July 24/2018
Compiled & Prepared by: Elias Bejjani


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Bible Quotations
Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God
Letter to the Philippians 04/01-07: "Therefore, my brothers and sisters, whom I love and long for, my joy and crown, stand firm in the Lord in this way, my beloved. I urge Euodia and I urge Syntyche to be of the same mind in the Lord. Yes, and I ask you also, my loyal companion, help these women, for they have struggled beside me in the work of the gospel, together with Clement and the rest of my co-workers, whose names are in the book of life. Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice. Let your gentleness be known to everyone. The Lord is near. Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus."

Titles For The Latest LCCC Bulletin analysis & editorials from miscellaneous sources published on July 23-24/18
Can Lebanon control cannabis cultivation/Najia Houssari/Arab News/July 23/18
Plagued by cuts, Lebanon survives on floating power plants/AP/July 23/18
Lebanon’s State Electricity Company: A Pawn for Political Corruption/ Sanaa al-Jack/Asharq Al Awsat/July 23/18
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and Chief of Staff Gen. Valery Gerasimov were sent urgently to Israel on Monday, July 23 over the Putin-Netanyahu rift /DEBKAfile/July 23/18
Israel rejects Russian offer to keep Iranian forces 100 km from Golan/Reuters/ AP/Ynetnews/July 23/18
Rouhani and Saddam’s Rhetoric/Ghassan Charbel/Asharq Al Awsat/July 23/18
Aramco Is Not Just Oil/Salman Al-dossary/Asharq Al Awsat/July 23/18
Soleimani, Rouhani and the Lion’s Tail/Abdulrahman Al-Rashed/Asharq Al Awsat/July 23/18
Ireland's Anti-Israel Bill and the Muslim Brotherhood/Lawrence A. Franklin/Gatestone Institute/July 23/ 2018
Erdoğan's Turkey: Unwanted in Arab Lands/Burak Bekdil/Gatestone Institute/July 23/ 2018
Building a strategic response to Islamist terrorism/Dr. Azeem Ibrahim/Al Arabiya/July 23/18
Why Iran’s malign behavior must be confronted — not appeased/Prince Khalid bin Salman/Arab News/July 23/18

Titles For The Latest LCCC Lebanese Related News published on July 23-24/18
Lebanon Begins Repatriating Displaced Syrians under Russian-US Guarantees
Maronite Patriarch Beshara al-Rahi Meets Jordanian Prince in Amman
Aoun Stresses Need for 'Promotion of Lebanese Products'
Syrians Returning from Lebanon Dare to Hope that War's End May Be Near
Hundreds of Syrian Refugees Return Home from Lebanon
Army Exchanges Gunfire with Fugitives in Baalbek Towns during Raids
Patriarch Meets Jordanian Prince in Amman
Lebanon to Be Involved in U.S.-Russia Deal on Refugee Return
Nasrallah The Grandfather: Rare Picture Shows Hezbollah Leader With Family
UNIFIL Head of Mission pays farewell visits to Lebanese leaders
Bassil, McDonald tackle refugee dossier
Army commander meets British Diplomatic Service Head
Army discovers Sonar device in Adloun, Kharayeb
Seven injured in Burj Shemali gunfight
National Bloc MPs meet to discuss latest developments
Can Lebanon control cannabis cultivation
Plagued by cuts, Lebanon survives on floating power plants
Lebanon’s State Electricity Company: A Pawn for Political Corruption
Titles For The Latest LCCC Bulletin For Miscellaneous Reports And News published on July 23-24/18
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and Chief of Staff Gen. Valery Gerasimov were sent urgently to Israel on Monday, July 23 over the Putin-Netanyahu rift
Israel rejects Russian offer to keep Iranian forces 100 km from Golan
Toronto Danforth Logan Shooting Leaves 3 Dead, 12 Injured
Canada requests NAFTA review of U.S. tariffs on Canadian solar panel products
France to accept some of White Helmets' members after Syria 'Evacuation'
US Launches Campaign to Erode Support for Iran's Leaders
War of Words between Trump and Rouhani
Pompeo Slams Iran's Political, Religious Leaders
Israeli Jets Bomb Syrian Position 'from Lebanese Airspace'
Israel Activates Missile Defense System after Syria Rockets
Israel Army Kills Palestinian Teen in Bethlehem
Druze Deputies to Appeal Israel’s Adoption of ‘Nation-State’ Law
Netanyahu Praises ‘Tough’ US Stance against Iran
Israel Suggests Opening Border Crossing for Hamas in Return for Complete Ceasefire
Erdogan Son-in-law Defends Fiscal Policies
Sisi Warns against Spreading Rumors Aimed at Harming Egypt
Top UN Court Orders UAE to Protect Qatari Citizens' Rights
French Foreign Minister Visits Libya in Election Push
Protesters demonstrate outside UK parliament over visit of Qatari Emir

The Latest LCCC Lebanese Related News published on July 23-24/18
Lebanon Begins Repatriating Displaced Syrians under Russian-US Guarantees
Beirut - Nazeer Rida/Asharq Al Awsat/July 23/18
The Lebanese government began the first official steps to repatriate displaced Syrians after receiving assurances from Russia and the United States about their safety. The Russian initiative is based on the formation of a Russian-Lebanese committee that would cooperate with the United Nations to resolve the refugee crisis. Caretaker Foreign Minister Jebran Bassil is set to meet with US officials on the sidelines of his participation in a conference in Washington to discuss the Syrian refugee file, among other issues. A Lebanese official source told Asharq Al-Awsat that Lebanon remains committed to finding a comprehensive settlement to the refugee crisis, stressing that there was no sustainable solution except through a “voluntary, complete, comprehensive and safe return of the displaced Syrians.”Lebanon “will provide all means to achieve a full, dignified and safe return, and will guarantee all means to make it successful,” the sources noted. On Monday, a new batch of hundreds of Syrian refugees left Lebanon, in the latest coordination between Beirut and Damascus. AFP reported that men, women and children of all ages - piled into cars, minivans and tractors - have left the border town of Arsal. Security forces checked the identity papers of those about to make the journey back to Syria with suitcases, boxes of food and even live poultry, said an AFP photographer. “The voluntary repatriation of around 850 Syrian refugees started” on Monday morning, Lebanon's state news agency NNA reported. On Sunday, Lebanese Forces leader Samir Geagea revealed “an arrangement between Russia and the US to allow the return of about two million Syrian refugees to their homeland under Russian-US guarantees and with Russian-led arrangements on the ground in Syria.”“This is good news for us as Lebanese, and it is very important that the Lebanese state take advantage of this opportunity so that Lebanon can benefit the most from this agreement,” he said. Geagea noted that the news coincided with Bassil’s imminent visit to Washington on Monday “where he will have a great opportunity to agree with US officials and then the Russians” on the procedures of the return of the displaced. Minister of State for Displaced Affairs, Mouin al-Merhebi told Asharq Al-Awsat that after the Helsinki summit last week between US President Donald Trump and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin, the idea of coordination between the Russians, the Americans, Lebanon and the UNHCR began. “It seems that other parties are expected to join efforts and discuss how to ensure the voluntary and dignified return of refugees.” Russia had proposed to the United States to cooperate on the return of refugees to Syria, days after the summit between Putin and Trump, the Russian Defense Ministry said on Friday.
Maronite Patriarch Beshara al-Rahi Meets Jordanian Prince in Amman
Naharnet/July 23/18/Maronite Patriarch Beshara al-Rahi met with Jordan’s Prince Hassan bin Talal during his visit to Jordan, the National News Agency reported on Monday. Discussions have touched on the general situation in the region and the need to face the different crises with “openness and dialogue between religions.”Discussions have also focused on the “history and depth of the relationship between the Maronite Patriarchate and the Hashemite family and between Lebanon and Jordan,” NNA added.
Aoun Stresses Need for 'Promotion of Lebanese Products'
Naharnet/July 23/18/President Michel Aoun stressed during talks with a Canadian delegation on Monday the need to facilitate the promotion and marketing of Lebanese products worldwide, the National News Agency reported on Monday. Aoun told the delegation that the new air route between Beirut and Madrid will help increase traffic between Lebanese residents and those living abroad. A report published in 2017 said that Lebanon was the 72nd largest market for U.S. exports in 2016, according to U.S. Department of Commerce statistics. The Lebanese Customs Authority reported that Lebanon’s total imports in 2016 reached USD 18.705 billion, of which USD 1.184 billion came from the United States.In 2016, the United States ranked as Lebanon’s third largest trading partner behind China and Italy.

Syrians Returning from Lebanon Dare to Hope that War's End May Be Near
Associated Press/Naharnet/July 23/18/Crossing into Syria from neighboring Lebanon, visitors are greeted by giant posters of President Bashar Assad. The signs proclaim: "Welcome to victorious Syria." In the capital of Damascus, many of the checkpoints that for years have snarled traffic are gone. The city is again connected to its sprawling suburbs once held by the opposition, and many former residents and visitors from other parts of Syria fill its streets. There's a new feeling of hope that an end is near to Syria's seven-year civil war.
"It is almost over," Nazeer Habash, 60, said as he walked home near the Hijaz train station in central Damascus. "It is like a child when he starts to walk, taking one step after another, and victory will always be on our side."In a central square not far from where rebel shells used to land just a few months ago, families and groups of teenagers took selfies. Children played on a large sculpture spelling out, "I (heart) Damascus."The celebratory mood in government-controlled areas stems from successive military advances in the past year. It is fed by a feeling that Assad, thanks to unwavering support from allies Russia and Iran, has won — or at least has defeated those opposition fighters trying to topple him.
The country has suffered catastrophic damage and some aspects of the conflict are far from over. Still, many Syrians — even some among the opposition — are hoping for some degree of security and stability. The government now controls major opposition strongholds and key cities like Aleppo, Homs and even Daraa, the southern city where the uprising was born from protests in March 2011. The vital border crossing with Jordan, sealed for years, is expected to reopen soon after troops recaptured Daraa province, and hopes are high for the resumption of trade and Syrian exports to Arab countries. Syrians can now drive all the way form the Jordanian border in the south to the central province of Hama on one of the country's most important highways that was severed by insurgents for years in several locations. There is talk that the railway from Damascus to Aleppo might resume operations later this year. The latest government triumph came this week when rebels agreed to surrender their last pockets of control in Quneitra province in the southwest, opening the way for Assad's forces to re-establish authority along the Israeli frontier. "The direct threat to Damascus has ended. And since it's the capital, its conditions affect all other parts of the country," said Rami al-Khayer, 27, as he sipped a hot beverage with a friend at the famous Nofara cafe in the capital's old quarter.
The scene in devastated areas once controlled by rebels outside Damascus is starkly different. But even amid the ruins there, life is slowly returning to normal, with more businesses reopening and people tricking back. In Douma, the largest town near Damascus and site of an alleged chemical attack in April, trucks and bulldozers work around the clock to clear the remains of destroyed buildings, sending up clouds of dust. The operation in Douma is the start of a long process to clear debris from eastern Ghouta, the string of towns and villages east of Damascus that were held by rebels and under siege by government forces for five years. Until the rebels surrendered in the spring, the residents suffered under food shortages, with cases of malnutrition reported. Now, almost everything is available, although prices are still too steep for many.
Two months ago, Mohammed Sleik reopened his sandwich shop near Douma's badly damaged Grand Mosque. During the siege, he had to search for supplies; now they are brought to his door. "Things are getting better but slowly," Sleik said as he prepared a sandwich of french fries in pita bread for a customer at his shop, named Zaman al-Sham — Arabic for "Era of the Levant." He said he sells about 170 sandwiches a day, more than three times what he sold before government forces captured the area. Sleik has six employees at his shop, where the menu includes beans, falafel and fries. Stores are reopening on Douma's main street of Jalaa, and shoppers on a recent day were buying farm produce, clothes and shoes.
In nearby Ain Terma, a town that suffered much heavier destruction than Douma because it is closer to the capital, residents complain that electricity and running water are still scarce. They must rely on generators for power and tanker trucks to deliver water to their homes.
The International Committee of the Red Cross, the Syrian Arab Red Crescent and NGOs such as Oxfam have placed giant red plastic tanks of drinking water every 100 meters in the streets of Ain Terma and Douma so residents can fill containers for free. "Now we have a state here," said Taha Aboud, 60, owner of a shoe repair shop in Ain Terma. Every day, he said, government trucks distribute bread for free. After being hemmed in for years, Ghouta residents can travel to and from Damascus, although they must register at checkpoints when they enter and leave. "We were living underground, and now we are above," said Samih Hanafi, standing outside his barbershop in Ain Terma. Suha Touma, a teacher from Hassakeh, brought her daughter Chrystabel to Damascus' landmark Umayyad Square to play in a garden decorated with the colorful "I (heart) Damascus" sculpture. They traveled from the northeastern province of Hassakeh to spend the summer in Damascus for the first time in years, now that it is safe. "We see that victory will be very near, and we see the end of the conflict coming soon," she said as her daughter ran around the garden. "I hope that my daughter will become a teacher like myself so that she teaches the future generations to love their country," she said with a wide smile.

Hundreds of Syrian Refugees Return Home from Lebanon
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/July 23/18/Hundreds of Syrian refugees left Lebanon on Monday for their neighbouring home country, an AFP reporter said, the latest such return coordinated between Beirut and Damascus. In Lebanon's eastern border town of Arsal, men, women and children of all ages piled into cars, minivans and tractors. Security forces checked the identity papers of those about to make the journey back to Syria with suitcases, boxes of food and even live poultry, an AFP photographer said. "The voluntary repatriation of around 850 Syrian refugees started" on Monday morning, Lebanon's state news agency NNA reported. Seven years into Syria's war, Lebanon hosts around 1.5 million Syrian refugees, compared with a local population of 4.5 million. Over the past few months, more than 800 Syrians have left Lebanon in similar operations organised by the governments of Beirut and Damascus.
Several thousand have also independently left in recent years. Syria's state news agency SANA said the first of "hundreds of Syrians coming from Lebanese territory" had arrived and were heading to Qalamun outside the capital. Syria's ally Russia has also put forward plans to the United States to cooperate for the safe return of refugees to Syria. Moscow has proposed the establishment of working groups in Lebanon and Jordan, to where many refugees have fled, a Russian defence ministry official said on Friday. An advisor to Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri has met Russia's deputy foreign minister Mikhail Bogdanov to find out more about the initiative, the premier's office said on Saturday. The step would "help solve the refugees' crisis in Lebanon and put an end to their suffering and its social and economic repercussions on the host countries, mainly Lebanon," it said in English. Last month Lebanon's Hezbollah said the powerful movement was creating a mechanism to help Syrian refugees return home, in coordination with Lebanese authorities and Damascus. More than 350,000 people have been killed and over half the country's population displaced since Syria's war started with the brutal repression of anti-government protests in 2011.

Army Exchanges Gunfire with Fugitives in Baalbek Towns during Raids
Naharnet/July 23/18/The Lebanese Army upped its security measures in the Baalbek towns of Brital and al-Hammoudieh following a shootout between an army unit and wanted gunmen early on Monday. The army has brought air and land reinforcements, said NNA. Military choppers hovered over Hammoudieh. Early Monday, the army carried out a raid on the residence of a wanted drug dealer, Ali Zayd Ismail, which resulted in a fire trade between the troops and a number of gunmen in the Baalbek region of Brital, an army statement said. NNA added that the military unit managed to cordon off the wanted individuals following armed clashes. The army used loudspeakers to ask the suspects to surrender, it said. Later during the day, VDL (100.5) said that “seven suspects were killed and 15 fugitives were arrested during the army raids.”

Patriarch Meets Jordanian Prince in Amman
Naharnet/July 23/18/Maronite Patriarch Beshara al-Rahi met with Jordan’s Prince Hassan bin Talal during his visit to Jordan, the National News Agency reported on Monday. Discussions have touched on the general situation in the region and the need to face the different crises with “openness and dialogue between religions.” Discussions have also focused on the “history and depth of the relationship between the Maronite Patriarchate and the Hashemite family and between Lebanon and Jordan,” NNA added.
Lebanon to Be Involved in U.S.-Russia Deal on Refugee Return
The Daily Star/Monday 23rd July 2018/Lebanon is expected to be involved in the process of the Syrian refugees' return to their homeland after and agreement had been reached between Russian President Vladimir Putin and his U.S. counterpart Donald Trump in Helsinki. Prime Minister-designate Saad Hariri’s adviser for Russian Affairs George Chaaban told The Daily Star that there will be contacts between Lebanese and Russian officials in order to set the framework, the method, suggestions and possibilities [of the cooperation]. “During the week [after] Hariri returns [from abroad early this week], contacts with the Russian officials will begin in order to [address] these issues,” Chaaban said.Chaaban was tasked by Hariri to communicate with the Russians over their proposal, leading to a sit-down between Chaaban and Special Representative of the Russian President for the Middle East and Africa and Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov Saturday.

Nasrallah The Grandfather: Rare Picture Shows Hezbollah Leader With Family
Jerusalem Post/July 23/18/Since the Second Lebanon War in 2006, Nasrallah has spent most of his time in bunkers out of fear for his life.
Al-Manar TV on Monday published a rare picture of Hezbollah Leader Hassan Nasrallah's personal life. The black and white picture, which shows Nasrallah affectionately holding one of his grandchildren, humanizes the terrorist leader-in-hiding for his followers and shows him in a different light.
Since the Second Lebanon War in 2006, Nasrallah has spent most of his time in bunkers out of fear for his life. Since then he only appeared in speeches broadcast from his hiding place.In an interview with an Iranian TV station in March 2017, the Hezbollah leader revealed the strict security arrangements which his family had been living under and other personal details about his life. "Security is a very important issue and we can not be complacent about it," Nasrallah said then. "I do not have direct access to the Internet, but I always know what is happening."When the interviewer in 2017 told him that he had change to a different car four times just to get to Nasrallah, the Hezbollah leader responded that this was normal and that some people even have to change cars five or six times before they are able to get to him, Walla! reported. In the 2017 interview the Hezbollah leader also revealed his passion for sports, specifically football, and that he had only been able to walk on a treadmill while in hiding. "I have little time left for sports, but with the help of Allah I will return to it soon," he said.

UNIFIL Head of Mission pays farewell visits to Lebanese leaders
Mon 23 Jul 2018/NNA - As part of his farewell visits with the Lebanese authorities, UNIFIL Head of Mission and Force Commander, Major General Michael Beary, met today in Beirut with President Michel Aoun and other high-ranking officials. In separate meetings, the UNIFIL head also met with the Caretaker Minister of Defense, Yaacoub Sarraf, and the Caretaker Minister of Foreign Affairs and Emigrants, Gebran Bassil. In all of the meetings, Major General Beary expressed his appreciation for the support provided by the Government of Lebanon in the implementation of UNIFIL's mandated tasks and complimented the efforts of the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF), UNIFIL's strategic partner. "Significant progress has been made by LAF," said Major General Beary after the meetings, stressing the importance for Lebanon to continue to demonstrate progress in enhancing LAF's capacity and presence in UNIFIL's area of operation south of the Litani river. "The past few years have witnessed a period of overall stability and calm that is historically unprecedented in the area, which has benefitted the people of south Lebanon enormously," added Major General Beary. In the days leading up to his departure on 7 August, the UNIFIL head will continue to meet with various Lebanese officials, members of the diplomatic corps and fellow peacekeepers. Major General Beary is leaving UNIFIL after two years at the helm of the UN peacekeeping mission, and after serving three previous tours of duty in south Lebanon. He will be replaced by Major General Stefano Del Col of Italy.

Bassil, McDonald tackle refugee dossier

Mon 23 Jul 2018/NNA - Foreign Affairs and Expatriates Minister, Gebran Bassil, on Monday received Simon McDonald, Undersecretary of the British Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The pair discussed the regional situation and the return of Syrian refugees to their homeland.
Minister Bassil also met with UNIFIL chief in Lebanon, General Michael Beary, who paid him a farewell visit marking the end of his diplomatic mission in Lebanon.

Army commander meets British Diplomatic Service Head
Mon 23 Jul 2018/NNA - Army Commander, General Joseph Aoun, welcomed on Monday at his Yarzeh office MP Osama Saad, with whom he discussed the general situation in the country. Maj. Gen. Aoun also met with the British Permanent Under-Secretary at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and Head of the Diplomatic Service, Simon McDonald, at the top of a delegation. Talks reportedly touched on the general situation in Lebanon and the broader region, in addition to means of bolstering cooperation relations between the armies of both countries.

Army discovers Sonar device in Adloun, Kharayeb
Mon 23 Jul 2018/NNA - An Army Intelligence patrol discovered an unidentified object in Abou Aswad locality, on the seaside between the two towns of Al-Kharayeb and Adloun, a Lebanese Army communiqué said on Monday. After military inspection, it turned out to be a Sonar device used to monitor military ships, submarines, and barges.

Seven injured in Burj Shemali gunfight

Mon 23 Jul 2018/NNA - Seven people got wounded in a gunfight between two families in the Burj al-Shemali Palestinian refugee camp, NNA field reporter said on Monday. The wounded were taken to nearby Tyre Hospital for treatment. "Fatah" Movement command and all Palestinian factions in Tyre are currently working on containing situation.

National Bloc MPs meet to discuss latest developments
Mon 23 Jul 2018/NNA - "National Bloc' MPs held a meeting on Monday at the residence of former deputy Mershed al-Samad in Dinieh's Bakhoun town, to broach most recent developments in the country. The meeting was attended by MPs Faisal Karami, Toni Franjieh, Fayez Ghosn, Farid Haykal al-Khazen, Mustafa Husseini, and Istefan Dueihi, in addition to former Minister Yousef Saadeh. Conferees sounded the alarm on the delay of the birth of the new government, saying Cabinet formation interruption was no longer considered a political crisis, but rather jeopardizes Lebanon at all levels. The Bloc urged all political officials to shoulder their national duties in this regard, tipping off that any proposal from outside the Constitution and national accords can eliminate the remaining piers of stability.
On the other hand, the bloc beseeched the Lebanese authority to work for the safe return of displaced Syrians to their homeland, under one headline "supreme national interest of both countries and peoples." The Lawmakers also indicated that the bloc's demand to participate in the national unity government with two ministers stems from the substantive results of the recent parliamentary elections.
Can Lebanon control cannabis cultivation?
هل بإمكان لبنان السيطرة على زراعة الحشيشة

Najia Houssari/Arab News/July 23/18
BEIRUT: A heated debate is taking place in Lebanon after McKinsey & Co., the global management consulting firm hired by the government to help restructure the country’s economy, recommended the legalisation of growing medical marijuana.
Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri received the recommendation, which isn’t binding for the Lebanese government, and informed the US ambassador to Lebanon, Elizabeth Richard, that “the Lebanese Parliament is in the process of preparing the necessary laws for legalising the cultivation of cannabis for manufacturing marijuana pharmaceuticals as in Western countries.”
Some parliamentary blocs welcomed Berri’s stance, while others chose not to comment on it. Growing cannabis in Lebanon is classified as an act punishable by law, and consumers, as well as traders, are subject to legal prosecution.
No authority in Lebanon can accurately estimate the size of land cultivated with cannabis. Northern Bekaa Valley has always been the weakness of the absent state, and this allowed the de facto authorities to exploit its lands during the civil war and in the time of the Syrian occupation, which lasted 30 years and was followed by Hezbollah’s control.
Northern Bekaa is awash with cannabis fields, owing to its fertile ground that is adequate for growing this plant.
Every year, the security authorities publicly destroy lands in which cannabis was grown. Cannabis seedlings are planted between February and March every year, and the crops are harvested in September.
Cannabis cultivation has become a profitable profession for mafias that trade in cannabis, while the farmers receive the crumbs only.
Mona, a woman from Northern Bekaa who did not want to use her full name, said the fields surrounding her house were spacious and could be cultivated with cannabis, but her values prevented her from resorting to this type of farming.
She believes that by legalizing cannabis cultivation, the government is exempting those who have planted cannabis and traded in it from punishment.
“This is against the law and does not make any sense,” she said.
A Hezbollah member of Parliament, who wished to remain anonymous, refused to say whether he was for against the legalization of cannabis cultivation.
He told Arab News: “Is the Lebanese government capable of controlling cannabis cultivation? Let’s not lie to one another: no one can control it.
“Legalizing cannabis cultivation means that the government is to control and establish a company similar to the Régie tobacco company, issue licenses for farmers and receive the crops,” he continued. “This company may receive the crops, but will it be the full amount or will part of it be sent to the black market? And will the product be sold inside Lebanon or will the state sell it to other countries?”
The Hezbollah MP added: “Allowing the cultivation of cannabis means legalizing it to those who have a license and those who don’t, and this will reflect on society and the young generation.
“There is a social stigma in Lebanon associated with cannabis consumption and cultivation—a person who consumes or grows this plant is considered a failure.
“This country is neither the US nor the Netherlands—it is Lebanon. The ideas of the Dutch society are different from ours; they enjoy absolute freedom and know how to deal with it. As for us, should we legalize cannabis just because we are going through economic difficulties? So if we were looking for financial gains, should we legalize prostitution as well? Definitely not, and these things must be discussed at a religious level first and must be socially controlled.”
Rajaa Makki, a social psychology professor of the Lebanese University, said: “Cannabis cultivation might serve the country’s economy, but it needs to be regulated to limit violations.”
From a social/psychological point of view, Makki does not believe legalizing cannabis will yield positive results in a country like Lebanon, which lacks clear laws.
She added: “An individual who resorts to drugs usually has an emotional attachment, which means she/he is ill and is subconsciously seeking to have drugs replace what she/he lacks.”
“From here, legalizing cannabis means legalizing something that is illegal and used to achieve a forbidden pleasure.”
Makki stated that she was against legalizing cannabis in the absence of awareness campaigns.
“Awareness campaigns are an integral part of the process, especially at the social psychological level, and we are going to need more rehabilitation and treatment centers,” she said.
Those who are pro-cannabis cultivation claim that legalizing it will bring Lebanon money, while economists believe this step would contribute to a GDP growth rate of 0.5 percent.
Economist Louis Hobeika explained that the Lebanese government believes legalizing cannabis will control its cultivation and provide the country with legitimate income.
He added: “I am against it though, because the prices of the substance extracted from marijuana to be used for medical purposes are not globally high. Many countries are in this business and we are not inventing anything that can compete with their medical marijuana products.
“In addition to that, there is poor demand for medical marijuana, and there is an illusion that legalizing cannabis will earn Lebanon billions of dollars.”
He also said: “Who in Lebanon can control cannabis cultivation and who can guarantee that the business does not result in producing narcotics? The government cannot control it and a mafia that funds cannabis, probably in cooperation with the government, will be born, and we will find ourselves in a bigger problem.”
Hobeika asked: “Does Lebanon enforce traffic or construction laws as it should? What do you think would be the case for the law of cannabis cultivation?”
He stressed that it is necessary to help farmers in Northern Bekaa — and everyone who cultivates cannabis — find an alternative crop that generates revenue.
“Why don’t we grow flowers instead of importing them?” he suggested. “Or maybe exotic fruits—yes, they need additional efforts compared to cannabis cultivation as well as a new attitude, but these are positive products that do not harm our children.”
Pharmacist Samer Sobra was surprised how cannabis is to be used for medical purposes in Lebanon.
He said: “Cannabis in Lebanon is currently sold as a narcotic substance and not used for manufacturing pharmaceuticals. The substance extracted from cannabis for medical use is cannabidiol (CBD). It is used for manufacturing cough medicines, mood regulators, and relaxants in specialized labs. These medicines are not manufactured in Lebanon but imported from abroad.
“In Lebanon, there isn’t a high demand for these medicines which include CBD in their formula,” he added. “I believe it would be more profitable for Lebanon’s economy to sell the substance to other countries.”
Plagued by cuts, Lebanon survives on floating power plants
BEIRUT (AP)July 23/18
 Lebanon has for decades struggled with daily power cuts that leave residents sweating through their shirts summer after sticky summer.
The bankrupt national power company, unable to build new power plants, has been buying electricity from Turkish barges docked off-shore.
Last week, Lebanon received its third floating power station — the 235-megawatt Esra Sultan, built and operated by the privately owned Turkish Karadeniz Energy Group. Lebanese Energy and Water Minister Cesar Abi Khalil billed it as a temporary but thrifty measure to reduce part of Lebanon’s electricity deficit. It is the third so-called “power ship” to dock in Lebanon since 2013. Lebanon recently extended its contract with Karadeniz to ensure that at least two of the barges will continue serving the country for another one to three years.
Blackouts have been a fixture of life in this Mediterranean country since the 1975-1990 civil war. Beirut residents set their routines around three-hour cuts that determine when they can turn on their air conditioning in the summer and water boiler in the winter. Outside the capital, the outages can last up to 12 hours or more. Electricity from the Karadeniz barges costs more than producing it on land but less than the fees private operators charge for backup power during the daily outages. George Chiha, an electrician, said he remembers when politicians promised to deliver 24-hour electricity in the 1990s.
“Politics is a joke, at our expense,” said Chiha, 35.The outages are costing businesses and residents billions of dollars in private generation fees and lost productivity, says the energy minister. “We need emergency power,” said Abi Khalil. In the Beirut suburb of Dekwaneh, the media production company Final Cut purchased a $10,000 generator to provide backup power through 10-hour daily outages.
Chiha, who works at Final Cut, said the company spends at least $3,500 each month on fuel costs and maintenance. Residents usually turn to private operators during outages, who charge anywhere between four to eight times more than the state-owned electricity company.
Their generators hum away in recommissioned parking lots and alleyways across the country, venting diesel fumes. This summer, generator providers raised their subscription fees, citing lengthier outages and the rising price of fuel. The hikes are pricing some regular subscribers out of the market, fueling resentment that’s been directed at both the providers and politicians.
Lebanon is consistently ranked among the world’s most corrupt countries, and the sprawling black market for private power has created a perverse power structure that many say politicians have little incentive to reform. “The boss never wants us to get comfortable, so we keep needing him,” said 24-year-old Brahim al-Masri. His building charges $150 in monthly power generation fees on top of the regular state company bill. To save money, the family only pays for the months when close relatives visit from abroad. During other months, they sit in the dark for 3 to 6 hours each day.
There are more than 7,000 private providers operating in Lebanon, according to the national syndicate Generateur du Liban, and many insist they’re filling a vital gap in the country’s services. “They call us mafias and thugs. But we have lawyers, we have engineers and we have technicians,” said Hassan al-Yassin, who provides power to neighborhoods in Lebanon’s Dahiyeh suburbs. Governments have come and gone, but none have been able to solve the energy puzzle. Lebanon’s state-owned power company, Electricité Du Liban, is producing just 2,050 megawatts of electricity, or less than two-thirds of the summer demand, according to the Energy Ministry. Abi Khalil, the minister, said the influx of refugees from neighboring war-torn Syria has further strained Lebanon’s power sector.
The U.N. has registered more than 1 million Syrian refugees since 2011, an estimated one-fifth of Lebanon’s population. They draw approximately 500 megawatts of power from the grid, according to a joint 2017 Energy Ministry and U.N. study.“I don’t think any country in the world could have planned for such a dramatic burst in its population,” said Abi Khalil.
But analysts say the problems run deeper. The state-owned electric company operates on a $1.5-billion deficit, owing to the below-market rates set by a 1990s law. The budgetary hole is filled by subsidies from the national treasury — the World Bank says transfers to Electricite Du Liban account for a staggering 40 percent of the debt the country has accumulated since 1992.
It’s a predicament for politicians, who can’t justify raising tariffs on consumers until the EDL generates more electricity, yet can’t boost generation without spending more on investment.
Plans to reform the sector have been shelved and drawn up again with each successive government, says Lebanese economist Mounir Rached, who advises the Finance Ministry.
“There’s corruption in every process of the generation cycle,” said Rached.
In 2013, the country contracted its first two power ships from Karadeniz as a stopgap measure to keep lights on until the country could build new power plants.
The plants never materialized.
A 500-megawatt generating station that was supposed to have been built by 2015 is now expected to go online in 2020. Instead, the barges, Fatmagül Sultan and Orhan Bey, were upgraded in 2016 to provide 37 percent more power. Then, this year, the Energy Ministry contracted with Karadeniz to keep the barges for another three years.
As a “goodwill gesture,” Karadeniz said, the company delivered the third barge, Esra Sultan.
Together, the three Turkish barges provide a quarter of Lebanon’s generation capacity. Two sit in the harbor in Jiyeh, a popular surfing spot south of the capital, their black soot exhaust polluting the sky. Karadeniz’s barges can be powered by natural gas but Lebanon has been fueling them with cheaper but dirtier heavy fuel oil. The country is even buying emergency power from neighboring Syria, mired in its civil war and unable to generate enough energy for its own consumers. Abi Khalil said the electricity purchased from Syria is more expensive than power EDL procures, but never exceeds 100 MW per month.
In 2010, then-Energy Minister Gebran Bassil famously pledged to deliver 24-hours electricity by 2015. Today’s minister thinks 24/7 power is possible, but won’t set a target date.
“It all depends on completing the projects we have on time,” said Abi Khalil.

Lebanon’s State Electricity Company: A Pawn for Political Corruption
Beirut – Sanaa al-Jack/Asharq Al Awsat/July 23/18
All year long, electricity is at the heart of the Lebanese people’s concerns. It is also at the heart of the country’s staggering $80 billion public deficit with the sector costing it $36 billion a year. This reality can be blamed on political corruption that has for years plagued the sector. Former Energy Minister Mohammed Abdul Hamid Baydoun told Asharq Al-Awsat: “It is part of political bribery.” Politicians always set their sights on the Energy Ministry whenever a new government is being formed, heedless of the label of corruption that will follow them. Lebanon’s electricity crisis began during the country’s 1975-90 civil war, which destroyed many of its power plants. The people had to contend with gas lanterns to compensate for their lack of power. Now, 28 years later, not much as has changed and the country still suffers from frequent power cuts. There appears to be no light at the end of the tunnel because politicians would rather fill their own pockets than tackle years of incompetence in such a vital sector. Experts agree that the solution lies in modernizing laws linked to Electricite du Liban (EDL), the state-owned company that runs the sector. The current laws in place are outdated and a lack of coordination between the concerned ministries has rendered work in the sector inefficient and ineffective.
Baydoun said: “The company cannot be fixed.”
“When I assumed the energy portfolio, I managed to draft the privatization law that never materialized,” he continued. “Current EDL director Kamal Hayek has proven that he cannot limit the losses in the firm. The situation at EDL has not changed since he assumed his post in 2002,” he told Asharq Al-Awsat. Despite this 15-year failure, nothing has been done to change it, he stressed. Dr. Mohammed Basbous, a leading member of the Progressive Socialist Party, told Asharq Al-Awsat: “The energy sector is the greatest source of waste in the Lebanese economy.”
There are vacancies in 50 percent of EDL and only two representatives remaining in a seven-member board of directors, he stated. A law was issued in 2011 to fill these posts and, yet, seven years later, nothing has been done. Moreover, six months were given in 2011 to the formation of a regulatory authority, which has not yet seen the light, Basbous added. The extension of the term of current officials at EDL are therefore all illegal, he noted. Furthermore, vacancies, he said, are being filled with unproductive employees. The absence of a regulatory authority is also limiting interaction between the energy minister and any potential cooperation partner to just these two sides, meaning talks between them are not being monitored and violations go unchecked.
Unimplemented plan
Baydoun said that when current caretaker Foreign Minister Jebral Bassil served as energy minister, “he concocted a theory that regulatory authorities infringe on the minister’s privileges.”On the contrary, “regulatory authorities are formed to protect general sectors from political meddling, to ensure the rights of the consumer and to put in place set prices,” he continued. “Politics must not impose such prices.”An expert at a firm specialized in modernizing the energy sector told Asharq Al-Awsat: “Technically, we have a plan, but it has not been implemented.”
Speaking on condition of anonymity, he added: “The plan calls for the formation of a regulatory authority and separating the sector’s three main divisions: power plants, networks and distribution and tax collection.”“EDL was supposed to be restructured and its rules were supposed to be modernized. The private sector was supposed to renovate power plants and take part in the distribution and tax collection process, while the state would keep control of the grid,” he explained. “The plan, however, was hindered by corruption and political disputes.”
Lebanon’s two most important power plants are the Deir Ammar plant in the North and al-Zahrani in the South. Baydoun said: “They were constructed to work on gas, not regular diesel fuel, before a mechanism to import gas was even put in place. They have been operating on the most expensive kind of diesel fuel since 1996. Just imagine the waste.” “Ironically enough, efforts are underway to import liquid gas when Lebanon is lying on a natural gas field,” he remarked bitterly. The import of gas requires the establishment of dedicated ports. “Why are we even building ports? Syria, Iraq and Iran all lie on gas fields. Pipes to import them already exist, while we are paying billions of dollars to import liquid gas?” he asked incredulously.
That is not all.
Basbous said: “The main flaw in the energy sector is the massive amounts of waste. Technical waste in companies usually lies at around 10 to 15 percent in Lebanon. Non-technical waste, including illegal connections and tampering with electricity meters, has led to the waste of 40 percent of generated power.” During the April CEDRE donor conference, the director General Electric declared that his company was ready to build within six months power plants that can meet all of Lebanon’s energy needs, at a surplus even, and operate them at costs less than what the country was paying. His proposal fell on deaf ears, said Basbous. As for EDL’s financial deficit, it can be blamed on several reasons, such as government decisions to exempt some regions from the power bill for security and social reasons. Other regions have been exempted for political reasons, while influential powers do not pay their power bill. Moreover, electrical meters are not added to new consumers, meaning they will use more power without even paying for it. An aging power grid also compounds the problem. Current consumers are also using less power and relying on their own generators.
More waste
Between 2012 and 2013, waste exceeded 51 percent, said Basbous. This figure dropped to 35 percent when private companies took over tax collection. However, they became complacent when they realized that no one was supervising them and they were not being held accountable for their work. The CEDRE conference demanded that Lebanon reduce its deficit by 5 percent in five years, meaning 1 percent each year, he added. Some have proposed that energy taxes be increased to tackle the deficit, which is the laziest solution because it requires the least effort to implement.
Raising taxes will not put an end to the waste because some people are not even paying their bills or stealing electricity from the grid. So whether taxes are raised or not, only paying consumers will be affected, he explained. “Such an unjust decision will only increase non-technical waste,” he told Asharq Al-Awsat. Furthermore, Baydoun criticized power-generating ships that were brought in in 2010 when Bassil was energy minister. “Such a method is only used during times of wars or major crises. They are short-term solutions, not ones that last eight years and counting,” he said. A third ship is reportedly coming to Lebanon. It was said that it will offer 200 megawatts for free for three months, while Lebanon will cover fuel costs, ship maintenance and employee salaries.

The Latest LCCC Bulletin For Miscellaneous Reports And News published
on July 23-24/18
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and Chief of Staff Gen. Valery Gerasimov were sent urgently to Israel on Monday, July 23 over the Putin-Netanyahu rift that was exclusively disclosed by DEBKAfile.
وفد عسكري برئاسة وزير الخارجية الروسي في إسرائيل
DEBKAfile/July 23/18
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu announced the mission to the cabinet in words that were revealing: He said Israel will not accept the Syrian army’s entry to the buffer zone set up by the 1974 Syrian-Israeli separation of forces accord, thereby indicating that he did not trust in Syrian compliance with this accord, despite the guarantee offered by President Vladimir Putin in their phone conversation on Friday, July 20. DEBKAfile’s sources note that Putin’s pledge came after he reneged on a series of promises he gave US President Donald Trump and Netanyahu in recent weeks, relating to keeping the Iranians and their proxies away from the Israeli border.
To emphasize that Israel now meant business, the IDF was instructed Monday morning to use the David’s Wand anti-missile weapon for its first combat operation against Syrian missiles fired in a battle with rebels in the buffer zone. Warning alerts were triggered the length and breadth of northern Israel – from the Golan and the Bashan north of the Sea of Galilee area up to Safed and Tiberias. David’s Wand broadcast a signal to all those concerned that Israel had every intention of using its most advanced weaponry in southern Syria if necessary.
Three important points emerged from Monday’s events:
1-The claim that the Syrian army is fighting in the battles for conquering southern Syria is more fiction than fact: Aside from tattered elements of that army, the battles are being fought by Hizballah and pro-Iranian Shiite militias under Iranian command. So the “Syrian army” is a misnomer when referring to intrusions of the buffer zone, or proximity to Israel’s Golan border – currently estimated by military sources at no more than 3-8km. They should correctly be attributed to Iranian plus proxies.
2-Some of these forces enjoy Russian air force support.
3-If Israeli fighter jets are confirmed to have fired missiles from Lebanon Sunday night at a missile depot at Masyaf near Hama, killing Iranian and Hizballah officers, this raises a question: Why would Israel take military action against Iran and Hizballah far from its borders, while thus far holding back from attacking those same forces close to its Golan border? Indeed, Netanyahu threatened as much in his last conversation with Putin in the harshest terms: “Any hill captured by Iran and Hizballah near the Israeli border will become a crater,” he vowed. The Russian president seems to have taken this threat seriously enough to send his top people to Jerusalem to hold Israel back.

Israel rejects Russian offer to keep Iranian forces 100 km from Golan
إسرائيل ترفض عرضاً روسياً يضمن بقاء القوات الإيرانية بعيدة عن الجولان 100 كلم

Reuters/ AP/Ynetnews/July 23/18
At Russian President Putin's request, Prime Minister Netanyahu meets with high-level delegation from Moscow led by Russian FM Lavrov, telling him 'we will not allow the Iranians to establish themselves even 100 kilometers from the border.'
Israel rebuffed on Monday a new Russian offer to keep Iranian forces in Syria away from the Golan Heights ceasefire line, an Israeli official said, complicating Moscow's bid to stabilize the country amid a waning civil war.The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the issue came up during a meeting between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and a visiting Russian delegation led by Russia's foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov. Netanyahu said a Russian offer to keep Iranian forces 100 km (62 miles) from the border was not enough, telling Lavrov "we will not allow the Iranians to establish themselves even 100 kilometers from the border.""The Russians are speaking about (the 100-km buffer zone) and are committed to it, but we said there are also long-range weapons beyond this zone, and all those forces must leave Syria," the official said. Israel had previously turned down a proposal by Russia, the big-power backer of Syrian President Bashar Assad, that Iranian forces be kept 80 km from the frontier, according to Israeli officials.The Russian embassy in Israel tweeted that Lavrov and armed forces chief General Valery Gerasimov discussed with Netanyahu Assad's advance in southwest Syria and "issues related to Israel border security."Another Israeli official described the meeting, which lasted for over two hours, as "an important meeting at a significant time in which we discussed the details of Iranian presence and activity in Syria, while presenting maps and intelligence materials, as we explained our policy to push Iran out of Syria."The official said Israel will maintain full freedom of operations for the IDF, and detailed what the removal of Iran from Syria should entail: "First of all, all the long-range weapons must be removed from Syria; precise weapons production must be stopped; other strategic weapons, such as air defense, must be removed as well; the border crossings that allow the smuggling of these weapons must be closed, including on the Syrian-Lebanese border where weapons are smuggled into Lebanon, and the Iraqi-Syrian border through which weapons are smuggled from Iran into Syria itself."
Netanyahu announced earlier at a Cabinet meeting that Russian President Vladimir Putin had a few days ago requested the meeting with the high level delegation that also includes Russia's chief of the military's General Staff, Gen. Valery Gerasimov.Netanyahu said they will discuss regional developments with "the situation in Syria being first and foremost." He said he will reiterate Israel's position that it expects Syrian President Bashar Assad and his Iranian-backed allies to honor the 1974 agreement which sets out a demilitarized zone along their shared frontier, and that Israel will continue to act to stop its archenemy Iran from establishing a permanent military presence in Syria.
Israel's main concern is to keep Iran, which is fighting alongside Assad's forces, as far away from its border as possible—along with its proxy, the Lebanese Hezbollah and other militia.Russia has warned it would be unrealistic to expect Iran to fully withdraw from the country. However, Moscow has said it wants to see the separation of forces on the frontier preserved. Lavrov's deputy, Grigory Karasin, told Russian media the foreign minister's trip was "urgent and important."Monday's meeting comes about two weeks after Netanyahu and Putin discussed Syria and Iran in Moscow.Hours before the meeting, Israel activated a missile defense system against rockets from the fighting in Syria it believed were heading its way. The incident came after Israel earlier this month, twice in the same week, fired a Patriot missile at an unmanned aircraft that approached the country's border from Syria.In June, Israel fired a missile at a drone that approached its airspace near the Syrian frontier.
*Itamar Eichner and Moran Azulay contributed to this report.

Toronto Danforth Logan Shooting Leaves 3 Dead, 12 Injured
اطلاق نار في مدينة تورنتو الكندية يسبب 3 قتلى 12 جريحاً

Andree Lau,HuffPost Canada/July 23/18
Three people have died, including the shooter, after gunfire shattered a summer night on one of Toronto's busiest streets. Twelve others are in hospital, including a nine-year-old girl who is in critical condition, said police.
Dozens of police officers remained on the scene Monday morning.
The shooting unfolded just after 10 p.m. ET in the bustling area of Danforth and Logan avenues, which includes bars, businesses and homes.
In the violence, a young woman was killed, and now a girl is fighting for her life, said Toronto Police Chief Mark Saunders in a midnight news conference.
A spokesperson for the Special Investigations Unit confirmed Monday morning another civilian was shot and killed.
The gunman died from gunshot wounds at the scene.
"I can tell you there was an exchange of gunfire," Saunders told reporters. "I'm glad my officers are safe. I'm glad that it's resolved. I'm not happy that there are quite a few people that have been victims of gunplay."
The Special Investigations Unit is working to determine how the man died and whether there was any police wrongdoing.
Police work at the scene of a mass casualty incident in Toronto on July 22, 2018.
John Tulloch said he and his brother had just gotten out of their car on Danforth when he heard about 20 to 30 gunshots.
"We just ran. We saw people starting to run so we just ran," he said.
A server at Caffe Demetre told CP24 she was serving a family near the front of the restaurant when the gunman shot through the patio doors.
The woman identified as Diane said she ran to the back and into the basement. When it was safe for her to return, she saw the girl from the family she was serving lying on the ground.
"Her mom was crying," Diane said.
Paramedics described Sunday's shooting as a "mass casualty incident."
An army of police, paramedics and other first responders descended on the scene, while a crowd of area residents, some in their pyjamas, emerged from their homes to see what was going on. The Danforth is also known as Greektown, because an influx of Greek immigrants settled in this area of the city's east after the First World War.
"It's the street where families come. They were all out tonight, walking, having their dinner," said Toronto Coun. Paula Fletcher, whose ward includes part of the Danforth, on CP24.
"I live seconds away from the where the shooting took place and that just goes to say that you're really never safe," Suzanne Kelso told HuffPost Canada in an email. "Neighbours are scared and terrified."
She said she was in the car when she heard a "pop sound" but it didn't register until she saw police arrive with large firearms.
We have a gun problem in that guns are too readily available to too many people. Toronto Mayor John Tory
A handgun was used in the shooting, which covered "a bit of distance," said the police chief, explaining that investigators were treating the crime scene "like a jigsaw puzzle."
It's the latest in a spike of gun violence in the city. Over the Canada Day weekend, aspiring rapper Jahvante Smart, a 21-year-old known as Smoke Dawg, and Ernest Modekwe, a 28-year-old producer known as Koba Prime, were killed in a shooting. A woman was also wounded in the incident, which took place in broad daylight in the busy entertainment district.
The next night, four people were injured after shots were fired in the nearby Kensington Market area. In June, two girls were hospitalized after they were hit by stray bullets at a Scarborough playground.
Toronto police had recently added 200 frontline officers to the night shift in an effort to reduce the gun violence that's been plaguing the city over the summer.
"We have a gun problem in that guns are too readily available to too many people," said Toronto Mayor John Tory from the Danforth scene. "The only people that really are supposed to have them are the police and very limited numbers of other people, and that is clearly not the case.
"And we clearly have to do more about it because there are too many people carrying around guns and using them in whatever manner they use them."
He added, "Please don't draw any conclusions. Please wait for the police to do their job."
Saunders said it was too early in the investigation to speculate on a possible motive, but he urged anyone who had information, including possible dashcam or cellphone video, to contact police.
Gun violence has killed 27 people and injured 82 so far in Toronto in 2018, compared with 17 deaths and 80 injuries at this time last year.
"Why do people have guns? Why do they need them? I don't really understand that. This is not that kind of culture," Toronto Coun. Mary Fragedakis told CP24 on Sunday night. "If you're living in a rural community and you need it because you hunt or because there's wild animals, that's one thing, but this is the city, and in Canada, in Canadian cities, there's no need for guns."
With files from Rebecca Zamon, Maija Kappler, and The Canadian Press
Canada requests NAFTA review of U.S. tariffs on Canadian solar panel products
July 23, 2018 - Ottawa, Ontario - Global Affairs Canada
Canada’s innovative solar industry supports businesses and workers in the clean-technology sector which is vital to our economic prosperity.
The United States has imposed a 30 percent safeguard tariff on imports of solar panels from all countries, including Canada. The U.S. tariffs were applied despite the United States International Trade Commission recommendation that Canada be excluded from any safeguard measures after finding that imports from Canada are not a source of injury to U.S. industry.
In defence of the Canadian solar industry and its workers, the Government of Canada is requesting a NAFTA Chapter 20 review of these unfair and illegal tariffs.
Canada is a strong supporter of rules-based international trade and looks to its trade partners to also uphold their international obligations. Canada will always defend its workers and industries.
“The Government of Canada is committed to defending Canadian workers and industry. The U.S. tariffs on Canadian solar panels have affected businesses and workers on both sides of the border. The tariffs violate NAFTA rules and were imposed despite the fact that the United States International Trade Commission found that imports of solar panels from Canada were not harming U.S. industry. The Canadian solar industry is a provider of sustainable, middle-class jobs, and the Government of Canada will continue to defend its interests and workers.”
- Hon. Chrystia Freeland, P.C., M.P., Minister of Foreign Affairs

France to accept some of White Helmets' members after Syria 'Evacuation'

Mon 23 Jul 2018/NNA - France will accept some of the activists of the White Helmets non-governmental organization (NGO) as well as their family members following their evacuation from Syria, the French Foreign Ministry said on Monday. "France actively participates in the operation, which has allowed the White Helmets and their relatives to leave Syria where they had been facing a big threat. This operation includes their relocation to the third countries. France will take part in the acceptance of White Helmets and their families," the Foreign Ministry’s spokesperson said at a briefing.  On Sunday, the Israeli Foreign Ministry confirmed earlier media reports that the country’s authorities had evacuated the White Helmets activists along with their families from Syria to a "neighboring country" at the request of Canada, European countries and the United States. According to local media, about 800 NGO members have been transported through Israel to Jordan. However, the AFP news agency reported, citing Jordan's Foreign Ministry, that only some 420 NGO members were evacuated, while the remaining White Helmets did not manage to reach border due "the situation on the ground." The White Helmets volunteer organization considers itself a non-governmental organization aimed at protecting Syrian civilians, however, it has repeatedly been accused of staging false flag attacks and filming fake "rescue" videos. Particularly, Syrian President Bashar Assad claims that the group is affiliated with the al-Qaeda* terrorist organization.--

US Launches Campaign to Erode Support for Iran's Leaders
Asharq Al-Awsat/Monday, 23 July, 2018/The Trump administration has launched an offensive of speeches and online communications meant to foment unrest and help pressure Iran to end its nuclear program and its support of militant groups, US officials familiar with the matter said according to a Reuters report. More than half a dozen current and former officials said the campaign, supported by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and national security adviser John Bolton, is meant to work in concert with US President Donald Trump’s push to economically throttle Iran by re-imposing tough sanctions. The drive has intensified since Trump withdrew on May 8 from a 2015 seven-nation deal to stop Iran from developing nuclear weapons, said Reuters on Sunday. A review of the State Department’s Farsi-language Twitter account and its ShareAmerica website - which describes itself as a platform to spark debate on democracy and other issues - shows a number of posts critical of Tehran over the last month. Iran is the subject of four of the top five items on the website’s “Countering Violent Extremism” section. They include headlines such as “This Iranian airline helps spread violence and terror.”
In social media posts and speeches, Pompeo himself also appeals directly to Iranians, the Iranian diaspora and a global audience. On June 21, Pompeo tweeted out graphics headlined: “Protests in Iran are growing,” “Iranian people deserve respect for their human rights,” and “Iran’s revolutionary guard gets rich while Iranian families struggle.” The tweets were translated into Farsi and posted on the ShareAmerica website. On Sunday, Pompeo will give a speech titled “Supporting Iranian Voices” in California and meet Iranian Americans, many of whom fled the Islamic Revolution that toppled Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi. “Let me be clear, we are not seeking regime change. We are seeking changes in the Iranian government’s behavior,” a State Department official said in response to questions from Reuters. “We know we are driving Iran to make some hard choices. Either they can change their ways or find it increasingly difficult to engage in their malign activities,” said the official, speaking on condition of anonymity. “And we believe we are offering a very positive vision for what we could achieve and what the Iranian people could have.”In a May 21 speech in Washington, Pompeo said Iranian leaders refused to spend on their people funds freed by the nuclear weapons deal, using it instead for proxy wars and corruption. Pompeo also accused “Iran-sponsored Shiite militia groups and terrorists” of infiltrating Iraqi security forces and jeopardizing Iraq’s sovereignty throughout the period of the nuclear agreement.
The State Department official acknowledged that the militias, known as the Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF), are by law part of Iraq’s security forces and played a role in countering ISIS in 2014. “We understand, however, that some of the undisciplined PMF are especially close to Iran, responsive to Iran’s directives, and have a history of criminal activity and terrorism,” the official said. “Those groups are as problematic for the Iraqi state as they are for us.”It is too early to determine the impact of the administration’s communications campaign, US officials said. Karim Sadjadpour, an Iran expert at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace think tank, said the strategy to economically strangle Iran and stoke public discontent with the leadership aimed to produce one of two outcomes.
“Outcome one is capitulation, forcing Iran to further curtail not only its nuclear program but also its regional ambitions,” Sadjadpour said. “Outcome two is the implosion of Iran.” Some US officials and other experts cautioned that by fueling turmoil in Iran, the US administration could foster greater authoritarian rule and a more aggressive foreign policy, raising the threat of a US-Iran confrontation, said Reuters. Washington has long called Iran the world’s leading “state sponsor of terrorism” because Tehran arms and funds proxy militant groups like Lebanese “Hezbollah”. Iranian leaders urge the destruction of the United States and Israel, and Iranian proxies have killed hundreds of US soldiers and diplomats since the Islamic Revolution. That record provided previous administrations with ample material for waging their own public relations campaigns against Tehran, including trying to communicate directly with the Iranian people. President George W. Bush’s administration established Radio Farda, a US-funded broadcaster that beams into Iran what it says is “objective and accurate news and information to counter state censorship and ideology-based media coverage.” The Obama administration launched a Farsi Twitter account - @USAdarFarsi – in 2011.

War of Words between Trump and Rouhani

London - Adil Al-Salmi and Asharq Al-Awsat/Monday, 23 July, 2018/President Donald Trump on Sunday warned Iran of consequences "the likes of which few throughout history have ever suffered," if it threatens the United States. "Never, ever threaten the United States again or you will suffer consequences the likes of which few throughout history have ever suffered before,” he said on Twitter in a direct message to Iranian President Hassan Rouhani. "We are no longer a country that will stand for your demented words of violence and death. Be cautious!” Trump said, writing the entire message in capital letters. Trump’s warning came after Rouhani earlier launched a rhetorical assault on the US over Iranian oil exports, telling the US president that “a war with Iran would be the mother of all wars."Rouhani’s comments came during a speech delivered in front of diplomats in the Iranian capital. In reference to the Strait of Hormuz, the Iranian President said: "We have always guaranteed the security of this strait. Do not play with the lion's tail; you will regret it forever."Rouhani accused the US administration of seeking to overthrow the regime and divide Iran by imposing sanctions and economic pressure on it. "Whenever Europe has sought an agreement with us, the White House has sown discord," Rouhani said. "Americans should know that peace with Iran is the mother of all peace. Likewise a war would be the mother of all wars."Separately, Reuters on Sunday quoted US officials as saying that the Trump administration “has launched an offensive of speeches and online communications meant to foment unrest and help pressure Iran to end its nuclear program and its support of militant groups.” More than half a dozen current and former officials said the campaign, supported by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and national security adviser John Bolton, is meant to work in concert with Trump’s push to economically throttle Iran by re-imposing tough sanctions. In response to questions from Reuters, a State Department official said, “Let me be clear, we are not seeking regime change. We are seeking changes in the Iranian government’s behavior.”

Pompeo Slams Iran's Political, Religious Leaders

Asharq Al-Awsat/Monday, 23 July, 2018/The United States is not "afraid to tackle" Iranian officials with sanctions at the "highest level" of its government, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Sunday as he compared them to a "mafia,” promising unspecified backing for Iranians unhappy with their regime. Following the US withdrawal from the Iran nuclear accord, Pompeo on May 21 unveiled a "new strategy" intended to force Iran to yield to a dozen stringent demands. "We weren't afraid to tackle the regime at its highest level," Pompeo said in a speech in California to a largely Iranian-American audience, referring to sanctions leveled in January against Sadeq Larijani, the head of Iran's judiciary. Pompeo also confirmed that Washington wants all countries to reduce their imports of Iranian oil "as close to zero as possible" by November 4, part of US efforts to increase economic pressure on Tehran.
"There's more to come," Pompeo said. US President Donald Trump on May 8 decided to restore all the sanctions that had been lifted as part of a multi-national agreement, signed on to by former president Barack Obama's administration, in exchange for curbs on Iran's nuclear program. "We are asking every nation, every nation who is sick and tired of the Islamic Republic's destructive behavior to join our pressure campaign. This especially goes for our allies in the Middle East and Europe, people who have themselves been terrorized by the violent regime's activity for decades," said Pompeo.
"Regime leaders -- especially those at the top of the IRGC and the Quds Force like Qasem Soleimani -- must be made to feel painful consequences of their bad decision making," the top US diplomat said, referring to Iran's special forces and Revolutionary Guards.
He dismissed Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and Foreign Minister Mohammed Javad Zarif, who negotiated the nuclear deal, as "merely polished front men for the ayatollahs' international con artistry." Iran "is run by something that resembles the mafia more than a government," Pompeo said, citing what he called Iranian leaders' vast wealth and corruption. Pompeo said senior Iranian leaders had benefited from embezzlement, sweetheart deals and other ill-gotten gains. Iran's ayatollahs, he said, were "hypocritical holy men" who "seem more concerned with riches than religion."He spoke at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, California, to a packed house of about 1,000 people. Pompeo's remarks were aimed in part at Iranian-Americans and Iranians living in the US He assured them that the Trump administration shared their dreams for the people of Iran. He also expressed support for those Iranians who have protested their government's actions and called its response "brutal." "The specific grievances differ. But all those voicing dissatisfaction share one thing: they have been ill-treated by a Revolutionary regime. Iranians want to be governed with dignity, accountability and respect," he said.

Israeli Jets Bomb Syrian Position 'from Lebanese Airspace'
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/July 23/18/Israel on Sunday launched an air strike on a Syrian regime military target in the west of the country, Syrian state media reported, as Lebanese media reports said the Israeli jets fired the missiles from Lebanon's airspace. "One of our military positions in Masyaf was the target of an Israeli air aggression," Syria's official news agency SANA said quoting a military source. It was the fourth time this month that Syria has accused Israel of bombing a military position in the war-wracked country. An Israeli military spokesman declined to comment on the report. A war monitor, the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, also reported the air strike and said it targeted a "workshop supervised by Iranians where surface-to-surface missiles are made." "Iranian forces and forces from Lebanon's Hizbullah movement are deployed in that sector," Observatory head Rami Abdel Rahman told AFP. A government scientific research center is located in Masyaf and was hit by an Israeli air strike in September 2017. According to the United States sarin gas was being developed at that center, a charge denied by the Syrian authorities. Israel has carried out numerous raids inside Syria since 2017, targeting regime forces and their allies from Iran and Hizbullah. On July 15 SANA reported that Israeli missiles had hit near a strategic air base in the north of the country but said there were no casualties. According to the Observatory nine pro-regime fighters, including three foreigners, were killed in the mid-July raid.

Israel Activates Missile Defense System after Syria Rockets
Associated Press/Naharnet/July 23/18/The Israeli military says it activated its aerial defense system in response to incoming rockets from the fighting in neighboring Syria. The military says two interceptors were launched Monday from the David's Sling system after the rockets were identified. No injuries or damage was reported and the military says the rockets landed in Syrian territory. The incident set off sirens throughout northern Israel. It's unclear who fired the rockets in Syria and what they were aimed at. Earlier this month, Israel twice in the same week fired a Patriot missile at an unmanned aircraft that approached the country's border from Syria. In June, Israel fired a missile at a drone that approached its airspace near the Syrian frontier.

Israel Army Kills Palestinian Teen in Bethlehem
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/July 23/18/Israeli soldiers shot dead a Palestinian teenager during a raid in the occupied West Bank overnight, the Palestinian health ministry said on Monday. Arkan Mizher, 15, was shot in the chest during clashes in Dheisheh refugee camp in Bethlehem, in the southern West Bank, the ministry said. His funeral was due to take place later Monday. The Israeli army said its forces had entered the camp and arrested two people suspected of "terror activity". "During the operation, a violent riot was instigated in which Palestinians hurled rocks and threw firebombs and grenades at (Israeli) soldiers," the army said in a statement. Soldiers fired live rounds at the protesters, the statement added. The camp is in a part of the West Bank supposedly under full Palestinian control but the Israeli army regularly carries out raids in such areas. It says the operations are necessary to arrest suspects, but they often spark violent clashes with young Palestinians.
Druze Deputies to Appeal Israel’s Adoption of ‘Nation-State’ Law
Tel Aviv - Asharq Al-Awsat/Monday, 23 July, 2018/The three Druze deputies in the Israeli Knesset announced that they intend to appeal to the Supreme Court the adoption of the controversial nation-state law. They will submit the appeal in coordination with the Druze Lawyers' Forum and heads of local Druze and Circassian authorities. A statement on the issue was signed by Akram Hasson, from the Kulanu party, Hamad Amar, of the Yisrael Beiteinu party, and Salah Saad, a member of the Zionist union party. All three of the deputies had voted against the law that was adopted last week. Hasson asked: “We have no problem with the Jewish people, nor do we have a problem with Israel being the home of the Jewish people, but what about us? What about those who sacrificed for the establishment of the state and fought for it?” “The law of nationalism makes us second-class citizens, even though we as citizens suffer discrimination in planning, construction, education, budgets and other fields. Now they are enacting the law of nationalism that widens the gap between the sect on the one hand and the Jews on the other.”Arab Druze represent 9 percent of the Arab citizens in Israel and are often victim of racist discrimination. Except for Communications Minister Ayoub Kara, the Druze lawmakers and other Arab ministers from the opposition and coalition parties voted against the law. The law, which was passed on Thursday, has drawn rebuke from the European Union and was denounced by the Palestinian Authority and Arab citizens of Israel as racist legislation. It declares that only Jews have the right of self-determination in the country. It stipulates that "Israel is the historical homeland of the Jewish people and they have an exclusive right to national self-determination in it". The bill also removes Arabic as an official language alongside Hebrew, downgrading it to a "special status" that enables its continued use in Israeli institutions. Israel's Arab citizens number some 1.8 million, about 20 percent of the 9 million population.
Netanyahu Praises ‘Tough’ US Stance against Iran
Asharq Al-Awsat/Monday, 23 July, 2018/Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday praised the "tough” US position against Iran after President Donald Trump and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo issued stark warnings to Tehran. "I would like to praise the tough stand … against the aggression of the Iranian regime," Netanyahu said at the start of a cabinet meeting. Trump used Twitter on Sunday to send out an all-caps salvo: "Never, ever threaten the United States again or you will suffer consequences the likes of which few throughout history have ever suffered before."On Sunday, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani had warned Trump not to "play with the lion's tail," saying that conflict with Iran would be the "mother of all wars". Trump's comments came after Pompeo, in a major address to the Iranian diaspora in California, said Washington was not afraid to sanction top-ranking leaders of the "nightmare" Iranian regime. "We are asking every nation, every nation who is sick and tired of the Islamic Republic's destructive behavior to join our pressure campaign. This especially goes for our allies in the Middle East and Europe, people who have themselves been terrorized by the violent regime's activity for decades," said Pompeo. Netanyahu lobbied hard to have the nuclear deal between Iran and world powers canceled, and Trump withdrew the United States from the agreement in May. The Israeli prime minister has pledged to keep Iran from entrenching itself militarily in neighboring Syria.

Israel Suggests Opening Border Crossing for Hamas in Return for Complete Ceasefire
Tel Aviv- Asharq Al Awsat/Monday, 23 July, 2018/After Israel and Hamas agreed to a ceasefire following a wave of strikes on Gaza, Israeli army Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Gadi Eisenkot toured on Sunday morning the scene in which First Sergeant Aviv Levy was killed on Friday near the Strip. Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman, for his part, suggested during a visit to Karem Abu Salem crossing, aka Kerem Shalom Crossing, that Israel would fully reopen the main crossing for goods into the Gaza Strip on Tuesday if the current calm in the territory holds over the next two days. Lieberman stressed that calm also meant an end to months of kites and balloons carrying firebombs over the border fence from the Palestinian enclave to burn Israeli farming lands. “Yesterday (Saturday) was one of the calmest days, perhaps, since March 30,” Liberman said. “If that situation continues today (Sunday) and tomorrow as it was yesterday, then on Tuesday we will revive the regular procedures and also expand the fishing zone to what it was before.”“Residents of the Gaza Strip need to understand that so long as there are incendiary balloons and fires on our side, their side will also not go back to normal and to routine,” Liberman added. “The key to all this is quiet, calm, zero incendiary balloons, zero clashes on the fence and zero rockets or, heaven forbid, gunfire,” Liberman said. He also called on the people in Gaza to protest in the streets against the rule of Hamas and overthrow the movement. Israeli experts and analysts responded to Lieberman’s statements and accused his government of failing to set a clear policy toward the Palestinians in general and Gaza Strip in particular. Political analyst in Maariv Newspaper Ben Caspit said that last week “reminded us of the extent of the pain of burying a young soldier.”“Israel has entered another round of combat against Hamas, which is unnecessary and fundamentally useless. As long as the Government of Israel adheres to its current policy of maintaining Hamas at all costs, the soldiers who will be buried in the next round will die for no cost.”Senior Analyst at Yedioth Ahronoth Nahum Barnea said that this round has ended at the same point as 2014 Gaza war, all the fundamental problems that led to that confrontation and the current confrontation. “Nothing has been resolved, nothing has been advanced and the problems have become even more serious,” Barnea said.

Erdogan Son-in-law Defends Fiscal Policies
Ankara - Saeed Abdul Razek/Asharq Al Awsat/July 23/18/New Treasury and Finance Minister Berat Albayrak renewed his assertion that Turkey will continue steadily in its upward economic growth, saying that his country’s economy is built on strong foundations. Albayrak, who is President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s son-in-law, said the government’s recent policies were aimed at maintaining prudent fiscal policies, achieving healthy credit growth, carrying out structural reforms and strengthening Turkey’s monetary policy framework. Concerns mounted over the independence of Turkey’s central bank after Erdogan appointed his son-in-law as minister. Albayrak previously served was a minister of energy and natural resources. There were fears that the president, who called himself the “enemy of interest rates,” will seek to wield greater influence over monetary policy and exert pressure to reduce interest rates, which have reached 17.75. "The protectionist trade policies are likely to cause new troubles, both in the fields of production and employment," Albayrak said of the world economy from Argentina where he was attending a G20 meeting. He held bilateral discussions during his trip with his counterparts from the United States, European Union, China, Germany, France, Brazil, South Korea, Indonesia and other countries. Investors are closely watching Albayrak decisions to determine whether he will succeed in calming financial markets and adopt a stricter monetary policy or whether he will take Erdogan’s stance and blame inflation on high interest rates.

Sisi Warns against Spreading Rumors Aimed at Harming Egypt
Cairo - Mohammed Abdo Hassanein /Asharq Al Awsat/Monday, 23 July, 2018/President Abdul Fattah al-Sisi warned on Sunday that attempts to spark chaos and instability in Egypt by fueling discontent are the most serious threats the country has faced in recent years.
“The real danger lies in blowing up countries from within. Spreading rumors that stoke hopelessness and frustration are part of a grand network aimed at only one objective and that is to push people to destroy their country,” he said at a military academy graduation ceremony in Cairo. Member of Supreme Council to Combat Terrorism and Extremism Brigadier General Khaled Okasha accused the banned Muslim Brotherhood of fabricating these rumors as one of its final attempts to topple the regime. He told Asharq al-Awsat that the terrorist Brotherhood is promoting rumors through a Turkey-sponsored media platform and operating according to a calculated intelligence approach. Okasha said that an alarming number of rumors have been monitored recently, adding that the people have grown frustrated with constantly receiving false news. He explained that countries around the war have been victim to this type of warfare, saying it is a means of intelligence that has grown more modern with technological advances. Chairman of the Parliamentary Information Committee Osama Heikal, meanwhile, called for establishing a “government monitor” that would immediately address rumors and provide facts and correct information to the public. Several social media platforms and websites affiliated with the Brotherhood recently posted rumors on increased prices, accidents, fires and many other incidents, but authorities were quick to quash them. Since the ouster of former President Mohamed Morsi in July 2013, hundreds of Brotherhood leaders and supporters sought refuge in Turkey and Qatar where they employ their media platforms to constantly attack the Egyptian regime. Sisi said that his government had detected 21,000 false rumors in three months alone. “We must be alert and pay attention to what is being spun against us in secret,” he demanded, without naming any party. He said that while he understood the economic hardships that ordinary Egyptians are enduring due to economic reforms, nothing justifies “causing chaos and destroying the state”. In his speech, the president addressed the 66th anniversary of July 23, 1952 Revolution, which ended the monarchy and established the republican system in Egypt, stressing that it kicked off a new course of national action. Sisi noted that the government is implementing a comprehensive strategic vision to build a strong and advanced nation in all fields through a national economic and social reform program that takes into account citizens of low-income, while encouraging foreign and local investments.

Top UN Court Orders UAE to Protect Qatari Citizens' Rights

Agence France Presse/Naharnet/July 23/18/The UN's top court Monday ordered the United Arab Emirates to protect the rights of Qatari citizens amid a bitter crisis which has snapped ties between Doha and its Gulf neighbours. Judges at the International Court of Justice in The Hague narrowly ruled that the UAE must "ensure that families, which include a Qatari member, separated by the measures adopted by the UAE ... are reunited", and that Qatari students are allowed "to complete their education" in the Emirates. Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, the UAE and other allies severed ties with Qatar on June 7, 2017, accusing Doha of backing terrorism. Qatari nationals living in the UAE were officially given just 14 days to leave the country.

French Foreign Minister Visits Libya in Election Push
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/July 23/18/French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian arrived in Libya on Monday to push a Paris deal which paves the way for elections in the war-torn country. Le Drian met the head of Libya's UN-backed government, Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj, in the capital Tripoli ahead of a series of talks with various political actors. Speaking Sunday in neighbouring Tunisia, France's top diplomat said the visit was aimed at "making a success of the process which was approved during the Paris meeting". The May 29 Paris talks brought together rival Libyan leaders for the first time, including Sarraj and military strongman Khalifa Haftar whose rival self-styled Libyan National Army dominates the country's east. They agreed to work towards holding parliamentary and presidential elections by December 10, with the Le Drian's visit aimed at maintaining pressure on Libyan leaders to prepare for polls. "It's necessary to continue to push along with those who are already in the process, to widen it to (include) others" in Libya, an aide to the foreign minister said. The Paris agreement included a September 16 deadline to come up with an electoral law, forming the "constitutional base" for a vote later in the year. Numerous observers view the timetable as overly ambitious, given ongoing instability with territorial disputes across the country and a flagging economy despite great oil wealth. More than seven years since dictator Moamer Kadhafi was ousted, Libya remains divided with rival administrations in Tripoli and eastern Tobruk. Aguila Saleh Issa, the parliament speaker based in Tobruk, and Khalid al-Mishri, head of the High Council of State in Tripoli, also attended the Paris meeting and agreed to support elections.

Protesters demonstrate outside UK parliament over visit of Qatari Emir
Arab News/July 23, 2018/LONDON: Scores of protesters took to the streets outside the UK’s parliament building in London on Monday to voice their objections to the visit of Qatar’s Emir Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani. Al-Thani is in the UK for a visit that has already drawn criticism and become mired in controversy, with activists demonstrating outside the Palace of Westminster on Monday against Qatar’s continued support for terrorism across the Middle East region. The demonstrations come after several recent stories have drawn Londoners’ attention to Qatar’s actions. The BBC recently revealed new evidence that a $1 billion ransom paid by Doha for the release of 28 Qataris kidnapped in Iraq was used to fund terror. Last month, the UK Parliament launched an investigation into the Arab Organization for Human Rights in the UK, a shadowy group with alleged ties to Qatar and the Muslim Brotherhood, after the videotaping of an event apparently breached parliamentary rules. The emir arrived on Sunday as several banners over prominent roads in London were seen, with the hashtag #OpposeQatarVisit and asking the question: “If a country was accused of paying $1 billion in a ransom to terrorist groups… then why is the UK government rolling out the red carpet for the Qatar Emir?” The full details of the Qatari Emir’s visit have not been disclosed officially by the UK government, but sources told Arab News his visit is likely to start on Monday with a meeting with UK business leaders and a speech in Parliament later on in the day. His meeting with Prime Minister Theresa May and other members of the UK government will take place on Tuesday.

The Latest LCCC Bulletin analysis & editorials from miscellaneous sources published
on July 23-24/18
Rouhani and Saddam’s Rhetoric
Ghassan Charbel/Asharq Al Awsat/July 23/18
It is not unusual for tensions to be high among the Iranian regime and its generals. Tehran knows that a new difficult chapter was opened the moment Donald Trump announced to the world that his country was pulling out of the Iran nuclear deal. All that he has dealt since that day has been one painful blow after another against Tehran. The deal that Iran reached with six world powers in the summer of 2015 was a purely Iranian achievement. Tehran believed that it helped defuse any potential confrontation with the United States and earned it an international badge for good behavior, as well as massive funds. The truth is, what was left out of the deal was much more important than what was included in it. Tehran succeeded in keeping is regional behavior and meddling and its rocket arsenal off the negotiations table. That way, it was able to invest the funds it reaped from the nuclear deal in financing its major regional push.
Iran may have believed that no one would withdraw from the deal because it had become an international agreement. It believed that Trump’s dissatisfaction with the pact and its failure to mention its regional behavior were simply means to exert pressure on it. It would be wrong to believe that one can predict Trump’s decisions. He is a man who very easily takes extraordinary decisions over thorny issues.
The high level of tensions in Tehran could be linked to its realization that the remaining signatories in the 2015 deal cannot make up for the United States’ absence. Iranians have sent several signals in the past few weeks that they do not trust the Europeans’ ability to meet its demands over political guarantees and financial compensations. This was coincided with several open messages from European companies that said if they had to choose between enjoying ties with Iran and ties with the US, they would opt for the latter without hesitation.
Trump’s withdrawal from the nuclear deal was not a whim or a publicity stunt. His administration’s preparations to impose oil sanctions, which will take effect on November 4, indicate that Iran will face a drop in its exports. Its income will also drop at a time when it is burdened by its involvement in military confrontations and commitment to financing allied militias on many fronts.
The most dangerous repercussion of the impending economic difficulties Tehran will face is the possibility that trouble will erupt on the internal Iranian scene itself. Taking into consideration the popular protests that had swept the country in recent months, we realize that any deterioration in living conditions will only fuel the fire of public discontent that demanded that Tehran quit regional wars and turn to its people’s concerns. It is true that Iranian agencies enjoy extraordinary expertise in stifling protests, but it is also true that ongoing disappointment in successive governments may test the regime. The data on unemployment and poverty and the fall of the local currency will definitely eat away at the image of the regime and its governments.
Add to that Europe’s quick condemnation of Tehran’s malign regional behavior despite its commitment to the nuclear deal. Thwarting Iran’s destabilizing regional policy is no less important than thwarting its nuclear ambitions.
Iran has more reason to be concerned. Regional conflicts are not being left in the hands of local forces, but they are now controlled by major world powers. The decisive Russian intervention in Syria appears more significant now than it did in the past. The international community’s acceptance of a Russian Syria is a sign of the rejection of an Iranian Syria. Moscow is overseeing the deployment of Syrian regime forces on the disengagement lines with Israel according to a 1974 agreement. This is a clear message to Iran to steer clear of the area.
Tehran knows full well that the Syrian file was resolved at the American-Russian summit in Helsinki whereby Israel’s security would be preserved, Iran’s meddling would be kept in check and Syrian refugees would be aided.
Compounding Tehran’s headache is the fact that its interference in Yemen may fail and two of the four capitals that it had declared as part of its areas of influence – Baghdad and Beirut – are struggling to form a government despite successful parliamentary elections.
Given the above, tensions are on the rise in Tehran. This was evident in President Hassan Rouhani’s hint that he may block the Hormuz Strait if Iran was barred from exporting its oil. His statements were praised by the supreme leader and Iranian Revolutionary Guards. In a reflection of more of his fears, Rouhani went so far as to threaten Trump, saying: “Don't play with the lion's tail, this would only lead to regret.”
It was interesting that Rouhani resorted to expressions from the Saddam Hussein dictionary when he added: “America should know that peace with Iran is the mother of all peace, and war with Iran is the mother of all wars.”
Difficult months are in store for the Middle East. The tensions are shifting from Syria to Iran. It is clear that Iran will be facing difficult options. It could either take the poison of re-imposed sanctions and await the end of Trump’s term or agree to hold negotiations over its nuclear program and regional role. The supreme leader and Guards are confronted with two difficult choices. Opting for the “mother of all wars” is inadvisable because Saddam’s experience does not encourage taking such a destructive decision.

Aramco Is Not Just Oil

Salman Al-dossary/Asharq Al Awsat/July 23/18
Regardless of whether the oil giant Aramco will acquire a strategic stake in the world’s fourth-largest petrochemical company (SABIC) or not, as negotiations for this major deal are still in their preliminary stages, the announcement indicates that Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030 - which is based on the diversification of the Saudi economy – is a reality that is moving fast on the right track, and that the sole dependence on the export of crude oil, without benefiting from the conversion of part of it to other products, will soon end. Aramco is determined to create a global network of refineries and petrochemicals that will allow the Kingdom to transform one of its most important resources, crude oil, to hundreds of the most valuable products needed for modern life, from the needle to aircraft parts. Over the next few years, as Aramco turns from being a giant energy company to a giant energy and petrochemical company, it is natural that the Saudi economy will not be subject to oil price fluctuations as it has been, with the petrochemical sector growing at around 3 percent, which is faster than the growth rate of the global economy or the overall demand for fuel.
The expansion of oil conversion into petrochemicals is the real future for the growth of world demand for oil, especially with predictions of a gloomy global future for the use of oil and its derivatives as fuel for electricity generation. That comes in addition to the introduction of electric cars as a strong competitor, which will reach its peak in 2030, and the announcement by China and many European countries that diesel will be soon abandoned in the transport sector. Thus, the basis for the success equation is the diversity of crude oil exploitation, which will certainly remain a commodity that the world will not live without. But the success of major international companies, such as BP, Shell and ExxonMobil, lies in the diversity of their activities, from exploration, oil extraction, petrochemical industry to refining and others. This enables those companies to maintain the profit margin without significant change regardless of the decline of oil prices.Although Aramco’s plans to become a giant in the petrochemical sector, as it is a giant in the energy sector, started three years ago as part of a long-term strategy to diversify sources of income in the Saudi economy, led by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who wants to turn the Kingdom into what is more than just an oil-dependent country, the expected quality deal between Aramco and SABIC opens up huge prospects for the entire structure of the Saudi oil industry.
Aramco will increase its stake in the petrochemical industry by acquiring a strategic stake in a profitable subsidiary. The Saudi Public Investment Fund will receive cash flows from selling a part of SABIC, which has a market value of $100 billion. In the end, all parties will win in the process of the major transformation awaiting the Saudi economy. Although Aramco has about 261 billion barrels of oil to produce, almost 20 times the amount ExxonMobil owns, experts predict that oil use in the petrochemical sector will become a major source of growth in oil demand in the next decade, as the added value of each barrel will increase and the sources of income will be diversified. This is the most important strategic objective sought by the Kingdom, without the Saudi economy remaining captive of the oil industry and the effects of low prices on state revenues.

Soleimani, Rouhani and the Lion’s Tail
Abdulrahman Al-Rashed/Asharq Al Awsat/July 23/18
General Qassem Soleimani, commander of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards, sent a message to President Hassan Rouhani telling him: “I kiss your hands for these wise statements, and I am at your service to implement any policy that serves the Islamic Republic.”Rouhani, who was described as Iran’s dove, has assumed the hawk’s role ever since he was subjected to criticism from the governance, where they have demanded for him to be held accountable, accusing him of implicating them in the nuclear agreement, and that he was tricked and betrayed by the Americans.
The “wise statements” made by Rouhani, and admired by Soleimani, are threats to the US that Iran will respond by force if it prevents it from selling its oil. The supreme guide also applauded Rouhani and said he admired his statements, adding that he supports the closing of the Strait of Hormuz. The new hawk, Rouhani, then dared and addressed the American president warning him not to play with the lion’s tail! The old lion, i.e. Iran’s regime, and not just its tail, is being publicly beaten and humiliated in Syria by the Israelis. It has not dared to respond, not even once. All its threats are worthless empty talk.
Iranian officials have been in a state of confusion ever since President Trump imposed sanctions. They do not know whether to accept half a deal with the Europeans or cancel the entire agreement or concede to the Americans and renegotiate. Do they resort to force to threaten and blackmail the West like they did in the past, or will Trump find this as an excuse to topple the regime like George Bush toppled Saddam’s regime?
Some officials in Tehran publicly call for targeting American interests, igniting the region and closing the Strait of Hormuz, primarily General Soleimani who said he is “ready to implement President Rouhani’s plan” and that “Hormuz is either for everyone or for no one.”Whether Soleimani kisses Rouhani’s hands to launch a terror war, carry out assassinations and close the Hormuz Strait or whether the Americans step on the lion’s tail directly and not through their regional proxy, Israel, the pressure will increase during the next weeks. There are two important dates we must observe in detail. On August 4, American sanctions on whoever sells gold and food to Iran will go into effect. Three months later, i.e. beginning of November, the American siege on Iranian oil begins.
 It is then that we will know the Khamenei regime’s limitations, and whether it really intends to escalate or if it will back down, lick its wounds and surrender its pride. According to my observation of the regime and its behavior in the region, it will likely retreat as per its old tactic until it comprehends the crisis, with the intention to resume exporting chaos after the end of Trump’s presidency or even before that if it seals another nuclear deal. This does not mean we should not be cautious of the wounded, humiliated lion in Syria after the cancellation of the nuclear deal, which it viewed as the epitome of its victories. We must also not forget the new factor, i.e. the situation in Iran, which is difficult and may develop into a revolution, and which may push the regime to export its problem by opening a front in the Gulf. This is unlikely given its style in managing past crises, and the backlash it suffered over ventures in Syria and the rest of the countries in the region.

Ireland's Anti-Israel Bill and the Muslim Brotherhood
Lawrence A. Franklin/Gatestone Institute/July 23/ 2018
The Irish bill could have a negative impact on American companies with subsidiaries in Ireland: it is illegal under US anti-boycott laws to cooperate with a ban on commerce with Israeli settlements.
What is behind the proposed bill? One possible explanation is the prominent role played by Islamic institutions and organizations in Ireland, particularly the Muslim Brotherhood. There is evidence to suggest that the Muslim Brotherhood has established its European headquarters in the Emerald Isle.
Leaked US Embassy cables indicated that even some Irish Muslims refer to a certain mosque in Dublin as "Tora Bora," a cave complex on Afghanistan's border with Pakistan. One of the mosques imams, Yayah al-Hussein, originally from Sudan, is a member of Hamas, and many of its congregants are Bosnian and Afghan jihadists.
On July 11, the Irish Senate approved a bill criminalizing local companies that engage in commerce with Israeli firms based in Judea and Samaria (the West Bank). Introduced in the body's Upper Chamber by independent member Senator Frances Black, the bill passed initial muster, in a 25-20 vote with 14 abstentions. The Control of Economic Activity (Occupied Territories) Bill, 2018 would prohibit any import of goods or services from "occupied territories," with financial penalties of a quarter million euros in fines and up to five years imprisonment for violators.
Israel's reaction to the Irish Senate's vote was swift. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu summoned Ireland's ambassador, Alison Kelly, for a reprimand. Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman called for the immediate closure of the Israeli Embassy in Dublin. It is unlikely, however, that Israel will follow through on Lieberman's threat, as Ireland's governing party, the Fine Gael, is opposed to the bill, which in any case must pass in Ireland's Lower house of Parliament, the Dáil, before becoming a law.
A U.S.-based litigation outfit, The Lawfare Project, which fights anti-Israel discrimination -- with the help of UK Lawyers for Israel -- has initiated legal action against the proposed legislation. The litigators say that the Irish bill could have a negative impact on American companies with subsidiaries in Ireland: it is illegal under US anti-boycott laws to cooperate with a ban on commerce with Israeli settlements. Compliance with US boycott laws would, in turn, cost US companies a good deal in fines for violation of the Irish boycott.
What, then, is behind the proposed bill? One possible explanation is the prominent role played by Islamic institutions and organizations in Ireland, particularly the Muslim Brotherhood. The Brotherhood's influence in Dublin, the nation's capital, is evidenced by the easy access its key personnel have to Ireland's government.
There is evidence to suggest that the Muslim Brotherhood has established its European headquarters in the Emerald Isle. The Islamic Cultural Centre of Ireland (ICCI), which hosts several Muslim institutes affiliated with the international Sunni group that many view as a terrorist organization, is located in Clonskeagh, a suburb south of Dublin. The ICCI complex includes the European Council for Fatwa and Research (ECFR), a prestigious institute of Islamic jurisprudence, which was founded by the Federation of Islamic Organizations in Europe (FIOE), itself a Muslim Brotherhood institution.
Dubai's ruling al-Maktoum family, a key Muslim Brotherhood financier, donated the money to erect the ICCI complex, which also houses Ireland's largest mosque. Furthermore, the ICCI's Campus Dean, Imam Sheikh Hussein Halawa, is a former colleague of the Muslim Brotherhood's spiritual guide, Qatar-based Egyptian cleric Yusuf al-Qaradawi. Al-Qaradawi, the chair of the ECFR, was denied entry into Ireland in 2011, after he expressed support for the suicide bombing of Israelis. Since then, he has not been allowed into Ireland.
Sheikh Halawa, in addition to being the dean of the ICCI, also chairs the Irish Council of Imams, made up of at least 35 Sunni and Shia Muslim scholars in the Irish Republic. As a result, he maintains a high public profile, which has awarded him invitations to state events with Ireland's prime minister and president, and with the mayor of Dublin.
Despite popular support in Ireland for same-sex marriage and other liberal causes, Halawa openly sanctions the death penalty for gays, and the ICCI has a record of hosting radical Islamic speakers. One such speaker, Saudi Mullah Aed al-Qarni, told Iqra TV in 2004 that the "brothers of apes and pigs" (i.e. Israelis and Jews) killed arch terrorist Hamas leaders Abd al-Aziz al-Rantisi and Sheikh Ahmad Yassin. In 2005, al-Qarni sermonized about Jews "that throats must be slit and skulls must be shattered."
Another Saudi firebrand, Salman al-Ouda, delivered sermons at the ICCI in 2007. Egyptian imam Wagdy Ghoneim, who visited the center in 2006 and 2007, denounced Jews as pigs and apes at a conference of the American Muslim Society in May, 1998 at Brooklyn College. He was eventually banned from the UK and the US for having issued a fatwa urging Muslims to kill American troops fighting in Muslim lands, specifically to kill American soldiers in Iraq.
Classified cables exchanged in 2006 between the State Department and the US Embassy in Ireland -- and published by Wikileaks in 2011 -- revealed that the administration of George W. Bush was trying to find out whether the European Council for Fatwa and Research and other such groups were working to legitimize Sharia (Islamic) law in Western Europe.
According to James Kenny, the American ambassador to Ireland at the time, a certain journalist claimed that outside of Qatar, Ireland had the strongest Muslim Brotherhood presence, and that al-Qaradawi "runs Islam in Ireland."
The White House's concern may have been warranted concerning some Muslim Brotherhood zealots in Ireland. But there are other Irish Islamic leaders who are more willing to compromise with Ireland's values, if not assimilate. In his 2014 book, Islam and Education in Ireland: An Introduction to the Faith and the Educational Challenges It Faces, Dr. Ali Selim -- the ICCI spokesman and secretary general of the Irish Council of Imams -- called for a reform of Ireland's education system, to make it more "inclusive" for Muslims. Among the changes he advocated was gender segregation in gym, music and art classes, where there could be "a clash of values" with Islam. Selim was interviewed in the Irish press and asked whether he favored Sharia to be implemented in Ireland. He responded that only in the case where Muslims are a majority is Sharia likely to be enacted.
Nor is Islamic extremism in Ireland limited to the ICCI campus alone. The leaked US Embassy cables also indicated that even some Irish Muslims refer to a certain mosque in Dublin as "Tora Bora," a cave complex on Afghanistan's border with Pakistan. One of the mosques imams, Yayah al-Hussein, originally from Sudan, is a member of Hamas, and many of its congregants are Bosnian and Afghan jihadists.
That jihadist groups feel comfortable in Ireland is understandable, given the country's genuine societal openness to Islam in general and Muslim immigrants in particular. In addition, Irish politics tend to favor the narrative of Palestinian Arabs in their conflict with Israel. This is due, in part, to their viewing -- inaccurately -- the plight of the Palestinians through the prism of their own history of occupation by England. But the Irish never aspired to displace Great Britain.
Even so, in Northern Ireland's Province of Ulster, still part of the United Kingdom, Palestinian flags can be seen flying from private homes.
Meanwhile, the recently-replaced Lord Mayor of Dublin Mícheál Mac Donncha is a member of the Ireland-Palestine Solidarity Campaign, which supports the global boycott effort against products made in Israel.
Politics aside, the ideology of the Muslim Brotherhood -- and its use of Ireland as a friendly base from which to spread its doctrine throughout the rest of Europe -- should be a cause of great concern not just to Dublin, but to democracies everywhere. Former Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi summed up the Muslim Brotherhood creed while running for election in 2012:
"The Koran is our constitution;
The Prophet Muhammad is our leader;
Jihad is our path and death for the sake of Allah is our most lofty aspiration;
Above all, Allah is our goal."
Is it any wonder, then, that chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat welcomed the Irish Senate's bill? In a statement quoted by the official Palestinian Authority news agency Wafa, Erekat said, "This courageous step builds on the historic ties between Ireland and Palestine, [and] shows the way forward for the rest of the European Union."
*Dr. Lawrence A. Franklin was the Iran Desk Officer for Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld. He also served on active duty with the U.S. Army and as a Colonel in the Air Force Reserve.
© 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.

Erdoğan's Turkey: Unwanted in Arab Lands

Burak Bekdil/Gatestone Institute/July 23/ 2018
"[Erdogan] does not even understand that Turks are not Arabs and Arabs have no intention go back to Ottoman rule." — Arab attaché.
Erdoğan in fact has succeeded in a rare achievement: making his country equally unloved by Muslim nations and Israel at the same time.
"We remain most curious," an Arab defense attaché told this author one evening, "how an intelligent man like [Turkish President Recep Tayyip] Erdoğan stubbornly fails to understand that his services are simply unwanted in the Arab world ... How he does not even understand that Turks are not Arabs and Arabs have no intention [to] go back to Ottoman rule." The Arab smiled and added: "Just because he champions the Palestinian cause does not make him a friend of Arabs."
In addition to his ideological kinship with Hamas and other militant Palestinian groups, Erdoğan has been more Arab than the Arabs when it comes to the Arab-Israeli dispute. Erdoğan has apparently been hoping to win allies in the anti-Israeli bloc and votes at home where Palestine is a "holy cause." He has repeatedly called on the Muslim world to unite against Israel.
In a 2017 summit of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation, Erdoğan's Turkey spearheaded the idea of a "Muslim army" that would surround Israel. "Those who think Jerusalem belongs to them today will not be able to find a tree to hide behind tomorrow," said Erdoğan. Earlier this year Erdoğan called on Muslim leaders to unite against and confront Israel.
As Zvi Bar'el wrote in Haaretz, "Erdoğan wanted an empire but must suffice with an unloved country". His Muslim "allies" have divergent interests, policies and calculations, often obscured further by sectarian differences. They often fall apart even on common "holy causes" such as Palestine.
In June, crowds gathered at a square in Tehran to protest Iran's sliding currency and other economic woes. The crowds shouted, "Death to Palestine" and threw stones in anger, forcing storekeepers to close down their shops. They chanted, "No to Gaza, no to Lebanon".
Erdoğan's efforts to extend Turkey's sphere of influence to Jerusalem caused alarm among his Muslim allies Jordan, Saudi Arabia and the Palestinian Authority. At the end of June, Amman, Riyadh and Ramallah urged Israel to act against Erdoğan's claims that he is the custodian of the Muslim sites in Jerusalem. The Arab capitals said Erdoğan's efforts weakened their own interests and harmed Israel's. They complained that Turkish Islamic associations had lately been sponsoring activities and trips for thousands of people in East Jerusalem. They also had a strong presence in protests around the Temple Mount while Turkish government-funded charities were purchasing property. An official told Haaretz that the "Palestinian Authority was not interested in having another landlord in East Jerusalem".
Israel's Hadashot TV reported that Israel's top security body had drafted possible measures against the Turkish Cooperation and Coordination Agency (TIKA), a government organization active in the West Bank, East Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip. The planned measures could include a general restriction on all TIKA activities and require the agency to obtain individual permits for its projects.
The Turkish effort for more influence in Jerusalem, however, does not always come from institutional sources. In early July, the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) Prosecution filed an indictment in the Samaria Military Court against a Turkish woman for smuggling funds to Hamas during trips to Israel and the West Bank. Ebru Özkan, 27, was arrested by police at Ben-Gurion Airport on June 11 and transferred to authorities on suspicion of endangering state security and for contacting terrorist organizations. According to the indictment, Abd al-tif Sada, a Hamas operative, allegedly guided Özkan about smuggling items for Hamas through airport security; he advised her to place the items in her checked luggage and not in her carry-on. Özkan was later released pending trial after an Israeli military court decided to grant her conditional release.
Matters for Turkey in the Middle East are not exactly moving in the direction Erdoğan might want. The Saudi media began championing a need to reconsider any alliance with Turkey and describing Erdoğan as an authoritarian ruler. A United Arab Emirates ambassador declared Turkey a threat to the region and said the Americans did not understand the gravity of this threat. Egypt, another Muslim country deeply hostile to Erdoğan, imposed an economic boycott on Turkey and advised Egyptians not to travel to Turkey or fly with Turkish Airlines -- thereby blowing up Turkey's hopes of using Egypt as a commercial bridge to Africa.
Again, as Bar'el wrote in Haaretz: "Thus no new Ottoman Empire will ever be born of Erdogan's dream; his 'sultanate' will end at Turkey's borders".
If that should count as a success, Erdoğan in fact has succeeded in achieving a rare title: making his country equally unloved by Muslim nations and Israel at the same time.
*Burak Bekdil, one of Turkey's leading journalists, was recently fired from Turkey's leading newspaper after 29 years, for writing what was taking place in Turkey for Gatestone. He is a Fellow at the Middle East Forum.
© 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.

Building a strategic response to Islamist terrorism
Dr. Azeem Ibrahim/Al Arabiya/July 23/18
Last month saw the first anniversary of the terrorist attach on London Bridge. A great deal of time and effort has been put into counter-terrorism in the since then.
And on the information available, we must say that the investment has been paying off: police report that 13 attacks have been prevented, and there are 500 live counter-terror investigations at any one time. But no amount of surveillance and de-radicalization initiatives can prevent all attacks. Some individuals will always slip through the cracks. And when they do, we will have to bear the costs.
So is there nothing we can do? Must we resign ourselves that such attacks are now just a fact of life? The answer, I believe must be a firm “No”. And to see why, we need a bit of historical perspective.
While terrorism has steadily become a normal fact of our news diet, a quick look at the statistics regarding the number of attacks, the number of deaths, and the geographical spread of incidents show that Western Europe and the UK in particular are far safer now than they were in the 1970s and 1980s.
Nor are we talking about a return to the fore of historical terror trends. The terrorism then was not Islamist. It was Irish nationalist, Basque separatist, neo-Fascist, anarchist, as well as state-sponsored terrorism, typically pursuing political aims in the Cold War.
If we choose to do the hard, unpopular things now, we will be able to count in years the time before this wave of terrorism ebbs away
Old causes
What is interesting about this is that nowadays, despite the emergence of Islamist terrorism, we hear nothing about the old causes of terrorism. In other words, all those historical waves of terrorism have, for lack of a better word, been resolved.
If we hope to quell this wave of terrorism, we must attempt to do the same – to resolve its underlying causes. The excellent work done by our security and intelligence services in preventing individual attacks must not be underplayed.
Hundreds of lives have been saved and it is because of their diligent work that we have not come to accept attacks such as the one in Manchester and London as a new normal. But this reactive response is merely tactical: what we need is a strategic response.
A strategic response to Islamist terrorism must draw from the lessons of past, resolved waves of terrorism. State-sponsored terrorism in Europe has died out with the Cold War: the cause of that wave of terrorism was geopolitical rivalry. Once the cause has been removed with the collapse of the USSR, the attacks have naturally gone away.
Irish nationalist terrorism was (largely) resolved with the Good Friday Agreement. It turns out that a diplomatic settlement can produce results where decades of stationing armies on the streets cannot. The same can be said about the Basque situation, and a parallel can be drawn to the ongoing diplomatic negotiations between the FARC rebels and the government in Colombia.
This is something Israel might want to look into, seeing as bombing Palestinian territories does not seem to produce much in the way of long-term solutions to the constant stream of terror attacks coming from Palestinian groups.
Neo-fascist and anarchist terrorism has ebbed with the popularity of those ideologies, as well as with an increase in the levels of education of the general population, and increasing restrictions on the access to weapons and explosives, especially to unstable individuals, across the continent.
There are many lessons to be learned there for the United States, which, despite its obsession with “Islamic terrorism”, is seeing many more attacks with many more victims from domestic far-right and white supremacist actors.
Root cases
So what are the root causes of Islamist terrorism today, and what can we do to tackle them?
1. Islamist ideology: an inevitable fact about terrorism is that it has political aims. Those political aims are underpinned by an ideology, as indeed has been the case for all the historical waves of terrorism mentioned above. And, inevitably, as the ideology wanes in popularity, so does the threat from its particular brand of terrorism. The growth of Islamist ideology is not an organic, natural trend. It is the promotion of this poisonous vision of Islam.
2. Marginalisation of immigrant communities: the Islamist ideology promoted by the extremist is an ideology of division and “eternal conflict” between “true” Muslims and everyone else. That ideology finds fertile ground in Western Europe precisely because it resonates with the experience of separation and marginalisation that many young men and women live through in the ethnically and religiously segregated urban ghettos of the West. We need to start thinking seriously about robust, and perhaps even illiberal solutions to this problem such as compulsory mixed schooling, social housing allocation that deliberately mixes communities, and social policies which put the onus and responsibility on native populations as well as the immigrant populations for the latter’s integration in our societies. Most migrants to our countries, first-, second-, event third-generation, would dearly love to be integrate as full members of our societies, but often find a cold reception from segments of the native populations. So long as we allow that to happen, we cannot be surprised that some individuals from migrant background fail to integrate and do not feel they have a stake in our society – or indeed, that Islamist or other sectarian ideologies resonate with them.
3. Media handling of terror incidents: we live in celebrity-obsessed societies. And for a short while, we treat the perpetrators of such attacks to the same kind of notoriety that we would the C-list celebrities who have done something “naughty” this week. In today’s media environment, anyone can have their 5 minutes of fame. But let us not reward those who commit atrocities with those 5 minutes of fame. A rather more appropriate, and effective approach would be to impose a punishment of oubliette on the perpetrators: report that a terror attack has happened, celebrate the lives of the victims, and impose a blanket ban on “the human story” of the attacker himself. That analysis is to be done by security experts and academics, not by a frenzied press and their ghoulish fascination with deranged individuals. And if the “patriotic” press does not choose the censor itself, then there is a good argument for an external agency to censor them in the interest of deterring future incidents.
Of course, there are more things we can do and it will take years before we can reap the rewards of our efforts. But if we choose to do the hard, unpopular things now, we will be able to count in years the time before this wave of terrorism ebbs away. If we do not, we may well count that time in decades, and in thousands of innocent lives.

Why Iran’s malign behavior must be confronted — not appeased
الأمير خالد بين سلمان: لهذه الأسباب يجب التصدي لسلوك إيران الخبيث وليس استرضائها والتملق لها

Prince Khalid bin Salman/Arab News/July 23/18
July 23, 2018 20:00
I was born just three decades ago, long after the “The Greatest Generation” endured the darkest chapter in human history. I can only think their survival and ultimate triumph over the forces of evil were meant to impart lessons to us all, so that such horror never befalls the world again. It is encouraging to hear US President Donald Trump make clear that we will not approach Iran with the sort of appeasement policies that failed so miserably to halt Nazi Germany’s rise to power, or avert the costliest war ever waged. Now, we all need to unite on a broader strategy to address the Iranian regime’s destabilizing behavior.
At a time of thunderous echoes of the 1930s — the sustained fallout from an economic crisis, extreme polarization of the political spectrum from the far right to the hard left, inaction from the global community and malignant actors determined to fill a void in leadership by spreading their ideology of hate and violence — it is incumbent on the global community to act with resolve. As the philosopher George Santayana famously declared: “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” In the appeasement of Iran, we are clearly seeing something we have seen before. It is equally obvious that the strategy has already failed.
Despite the best intentions of its architects, the 2015 nuclear deal and subsequent easing of financial restrictions on Tehran did nothing to stem the regime’s expansionist ambitions or eliminate its support for the Middle East’s most destabilizing extremists — in Syria, Yemen, Lebanon and elsewhere. Instead, it served only to grant the world’s most egregious sponsor of global terrorism rewards for temporarily suspending its apocalyptic pursuit of nuclear weapons.
The deal was but part of a worrying pattern of appeasement. As Iran threw more and more economic and military muscle behind the murderous government of Syrian President Bashar Assad, it was not punished. Instead, governments responded by offering Tehran a seat at successive Syrian peace tables. The result was predictable: No peace, and nothing that resembled a more accommodating Iran, which to this day stands by Assad, one chemical weapons attack after the next.
President Trump has declared that his administration “will be working with our allies to find a real, comprehensive, and lasting solution to the Iranian nuclear threat. This will include efforts to eliminate the threat of Iran’s ballistic missile program, to stop its terrorist activities worldwide, and to block its menacing activity across the Middle East.”
Saudi Arabia is committed to doing everything we can to help the United States. There is still time for a determined international response that stops Iran from spreading its tentacles of mischief to every corner of the region — from the Hezbollah terrorist organization that has put a stranglehold on Lebanon’s future, to the Houthi militia that has wrought misery on Yemen and tried, unsuccessfully, to intimidate my country by firing Iranian-provided missiles into Saudi Arabian territory.
Whatever your position on the US withdrawal from the nuclear deal, we all should now answer a higher calling: Deterring Iran and its minions from their campaign of chaos. Even leaders who sought to salvage the nuclear deal recognize the importance of combating Iran now. As the French President Emmanuel Macron said after the US withdrew from the agreement: “We will work collectively on a broader framework, covering nuclear activity, the post-2025 period, ballistic activity, and stability in the Middle-East, notably Syria, Yemen, and Iraq.”
As other nations and their peoples weigh the matter, it is worth considering the abundant and disturbing parallels between 2018 and 1938.
Eighty years ago, the guardians of global order looked on powerlessly as expansionist forces in Europe, Asia and Africa pierced what faith remained in the ideal of international law or in the League of Nations. A similar danger presents itself now as Iran runs roughshod over the international order, stoking conflict beyond its borders and arming the extremists who do its bidding in pursuit of regional domination.
Tehran promotes sectarianism to divide communities. That leads to weakened or failed nations, which Iran then controls through proxy organizations.
Iranian expansionism fuels and foments most of the Middle East’s crises — the sectarian strife that pits neighbor against neighbor, the militant movements that shatter legitimate state institutions, and the terrorist forces that kill innocent men, women and children. “Everywhere you look, if there is trouble in the region, you find Iran.” Note, it was not a Saudi leader who said that — it was the US secretary of defense, Jim Mattis.
The pernicious threat posed by Iran is at the core of its regime. The Iranian constitution calls for spreading “the ideological mission of jihad” throughout the world. And from its first days, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini exhorted his followers to conquer Muslim and non-Muslim land alike. In 2015, Maj. Gen. Mohammad Ali Jafari, commander of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), proclaimed: “The Islamic Republic of Iran is at its best. The Iranian revolution is quickly spreading beyond the republic’s borders; with the same speed it opens the front lines of revolution, achieving [Khomeini’s] goals.” This statement was made while the JCPOA was being concluded and during the Iran-backed Houthi takeover of Yemen.
The Iranian state ideology is based on the concept of Wilayat Al-Faqih, a guardianship-based political system in which the people owe their allegiance to a supreme religious jurist (who also becomes the Supreme Leader) regardless of their nationality, geography or form of government. This supra-national doctrine aims to undermine the influence of legitimate state government by theocratic rule, and does not recognize the legitimate international order of governments. But is religion really at the heart of Iran’s interpretation of Wilayat Al-Faqih? If it were, then why wouldn’t a Supreme Leader emerge from Iraq’s religious centers, and under Wilayat Al-Faqih the people of Iran would pledge allegiance to him?
After almost four decades of malfeasance, we know the Iranian playbook. Tehran promotes sectarianism to divide communities. That leads to weakened or failed nations, which Iran then controls through proxy organizations.
The Iranian politician Alireza Zakani, who is close to Iran’s supreme leader Ali Khamenei, has bragged that Sanaa in Yemen is now in Iran’s grasp, joining “the three Arab capitals that are already a subsidiary of the Iranian Islamic revolution” and part of “the greater jihad.” The other Arab capitals to which he referred are Beirut, Baghdad and Damascus. That statement was made immediately after the Houthi militia, with the help of Iran, slaughtered their way to Sanaa, before the Saudi-led coalition intervened to restore the legitimate government of Yemen.
Zakani has also said: “The Yemeni revolution will not be confined to Yemen alone. It will extend, following its success, into Saudi territories. The vast Yemeni-Saudi borders will help accelerate its reach into the depths of Saudi land.”
Too often, Iran has not paid the price for its brutal behavior. Twenty-five years ago, it preyed on a civil war in Lebanon to install its forces and drive out American peacekeepers, killing 241 US servicemen at a Marine barracks. In 1996, Iran blew up the Khobar Towers in Saudi Arabia, killing 19 US Air Force personnel — one of a series of terrorist acts that were not confined to our region, whether it was assassinating opposition leaders in Germany in 1992, bombing a building in Argentina in 1994, or plotting to assassinate my predecessor in Washington, DC, in 2011.
Iran went on to kill hundreds more Americans by supplying the roadside bombs and explosives used by militants in the Iraq War. In its findings, the Iraq Study Group reported: “Iran has supplied improvised explosive devices to groups … that attack US forces. These types of weapons were responsible for almost 40 percent of all US casualties.” In concert with Iran, Bashar Assad released hundreds of terrorists from Syrian prisons and moved them into Iraq for the purpose of attacking US interests there. In recent years, Iran has insidiously expanded its control or influence in Syria, Yemen, and Lebanon. It has also filled voids created by the US withdrawal from Iraq. Everywhere Iran has gone, its methods of terrorism and assassination have followed.
Today, Saudis live within minutes of new Iranian ballistic missiles pointed at them by the Houthis in Yemen.
The lack of concrete reactions to these activities, and the fading of “red lines” in Syria, made the Iranian view clear: The US — and the world — was handcuffed and had only words of condemnation in response. That message is changing now and we believe President Trump when he says: “The United States no longer makes empty threats.”
Saudi Arabia has always believed the international community cannot address Iran’s pursuit of weapons of mass destruction, while ignoring the mass destruction Iran is inflicting daily on its neighbors. Any future deal must address Iran’s ballistic missile program, its increasing financial and military support for terrorism, and its interference in the internal affairs of countries in the region.
Today, Saudis live within minutes of new Iranian ballistic missiles pointed at them by the Houthis in Yemen. More than 160 Iranian missiles have been fired into Saudi Arabia. It is an intolerable situation and one, thankfully, Americans do not have to endure from a drug cartel or terrorist state shooting at Washington, DC, from just across the US border.
Saudi Arabia’s policy is to confront evil wherever it may be found and in whatever form it takes. We are aggressively fighting Daesh and Al-Qaeda, and the extremist ideologies that underpin them. (Both terror organizations see Saudi Arabia and the United States as their primary enemies. In fact, Osama bin Laden’s first declaration of war in 1996 was on just those two countries.) Our war on terror is not limited to those groups, but is waged against all who inflict or condone violent extremism. Those who adhere to terrorism and violent extremism are but a small minority in both Saudi Arabia and Iran. The difference is that in Saudi Arabia these terrorists are on the run, while in Iran they are running the country.
At home, we are pushing ahead with implementing a positive vision of a modern and engaging partner to the world. It is an agenda that stands in sharp contrast to the Iranian menace that aspires to pull everyone back against the tide of modernity. This is the real conflict at the heart of the Middle East, not the Sunni vs. Shiite divide that Iran wants you to see. It is a clash of two very different visions of the future.
Saudi Arabia’s vision is inclusive, guided by the rule of law and international order, and promoting peace, stability and economic prosperity for all. That means supporting legitimate state institutions throughout the region, irrespective of sect. For example, in Iraq, Saudi Arabia supports the legitimate government against (Sunni) Daesh, and in Yemen we support the legitimate government against the (Shiite) Houthis.
Iran’s vision is the opposite, shaped by its nature as an expansionist power that propagates sectarianism, hatred and violence as a means to expand its influence on Arab countries and impose its will on them. At home, our paths could not be more divergent. Compare them since Iran’s 1979 revolution. On almost every measure of national development and quality of life, Saudi Arabia has surged forward while Iran has slid back.
US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley briefs the media in front of remains of Iranian ‘Qiam’ ballistic missile in December 2017. (Reuters)
Saudi Arabia’s per capita income has increased almost tenfold, from just over $2,300 in 1978 to more than $22,000 today. Iran’s has fallen by more than half, to barely more than $4,000.
Four decades ago, the Saudi and Iranian economies were roughly the same size: About $80 billion. Saudi GDP has since expanded to almost $700 billion, double that of Iran.
If your home is in Saudi Arabia instead of Iran, you would earn 2½ times more money; be 34.3 percent more likely to be employed and 45 percent less likely to be in prison; and likely to live four years longer.
In Iran, you cannot use Twitter, Facebook and other platforms that are regularly banned, while in Saudi Arabia social media is open for Saudis to engage with the world and for the world to engage with them.
Sure, Iran’s leaders blame everyone but themselves for their miserable record. It is all because of Western sanctions, they cry, or the lingering effects of the Iran-Iraq war. When these excuses are disproved, they readily come up with others.
But this gap in achievement is real and pervasive, and only likely to accelerate as Saudi Arabia speeds up transformation, reform, and economic and social change, while the Iranian regime remains obsessed with inflicting as much death and destruction as possible.
Iran’s theocratic rulers won’t have it any other way. With his English-language tweets and Facebook postings, the Iranian regime’s foreign minister Javad Zarif desperately attempts to present a moderate face outside his country. He doesn’t even try at home, where such networks are banned, demonstrating that what he says is mere lip service to the West.
President Hassan Rouhani similarly seeks to beguile the world with talk of reformers who might one day replace the “hardliners” holding the levers of Iranian power. It is an elaborate ruse from leaders who are part of, and benefit from, the same system of repression. From 1989 to 2005, Rouhani was secretary of the Supreme National Security Council, in which post he helped oversee Iran’s campaign of assassinations and embassy bombings. And in 2013, as he ran for president, Rouhani sang a similar tune. “We need to express ‘Death to America’ with action,” he exhorted his fellow Iranians in a speech in the city of Karaj.
I even have heard directly from a former US government official that Zarif whispers privately that the Supreme Leader is “disconnected from reality” and that the United States needs to back Iran so the moderates can take over when he passes. This is not reality; it is a deceptive strategy meant to lull America into inaction.
And should you look at the jockey or the horse? The true “jockeys” in Iran’s leadership today are not the Zarifs. They are individuals such as Maj. Gen. Qasem Soleimani, who has commanded the Quds Force for 15 years and, according to Time magazine, is “responsible for exporting Iran’s revolution, supporting terrorists, subverting pro-Western governments and waging Iran’s foreign wars. Soleimani is also a master of propaganda, posting selfies from battlefields across the region to convince one and all that he is the master of the Middle Eastern chessboard.” This is the real face of Iran’s leadership.
Five years into Rouhani’s presidency, the West’s policy of appeasement to “empower” him clearly has not done much good for ordinary Iranians.
The nuclear deal provided Iran with more than $100 billion in concessions. But look at Iran’s budget the following year. That money did not go into schools, or roads or hospitals. No wonder Iranian citizens took to the streets this year crying out for improvements in their country, wondering into whose pockets the benefits of the nuclear deal disappeared. Following the agreement, the Iranian budget showed significant funding increases for the IRGC and the Quds Force. The available data on Iran’s official fiscal budgets show that between 2014 and 2017, the defense budget grew by 71 percent, from $9.29 billion to $15.9 billion. Available information also shows the budget rose even further last year to $19 billion.
The Iranians are a civilized people and want the same things that we all want, a better quality of life and a better future for themselves and their children. But as the Kingdom’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman pointed out, the Iranian regime has not invested in a single road or major civil project since the nuclear agreement was signed.
Five years into Rouhani’s presidency, the West’s policy of appeasement to “empower” him clearly has not done much good for ordinary Iranians.
Should we be surprised? When a regime’s motto is “Death to America,” is it any wonder that it cannot be appeased with more relaxed trading or banking regulations?
It is simplistic to say history repeats itself. And yet, looking at the recent past, I cannot escape the feeling that we have been here before. We share with those who lived through 1938 the overwhelming sense of frustration, anxiety, desperation and fear of the unknown. I cannot help but wonder what future historians will make of 2018 if we do not alter the course of history.
As at Munich eight decades ago, when Western concessions failed to satisfy Nazi Germany’s desires for a bigger, more powerful “Reich,” the world is again faced with the twin options of offering treasure and territory to placate a murderous regime, or confronting evil head-on.
In today’s example, those who have not learnt history’s lessons counsel us to let the Iranians subvert the entire Middle East while granting them as many financial enticements as possible. The rationale has been to preserve a nuclear deal that has done nothing to resolve the region’s troubles, and appeal to the Iranian regime’s better angels. A wiser and ultimately more moral approach is to pressure Iran to correct its awful behavior immediately.
As Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has emphasized repeatedly, standing up to the forces of aggression may entail more cost in the short term. But it is the only real strategy for preventing already grave threats to snowball into wider, and potentially far deadlier, conflicts. “We will not repeat an agreement that was reached in 1938 and that led later to the Second World War,” the crown prince said in Paris this year at a conference with President Macron.
Following the path of appeasement will lead countries in the region to lose faith in international law. They will see that proxy militias can be tools of foreign policy, unchecked by the world community. They will change and adapt to this new reality — and not for the better, I fear. We cannot pass the buck and hope things get better. Committing to a firm policy of containing Iran, and all its mischievous activity, will solve more problems than just saying: “Something must be done.”
The world must join us to confront Iran with seriousness and intent. Iran needs to know it will pay a price if it continues to violate international law and interfere in the affairs of its neighbors. Iran must be punished economically and diplomatically, with all options kept on the table to ensure the strength and integrity of diplomacy. And the Middle East’s legitimate state institutions — in Yemen, Iraq and elsewhere — need to be supported as they fight Iran’s proxies of chaos.
Only such a course of action will allow the seeds of modernization, growth, and innovation to flourish across the Middle East. Saudi Arabia will do its part. We need as many partners as possible.
• Prince Khalid bin Salman was appointed ambassador of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to the United States of America on April 22, 2017, by King Salman. He presented his credentials to US President Donald J. Trump and officially assumed his position on July 21, 2017.
Before that, Prince Khalid was an adviser at the Saudi Embassy in Washington and at the Ministry of Defense in Riyadh.
Previously, he was an F-15 pilot and tactical intelligence officer in the Royal Saudi Air Force (RSAF). Before a back injury ended his flying career, Prince Khalid flew more than 50 combat missions as part of the international coalition campaign against Daesh in Syria and as part of Operations Decisive Storm and Renewal of Hope in Yemen.
Prince Khalid graduated from the King Faisal Air Academy in Riyadh and was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the RSAF. He received his initial pilot training at Randolph Air Force Base in San Antonio, Texas, and advanced training at Columbus Air Force Base in Columbus, Mississippi. He also studied advanced electronic warfare in France.