July 07/2018
Compiled & Prepared by: Elias Bejjani


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Bible Quotations
Beware of the teaching (yeast) of the Pharisees and Sadducees
Matthew 16/11-20: "How could you fail to perceive that I was not speaking about bread? Beware of the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees!’Then they understood that he had not told them to beware of the yeast of bread, but of the teaching of the Pharisees and Sadducees. Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, ‘Who do people say that the Son of Man is?’ And they said, ‘Some say John the Baptist, but others Elijah, and still others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.’He said to them, ‘But who do you say that I am?’Simon Peter answered, ‘You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.’And Jesus answered him, ‘Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father in heaven. And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not prevail against it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.’Then he sternly ordered the disciples not to tell anyone that he was the Messiah."

Titles For The Latest LCCC Bulletin analysis & editorials from miscellaneous sources published on July 06-07/18
Iran: The Ayatollah’s Promised Paradise/Amir Taheri/Asharq Al Awsat/July 06/18
Is Tariq Ramadan a Victim of French Justice/Anne-Elisabeth Moutet/Gatestone Institute/July 06/18
Has the Khomeini Republic’s final hour come/Mashari Althaydi/Al Arabiya/July 06/18
Shirazi religious channels, hijacking the Shiite sphere/Hassan Al Mustafa/Al Arabiya/July 06/18
US Air Force flies 24/7 over Syrian battlefield with Israeli overflights/DEBKAfile/July 06/18

Titles For The Latest LCCC Lebanese Related News published on July 06-07/18
President Aoun Stresses He Must Have a Say in Government Formation
Aoun: State Not Bankrupt, Govt. to Be Lined Up on Specific Criterion
Corruption in Lebanon: Absent Public Sector Employees Receive Monthly Salaries
Report: Hasbani Lashes Out at Bassil for Questioning LF Govt. Performance
Richard Attends Handover Ceremony for New ISF 'Secure Digital Radio System'
PSP Insists on 3 Seats, Calls for Accepting Jumblat's 'Landslide Win'
Sayegh: President Promised Action on Naturalization Decree
MEA flight forced to make emergency landing after bird strike
Army Raids Nouh Zoaiter's House in al-Sharawneh
Trial of Shadi Mawlawi's group adjourned till Nov 17
Geagea, Richard talk political developments
General Security ensures return of hundreds of refugees to Syria tomorrow
Disaster Risk Management unit in Tyre says ready to face repercussions of earthquakes
Titles For The Latest LCCC Bulletin For Miscellaneous Reports And News published on July 06-07/18
Syria regime retakes key Jordan border crossing: Monitor
UN: 750,000 People are at Risk in Southern Syria
Syria Regime Retakes Key Jordan Border Crossing
Syria Rebels Say Close to Deal with Russia on South
Israel Targets Syria Post after Shell Hits Buffer Zone
Israel targets Syrian ‘position’ in Qunaitra for buffer zone violation
Israel Attacks Khan al-Ahmar, Declares it Closed Military Zone
Israel Court Gives Brief Reprieve to Threatened Bedouin Village
Kurdis Government Imposes Islamic Tax on Assyrians in North Iraq
China Criticizes Iran for Threatening to Block Hormuz Strait Oil Shipments
$80 Million Kuwaiti Loan to Iraq
Emir Says Qatar Discussed Russian Arms Deal but 'No Decision'
Seven Suspected Qaida Fighters Killed in Yemen Drone Strike
UK Police Hunt Object that Poisoned Couple with Nerve Agent
World Powers Back Iran Oil Exports despite U.S. Sanctions Threat
Washington calls for confrontation of Iran-sponsored terror attacks in Europe
Netherlands expels two Iranian embassy staff
Vienna meet on nuclear deal supports Iran’s continued oil, gas exports
The Latest LCCC Lebanese Related News published on July 06-07/18
President Aoun Stresses He Must Have a Say in Government Formation 06th July 2018/ President Michel Aoun dismissed fears over the economic situation in Lebanon, assuring that the country "is not on the brink of collapse". "It's true that the economic and financial situation is difficult, but we're not on the brink of collapse and the state is not about to fall into bankruptcy," Al-Joumhouria newspaper quoted Aoun as saying. "There is no reason to spread the fealing of despair among the Lebanese because the picture is not that gloomy," he added, calling on media to shed light on true facts and stop amplifying fallacies. The president made it clear that he should be part of the government formation process, adding that the prime minister-designate ought to carry out this task in coordination with him. "According to the Constitution, the mission of forming a government is undertaken by the prime minister-designate in coordination with the president of the Republic. This means that I have a say in this matter and that I don't just sign [the formation decree]; this is done without encroaching on anyone's prerogatives," Aoun said. The president noted that his recent meetings with Lebanese Forces chief Samir Geagea and Progressive Socialist Party Walid Jumblat as part of his efforts aimed at consolidating stability and distancing himself from political bickerings, voicing optimism over the formation of a new government. "The government will be eventually formed based on an objective criterion which consists in translating the sizes that each political party got in the parliamentary elections into ministerial shares," he said. Aoun stressed that it is his right as a president to have a share in the government just like his predecessors, suggesting that this norm would be included in the Constitution given that the President's prerogatives have been significantly reduced. "It is well known that the President's powers have been reduced as he gets sometimes to chair the government meetings without having the right to vote. Therefore, his ministers can partially make up for this reality," Aoun argued.
Aoun: State Not Bankrupt, Govt. to Be Lined Up on Specific Criterion
Naharnet/July 06/18/President Michel Aoun assured that the State is “not on the brink of bankruptcy” despite the difficult economic and financial conditions it is facing, noting that the Cabinet formation will respect the outcome of parliamentary elections in terms of party sizes, al-Joumhouria daily reported on Friday. “The economic and financial situation is difficult, but it is not collapsing nor is the State on the brink of bankruptcy,” visitors to the President quoted him. He said “the crisis has been there for almost 30 years now, normally it had negative effects at more than level. But, what’s important is that we have stopped it from getting worse. We can say that the electricity crisis is on the solution track. We have wasted a lot of time and money.” On the formation of the new government, Aoun stated “at the end, it will be formed based on scientific and objective criterion to translate the sizes of political parties produced by the parliamentary elections to ministerial ratios.”

Corruption in Lebanon: Absent Public Sector Employees Receive Monthly Salaries
Beirut - Caroline Akoum/Asharq Al Awsat/July 06/18/A recent announcement by Labora Foundation about thousands of state employees, who are currently paid by their institutions without attending to work, has again emphasized the spread of corruption in the country’s public sector. The president of Labora Foundation, Father Antoine Khadra, confirmed to Asharq Al-Awsat his earlier remarks, in which he said that about two thousand deceased employees were still receiving salaries from the state and more than 30,000 are getting paid without going to their duty stations. Based on Khadra’s information, Minister of Finance in the caretaker government Ali Hassan Khalil sent a letter to the country’s financial prosecutor, demanding investigation into the matter and the adoption of the adequate measures. Khadra noted that he was following up the case with Minister of Justice in the caretaker government, Salim Jreissati, and was preparing the relevant information and documents to submit them to the competent authorities. Meanwhile, researcher at Information International, Mohammed Shamseddine, ruled out the possibility of the families of the deceased to receive salaries because of the documents usually required in such cases. Consequently, any falsification of the documents cannot last more than few months, according to Shamseddine, who also stressed that the law allows the wife, the unmarried daughter, the divorced and the widow to receive the salary. As for employees, who receive salaries without going to work, Shamseddine did not deny the existence of such cases. He told Asharq Al-Awsat: “The number does not exceed three thousand employees, most of whom are party members. A high percentage of those constitute members of Amal movement and the Progressive Socialist Party.” Those are employed in Parliament, the Council of the South and the Fund for the Displaced, according to the researcher. Labora is a non-profit, non-governmental charitable organization. It was founded in April 2008 “to contribute to finding appropriate solutions to the problem of unemployment” as defined on its website.

Report: Hasbani Lashes Out at Bassil for Questioning LF Govt. Performance
Naharnet/July 06/18/In spite of attempts aiming at facilitating the formation of the new Cabinet, the process still faces obstacles in light of wrangling between political parties over Cabinet shares and political bickering between the Lebanese Forces and Free Patriotic Movement. Tense political rhetoric aggravated between the LF and Free Patriotic Movement over ministerial seats, despite the landmark Maarab Agreement between the two Christian parties that eventually brought FPM founder Michel Aoun to the post of presidency. LF caretaker Health Minister Ghassan Hasbani hit out at caretaker Foreign Minister Jebran Bassil, FPM chief and Aoun’s son-in-law, for criticizing the government performance of LF ministers. “I wonder on what planet is the foreign minister living on that he can not spot the work achieved by LF ministers. We don’t have to inform him of what we are doing on a daily basis,” the pan-Arab al-Hayat daily quoted Hasbani as saying. “We have to work in a scientific way and say frankly, where are the achievements of other ministries that should have been made at the environmental, waste, economy, and corruption levels?” he wondered. “There are environmental disasters affecting people and their health and must be addressed as soon as possible. Competent ministries bear the responsibility and they must begin work and stop the massacres and environmental disasters surrounding us,” he added.Ministers of the FPM occupy the ministries of environment, energy and combating corruption.

Report: Lebanon's Security Agencies, Large Firms ‘Hacked’
Naharnet/July 06/18/Lebanon’s security agencies and several government and private institutions have reportedly been subject to hackers stealing and selling "data" to parties still identified by the Intelligence Branch of the Internal Security Forces which opened “confidential” investigation into the file, al-Akhbar daily reported on Friday. The operation, described as the “largest hacking operation in Lebanon's history” was first uncovered two week ago, according to the daily. ISF launched expanded investigations arresting several Lebanese individuals involved in the operation which aimed at stealing data and information from private firms, State institutions and most dangerously from security agencies, it added. Security and judicial sources allegedly refuse to reveal details about the case, meanwhile informed sources said the “operation is one of the largest in Lebanon’s history where the suspects have managed to steal data from security agencies and large private firms, succeeding at hacking one of the country’s mobile company services. But the the extent of the damage is still unknown,” they said.

Richard Attends Handover Ceremony for New ISF 'Secure Digital Radio System'

Naharnet/July 06/18/U.S. Ambassador to Lebanon Elizabeth Richard participated Friday in the official handover ceremony for a new $9 million secure digital radio system for the Internal Security Forces (ISF), the U.S. embassy said. “This system includes over 2,700 handheld and vehicle mounted radios, as well as a secure system of base stations and communications relays to provide widespread network coverage.,” the embassy added in a statement. In her remarks, Ambassador Richard said: “This new $9 million system will greatly improve the ability of the ISF to securely communicate across the population centers in Beirut and Mount Lebanon. It will help the ISF more effectively respond to the security needs of Lebanese citizens and improve information flow between ISF units in the field and their commanders. We are proud of the strong and successful partnership we have with Lebanon and the ISF.”
According to the embassy statement, the U.S. Government has provided more than $178 million in training and equipment to the ISF and over $5.4 billion in total assistance to Lebanon since 2006.

PSP Insists on 3 Seats, Calls for Accepting Jumblat's 'Landslide Win'

Naharnet/July 06/18/The Progressive Socialist Party reiterated Friday that it should get all three Druze seats in the new government, as it called on PSP chief Walid Jumblat's rivals to “live with the fact that he achieved a landslide win” in the elections. The remarks were voiced by PSP spokesman Rami al-Rayyes during an interview with al-Jadeed television. “Those who invented the obstacles are the ones hindering the formation of the Cabinet and they are well-known,” al-Rayyes said. “Those insisting on Druze representation that bypasses the results of the elections are the ones obstructing the formation process,” he added. In an apparent jab at the Free Patriotic Movement, al-Rayyes said: “It was not us who promoted the slogans about the strong representatives of their communities, the National Pact and the usurped rights.”Noting that “the electoral law was devised on the basis of weakening Walid Jumblat,” al-Rayyes said “the results defied the expectations.”He added: “Let us go back to the results of the elections according to which we have the right to get three ministerial portfolios.”Al-Rayyes said that the so-called “Druze obstacle” started when “a four-member parliamentary bloc was invented,” referring to a Chouf-Aley bloc comprising Lebanese Democratic Party chief MP Talal Arslan and FPM's MPs Cesar Abi Khalil, Mario Aoun and Farid Bustani. “We will not back down from our demands on the Druze representation and this is final, and if they insist on giving Arslan a ministerial portfolio, let them give him one from their share,” the PSP spokesman went on to say. “We have achieved this victory and now they have to digest the idea that the elimination attempts did not succeed,” he added.
Sayegh: President Promised Action on Naturalization Decree 06th July 2018/Kataeb's Deputy-President Salim Sayegh on Friday stressed that the party's interest in daily life issues was not new, blasting the "sickening" situation that the country is going through due to continuous scandals. "The deal which secured the election of Michel Aoun as president turned out to be fragile; it has brought along a formula of dominion, rather than reform," Sayegh said in an interview on Future TV. "The country will not survive if we continue with the same mindset. The elections have been a nuisance as it widened the rift between people and the ruling class," he said.
Sayegh criticized attempts to show the Kataeb party as striving for power, deeming them as part of what the parliamentary elections couldn’t accomplish, and that is to marginalize and downsize the party. Sayegh reminded that it was MP Nadim Gemayel who shed the light on the controversial naturalization decree, noting that the Kataeb party was the first to speak up against it. “We were the ones who exposed the naturalization decree scandal, thus driving the President to freeze it and to ask the General Security chief to vet the names included in it. Therefore, we have considered that this issue requires patience to see the outcome,” Sayegh noted. “This is one of the few decrees which the President still has the sole authority to decide on. Challenging it would lead to questioning the few remaining powers the President possesses,” he pointed out. “There are two ways to handle this file: the legal one which consists in challenging the decree, and the political one,” Sayegh said. "We visited President Aoun and told him that the decree is unacceptable. He promised to strip suspicious individuals of the Lebanese citizenship by issuing another decree. This would be an achievement." “The Kataeb party has chosen the reasonable political course of action. We will confront this decree as we have done previously with Palestinian naturalization,” Sayegh emphasized.

MEA flight forced to make emergency landing after bird strike
Annahar Staff /July 06 2018/The captain in command declared an emergency and safely landed the ME266 flight at Istanbul's Atatürk Airport, Turkey.
BEIRUT: A Middle East Airlines flight headed to Beirut Friday was forced to make an emergency landing in Istambul shortly after takeoff as a result of a bird strike. The captain in command declared an emergency and safely landed the ME266 flight at Istanbul's Atatürk Airport, Turkey. The flight departed from Istambul at 12 pm local (Beirut) time and was scheduled to land at 2:15 pm. MEA provided accommodation to the passengers on board who will take the next flight out tomorrow.

Army Raids Nouh Zoaiter's House in al-Sharawneh

Naharnet/July 06/18/The army on Friday said it raided the house of notorious drug kingpin Nouh Zoaiter in the Baalbek neighborhood of al-Sharawneh. “A force from the Intelligence Directorate raided the houses of the fugitives Khodr Akram Zoaiter, aka Assad Zoaiter, and Nouh Ali Zoaiter, without managing to find them,” an army statement said. It added that the two fugitives are wanted over gunfire and drug dealing charges. “A quantity of drugs and counterfeit $100 bills were found” in the raids, the army said. The army has recently stepped up its measures in the Bekaa region as part of a security plan.

Trial of Shadi Mawlawi's group adjourned till Nov 17
Fri 06 Jul 2018/NNA - The Military Court, headed by Brigadier General Hussein Abdullah, adjourned the trial of Shadi Mawlawi's group till November 17, 2018, on charges of killing army officers and soldiers in Tripoli. The wanted group intended to execute a series of suicidal attacks and asssination operations and was involved in the battles between Jabal Mohsen and Bab-al-Tabbaneh. The group also took part in an armed attack on army outposts in the city of Tripoli, killing a number of officers and soldiers. Suspects were also charged with transferring money to terrorists.

Geagea, Richard talk political developments

Fri 06 Jul 2018/NNA - Lebanese Forces leader, Samir Geagea, on Friday welcomed at his Meerab residence US Ambassador to Lebanon, Elizabeth Richard, with talks between the pair reportedly touching on most recent political developments in Lebanon and the broader region.

General Security ensures return of hundreds of refugees to Syria tomorrow

Fri 06 Jul 2018/NNA - The Lebanese General Security General Directorate said in a statement on Friday that it will ensure a voluntary return of hundreds of Syrian refugees from Arsal to Syria at 7:00 am tomorrow, Saturday, through the meeting point at Wadi Hmayed crossing.

Disaster Risk Management unit in Tyre says ready to face repercussions of earthquakes
Fri 06 Jul 2018/NNA - Head of the Disaster Risk Management unit in Tyre, Hassan Dbouk, said on Friday that his unit was fully ready to face the repercussions of earthquakes, in accordance with the instructions and directives of the Governor of South Lebanon, Mansour Daou.
Dbouk issued a set of instructions to members of the judiciary's swift response unit "to be ready to respond to any incident that may result from earthquake tremors and other setbacks."

The Latest LCCC Bulletin For Miscellaneous Reports And News published on July 06-07/18
Syria regime retakes key Jordan border crossing: Monitor
AFP, Beirut/Friday, 6 July 2018/Syria’s regime and its Russian ally Friday took control of a key southern border post with Jordan, a monitor said, more than three years after it was seized by rebels. “Cars carrying Russian military police and representatives of the Syrian government’s border administration entered the Nassib crossing without a fight” said Rami Abdel Rahman, head of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. The move came as rebels said they were close to a deal with Moscow over a handover of territory in southern Syria, two weeks after the launch of a Russian-backed regime offensive.
UN: 750,000 People are at Risk in Southern Syria
Geneva, London - Asharq Al-Awsat/Friday, 6 July, 2018/The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), Filippo Grandi, said that heavy air strikes in southern Syria were endangering the lives of 750,000 people. In a statement on Thursday, Grandi said: “I am gravely concerned for the civilian population caught in the crossfire in southwest Syria, including airstrikes and heavy shelling. An estimated 750,000 lives are in danger.” He added: “More than 320,000 people are now displaced and most are living in dire and insecure conditions, including some 60,000 people camped at the Nassib border crossing with Jordan.”Grandi called on all parties “to redouble efforts to cease hostilities, to allow humanitarian actors to deliver life-saving assistance, shelter and evacuate the wounded.” “The protection, safety and security of civilians and humanitarian workers is of utmost importance – a core principle of international humanitarian law that needs to be guaranteed by all parties to the conflict and the international community at large,” he stressed.
Syria Regime Retakes Key Jordan Border Crossing
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/July 06/18/Syria's regime and its Russian ally Friday took control of a key southern border post with Jordan, a monitor said, more than three years after it was seized by rebels. "Cars carrying Russian military police and representatives of the Syrian government's border administration entered the Nassib crossing without a fight," said Rami Abdel Rahman, head of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. The move came as rebels said they were close to a deal with Moscow over a handover of territory in southern Syria, two weeks after the launch of a Russian-backed regime offensive.

Syria Rebels Say Close to Deal with Russia on South

Agence France Presse/Naharnet/July 06/18/Rebels in southern Syria said on Friday they were close to reaching a deal with regime ally Russia including a ceasefire and the handover of some territory. A meeting between rebel and Russian negotiators was still continuing on Friday afternoon with no confirmation of a final agreement. But its broad outlines were described to AFP by two spokesmen for the joint opposition command in the south. Hussein Abazeed said a ceasefire would take hold in the southern province of Daraa, known as the "cradle" of Syria's uprising. "Rebels will hand over their heavy-duty weapons in stages in exchange for the regime withdrawing from four towns" it had recently recaptured, said Abazeed. Government forces would then take control of a key route running along the border with Jordan, up to the Nassib border crossing. "The Nassib crossing will come under a Syrian civil administration, with Russian supervision," said Abazeed. The border point, which has remained in opposition hands, is one of the key targets of the government's more than two-week offensive in southern Syria.
Recapturing it could bring renewed trade with neighboring Jordan. Abazeed said the preliminary deal also provided for the safe transfer of at least 6,000 people, including rebels and civilians, to the northwestern province of Idlib. According to rebel sources, Moscow had previously rejected a phased surrender of heavy arms and any population transfers. Ibrahim Jabbawi, another spokesman for the rebels' southern operations, confirmed the agreement on a ceasefire, the surrender of heavy weapons, and the rebel handover of the frontier road with Jordan. A key ally of Damascus, Moscow has been brokering talks for the negotiated surrender of rebels in areas of southern Syria bordering Jordan and the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights. The negotiations collapsed on Wednesday, ushering in a day-long volley of air strikes, barrel bombs and missiles that ultimately pressured rebels to return to the table. They resumed talks at around midday on Friday. Rebels have walked away from negotiations in the past if they deem the terms too tough.

Israel Targets Syria Post after Shell Hits Buffer Zone
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/July 06/18/The Israeli army targeted Friday a Syrian post on the northern Golan Heights after forces there fired a shell into the buffer zone, the military said. The Syrian mortar fire, which struck near Israel's security fence, was "part of the internal fighting between the regime and the rebels in Syria", it said, without giving details on the retaliation. The Israel army was "not involved in the internal fighting in Syria" but "it will continue to implement the 1974 Separation of Forces Agreement that includes maintaining the buffer zone," the military said in a statement. An Israeli army spokeswoman would not specify if the post targeted belonged to the Syrian regime or rebel forces. Syria and Israel have never signed a formal peace treaty. Israel seized 1,200 square kilometers (460 square miles) of the Golan Heights from Syria in the 1967 Six-Day War and later annexed it, in a move never recognized by the international community.

Israel targets Syrian ‘position’ in Qunaitra for buffer zone violation
Staff writer, Al Arabiya English/Friday, 6 July 2018/The Israeli army announced Friday that it had targeted a Syrian position in the northern Golan Heights, in retaliation for a mortar shell that landed in the buffer zone between the two countries, in what the military said was a violation of a 1974 ceasefire agreement. In a statement, the Israeli army added that the mortar shell which fell east of the border fence was “part of the internal fighting between the regime and opposition factions in Syria.” The Israeli army asserted that “It is not involved in the internal fighting in Syria. At the same time, it will continue to demand the implementation of the ceasefire agreements from 1974, including the preservation of the buffer zone,” the army said. A spokeswoman for the Israeli army did not clarify whether the targeted position was of the Syrian regime or for the opposition factions. Israel occupies 1,200 km of the Syrian Golan Heights during the 1967 war and it annexed it in 1981 in a move which did not get recognition by the international community.

Israel Attacks Khan al-Ahmar, Declares it Closed Military Zone

Ramallah - Kifah Zaboun/Asharq Al-Awsat/Friday, 6 July, 2018/Israeli occupation forces have again attacked the residents of the Bedouin Khan al-Ahmar area near Jerusalem, declaring it a closed military zone. Israel stepped up its offensive by preventing supporters from entering the area and arresting some of them, as well as confiscating their vehicles. Some activists were also beaten in the area which the occupation forces are seeking to completely demolish and to expel its residents. Protesters, including women and residents, were subjected to various forms of repression and violence. The second Israeli attack followed a first attack on Wednesday, when the residents of Khan al-Ahmar were ordered to evacuate the area. The Israeli forces also executed a decision to take control of all roads leading to the zone. Residents of Khan al-Ahmar arrived from the Negev desert in 1953. Since then, they lived in conditions that lacked the most basic necessities, until Israel decided to expel them ten years ago. Bedouins in the area have been engaging in a peaceful confrontation since 2009 against demolition orders. However, the Israeli High Court of Justice rejected their petitions at the end of May and supported the demolition, giving the state the freedom to choose the timing of execution. Some 200 Bedouins face the threat of being deported from their land, while hundreds of students from nearby communities have been prevented from taking advantage of the school built in the village years ago. The United Nations, the European Union and the Arab League called on Israel to cancel the demolition plans, which they described as a violation to the international law. UN Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process Nickolay Mladenov said on his Twitter account: “Such actions are contrary to international law and undermine the two-state solution.” In a statement, the EU said that Israel’s settlement policy was illegal under international law, and so were actions taken in that context against Palestinians, such as forced transfers, evictions, demolitions and confiscations of homes. “The EU expects the Israeli authorities to reverse these decisions and fully meet its obligations as an occupying power under International Humanitarian Law,” the EU statement said. The Arab League, for its part, underlined that the forced displacement of Khan Al-Ahmar residents was aimed at paving the way for the “expansion of illegal colonial construction in occupied East Jerusalem and for completing the plan to isolate Jerusalem and separate the northern West Bank from its southern part.”

Israel Court Gives Brief Reprieve to Threatened Bedouin Village
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/July 06/18/Israel's Supreme Court has temporarily blocked the demolition of a Palestinian Bedouin village in the occupied West Bank, following growing international concerns over the move. The order, issued on Thursday night, stops the Israeli authorities razing Khan al-Ahmar until at least July 11 to give the state time to respond, according to a copy of the document posted Friday on the court website. "A temporary injunction is hereby granted forbidding the implementation of the demolition orders," it said. Attorney Shlomo Lecker, representing villagers, told AFP that the respite followed a new petition by residents who submitted a planning application to rebuild the village at its present location. The present village consists mainly of makeshift structures of tin and wood, as is generally the case with Bedouin sites. There has been strong international pressure on Israel to reverse its plans to raze Khan al-Ahmar, which the Israeli authorities say was built illegally. In May, the Supreme Court rejected a final appeal against its demolition. Activists say the villagers had little alternative but to build without Israeli construction permits that are almost never issued to Palestinians in the parts of the West Bank where Israel has full control over civilian affairs.
Diplomatic pressure
Israeli rights activist Angela Godfrey-Goldstein said she believed that diplomatic pressure played a role in the stay of execution. Diplomats from Belgium, Finland, France, Ireland, Italy, Spain, Switzerland and the European Union tried Thursday to visit Khan al-Ahmar's school, which is funded by several European countries, but they were turned back at the village entrance. The consul general of France in Jerusalem, Pierre Cochard, told journalists at the scene that demolishing the village of 173 residents would be a violation of the Geneva convention which lays out the obligations of an occupying power toward those under its control. It would also significantly complicate the search for a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, he added. Police said the area had been declared a closed military zone. The army had said on Thursday that the process of enforcing eviction and demolition orders was under way, but did not give a date when the buildings would be razed. The U.N.'s humanitarian coordinator for the Palestinian territories, Jamie McGoldrick, has condemned the move. "These demolitions are particularly outrageous because they target communities who already live in extremely difficult conditions, with high levels of humanitarian needs," he said in a statement on Thursday. Khan al-Ahmar is located near several major Israeli settlements and close to a highway leading to the Dead Sea. Right-wing Israeli NGO Regavim which supports Jewish settlements, called on Friday for the government to press ahead with dismantling the village. "European countries initiated and funded illegal construction throughout this area," it said in a statement. "Adding insult to injury, they now exert completely inappropriate pressure, through radical leftist organizations and the cynical abuse of Israel's judicial system.""The case of Khan al Ahmar has become a litmus test for the State of Israel," it added. "The government must take a firm stand in the face of the pressure campaign that is being waged against it."Activists are concerned that continued Israeli settlement construction in the area could effectively divide the West Bank in two.

Kurdis Government Imposes Islamic Tax on Assyrians in North Iraq
Assyrian International News Agency/International Christian Concern/July 06/18/International Christian Concern (ICC) has learned that on January 23, 2018, the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG) issued an order that business owners in Ankawa would be charged a fee when renewing their license. This order was not applied until June 2018. Ankawa is a predominately Christian neighborhood in Erbil whose residents report increasing pressure from Muslims relocating to Ankawa. One Christian resident told ICC, "It was not allowed for Muslims to come and have a house in Ankawa, but now it is a preferable area for Muslims and there are a lot of Muslims who have connections and they are getting permissions."This history has contributed to the concerns of Christians that the new tax is being levied against them with ill intentions. Ankawa Today published a statement reading,"For those who doubted the presence of a high tax (jizya) that is exclusively imposed by the Kurdish government on the people of Ankawa and not the other Kurdish towns, it is also worth mentioning that the same tax is being applied gradually on Semel (another Christian majority town near Dohuk), which is clearly discriminatory against Christians... A simple example is the Kurdish town of Baharka which is just next to Ankawa and does not differ from it (administratively speaking) and has no such tax agency office." "This tax is unfair because there are no services presented by the government, I pay for main electricity and have my own generator, I pay for water, I pay for the car which takes the garbage every day. Whenever I have any problem I hire a worker to fix it, the government is not involved by any means," said Milad, who owns several shops in Ankawa. Milad explained how small business owners in Ankawa are already making unofficial payments to the KRG. He shared, "Each month or two, some [government] employees come to us. They get some money and go, as they are not getting their salary from the government so they are trying to manage. [But] it is even better than paying the tax to the government because the government tax is higher."A local business owner told API that the new "application process is now much longer and unnecessary. Usually, attorneys handle these renewals. I spoke to my attorney this morning and he said he's already heard that the officials at the Erbil Center District expect bribes in exchange for processing."Claire Evans, ICC's Regional Manager, said, "For decades, Iraq's Christians have long suffered discriminatory policies that reinforce the narrative that believers are vulnerable second-class citizens. History shows that this narrative has led to exploitation and targeted violence that has had significant implications on Christianity in Iraq. Christians throughout Iraq live with the recent memory of ISIS's violence, which included the institution of a jizya tax against religious minorities. This did not happen within a vacuum. The governing institutions must take the lead on demonstrating that Christians are equal members of society whose rights are valued."© 2018, *Assyrian International News Agency. All Rights Reserved. Terms of Use.

China Criticizes Iran for Threatening to Block Hormuz Strait Oil Shipments

Asharq Al Awsat/July 06/18/China condemned on Friday Iran for threatening to block oil shipments through the Strait of Hormuz. Iran should make more effort to ensure stability in the Middle East and get along with its neighbors, said Chinese Assistant Foreign Minister Chen Xiaodong. He made his remarks during a news briefing ahead of a major summit between China and Arab states that kicks off in Beijing next week. Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, Iran’s Revolutionary Guards and some senior military commanders have threatened to disrupt oil shipments from the Gulf countries if Washington tries to strangle Tehran’s oil exports. Carrying one-third of the world’s seaborne oil every day, the Strait of Hormuz links Middle East crude producers to key markets in Asia Pacific, Europe, North America and beyond. Asked about the Iranian threat to the strait, Chen remarked that China and Arab countries had close communications about Middle East peace, including the Iran issue. “China consistently believes that the relevant country should do more to benefit peace and stability in the region, and jointly protect peace and stability there,” he added. “Especially as it is a country on the Gulf, it should dedicate itself to being a good neighbor and co-existing peacefully,” he continued. “China will continue to play our positive, constructive role.” Ministers from 21 Arab countries are attending the summit, as well as Kuwaiti Emir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber al-Sabah. Chinese President Xi Jinping will give the opening address on Tuesday. The United States Navy vowed on Thursday to protect oil routes and international navigation in the Hormuz Strait in wake of Iran’s threats. “The US and its partners provide, and promote security and stability in the region,” Central Command spokesman Navy Captain Bill Urban said in an email to Reuters. Asked what would be the US naval reaction if Iran blocks the strait, he said: “Together, we stand ready to ensure the freedom of navigation and the free flow of commerce wherever international law allows.”

$80 Million Kuwaiti Loan to Iraq
Kuwait - Asharq Al-Awsat/Friday, 6 July, 2018/Kuwait lent $80 million to Iraq to fund the establishment of 73 schools in 15 provinces in a country that witnessed the destruction of its infrastructure due to the war on ISIS. The loan is one of the outcomes of the Kuwait-hosted International Conference for the Reconstruction of Iraq. The Kuwait Fund for Arab Economic Development signed the deal with Iraq to contribute to the funding of the project, which includes the construction of about 73 schools of either 18 or 12 classrooms over 15 Iraqi governorates. Abdulwahab Ahmed Al-Bader, Director-General of the Kuwait Fund for Arab Economic Development, said Thursday that the deal is the first step following the Iraq donors conference hosted by Kuwait in February. Bader said the deal serves the fourth goal of sustainable development on comprehensive education for all. The deal was the third loan extended by the Fund to Iraq after loans extended in 1970 and 1971, totaling about KD5.7 million. In addition, the Fund is currently administering 4 grants on behalf of Kuwait amounting to about 85 million Kuwaiti dinars (equivalent to $290 million). Dr. Salahuddin Hamed Al-Hadeethy, Director-General of the Department of Public Debt, Ministry of Finance, stated that this agreement is one of the first outcomes of the Kuwait-hosted conference. Hadeethy added that the fund’s loans are “soft with annual interests of no more than 2 percent and with a period extending 20 years.”

Emir Says Qatar Discussed Russian Arms Deal but 'No Decision'
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/July 06/18/The leader of Qatar said Friday that he had discussed buying an advanced air defense system from Russia with President Vladimir Putin, but that no decision had been taken. News that Qatar might be on the verge of buying the S-400 missile system has alarmed the gas-rich Gulf state's neighbor Saudi Arabia, which is reportedly lobbying hard to try to stop the acquisition. French newspaper Le Monde reported last month that Saudi Arabia had even written to France warning that it might take military action if Qatar went ahead with the purchase. "I don't want to go into details," Emir Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani said at a press conference in Paris after talks with President Emmanuel Macron when asked about the issue. "There is no agreement. It's true that we discussed it, we talked about it."In June 2017, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates and other allies severed ties with Qatar and began an economic blockade over allegations that it was backing terrorism and regional rival Iran. The S-400 is the latest generation surface-to-air defense system developed by Russia and is considered by NATO countries to pose a threat to their aircraft. Russia has deployed it in Syria and is also in talks to sell it to NATO member Turkey, which has alarmed the United States. Qatar's emir last met Putin in March in Moscow, and they are set to hold talks again during the latter stages of the World Cup in Russia, local media reported.

Seven Suspected Qaida Fighters Killed in Yemen Drone Strike
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/July 06/18/Seven suspected al-Qaida fighters were killed Friday when a drone targeted their car in the southern Yemeni province of Shabwa, a security official said. The car was hit as it drove along a side road in Shabwa's Bihan district, the official, from forces loyal to President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi's internationally recognized government, told AFP. The U.S. military is the only force known to operate armed drones over Yemen. The security official said the militants were members of al-Qaida, and said the aircraft that carried out the strike was American. The United States considers the Yemen-based Al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula to be the radical group's most dangerous branch. A long-running drone war against AQAP has intensified since U.S. President Donald Trump took office in January 2017. AQAP has flourished in the chaos of the country's civil war, which pits the Saudi-backed government against Shiite Huthi rebels.

UK Police Hunt Object that Poisoned Couple with Nerve Agent

Agence France Presse/Naharnet/July 06/18/Police on Friday raced to find the object that contaminated a British couple with the Soviet-made Novichok nerve agent in southwestern England where a former Russian spy was poisoned with the same toxin four months ago.
Dawn Sturgess, 44, and Charlie Rowley, 45, fell ill on Saturday in Amesbury, a small town near the city of Salisbury where Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia collapsed on March 4, spreading fear once again among locals. Police said they had established that the couple, who remain in a critical condition in hospital, were exposed to the nerve agent after "handling a contaminated item."They also did not rule out the possibility of more people coming into contact with the poison, which they suspect may have been left over from the attempted murder on the Skripals, although police have yet to determine whether it was the same batch. "It is rather scary," local resident Geoffrey, 66, told AFP, as he walked by the canal. "It is an agent, it is not a gun or a knife that you can find and dispose of. It is something different, it could be on that bench... it makes me worried.""It is terrible to think that it happened months ago, and now it starts all over again," said 82-year-old Madeleine Webb. "It is the second time already, why not a third time? It's not funny."
Diplomatic tension
London blames Russia for the Skripal attack, with interior minister Sajid Javid on Thursday accusing Moscow of using Britain as a "dumping ground for poison."Russia has strongly denied the accusation. "It is completely unacceptable for our people to be either deliberate or accidental targets, or for our streets, our parks, our towns to be dumping grounds for poison," Javid told parliament. But Russia quickly hit back, denouncing Britain for playing "dirty political games", trying to "muddy the waters" and "frighten its own citizens.""We urge British law enforcement not to get involved in dirty political games," foreign ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova told reporters. "This government and its representatives will have to apologize to Russia and the international community," she said. The Skripal incident triggered a major diplomatic crisis, leading to Britain and its allies withdrawing diplomatic staff from Moscow and tit-for-tat expulsions by Russia.
Major incident
Novichok is a military-grade nerve agent developed by the Soviet Union during the Cold War. A government scientist told the BBC on Thursday that the agent can be degraded by water and sunlight, meaning it was unlikely the contamination took place in the open, and said that it was so toxic that it could pass through the skin. Police declared a major incident on Wednesday after Sturgess and then Rowley collapsed on Saturday. They initially suspected that the couple had consumed a contaminated batch of illegal drugs, saying they had found "paraphernalia" in the house, but tests at nearby defense laboratory Porton Down revealed they had been exposed to Novichok. A friend of Rowley's told AFP that he was a drug user and Sturgess lived in a homeless hostel in Salisbury. Around 100 counter-terror detectives are now working alongside police on the investigation. Several sites in the city and nearby Amesbury that were visited by the couple have been cordoned off, including a park, a pharmacy, a church and a supermarket. A fleet of fire trucks and emergency vehicles on Friday arrived at the house in Amesbury where the couple fell ill, with crew wearing gas masks and breathing equipment seen going in and out of the property. A tent was erected outside the house, as-well as at least five outside the John Baker House homeless shelter in Salisbury, where Sturgess sometimes stayed. Officials said there was only a "low risk" to the wider public, but urged anyone who had visited the affected sites to wash their clothes and wipe down personal items. Police said there was no evidence the latest victims had visited any of the sites linked to the Skripals, which have since been decontaminated. Sam Hobson, a friend of the couple, said he had visited Salisbury with them the day before they fell ill. Hobson said he went to Rowley's house on Saturday as Sturgess was being taken to hospital and stayed with him for several hours until he too began to complain of feeling ill. "He was sweating loads, dribbling, and you couldn't speak to him," Hobson said. "It's like he was in another world, hallucinating."

World Powers Back Iran Oil Exports despite U.S. Sanctions Threat
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/July 06/18/Iran's remaining partners in the 2015 nuclear deal vowed Friday to keep the energy exporter plugged into the global economy despite the U.S. withdrawal and sanctions threat. Three European nations along with Russia and China met with Iran to offer economic benefits and assurances that would lessen the blow of sweeping U.S. sanctions, two months after President Donald Trump walked away from the landmark nuclear deal. They said they remained committed to the 2015 accord and to building up economic relations with Iran, including "the continuation of Iran's export of oil and gas" and other energy products. Their foreign ministers agreed on an 11-point list of joint goals in Vienna, where the accord was signed three years ago with the aim of stopping Iran from building the atomic bomb in return for sanctions relief that promised greater trade and investment. In the joint statement, Iran's Mohammad Javad Zarif and other top diplomats reconfirmed their commitment to the deal and its "economic dividends" for Iran, which has suffered worsening financial turbulence since Trump abandoned the accord.
'Protect companies from sanctions'
Despite the U.S. threat to penalize companies and banks that do business with Iran, the remaining signatories said they would work to promote investment and trade. They also vowed to maintain financial channels, promote export credit cover and air, sea and overland transport links, and to work for the "the protection of companies from the extraterritorial effects of U.S. sanctions." "These initiatives are aimed at preserving the nuclear deal which is in the security interest of all," said the joint statement read out by EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini. There was no immediate separate statement from Iran, which on the eve of the talks had signalled disappointment about the measures then on the table. Iran's President Hassan Rouhani had Thursday told French President Emmanuel Macron by phone that the European offer of economic measures did "not meet all our demands," Iran's state news agency IRNA reported.
'Difficult situation'
Since Trump's shock move in May, which dismayed all other signatories, Washington has warned other countries to end trade and investment in Iran and stop buying its oil from early November or face punitive measures. The other partners so far appear powerless to stop their countries' companies pulling out of Iran for fear of U.S. penalties. Several major firms -- including France's Total and Peugeot, and Russia's Lukoil -- have said they are preparing to leave. German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas conceded that "we won't be able to compensate for all the effects of enterprises withdrawing from Iran because they see their American business interests threatened by the sanctions." "After the withdrawal of the United States, which we can't understand, we face a difficult situation," he added, but he stressed that "we want to make clear to Iran that it will still gain economic benefits through this agreement." Iranians have complained that the hoped-for rise in foreign investment and trade after the deal has not materialized. Since Trump's announcement, Iran's rial currency has fallen, prices have risen and the country has been hit by street protests and strikes. Rouhani, who signed the nuclear deal, has been attacked at home by ultra-conservatives, who have denounced his willingness to talk to the West and accused him of hurting the economy. Trump in May slammed the nuclear accord signed under his predecessor Barack Obama as "horrible" and "defective at its core," earning applause from Iran's regional rivals Saudi Arabia and Israel. Iran, which strongly denies ever seeking to build a nuclear bomb, has warned it could resume uranium enrichment for civilian purposes if the deal collapses. Supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has vowed that Iran "will never tolerate both suffering from sanctions and nuclear restrictions." Washington considers Iran a state sponsor of terrorism with links to Lebanon's Hizbullah, Hamas in the Palestinian territories and networks in Iraq and Yemen, and demands it stop supporting Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

Washington calls for confrontation of Iran-sponsored terror attacks in Europe
Staff writer, Al Arabiya English/Friday, 6 July 2018/The US Department of State published on its website a list of Iranian-sponsored terror acts in Europe during the last four decades, between 1979 and 2018, as Secretary of State Mike Pompeo urged European countries to confront the threat. The publishing of the list coincides with the uncovering of an Iranian plot to bomb a large Iranian opposition conference north of Paris on June 30. The list begins with an introduction that says: “The Iranian regime brought suffering and death to the world and its people. In Europe alone, assassinations, bombings and other terrorist attacks sponsored by Iran have distorted the lives of countless people.” The list details operations executed by Iranian intelligence, or Iranian-allied Hezbollah agents, of bombings, assassinations, kidnappings and killings of Iranian opposition figures and American-allied targets. In a tweet, Pompeo called on “European leaders to discuss this with Rouhani and Zarif during their European tour.”Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif have embarked on a European tour to save the nuclear deal and to safeguard trade with Tehran and guarantees for Iranian oil sales.

Netherlands expels two Iranian embassy staff
Staff writer, Al Arabiya English/Friday, 6 July 2018/The Dutch Intelligence service AIVD said on Friday that two Iranian embassy staff have been expelled. “We can confirm that the Netherlands has expelled two persons accredited to the Iranian embassy,” a spokesperson for the Dutch intelligence said. “We will not provide any further Information”In recent days, the Austrian foreign ministry said it would strip the Iranian embassy official of his diplomatic immunity after his arrest in Germany for “conspiracy to blow up an Iranian opposition meeting in France.” European sources announced that Tehran’s Vienna-based envoy, Assadollah Assadi, who was arrested in connection with a cell planning to blow up an Iranian opposition conference in Paris, is an Iranian intelligence services member and is wanted by the Interpol. Assadi was detained on Sunday near the German city of Aschaffenburg on a European arrest warrant for suspected involvement in the plot. Belgium said this week it had arrested two Belgians of Iranian origin suspected of plotting to bomb an Iranian opposition rally on the outskirts of Paris. It has also requested the extradition of an Austria-based Iranian diplomat held in Germany and a man of Iranian origin in France in connection with the Paris plot. With Reuters

Vienna meet on nuclear deal supports Iran’s continued oil, gas exports
Staff writer, Al Arabiya English/Friday, 6 July 2018/Following a meeting in Vienna on Friday to save Iran’s nuclear deal, European powers including China and Russia, said that they support Iran’s right to exporting oil and gas, despite threats of sanctions by the US.
Foreign ministers and senior diplomats from Britain, China, France, Germany and Russia held talks on Friday with their Iranian counterpart, Mohammad Javad Zarif, in Vienna for the first time since US President Donald Trump announced he was abandoning the nuclear deal and moving to re-impose sanctions on Iran. In a joint statement, the foreign ministers said they are still committed to the economic relations with Iran including “Iran’s continued oil and gas exports” and other energy products. Trump pulled the United States out of the multinational deal under which sanctions on Iran were lifted in return for curbs on its nuclear program verified by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). Washington has since told countries they must stop buying the OPEC producer’s oil from November, 4 or face financial consequences. Speaking on French radio ahead of arriving in the Austrian capital, France’s foreign minister said world powers would struggle to put together an economic package immediately. “They (Iran) must stop threatening to break their commitments to the nuclear deal,” Jean-Yves Le Drian said. “We are trying to do it (economic package) before sanctions are imposed at the start of August and then the next set of sanctions in November. For August it seems a bit short, but we are trying to do it by November,” he said.

The Latest LCCC Bulletin analysis & editorials from miscellaneous sources published on July 06-07/18
Iran: The Ayatollah’s Promised Paradise
Amir Taheri/Asharq Al Awsat/July 06/18
In the late 1960s when the concept of “development” and” economic take-off” was all the rage in academic and media circles, many experts insisted that the so-called “developing nations” needed to show-case at least part of their territory as a model for progress and an inspiration for modernization.
Being one of those so-called “developing nations” Iran, under the Shah, chose its southwestern province Khuzestan as that show-case.
The choice wasn’t difficult. For, Khuzestan was a resource-rich province and already dotted with some of the modern infrastructures that other provinces had to wait a decade or more to acquire. Thanks to the oil industry, Khuzestan was the first province to have a modern electricity generating system and piped water in most of its cities, at least 20 years before the capital Tehran did. The province was also the hub of Iran’s sole railway network, the famous Trans-Iranian which connected it to the Caspian Sea via Tehran.
Because the oil industry offered a large number of comparatively well-paid jobs, the province attracted migrants from all over Iran; in fact, apart from Tehran, it was the only part of Iran that served as magnet for young rural Iranians looking for a better life in urban centers.
Thanks to its abundant water resources and fertile plains, Khuzestan was also something of a food basket for the rest of the country.
The province was the home of Iran’s only navigable river, the mighty Karun, but also embraced other rivers: Karkeh, Jarrahi, Dez, Shush, Ramhormoz, Godar-Lander, Bahmanshir and Khersan among others. No other part of Iran had so many rivers and so much water.
At the time the world’s largest oil refinery, that of Abadan, was located in Khuzestan which for decades remained the biggest single regional producer of oil in the world.
The province also boosted one of the biggest ports of the greater Indian ocean region, at Khorramshahr, an ancient city that had once been the capital of the Khorrramites, or Red-Shirt nationalist rebels led by Babak Khorrami. (Because of the red-Shirts, the port city was later known as Muhammarah in Islamic era.) Khuzestan also had a special status as far as history and culture were concerned. The most important archaeological digs in Western Asia were located there with relics of Chogha-Zanbil, a reminder of the glory that the Elamite Empire been in its time, and of Shusha, the first capital of the Achaemenid Empire, the bas-relief of the Sassanid king Shahpour in Dezful and the remains of 2000-year-old churches in Izeh.
In the 1960s a campaign using the slogan “Go South, Young Man!” encouraged young Iranians to seek their future in Khuzestan which faced an acute shortage of labor. Their mass arrival transformed the province’s traditional agriculture and by the mid-1970s Khuzestan boasted some of the most modern farms in the Middle East.
By the late 1960s Khuzestan was also chosen as the nation’s future hub for water and energy. David E Lilienthal, the man who had led the largest public sector enterprise in the United States, the Tennessee Valley Authority, was hired to prepare a report. As a cub reporter for the English-language daily Kayhan International I was assigned to cover his trip and report on his recommendations. In part of the trip we also had as companion of travel The Washington Post’s Alfred Friendly, who worked on a series about the developing world's most promising regions from Punjab in India to Porto-Allegre in Brazil and passing by our own Khuzestan.
The idea was to transform Khuzestan into the center of a grand nuclear energy industry that the Shah had launched initially on a modest scale.
Thanks to abundant energy and water resources, Khuzestan quickly attracted other industries besides oil, including iron and steel, petrochemicals, and food processing. The province was also Iran’s number-one destination for stay-at-home tourists, especially in winter.
The trip was a delight for me as Khuzestan was my home province and its capital Ahvaz my place of birth. It was a joy to travel in a province full of optimism and geared to a better future thanks to a population that was younger than the average in Iran and certainly as diverse as imaginable then. Even in smaller towns one could run into people who had come from all over Iran, recognizable thanks to their accents, providing a sharp contrast with other parts of the country where parochialism was the norm.
Well, if I say that for me, in those days, Khuzestan was something of a paradise on earth. You might regard me as a case of affliction by intense nostalgia. You may be right. But that’s how many Iranians at the time felt about a province that they regarded as the jewel in the crown of their nationhood.
At the time no one could imagine that the dreams we all had for our beloved Khuzestan would become a nightmare. But it has, thanks to four decades of misrule, incompetence, corruption and sheer brutality by the Khomeinist regime.
Because of lack of investment and a breakdown in maintenance services, Many of Khuzestan’s oilfields are either producing below capacity or have been programed out of production altogether. Some fields once among the biggest in the world, are now scripted into total production as minor players. Today, Khuzestan produces less than 20 per cent of the oil it did in 1977. Most of the province’s rivers, including the might Karun, are already dead or in the process of dying as victims of ill-thought hydroelectric projects and rampant pollution.
Khorramshahr is now a ghost town with just 60 per cent of the population it had 40 years ago.
Khuzestan has become a net importer of food and a massive exporter of population to other parts of Iran. By some estimates, the province also has the lowest birth-rate and in the country.
Last week, the government declared the province to be in “total crisis” with large numbers of people facing death caused by pollution, lack of water and power, and epidemics caused by lack of public hygiene structures.
Unable to cope with the “emergency situation” he committee charged with managing “the crisis declared the province closed for three days a week as temperatures rose to 50 Celsius.
“Khuzestan is shut down,” said Kiyamarth Haji-Zadeh, the man in charge of “the crisis” in Ahvaz.“To ration electricity, reduce water consumption, to avoid unfortunate incidents, all economic units, offices, schools, banks and other institutions except fire brigades, police and emergency wards of hospitals will be closed on Wednesdays.”
This means a four-day working week for those Khuzestanis who still have a job.
When he seized power, Khomeini said in a notorious speech that the Shah had offered Iranians paradise in this world to deprive them of paradise in the next world, boasting that his Islamic Republic will provide both.
Naturally, we don’t know about the next world; but in this world the ayatollah turned a corner of paradise that was Khuzestan into a veritable hell.

Is Tariq Ramadan a Victim of French Justice?
Anne-Elisabeth Moutet/Gatestone Institute/July 06/18
Then, of course, comes the trump card: all the accusers are supposedly Islamophobes.
The next hearing has been set in July, in which Ramadan may well be slapped with that third indictment, for one, or several of, the nine rapes Ms Rabbouj accuses him of during 2013-2014. Ramadan denies the allegations.
Oborne's rather spectacular pile of tendentious inaccuracies ends by referencing a petition supporting Ramadan. It was started by Ramadan's usual Paris acolytes of the hard-left investigative website Médiapart and a handful of British academics who supported Ramadan's elevation to a teaching post at Oxford, and may feel they need to protect their investment. They should cut their losses.
French-bashing is one of the few pleasures still allowed in Europe nowadays, and it seems a bit unkind to deprive you of it. Sadly, a recent piece, by Peter Oborne, accuses the entire French justice system of treating Tariq Ramadan, the sometime academic, stealth Islamist, serial liar and alleged rapist, like a latter-day hero from Les Misérables, supposedly "rotting" in a French jail as a victim of the complete "abandonment of due process". Not quite.
Ramadan, the grandson of Muslim Brotherhood founder Hassan Al-Banna, pretends to be "moderate". Yet he has recently argued that FGM, for instance, is a cultural tradition of Muslims, or that corporal punishments including stoning of adulterous women in Islam ought to be the object of a "moratorium" to examine their implications (rather than banned). British Prime Minister Tony Blair apparently bought into the fiction that here was the kind of westernised Muslim he needed on an advisory board to his government; and Ramadan got a Qatar-financed chair of sorts at Oxford.
Early in 2018, Ramadan got caught in a #MeToo tsunami, with woman after woman coming forward to explain in strikingly similar terms how he used them for rough sex and threatened them afterwards should they dare to talk about it. (He denies the rough part; he has admitted to having sex with at least five of these women; and he has also admitted in judicial hearings that he has forked out €27,000 in hush money to his Belgian accuser.)
To begin with, even "the French police" cannot "deny bail" to someone they arrest, as the article claims; a magistrate does that, for a list of seven possible reasons laid out in Article 144 of the Code de Procédure pénale. The magistrate's decision can be challenged and was, quite normally, by Tariq Ramadan's counsel, Yassine Bouzrou, in front of three new judges. These judges collectively decided, in view of the material gathered by the investigators, that there was indeed good cause to prevent Mr Ramadan from possibly tampering with the evidence (paragraph 1 of Art. 144); intimidating witnesses, victims or their families (paragraph 2); preventing him from fleeing France and French justice, especially as he has no official ties here (paragraph 5); or being the cause of "exceptional and persistent" public unrest, possibly due to the gravity or notoriety of the crimes of which he stands accused (paragraph 7).
Bouzrou subsequently left the case; Ramadan's new lawyer, Maître Emmanuel Marsigny, appealed the earlier decision, which was duly confirmed by three more judges in the Court of Appeals in Paris. They, too, ruled that Ramadan should remain in custody. This is in no way extraordinary: "Most indictments in cases of rape leads to preventive custody," one gendarme investigator told me.
No, the "police" did not throw "Ramadan into solitary confinement -- an indignity usually reserved for arch criminals". The decision to give him a cell to himself (a great favour in overcrowded French jails) at two separate French jails, first Fleury-Mérogis, then at Fresnes prison -- and not to be confused with an isolation cell on a specific floor -- was made by the prison authorities, following established guidelines. In the instance of Ramadan, it was likely to protect him from possible attacks from other detainees.
In Oborne's article, we are then dramatically told that Tariq Ramadan was "until recently... denied phone calls and visits from his wife and children." In fact, you are not entitled to either telephone rights or visitors for the first month of preventive custody, especially if, as is the case here, your wife is a witness in the investigation. Pulling at the heartstrings, the article also tells us that Ramadan has "plunged into ill health". Despite a string of horrendous afflictions and "several" admissions to hospital, Ramadan, we learn, was declared fit for detention "in fewer than 20 minutes" by a "court-appointed doctor" who contradicted the view of a prison doctor.
The economy with the truth here is staggering. Ramadan's various visits to excellent Paris teaching hospitals were actually mandated by two medical experts listed with the Court of Appeals, which commissioned them when his lawyer sought to get his client freed. Ramadan underwent, at the République's expense, medical tests to determine that he did indeed suffer from multiple sclerosis but that it was non-evolutive (also known as "the benign form of MS"); and that he did not suffer, as he claimed, from sensory axonal neuropathy. It is possible that it did take under 20 minutes to let him know of the experts' decision reached after the above lengthy medical process of discovery, although Maître Eric Morain, the barrister for one of the accusers, says even that length is subject to doubt.
The article then quotes "the famed French lawyer Régis de Castelnau", who supposedly called "the abandonment of due process in Ramadan's case 'severe and constant'." Except that he did not. Having read the article linked to in The Spectator piece, and not found these exact words or meaning in it, I called Castelnau (whom I know slightly in his other incarnation as an excellent journalist) in his Provence retreat (he has recently resigned from his full-time law practice), and we had a charming conversation to a background of chirping cicadas (his end). He said that very soon after Ramadan's arrest -- and at the height of the #MeToo backlash -- he wrote this article, in which he told of his fear that an electronic lynching could be taking the place of due process. He reminded his readers that whatever his personal opinion of Tariq Ramadan, the latter was entitled, as is any other accused, to the presumption of innocence. "It was early in the case; nobody knew what evidence had been gathered; I had misgivings, and wrote them," he said.
Castelnau also made a careful distinction between the investigating magistrates, and the investigators (police judiciaire) whose enthusiasm in the course of their work has been known to lead to some drastic corner-cutting. The magistrates and judges were never in his sights; indeed, he noted, the very visibility of the Ramadan case guaranteed that they would be especially careful with the way they conducted their work. "You can't be seen as a cowboy in such a case," he pointed out.
Almost immediately, Castelnau's column was quoted in a blog by Tariq Ramadan's brother, the Islamist preacher Hani Ramadan, purporting to show that a miscarriage of justice had been perpetrated in France, and spread worldwide. "I let them quote me; they were my words," Castelnau said, "but I also contacted Marsigny (Ramadan's lawyer), saying I'd welcome more information in order to follow the case better, and perhaps to write more" if an injustice was being committed.
And then? "Silence," he said, over the cicadas. "Nothing. I called twice. He never got back to me." He sounded a bit miffed. "I concluded they had nothing more in the way of evidence to give me."
Meanwhile, more was coming out: more women, more accusations -- while the Twitter fracas was abating. "It seemed obvious that members of Ramadan's community were quietly dropping him," Castelnau said. "Not all of them; he's got some fierce defenders. But really, these days, in France? You don't hear that many people mentioning the case." His early misgivings, he said, no longer existed: he was confident Tariq Ramadan would get due process.
This is bound to disappoint the well-funded Team Ramadan (they have collected a kitty estimated at €100,000 to cover Ramadan's legal costs), who have seized on any likely detail of the proceedings to suit their ends. Peter Oborne triumphantly announces in his piece that a few days ago, "the first time Ramadan was allowed to appear before them," the investigative magistrates "dismissed the allegations of the third claimant". This, he declares, quoting Ramadan's new lawyer, Marsigny, is a "turning point."
Up to a "turning point". The remark actually refers to Ramadan's second, not initial, judicial hearing; during this latest session, a decision for a further indictment of Tariq Ramadan, based on the claims of one of his accusers, Mounia Rabbouj, was suspended: the hearing had almost entirely been taken up by the case of the other two accusers. The next hearing has been set in July, in which Ramadan may well be slapped with that third indictment, for one, or several of, the nine rapes Ms Rabbouj accuses him of during 2013-2014. Ramadan denies the allegations.
Oborne, in his article, also fails to mention damning inconsistencies in Tariq Ramadan's defence, such as Ramadan's claim that he arrived at a conference in Lyon late in the day on October 9, 2009. The date is a key line of his defence, given that "Christelle" (not her real name) claimed that one of the rapes had taken place earlier in the day. This allegation was demolished by investigators from the Deuxième Division de la Police Judiciaire de Paris, who tracked down the BA morning flight manifest of the plane Ramadan did take, and interrogated conference organisers who admitted they had fetched Ramadan in the morning from Lyon Airport.
In addition, during Ramadan's last hearing with the investigative magistrates on June 5, he finally admitted that he did, in fact, have sex with those women: Mounia Rabbouj, the Swiss "Denise", the Belgian "Majda", and two more women who are giving evidence "sous X", which in French law means they are speaking to the investigative magistrates on condition of anonymity.
Let us, for a moment, forget, as it is not actionable in the current cases, Ramadan's complete fabrication of having been a tenured professor at Freiburg University in Switzerland when he was in fact only a freelance lecturer. (The university, somewhat sheepishly, eventually admitted this mishap.)
Oborne then accused French justice of blatant anti-Muslim discrimination, stating that Cabinet ministers can be the subject of rape and sexual assault allegations and yet never end up in jail. We hear of the budget secretary, Gérald Darmanin, and the environment minister, Nicolas Hulot, who "unlike Ramadan... await their fate in freedom." Except in those cases, the accusations look in no way remotely similar to the corroborating testimonies heard from half a dozen women in Ramadan's case. (There is a distinctly #MeToo quality to the successive statements, all listing the same sado-masochistic demands and brutalities mentioned by Peter Oborne at the beginning of his piece. "Matching testimonies are a key feature of credible rape accusations," explains the experienced Paris criminal lawyer Alexandre-M. Braun.)
The allegation -- there were not even charges, just a press interview -- against Hulot was dropped because the alleged crime took place beyond the statute of limitations. Darmanin was accused by a former call girl of rape but, after an investigation, the charges were also dropped. Both cases are clearly not comparable to the Ramadan case. It is also worth flagging up Oborne's reference to the two ministers as having been the subject of a mise en garde, or early investigations. In fact, no such animal exists in French law (garde à vue is interrogation in custody after an arrest; mise en examen is indictment; neither of which happened to either Hulot or Darmanin).
Then, of course, comes the trump card: all the accusers are supposedly Islamophobes. "Christelle" is accused of founding a pro-Marine Le Pen website, which her lawyer denies. Henda Ayari, a former Salafist, is dismissed as a hater of her former religion, as if this were proof enough of her putting herself through the current judicial ordeal. Both have received death and rape threats; another Ramadan accuser has apparently been severely beaten up near her home.
Others ostensibly conspire to destroy Ramadan, precisely because he "unflinchingly" calls out France's supposed Islamophobia. Except the conspiracy mentality rather comically pops up on the wrong side: "Why...was Ramadan's case moved from Rouen... to Paris, where the chief prosecutor is François Molins, not an expert in rape but a preeminent counter-terrorist, known by many in France as the 'prosecutor of French jihadists'?" This, to borrow Boris Johnsons's famous phrase, is an inverted pyramid of piffle. Well, because it just so happens, François Molins, the Paris prosecutor, ultimately oversees all cases in the French capital; and because there is no specialised terrorism court in Paris (and Molins is on record as saying it would be a bad idea to separate those investigations from normal justice proceedings), he has, indeed, overseen some high profile terrorism cases. He has not interfered in the Ramadan case, just as he does not in the thousands of cases brought in Paris every year.
There would be ever more nits to pick, but at some stage rebuttal fatigue sets in. Oborne's rather spectacular pile of tendentious inaccuracies ends by referencing a petition supporting Ramadan. It was started by Ramadan's usual Paris acolytes of the hard-left investigative website Médiapart and a handful of British academics who supported Ramadan's elevation to a teaching post at Oxford, and may feel they need to protect their investment. They, like the good Swiss at Freiburg University, above, should cut their losses.
*Anne-Elisabeth Moutet is a columnist for the Daily and Sunday Telegraph (London), and a co-founder, vice-president of the Institut Jean-Jacques Rousseau in Paris and a Distinguished Senior Fellow of Gatestone Institute.
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Has the Khomeini Republic’s final hour come?
Mashari Althaydi/Al Arabiya/July 06/18
After tightening American sanctions on Iran, which reached Iranian oil that is the backbone of Iran’s finances, the Khomeini republic’s keepers seem like they’ve lost their mind. The regime’s active figures, such as the smiling Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif and the always-scowling “Hajj” Qassem Soleimani, the ambassador of strife in the region, are making strenuous efforts to address this.
Zarif is doing what he does best, embellish and modernize the fake face of the Khomeini ideological republic. Meanwhile, Qassem Soleimani is warmly praising the threats of the most prominent moderate Iranian dove, Hassan Rouhani, to block the Strait of Hormuz if Washington implements its promise to impose sanctions against Iranian oil exports.
There’s nothing new here. It is the game of distributing roles and insistence on denial even if Iranian intelligence agents are arrested for planning to carry out terror attacks. An example is the arrest of diplomat Assadollah Assadi who works at the Iranian embassy in Vienna over a suspected plot to carry out a bomb attack on an exiled Iranian opposition group in France.
This approach resembles the Nazi Goebbels’s approach of denying and lying until people eventually believe you, even if they’re kind to you like the gentlemen in Europe – we salute leftist figure Senora Federica Mogherini who is fighting for the European deal with Iran.
Moment of truth
The purpose of the Trump administration’s determination against the Khomeini regime is clear and it’s to force the latter to surrender and quit sponsoring terrorism. The moment of truth has come no matter how much the Iranian regime deceives others.
The keepers of the Khomeini republic will do what they do best, energize terrorism and open diplomatic gaps to maneuver.
Iran may use the Afghan arena to attack America, according to an article by Russian author Igor Subbotin in Nezavisimaya Gazeta daily and published by the Russia Today website. Subbotin spoke about Tehran’s preparations for a painful response to American sanctions and about the possibility of transferring the Shiite Afghans, “the Hazaras,” from Syria to fight the Americans in Afghanistan. According to the Times, sources in Kabul and in Taliban said Iran is doubling its support to fighters of the Sunni Taliban for the same purpose.
This is the common Iranian response to manage terrorism and cooperate with all terror networks, both Sunni and Shiite, to serve Tehran’s interests. Meanwhile, Iran through its “civil” masks tries to play the game of diplomacy and sweet talk.
For example, after Iran's OPEC governor Hossein Kazempour Ardebili attacked Trump because he requested OPEC to work on decreasing oil prices, he suddenly said: “Our brothers in Saudi Arabia are a proud Muslim nation that’s educated and mature and it will not allow you to talk to us in this tone!”
Imagine the world without the Khomeini republic, just imagine!

Shirazi religious channels, hijacking the Shiite sphere
Hassan Al Mustafa/Al Arabiya/July 06/18
The Shirazi reference believes that “media outlets these days are a tool in the hands of the enemies of values, morals and humanity. Given the absence of the important and influential role of virtuous and pious people who follow the right doctrine in media outlets, these tools are thus exploited in achieving demonic and ill purposes.” This is according to what’s posted on Ayatollah Sayyid Sadiq al-Shirazi’s official website.
This perception is not new but it dates to years ago, before the death of reference Sayyid Mohammad al-Shirazi who encouraged his followers to be involved in the media field and not let others monopolize it. This made the Shirazi Movement later work on establishing more than 20 satellite television channels in different languages. This number is based on a statistic which Al attained from a source from within the Shirazi reference
Researcher Bassem al-Zaydi at Imam Shirazi Center for Studies and Research thinks “satellite television channels are the most important means of modern media communication. Thus there were more focus on them in terms of contributors to establish them and recipients.”
The sphere conflict
In 1979, the “Islamic Revolution” toppled the regime of late Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi and Ayatollah Sayyid Mohammad al-Shirazi returned from Kuwait to settle in Qom where the religious Hawza (seminary) is. Although Sayyid Mohammad supported the revolution – at the time – he advised his followers not to reveal all their cards so they do not become mere tools in the hands of the new regime.
The independence which Shirazi wanted for his reference and followers led to difference in opinions and clashes with security forces and clerics in support of Ayatollah Khomeini. This explains the political disharmony which later happened between the old comrades!
The Shirazis are aware that Iran is a state with huge financial capabilities and political influence that goes beyond its borders. They know they cannot compete with it on this front so they headed towards another field which is possessing the sentiment of the Shiite public, addressing it and influencing it especially amid the sectarian conflict in the Middle East and the worsening Sunni-Shiite conflict.
Amid this sectarian polarization, Alanwar TV was launched in 2004. It was the first satellite television channel affiliated with the Shirazi Movement. It adopted a religious rhetoric and broadcast juristic and doctrinal lectures and prayers and aired footage of visitors to sacred shrines of Shiite imams.
This combination of religious material touched the worried and wounded Shiite sentiment at a time when Al-Qaeda explosions rocked Iraqi cities and killed dozens of innocent people and amid the rise of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi and the violence and oppression he represented.
The “Husayni” rhetoric of Alanwar TV created an objective and moral space for the public in the Gulf and in Iraq in particular as people found themselves a breather which they can use to declare their own identity amid attempts to bury it and eradicate it, as they tend to believe.
“Arresting the Shiite sentimental space” was the task which the Shirazi Movement found itself capable of in terms of competing with the Iranian regime and excelling over it, especially that Tehran adopts a different rhetoric which purpose is to present itself as a state against extremism and sectarianism and adopts statements of “Islamic unity.”
A figure that’s well-informed about relations between Iran and the Shirazi reference told Al “The Iranians want to control the Shiite decision, and they’ve actually managed to control most of it. They have soft mechanism of action to melt all Shiite existences. Meanwhile the group of Sayyid Shirazi refuses to surrender to the Iranian will but it cannot compete with Iran in its jihadist and political project. It can compete with it in controlling the Shiite sentiment via the project of rituals and satellite channels.” He added: “This explains why the Shirazi office began establishing ideological channels. They succeeded in that as their channels are watched by many Shiites since they air material that harmonizes with the popular culture of fathers, mothers and grandparents.”
This competition over the Shiite sphere made the Iranians criticize these channels which they think “they work on a daily basis to promote extremist ideology, attack the Iranian Islamic Republic and ignite the fire of war between Sunni and Shiite, i.e. provide indirect services to takfirist movements that wreak havoc in the Muslim nation.” This is according to a report published in March by the news agency Tasnim that’s close to Iranian security apparatuses.
List of channels
There is only one channel that speaks in Arabic, Farsi and English and which represents the official opinion of the Shirazi reference and it is Marjaeyat TV which broadcasts the news, activities and lessons of Sayyid Sadiq al-Shirazi and of his institutions and religious hawzas (seminaries). There are also more than 20 satellite television channels that were established upon “the encouragement of the Shirazi reference,” and they are:
Arabic speaking channels: Marjaeyat TV, Alanwar TV, Alanwar TV 2, Imam Hussein TV, Al-Mahdi TV, Alhawza Alilmiyya TV, Shaaer TV, Al-Abbas TV, CH 4 Teen, Al-Aqila TV and Imam Hassan TV.
Farsi speaking channels: Marjaeyat TV, Imam Hussein TV, Imam Asr TV, Alhawza Alilmiyya TV, BaitAlabbas TV, Aby Al-Fadl al-Abbas TV, Al-Qaem TV, Imam Sadiq TV, Al-Slam TV and Al-Ghadeer TV.
English speaking channels: Marjaeyat TV and Imam Hussein TV.
Urdu speaking channels: Imam Hussein TV, Hussein Janl TV and Khadija channel.
Turkish speaking channels: Al-Zahraa TV.
The diverse television channels that speak in different languages aim to address an audience that’s made up of different ethnicities and that are distributed in difference Islamic and European countries.
What’s noticeable about these channels is that their programs and topics resemble each other and that the production rate is humble and the quality of the content is less than average.
Researcher Bassem al-Zaydi said: “With the presence of more than 20,000 channels across the world that are affiliated with different religions, cultures and ethnicities, we think the Islamic world in general and Ahl al-Bayt sect in particular have very few satellite channels. Each channel has its message and its own programs even if the purposes are similar.” He attributed the lack of content quality to the fact that “qualitative work requires huge financial capabilities whereas these satellite television channels operate with their simple available capabilities.”
Researcher Sheikh Ahmed al-Katib, who witnessed the era of Sayyid Mohammal al-Shirazi since the beginning of his activity in the Iraqi city in Karbala, disagrees with Zaydi and attributes the weak content to the fact that the “Shirazi Movement does not have experts in the media or prominent figures who studied media and specialized in it.” He added: “What they are doing is a mere propaganda attempt where those who supervise these channels lack a substantial vision.”
Editor-in-chief of Al-Sahel Magazine Sheikh Habib al-Jumayaa supports Katib’s opinion and believeS that “these channels transformed into mere channels that air mourning ceremonies as those who operate them do not have a work plan or a systematic vision, and this makes the negatives much more than the very limited positives.”
Relation with Yasser al-Habib
Fadak TV, which broadcasts from the UK and which is supervised by Kuwaiti cleric Yasser al-Habib, is one of the most important channels that adopt a sectarian and extremist rhetoric that excludes whoever is different whether Sunni or Shiite. Habib’s insults have included respectable Sunni and Shiite Islamic religious symbols.
Habib historically belongs to the school of Sayyid Mohammad al-Shirazi in which he’s been active since his early years. However, his slanderous rhetoric made many figures from the movement keep away from him and disown him or in the best case scenarios declare they do not support him.
In February 2014, the office of reference Sayyid Sadiq Al-Shirazi in the Iranian city of Qom issued a statement saying “Only the well-known reference offices across the world and Marjaeyat TV represent the Sayyid, the reference.”
Many viewed this statement as ending liaison between the Shirazi reference and Habib though this was not frankly declared.
We asked the Imam Shirazi Center for Studies and Research: “Do you support the rhetoric of channels like Fadak TV and Yasser al-Habib?” They answered: “No, not at all,” adding: “The adopted rhetoric of the office of Sayyid Shirazi, the reference, always confirms moderation, centrism and co-existence and (advocates) the use of peaceful and moral methods via wisdom and good preaching.”
Perhaps this is the first time that an institution that’s affiliated with the reference of Sayyid Sadiq Al-Shirazi exonerates itself from the rhetoric of Yasser Al-Habib in such a clear and frank way. The reference has kept silent for years over Habib’s activities despite what he said about deep problems and sectarian rift between Muslims, and it preferred not to engage in this. However, this silence raised suspicions of “implicit approval” or lack of desire to confront extremist from within the Shirazi Movement.
Researcher Ahmed Al-Katib has his own opinion on the matter as he said: “Fadak TV and other similar channels express the opinion of the current Shirazi reference, despite the different terms used and the type of the adopted rhetoric. Everyone drinks from the same shallow intellect.”
A Saudi figure who previously belonged to the Shirazi Movement and who preferred not to be named disagree with Sheikh Katib and said: “There is real disparity in the ideas between the office of Sayyid Sadiq Al-Shirazi and Yasser Al-Habib’s group. Habib crossed the references’ lines and did not commit to them and to their ethics.”
Sheikh Habib al-Jumayaa said: “Yasser Al-Habib’s movement greatly harmed the image of Shiites and depicted them as a group that do nothing but disturb others. This contradicts with the culture we inherited from Al-Bayt imams who forbade insulting. The silence of the reference’s (office) from this backward behavior may be understood by some as support of this behavior. This is what Habib’s followers promote.” Jumayaa called on the Shirazi reference “to declare a frank stance towards Habib’s insults because preserving civil peace, people’s interests and the society’s unity is more important than anything else.”
The next article will discuss the funding sources of these satellite television channels, the kind of rhetoric they adopt and their promotion of Al-Shirazi, the family and the reference.

US Air Force flies 24/7 over Syrian battlefield with Israeli overflights
DEBKAfile/July 06/18
A double layer of US and Israeli warplanes is cruising 24/7 over the southwestern Syrian battlefields ready to go into action if shared red lines are crossed. DEBKAfile’s military sources report that US F/A-18E and F/A-18F Super Hornets are monitoring the fighting around Daraa and the Jordanian and Israeli Golan border regions. They have flown in to support Israel’s overflights from the USS Harry Truman, which is deployed in the eastern Mediterranean.
The IDF has prepared for three scenarios in the event of Russian-backed Syrian and Hizballah forces seizing control of the Daraa region and the Jordanian border – whether by force or in negotiation with the rebel defenders:
1-A possible deal with the Daraa rebels being replicated for Quneitra on the Israeli border.
2-Daraa’s possible conquest by Syrian-Hizballah forces, with the help of massive Russian air strikes – which increased on Thursday to 100 sorties – being repeated as the tactic for seizing Quneitra.
3-A possible assault on Quneitra coming from the southeast of the Golan and starting in the town of Nawa, as predicted by US CENTCOM and IDF strategists. They postulate a Syrian-Hizballah assault force, after completing its capture of Daraa, turning west towards Quentra and splitting into two heads: One will turn west toward Yarmuk and the Syrian-Jordanian-Israeli border junction. There, they will try and take the pocket held by Khalid ibn Walid Army, which pledged allegiance to ISIS. The other head will approach Quneitra from the north. If the first contingent defeats the ISIS force, the two will join up on the hills overlooking Israel’s Hamat Gader and Sea of Galilee. Their defeat of the rebels in Quneitra would bring a Syrian-Hizballah force right up to the central Golan borderline.
In the course of the fighting, the IDF could be faced with three possible quandaries:
Russian and Syrian warplanes, which has so far kept their distance from Israel’s borders, may drop bombs on rebel-held Quneitra. How will the Israeli air force and anti-air batteries then respond? and against which targets?
Will the Syrian soldiers entering the Quneitra region bring with them the Hizballah and pro-Iranian Shiite militias taking part in the battle for Daraa? Israel has made its intention of countering this move clear in messages to the US and through the Russians to Damascus.
What happens if the Syrian army moves into the Golan demilitarized zone set up by the Israel-Syrian ceasefire accord in 1974 and monitored by UNDOF? Both the US and Israel would not accept this.
All these eventualities were explored on Wednesday, July 4, when the IDF Chief of Staff, Lt. Gen. Gady Eisenkott toured the Golan to inspect the readiness of Israel’s positions for a flare-up of hostilities, shortly after he returned from Washington and talks with top US army chiefs. Eisenkott visited the Bashan Division and conferred with field commanders on the state of the Syrian war and the Northern Command’s preparedness for an escalation. He was accompanied by OC Northern Command Maj. Gen. Yoel Strick and the Bashan commander Brig. Gen. Amit Fisher.
Indirect communications are reported between Israeli and Syrian officers via UNDOF regarding local problems related to the Syrian refugees encamped on Israel’s Golan border and cared for by the IDF. Our sources report that around 12,000 are gathered at present outside the Syrian village of Barika, 1,200 meters from the IDF’s Tel Fares positions.