January 17/2018
Compiled & Prepared by: Elias Bejjani

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Bible Quotations
Teach the older men to be temperate, worthy of respect, self-controlled, and sound in faith, in love and in endurance
Titus 02/You, however, must teach what is appropriate to sound doctrine. Teach the older men to be temperate, worthy of respect, self-controlled, and sound in faith, in love and in endurance. Likewise, teach the older women to be reverent in the way they live, not to be slanderers or addicted to much wine, but to teach what is good.  Then they can urge the younger women to love their husbands and children,  to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind, and to be subject to their husbands, so that no one will malign the word of God. Similarly, encourage the young men to be self-controlled. In everything set them an example by doing what is good. In your teaching show integrity, seriousness  and soundness of speech that cannot be condemned, so that those who oppose you may be ashamed because they have nothing bad to say about us. Teach slaves to be subject to their masters in everything, to try to please them, not to talk back to them, and not to steal from them, but to show that they can be fully trusted, so that in every way they will make the teaching about God our Savior attractive. For the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people.  It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, while we wait for the blessed hope—the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good. These, then, are the things you should teach. Encourage and rebuke with all authority. Do not let anyone despise you."

Titles For Latest LCCC Bulletin analysis & editorials from miscellaneous sources published on January 16-17/18
Government censorship in Lebanon since 1990,/Walid Phares/Face Book/January 16/18
Fake Beirut"/Walid Phares/Face Book/January 16/18
Dirty money and the coming wave in Lebanon/Hussein Shobokshi/Al Arabiya/January 16/18
Aoun praises Cabinet in maintaining stability/Georgi Azar/Annahar/January 16/2018
US Enters Syrian Conflict/Abdulrahman Al-Rashed/Asharq Al Awsat/January 16/18
Never Before Has a President Ignored Such a Clear National Security Threat/Ben Cardin/The Washington Post/January 16/2018
Arab Regimes Terrified by Israel's Freedoms/Giulio Meotti/Gatestone Institute/January 16/2018
The Terrorism Jobs Program: Pampering the Palestinians Must End/Threatening Terror is Not a Way to Earn a Living
Politicizing Proliferation Policy/John R. Bolton/Gatestone Institute/January 16/2018
Tunisia continues to struggle post-revolution/Christian Chesnot/Al Arabiya/January 16/18
The ‘impossible state’ and challenges of modernity/Fahad Suleiman Shoqiran/Al Arabiya/January 16/18
The Gulf region’s evolving military balance since 1991/Shehab Al-Makahleh/Al Arabiya/January 16/18

Titles For Latest LCCC Lebanese Related News published on January 16-17/18

Titles For Latest LCCC Bulletin For Miscellaneous Reports And News published on January 16-17/18

Latest Lebanese Related News published on January 16-17/18
Government censorship in Lebanon since 1990,
Walid Phares/Face Book/January 16/18
Government censorship in Lebanon since 1990, has been influenced by the Taif agreement's establishment, the Syrian occupation, Hezbollah, Iran's regime, and Salafists. Before then, it was influenced by the 1943 "Mithaq," Arab regimes, the PLO and sectarian leaders. It does not represent the progressive, liberal and open minded cultural identity of a majority of Lebanese, as we read them in social media, and see and hear them throughout the diaspora.

Fake Beirut"
Walid Phares/Face Book/January 16/18
"Beirut" the movie is out. The story is disconnected from real events, the usual stereotypes, and ignorance. The Movie is the usual production without deep understanding of historical facts. However some of the film critics are worse. They don't want it to be too "superficial American," because they want it to be Hezbollah propaganda or Jihadi narrative. Chaos as usual. Why? Because Lebanon's historians failed to capture the years of the war and produce comprehensive literature. No books, or very few ones and late. Because Lebanon's academia bent over to Taef's narrative. Because Lebanon's politicians wanted nothing to do with any serious deep work on identity and history. So when you leave a gap, others will fill it. It will either be the Hezbollah's "Sheb'a farms farce" or "Hollywood in Morocco" production. I blame those who could have and didn't. Those who had the money and ignored their cultural obligations. Bonanza rallies over the past decade didn't have any impact on Lebanon's perception in the world. Political failure inside Lebanon and cultural failure worldwide. I will watch "Beirut" just because there are no other movies on Lebanon. The picture is high fidelity and special sound effects are good. Fake yes, but better than no alternative, or the bad propaganda alternatives...(Hopefully someone will translate my note in Arabic and French)

Dirty money and the coming wave in Lebanon

Hussein Shobokshi/Al Arabiya/January 16/18
There is a cynical saying that there is always a bank for every citizen in Lebanon and that the number of Lebanese bank employees is more than the number of employees in restaurants. Lebanon has traditionally been the center of the banking industry and thus, with time, the central bank has become the most important symbol of the state.
The stability of the central bank, and hence its currency, has always been the most important element of security for maintaining the state’s identity. Whatever the differences between the president and the political parties, there is something “looming” in the near future that strongly threatens this stability.
There are signs of “decisive and unprecedented” financial and administrative sanctions because of the penetration of a huge amount of dirty money that is being washed in commercial banks for the benefit of the Hezbollah terrorist organization from sources in South America and West Africa and some Arab countries, particularly Syria and Iran.
There is “irrefutable” evidence collected by the security and financial authorities of influential Western countries to prove the validity of the claims against the most important financial authority.
Because everything is “politicized” in Lebanon and even the central bank fails to follow and apply a policy of distancing itself from politics, the situation is fraught with danger
This reminds us of the statement by the Saudi foreign minister which “warned” about the danger to the banking infrastructure in Lebanon caused by the influx of suspicious money. It is not the first time that the official apparatus of the Central Bank of Lebanon has been exposed to a violent shock.
We all remember what happened between the Lebanese Canadian Bank and the Bank of Medina. The accusations against them were made because of suspicious accounts related to the terrorist organization Hezbollah and Syrian intelligence and sanctions shook the Lebanese markets at that time.
The famous Intra Bank
History reminds us of the disaster of the famous Intra Bank, which was discussed by the well-known Canadian-Lebanese writer Kamal Dib in two important books that focused on how dirty money entered the most important banks at the time and how bank balances were manipulated for the interests of suspicious and dangerous entities.
The researcher presented the evidence and proof that confirmed the collusion of certain personalities and the mechanisms used to commit financial abuse, which caused a huge shakeup in the Lebanese banking sector.
Now there is talk of a very important bank “involved” in manipulating the accounts of individuals and institutions that “filter” and “launder” huge amounts of money through charitable and commercial “manifestations” that have been exposed as a mere cover for drug trafficking.
Lebanon is in a state of great denial. However, the next series of sanctions will not threaten one or two banks but will touch the spinal cord of the banking system itself. This will lead to the possibility of crippling the economy and will have a devastating impact on the Lebanese lira and prices in general.
Because everything is “politicized” in Lebanon and even the central bank fails to follow and apply a policy of distancing itself from politics, the situation is fraught with danger. The next wave of sanctions on Lebanon will be serious and that is “not a joke”.

Aoun praises Cabinet in maintaining stability
Georgi Azar/Annahar/January 16/2018
Speaking at event bringing together the different diplomats stationed in Lebanon, Aoun praised the Cabinet’s role in establishing security in times of difficulty.
BEIRUT: President Michel Aoun reiterated his country’s success in maintaining internal and political stability Tuesday while addressing foreign diplomats and envoys gathered at the Baabda Presidential Palace.
Speaking at an event bringing together the different diplomats stationed in Lebanon, Aoun praised the Cabinet’s role in establishing security in times of difficulty. “The Cabinet, which includes the major political parties, contributed to instilling security and stability; although political differences are inevitable, they enrich democratic life,” he said. Aoun also touched on the different accomplishments of Lebanon’s Cabinet last year, which saw Parliament approve the first state budget since 2005, the introduction of new taxes to finance a long due wage increase for civil servants and teachers, as well as the ratification of a new electoral law based on proportional representation. As Lebanon gears up for the Rome II conference aimed at consolidating international support for Lebanon’s security agencies and further strengthening the Lebanese army’s capabilities, Aoun praised the work of the country’s army in battling the different terrorist organizations over the summer, namely Jabhat al-Nusra in Arsal.
“Lebanon defeated the most vicious and brutal terrorist cells, and our brave army was able to expel them from our territory,” the President said. Aoun also called for further international support for Lebanon to deal with the burden of the Syrian refugee crisis, which will be addressed at a summit in Brussels on the fourth of April. Lebanon has been home to almost 1.5 million Syrians, which has taken its toll on “Lebanon’s economy and security,” said Aoun, yet praised the country’s “diversity and sense of pluralism which is an example to the world.”Although Lebanon was able to weather the storm following Prime Minister Saad Hariri’s now rescinded resignation and enjoy a sense of political stability since the crisis came to an end, recent controversy over a decree granting a one-year seniority for Army officers that served under Aoun in the late 1980’s has led to a power play pitting the President against Speaker Nabih Berri. Berri has vehemently argued that the decree, signed by Aoun, Hariri and Defense Minister Yaacoub Saaraf, requires the signature of Finance Minister Hassan Ali Khalil, a member of the former’s Amal Movement. The speaker argues that the Constitution requires the Finance Minister's signature on any decree that entails spending. Justice Minister Selim Jreissati, a member of Aoun's party, on the other hand, argues that granting seniority to officers doesn't entail spending before officers are promoted in rank, which then results in a pay increase. Yet on Tuesday, a body with the Justice Ministry ruled against Berri’s argument, announcing that Khalil’s signature was indeed not required on the decree.The decision issued by the commission announced that Lebanon’s Constitution doesn’t stipulate the need for the Finance Minister’s signature, neither do any of the financial and administrative laws; a development which favors Aoun at this juncture. The commission used a precedent based on a similar case from the Choura Council on December 16, 1991, which Khalil rebutted arguing that the commission’s decision was based on Aoun’s recommendation. According to Khalil, who took to twitter following the decision, the case used by the commission “does not deal with the issue at hand”. Khalil then quoted another decision issued by the council, which states that “the Finance Minister must sign all decrees that entail spending, both directly and indirectly.”

Aoun: Govt Has Contributed to Stability...Lebanon Must Stage Timely Polls
Naharnet/January 16/18/President Michel Aoun affirmed that Lebanon's government has enclosed all the political components in the country and contributed to the establishment of stability despite some differences “that enrich democratic life,” as he stressed the need to hold parliamentary elections on time. In a speech addressing the diplomatic cord accredited in Lebanon, Aoun stressed that “the elections will be held on time,” pointing out that the proportional representation system will “provide more political stability because it will pave way for just representation.”Aoun was referring to the proportional representation electoral system agreed in 2017 that replaced the winner-takes-all majoritarian system. Parliamentary elections are scheduled on May 6, 2018. Turning to the social and economic situation, Aoun said: “Today we put the train on the right track. The government approved the budget after many years of absence, as well as the tax reform law. Efforts will focus this year on the economic planning and implementation."As for administrative appointments, Aoun emphasized that appointments made in various state institutions, whether judicial, administrative or security, “gave it a vital and different approach. The results were clear and felt by the Lebanese as well as the whole world.”The President also stressed the need to address the crisis of refugees, he said: “It has become more than urgent in Lebanon because it presses on economic, social and security aspects. Even the Pope has called on state rulers that receive refugees to respect the borders set by the public interest.”On U.S. President Donald Trump's decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, Aoun said: “The decision only widens the gap and pushes the peace process away.”

Aoun receives from Khatib executive summary of household waste management policy
Tue 16 Jan 2018/NNA - President Michel Aoun on Tuesday afternoon received at the Baabda Palace, Environment Minister Tarek Al-Khatib, who handed him a copy of the executive summary of the integrated household solid waste management policy. Means of putting said integrated management policy into implementation were also discussed. On emerging, Minister Al-Khatib said that he briefed President Aoun on the procedures to be undertaken by the Ministry in this regard, including the holding of public conferences in the various Lebanese districts with the municipalities to further explain this integrated policy.

Aoun-Berri Row Flares Anew after Ruling by Justice Ministry Committee
Naharnet/January 16/18/A new war of words erupted Tuesday between the Change and Reform bloc and AMAL Movement, after the Committee of Legislation and Consultations of the Justice Ministry issued a recommendation on the controversial officers seniority decree. “The Committee of Legislation and Consultations has given its opinion regarding the seniority decree and everyone must comply,” Change and Reform said in a statement recited by Justice Minister Salim Jreissati. “President Michel Aoun is not exceeding his presidential powers and we will not allow anyone to encroach on the president's jurisdiction during this presidential tenure. The president is the president of us all and he is the guardian of the constitution and the law,” the bloc added. It also stressed that Committee's ruling “puts an end to the constitutional and legal debate” over the disputed decree. Finance Minister Ali Hassan Khalil hit back swiftly, stressing that “no one is above the constitution.”“We are responsible for every word we say and we know the meaning of our words very well. Let no one try to intimidate us,” Khalil tweeted. “It would be better for (Jreissati) to say that he no longer wants to rely on the constitution, and he should not think that he has the ability to repress viewpoints that contradict with his edicts,” Khalil added. In its recommendation, the Committee of Legislation and Consultations noted that the disputed decree did not require Khalil's signature, citing a 1992 Shura Council ruling that had stated that “the finance minister does not have the right to oversee the work of the other ministers.”According to LBCI television, Berri said the Committee's recommendation was issued “at the request” of Jreissati and his political party. Khalil also commented on the recommendation, saying “the attempts to cover up for the violation of the constitution are of no use and will only aggravate the confusion of those behind them and lead to new disputes.” “We do not need a dictated opinion,” the minister added. 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 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.

Gen. Aoun: We're Committed to Preserving Border Stability, Ready to Confront Any Israeli Attack
Naharnet/January 16/18/Army Commander General Joseph Aoun on Tuesday stressed that the army is “committed to preserving the stability of the southern border,” while emphasizing that the military institution stands ready to “confront any Israeli attack.”“The Lebanese Army will carry on with the mission of defending Lebanon and safeguarding its security and stability no matter the price and sacrifices,” said Aoun during a Yarze meeting with a delegation from the Association of Arab and Foreign Military Attaches and representatives of the U.N. Truce Supervision Organization. “Under Resolution 1701, we are committed to preserving the stability of the southern border in cooperation with U.N. forces, but at the same time, we are ready to confront any Israeli attack on Lebanon,” the Army Commander added.

Rahi from airport: Al Quds open city for three religions
Tue 16 Jan 2018/NNA - Maronite Patriarch Bechara Boutros Rahi on Tuesday said that Al-Quds is an open city for three religions, adding that no one accepts that a certain color be attributed to it. Patriarch Rahi was speaking at Beirut Rafic Hariri International Airport prior to his departure to Cairo to take part in the "International Al Azhar Conference in Support of Al Quds". "Al Quds is an open city for the three faiths.. No one accepts that a certain color be attributed to it."

Mustaqbal Slams 'Campaign' Seeking to 'Sabotage' Its Ties with KSA
Naharnet/January 16/18/Al-Mustaqbal parliamentary bloc on Tuesday decried what it called “a distortion and incitement campaign” targeted against “al-Mustaqbal Movement's relation with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.”“Local and Arab media outlets are broadcasting fabricated reports and dealing with them as if they are documents,” Mustaqbal said in a statement issued after its weekly meeting. These reports “are only aimed at insulting the kingdom and some brotherly Arab countries,” the bloc added. Urging “an end to these practices,” Mustaqbal emphasized that it “will remain keen on the relation that martyr premier Rafik Hariri established with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.”“The bloc notes that the voices seeking to sabotage Lebanon's ties with the kingdom and the Arab Gulf countries will not be able to achieve their goals no matter how much they wage distortion and accusation campaigns,” the bloc stressed.

Fugitive Wounded and Arrested in Beirut Southern Suburb
Naharnet/January 16/18/A fugitive was arrested Tuesday in the Beirut southern suburb of Raml al-Aali after a clash with the army. “A patrol from the Intelligence Directorate raided in the Raml al-Aali area the house of Qassem Khaddouj, who was wanted on charges of drug trade and shootings,” an army statement said. “During the raid, the fugitive opened fire at the patrol, which prompted its members to respond in kind,” the army added, noting that the man was wounded in the legs and the left arm. The raiding force seized “weapons, ammunition, CCTV cameras, DVR devices and various quantities of drugs.”

Jubeir: Iran a 'Danger Source' Due to Role in Lebanon, Yemen and Syria
Naharnet/January 16/18/Saudi Foreign Minister Adel a-Jubeir accused Iran on Tuesday of being the “biggest source of danger in the region” because of its role in Lebanon, Yemen and Syria. “Iran has supplied the Huthis with missiles that targeted Saudi Arabia,” he said in a press conference with his Belgium counterpart. He added: “The nuclear deal with Iran needs improvement to prevent Tehran from enriching uranium.”In the file of the Yemeni crisis, Jubeir said “Saudi Arabia is working to prevent the fall of Yemen in the hands of Iran and Hizbullah,” pointing out that “SA has received and hosted more than one million Yemeni refugees.”He assured that the Yemen's ports are open “but the Huthis are stealing the humanitarian aid.”

Berri meets Khamenei, Islamic Parliaments' Speakers
Tue 16 Jan 2018/NNA - Speaker of the House Nabih Berri met, in Tehran on Tuesday, with the Supreme Leader of Iran, Sayyid Ali Khamenei, and the Speakers of the Islamic Parliaments partaking in the conference of the Parliamentary Union of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) hosted by the Iranian capital.

Berri Urges 'Boycott' of Trump Administration until 'Jerusalem Decision is Reversed'
Naharnet/January 16/18/Speaker Nabih Berri on Tuesday renewed his call for the transfer of Islamic embassies from Washington and for the boycott of US President Donald Trump's administration until the latter reverses a controversial recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital. “I call on all Islamic embassies to move locations from Washington and to boycott Trump's administration until he revokes his position regarding Jerusalem,” said Berri from Iran in a conference for the Parliamentary Union of the OIC (Organization of Islamic Cooperation) Member States. The Speaker called for the closure of all “Israeli embassies in Arab and Islamic capitals,” he also called for the “annulment of the Oslo peace accords,” of the early 1990s, which form the basis of the Palestinians' relations with Israel. He said that negotiations for a peace process must be halted “until a clear announcement is made halting the settlements process.”
Warning of Trump's policies in the Arab world, Berri said: “We stand before attempts of a radical shift in American policies. Trump's decision is at the forefront of this coup.” On Monday, the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) voted to call for the suspension of recognition of Israel until it "recognizes the state of Palestine", cancels its annexation of east Jerusalem and stops settlement activity. On December 6, Trump recognized Jerusalem as Israel's capital.

Ambassador Mdalalli presents credentials to UN Secretary General
Tue 16 Jan 2018/NNA - Lebanon's Permanent Representative to the United Nations, Ambassador Amal Mdallali, presented her credentials to the United Nations Secretary General, Antonio Guterres, in the presence of Mission Advisor, Marwan Francis, and Secretary Farah Siblini. Afterwards, a meeting was held between the Secretary General Guterres and Ambassador Mdallali, on Lebanon's agenda at the UN for the New Year.
Mdallali hailed the important role played by the United Nations and its various agencies in Lebanon, thanking the Secretary General for his special interest in Lebanon's affairs. It is worth-mentioning that Mdallali is the first Lebanese woman to assume this post in New York.

Tenenti to NNA: To reach solutions to prevent tension along Blue Line
Tue 16 Jan 2018/NNA - UNIFIL spokesperson Andrea Tenenti on Tuesday told the National News Agency that the command was communicating with the Lebanese and Israeli sides in an attempt to reach a joint solution to the issue of Israel's plan to initiate the construction of a wall in a disputed territory along the Lebanese border with occupied Palestine. "Considering the sensitivity of this area, we consider that it is mandatory to reach solutions in agreement with the wo sides in order to reduce the odds of tension and to narrow down the scope of any likely misunderstanding between the concerned sides," Tenenti said. In conclusion, Tenenti maintained that both sides must take advantage of UNIFIL's liaison and coordination arrangements in order to prevent violations and preserve stability in its area of operation.

Derian bound for Cairo to attend Azhar Conference on Al Quds
Tue 16 Jan 2018/NNA - Grand Mufti of the Republic Sheikh Abdel Latif Derian, has left Beirut on Tuesday heading to Cairo, upon the invitation of the Grand Imam of the Council of Muslim Elders, Sheikh Al-Azhar, to attend the International Al-Azhar Conference in support of Al-Quds. Mufti Derian is to deliver a word on Al-Quds during said conference.

Mashnouq meets Sarraf, de Kerchove
Tue 16 Jan 2018/NNA - Minister of Interior and Municipalities, Nohad Mashnouq, on Tuesday received Minister of National Defense, Yaacoub Sarraf, to coordinate the preparations for the upcoming meeting for the Higher Defense Council at Baabda palace on Friday, and Rome II conference devoted to supporting the Lebanese army and Internal Security Forces. The meeting was attended by a panel of senior officers representing the military command, the ISF, and the agencies of General Security and State Security.
Separately, Mashnouq held the periodic meeting to follow up on the preparations for the legislative elections. The Minister also met today with the European Union Counter-Terrorism Coordinator, Gilles de Kerchove, on top of a delegation, in the presence of Ambassador Christina Lassen. During the meeting, Mashnouq broached the Lebanese government's efforts to develop and modernize the various security apparatuses affiliated to the Interior Ministry. Talks also touched on the preparation for Rome II conference, and the EU role in enhancing the support for the Lebanese army and security forces. Moreover, conferees discussed the current security and political developments on the Lebanese local scene.

Jreissati after Change and Reform meeting: Legal debate over officers' decree ended as Legislation and Consultation Committee gave its word
Tue 16 Jan 2018/NNA - Minister of Justice, Salim Jreissati, on Tuesday maintained that the legal and constitutional debate over the 1994 officers' decree ended when the Ministry's Committee of Legislation and Consultation said its word. "The Legislation and Consultation Committee has given its opinion regarding the officers' seniority decree, and everybody must abide by it," Jreissati told reporters following the Change and Reform parliamentary bloc's weekly meeting. "The legal and constitutional debate in that respect ended after the Committee issued its opinion; it is the highest administrative authority," he said. "The Change and Reform bloc and the Free Patriotic Movement have always the Constitution and the law as their reference," he accentuated. On the legislative elections, Jreissati said: "We invite people to say their word on the attempts to torpedo the polls." "President Michel Aoun is the protector of the Constitution and the law," he said.

Othman, de Kerchove discuss cooperation in countering terrorism
Tue 16 Jan 2018/NNA - Internal Security Forces Chief, Imad Othman, on Tuesday met at his Barracks office with the European Union Counter-Terrorism Coordinator, Gilles de Kerchove, on top of a delegation, in the presence of Ambassador Christina Lassen. Talks reportedly touched on means of bolstering cooperation and coordination between the two sides in the field of combating terrorism.

Army Commander, Beary discuss situation along southern borders
Tue 16 Jan 2018/NNA - Lebanese Army Commander, General Joseph Aoun, welcomed at his office in Yarzeh UNIFIL Commander, Major General Michael Beary, with whom he discussed the situation along the southern borders and coordination between the two sides to maintain the stability of South Litani sector. General Aoun also received the European Union Counter-Terrorism Coordinator, Gilles de Kerchove, on top of a delegation, in the presence of Ambassador Christina Lassen. Talks reportedly touched on means of bolstering military and security cooperation in the fields of combating terrorism and the exchange of expertise and information related to terrorist activities. On the other hand, the army commander met with a delegation of the General Labor Confederation, led by Bechara al-Asmar, with talks centering on a range of matters.

Latest LCCC Bulletin For Miscellaneous Reports And News published on January 16-17/18
Saudi FM: Iran Greatest Source of Danger in Region

Asharq Al Awsat/January, 16/2018/Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir declared on Tuesday that the Kingdom is working on preventing Yemen from falling in the hands of Iran and Lebanon’s “Hezbollah.”Iran is the greatest source of danger in the region due to its role in Lebanon, Yemen and Syria, he said during a joint press conference with his Belgian counterpart Didier Reynders. Iran has supplied the Houthis in Yemen with rockets to target Saudi Arabia, he added from Brussels. Moreover, Jubeir added that the Iran nuclear deal needed to be “improved” to prevent Tehran from enriching uranium.
Commenting on the Yemen crisis, the minister said that Saudi Arabia has hosted more than a million refugees. In addition, Yemeni ports are ready to receive aid, but they are being looted by the Houthis, stated Jubeir. For his part, Reynders announced: “We are seeking a political settlement in Yemen.”On Iran, he remarked that the nuclear deal remains the best solution and its implementation is important. He revealed that he will discuss with Iran the ballistic missiles file and wars in the region. On Syria, he hoped that the regime would demonstrate a “real willingness” to hold negotiations. Jubeir had held talks with Reynders on bilateral ties and cooperation between Saudi Arabia and Belgium. Regional and international developments were also discussed. Jubeir had held talks in Brussels on Monday with European Union Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Management Christos Stylianides and High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Federica Mogherini.

Saudi Arabia Hails Trump’s Stance on Iran Nuclear Deal
Asharq Al Awsat/January, 16/2018/Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman bin Abdulaziz chaired on Tuesday a cabinet session that hailed US President Donald Trump’s recent stance on the Iran nuclear deal, reported the Saudi Press Agency (SPA). It also lauded his call on all of the United States’ allies to take stronger measures to counter the Iranian regime’s malicious activities, Information Minister Awwad bin Saleh al-Awwad told SPA. Trump warned on Friday that Washington would withdraw from the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran if its “flaws” are not amended. Meeting in Riyadh, the Saudi government described Iran as the world’s greatest sponsor of terrorism. It accused it of “financing, arming and training over a 100,000 gunmen to spread destruction throughout the Middle East.”It is also accused it of supporting “the Syrian regime of Bashar Assad and helping him kill his own people,” reported SPA. Iran’s destructive rockets also threaten neighboring countries and international navigation, said the government. Throughout this time, Iranian regime has resorted to mass arrests, torture and oppression to silence the people. In addition, the cabinet praised the US for dedicating a unit to probe Lebanon’s “Hezbollah’s” drug trade, which it is employing to fund its terrorist activity. Furthermore, the Saudi cabinet hailed a recent United Nations report on Iran’s violation of the arms embargo on Yemen. The report found Iran to be in violation of UN Security Council resolution 2216, saying that Tehran had helped the Houthis obtain drones and ballistic missiles, which were fired at Saudi Arabia. The embargo has been imposed since 2015. Turning to the Palestinian territories, the cabinet condemned the Israeli authorities decision to build over a thousand new settlement units and granting permits to the construction of 650 others. This is in defiance of the international community, said the government according to Awwad. It also violates the rights of the Palestinian people and aims to impose a new reality that prevents the establishment of an independent Palestinian state, he added. King Salman informed the ministers of the details of his telephone calls with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Kazakhstan President Nursultan Nazarbayev. He also informed them of the details of the letter he received from Azerbaijan President Ilham Aliyev and his talks with Japanese Minister of Economy, Trade, Industry and Energy Hiroshige Seko. The ministers also addressed the latest Arab, regional and international developments, renewing the Kingdom’s condemnation of the twin suicide bombings in the Iraqi capital Baghdad on Monday.

Erdogan: Turkish Operation in Syria’s Afrin to Be Backed by Opposition
Asharq Al Awsat/January, 16/2018/Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced on Tuesday that the military operation his country is planning on waging against Kurdish forces in Syria’s Afrin region will be backed by Syrian opposition fighters. In recent days, Erdogan has repeatedly warned of an imminent incursion in Afrin after the US-led coalition said it was working with the mainly Kurdish YPG-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) to set up a new 30,000-strong border force. The plan has infuriated Turkey, which considers the Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG) as an extension of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) group, which has fought an insurgency in southeast Turkey since 1984. The PKK is considered a terrorist group by the European Union, Turkey and the United States. Asked if the opposition would be involved in the operation against Afrin, Erdogan told reporters in parliament: “Of course they will, together. This struggle is being conducted for them. Not for us.”Speaking at a meeting of NATO top brass in Brussels, armed forces chief General Hulusi Akar said Turkey will not allow the YPG to receive support and said NATO should not differentiate between terrorist groups, state-run Anadolu agency reported. “We cannot and will not allow support and arming of the YPG terror group under the name of an operational partner. We hope this mistake will be corrected in the shortest time,” he was reported as saying. The Turkish army had sent more military reinforcements to its units that are deployed on the Syrian border. “Our Turkish armed forces will resolve the Afrin and Manbij issues soon. Our military reinforcements are complete and we will launch our operations as soon as possible,” said Erdogan.

Iran Threatens 'Severe' Response to US Sanctions Against Larijani

London- Asharq Al Awsat/January, 16/2018/Iranian Judiciary Chief Sadeq Larijani said it is an honor for him to be sanctioned by the US, in his first comments after including his name in the recent list of US sanctions, describing that as a proof of the Islamic Republic’s correct path. Larijani slammed the US administration’s move to impose sanctions against the Judiciary chief of a country as “crossing all international red lines”, stressing that Iran would not remain silent on such a measure. “The US should know that every hostile conduct will draw proportional reaction from Iran,” the top judge said, adding that he personally does not care about facing sanctions by the Trump administration. On Friday, US president Donald Trump agreed to extend the waivers for sanctions on Iran, and the US treasury department imposed new sanctions on 14 Iranian individuals and entities over Tehran's human rights abuses and ballistic missile program. Larijani is the highest-ranking official to be appointed by Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei. Earlier in March 2012, the EU imposed sanctions on Larijani for violating human rights. Larijani said that the 2015 Iranian nuclear deal, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), could by no means be changed or linked to other issues. Referring to recent protests in Iran, Larijani spoke of the importance of the Internet in Iran, saying: "Regardless of technical issues, what matters to us on the Internet is the security." Larijani implicitly rejected criticisms against the judiciary over restrictions on the Internet and social media networks and considered them "false analyses." He accused his country's enemies of seeking to affect the Iranians via the Internet. In this regard, the Iranian official relied on the testimony of the Iranian security services in the protests that hit more than 80 Iranian cities. "On this basis, we believe we should not give chances for the enemies," he said. Larijani also implicitly accused government agencies responsible for the Internet of negligence. Although more than a week has passed since the return of calm to Iranian cities that were loaded with popular protests, the aftershocks are still continuing, especially after the deaths recorded in Iranian prisons among the detainees. “More than 440 people who were arrested in Tehran riots have been released,” Tehran prosecutor Abbas Jafari Dolatabadi was quoted as saying on Sunday. Dolatabadi said most of those held during the protests were from low income families, and were between 18 and 35 years old.

Iran Calls for Muslim Countries to Depend on Themselves
Agence France Presse//Naharnet/January 16/18/Iran's President Hassan Rouhani called on Tuesday for more solidarity between Muslim countries and for them not to depend on "foreigners" for their development. His comments come after Washington threatened to withdraw from a landmark deal between Tehran and world powers that lifted crippling sanctions in exchange for curbs to Iran's nuclear programme. "Only non-dependence on foreigners and increased solidarity between Muslim countries will allow us to overcome the Islamic world's problems," Rouhani said. "We should... count on our own capacities" to ensure "growth and development", he said at the opening in Tehran of a session of the parliamentary union of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation. But "this does not mean we should seek isolation," he added. Rouhani, a political moderate who secured the 2015 nuclear deal, has come under fire from ultra-conservatives who believe the accord benefits only the West. The government has been trying to encourage European firms to do business with or invest in Iran. On an international level, "we support constructive interaction on an equal footing... that leaves no room for exploitation, colonialism or interference in internal affairs", he said. He spoke after a wave of deadly protests across the country from December 28 to January 1 over the dire state of the economy during which some demonstrators called for regime change. Twenty-five people were killed in the unrest, according to the authorities.The United States publicly supported the demonstrators, while the European Union condemned the "unacceptable loss of human lives" and stressed that peaceful protest and freedom of expression are "fundamental rights".Rouhani accused the West of believing that "Islam and democracy are incompatible" and of using "this pretext to subject Muslim countries to a new colonialism". "Reinforcing democracy and listening to people's opinions are our primary strategy to face the West," the president added.Rouhani has pushed for greater civil liberties in the wake of the unrest.

Tillerson Expresses to Abadi US Support for Iraq’s Security

London- Asharq Al Awsat/January, 16/2018/US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson telephoned on Tuesday Iraqi Prime Minister Haidar al-Abadi to stress Washington’s commitment to the country’s security, reported the Saudi Press Agency (SPA). The American official voiced Washington and the international community’s backing of Baghdad’s efforts to bolster security. An Iraqi government statement said that Tillerson told Abadi that the US will continue to back Iraq’s efforts to attract investment and achieve economic reform. It also stands by its reconstruction efforts, added the statement. Moreover, Tillerson expressed his confidence in Iraq’s ability to completely destroy terrorism, offering his condolences over the victims of Monday’s twin suicide bombings in Baghdad.

UAE to File Complaint to UN over Qatar’s Interception of Jets

London- Asharq Al Awsat/January, 16/2018/The United Arab Emirates announced on Tuesday that it will file a complaint to the United Nations over Qatari fighter jets’ interception of two civilian planes on Monday. The UAE will accuse Qatar of violating the Chicago Convention in its complaint to the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), UAE General Civil Aviation Authority Director General Saif Mohammed al-Suwaidi told Reuters. The complaint will be filed at the UN aviation agency on Tuesday, he added. The fighter jets intercepted the civilian aircraft as they were en route to Bahrain. The UAE news agency WAM quoted Suwaidi as saying on Monday that the intercepts happened at 10:30 a.m. and 11:05 a.m. He said Bahraini radar, as well as crew and passengers on board, saw the military aircraft, "which constituted a clear and explicit threat to the lives of innocent civilians." "Qatari military fighter jets came within two miles of the Emirates aircraft, which put the lives of passengers and crew at risk," Bahrain’s news agency said. Qatar's Foreign Ministry called the UAE's allegations a "totally false claim" in a statement Monday night.

Tripoli: Dozens of Victims in Violent Clashes Between ‘Buqarah,’ ‘Deterrent’ Militias

London- Asharq Al Awsat/January, 16/2018/The Libyan capital witnessed Monday heavy arms clashes near the International Airport and a local prison, killing up to 16 people, injuring dozens of others and disrupting air traffic amid information that the attackers were seeking the release of radical prisoners. "The criminal militia known as Bashir Khalafullah, aka Bashir Buqarah, and all the criminals wanted by the Deterrent Force attacked the International Airport after escaping (jail) and joining the militia," the Special Deterrent Force (Rada) in charge of securing the airport said in a statement. Militias led by Khalafullah, loyal to the former Salvation Government led by Khalifa al-Ghawil and based in the Tajoura district of the eastern suburb of the capital, launched an attack using heavy arms at dawn on Mitiga International Airport and a nearby prison. The attack was repelled by the Special Deterrent Force, led by Abdul Rauf Kara, and an operation to secure the area was ongoing. Photographs of the streets surrounding the airport were posted on Rada’s official Facebook page, showing pick-up trucks mounted with guns, armored vehicles and a tank. Rada noted that the attackers are being dealt with "until they are defeated and expelled from the Mitiga airport and the prison, where more than 2,500 inmates are detained on various charges." Mitiga is a military air base near the center of Tripoli that began hosting civilian flights after the international airport was put out of service in 2014. Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj said the attackers sought the release of al-Qaeda and ISIS prisoners held at a major jail in the airport facility. Two cargo planes were hit in the fighting and a nearby highway was shut. He denounced what he called a “premeditated” attack on the airport. At least 20 people were killed in the clashes and 60 wounded, including civilians, a health ministry official said. Heavy gunfire could be heard outside the airport and all roads to Mitiga were closed. Security forces reporting to the interior ministry said both civilians and military areas of the airport were under control and undamaged, and that “a group of outlaw attackers has been apprehended”.

Al Arabiya holds Sudan responsible for detained correspondent
Al Arabiya/January 16/18/Al Arabiya News Channel has said it is holding Sudanese security officials responsible for the safety and well-being of its correspondent Abdulaziz Ibrahim after he was arrested while covering economic protests in the capital Khartoum. Ibrahim was detained by security forces on Tuesday while covering demonstrations that centered against soaring bread prices near a presidential palace in Khartoum. Anti-riot police fired tear gas and beat protesters with batons as hundreds of Sudanese demonstrated, an AFP correspondent said. Bread prices have more than doubled after a jump in the cost of flour due to dwindling wheat supplies, after the government decided to stop importing grain and allow private companies to do so. The protest was the biggest in Khartoum since demonstrations erupted in some parts of the country earlier this month following the price increase. On Tuesday, hundreds of protesters poured into the streets near a presidential palace in central Khartoum after the opposition Communist Party of Sudan called for an anti-government rally. “No, no to hunger! No, no to high prices!” protesters shouted near the palace. Police fired tear gas and hit protesters with batons as they tried to break up the protest.

Palestinian Central Council calls for struggle against Israel ‘in all forms’

Al Arabiya/January 16/18/The Palestinian Central Council instructed the Executive Committee of the Palestinian Administration to suspend the recognition of Israel on Monday.The Council furthermore announced its support for the popular struggle against the Israeli occupation “in all forms” as it described in its statement without elaborating more. The Central Council also announced that it has decided to stop security coordination between Ramallah and Israel adding that it refuses to recognize the Judaism of the Israeli State.

Turkish President Erdogan to visit Pope Francis on February 5
Tue 16 Jan 2018/NNA - Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan will visit Pope Francis at the Vatican next month for talks likely to focus on the controversial US recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. The Turkish leader and head of the Roman Catholic Church both strongly opposed the bitterly-contested move announced by US President Donald Trump at the end of last year. Erdogan's first trip to the tiny state will be on February 5, the Vatican said. It follows phone calls between the two leaders who share concerns over the crisis and agree the status quo should remain. The Argentine pope met Erdogan during his trip to Turkey in November 2014. The return visit will be the first by a Turkish president since 1959. Erdogan has expressed hope for a better relationship with the European Union after a fractious 2017, despite concerns over human rights violations in Turkey, particularly during the crackdown that followed a failed coup in July 2016. Francis has repeatedly praised Turkey's efforts to welcome Syrian refugees and has said the country can be a "great peacemaker", while also warning against "fanaticism and fundamentalism". But the relationship has not always been plain sailing: tensions flared in 2016 when the pope denounced the World War I killing of Armenians as a genocide, enraging Turkey. Armenians have long sought international recognition for the killings as genocide, but Turkey -- the Ottoman Empire's successor state -- argues that it was a collective tragedy in which both Turks and Armenians died. ---AFP

N. Korea Calls Trump Nuclear Button Boast the 'Bark of a Rabid Dog'
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/January 16/18/North Korea on Tuesday denounced President Donald Trump's tweeted message that he has a bigger nuclear button than its leader Kim Jong-Un as the "spasm of a lunatic" and the "bark of a rabid dog". Kim used his annual New Year address to warn he has a "nuclear button" on his table, sweetening his remarks by expressing an interest in dialogue and taking part in the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics in the South next month. In response, Trump wrote on Twitter: "Will someone from his depleted and food starved regime please inform him that I too have a Nuclear Button, but it is a much bigger & more powerful one than his, and my Button works!"In Pyongyang's first reaction to the tweet, the North's official party newspaper Rodong Sinmun on Tuesday dismissed Trump's "swaggering" as nothing but the "spasm of a lunatic" frightened by North Korea's power, and the "bark of a rabid dog". In the days after Kim's New Year speech the two Koreas underwent a rapid apparent rapprochement, culminating last week in their first official talks for two years, when they agreed Pyongyang would attend the Games. But the North has since issued a series of warnings against both the South and the United States. Pyongyang has made apocalyptic threats against its enemies for years, but Trump has repeatedly used highly menacing rhetoric towards the nuclear-armed North, sparking criticism that he is ratcheting up already-high tensions on the Korean peninsula. He has threatened to rain "fire and fury" on the North, warning Kim he was on a "suicide mission" by developing nuclear missiles. Trump's "button" tweet "reflects the desperate mental state of a loser," Rodong Sinmun said in its commentary, diagnosing him as "suffering from anger disorder and schizophrenia".

UAE to File International Complaint over Qatar Flight 'Interception'
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/January 16/18/The UAE will lodge a complaint with the International Civil Aviation Organization after Qatari jets came within little more than three kilometres of Emirati passenger flights, its civil aviation chief said on Tuesday. "Today we will file our complaint to the International Civil Aviation Organization about the two serious incidents, along with the evidence that we've gathered, and ask for the intervention of the council to stop Qatar from repeating the act," Saif al-Suwaidi, head of the general civil aviation authority, told AFP. The United Arab Emirates said on Monday that Qatari fighter jets had "intercepted" two passenger flights headed for Bahrain, drawing a swift denial from Gulf rival Qatar.

Reminder: Foreign Affairs Minister’s itinerary at Vancouver Foreign Ministers’ Meeting on Security and Stability on the Korean Peninsula
January 16, 2018 - The Honourable Chrystia Freeland, Canada’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, will co-host the Vancouver Foreign Ministers’ Meeting on Security and Stability on the Korean Peninsula with the Honourable Rex Tillerson, United States Secretary of State, on January 15 and 16, 2018, at the Vancouver Convention Centre in Vancouver, British Columbia.
All events below will be held on Monday, January 15, 2018
Event: Bilateral meeting with the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Korea, Kang Kyung-wha
Time: 3:00 p.m. PT
Location: Level 2, Room 217, Vancouver Convention Centre West Building, 1055 Canada Place, Vancouver, British Columbia
Notes for media:
Photo opportunity only
Media should arrive on the first floor of the Vancouver Convention Centre West Building no later than 2:30 p.m. PT to register.
Event: Minister Freeland to hold meeting with Canadian civil society organizations
Time: 4:30 p.m. PT
Notes for media:
Closed to media
Event: Bilateral meeting with the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Japan, Taro Kono
Time: 6:00 p.m. PT
Location: Level 2, Room 217, Vancouver Convention Centre West Building, 1055 Canada Place, Vancouver, British Columbia
Notes for media:
Photo opportunity only
Media should arrive on the first floor of the Vancouver Convention Centre West Building no later than 5:30 p.m. PT to register.
Event: Canada’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Chrystia Freeland, and the Secretary of State of the United States, Rex Tillerson, will co-host an official welcome dinner for heads of delegations.
Time: 7:00 p.m. PT
Notes for media:
Closed to media
Canadian Minister of National Defence Harjit Singh Sajjan and United States Secretary of Defense James N. Mattis will be in attendance.
All events below will be held on Tuesday, January 16, 2018
Event: Bilateral Meeting with UK Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, Boris Johnson
Time: 7:30 a.m. PT
Location: Level 2, Room 217, Vancouver Convention Centre West Building, 1055 Canada Place, Vancouver, British Columbia
Notes for media:
Photo opportunity only
Media should arrive on the first floor of the Vancouver Convention Centre West Building no later than 7:00 a.m. PT to register.
Event: Arrival of heads of delegations
Time: 8:00 a.m. PT
Location: Level 1, Vancouver Convention Centre West Building, 1055 Canada Place, Vancouver, British Columbia
Notes for media:
Media should arrive on the first floor of the Vancouver Convention Centre West Building no later than 7:30 a.m. PT.
Media who participate in this event will not be able to attend the Indigenous welcome and opening remarks of foreign ministers, but can watch these events from the media centre.
Event: Indigenous welcome followed by Session one: Opening remarks by Chrystia Freeland, Canada’s Foreign Affairs Minister; Rex Tillerson, the Secretary of State of the United States; Kang Kyung-wha, the Republic of Korea’s Foreign Affairs Minister; and Taro Kono, Japan’s Foreign Affairs Minister.
Time: 8:30 a.m. PT
Location: Level 3, Room 301, Vancouver Convention Centre West Building, 1055 Canada Place, Vancouver, British Columbia
Notes for media:
Open media coverage
Media should arrive on the first floor of the Vancouver Convention Centre West Building no later than 7:30 a.m. PT to register.
Media must be set up in the room by 8:00 a.m. PT.
Media will be asked to present their media credentials upon arrival.
This event will be live-streamed on Facebook and on Twitter via Periscope.
A one-camera video feed of open events will be made available in the media centre through a distribution system. The signal will be a HD-SDI 1080i (NTSC) signal.
Event: Session two: Review of the current situation
Time: 9:15 a.m. PT
Notes for media:
Closed to media
Event: Session three: Sanctions
Time: 10:50 a.m. PT
Notes for media:
Closed to media
Event: Session four: Non-proliferation
Time: 12:00 p.m. PT
Notes for media:
Closed to media
Event: Family photo
Time: 1:10 p.m. PT
Location: Level 3, foyer outside Room 301, Vancouver Convention Centre West Building, 1055 Canada Place, Vancouver, British Columbia
Notes for media:
Cameras and stills only
Media should arrive on the first floor of the Vancouver Convention Centre West Building no later than 12:30 p.m. PT to register.
Media will be asked to present their media credentials upon arrival.
Event: Session five: Diplomacy and next steps
Time: 2:45 p.m. PT
Notes for media:
Closed to media
Event: Concluding Plenary
Time: 4:00 p.m. PT
Notes for media:
Closed to media
Event: Press conference co-hosted by Minister Freeland and Secretary Tillerson
Time: 5:00 p.m. PT
Location: Level 1, Room 109, Vancouver Convention Centre West Building, 1055 Canada Place, Vancouver, British Columbia
Notes for media:
Open media coverage
Media should arrive on the first floor of the Vancouver Convention Centre West Building no later than 4:30 p.m. PT to register.
Media will be asked to present their media credentials upon arrival.
This event will be live-streamed on Facebook and on Twitter via Periscope.
A one-camera video feed of open events will be made available in the media operations centre through a distribution system. The signal will be a HD-SDI 1080i (NTSC) signal.
Distribution of accreditation badges
Media can pick up their accreditation badges on the first floor of the Vancouver Convention Centre West Building on:
January 15 from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. PT
January 16 from 6:00 a.m. to 10:00 a.m. PT
Any media wishing to have hits in their 6:00 a.m. ET time slots (3:00 a.m. PT) on January 16 need to pick up their accreditation badges on January 15.
Media centre
The media centre will be located in Room 118 on the first floor of the Vancouver Convention Centre West Building.
The media centre will be open January 16 from 6:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. PT.
The media centre will provide accredited media with a workspace, including access to electrical power outlets and free Wi-Fi Internet access.
Global Affairs Canada media liaison officers will be available on-site for questions concerning the events and logistics.
All content-related media queries should be directed to
Media wishing to receive updates from Global Affairs Canada should subscribe online.
Live media feeds
Media can access a video feed of open events from the Vancouver Foreign Ministers’ Meeting at the following sites:
RTMP: rtmp://
Adobe HDS:
Apple HLS:
Note: There will be a security sweep of all cameras and equipment for all media availabilities today. In order to ensure that all media have ample time to set up for the first events of the morning (Canadian Foreign Minister’s photo opportunity with the UK Foreign Secretary, the Indigenous Welcome and Session One: Opening remarks), media are asked to arrive no later than 7:00 a.m. PT.
Media Relations Office
Global Affairs Canada

Latest LCCC Bulletin analysis & editorials from miscellaneous sources published on January 16-17/18
US Enters Syrian Conflict
Abdulrahman Al-Rashed/Asharq Al Awsat/January 16/18
A Syria army of 30,000 soldiers is being built east of Euphrates, bordering southern Turkey and northern Iraq. Half of the army consists of Syrian Kurds, while the other half is of locals from the Arab region and other regions.  The United States is the head of this new project and the new player that has finally decided to get involved in the Syrian war through supporting local opposition groups and working in the field, in order to impose its view of what a political solution could be in Syria. Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper was the first to notice the accelerating field changes and described them as a project for the birth of a new Syria. Indeed, this is an important development established on a strong power, but it won't be a state in the legal sense. Dividing states and building a new state is a complex and dangerous political, legal and military process. Not to forget that there almost is an international consensus to reject such project, which was the issue of Iraq's Kurds and their dream of forming their own state in a region fully controlled by them. The project to build a region in Syrian eastern Euphrates is less than a state, yet more than a protectorate.
In his recent testimony before the Congress, acting Assistant US Secretary of State for Near East Affairs, David Satterfield said the project would constitute a new model in Syria. Satterfield stated that the project appears to be with many ambitious goals involving the efforts of diplomats, intelligence officers and military commanders.
This time, US surprised everyone by showing that it could come up with new ideas, build a project from scratch and maintain it secrecy. Under the pretenses of fighting ISIS in eastern and southern Syria, US will gradually increased its forces and experts to around 5,000, more than half of which were in the eastern Syrian Euphrates. It was in charge of gathering and training a large force of 30,000 Syrians whose first victory was defeating ISIS in Raqqa. The first opposing reaction to US' idea did not come from Damascus regime or Iran, as was expected, but from Turkey that announced it would not remain silent about this and that it would go into war with armed Syrian Kurds. Ankara considers Syrian Kurds as an extension of the “terrorist and separatist” Turkish Kurds.
Everyone is waiting Turkish ground forces' first battle in Afrin in the next few days.
Turkey's suspicious position toward any Kurdish armed force on its border is justified and understandable, but its reluctance to confront Iran in Syria created a vacuum prompting the creation of an alternative force for this task. Countries involved in the conflict recognized Turkey's weak point and succeeded in benefiting from President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's pragmatic policies, who seemed ready to cooperate and compromise with any party that would support its conflict with the Kurds. This is what the Iranians did, and then Russians, so Ankara rushed to them in exchange of ending their support for the Kurds. US officials may feel that they need to send the same message to Ankara. However, there is a more important US message to the Iranian regime that Syria would be Iran’s Vietnam. The new Syrian power might be the best option for a reasonable peace in Syria, not Sochi's peace that was planned by the Russians and Iranians, in order to impose a solution by force. Iran wants a peace that allows it to occupy Syria and impose its influence on Lebanon and Iraq which eventually could provide it with a high negotiating power in its regional issues and its relations with the West.
Iran is in a race against time. It attempts to control areas Russia had already agreed to leave under the civilian opposition's control. A member of the opposition delegation, Yasser al-Farhan spoke about the agreement and how Iran violated it. “Maps were clearly drawn showing that the regime will not enter these areas, and that it would be managed by local councils with no heavy weapons, while the light weapons will remain with security and civilian defense forces to serve the local population,” said Farhan. Farhan added: “The agreement states that Iranian militias can't enter, neither can the regime forces, rather, a limited group of Russian forces would only be allowed as monitoring forces at three checkpoints to ensure the implementation of the agreement. Behind the line dividing the two sides, Turkish troops would be deployed.”As we see, Iranian militias did not respect the agreement, Russia did not force them to respect it, nor did the Turkish forces intervene. This Iranian activity proves that Sochi talks can't be trusted, which makes the existence of a parallel force a necessity in light of the regional race for the control of Syria.

Never Before Has a President Ignored Such a Clear National Security Threat
Ben Cardin/The Washington Post/January 16/2018
For the better part of 20 years, Russian President Vladimir Putin has engaged in a relentless assault against democratic institutions abroad, universal values and the rule of law. He has carried out these attacks with an asymmetric arsenal: cyberattacks; disinformation; support for fringe political groups; the weaponization of energy resources, organized crime and corruption; and even military aggression.
Putin has used such techniques because he has operated from a position of weakness, hobbled by a faltering economy, a substandard military and few followers on the world stage. And his attacks have grown in intensity and complexity over the past few years, driven by a desire to also repress democratic aspirations among his own citizens. While our European partners have taken steps to better defend themselves, the United States has done little to protect its institutions.
Despite the efforts of some in national security leadership, as well as dedicated career public servants across the executive branch, one person is preventing a strong, government-wide response that holds Russia accountable for its destabilizing activities: the president of the United States. Never before has the White House so clearly ignored a national security threat.
If we fail to respond with the urgency this threat requires, the regime in Moscow will be further emboldened — not just to undermine European stability but to build on its success in interfering in our 2016 presidential election by undermining the 2018 midterm elections and the 2020 presidential election.
These are some of the findings of a report that I am releasing Wednesday. Research began in the months following the 2016 election because it is critical that the American people better understand the scope and scale of the Russian government threat to democratic institutions and support the steps necessary to defend our system of government and our very society. The report shows that Putin’s threat to our nation, and our allies, is growing.
The Russian president’s rap sheet of meddling in Europe is long and sordid. Some of the most egregious examples include:
●A coup attempt in Montenegro to storm the nation’s parliament and capture or kill the prime minister ahead of that nation’s attempt to join the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.
●Russian media propaganda, especially Internet trolls and bots, which were discovered in the public debate ahead of recent major referendums such as “Brexit” in Britain and the Catalonia independence movement in Spain, as well as national elections in France and Germany. Indications are that Italy may well be next.
●The murder of a number of Russian opposition figures and critics across Europe.
●The violation of international law by invading Russia’s neighbors, such as Georgia and Ukraine.
Several countries in Europe have realized the danger that the Kremlin poses and have taken serious steps to build resilience against Putin’s aggression. These governments have bolstered cyberdefenses, conducted media literacy efforts, gone after Russian organized crime, and started to diversify energy supplies, rallying multiple sectors of society in mutual defense — government, corporations, civil society, the media, academia and students.
The same cannot be said in the United States. But even beyond electoral interference, the report also found examples of Kremlin-backed efforts to affect the daily lives of Americans and things that they care about: cheating Americans out of medals at the Olympic Games and supporting cybercriminals who attack American businesses and who steal the financial information of millions of American consumers.
So what should we do about it?
First, President Trump must provide unequivocal presidential leadership to mobilize our own government and the American people. Second, the United States must embark on an effort to build more resilience here at home and in democratic institutions across Europe — the best defense against Russian interference. Third, the United States and our allies should go on the offense and expose and freeze Kremlin-linked dirty money, placing Moscow under a preemptive and escalatory sanctions regime as a deterrent to future attacks on democratic institutions. Fourth, we should work with social-media companies and hold them accountable for their role in allowing the Kremlin’s disinformation campaigns to spread unchecked, toxifying public discourse and exacerbating political and societal divisions.
Out of the ashes of World War II, the United States led the world in constructing the current liberal international order through democratic institutions, shared values and accepted norms. The enduring transatlantic bond between America and Europe — the foundation for that order — is anathema to Putin, who seeks to protect little more than his own power and wealth.
The United States must therefore work closely with our European allies to counter the Kremlin’s ongoing, intensifying assault on democracy around the world.

Arab Regimes Terrified by Israel's Freedoms
Giulio Meotti/Gatestone Institute/January 16/2018
A prominent Tunisian-born French movie producer, Saïd Ben Saïd recently issued one of the frankest denunciations of anti-Semitism in the Arab world. The real culprit, he argued, was the prevalence of anti-Semitism fueled by Islamic extremists across the Middle East. Ben Saïd was forced to pull out of an Arab film festival last year because he had worked with Israelis.
A Lebanese director, Ziad Doueiri, did something even "worse": he filmed some scenes on Israeli land!
"No one can deny the misery of the Palestinian people, but it must be admitted that the Arab world is, in its majority, antisemitic. This hatred of Jews has redoubled in intensity and depth not because of the Arab-Israeli conflict, but with the rise of a certain vision of Islam". — Saïd Ben Saïd.
Fifty years have passed since many Arab countries were humiliated by Israel in 1967 in a war the Arabs started, with the explicit goal of destroying the Jewish State and throwing the Jews into the Mediterranean Sea. Today, Israel has solid diplomatic relations with two of these countries -- Jordan to Egypt -- while Saudi officials speak with their Israeli security counterparts about the Iranian threat.
But although the Middle East is engulfed in a new wave of internal destabilization, and Iran has recently experienced a new wave of protests in which people chanted "we don't want an Islamic Republic", the great taboo for the Arab and Muslim world is still that of cultural exchanges with the hated "Zionists".
A prominent Tunisian-born French movie producer, Saïd Ben Saïd, after being forced to pull out of North Africa's most prestigious film festival, recently issued one of the frankest denunciations of anti-Semitism in the Arab world. He revealed, in an op-ed for the French daily Le Monde, that an invitation to preside over the jury of the Carthage Film Festival had been rescinded because of his work with the Israeli film director, Nadav Lapid, and for having participated on a panel at the Jerusalem Film Festival earlier this year. The real culprit, Ben Saïd argued, was the prevalence of anti-Semitism fueled by Islamic extremists across the Middle East:
"No one can deny the misery of the Palestinian people, but it must be admitted that the Arab world is, in its majority, antisemitic... This hatred of Jews has redoubled in intensity and depth not because of the Arab-Israeli conflict, but with the rise of a certain vision of Islam".
Writers, novelists, journalists, politicians, bloggers, filmmakers: there are plenty of Arab and Muslim artists who have paid a heavy price for having broken through the iron curtain that has been put around Israel.
Amin Maalouf, who has both a Lebanese and a French passport, gave an interview to an Israeli channel, i24. Perhaps he thought that having won the Goncourt Prize (France's greatest literary recognition), having received the Legion of Honor, and being among the "Immortals" of the French Academy would have protected him. Of course it did not. Right after his interview with the television channel, requests to deprive him of his Lebanese citizenship and put him on trial began at once.
A Lebanese director, Ziad Doueiri, did something even "worse": he filmed some scenes on Israeli land! When he returned from the Venice Film Festival, the Lebanese police were waiting for him at the airport. He was arrested, interrogated for three hours, and accused of "collaborating with Israel".
Because Lebanese director Ziad Doueiri filmed some scenes in Israel, when he returned from the Venice Film Festival, Lebanese police arrested him at the airport, interrogated him for three hours, and accused him of "collaborating with Israel". (Photo by Vivien Killilea/Getty Images for Palm Springs International Film Festival)
Boualem Sansal, an acclaimed Algerian writer, should have received the Prix du Roman Arabe for his book "Rue Darwin". The jury, however, who had actually selected him, later retracted the award and cancelled it. The reason? Sansal had made a trip to Jerusalem to attend an Israeli literary festival.
The great Egyptian writer Ali Salem has seen his career destroyed forever for having visited Israel. In 1994, a few months after the Oslo Accords were signed, the famous Egyptian satirical writer traveled to Israel and wrote the book, My Drive to Israel. Theaters abandoned and boycotted his plays.
The Nobel Laureate for Literature Naguib Mahfouz was persecuted by the Islamic fundamentalists, not only for his "secular spirit", but above all the support which, at the time, Mahfouz provided to President Anwar Sadat for having signed the Camp David "peace" treaty with Israel. In 1979, the Arab countries boycotted the publication of Mahfouz's novels. They are still officially unavailable in some Middle Eastern countries.
The most well-known Iranian blogger, Hossein Derakhshan, ended up in jail; he was accused of "spying for Israel." His "crime"? A visit to Israel two years earlier to "show the daily life of the Jewish people" and to expose anti-Semitic prejudices.
Even the most famous Arab poet, the Syrian Adonis, was expelled from the Arab Writers Union for having met with Israeli intellectuals in Granada during a UNESCO conference.
These Arab and Muslim regimes are terrified of Israel, a comparatively microscopic 20,000 square kilometers, compared to the 33 million square kilometers of the Arab and Muslim world. In an immense crescent that sweeps from Casablanca to Mumbai, Israel is the only free state in the region.
In Saudi Arabia, blogger Raif Badawi was imprisoned and flogged. In Jordan, the writer Nahid Hattar was murdered for "blasphemy". In Egypt, the novelist Ahmed Naji was jailed for "obscenity". And Iran increased the bounty for the murder of writer Salman Rushdie.
Israel is the only Middle Eastern state where journalists enjoy absolute freedom of expression and can safely challenge the military and government. It is a Jewish country where publishing houses translate Arab authors; the opposite does not happen in the Middle East. It is the only country where artists and writers are not censored or told by the state what to write, what not to write, or how to behave. This is what Arab and Muslim dictatorships fear: that their own artists might be "infected" by these "unruly" "Zionists".
The West, where people care about pluralism and cultural freedom, needs strongly to support these Arab and Muslim writers and artists who have dared to visit Israel and become "unruly" to boot. It means betting on freedom and progress instead of on autocracies and an artificial, failed "peace". These Arab artists are far more brave and honest of all those European pseudo-intellectuals who embrace the boycott of Israel, the only free and open country in the Middle East.
**Giulio Meotti, Cultural Editor for Il Foglio, is an Italian journalist and author.
© 2018 Gatestone Institute. All rights reserved. The articles printed here do not necessarily reflect the views of the Editors or of Gatestone Institute. No part of the Gatestone website or any of its contents may be reproduced, copied or modified, without the prior written consent of Gatestone Institute.

The Terrorism Jobs Program: Pampering the Palestinians Must End

Threatening Terror is Not a Way to Earn a Living
Nonie Darwish//Gatestone Institute/January 16/2018
Palestinians need to start taking responsibility for their own existence and stop relying on the world to take care of them while they use the money freed up -- by the international community -- to launch jihad and intifadas.
No entity should forever be permitted to devote its resources to terror while the world is expected to owe them everything: financial support, jobs, citizenship, and even building the infrastructure that they keep destroying. The moral of the story is that if you do not want to lose wars, it would be better not to start them.
The longer financial aid and the pampering of Palestinians continue as an "insurance policy" ostensibly to prevent terrorism, the longer the suffering, dependence, terror and conflict will go on. It is time for Palestinians to learn that threatening terror is not a way to earn a living.
A British woman, Kay Wilson, apparently realized that when a Palestinian terrorist "plunged a knife into her chest", left her for dead and then murdered her friend, it was British taxpayers who had paid for it.
"Is the UK funding the terrorists who tried to murder me?", she asked.
Yes, it is. "According to data collected by Israel's Defense Ministry, the PA spent a total of 1.237 billion shekels ($358 million), or about 7% of the PA's total annual budget, on terrorist stipends last year."
International payments to Palestinians that are used to pay terrorists in jail, as well as their families, serve both as a "reward for bad behavior" and also as a powerful incentive for youths to become terrorists.
They are a jobs program.
Some Palestinians are complaining that Arab countries are discriminating against them, and even going as far as calling themselves victims of "shameless Arab Apartheid" against Palestinians.
Such an accusation is unfair to many Arab countries, especially Egypt, which has sacrificed the blood of hundreds of thousands of its citizens to support the Islamic jihad against Israel.
Palestinians have a point in demanding support from Arab countries. After all it was Arab nations who shamed Palestinians into taking the Islamist cause of destroying Israel for them; making them the hit-men. The Palestinians, for their part, never resisted falling into the Arab trap of "let's throw the Jews into the sea". They seemed all too happy to oblige. Now, however, that Arab countries are waking up from the illegitimate cause to destroy Israel that has devastated them for so long, it is time for the Palestinians to follow suit.
For decades, Egypt's economic stability and prosperity was put on hold and suffered a stagnant existence for the sake of Palestinians. As a result of many wars with Israel to help Palestinians, Egypt spent a fortune and lost much of its military as well as its territory in the Sinai Peninsula and the Gaza Strip. These wars, all initiated by Israel's Arab and Muslim neighbors, also resulted in the migration and suffering of millions of Egyptians who abandoned three cities on the Suez Canal. For years, Suez, Ismailia and Port Said were ghost towns.
After the devastation of the 1967 war, Egypt's economy sank below the level of third-world countries, all for the sake of supporting the "Palestinian" people. Even Egypt's political leader, President Anwar Sadat, who wanted peace in return for Egypt's retrieving the Sinai Peninsula, was accused by Palestinians of treason and assassinated by Islamists, supposedly for having signed a peace deal with Israel.
Egyptian President Anwar Sadat, who wanted peace in return for Egypt's retrieving the Sinai Peninsula, was accused by Palestinians of treason and assassinated by Islamists in 1981, supposedly for having signed a peace deal with Israel. Pictured: Anwar Sadat funeral procession in Cairo, Egypt, October 9, 1981.
In Egypt, Palestinians were given preferential treatment over Egyptian citizens and free education in Egyptian universities. The thank you Egypt got, however, was often Palestinian activism that challenged Egypt's sovereignty.
Today Egypt's boarder with Gaza is chaotic and dangerous; terrorism has been rampant throughout the Sinai Peninsula and is often linked to Gaza. Tunnels are dug not only on the Israeli side but also on Egypt's border with Gaza to smuggle arms and people in and out of Gaza.
Palestinians today still complain that they get no preferential treatment in Arab countries such as Iraq, a war-torn nation that can hardly take care of its own citizens. These are the same Palestinians who just a few years ago, in Kuwait and Iraq, were on the side of Saddam Hussein and cheered for him, a man who single-handedly destroyed Kuwait -- which had been funding the Palestinians -- and had gassed his own people.
Ever since 1948, the Arabs of the West Bank and Gaza who called themselves Palestinian have been given preferential treatment in many Arab countries, as mentioned, such as Jordan and Lebanon. betrayed the Arab nations that hosted them, as in Black September in Jordan; support for Iraqi President Saddam Hussein's invasion of Iraq on Kuwait, after which Kuwait's expelled many of its Palestinian citizens; or their insurgency in Lebanon.
Now, years later, this worldwide preferential treatment of Palestinians must end. For the sake of Palestinians, this must end. Palestinians need to remember or relearn how to care for themselves, just like the rest of us. Wherever they are -- in Gaza, Arab countries or the West -- preferential treatment cannot last forever, and even brotherly Arab nations can no longer tolerate such an unnatural existence for Palestinians.
Palestinians need to start taking responsibility for their own existence and stop relying on the world to take care of them while they use the money freed up -- by the international community -- to launch jihad and intifadas. Preferential treatment cannot last forever and even brotherly Arab nations can no longer tolerate such an unnatural existence for Palestinians.
Some Islamic sheikhs often preach that Palestinians have no right to end their jihad against Israel because it is an Islamic cause and not just a Palestinian one.
Today, however, more Arab countries, and the world, have created a monster that must be financially fed constantly "or else"; a helplessly needy population that cannot take care of its own needs because all they were trained to do was jihad and terror, and to use both as blackmail to get whatever they want. This impossible situation is harmful and should not be allowed. No entity should be forever permitted to devote its resources to terror while the world is expected to owe them everything: financial support, jobs, citizenship, and even building the infrastructure that they keep destroying.
Since 1948, Arab League policy has banned Arab and Muslim countries from giving citizenship to Palestinians, ostensibly in order to preserve their "right of return" to Israel. In 1948, many Arabs had fled from the new country of Israel during a war that Arab countries started in to try to kill it at its birth. The Arabs started wars against it again in 1956, 1967 and 1973 -- all of which they lost. When the Arabs who had fled in 1948 wanted to return, Israel declined on the grounds that as they had left of their own accord and not be of help to Israel, they were a potential a "fifth column" who were not welcome to live there again. These and their descendants are the people currently called Palestinians. (Those Arabs who stayed in Israel during that war, are still there, make up roughly 20% of Israel's population and are called Israeli Arabs.)
The moral of the story is that if you do not want to lose wars, it would be better not to start them.
Now, however, preferential treatment for Palestinians in Arab countries seems to be winding down. This shift has caused Palestinians, who got used to preferential treatment, to complain. Some want to be treated as well as the citizens of Arab countries, others do not want citizenship in their current countries to preserve what they are told is a "right of return" to Israel. Because, however, they have initiated uprisings in nearly every country that has hosted them, such as Jordan and Lebanon, they are now also regarded as a potential fifth column in Arab countries, too.
While some Palestinians might be happy with citizenship in the Arab countries they have lived in from birth, they refuse to lobby the Arab League to lift the ban forbidding Arab countries from giving them citizenship in their adopted homes, also apparently in the hope of this wished-for "right of return."
It is time for Palestinians to realize that Arab nations can no longer afford a fifth column that might threaten their sovereignty living among their citizens. The continued state of preferential treatment of Palestinian non-citizens in Arab countries by the international community and supranational organization, such as branches of United Nations, cannot and should not be tolerated any longer.
For years all political and social institutions of Arab countries were devoted to an illegitimate and disgraceful mission to destroy Israel. To achieve this goal, Arab nations put up with a lot of abuse. Finally, however, Arab countries -- and many Palestinians as well -- are finally realizing that the world has had it with the Palestinian cause. No sane nation should be expected to continue sacrificing its peace, life, liberty and pursuit of happiness for the sake of a suicidal cause to replace the State of Israel with yet another Islamic Arab state. It is just not going to happen.
The mission "to throw Jews in the sea" cannot continue; that is why Arab countries need to help themselves by immediately stopping crippling the Palestinians. Some tough love might be welcome, applied by Arab and Western leaders on Palestinian leaders who appear to have gotten used to the pampering. The perpetuation of Gaza and West Bank as separate entities -- which expect constant support to keep existing to achieve the Islamist dream to destroying Israel – must stop.
Palestinians today complain that the world no longer cares, and that is very likely true. The world has other, more urgent problems to worry about -- such as being invaded or by their neighbors or the future to the region of nuclear proliferation. It is high time for the world to demand that Palestinians be absorbed into the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR), as are all other refugees, and assimilated wherever they may be, to end this fraudulent "right of return" saga. The longer financial aid and the pampering of Palestinians continue as an "insurance policy" ostensibly to prevent terrorism, the longer the suffering, dependence, terror and conflict will go on. It is time for Palestinians to learn that threatening terror is not a way to earn a living.
**Nonie Darwish, born and raised as a Muslim in Egypt, is the author of the book "Wholly Different; Why I Chose Biblical Values Over Islamic Values".
© 2018 Gatestone Institute. All rights reserved. The articles printed here do not necessarily reflect the views of the Editors or of Gatestone Institute. No part of the Gatestone website or any of its contents may be reproduced, copied or modified, without the prior written consent of Gatestone Institute.

Politicizing Proliferation Policy
John R. Bolton/Gatestone Institute/January 16/2018
North Korea's apparently rapid progress last year in both its nuclear-weapons and ballistic-missile programs raises entirely legitimate concerns about U.S. intelligence capabilities. The New York Times recently reported that, as the Obama administration ended, intelligence-community analysts estimated that Pyongyang was over four years away from mastering the complex science and technology necessary to deliver thermonuclear weapons on targets within the continental United States.Then, seemingly overnight, North Korea was igniting thermonuclear weapons and testing missiles that could hit the lower 48. The Times calls this an intelligence failure, certainly a serious matter. But the real reason was actually much worse. Evidence in the Times report indicates that President Obama's team dangerously politicized intelligence gathering and analysis, as senior officials strove to support their preconceived notions of the North's true progress. Throughout his presidency, Obama pursued a North Korea policy called "strategic patience," which was in fact a synonym for doing nothing. As long as intelligence agencies assessed that Pyongyang's threat was remote, conveniently fitting Obama's predilection to do nothing, he could contend there was no basis for more robust measures against the North's nuclear program.
Obama-era intelligence also conveniently painted a very similar picture about Iran, as Obama desperately sought a nuclear agreement later characterized as an achievement comparable to Obamacare in his first term. As with North Korea, if Iran's program were not increasingly threatening, there was no danger, supposedly, from lengthy negotiations and an imperfect final agreement. In both cases, however, the truth was much more malign, as North Korea is now demonstrating graphically. During the presidential transition, Obama blithely advised President-elect Trump that Pyongyang would be his most serious foreign challenge. How convenient that reality "changed" for the worst just after Obama departed the White House. Indeed, this "coincidence" is simply further evidence of how deeply his administration had politicized intelligence collection and analysis. Throughout his presidency, Barack Obama pursued a North Korea policy called "strategic patience": a synonym for doing nothing. Then, during the presidential transition, Obama blithely advised President-elect Trump that Pyongyang would be his most serious foreign challenge. How convenient that reality "changed" for the worst just after Obama departed the White House.
Government insiders recognize that politicization does not emerge via written directives from high-ranking authorities demanding particular outcomes. It arises instead when the intelligence community's bureaucratic culture intuits what policymakers want to hear — and gives it to them. Highly ideological intelligence-community decision-makers, like Obama's CIA director, themselves sharing the same benign view of North Korea, create a self-reinforcing feedback loop, rewarding "good" intelligence while shunting aside and disregarding contrary information and analysis.
Before and after the second Iraq war, critics of President George W. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney leveled charges of politicization simply because Cheney and others asked hard questions of front-line intelligence analysts. But such questioning is something that first-rate analysts, proud of their work product, relish, providing analysts with key insights into policymakers' thinking. What happened under Obama was far different, an insidious ideological fixing of intelligence results.
Post-Obama, Trump's White House has a full workload to repair and improve American national security, from significantly increasing military budgets to building a more assertive diplomatic corps. Importantly, however, eliminating the corrosive effects of politicized intelligence also needs to rank at the top of his agenda.
*John R. Bolton, former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, is Chairman of Gatestone Institute, a senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, and author of "Surrender Is Not an Option: Defending America at the United Nations and Abroad".
This article first appeared in Pittsburgh Tribune Review and is reprinted here with the kind permission of the author.
© 2018 Gatestone Institute. All rights reserved. The articles printed here do not necessarily reflect the views of the Editors or of Gatestone Institute. No part of the Gatestone website or any of its contents may be reproduced, copied or modified, without the prior written consent of Gatestone Institute.

Tunisia continues to struggle post-revolution
Christian Chesnot/Al Arabiya/January 16/18
Seven years ago, the Jasmin revolution triumphed in Tunis and President Ben Ali flew to exile in Saudi Arabia. It only took a few weeks to topple the regime. At the time, protesters took to the streets to demand “dignity”, “employment” and “freedom”.
In 2018, the claims remain mostly the same as evidenced by latest events. Today, Tunisians are free to elect their political representatives. Above all, the wall of fear that had long incarcerated them has fallen. This is undoubtedly the main achievement of the 2011 revolution.
Employment woes
But it takes a lot more to stabilize a country and especially to give hope to a disenchanted youth. What do young Tunisians ask for? The same as anywhere in the world: quality education, work, decent wages to build a family and a future. For many of them, it’s still an unreachable dream.
The transition from a police state to a fledgling democracy is not simple. It takes a lot of time for it to gather pace, especially as the political agenda does not move at the same pace as the economic and social agenda does. We can start a revolution overnight, but giving people jobs and building a strong economy takes years. The Tunisian state has responded to the social demands of the post-revolution era by increasing employment in the civil services. Today, we can see both the achievements and the pitfalls of this policy.
The Tunisian economy is undiversified and relies mainly on the tourism sector. However, the latter was hit hard after a wave of terror attacks struck the country in 2015, including the famous Bardo Museum attack in Tunis.
We can start a revolution overnight, but giving people jobs and building a strong economy takes years
Austerity drive
The International Monetary Fund granted a 2.4 billion euro loan to Tunisia in 2016, provided it undertakes an austerity program to reduce budget and trade deficits. By following the conditions too strictly – hiking the VAT tax, real estate related taxes, social contribution taxes, etc- Tunisian authorities have probably gone too far in their austerity program. The reaction of the youth has been immediate and violent. This is not a new revolution but a warning shot. Basically, these events tell us that freedom without bread is not worth much. One of the keys to democracy is a prosperous middle class. When it becomes impoverished, it is the rules of the democratic game that click with the rise of populism. It is for this reason that the European Union should do much more to support Tunisia to carry out its painful but indispensable reforms. It will also be necessary for Tunisian authorities to tackle once and for all the disparities of development between the important coastal touristic cities and the interior cities which feel abandoned by the public authorities. Otherwise, new social upheavals will recur like the rising tide.
Security is the sine-qua-non
To respond to these manifestations of desperation, a purely security response will not be enough. Yes, Tunisia needs stability. It is a sine qua non even for the tourism sector because the challenges to security are multiple: Libyan chaos on its doorstep, return of the jihadists from the Syrian-Iraqi front, etc.
The country needs an efficient and effective security apparatus to thwart attempts at destabilization. Above all, it needs a real development plan that ensures a future for the youth. Words and slogans are not enough anymore. Tunisia is today in an uncomfortable situation: the exhilarating hours of the revolution are already distant but the emergence of a democratic and prosperous society still seems inaccessible.

The ‘impossible state’ and challenges of modernity
Fahad Suleiman Shoqiran/Al Arabiya/January 16/18
With the wave of changes taking place in Iran, the decline of the ISIS, and the prospects of al-Qaeda’s return, questions about the religious state and its relations to ethics and modernity have returned the fore. The state cannot survive under the theocratic system unless it has effective modern institutions.
Therefore, it is claimed that Iran is a modern state and not an Islamic state because of the existence of constitutional arbitration councils that safeguard the interests of the regime. Even ISIS and the areas controlled by al-Qaeda had such institutions and organizations. A state has to be built on modern legal foundations. It should have the ability to set up a system built on equality among citizens. We cannot separate the state from its values and its ideologies and the spirit in its institutions, hence the difference between the “possible” modern state and the impossible “theocratic” state in the modern context.
Hallaq goes beyond the modernist intellectual view of the West, a criticism that seems surprising at first glance
The concept of The Impossible State: Islam, Politics, and Modernity’s Moral Predicament is the title of a book by Wael Hallaq, a professor at Columbia University, which was published in 2012. The book has stirred controversy, because of his critical understanding of the shape of the state and its relation to ethics, modernity and secularism. Through his work, the author tries to understand the influence of the West on modern political system. Professor Hallaq is inspired by Professor Talal Asad, who has criticized secularism and provides new scholastic insights through his book Formations of The Secular: Christianity, Islam and Modernity.
Jurisprudence of classical Islam
Since the 1990s, Hallaq’s works have dealt with “the jurisprudence of classical Islam, the emergence of Islamic jurisprudence, the authority of the doctrine and the history of jurisprudential theory”. He has an upcoming book in cooperation with Columbia University on Orientalism. The Impossible State tackles issues of Political Islam and secularism with a thorough analysis of the concepts of the state, law, institution and the individual.In his book, Wael Hallaq has studied political Islam and its form of jurisprudence as a basis for examining the possibilities of achieving the ‘impossible’ Islamic state as it tries to acquire legitimacy within the historical possibility. Jurisprudence is not law, although jurisprudence states that: “It is characterized by legal pluralism, not because it recognizes local traditions, takes them into account and carries them seriously, but also because it presents a range of views on the basis of one system of the same facts.”It adds that if the law, “as a representative of sovereign will, is everywhere, the distribution of legal force does not only intersect with (every individual life plan) but also with each unit that constitute the state. If the law, defined as a normative system, penetrates into these units vertically and horizontally, it is legitimate to question the relationship between this normative system and the institutions that embody it, especially those that specialize in solving arguments and activating its own principles.
Modernist intellectual view
Hallaq goes beyond the modernist intellectual view of the West, a criticism that seems surprising at first glance. However, researcher Mohamed Hashas presented an important study that addresses some of the confusion presented by the theory of the impossible state.
He points out that: “al-Hallaq presented harsh criticism of western modernity and the concept of a modern state, supporting his arguments with (references from) the great philosophers of the West in the modern era … such as Emmanuel Kant, Friedrich Hegel, Friedrich Nietzsche, Max Weber, Carl Schmidt, Theodor Adorno, Michel Foucault, John Rawls, Pierre Bourdieu, John Gray, Michael Walzer, and Charles Taylor. The writer sums up his critique of modernity and its appearance in the concept of the modern state”.
Hallaq does not consider his thesis to be part of a parallel alternative to a new secularism, such as the theoretical proposals put forward by some Arab intellectuals like Ali Abdul Razak and George Tarabishi, but rather takes another approach.
In an interview with Egyptian researcher and translator Karim Mohammed, he stated: “I deeply disagree with Ali Abdul Razek’s basic thesis on Islamic political governance. Hence, there is nothing in the impossible state book that acknowledges Abdel Razek’s ideas if it is read correctly. Government and politics (in the general sense of the two terms) were tools for organizing society in a complex structure. Islam has since introduced a solid approach to governance, but also more flexible and changing approach than we have seen in the last two or three decades in the West (and all over the world recently). Abdel Razak was wrong in his argument that Islam did not provide a model for politics and governance. This is another thematic problem whose justification can be discovered in the folds of the book.”
In his book, al Hallaq says: “The law in Islam is essentially a social phenomenon, not a political one. It is connected to society, not to the state, regardless of the definition of the state.” This is a major problem that will not be solved by a single thesis, but the author’s contribution is important in light of the escalating talk about the imaginary “Islamic state” in the light of fundamentalism and its many branches.

The Gulf region’s evolving military balance since 1991
Shehab Al-Makahleh/Al Arabiya/January 16/18
January 17th marks the 26th anniversary of the First Gulf War to liberate Kuwait from Iraqi forces. On this day in 1991, the United States has led a coalition against Iraqi by launching a massive military operation that paved the way for shaping a new world order with a new generation of weapons such as cruise missiles tracking targets in Iraq.Former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein’s fault was his expansionist agenda, which has had devastating results on the Iraqi military. Though the Americans had deployed thousands of their forces in many states in the region after the first Gulf War, this has not helped secure Gulf States from any external threat including the Iranian menace. Since 1991, military balance in the Middle East and in the Gulf region has changed entirely. At the beginning of Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait, Iraq was by far the dominant military power in the Middle East region and its army was considered among the top 10 armies in the world. It had determinedly defeated Iran in 1988 after eight years of war. After the fall of Saddam Hussein in 2003, the Gulf States started thinking of making power balance with Iran as the Americans dissolved the Iraqi army. Thus, Gulf States started thinking of arming themselves with strategic weapons. In the absence of an open conflict between the US and its allies on one hand and Iran on the other, Tehran could use covert relations with Shi’ite groups in the region to exercise more pressure . Since the Second Gulf War in 2003, it has become clear that the UAE and Saudi Arabia have taken the lead to heavily arm their forces. Therefore, from a strategic perspective, both Riyadh and Abu Dhabi have been investing in costly and sophisticated weaponry and in training their forces, providing them with state-of-the-art arms and localising maintenance and domestic defense industry.
The Middle East in general and the Gulf region in particular are one of the most militarized regions in the world, with copious encounters or logjams that embroil approximately every state in the region. Gulf armed forces are steadily leaving the conventional army models by embracing a gallant military configuration, combining imported prognostication and nationwide mobilization and deployment through introducing military conscription and competitive edge of weapons over Iran to create a state of deterrence of any external threat including the Iranian.
Thus, if the issue of the political rift between Iran and other countries of the region continue, two scenarios are inevitable in the Arabian Gulf. This means the world has to be ready for two possible developments that would instigate tensions in the Middle East.
Iran is viewed as a threat not just by the US or Israel, but also by the Gulf states, except Oman. Unending conflicts in countries such as Yemen, Syria, and Libya reveal the extent to which other countries seek to affect upshots by using their own military forces and through arms transfers to local partners such as in the case of Yemen. Many countries in the region face transnational terrorist threats and, in some states, inland insurgencies. Thus, the Middle East and the Gulf region have participated to a great extent in the global arms trade, constituting 63 percent of the value of all arms deals concluded by all suppliers with the developing world from 2013 - 2016, and 55 percent from 2009 -2012 as per military statistics.
Scenario I: Dispute over Iran’s nuclear program
Tensions between the US and Israel on one hand and Iran on the other with regard to Iran’s nuclear program could increase. This would exacerbate tension between the Gulf States and Iran if both the US and Israel, jointly or individually, launch a pre-emptive attack on Iranian nuclear facilities, making the Gulf States a potential target for Iranian retaliation or retribution. The Iranian response will be through the use of short-range and medium-range missiles, the use of secret cells in the Gulf States, the use of its new arsenals with warheads, and the deployment of its navy in the Gulf waters and the Strait of Hormuz to disrupt maritime trade and navigation in the Gulf, where Iran will attack commercial vessels and close the Strait where more than 17 million barrels of oil per day pass through the strait. According to American Energy Information Administration (EIA), the 17 million barrels of oil, represent 30 percent of all maritime-traded petroleum, passed through the strait each day. Oil from Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Qatar, Iran, and Iraq all pass through the strait and head mostly towards Asia, Europe and America. Whatever the form of the US attack on Iran would be, Iranian retaliation will focus on attacking many American military bases in the region, mainly in Bahrain, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the UAE. However, the threat of Iranian vengeance can be absorbed and mitigated by developing missile defense capabilities in the Gulf States by focusing on the command, control and communication systems. The Gulf States should also cooperate with each other to develop security and maritime counterterrorism capabilities in cooperation with the US and NATO.
Scenario II: Short-term conflict
In the absence of an open conflict between the US and its allies on one hand and Iran on the other, Tehran could use covert relations with Shi’ite groups in the region to exercise more pressure on the US and Saudi Arabia or their allies. If instability continues in Yemen, Iran will continue to support factions and clandestine cells through its military arm and militias. Iran may also continue to benefit from its support to the Houthis, and perhaps al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, to put more pressure on Washington and Riyadh as well as Abu Dhabi to pull out of Yemen. This can be dealt with arms deals between the GCC states and the USA as means of partnership. The US has recently increased its arms sales under partnership agreements with the GCC by more than 8 times between 2004-2007 and 9 times during 2008 - 2011. Saudi Arabia had the largest share of these deals, an increase of 9 times. Saudi Arabia was the world’s second largest arms importer in 2012-16, with an increase of 212 percent compared with 2007–2011.Arms imports by Qatar went up by 245 percent, according to Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI). The State of Kuwait, the Sultanate of Oman and the UAE have also experienced significant growth in US arms deals. The Gulf States have been able to obtain quality weapons for the missile defense system. United States has cemented its bilateral relations with the Gulf countries for the security and stability of the region. There is no doubt that the GCC States face fundamental challenges and threats in a turbulent territory, as was the case with Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait in 1990 and Iran’s continued occupation of the three Emirati islands.The coming few years are very detrimental for many countries due to the change in political games and alliances. The competitive edge would be more alliances, more sophisticated weapons and military technology transfer as well as regional and international cooperation to counter terrorism.