January 12/2018
Compiled & Prepared by: Elias Bejjani

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Bible Quotations
Kneel before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name
Ephesians 03/01-20: "For this reason I, Paul, the prisoner of Christ Jesus for the sake of you Gentiles— Surely you have heard about the administration of God’s grace that was given to me for you,  that is, the mystery made known to me by revelation, as I have already written briefly.  In reading this, then, you will be able to understand my insight into the mystery of Christ,  which was not made known to people in other generations as it has now been revealed by the Spirit to God’s holy apostles and prophets.  This mystery is that through the gospel the Gentiles are heirs together with Israel, members together of one body, and sharers together in the promise in Christ Jesus. I became a servant of this gospel by the gift of God’s grace given me through the working of his power.  Although I am less than the least of all the Lord’s people, this grace was given me: to preach to the Gentiles the boundless riches of Christ,  and to make plain to everyone the administration of this mystery, which for ages past was kept hidden in God, who created all things. His intent was that now, through the church, the manifold wisdom of God should be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms, according to his eternal purpose that he accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord. In him and through faith in him we may approach God with freedom and confidence. I ask you, therefore, not to be discouraged because of my sufferings for you, which are your glory. For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name. I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ,  and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us,  to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen."

Titles For Latest LCCC Bulletin analysis & editorials from miscellaneous sources published on January 11-12/18
2018 Could Witness the Start of the Trade War/Jared Dillian/Bloomberg View/January 11/18
USA – Iran: International Relations ‘2018 Model Year’/Eyad Abu Shakra/Asharq Al Awsat/January 11/18
Iranian protests underscore the suffering of the citizenry/Amal Abdulaziz Al–Hazani/ Al Arabiya/January 11/18/
Khomeini regime and its American connections/Mashari Althaydi/ Al Arabiya/January 11/18
Iran and the egression from the religious revolution/Seyid Ould Abah/ Al Arabiya/January 11/18
Visiting a library in Paris/Ghassan Charbel/Al Arabiya/January 11/18/
The fight against terrorism enters a new phase/Dr. Ibrahim Al-Othaimin/Al Arabiya/January 11/18/

Titles For Latest LCCC Lebanese Related News published on January 11-12/18
US Attorney General Sessions sets up Hezbollah investigation team
Aoun stresses importance of regional reconciliation
U.S. Team to Review Obama-Era Hizbullah Probes
Hariri Voices Support for Reforms, Says Govt Must End Electricity and Waste 'Farce'
Govt. OKs Solid Waste Plan, Decides to Expand Costa Brava Landfill
Safieddine Says Hizbullah-AMAL 'Strong Allies' in Upcoming Polls
Report: AMAL 'Refuses' Electoral Alliance with Mustaqbal
Jumblat Dispatches Abu Faour to Hariri with 'Initiative' to Solve Aoun-Berri Row
ISF Arrest Drug Dealers in Mount Lebanon
Report: Hizbullah Says Hariri More Eligible to Mend Aoun-Berri Row
Jumblat Says Officers Decree 'Unnecessary', Rejects 'Isolation' of Berri

Titles For Latest LCCC Bulletin For Miscellaneous Reports And News published on January 11-12/18
Quakes Strike along Iran-Iraq Border, Rattle Baghdad
International Organizations: Concerns About Detainees in Iran
Egypt's Inflation in Lowest Rate since Floating Currency
Race Against Time to Find California Mudslide Survivors
Forecasts of Increase in Turkish Economic Growth
Syrian rebels declare counter attack in Idlib province
At least 8,000 people have been detained during Iran protests
Egyptian prosecutor orders probe into New York Times’ report
Palestinian teen shot dead in Israel-Gaza border clashes: ministry
Israel approves more than 1,100 new West Bank settlement homes
Iranian warship crashes at Caspian port, two crew missing
Surrender or be shot in the face, senior US soldier tells ISIS
Italian police take computer of Cambridge tutor in Egypt murder case
Ecuador Grants Citizenship to WikiLeaks Founder Assange
Syrian Insurgents in Counteroffensive in Northwestern Area
'Big Obstacles' Still in Way of Germany Coalition Deal,Says Merkel
Europe, Iran to Back Nuclear Deal as Trump Decision Looms
Third Night of Unrest in Tunisia as Hundreds Arrested

Latest Lebanese Related News published on January 11-12/18
US Attorney General Sessions sets up Hezbollah investigation team
Reuters, Washington/January 11/18/The US Justice Department has set up a team to investigate individuals and organizations providing support to Hezbollah, the Iran-backed Islamist group in Lebanon that the US has branded a terrorist organization, Attorney General Jeff Sessions said on Thursday. Republicans have criticized former President Barack Obama following a December Politico report that the Obama administration hindered a Drug Enforcement Administration program targeting Hezbollah’s trafficking operations during its negotiation of the 2015 Iran nuclear deal. Republican President Donald Trump says Obama gave away too much to Iran to secure the agreement, which gives Iran relief from sanctions in exchange for curbs on its nuclear program. Sessions said the Justice Department will assemble leading investigators and prosecutors for the Hezbollah Financing and Narcoterrorism Team to ensure all investigations under the DEA program, called Project Cassandra, will be completed. “The Justice Department will leave no stone unturned in order to eliminate threats to our citizens from terrorist organizations and to stem the tide of the devastating drug crisis,” Sessions said.

Aoun stresses importance of regional reconciliation
The Daily Star/Jan. 12, 2018/BEIRUT: President Michel Aoun Thursday called for Arab nations to use dialogue rather than war to resolve their ongoing differences, just before an announcement was made that Lebanon would host the 2019 Arab League Summit. Aoun’s comments and the announcement could be interpreted as a sign of warming ties between Lebanon and other Arab states. During a visit of a delegation of dentists to Baabda Palace, Aoun said: “It is important to us that there is political reconciliation between Arab states, and that problems should be solved at a dialogue table,” Aoun was quoted as saying by his media office. Meanwhile, Hezbollah lashed out at Saudi Arabia Thursday. The Iranian-backed group has been a central factor in fraying regional ties, which deteriorated further after Lebanon’s 2016 decision to reject the designation of Hezbollah as a terrorist organization by the Gulf Cooperation Council and a convocation of Arab interior ministers. In spite of the dissociation policy reaffirmed by Cabinet in December 2017, aimed to distance Lebanon from regional conflicts, Hezbollah criticized Saudi Arabia and praised the resilience of the “oppressed Yemeni people.”Following their weekly bloc meeting, the party’s MPs released a statement noting that the people of Yemen were standing strong in the face of “American-Saudi aggression” and using innovative means to defend their country. Reading the statement, MP Hasan Fadlallah said that Hezbollah called for an immediate end to the aggression in Yemen, which he said had harmed regional and international security and stability. Turning to the Palestinian cause, Hezbollah “saluted” the Palestinian people for continuing to defend Jerusalem and “their land occupied by Zionist settlers.”Touching on the recent protests in Iran, Hezbollah congratulated the Islamic Republic for “succeeding in dealing with blatant interference [by foreign countries], through which enemies tried to destabilize Iran’s security and stability.” The dissociation policy, endorsed by Cabinet on Dec. 5, 2017, requires that all groups represented in the Lebanese government stay out of regional conflicts.

U.S. Team to Review Obama-Era Hizbullah Probes
Associated Press/Naharnet/January 11/18/The U.S. Justice Department is forming a team of prosecutors to investigate alleged drug trafficking and money laundering linked to Hizbullah, Attorney General Jeff Sessions said Thursday. The move follows reports that Obama administration officials thwarted drug prosecutions related to Hizbullah for fear of jeopardizing a nuclear deal with Iran. President Donald Trump and congressional Republicans have been relentless in pressuring Sessions to take a fresh look at Obama-era dealings, in an effort that Democrats contend is aimed at steering attention away from investigations into Trump campaign ties to Russian election meddling. The new team's first task will be to examine evidence from the Obama-era Drug Enforcement Administration program known as Project Cassandra. Sessions announced a review in December, after news website Politico reported that the program had been targeting Hizbullah's alleged trafficking of cocaine into the U.S. and abroad but was stymied by Obama officials. The Obama administration at the time was eager to improve relations with Iran and stall its nuclear weapons program. The U.S. considers Hizbullah to be a “terrorist group” and an Iranian proxy. Prosecutors who specialize in terrorism, narcotics trafficking and organized crime, led by the acting head of the Justice Department's criminal division, will bring prosecutions designed to restrict the flow of money to terrorist groups, Sessions said. He said he wanted to be sure Project Cassandra and other investigations have adequate resources. "The Justice Department will leave no stone unturned in order to eliminate threats to our citizens from terrorist organizations and to stem the tide of the devastating drug crisis," Sessions said.

Hariri Voices Support for Reforms, Says Govt Must End Electricity and Waste 'Farce'
Naharnet/January 11/18/Prime Minister Saad Hariri on Thursday said that ongoing disagreements over suggested reforms of the new electoral law are consuming time, expressing support to any reform that promotes transparency and integrity in the upcoming legislative elections. However, he stressed during a Cabinet meeting at the Grand Serail that differences will not hinder staging the elections in May. He stressed that polls' postponement, extension or disruption “has no place in my dictionary, personally, or in the government's dictionary.”On the issue of electricity, Hariri said that strikes have become a means to increase the hours of rationing. "The rights of employees and workers should be discussed where they should, away from the street without becoming a tool to punish the Lebanese," he said. Turning to the issue of waste, the PM emphasized: "We are called for bold decisions and a permanent and comprehensive waste plan to end this farce. We must have a temporary plan dealing with the waste in the capital and suburbs within the conditions required."

Govt. OKs Solid Waste Plan, Decides to Expand Costa Brava Landfill
Naharnet/January 11/18/The Cabinet on Thursday approved a plan to manage the household solid waste crisis, which involves the expansion of the Costa Brava landfill near Beirut. The plan was proposed by the Ministry of Environment. “We now have a plan approved by the government to manage the household solid waste in Lebanon, and the details of this plan will be presented during a press conference in the ministry,” Environment Minister Tarek al-Khatib said after the cabinet session. He added that the Cabinet also decided to expand the Costa Brava landfill and to include Chouf and Aley to area benefiting from it. “A decision has also been taken about the Tripoli landfill and thus we now have a plan to commit to in order to solve the waste problem,” Khatib said. Under the new plan, a new reprocessing plant will be established at Costa Brava and the sorting plants in Amrusiya and Karantina will be improved.
A call for tenders will also be organized within six months to establish thermal disintegration plants in several areas. Lebanon has been suffering from a waste management crisis since July 2015 when the controversial Naameh landfill that received the trash of Beirut and Mount Lebanon was closed by authorities.
Experts have urged the government to devise a comprehensive waste management solution that would include more recycling and composting to reduce the amount of trash going into landfills. The consecutive governments' failure to address the problem in recent years led to the piling up of garbage on the streets and in random locations, which raised health and environmental concerns and sparked unprecedented street protests against the entire political class.

Safieddine Says Hizbullah-AMAL 'Strong Allies' in Upcoming Polls
Naharnet/January 11/18/Head of Hizbullah's Executive Council Sheikh Hashem Safieddine said the party will wage the upcoming parliamentary elections in alliance with the AMAL Movement, the National News Agency said on Thursday. “This is nonnegotiable and settled. Hizbullah and AMAL will be in a close, strong alliance in the coming elections. We will wage the polls in unified electoral lists,” said Safieddine at a ceremony organized by Hizbullah in the South.He added that an alliance with AMAL “generates a strong electoral and representational image in the parliament and falls in the entire interest of Lebanon.” The Hizbullah official also praised the new proportional electoral system which will be implemented for the first time after its stipulation in 2017, he said: “A good step has been made at the level of the proportional representation system. The Lebanese will be able for the first time to elect lawmakers on the basis of this law.” The new electoral law replaces the winner-takes-all voting system with proportional representation and reduces the number of electoral districts from 26 to 15. It comes after years of wrangling during which political parties rejected various proposals for fear of losing parliamentary seats.

Report: AMAL 'Refuses' Electoral Alliance with Mustaqbal
Naharnet/January 11/18/The political dispute between AMAL Movement and al-Mustaqbal Movement may reflect on the file of the parliamentary elections especially with regard to alliances. Both parties rule out the possibility of any electoral alliance with the other, al-Akhbar daily reported on Thursday.
The daily quoted AMAL sources who spoke on condition of anonymity, assuring that AMAL won't strike an alliance with Mustaqbal, while noting that the latter “hopes the opposite.”The sources added: “Ain el-Tineh's decision (Speaker Nabih Berri's residence) stems from two pillars. The first is lack of political confidence in Prime Minister Saad Hariri (Mustaqbal chief), and the second is linked to AMAL's alliance with Hizbullah.” The sources reminded of the Mustaqbal Movement secretary-general Ahmed Hariri's remarks when he assured saying "there will be no alliance with Hizbullah,” which in turn “freed us as a movement of any outlook of an alliance with Mustaqbal.”AMAL sources added: “It is illogical to have alliances in joint districts. Hizbullah supports candidates in Sidon-Jezzine-West Bekaa and Zahle that Hariri won't approve of. Moreover, we believe that Hariri is going to have alliances with the Free Patriotic Movement (of President Michel Aoun.”On the other hand, senior Mustaqbal sources told the daily: “It is not yet clear how electoral alliances will be established in the joint districts. Many things could change until then.”The dispute between AMAL and Mustaqbal intensified against the backdrop of a decree granting one-year seniority to a number of officers and signed by President Michel Aoun and Hariri. Aoun and his aides have argued that the decree did not require Finance Minister's Ali Hassan Khalil's (of AMAL) signature because it did not entail any “financial burden,” a point Berri and officials close to him have argued against.

Jumblat Dispatches Abu Faour to Hariri with 'Initiative' to Solve Aoun-Berri Row

Naharnet/January 11/18/Progressive Socialist Party leader MP Walid Jumblat dispatched MP Wael Abu Faour to the Grand Serail on Thursday reportedly carrying an initiative to solve the differences between President Michel Aoun and Speaker Nabih Berri over the officers seniority decree. “I put forward the idea of a solution to Prime Miniser Saad Hariri. The proposal is open for discussion and it is at his disposal,” said Abu Faour while leaving the Grand Serail. Reports confirmed that the initiative was “worthy of attention and could be discussed.”On Wednesday, Jumblat revealed that Berri has sent him “a solution plan with Abu Faour who will submit it to Hariri.”“The solution plan is aimed at returning things to the constitutional course,” Jumblat had noted. The PSP chief described the disputed decree issued by President Michel Aoun as unnecessary, throwing his support behind Speaker Nabih Berri in the ongoing spat. 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.

ISF Arrest Drug Dealers in Mount Lebanon

Naharnet/January 11/18/The Internal Security Forces clamped down on a gang of drug dealers in the Mount Lebanon town of Shanay, the ISF announced on Thursday. ISF said in a statement it obtained information about a group of people suspected of drug dealing in Mount Lebanon governorate. As a result of monitoring and follow-up, they was able to identify the suspects. Police carried out an ambush in the Shanay village which resulted in the arrest of five drug dealers, all Lebanese nationals. Police confiscated 25 kg of cannabis, 31 boxes of Tramadol containing 3100 tablets, Captagon pills, around 23 kg of cocaine, 120 g of Salvia, and a small amount of heroin and cocaine. The detainees were held at the Central Drug Enforcement Office in the Judicial Police Unit for investigation.

Report: Hizbullah Says Hariri More Eligible to Mend Aoun-Berri Row
Naharnet/January 11/18/In light of lingering conflict between President Michel Aoun and Speaker Nabih Berri over the seniority decree, Hizbullah said it will not engage in mediation between the two men but believes that Prime Minister Saad Hariri is the man for the job, al-Joumhouria daily reported on Thursday.
“We are not in the right place to play a mediator role,” an unnamed Hizbullah official told the daily. “There is only one person who is qualified to do so, PM Saad Hariri, although he is a partner in the seniority decree,” added the source on condition of anonymity. However, political sources following up closely on the decree issue, told the daily: “Hizbullah's refusal to engage in negotiations is due to two facts. First, both parties know well that Hizbullah is not a mediator because it supports Berri's stance regarding the decree issue. Second, other parties have tried to intervene and failed,” to mend the differences. The Aoun-Berri spat 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.

Jumblat Says Officers Decree 'Unnecessary', Rejects 'Isolation' of Berri
Naharnet/January 11/18/Progressive Socialist Party leader MP Walid Jumblat on Wednesday described a disputed decree issued by President Michel Aoun as unnecessary, throwing his support behind Speaker Nabih Berri in the ongoing spat. “The disputed decree was unnecessary, but now that the decree has been issued, there is no need to isolate Speaker (Nabih) Berri and consequently a major sect,” Jumblat said in an interview on Future TV. “Let's keep the army as it is. The new army command has won battles against terrorism and let it address its own affairs,” he added. Jumblat also revealed that Berri has sent him “a solution plan with (MP) Wael Abu Faour who will submit it to Prime Minister Saad Hariri.” “The solution plan is aimed at returning things to the constitutional course,” Jumblat noted. The Aoun-Berri spat 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. Turning to the issue of parliamentary elections, Jumblat said “a five-party alliance stands for isolating a certain party” and that he is against such a move. “The electoral law was imposed as a de facto situation by the major parties and we tried to delay it and we have not received any guarantees,” he added.

Latest LCCC Bulletin For Miscellaneous Reports And News published on January 11-12/18
Quakes Strike along Iran-Iraq Border, Rattle Baghdad

Asharq Al Awsat/January 11/18/A series of eight earthquakes with a magnitude of at least 5 hit along the Iran-Iraq border and rattled even Baghdad and parts of the Iraqi countryside on Thursday, striking in the same area that saw a deadly temblor in November. The US Geological Survey said seven of the quakes struck near the Iraqi city of Mandali and an eighth struck near Mehran in western Iran. All struck within an hour of each other, beginning at 0659 GMT. Seven had a preliminary magnitude of at least 5, while the eighth earthquake was a magnitude 4. Earthquakes of magnitude 5 and up to 5.9 are classified as moderate. There were no immediate reports of injuries or damage. Iranian state television said people rushed into the streets as the temblors hit. In Baghdad, people felt a quake shake the Iraqi capital, followed by what felt like aftershocks. In November, a 7.2 magnitude earthquake struck the same region, killing over 530 people and injuring thousands in Iran alone. In Iraq, nine people were killed and 550 were injured, all in the country's northern Kurdish region, according to the United Nations. Iran sits on major fault lines and is prone to near-daily earthquakes.

International Organizations: Concerns About Detainees in Iran
London- Adil al Salmi/Asharq Al Awsat/January 11/18/Several international human rights organizations expressed their concern over the fate of arrested protesters in Iran, calling upon the UN Special Rapporteur for Human Rights in Iran Asma Jahangir to seriously follow up on the situation of detainees in Iranian prisons. Several scientific figures also stated they are worried about the student that had been arrested during the protests, as Iran’s Education Minister announced that President Rouhani issued an order to release all detained students. Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International issued separate statements asking the Iranian authorities to release the detainees. Both organizations also condemned the death of 23-year-old man in Evin prison in Tehran under “unknown circumstances”. Meanwhile, Iran’s President Hasan Rouhani asked Minister of Interior Abdulreza Rahmani Fazli to prepare a detailed report on recent incidents and detained citizens. “The main approach of the government in the budget bill of the year 1397 is boosting employment and eliminating poverty”, said Rouhani during the weekly ministerial meeting. The President told the government that the current economic problems have not happened overnight. Thirty-five members of the Iranian parliament submitted a request to the Intelligence Ministry asking to visit Evin prison, Islamic Consultative Assembly News Agency quoted Reformist Bloc spokesman Mohammed Reza Aref. Chief of Staff for the Armed Forces of Iran Mohammad Bagheri denied reports claiming that Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps, Basij and the police used violence and weapons against the protesters. He added that the laws of armed forces ban any member from carrying weapons on the streets. Bagheri stated that no demonstrator had been shot. “All over the world, when a military group is attacked, it should defend itself,” added Bagheri according to Tasnim news agency, hinting that several citizens who tried to break into police stations were shot at.
Iran’s Ministry of Intelligence issued a statement on Wednesday announcing that a number of persons responsible for the protests had been arrested. Meanwhile, Iran’s Foreign Ministry Spokesman Bahram Qassemi has strongly denounced a meddlesome resolution adopted by the US House of Representatives regarding the recent riots in Iran. In a statement on Wednesday, Qassemi said: "The interventionist resolution passed by the US Congress is rejected, and is completely reprehensible and unacceptable.”US House of Representatives passed a resolution Tuesday supporting the Iranian people's right to free expression and condemned the country's leadership for crackdowns on recent protests. The resolution, which passed by 415 votes, reiterated the US support to Iranian people engaged in legitimate and peaceful protests against an oppressive, corrupt regime and condemned the government's "serious human rights abuses against the Iranian people. The House resolution also called on US President Donald Trump's administration to issue new sanctions punishing human rights violators in Iran. "In standing with the Iranian people, we must explain that they are not the target of our sanctions," House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Ed Royce said. "US sanctions target the oppressive, destabilizing regime, not the people of Iran," he was quoted by the Agence France-Presse.
New reports of deaths in detention in Iran raise grave concerns about the treatment of thousands of people arrested during the widespread protests by government forces, announced Human Rights Watch (HRW). “Iranian authorities should ensure that all deaths in detention and allegations of ill-treatment are swiftly and independently investigated and that anyone responsible is brought to justice,” stated HRW. HRW Middle East director Sarah Leah Whitson announced that reports of deaths make it critically important to investigate these cases immediately and to bring anyone responsible for ill-treatment to justice. “The legacy of Kahrizak prison, where the 2009 protesters were tortured and killed, and persistent impunity for these crimes, casts a dark shadow on the situation for people arrested since these protests began,” she added. Defenders of Human Rights Center in Iran, head by Shirin Ebadi, sent a letter to UN officials asking them to oblige Iranian officials to the laws and principles of human rights in any way possible that ensure the safety of the detainees. Islamic Consultative Assembly News Agency stated that Tehran MP Mahmoud Sadeghi indicated the number of detained persons since the beginning of protests on December 28, 2017, had reached 3,700 citizens. Sadeghi reported that 90 students had been arrested in Tehran universities. Tehran university announced that 41 of its students had been detained, while other universities didn’t issue any statement concerning the matter. Ilna news agency indicated that 16 students have been released, and the remaining are expected to be released in the coming few days. Minister of Science, Research, and Technology Mansour Gholami said on Wednesday that President Rouhani ordered the release of all students arrested during the protests last week. In related news, Center to Combat Racism in Iran issued a statement stating that citizens held several marches against economic corruption and dictatorship. The statement mentioned that over 1,300 protesters had been arrested, two-thirds of which are from the Arab and Kurdish minorities. The center added that authorities held 6,000 citizens in Shiaban prison while its capacity is 2000, and Karoon prison had been re-opened after it had been closed for months.

Egypt's Inflation in Lowest Rate since Floating Currency
Asharq Al Awsat/January 11/18/Annual urban inflation fell to 21.9 percent in December from 26 percent the previous month for the first time since November 2016 when the currency was floated, the official statistics agency, CAPMAS, said on Wednesday. Egypt decided in 2016 to fully float its local currency, which lost half its value in a country that relies heavily on imports. “We expect inflation to continue its decline until it reaches around 12 percent mid this year,” said Reham El Desoki, senior economist at Arqaam Capital. Inflation has climbed since Egypt floated its currency, the pound, in November 2016, reaching a record high of 35.3 percent in July after energy subsidies were cut. It has gradually eased since July. Urban consumer price inflation month-on-month rate fell to -0.2 percent, in Dec 2015, from 1 percent in November. Egypt’s inflation is expected to fall below 20 percent next month and to 10-12 percent during 2018, said Finance Minister Amr El Garhy. The World Bank forecast Tuesday Egypt’s economy to grow 4.9 percent in 2018, compared to 4.4 percent in 2017, becoming the second highest growing economy in MENA after Djibouti (expected growth of 7 percent). In January 2018, in the Global Economic Prospects report about MENA, the World Bank said that Egypt’s economy would grow 5.6 percent in 2019 while growth in the MENA is expected to jump to 3 percent in 2018 and 3.2 percent in 2019.

Race Against Time to Find California Mudslide Survivors
Asharq Al Awsat/January 11/18/Rescue crews using dogs and helicopters resumed on Thursday the arduous task of combing through tons of debris for survivors from deadly mudslides in southern California. Seventeen people are confirmed dead and another 17 people are missing after a river of waist-high mud roared down hillsides in the scenic area between the Pacific Ocean and the Los Padres National Forest, according to authorities in Santa Barbara County. "Right now, our assets are focused on determining if anyone is still alive in any of those structures that have been damaged," Santa Barbara County Sheriff Bill Brown told Los Angeles television station KCAL. Some 500 rescuers using search dogs, military helicopters, and thermal imaging equipment are on scene. Search and rescue efforts have been slow as crews have to navigate through the mud, fallen trees, boulders and other debris. The devastating mudslides, which were triggered by heavy rains early on Tuesday, roared into valleys denuded by historic wildfires that struck the area last month. The debris flow from the mudslides has destroyed 100 homes, damaged hundreds of other structures and injured 28 people, said Amber Anderson, a spokeswoman for the Santa Barbara County Fire Department. Among the damaged properties were historic hotels and the homes of celebrities including television personality Oprah Winfrey and talk-show host Ellen DeGeneres, who both live in the upscale hillside community of Montecito. The US Coast Guard released footage of a couple, their two young children and two dogs being plucked from their roof and hoisted up to a helicopter in baskets. Roads were clogged throughout the region with mudflows shutting down more than 30 miles (50 kilometers) of the 101 Freeway on Tuesday and knocking a number of homes from their foundations.

Forecasts of Increase in Turkish Economic Growth
Ankara - Saeed Abdelrazek/Asharq Al Awsat/January 11/18/The World Bank has revised Turkey’s economic growth projection for 2017 up to 6.7 percent, while keeping that of 2018 at 3.5 percent. According to the bank’s Global Economic Prospects report for 2018, financial support would have a huge impact on the Turkish economic recovery. Forecasts of the World Bank go in tandem with the Turkish government’s expectations regarding the growth rate of 2017, in which Turkish Economy Minister Nihat Zeybekci stated a few days ago that the growth rate of 2017 is most likely to stand at 7 percent. So far, no official declaration has been made about the economic growth rate of 2017. Yet the 11.1 percent growth rate reached in the third quarter of 2017 led to high expectations for the year as a whole. The Turkish highest growth rate was 11.1 percent in 2011 and the lowest was in 2016 that witnessed the failed coup attempt in July of that year (2.3 percent growth and 1.8 percent shrinkage). In the same context, Fitch Ratings expected Turkey's economy to grow by 4.8 percent annually on average in the next five years. The country’s strong growth rate “hinges crucially on continued high investment rates, which could be vulnerable to a sustained slowdown in capital inflows,” the report said. India came on top among the 10 emerging markets in the report with a potential growth rate of 6.7 percent in the next five years. China and Indonesia jointly ranked second, both with a projected potential growth rate of 5.5 percent. In another matter, the Ministry of Transport, Maritime Affairs and Communications announced Wednesday that a total of 87,593 ships passed through Turkish straits in 2017.

Syrian rebels declare counter attack in Idlib province
Reuters, Beirut/January 11/18/Rebels launched a counter attack against Syrian government forces and their allies in Idlib province on Thursday, seeking to roll back an advance that is fueling tension with neighboring Turkey. Fighting raged in the area, where a government offensive backed by Iran-backed militia has gathered pace in the last two weeks, according to rebels and a military news service run by the Lebanese group Hezbollah, which is fighting on the government side. Idlib province is the biggest chunk of Syria still held by rebels fighting President Bashar al-Assad, with a population swollen by Syrians who have fled government advances in other parts of the country. Assad has defeated rebels in many parts of western Syria with critical help from Russia and Iran. The recent military escalation in western Syria has included an unprecedented attack by a squadron of drones on Russian military bases and has cast a shadow over Moscow’s efforts to convene a Syria peace congress later this month.The Hezbollah-run news service said the army and its allies were repelling a “fierce assault” by the Nusra Front, formerly ISIS affiliate in the Syrian war, and groups linked to it. Rebels fighting under the banner of the Free Syrian Army (FSA) said in a statement they had set up a joint operations room to repel the offensive and to take back areas seized by the government in northeastern Hama and southern Idlib. “The operation is to hit the belly of the regime deep into liberated territories and to encircle their advancing forces,” said Abdul Hakim al Rahamon, a senior official in Jaish al Nasr, an FSA faction taking part. Tahrir al-Sham (HTS), an alliance led by the Nusra Front, the dominant force in Idlib, said it had already made gains. “With Allah’s blessings we drew plans and prepared ourselves and are encircling them,” said Abu al Naji, a commander from Tahrir al Sham. “We have killed many.”Rebels said they had captured some 15 villages and seized 60 government fighters. A Syrian military source denied this and dismissed rebel talk of a counter attack as propaganda. The source said fierce battles were however underway in the area and army advances were continuing. Rebel sources said warplanes had struck Khan Sheikhoun and Saraqeb, two major population centers in Idlib province that are among several towns that have been targeted in the latest offensive. The latest push by the army and its allies has alarmed Turkey which has been deploying forces inside northern Idlib and setting up bases which it says are part of agreements with Iran and Russia over a de-escalation zone in Idlib. The Turkish government said the Idlib offensive was endangering the effort to reach a resolution of the conflict and accused the Syrian government of using the pretext of fighting militants to wage a wide scale attack. Ankara is concerned that wider fighting in the province could bring tens of thousands of Syrians fleeing from the battlefields on its borders far beyond the numbers now fleeing. Many Syrians living in rebel-held areas see Turkey’s military intervention as a bulwark against a relentless bombing campaign by Syrian and Russian air forces they blame for killing and injuring hundreds of civilians in urban areas in recent months, away from the frontlines.

At least 8,000 people have been detained during Iran protests
Al Arabiya/January 11/18/The massive and widespread arrests of young people in different Iranian cities continue since the people took to the streets on December 28. According to reports from inside Iran and from within the regime, the number of detainees has mounted to at least 8,000 by the end of the second week of the Iranian people's uprising. In recent days, several of these prisoners were martyred under the regime’s medieval tortures. Despite the regime’s attempts to keep hidden the number of arrests, it admitted to parts of it due to the high rise in numbers. A week ago Mahmoud Sadeghi, a member of parliament, said the number of arrestees amounted to 3,700. On January 2, political-security deputy governor of Tehran said 450 people were arrested in Tehran in only three days (December 30 - January 1). On December 30 and 31, 396 people were arrested in events in Arak and other cities of the Central Province, 65 of whom were teenagers under the age of 18, said the Chief Justice of the Central province on January 4. Anti-government protesters demonstrated in Iran on Sunday in defiance of a warning by the authorities of a tough crackdown. (Supplied)
The deputy governor of Golestan said on January 3, “With the arrest of about 150 of insurgents in Gorgan, calm returned to this city.”“In recent days, when there was some rioting and turmoil in Hamadan, more than 150 people were arrested in Hamadan,” Hamedan Governor said on January 2.
Mashhad deputy prosecutor said on January 3, “A total of 138 people were arrested in Mashhad disturbances”. The commander of Kerman Provincial Guard Corps (Sarallah) said on January 2, “During the recent turmoil, more than 80 rioters were arrested and handed over to the competent authorities.”
“In the illegal gatherings of Kashan, about 50 to 60 people were arrested,” Kashan Prosecutor said on January 1. According to Bahman Taherkhani, a parliamentarian from Takistan, on January 2, “Some 50 people with ominous intentions caused unrest in this city who should be punished according to their crimes”. He added, “The presence of individuals with a leading role in recent riots is another sign that these disturbances are organized.” According to reports from the prisons in Ahwaz and other cities in Khuzestan, the number of arrestees in the province is 1,600. The parliamentarian from Izeh said he does not have an accurate number of the detainees. He added that they were mostly teenagers and young people aged 16 to 24 years old. Hundreds have been arrested in Izeh, according to reports. The number of detainees has mounted to at least 8,000 in Iran since the start of the protests two weeks ago. (Supplied)
The Iranian Resistance called on all the people, especially the youth, to support the detainees and their families, and to rise up for the release of prisoners. It also called on the Security Council and the Secretary-General of the United Nations, the European Union, and the member-states, and the US government, as well as all human rights organizations, to strongly condemn the clerics’ regime for these blatant anti-human crimes, and to adopt effective measures to free the detainees. “Numerous reports from various cities of the country alleging mistreatment of prisoners and martyrdom of a number of them under torture makes it very essential and urgent to establish an investigative committee by the High Commissioner for Human Rights and the United Nations Human Rights Council to investigate into the arbitrary arrests and the crimes carried out in the regime’s prisons,” the statement said.

Egyptian prosecutor orders probe into New York Times’ report

The Associated Press, Cairo/January 11/18/Egypt’s chief prosecutor has ordered an “urgent”" investigation into a New York Times’ report about recordings purportedly of an intelligence officer instructing TV talk show hosts and a famous actress to downplay President Donald Trump's decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital. Chief prosecutor Nabil Sadeq’s statement says the report, published over the weekend, “undermines Egypt’s security, public peace and hurts the public's interest.”The decision followed a flurry of condemnation of the Times by lawmakers, commentators and the State Information Service. The government of President Abdel-Fattah el-Sisi, a close Trump ally, has denounced Trump’s Jerusalem decision. Michael Slackman, The Times’ international editor, is quoted as saying in an article published Wednesday that the paper's “story was a deeply reported, consequential piece of journalism, and we stand fully behind it.”

Palestinian teen shot dead in Israel-Gaza border clashes: ministry
AFP, Gaza city/January 11/18/A Palestinian teenager was shot dead in clashes with the Israeli military along the Gaza border on Thursday, the health ministry in the Palestinian enclave said. It said the 16-year-old was shot in the chest near the border fence east of Al-Bureij camp in central Gaza, following protests against US President Donald Trump's controversial recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital. The statement said two other Palestinians were injured in the clashes. The Israeli army said it was looking into the incident. Fifteen Palestinians and an Israeli have been killed since Trump’s December 6 decision, which angered Palestinians who see Jerusalem as their capital. Thirteen of the Palestinians were killed in clashes, while two were killed in an Israeli air strike on Gaza in response to rocket fire. Israeli rabbi Raziel Shevah was shot dead in the occupied West Bank on Tuesday, with security forces continuing to search for the assailant. It was unclear whether the gun attack on the Israeli was related to Trump’s declaration.

Israel approves more than 1,100 new West Bank settlement homes
AFP, Jerusalem/January 11/18/Israeli authorities have approved more than 1,100 new settlement homes in the occupied West Bank, the Peace Now NGO said Thursday, the latest in a raft of such moves in recent months. The approvals were given on Wednesday by a defense ministry committee with authority over settlement construction. Some 352 of the homes received final approval, while the others are at an earlier stage in the process, Hagit Ofran of Peace Now, which monitors settlement building, told AFP. A total of 1,122 housing units were advanced, including seven already existing homes given retroactive approval. According to Ofran, the majority of the approvals are for settlements deep in the West Bank that Israel would likely need to evacuate as part of a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. “It’s a part of the general trend that the government is doing, which is to build all over the West Bank, even more in places that Israel would need to evict, and in this way to torpedo the possibility for a two-state solution,” she said. A shooting that killed an Israeli settler on Tuesday in the West Bank led to fresh calls for further settlement building, though the plans approved on Wednesday were already in the works. According to Peace Now, 6,742 housing projects were approved in the settlements last year, the highest figure since 2013. Israeli settlements are seen as illegal under international law and major obstacles to peace as they are built on land the Palestinians see as part of their future state.
Prominent members of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s right-wing government openly oppose Palestinian statehood. Israel faced sharp criticism from the administration of former US president Barack Obama over settlement construction, but that has not been the case with US President Donald Trump’s White House and Israeli officials have sought to take advantage of his backing.

Iranian warship crashes at Caspian port, two crew missing
Reuters, Beirut/January 11/18/An Iranian warship crashed into concrete wave breakers at a port in the Caspian Sea and two of its crew members are missing, according to local media reports. The 100-meter long warship, called Damavand, crashed at the harbour town of Bandar Anzali during stormy seas which kicked up waves as high as four meters, Gilnegah, a website focused on news about the northern province of Gilan, reported. Six crew members from the warship were initially knocked into the water during the accident and four were recovered from the sea. Pictures posted on Gilnegah show the damaged warship listing to one side near wave breakers that protect the port. No official statement has been issued on the number of dead or injured from the accident. On Saturday, the tanker Sanchi (IMO:9356608), run by Iran’s top oil shipping operator, National Iranian Tanker Co, collided with the CF Crystal (IMO:9497050), carrying grain from the United States about 160 nautical miles (300 km) off China’s coast near Shanghai.

Surrender or be shot in the face, senior US soldier tells ISIS
AFP, Washington/January 11/18/US troops and their allies will shoot ISIS militants in the face, beat them to death with shovels or drop bombs on them if they don’t surrender, the US military’s most senior enlisted member has said. In an eyebrow-raising set of postings on social media Tuesday, Command Sergeant Major John Troxell warned that ISIS members who refuse to quit will be dispatched with “extreme prejudice,” including via a small shovel known as an entrenching tool. “If they surrender, we will safeguard them to their detainee facility cell, provide them chow, a cot and due process,” Troxell wrote on Facebook. “HOWEVER, if they choose not to surrender, then we will kill them with extreme prejudice, whether that be through security force assistance, by dropping bombs on them, shooting them in the face, or beating them to death with our entrenching tools,” he added.
Diagram on Facebook
The post featured a photo of a US soldier holding a shovel and, in case anyone was in any doubt about to slay a man with a small spade, Troxell posted a diagram on Facebook on Wednesday explaining exactly how to do so. Troxell’s chest-thumping remarks quickly attracted a slew of commentary, mostly supportive. One detractor said on Twitter the message was “bad optics.” “No, that’s exactly the message that soldier(s) need and love to hear,” another user responded. Troxell’s blunt language comes amid a toughening of rhetoric against IS under President Donald Trump and Defense Secretary Jim Mattis. Where then-President Barack Obama said “we will degrade and ultimately destroy” IS, Mattis has espoused a campaign of “annihilation.”

Italian police take computer of Cambridge tutor in Egypt murder case
Reuters, Rome/January 11/18/Italian magistrates investigating the murder of a graduate student in Cairo two years ago have seized the computer and cell phone of his Cambridge University tutor, the prosecutors’ office in Rome said on Wednesday. Giulio Regeni was tortured and killed while carrying out research in Egypt. Italian magistrates have worked with their Egyptian counterparts to try to solve the crime, but have often expressed frustration over the slow pace of the investigation. While there is no suggestion that Regeni’s tutor, Maha Abdelrahman, was involved in his death, investigators have pushed for months to question her about why he had chosen his research subject and whether she had put him in harm’s way. Dr Maha Abdelrahman was questioned by Italian Magistrates in Cambridge. (Cambridge University) Abdelrahman finally agreed to talk to the Italian magistrates in Cambridge on Tuesday, prosecutors said. On Wednesday, the team from Rome, backed up by British authorities, visited her home and office, taking a computer, a hard disk, a USB key, a phone and some unspecified documents. “(This) will be useful to bring definitive clarity, in an unequivocal and objective way, to the role of the tutor in consideration of the investigation,” the prosecutors said in a statement. Cambridge university did not immediately respond to requests for a comment. Abdelrahman, who is Egyptian, has never spoken publicly about the death of her student and took a leave of absence in the wake of his killing. Reuters could not immediately reach Abdelrahman. A senior legal source in Rome said Abdelrahman had told magistrates that Regeni had picked his own research subject. He said she had shed no new light on the case and added that this was “disappointing”. Regeni had been looking into Egypt’s independent unions for his thesis and attracted the suspicion of the Cairo government before his disappearance, sources told Reuters in 2016. Security and intelligence sources told Reuters that Regeni had been arrested in Cairo on Jan. 25, 2016, and taken into custody. His disfigured body was found in a ditch more than a week later. Egyptian officials have denied any involvement in his killing.

Ecuador Grants Citizenship to WikiLeaks Founder Assange
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/January 11/18/Ecuador has granted citizenship to WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, who has been sheltering at its London embassy for five years to avoid arrest, Foreign Minister Maria Fernanda Espinosa announced Thursday. Espinosa told a press conference in Quito that Assange, a 46-year-old Australian, became an Ecuadoran citizen on December 12, in what appears to have been an unsuccessful move to usher him out of the embassy without exposing him to arrest. She said Ecuador had asked London to recognize Assange as a diplomat -- which would give him safe passage out of the embassy without fear of arrest -- but Britain had refused. "The Ecuadoran government is empowered to grant nationality to the protected person and thus facilitate... his inclusion in the host state," Espinosa told reporters. She said the request to Britain to accept diplomatic status for Assange was made on December 20, and denied a day later. The foreign minister said Quito would not insist further on the issue because of the "good relations we have with the United Kingdom." The British foreign ministry said in a statement that Ecuador had "recently requested diplomatic status for Mr Assange here in the UK. The UK did not grant that request, nor are we in talks with Ecuador on this matter."Ecuador's attempt to obtain diplomatic status for Assange comes as part of the country's broader efforts to resolve the case of their long-term lodger, who moved into the embassy in 2012 to avoid arrest over a Swedish probe into rape allegations. Sweden dropped their investigation over the 2010 allegations last year, but British police have said they are still seeking to arrest him for failing to surrender to a court after violating bail terms.
"Ecuador knows that the way to resolve this issue is for Julian Assange to leave the embassy to face justice," Britain's foreign ministry said on Thursday.  Assange has refused to step outside the embassy and claimed he fears being extradited to the United States over WikiLeaks' publication of leaked secret US military documents and diplomatic cables in 2010. Assange has strained the patience of his hosts since taking up the offer of asylum made by then-president Rafael Correa in 2012 as he battled extradition to Sweden in the British courts.  He was publicly reprimanded for interfering in the U.S. election after publishing hacked emails from the Clinton campaign.  More recently, he drew the ire of Correa's successor, President Lenin Moreno, when he used Twitter to pump out messages of support for Catalonia's independence drive. Moreno was forced to respond to complaints from the Spanish government. "We have reminded Mr Assange that he has no reason to interfere in Ecuadoran politics because his status does not allow it. Nor in that of nations that are our friends. He does not have the right to do so and he has committed himself to this," Moreno said in an interview with a Spanish newspaper. Espinosa had said on Tuesday her government was looking at the possibility of a "third country or a personality" stepping in to resolve the stand-off. "No solution will be achieved without international cooperation and the cooperation of the United Kingdom, which has also shown interest in seeking a way out," she said.

Syrian Insurgents in Counteroffensive in Northwestern Area
Agence France Presse/Associated Press/Naharnet/January 11/18/Syrian insurgent groups launched a counteroffensive Thursday against government forces advancing toward a major rebel-held air base in the country's northwest, capturing several villages and taking prisoners, opposition groups said. State media said the attack was repelled. The push by several factions, including the al-Qaida-linked Levant Liberation Committee, started overnight. By Thursday morning, it had slowed the government offensive toward the Abu Zuhour air base that has been held by rebels since 2015. Recapturing the air base has been a key government goal since late October and Syrian forces have captured some 160 villages since first launched the offensive. The operations also aim to secure the road linking the capital, Damascus, with the northern city of Aleppo, Syria's largest. The fighting has displaced an estimated 100,000 people who have fled north toward safer areas close to the border with Turkey. Idlib province, the largest remaining rebel-held territory in Syria, is packed with civilians, many of whom have fled there from fighting in other areas across Syria. A statement Thursday by the International Rescue Committee said it received hundreds of newly displaced people from the southeast of the province in the past few days, joining thousands who fled over the past month. Many of the newly displaced brought only the belongings they could carry, the committee said, adding that one mother of two twin babies recounted the initial panic of fleeing the airstrikes. The woman was so frightened, she initially left one of her children behind. "We couldn't think properly. The fear affected our brains," the IRC quoted her as saying. The baby was unharmed, she added. The IRC said nearly two thirds of the displaced in Idlib are living in makeshift tents that are unable to withstand winter conditions while others live in abandoned or partially-build homes that have well water but no toilets. The Aamaq media arm of the extremist Islamic State group reported Thursday that its fighters are clashing with Syrian troops on the eastern edges of Idlib, and released a video purporting to show four soldiers it claimed to have captured. The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights confirmed insurgents have retaken several villages from government troops and said 11 pro-government fighters were captured. The Observatory's chief Rami Abdurrahman said 16 insurgents were killed in the fighting but didn't have a figure for government troops. The government-controlled Syrian Central Military Media said troops repelled the attack, adding that the militants suffered losses.

'Big Obstacles' Still in Way of Germany Coalition Deal,Says Merkel

Agence France Presse/Naharnet/January 11/18/German Chancellor Angela Merkel said the country's top parties still had "big obstacles" to surmount before reaching a new coalition deal, ahead of a final round of negotiations Thursday. "There are still big obstacles on the path that need to be cleared," she told reporters as she arrived for talks on forming a new "grand coalition" government between her conservatives and the Social Democrats.

Europe, Iran to Back Nuclear Deal as Trump Decision Looms
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/January 11/18/Europe and Iran are to put on a united front in support of the landmark 2015 nuclear deal at talks in Brussels Thursday as Washington mulls reimposing sanctions on Tehran. The European Union and the foreign ministers of Britain, Germany and France will unite to defend the accord, which curbed Iran's nuclear ambitions in return for the relaxing of punishing sanctions but which US President Donald Trump has repeatedly criticised and threatened to leave. While EU diplomatic chief Federica Mogherini wants to keep the nuclear issue separate from other contentious issues with Tehran, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif will also face tough questions about recent anti-government protests which left 21 people dead. Trump, who in October refused to certify Iran was complying with the deal but stopped short of withdrawing from it, is expected to decide on Friday whether to extend waivers on nuclear-related sanctions against Tehran. The EU and other world powers have repeatedly warned it would be a mistake to abandon the deal, thrashed out with Iran over 12 years by the US, Britain, France, China, Germany and Russia. British foreign minister Boris Johnson called the deal "a crucial agreement that makes the world safer"."It is vital that we continue to work with our European partners to preserve the Iran deal, and with it the security and prosperity it is bringing to the people of Iran and the world," he said. His German counterpart Sigmar Gabriel agreed, saying the deal had "fenced in an acute crisis" and was now "a central part of our security" for Europeans.
- Iran warning -According to two US sources, Trump had not made a decision by Wednesday, while Johnson told the British parliament on Tuesday that London was urging "our friends in the White House not to throw it away". Iran, which on Monday warned the world to get ready for Washington abandoning the deal, has said if the US walks away from the agreement it is ready to give an "appropriate and heavy response".Zarif, who travelled to Moscow on Wednesday to seek Russian support, criticised what he called Washington's "destructive policy". "The United States must understand the unity of the international community over the nuclear deal and change their position as a result," Zarif said, urging world powers to "resist the hostile actions" of the Trump administration. The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has repeatedly said Iran is keeping up its side of the agreement, most recently in November.After talks in Moscow on Wednesday Zarif tweeted a warning.
"Everyone agrees it is imperative that ALL live up to their obligations under JCPOA. IAEA has verified Iran's full compliance, but continuation will depend on full US compliance," he wrote. JCPOA is the official name for the deal. - Punishing Tehran -Mogherini, who played an important role in crafting the nuclear accord, has vowed to preserve the deal and has lobbied US lawmakers in Washington. US Congress is working on a way to punish Iran for its continuing ballistic missile programme and meddling in Middle East conflicts such as Yemen and Syria. Johnson said these issues would be "an important part of our conversation" in Brussels on Thursday -- along with the recent unrest in Iran.  "I will be making it clear to Foreign Minister Zarif, on the subject of the recent protests in Iran, that the right to peaceful demonstration within the law is central to any truly thriving society," Johnson said. The French foreign ministry said the meeting must go beyond the nuclear issue. "Reports of missile transfers and Iranian assistance to countries and non-state actors in the (Middle East) region are a grave concern," the ministry said in a statement. "Iran's actions in the region, particularly in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon and Yemen, must be discussed because they cause tensions that cannot be ignored." The 28-member EU has condemned the "unacceptable loss of human lives" in the protests and stressed that peaceful protest and freedom of expression are "fundamental rights".

Third Night of Unrest in Tunisia as Hundreds Arrested
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/January 11/18/A third night of unrest has shaken parts of Tunisia where authorities said Thursday the number of arrests has risen above 500 as anger grows over austerity measures. Police arrested 328 people on Wednesday for theft, looting, arson and blocking roads, the interior ministry said, after arresting 237 the previous day. Ministry spokesman Khalifa Chibani however said the "violence" was less intense than in previous days. Twenty-one members of the security forces were injured, Chibani said. There was no immediate toll available for any casualties among the protesters.
Tunisia is often seen as having had a relatively smooth transition since an uprising seven years ago that toppled longtime dictator Zine El Abidine Ben Ali. But Tunisians have expressed frustration since the start of the year over austerity measures expected to further increase prices in a struggling economy.
The North African country introduced hikes in value-added tax and social contributions at the start of the year as part of a tough new budget. The recent unrest started with peaceful protests against the measures last week, but escalated into clashes with police in the night of Monday to Tuesday. In a third night of clashes, unrest hit several areas across the country including the central city of Kasserine, and the northern towns of Siliana, Tebourba and Thala. In Siliana, youths threw stones and Molotov cocktails at security forces. Police responded with tear gas, an AFP correspondent said. Scuffles also broke out in some Tunis neighbourhoods. Youths in Kasserine tried to block roads with burning tyres and hurled stones at members of the police force, another AFP correspondent said. In Tebourba, where a man died during unrest in the night of Monday to Tuesday, police fired tear gas after dozens of protesters took to the streets, according to a resident. The main police station in the northern town of Thala was set on fire, Chibani said. Activists campaigning against the austerity measures have called for a massive protest on Friday.

Latest LCCC Bulletin analysis & editorials from miscellaneous sources published on January 11-12/18
2018 Could Witness the Start of the Trade War
Jared Dillian/Bloomberg View/January 11/18
US President Donald Trump has been relatively subdued over the last few months when it comes to trade, a period that roughly overlaps with the time it took to pass tax reform. He was under pressure to keep quiet about it during the tax negotiations, but 2018 is likely to bring a very different Trump. This “economic nationalism” stuff is not just talk. Trump is a true believer in protectionism, and I suspect we will soon see tweets about tariffs.
Let’s assume that most people in finance are in agreement about the benefits of globalization and free trade, which have led to a disinflationary boom and an increase in the standard of living of pretty much everyone, except manufacturing workers in developed countries, who stand out as the biggest losers. In a global market for labor, they were simply uncompetitive. That’s not their fault. But the tragedy here is that some people have begun to oppose free trade under the principle that it is unfair, a view that emerging-market nations surely oppose.
And yet, financial markets have started 2018 the same way they ended 2017, with broad strength across a wide range of asset classes. I can’t be the first to notice that 2018 could be the year that we get an honest-to-goodness trade war and central banks pull back from emergency monetary policy measures. What I mean is that there has been speculation the European Central Bank will start to taper its asset purchases in a meaningful way. There’s little doubt that the ECB’s commitment to do “whatever it takes” to preserve the European Monetary Union has been the single most distortive policy in the modern history of central banks, driving yields on even low-quality junk bonds to negligible levels.
I would characterize an ECB exit from quantitative easing measures as probable, and I would also say people are underestimating the likelihood of monetary tightening in Japan, where there is a high risk of a financial accident. The Bank of Japan owns about 70 percent of the nation’s market for exchange-traded funds, which translates into a big chunk of the stock market. They’ve bought so much sovereign debt that the government bond market has effectively ceased to function. There has even been open discussion among analysts of the BOJ actually cancelling government debt, leading to trillions in printed yen remaining in circulation.
So, although it’s not hard to make a bearish statement about the stock market, those who have made such pronouncements in recent years look pretty foolish. But it’s an axiom of equities that you want to be bullish when central banks are adding liquidity and bearish when they are withdrawing it. The Federal Reserve is gradually stepping back from a very long period of negative real interest rates and has started to shrink its $4.5 trillion balance sheet. If all goes according to plan, the target federal funds rate will be above 2 percent at the end of the year. At some point, higher rates are going to bite.
As for Trump, if he initiates tariffs against China on things such as steel and aluminum, and China retaliates, and the US retaliates back, leading to a full-blown trade war, there should be little academic argument that this is going to substantially reduce global GDP. It will be hard on the US, but it will be especially hard on emerging markets.
But if globalization caused deflation in the price of manufactured goods -- think $300 television sets at Wal-Mart -- a trade war will cause inflation -- lots of inflation. Economists have lamented the fact that incomes have been stagnant over the past two decades, but the reality is that people’s standard of living is pretty high because their dollar goes much farther. Things are cheap -- things like silverware and lamps and toys and baseball gloves and dishwashers. It’s been a long time since things were expensive. We have forgotten what it was like.
I have a reputation as a bit of a bear, but these twin risks of trade and liquidity are pretty huge risks. And that’s not to mention the risk of an actual nuclear war, which the stock market seems to almost find humorous. Starting a trade war would be an extraordinarily bad decision. Removing monetary policy accommodation would be an extraordinarily good decision. If both happened at the same time, 2018 could be an interesting year.

USA – Iran: International Relations ‘2018 Model Year’
Eyad Abu Shakra/Asharq Al Awsat/January 11/18
I was listening, a few days ago, to an Iran political expert commentating on the Iranian popular uprising on an Arab satellite channel. When asked about the outcome he expected, he said “It may not bear fruits within six months, perhaps six years, but suppression only will not end popular discontent and opposition”.
I think this is quite logical, especially if one looks into the ‘psychology’ of despotism, and behavior of despots, as well as how ‘the disciples’ of the Tehran regime, its allies and henchmen act in every country the current Iranian ruling authority has succeeded in “exporting its revolution” to.
The great Syrian intellectual Abdul-Rahman Al-Kawakibi (1855-1902) wrote in his book ‘Tabaa’e Al-Istibdad wa Massare’ Al-Isti’bad’ (Manners of Despotism and Fatality of Enslavement): “A despotic government, is by nature, despotic from the top down; from the greatest despot, to the policeman, helper, street cleaner. All these will always be the vilest in his class because vile scum care not about dignity and honor, since their only interest is to prove to their master that they are a mere copy of him, and obedient followers of his rule…”.
In this sense, a phenomenon made up of ‘the culture of death’, backwardness, extremism and exclusion, does not disappear easily. It will not be decisively defeated except by a conceptual revolution that requires time to gather momentum, and a profound understanding of its danger by the international community when it deals with it. Thus, Iran’s ‘Khomeinist Revolution’ which shook the Middle East in 1979 was not a simple phenomenon, for the following reasons:
1- It took place in Iran, one of the Middle East’s most important, most populous, largest, and culturally rich countries.
2- Iran is an oil-producing country that enjoys huge economic potential, and great and glorious industrial, artisanal and cultural base.
3- Iran occupies a strategic location surrounded by the Arab world, Turkey, the Indian sub-continent and the former Soviet republics of the Caucasus and Central Asia.
4- Iran has nurtured imperialist ambition since early history, and during the ‘Cold War’ was along with Turkey and Pakistan member of the West’s ‘containment belts’ against the expansion of Soviet Communism.
5- Iran is the most populous Muslim country where Sunni Islam is a minority; a fact that has become exceptionally important as the Western powers have ascribed ‘Islamic Terrorism’ exclusively to Sunni radicalism but not Shi’ite radicalism. This discrimination has allowed the Iranian leadership to present itself to the Western governments as a ‘partner’ in the ‘War on Terror’, and now seems to have been taken on board.
6- Iran has been through the centuries a country with a glorious ‘institutional’ history. Since the early years of the Abbasid caliphate (750 AD – 1258 AD), Iranians not only helped create collective cultural, artisanal and professional ‘guilds’, but these very ‘guilds’ became incubators for some of the most influential intellectual and philosophical currents in the history of Islam and the Middle East. They also, throughout the centuries, developed civic and sectarian institutions, and militaristic and quasi-militaristic movements in the regions the vestiges of which one may see today in Iran’s (IRGC) Revolutionary Guard’s cobweb of ventures and investment ‘tentacles’ (legal and illegal) in almost every field. These activities are copied and carried out also by the IRGC’s militias in Lebanon, Iraq and Yemen where they, thanks to their relatively sophisticated organization, have been gaining the upper hand against their off-handed, individualistic and disorganized opponents.
These factors put together have ensured the longevity of a regime that since 1979 has mastered persecuting its intellectuals and opponents, driving them either to exile or gallows and prison cells.
Indeed, infighting in the Khomeinist Revolution began few months into its success. Shining lights among its politicians and clergy, such as Mehdi Bazargan, Abolhassan Banisadr, Sadegh Ghotbzadeh (eventually executed), Ayatollah Kazem Shariatmadari, Ayatollah Mahmoud Taleghani, and later Ayatollah Hussein Ali Muntazeri, Mir Hussein Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi were, gradually, either marginalized, or ostracized. Gradually, too, the regime metamorphosed into a security – business structure, whereby the IRGC became its core, face and raison d'être.
However outside Iran, during the early years of the ‘Revolution’, it gained thousands of intellectual and idealistic admirers from Arab countries and the rest of the world. Those were enchanted by its revolutionary slogans inspiring the ‘downtrodden’ to rise, and its courageous discourse in standing up to injustice, imperialism and ‘forces of arrogance’. Many liberal and leftist prominent personalities from all over the world regarded Iran’s successful revolutionary experiment as the Soviet example was showing signs of debility and old age, and the Maoist alternative was moving towards pragmatism.
In the UN Security Council debate on Iran, that kind of utopian ‘innocence’ could be heard, namely from Bolivia’s ambassador. However, not all the speeches that opposed any effective action against the Tehran regime were as ‘innocent’ as Bolivia’s stance, which was representative of the historical anti – Yankee culture of the Latin America’s left.
In reality, several motives were expressed during that debate.
Russia and China, the two aspiring ‘superpowers’ challenging America’s supremacy, had their own considerations in confronting Washington and exploiting its miscalculations. These considerations have been obvious in Moscow’s and Beijing’s open support of Al-Assad regime in Syria, and tacit approval of North Korea’s nuclear threat to Washington and its Asian allies.
Then there were what one might call the opportunistic international positions, especially from some major European member states which have big investments and business relations with Iran. These nations are keen that the Tehran regime survives in order to protect its investments in a country where they are actually competitors not allies of America.
A third group of UNSC member states includes the ‘purists’ who are inclined to uphold the classical interpretation of the Council’s role: i.e. that it should only interfere in international conflicts or major conflicts that may cross national borders. Thus, these members do not see that internal upheavals are the Council business.
Last but not least, there UNSC member states which are traditionally critical of US foreign policy, more so under the present Donald Trump administration; which is popular even with some of Washington’s traditional old allies.
Based on the above, one would assume that when Washington decided to confront Tehran’s mullahs in the Security Council, it was well aware of the unfavorable mood against it; especially, following the White House’s disregard to the Council resolutions by recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.
In short, welcome to International Relations ‘2018 Model Year’.

Iranian protests underscore the suffering of the citizenry
Amal Abdulaziz Al–Hazani/ Al Arabiya/January 11/18/
Is the regime of the Guardianship of the Islamic Jurist in Iran feeling the popular pressure, and will it respond to the demands by seizing support to foreign operations in the Arab region by dedicating the country’s wealth to the welfare of the citizens?
Most likely, it will not. Iran will keep funding Hezbollah, continue hiring Afghans, Pakistanis and Arabs mercenaries in battles, keep giving missiles and weapons to the Houthi militias, and carry on smuggling laundered money to Bahrain's armed opposition.
The popular protests cannot turn the clock back to pre-Khomeini Iran, or reverse its doctrines based on geographical and cultural hegemony and a highly parochial and divisive understanding of Shiism.
Why these protests stand out
Unlike previous instances of unrest, there is no particular social strata from which the protests have emerged this time. There has been no student uprising calling for media freedoms, nor a political revolt in favor of political symbols. These protests are the result of accumulated anger based on very genuine, objective reasons, some of which I have listed below. The whole world is certain that Iran’s activities outside its borders come at the expense of the state budget, which is supposed to be strong because the country possesses vast natural and human resources. Still Iranians suffer poverty due to the drain of their wealth to external fronts and the activities of its regime that runs counter to international laws that have resulted in economic sanctions. Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei’s arguments in the Friday sermon no longer convince or resonate in the streets
The ordinary Iranian who seeks to live a dignified life doesn’t care about any of the policies of the government. For the average Iranian, there is no real enemy of his country which might justify the massive arms race for building qualitative missile silos as well as research and development in defense, especially after the fall of Saddam Hussein's regime.
Even Israel poses no threat to the regime, and the United States is only reacting to the actions of the Tehran government against international peace. Saudi Arabia, which is seen as a protector of Sunni Islam, is not engaged in interfering with any other country.
It is be the last country in the world that would choose a military clash with any country, no matter how important it may be unless it threatens internal security, as in the case of Yemen. Iran has no real enemies, and this is why the Iranian citizen refuses to be a victim of the need for defending the land.
After decades of the rule of the clergy, the average Iranian finds himself facing the bitter reality that he is the victim of the regime’s dream to dominate and expand its borders.
These protests have expressed popular views that insult their religious and political leaders, calling them dictators and seek their fall. Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei’s arguments in the Friday sermon no longer convince or resonate in the streets. He claimed that his country is in danger of being threatened by Israel and the United States. In fact, these two countries do not pose a threat to Iran since Khomeini’s revolution of 1979. His popular power over the past decades was derived from fear, which is now replaced on the streets by humiliating slogans and bold rejection.
Saudi example inspires protestors
The other thing is that the Iranian people are watching changes in the countries around it, the most important of which is Saudi Arabia - a country they were told had closed itself socially and culturally due to religious reasons and was totally dependent on oil revenues.
Iranians claimed that Saudi Arabia is backward and its leadership is not worthy of leading from the two Holy Mosques. However, Iranians now see how Saudi Arabia has taken unprecedented steps in human rights, social and religious moderation and economic reform in a short time, in spite of war on its southern border that it is fighting to repel real aggression into its territory. These developments have had a negative impact on the Iranian citizen, who wishes to find the same interest from his government, such as the attention it gives to the Lebanese and the Syrians. It is very painful for Iranians to watch the bold steps taken by the Saudi leadership to fight corruption even in the highest strata of its society. These are the simple dreams of the Iranian citizen; that his government will turn to social justice and purge it from the corrupt, develop a sound economic system and work in the best interest of the Iranians. As we watch popular protests break out in Iran, we understand their causes and justifications. They are purely internal and not part of an external conspiracy, as President Hassan Rouhani has claimed. Even the position of US President Donald Trump and his statement to stand with the demonstrators will not affect their will because the reason of their anger is not political or derived from America’s position, which the regime calls the Great Satan. Actually, Trump said that autocratic regimes do not last. This is true, and history is witness to this fact.
No one can predict the impact of these protests on the regime but it is certain that December 28, 2017 will be known as a turning point in Iran. The entire world has witnessed extreme public anger pervading all the regions of Iran.
The demands for a civic state instead of a religious one, calling for the death of Khamenei and other slogans will always haunt the ruling authority, because these slogans have touched those sanctities that no one had ever dared to violate earlier.

Khomeini regime and its American connections
Mashari Althaydi/ Al Arabiya/January 11/18
One of the slogans which the Khomeini regime deceptively raised is “Death to America.” It made political gains via this propaganda which also included slogans about Jerusalem and Palestine. Observers can tell that Iran’s involvement in the Palestinian cause is recent and sudden. The guardians of the Khomeini regime have always worked to serve the interests of the regime which has nothing to do with the propaganda it sells to its supporters and to some sick elites.
The Khomeinis’ ties with Uncle Sam, the “Great Satan,” are well-known.
There is the 1985-1986 Iran–Contra scandal and the major secret deal, the details of which were accurately planned by Hassan Rouhani’s team and John Kerry, US Secretary of State, during Obama’s term. The Obama-Khamenei flirtation began in the first year after Obama assumed the presidency.
However, these ties have an older history. I’ve recently read an extensive article by Saudi researcher Kamel al-Khatti which was published in the Okaz daily. Khatti traced the contacts and agreements which the Khomeini regime’s founder reached with the Americans while he was exiled in France.
His article highlighted a BBC Persian Service report by Iranian Journalist Kambiz Fattahi and investigative reporters Taylor Kate Brown, Jessica Lussenhop, Bill McKenna and Mat Morrison.
Khomeini-Carter contacts 
The report, which was published on June 3, 2016, included contacts which Khomeini made with Carter’s administration for two weeks before Khomeini returned to Tehran. The contacts included agreements which Doctor Ebrahim Yazdi made from exile in Neauphle-le-Château in Paris with Warren Zimmermann, a political advisor of the American embassy in Paris. The BBC report also revealed that Khomeini confirmed to the Americans that he will work on protecting their interests and make sure that Americans in Iran will be safe. He pledged to the Americans that he will not work on exporting the revolution and will not be hostile to neighboring Arab regimes like Saudi Arabia, Iraq and Kuwait. The BBC report also revealed that Khomeini confirmed to the Americans that he will work on protecting their interests and make sure that Americans in Iran will be safe. He pledged to the Americans that he will not work on exporting the revolution and will not be hostile to neighboring Arab regimes like Saudi Arabia, Iraq and Kuwait. Khomeini also reassured the Americans in terms of oil supplies’ flow and played an extremely significant political card at the right time as he convinced Washington of the importance of maintaining its influence in Iran in order to protect it from Soviet influence or possible British influence. This is the beginning of the Khomeini story. Khomeini and his men did not find anything wrong in communicating and reaching agreements with Washington. This was the case until developments took another turn.
It all happened due to the naivety of American President Carter. Decades later, Obama became president and followed suit but with less naivety and more guile.

Iran and the egression from the religious revolution
Seyid Ould Abah/ Al Arabiya/January 11/18
This is perhaps the first time since the establishment of the Islamic Republic of Iran in 1979, in which the protesters razed the image of the head of state like that of the former King Reza Shah, the founder of modern Iran.
Although the demands of the demonstrators focused on social and economic issues, the current uprising in Iranian cities and villages is in fact an uprising against the political and societal system developed by the Khomeinist experience about 40 years ago.
The fundamental difference between the Green movement that erupted in 2009 and the current uprising is that it is not a situational crisis related to electoral events and the political entitlements that have centered on the conflict between the conservative and reformist wings of the same authority, despite their differences in rhetoric and strategies. What is to be seen here is that the regime of the Vilayat al-Faqih, which was established by the Khomeinist regime after the fall of the Shah, was the result of a sharp struggle against legitimacy and authority among the wings that participated in the revolution.
The most important of these were the liberal currents that took over the transition (Mahdi Bazargan and Bani Sadr), the Leftists (Touda and Mujahideen Khalq), who was executed and the traditional religious Hawza whose leadership rejected the current of political Islam (Montazeri's trend).
Since the mid-nineties it has become clear that the revolutionary movement has lost its momentum in the Iranian street
Iran’s ‘Islamization’ losing steam
With the beginning of the 1990s, after the departure of Khomeini and the end of the long war with Iraq, the political conflict focused on the religious field itself, which became the center of social mobility, so that the strategy of ‘Islamization’ of the public sphere, rather than leading to the formation of a comprehensive society, led to the transformation of various social stakes into the religious sphere. As the Iranian anthropologist Friba Abdul Khaleq has pointed out, the system of the Guardianship of the Islamic Jurists ought to give utilitarian, bureaucratic and rational characteristics to the religious field to control and dominate society. The result was counterproductive, since this approach removed its transcendent sacred character, making it symbolic capitalism employed in political and class conflicts.
Hence, we understand how the opposition of the political system was carried out within the framework of religious legitimacy, with the emergence of a large protest movement that stems from the idea of ‘Islamic civil society’ in exchange for the authoritarian and oppressive state.
Since the mid-nineties it has become clear that the revolutionary movement has lost its momentum in the Iranian street, and a growing trend has emerged within the same decision-making center by adopting a realistic pragmatic line to adapt to the pressures of the internal situation and the international situation.
This trend is represented by former president Hashemi Rafsanjani and is represented today by current president, Rouhani. It is not about a real reform process, but rather a process that calls for the synthesis of the great national constants on which modern Iran (the central state, the Persian identity, the regional role based on the sectarian factor) and the "Islamic Republic" is modelled. It is in this context that Rouhani was elected in 2013 and once again in the past year in anticipation of positive gains in living standards to emerge from an escalating social crisis.
Failure of Rouhani’s policies
However, Rouhani's limited internal and external opening policies failed to bring the desired transformation. It was clear that the composition of the political system was untenable to reform and change, as a result of two fundamental obstacles: the dualism of the political system itself between the absolute authority of the Guardianship and the growing schism between the state and civil society, on which the reformist movement no longer has much influence. The first factor is the enlargement of the organizational apparatus of the Guardianship of the Islamic Jurist in that it includes the most powerful military arm of the state (the Revolutionary Guard) and the religious associations that control half of the country's economy and the public media, while the performance and efficiency of the administrative apparatus is incapable of solving problems and fighting rampant corruption in the country.
The second factor is expressed by the sociologist Farhad Khosrokhavar as a break up from the “Islamic state”, the ruling regime in the name of religious legitimacy and “post-Islamic society” , which is driven by the values of individualism, independence and recreational consumption instead of the values of austerity, altruism and sacrifice on which the political system built its tactical strategy in the years of the first revolution and in the period of its long regional wars that continue today in its crazy adventures in the Arab countries.
The next protests are unlikely to lead to the destruction of Iran’s political system, but they undoubtedly reflect a moment of violent crackdown on its existing structures and foundations.

Visiting a library in Paris

Ghassan Charbel/Al Arabiya/January 11/18/
Don’t go to the library. This trip is a trap. The rich library is a strict court. A store to sell poison, questions and doubts. Some believe that this trip is no longer useful and that you can read a book on your device or smartphone. There is a great difference however between buying a rose and going to a garden.During the final days of 2017, I was in Paris where I visited a local library. I was awestruck. If you are an aspiring writer, your visit will remind you of all the hard work that goes into writing a book. If you are a journalist, the visit will open up old wounds. This is a beautiful and deadly profession all at the same time. It is beautiful because it forces you to weather storms and deadly because it consumes your time with tiny details. Every night a newspaper dies along with its news and articles and gives way for a new day for its makers. I said awestruck because you are in the presence of giants who lit up their ages to warm up the reader for years, decades or centuries to come. Giants whose books have become landmarks in history. It is not an easy feat, for example, for a book published in the 19th century to make it through the deadly 20th century and persist to our present day. I know that cities are guarded by the police, but the library gives you the impression that the real guards are those who sleep in its stacks and stand as beacons of light. Storytellers, poets, scholars, critics and painters. It is as if this accumulation of creativity is what fortifies the city against spiritual and intellectual depletion and connects its past to its future. French writers never grow tired of recalling former glories from their history and they never grow tired of critiquing them. They go into the details of events and stories and they do not hesitate in tarnishing once pristine images should they come across new information. No one can survive a critique or a redrawn image after it is rid of inaccurate stories. As an Arab journalist, I wonder at how a former president can remain alive and dedicate his time to writing
Books on Napoleon
This is why you always find new books on Napoleon, Louis IV, Marie Antoinette, Mazarin, Richelieu and other figures who played key roles in this age or that. You also find new books on the horrors of the French Revolution. You find new readings of the behavior of some of the players in World War II. The French also never cease to recall stories about De Gaulle and Petain. You will find on shelves a selection of poetry collected by former President Georges Pompidou. Love letters written by Francois Mitterrand to his girlfriend and the mother of his daughter. The cultured president was ardent about translating his passion into words.
You will find a book about Jacques Chirac, another by or on Nicolas Sarkozy. The same can be found of Francois Hollande, while you may come across books that try to decipher the mystery of how current president Emmanuel Macron made it to the Elysee. You will come across a beautiful realization that the majority of French presidents dream of becoming writers. Perhaps they feel that the French people will certainly forget those who came to office, but they will definitely remember a good or interesting book. France has a special place in its heart for the writer. We saw this before the end of the year when Macron bowed before the Invalides where Napoleon is buried. He, along with two other presidents, bowed before the coffin of writer, journalist and French Academy member Jean d'Ormesson. Listening to Macron’s eulogy, one was reminded of France’s rich literary history. As an Arab journalist, I wonder at how a former president can remain alive and dedicate his time to writing. I recalled that late Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh once told me how he was in awe of the phenomenon of former presidents in Lebanon. Our culture has no room for a former president. Many of those I have interviewed have been assassinated.
A turbulent world
Many books try to help the reader understand this turbulent world. Books about Vladimir Putin, who becomes more complex as one tries to understand him. Books on China, the Silk Road and the Asian rise. Books on terrorism, assimilation, waves of migrants and the North Korean leader, who is boasting of his nuclear button. Books about the digital world, information revolution and the astounding technological advance that has changed the economy, politics, education and the individual’s relationship with the world. The richest wing of the library holds the writers and poets who enriched France and whose tales and poems survived the test of time. Voltaire, Moliere, Flaubert, Balzac and Stendhal. Hugo, Baudelaire, Rimbaud and Lautréamont, reaching the Surrealists and their successors. Amid these rich shelves, one has to ask oneself. Will the works of these writers be read in the future? Will someone breathe new life into them? Will the youths who grow up in “institutes” and social media want to and have time to delve into these masterpieces? I noticed that the majority who leafed through these books are at least over 30. Where are the new readers? Will we witness books inspired by Twitter and similar apps? The Arab always turns back to his woes. This is a normal library in a normal city. This is a country that treats its artists as if they were a treasure. When will the Arab have a normal city that is not on the verge of civil war or militia invasions? What have we done with the very few men who can rightfully be described as beacons of light and what have we done with their works? The Arab always finds a reason to be sad or envious. This is why I told myself: I wish I had not gone to the library.

The fight against terrorism enters a new phase
Dr. Ibrahim Al-Othaimin/Al Arabiya/January 11/18/
In response to the Saudi initiative in pursuit of the unification of efforts of Muslim countries in the face of terrorism, the Islamic Military Counter Terrorism Coalition has been established. “Allied against Terrorism” was the slogan of the first meeting of the coalition hosted by Riyadh on November 26, 2017.
The keynote speech by Crown Prince Muhammad Bin Salman was clear and comprehensive as he relied on facts, not slogans. He reaffirmed the strong message of the coalition of over 40 countries, of their cooperation against terrorism. He said: “Extremist terrorism distorts the image of our religion and faith,” adding that: “Distortion of the image of our religion and terrorizing civilians will not be allowed in Muslim countries after today”. The final communiqué of the meeting reaffirmed ministers’ determination to coordinate counter-terrorism efforts through concerted collective action to put an end to those who fuel extremism and sectarianism. The ministers also approved clear and specific mechanisms to confront terrorism at the ideological, media, financial and military levels. Firstly, ideology: “Disclosure of the ideas and methods of extremism and limiting its spread and impact on individuals and communities, while highlighting the values of moderate Islam and its ability to coexist with the other.”There is an urgent need to address the misconception of establishing the Islamic caliphate in its utopian form and to strengthen national belonging and identity. The misconception of so-called end-time prophesies, which are used by terrorist organizations to legitimize their operations, also needs to be addressed. Hence, the ideological aspect is one of the fundamentals of our combat against terrorism. Eighty percent of the information stock of ISIS comes from publicly available websites without any violation of network rules and protocols
Propaganda through the media
Secondly, media: “Using media to confront terrorist propaganda, clarify the evil of its actions, expose the advertising methods of terrorists, disclose their beliefs, and to erode their perceptions.” Modern media is a key tool used by terrorist organizations, including ISIS, in advertising their ideology and recruiting youth. Eighty percent of the information stock of ISIS comes from publicly available websites without any violation of network rules and protocols. Moreover, ISIS has over 90,000 pages on Facebook and Twitter in Arabic, and 40,000 pages in other languages. Therefore, media is one of the most powerful tools in advertising ideology and recruiting teenagers. Thirdly, combating the financing of terrorism: “Work on curbing the sources of financing terrorism while increasing coordination and information exchange between the countries in this area besides developing systems and procedures for the prevention of terrorism from any financial sources.” Terrorist organizations forefronted by ISIS have a strategy that prioritizes money over fighting. Therefore, after the chaos and instability in Syria, Iraq, Libya and other countries of the Arab Spring, terrorist organizations strived to seize control over oil or central banks. Such resources are essential to terrorist organizations for self-financing with a view to expanding their operations without reliance on any external financing. Fourthly, military coordination against terrorists: “Significance of the military confrontation of terrorism in maintaining regional and international peace and security. Commitment to secure the required military capabilities and resources to weaken and eliminate terrorist organizations.” The essence of military coordination lies in reducing the legitimacy and ideological attractiveness of terrorist organizations. A weak, fragile and failing state cannot be a convincing caliphate for the youth. Therefore, the cooperation of the different countries working within the above-described four fields will undoubtedly lead to a significant decline in the attractiveness of such organizations and their recruitment capabilities.