July 11/2018
Compiled & Prepared by: Elias Bejjani


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Bible Quotations
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ according to Saint John 01/01-18/:”In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being. What has come into being in him was life, and the life was the light of all people. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it. There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. He came as a witness to testify to the light, so that all might believe through him. He himself was not the light, but he came to testify to the light. The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world. He was in the world, and the world came into being through him; yet the world did not know him. He came to what was his own, and his own people did not accept him. But to all who received him, who believed in his name, he gave power to become children of God, who were born, not of blood or of the will of the flesh or of the will of man, but of God. And the Word became flesh and lived among us, and we have seen his glory, the glory as of a father’s only son, full of grace and truth. (John testified to him and cried out, ‘This was he of whom I said, “He who comes after me ranks ahead of me because he was before me.” ’) From his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace. The law indeed was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. No one has ever seen God. It is God the only Son, who is close to the Father’s heart, who has made him known. We have not ceased praying for you and asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of God’s will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding,

Titles For The Latest LCCC Bulletin analysis & editorials from miscellaneous sources published on July 10-11/18
Lebanese freedom eroded by harassment of journalists/Diana Moukalled/Arab News/July 10/18
Hezbollah coerces refugee return/Makram Rabah/Al Arabiya/July 10/18
How Turkey Has Become the Palestinian Promised Land/Muhammad Shehada/Haaretz/July 10/18
Turkey's Erdogan Uses Extended Powers to Appoint Son-in-law Finance Minister/Reuters/July 10/18
Want Faster Growth in the US? Embrace Diversity/Noah Smith/Bloomberg View/July 10/10
China-Arab Cooperation Forum/Ahmed Abul Gheit/Asharq Al Awsat/July 10/18
NATO and the Putin-Trump Summit/James Stavridis/Bloomberg View/July 10/18
Mike Pompeo: Qassem Soleimani is causing trouble in Iraq and Syria ... we need to raise the cost for him/Mina Al-Oraibi/The National/July 10/18
The UN Fraudulently Addresses "Extreme Poverty" in the United States/
Francis Menton/Gatestone Institute/July 10/18
"Jihad Allowance": Views of Work in the Middle East/Nonie Darwish/Gatestone Institute/July 10/18
Meeting At Bari: Solidarity For The Eastern Church, But No Clear Path Ahead/Alberto Fernandez/MEMRI /July 10/18
Can Russia deliver on Trump’s hope of ousting Iran from Syria/Kirill Semenov/Al Monitor/July 10/18
Israeli, Saudi, and Emirati Officials Privately Pushed for Trump to Strike a “Grand Bargain” with Putin/Adam Entous/The New Yorker/July 10/18
Counterterrorism Lecture/Taking Stock of U.S. Counterterrorism Efforts Since 9/11/Lt. Gen Michael K. Nagata, U.S. Army/The Washington Institute/July 10/18
Wars of extermination: What is the role of major powers/Fahad Suleiman Shoqiran/Al Arabiya/July 10/18

Titles For The Latest LCCC Lebanese Related News published on July 10-11/18
Bkirki to Mediate in Lebanon’s Inter-Christian Crisis
Lebanese ‘Hezbollah’ Provided Yemen’s Houthis with Military Communications System
Hariri Meets Berri, Warns against 'Encroaching on PM Jurisdiction'
Al-Rahi Meets Aoun, Says No Imminent Bassil-Geagea Meeting
Strong Lebanon MP Blames Jumblat for ‘Worsening Economic Situation’
Three Get Jail Terms for Collaborating with Israel
Berri Says Delay in Govt. Formation ‘Unjustified’
Report: Contacts Gain Momentum to Counter Cabinet Formation Delay
China's Xi Pledges Billions in Loans, Aid to Arab Nations, Lebanon
Jumblat Says Power Ships to Blame for Deficit, Not Refugees
Pompeo Says U.S. Working on Restraining Hezbollah in Lebanon and Syria
MP, Nadim Gemayel Says Partitioning Will Undermine Government Effectiveness
Lights Out as Demand Surges for Electricity
Lebanese freedom eroded by harassment of journalists
Hezbollah coerces refugee return

Titles For The Latest LCCC Bulletin For Miscellaneous Reports And News published on July 10-11/18
Rebel Attack in Northwest Syria Kills 27 Regime Fighters
Syria: Coup Over South Deal Besieges Opposition in Daraa
Iran is Trying to 'Smuggle' €300 Mn from Germany
Iran Exerts Pressure on Abadi to Remove US Consultants from Iraq
Egypt Rejects French Conclusion on 2016 Plane Crash
China Pledges over $20 Bln in Aid, Economic Development to Arab Countries
British PM Appoints New Foreign Minister amid Brexit Turmoil
Canada welcomes U.S. decision to rescind duties on imports of Canadian supercalendered paper
Israel Closes Gaza Goods Crossing over Palestinian Arson Kites
Israel Tightens Siege on Gaza
Erdogan Names Army Chief Top General in Military Shake-Up

The Latest LCCC Lebanese Related News published on July 10-11/18
Bkirki to Mediate in Lebanon’s Inter-Christian Crisis
Beirut - Caroline Akoum/Asharq Al-Awsat/Tuesday, 10 July, 2018/The seat of the Maronite church in Bkirki has planned a mediation effort after a dispute between Lebanon’s two main Christian parties, the Lebanese Forces (LF) and the Free Patriotic Movement (FPM), caused a delay in cabinet formation. Informed political sources told Asharq Al-Awsat that Patriarch Beshara al-Rahi called for a meeting next Thursday with caretaker Information Minister Melhem Riachi from the LF and FPM lawmaker Ibrahim Kanaan, whose efforts had culminated in the 2016 “Maarab Understanding” that paved the way for the election of FPM founder Michel Aoun as president in October that year. The Patriarch aims to ease tension between the Christian parties and prepare for a political document that would pave the way for a meeting between LF leader Samir Geagea and FPM chief Jebran Bassil, who is also Lebanon’s caretaker foreign minsiter. Following a meeting with Speaker Nabih Berri on Monday, caretaker Minister of Industry Hussein al-Hajj Hassan said: "Berri is concerned over the delay in the formation of the new government … and he may even invite the Parliament for a session to discuss” the issue. FPM ministerial sources told Asharq Al-Awsat that PM-designate Saad Hariri is expected to visit Aoun soon to discuss the matter and to work on activating his consultations, which had stopped since the emergence of the crisis between the two Christian allies. Tension between both camps increased after the LF leaked the confidential “Maarab Understanding” to the media and which revealed that Geagea’s party should get the same share of seats as the FPM. A source said that no progress is expected in the cabinet formation efforts if disputes between the FPM and the LF are not contained.

Lebanese ‘Hezbollah’ Provided Yemen’s Houthis with Military Communications System
Asharq Al-Awsat/Monday, 10 July, 2018/The Saudi-led Arab coalition to restore legitimacy in Yemen announced on Monday that it has evidence that proves the presence of foreign military experts in Yemen, reported the Saudi Press Agency. Coalition spokesman Colonel Turki al-Maliki said that these experts are training the Iran-backed Houthi militias and providing them with an integrated military communication system. The Lebanese “Hezbollah” group, which is also backed by Iran, is involved in these operations, he added during a press conference in Riyadh. There is enough evidence that proves that the Iranian regime is providing the Houthis with weapons that are being smuggled through Beirut’s southern suburbs to Syria and then to Iran’s Bandar Abbas port city, he revealed. “‘Hezbollah’ is the Houthis’ greatest arms supplier,” he added.
Moreover, Maliki cited the party’s role in operating different command and control positions in the Saada province. Five of these positions, located in Mashtab, Maran, Razeh, Al-Maglag and Al-Noua'a mountains, have been destroyed by the coalition forces.
Addressing humanitarian efforts in Yemen, he said that the Arab coalition had issued 26,997 relief permits between March 26 and June 9, 2018. He highlighted Saudi Arabia’s topping of the world donor countries list of the UN-sponsored Response Plan in Yemen 2018. The King Salman Humanitarian Act and Relief Center has provided relief assistance for 4,954,742 beneficiaries within 167 days as part of the Comprehensive Humanitarian Operation Plan for Yemen. On the ground, Maliki stressed that the Yemeni national army was scoring victories throughout the country, citing its major advances in Saada, Taiz and al-Baydha provinces. Moreover, he drew attention to the Houthis’ recruitment of widows to join their war effort. He deemed this an unprecedented flagrant violation of human rights and Yemen’s conservative traditions. In another victory for the alliance, he declared the Yemeni zone neighboring Saudi Arabia free of ground-based militias after it was purified by the coalition forces and Yemeni national army. A few pockets in Saada and Omran are still being used for the launching of ballistic missiles and projectiles.

Hariri Meets Berri, Warns against 'Encroaching on PM Jurisdiction'
Naharnet/July 10/18/Prime Minister-designate Saad Hariri on Tuesday urged political parties to “rise above disputes for the sake of the country's economy and stability,” as he warned against “encroaching on the jurisdiction of the prime minister.”“I do not accept encroachment on the jurisdiction of the prime minister, the president or the parliament speaker, and I will not allow such an attempt at all,” said Hariri after talks with Speaker Nabih Berri in Ain el-Tineh. He told reporters that he and the parliament speaker “agree on the need to speed up the cabinet formation process.”“The regional situation, the need to expedite the economic cycle and the implementation of the CEDRE Conference recommendations oblige us to speed up the formation process,” Hariri added. “Everyone must realize that the formation of the government is the top priority and we must rise above disputes for the sake of the country,” the PM-designate went on to say. He urged all political parties to “sacrifice for the sake of the economy and stability.” The meeting was held in the presence of caretaker Finance Minister Ali Hassan Khalil, former MP Ghattas Khoury and former minister Bassem al-Sabaa.

Al-Rahi Meets Aoun, Says No Imminent Bassil-Geagea Meeting
Naharnet/July 10/18/Maronite Patriarch Beshara al-Rahi stressed Tuesday that internal unity is a priority as he rejected “bilateral alliances” and announced that Lebanese Forces leader Samir Geagea will not be meeting Free Patriotic Movement chief MP Jebran Bassil anytime soon. “What we care about is internal Lebanese unity... and all Lebanese must reconcile for the sake of their unity,” al-Rahi said after talks with President Michel Aoun in Baabda. Rejecting “bilateral alliances,” the patriarch said “Bassil and Geagea will not meet at the moment,” while reassuring that “there are daily efforts to bring together all parties.” Media reports had said that MP Ibrahim Kanaan of the FPM and caretaker Information Minister Melhem Riachi of the LF would soon “meet in Bkirki” in a bid to contain the growing disputes between their two parties.

Strong Lebanon MP Blames Jumblat for ‘Worsening Economic Situation’

Naharnet/July 10/18/Following Jumblat’s remarks on reasons that inflated Lebanon’s deficit, MP George Atallah, of the Strong Lebanon parliamentary bloc, replied lashing out at Jumblat and blaming him for “squandering public funds” when the Ministry of Displaced was led by PSP ministers, the National News Agency reported on Tuesday. “Failure to push for a solution to the crisis of refugees is considered a national disloyalty. The first economic step should begin with the closure of the Central Fund for the Displaced,” said Atallah. “You ask about the economy Walid Beik? The (Syrian) displacement crisis led to a 5% reduction of GDP 5%, increased the cost to the economy by $18 billion and doubled the unemployment rate to 35% and raised the proportion of crime to 60%?” he added. “The economic situation came to what it is today thanks to you and people like you. The solution begins with closing the waste of funds, primarily the displaced fund which drained the State’s finances for over three decades without achieving its goals,” he added. On Monday, Jumblat stressed that the Turkish power ships are “the main reason behind Lebanon’s budget deficit” and not the presence of Syrian refugees. On Tuesday Jumblat also asked in a tweet: “Where are the serious reform steps to reduce deficit and preserve the cash instead of preaching collapse.”

Three Get Jail Terms for Collaborating with Israel

Naharnet/July 10/18/The Military Court on Tuesday sentenced three people in absentia to 15 years in jail with hard labor on charges of spying for Israel. The National News Agency identified the three fugitives as Salam Fakhouri, Assad Saqr and Antoinette al-Naddaf. The three convicts were also stripped of their civil rights.

Berri Says Delay in Govt. Formation ‘Unjustified’
Naharnet/July 10/18/Delay in forming Lebanon’s government was reportedly described by Speaker Nabih Berri as “unjustified and detesting,” al-Joumhouria daily reported on Tuesday. Quoting Berri, visitors to the Speaker said “the delay and obstruction in lining up the Cabinet are unjustified and loathing,” adding that the “country is on the brink of disaster and the economic situation is growing worse. It is like a time bomb, which will cost us a lot if it explodes.” “This indifference to the situation of the country is absolutely unacceptable,” Berri also said he “had no glimmer of hope the government will be put on the right track.”Prime Minister-Saad Hariri was tasked with forming a new government on May 24. The main obstacles hindering the mission of Hariri’s are the issues of Christian and Druze representation, with President Michel Aoun and the Free Patriotic Movement wrangling with the Lebanese Forces over seats and the Progressive Socialist Party demanding that it be allocated all three Druze portfolios.

Report: Contacts Gain Momentum to Counter Cabinet Formation Delay

Naharnet/July 10/18/Contacts have gained momentum between Lebanon’s senior officials in a bid to address several pressing issues mainly the delay in Cabinet formation after the Premier and Speaker’s return from their vacations abroad, media reports said Tuesday. Separate meetings between Prime Minister-designate Saad Hariri, President Michel Aoun and Speaker Nabih Berri were held on Monday, al-Joumhouria daily said. Furthermore, Berri is expected to hold more talks with Hariri on Tuesday to discuss the delay in government formation, said the daily. In parallel, Progressive Socialist Party leader former MP Walid Jumblat dispatched his representatives for talks with Berri and Hariri, reiterating the PSP’s “right to allocate all three Druze ministerial seats.” Dispatched by Jumblat, former MP Ghazi al-Aridi met with Berri, while former MP Wael Abu Faour met with Hariri on Monday. Jumblat’s son and heir Taymour Jumblat made a statement shortly after, stressing the PSP’s right to allocate all three Druze seats. Going with the talks momentum, an evening meeting between Hariri and Finance Minister Ali Hassan Khalil, dispatched by Berri, reviewed the obstacles “preventing the resumption of discussions in the government formation, and his (Berri) intention to call for a general parliament meeting to elect the members of parliamentary committees and discuss the reasons delaying the Cabinet line-up,” said the daily.

China's Xi Pledges Billions in Loans, Aid to Arab Nations, Lebanon
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/July 10/18/China's President Xi Jinping has pledged more than $23 billion in lines of credit, loans and humanitarian assistance to Arab countries in a major push for influence in the region. Xi told participants in a conference of Arab leaders in Beijing on Tuesday that Syria, Yemen, Jordan and Lebanon would receive $91 million in humanitarian assistance. Xi said another $151 million was earmarked for aid projects, with the remaining $23 billion designated for financial and economic cooperation. No details were given about how or when the money would be dispersed. China has expanded its influence among Arab states for economic purposes, as well as to counter the influence of Washington and Europe. Most notably it has provided diplomatic support for Syrian President Bashar Assad in the country's seven-year civil war.

Jumblat Says Power Ships to Blame for Deficit, Not Refugees
Naharnet/July 10/18/Progressive Socialist Party chief Walid Jumblat stressed Monday that the Turkish power ships are “the main reason behind the budget deficit” and not the presence of Syrian refugees. “Enough with the underestimation of people's intelligence by saying that the Lebanese economy could collapse due to the presence of the homeless Syrians,” Jumblat tweeted. “Stop that cheap racist campaign. As if the collapse is needed in order to weaken Lebanon, impoverish it and keep it vulnerable without any immunity after Daraa was handed over to the (Syrian) regime,” he added. “Put an end to the Turkish (power) ships, which are the main reason behind the budget deficit,” Jumblat went on to say.

Pompeo Says U.S. Working on Restraining Hezbollah in Lebanon and Syria 10th July 2018/Pompeo Says U.S. Working on Restraining Hezbollah in U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo stressed that the US administration is committed to confronting Iran's "evil" behavior in the Middle East, saying that it is working on restraining the Tehran-backed militias in Yemen, Iraq, Lebanon and Syria. “Everything starts with the bad behavior of Iran and the launching of rockets from Yemen to target all the Gulf states. Thus, the American policy is aimed at deterring such acts," Pompeo said in an interview with Sky News Arabia. Pompeo stressed that the economic situation will not improve until Iran is again a "normal state", hailing the U.S. alliance with Gulf states to curb Iran's expansionist project. “The Shiite militias are deliberately inflicting real harm on citizens in Iraq and Syria. Therefore, we are planning to do several things. The most important thing we are focusing on today is depriving Iran of its financial capabilities so it won’t carry on with its bad behavior," he added. "We are working on curtailing the influence of the Houthis in Yemen as well as Hezbollah in Lebanon and Syria." "Iran it has to get out of Syria as it has nothing to do there," Pompeo stressed. “There is no reason for them to stay there."

MP, Nadim Gemayel Says Partitioning Will Undermine Government Effectiveness 10th July 2018/Kataeb MP Nadim Gemayel Tuesday expected the government formation stalemate to linger on, deploring the fact that everything has become based on partitioning while no one is seeking any vision or program. “Lebanon is facing major issues. The direction in which the country is going indicates that it will be very difficult for a government of shares to deal with these problems,” Gemayel told Voice of Lebanon radio station. "A government without PSP leader Walid Jumblat and the Lebanese Forces will not get any international support,” he said.

Lights Out as Demand Surges for Electricity
The Daily Star/ Tuesday 10th July 2018/The state is unable to provide electricity for more than 21 hours daily in Beirut and 14 hours daily outside of the capital, a source from Electricite du Liban told The Daily Star Monday. Consequently, the prices for generator subscriptions, calculated by the Energy Ministry using a “weird” formula, are increasing to exorbitant levels. Energy production has been maxed out at 2,000 megawatts per day, while summer demand is soaring above 3,300 MW the source said. EDL is attempting to keep the maximum production level as high as possible with the funds it has been allocated by the government to purchase fuel. This means that as fuel prices increase, EDL may be forced to cut its production.
Lebanese freedom eroded by harassment of journalists
ديانا مقلد: الحريات في لبنان تتآكل بسبب مضايقة الصحافيين

Diana Moukalled/Arab News/July 10/18
The Lebanese journalist Fidaa Itani was last month sentenced to four months in prison and fined for insulting the Lebanese Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil in a comment he posted on social media. Bassil has filed 11 cases against Itani alone, while he also has complaints pending against other journalists, bloggers and activists.
Days after the verdict against Itani, another journalist was sentenced to prison and stripped of his civil rights on similar charges related to criticizing religious symbols. Also this year, journalist Hanin Ghaddar was jailed in absentia for six months by a military court for participating in a seminar in the United States in 2014, in which she criticized the Lebanese army; although the decision was repealed weeks later. In between these verdicts, there was a large series of arrests, interrogations, censorship and fines against people who had expressed opinions online.
Indeed, in Lebanon, since the arrival of President Michel Aoun in 2016, there has been a worrying rise in the level of harassment of journalists, bloggers and citizens who have expressed opinions, however harsh or sometimes rude these comments might have been. In general, freedom of expression in Western countries means punishments are limited to fines or apologies, but here in the Middle East and in Lebanon some comments are punished by imprisonment; an outdated penalty for such issues, no matter how disturbing the views expressed.
The problem is also the need to expand the concept of being open to criticism, especially for public figures, whose positions and performance may often be questioned and criticized.
Insults and hatred are not the best way to express anger, but this does not mean that those who insult and curse are equal to those who persecute others.
Because we live in a populist era where hatred and discrimination are presented as “patriotism,” some practices and abuses can push certain people to transcend the boundaries of courteousness when expressing their objections. The question is, didn't the Lebanese authorities, time and again, go beyond citizens’ rights through corruption, quotas, violation of sovereignty, and conceding to militias and parties, among an endless list of practices?
Bassil sued Itani for defamation because of a stinging comment he made after the death of four Syrian refugees allegedly due to torture in Lebanese Army prisons in the summer of 2017. The judge decided to imprison Itani and fine him, but he had already left the country and become an exile in the UK.
How can it be explained to Bassil, for example, that the deaths of Syrian refugees due to torture in the prisons of the Lebanese Army is bad and leads to understandable anger, and this was what Itani expressed in his harsh comment?
Social media has opened wide the door to abuse and insults, as each person has his own platform where he posts his words and insults. So do we imprison everyone? And should people attack each other because of that?
There is no doubt that the language of slander and defamation has spread widely and it is damaging the just causes, but the preoccupation with hunting people who use rude language is ridiculous. Certainly, the language of insults and hatred is not the best way to express anger, nor is it a convincing way, but it does not mean that the people who insult and curse are equal to those who persecute others.
In Lebanon, officials and citizens say that our country has no oil, no industry, no financial strength, but is characterized as a space of freedom. This is partly true, especially in the past, but observing what is happening in the country now makes us believe that we should reconsider this statement.
*Diana Moukalled is a veteran journalist with extensive experience in both traditional and new media. Twitter: @dianamoukalled
Hezbollah coerces refugee return
مكرم رباح:/حزب الله يُكرِّه (يجبر) اللاجئين السوريين على العودة
Makram Rabah/Al Arabiya/July 10/18
The Lebanese have always prided themselves on their resilience and their ability to turn adversity into opportunity, or at least this is what the Lebanese myth propagates.
The reality of the matter is somewhat different, as the Lebanese and their political elite have repeatedly failed to rise to the occasion and institute a sovereign and viable nation state.
Over time, the Lebanese state has relinquished many of its prerogatives to the ruling elite, who in turn operate a highly developed clientalist system that uses the state’s resources to strengthen its own powerbase.
Additionally, the Lebanese have relinquished its sovereignty on one of the most important prerequisite of statehood, by allowing Hezbollah to operate its militia unchecked both within Lebanon and across the region.
Recently, the Lebanese state have went a step further in its downwards descend by allowing Hezbollah to publically declare that it will be implementing a plan to ensure or perhaps “force” the return of the 1.2 million Syrian refugees in Lebanon.
Ironically, Hezbollah and fellow Iranian militias are mainly responsible for destroying and later occupying many of these Syrian refugees’ villages and towns.
Both Aoun and Hezbollah wish to use the refugees to serve a number of goals, which primarily include demonizing refugees and the international community, and blame them for Lebanon’s collapsing economy
Facilitating role
In his recent address, Hassan Nasrallah, Secretary General of Hezbollah, declared that his own party would play a facilitating role in the return of the Syrian refugees, a task that in his own mind is made possible due to his party’s excellent relationship with the Assad regime.
Audaciously, Nasrallah further declared that formation of a Hezbollah refugee affairs committee that would submit lists of names to the Syrian government for approval after which these refugees can return home.
The obvious infringement on Lebanon sovereignty exceeds the fact that Nasrallah trusts he can replace the Lebanese state as well as the international community in the refugees crisis, but he also believes that their safe return is isolated from any political settlement of the Syrian crisis.
Nasrallah’s proposed return-mechanism is outright unsound as the mere screening of refugees by the Assad regime means that the reason for their displacement is still present and the chances of persecution as well.
If Nasrallah truly wants to expedite the return of the refugees in a manner that conforms to international humanitarian standards, he can start by ordering his fighters to evacuate the Qalamoun region across Lebanon’s eastern border, a move that would allow for the immediate return of thousands of refugees.
More importantly, from a policy perspective Hezbollah has allowed its main ally, President Aoun and his son-in-law Gebran Bassil to antagonize and bully the international community and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees-UNHCR and accuse them of conspiring against Lebanon and plotting to naturalize these refugees.
A viable plan
It would be wiser for the Lebanese state and even Hezbollah to put forth a viable plan for the gradual return of these Syrian refugees one that would allow Lebanon to honor its commitment to maintain disassociation from the regional conflict and avoid further alienating itself from the Arab world.
Both Aoun and Hezbollah wish to use the refugees to serve a number of goals, which primarily include demonizing the refugees and the international community, and blame them for Lebanon’s collapsing economy. From their end both Aoun and Bassil, wish to divert Lebanese public attention from the series of corruption scandals and abysmal governance policies, which their term in office has so far yielded.
Hezbollah on the other hand wants everyone to believe that the Syrian crisis is over and its so-called resistance option has won the day. It is also expedient for Hezbollah and the Assad regime that many of these returning refugees will be conscripted in the Syrian army and driven to kill fellow Syrians who have yet admitted defeat.
The Lebanese have yet again failed to realize that towing this line, vis-à-vis the refugee can only exasperate matters further and impede the funds from the international community earmarked for projects that would help alleviate the economic burdens of the refugee crisis.
Hezbollah and its allies are trying to pass the insignificant organized refugee return coordinated by the Lebanese General Security as an end to all of Lebanon’s predicaments. However, a real end to Lebanon’s plight can only start after Hezbollah and their Iranian patrons decide to stop their sinister plans in the region and allow the Lebanese state to stand on its feet, an unlikely scenario that would be beneficial to all sides involved.
At the end of the day, Nasrallah can vow to return the Syrian refugees but his undertaking, like his pledge to liberate Palestine, is only for dramatic effect.
*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. He tweets @makramrabah.

The Latest LCCC Bulletin For Miscellaneous Reports And News published
on July 10-11/18
Rebel Attack in Northwest Syria Kills 27 Regime Fighters
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/July 10/18/More than two dozen pro-government fighters were killed in northwestern Syria overnight in a joint attack by rebel and Islamist forces, a monitor said on Tuesday. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the surprise offensive late Monday targeted a pair of villages and observation points in the coastal province and regime stronghold of Latakia, near the Turkish border. "At least 27 regime forces and allied fighters, including eight officers, were killed in fierce clashes and shelling in the village of Al-Ateira," said Observatory head Rami Abdel Rahman. "They took Al-Ateira and kicked out regime forces from several observation points after killing or wounding them." Another 40 government loyalists were wounded and six rebels were killed, he said. The death toll made the attack the bloodiest opposition assault on the area in three years, according to the Observatory. Al-Ateira lies about two kilometres (just over a mile) south of the Turkish border. The Britain-based Observatory said the opposition fighters included local rebels from Latakia as well as more hardline forces. Latakia is a stronghold of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and is home to the Hmeimim airbase, where Russian troops and warplanes have been based since 2015. But forces opposed to Assad have repeatedly attacked the province since the uprising broke out in March 2011. They hold a northeastern sliver of territory bordering the neighbouring province of Idlib. That area falls under a de-escalation deal agreed last year between Russia, fellow regime backer Iran, and rebel ally Turkey.
Syria: Coup Over South Deal Besieges Opposition in Daraa
Beirut, London - Asharq Al-Awsat/Tuesday, 10 July, 2018/Syrian regime forces and their allies laid siege over rebel pockets in the city of Daraa and appeared to have overthrown the southern deal reached between Russian officers and factions in the South. A regional intelligence officer, using the Arab acronym for ISIS told Reuters on Monday, “the Russian military police and the army entered Tafas town and secured a corridor through opposition territory to a front line with ISIS.”Abu Shaima said, “there are fighters who want to go to (opposition-held) Idlib but this was rejected after we were besieged,” referring to a meeting on Sunday in which he said a go-between with the Syrian army had flatly rejected their demands to leave. The rebels say the deal also does not allow the army to move into their bastions and allows for setting up local forces from ex-rebels under the oversight of Russian military police. “There is a lot of fear about the unknown fate that awaits us and we do not trust the Russians or (Damascus) regime,” Shaima said, adding that remaining rebels in Daraa city were still holding their front line positions. In a related development, regime forces consolidated their grip Monday over the border area with Jordan towards east the city of Daraa. Accordingly, Free Syrian Army (FSA) fighters, who were backed by the West and Jordan, have handed most of their heavy arms to the government since the surrender deal finalized last Friday. Interfax news agency reported on Monday, citing Russia's Centre for Reconciliation in Syria, that in south Syria’s Daraa province, the Russian military was planning to move as many as 1,000 people northern Idlib province. The news agency also reported that 90 villages and towns have now joined the truce in south-western Syria.
Iran is Trying to 'Smuggle' €300 Mn from Germany
Berlin - Raghida Bahnam/Asharq Al-Awsat/Monday, 10 July, 2018/Iran is negotiating to withdraw €300 million in cash from Germany and transfer it to Iran, amid fears of a freeze on its funds in European banks as US sanctions enter into effect next November.
The information came at a time when German Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Monday Germany remains committed to the nuclear non-proliferation agreement with Iran that was rejected by US President Donald Trump, but it was for individual firms to decide if they wanted to invest there.Speaking alongside China’s Premier Li Keqiang, Merkel said companies, which could risk punitive sanctions from the US if they do business with Iran, must decide for themselves if they wanted to take that risk. “We remain committed to the nuclear agreement. We think it was well negotiated,” Merkel said, indicating: “there is more that needs to be negotiated with Iran, but we think it is better to stay in the agreement.”Tehran is seeking to withdraw the funds from the Europaeisch-Iranische Handelsbank AG (eihbank) because it is worried that it could run out of cash when fresh US sanctions against its financial sector take effect, Bild newspaper reported. Negotiations to get millions out of the European-Iranian Commercial Bank in Hamburg are taking place between senior representatives of the office of the Chancellor, the foreign Ministry and Finance Ministry, and senior representative of the Central Bank of Iran Ali Tarsali.
It is planned that the Bundesbank will remove £300 million and will give the money to the representatives of the Iranian authorities, after which it will be transported from Germany to Tehran aboard an Iranian aircraft. Iran told the German Financial Supervisory Authority (BaFin) it needed the cash from the accounts “to pass on to Iranian citizens who require cash while travelling abroad, given their inability to access recognised credit cards,” Bild said.
BaFin was now reviewing the request, which had been briefed to senior officials in the chancellery, foreign ministry and finance ministry, the newspaper reported. The finance ministry had no immediate comment. The Bundesbank, BaFin and the foreign ministry declined to comment. Also, a spokeswoman for eihbank declined to comment, citing bank secrecy laws. German Finance Ministry spokesperson stated that this is the first time such a case has been examined. For his part, a spokesman for the German Foreign Ministry said that part of the review concerns whether there are violations of the sanctions through this procedure. US and Israeli intelligence agencies fear the money could be used to fund armed groups in the Middle East, but German government officials said they had no indications of such plans, Bild reported. United States has given companies operating in Iran, including Europe, until November to withdraw from the Iranian market or else it will also face US sanctions. Washington has also called on Iranian oil-importing countries to halt imports by November.
The remaining Western European countries, UK, France and Germany, as well as Russia and China have tried to provide economic incentives to Iran to urge it not to withdraw from the deal. Representatives of these countries met in Vienna a few days ago and made an offer to Iran, which Tehran said was insufficient. Germany’s foreign minister Heiko Maas said on Friday world powers would not be able to fully compensate for companies leaving Iran due to new US sanctions, but warned Tehran that abandoning its nuclear deal would cause more harm to its economy.
“We will not be able to compensate for everything that arises from companies pulling out of Iran,” Heiko Maas told reporters before a round of talks among the remaining parties to the deal. Iranian MP Mohammad Dahqan was quoted by the Fars news agency saying that the German government seized a portion of Iran’s foreign exchange assets due to the threat of new US sanctions against Tehran. "After the US withdrawal from the JCPOA, it seemed wrong to trust Europeans," Dehqan said, according to Fars news agency.
However, Iranian Foreign Ministry rejected reports about blocking part of Iran’s assets in Germany. Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Bahram Qassemi said that the claims on blocking Iranian assets in Germany is a psychological war aimed at undermining the ties between Iran and the European states.
Earlier this year, Iran’s central bank, Bank Markazi, has filed a suit in Luxembourg against Deutsche Boerse’s Clearstream unit seeking to recover $4.9 billion in assets plus interest. Clearstream froze the assets on suspicion of terror financing.
Meanwhile, US ambassador to Germany, Richard Grenell, is trying to attract small and medium business to enter US market rather than the Iranian. He triggered harsh criticism after tweeting “German companies doing business in Iran should wind down operations immediately.”
However, Grenell seems to have changed to a softer approach to his host country than it first appeared. He began engaging business executives with an offer to help them tap the much larger and lucrative US market, according to people briefed on the talks, according to Politico. The Ambassador met with the German Chambers of Commerce and Industry and about a dozen companies to make his pitch. Some 10,000 small and medium-sized German companies have been investing in Iran since the nuclear deal in 2015, in addition to large companies such as Siemens and Daimler. The German government is trying to provide guarantees to these companies so as not to withdraw from the Iranian market in face of US pressure and fears of sanctions. But economists expect the withdrawal of the bulk of companies operating in Iran, especially those that have a chance to the US market, which is larger and more important than the Iranian market.

Iran Exerts Pressure on Abadi to Remove US Consultants from Iraq
Baghdad - Hamza Mustafa/Asharq Al-Awsat/Monday, 10 July, 2018/Iran is exerting pressure on Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi to remove more than 5,000 US experts and consultants from the country, an informed Iraqi source told Asharq Al-Awsat on Monday. “Abadi is under Iranian pressure not to renew the security agreement signed between the US and Iraq in 2008 during the tenure of the former PM. He is also facing pressure to remove US experts and consultants from the country,” said the source, who asked to remain anonymous. He said Iran chose this delicate timing before the formation of the next cabinet. “The Iraqi PM is avoiding any dispute with Tehran because he needs Iran’s consent in the race over the next premiership,” the source said. At the same time, the source said Abadi cannot take any risks by asking US experts to leave the country or by not renewing his security agreement with it for two related reasons: First Abadi is in need to stay in contact with Washington, which has a say in leading any candidate to the premiership. Second, Iraq is not technically ready, at all levels, to confront ISIS without the US supporting efforts. Meanwhile, signs of a possible rapprochement was witnessed between the two leading figures of the Da’wa Party, Nouri al-Maliki and Haider al-Abadi, and another one between the Fatah and State of Law coalitions, particularly after a visit made by a joint delegation from the two coalitions last Sunday to Erbil where they met with officials from the Kurdistan Democratic Party with an aim to establish the largest parliamentary bloc entitled to form the next Iraqi cabinet. Also on Monday, in a sign holding symbolic significance on the Iraqi forces’ struggle to beat back the resurgence of ISIS, Abadi arrived in the province of Diyala dressed in a camouflage outfit.

Egypt Rejects French Conclusion on 2016 Plane Crash

Cairo - Mohamed Nabil Helmy/Asharq Al-Awsat/Tuesday, 10 July, 2018/Egypt has rejected the decision of French BEA air accident investigation agency issued last Friday on the likelihood of a fire on an EgyptAir plane two years ago after taking off from Charles de Gaulle airport. Egypt’s top prosecutor said in a statement Monday that the Egyptian investigation into the crash of Flight 804 is still underway. He said the French report is “baseless,” adding that “traces of explosives were found on the remains of passengers and parts of the plane.”In May 2016, the Airbus aircraft crashed over the Mediterranean Sea, some 280 kilometers from the Egyptian coast. The incident left 66 people dead, including 40 Egyptians and 15 French citizens. Egypt’s public prosecution said in a statement sent to journalists it was still conducting its investigation into the crash “in full cooperation with the French investigation side”.“Reports on news sites suggesting that the cause of the crash was a fire inside the cockpit have no basis,” the statement said. The prosecution asserted that investigations are still ongoing and the report from the forensic medicine authority has confirmed the presence of traces of explosive materials on the victims’ body fragments as well as some metal, plastic and solid materials from the plane wreckage that were stuck to the body parts at the crash scene. But “the BEA considers that the most likely hypothesis is that a fire broke out in the cockpit while the airplane was flying at its cruise altitude and that the fire spread rapidly resulting in the loss of control of the airplane,” the statement said. BEA said the crew could be heard discussing a fire on the cockpit voice recorder and that the plane’s automatic ACARS messaging system had flagged up smoke on board. It noted that Egyptian investigators had not published their final report, adding that the BEA was ready to resume work with Egyptian authorities.

China Pledges over $20 Bln in Aid, Economic Development to Arab Countries
Asharq Al-Awsat/Tuesday, 10 July, 2018/Chinese President Xi Jinping pledged on Tuesday more than $20 billion to Arab countries. He made the announcement during Beijing-hosted the 8th China-Arab States Cooperation Forum, which was attended by the leaders and representatives of 21 Arab countries, as well as Arab League chief Ahmed Abul Gheit. The $23 billion will take the shape of lines of credit, loans and humanitarian assistance. Xi told the participants that Syria, Yemen, Jordan and Lebanon would receive $91 million in humanitarian assistance. Another $151 million was earmarked for aid projects, Xi said. The money will be dedicated for "projects that will produce good employment opportunities and positive social impact in Arab States that have reconstruction needs,” he added. It is part of a special Chinese program for "economic reconstruction" and "industrial revitalization," he told the gatherers at Beijing's Great Hall of the People. "China and Arab states must synergize our development strategies in pursuit of our respective dream of rejuvenation," he added. Saudi Arabia was China's second-largest source of crude oil last year and Iraq was its third biggest supplier at the start of 2018. The Middle East is also a key node in China's "Belt and Road" initiative that envisages linking Beijing to other parts of Asia, Europe and Africa via a network of ports, railways, economic development zones and power plants. The $1-trillion infrastructure initiative is billed as a modern revival of the ancient Silk Road that once carried fabrics, spices and a wealth of other goods between Asia, Africa, the Middle East and Europe. The Arab states' position at the center of the ancient trade route makes them "natural partners" in China's new undertaking, Xi said, adding he expected the summit would end with an agreement on cooperation on the initiative. "Chinese and Arab peoples, though far apart in distance, are as close as family," he said, describing a romanticized history of trade along the Silk Road. "China welcomes opportunities to participate in the development of ports and the construction of railway networks in Arab states" as part of a "logistics network connecting Central Asia with East Africa and the Indian Ocean with the Mediterranean," said Xi. The forum was attended by Emir of Kuwait Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmed Al-Jaber al-Sabah, Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir and several other leaders will take part in the forum. Ahead of the summit, Abul Gheit had held talks on Monday with Chinese Vice President Wang Qishan. Abul Gheit’s spokesman Mahmoud Afifi said that the meeting discussed ways to achieve a qualitative leap in Chinese-Arab ties to build on the historic relations that already bind the Chinese and Arab regions. Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukri also held talks with Wang on Monday. The two officials addressed bilateral ties and ways to bolster them. Head of the Arab community in Guangzhou Ahmed Hassan al-Yafei noted that strategic cooperation between China and the Arab world increased with the establishment of the forum in 2004 that laid the groundwork for cooperation between the two sides in various fields. “China has a great desire to bolster mutual cooperation with Arab countries,” he stressed to Asharq Al-Awsat.

British PM Appoints New Foreign Minister amid Brexit Turmoil

Asharq Al-Awsat/Tuesday, 10 July, 2018/British Prime Minister Theresa May appointed on Monday Jeremy Hunt as foreign secretary to replace Borish Johnson in wake of his resignation earlier in the day. The appointment of Hunt, the long-serving health minister, sees a close May ally replace the maverick Johnson, and could alter the Brexit balance of May’s top ministerial team. Johnson stepped down in protest at the government’s plans for a close trading relationship with the European Union. While Johnson was one of the most high-profile Brexit campaigners, Hunt backed “Remain” during the 2016 referendum campaign. Hunt told LBC Radio in October 2017, however, that he had changed his mind on the issue, in part because of what he said was disappointing “arrogance” in the EU’s behavior during negotiations. “Huge honor to be appointed Foreign Secretary at this critical moment in our country’s history,” he said in a tweet after his appointment. “Time to back our PM to get a great Brexit deal - it’s now or never...” Hunt, 51, had served as health minister for more than five-and-a-half years, the longest term of any in the history of the state-funded National Health Service, weathering doctors’ strikes, public discontent with funding levels and other challenges. Hunt said it was a “massive wrench” for him to leave the department, adding: “I know some staff haven’t found me the easiest Health Sec”.
Matt Hancock replaced Hunt as health secretary, while Attorney General Jeremy Wright was appointed as minister of digital culture, media and sport, Hancock’s old job. May’s office said Geoffrey Cox would be the new attorney general. Johnson's dramatic resignation came just hours after Brexit minister David Davis quit late on Sunday. Dominic Raab, a Brexit supporter and former housing minister, was appointed to replace him only days before negotiations in Brussels are due to resume next week. May will chair on Tuesday a meeting of her new-look cabinet as she clings to power amid political turmoil over Brexit. She has faced a backlash over the plan from Brexit hardliners in her Conservative Party who say it gives too many concessions to the EU, but she has support from moderates and there has been no challenge to her leadership. British and EU officials are hoping to strike a deal on the terms of Britain's withdrawal and agree to a plan for future trade ties in time for an EU summit in October. "With just weeks left to conclude negotiations on leaving the EU, this is a critical moment for the country," the Financial Times wrote in an editorial. "This confrontation between Brexiters and reality was long overdue," it said, adding that May "should have faced down the hardliners before negotiations formally began". It said May now faces "the specter of a leadership challenge," but it was "possible that after a period of resignations and political blood-letting, the Conservative Party will fall behind the prime minister". May's Conservative opponents could trigger a confidence vote against her if at least 48 MPs support it, but to actually force her from office 159 MPs would have to vote against her -- a figure hardliners may not be able to reach. May has said she will fight off any attempt to unseat her. Much will depend on European reactions to May's plan and she is due to meet with German Chancellor Angela Merkel later on Tuesday at the Western Balkans Summit in London. The Guardian newspaper quoted an unnamed Conservative MP saying the resignations would continue in protest against her plan to keep strong economic ties with the EU -- dubbed the Chequers plan after her country retreat where it was agreed last week. "They'll keep going, one by one, until she either junks Chequers or goes," the MP was quoted as saying. But former Conservative leader William Hague, writing in the Daily Telegraph, said May's critics had failed to produce "any credible alternative proposal" and warned that further resignations could put Brexit itself "at risk".

Canada welcomes U.S. decision to rescind duties on imports of Canadian supercalendered paper
July 10, 2018 - Ottawa, Ontario - Global Affairs Canada
Canada welcomes the decision by the United States to rescind its duties on imports of Canadian supercalendered paper and to refund all duties collected since August 2015.
On July 5, 2018, the WTO circulated a panel report concerning Canada’s challenge to the U.S. Department of Commerce’s subsidy determination against Canadian supercalendered paper and a U.S. practice of finding Canadian exporters to be non-cooperative, and then artificially increasing the subsidy rate assessed on them during the duty investigation.
The panel found that the Department of Commerce’s practices breached numerous WTO obligations.
It also found that the Department of Commerce improperly included an inflated subsidy rate for non-cooperation in an average rate for other Canadian companies that were later found to have minimal or no subsidy rates.
On July 6, 2018, the Department of Commerce announced that it was revoking the duty measure, effective July 5, 2018. Canada welcomes this action.
Canada is a strong supporter of rules-based international trade and looks to its trade partners to also uphold their international obligations.
Canada’s forestry industry supports thousands of well-paying jobs across the country. The Government of Canada will always defend Canadian industry, workers and communities.
“No two nations depend more on each other for their mutual prosperity than the United States and Canada. Our relationship supports millions of middle-class jobs on both sides of the border. The WTO panel report supports fair and due process for the Canadian forestry industry and for Canadian workers.”
- Hon. Chrystia Freeland, P.C., M.P., Minister of Foreign Affairs

Israel Closes Gaza Goods Crossing over Palestinian Arson Kites
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/July 10/18/Israel closed its only goods crossing with the Gaza Strip on Monday over weeks of fires at farms caused by kites and balloons carrying firebombs from the Palestinian enclave. The arson attacks have led to increasing alarm among Israeli residents and farmers near the blockaded Gaza Strip and demands that authorities take action. "The crossing will be closed except for humanitarian equipment (including food and medicine) that will be approved on an individual basis," Israel's military said in a statement. "No exports or marketing of goods will be carried out from the Gaza Strip." It added that the move was also due to "additional terror attempts," referring to infiltrations and other incidents along the Gaza border. The crossing, known as Kerem Shalom, is to remain closed until further notice. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he and Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman had agreed to be "heavy-handed with the Hamas regime in the Gaza Strip –- immediately." "There will be additional steps. I will not go into details," he said in parliament. Islamist movement Hamas, which runs the Gaza Strip, called the closure a "crime against humanity." "Hamas calls on the international community to intervene immediately to prevent this crime," Hamas spokesman Fawzy Barhoum said in a statement. Israel also said it was ending a seasonal expansion of the fishing zone off Gaza, returning it to six nautical miles instead of nine. Israeli authorities say the hundreds of arson kites and balloons sent over the border fence from Gaza have caused major damage to farms in the area. A spokesman for Israel's fire service says 750 fires have burned 2,600 hectares, putting the damage at millions of shekels (hundreds of thousands of dollars/euros). A month ago, the government estimated the damage at five million shekels. Gazans began launching the kites in April amid mass protests along the border calling for Palestinian refugees to be able to return to their former homes now inside Israel. Palestinians see the strategy as a way of inflicting economic damage on Israel in protest without risking their lives by approaching the border fence.
Since protests and clashes broke out along the Gaza border on March 30, at least 139 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli fire. The majority were involved in protests and clashes, but others were seeking to breach or damage the border fence. No Israelis have been killed. The closed crossing is the only one between Gaza and Israel for goods transport. A separate crossing, known as Erez, is for people. Israel, which has fought three wars with Islamist movement Hamas since 2008, strictly controls both crossings. Gaza's only other border crossing is with Egypt. That crossing has been largely closed in recent years, but Egypt has opened it since mid-May. U.N. officials and rights activists have repeatedly called for Israel to lift the blockade against Gaza, citing deteriorating humanitarian conditions.
Israel Tightens Siege on Gaza
Tel Aviv - Gaza - Asharq Al-Awsat/Tuesday, 10 July, 2018/Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman on Monday launched a series of punitive steps against the Gaza Strip to pressure Hamas into accepting Israel’s conditions and release its prisoners. Measures included the closure of the Abu Salem crossing, which is the commercial and economic lifeline of the sector, but Netanyahu has talked about other secret steps. In a statement on Monday, Netanyahu said: “I have long said that I do not intend to publish in advance all the details regarding the steps we are taking or planning, but in agreement with the defense minister, we will act with a heavy hand against the Hamas regime in the Strip.”Military sources said on Monday that Israel was preventing the entry of humanitarian aid from international bodies sent to alleviate the human suffering in the Gaza Strip, which has been besieged for years. The occupation authorities also closed the offices of Al Quds television station in the city, claiming that it was promoting Hamas and other terrorist organizations. The sources added that Lieberman was behind the adoption of radical steps against Gaza in order to force Hamas officials to return the bodies of the detained soldiers in exchange for any easing of the siege imposed on the Strip. Military sources also said that the invasion of the Gaza Strip was very probable, but noted that such decision was faced by the fear that the eruption of war in the south might open the door for a military confrontation in the north. The Israeli army, which has completed training on a scenario of a double war, prefers not to run a war on two fronts at once.

Erdogan Names Army Chief Top General in Military Shake-Up
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/July 10/18/President Recep Tayyip Erdogan Tuesday promoted Turkey's army commander to overall armed forces chief in a radical military shake-up after the outgoing top general was given the post of defence minister. Turkey's new government announced late on Monday the appointment of former chief of staff General Hulusi Akar as defence minister, a rare transition from military ranks to the political realm.  Erdogan then appointed ground forces commander General Yasar Guler as chief of staff by presidential decree published in the official gazette. With more than 900,000 active personnel, Turkey has the second largest force in NATO after the United States which has almost 1.5 million. The announcement comes as NATO meets in Brussels amid tensions over spending. Erdogan was sworn in Monday for a second presidential term under a controversial new system that will centralise all institutions, including the army, under the presidency. Erdogan was granted sweeping powers in the new executive presidential system, meaning he can directly appointing top military figures.
Under the new decree, Erdogan will decide on the promotion of top army officers including colonels, brigadier generals, admirals and generals in the Turkish armed forces. The official appointment of the army officers usually takes place on August 30 every year. The term of duty for the top army general is four years. Guler, 64, along with Akar and top commanders, had been abducted to a military base by the putschists on the night of the 2016 coup aimed at unseating Erdogan's government.  Ankara accuses US-based Muslim preacher Fethullah Gulen of masterminding the coup bid -- a charge he strongly denies. Turkey has launched a massive purge aimed at ending Gulen's influence, dismissing thousands of soldiers including half the pre-coup contingent of generals. According to the new decree, deputy chief of staff General Umit Dundar was appointed land forces commander. Dundar played a key role in thwarting the coup attempt. In a live statement to television channels on the night, he said: "That is a movement not supported by the Turkish armed forces." Erdogan has since defeating the coup bid increased his influence over the armed forces, who had previously been seen as a parallel power structure that had repeatedly ousted governments.

The Latest LCCC Bulletin analysis & editorials from miscellaneous sources published
on July 10-11/18
How Turkey Has Become the Palestinian Promised Land
Muhammad Shehada/Haaretz/July 10/18
Hamas persistently downplays the escalating flight of Gaza’s professionals, but Gaza's best and brightest are intent on escape, and Turkey is their favored destination. But there's a bitter twist
More than 18,000 Gazans have rushed to join an exodus from the enclave since its border crossing with Egypt opened in mid-May. They sought to seize the opportunity to escape the bleakness of Gaza before the crossing closes again, for who knows how long.
But it's an exodus of the elite.
Most of those who are leaving aren’t ordinary Gazans, because getting out of Gaza requires financial resources, political networking, energy and initiative and - above all - somewhere to go to, in a world increasingly hostile towards immigrants. Hence, most Gazans who make it out are necessarily Gaza’s most resourceful, highly-educated, promising, accomplished, and sometimes wealthiest people.
The exit of these Gazans over the last few months constitute a clear attenuation of the territory's future: A mass brain drain and human capital flight.
On May 14, Egypt announced reopening its rarely-opened Rafah border crossing with Gaza. As death tolls of Gazan protesters at the Great March of Return peaked at 62, Egypt’s President Abdul-Fatah al-Sisi personally ordered the opening of the Rafah crossing, Gaza’s main gateway to the world. It would, he announced on May 14, remain open throughout the month of Ramadan. The UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process called for further regular openings to "de-escalate the explosive atmosphere in Gaza."
Such news resonated amongst the beleaguered and claustrophobic Gazan population.
Local sources estimate that about 100-160 doctors have made it out of Gaza lately, including medics and university professors pre-eminent and indispensable in their field. One of Gaza’s top doctors, Muntasir Ismael, a university professor and consultant surgeon at the European Gaza hospital who announced he was leaving for Qatar "for many years to come." Another Vascular Surgery department head in a main Gazan hospital – who was a significant figure in treating serious casualties from the border marches, has also left.
A senior Hamas leader scorned the doctors who left Gaza and demanded that Hamas follow Saddam Hussein's lead and "ban indispensable doctors from leaving." He went to say that when more than 4,000 Gazan protesters were seriously wounded by live fire and explosives, the departure of such critically-needed competences should be seen as a "great betrayal of medical principles” and an “abandonment of those in severe need."
Yet, after with some of the doctors who left and others staying in Gaza, they all concur that even these highly-charged appeals to their conscience wouldn't stop them leaving. They quite naturally felt they also needed to prioritize their own families' basic survival.
In addition to Gaza’s well-known catastrophic "living" conditions, highly-educated Gazans, not least doctors, if lucky enough to find a job by divine intervention, are still seriously underappreciated, grossly underpaid, and horribly overworked. Young doctors work for over 70 hours a week in return for a monthly salary of about $280, while senior doctors have, for months, received less than 40% of their salaries due to the Palestinian Authority's sanctions on Gaza.
Moreover, as many of the people I talked to stated, it’s almost taken for granted in Gaza that if you don't die from poverty, the next war on Gaza would do the job.
Hamas, Gaza’s de facto authority, persistently underestimates, ridicules, and dismisses this brain drain as unworthy of note. Yet at the same time, it does its best to incapacitate the maximum number of people from leaving, through stringent and inconsistent criteria governing who’s eligible to sign up for departure. Despite its protestations to the contrary, Hamas is deeply concerned about a depopulation of Gaza's most competent inhabitants, and getting the blame for it. Paradoxically, the stricter Hamas’ criteria become, the less likely people who make it out feel about returning to such an oppressive regime, and the more people in Gaza are eager to leave. Hamas leaders dismiss the numbers of emigrants as a "small fringe." However, had it not been for the Egyptian’s pre-specified capacity to process about 500 people a day (of which 400 are from an endless waiting list and about 100 "coordinated passages" – the result of bribes), the numbers would certainly have been far more shocking. Almost everyone I know in Gaza, especially young people, either have made it out, or are desperately fantasizing about leaving. And young Hamas members are no exception; of the ten staffers I know at a senior Hamas leader’s office, seven have made it out, and the ones left, including the Hamas leader himself, long to get out, but are prisoners of their posts.
"People no longer discuss politics," a Hamas friend grudgingly observed about a city whose people used to almost talk about nothing else. He went on: "You hear nothing else in the streets other than dreams of traveling. Everyone is discussing ways to leave and destinations to pursue."
Turkey is a major destination for young people and families. It's gained that preference thanks to its relatively easy-to-obtain tourist visa, its supposedly hospitable and pro-Palestinian reputation that Gazans assume will make it easier to resettle there and start a new life, and its imagined gateway to "the promised lands" of Europe. A friend who works for a Gazan travel company informed me that they had received more than 3,000 visa applications for Turkey over the last week alone. But getting past the Hamas filter is only the first barrier to leave; Egypt has actually stricter criteria than Hamas regarding who is allowed out of Gaza. The Egyptian authorities deny departure to about 50 travelers each day, most of whom are Turkish visa holders. Paying your way on to the list of guaranteed "coordinated passages" is the only way to ensure maneuvering past both Hamas and Egypt. But that costs the exorbitant sum of $2000-$10,000 per person, paid to Egyptian intelligence through local dealers. That means many in Gaza are obsessed with finding a way to accumulate such an astronomical bribe. The Gazans who seek to leave don't usually spend too much time thinking about the reality of life outside Gaza's “toxic slum" in which Gazans are necessarily “caged from birth to death,” in the words of UN human rights chief Zeid Ra'ad al-Hussein earlier this year. Most Gazans don’t have any conception of what world lies on the other side and how would they survive it.
Therefore, many are throwing themselves into the unknown – and are critically unprepared. A source at the Palestinian Embassy in Cairo, for instance, estimates that more than 16,000 Gazans are living illegally in Cairo alone; not allowed to work or obtain residence, unable to travel further, and terrified of having to return to Gaza.
Similarly, in Turkey, many Gazans have no option but to stay illegally beyond their tourist visa. They live a life of paranoia, trying to avoid security checkpoints in the streets, at which Arab-looking pedestrians are usually stopped and asked a single fateful question, to which the wrong answer might mean harassment, incarceration or deportation: "Are you Syrian?" Gazans are mostly let off the hook. A Gazan friend was stopped and checked three times in one day, and the last time he was asked if he was Syrian, he sarcastically answered, "I wish if I had that honor." He was held for an hour in detention for his impertinence. A few particularly well-connected and well-established Gazan families manage to obtain Turkish residence permits by purchasing properties and investments. Others try to enroll in public universities and language courses to obtain temporary residence permits while seeking almost non-existent pathways to Europe or part-time jobs.
They spend their time in a never-ending wait, usually with no means of making a living except eking out savings, relying on families back home, or if lucky, working in grossly underpaid black market jobs. Young Gazans are thus caught in a miserable trap: pursuing virtually non-existent opportunities abroad or returning to the Gazan cage. Thus far, they still prefer to try their luck abroad; those who give in and return soon re-join the cycle of those trying to leave again. "Gaza is nothing but a trap," I am told, unanimously, when I broach the idea of returning to Gaza even for a short visit. "Returning would be the worst decision you made in your entire life.You'll regret it so dearly that you'll think of nothing else but escaping again."  For a Gazan emigrant generation, the questions we now face are common to the millions of displaced people from the Mideast desperately searching for a place of rest in Europe: "Where can we escape to? Is there anywhere else that will let us call it home – perhaps indefinitely?"Muhammad Shehada is a writer and civil society activist from the Gaza Strip and a student of Development Studies at Lund University, Sweden. He was the PR officer for the Gaza office of the Euro-Med Monitor for Human Rights. Twitter: @muhammadshehad2

Turkey's Erdogan Uses Extended Powers to Appoint Son-in-law Finance Minister

Reuters/July 10/18
The announcement - and the absence of familiar, market-friendly ministers from the cabinet - helped to send the lira sharply lower
Turkey's Tayyip Erdogan ushered in the new, executive presidential system he had long campaigned for by putting his son-in-law in charge of the economy and promising greater overhaul of a country he has dominated for 15 years. Hours after he was sworn in with sweeping new powers at a ceremony in the capital of Ankara, Erdogan named Berat Albayrak as the treasury and finance minister in his new cabinet. The announcement - and the absence of familiar, market-friendly ministers from the cabinet - helped to send the lira sharply lower. Erdogan, the most popular and divisive leader in recent Turkish history, has now formally become the most powerful leader since Mustafa Kemal Ataturk founded the republic from the ruins of the Ottoman Empire. Just as Ataturk transformed an impoverished nation at the eastern edge of Europe into a secular, Western-facing republic, Erdogan has fought to bring Islamic values back into public life and lift millions of pious Turks - long ostracised by the secular elite - out of poverty. "We are leaving behind the system that has in the past cost our country a heavy price in political and economic chaos," Erdogan said in an address late on Monday.
Under the new system, the post of prime minister has been scrapped and the president selects his own cabinet, regulates ministries and can remove civil servants - all without parliamentary approval. Erdogan has said the powerful executive presidency is vital to driving economic growth and to ensure security after a failed 2016 military coup. But Western allies and rights group decry what they say is increasing authoritarianism and a push toward one-man rule.
In the aftermath of the coup, Turkey, a member of the NATO military alliance and still nominally a candidate to join the European Union, has detained some 160,000 people, jailed journalists and shut down dozens of media outlets. The government says its measures are necessary given the security situation.
Investors have been worried by what they fear is Erdogan's tightening grip on monetary policy. A self-described "enemy of interest rates", he has said he would look to take greater control of policy under the new system.In one of three presidential decree issued in the Official Gazette on Tuesday, it was announced that the president will appoint the central bank governor, deputies and monetary policy committee members for a 4-year period. It was also announced in the Official Gazette that Erdogan had appointed ground forces commander General Yasar Guler as the new chief of the general staff, replacing General Hulusi Akar, who was appointed defence minister in the new government.

The Syrian ‘Deal of the Century’

Abdulrahman Al-Rashed/Bloomberg View/July 10/18
Why is Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu “very interested in the Trump-Putin summit?” It is because “he hopes they will reach the real deal of the century,” – a deal that has nothing to do with a solution to the Palestinian cause or to the so-called deal of the century.
So what is the deal of the century that Netanyahu is dreaming about? It calls on Trump to accept Russia’s occupation of the Crimean peninsula and East Ukraine and lift the sanctions imposed on it, while allowing Putin to control Syria. In exchange, Putin will expel the Iranians and their supporters from Syria, thus granting Netanyahu a historic victory. This is what Nahum Barnea, editor of Political Affairs in Yedioth Ahronoth, believes. However, despite the major regional and international transformations, he skeptically said: “They are relying on Putin in Israel. I am not sure that they are counting on the right man. Israel’s real card in Syria may be Assad”.“At the moment, Assad needs Russian fighter jets and militias that are commanded by Iran, but afterwards, when he controls the whole of Syria and emerges as the major victor in the civil war, he will want to go back to being the only ruler. ‘The Iranian did his part and must leave now’ is what his father would have said. The late Hafez al-Assad is the only enemy who Israel misses.”
This is Barnea’s opinion. But, the Crimea and East Ukraine conflict are strategic issues to the US, and it is unlikely that Trump will give up on them just for Syria’s sake if there aren’t more important agreements to be reached. Why would the Americans concede Crimea and East Ukraine to Moscow and, on top of all that, reward it with Syria? These American concessions in exchange for coaxing Moscow against Iran seem like a very generous “deal of the century” for Russia, unless we see a better price! The nature of Russia’s commitments to Syria is also not clear. We have seen an important development in the past few days when the Iranians and their militias were prohibited from participating in the battle in the Daraa governorate and Golan in compliance with Israel’s conditions. The Russian military police replaced the Iranian Revolutionary Guards. This American-Israeli-Russian-Syrian cooperation to exclude Iran from the South is a precedent. What else? Will the Russians accept the second phase, of fighting the Iranians, the Lebanese “Hezbollah” and Iraqi militias if they refuse to voluntarily leave Syria? Before we reach this point, we must, of course, hear Assad himself commanding the Iranians to leave. The Israelis are saying Assad does not want to or cannot do so. Washington had previously tested him when it proposed that all foreign troops, including American, Turkish and Iranian ones, exit Syrian territories, but Damascus only approved the Turkish and American departure. So what does Netanyahu see that we do not? Maybe he thinks there is a unique chance to end the Golan dispute in exchange for supporting the Assad regime regain control over the whole of Syria.
We are facing a completely new situation because the Syria of today is not the pre-2011 Syria. The country can be rebuilt, while also establishing political axes that can get Iran out of Syria and weaken it in the region, including Lebanon. This is why Barnea is doubting the possibility of a solution and saying that the Israelis miss Hafez al-Assad, who was able to play on all sides. It was Hafez who paved the way for the transfer and settlement of Palestinian fighters from Jordan to Lebanon and then dispatched his troops to Lebanon under the excuse of ending the Lebanese-Palestinian fighting. He later contributed to getting rid of the Palestinian fighters in wake of the eruption of dispute with them and Israel’s insistence that the Palestinian Liberation Organization and its leader Yaser Arafat be expelled. Hafez al-Assad got rid of the Palestinians and brought the Iranians into Lebanon, which was under his protection. He then assumed control of Iran’s product, “Hezbollah”, and used it to maintain balance with Israel. Netanyahu thinks it is now possible to hunt several birds: the Iranian presence, Lebanon, Golan and ending the state of war through the real deal of the century.

Want Faster Growth in the US? Embrace Diversity
Noah Smith/Bloomberg View/July 10/10
During the past four decades, the US has become much more racially and ethnically diverse. The share of non-Hispanic white people residing in the country is now only 62 percent, while Hispanics and Asians together make up 22.5 percent. Since 2014, less than half of the kids born in the US have been born to two non-Hispanic white parents. Some states, such as Texas, are already majority-minority. This rapid demographic change, which is due both to immigration and to high fertility rates among Hispanic-Americans, has sparked unease and even fear among some, and probably contributed to the election of President Donald Trump. This heightened anxiety comes even as immigration from Latin America is declining and Hispanic fertility rates have fallen. Meanwhile, about 39 percent of American-born Hispanic newlyweds and 46 percent of American-born Asian newlyweds marry people of other races (mostly whites) — a figure that will probably climb even higher in the years to come. Some of the children and grandchildren of those unions will probably identify as white. So the demographic decline of white America is probably overstated. But overstated or not, demographic change presents a big challenge for the US, which already suffers from a history of troubled white-black race relations as a result of slavery and segregation. Not only can poor race relations lead to violence and discrimination, but they can also create dysfunctional politics and lead to economic underperformance. Evidence from developing nations shows that ethnic divisions, often created as a result of arbitrary colonial boundaries, tend to undermine the provision of public goods, making a country more likely to be poor.
That correlation isn’t a law of nature, however. And so far, the US has managed to overcome the challenges posed by increasing diversity. Diverse cities tend to spend as much or more than non-diverse cities, probably as a result of successful inter-ethnic coalition-building. The country’s most diverse states, such as Texas and California, and diverse cities like Houston, Los Angeles and San Diego tend to be economic success stories (as well as having relatively low violent crime rates). Perhaps because of its liberalized economy, relative tolerance and history as a nation of immigrants, the US has done better than most other countries at forging a functional, wealthy, peaceful diverse society. This uniquely accommodating attitude toward diversity is visible in surveys.
In a 2012 experiment, political scientist Ryan Enos sent Spanish speakers to stand in a train station in Boston, and found that white Bostonians who heard them talking tended to express more negative views of immigration. Enos later wrote a book, entitled “The Space Between Us: Social Geography and Politics,” about how a large ethnic minority living close by can stoke racial tensions, especially in the presence of segregation. So to deal with the challenge of diversity, it’s crucially important to break down geographic barriers between racial groups. Fortunately, research offers a ray of hope that this can be done. The theory that extended contact improves attitudes toward other racial groups is supported by a large number of research studies. But how can this be done? In any even remotely free economy, people — especially wealthier people — will be able to choose where they live. That makes it hard to avoid voluntary segregation — even if people only slightly prefer to live near to their co-ethnics, it can lead to substantial neighborhood homogeneity over time. Serving together in the military is probably a powerful way of creating lasting positive attitudes toward other races. Expanding the US military, and implementing a program of national service, would help Americans realize that they’re all on the same team. Finally, college can be a potent tool for fostering long-term positive interracial contact. Expanding public universities, keeping student bodies diverse, using roommate assignments to encourage interracial contact, and banning or heavily discouraging racially exclusive parties would be key steps in making higher education a more powerful unifying force. Diversity can create great challenges. But it also offers great opportunities — the promise of a larger, stronger, nation that is richer both in dollars and in cultural ideas.

China-Arab Cooperation Forum
Ahmed Abul Gheit/Asharq Al Awsat/July 10/18
Relations between the Arabs and China are as old as the two ancient civilizations, and are so diverse that they encompass all aspects of human activity from commerce and economy to culture and popular ties. These deep bonds were preceded by communication between China and the rest of the globe. The Arab-Islamic civilization was in fact the bridge between China and other world civilizations.It is not surprising, then, that the time that witnessed the flourishing of the Arab-Islamic civilization - from the eighth century onwards - was the same as the apogee of the Chinese civilization, the peak of its glory, and its economic, scientific and human prosperity. This time in Europe was called the “dark Middle Ages”, as it was gloomy in the West and glowing and shining in the East, both among Arabs and Chinese. Today, the relationship between the Arab world and China transcends the logic of mutual economic benefit or the desire for economic well-being. The fact is that relations between our peoples are based on deeper and closer historical and cultural ties that are reflected in the two sides’ close view of international affairs. Arab countries were the first to recognize the People’s Republic of China, after its establishment in 1949, and even before its recognition by the United Nations. The Arab-Chinese relations witnessed an extraordinary development after the Bandung Conference in June 1955, at a time of ultimate international polarization. Arab countries also supported China’s quest for a seat in the United Nations in the early 1970s. Needless to say, support for the one-China principle is among the main pillars of Arab world policy towards China.
The establishment of the China-Arab Cooperation Forum in 2004 represented a real breakthrough in Arab relations - at the collective level - with China. The forum contributed to placing these relations within an institutional framework, so that their development and future potential could be monitored and their shortcomings could be addressed by both sides in order to improve relations at all levels. About fifteen cooperation mechanisms have been instituted within the framework of the forum in various political, economic, cultural and scientific fields. The historic visit of Chinese President Xi-Jinping to the headquarters of the League of Arab States in January 2016 gave unprecedented momentum to the Arab-Chinese relations and paved the way for broad prospects for progress and advancement. Over the past 14 years, the Arab-China Cooperation Forum has contributed to strengthening relations between the two sides and enhancing cooperation and coordination between them. The volume of trade between Arab countries and China jumped from $36.4 billion when the forum was established to $191 billion in 2017, a clear evolution that made China - as many reports emphasized - the second largest trading partner of Arab countries.
There is no doubt that prospects for further trade development are open, beyond the traditional fields (especially energy) and towards broader and more diverse horizons. The two sides are looking forward to increasing the volume of trade exchange to $600 billion, especially within the framework of the "Belt and Road" initiative, in which Arab countries occupy a prominent position by virtue of their strategic location, economic potential and natural and human resources. The initiative to revive the ancient Silk Road will unleash the potential of the Arab world and transform the capabilities into huge investments that the region needs to revive markets, raise employment rates and improve infrastructure.
The “Belt and Road” is an initiative with unprecedented potential for success. It recalls the time of the renaissance of the two Arab and Chinese civilizations... and allows for the comeback of this renaissance. The Arab world sees China not only as a trading partner, but as a pioneer of unprecedented experience in achieving balanced economic growth and lifting hundreds of millions of people out of poverty. China’s unique economic model (capitalism with Chinese characteristics) is the focus of the political, intellectual, economic and business leaders of the Arab world, and contains very important lessons in how to deal with the phenomenon of globalization with courage, creativity and confidence. I do not exaggerate if I say that China - thanks to this policy - has become one of the biggest winners of globalization, if not the biggest winner at all.
Cooperation and rapprochement between the two sides is not limited to the economic side. The structure of the international system and its current liquidity are driving more political coordination between the Arab world and China, especially that their positions stem from a similar reading of the international system. They both understand the need to respect sovereignty and to refrain from interfering in other countries’ internal affairs. They also realize the inevitability of countering terrorism in its totality as a serious threat to the stability and well-being of States and societies.
There is no doubt that China’s stance towards the Palestinian Cause - the central issue of the Arabs - is highly appreciated by the Arab side, especially since China's positions have never changed, whether in supporting the Palestinian right, backed by international legitimacy and international law and the need to end the occupation and to implement the two-state solution as the only possible key to resolving the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. I emphasize in this regard the four-point initiative of President Xi-Jinping to achieve a political settlement of the Palestinian issue and China’s foreign policy ideas on the Middle East, which are consistent with the Arab Peace Initiative, in its quest for an independent Palestinian State with full sovereignty over the 1967 borders and with Jerusalem as its capital.
In conclusion, I am certain that the China-Arab Cooperation Forum, in its eighth session that will be held in Beijing on July 10, 2018, will be a new element to add to the strong relations between the Arab world and China.
**The Secretary General of the Arab League

NATO and the Putin-Trump Summit
James Stavridis/Bloomberg View/July 10/18
In some ways, of course, we have been here before. When I served as NATO’s supreme allied commander from 2009 to 2013, we had controversy and disagreements aplenty over Afghanistan and Libya, for example, and endless arguments over equitable burden-sharing between the US and the other allies. Indeed, reports on the decline of NATO have been constant over the decades, especially immediately after the collapse of the Soviet Union. What is different now, however, is the obvious personal antipathy of the US president toward the alliance in general and some of the key leaders in particular. Donald Trump’s open dislike of Germany’s Angela Merkel, the UK’s Theresa May and Canada’s Justin Trudeau, for example, feels deeply rooted and intractable. (While there was a flash of affection toward President Emanuel Macron of France during an April visit to Washington, that relationship has cooled considerably since.)  This personal animosity between the alliance’s most important national leaders comes at an especially infelicitous time, with Vladimir Putin’s Russia applying pressure around NATO’s periphery, using “hybrid warfare” techniques to destabilize the Baltic and Black Sea nations, and employing cyber operations to undermine democracy as far away as the US. The fear is that Trump will conduct another slash-and-burn mission at the NATO summit, then follow it up with a warm and chatty engagement with Putin a few days later in Helsinki. This would follow the pattern he established several weeks ago when he trashed the G-7 gathering in Canada and then all but hugged North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un in Singapore. A second round of such behavior will solidify the view in Europe that the president is irredeemable as a reliable partner, leading to one of the deepest crises in the alliance’s 70-year existence. What makes it particularly hurtful is the evident personal affection and admiration Trump has for Putin. This seems inexplicable given the Russian leader’s support for the war criminal Bashar al-Assad in Syria, his illegal invasion of Ukraine and annexation of Crimea, and above all the Russian intrusion into the US political process in 2016 and since — which Trump refuses to recognize.
While it is in no one’s interest to stumble backward into a Cold War, the huge political disconnect between Trump’s dislike of NATO’s democratic leaders and his frequently expressed admiration for Putin is an enormous discontinuity for the alliance.
America’s partners are particularly concerned about a surprise Trump giveaway during his meeting with Putin: announcing a withdrawal of significant Americans troops from Europe, cutting defense funds to US European Command, or stopping exercises with NATO’s easternmost members, which Russia protests as “provocative.” And given the script he is executing with North Korea — including a pause on military exercises with South Korea that apparently blindsided not only Seoul but also Secretary of Defense James Mattis — these fears would appear very justified.
Ironically, all this is happening as the push to increase defense spending on the part of the Europeans and Canada, begun during the Obama administration, is actually working. Most of the non-US NATO members are moving closer to the entirely reasonable goals of spending 2 percent of gross domestic product on defense and 20 percent of that on modern equipment. But it cannot go fast enough to satisfy Donald Trump, and his anger and petulance will probably increase.
What this summit should be about is a handful of difficult strategic and tactical challenges facing the alliance. These include the seemingly endless mission in Afghanistan (about 25,000 NATO troops remain there, 15,000 of them from the US); protecting the alliance members in the Baltics from Russian cyberattacks; a plan for approaching the rapidly opening Arctic Ocean (five NATO allies have significant coastlines threatened by an increasingly activist Moscow); and NATO’s role in the Middle East, especially the continuing fight against terrorists. Instead, we can look forward to Trump continuing his uninformed commentary about nations failing to “pay their dues” — as if NATO was one of his country clubs — and musing about whether the US should even stay in the alliance. (After being told recently that Sweden not a member, he reportedly commented that perhaps the best thing for the US would be the “deal” that Sweden has of picking and choosing which operations to join.) This would a waste of rare face time between the world leaders, especially with vastly more important issues to address.One hopes that Mattis — who served as a 4-star NATO commander while on active duty — can drive a sensible level of discourse on the key topics. What the US should be pushing for is straightforward: ongoing commitment of trainers and funding in Afghanistan, where the key will be forcing the Taliban to the negotiating table; increasing cyber resources for both defensive and offensive activities; establishing a greater level of formal NATO participation in the fight against ISIS; generating a coherent surveillance and operational plan for the Arctic; and — above all — synchronizing NATO responses to ongoing Russian aggression around the border of the alliance.  Defense spending by our allies is certainly worthy of discussion — as it has been for years. But if that is the end of the conversation, the Brussels summit will be a missed opportunity for the US and the democratic world.

Mike Pompeo: Qassem Soleimani is causing trouble in Iraq and Syria ... we need to raise the cost for him
US Secretary of State speaks exclusively to The National about America’s commitment to Gulf security
Mina Al-Oraibi/The National/July 10/18
United States Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is on a mission to garner a global coalition to push back against Iran and limit its militant actions in the region.
Speaking exclusively to The National in Abu Dhabi, Mr Pompeo said a “global effort” is needed to rein in Tehran and have it act as a “normal country”.
This pronouncement comes two months after US President Donald Trump withdrew from the Iran nuclear deal, formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, with the Americans urging a broader approach to Tehran, rather than just focusing on its nuclear programme. Of primary concern to the US is Iran’s expansionist efforts in the Middle East, in addition to its threats to the US, Israel and the free flow of energy supplies through the Strait of Hormuz.
As part of his efforts to strengthen sanctions and collective action against Iran, Mr Pompeo arrived in Abu Dhabi on Monday night. His overnight stay in the capital came after a tour of the Pacific region that included Pyongyang, Tokyo and Hanoi, and before he headed to Europe for the Nato Summit.
In his first visit to the United Arab Emirates since becoming Secretary of State, Mr Pompeo discussed Iran’s regional behaviour and the international action needed to curb it. In his interview with The National, Mr Pompeo said that the cost to Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps, and specifically Quds Force leader Qassem Soleimani, had to be increased in order to deter them.
Iran’s presence in Syria is tied up with Iraqi militia forces that further enforce Tehran’s network of allies and militias in the region. The complication of the American ally having armed forces under Iranian command in Syria was highlighted when Iraqis were killed by a missile strike, believed to be by Israel.
Members of Iraqi Hezbollah, a paramilitary group that is designated as a terrorist entity by the US but belongs to the Popular Mobilisation Units that were part of the military grouping that defeated ISIS, were recently killed in Syria.
The PMUs are under the leadership of the Revolutionary Guards and specifically the leader of the Quds Force, Maj Gen Soleimani. Mr Pompeo said: “Qassem Soleimani is causing trouble throughout Iraq and Syria and we need to raise the cost for him – for his organisation and for him personally.”
Iraq plays an important role to counter Iran in the region. In addition to targeting Maj Gen Soleimani’s military role in Iraq, all eyes are on the government formation process there.
Mr Pompeo said: “We are working closely with the Iraqis to make sure that as they move through their government formation process, what America wants is an Iraqi Iraq for Iraqis, not influenced by Iran but rather comprised of the various groups, the Kurds, Sunnis, Shias; we want everyone to have a voice in an Iraqi national government that leads to an Iraq that is strong, independent and robust and economically successful as well.”
Must Assad go?
And while Iran’s role is an issue that the US is concerned with in Syria, the US administration has been putting less emphasis on the fate of Syrian President Bashar Al Assad. In response to the question of whether “Assad must go” was still an American demand, as had been set by the Obama administration, Mr Pompeo said: “The first thing that America is working on politically is to reduce the level of violence. We have over six million displaced persons. We have got to restore the opportunity for the Syrian people to begin to engage politically and develop a stable non-violent Syria. At that point, the political decisions, the constitution of Syria, will be sorted by the Syrian people.”
As the pressure mounts on Iran, its leaders have been making increasing threats to the region. In a recent tweet, Mr Pompeo said: “Ayatollah Khamenei must be held accountable for destabilising the Gulf’s security and prolonging suffering of the Yemeni people.”
‘We have great partners in the UAE’
In response to how the leader of Iran can be held to account, Mr Pompeo told The National: “There are lots of ways. First, a united opposition is very important. It is one of the reasons I am here; we have great partners in the UAE, we have great partners with the Saudis and the Bahrainis. Many countries are pushing back, demonstrating that what we are asking is pretty simple, Iran to become a more normal country. The tools we will use will be varied, they will often be diplomatic. You see the US-led efforts on sanctions, so economic tools. It is also the case that we will be prepared that when Iran does things like launch missiles that come here or go to Riyadh, that we are prepared to defend the region militarily.”
Responding to recent Iranian threats to close the Strait of Hormuz, Mr Pompeo said: “The United States has made very clear that we are going to make sure that the sea lanes remain open. It has been a long-standing US policy and we are prepared to make sure that that happens.”
Tackling Iran’s meddling in Yemen
In recent months, Hezbollah and Iranian support for the Houthis increased. Iranian-made weapons and Hezbollah members have been traced in Yemen. Efforts to curb Iran in the region would have to include their role in Sanaa.
Mr Pompeo explained: “I do hope that there is ultimately a political resolution there. The UN through Mr [Martin] Griffiths is working hard to achieve that political resolution but at the end of the day it is going to require a global effort to convince the Iranians that this kind of meddling, this kind of interference, this kind of promotion of violence directed at Arab countries doesn’t make sense for them. So all the same tools that I described previously will ultimately lead the Houthis and others in Yemen to realise that the war is not worth continuing and a political resolution, that is best for the people of Yemen.”
Mr Pompeo emphasised the importance of sanctions to curb Iran’s “malign role in the region”, linking the lifting of sanctions under the Obama administration with Tehran’s increased militant activity in the region.
“In the last few years, the sanctions were lifted and much of this malign activity, this increase in resources provided to Hezbollah, the increase of resources provided to Shia militias fighting in Iraq and Syria, the support to the Houthis in Yemen, the efforts in Bahrain, those all took place against a backdrop of a relief from sanctions that was a result of agreements that were entered into in the JCPOA. America has now withdrawn from those. These sanctions are returning and I am convinced that the combined effort of the Gulf states and the United States and the Europeans will ultimately achieve a good outcome and convince the Iranian people that this is not the type of activity their government should be involved in.”
A new deal with Iran?
With the US withdrawing from the Iran deal that was negotiated and agreed upon by the previous US administration, questions have been raised about the possibility of agreeing on a new deal that the US could sign up to. However, Mr Pompeo insisted that if there was such a possibility it would not be confined to Iran’s nuclear activity alone.
He said: “If there is another deal it will be completely different. It will be of permanent duration, not temporary. It will have a verification regime sufficient to ensure that nuclear weapons are not being hidden or developed in a clandestine way. It will, importantly, not just be about the nuclear programme, but about their space programme which is really a proxy for their missile efforts. It will be about their missile programme. It will be about their malign activity. It will be a comprehensive effort to convince Iran to behave in a way that we ask every country in the world.”
Resolving the Qatar crisis
Since the start of the Qatar crisis last summer, Doha has been elevating its relations with Tehran. Asked whether the closeness of relations between the two countries was a matter that he raised with Qatar, Mr Pompeo said: “My message and the president’s message to the entire Gulf region is that we hope that they will begin to have discussions and resolve this dispute. We understand there are differences of views, this happens among countries with great frequency, but we do also recognise that these disputes lead to a strengthening of Iran and allow Iran to create a wedge between Gulf states who have a shared threat from the Islamic Republic of Iran and so we are hopeful and we are prepared to try to resolve to the extent we can.”
In the past eight years, Iran’s presence in Syria has been instrumental in propping up the regime of Bashar Al Assad, with the support of Russia.
Mr Pompeo would not respond directly as to whether he has spoken to his Russian counterpart about pushing Iran out of Syria, saying: “We have spoken with many parties in Syria, including the Russians, and made very clear, as have the Israelis, that the Iranian presence in Syria is not appropriate and will not be tolerated.”
Ultimately the answer to getting the Iranians out of Syria rests on a political solution. Mr Pompeo said: “We are working diligently to develop a political solution that not only achieves America’s goal of defeating ISIS, which is still a challenge for us, but leads Iran to the place where they conclude that is it not worth the gamble for them to be in Syria. There is no reason for them to reach that country, there is no reason to have military forces there. We are going to undertake along with our partners a comprehensive programme to diminish that activity.”

The UN Fraudulently Addresses "Extreme Poverty" in the United States
Francis Menton/Gatestone Institute/July 10/18
You may be aware that the UN actually has an official definition of "extreme poverty," which is "liv[ing]... on less than $1.90 per person per day." $1.90 per day would come to just under $700 per year.
An April 2018 study by John Early for the Cato Institute found that counting the $1.2 trillion of annual redistributions toward the income of the recipients -- a sum often misleadingly excluded from poverty statistics -- reduces the official poverty level in the U.S. from 12.7% all the way down to about 2%. And the remaining 2% would be people who for some reason had not sought out the benefits.
In other words, the U.S. distributes to its low-income residents resources beyond their income equal to an additional 40 times per person the amount officially deemed by the UN to constitute "extreme poverty."
Is the United Nations a group of people of good faith, joining together in the effort to help bring peace and justice and economic development to the world? Or is it a group of haters of freedom and capitalism engaged primarily in spewing ignorance, malice or both toward the United States? For a clue, you might take a look at the "Report of the Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights on his mission to the United States of America," recently issued by the UN's so-called Human Rights Council.
Yes, this is the same Human Rights Council from which the U.S. just announced its withdrawal. It is also the same Human Rights Council that includes among its members China, Cuba, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and Venezuela -- with ambassadors who think that the best use of their time and resources is to criticize the economic and human rights record of the U.S.
The UN's Report grew out of a two-week (December 1-15, 2017) "visit" to the United States by an Englishman, Philip Alston, designated the "Special Rapporteur." After its issuance in May, the Report drew more attention than it might have otherwise because on June 12 it brought forth a letter to UN Ambassador Nikki Haley from a collection of Members of Congress, led by Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, expressing supposed "deep concern" about the findings. This letter in turn provoked a sharp rebuke from Haley on June 21.
You may be aware that the UN actually has an official definition of "extreme poverty," which is "liv[ing] . . . on less than $1.90 per person per day." $1.90 per day would come to just under $700 per year. This March 2017 post from Our World in Data -- using data sourced from the World Bank -- contains a country-by-country list of the total number of people in the world deemed to be living in this condition of "extreme poverty." The United States (along with the main countries of Western Europe, and also such places as Canada and Australia) does not even appear on the list. So you might expect the Report of the UN's Special Rapporteur on "extreme poverty" regarding the U.S. to be a one-liner saying something like "there is nothing like that here."
You would be wrong. The UN Report contains an extraordinary degree of both ignorance and malice. Here is the basic methodology:
Despite having a title stating that its subject is "extreme poverty" in the U.S., the Report immediately abandons the UN's own official definition of that concept. Instead, the Report adopts the U.S. government's own so-called "official poverty measure," by which some 12.7% of Americans (about 41 million people) were said to be living "in poverty" in the most recent statistics. (Report, ¶16: "According to the official poverty measures, in 2016, 12.7 per cent of Americans were living in poverty.") The UN Report never mentions that the U.S. "official poverty level" is in the range of $7000 per year per person, or about ten times higher than the UN's defined level of "extreme poverty."
Once having adopted the 12.7% poverty figure for the U.S., the Report immediately switches to talking about "extreme poverty" (Report, ¶17: "[T]he persistence of extreme poverty is a political choice made by those in power. With political will, it could readily be eliminated."), without ever mentioning that this term has a completely different definition than the U.S. official poverty level. Nothing in the UN Report even attempts to establish that anything remotely resembling "extreme poverty" by the UN's definition exists in the U.S.
The UN Report then systematically excludes from consideration, and completely omits any quantitative discussion of the more than $1.2 trillion of annual cash and in-kind redistributions to low-income people in the United States, nearly all of which are also excluded from arbitrarily-defined "income" when the U.S. determines who is "in poverty." These annual redistributions – in scores of different programs ranging from direct welfare grants to the earned income tax credit to food stamps to energy assistance to school lunches to Pell grants to public housing to Medicaid to legal services and on and on -- amount to almost $30,000 for every single person deemed to be "in poverty" by the U.S. official poverty measure.[1]
(3) In other words, the U.S. distributes to its low-income residents resources beyond their income equal to an additional 40 times per person the amount officially deemed by the UN to constitute "extreme poverty." Instead of recognizing the huge amounts in question and the extraordinary generosity of the American taxpayers toward the less-well-off, the Report belittles these distributions as "the meagre welfare arrangements that currently exist." (Report, ¶29)
Had Mr. Alston done even the most basic due diligence for his Report, he would quickly have found that the vast distributions of cash and in-kind benefits to low-income people in the U.S. are sufficient in nearly every case to provide them with resources in excess of the so-called "official poverty level" – in many cases, far in excess. For example, an April 2018 study by John Early for the Cato Institute found that counting the $1.2 trillion of annual redistributions toward the income of the recipients would reduce the official poverty level in the U.S. from 12.7% all the way down to about 2%. And the remaining 2% would be people who for some reason had not sought out the benefits.
The malice and ignorance of this Report, however, is by no means limited to its systematic dishonesty as to the measure of "extreme poverty" and the number of people experiencing it. Once having made its bogus claims about levels of "extreme poverty" in the U.S., the UN Report then veers wildly off the economic topic to attack the United States on everything from the criminal justice system to income inequality to alleged racism. On that last subject of "racism," for example, here is what Mr. Alston claims to have uncovered during his two-week visit (Report, ¶14):
"In imagining the poor, racist stereotypes are usually not far beneath the surface. The poor are overwhelmingly assumed to be people of colour, whether African Americans or Hispanic 'immigrants'".
Note the use of the passive voice -- the poor "are overwhelmingly assumed" to be people of color. By whom? Did Alston do some kind of survey? Obviously, he is just throwing around a wild accusation, based on his own pre-existing prejudice, with the passive voice that enables him to avoid even stating whom he is accusing.
On the subject of the effectiveness of anti-poverty programs in the U.S., the UN Report adopts the pervasive fraudulent convention of spending advocates of not counting the government spending when they want to present a high rate of poverty, and then switching to counting the spending when they want to claim the spending is effective.
In case one is unfamiliar with the central deception of the poverty fraud, it works like this:
Most people -- indeed, nearly everyone -- have no idea that when our government measures "poverty" they systematically exclude many things from the definition of "income" in order to keep the number of people said to be "in poverty" artificially high. Almost all government handouts and benefits are excluded, including things essentially indistinguishable from cash like food stamps, EITC, and Pell grants. Also excluded are moneys taken or received sporadically as opposed to regularly. Thus, if you convert your 401(k) to a regular monthly annuity, it counts as "income," but if you take irregular sporadic withdrawals it does not. Once you learn even a little about this, you realize that this is a total scam to gin up poverty numbers that are fraudulently high, and thus useful to advocate for more spending to address this seemingly pervasive problem.
The convention, however, of not counting spending in measuring "income" to determine poverty status leaves advocates for more spending wide open to the criticism, that the annual trillion plus in spending has been completely ineffective in reducing poverty as measured. Thus, you get advocates stating, as Alston does, "EITC reduces people in poverty by 6 million" or some such number, but never mentioning that this is the reduction that would occur if the EITC were counted; but is, in fact, not counted.
In other words, they have adopted a "convention" of not counting things such as EITC and food stamp spending when they want to claim high numbers of people in poverty, and then counting them when they want to claim that the programs work to reduce poverty. They just switch back and forth to whatever they think will deceive the mark.
From Report, ¶41:
"[T]he Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program kept 3.8 million children out of poverty in 2015, and in 2016, the earned income tax credit and the child tax credit lifted a further 4.7 million children out of poverty."
Actually, as the source cited by Alston makes clear, SNAP (food stamps), the EITC and the child credit do not remove anyone from measured poverty in the U.S., because these benefits are not counted in the official poverty measure. Apparently, Alston assumes that his readers are too uninformed to notice his bait and switch.
Alston then moves on to "environmental pollution," and comes up with this howler:
"In Alabama and West Virginia, a high proportion of the population is not served by public sewerage and water supply services. Contrary to the assumption in most developed countries that such services should be extended by the government systematically and eventually comprehensively to all areas, neither state was able to provide figures as to the magnitude of the challenge or details of any planned government response."
Alston appears to be completely unaware that in rural areas in America, people dig wells for water and provide their own septic systems for sewerage -- even the richest people. It has to be the same in Europe, of course. Nobody would pay to dig a sewer line for ten or fifty miles to serve one house.
Ignorance, even ignorance this extreme, could be forgiven. But the malice, not. Alston repeatedly excoriates the U.S. for not adopting massive new socialist-model "solutions" to ameliorate poverty that existing trillions of spending cannot solve, while seemingly remaining completely unaware that the socialist model, foisted on the world by the UN, is what keeps the real poor of the world really poor. And not U.S.-level poor, with a "poverty level" 10 times or so the world standard, and additional resources of another 30+ times the world standard provided to be sure they are comfortable in their "poverty." No, the UN keeps the world's poor in real poverty, $1.90-per-day-or-less poverty.
Given the pervasive ignorance displayed in this UN Report, and the transparently fraudulent use of poverty statistics in a way that is indigestible to anyone who knows anything about the subject, you might think that politicians in the U.S. would be smart enough to stay away from it. But, as mentioned, a June 12 letter signed by some 20 Democratic Members of Congress, led by Senators Sanders and Warren, latches onto some of the most over-the-top accusations of the UN Report as if they had some relationship to the real world:
"Specifically, the report notes, 'in a rich country like the United States, the persistence of extreme poverty is a political choice made by those in power.' ... We believe the massive levels of deprivation outlined in the report – as well as the immense suffering this deprivation causes – are an affront to any notion of the unalienable rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Given the breadth of poverty outlined in the report, these rights are simply illusory for millions in this country."
Haley's response was: "It is patently ridiculous for the United Nations to examine poverty in America." Thank you.
"It is patently ridiculous for the United Nations to examine poverty in America." — U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley. (Photo by Eduardo Munoz Alvarez/Getty Images)
Francis Menton retired on December 31, 2015 after 40+ years (31 as partner) with the law firm of Willkie Farr & Gallagher LLP. He currently practices law in a solo practice, and blogs at Manhattan Contrarian.
[1] 12.7% official poverty rate times 325 million (population of U.S.) = 41.3 million people "in poverty". $1.2 trillion (amount of annual redistributions) divided by 41.3 million = approximately $29,000 per person in poverty. The $1.2 trillion figure can be found in Early's study from Cato Institute, but is also available from many other sources.
© 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.

"Jihad Allowance": Views of Work in the Middle East
Nonie Darwish/Gatestone Institute/July 10/18
After the ruling class, the highest respect and wealth is given to the jihadist class or military leadership class. Otherwise, the jihadist or military class might turn against the leadership and Islamic system itself. That is one reason why the highest pensions in most Muslim countries, as in Gaza and the West Bank, go to widows, parents and children of jihadists and military retirees.
"We [the Muslim world], don't work and if we work, we don't do it professionally. We do not produce . . . and we import everything from the needle to missiles... Muhammad ordered us to excel in everything 'if you kill, do it properly, and if you slaughter, do it properly...' How come the Zionist gang has managed to be superior to us? They have become superior through knowledge and technology and work ethics." — Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi, Chairman of the International Union of Muslim Scholars.
Today, as Muslims are escaping their vast, poverty-stricken Islamic territories in 54 Islamic nations for the greener lands of Europe and America, Westerners seem to think they are rescuing refugees. Many times they are, but other times this is just the latest version of a story that has been repeating itself for 1,400 years. Recently, the President of Iran, Hassan Rouhani, dismissed President Trump as just a "tradesman" who lacked the qualifications to handle political and international affairs. At face value, the criticism might sound similar to that of an opposition party alleging that Trump lacks political experience. Coming from an Islamic leader, however, it reflects a much deeper meaning: on how differently the Islamic culture views the work ethic and the means of acquiring wealth.
Although there are many Muslims who work tirelessly and are immensely successful, Islamic culture in general has little respect for manual labor and even for business owners. People who engage in legitimate "trade" for a living are often viewed with scorn or as "having" to labor for a living.
Historically, Islamic society has given the highest respect and wealth not to the innovators or hardest workers; rather, is usually been bestowed on the ruling class, their families and associates. After the ruling class, the highest respect and wealth is given to the jihadist class, or military leadership class.
According to the Koran and the example of Muhammad, the spoils of war (acquired wealth through jihad) is to be given to the jihadists. Jihadists need to be kept busy against the outside world at all times to expand or maintain the power of Islam. Otherwise, the jihadist or military class might turn against the leadership and Islamic system itself. Congress recently pulled more than $300 million a year from the Palestinian Authority that the US was paying in a "pay to slay" arrangement that incentivized murder -- a "jobs program".
Muhammad rewarded Muslim fighters who died with Paradise; these are the only people guaranteed admittance. Those who survived jihad were given wealth:
"Allah guarantees that He will admit the 'mujahid' in His cause into Paradise if he is killed, otherwise He will return him to his home safety with rewards and war booty" (Bukhari 4:52:46).
The example of Muhammad and his Muslim fighters rests in stark contrast to the example of the pre-Islamized Meccan merchants who rejected Muhammad, and to the Jews who lived in Medina, who engaged in trade and earned their living from hard labor.
The contrast between the lifestyle of Muhammad and his fighters and that of the Jewish tribes probably alarmed the Jews -- with good reason. Muhammad's eyes were set on taking the power, wealth and control from the Jews and from the Arab leaders of Mecca -- and he succeeded.
"Spoils of war" -- also the name of a chapter in the Koran, Al-Anfāl, mostly about the Badr war -- became the lure used to attract more and more fighters to the side of Islam against wealthy Jews and the merchants of Mecca.
Spoils of war or booty, or taking the wealth of Muhammad's enemies after killing them became a big business. Anyone who was caught stealing booty was punished by Muhammad gave his fighters four-fifths of the spoils and one fifth was given to Muhammad and Allah. Anyone caught stealing booty was punished by Muhammad
Capturing wealth from others, rather than creating wealth, became an Islamic value, established as an honorable and holy legal right of Muslims. As Muhammad said in the hadith, "Booty has been made legal for me" (Bukhari 53:351).
This has been, in general, the Muslim economic model, set by the example of Muhammad, for building wealth. The most prestigious and privileged position in society for any Muslim man is the position of the jihadist. Islam became an ever-expanding machine of conquest that could not stop -- or else it would run out of money. It took as the spoils of conquest the wealth of many great civilizations including Persia, Syria, Turkey, Iraq, Coptic Christian Egypt, and the Biblical lands in and around Jerusalem -- demonstrating why manual labor and those who work in both farming and trade are looked down upon in Muslim culture as not putting jihad as number one to earn a living.
Today, as Muslims are escaping their vast, poverty-stricken Islamic territories in 54 Islamic nations for the greener lands of Europe and America, Westerners seem to think they are rescuing refugees. Many times they are, but other times this is just the latest version of a story that has been repeating itself for 1,400 years. Muslim clerics today are still advocating jihad for the acquisition of wealth. For example, the prominent Egyptian Sheikh, Abu-Ishaq al-Huwayni, is still lecturing at Al Azhar University on how Muslims' financial difficulties are due to the fact that they have abandoned jihad and the wealth and slaves that could be acquired from it.
At least one Muslim leader -- the Chairman of the International Union of Muslim Scholars, Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi -- has noticed the lack of a work ethic in Islamic society. He tried to recommend a solution to the lack of a work ethic in Muslim society, but he could not find one quote in the Quran regarding the subject except in doing jihad well. Referring to the Muslim world, he said: "We don't work and if we work, we don't do it professionally. We do not produce... and we import everything from the needle to missiles." He gave the only Islamic reference he could find regarding proper work ethic:
"Muhammad ordered us to excel in everything 'if you kill, do it properly, and if you slaughter, do it properly...' How come the Zionist gang has managed to be superior to us? They have become superior through knowledge and technology and work ethics."
The lack of a proper work ethic in Islamic culture is possibly a large cause behind the refugee movement and helps to explain why Muslims' eyes are always focused on the outside, non-Muslim world, the greener pastures, for more and more to conquer or expand into.
Islam's long history of wealth creation through acquisition continues today. In 2013, the British Muslim cleric, Anjem Choudary, who was sentenced prison for "urging support" for ISIS, called it a "Jihadi allowance," as if it were, or should be, an entitlement. By the age of 45, and with four children, Choudary said that according to Islamic law, this is the way it is supposed to work.
Reported by both the U.K. Sun and Telegraph, Choudary said:
"We are on Jihad Seekers Allowance, we take the Jizya [protection money paid to Muslims by non-Muslims] which is ours anyway."
"The normal situation is to take money from the [non-Muslims] isn't it? So this is the normal situation."
"They give us the money. You work, give us the money. Allah Akbar, we take the money. Hopefully there is no one from the DSS [Department of Social Security] listening."
"Ah, but you see people will say you are not working. But the normal situation is for you to take money from the kuffar [non-believers]. So we take Jihad Seeker's Allowance."
Only the West, still in denial, seems to have trouble believing it.
British Muslim cleric Anjem Choudary, who was sentenced prison for "urging support" for ISIS, called unemployment and welfare benefits for Muslims a "Jihadi allowance," as if it were, or should be, an entitlement. (Photo by Oli Scarff/Getty Images)
*Nonie Darwish, born and raised in Egypt, is author of "Wholly Different; Why I Chose Biblical Values Over Islamic Values".
© 2018 Gatestone Institute. All rights reserved. The articles printed here do not necessarily reflect the views of the Editors or of Gatestone Institute. No part of the Gatestone website or any of its contents may be reproduced, copied or modified, without the prior written consent of Gatestone Institute.

Meeting At Bari: Solidarity For The Eastern Church, But No Clear Path Ahead
Alberto Fernandez/MEMRI /July 10/18
Pope Francis held a truly historic meeting with leaders of Eastern Christian churches, on July 7, 2018 in the southern Italian city of Bari. In terms of the sheer seniority of the attendees, it was unprecedented. Not only were Greek Orthodox Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople and Coptic Orthodox Pope Tawadros II present (the three had met during Pope Francis’s visit to Cairo in April 2017) but many others were as well. Syrian Orthodox Patriarch Aphrem II came from Damascus, Syria, and Mar Gewargis III, Catholicos Patriarch of the Assyrian Church of the East, arrived from Erbil, Iraq. Nineteen church delegations attended, including, of course, Eastern churches in full communion with Rome such the patriarchs of the Maronite and Chaldean Catholics.[1] The presence of a Lutheran bishop from Jordan meant that almost every branch of Christianity was represented.
The day-long event, which included prayer and a closed-door meeting, was organized by the Vatican to call attention to the precarious situation of the Christians of the Middle East. The initiative for the meeting goes back several years, with many voices calling for such a meeting – including Maronite Catholic Patriarch Bechara Boutros Rai, who proposed it in February 2016.[2]
A preparatory statement from the Holy See for the summit outlined four key points: "Christians will only remain in the region if peace is restored"; Christians are essential part of the region not only for religious but for political and social reasons; the rights of every person and minority – not just Christians – need to be respected; and there is an urgent need to continue religious dialogue.[3]
Certainly, prayer for these persecuted Christians is needed, and one can hope that there was real decisiveness and much-needed clarity in the closed-door meeting. But what of the public statements? Unfortunately, as with other papal statements, they consisted of a mishmash of real insight, the usual vague pabulum supplied to the media, and some points of concern.
Pope Francis spoke forcefully of the "murderous indifference" the world shows regarding the plight of these suffering people. He spoke of the real danger that these Christian communities will vanish, and that "a Middle East without Christians would not be the Middle East." He also called for the release of bishops and priests who have gone missing in the Syrian conflict, and for Christians to be treated as "full citizens with equal rights."
Without specifying exactly what or who he meant, he also condemned "fundamentalism" and fanaticism (which "under the guise of religion, have profaned God’s name – which is peace – and persecuted age-old neighbors"), the war in Syria, the arms trade, poverty, and the powerful – all themes that the Pope has mentioned repeatedly in the past in different contexts. But his vague remarks on the arms trade made it sound as if this was some sort of external calamity imposed on the region by "the powerful," rather than local regimes arming themselves to the teeth to stay in power and fight their adversaries.
More troubling were remarks that seemed to echo the usual self-serving propaganda of regimes and extremists who blame anyone but themselves for the travails of the region. The Pope spoke of the "thirst for profit that surreptitiously exploits oil and gas fields without regard for our common home, with no scruples about the fact that energy market now dictates the law of coexistence among peoples!" This bit of an anti-Western rant seems misplaced, as the exploitation of energy resources in the region is not being carried out by profit-hungry Westerners, but by regimes in the region, who use those funds to enrich themselves and stay in power. If there is profit being made on these riches, it is chiefly local Arab profit and Iranian profit.
And while neither Israel nor the U.S. were mentioned by name, the condemnation of "no more occupying territories and thus tearing people apart" and criticism of "truces maintained by walls and displays of power" would seem to point to the Jewish state. An opaque reference to America – or is it Russia? – could be found in his demand that there be "an end to using the Middle East for gains that have nothing to do with the Middle East!"
It is unfair to criticize a pope who bears the heavy weight of coreligionists living under the whim and mercy of all sorts of brutal regimes in the regime for lack of clarity. Francis has before him the disastrous example of Pope Benedict XVI's 2006 Regensburg speech, a careful, nuanced and thoughtful discourse that nevertheless led to violence in the region against innocent Christians by Islamist extremists, and to controversy in the West.[4]
But some of Pope Francis's remarks seem to reinforce certain toxic and false Middle Eastern notions – that the region's ills are due to outsiders who steal the region's resources and rob it of its wealth, and that Israel is a principal driver of conflict. Indeed, some of the clerics attending this event have lent themselves to this type of regime propaganda.[5] But recent polls show that a principal concern of this drifting region's youth are more basic issues, such as lack of economic opportunity, and corruption.[6] What a missed opportunity for the Pope to speak of the need for governments and peoples to take responsibility for their own actions and to spell out the fatal dearth of human flourishing and dignity in the region with a bit more bite and specificity!
According to press reports from the Vatican, Bari was chosen because of its historic connection with the East dating back centuries, particularly as the resting place of Saint Nicholas, who is much venerated, particularly in the East. His remains were removed in the 11th century by Italians – essentially stolen from his tomb in Anatolia – in the chaos following the battle of Manzikert.
Not mentioned in the press release were Bari's other, less ecumenical Middle East connections, such as that it was the seat of a short-lived Islamic emirate (841-871) set up by invaders from North Africa. Also not mentioned was that it was a port for Norman knights setting out for the First Crusade. Bari was also the venue of Mussolini's Radio Bari Arabic-language shortwave propaganda broadcasts to the Middle East, that began in 1934 – making Italy the first country in the world to carry out such broadcasts – and that called for the Arab masses to rise up against British colonialism.
Pope Francis had no need to dwell on bad history, or to nag the region to behave better or to engage in religious polemics. Polemics and nagging may be needed, but he was not the right messenger and this was not the right place for these. But after convening this star-studded array and focusing on this very timely subject, failing to be a bit more prophetic was a missed opportunity for a region that is desperate to find a clear way forward.
*Alberto M. Fernandez is a member of the board of directors of MEMRI and President of the Middle East Broadcasting Networks (MBN). The views expressed here are his own and do not reflect those of MBN or of the Government of the United States of America.
[1], July 7, 2018.
[2], July 4, 2018.
[3], July 3, 2018.
[4], July 8, 2018.
[5], April 14, 2018.
[6], 2018.

Can Russia deliver on Trump’s hope of ousting Iran from Syria?

Kirill Semenov/Al Monitor/July 10/18
In the run-up to the Putin-Trump summit, Russia weighs a possible deal with the United States on Syria, but can it deliver on Washington's vision of an Iran-free Syria?
REUTERS/Carlos BarriaUS President Donald Trump meets with Russian President Vladimir Putin during their bilateral meeting at the G-20 summit in Hamburg, Germany, July 7, 2017.
Syria may be the main topic of discussion between Vladimir Putin and Donald Trump at the pair's July 16 summit in Helsinki, according to sources cited by Russia's Kommersant newspaper. Moscow has already passed along to Washington a two-page document that could serve as a draft for a bilateral communique the presidents are expected to present at the end of the summit next week.
Syria is one of the few items on the agenda that could lead to actual agreements between Putin and Trump. The outline of any deal on Syria, though still blurred, can be discerned from recent trends in Syria. Any agreement will involve a trade-off: In return for fully withdrawing its troops from Syria and for giving up its demands to remove Bashar al-Assad’s government from power, the United States wants Russia to be held responsible for limiting Iranian influence in Syria.
In fact, some aspects of the secret agreements between Russia and the United States are already being implemented. For instance, take the Syrian regime’s attack, beginning June 18, on the opposition's southern front in Daraa and Quneitra provinces. This attack, which took place in the southwest de-escalation zone secured by Russia, Jordan and the United States, was only possible when it became certain that the United States would not respond to cease-fire violations with force. The US Embassy in Amman sent a letter June 24 to leaders of the Southern Front factions stating that the opposition should not expect any support from the United States. That same day, the Russian air force joined the Syrian army offensive.
Israel and Jordan also gave Moscow the green light to conduct the operation in Daraa and Quneitra provinces, under the condition that only Syrian government forces would be deployed and that all pro-Iran groups — primarily Lebanon's Hezbollah — would be removed from those areas.
As a result, Russian delegates and Syrian opposition groups from the south reached an agreement July 6. The Southern Front will likely withdraw 6,000 of its soldiers and move them to the northwest, in particular opposition-swamped Idlib. Some Southern Front members will stay in the south under the condition of disarmament. It is possible they will receive the status of a local armed group under the government flag. Some dissident factions may even join the Syrian regime’s 5th Assault Corps, which was created with Russian assistance. Groups of that kind, together with the Russian military police, can secure the region from pro-Iran groups — a scenario that Washington, Tel Aviv and Amman will likely promote.
The United States’ willingness to sign a deal with Russia appears to stem from Moscow’s perceived ability to stop Tehran from strengthening its position in Syria. Indeed, Moscow has increased its presence in Damascus, seeking to influence the government's decisions and to displace the Iranians from their previously invincible positions among leaders of the Baath regime.
Moscow has shown Damascus that it can support the regime without any help from Tehran. Russia has also demonstrated its ability to support the Syrian government in its efforts to reclaim territories still under opposition control. While pro-Iran troops played a major role in the Idlib operations of late 2017 and early 2018, and later operations in eastern Ghouta in March and April 2018, the Shiite militants affiliated with the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps did not take any significant part in the fighting. On the contrary, Russia had the final say, both in the negotiations with the opposition and in forcing the rebel factions to accept surrender conditions for eastern Ghouta.
As for the current campaign in the south, Moscow was able to influence Damascus to exclude Hezbollah from participating in the Daraa and Quneitra operations. Russia has become the leading force in the fighting of and in the negotiations with dissident factions. In all, Russia has proven it can successfully solve problems for the Syrian government without the aid of pro-Iran forces. Furthermore, Russian military officers have recently enhanced the capabilities of the Syrian army's Tiger Forces. The Tiger Forces have successfully substituted Hezbollah forces on the battlefield as a main attacking power.
One reason why Damascus might be open to turning away from the pro-Iran vector is the return of US sanctions on Iran. There’s a view in Moscow that Syrian leaders are sensibly worried that excessive dependency on Tehran is likely to drag Syria down as well. With the return of sanctions, Iran may not be able to provide Syria any financial support, and Syria will not have the time to find alternative aid sources. A potential incentive for Damascus to reduce its ties with Iran could be found in investments from the Gulf. After all, the Gulf monarchies' support for the Syrian revolution was more of an attempt to pull Syria out from under the Iranian umbrella rather than remove the Baath regime, as such.
Policymakers in Moscow are also weighing whether the "surrender" of the south can be considered a prologue for the United States' withdrawal from the north. Such a withdrawal would be in line with Trump's statements regarding the need to end the US military presence in Syria. Meanwhile, for Syrian Kurds, the prospect of standing face to face against Turkey is pushing them to seek a compromise with Assad’s regime. Russian media, quoting the Syrian daily Al-Watan, reported that Damascus held secret talks with leaders of the Kurdish Democratic Union Party, which controls northern Syria. The Kurds are allegedly trying to reach an agreement with Assad, as they are expecting attacks from the Turkish army and its Syrian allies after the United States removes its security umbrella.
Yet Russia's capability to push Iran out of Syria entirely is limited. Large regions of the country are of vital interest to Tehran, especially Aleppo, Deir ez-Zor and Hezbollah-controlled areas near the Lebanese border.
A source in the Russian military told Al-Monitor, on condition of anonymity, that Tehran has created a multilayered presence in these regions through both Shiite troops from Iraq and Afghanistan, the latter known as the Fatemiyoun Division, and pro-Iran units of Syrians, such as the Local Defense Forces in Aleppo. In these provinces, Iranians buy property and distribute it to militants, both foreign and Syrian, from other areas.
“The facts prove that Iran has already sprouted its roots in those regions,” he said.
Considering all this, it is still uncertain whether the United States will leave Syria if large parts of it are controlled by pro-Iran forces. The US surrender of Daraa and Quneitra may be seen as a “service in advance” for Russia. However, any further steps that Washington takes — including a refusal to implement a leadership shift in Syria or to withdraw its military — will depend on Russia’s efforts to minimize Iranian influence. Practical attempts by the Syrian regime to remove pro-Iran groups from the country could include the prospect of sanctions relief and of possible financial aid from the Gulf for reconstruction.
**Kirill Semenov is an independent analyst with a yearslong record of professional study of political and military situations in the Middle East with a strong focus on conflicts in Syria, Yemen and Libya. He is also a non-resident expert of the Russian International Affairs Council.

Israeli, Saudi, and Emirati Officials Privately Pushed for Trump to Strike a “Grand Bargain” with Putin
Adam Entous/The New Yorker/July 10/18
During a private meeting shortly before the November, 2016, election, Mohammed bin Zayed, the crown prince of Abu Dhabi, floated to a longtime American interlocutor what sounded, at the time, like an unlikely grand bargain. The Emirati leader told the American that Vladimir Putin, the Russian President, might be interested in resolving the conflict in Syria in exchange for the lifting of sanctions imposed in response to Russia’s actions in Ukraine.
Current and former U.S. officials said that bin Zayed, known as M.B.Z., was not the only leader in the region who favored rapprochement between the former Cold War adversaries. While America’s closest allies in Europe viewed with a sense of dread Trump’s interest in partnering with Putin, three countries that enjoyed unparallelled influence with the incoming Administration—Israel, Saudi Arabia, and the U.A.E.—privately embraced the goal. Officials from the three countries have repeatedly encouraged their American counterparts to consider ending the Ukraine-related sanctions in return for Putin’s help in removing Iranian forces from Syria.
Experts say that such a deal would be unworkable, even if Trump were interested. They say Putin has neither the interest nor the ability to pressure Iranian forces to leave Syria. Administration officials have said that Syria and Ukraine will be among the topics that Trump and Putin will discuss at their summit in Helsinki on July 16th. White House officials did not respond to a request for comment.
The special counsel, Robert Mueller, and his F.B.I. team, tasked with probing Russia’s interference in the 2016 election, have been investigating whether the U.A.E. facilitated contacts between Trump’s team and Russian officials and sought to influence U.S. politics. Nine days before Trump’s Inauguration, Erik Prince, the founder of Blackwater and a confidant of Steve Bannon, met at M.B.Z.’s resort in the Seychelles with Kirill Dmitriev, the head of Russia’s sovereign wealth fund, whom the Emiratis used as a go-between with Putin. (An April, 2017, Washington Post story that I co-wrote revealed the Indian Ocean encounter and stated that “the UAE agreed to broker the meeting in part to explore whether Russia could be persuaded to curtail its relationship with Iran, including in Syria, a Trump administration objective that would be likely to require major concessions to Moscow on U.S. sanctions.”)
Mueller’s team has also focussed on Trump transition-team meetings in December, 2016, that involved Emirati and Russian officials. One, at a New York hotel, was attended by M.B.Z., and another, at Trump Tower, was attended by Sergey Kislyak, then Russia’s Ambassador in Washington. During the December 1, 2016, meeting between Kislyak and Trump’s transition team, both sides wanted to discuss the conflict in Syria, and the Russian Ambassador proposed arranging a conversation between Michael Flynn, the incoming national-security adviser, and people he referred to as his “generals,” according to congressional testimony by Jared Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser. To prevent intelligence agencies from eavesdropping on the conversation, Kislyak proposed using a “secure line,” prompting Kushner to suggest using the secure communications gear housed at the Russian Embassy in Washington.
M.B.Z. is regarded as one of the Middle East’s strategic thinkers. More than other Arab leaders of his generation, he hails from the school of Realpolitik. During the Obama Administration, M.B.Z. sought to establish closer ties between the U.A.E. and Putin, in the hope of encouraging Moscow to scale back its partnership with Iran, particularly in Syria. (Much like Israel, the U.A.E. and Saudi Arabia consider Iran their biggest strategic threat. They also lacked trust in President Obama.)
As an inducement for Putin to partner with Gulf states rather than Iran, the U.A.E. and Saudi Arabia started making billions of dollars in investments in Russia and convening high-level meetings in Moscow, Abu Dhabi, Riyadh, and the Seychelles.
It is unclear whether M.B.Z.’s preëlection proposal came from Putin himself or one of his confidants, or whether the Emirati leader came up with the idea. But the comment suggested that M.B.Z. believed that turning Putin against Iran would require sanctions relief for Moscow, a concession that required the support of the American President. If Hillary Clinton had won the election, the idea of accepting Russian aggression in Ukraine would have been a nonstarter, current and former U.S. officials told me. But Trump promised a different approach.
Israeli officials lobbied for rapprochement between Washington and Moscow soon after Trump’s election victory. In a private meeting during the transition, Ron Dermer, the Israeli Ambassador to the United States and one of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s closest confidants, said that the Israeli government was encouraging the incoming Trump Administration to coöperate more closely with Putin, starting in Syria, with the hope of convincing Moscow to push the Iranians to leave the country, an attendee told me.
Like M.B.Z., Netanyahu made courting Putin a priority, particularly after Russia’s military intervention in Syria in 2015. The Israeli leader wanted to insure that Israeli forces could continue to access Syrian airspace, which the Russians partially controlled, to prevent the deployment of advanced weapons systems by Iran and its proxies that could threaten the Jewish state. A senior Israeli official declined to comment on Dermer’s message but said that “Israel does believe it is possible to get a U.S.-Russian agreement in Syria that would push the Iranians out,” and that doing so “could be the beginning of an improvement in U.S.-Russian relations over all.”
Separately, a former U.S. official recalled having a conversation after Trump’s Inauguration with an Israeli Cabinet minister with close ties to Netanyahu in which the minister pitched the American on the idea of “trading Ukraine for Syria.” The former official told me, “You can understand why Russia’s help with Syria is a far higher priority for Israel than pushing back on Russian aggression in Ukraine. But I considered it a major stretch for Israel to try to convince the United States that U.S. interests are well served by looking the other way at Russian aggression in Ukraine. Of course, Trump may disagree for his own reasons.”
After Trump took office, the idea was raised again, by Adel al-Jubeir, the foreign minister of Saudi Arabia, and Abdullah bin Zayed, the foreign minister of the U.A.E., during a private March, 2017, dinner that included several other guests. “Their message was ‘Why don’t we lift the Ukrainian sanctions on Russia in exchange for getting the Russians to push Iran out of Syria,’ ” an attendee recalled the foreign ministers saying. A senior U.A.E. official said that he did not recall the discussion. The dinner attendee told me, “It wasn’t a trial balloon. They were trying to socialize the idea.”
The timing, however, could not have been worse politically, current and former U.S. officials said. In addition to the looming Mueller investigation, members of Congress were pushing at the time to expand sanctions against Russia, not reduce them. Trump told aides that he was frustrated that he could not make progress because of political opposition in Washington. The Americans who heard the Israeli, Emirati, and Saudi pitches in late 2016 and early 2017 assumed that the idea was dead. But ahead of the Helsinki summit, Trump started making statements that suggested he could be open to making a deal with Putin after all.
On June 8th, Trump called for Russia to be readmitted to the Group of Seven industrial nations. (Russia was expelled four years ago, after it annexed Ukraine’s Crimea region.) Then, during a dinner at the G-7 summit in Canada, Trump reportedly said that Crimea was Russian because the people who lived there spoke Russian. Several weeks later, when asked whether reports that he would drop Washington’s long-standing opposition to the annexation of Crimea were true, Trump responded, “We’re going to have to see.”
*Adam Entous is a staff writer at The New Yorker.

Counterterrorism Lecture/Taking Stock of U.S. Counterterrorism Efforts Since 9/11
Lt. Gen Michael K. Nagata, U.S. Army/The Washington Institute/July 10/18
The director of strategic operational planning at the National Counterterrorism Center discusses the general state of U.S. CT efforts, the persistence of the threat, and the need to focus on nonkinetic prevention methods.
On July 10, The Washington Institute hosted a Policy Forum with Michael Nagata as part of its long-running Counterterrorism Lecture Series. Nagata has served as director of strategic operational planning at the National Counterterrorism Center since May 2016. Previously, he was Commander, Special Operations Command Central (SOCCENT), and participated in the first two years of combat operations against the Islamic State. The following are his prepared remarks.
Good afternoon, and thank you for inviting me here today to discuss U.S. counterterrorism, particularly with an eye toward how our nation looks strategically at protecting U.S. citizens and our interests around the globe from the threat of terrorism.
My goals today are to make a few remarks about the state of U.S. counterterrorism efforts, provide my perspective on what the future of contesting terrorism will require, and then move on rapidly to take your questions.
For nearly seventeen years, the United States, in conjunction with a large number of its allies and partners around the world, has exerted extraordinary effort and invested enormous treasure into contesting terrorism in its many forms. As all of you know, our principal focus has been on the kind of international threat that organizations like al-Qaida and ISIS pose.
During this time, the United States has sent some of its best and bravest to the farthest reaches of the globe to combat terrorist organizations and franchises in their sanctuaries. Along the way, we have developed an almost dizzying array of intelligence capabilities, tactical and operational innovations, and technological breakthroughs year after year. As a result, all of us can and should be very proud of all that has been accomplished, not the least of which being the prevention of another catastrophic terrorist attack on U.S. soil like what our nation experienced on 9/11. We rightly grieve those we have lost along the way, and still strive to take care of those who have been gravely injured and wounded in this longest of all America's wars.
Yet, after nearly two decades, and despite all that we should rightly be proud of, the time has come to ask ourselves some difficult but necessary questions: Despite the capabilities we have developed and the progress we have achieved, why is terrorism today more widespread and complex than when we began? Why has terrorism proven to be so resilient and adaptive despite our successes and the continuing pressure and might that we and the world bring to bear against it? Just one example of why the underlying trends of terrorism, despite our best efforts, are so troubling is a sobering statistic derived from the Global Terrorism Database compiled by the University of Maryland's START program: since 2010, terrorism-related fatalities worldwide have increased by more than 300 percent, and terrorist attacks with associated fatalities have increased by nearly 200 percent. Separately, here at home, federal law enforcement has about a thousand terrorism-related investigations open in our own communities across all fifty states.
I am not trying to suggest that our efforts have been fruitless. The plain fact that there has been no repetition of a 9/11-style attack on our own soil is a signal and important accomplishment. The fact that we have revolutionized our own abilities and practices when it comes to illuminating and attacking terrorist leaders and plots is likewise a big deal. That said, I would like to share with you some observations that, from my perspective as both an operational practitioner for several decades and today as a Washington DC–based strategist, strike me as germane toward answering these questions.
First, where have we been since 9/11?
The lion's share of our investments since 9/11 in developing new CT capability and capacity has gone primarily toward the identification, illumination, targeting and tracking, and, as we say in the counterterrorism world, "the finishing" of terrorists and terrorist plots. Our principal focus, both tactically and strategically, has been toward developing an ability to eliminate terrorist leaders and foot soldiers, while simultaneously identifying and disrupting their most dangerous attack plans. This has driven extraordinary investments in new intelligence community capabilities, a revolution in military affairs when it comes to combating irregular and insurgent forces, and the creation of entirely new federal agencies focused on hardening our infrastructure, defending our borders, and investigating and disrupting violent extremist threats in both our country and abroad.
Second, where are we now?
On the one hand, we have developed enormous proficiency and expertise in CT that continues to serve us well today. Most recently, when ISIS exploded onto the world stage in 2014, the United States was far more ready and able to grapple with and begin the military defeat of that entity than would have been possible seventeen years ago.
On the other hand, the fact that ISIS suddenly emerged as a strategic surprise for the United States only four years ago should be a sobering realization for all of us. It has compelled a large number of experts within the CT community to recognize that, for all the successes we have had, violent extremism in virtually every form continues to be resilient.
I'd like to provide three examples to emphasize this point about the size, capability, and resilience of terrorism today:
First—More than a decade ago, I commanded a task force that focused on foreign fighters who had joined al-Qaida in Iraq. I vividly remember that we were struggling to deal with fighters that totaled in the hundreds. Since the rise of ISIS in 2014, our best estimates are now that in excess of 40,000 foreign terrorist fighters have flocked to its black flag in that time.
Second—ISIS has been a strategic pioneer in at least two arenas. The first is weaponizing and effectively employing commercially available and affordable unmanned aircraft systems (UAS). As more and more capable technologies, such as cheap and affordable UAS, become more readily available to anyone with a credit card, the ability to create highly lethal effects is no longer dependent on centralized training, planning, or preparation. The other is even more dangerous, and that is the group's innovative use of online propaganda and social media platforms to recruit, radicalize, and mobilize individuals to violence. No longer is the creation of new terrorists primarily dependent on physical or face-to-face contact between a prospective recruit and a terrorist recruiter, nor do new recruits require extensive training or guidance, given ISIS's emphasis on encouraging its followers to conduct attacks in their home countries using simple tactics and easily accessible weapons. Consider that the truck driver in Nice, France, in 2016 was able to kill and maim as many people with his cargo truck as a large IED attack could have.
Third—As many of you will recall, we had a notion right after 9/11 that "we will play such an awesome away game that there will never have to be a home game." Nearly twenty years later, I've had to confront the sad reality that, despite the impressive nature and enormous effectiveness of our away-game efforts, the overall movement of terrorism and violent extremism has ultimately proven durable and resilient to our attacks. Today, we are contesting an unprecedented scale of violent extremist activities, both internationally and with homegrown violent extremists.
Assuming the foregoing is reasonably accurate, today we are confronted with the question of how to make ourselves and our allies more effective in reducing the size, capability, and resilience of terrorism. We must find a way to preserve today's impressive ability to disrupt terrorism while significantly strengthening our ability to reduce terrorism in all of its forms—internationally where it threatens U.S. interests and more effectively within our own borders.
Although we maintain our already formidable capability to attack and disrupt terrorist activities that threaten our interests, it is now necessary for the United States to shift more of its investments in people and capability toward the nonkinetic prevention of terrorism. It may seem a little unusual for a military special operator like myself to make such an argument, but like many of my colleagues, I've been forced to confront the simple reality that attacking terrorists does not, in and of itself, create lasting strategic success against terrorism. It is necessary, but it is not sufficient.
I am not suggesting that we reduce our investments in what we have so successfully done in the past seventeen years—illuminating and effectively attacking terrorists. Nor am I suggesting that we need an equivalent investment to what we have committed to kinetic CT. The organizations, both governmental and nongovernmental, that currently strive to prevent terrorism or terrorist activities have neither the absorptive capacity nor, in some cases, the proven methodologies today that could justify such a massive investment approach. Furthermore, the federal government has learned that it must be very thoughtful in how it supports or funds prevention programs and activities, especially with respect to our intent to ensure civil and constitutional rights, personal privacy, political freedoms, and free enterprise.
What I am suggesting is simply this. We need a much more vibrant dialogue—both within our own government and across our society—about the degree to which we are willing or able to increase our investments in terms of fiscal resources, manpower, and genuine policy support for at least five mission areas:
Becoming more effective in preventing terrorist travel, both internationally and domestically;
Becoming more effective in denying terrorists the resources they need to operate and propagate their ideology;
Becoming more effective in contesting terrorist use of the Internet, both as a global command-and-control system and as an increasingly powerful radicalization instrument;
Becoming more effective in contesting terrorist ideologies, particularly in the arena of offering more attractive alternatives to their poisonous ideas; and
Becoming more effective in assisting local communities and families in identifying those vulnerable to terrorist recruitment and enabling local actors to either prevent or "off-ramp" these individuals or groups by teaching them how to address their needs or grievances without resorting to violence.
It is important that I acknowledge that thousands of extraordinary, dedicated people—both within government and across civil society—are striving to succeed in all five areas today. Unfortunately, there are simply not enough of them, they universally suffer from significant resource shortfalls, and—most important—they would benefit from the constant and durable policy support that kinetic CT approaches enjoy today.
Over the past seventeen years, identifying and attacking terrorists and their plots have experienced vivid and substantial policy support. Not everything we attempted to do in locating or attacking them was successful, but we learned from every mistake. We were willing to absorb these setbacks, publicly defend them against both domestic and international criticism, and persevere because it was so important that we learn how to succeed.
If we are to become strategically successful in the five nonkinetic arenas I've outlined, I believe it will take the same kind of sustained commitment. We do not yet know all of the prescriptions, approaches, skills, capabilities, or organizational models best suited to strategically succeed nonkinetically, and it will only be through the kind of ruthless experimentation we were once willing to endure in our kinetic journey that we will learn how to be equally successful in preventing terrorism. This will ultimately determine if we are able to learn to prevent the creation of new terrorists as well as if we are able to kill or capture them today. I will stop there and would be delighted to answer any questions you may have.
Thank you.

Wars of extermination: What is the role of major powers?
Fahad Suleiman Shoqiran/Al Arabiya/July 10/18
The movie In the Land of Blood and Honey shows the extreme suffering of people in Bosnia and Herzegovina because of the ethnic war which embarrassed humanity and kept states in utter confusion for three years. Eventually, the US employed the strategy of Richard Holbrooke of using “force for achieving peace.”While narrating the details of the Dayton Agreement, Holbrooke’s assistant Vali Nasr said: “In the Balkans, (Holbrooke) had wielded the threat of US air power to compel the recalcitrant Serbian president Milosevic to agree to a deal.”
“On one occasion he walked out of a frustrated meeting with Milosevic and told his military adviser to roll B-52 bombers out onto the tarmac in an airbase in England and make sure CNN showed the footage”.
“Later, at a dinner during the Dayton peace talks that ended the Bosnia war, he asked President Clinton to sit across from Milosevic. Holbrooke said to Clinton, I want Milosevic to hear from you what I told him, that if there is no peace you will send in the bombers.”
Failures of the ‘liberal order’
Angela Merkel now defends “humanitarian principles” which she had adopted toward refugees in Germany amid intense pressure on her.
Ben Rhodes, former foreign policy adviser to President Obama, revealed in his book The World as It Is that Merkel shed tears when Trump won the elections because she views him as a threat to the “international liberal order.”
Policies of the ‘liberal system’, promoted as the guardian of humanitarian values in the world, revert many societies to a primordial state of nature
However, the bloody and scattered Syrian reality and its spilling over to the European continent was the result of failed and isolationist policies that encouraged dictatorships to commit more bloody massacres. Everything had changed, which reminds us of David Hume’s paradox.
Trump along with his allies has repeatedly bombed Assad’s and Iran’s forces in Syria while the “liberal order” could not do this. This “liberal order” has failed to manage humanitarian crises as they unfolded, and it’s now failing in resolving them no matter how successful it has been in explaining them at the theoretical level.
The democratic or revolutionary impact has had no practical influence on emerging liberalisms as the problem is also with people, their methods in dealing with sudden crises and decision-making mechanisms in saving the world.
State of nature
Observing the civil and ethnic wars around the world, takes us back to the terrifying “state of nature” before the law, state, the social contract, human support, international cooperation and specifically to the Myth of the Leviathan Monster, the title of Thomas Hobbes’ book in the 17th century.
Hobbes was a witness to the British civil wars, where people lived in the “state of nature – the society without laws.” Man then operated based on selfish individualistic considerations, sticking only to providing his livelihood and concerned about his own security.
Others were only significant to him only if they serve an interest. Man was thus like the “wolf” to his fellow brothers. In this state of nature, wars continue to rage on between one man and the other.
‘State’ versus the individual
A lot of the “liberal system” policies, which are being promoted as the guardian of humanitarian values in the world as opposed to the so-called ‘Trumpian’ values, reverted many societies to that earlier state of nature.
This is due to the withdrawal and isolationist strategies without engaging in any military intervention and carrying out necessary bombing, even if limited, against Iran’s aggression via its proxies, the Syrian Ba’ath regime and other evil entities.
All this passiveness and collusion established fragile entities in the region that affect the future of Europe, like what is happening in Libya and Syria. Isolation was adopted under the pretext of preserving institutions while the state was going extinct and eroding.
Without the state, man becomes a beast and considers everything in front of him a prey, exactly like in the myths of the Ragnar Lodbrok army, in the famous TV series Vikings.
In his book The World As Will And Representation, Schopenhauer said: “The state is the muzzle that aims to render harmless the carnivorous beast, man, and to ensure it has the appearance of a herbivore.”