July 08/2018
Compiled & Prepared by: Elias Bejjani


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Bible Quotations

Peter, you will deny me 3 times before the cocks crows today

Luke 22/28-34:" You are those who have stood by me in my trials; and I confer on you, just as my Father has conferred on me, a kingdom, so that you may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom, and you will sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel. ‘Simon, Simon, listen! Satan has demanded to sift all of you like wheat, but I have prayed for you that your own faith may not fail; and you, when once you have turned back, strengthen your brothers.’ And he said to him, ‘Lord, I am ready to go with you to prison and to death!’ Jesus said, ‘I tell you, Peter, the cock will not crow this day, until you have denied three times that you know me.

Titles For The Latest LCCC Bulletin analysis & editorials from miscellaneous sources published on July 07-08/18
Pope Fears for Christian Presence in Mideast/Agence France Presse/Naharnet/July 07/18
Banking to Cannabis: McKinsey Has a Plan for Lebanon's Economy/Bloomberg/July 07/18
Fidaa Itani and Lebanon’s battle for free speech/Makram Rabah/The Arab Weekly/July 08/18
Factional horse trading slows naming of Lebanese cabinet/Sami Moubayed/The Arab Weekly/July 08/18
No Breakthrough In Iran Talks As USA Sanctions Deadline Approaches/Jerusalem Post/Reuters/July 07/18
The Abuse of Egypt's Coptic Christians/Salim Mansur/Gatestone Institute/July 07/18
A Danish Scandal Is a Headache for the World/Lionel Laurent/Bloomberg View/July 07/18
Russians Love Being Victorious Underdogs/Leonid Bershidsky/Bloomberg/July 07/18
We already gave Syria to Putin, so what’s left for Trump to say/Dennis Ross/The Washington Post/July 07/18
Analysis Assad Returns to Israeli-Syria Border. The Big Question Is Who's Coming With Him/Amos Harel/Haaretz/July 07/18
Iran’s threats do it no favors/Camelia Entekhabifard/Arab News/July 07/18
Now Trump turns his guns on NATO/Andrew Hammond/Arab News/July 07/18
Cutting finance is key to fighting terro /Hafed Al-Ghwell/Arab News
For a Yazidi woman abducted by Daesh, a tearful homecoming/AP/Arab News/July 07/18 2018
Daraa’s displaced heading towards Jordan and Israel/Abdulrahman al-Rashed/Alarabiya/July 07/18
Trump pivots towards Russia as China digs in for US trade war/Dr. Mohamed A. Ramady/Alarabiya/July 07/18
The militia-run state, the refuge state or the hideout state/Abdullah bin Bijad Al-Otaibi/Alarabiya/July 07/18

Titles For The Latest LCCC Lebanese Related News published on July 07-08/18
Pope Fears for Christian Presence in Mideast
Ibrahim Lauds Hizbullah Refugee Role as New Batch Leaves for Syria
Critics Say Leaked Maarab Agreement 'Abolishes Political Life'
FPM Says Geagea 'Has No Principles' after Maarab Agreement Leaked
Hasbani Says LF 'Had to' Unveil Maarab Agreement after Bassil's Remarks
Army Raids Nouh Zoaiter's House in al-Sharawneh
Abu Nader Says 'Unbearable' Situation Requires Swift Government Formation
MP Nadim Gemayel Condemns Rampant Mindset in Lebanon's Political Life
Banking to Cannabis: McKinsey Has a Plan for Lebanon's Economy
Fidaa Itani and Lebanon’s battle for free speech
Factional horse trading slows naming of Lebanese cabinet
Lebanon attempting demarcation to recover occupied land: Aoun

Titles For The Latest LCCC Bulletin For Miscellaneous Reports And News published on July 07-08/18
Thousands Head Home in South Syria after Ceasefire Deal
Syrian Troops Celebrate Recapture of Jordan Border Crossing
East Syria Car Bomb Kills at Least 18
No Breakthrough In Iran Talks As USA Sanctions Deadline Approaches
Iran Executes Eight over Deadly IS Attacks in Tehran
China chides Iran over threat to block oil exports through Strait of Hormuz
Pompeo Presses N. Korea for Nuclear Commitments in Pyongyang
OPCW: No Nerve Agents but Possibly Chlorine Used in Douma
N. Korea Says U.S. Attitude in High-Level Talks 'Extremely Regrettable
The Latest LCCC Lebanese Related News published on July 07-08/18
Pope Fears for Christian Presence in Mideast
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/July 07/18
Pope Francis on Saturday voiced concern that Christians will disappear from the Middle East amid "murderous indifference" as war rages on. "The Middle East has become a land of people who leave their own lands behind," Francis said. He was addressing the leaders of almost all the Middle Eastern churches gathered in the Italian port city of Bari to pray for peace in the region. "There is also the danger that the presence of our brothers and sisters in the faith will disappear, disfiguring the very face of the region," the pope warned. "For a Middle East without Christians would not be the Middle East. "Indifference kills, and we desire to lift up our voices in opposition to this murderous indifference." Among those attending the ecumenical meeting in southern Italy are the patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople, the spiritual leader of the eastern orthodox church, and metropolitan Hilarion of the Russian orthodox church which is powerful in Syria. Patriarch Tawadros II is representing Egypt's orthodox Copts alongside six patriarch of eastern Catholic churches. "We want to give a voice to those who have none, to those who can only wipe away their tears," the pope said ahead of talks with the church leaders. "For the Middle East today is weeping, suffering and silent as others trample upon those lands in search of power or riches." Francis described the region as "the crossroads of civilizations and the cradle of the great monotheistic religions." "Yet this region ... has been covered by dark clouds of war, violence and destruction, instances of occupation and varieties of fundamentalism, forced migration and neglect. "All this has taken place amid the complicit silence of many."More than 350,000 people have been killed since Syria's brutal civil war began in 2011, with millions more displaced. The percentage of Christians living in the Middle East has fallen from 20 percent before World War One to four percent today, according to the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity.

Ibrahim Lauds Hizbullah Refugee Role as New Batch Leaves for Syria
Naharnet/July 07/18/General Security chief Maj. Gen. Abbas Ibrahim has welcomed Hizbullah's announcement that it has started accepting applications from Syrian refugees seeking to return to their war-battered country, as a new batch of refugees left the border town of Arsal for Syria.
In remarks to al-Akhbar newspaper published Saturday, Ibrahim said that Hizbullah's move “will eventually contribute to General Security's efforts to settle the situations of those seeking to return,” hoping the announcement will “receive the needed response from the refugees.”
“The step aids our work on the file which we are coordinating with the U.N. refugee agency and Syrian authorities,” Ibrahim added, stressing that any return will only be “voluntary and safe.”The National News Agency meanwhile reported that a new batch of refugees had started leaving the town of Arsal through the Wadi Hmayyed checkpoint towards the border town's outskirts. “448 people registered on the lists of the Lebanese General Security are expected to leave for the towns of Flita, Ras al-Maara and Hawsh Arab in the Syrian Qalamoun region,” NNA said, adding that “the Lebanese Red Cross and medical and emergency crews are carrying out logistic measures and necessary medical assistance through medics and a field hospital present at the site, amid security protection from the Lebanese Army.”

Critics Say Leaked Maarab Agreement 'Abolishes Political Life'
Naharnet/July 07/18/Slamming the leaked Maarab Agreement as a “scandal,” sources opposed to the agreement said the document reflected intentions to “abolish political and democratic life in Lebanon.” “The Lebanese Forces and the Free Patriotic Movement promised Christians that they would lead them into a new era of effective political presence and role, but what has been unveiled is a mere agreement for splitting ministerial, parliamentary and administrative posts and distributing them to partisans and supporters,” the sources told al-Joumhouria newspaper in remarks published Saturday. “Where are the national principles in the agreement, which contained no common vision for regaining sovereignty, reviving the role of legitimate institutions or implementing the constitution?” the sources asked. They added: “The agreement did not even mention any common vision for combating corruption and achieving economic reform, or essential files such as electricity, oil, health, social affairs and the media.”“A bilateral agreement between two parties cannot abolish the constitution, especially in terms of equality among citizens regarding rights and duties... Administrative posts should not be limited to those chosen by political parties, whoever these parties might be,” the sources went on to say. Accordingly, they described the Maarab Agrement as a recipe for “abolishing political and democratic life in Lebanon” and a “project for pushing youths and competent, non-partisan individuals to emigration.”The LF leaked the highly confidential agreement to the media in recent days amid bickering with the FPM over the share that each of them should get in the new government.

FPM Says Geagea 'Has No Principles' after Maarab Agreement Leaked
Naharnet/July 07/18/Senior Free Patriotic Movement sources have lashed out at Lebanese Forces leader Samir Geagea, saying he “has no principles” and wondering whether he supports the Presidency or “Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.”In remarks to al-Akhbar newspaper published Saturday, the sources accused Geagea of seeking to “eliminate” others, adding that “one cannot have an agreement with him seeing as he cannot commit to any agreement and he practices physical assassination in war and political assassination during peacetime.”
The fierce FPM campaign comes after the LF leaked the highly confidential Maarab Agreement between the two parties to the media. The FPM sources noted that the LF “has been violating the Maarab Agreement for the past year and a half.”“The document shows that Samir Geagea has no principles, seeing as in return for a share he did not accept anything but a signed paper. He was the first one to violate the confidentiality principle when he started threatening to publicize the agreement six months ago,” the sources added. “The agreement is mainly political and it stipulated that we would be a unified bloc. But in fact they did not fight anyone but us in the previous government. We agreed on respecting the strongest Sunni component in choosing the prime minister and he violated that through the role he played in the Nov. 4 crisis of Prime Minister Saad Hariri in Saudi Arabia,” the FPM sources went on to say. They added: “We also agreed on allying in the parliamentary elections but he refused that later.” The renewed FPM-LF bickering comes as the two parties wrangle over the Christian ministerial shares in the new Cabinet.

Hasbani Says LF 'Had to' Unveil Maarab Agreement after Bassil's Remarks
Naharnet/July 07/18/The Lebanese Forces was obliged to unveil the content of the highly confidential Maarab Agreement after Free Patriotic Movement chief MP Jebran Bassil voiced “inaccurate” remarks about it during his latest TV interview, caretaker Deputy PM Ghassan Hasbani of the LF said. “We have always respected the spirit of the Maarab Agreement, because it has a key role in pacifying the Christian arena, and it was a major initiative from the LF to consolidate real partnership that carries the spirit of positive cooperation,” Hasbani said during a radio interview. “During Minister Jebran Bassil's recorded interview, some inaccurate points were voiced, so we had to respond and clarify and to unveil the terms of the Maarab Agreement because the ambiguity around it has been used for disinformation,” Hasbani added.
He stressed that the LF is “keen on putting the public opinion in the picture of this agreement without any ambiguity.”“Since the beginning of the government's work, we had been keen on the principle of transparency in (the government's) work and towards the public opinion, so we were accused of obstruction and opposition. Let those accusing us of obstruction tell the media and the public opinion about the files that were obstructed by the LF,” Hasbani added. “One out of 13 files put forward by the energy minister were related to importing electricity and we asked him to return the file to the public bidding administration and this is what happened in the last session when it was returned to the public bidding administration. But we were surprised by Bassil's claim that the LF had agreed to the entire file and this is incorrect, that's why we had to clarify,” Hasbani said. The renewed FPM-LF bickering comes as the two parties wrangle over the Christian ministerial shares in the new Cabinet.

Army Raids Nouh Zoaiter's House in al-Sharawneh
Naharnet/July 07/18/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.

Abu Nader Says 'Unbearable' Situation Requires Swift Government Formation Saturday 07th July 2018/Kataeb leader's top adviser, Fouad Abu Nader, on Saturday, stressed that the party has decided to give a chance to the new government, reiterating openness to both the president and the prime minister. “What matters to us is to break the ice, especially with the President, so that we can fulfill our role,” he told Voice of Lebanon radio station. Abu Nader expressed his regret over the FPM-LF bickering, saying that there should be no place for inter-Christian divisions amid the critical phase that the country is going through. "People are suffering while officials are wrangling over shares and posts,” he said. Abu Nader also criticized procrastination in the government formation, blasting the concerned officials for their indifference as they have gone on vacations while the country is in limbo. "A solution must be devised because the economic and financial situation has become unbearable and there are other important files to address," he concluded.

MP Nadim Gemayel Condemns Rampant Mindset in Lebanon's Political Life Saturday 07th July 2018/Kataeb MP Nadim Gemayel on Saturday commented on the ongoing dispute between Free Patriotic Movement and the Lebanese Forces, deploring the fact that the mentality of partitioning has become prevalent. “Reality is that we now live in a country where politicians are more interested in partitioning; a strategy that is adopted in the government formation process instead of opting for a rescue formula and a political, economic and regulatory vision to fight corruption,” Gemayel told Annahar newspaper. “What is happening mirrors the degradation and erosion of the political values on which the country was built,” he added.

Banking to Cannabis: McKinsey Has a Plan for Lebanon's Economy
Bloomberg/July 07/18
Global consulting firm McKinsey & Co. has set out its vision for Lebanon’s economy, with recommendations ranging from building a wealth-management and investment-banking hub to becoming a provider of medicinal cannabis. Turning it into reality will be a tall order.
Caretaker Economy and Trade Minister Raed Khoury said implementing the thrust of the 1,000-page report will be crucial if Lebanon, the world’s third-most indebted nation, wants the international community to start releasing $11 billion in grants and soft loans pledged in April.
“They are all interrelated,” Khoury said Friday in an interview at his Beirut office as he read from a summary of the report. The abridged document was presented to President Michel Aoun this week, and the full version must be ratified by the new cabinet, which Prime Minister-designate Saad Hariri is still attempting to form following May’s elections. Voting again exposed Lebanon’s notoriously complex sectarian rifts, with the Iran-backed Hezbollah group securing a bigger chunk of the seats in parliament. After weeks of horse-trading, Hariri is nowhere near forming a ministerial team amid infighting within Christian and Sunni communities, and demands by political leaders for greater representation.
The divisions could reduce the McKinsey report to a “theoretical exercise,” said Sami Nader, head of the Levant Institute for Strategic Studies in Beirut. “The effort is laudable,” he said. But “anything that touches the economy will need political consensus in Lebanon because we don’t have a functioning democracy.”Lebanon hired McKinsey this year to help it formulate an economic plan. With at least three times as many Lebanese living abroad than at home, Lebanon has been sustained by remittances, mainly from the Gulf and Africa, which banks use to buy government debt.
Public debt stands at the equivalent of 150 percent of economic output and the International Monetary Fund sees it reaching 180 percent in five years. That puts Lebanon in the same league as Japan and Greece. Foreign reserves -- currently a record $43 billion -- enabled the local currency to survive political storms that periodically left Lebanon without a president or prime minister, as well as the influx of 1.5 million Syrian refugees and the negative impact of low oil prices on the Gulf job market.
‘Quick Wins’
Tackling some of Lebanon’s biggest problems, including corruption, will be key to rebuilding the economy, Khoury said. Lebanon has slipped down Transparency International’s graft ranking to 143rd of 180 countries.The report proposed some “quick wins” to ease the economic slowdown and show the international community that the country is serious about change, he said. They include setting up a construction zone for prefabricated housing that can be used in the rebuilding of war-torn Syria and Iraq, boosting tourism and opening new markets for a couple of Lebanese crops: avocados -- and cannabis. Cannabis is cultivated clandestinely in the eastern Bekaa Valley, which is dominated by Hezbollah, despite regular government eradication campaigns. Khoury said Lebanon could legalize cultivation and export the drug for medicinal treatments. “The quality we have is one of the best in the world,” he said, adding cannabis could become a one-billion-dollar industry. The government wants to boost real GDP growth to 6 percent within three years of reforms being implemented, halve unemployment that’s currently at around 20 percent in five to seven years, and raise the contribution of the productive sector from 14 percent of GDP to 25 percent by 2023, said Khoury. Lebanon’s history of chaotic administration, its unstable region and vested interests that could derail anti-corruption initiatives pose challenges, he said. But without change, “we will have major economic turmoil.”

Fidaa Itani and Lebanon’s battle for free speech
Makram Rabah/The Arab Weekly/July 08/18
For Itani, the prospects of free speech and civil liberties in Lebanon are worse than during the days of the Syrian occupation.
Journalist Fidaa Itani was sentenced in absentia to four months in prison and fined 10 million Lebanese pounds ($6,550) because of a Facebook post criticising Lebanese Minister of Foreign Affairs Gebran Bassil.
Itani had called out Bassil over his alleged racist policies towards Lebanon’s Syrian refugees. Bassil’s response was draconian and marked a further darkening of the skies over Lebanon.
That Itani was the subject of official ire is hardly new. The journalist’s investigative reports have uncovered numerous possible cases of corruption in Lebanon and implicated Bassil and other members of the ruling establishment. Itani was detained and questioned in July 2017 after he accused Lebanese Army intelligence of torturing and killing refugees under interrogation.
Bassil, the son-in-law of Lebanese President Michel Aoun leads the Free Patriotic Movement, which supports Hezbollah in its mission to return Lebanon’s 1.5 million, predominantly Sunni, refugees to the supposed security of Syrian President Bashar Assad.
Bassil has encountered much opposition in this mission. He ordered a freeze on the renewal of residency permits for the staff of the UN refugee agency, accusing it of intimidating refugees from returning by asking them about compulsory military service, security conditions and whether they have a place to live. The United Nations strongly denied the allegation.
Speaking to The Arab Weekly from London, where he is a political refugee, Itani said this crackdown on free speech was the government’s attempt to distract attention from the administration’s failure and corruption.
Itani said the administration began an offensive against two main groups, including “the international community, which it blackmails for funds to maintain its feeble economy, like [it] did at the recent Cedre conference, while at the same time accusing them of being responsible for Lebanon’s difficult state of affairs.”
The other group is made up of “normal people, particularly secular individuals who do not subscribe to any of the struggling sects; these voices of opposition (journalists and activists) to the status quo are swiftly suppressed and their trials expedited to ultimately silence them,” he said.
Itani said the prospect of free speech and civil liberties in Lebanon are worse than during the days of the Syrian occupation. “The recent indictment issued against me includes charges of defaming President Aoun,” Itani said.
However, Itani said, anyone participating in the elite’s sectarian rivalries “can go as far as to promote violence against others, as long as they are demanding a bigger piece of the pie.” Conversely, “anyone who, like myself, is exposing corruption and defending the Syrian refugees is treated as a sinner,” he added.
This violation of the freedom of the press is not restricted to Itani but has become a norm under Aoun, a former general at pains to present himself as a patriarchal figure, exempt from any kind of criticism. However, reports issued by the Samir Kassir Foundation, a group that monitors violations of freedom of the press, stated that, since his election in November 2017, Aoun has allowed more than 20 documented cases against civil society figures to proceed, including the detention and trial of journalists and political activists.
One of the casualties of the government’s unflinching line on silencing public criticism is journalist Michel Kanbour, the publisher of the news website Lebanon Debate. He was sentenced to six months in jail and fined 10 million Lebanese pounds in a defamation lawsuit filed by Customs Department Director-General Badri Daher. The jail sentence was suspended.
Kanbour said Itani’s indictment speaks to the heart of the freedom of the press and marks a clear departure from Lebanon’s legacy of liberalism.
“Nothing justifies sending a journalist to jail regardless of what position they take, as it sends a clear message to both journalists and activists that anyone who dares cross the red line of exposing corruption or objects to any aspect to bad governance will end up in jail like Itani and myself,” he said.
Above all, Kanbour warned, such autocratic measures introduced a dangerous element to Lebanon’s political culture, “which is self-censorship which drives people to think twice before daring to write or act.”
Itani is not merely a Lebanese journalist who dared to stand up to a degenerate political class that takes its citizens for granted, he is a vivid reminder that the Lebanese can no longer take the moral high ground and claim that their so-called nation is a true democracy.
*Makram Rabah is a lecturer at the American University of Beirut, Department of History. He is the author of A Campus at War: Student Politics at the American University of Beirut, 1967-1975.

Factional horse trading slows naming of Lebanese cabinet

Sami Moubayed/The Arab Weekly/July 08/18
Geagea is vehemently anti-Hezbollah and extremely critical of its involvement in the Syrian conflict, which has received the blessing of Aoun.
BEIRUT - Creating a new cabinet is becoming exceedingly difficult for Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri. In a country sharply divided by deep sectarian and political lines, Hariri needs to be extremely cautious about whom he chooses for the 30-member cabinet, careful not to cross either enemies or friends.
He only returned to power after a 5-year absence in 2016 after supporting Michel Aoun’s bid for the presidency in exchange for being named prime minister. The first hurdle in pulling together a new cabinet lies with Aoun, however, and his Free Patriotic Movement (FPM), headed by his son-in-law Gebran Bassil, who is the country’s minister of foreign affairs. The FPM is part of a wider parliamentary group, called the March 8 Alliance, which is strongly backed by the Syrians. In addition to the Foreign Ministry, it controls important portfolios such as defence, economy, justice and presidential affairs. The alliance won 24 seats in May’s elections, making it the largest Christian bloc in the Lebanese parliament.Aoun is suggesting giving one cabinet post for every four seats any bloc has in parliament, meaning no less than six portfolios for his FPM. Aoun is also demanding a share for himself as president, independent of his share as head of a parliamentary bloc, which could raise the number of Aounists in government to 13.
That is strongly being challenged by the second biggest Christian bloc — the Lebanese Forces led by Samir Geagea. Although Geagea supported Aoun’s election in 2016, rivalries run deep between the two Christian leaders, who waged a bloody war against each other in 1988.
Geagea is vehemently anti-Hezbollah and extremely critical of its involvement in the Syrian conflict, which has received the blessing of Aoun. The two men are challenging each other for Christian leadership and are bickering over what each of them gets in the Hariri cabinet. Geagea is demanding the post of deputy prime minister, in addition to his present share (information, public health and social affairs). Aoun is refusing to concede the post of deputy prime minister, saying that, although it was given to the LF in 2016, this was an exception. He says the position ought to be given to the FPM. Geagea has hinted that he would be willing to trade the deputy prime minister post, trading it for the Ministry of Defence, currently occupied by Yacoub Sarraf, an Aounist. Aoun and Bassil say they won’t budge on the Defence Ministry. Political analyst Fadi Akoum said: “It is unlikely that the deputy premiership will go the Lebanese Forces. On the contrary, the president will do his utmost to keep it in his hands, to use it as a pressure card should political tensions arise, reaching the point of where the prime minister is forced to step down.”
Aoun’s Shia allies have firmly secured their share of the Hariri cabinet, which includes two posts for Hezbollah (industry and sports and youth), and three for the Amal Movement (finance, agriculture and state development).
However, if Aoun’s formula is accepted, Hezbollah is entitled to a larger share, given that it controls 13 seats in parliament, while Amal heads a bloc of 17 MPs. They are demanding two additional seats — not for Shias but for their Sunni allies, suggesting Tripoli MP Faisal Karami and former Defence Minister Abdul Rahim Murad as potential ministers. Karami and Murad are strongly backed by Damascus.This time it is Hariri who is objecting, saying that members of the Sunni opposition only have ten seats in parliament and, thus, are not entitled to cabinet representation. Amal’s bid is also being challenged by Aoun, who fell out with his former allies last year after they accused him of despotism for signing off a decree without consulting with his Finance Minister, a member of Amal, and bypassing Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri, the leader of Amal.
Hariri’s Future Bloc has no intention of sharing power with Sunnis who are not part of the prime minister’s following. They control six posts, including prime minister and the strategic Ministry of Interior. If Hezbollah and Amal were to get their way, one of their seats would go to the Sunni opposition.
Another hurdle is the Druze representation. Druze leader Walid Jumblatt did not run for parliament but oversaw the election of his son, who heads a bloc of nine seats. They are technically entitled to two portfolios and presently control education and human rights affairs.
Aoun is trying to force them to relinquish one position to Emir Talal Arslan, another heavyweight Druze, who is allied to the Syrians. This has created bad blood between Jumblatt and Aoun, who were bitter enemies during the civil war. Jumblatt never trusted Aoun, especially after he cuddled up to Hezbollah and the Syrians in 2006. Last June, he tweeted that the Aoun Era has been a “failure,” triggering a backlash from the Aounists. Hariri needs to accommodate all these powerful players before his cabinet sees the light. Even if it does, there are other obstacles.
What will Hariri do about the Syrian refugee crisis? He wants them to stay while Aoun and Hezbollah want them to return to Syria. What will he say about the arms of Hezbollah? A condition for joining any cabinet, after all, is to pledge to “protect the arms of the resistance.” Hariri included it in his cabinet formation statement when he was named prime minister in 2009 but Hezbollah walked out on his cabinet in 2011 during a visit to the White House. He said it again, very unwillingly, in 2016 and realises that to make it through a third time, he needs to say those words, verbatim, otherwise Hezbollah will never work with him. Sami Moubayed/Sami Moubayed is a Syrian historian and author of Under the Black Flag (IB Tauris, 2015). He is a former Carnegie scholar and founding chairman of the Damascus History Foundation.

Lebanon attempting demarcation to recover occupied land: Aoun
The Daily Star/July. 07, 2018/BEIRUT: President Michel Aoun Friday said Lebanon is attempting to demarcate land borders with Israel in order to reclaim Lebanese territory including the Shebaa farms and the Kfar Shuba hills, according to a statement from the president’s office. During a meeting at Baabda Palace with a committee headed by Mohammad Hamdan that deals with the case, Aoun said Lebanon would “not spare any efforts” to reclaim the lands. “The land is Lebanese; its inhabitants are Lebanese, [not] Lebanese nationals who own non-Lebanese land. All their personal and legal dealings are linked to Lebanon, which is enough to prove that the land is ours,” Aoun was quoted as saying. Aoun further said there had been ongoing attempts to demarcate the land borders, which included the Shebaa farms and Kfar Shuba hills, noting the effort was being carried out with the help of the United Nations and not “directly with Israelis.”“[The demarcation] is Lebanon’s sovereign right, and no one can dispute this,” Aoun said. He described the security situation in Lebanon as “excellent” and noted that Syrian refugees in Shebaa were also beginning to return to Syria, which would “positively” impact Shebaa’s security and economy. Hamdan in turn praised Aoun’s stance, and said he hoped that areas “neglected by the Lebanese government,” including Shebaa, would enjoy Aoun’s “indefinite support.”
The committee also presented a list of proposals, which included demanding “necessary compensation for economic losses suffered by the area’s [residents] as a result of the [Israeli] occupation.”The committee requested that the Lebanese government stand firm on the agreements it has reached with Syria regarding the area, which is located at the intersection of the Lebanese-Syrian border and the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights. Hamdan additionally hoped the committee, which he said had been cooperating with the Lebanese Army and Lebanese government institutions from the day it was established, would receive the president’s support, the statement said. Families of civilian Syrians began voluntarily returning to Syria from Shebaa in April, when buses carrying hundreds of Syrian refugees departed from the area, bound for Syria. At the time, Aoun hailed the move as indicative of Syria’s return to stability. Israel pulled its forces out of most of southern Lebanon on May 25, 2000, after 18 years of continuous occupation. However, it still occupies the village of Ghajar, the Shebaa farms and the Kfar Shuba hills.

The Latest LCCC Bulletin For Miscellaneous Reports And News published on July 07-08/18
Thousands Head Home in South Syria after Ceasefire Deal
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/July 07/18/Thousands of displaced Syrians were heading home Saturday after rebels and the government reached a ceasefire deal in the south following more than two weeks of deadly bombardment, a monitor said. Under the agreement announced Friday after talks between rebels and regime ally Moscow, opposition fighters will hand over territory and heavy weapons in Daraa province near the Jordanian border. The Russia-backed regime offensive has displaced around 320,000 people since June 19, the United Nations says, including tens of thousands who fled south to the sealed border with Jordan. Calm reigned over the region on Saturday as the two sides finalized the ceasefire deal, the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitoring group said. "People have started to return to their homes since yesterday, taking advantage of the calm," Observatory chief Rami Abdel Rahman said. "More than 20,000 people have set off for home so far, heading to areas for which an accord has been reached in the southeastern Daraa countryside," he said. But others "are scared to return to regime-controlled areas, fearing their children will be arrested," Abdel Rahman said. The accord follows a string of similar deals with rebels for other areas of Syria, which have seen the regime retake more than 60 percent of the country, according to the Observatory. A government takeover of Daraa would be a symbolic victory for President Bashar al-Assad as the province was the cradle of the uprising against him seven years ago that led to civil war. More than 150 civilians have been killed in the regime bombing campaign on Daraa since June 19, the Observatory says. Under Friday's deal, rebels are expected to hand over their heavy weapons, while those who reject the agreement will be bused with their families to the rebel-held northwestern province of Idlib, state media has said. Government forces will also take over "all observation posts along the Syrian-Jordanian border," it said Friday, hours after the regime regained control of the vital Nassib border crossing with Jordan. On Saturday, "regime forces sent more reinforcements to the border crossing," Abdel Rahman said. More than 350,000 people have been killed and millions displaced since Syria's war started in 2011 with a brutal crackdown on anti-government protests.
Syrian Troops Celebrate Recapture of Jordan Border Crossing
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/July 07/18/Syrian soldiers are celebrating the recapture of the main border crossing with Jordan, raising portraits of President Bashar Assad and tearing down rebel flags. Troops captured the Naseeb border crossing a day earlier, after rebels announced they had reached an agreement with Russian mediators to end the violence in the southern province of Daraa and surrender the crossing. State-run Ikhbariya TV showed troops at the crossing Saturday, some flashing victory signs and pumping fists in the air. One officer told the TV that troops have taken up positions along the border with Jordan and are removing illegal crossing points. The rebels seized control of the crossing in 2015, severing a lifeline for Syrian exports and disrupting a trade route between Syria and Jordan, Lebanon and the oil-rich Gulf countries.

East Syria Car Bomb Kills at Least 18

Agence France Presse/Naharnet/July 07/18/A car bombing in eastern Syria on Friday killed at least 18 people including 11 members of a U.S.-backed force that has fought the Islamic State group, a war monitor said. "A car bomb went off in front of the Syrian Democratic Forces' base in Al-Bsayra town in the eastern Deir Ezzor countryside," said Rami Abdel Rahman, head of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.It killed "a commander and ten other personnel, as well as seven civilians including three children," he said.

No Breakthrough In Iran Talks As USA Sanctions Deadline Approaches
مع اقتراب موعد فرض العقوبات الأميركية على نظام إيران لم تحرز المفاوضات الأوروبية-الإيرانية أي تقدم
Jerusalem Post/Reuters/July 07/18
Tehran is threatening to withdraw from the deal unless Europe can guarantee it the economic benefits and protections that were built into the nuclear agreement.
WASHINGTON – Leaders from five world powers and Iran returned to the sight that witnessed a diplomatic breakthrough in 2015 on Iran’s nuclear work, hoping for another in light of US President Donald Trump’s May withdrawal from that landmark accord.
But they emerged without any tangible progress, just weeks before the US is set to reimpose nuclear-related sanctions on Iran and those doing business with it.
Tehran is threatening to withdraw from the deal unless Europe can guarantee it the economic benefits and protections that were built into the nuclear agreement.
But returning US sanctions will target foreign businesses that continue to engage with Iran, and already, several EU corporations have pulled out of deals agreed to in the wake of the nuclear accord.
Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif claimed progress and said that the five world powers at the table – China, Russia, Britain, France and Germany – agreed that the US had isolated itself in withdrawing from the accord.
But the Europeans expressed skepticism.
Speaking after three hours of talks, EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini, who chaired the talks, read a statement from the six delegations repeating previously- announced broad priorities ranging from guaranteeing Iranian oil revenue to shipping ties, banking and all other trade and investment cooperation.
“Participants agreed to keep progress under close review and to reconvene the joint commission, including at ministerial level, as appropriate in order to advance common efforts,” Mogherini said, adding that all sides were determined to find and implement solutions.
Unlike at past meetings, Mogherini took no questions.
“All the commitments made today should be implemented before the August deadline... it is up to the leadership in Tehran to decide whether Iran should remain in the deal... the proposal was not precise and a complete one,” Zarif told reporters.
Speaking earlier in the day, France’s foreign minister said that world powers would struggle to keep to that deadline.
“They 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.
On Sunday, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said he could see a path forward.
“But to achieve that they need to take practical measures and certain decisions within the time limit,” he said.
US sanctions will snap back in two parts, with a first round returning in August, and with the harshest sanctions returning in early November. The State Department is telling companies not to expect any waivers, claiming administration policy is to apply maximum economic pressure on the Iranian government.
Reuters contributed to this report

Iran Executes Eight over Deadly IS Attacks in Tehran
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/July 07/18/Iran has executed eight people convicted over two deadly attacks claimed by the Islamic State group in Tehran last year, the judiciary's news agency said Saturday. The Iranian men were convicted of collaborating directly with the IS jihadists who carried out the attacks on June 7, 2017, Mizan Online reported. "They supported them financially and procured arms, while being informed of the aims and the intentions of the terrorist group," the agency said. It did not specify when the executions took place, but the Tasnim news agency said the sentences were carried out on Saturday. IS claimed responsibility for the dual attack on Iran's parliament and the shrine of revolutionary leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini that killed 17 people and wounded dozens. The assault was the first and only claimed by the Islamic State group in Tehran. Iran was targeted for supporting Iraqi and Syrian authorities in their fight against IS and other jihadist groups. Five assailants died, either in suicide bombings or killed by Iranian security forces. Legal proceedings continue for others allegedly involved in the attacks, Mizan Online said.
China chides Iran over threat to block oil exports through Strait of Hormuz
Reuters/Arab News/07 July 2018/Saudi Arabia, Iraq and Kuwait are among China’s most important oil suppliers, so any blockage of the strait would have serious consequences for its economy
BEIJING: Iran should make more effort to ensure stability in the Middle East and get along with its neighbors, a senior Chinese diplomat said on Friday, as Iran’s Revolutionary Guards warned they may block oil shipments through the Strait of Hormuz.Saudi Arabia, Iraq and Kuwait are among China’s most important oil suppliers, so any blockage of the strait would have serious consequences for its economy. Iranian President Hassan Rouhani 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, Chinese Assistant Foreign Minister Chen Xiaodong said 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,” Chen told a news briefing, ahead of a major summit between China and Arab states in Beijing next week. “Especially as it is a country on the Gulf, it should dedicate itself to being a good neighbor and coexisting peacefully,” he added. “China will continue to play our positive, constructive role.” Ministers from 21 Arab countries are attending the summit. Chinese President Xi Jinping will give the opening address on Tuesday. Meanwhile, the Netherlands has expelled two Iranian embassy staff, the Dutch Intelligence service AIVD said on Friday. “We can confirm that the Netherlands has expelled two persons accredited to the Iranian embassy,” a spokesperson for Dutch intelligence said. “We will not provide any further information.”

Pompeo Presses N. Korea for Nuclear Commitments in Pyongyang

Agence France Presse/Naharnet/July 07/18/Washington's top diplomat engaged in an intense day of negotiations with his North Korean counterpart Saturday as he strove to nail down Pyongyang's commitment to nuclear disarmament. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo held talks in an elegant Pyongyang guest house for a second day with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un's right-hand man Kim Yong Chol. The U.S. envoy later left Pyongyang bound for Tokyo, where he was to brief his Japanese and South Korean counterparts and talk to reporters on Sunday. The negotiations followed President Donald Trump's summit with Kim Jong Un in Singapore, where the leaders signed a statement committing Pyongyang to "work towards complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula."While hailed by Trump as ending the threat of nuclear war, the June 12 statement was short on clear commitments, and Pompeo was tasked with negotiating a detailed plan in Pyongyang. "Our policy hasn't changed," Pompeo's spokeswoman Heather Nauert told reporters as the meetings got underway. "Our expectation is exactly what the president and Kim Jong Un jointly agreed to in Singapore, and that is the denuclearization of North Korea," she said. Saturday's talks were held at a villa in an official compound close to the imposing mausoleum where North Korea's former helmsmen Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il -- the current leader's grandfather and father -- lie in state. As the day began, Pompeo left the compound to make a secure call to Trump away from potential surveillance, then returned to restart talks and they continued through a working lunch for almost six hours. The meeting appeared to be drawing to a close at around 3.00pm (0600 GMT) and he flew out of the country just over an hour later, without talking to reporters.
In opening remarks, Kim Yong Chol asked Pompeo if he had slept well on his first overnight stay in the country, adding: "But we did have very serious discussion on very important matters yesterday. "So thinking about those discussions you might have not slept well last night," he suggested. Pompeo responded that he had slept "just fine" but the exchange suggested tougher talks ahead.
- Crisis over? -
Pompeo warned that "the path toward complete denuclearization building a relationship between our two countries is vital for a brighter North Korea and the success that our two presidents demand of us."Kim replied: "Of course it is important. There are things that I have to clarify."
"There are things that I have to clarify as well," Pompeo responded. Pompeo, who was on his third visit to Pyongyang, began the outreach when he was still Trump's CIA director and remained the pointman on negotiations after the process became public and he became secretary of state.
In comparison to past international nuclear disarmament negotiations, the discussions between Washington and North Korea on thawing ties and dismantling the North's arsenal appear to be proceeding in reverse. Kim and Trump's Singapore summit resulted in a statement committing Pyongyang to "work towards complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula" in exchange for U.S. "security guarantees" and peace in the decades-old stand-off. But rather than the two leaders crowning years of detailed negotiation with their one-on-one meeting, the short statement marked instead the start of a diplomatic long slog, and Trump earned the scorn of Korea watchers and non-proliferation experts when he declared the crisis over.
- 'Nitty gritty details' -
The task of establishing the disarmament program now falls to Pompeo, who is seeking a formal declaration by the North of the size of its nuclear program as well as an eventual timetable for it to be ended under international verification and inspection. Many experts doubt Kim's sincerity -- a nuclear deterrent to U.S. intervention has long been a strategic goal of his isolated, autocratic regime -- and few expect this to be a quick process, even if Washington wants results within a year.

OPCW: No Nerve Agents but Possibly Chlorine Used in Douma
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/July 07/18/The world's chemical arms watchdog said Friday it had found no evidence nerve gas was used in an alleged attack on the Syrian town of Douma, but chlorine may have been deployed. Rescuers and medics have said about 40 people were killed in an alleged April 7 attack on the then rebel-held town, which stirred international outrage and led to unprecedented Western air strikes on Syrian military installations. After being denied access for a few weeks, a team of inspectors from the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) took more than 100 samples from some seven sites in Douma, on the northern outskirts of Damascus, several weeks later. "The results show that no organophosphorous nerve agents or their degradation products were detected either in the environmental samples or in the plasma samples from the alleged casualties," the OPCW said in a long-awaited interim report late Friday. But it added the fact-finding mission did find "along with explosive residues, various chlorinated organic chemicals."It is understood that could mean some samples contained potential markers of exposure to an active source of chlorine, not found naturally in the environment.
"Work by the team to establish the significance of these results is ongoing," the OPCW added.
Medics and rescuers say many of those killed died when a cylinder landed on the roof on a housing block. That house as well as an apartment where another cylinder was found lying on a bed, and the hospital where patients were treated were among the sites visited by the inspectors. A total of 34 people were interviewed. The fact-finding team was still working on the "provenance" of the cylinders which will require a "comprehensive analysis" by experts, the OPCW said.
Global divisions
The team's mission to Douma was launched following international outrage over images of adults and children appearing to be suffering from the effects of a poison gas attack. There had been claims that residents were victims of exposure to sarin gas -- but that has been ruled out by Friday's interim report. The Douma incident has deeply divided international opinion. Russia has stuck by its ally Syria and angrily insisted the attack was staged by the White Helmets volunteer rescue service. Western powers, however, blamed the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. In response, the United States, France and Britain joined forces to unleash air strikes on Syrian military installations for the first time in the seven-year civil war. However, visits by the OPCW inspectors to a warehouse and another location in Douma suspected of toxic arms manufacture showed "no indication of either facility being involved in the production of chemical warfare agents," the body concluded. Meanwhile, in a separate report the fact-finding team said it "cannot confidently determine whether or not a specific chemical was used as a weapon" in two earlier alleged incidents in 2016.
It said the two incidents had happened in neighborhood of al-Hamadaniyah, on October 30, 2016 and in the area of Karm al-Tarrab, a few weeks later on November 13, 2016. Friday's report came a week after the OPCW's top policy-making body agreed that the organization should have new powers to say who was responsible for any toxic arms attacks in Syria. Late last year, Russia wielded its veto power at the U.N. Security Council to effectively kill off a joint U.N.-OPCW panel aimed at identifying those behind suspected chemical attacks in the war-torn country.

N. Korea Says U.S. Attitude in High-Level Talks 'Extremely Regrettable'
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/July 07/18/North Korea hit out at what it called Washington's "rapacious demands" and "extremely regrettable" attitude, according to a report by the South's Yonhap news agency, just hours after concluding talks with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in Pyongyang. "The U.S. attitude and positions at the high-level talks on Friday and Saturday were extremely regrettable," the North's Foreign Ministry said in a statement, Yonhap reported.

The Latest LCCC Bulletin analysis & editorials from miscellaneous sources published on July 07-08/18
The Abuse of Egypt's Coptic Christians
إساءة معاملة المسيحيين الأقباط في مصر

Salim Mansur/Gatestone Institute/July 07/18
The violence, and incitement to violence, directed by Egyptian Muslims against the Copts -- especially those organized sectarian campaigns by the Muslim Brotherhood and related groups -- are crimes against humanity and should be treated as such by the international community.
We know that a few drops of lemon will curdle an entire bowl of milk. Egypt's Muslims, as many Muslims elsewhere, have poured the entire Nile River -- made toxic by their bigotry and violence -- into their faith-tradition. We, Muslims, have degraded our culture by authoritarianism and the obstinate tendency to blame others for our own failings. We have thus perverted the very Islam that we believe is the final revelation.
Muslims in Egypt and elsewhere know from experience the extent to which Western powers have betrayed in practice what they pronounce in theory when it comes to support for people subjected to authoritarian regimes.
What is long overdue from the West is a robust policy to defend and secure human rights for everyone, especially minorities, in Muslim-majority countries... [as in] the Helsinki Agreement of 1975.
We have seen and recoiled from the horrific footage of Coptic Christians beheaded by ISIS in 2015 in Libya and the repeated bombings over the past two decades of Coptic churches in Egypt. We read about the Maspero massacre in 2011, when Egyptian military tanks, deployed to protect peaceful Christian demonstrators, instead rolled over them, crushing many to death. And we continue to receive reports of Coptic girls abducted, compelled to convert to Islam and forced into marriages with Muslims.
Each time there is news of another act of hate-filled violence against the Copts, or other religious minorities, we shudder. When there are attacks against Yazidis in the Fertile Crescent, the Baha'is in Iran and Christians and Ahmadis in Pakistan, we ask how Muslims can affirm these crimes against humanity perpetrated under the banner of Islam.
Apart from condemning the visible/demonstrable bigotry and violence -- and from appealing to Western governments for assistance -- Muslims opposed to Islamist extremism are at a loss about what needs to be done to hold the governments of Egypt and other Muslim-majority states accountable for their failure to protect their religious minorities from the sectarian violence that is regularly directed at them.
Here, regarding the Copts in Egypt, are a few preliminary observations that might serve as a proposal for how Muslims and non-Muslims, working together, might find a way out of this terrible situation and ensure their mutual survival and peaceful co-existence:
Egyptian Muslims are primarily, and fundamentally, responsible for the worsening situation of the Coptic Christians in Egypt. As Egypt's overwhelming majority population, Muslims have the responsibility to secure the rights of the Copts as a religious minority.
The violence, and incitement to violence, directed by Egyptian Muslims against the Copts -- especially those organized sectarian campaigns by the Muslim Brotherhood and related groups -- are crimes against humanity and should be treated as such by the international community
As part of their religious obligation, Egyptian Muslims bear an even heavier responsibility to secure the well-being and protect the rights and dignity of Coptic Christians. In persecuting the Copts, Egypt's Muslims are shredding the directives of the Quran on respecting and protecting Jews and Christians as the "People of the Book." According to the Quran, each one of us will be held accountable for our deeds on the Day of Reckoning. It is not for God to forgive the wrong an individual does to another unless the wrongdoer has sought and received forgiveness from the victim. In accordance with their own beliefs, then, Egypt's Muslims are undeniably guilty for the wrongs they have done to the Copts and will most certainly be held accountable on the Day of Reckoning.
The tragedy of the Copts is hugely amplified when we take into account their unique status in the history of Islam: due to the very special and intimate relationship that the leader of the Coptic Church was instrumental in arranging between his people and the Prophet Muhammad. According to the official history of the Coptic Church:
"For the four centuries that followed the Arab's conquest of Egypt, the Coptic Church generally flourished and Egypt remained basically Christian. This is due to a large extent to the fortunate position that the Copts enjoyed, for Mohammed -- the Prophet of Islam -- who had an Egyptian wife named 'Coptic Maria' (mother of Ibrahim his son), preached especial kindness towards Copts: 'When you conquer Egypt, be kind to the Copts for they are your protégés and kith and kin."'
We know that a few drops of lemon will curdle an entire bowl of milk. Egypt's Muslims, as many Muslims elsewhere, have poured the entire Nile River -- made toxic by their bigotry and violence -- into their faith-tradition. We, Muslims, have degraded our culture by authoritarianism and the obstinate tendency to blame others for our own failings. We have thus perverted the very Islam that we believe is the final revelation.
Egyptian history has been shaped greatly by the cycle of invasions, conquests, exploitation by non-Egyptians, sectarian disputes and religious conflicts, long before the coming of the Arabs in the seventh century of the Common Era, and long after the Arabs had lost their supremacy in the region to non-Arabs and non-Muslims. The negative effects of such a long and enduring history also find expression in the violence that makes the Copts victims of Muslim bigotry and violence in recent history.
Muslims in general, including those of Egypt, are a "third world" people. As a result, they are both victims and victimizers in the complicated history of the modern world. As a "third world" people, they are confronted with the immense challenge of modernization, made even more difficult with the deep involvement of, and intervention by, outside powers in their situation. For the past century, Egypt has borne the full imprint of this complicated history, particularly since the failed 1882 proto-nationalist uprising in the Nile valley, led by Ahmed Arabi. That failure led directly to the occupation of Egypt by Britain, and in the subsequent struggle of the Egyptian people to achieve both independence and development. It was a failure that greatly confounded the inherent patience and nobility of the Egyptian people, for whom wars and their devastating consequences became a heavy burden.
It may not be difficult to be magnanimous in victory, as the Prophet Muhammad demonstrated, following his conquest of Mecca in 630; but it is certainly easy to become embittered, resentful and vengeful in defeat, as has been the history of Arabs and Muslims over the past century. This situation is when enlightened leadership becomes essential, but such leadership has been sorely missing in Egypt and in the wider Muslim world.
So what is to be done given the situation of Coptic Christians in Egypt, and religious minorities across the Muslim ummah (community)?
Whatever specific policy initiative is taken to deal with their plight, there is one indispensable requirement going forward. In the words of the German Catholic theologian, Hans Küng: "No survival without a world ethic. No world peace without peace between religions. No peace between the religions without dialogue between the religions."
Muslims in the public arena have one simple yet formidable task on hand: to speak the truth about the way in which Muslims across the world have been perverting God's Word into a political ideology and their religion into an unending inquisition.
During a December 2014 address to religious scholars and clerics at Cairo's Al-Azhar University -- the most renowned Sunni Muslim institution of learning in the Islamic world -- Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi declared unambiguously:
"Honorable Imam [the Grand Sheikh of Al-Azhar], you bear responsibility before Allah. The world in its entirety awaits your words, because the Islamic nation is being torn apart, destroyed, and is heading to perdition. We ourselves are bringing it to perdition... We must take a long, hard look at the current situation we are in. It is inconceivable that the ideology we sanctify, should make our entire nation a source of concern, danger, killing, and destruction all over the world. It is inconceivable that this ideology... I am referring not to 'religion,' but to 'ideology' -- the body of ideas and texts that we have sanctified in the course of centuries, to the point that challenging them has become very difficult."
Egypt's President, Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, delivered a historic speech to top Islamic scholars and clergy at Al-Azhar University in Cairo, December 28, 2014. (Image source: MEMRI)
For the political leader of present-day Egypt to understand that Muslim religious scholars and clerics "bear responsibility" for perverting Islam by turning it into a fierce political ideology is extraordinary. The question, however, is whether those scholars and clerics grasped what he was saying. More importantly, do they have the integrity to rise to al-Sisi's challenge? And what about the West's responsibility in this matter?
Western powers, if they are to maintain credibility regarding leadership based on human rights, cannot turn a blind eye to what is going on in the Muslim world. Muslims in Egypt and elsewhere know from experience the extent to which Western powers have betrayed in practice what they pronounce in theory when it comes to support for people subjected to authoritarian regimes.
Egypt's Muslims have a long record of struggling to modernize their society. The lack of success of religious reformers, such as Muhammad Abduh (1849-1905) and Ali Abd al-Raziq (1888-1966), and secular intellectuals, such as Taha Hussein (1889-1973), Nasr Hamid Abu Zayd (1943-2010) and Hasan Hanafi (b.1935), in bringing Egypt out of its "third world" cultural backwardness was compounded by the complicated history of the country and people caught in the grips of colonial interests, anti-colonial struggles, inter-Arab rivalries, wars against Israel, and the Cold War contest in the Middle East.
What is long overdue from the West is a robust policy to defend and secure human rights for everyone, especially minorities, in Muslim-majority countries. Ironically, it already has on hand well-tested policies of both defending and successfully advancing respect for human rights within totalitarian states in the form of the Helsinki Agreement of 1975, which in retrospect contributed to the undoing of communism in the Soviet Union and its satellites in Eastern Europe.
A policy modelled on the Helsinki Agreement and tailored to the specific situation within the Muslim world, as in Egypt, by the Western powers led by the United States should be presented as the sine qua non to the member states of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) if they wish to maintain a relationship of mutual respect and assistance with, for instance, the G7 nations. As signatories of the UN-adopted Universal Declaration of Human Rights of 1948, the OIC member states, including Egypt, must be told in no uncertain terms that their complicity in or failure to prevent human-rights abuses will have serious consequences.
The Western powers should also make it known categorically that the 1990 Cairo Declaration of Human Rights in Islam, which was adopted by the OIC, is unacceptable, because Article 24 of the document states: "All the rights and liberties stated in this Declaration are in accordance with the precepts of the Islamic Law." In other words, the Cairo Declaration makes Shariah law the basis for rights and freedoms within Muslim-majority countries. This should be totally unacceptable to Western powers, particularly the United States, as the principal founding member of the United Nations -- just as it is unacceptable to Muslims who understand the incompatibility of Shariah with the requirements of the modern world.
Shariah is an obsolete product of the minds of men belonging to the early Middle Ages. The Copts, as other religious minorities among the member states of the OIC, and many Muslims, are victimized daily on the basis of Shariah in Egypt. There can be no reprieve for them as long as the government continues to impose Shariah-directed rules and regulations in the country as a whole, and as long as Egyptian society complies.
An incessant demand must be made of the United States to lead the G7 to adopt a Helsinki-type of agreement in their dealings with the member states of the OIC. Such an accord eventually would have a similar effect on the Muslim world -- in terms of human rights, protection of religious minorities, equal status for women and freedom of speech as essential for advancing democracy -- as the Helsinki Agreement had in liberating the people under communism in the former Soviet Union and in Eastern Europe.
The treatment of the Copts in Egypt is a moral outrage for any Muslim aware of the religious tradition bequeathed to him by his prophet. This tradition includes Muhammad's affection for the Copts through his marriage to Maria, a daughter of the Copts, who bore him the son, Ibrahim (died in infancy), he so earnestly desired. As a result of this providentially blessed relationship, the Copts as a people became Muhammad's extended family, his kith and kin. When Egyptian Muslims seek God's mercy, they need reminding that it begins with atoning for wrongdoing against the Copts, and seeking forgiveness from them. The leadership of Al-Azhar University in Cairo could make a beginning by following President al-Sisi's example when he said recently, in welcoming the Copts with open arms as members of Egypt's family:
"We too love you. You are our family, you are from us, we are one and no one will divide us."
Salim Mansur is a Distinguished Senior Fellow at Gatestone Institute. He teaches in the department of political science at Western University in London, Ontario, and is the author of "The Qur'an Problem and Islamism"; "Islam's Predicament: Perspectives of a Dissident Muslim"; and "Delectable Lie: A Liberal Repudiation of Multiculturalism."
**This article is based on remarks the author delivered at the 9th annual convention of Coptic Solidarity, held in Washington, D.C. on June 21-22.
© 2018 Gatestone Institute. All rights reserved. The articles printed here do not necessarily reflect the views of the Editors or of Gatestone Institute. No part of the Gatestone website or any of its contents may be reproduced, copied or modified, without the prior written consent of Gatestone Institute.

A Danish Scandal Is a Headache for the World
Lionel Laurent/Bloomberg View/July 07/18
It’s probably not the best idea for a bank CEO to apologize for a scandal until its full extent is known.
It turns out that the scale of alleged money laundering at Danske Bank A/S may be much worse than previously estimated back in May. The Danish lender’s Estonian operations may have been used to launder as much as $8.3 billion between 2007 and 2015, twice previous estimates, according to a local news report. So far, the bank has received little more than a stern ticking off and a request to hold more capital by the national regulator.
Danes are right to wonder whether harsher punishments are in store. Danske CEO Thomas Borgen said in May he was “very sorry” and that the bank is “in a very different place today” when it comes to fighting financial crime. But the regulator made sure to leave its enforcement options open until the bank completes its inquiries.
Shares in the bank fell as much as 3.6 percent on Wednesday, suggesting there’s lingering uncertainty. The consequences for the bank are more likely to be “emotive” than financial, according to Bloomberg Intelligence. The repercussions for Danish regulators and the way regulators police banks internationally are likely, however, to be broader.
With the bank’s final report due later this year, Denmark will want to show it’s a credible line of defense in the fight against money laundering. The list of warning signs at Danske was very long. The bank’s Estonian non-residents’ unit was generating returns in excess of 400 percent at the time of the alleged money flows — a glaring red flag. The unit didn’t even have an anti-money-laundering chief for most of 2013. The case will be a landmark test for a country that was told to do more to guard against this kind of risk in 2017 by the Financial Action Task Force.
But it’s important for Europe and global authorities to pay attention to the international nature of this case. The Danish regulator’s report, and evidence uncovered by anti-corruption reporting organizations, paints a picture of money flowing from Russia into the European Union via Baltic banks using UK-registered shell companies. There are possible weak links everywhere. A whistleblower at Danske took action after spotting false data being submitted to Britain’s corporate register, Companies House. That strikes at one of the hubs of global finance.
European regulators are slowly stirring into action, helpfully prodded by the US’s tough warnings against illicit money flows from Latvia. Local authorities in the Baltic states are piling in with probes, and supranational regulators are responding to pressure to take action. In March, the European Central Bank took away Estonian lender Versobank’s license after allegations of criminal activity. There’s more to be done: The ECB’s outgoing top banking cop, Daniele Nouy, has recommended a more unified fight against money laundering, with harmonized rules across Europe.
Whatever happens at Danske, focusing on banks’ compliance failures and regulatory enforcement is only one part of the story. The swelling size of the alleged money laundering points to the need to share information across borders better and make sure there are sufficient resources to police it. If that doesn’t happen, it won’t just be Denmark that suffers.

Russians Love Being Victorious Underdogs
Leonid Bershidsky/Bloomberg/July 07/18
Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny, who came out of detention on the day the soccer World Cup began in Russia, has devoted much of his time lately to organizing protests against a retirement age increase timed to coincide with the World Cup. On Sunday, though, most of Navalny’s Twitter feed was dedicated to Russia’s round of 16 game against Spain.
“I’m so nervous I’ve eaten two bags of chips already. Going to grab a third,” he tweeted during the match. “How beautiful this is,” he posted after it was over. Spain’s hopes were dashed and Russian goalkeeper Igor Akinfeyev was feted as a hero after deflecting two Spanish penalty shots.
The jubilation that lasted through the night had nothing to do with any propaganda goals President Vladimir Putin’s government may have set for the World Cup. It had everything to do with the kind of victory ordinary Russians prefer to win: Fair, recognized by the whole world and at the same time slightly miraculous.
In a non-totalitarian society, it’s impossible to manufacture a display of sincere joy. Sunday’s was real, not least because it wasn’t about anything the government did. It was the team, in which almost no one believed before the tournament, that delivered against all odds, winning a quarterfinal berth for the first time in post-Soviet history and sending home a much stronger rival that bested it on all statistical counts. The reactions to Putin’s exploits — the Crimea annexation or military victories over Chechen rebels or in Syria, for example — got the most muted celebrations by comparison.
Spain had possession of the ball 79 percent of the time and took 25 shots to Russia’s seven. Its passing accuracy reached 90 percent to Russia’s 65 percent. That was pretty much to be expected given the Russian squad’s combined market value of 161.8 million euros ($188.3 million) compared with Spain’s 974 million euros. And Russia scored an early own goal that gave me that sinking feeling of impending disaster.
Led by Stanislav Cherchesov, who’d spent much of his playing career sitting on the bench as substitute goalkeeper, the hapless Russian squad, often described as the worst in a generation, has lost to Costa Rica and Qatar. It was such an underdog that, after unexpectedly convincing victories against Saudi Arabia and Egypt, Travis Tygart, head of the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency, called for stepped-up drug testing: “Extraordinary performances demand additional tests.”
It’s still such an underdog that the claim is widespread on the social networks — where it’s supported especially by Ukrainians — that Russia has paid off everyone to have a good tournament, including FIFA, the soccer governing body, for putting it in the easiest possible bracket, and the rival teams. The unlikeliest people defend Russia against these claims. Alexander Ryklin, one of the most consistent anti-Putin commentators, whose website,, is blocked by the Russian government censorship, pointed out on Facebook that no one in top-flight soccer would put their reputation on the line in this way:
A sane person wouldn’t doubt that the local bosses would put in maximum effort to get Russia into the next round by paying bribes, if it had the opportunity. Our bosses’ reputation allows no such doubt. But whom would one have to offer money in this case, who would be at the other end of such a deal?
To the unending surprise and joy of most Russians, pro-Putin or anti-Putin, the wins are entirely down to the once-plodding national team, scraped together from internationally middling Russian clubs (Cherchesov even had to bring in 38-year-old Sergei Ignashevich, who doesn’t have a contract for next year yet, to play in the crucial center-back position because he lacked a decent alternative). This thoroughly Russian, anti-elite squad is fighting like gladiators for every ball; in fact, they’ve covered more mileage than any team except for Serbia, Germany and Australia, all of which have been eliminated.
Though Russian folk tales often let the lucky layabout win, this is not the Russian team’s case. Rather, its performance is best described by what striker Artem Dzyuba said before the Spain game:
What’s going on is a fairy tale for all of us. It happens all the time for Spain, but for us it’s the match of our lives. We must just die on the pitch. Show our maximum, play 200 or 300 percent as well as we can, only then we’ll stand a chance.
Watching Dzyuba win one high ball after another against much better Spanish players, I knew he meant it.
The message from the team to the rest of the country is unambiguous: If we can win, you can, too. Kremlin spin doctors may want to milk this moment of triumph, but there is no way for them to own this message. The country’s pent-up energy, compressed like a spring by the weight of a corrupt, violent regime, shows in the team’s sudden burst of self-denial and in the abandon with which its success is being celebrated.
This feeling of uncoiling is reminiscent of the rallies that ended the Soviet Union and the 2011 protests. It’s the underdog’s sudden feeling of power. As for the Kremlin, it should hope the team’s wings are clipped in the next round. Who knows what ideas Russians might get if it goes further.
We already gave Syria to Putin, so what’s left for Trump to say?
دانس روس من الواشنطن بوست: لقد قدمنا سوريا لبوتين فماذا بقي ليقوله ترامب
Dennis Ross/The Washington Post/July 07/18

Dennis Ross, a distinguished fellow at the Washington Institute, served in senior national security positions in the Reagan, George H.W. Bush, Clinton and Obama administrations.
Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result may not meet the clinical definition of insanity, but it’s still a pretty good standard. It also happens to define both President Barack Obama’s and President Trump’s approaches to working with Russia on the Syrian civil war. Washington and Moscow have repeatedly issued joint statements outlining principles for addressing the conflict and reducing its horrific humanitarian consequences. Yet over and over again, the Russians have betrayed their commitments.
Consider the record. In November 2015, Secretary of State John F. Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov reached an agreement on the Vienna principles. They called for a cessation of hostilities; lifting the sieges on all cities; the unimpeded provision of food, medicine and other humanitarian materials; the drafting of a constitution in six months; and a political transition process of 18 months. In December 2015, these principles were enshrined in U.N. Security Council Resolution 2254. Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s regime blatantly violated all of the terms: It lifted no sieges and did not allow humanitarian relief to pass unimpeded.
The Russians, too, did nothing. Although Assad and the Russians did finally implement a cease-fire two months later, it collapsed by April 2016 as the Assad regime resumed its onslaught against civilian targets, with a special emphasis on hospitals. Much as in his use of chemical weapons, Assad hit hospitals to show that he would respect no limits. Kerry was reduced to condemning Assad’s attacks while plaintively appealing to Moscow to act on the responsibility enshrined in the December 2015 resolution. “We all signed the same agreement and we all supported the same UN Security Council Resolution 2254, which calls for a nationwide cessation of hostilities,” he said, adding that “it calls for a nationwide, full delivery of humanitarian assistance within all of Syria.”
Clear words, but no consequences. Not surprisingly, Kerry’s calls were in vain. By the fall of 2016 he tried again, reaching an agreement on a joint operations center with the Russians in the hopes of reducing the violence and making a political process possible. Once again he was frustrated, declaring that he had “profound doubt about whether Russia and the Assad regime can or will live up to the obligations that they agreed to in Geneva.” The Russian response was to launch a scorched-earth attack on Aleppo, which reduced the eastern half of the city — then Syria’s largest — to rubble. That ended Kerry’s efforts.
Trump has made his own attempts to get somewhere with the Russians. On the margins of the Group of 20 summit in Germany in July 2017, he and Putin finalized a cease-fire agreement for southwestern Syria. Trump met again with Putin in November at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in Vietnam, where they issued another joint statement on Syria. It emphasized the “importance of de-escalation areas as an interim step to reduce violence in Syria, enforce cease-fire agreements, facilitate unhindered humanitarian access, and set the conditions for the ultimate political solution to the conflict” on the basis of U.N. Security Council Resolution 2254.
So how did the Russians act after that? Along with the Assad regime and the Iranians, they waged military campaigns that decimated and depopulated three of the four de-escalation areas. The fourth, the one Trump and Putin had agreed to in southwestern Syria, remained quiet — effectively freeing the Assad regime, with its Russian backers, to attack elsewhere.
Lately Assad and the Russians have turned their attention to southwestern Syria, bombing relentlessly. On June 21, the State Department issued a blunt statement warning the Assad regime and the Russian government about “serious repercussions of these violations.” The Russians intensified their bombing, creating a new refugee flow with more than 270,000 people fleeing to the Jordanian and Israeli borders. Did Moscow face any “serious repercussions”? No — only Trump’s pursuit of a summit with Putin.
Neither Obama nor Trump has been prepared to impose any consequences on the Russians. Both wanted out of Syria, not to be embroiled in it. And both permitted Putin to become the arbiter of events. So what should Trump do when he and Putin meet in Helsinki on July 16?
He should make a virtue of necessity and convey the following points: that the United States will maintain our small presence in Syria until the Islamic State is gone; that unless Iran’s continuing entrenchment in Syria is contained, it will trigger a wider war between Israel and the Iranians; and that we will back the Israelis completely, making it in Putin’s interest to stop the expansion of the Iranians and their proxies in Syria and prevent a major regional escalation. Trump might even suggest that the Russians broker a set of red lines between the Israelis and Iranians in Syria.
Indeed, Trump could also ask Putin to be his channel to the Iranians. Apart from limiting the potential for miscalculation with Tehran, it could give Putin a stake in coordinating with us on Iran. With the United States having already conceded Syria to Russia, history tells us we are unlikely to achieve more.

Analysis Assad Returns to Israeli-Syria Border. The Big Question Is Who's Coming With Him

عاموس هاريل من الهآررتس: الأسد عاد إلى حدود بلاده مع إسرائيل..السؤال الكبير هو: من هم الذين عادوا معه
Amos Harel/Haaretz/July 07/18
'It's like Stalingrad,' Israeli officers say about the fighting in southern Syria
The pictures of Syrian President Bashar Assad have still not yet returned to the walls of the restaurants in the Druze villages on the Golan Heights, but it seems that it is only a matter of time. Southern Syria is preparing for the return of the murderous regime that has massacred more of its citizens than any other dictatorship, so far, in the 21st century.
Israel, more or less, has also gotten used to the idea of the expected result: The reestablishment of control by Assad’s forces over the entire region along the border with Israel. “The story is over,” a senior defense official told Haaretz. The IDF’s Northern Command estimates the final push will take a few weeks, once the order is given.
The IDF’s deployment and preparations along the Syrian border focus on very specific things: reinforcing armored and artillery units, providing aid to the refugees fleeing to the border region from the horror of the regime’s bombing in the Daraa Province, and a high level of readiness for medical teams in case it becomes necessary to treat very large numbers of wounded.
But all these steps are carefully coordinated with the red lines set by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Israel will prevent any spillover of fire into its territory and will respond with force if the Syrian army violates the Disengagement Agreement with Syria from 1974, which officially ended the Yom Kippur War. Israel does not intend on defending the villages of the Sunni rebels near the border, despite the great help it provided them in recent years – and which, according to foreign media reports, included weapons and ammunition.
The regime’s attacks around Daraa, almost 60 kilometers east of the Israeli border on the Golan, began with a force that even surprised the IDF a bit. Because Assad is dependent on Russian air support, it was thought that Russian President Vladimir Putin would not want the pictures of dead Syrian children ruining the public relations success of his country’s hosting of the World Cup soccer tournament.
But it turned out that the World Cup will not save the residents of Daraa. The artillery shelling and a few aerial bombardments led to a mass flight of tens of thousands of refugees from the villages and towns north and east of Daraa. The Syrian regime has already begun releasing video clips in which tanks can be seen rumbling down the abandoned streets.
The combined forces of Syrian army troops, local Shi’ite militias and imported militias are continually conquering towns around the city. Daraa itself is split in half, as the IDF noted this week: “A bit like Stalingrad in World War II – Assad in one part, the northern part, the rebels in the other part, the southern half, and in the middle a river separates them.”
Too late now
On orders from above, the troops of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards and foreign Shi’ite militias are integrating into the forces of the Syrian army and have begun wearing its uniforms. The attack on Daraa is commanded by Syrian Brig. Gen. Suheil al-Hassan, nicknamed “The Tiger,” who already displayed his murderous abilities in earlier campaigns.
Gossip in Syria says that Hassan’s growing popularity has very much begun to bother Assad himself. The bombing and shelling have been accompanied by negotiations with Russian and Syrian generals over the terms of the rebels’ surrender, which are being held at the same time with the heads of the rebel villages.
A village that pledges anew its allegiance to Assad lays down its weapons, and the men from the village enlist in the army they have been fighting against for years. Those who refuse are transferred with their agreement on buses to the only other major area the rebels still control, near the city of Idlib in northern Syria. So far the military resistance is tiny, in Syrian terms. House-to-house fighting has not happened.
The IDF’s Northern Command is of the opinion that if the Assad regime increases the pace of its attack, after the World Cup in Russia ends on July 15, it will be able to return and conquer all of southern Syria within a few weeks. Daraa is the main target and along with it the nearby border crossing with Jordan.
After Daraa, Assad will have to decide whether to attack the ISIS branch in control of the area of the triple border point between Israel, Jordan and Syria. Some 80,000 civilians live in the area under the iron fist of about 1,000 to 2,000 ISIS fighters, who enforce the laws of the fanatic Islamist group.
Another possibility is for the regime to change its schedule and move up the takeover of the rebel areas on the Syrian side of the central Golan Heights, including a series of towns only 20 kilometers from the border with Israel. Their occupation would also bring about the fall of other villages right on the border because these towns rely for their daily supplies on the larger towns farther from the border.
Israel is less worried about the Assad regime and more about what will come afterward. IDF officers asked about it this week responded candidly: Assad is a vile murderer, but his regime is looking for stability and not a confrontation with Israel – and is aware of the balance of power between the two countries. Between 1974, the year in which the present commander of the IDF division on the Golan, Brig. Gen. Amit Fisher, was born in Kibbutz Merom Golan on the Golan Heights, and 2013, when the Assad government lost its control over southern Syria, the Golan was Israel’s quietest front.
Assad’s army will return to the Syrian Golan Heights and reestablish its bases and outposts there. If Israel had the opportunity to intervene and reduce the slaughter of Syrian civilians, it disappeared years ago – and in any case no public support existed at the time in Israel to risk the lives of its soldiers for this purpose. Now it is too late anyway.
Telling everyone what they want to hear
The main question will be: Who else will come to the Golan along with the Assad regime? Over the past few months, a growing presence by Hezbollah has been identified in observation posts not far from the border. Some of these were bombed by the Air Force on May 10, the most recent round of fighting against Iran in Syria. It is unlikely that the Revolutionary Guards and Hezbollah will pass on the temptation to draw closer to the border with Israel after the recapture of the Syrian Golan.
For now, the refugees are gathering in the area of the demilitarized zone along the Syrian side near the border. Near the village of Rafid, across from Tel Fares in the southern Golan, 5,000 new refugees had arrived from the Daraa area by the middle of the week. Israel provided them with 12-person army tents, the type most Israelis used to know very well from their basic training.
International aid organizations provided smaller tents, but these tend to collapse in the strong winds. The IDF is trying to enlist larger aid groups, including the United Nations and the Red Cross, to provide more extensive help, but bureaucratic problems still exist. For example, the Red Cross can only work with the approval of the government in Syria, and of course Assad has no interest in providing any help to refugees from rebel areas. In comparison, the Israeli response is quite impressive: The Golan Regional Council is organizing donations from Israeli communities, while families are buying food baskets for their neighbors across the border.
A hungry and wounded Syrian child will always remember that Israel provided him with help, even though in the Syrian schools he and his parents were taught that their neighbor to the west was the source of all evil. The question is whether this policy will withstand its big test of fire that is coming soon. “Here you fill a bucket for years and then kick it over in a second,” explained an IDF officer this week – remembering the abandonment of the South Lebanon Army, the militia friendly to Israel headed by Maj. Saad Haddad, when Israel withdrew suddenly from southern Lebanon in May 2000.
On July 16, the day after the World Cup final in Moscow, Putin will meet with U.S. President Donald Trump in Helsinki, Finland, where . Syria will be one of the topics. Senior Israeli and American officials have expressed hope recently that as a result of the Putin-Trump summit it will be possible to reach arrangements in southern Syria, and Russia will keep its promises to keep the Iranians and their Shi’ite militias away from the border with Israel on the Golan Heights.
It is still not yet clear whether this optimism has any basis in reality. The Russians are talking to all the sides and it seems they are telling each of them what they want to hear.

Iran’s threats do it no favors
Camelia Entekhabifard/Arab News/July 07/18
When they approach other nations to seek help over the economic crisis they face, it appears that Iranian politicians either do not understand diplomatic language, or are too arrogant to use it.
Iran presented European countries with a list of demands for compensation for the consequences of US withdrawal from the 2015 nuclear deal. Otherwise, they are ready to resume their nuclear deal, and the consequences do not seem to matter to them.
Europe has faced difficult choices since US President Donald Trump withdrew from the nuclear deal in May. Most private companies have ended their business relationships with Iran, to avoid possible penalties by the US Treasury for violating US sanctions. Some European countries want to try to save the nuclear deal, but they have been disappointed by Iran’s aggressive and hostile behavior. The remaining signatories to the deal — the UK, France, Germany, Russia and China — met Iranian representatives in Vienna last Friday to discuss its future. Before the meeting, the French Foreign Minister, Jean-Yves Le Drian, urged Iran to stop issuing threats about violating the deal. Such threats did not help the creation of an economic compensation package, he said.
And these are not the only threats emanating from Tehran. President Hassan Rouhani has said that if Iran is prevented from exporting its oil by pressure on other countries from the US, then no one else will be able to export their oil. This has been interpreted as a clear threat to block oil shipments from the Gulf states through the Strait of Hormuz, and was supported by Mohammad Ali Jafari, commander of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps. The threat may also extend to the Bab Al-Mandab waterway between Yemen and Djibouti, where shipping may be disrupted by Iran-backed Houthi militias.
It appears that the EU is trying to buy time, to see if Trump is prepared to offer some exemptions to the economic sanctions imposed on Iran, and to see if the Iranians agree to new talks with the US on other issues of concern.
In discussions last week with German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron, Rouhani said that since the US withdrawal Iran had been dealing with economic issues and problems in banking relations and oil, and that foreign companies were skeptical about continuing their business there. He described the package of incentives proposed by European countries to encourage continued trade with Iran as “disappointing,” and said they “lacked an operational solution and a specific method for cooperation, and featured just a set of general commitments.”
Clearly the Iranians are disappointed with what is on offer. Equally clearly, European ministers are having difficulty in making any specific promises to Tehran. Perhaps this is the reason the ministerial meeting in Vienna to discuss the nuclear deal was so brief, and lasted for only two hours. The European Union says it is keen for the nuclear deal to survive, but it need time to come up with the necessary economic packages, and they cannot be prepared before November. This, of course, is when Trump is expected to reintroduce sanctions on the Iranian oil industry.
It appears that the EU is trying to buy time, to see if Trump is prepared to offer some exemptions to the economic sanctions imposed on Iran, and to see if the Iranians agree to new talks with the US on other issues of concern.
As Julie Andrews sang: “A spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down, in the most delightful way.”
*Camelia Entekhabifard is an Iranian-American journalist, political commentator and author of Camelia: Save Yourself By Telling the Truth (Seven Stories Press, 2008). Twitter: @CameliaFard

Now Trump turns his guns on NATO
Andrew Hammond/Arab News/July 07/18
NATO’s 29 heads of state and government, from countries with a collective population of around 1 billion, will meet in Brussels on Wednesday and Thursday for what could prove a historic summit. This will not be primarily due to the important announcements made about the future of the alliance, but because of US President Donald Trump’s potentially disruptive diplomacy at a time of growing Western splits.
The annual summits of one of the world’s most successful military alliances ever — one that has helped underpin the longest period of sustained peace in the West’s modern history — can become key moments in its evolution.
Key among the modernization measures expected to be announced this week include deepening cooperation with the EU, launching a new training mission in Iraq, and extending funding for Afghan forces. Underlying this will be a new military command structure and increased force readiness.
Yet as important as these developments potentially are, much attention will focus squarely on Trump after his recent comments about NATO at last month’s G-7 Summit. Then, he asserted that the military alliance was, for the US, “as bad as the North America Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA),” which he has called “the worst trade deal maybe ever signed anywhere, but certainly ever signed in this country.”
Coming hot on the heels of the G-7 in Canada, when Trump remarkably refused to endorse the end-of-summit communique, there is palpable anxiety that he will once again prove a highly disruptive presence.
What is particularly feared is that he will criticize NATO colleagues, then days later have a cordial meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Helsinki, which could undermine confidence in the transatlantic alliance.
Coming hot on the heels of the G-7 in Canada, there is palpable anxiety that Trump will once again prove a highly disruptive presence at NATO.
In this sense, what is concerning Europe and Canada is a mirror image of what happened after the G7 Summit. Then, after openly lambasting key, longstanding allies, Trump went to the Singapore Summit to heap praise on North Korean leader Kim Jong Un despite little, if any, new concessions from Pyongyang over its nuclear program.
If Trump proves to be in such a mood again, his anger will most likely manifest around the failure of numerous key NATO states to spend more on defense. This list includes Germany and Spain, which currently are not expected by 2024 to deliver on a pledge to meet a target of 2 percent of gross domestic product (GDP) spending on their militaries.
These fractures in the alliance have been exacerbated by a potential trade war on the horizon. In late June, the EU retaliated against the US with tariffs on around $3.3 billion of American products, in response to recent US duties on aluminum and steel.
In the face of these challenges, and conscious that Trump will be seeing Putin soon, most NATO member states will seek to underline the unity of the Western alliance, not least in the face of an emboldened Russia.
There is alarm in certain quarters about the West’s ability to respond to what is perceived as a significantly enhanced Russian security threat. Whereas Russia is estimated to have increased defense spending by some 80 percent between 2008 and 2014, the counterpart figure for NATO countries collectively was a decrease of around 20 percent, although there have been increases in defense spending since then in some European states and Canada, and a significant rise in the US.
This burden-sharing issue has long been a sore spot for the US, which accounts for around two-thirds of total NATO defense spending. For instance, Barack Obama had urged allies during his presidency to meet the target of 2 percent of GDP.
Beyond Russia, there will be another dimension of the attempted showcasing of unity this week: In the wake of the UK’s scheduled departure from the EU in March, most NATO members will be keen to emphasize the unity of the Western alliance.
NATO has cooperated with the EU on a range of security challenges for many years, including currently in the Aegean Sea to help tackle the migrant and refugee crisis. And the two organizations are demonstrating even higher levels of reciprocal cooperation in areas such as hybrid and cyber threats, and increasing maritime security.
Taken overall, the summit will therefore give NATO important strategic direction in a rapidly changing security environment. However, the new measures are unlikely to fully satisfy Trump, who appears to have significant continued concerns about whether the alliance is fit for purpose.
**Andrew Hammond is an associate at LSE IDEAS at the London School of Economics.

Cutting finance is key to fighting terror
Hafed Al-Ghwell/Arab News/July 07/18
The world has witnessed a significant rise in terrorist incidents for many reasons. Some terrorists are from nationalist movements, criminal organizations and, more prominently, religiously motivated groups. The most significant of the latter are offshoots of extremist Islamist groups.
International organizations and national governments have employed multiple tools to combat such movements. Most of the tools are anchored on military, security and intelligence agencies. While many of these efforts have been successful in the fight against terrorist organizations, the efforts remain lacking and unable to eradicate the menace of global terrorism.
In fact, in many ways these security measures have exacerbated some problems, given the tendency of many governments to employ harsh measures indiscriminately against even their peaceful political opponents, creating further grievances. Terrorist organizations have used some of these extreme measures to recruit people seeking revenge for perceived injustices against them and their families by their governments.
Many now argue that the most effective tools in this seemingly endless global war on terrorism are intellectual and financial, alongside carefully executed security measures that are targeted and do not create further grievances and desperation, especially among the young.
On the intellectual level, the key problem is that most extremist groups employ religious teachings that are traditional, common and therefore familiar to the average believer, but with different, extreme interpretations.
These interpretations are often literal, reductionist, and divorced from core meanings and context, casting believers and their faith as victims of global or government conspiracies and plots by evil forces bent on destroying their religion and culture. Added to a deep sense of oppression and a lack of economic opportunity or legal protection, the combination can be lethal, and attracts more people to the “cause.”
All 22 Arab countries, which are FATF members, have established their own task forces to implement the FATF’s international standards, and to cooperate regionally to combat terrorism-related financing.
The more concrete issue of finance is far more pragmatic and dangerous. It is the most direct tool terrorists use to translate their ideologies into action. Without financial capacities, their plans cannot materialize and their damage can be severely minimized.
Terrorist organizations employ all sorts of illegal activities to finance terror acts and move those resources around the globe. They engage in drug and human trafficking, bribery and corruption, robbery and even stock market manipulation to get money, launder it and mobilize it globally for their sinister purposes.
Many such activities rely heavily on using untraceable “currency” such as diamonds, gold, timber, tanzanite and even cryptocurrencies. According to the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF), 3-5 percent of global gross domestic product (GDP) is laundered; that is about $3 trillion annually. A percentage of that massive sum belongs to terrorist groups.
In 1989, the G7 established the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), joined by other countries as an intergovernmental body that sets international standards and legal, regulatory and operational measures to combat global money laundering for terrorism financing and related threats.
All 22 Arab countries, which are FATF members, have established their own task forces to implement the FATF’s international standards, and to cooperate regionally to combat terrorism-related financing. Despite Western misperceptions, Arab countries have succeeded in reducing money laundering nationally and internationally.
For example, according to the globally recognized Basel Anti-Money Laundering Index (AML), Saudi Arabia is less likely to allow money laundering through its financial system than Turkey, Pakistan, China and Russia.
Jordan, according to the index, is the Arab country least likely to finance terrorism or launder money. Sadly, other Arab countries — such as Libya and Yemen — still have a long way to go to minimize money laundering by terrorist and criminal groups because of state failures, civil wars and governmental collapse.
In the Islamic world, the FATF has cited Iran and Pakistan as among the worst offenders. The Washington Institute reports: “For a number of years, the FATF had called on national-level regulators in member states to implement ‘countermeasures’ against Iran, given ‘the risk of terrorist financing emanating from (there) and the threat it poses to the international financial system.”
For the Arab world to rid itself of the danger of terrorism, it must act on multiple levels to limit terrorist organizations from using intellectual, religious, financial and security resources.
Arab countries must employ all measures at their disposal to fight this menace that threatens their societies and future. Without serious, strong and deep legal, economic and political reforms, they will continue to suffer from instability and chaos in this period of power shifts and challenges to the very foundation of nation-states.
*Hafed Al-Ghwell is a senior adviser at the international economic consultancy Maxwell Stamp and the geopolitical risk advisory firm Oxford Analytica, a member of Strategic Advisory Solutions International in Washington DC and a former adviser to the board of the World Bank Group. Twitter: @HafedAlGhwell

For a Yazidi woman abducted by Daesh, a tearful homecoming
يزيدية كان داعش اختطفها تعود إلى أهلها بحزن وذكريات ليس فيها غير الدموع

AP/Arab News/July 07/18 2018
Farida Khalaf somehow kept her composure as she returned to her devastated home village in northern Iraq. Khalaf was just 18 years old when she was captured and sold into slavery, and endured four months of rape, torture and beatings
BAGHDAD: Farida Khalaf somehow kept her composure as she returned to her devastated home village in northern Iraq for the first time in four years — until she entered the schoolhouse.
That was where the Daesh militants had separated her and other Yazidi women from their male relatives, selling the women into sexual slavery and sending the men to their deaths. Today, the walls are covered with the portraits of those who were killed.
She fell to her knees and sobbed uncontrollably.
Khalaf was just 18 years old when she was captured and sold into slavery, and endured four months of rape, torture and beatings until she managed to escape. She later wrote about her experiences in “The Girl Who Beat Isis: My Story,” published in 2016.
The Associated Press does not generally identify the victims of sexual assault, but Khalaf has gone public with her story.
On Tuesday she returned to her village of Kocho for the first time since she was captured, passing rows of homes and buildings destroyed in the battle to retake the village in 2015.
“It was very difficult for me to think that I would come back to Kocho again,” Khalaf said later, as she stood inside an empty classroom looking at the photos of the dead.
“I will never forget the day Daesh came and they gathered us in the school and separated us from our families, that will never leave my mind,” she said, using the Arabic acronym for the extremist group.
The militants swept into Sinjar, the ancestral homeland of the Yazidis near the Syrian border, in August 2014, after capturing the northern city of Mosul and declaring an Islamic caliphate in large areas of Iraq and neighboring Syria. Tens of thousands of Yazidis escaped to Mount Sinjar, where most were eventually rescued by US-backed Kurdish forces.
Those who stayed behind met the fate of Khalaf and her family.
The Yazidis are an ancient religious minority, falsely branded as devil-worshippers by Sunni Muslim extremists. IS, adopting a radical interpretation of ancient Islamic texts, declared that Yazidi women and even young girls could be taken as slaves.
Khalaf was taken to the schoolhouse and separated from her father and older brother, who were killed. She and her mother were among thousands of women who were bused from Sinjar to the Syrian city of Raqqa, the de facto capital of the caliphate.
In the book, co-written with the German journalist Andrea Hoffmann, she describes how they were bought and sold like cattle. She says the men would kneel and pray before raping her, convinced that it was sanctioned by religion. She fought back — which often triggered her epilepsy — and tried to kill herself.
She eventually escaped when her “owner” left the door to her room unlocked, and her mother escaped five months later. Khalaf spent time in a camp for displaced people in northern Iraq before eventually relocating to Germany, where she lives now.
Ahmed Khudida Burjus, the deputy director of Yazda, a US-based Yazidi rights group, says around 7,000 women and girls were captured and sold into slavery, with nearly half eventually escaping. In Kocho alone, at least 500 men and boys were killed, and 800 women and girls taken away.
The group has documented at least 54 mass graves of Yazidis, but says a lack of resources has delayed the exhumation of the remains, and that there may be more graves yet to be discovered.
Over the past three years, Syrian and Iraqi forces have gradually driven IS out of nearly all the territory it once held. But the group still maintains a presence in the Syrian desert and remote areas along the border.
At least 3,000 Yazidi women, girls and children are still unaccounted for. Khalaf says their fate is never far from her mind.
“I was in their captivity and I know how difficult it is to be there, a day feels like a year,” she said. “We prayed every day that the day would pass without beating or torture or rape.”

Daraa’s displaced heading towards Jordan and Israel
Abdulrahman al-Rashed/Alarabiya/July 07/18
Amid ongoing battles by the regime, Russian fighter jets roaming the sky, the presence of armed Syrian groups, some of them local and regional, others extremists, a quarter of a million Syrians have fled their homes in southwestern Syria. Most of the refugees are women and children from the Daraa governate who, walking on their own two feet, made their way west to Israel or to Jordan.
Both countries, Jordan and Israel, are refusing to accept refugees in the same way Turkish authorities have decided to close off their borders to those coming in from northern Syria. Jordan has been flooded with Syrians, and has become a refuge for them since the beginning of the war, and continues to be a refuge for Iraqi asylum seekers as well. As for Israel, it is unlikely to allow anyone to enter while it constantly tries to come up with new ways to get rid of Palestinians, especially those who live in the occupied West Bank.
International law and the 1951 Refugee Convention demands that countries accept refugees. Without shelter, thousands will die of starvation and thirst in the deserts or possible explosions in the minefields buried between the borders of the three states. If abandoned, extremist organizations will most likely take advantage and recruit the children, which is what happened in Iraq and Afghanistan.
But after several years since the Syrian crisis began and the international community’s ongoing silence about the more than five million Syrians who have been displaced abroad and the more than 10 million displaced in the country, we do not expect neighboring countries to take on more than what they already have. More refugees will surely threaten Jordan’s stability and security.
Placing blame
If anyone is to blame, it is those who orchestrated the recent agreement on Daraa, where they sought to stop the fighting and hand over the southern areas without considering the consequences it will have on the people, and without finding a solution to the millions who fled the war this summer.
Regional and international parties, together with international organizations, should deal with the refugee crisis differently this time. Instead of sending them across borders and to host countries like Jordan, Lebanon or Turkey, they can establish shelters in Syria.
Is it possible to set up refugee camps inside Syria, with parties that practice mass murder, including the regime's own forces, ISIS and others? Whether the agreement fulfills its intended plan of ending the war completely, or it fails and the bloodshed continues, establishing shelters within Syria is the only remaining solution.
Jordan cannot and should not be forced to accept any more refugees. Israel refuses to accept them, and Turkey and Iraq have closed off their borders as well. We are facing an unprecedented humanitarian crisis. Displacements were previously dealt with through the efforts of international organizations, who carried out great humanitarian and logistic work. Neighboring countries also dealt with the influx of refugees with as much responsibility and humanity as they could.
The current wave of refugees is unsurprising as it is a result of the new battles in Daraa which were planned for weeks, and paved the way for the regime’s forces to move to the south after the Iranian forces and militias tried to stop them. International organizations and governments could have developed preemptive solutions to the hundreds of thousands of refugees expected to flee the combat zones. However, they failed to do so, perhaps because they did not want to encourage people to leave their towns. Yet, they were left with the same problem where more than a million people are left helplessly wandering the country’s plains and mountains.

Trump pivots towards Russia as China digs in for US trade war
Dr. Mohamed A. Ramady/Alarabiya/July 07/18
Once again, the world was waiting for the unexpected to happen and for carefully crafted international consensus and policy agreements to fly out of the window if President Trump does what he does best – keeping friends and foes alike on edge about his next moves.
The next saga to be played out will be the often delayed but now agreed Trump – Putin summit in Helsinki on 16 July. This will come after the US President attends a NATO summit and a somewhat low-key official visit to the United Kingdom.
No country will be on tenterhooks over surprise outcomes from the American – Russian summit than the British government which has been leading the charge in Europe against Russian mischief, whether real or imagined, in attempted spy assassinations to interference and encroachment on smaller European countries of NATO. A sudden rapprochement between the unpredictable American Trump and the more patient Russian President will certainly be more than a headache for many in Europe.
However, while the prospect of a thaw in American–Russian relations, like the dramatic but short of substance US-North Korean summit in Singapore might be good news to reduce global tensions between super powers and provide hope for settlement on many festering issues , a new phase of cooler American–Chinese relations is becoming more apparent with long term ramifications on trade and security . The Chinese have prepared for the current cooling in relations to turn to a freeze with trade war preparations against the United States.
To highlight the seriousness, President Xi Jinping personally presided over a meeting of China’s highest decision-making body, the Standing Committee of the Communist Party of China, in Beijing on June 21. It was the first time Xi has ever chaired a top decision-making body meeting focused on China-US relations since taking over as top leader. An equally unusual two-day meeting of the Central Conference subsequently followed that meeting on Work Relating to Foreign Affairs, which since 1989 has traditionally been held in December. There, Xi reportedly spent time again talking about US-China relations. At this meeting, President Xi called on all provinces and ministries to be prepared for a full-scale trade war with the United States.
US tariffs on $34 billion worth of Chinese goods
Why all this preparation? Chinese officials had concluded that it was inevitable the US will impose tariffs on $34 billion worth of Chinese goods on July 6, and so were taking steps to respond accordingly with tariffs of their own. To give added weight to the deliberations, the Chinese Politburo Standing Committee had also endorsed the State Council plans to take “extreme measures” in response that would restrict the expansion of new businesses by US companies in China, especially in the financial sector. The Chinese had still kept all doors open for a trade compromise in that if and when the US were to reach out for a new round of talks, China will be ready to negotiate, but that outreach has now expired after the US made its move.
In any trade war, the first line of weakness or defence is the national currency as exemplified by the near collapse of the Iranian Riyal in face of tightening US led sanctions. The Chinese were not taking any chances and senior Chinese financial officials commented on Beijing’s financial response to the looming trade threats. The widely anticipated reduction in the RRR (Reserve Requirement Ratio) on by 50 basis points is expected to release up to 500 billion yuan /RMB to the commercial banks, with another 200 billion yuan set for easing credit strains for small and micro businesses. And as borrowing costs are still high, and uncertainty over trade expected to persist, the People’s Bank of China does not rule out another two or three RRR cuts of 50 basis points each through the remainder of the year.
With trade tensions abound, officials also expect that the Chinese currency will continue to depreciate against the dollar in the short term. The Chinese Central Bank will not intervene in the foreign exchange markets, and will allow markets to determine the RMB exchange rate, while assuring that short-term currency devaluations will not lead to “massive” capital outflows. The Chinese also have another weapon to deploy against the USA in the financial markets are but are holding back for the time being. The Chinese Central Bank while refraining from increasing its holdings of US Treasury bonds, but will seek to reduce them “appropriately,” but has no intention of dumping large quantities of treasuries suddenly. This remains an option if the trade war turns nasty.
A lot at stake
The Chinese certainly feel that there is a lot at stake in standing firm this time. To this end , the June 21 session of the Politburo Standing Committee was attended by members of the Central National Security Council and the Central Financial and Economic Commission as well, as non-voting participants.
President Xi and meeting participants noted that the US regards China’s achievements in science, military and defence, trade, and other fields as damaging to America’s strategic national interests. The implication was clear: either China rolls back on these strategic areas or face more trade sanctions from the US. The Chinese noted more ominous threats from the Trump administration such as the characterization of China’s “One Belt and One Road Initiative” and cooperation with Africa as a provocation to the US-led existing world order. Above all, while President Trump encourages an “America First” and “Made in America” policy priority, the US has stated clearly it regards “Made in China 2025” as a direct threat to America’s national interests.
The outcome of all these deliberations is a sombre one as it concluded that the US has identified China as its biggest potential adversary, or perhaps even its biggest potential enemy and that the Trump – Putin summit accelerates this shift. The Chinese are noted for their patience and looking far ahead in decades while other national leaders assess geo political changes in matter of weeks or days. The Chinese probably now believe that regardless of who sits in the White House, China will face more challenges and threats from the US for the next two decades or more, and China-US relations will be even more difficult than they are now. But for now, China’s leadership sees Trump as attempting to intimidate China in hopes they “fold,” and the only counter to that they believe is a tit-for-tat response at every stage. It is in Washington’s hands whether to continue, and China, must prepare for the worst with the US. President Xi made it clear that China does not want a trade war with the US, but that the US appears to want a trade war with China, and if so, China must fight back forcefully.
It is now not only who blinks first, but also who can take the most pain. The Chinese feel that in response they must make America feel more pain, and reiterated that China would never offer concessions on anything considered to be a “core interest” – Taiwan, the South China Seas, Diaoyu Islands, the “One Belt and One Road Initiative,” and “Made in China 2025.”
A British diplomat is supposed to have noted that President Trump’s key strength of character is that he “thinks outside the box” but added that it assumed that there was a box in the first place. The new rapprochement with Russia and the looming strain in relations with China will certainly push the limit of what is in and out of these mysterious boxes.

The militia-run state, the refuge state or the hideout state?
Abdullah bin Bijad Al-Otaibi/Alarabiya/July 07/18
In international order, nothing is equal to the value of a state which enjoys sovereignty and has an inherent right to join international institutions and build relations with other states and organizations. The present international order can only deal with recognized and stable states. When chaos and instability reign, dealing with these countries is then carried out via institutions affiliated with international institutions, i.e. those concerned with security, relief and human rights. Independent civil institutions, media outlets and others also become involved.
When there is a major imbalance in international power, it’s realized that there are circumstances which are not compatible with international laws and that are not included in the stable international order. An example is what is happening in the Middle East today as major conflicts violate various international laws and operate outside international regulations. These conflicts and the international incapability towards them produced a new reality which needs new concepts to define it and new policies to deal with it.
“The militia-run state,” “the refuge state” and “the hideout state” are new states that have appeared on the scene and the international order seems incapable of dealing with them because it does not understand these new constructs and cannot put them in their right frame.
Examples of the first are Iraq, Syria, Lebanon and Yemen. These countries are heavily influenced or governed by armed ideological militias which belong to a political project that is led by a neighboring country with an active regional project, i.e. Iran after 1979. This ideological mullahs’ state has sought minimal work with international institutions and the international order to preserve the name of the state. It benefited from Cold War conflicts and tried to establish a model that is somehow similar to North Korea’s. However, Iran is far more dangerous than Korea for several reasons that have been explained in previous articles.
Havens for terrorism
The “refuge state” seeks to bring together those who violate international institutions and work against the latter’s stability and seek to spread chaos and terrorism for which they give several justifications. The example of such a state is Taliban, which made Afghanistan a refuge for Bin Laden, al-Qaeda and other Arab Afghan fighters. It is also represented in a large regional state that has a well-known project in supporting fundamentalism and terrorism. This state has become a contemporary refuge for all violent religious militias, starting from the Muslim Brotherhood to ISIS, with the well-known difference between these two models, and as an example for this is that ISIS named itself the Islamic State.
“The hideout state” is one that becomes a hideout or safe haven for terrorism and fundamentalism. The most prominent example of such a state is Qatar. The difference between the last two types is that “the refuge state” accepts the existence of these people, while “the hideout state” seeks them, sponsors them and supports them and is involved with them in their plans to spread terrorism and destruction.
The power and influence of ideas are not less powerful than politics and its decisions. Creating new concepts that match political and historical developments is important in understanding, as is the case with description and controversy. As an example for this; it is important to highlight the concept of “stability of chaos” which summarizes and describes the situation of many states during what was known as the “Arab Spring.” Fundamentalist groups during the terrorist and fundamentalist “Spring” massively manipulated international concepts like human rights, equality and democracy. They also deceived the West by using these terms and giving them purely fundamentalist interpretations that contradict with their true meaning.
In the end, all transformations in the region and the world can be dealt with in a better way, when they are analyzed in an innovative manner via new concepts that are more beneficial than previous ones.