grow more and more disconnected from the national community... The emergence of these enclaves, reinforced by elite policies of multiculturalism, group identity politics, and the deconstruction of Western heritage, has contributed to the fracturing of Western European nations and has weakened the overall sense of mutual responsibility for one's fellow citizens."
According to Italian journalist Giulio Meotti, this is enabled by European multiculturalism, under which: ... Muslim women lost many rights they should have had in Europe. They face "honor crimes" for refusing to wear an Islamic veil; for dressing up in Western clothes; for meeting with Christian friends; for converting to another faith; for seeking a divorce; for resisting being beaten and for being too "independent".
It is one of the great ironies of multiculturalism: five European NATO members are now fighting in Afghanistan against the Taliban who enslave women, while in Europe the same thing is taking place in our own ghettos.
Under multiculturalism, polygamy has increased, along with female genital mutilation (500,000 cases across Europe). Multiculturalism is, in fact, based on the legalization of a parallel sharia society, which is founded on the rejection of Western values, above all equality and freedom.
In addition, the fear of "offending" Islamic minorities has been leading to wishful blindness. That is what happened in Rotherham, a city of 117,000 people in northern England, where the mass-rape and grooming of at least 1,400 children by "rape gangs of Pakistani origin" was allowed to go on for many years.
Under multiculturalism, anti-Semitism has also skyrocketed, especially in France. The French weekly L'Express just devoted an entire issue to the "new malaise of the French Jews".
Let's take a look at Spain, where Muslims are witnessing a shocking population increase. In 1990, Muslims in the country numbered 100,000. By 2010, the number had increased to 1.5 million. In 2017, the number was nearly two million. It is a growth of 1,900% in 27 years. Today there are 1,400 mosques in Spain. According to the Observatory of Religious Pluralism in Spain -- an initiative of the Ministry of Justice – "This figure represents 21% of all places of worship for all religions present in Spain."
According to Meotti: "The Madrid daily ABC wrote that 800 mosques in Spain are out of control. The Spanish daily La Razon charged that Gulf donors, such as Qatar, were a source of Spain's Islamization. The Saudis also launched a new Spanish television channel, Córdoba TV, as did Iran."
Meotti explained, "They dream of, and work to, regain the 'lost Caliphate' of Spain. Some Islamists do it with bombs and car-ramming attacks. Others, more surreptitiously, do it with money and dawa, Islamic propaganda. The second way may be even more effective than the first."
Then there is Germany. As Meotti described, in September 2015,
Thousands of Syrian migrants crossing the Balkan route were heading toward Germany. Chancellor Angela Merkel was on the phone with Interior Minister Thomas de Maizière, talking about a number of measures to protect the borders, where thousands of policemen were secretly located along with buses and helicopters. De Maizière turned for advice to Dieter Romann, then head of the police. "Can we live with the images that will come out?" de Mazière asked. "What happens if 500 refugees with children in their arms run toward the border guards?"
De Maiziére was told that the appropriate use of the measures to be taken would have be decided by the police on the field. When de Maizière relayed Romann's response to the Chancellor, Merkel reversed her original commitment. And the borders were opened for 180 days.
"For historical reasons, the Chancellor feared images of armed German police confronting civilians on our borders," writes Robin Alexander, Die Welt's leading journalist, who revealed these details in a new book, Die Getriebenen ("The Driven Ones"). Alexander reveals the real reason that pushed Merkel to open the door to a million and a half migrants in a few weeks: "In the end, Merkel refused to take responsibility, governing through the polls." This is how the famous Merkel's motto "Wir schaffen das" was born: "We can do it."
Merkel's refugee policy was not a masterpiece of humanitarian politics; it was dictated by the fear of television images spread all over the world. In so many key moments, it is the photograph that dictates our behavior: the image that dishonors us, that makes us cringe in horror.
Yes, we are in a post-fact or post-truth age. Things are not what they really are, but what they seem to be.
What the hell is going on? Where did it come from?
The roots of the radical Muslim behavior that is now sweeping Europe can be traced to elements of Islamic law and doctrine created in the 7th century that are being maintained today. These include polygamy for men; allowing men to buy and sell women as sex slaves or concubines; divorce rights [for men that] discriminate against women; insistence on a dress code for women that includes hiding their faces; and discriminatory inheritance laws.
These are the types of laws that Muslim communities in Europe are pushing for and adhering to, and they are based on inequality of gender, religion, ethnicity and social status. In sharia law, there is no freedom of religion, speech, thought, artistic expression or the press... There is no united protection for all people. Justice is different for Muslims and non-Muslims, for men and women... There is no democracy... Jews and Christians are dhimmi, third-class citizens...
Islam is not simply a religion; it is a whole civilization with a detailed political system and legal order – Sharia law. Islamism is a complete ideology that has never been, is not and cannot be compatible with or integrated into our law.
Pavel Rychetský [President of the Constitutional Court of the Czech Republic] claims that we cannot violate Muslims' right to religious freedom. That may be true. But I am deeply convinced that we need to start a very profound and, above all, expert legal debate on the issue, and that we must ultimately outlaw political Islam and sharia in our country, just as we did fascism, Nazism and communism. It is a matter of survival to preserve of our form of law and our values.
**Mirek Topolánek is the former prime minister of the Czech Republic and a candidate for the upcoming presidential elections, to be held January 12-13, 2018. His speech was translated by Josef Zbořil, and is reprinted here with the kind permission of the author.
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Crackdown won’t prevent change from coming to Iranقمع الإنتفاضة في إيران لن يحول دون تكرارها
Baria Alamuddin/Arab News/January 08/2018
Decade after decade, the Islamic Republic of Iran has experienced regular explosions of popular anger: Mass student protests in 1999, the Green Movement in 2009 — and now 2018. How do these latest protests differ from what came before?
Whereas previous protest movements erupted out of relatively privileged circles in Tehran, these latest demonstrations saw a grassroots uprising from poverty-stricken citizens in the regime’s traditional heartlands. You can’t get more socially conservative than Mashhad, the epicenter of these events and the birthplace of Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei.
In 2009, an estimated three million demonstrators in Tehran failed to dislodge the Ayatollahs. However, two years later, events in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya and elsewhere proved what was possible when protesters were sufficiently numerous and tenacious. Desperate and disenfranchised dissidents with nothing to lose may prove less willing to admit defeat than the students and middle-classes of Tehran, who often backed down when threatened with redundancy or loss of university places.
Centralized protests in Tehran in 2009 were eventually contained and neutralized. The contagion of the 2018 unrest to dozens of towns in provinces across Iran creates an entirely new security challenge: Discontent crushed in 10 locations can burst out in 50 other towns. The repeated motif of boots thrown at portraits of Khamenei or images of Qasem Soleimani trampled underfoot illustrates how protesters were violating taboos to vent their fury against the heart of the beast.
As acknowledged even by Tehran’s state media, at the forefront of protesters’ minds are economic frustrations: Sky-high unemployment (with 40 percent of young people reportedly out of work); a disintegrating economy; dire public sector wages; and a hollowed out social welfare system.
However, the average unemployed laborer and market stall holder comprehends that these grievances are the product of a perverse governing system, which squanders the nation’s oil wealth on overseas paramilitary adventures, rendering Iran the very definition of a pariah state paralyzed by international sanctions. While average household incomes are insufficient to afford basic goods like eggs and meat, wealth accumulates in the hands of the richest 5 percent within the corrupt echelons of the regime. Massive state contracts are awarded to regime cronies and the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), which concentrates wealth and patronage networks even further.
A significant trigger for the unrest was a leaked draft budget, which revealed brutal cuts to subsidies and welfare payments, combined with lavish financial windfalls for bastions of the regime. There have been massive increases in budgetary spending to opaque and corrupt religious and conservative institutions, and a reported 20 percent rise in military spending to an estimated $14 billion (total budget $104 billion). It is calculated that more than half of this goes directly to the IRGC, which receives three times as much the regular army.
This draft budget fails to account for the IRGC’s copious additional income from its annexation of vast swathes of the domestic economy, while profiteering from its international networks, such as the drugs trade through Afghanistan, monopoly of lucrative cross-border trade and pilgrimage routes into Iraq, and transcontinental weapons proliferation networks.
Every fatality, every arbitrary detainee, every torture victim should be given maximum attention to make it politically unaffordable for the regime to kill its way out of this crisis.
Estimates furthermore calculate that Iran spends anything between $6 billion and $35 billion on military and non-military assistance to the Assad regime, as well as around $800 million on funding for Hezbollah and around $2 billion to Iraqi militants and the Houthis in Yemen. Furthermore, hundreds of millions go to militants in Palestine, Afghanistan and Bahrain. Several thousand Iranians and Iranian residents of South Asian origin have lost their lives in these foreign conflicts. No wonder protesters chanted: “No Gaza, No Lebanon, No Syria, My life for Iran!”
Thus Iran’s economic woes cannot be considered in isolation from a governing model that aspires to strategic depth through funding a plethora of paramilitary proxies, which have become the primary agents of regional instability. Tehran could have benefited from the nuclear deal to embrace greater international legitimacy and acceptance, having naively been offered the benefit of the doubt by the Obama administration. Instead, the regime exploited the financial dividend from unfrozen funds and sanctions relief to massively increase its spending on overseas insurgency and terrorism.
While veteran Iran-watchers fear that the Ayatollahs possess the necessary military muscle to stifle these rallies, some wonder whether history could repeat itself: During the 1970s, the Shah spent massively on a vast military machine to make him unchallengeable, yet harsh repression made millions of Iranians even more defiant and eventually precipitated the Shah’s downfall. However, the 1979 revolution was hijacked by a clerical elite that bloodily repressed all other segments of the nationalist protest movement. In 2018, the world cannot allow such a catastrophic mistake to repeat itself. Events in Libya and Syria demonstrate that a smooth democratic transition is difficult to achieve, perhaps instead resulting in prolonged internal chaos or an IRGC coup should the Ayatollahs be swept from power.
These insights illustrate the need for a massive international effort in support of a new Iran. Such a role wouldn’t be cheap or easy, but the payoff for improved regional stability and neutralizing threats from terrorism and nuclear proliferation would be immense
Meanwhile, the spotlight of global attention must be focused on these events. Every fatality, every arbitrary detainee, every torture victim should be given maximum attention to make it politically unaffordable for the regime to kill its way out of this crisis. We’ve already seen tens of deaths and at least a thousand citizens arrested in arbitrary round-ups by the security forces — this is the regime just getting started.
Although Russia’s championing of Tehran has once again resulted in a farcically divided UN Security Council, the international community must speak with one voice, pledging that every Iranian official involved in such a crackdown should face sanctions. The regime itself should face renewed isolation and a crippling sanctions regime, along with the prospect of military action in the event of Iran reopening its nuclear program or lashing out overseas.
If brave acts of defiance by determined Iranians are allowed to fail, this would only be putting off the inevitable, condemning millions to years of further misery and repression. We shouldn’t be bashful about saying it: The world will be a far better place without the Islamic Republic of Iran, and change is coming, whether today or tomorrow. We are right to seize the opportunity to encourage change and actively support the aspirations of millions of Iranians for freedom from tyranny.
• Baria Alamuddin is an award-winning journalist and broadcaster in the Middle East and the UK. She is editor of the Media Services Syndicate and has interviewed numerous heads of state.