July 28/2018
Compiled & Prepared by: Elias Bejjani


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Bible Quotations
The one who believes in me will also do the works that I do
John 14/08-14: "Philip said to him, ‘Lord, show us the Father, and we will be satisfied.’Jesus said to him, ‘Have I been with you all this time, Philip, and you still do not know me? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, "Show us the Father"? Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on my own; but the Father who dwells in me does his works. Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; but if you do not, then believe me because of the works themselves. Very truly, I tell you, the one who believes in me will also do the works that I do and, in fact, will do greater works than these, because I am going to the Father.I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son.
If in my name you ask me for anything, I will do it."
Titles For The Latest LCCC Bulletin analysis & editorials from miscellaneous sources published on July 27-28/18
Fears that Lebanon Strikes, Popular Demands Could Blow Out of Proportion/Youssef Diab/Asharq Al Awsat/July 27/18
Lebanon's Cannabis Heartland, Bekaa, Hopes for Legalization/Associated Press/Naharnet/July 27/18
Lebanon pricing itself out of tourism industry/Georgi Azar and Zeina Nasser/Annahar/July 27/ 2018/
Palestinian youth on a stabbing rampage murders an Israeli man, injures two/DebkaFile/July 27/18
This is not your grandfather’s KGB/David Ignatius/The Washington Post/July 27/18
Who Leaked the Trump Tape/Alan M. Dershowitz/Gatestone Institute/July 27/18
The Intelligence Community Has Never Faced a Problem Quite Like This/David Ignatius/The Washington Post/July 27/18
In Iran: The Past is a Different Country/Amir Taheri/Asharq Al Awsat/July 27/18
A Natural End to the ‘Two-States’ Illusion/Eyad Abu Shakra/Asharq Al Awsat/July 27/18
Suspension of Bab al-Mandeb Oil Shipments May Be a Good Thing/Salman Al-dossary/Asharq Al Awsat/July 27/18
Dignity for the Palestinians/Denis MacEoin/Gatestone Institute/July 27/18
Analysis/The Pitfalls and Perils of the Trump-Putin-Netanyahu Triad/Chemi Shalev/Haaretz/July 27/18
Mike Pompeo: Top spy and top diplomat/Mamdouh AlMuhaini//Al Arabiya/July 27/18
Iran’s attack on Bab al-Mandeb/Abdulrahman al-Rashed/Al Arabiya/July 27/18
Will Europe obstruct the liberation of Yemen/Mashari Althaydi/Al Arabiya/July 27/18
Rethinking the conflict in Yemen/Saad Alsubaie/Al Arabiya/July 27/18

Titles For The Latest LCCC Lebanese Related News published on July 27-28/18
Lebanon’s Druze leader Jumblatt attacks Syrian regime over massacre
Fears that Lebanon Strikes, Popular Demands Could Blow Out of Proportion
Machnouk to Asharq Al-Awsat: Early Presidential Battle Delays Government Formation
Aoun: Russian Initiative to Return Thousands of Refugees to Syria
Berri: Two UN Officials Banned from Entering Ain el-Tineh
Hakim Foretells "Blazing" September Due to Looming Problems
Kataeb Delegation Visits Al-Aqoura
Hankache: We Will Not Keep Mum over Any Transgression
Gemayel Hails Russia over Refugee Return Plan
Hariri meets Kuwaiti, Pakistani ambassadors
Azerbaijan ambassador after visiting Shaar: Our government shall not spare any effort in providing assistance in oil fields
Two Lebanese to participate in Junior NBA Championship
Hasbani from Bkirki: Confident of overcoming government formation obstacles
Lebanon's Cannabis Heartland, Bekaa, Hopes for Legalization
Mashnouq: Premature Battle for Presidency Delaying Cabinet Lineup
Lebanese Found Dead in Her Dubai Apartment
Lebanon pricing itself out of tourism industry
Titles For The Latest LCCC Bulletin For Miscellaneous Reports And News published on July 27-28/18
Mattis: US goal to change Iran behavior in Middle East, not regime change
Syrian Kurdish-backed council holds talks in Damascus for the first time
As protests mount in Iraq, top cleric Sistani warns politicians
Soleimani: Red Sea No Longer Safe
Israel to Build New Settler Homes after Deadly Knife Attack
Israel Ministers Seek Changes after Jewish Nation Law Outcry
Knife Attack Kills One Israeli, Wounds Two Others in West Bank
Palestinian youth on a stabbing rampage murders an Israeli man, injures two
Pakistan's Imran Khan Wins Vote but No Majority
Iraq’s Sistani Calls on Formation of New Govt. ‘as Soon as Possible’
US Moves Closer to Unfreezing Military Aid to Egypt
The Latest LCCC Lebanese Related News published on July 27-28/18
Lebanon’s Druze leader Jumblatt attacks Syrian regime over massacre
Reuters, Beirut/Friday, 27 July 2018/The main leader of the Druze sect in Lebanon on Friday attacked the Syrian government for failing to stop an ISIS massacre of Druze in Syria, saying it should have noticed the militants gathering to attack. “No one can tell me that the squadrons of many American, Russian and foreign planes did not see this gathering which suddenly took the regime by surprise and raided Jebel al-Arab,” said Walid Jumblatt. ISIS assault on the city of Sweida and nearby villages in the Jebel al-Arab area on Thursday killed more than 246 people, many of them civilians. Syrian state media said the army had intervened and battled the militants with both ground forces and air strikes. Jumblatt, who heads the largest Druze political party in Lebanon, is a strong critic of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. The other Druze parties are pro-Damascus. He also accused Assad of wanting to send Druze from the Jebel al-Arab area including the city of Sweida to fight in a future offensive against rebels in Idlib province in northern Syria. Many community leaders and top Druze religious leaders have refused to sanction enlistment in the army during Syria’s seven-year conflict. “They want to sacrifice the youths of Jebel al-Arab in Idlib,” Jumblatt said. He asked Assad’s main ally Russia to help prevent that. “We want its (Russia’s) guarantee to the people of the Jebel that they will remain in the Jebel and not be used by Bashar as fodder, living or dead, for his personal ends.”
Fears that Lebanon Strikes, Popular Demands Could Blow Out of Proportion
Beirut - Youssef Diab/Asharq Al Awsat/July 27/18
Protests, strikes and growing demands by labor unions are threatening the government of Prime Minister-designate Saad Hariri before it sees light. The past week witnessed several protests organized by the Unions and Leagues of Land Transportation, which closed down roads ahead of its planned nationwide strike on August 2. The head of the Unions and Leagues, Bassam Tleis, said the last strike was aimed at raising an objection to all the pledges made by Lebanese officials, including President Michel Aoun, the premier, and the ministers of interior and transportation. Truck and taxi drivers are protesting what they say is inadequate government supervision of competition from non-Lebanese drivers. Other demands include that the interior minister stop issuing permits to trucks that weigh over 21 tons. The drivers also want the police do more to stop taxis and vans from using fake license plates and the government to approve a public transportation plan. Other demands threatening Hariri’s mission to form a new cabinet include providing better salaries to the staff of public hospitals, who have also held a strike to object the last pay raise approved by the government for public sector employees. The strike of the public hospital workers, who claim that the salary hike did not treat them fairly, has paralyzed emergency services and the admission of patients except for those undergoing dialysis and chemotherapy or radiotherapy. A hospital worker told Asharq Al-Awsat that the government’s policies are taking public health towards “destruction.”Most professional doctors have abandoned their work at the Rafik Hariri University Hospital, which is on the verge of turning into a skeletal system with no functions, said the worker. In the education sector, which has witnessed strikes for years, Lebanese University teachers have called for better salaries. Private school teachers have also been demanding for a salary hike after the government’s pay raise covered solely public school educators. The strikes and labor union demands could have a snowball effect. A minister, who refused to be identified, told Asharq Al-Awsat that the unions’ demands are “righteous.”  “They need swift solutions,” he said, lamenting the lack of a government capable of taking action. He accused several parties of hindering Hariri’s efforts, saying “everything hinges on the formation of the cabinet which some are trying to paralyze.”

Machnouk to Asharq Al-Awsat: Early Presidential Battle Delays Government Formation
Beirut- Thaer Abbas/Asharq Al-Awsat/Friday, 27 July, 2018/Lebanon’s Interior Minister in the caretaker government Nohad Al-Machnouk described his recent visit to Saudi Arabia as successful, praising the Saudi stance on Lebanon and expecting a breakthrough in bilateral relations after the formation of the new government. In an interview with Asharq Al-Awsat, Machnouk said: “Saudi Arabia, by its religious, economic and political nature, is a leading country in the region, and I always consider that the balance in the region, especially in light of this Iranian expansion, should be based on a solid Saudi-Egyptian alliance, because each country possesses elements of strength.”He added that the Kingdom was waiting for the formation of the new Lebanese government to revive the Higher Ministerial Committee headed by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and the Lebanese side prime minister.
Underlining the need for Lebanese parties to commit to the policy of dissociation, Machnouk said: “Lebanon is a liberal country and the level of freedoms is high, but this should not be a pretext for practices, actions, and statements that threaten Lebanon’s relations with its Arab surroundings and its responsibilities towards the constants of Arabism.” Asked about the Yemeni government’s complaints about Hezbollah’s interference in Yemen, the interior minister said: “This is a new development, but all people know that this is true. The Yemeni government itself has published identity cards and information about Lebanese individuals, advisers, fighters or experts in the manufacture or installation of missiles.”“I think that the Yemeni position is normal, because it is no longer acceptable, after all these international developments, that Hezbollah remains an outlet for Iranian policy in the region and does not expect international resolutions to be taken against it at the same time,” he added. Back to the Lebanese arena, Machnouk commented on the delay in forming a new government, saying: “The criteria for forming the government since the first day have been wrong, because they were based on numerical rules, such as those on the calculator or the tailor's pipe, which I call the Bassil tailor's pipe (in reference to Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil). “The government should be formed based on constitutional principles and the Lebanese consensual system… not just on numerical standards,” he stressed. The interior minister noted that the delay in forming the new government was mainly due to early talks on the presidency and ambitions for political inheritance.“I think that the main flaw that delays the formation of the government is that the battle for presidency stared early, accompanied by ambitions for political inheritance,” he stated. Asked about the relations between the Future Movement and the Free Patriotic Movement, Machnouk said: “The harmonious relationship between the Future Movement and the Free Patriotic Movement has turned into an understanding with limited headlines and a narrow horizon.”
Aoun: Russian Initiative to Return Thousands of Refugees to Syria
Naharnet/July 27/18/President Michel Aoun said on Friday that Lebanon hopes the Russian initiative meets the United Nations’ support, in order to “end the suffering” of Syrian refugees. “We hope the Russian initiative to return displaced Syrians to their country gets the backing of the United Nations in order to end their suffering,” Aoun told visiting Acting UN special Coordinator for Lebanon Bernell Cardel.“Lebanon has welcomed the initiative because it ensures the return of around 890,000 displaced Syrians back to Syria. A committee will be formed to coordinate, with the Russians, the technical details related to the return mechanism,” he added. On Thursday, Aoun presided over a meeting at Baabda Palace that tackled the Russian proposals aimed at securing the return of displaced Syrians to their country. The meeting was held in the presence of Speaker Nabih Berri, Premier-designate Saad Hariri and a Russian delegation led by special presidential envoy Alexander Lavrentiev. After the talks, Lavrentiev said he held "very interesting and very positive talks" with the three leaders. Russia, Syria’s ally has 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 defense ministry official said last week.

Berri: Two UN Officials Banned from Entering Ain el-Tineh
Naharnet/July 27/18/Speaker Nabih Berri refuses to receive two UN officials at his Ain el-Tineh residence over what he described as “repulsive behavior,” al-Joumhouria daily reported on Friday. Berri refused to receive the Acting UN Special Coordinator for Lebanon Bernell Cardel. “I refused to receive her at Ain el-Tineh because she crossed the lines. Not only did she harm Lebanon, but she also harmed the United Nations’ role,” Berri told the daily in an interview. During his last meeting with Cardel, Berri said he “sensed that she is in accord with the Israeli policy at the expense of our rights and our borders. I brought to her attention that she has made a commitment to continue with the policy of her predecessor Sigrid Kaag, but she denied.”Berri pointed out that the UN official "violated the diplomatic norms and objective facts when she visited Lebanese personalities and held me responsible for disrupting the resolution of the border dispute with the Israeli occupation entity.” He added saying “I was aware of the aggressive orientation she has against me.”Another figure that Berri refused to meet was Maj. Gen. Michael Beary, former UNIFIL Commander when he asked to visit him as part of farewell visits to Lebanese leaders. Berri said that his “decisive” position from Beary was because the latter participated in the celebration of the Israeli occupation entity with its so-called "independence" or "national holiday.”“Not only did Beary do that, but he also tweeted congratulating Israel on this occasion, ignoring the fact that he is the UNIFIL commander in Lebanon and his role requires different behavior and respect for his position and the feelings of the Lebanese who have paid great price for the aggression of the Israeli occupation and its wars,” concluded the Speaker.

Hakim Foretells "Blazing" September Due to Looming Problems 27th July 2018/Former Economy Minister Alain Hakim warned that the month of September will be clamorous and blazing due to the looming economic problems that will emerge due to the rising school tuition fees and other factors, blaming not only random taxes, but also the salary scale law which was approved without a thorough assessment study of its impact. "Citizens are today paying the price for voting again for the lawmakers who assured that prices will not increase due to taxes, instead of holding them accountable for that," Hakim told Al-Markazia news agency.

Kataeb Delegation Visits Al-Aqoura 27th July 2018/A Kataeb delegation, headed by the party leader's top adviser Fouad Abu Nader, visited Al-Aqoura on Friday to provide the municipality with logistical and medical supplies. The Kataeb party's donation consists mainly of transmitters and wireless devices to help link the outskirts of Al-Aqoura to the village center in light of the events that took place there recently. A few months ago, armed men from Baalbeck’s Yammouneh village opened fire at an Aqoura police patrol and confiscated the officers' phones. The two villages have been at odds over a piece of land that separates them. “We hope that the army would remain the guarantor of security in Al-Aqoura's outskirts and establish a zone of peace while waiting for a permanent solution to the ongoing dispute," Abu Nader said.

Hankache: We Will Not Keep Mum over Any Transgression 27th July 2018/Kataeb MP Elias Hankache on Friday said that the party is committed to giving the presidential term a new chance, affirming, however, that it will always speak up against anything that harms the country's best interest. "The Kataeb party will not keep mum over any transgression, neither today nor tomorrow," he said in an interview on New TV. Hankache said that the Kataeb party has decided to give the presidential term a chance based on the dissatisfaction and will to make a change voiced by both President Aoun and PM Saad Hariri, noting, however, that the same old approach seems to be re-emerging, "which will lead to the same outcome as before". Hankache blasted attempts to muzzle and suppress the Kataeb lawmakers during yesterday's parliamentary committee meeting on waste management, adding that preventing someone from expressing his technical remarks and viewpoint draws suspicions over the plan being imposed. "They keep accusing the Kataeb party of being populist, while they end up adopting its proposals. This is exactly what is happening today with Russia's refugee return plan which was initially put forth by Kataeb leader Samy Gemayel during his latest visit to Moscow," he explained. Hankache slammed the growing greed and the mentality of partitioning that are hindering the government formation, adding that the country is in dire need of a new government given the economic, financial and social problems that it is witnessing. The lawmaker said that the party would participate in a balanced government that has a serious rescue plan to face challenges, assuring that the Kataeb is not willing to bear a false witness inside any Cabinet. “If we could turn back time, we would opt for the same approach in dealing with all the files as we have done with the power barges, waste crisis and other isa,” Hankache reiterated.

Gemayel Hails Russia over Refugee Return Plan 27th July 2018/Kataeb leader Samy Gemayel thanked Russia for according a paramount importance to the return of Syrian refugees to their homeland, expressing his appreciation of Moscow for committing to its promise to help Lebanon. Gemayel hoped that the Lebanese government benefits from the Russian initiative, saying that it must devise a clear and unified vision so as to reach the much-anticipated solution. The Kataeb chief stressed that Lebanon's government should do whatever serves the country's best interest, away from petty political bickerings and external political agendas that don't do any good to Lebanon, its stability and citizens.

Hariri meets Kuwaiti, Pakistani ambassadors

Fri 27 Jul 2018/NNA - Prime Minister-designate Saad Hariri received on Friday Kuwait's Ambassador to Lebanon Abdelaal Al-Qenai with whom he tackled the overall situation and means to activate bilateral relations. Hariri also received the Pakistani Ambassador to Lebanon Aftab Khokher on a farewell visit marking the end of his Beirut diplomatic mission. "I thank Prime Minister Hariri for the support he gave me during the period of my mission in Lebanon. Without his support I could not do have succeeded in improving bilateral relations between our two countries. PM Hariri has uttered wishes for the success of the Pakistani government to be formed after the parliamentary elections. He also expressed optimism that the formation of the new government in Lebanon would be imminent and promised to work towards closer trade relations between Lebanon and Pakistan to reach the level of excellent political relations between the two countries," the ambassador said.

Azerbaijan ambassador after visiting Shaar: Our government shall not spare any effort in providing assistance in oil fields

Fri 27 Jul 2018/NNA - Mufti of Tripoli and North Lebanon Sheikh Malek al-Shaar welcomed on Friday at his residence in Tripoli the Ambassador of Azerbaijan to Lebanon, Agasalim Shukurov, accompanied by the President of the North Lebanon Traders Association, Asaad Hariri, and a delegation of merchants. On emerging, Ambassador Shukurov said that the purpose of his visit was to maintain coordination between the two countries, and to become more acquainted with Tripoli's pioneering merchants and businessmen in a bid to explore means of implementing joint projects and bolster bilateral relations. The ambassador of Azerbaijan also indicated that he broached with Mufti Shaar the current educational conditions in the northern city, announcing that he offered on behalf of Azerbaijan five university scholarships for students from Tripoli and the North. In reply to a question, Ambassador Shukurov said that his government will not hesitate to provide Lebanon any needed assistance in the oil fields, especially at the level of training specialized Lebanese engineers in the exploration works. Mufti Shaar, for his part, said that the Ambassador of Azerbaijan visited the city of Tripoli in a bid to establish cooperation and coordination between traders and merchants of Tripoli and Azerbaijan. Shaar commended Azerbaijan as "a country enjoying a plethora of economic potentials," branding it an "oil and tourism country."Shaar relayed the Ambassador's earnest desire to bolster bilateral relations between the two countries, notably in terms of economic exchange, within the framework of a memorandum of understanding and the signing of a future roadmap. The Mufti also brought to attention Azerbaijan's longstanding history, with several Lebanese students graduating from the universities of Azerbaijan, especially in the fields of oil and petroleum engineering.

Two Lebanese to participate in Junior NBA Championship
Fri 27 Jul 2018/NNA - The Junior NBA World Championship is a new competition launched by the NBA in the form of a basketball tournament dedicated to young boys and girls aged under 14. For the first time, two Lebanese youngsters will participate in this professional basketball championship and compete on the world title. This tournament will bring together 317 participants from 35 countries, and will take place in Orlando, United States, from August 7 till 12.

Hasbani from Bkirki: Confident of overcoming government formation obstacles

Fri 27 Jul 2018/NNA - Maronite Patriarch Cardinal Mar Bechara Boutros Rahi received on Friday at the Bkirki Patriarchate, Deputy Prime Minister and caretaker Minister of Public Health, Ghassan Hasbani, with talks touching on an array of local issues.
"We discussed the health sector and the developments that are taking place in this regard. We thanked the Synod members for their support of the mechanism that was developed to distribute the hospitalization budget ceilings, for the first time, with full transparency and without any unfairness vis-a-vis hospitals," Hasbani said in the wake of the meeting. "We have also tackled the current situation and we wish that the government will be formed soon," he said, uttering optimism over the next stage and overcoming the obstacles that stand in the face of forming the government, "in order to preserve the economic, security and social stability enjoyed by Lebanon."

Lebanon's Cannabis Heartland, Bekaa, Hopes for Legalization
Associated Press/Naharnet/July 27/18
In the fields of this quiet village surrounded by mountains, men and women work clearing dirt and dry leaves from around cannabis plants, a major source of livelihoods in this impoverished corner of Lebanon, The fertile Bekaa Valley in eastern Lebanon has long been notorious as one of the world's major narcotics-growing regions, producing some of the finest quality cannabis, mostly processed into hashish. Today, the country is the third biggest producer in the world after Morocco and Afghanistan, according to the U.N. But the valley's residents have rarely felt the benefits. Now they are hoping their work will soon become legal after decades of crackdowns and raids. This week, a draft bill was introduced in parliament that would allow cultivation and use of cannabis for medical purposes. The idea has fueled dreams of Lebanon raking in hundreds of millions of dollars in sales and exports, a desperately needed source of income for a country weighed down by low growth, high unemployment and one of the heaviest debt burdens in the world. The legal industry will also create jobs and bring order in the Bekaa, a region notorious for lawlessness, proponents say.
"I want to find a solution for what's going on," said legislator Antoine Habchi, who sent the bill to parliament. The aim is to "allow farmers to live with dignity." Habchi, who hails from cannabis-growing part of the Bekaa region, said the bill would bring economic returns and would include provisions to prevent and treat addiction. Under the bill, cultivation would be tightly controlled. Private pharmaceutical companies would provide seeds and seedlings to farmers and during harvest plants would be counted to make sure nothing had been diverted. The size of fields would be regulated. It will likely take months for the bill to go through discussions before it can come to a vote. Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri last week informed U.S. ambassador Elizabeth Richard that the legislature was working on the draft bill. In the past, the United States has provided aid for counter-narcotics efforts in Lebanon, trying to stem the trade.The move is not without controversy.
The northern parts of the Bekaa Valley where cannabis is widely grown is under the influence of the militant group Hezbollah, which opposes the use and production of all types of drugs. The group and its allies dominate parliament; it has not said whether it would try to stop the bill.
The United States has repeatedly accused Hezbollah of drug trafficking, charges that the group strongly denies. Legalization seems to have gained traction in Lebanon after global consulting firm McKinsey & Co. included it among its suggestions in a government-commissioned study on ways to boost Lebanon's economy. Still, economists are split on the benefits.
Louis Hobeika, an economist at Lebanon's Notre-Dame University, warned that cannabis profits won't go to state coffers or citizens but will be devoured by the widespread corruption among the ruling elite. "This is a move that aims to finance the political mafia in Lebanon," he said. Habchi disagrees, saying farmers and workers would finally have their rights in the trade. Traditionally, drug dealers benefit most, imposing a purchase price on farmers then selling the product for high higher prices. The Bekaa became notorious for the drug trade during the 1975-1990 civil war, producing some $500 million a year in opium and cannabis. After the war, authorities launched crackdowns on the fields and encouraged alternative crops like potatoes, tomatoes and apples.
Cannabis planting bloomed once more after Syria's civil war erupted in 2011 and Lebanese authorities shifted attention to other security concerns. Driving through villages in the Baalbek and Hermel regions in eastern Lebanon, cannabis can be seen planted on the side of roads and in gardens. At some cases, security force's checkpoints are only a few hundred meters (yards) away. There are more than 40,000 arrest warrants against locals in the Bekaa Valley, many drug-related. Most often, authorities prefer to turn a blind eye.
Well armed residents are ready to fend off any force trying to destroy their fields. When security forces move in to destroy fields with bulldozers and trucks, they can come under barrages of automatic weapons fire or even rocket-propelled grenades.
On Monday, troops surrounded a compound in the village of Hamoudiyeh run by a notorious drug dealer, Ali Zeyd Ismail, who had dozens of warrants against him. An hours-long battle left eight people dead, including Ismail, who was known as Lebanon's Escobar after the late top Colombian drug trafficker Pablo Escobar.
Hashish is also smuggled out of the country. Hardly a week passes without authorities saying that they busted drugs at the airport or seaports. Legalization could turn that into a legal export market. Several countries in Europe and South America, as well as Australia and Canada allow imports of medical cannabis. Canada and the Netherlands dominate exports. Several U.S. states allow medical or recreational cannabis, but importing is illegal. In the Bekaa, farmers welcome legalization, saying it would bring badly needed jobs. "Let them deal with it the way they deal with tobacco," said Mayez Shreif, referring to a state-run company that monopolizes tobacco purchases from farmers. He spoke one morning this week as he ate fruit and drank coffee in a garden near cannabis fields. The 65-year-old Shreif has worked for decades at cannabis plantations in Yammoune. The area's dry weather, its elevation above sea level and its local springs come together to make some of the finest product in the world. Residents have tried planting apples, tomatoes and potatoes, but most often lost money, he said. Growing potatoes costs 15 times as much as cannabis and earns far less. With cannabis, the farmer just puts seeds and water and it grows, he said. In Yammoune, a Syrian who has worked for seven years in cannabis fields said his Lebanese boss pays him $500 a month, seven times the average salary in Syria. He asked that his name not be used for fear of reprisals from authorities.
"Hashish keeps me employed for much of the year," he said.

Mashnouq: Premature Battle for Presidency Delaying Cabinet Lineup
Naharnet/July 27/18/Interior Minister Nouhad al-Mashnouq said the major flaw delaying the formation of Lebanon’s Cabinet is because the “battle for the presidency has begun way too soon,” the Saudi Asharq al-Awsat newspaper reported on Friday.
He said the “ambitions for political heredity have engaged the country into a clash. The main reason delaying the Cabinet formation is because the battle for the presidential post has prematurely begun,” he told the daily in an interview. Media reports believe that Foreign Minister Jebran Bassil, President Michel Aoun’s son-in-law, has aspirations for the future presidential post when the term of his father-in-law ends. The Free Patriotic Movement, led by Bassil, has reportedly rejected the Cabinet shares demanded by the Lebanese Forces and Progressive Socialist party which has so far delayed the formation. “The approach of forming the new Lebanese government through numbers is wrong,” added Mashnouq. He was referring to wrangling between political parties over Cabinet quotas. On his latest visit to Saudi Arabia, the Minister said “it was a successful political visit. I noticed through the discussions that there is a decision to deal with the official Lebanese government that will be formed. Preparations are underway for the signing of economic, financial and trade treaties between the two countries. “They are waiting for the formation of the government to revive the Higher Ministerial Committee headed by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman from the Saudi side, and the Prime Minister from the Lebanese side.”

Lebanese Found Dead in Her Dubai Apartment
Naharnet/July 27/18/The dead body of a Lebanese woman was found in her apartment in Dubai, media reports said on Friday. The victim was identified as Arlett Obeid, LBCI station said. She was found lying dead in her house. No further details about the incident were revealed.

Lebanon pricing itself out of tourism industry
Georgi Azar and Zeina Nasser/Annahar/July 27/ 2018/
Lebanon has been lagging behind other regional touristic hubs for an ongoing number of years, with officials reluctant to address the drop, instead laying the blame at the feet of the media for painting Lebanon in a negative light.
BEIRUT: While Lebanon’s tourism sector witnessed an increase of 3.3 percent in the number of visitors in the first half of 2018 compared to the same period of last year, it still has a long way to go to recover its peak of 2010, the record year for tourism activity in the Mediterranean country.
Lebanon has been lagging behind other regional touristic hubs for an ongoing number of years, with officials reluctant to address the drop, instead laying the blame at the feet of the media for painting Lebanon in a negative light.
“There’s a media war against Lebanon’s tourism industry,” Pierre Achkar, head of the Syndicate of Hotel Owners, told Annahar, alluding to the recent coverage which highlighted the alarming levels of metals, chemicals and a bevy of other toxins in coastal waters.
The reasoning behind this drop, however, is much more intricate than pollution according to some experts.
Exorbitant prices and a higher cost of living compared to destinations like Istanbul, Turkey, or Larnaca, Cyprus have undoubtedly played a role in deterring potential visitors.
The number of incoming visitors to Lebanon totaled 853,087 in the first six months of 2018, compared to 826,129 in the lead up to the summer of 2017.
In 2010, considered one of the golden years of Lebanese tourism, 964,067 visitors flocked to the small touristic hub to the excitement of those in the hospitality sector.
Regional instability and political unrest, which plagued the country in recent years, were the obvious culprit for this drop.
Yet by looking at the average cost of a five day trip to Beirut, a grimmer picture is evident.
A flight from Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, home to nationals who provide the bread and butter to many in the hospitality industry, costs $889, compared to $671 to Istanbul and $581 to Larnaca.
Data was compiled from global travel technology company Expedia on July 24 for the following dates: 23/08/2018 till 28/08/2018
Meanwhile, a single room at The Phoenicia Hotel, part of the global Intercontinental chain, comes in at a hefty $316 per night, while its equivalent at the Istanbul and Larnaca branch costs $233 and $203 respectively.
Add to that the average price of a three-course meal at a mid-range restaurant, and a five day trip to Lebanon carries a weighty $2739 price tag, excluding transport.
Data was compiled from Numbeo, the world’s largest database of user contributed data about cities and countries worldwide.
A five-day trip to Istanbul however, costs 1926$, while the equivalent in Larnaca comes in at $1678, a decrease of 29.6 percent and 38.7 percent respectively.
Wealthy GCC nationals escaping the desert heat have also seen their purchasing power decrease amid falling oil prices, and their visits are expected to continue dwindling despite travel warnings and restrictions being lifted.
Repercussions are still being felt to this day, after spending by visitors from Saudi Arabia decreased by 21.4 percent in the first half of 2018, followed by spending from Kuwait (-4.2 percent) and the UAE (-1.1 percent).
Visitors from Saudi Arabia accounted for 2.7 percent of tourists in the first half of 2018, dropping by 21.1 percent compared to the same period of last year while the number of visitors from the UAE dropped by 32.2 percent year-on-year.
Touching on the costly airplane tickets, President of the Association of Travel and Tourist Agencies John Abboud told Annahar that “prices are correlated to the capacity of airline companies”, i.e supply and demand.
Yet, limited airline capacity is not only to blame for the relatively higher travel cost to Lebanon.
A nationwide tax hike enacted last year to fund the salary increase for public sector workers, has hiked ticket prices. Travelers leaving Lebanon on economy seats now pay a $40 exit fee while business class travelers and first-class passengers incur a fee of $73 and $100, respectively, bringing Beirut's Rafik Hariri International Airport on par with some of its most expensive counterparts.
Australia’s passenger movement charge (PMC) is the second highest in the world according to a 2016 report by Airport Technology after it imposed a $42 tax on all travelers leaving the country via international flights or by sea.
The International Air Transport Association (IATA) argues that abolishing the PMC would bring a $1.2bn worth of tourism to Australia.
In a study conducted by the World Economic Forum, Lebanon ranked 96th out of 136 countries on the 2017 Travel & Tourism Competitiveness Index, in front of only Kuwait and Yemen in the Middle East after dropping two places since 2015, further aggravating the situation.
The solution, experts say, lies in the government dismantling the airport monopoly, which yields higher charges and taxes that burden airlines with excessive costs, pushing up the price of tickets.
Former Tourism Minister Fadi Abboud argued recently in a local newspaper that another airport should be established in northern Lebanon while expanding Beirut’s airport and focusing on accommodating low-cost carriers (LCCs).
Mobility – the movement of people and goods – is both a fundamental right and a linchpin of the global economy, experts say, with LCCs on the rise worldwide giving many people the ability to travel for the first time.
Another remedy Abboud says is Middle East Airlines' capacity to create its own LCC subsidiary at more affordable prices to attract tourists.
The Latest LCCC Bulletin For Miscellaneous Reports And News published on July 27-28/18
Mattis: US goal to change Iran behavior in Middle East, not regime change
Reuters, WashingtonFriday, 27 July 2018/The United States has not instituted a policy of regime change or collapse in Iran, US Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said on Friday, telling reporters that the goal was still to change Iran’s behavior in the Middle East. Asked whether the Trump administration had created a regime change or collapse policy, Mattis said: “There’s none that’s been instituted.”“We need them to change their behavior on a number of threats that they can pose with their military, with their secret services, with their surrogates and with their proxies,” he added.

Syrian Kurdish-backed council holds talks in Damascus for the first time
Reuters, Beirut Friday, 27 July 2018/A top Syrian Kurdish official is in Damascus this week for talks with Syrian government officials at the head of a delegation including members of the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces, their first declared visit to the capital. The visit points to moves by the Kurdish-led authorities that control roughly one quarter of Syria to open channels to President Bashar al-Assad's administration as they seek to negotiate a political deal that preserves their autonomy. The delegation in Damascus is headed by Ilham Ahmed, executive head of the Syrian Democratic Council (SDC), said Riad Darar, SDC co-chair, speaking by phone from Vienna. The delegation arrived two days ago, he added. The meetings were expected to primarily discuss matters of service provision in the areas controlled by the Kurdish-led authorities, but Darar added that there was no set agenda and the talks might widen to political and security matters. The outcome of the meetings is not yet clear, he said, adding that he did not know which officials they would meet. It was not clear how long the delegation would stay in Damascus. The main Syrian Kurdish groups have mostly avoided conflict with Assad during the seven-year-long war. (AP)
Seven-year-long war
The main Syrian Kurdish groups have mostly avoided conflict with Assad during the seven-year-long war, at times even fighting common foes -- including rebels that his forces are gradually crushing with help from Russia and Iran. Talks recently began over a return of state employees and repairs to one of Syria’s most important pieces of infrastructure: the Tabqa dam, Syria’s largest, which the SDF took from ISIS last year with the help of US air power. Darar said the talks over the Tabqa dam had been held with delegations that had come from Damascus. Referring to this week’s visit to Damascus by the SDC, he said: “This is certainly the first visit that happened.” Syria’s Kurds, which the state systematically persecuted for years, say they do not seek independence, but hope a political deal will safeguard the autonomy they carved out during the war. For the first time, Assad said in May that he was “opening doors” for talks with the SDF, while also threatening to use force.

As protests mount in Iraq, top cleric Sistani warns politicians
Staff writer, Al Arabiya English/Friday, 27 July 2018/Iraq’s top Shiite cleric Ayatollah Ali al-Sistan said on Friday that if the Iraqi government does not abide by its commitments, people will develop other peaceful means of protests to impose their will on the authority, adding that in this situation there will be a different scene which we will regret before it is too late. Sistani voiced his concerns in his Friday sermon delivered by his Representative Abdel Mahdi al-Karbalai. The sermon was delivered in the Iraqi city of Kerbala. The Iraqi top cleric also called for the formation of a new government as soon as possible, calling for the appointment of a strong and decisive prime minister who can meet the people’s demands urgently. He also called for the change of privileges given to some groups in the Iraqi parliament. Sistani encouraged the incumbent government of Prime Minister Haidar al-Abadi to respond urgently to protesters’ demands seeking better basic services and jobs. “The current government must work hard urgently to implement citizens’ demands to reduce their suffering and misery,” Sistani’s representative said. Sistani said the next prime minister in the new government had to be strong and courageous to fight corruption in government. “He (the new prime minister) must launch a relentless war against the corrupted and those who protect them,” Sistani’s representative said. Sistan further said “We demand that the electoral law be fair and that the Commission be independent and over the years we advised senior officials to avoid reaching the current tragic stage.”Anger is mounting at a time when politicians are struggling to form a government after the May 12 election, which was marred by allegations of fraud that prompted a recount. Sistani, a reclusive octogenarian, is revered by millions of Shi’ite Muslims in Iraq and abroad. Thousands have protested this month in cities in the long-neglected south, Iraq’s Shi’ite heartland, against the lack of proper government services. Demonstrations over the same issues have occurred in the past but the unrest this time is more widespread and is politically sensitive. Prime Minister Haidar al-Abadi is seeking a second term after the parliamentary election which was tainted by allegations of corruption. (With Reuters)
Soleimani: Red Sea No Longer Safe
London- Adil al SalmiAsharq Al-Awsat/Friday, 27 July, 2018/Iran’s Major General Qassem Soleimani said on Thursday that the Red Sea was no longer safe for US vessels, threatening President Donald Trump of launching proxy wars led by Failaq al-Quds against US forces without the interference of Iran’s armed forces. “You are aware of our power in the region and capability for launching asymmetrical war?” he said. Speaking from a military base in the suburbs of the Hamdan city, Soleimani was responding to Trump’s tweet addressed to Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, in which he threatened the Islamic Republic with actions “the likes of which few throughout history have ever suffered before.”“You may begin the war, but it is us who will end it,” the Iranian commander said. Soleimani described Trump’s threats as being “a cabaret owner” style. “As a soldier, it is my duty to respond to your threats ... If you want to use the language of threat ... talk to me, not to the president (Hassan Rouhani). It is not in our president’s dignity to respond to you,” Soleimani was quoted as saying by Iran’s semi-official Tasnim news agency. He praised Rouhani’s threats against the US and in return, criticized parties inside Iran of undermining the president’s positions. Rouhani had earlier threatened the US of closing the Hormuz Strait if Washington enforces new sanctions against Iran next November. Soleimani said liberals in Iran agree on closing all negotiation windows with the US administration. The commander of Iran’s elite Quds Force addressed Trump several times in his speech. "We are near you, where you can't even imagine. We are the nation of martyrdom, we are the nation of Imam Hossein, you better ask. Come; we are ready,” Soleimani said. His speech came after US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo threatened that Iranian regime leaders, especially those at the top of the IRGC and the Quds Force like Soleimani, would feel painful consequences of their bad decision-making.

Israel to Build New Settler Homes after Deadly Knife Attack
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/July 27/18/Israel is to build hundreds of new homes in a settlement in the occupied West Bank where a Palestinian stabbed three Israelis, one fatally, Defence Minister Avigdor Lieberman said Friday. "The best answer to terrorism is the expansion of settlements," Lieberman wrote on Twitter, announcing 400 new housing units in the Adam settlement north of Jerusalem a day after the deadly stabbing. The teenage attacker snuck into the settlement on Thursday evening, the Israeli army said, stabbing three people before being shot dead. The army named the man who died as Yotam Ovadia, 31, with Israeli media saying he had two young children. The attacker was later identified by official Palestinian media as Mohammed Dar Youssef, 17, from the village of Kobar. The army said Friday it had raided the village, questioned a number of his family members and suspended their work permits. During the raid on Friday morning, clashes broke out between young Palestinians and soldiers firing tear gas, an AFP journalist reported. Official Palestinian news agency Wafa said three people were arrested. The attack came after a period of relative calm in the West Bank, although there has been recurrent violence between the Israeli army and Palestinian protesters in the Gaza Strip in which at least 154 Palestinians have been killed since late March. In a statement, Gaza's Islamist rulers Hamas praised the "courageous operation" in the West Bank without claiming responsibility for it. "The West Bank is ready and able to avenge the blood of the martyrs," it said. All Israeli settlement construction in the occupied West Bank is considered illegal by the international community.

Israel Ministers Seek Changes after Jewish Nation Law Outcry
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/July 27/18/Two key ministers have called for changes to a deeply controversial law declaring Israel the nation state of the Jewish people after a backlash and a court challenge from the Druze minority. Opponents have called the law "racist" as it makes no mention of equality and Israel's democratic character, implying that the country's Jewish nature comes first. Members of Israel's 130,000-strong Druze community -- many of whom willingly serve in the police and military -- have been among those strongly denouncing the law. Community leaders have filed a court challenge to the law, given final passage in the middle of the night on July 19. It becomes part of Israel's so-called basic laws, a de facto constitution. On Thursday, Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon called for changes in response to the concerns of Druze, saying the law had been "passed in haste." "The last thing that we want is to harm the Druze community," Kahlon, whose Kulanu party is the second largest in Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's coalition, told army radio. His comments followed similar ones on Wednesday by Education Minister Naftali Bennett of the religious nationalist Jewish Home party. Bennett, who was a prominent advocate for the law, said he had now realized damage was done, adding that the Druze were "our brothers who stand shoulder to shoulder with us on the battlefield." "We, the government of Israel, have a responsibility to find a way to heal the rift," he said. Druze lawmakers were expected to meet Netanyahu, Kahlon and Defenسe Minister Avigdor Lieberman on the issue later Thursday. Druze leaders are also planning a demonstration against the law in central Tel Aviv on August 4. The Druze are an offshoot of Shiite Islam. Officials say there are 110,000 of them in northern Israel and another 20,000 in the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights. The legislation makes Hebrew the country's national language and defines the establishment of Jewish communities as being in the national interest. Arabic, previously considered an official language, was granted only special status. Arab Israelis have also denounced the law, saying it encourages discrimination and racism. Arab citizens make up some 17.5 percent of Israel's more than eight million population.

Knife Attack Kills One Israeli, Wounds Two Others in West Bank
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/July 27/18/A knife attack by a Palestinian in a West Bank settlement on Thursday killed one Israeli and wounded two others, while the assailant was shot dead, authorities said. The 17-year-old attacker entered the Adam settlement near Ramallah in the occupied West Bank on Thursday evening, Israeli army spokesman Jonathan Conricus said. "A terrorist infiltrated into (the Adam settlement) and stabbed three civilians," the army said in a statement. "The terrorist was shot and killed," it added. One of the wounded, a 31-year-old, later died from his injuries after having arrived at hospital in critical condition, the hospital treating him announced. A 58-year-old victim was said to be seriously wounded but stable. The third victim, who also shot the Palestinian, was slightly wounded in the leg. Conricus said the attacker, from the Palestinian village of Kobar, had been shot by a civilian who was passing at the time and witnessed the incident. The Palestinian managed to jump the fence of the settlement and stab two passersby, Israeli media reported. Lone Palestinian attackers have carried out multiple deadly stabbings and car-rammings against Israelis in recent years. The last stabbing attack in a West Bank settlement was in April 2018, when a Palestinian tried to stab an Israeli with a screwdriver near a petrol station in an industrial area connected to the Maale Adumim settlement east of Jerusalem.
Gaza tensions -Thursday's attack comes amid recurrent violence between the Israeli army and Palestinian groups in the besieged Gaza Strip, but the West Bank has remained relatively calm. Earlier in the day, Palestinian Islamist movement Hamas, which rules Gaza, promised revenge after Israeli strikes on the coastal enclave killed three of its members. Israel said the artillery fire late Wednesday was in retaliation for shots fired at troops along the border that injured one soldier. "The enemy shall pay a high price in blood for the crime which it commits daily against the rights of our people and our fighters," said the al-Qassam Brigades, the armed wing of Hamas. The flare-up came five days after the United Nations and Egypt brokered a deal to halt a July 20 surge in violence that claimed the lives of four Palestinians and an Israeli soldier -- the first killed in the area since the last war in Gaza in 2014. On Tuesday, Israel partially reopened its only goods crossing with the Gaza Strip, after a two-week closure prompted by border tensions and incendiary kites had sparked fears of a severe fuel shortage in the blockaded Palestinian enclave.
Tensions along the Gaza border increased in late March when Palestinians launched a mass protest movement. At least 149 Palestinians have been killed in Gaza by Israeli fire since March 30. Israel says its blockade is necessary to keep Hamas from obtaining weapons or materials that could be used for military purposes. But UN officials and rights groups have repeatedly called for the blockade to be lifted, citing worsening humanitarian conditions in the enclave, home to two million people.

Palestinian youth on a stabbing rampage murders an Israeli man, injures two
DebkaFile/July 27/18
A 17-year old terrorist climbed the security fence into the Adam community north of Jerusalem Thursday night, July 26, and slashed one victim after another. Yotam Ovadia, an Israeli man of 31, whom he repeatedly stabbed, died soon after from multiple wounds, a second man, aged 58, was badly hurt and a third though injured managed to pull his gun and shoot the killer dead. The terrorist came from the nearby Palestinian village of Kobar. He must have studied the electronic fence in advance, because he was able to climb over without triggering the sensors for an alarm.
IDF forces were alerted and rushed to the scene with medics for treating the casualties. Magen Adom teams tried to resuscitate Yotam Ovadia, the first victim, before sending him to Hadassah hospital on Mount Scopus, where surgeons worked for hours to save his life, before pronouncing him dead. The other two victims were hospitalized and a member of the Adam community, a woman, was treated for shock.
OC IDF Central Command Maj. Gen Nadav Padan and head of the Binyamin Brigade, Brig. Gen. Sharon Asman, reached the scene with the first troops. The location was combed for more terrorists in hiding. Members of the community were advised to stay indoors and shut their doors and windows while soldiers conducted house-to-house searches in neighboring communities of the Binyamin district. Kobar and additional Palestinian villages in the vicinity were placed under lockdown. Kobar has a history. Almost exactly a year ago, on July 21, a Palestinian of 19 from the same village broke into a home in the Halamish community in the Binyamin region, where the Solomon family were celebrating the birth of a grandchild. He massacred five members of the family. The mother of the newborn managed to hide with her other children in an upstairs room until help arrived. It came too late to save her husband. In Halamish too an electronic security fence was no proof against a terrorist attack. A guard on duty attributed the alarm to an intruding animal. Following the attack in Adam, the IDF poured more troops into the Binyamin district in case of more Palestinian terrorist incidents on Friday. Thursday night, President Donald Trump’s Middle East negotiator, Jason Greenblatt, issued this statement: “Yet another barbaric attack tonight. When will President Abbas and Palestinian leaders condemn violence? Our thoughts and prayers are with the victims and their families tonight.”

Pakistan's Imran Khan Wins Vote but No Majority
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/July 27/18/Imran Khan has won a disputed Pakistan election but has fallen short of an outright majority, according to official results announced Friday that indicate he will need to enter into a coalition to form a government. A jubilant Khan has already declared victory in the pivotal vote, which has drawn allegations of massive vote-rigging in his favour. The Election Commission said Friday that with only 11 seats left to count, Khan's Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) enjoys a strong lead with 114 seats, and will be the biggest party in parliament. At a press conference the commission said that the outgoing Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) had 63 seats and the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), which could prove kingmaker in a coalition government, had won 43. The count indicates PTI will not achieve the 137 seats needed in the National Assembly to form a majority government in its own right. Election officials are under fire for the lack of a full official result two days after ballots closed, an unprecedented delay that observers say has undermined the legitimacy of the exercise. The ECP has dismissed allegations of manipulation -- blaming the delay in the results, an unofficial version of which had been expected late Wednesday, on technical glitches. International observers, including a European Union delegation, are due to give their preliminary assessments of the vote on Friday, after rival parties, including the outgoing Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz, alleged "blatant" rigging. The vote is meant to be a rare democratic transition in the nuclear-armed Muslim country, which has been ruled by the powerful army for roughly half its history, but has been marred by violence and allegations of military interference. Khan, a 65-year-old former cricket star, claimed victory in a wide-ranging address to the nation Thursday. "We were successful and we were given a mandate," he said from his home in the capital Islamabad. The former all-rounder's statement came after his supporters took to the streets to celebrate winning an election that opponents have said the military fixed for him.
Iraq’s Sistani Calls on Formation of New Govt. ‘as Soon as Possible’
Asharq Al-Awsat/Friday, 27 July, 2018/Iraqi cleric Ali al-Sistani urged on Friday the formation of a new government “as soon as possible” after the country witnessed waves of protests against corruption, unemployment and poor basic services. He also urged the incumbent government of Prime Minister Haidar al-Abadi to meet the demands of the demonstrators. "The current government must work hard urgently to implement citizens' demands to reduce their suffering and misery," Sistani's representative said in the city of Karbala. The rallies had initially erupted in the southern oil-rich port city of Basra on July 8. They then spread to central and southern parts of the country. They have since waned after security forces repeatedly used force to disperse demonstrators. On Thursday, one youth complained that the country’s government had increased unemployment, posing threats to stability in southern Iraq. Karar Alaa Abdul-Wahid tried for years to get a stable job in the Iraqi government and in the private sector — to no avail, reported The Associated Press. He once was offered a job with the Oil Ministry in his energy-rich hometown of Basra, but he would have had to pay a bribe of $5,000, which he couldn't afford. He says that "if you are well-connected mainly among political parties and have money, you will get any job you dream of.""If not, you will get nothing."Rights commission official Fadel al-Gharrawi said earlier this week that 14 people had died in Basra, Samawah, Najaf and Karbala and in the provinces of Diwaniyah and Babylon. He did not specify whether those killed were protesters or members of the security services. Gharrawi said 275 protesters and 470 security personnel were wounded during thousands-strong demonstrations against corrupt officials. He said over 800 people had also been arrested, but said "the majority were later released", without providing a precise figure.

US Moves Closer to Unfreezing Military Aid to Egypt
Cairo – Mohammad Abdo HasaneenAsharq Al-Awsat/Friday, 27 July, 2018/Washington says to resume military aid to Egypt set at a value of $195 million, a package once frozen on the premise of human rights concerns. An Egyptian diplomat told Asharq Al-Awsat that Cairo has been informed of the decision to resume aid, saying it is now awaiting procedural matters. He pointed out that the agreement is moving in the right direction and without any obstacles, in light of Washington's recognition of the importance of Egypt’s role in stabilizing the Middle East. In August last year, the US administration froze $195 million in military aid to Egypt because of Egypt's failure to make progress with respect to human rights and democracy. The decision sparked angry reactions in Egypt, signaling negative repercussions on relations between the two countries.Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry received a telephone call from US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, and discussed various aspects of Egyptian-American relations, as well as consultations on a number of issues of common concern. In a statement, Foreign Ministry Spokesman Ahmed Abu Zeid said in a statement that Pompeo affirmed full US commitment to strengthen its strategic relations with Egypt and its commitment to Egypt's political, economic and developmental support. US aid to Egypt, both economic and military, aims to strengthen Egyptian capabilities in the face of security challenges, and to promote regional stability. The statement did not explicitly mention a resumption of frozen aid, but pointed out that the coming period will see more US support for Egypt, and a trend towards removing any obstacles in this regard. However, an Egyptian diplomatic source told Asharq Al-Awsat that “it was agreed to resume the $195 million in frozen military aid,” adding that “things are moving in the right direction, pending some procedure.” Speaking under the condition of anonymity, a source said that the change in the US position came in the wake of Egyptian high-level moves towards motivating the US administration to reassess the Egyptian situation, especially with respect to human rights files and counterterrorism efforts, in addition the nation’s strategic depth. The Egyptian foreign ministry said that Pompeo had valued Egyptian efforts to achieve Palestinian reconciliation and deal with regional issues in order to promote stability.
The Latest LCCC Bulletin analysis & editorials from miscellaneous sources published on July 27-28/18
This is not your grandfather’s KGB
David Ignatius/The Washington Post/July 27/18
Looking at Russia’s competing spy services, their overlapping operations against the United States and their sometimes careless tradecraft, some CIA veterans are wondering if the Russian spooks actually want to get caught.
The truth is, President Vladimir Putin probably doesn’t mind that his intelligence activities are so blatant that they’re a subject of daily public debate. His goal isn’t to steal secrets but to destabilize America’s political system. The more people obsess about the swarms of Russian spies, the better, from Putin’s perspective. “Russian intelligence activities over the past several years have become not only more energetic, but more eclectic,” explained former CIA director John Brennan in an email. “It’s a diverse, entrepreneurial and frequently competitive ecosystem. . . . Some of their work is really, really good, showing exquisite tradecraft. Other stuff, not so much.”
Rolf Mowatt-Larssen, a former CIA Russia specialist, sees a generational change in Russian intelligence. “The price of the shift to a faster, quick-kill approach is an increase in sloppiness. Ill-advised decisions are common. There’s less oversight by older, more experienced cadre.”
The new freewheeling, anything-goes style is evident in Russia’s 2016 assault on the U.S. political system. The Kremlin attacked from three directions: GRU military intelligence, the FSB security service and a social-media troll farm known as the Internet Research Agency, managed by one of Putin’s oligarch pals.
The Russians floated their covert-action propaganda through Facebook, Twitter, WikiLeaks and other social media outlets. Who knows whether there was “collusion,” but Russian officials maintained contact in 2016 with a string of Donald Trump associates, high and low, in ways the FBI couldn’t miss. It was the opposite of a subtle campaign of manipulation. “Operation Chaos” might be a good name.
Moscow monitored public speeches, not dead drops. According to the Justice Department’s July 13 indictment of 12 GRU operatives, the Russian conspirators began hacking Hillary Clinton’s personal emails “after hours” on July 27, 2016. Earlier that day, Trump had proclaimed: “Russia, if you’re listening, I hope you’re able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing.”Putin was shaped by the KGB’s rigid bureaucracy and tight secrecy. But as Russia’s president, he has embraced a different operating model — looser, more fragmented, with different services competing for the leader’s favor. The old KGB was broken into two pieces starting in 1991 — the SVR, which inherited the foreign spying mission that Putin had served, and the FSB, which took over domestic security.
The FSB has become increasingly involved in foreign operations and may now overshadow its twin, said Michael Sulick, a Russia expert and former CIA operations chief, in an interview. The FSB probably ran the “Cozy Bear” hack of the Democratic National Committee in 2015, and was indicted last year by the Justice Department for hacking 500 million Yahoo emails. “To put it crudely, the FSB does the kinds of things everyone else thinks about doing but doesn’t because they’re too risky, too politically inflammatory, or too likely to backfire,” wrote Mark Galeotti, an expert on Russian intelligence, last year in the Atlantic.The GRU, traditionally the most adventurous wing of Russian intelligence, now appears to be resurgent after costly mistakes in the 2008 Georgia war. Ukraine has been “the perfect showcase” for the GRU’s covert insurgency tactics, wrote Galeotti this month. He sees the GRU’s hand in the 2014 annexation of Crimea and shoot-down of a Malaysia Airlines jetliner; the 2016 intervention in U.S. politics; and the attempted assassination this March in Britain of Russian defector Sergei Skripal.
The Skripal poisoning illustrates Russia’s willingness to take risks and its lack of concern about getting caught. The Novichok nerve agent allegedly used could easily be traced to Russia.
An intriguing example of Russia’s new generation of spycraft is the case of Maria Butina, who was indicted by the Justice Department this month on charges that she plotted a covert influence campaign that partly targeted the National Rifle Association. The indictment alleges that she was run secretly by a Russian official who had served in parliament and the Central Bank, and was bankrolled by a second Russian who was a billionaire oligarch.
When Butina was photographed near the U.S. Capitol on Inauguration Day, her alleged Russian handler messaged approvingly, “You’re a daredevil girl,” according to court papers. Three months later, when Butina’s American contacts were outed in the media, her alleged handler wrote: “How are you faring there in the rays of the new fame? Are your admirers asking for your autographs yet?” This is not your grandfather’s KGB. Putin is running a multiplatform spy service for the Internet era — as quick, disposable and potentially devastating as a Snapchat image.

Who Leaked the Trump Tape?

Alan M. Dershowitz/Gatestone Institute/July 27/18
The reason this is important to all Americans, beyond the immediate parties to this taped conversation, is that it may well discourage clients, patients, penitents and others from confiding in their lawyers, doctors, priests and the professionals who promise them confidentiality.
Cohen promised confidentiality and yet the world heard what his client confided in him.
Obviously, people who are willing improperly to leak confidential material may also be willing to lie about it under oath, but the consequences of lying under oath are greater than leaking, since leaking is not a crime but perjury is.
Someone leaked the lawyer/client confidential tape containing a conversation between President Donald J. Trump and his lawyer Michael Cohen. A former judge, assigned by the presiding judge to evaluate the seized tapes, reportedly concluded that this conversation was privileged. Yet someone leaked their contents. The President Trump's current lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, then waived the privilege as to that tape. He said he never would have waived it had its existence and content not been improperly leaked.
So, the question remains: Who leaked this privileged material? If it was anyone in the Trump camp, there would be no violation of confidentiality, as the privilege belongs to the client, namely Trump, who can waive it. But no one else, most especially his lawyer, may properly waive the privilege. And Giuliani has categorically denied that it was leaked by Trump or anyone on his behalf. Indeed, he has expressed outrage at the leak.
Whom does that leave? Cohen is an obvious suspect, although I am confident that his excellent and experienced lawyer, Lanny Davis, would not have done so. Perhaps Cohen himself, who ran into Michael Avenatti at a restaurant, told him about the tape. We simply do not know.
It is unlikely that any judicial or prosecutorial authority is responsible for the leak, because they would have more to lose than to gain if they were caught.
The reason this is important to all Americans, beyond the immediate parties to this taped conversation, is that it may well discourage clients, patients, penitents and others from confiding in their lawyers, doctors, priests and the professionals who promise them confidentiality. Cohen promised confidentiality and yet the world heard what his client confided in him. We know he recorded the confidential conversation without the knowledge of his client. That is bad enough. Then it was deliberately leaked by someone who must have believed he or she would reap some benefit or advantage from having the public hear it.
We must find out who is the source of this damaging leak — damaging to all Americans who place their faith in the promise of confidentiality from the professionals in whom they confide.
It is an ethical violation, subject to serious sanctions including disbarment, for a lawyer to disclose, or cause to be disclosed, privileged conversations. And for good reason. The obligation of a lawyer not to disclose confidential information is codified in Rule 1.6 of the New York Bar. This broad rule prohibits, subject to exceptions not present in this case, any knowing disclosure of confidential information. That plainly covers the kind of conversation we have all now heard in the leaked tape: namely, the discussion between Trump and his attorney as to how to deal with a potential messy problem. We may not like the subject matter under discussion, but it is fully covered by the privilege, as the former Judge rightly found. That is why this leak is so difficult to fathom. The risks to the leaker are greater than any short-term benefit. But the fact remains that the leak occurred, and now it is imperative that the leaker be exposed and held to account.
This can be accomplished in several ways. Judge Kimba Wood, who is presiding over the matter, could hold a hearing in which the potential suspects are is placed under oath and asked the simple question whether they leaked the contents of the tape and/or whether they know who the leaker was. Obviously, people who are willing improperly to leak confidential material may also be willing to lie about it under oath, but the consequences of lying under oath are greater than leaking, as leaking is not a crime but perjury is.
Notwithstanding the importance of this issue, there seems to be little interest among the participants in determining who leaked the tape. There has been no call for an investigation. Perhaps this is because both sides think they benefited from the leak. I leave that to the public, and eventually the courts, to determine. What is clear is who was hurt by the leak: all Americans who rely on confidentiality – which means all of us – were hurt when the world was allowed to listen to a lawyer/client privileged conversation, that no one except the participants should ever have heard.
*Alan M. Dershowitz is the Felix Frankfurter Professor of Law Emeritus at Harvard Law School and author of "The Case Against Impeaching Trump", Skyhorse Publishing, 2018.
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The Intelligence Community Has Never Faced a Problem Quite Like This

David Ignatius/The Washington Post/July 27/18
The American intelligence community has never faced a problem quite like President Trump — a commander in chief who is suspected by a growing number of Republicans and Democrats of deferring to Russia’s views over the recommendations of his own intelligence agencies.
“There are almost two governments now,” worries John McLaughlin, a former acting CIA director. He discusses the Trump conundrum with the same vexation as a dozen other former intelligence officials I’ve spoken with since the president’s shockingly acquiescent performance onstage Monday with Russian President Vladimir Putin. How are current intelligence chiefs handling this unprecedented situation? They are operating carefully but correctly, trying to balance their obligations to the president with the oaths they have sworn to protect and defend the Constitution. The officials continue to serve the elected president, but they are also signaling that they work for the American people. Daniel Coats, the director of national intelligence, admirably rebuffed Trump on Monday, a few hours after the president seemed to accept Putin’s denial of meddling in the 2016 election. Coats gave the White House a heads-up, but he didn’t clear his statement. He believed it was essential to defend the intelligence community immediately.
FBI Director Christopher A. Wray made a similar show of independence here Wednesday at the Aspen Security Forum, saying the Russia investigation wasn’t a “witch hunt,” as Trump claims, and affirming, “Russia attempted to intervene with the last election, and . . . it continues to engage in malign influence operations to this day.”The brazen contempt that Putin has shown for the United States is an extraordinary feature of this ultimate spy story. In Helsinki, Putin publicly affirmed that he had supported Trump and evaded a question about whether he had compromising information on him; in their private meeting, he asked for Trump’s help in questioning a former US ambassador, Michael McFaul, with Trump promising he would study the matter.
Putin, the ex-KGB officer, has described himself as a specialist in dealing with people, according to Daniel Hoffman, a former CIA station chief in Moscow. Putin’s tradecraft, Hoffman says, is summarized in a phrase popular among Russian intelligence operatives: “What makes a person breathe?”
Putin seems to have an uncanny sense for how Trump breathes. That has led some observers to speculate that perhaps Trump is a controlled Russian agent. This seems unlikely to me, partly because the Russians would never allow a true mole to take such crazy risks of exposure. “He’s not a controlled agent, because if he was, they’d tell him how to behave so as not to endanger himself,” observes a former head of CIA operations against Russia.
No, Trump is something different, what Trump offers Russia isn’t the information he knows but his role as a human wrecking ball against America’s traditional allies and trading partners.
What will be different in the spy world in the aftermath of this jaw-dropping week? Probably not much. Intelligence agencies are resilient; they “get on with it,” as legendary CIA Director Richard Helms liked to say. The president remains the first customer, and most veterans of the spy world can’t imagine withholding information from him. Officials may be more cautious, briefing especially sensitive details first to the national security adviser, say, or cautioning the president that he doesn’t want to know how a piece of information was obtained.
What about the agents who are risking their lives in Moscow or Beijing to spy for America? Will they balk now? Again, probably not: Spies have deep reasons for working for America, positive and negative, and they know the risks they’re taking. Agents who have helped America because it represented something different from Putin’s authoritarianism may have second thoughts, however. That’s the hidden intelligence cost of Trump’s presidency: We’re a less admirable nation.
Will foreign spy services that share sensitive intelligence through what’s termed “liaison” reduce the flow? Once again, probably not. Their relationships with the CIA, FBI, NSA and other agencies go back so many decades that cooperation is almost hard-wired. If Trump continues to speak of the European Union as a “foe,” or to undermine British or German politicians he doesn’t like, that cooperation could eventually change. But our foreign partners need US intelligence, however much they dislike Trump.
“At the end of the day, our work is what endures,” Wray said here. His commitment to the law and the facts offered a moment to appreciate that Trump is checked, not by some imaginary “deep state,” but by patriotic men and women doing their jobs.

In Iran: The Past is a Different Country
Amir Taheri/Asharq Al Awsat/July 27/18
“The past is a different country; there they do things differently!” This is how English writer L. P. Hartley, in his novel “The Go Between”, comments on the ambiguity of our relations with a past that fascinates and confuses us. I was reminded of Hartley’s enigmatic phrase last week as I skimmed through a series of news stories indicating the discovery by the Khomeinist establishment in Tehran of Iran’s past. There was Islamic President Hassan Rouhani advising US President Donald Trump not to ignore Iran’s “7000-year old civilization” in stark contradiction to Ayatollah Khomeini’ claim that the whole of Iranian history before his seizure of power should be classified as “Jahiliyah” (Darkness). Then there were the so-called “reformist Khomeinists” who took US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to task for expressing support for what he saw as “the national uprising in Iran.” They invited Pompeo to remember Dr. Muhammad Mussadeq, the man who served as Prime Minister of Iran in the early 1950s and, so his supporters believe, was overthrown in a putsch backed by the United States. “Mussadeq was the hero of Iranian national uprising,” one Khomeinist apologist commented. He forgot that according to the propaganda of the regime he has served for almost four decades Mussadeq was “a traitor and enemy of Islam” and that he had become a non-person in the Islamic Republic. You may also remember the recent brouhaha made about the discovery of mortal remains reportedly belonging to a mummy of Reza Shah the Great. According to the governor of Rey, the place where the remains were discovered, the mummy was quickly reburied “with full respect” on orders from “Supreme Guide” Ali Khamenei. What a contrast with the campaign by Ayatollah Sadeq Giwi (alias Khalkhali), one of Khomeini’s key associates, to have the Pahlavi king’s mummy burned in public. And what about this surprising comment by Islamic Environment Minister Ibrahim Kalantari that “for over 7000 years Iranians knew how to manage their natural resources”, an art that has disappeared during the four decades of Khomeinist rule, threatening Iran with “total destruction”?
Nostalgia for the past doesn’t stop there.
Tehran’s government-controlled media are full of stories about ancient relics, old buildings and historic sites that recall Iran’s glories over millennia. Even hoses that once belonged to the grandees of the ancien regime, and the Qajar dynasty before that, are featured admiringly amid calls for them to be classified as national treasures and preserved. Again, what a contrast with the heady days of four decades ago when Khomeini and his cohorts fanned the fires of rage and called for destruction of whatever reminded Iranians of the past. Nostalgia for the good old days that had initially been branded “the bad old days” is not limited to historic events and figures or relics and buildings. Scavenging in the past the Khomeinist clique is also beginning to discover other “goodies”. Last May the Islamic Deputy Foreign Minister Jaberi Ansari astounded European Union officials when, in a visit to Brussels, he suggested that an association accord signed between the Shah’s regime and the then European Economic Community in 1975 be revived restoring to Iran a series of privileges that the Islamic Republic today couldn’t even dream of. Under the agreement signed by the then Iranian Economy Minister Hushang Ansary and the Common Market’s Commissar for Foreign Trade Lord Tugendhat, Iran was given tariff-free access to its agricultural and manufactured goods and granted special facilities for raising capital on European markets.
That is not all. Facing almost total diplomatic isolation, the Khomeinist clique have also revived the idea of a regional cooperation framework that could include Iran, Turkey and Pakistan on the lines of the regional Cooperation for Development (RCD) outfit that Iran created under the Shah.
The Islamic Chief of Staff Gen. Muhammad Baqeri is also chasing another elusive gazelle from the past: a system of military cooperation with Turkey and Pakistan. Such a gazelle existed under the Shah and was called the Central Treaty Organization (CENTO). It also included Great Britain as full member and the United States as associate member. (The US didn’t become a full member because Iran did not accept the NATO-like arrangement under which, in case of war, troops of all member states would be under US command. Iranian law prohibited putting Iranian troops under foreign command; a reason cited by the Shah for refusing to send troops to the wars in Korea and then Vietnam while Turkey did take part under US command.)
Islamic Foreign Minister Muhammad-Jawad Zarif, too, has rediscovered an enticing piece of the past in the form of two cooperation accords signed between Iran and the United States in the1950s to give a legal framework to American humanitarian aid to Iran, mostly in the form of mass vaccination and the building of schools and clinics under President Truman’s CARE and Point IV scheme which continued until 1964 when Iran announced it no longer accepted foreign aid. Zarf’s argument is that those accords contradict Trump’s threatened decision to impose new sanctions on the Islamic Republic. The Khomeinist clique has also discovered that before the mullahs seized power Iran had visa-free travel agreements with 34 countries, including virtually all present-day members of the European Union. Today, however, the reaction of all those countries to Zarif’s demand to restore the agreement is stark: It was then, and this is now! Another discovery by the Khomeinist clique concerns the 1972 accord with Afghanistan regarding the sharing of waters from four border rivers: Hirmand, Parian, Harirud and Farah. Having denounced the accord as a betrayal of Islam, the Khomeinist clique is now demanding Kabul to implement it to save large chunks of Iran from economic death due to shortage of water.
At the opposite side of the country, the clique has rediscovered the 1975 Algiers accord with Iraq under which the two neighbors share sovereignty over the border estuary Shatt al-Arab. Last Tuesday President Hassan Rouhani threatened to shut the Shatt al-Arab, presumably to prevent Iraq from exporting oil if and when Trump tries to impose an oil export ban on Iran. What Rouhani didn’t know is that Iraq isn’t exporting oil through the Shatt al-Arab and that Iran’s refusal to implement the Algiers Accord has prevented the dredging operations needed to reopen the estuary and reactivate the Iraqi port of Basra and tis Iranian sister-port of Khorramshahr. Khomeini, and his successors, branded all accords that Iran signed under the Shah as “a Zionist conspiracy against Islam.” Now they are trying to eat humble pie in the hope of regaining some of the privileges Iran lost when they seized power.
However, in Iran today, as in Hartley’s novel, the past remains a different country where people do things differently.

A Natural End to the ‘Two-States’ Illusion

Eyad Abu Shakra/Asharq Al Awsat/July 27/18
One has to say that the Israeli knesset’s passing of the new ‘Nationality Law’ defining Israel as a ‘Jewish state’, thus, turning the Arab minority into ‘second class citizens’, has been expected.
All signs, whether local, regional or global, have without exception been pointing in that direction. Even the well-chosen diplomatic jargon that appeared in the ‘Balfour Declaration’, albeit proved eventually meaningless, today appears nothing but quite a bad joke. 122 years after Theodore Herzl’s ‘dream’, the fulfilled dream looks something totally different! The long suffering people dispersed throughout the world is suffering no more. Its former ‘diaspora’ is now more applicable to another people, whom Mr Balfour remembered its ‘interests’ in polite but yet worthless words when he said: “His Majesty's government view with favour the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people, and will use their best endeavours to facilitate the achievement of this object, it being clearly understood that nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine, or the rights and political status enjoyed by Jews in any other country”.
The period of the British Mandate, which witnessed several developments from the promulgation of ‘Land Laws’ of 1921 to the acceleration of Jewish immigration and crushing the ‘1936 Palestinian Uprising’, prepared the ground for the powerful and arrogant Israel we know today.
The ‘grand plan’ was clear then, becoming clearer in the following decade; however, the Arabs – including the Palestinians – were neither willing to comprehend its nature nor the capabilities of those behind it. Thus, due to a combination of misunderstandings, absurd gambles, suicidal divisions, and relying on the unworthy, vast lands were lost as a result of accumulating defeats, and the number of settlers increased and so did the element of extremism in their ranks.
The early settlers, who included many farmers, trades unionists and romantics, had left homelands where they were persecuted and maltreated, settling in agricultural communes and collective farms many of which were bought by The Jewish Agency and other Zionist organizations and personalities that benefitted from the Mandate’s Land Laws.
It is true that there was local Palestinian bitterness behind the ‘1936 Uprising’, partly fuelled by accelerated immigration and land purchases many of which were made possible by legislations that restricted the ability of absentee landlords to exploit their lands. However, these restrictions which were driving these absentee landlords (many of whom lived in Damascus and Beirut) to sell were quite modest compared to what happened later; particularly, after the ‘birth’ of the State of Israel, and its eventual development into a strong nuclear power.
Many notables from Damascus, Beirut and other Levantine cities who had owned many valuable lands across Palestine during Ottoman rule, felt obliged to sell their properties and estates; and naturally, the Jewish Agency, the Rothschild family and other Zionist entities were ready to buy. This was not actually far from what took place following the collapse of the USSR; when upon privatizing the Soviet state’s assets, those ready to pounce with enough cash, and a lot of zeal to liquidate or divest, were Western financial trusts which began to buy those privatized assets, either directly or through local ‘middlemen/frontmen’ who suddenly became among the world’s richest people.
But, as time passed, the ‘generation’ of the Israeli – Arab wars became gradually hateful towards a ‘sea’ of frustrated Arabs that threatened it nationalistically and demographically. This hatred further increased after the emergence of Palestinian armed resistance groups following the June 1967 Arab defeat. The Israeli wars’ ‘generation’ became less trustful of coexistence and ‘Leftist idealism’, and this has been exactly the case across the barbed wire divide, as the Palestinian and Arab Left was steadily losing support.
With the retreat of Leftist discourse on both Israeli and Arab camps the exclusionist ‘religious alternative’ established itself. Israeli voters ran in droves to their generals, and settlers’ groups became ever more extremist, greedy and militant. On the Palestinian side, after the demise of the idea of ‘people's'’ wars of liberation’, the collapse of Palestinian Leftist organization with enough clout and credibility to talk to their Israeli peers, the Israeli invasion of Lebanon in 1982, and the disintegration of Soviet Communism, a new ‘resistance movement’ appeared raising Islamist banners and benefitting from regional Islamist powers beginning with Iran and ending up with Turkey.
The ‘rules of the game’ were no longer ‘Arab’. Even the Syrian regime, falsely espousing ‘Arabist’ mottos it never believed, embarked on widening the Palestinian rifts, once under the slogans of ‘steadfastness and confrontation’ (against Israel), another as an incubator for Islamist groups it has exploited in order to weaken the Palestinian leadership, outbid it, and deprive it of the ever decreasing chance of an acceptable peace deal.
In the meantime, the international climate too was moving closer to the position of Israel ‘hawks’. As the Likud - backed by its extreme right wing allies - became the natural party of government at the expense the old Labour parties and organizations which pioneered the build of the State, America’s victory in the Cold War relieved it of its fake neutralism in sponsoring the Israeli – Palestinian peace process. After claiming for a long time in the past that it was committed to “a balance of power in the Middle East” it now openly talks of “insuring the continuation of Israeli superiority”.
Thus, officially declaring the ‘Jewishness’ of the State, comes as a natural result of the victories scored by right wing, racist and neo-fascist forces everywhere. In fact, how could a state that was founded under religious pretexts and aspiration not became a fully ‘religious state’ if greater and older major state in Europe, as well as the USA, are no longer ashamed of espousing religious of racist policies?!
Why should we find it strange if a small country, whose psyche and social culture have been shaped by historical fear, fight for survival, and exclusive identification seeks to adopt discriminatory measures against others … when major powers are doing the same?!

Suspension of Bab al-Mandeb Oil Shipments May Be a Good Thing
Salman Al-dossary/Asharq Al Awsat/July 27/18
The development that no one wanted has finally transpired with Saudi Arabia suspending its oil shipments in the Bab al-Mandeb Strait in wake of two of its giant tankers, which were carrying 4 million barrels of oil, coming under attack by the Houthi militia on Wednesday night. Reuters meanwhile, reported a Kuwaiti official as saying that his country may follow in Riyadh’s footsteps and also stop shipments in the 18-mile wide strait, one of the world’s busiest. The Houthis’ ongoing terrorist attacks against ships in the area may lead to the strait’s complete closure, meaning petroleum tankers from Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates and Iraq may be forced to change their routes and sail from the southern-most tip of Africa. This will consequently lead to longer transportation times and greater costs. More serious though, is that the world will then be unable to confront the repercussions of this closure.
According to the US Energy Information Administration, some 4.8 million barrels of crude oil and oil derivatives pass through Bab al-Mandeb every day. Experts predict that oil prices will be affected by the increase in marine transportation costs and the use of strategic reserves, which will cost between 1 and 3 dollars per barrel.
Most importantly, the suspension of global oil supplies is very dangerous for the world economy. Saudi Arabia had previously warned of this and said that successive attacks on tankers pose a dangerous threat on the freedom of navigation and global trade in the Mandeb Strait and Red Sea. Additionally, the ongoing use of Yemen’s Hodeidah port as a launchpad for terrorist attacks and rocket and arms smuggling remains the greatest problem in securing supply routes in the strait. Securing freedom of navigation in Bab al-Mandeb and finding a secure route for transporting crude oil, which is important for oil derivatives to reach Europe and the global markets, is the responsibility of all countries that benefit from navigation in the strait. This responsibility is not limited to Saudi Arabia and members of the Arab coalition alone. If the world were concerned about the possibility of Iran obstructing oil shipments through the Arab Gulf and Hormuz Strait, then it should realize that Tehran has been doing so for three years in Bab al-Mandeb. This is evidence that the danger of Iran’s backing of the Houthi militia is affecting the entire world, not just the countries of the region that are playing their part in confronting Tehran’s destabilizing actions.
The Houthis, together with the Iranians, have for the past three years been violating international law, and yet, no one in the international community - while not disregarding the major role played by the American administration of President Donald Trump - dealt with them seriously. It is impossible not to distinguish between a tanker, carrying two million barrels of oil, and a warship. This was confirmed by Qassem Soleimani, commander of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards’ Quds Force, on Thursday when he said that the “Red Sea was no longer safe.”
This is where Saudi Arabia’s decision to suspend oil shipments through Bab al-Mandeb could be a good thing. It could serve as a warning to the international community of the Houthi-Iranian alliance that is harming the world economy. Perhaps the suspension may pave the way for reaching a decisive decision to form an international coalition to stop this threat on international navigation.

Dignity for the Palestinians
Denis MacEoin/Gatestone Institute/July 27/18
Given that all Palestinian leaderships have called for a Palestinian state that will encompass and obliterate the state of Israel, it is not surprising that they cannot bear to accept any proposal that will give them only one small state (or two small states) in the territory allotted to them by the United Nations in 1947.
Re-imposition of Islamic waqf law will not restore Spain, Portugal, Sicily, India, Greece and all the other states of the abandoned caliphal empires to Muslim rule, and it is futile to think that is nothing more than a fantasy.
A recent US report revealed that there are, it seems, actually no more than 20,000 Palestinian refugees in the world.
In the end, it is so-called pro-Palestinian activists such as Robert Fisk or writers for papers such as The Independent, The Guardian, or the New York Times who do their utmost to persuade the world to favour Palestinian intransigence over offers of upgrading lives and international law.
Anyone who cares for Israel, who aspires to peace, who has a good understanding of the historical, ethical, political, and legal facts that underpin the right of the Jewish people to a state of which they are the indigenous people, will be familiar with the name of Robert Fisk. But not in a good way.
For decades, Fisk has been one of the most unrelenting of Israel's many haters and one of the most uncritical supporters of the rights of the Palestinians and their unending calls and actions aimed at the total destruction of Israel and the expulsion or massacre of the Jewish people living there.[1]
Fisk is a clever man. He took his PhD in 1983 from Trinity College, Dublin, an ancient and respected university. Although his doctorate was in political science on a topic related to Ireland and Britain, he has worked as the Middle East correspondent for the Times (1976-1988) and, since 1989, for the left-wing daily, The Independent.
Over the years, he has reported on many wars in many countries and has written and co-authored many books about them, all of them about their conflicts.[2]
Given his Jack-of-all trades character, it is not surprising that Fisk does not always get his facts straight, and for this he has often been criticized by people with deeper knowledge, as here or here: He is opinionated, often in an extreme way, functioning more as an activist than a reporter. According to UKMediaWatch:
Among other words we could use to describe Robert Fisk, he's clearly a curmudgeon, one who views the West's foreign policy towards the Middle East as a "cynical charade" without ever offering readers any insight into how a more noble, principled stance would take form. Though he's the Independent's Middle East 'analyst', he's more of a professional cynic than a learned student of the region. Moreover, though he feigns neutrality in his scathing attacks on political hypocrisy, his body of work clearly suggests that he sees some targets as more deserving of opprobrium than others.
Over the years, his chief target has been Israel. Wars and terrorism have never really stopped there. For Israel-bashers, there never cease to be opportunities for scathing attacks -- witness the recent condemnations of Israeli defence measures on the Gaza border, some by Fisk himself.
Fisk's obsession with Israel presents a threat to Jews elsewhere, as is well explained here by Britain's Community Security Trust, the country's leading body in charge of Jewish security:
Writing in the Independent, Robert Fisk gives a startling example of anti-Israel obsession, expressed in words that are about Jews, not Israelis. In doing so, he illustrates how far Israel's most trenchant critics will go in order to focus scrutiny and disgust upon it, rather than other targets: in this case, the extremes of Jihadi terrorism. Given the links between anti-Israel agitation and antisemitic attack levels, this rhetorical trend / temptation brings obvious risks for Jews.
Nothing seems to irritate Fisk more than attempts to bring about peace between Israel and the Palestinians, since no matter what is proposed it can never satisfy Palestinian demands. As is well known, since 2017 the United States administration has been working on a peace plan, under the supervision of Jared Kushner. The full details of the plan have not yet been revealed, but it has already come in for criticism. It need hardly be said that any peace plan for Israel and the Palestinians anyone has ever advanced has come in for criticism, not least unremittingly from the Palestinians and their supporters. Given that all Palestinian leaderships have called for a Palestinian state that will encompass and obliterate the state of Israel, it is not surprising that they cannot bear to accept any proposal that will give them only one small state (or two small states) in the territory allotted to them by the United Nations in 1947.
Not surprisingly, Fisk was one of the first to condemn what was already known of the plan, but for all the wrong reasons. He focuses on the offer that the US, assisted by Israel, Saudi Arabia and perhaps others will underwrite a major financial input into the Palestinian economy, thereby easing the lives of millions and enabling the creation of a prosperous Palestinian state. Writing on June 28, Fisk arrogantly claimed that the deal "would strip the [Palestinian] people of all their dignity." His article begins thus:
Is there no humiliation left for the Palestinians? After Oslo, after the "two state solution", after the years of Israeli occupation – of "Area A" and "Area C" to define which kind of occupation the Palestinians must live under – after the vast Jewish colonisation of land thieved from its Arab owners, after the mass killings of Gaza, and Trump's decision that Jerusalem, all of Jerusalem, must be the capital of Israel, are the Palestinians going to be asked to settle for cash and a miserable village? Is there no shame left?
He continues in the same vein for almost three pages.
"How can he [Kushner] humiliate an entire Arab people by suggesting that their freedom, sovereignty, independence, dignity, justice and nationhood are merely 'politicians' talking points'? Is there no end to this insanity?"
Insanity? To help put an end to a conflict of more than 70 years, one that has taken countless lives, including those of Palestinians, to bypass the greedy and intolerant Palestinian leadership by offering the Palestinian people a path to prosperity, peace, and lives they cannot today imagine for themselves? A peaceful resolution that could mean that the religious and nationalist fanatics who have ruled the Palestinian territories for so long may be pushed from illegitimate office and be replaced by a democratic system?
Peace and prosperity, however, evidently mean little to Fisk and his ilk. There is, for him, something much deeper here. It is, essentially, the long-established belief, here endorsed strongly by Fisk, that the Palestinians are victims -- and, not only that, the most important victims of the entire world -- forcibly victimized by Western imperialism. This imperialism, according to him, made the former land of "Palestine" [in reality under the mandate of the British: everyone born there from 1920-1948 -- Jews, Christians and Arabs -- had Palestine stamped on his passport] supposedly a colony, built by the Jewish people after the Second World War, a view that totally disregards more than 3,000 years of both history and archeology. His view is, of course, by now a dogma that has become the basis for what is, for some inexplicable reason, the core campaigning issue for left-wing would-be revolutionaries across the globe, above all in Europe and North America. From that warped perspective, to offer the Palestinians a state (or two states) and to make their lives far better than anything they or their ancestors have ever known is to humiliate them.
There is no room to elaborate fully on what this means here, but some facts and views need to be aired. No one in history has humiliated the Palestinians more than the Palestinian leadership and its many acolytes, or the thousands of Palestinian men, women and youths who have gone out to commit suicide-bombings and a vast range of other attacks on innocent Jewish Israelis. The Israelis have spent more than 70 years fighting for their survival from the wars and terrorist attacks of the Palestinians and several Arab states. Tragically, it has for decades been a source of pride for Palestinians to say they have spent that long trying to destroy a state long yearned-for and established mere years since the Jewish Holocaust, even if that now means the slaughter of another six million and more.
The suicide bombings and other assaults that lead to Palestinian deaths demonstrate a society that values a corrosive status of martyrdom above the lives of children and young people who might have gone on to the true heroism of building a nation, as so many Holocaust survivors did when taming the land of Israel to create the powerhouse that it is today. What possible honour has there ever been for brainwashed youngsters blowing themselves to pieces in cafés or cutting the throats of babies? And why are these willing "martyrs" celebrated as rock stars, football heroes, models to be emulated by children, honorary exemplars of what it means to be Arab or Muslim?
Underlying this prioritization of sacrifice, even of one's own children is an Islamic concept embraced by all Muslim terrorist movements, including Hamas, that "we love death more than you love life". In a recent Friday sermon in Chicago, Dr. Ashraf Musairat denounced adherence to non-Islamic norms, saying it was humiliating to do so and insisting that:
"All this is happening because of our distance from the religion of Allah, and because we love this world more than we love Allah and Islam, because we love our children more than we love making sacrifices for the sake of Allah, and because we love our spouses more than we love making sacrifices for the sake of Allah and Islam."
Is this the sort of humiliation Robert Fisk says is being imposed on Palestinians?
Perhaps Robert Fisk can explain what honour accrued to Palestinians when, after being given one of the most generous peace offers in history, and after having all but guaranteed for himself the highest honour in the eyes of the world, Yasir Arafat walked away from the Camp David negotiations in 2000 and soon after started the second intifada that took so many lives on both sides? As President Bill Clinton later put it: "Arafat's rejection of my proposal after Barak accepted it was an error of historic proportions." Israel has made highly successful peace treaties with Egypt and Jordan. Would Fisk say that either the Egyptians or the Jordanians were humiliated by this? Quite the opposite, surely: President Anwar Sadat and King Hussein acquired the status of peacemakers. Anwar Sadat won the Nobel Peace Prize alongside his Israeli counterpart, Menachem Begin. King Hussein was admired for his long-term willingness to meet with Israeli officials on what was a long but dignified road to peace.
Israel has made many generous offers of peace and mutual assistance over the years, and has repeatedly offered to give up physical territory for airy promises of peace: by handing back Sinai to the Egyptians in 1979 or fully (and painfully) pulling out of Gaza in 2005. Agreements have been reached and offers made in 1949, 1979, 1994, 1998, 2000, 2000 again (re the Golan Heights), 2008, 2009, 2010, and to the present day.[3]
But the Palestinians -- including the current Palestinian Authority leaders of the Fatah in the West Bank and the intractable Hamas fundamentalist regime in Gaza -- have never let themselves be inspired by the Egyptian and Jordanian examples even to contemplate peace or collaboration to bring the Palestinian people to a better life. Next February, Israel will become the fourth country in the world to land a spacecraft on the moon. Meanwhile, Gazans persist in sending flaming kites -- some bearing swastikas -- across the border, causing severe damage to Israeli farmland and nature reserves. Does that bring honour to Hamas or its subjects? In their own eyes, undoubtedly; but for the rest of the non-Fisk world? Swastikas are not badges of honour, quite the opposite for the vast majority of people. Destroying the environment does not contribute in the smallest measure to making Gaza a better place in which to bring up children.
Palestinians and their supporters in the West often take to the streets chanting "From the River to the Sea, Palestine will be free". The river is the Jordan; the sea, the Mediterranean. The territory in between comprises Gaza, the West Bank (of the Jordan River), and the entire state of Israel. Since the Palestinians have claimed that, although they have no prejudice against Jews, they will not tolerate Jews currently living in settlements on the West Bank (Judaea and Samaria), and that they will never agree to live alongside Israel as a Jewish state, we must ask on earth it will ever be possible to envisage a Palestinian state at all.
At the heart of this dilemma lies a so-far unbridgeable breach between how Palestinians and their supporters and Israelis and their supporters view Israel and its surrounding territories, including the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan. For the Palestinians, all Muslim states, and their Muslim supporters worldwide, the refusal to compromise rests on a basic assumption in Islamic shari'a law -- the principle that any territory, once ruled as an Islamic state, must never be allowed to pass out of Muslim hands. This is because such territory is considered a waqf, a term applied to any property or stretch of land dedicated as a religious trust in perpetuity. The principle behind this is set out clearly in Article 11 of the 1988 Covenant of Hamas:
The Islamic Resistance Movement believes that the land of Palestine is an Islamic Waqf consecrated for future Moslem generations until Judgement Day. It, or any part of it, should not be squandered: it, or any part of it, should not be given up. Neither a single Arab country nor all Arab countries, neither any king or president, nor all the kings and presidents, neither any organization nor all of them, be they Palestinian or Arab, possess the right to do that. Palestine is an Islamic Waqf land consecrated for Moslem generations until Judgement Day. This being so, who could claim to have the right to represent Moslem generations till Judgement Day?
This is the law governing the land of Palestine in the Islamic Sharia (law) and the same goes for any land the Moslems have conquered by force, because during the times of (Islamic) conquests, the Moslems consecrated these lands to Moslem generations till the Day of Judgement.
The meaning of this for Hamas is set out well by Dr. Samantha May of Aberdeen University in this article. It
"proposes that Hamas' understanding of waqf as both God's land in perpetuity and the territorial justification for an independent Palestinian state challenged Western assumptions of national territory and the monopoly of legitimate violence."
However, whether we date the modern international ordering of states, borders, treaties and the apportionment of territories from the 1648 Treaty of Westphalia that ended the Thirty-Years War, or the end of World War I in 1918, or the end of World War II in 1945 and the establishment of the United Nations in the same year, the fact is that international affairs are now deemed to be conducted and negotiated, not on the basis of any one religious law, but through the principles laid down in hundreds of documents, major legislation and international law.
Israel was brought into being on the basis of international law, first as a mandate territory through the League of Nations, then the United Nations in 1947. So was modern Syria. Likewise, Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq, Pakistan, Bangladesh, and many other Muslim and Arab states, as well as states in the Balkans and elsewhere. Tear away the fabric of international law and the treaties, conventions, and resolutions that knit it together, and any one of these could collapse through cross-national conflict. The Palestinian Arabs were offered a state in 1947, along with Israel. If they expect to have a state or states now, they can only do so on that basis. Re-imposition of Islamic waqf law will not restore Spain, Portugal, Sicily, India, Greece and all the other states of the abandoned caliphal empires to Muslim rule, and it is futile to think that is anything more than a fantasy.
Trapped by allegiance to a thoroughly outdated and discredited system of international law, unwilling to exchange fantasy for realism, the Palestinians have tried everything except for what might actually make them free and prosperous: true peace with Israel. As Bassam Tawil puts it:
By insisting on all Palestinian "national rights," including the "right of return," and by refusing to recognize Israel as the homeland of the Jewish people, the Palestinians are in fact signalling that their true goal is to see Israel removed from the Middle East. How do we know that they want to destroy Israel? Abbas says he sees Israel as a "colonialist project that has nothing to do with Judaism."
Fisk makes much of this "right of return": "Right of Return. Forget it," he says in his article. But that is yet another fantasy. The European Court of Human Rights has just ruled that there is no such right (in the legal sense of a human right). Given that the overwhelming majority of people currently identifying themselves as Palestinian "refugees" have never set foot in the territory that became Israel.
A recent US report revealed that there are, it seems, only about 20,000 Palestinian refugees in the world.
Furthermore, it is precisely the insistence that Palestinian refugees from 1948 and generations of their descendants constitute a special category of refugee with their own refugee organization (UNWRA) that has served to perpetuate refugee status and to condemn these "refugees" to live in the humiliating conditions of refugee camps. If anyone has humiliated these people, it has not been Israel (where there are no such camps and Arabs are full and free citizens) but the host countries such as Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Gaza and the West Bank, whose rulers impose restrictions that condemn these "refugees" to endless dependence on international aid, unable to build real lives through their own endeavours.
It is highly unlikely that Jared Kushner or President Trump will achieve what so many great statesmen have floundered at. The Palestinian leaders will resist to the bitter end and the last Palestinian standing. Even with Saudi Arabia's crown prince urging Mahmoud Abbas to work for peace in line with US and Israeli proposals, nothing will satisfy the Palestinian craving for either destroying Israel or abject victimhood.
In the end, it is so-called pro-Palestinian activists such as Robert Fisk or writers for papers such as The Independent, The Guardian, or the New York Times who do their utmost to persuade the world to favour Palestinian intransigence over offers of upgrading lives and international law. And this view itself is promoted by the belief that the West is to blame for just about everything wrong, and that non-Western people must never be asked to take responsibility for their actions or indeed just about anything.
Dr. Denis MacEoin has studied, lectured on, and written extensively about the Middle East for some forty-six years. He is a Distinguished Senior Fellow at the Gatestone Institute.
[1] For an extensive archive of Palestinian media, religious, and political anti-Israel propaganda, see Palestinian Media Watch here.
[2] Eg: Pity the Nation: Lebanon at War on the civil war; Syria: Descent into the Abyss; The Age of the Warrior; The Arab Spring Then and Now: From Hope to Despair; Robert Fisk on Afghanistan: Osama Bin Laden; Robert Fisk on Israel: the Obama Years; Robert Fisk on Algeria; Robert Fisk on Egypt; The world of Robert Fisk: Volume 1: 1989-1998 from Beirut to Bosnia, Volume 2: 1999-2008 from Kosovo to Baghdad; The Great War for Civilisation: The Conquest of the Middle East; Islamic Extremism: Middle East in Crisis. He has also written articles on the Soviet and international wars in Afghanistan, the Iran-Iraq war, the ongoing Palestinian-Israeli conflicts, the Gulf War, the Kosovo war, the war in Bosnia, and the 2003 invasion of Iraq. These regions speak very different languages – Pashto and Dari/Farsi in Afghanistan, Arabic in very different dialectical forms in Algeria, Lebanon, and Iraq, Albanian and Serbian in Kosovo, Hebrew in Israel, and Persian (Farsi) in Iran. He may have learned some Lebanese Arabic during his years in Beirut, but linguistic limitations have surely restricted the expertise he might have in any one region. Despite this, he has published, not only articles but entire books on more than one area: Lebanon; Syria; Ireland; Northern Ireland; the Arab Spring in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, Bahrain, Yemen and Syria; Afghanistan; Algeria and Algeria again; Egypt; the Middle East as a whole; and all the places from which he has reported.
[3] For full details of these offers, see Denis MacEoin, Dear Gary, Why You're Wrong about Israel: A Letter to an Anti-Israel Activist, London, 2012, pp. 38-45.
© 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.

Analysis/The Pitfalls and Perils of the Trump-Putin-Netanyahu Triad
كامي شليف من الهآررتس: مخاطر وانزلاقات الثلاثي ترامي-بوتين-نتانياهو

Chemi Shalev/Haaretz/July 27/18
The prime minister has achieved unprecedented global prominence but may have forgotten that the higher they climb, the harder they may fall
Benjamin Netanyahu has run into a rough patch. The north is on fire, Gaza is seething, police investigations continue unabated, the nation-state law is exploding in his face, tens of thousands gathered to protest in Tel Aviv’s Rabin Square and the polls – after spiking – are now in a tailspin. Small wonder that the lust for early elections in 2018 has been replaced by a yearning for later elections in 2019.
But the dark days of Netanyahu on the domestic scene stand in stark contrast to the aura that surrounds him in superpower diplomacy. He has become the indispensable go-between in the problematic relations between the Kremlin and the White House. He is the only world leader praised by both Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin. He negotiates with Putin as an equal and he sways, and possibly directs, Trump. There has never been an Israeli prime minister with such global influence.
Netanyahu fostered his ties with Putin when Barack Obama was president, but Trump’s election launched a quantum leap. Unlike Obama, Trump praises Netanyahu incessantly and basks in his good relations with the Israeli leader. Netanyahu, for his part, has long forgotten his Obama-era insults and tantrums and has emerged as general advocate, secret adviser, cheerleader-in-chief and, often, fig leaf for the U.S. president. When the whole world was recoiling from the Helsinki summit, Netanyahu praised it. When America was reeling this week from Trump’s tweet threatening Iran with virtual extinction, Netanyahu lauded the president’s “tough position.”
And the ground on which Netanyahu is building his new-found eminence is Syria. Russia seeks to take control of Syria and to stabilize Bashar Assad’s rule, but fears a conflagration between Iran and Israel that could upset its plans. In other days, the Kremlin would have negotiated with the U.S. administration on the assumption that each side is bringing its clients to the table. But in the era of Trump, the Kremlin is talking to the Israeli prime minister on the assumption that he can seal the deal with his client Trump.
The void is compounded by the fact that Trump doesn’t seem to give a fig about Syria. If Obama opened the door for the Russians, Trump is willing to hand over the keys and deeds as well. His primary concern is withdrawing the two thousand American troops currently stationed in the country’s northeast. His eagerness is so pronounced that U.S. officials worry that their president is squandering strong leverage on Putin, who wants to see the Americans gone.
In essence, Trump has delegated authority to Netanyahu to negotiate with Putin in his stead. "Close the deal," he’s telling the leaders of Russia and Israel, "and I’ll sign it." On the eve of the Helsinki summit, Netanyahu and Putin agreed on some of the main principles of a new Syria deal, and Netanyahu called Trump to brief him – or explain to him – what it’s all about. In doing so, Netanyahu gave Trump and Putin something positive to showcase in Helsinki. In return, he secured a public commitment by Putin to safeguard Israel’s security, and another round of fulsome praise from Trump.
Perhaps this was the background to Trump’s tweeted warning to Iran that it would face “CONSEQUENCES THE LIKES OF WHICH FEW THROUGHOUT HISTORY HAVE EVER SUFFERED BEFORE.” Ironically, the dire U.S. warning against its greatest enemy was greeted in Israel with yawns, either because such threats against Iran seem natural or because Israelis have learned not to take Trump’s tweets too seriously. U.S. media, on the other hand, went into DEFCON 1 mode. Trump has lost control, analysts surmised. He will attack Iran in order to divert attention away from Robert Mueller’s Russia probe, Michael Cohen’s tapes or the $12 billion dollar payout to farmers hit by his tariffs. Things went back to normal 48 hours later, however, after Trump reversed course and offered the Iranians a new deal to replace the one he ditched three months ago. This time, however, Netanyahu kept silent.
But perhaps, for a change, Trump should be given the benefit of the doubt. Maybe his apocalyptic tweet wasn’t the usual discharge from America’s favorite midnight rambler, but a coordinated move synchronized with the Israeli-Russian talks on Iran. It may have been a shot across the bow meant to warn Tehran to cooperate with the emerging deal. In such a scenario, Trump is the big stick that Putin and Netanyahu wave at their convenience in order to keep the Iranians in line.
The curious fact is that the Kremlin did not react to the fire and brimstone tweet, even though Iran is considered a semi-client state of Russia. Moscow did not stand up for its loyal ally in the fight against the Syrian rebels. Vera Michlin-Shapir, a researcher at the Institute for National Security Studies, says the Russians took a step back. They refrained from sparking unnecessary tension in their delicate relationship with Trump at a time when they need his cooperation. The fact is that the Russians no longer claim that Iran's ejection from Syria is “unrealistic.” But Russia’s reticence can be taken one step further than the cautious Michlin-Shapir would allow: Perhaps they initiated the warning, and welcomed it.
Netanyahu’s immediate aim is to distance Iran from Israel’s northern border, to work out security arrangements with Bashar Assad’s army – which will soon take up positions it held before the civil war – and to ensure the Israeli Air Force’s freedom of action to prevent transfers of arms to Hezbollah. A senior source told Israeli reporters this week that the Russians are offering to set up a 100-kilometer security zone void of Iranian presence, but Israel is still pushing for a complete ouster of Iran from Syria and severe restrictions on its activities north of the proposed zone, at the very least. Netanyahu is well aware of widespread skepticism about Putin’s ability to expel pro-Iranian Shi'ite militias from the designated security zone or to confront Iranian units to the north. U.S. Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats said last week that it’s doubtful whether Russia has the will or capability to do so. This is where the U.S. supposedly enters the picture: Either Iran will be compelled to withdraw within the framework of a larger settlement, or, if an overall conflict breaks out between the two countries, the problem will pale in significance.
With Putin, however, there is no such thing as a free lunch. He hasn’t turned into a Zionist overnight. He isn’t riveted by Netanyahu’s hazel-green eyes and isn’t mesmerized by his eloquence either. Netanyahu’s appeal isn’t limited to being a partner to Putin’s wish to stabilize Syria. According to a report in the New Yorker, which has yet to be denied, Netanyahu and his Washington Ambassador, Ron Dermer, are proposing – and may still be pushing – a “grand bargain” of Syria for Ukraine in which Trump would press to ease sanctions imposed on Russia for its invasion of East Ukraine in exchange for a Syria deal. Michlin-Shapir says that even if such a specific “grand bargain” does not exist, there should be no doubt that Putin wants to tie Syria to an overall dialogue with Washington over other points of friction between the two countries.
In his current situation, however, when any gesture to Putin will inevitably be seen as a payoff, Trump will be hard pressed to persuade Congress or public opinion to support any kind of deal with Putin – in Syria, Ukraine or anywhere else. Trump discovered this week that he couldn’t even invite Putin to his own White House, and Netanyahu will have to carry much of the burden. He will be Trump’s salesman. He will tell Congress that the little deal in Syria, or the grander bargain that includes Ukraine, are good for Israel and good for the United States. Putin, who has a lot of arguably anti-Semitic respect for the influence that Netanyahu, in particular, and the Jews, in general, have on America, is relying on the Israeli prime minister.
It is no coincidence that Trump revealed Putin is “a fan” of Netanyahu’s or that he presented the two leaders’ agreement on Syria as the main achievement of their talks in Helsinki – the contents of which, amazingly, are still unknown, even to administration officials. And it’s no coincidence, of course, that Netanyahu praised the Helsinki summit and placed it within a context of vastly improved U.S.-Israeli relations. Netanyahu’s word still carries a lot of weight among Republicans, who are shell-shocked by Trump’s fawning in Helsinki, and especially in Trump’s crucial Evangelical heartland.
Netanyahu’s willingness to assume the role of a major player in the relations between Russia and the United States, as he has in the talks on Syria, is “a minefield,” Michlin-Shapir concedes. Less cautiously, one can describe it as a dangerous gamble. Netanyahu has agreed to recognize Russia’s hegemony in Syria and has even embraced the idea of deploying Russian “police units” in the proposed security zone. And what will happen if Moscow, as many expect, doesn’t expel the Shi'ite militias or Iranian forces and installations to its north? Will Netanyahu stand alone against Russia, as he has in his talks with Putin? Can he risk a military confrontation? Would he be able to enlist the U.S. to his side if the agreement that he brokered and promoted falls apart?
Netanyahu is ignoring two red lines that have restrained Israeli leaders since the state’s inception. Israel has always taken care not to come between the two superpowers on issues other than Israel’s security and well-being. In the 1970’s it maintained a low profile even as the U.S. was gearing up for the fight to liberate Soviet Jewry. Israel has also avoided at all cost any risk that it might be portrayed as pushing America to war. Fifteen years ago, Israel paid a steep price for the mere suspicion that it nudged George W. Bush to go to war in Iraq despite the fact that most senior officials kept mum – with the exception of Netanyahu, then a private citizen, who assured Congress that invading Iraq and deposing Saddam Hussein was a great idea. In case of conflict in Syria – and even more so, of conflagration with Iran – Netanyahu will have nowhere to hide. If there are American losses, he will be portrayed as the warmonger who whispered in Trump’s ear.
The beautiful friendship between Trump and Netanyahu has already harmed Israel’s standing among Democrats and many American Jews, although Netanyahu can still claim that his actions and policies are aimed at fortifying Israel militarily and on the world stage. But against the backdrop of the fierce polarization in U.S. politics, if and when Netanyahu turns up as Trump’s front man and Putin’s champion, he will be seen as an active collaborator of a much-reviled president.
Netanyahu seems to be betting, based on White House assurances, on Trump getting off scot-free from Robert Mueller’s investigation. If, however, the president is ultimately implicated of collusion with the Kremlin, before and possibly after the elections, Netanyahu could suddenly be cast as an aider and abettor, if not a ranking member, of the Putin-Trump-Netanyahu triad. More than enough names of Israelis or people connected to Israel have already cropped up in connection with the alleged contacts between Trump’s aides and Putin’s agents.
In fact, Netanyahu isn’t just gambling: He’s going all-in. He's putting his trust in Putin, who is notorious for bailing. And he is placing all his chips on Trump, an impulsive and controversial president who disdains America’s historic alliances and changes positions like most people change their clothes. Starry-eyed Dermer described Trump this week as “the new sheriff,” but failed to mention that he randomly shoots in all directions – and often hits himself. As long as his triumvirate with Putin and Trump is viable, Netanyahu is king of the world. But he may have forgotten that the higher they climb, the harder they fall.

Mike Pompeo: Top spy and top diplomat
Mamdouh AlMuhaini//Al Arabiya/July 27/18
At US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s swearing-in ceremony, Trump jocularly told those present that he did not believe that Pompeo graduated first in his class when he majored in mechanical engineering at the US military academy in New York.
“I heard that rumor a long time ago. I thought it was a rumor. And I’ve heard it many times. So I (asked him) is that true? And he said yes.” And laughter filled the hall. Excellence, however, has not been a stranger to Pompeo’s career. He attained his PhD in law from Harvard and worked as editor of the university’s famous law magazine. He worked in successful business and was member of the US House of Representatives for Kansas for six years. “Mike was the type of guy who was just born smart,” one of his friends says. Pompeo’s name did the rounds recently following the historic meeting with North Korea’s leader. This is besides his role in the Trump Administration’s decision to withdraw from the Iran nuclear deal and his intensified attack on the Tehran regime, especially his latest speech, which has been truly historic.
It is fortunate to have a character such as Pompeo at this particular time. He is a man with moral values and principles and he seeks to implement them via realistic methods.
He has deep understanding of issues and a clear vision regarding threats and players who threaten world order and its stability, such as al-Qaeda, Hezbollah and the Iranian regime.
It seems Pompeo has the biggest influence on Trump ever since he was head of intelligence. He established a close and honest relation with his superior that further strengthened during the daily sessions he held with him to inform him of the dangers that threaten US’ national security.
What Pompeo has in common with Trump is that he is also street smart and did not only become witty thanks to books and academic curricula
Chemistry with Rex
There was chemistry between the two men unlike the case with Rex Tillerson and Trump and whom the latter fired after he acted like a stubborn bull who repeatedly gored his owner.
Tillerson was a rigid personality that lacked the simplest skills for the job, which is executing his boss’s agenda. Trump thus fired him in tweet while he was still sleeping. The same happened to McMaster, the national security advisor who did not read his boss’s approach well and whom Trump hated due to his arrogant behavior, studded stars on his chest and the use of big academic terms. Pompeo knew the keys to Trump’s character despite the possibility that he could pose a threat and scratch his ego with his wits and degrees. What Pompeo has in common with Trump is that he is also street smart and did not only become witty thanks to books and academic curricula, and this is what Trump wants in his administration. He wants strong characters that are close to his heart and distant from the American elite in Washington and New York and which despises him and seeks to topple him.
In his early days, Pompeo read books by playwright and philosopher, Ayn Rand, who is originally Russian. Her writings influenced him and this perhaps made him closer to Trump who fits as a hero in her writings because he reflects her philosophy of individualism, self-interest and unrestrained capitalism.
Rand despised ethical altruism to the extent that she was described as “goddess of the market.” Pompeo is more Republican than Trump, the businessman who’s been immersed in the world of media and finances for decades before he decided to engage in politics and exploit his mobilization abilities to win the presidency. Trump proved that he is a political animal and an electoral promotion machine. Pompeo is a Republican in his principles whether in or outside the US. When he worked in trade, he realized how government interference destroyed businesses and said once that he is going to Washington to change this.He was for decreasing taxes, limiting the government’s role and against subsidy programs. He supported the pure teachings of the founder fathers as they have been written.
American exception
On the foreign level, he is a hawk who believes in the American exception and of the importance of maintaining the international order and combating the powers that seek to destroy it, even if they are individuals. He did not hesitate to demand execution of Edward Snowden who leaked dangerous and confidential data from the National Security Agency. His experience in the Congress, the CIA and the Department of State deepened his convictions and his approach. The New York Times described him as the first person to have served as both the United States’ top spy and top diplomat. There is a huge contradiction between these two tasks but he proved his competence in both. Those who know him say he is polite and not weak, a smooth-tongued but strict, a diplomat but steady. He negotiates but he does not forget major issues or principles. He knows how to please his boss but without turning into a puppet in his hand and an echo of his voice.
He knows how to frankly voice his opinion without harming Trump’s narcissism. This is why the president saw a trustworthy character in him and why he listens to him and is convinced by his views. Pompeo believes in the idea of force and crushing rivals if needed. When he was the CIA director, he ordered secret missions to pursue and kill dangerous Taliban members.
This is new as such dangerous operations were usually only planned for al-Qaeda members. He is once reported to have said: “We cannot accomplish our mission without being cruel.”
Espionage and diplomacy
The objective remains the same in espionage and diplomacy, and power can be used at any time especially after the Obama era which was marked by hesitation and which he repeatedly criticized. Pompeo was a fierce critic of Hillary Clinton and he opposed her stance toward the terror attack on the consulate in Benghazi, which killed US envoy Christopher Stevens. When she announced she was running for the presidency, he said he will stand with any Republican who confronts her no matter who he/she is. Through Pompeo’s strong speeches and statements, we can understand the American administration’s solid and clear position with regard to Tehran. It is nothing new for Pompeo as he strongly opposed the nuclear deal.
After it was announced that Trump won the presidency, he tweeted celebrating victory and expressed the extent of his deep hatred of the Iranian regime. “I look forward to rolling back this disastrous deal with the world's largest state sponsor of terrorism,” he said.
In his latest speech, he addressed the Iranians across the world and inside Iran and said that the Trump Administration dreams the same dream of the Iranians, that this nightmare formed by the Iranian regime ends, adding that “through our labors and God’s providence, (this dream) will one day come true.” People in the hall applauded him, and it is certain that millions also cheered as they too dream of the end of the nightmare, which has been on for 40 years now.

Iran’s attack on Bab al-Mandeb
Abdulrahman al-Rashed/Al Arabiya/July 27/18
Tehran’s regime is cunning, and this is what distinguishes it from other evil regimes like Saddam’s regime in Iraq. The Houthis’ targeting of Bab al-Mandeb Strait in the Red Sea is an Iranian attack. Iran has been threatening to target passages used for oil transport, like the Strait of Hormuz in the Gulf. It gave orders to its Yemeni Houthi agent – which are supplied missiles by the regime – to shell oil tankers in Bab al-Mandeb Strait.
On one hand, Iran will have succeeded in implementing its promises against the US and the region’s countries without bearing direct responsibility as the executors are Yemenis and the Iranians cannot be held accountable for their actions. If oil exporting countries, like Saudi Arabia, stop transferring their oil through the Red Sea, Iran will have succeeded in partially obstructing oil export and stirring chaos in the global oil market.
Iran’s agents in the region, like Hezbollah in Lebanon, Hamas in Gaza, Asa’ib Ahl al-Haq in Iraq and the Houthis in Yemen are practically Iran’s military whom Iran spends massive amounts of money on and whom it has been training and arming for decades.
The West made a mistake while dealing with the Iranian game at the beginning of the conflict with Iran. The US in particular made this mistake considering it’s the country that is most involved in the region as it had yielded and dealt with Iran’s agents as independent organizations although it knew they were linked to Iran. If the West had in the 1980s and 1990s viewed the practices of these organizations as directly affiliated with Iran, there wouldn’t be Hezbollah, Hamas, Islamic Jihad, Asa’ib Ahl al-Haq and others
Nature of relations
It did not deal with them because they were unware of the nature of this relation but to avoid a confrontation with Iran. The US thus limited its confrontation with Tehran to small groups.
When the Lebanese Hezbollah Party abducted and killed some Americans and westerners in Beirut in the 1980s, western governments requested Iran’s and Syria’s intervention to be mediators and release the kidnapped. These practices thus established the rules of the game in a wrong manner that enhanced Iran’s influence and cost it a little.
Iran never paid a price for its crimes. The maximum punishment the West dealt Iran was assassinating Lebanese Hezbollah officials. It’s a cheap investment as Iran can replace them with other Lebanese figures. The real criminal mastermind in Tehran never paid a price for the past 30 years.
If the West had in the 1980s and 1990s viewed the practices of these organizations as directly affiliated with Iran, there wouldn’t be Hezbollah, Hamas, Islamic Jihad, Asa’ib Ahl al-Haq and others. Iran was not held accountable for killing American people in Beirut or killing Americans in the Khobar towers in Saudi Arabia. It was not held accountable for its bloody attacks in Paris’ streets or the hijacking of planes like the hijacking of the TWA flight.
Repeat in Yemen
Tehran is now repeating in West Yemen what it used to do in South Lebanon. The Houthi Movement is an Iranian organization that takes orders from Tehran.
This attack on Bab al-Mandeb executes the threat, which Iranian commanders made in response to White House decisions. They said they will obstruct oil exports in the Gulf.
Iran’s Revolutionary Guards’ Quds Brigade commander General Qassem Soleimani’s statements are a mere distraction from the real scheme, which is to appoint the Houthis to carry out this task on his behalf. As for Iran, it will not dirty its hands with such operations.
Tehran wants to impose its influence and conditions using its armed groups without any consequences reflecting on it. No opposing state tried to build agents to balance the conflict of proxies or militias, except in Syria during the past years of war.
In this proxy war and after the failure of its proxy Hezbollah, Iran had to send its troops to directly be involved in the fighting for the first time in its history as it feared the collapse of its ally, the Assad regime. Despite all this, Iran failed while confronting the armed Syrian opposition so it sought the help of Russian forces. The Iranians will not stop propagating chaos, spreading terrorism and interfering in Lebanon, Syria and Iraq unless the Tehran regime feels it’s being held accountable for its organizations’ practices and directly paying the price of their crimes.

Will Europe obstruct the liberation of Yemen?
Mashari Althaydi/Al Arabiya/July 27/18
Does the world (or shall we say the Europeans’ vileness) need to wake up from its slumber to the incident of targeting a Saudi oil tanker in the Red Sea and until Saudi Arabia issues a decision to “immediately and temporarily” halt the passage of Saudi oil shipments via these waters?
Did we need the bragging of Qassem Soleimani, the general of terrorism who is roaming the region, about this crime to know who incited Tehran’s followers in Yemen against world trade and not just against Saudi Arabia?
In a statement published by a news agency affiliated with the Revolutionary Guards, the terrorist Soleimani threatened American President Trump who economically suffocated Khomeinism at the international level. The Supreme Leader’s confederate threatened Trump saying: “The Red Sea is no longer secure.”
There’s no doubt that this Iranian aggression via the Houthi claw on the heart of the world trade security is due to the Khomeini regime’s and the Revolutionary Guards’ feeling that they are extremely besieged amid Trump’s seriousness to discipline the Iranian regime.
Soleimani frankly noted Iran’s adoption of “an uneven war” approach, in reference to wars of gangs, militias and intelligence. This is what Iran’s gangs in Yemen, Iraq, Syria and Lebanon actually do. What’s confusing is that after the departure of the “catastrophic” President Barack Obama, there is still some sort of western love toward the Khomeini regime. There’s frankly what I described as western political “vileness” especially by the European group towards the Yemeni case. The only real international pressure on the Khomeini regime’s behavior is being exerted by the Trump administration as it has taken it upon itself to force the Europeans to abandon this tale of affection with Iran
Real obstacle
The real obstacle in terms of liberating the Hodeidah Port where the Houthis are acting like thugs is the western resistance and pressure. It is as if the Houthis had not staged a coup and as if they are not condemned and illegitimate based on international decisions! It’s as if what’s requested from Saudi Arabia, the UAE and other countries is to reconcile with a situation in which the Houthis control Yemen or participate in governance via an obstructing third, like the case is in Lebanon, and use their missiles to shell Saudi cities and threaten trade’s activity in the Red Sea. This is however something that’s impossible for Saudi Arabia to accept. Yes, UAE’s Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Anwar Gargash was right when he said this attack has significances that go beyond the region and as he noted that there are limits to patience when it comes to Hodeidah. He also interestingly added that “the divergence of points of view between the US and Europe over Iran is worrying.”This means more reliance on individual military, political and economic capabilities like Saudi Arabia did via its smart decision to temporarily halt the transport of Saudi oil via the Red Sea amid the crisis of prices in the energy market and which Europe suffers from. The only real international pressure on the Khomeini regime’s behavior is being exerted by the Trump administration as it has taken it upon itself to force the Europeans to abandon this complicated tale of affection with Iran.
This is on the international level. As for Iran’s neighboring countries, they have the decisiveness, determination and men’s resoluteness.

Rethinking the conflict in Yemen
Saad Alsubaie/Al Arabiya/July 27/18
As the war in Yemen continues into its fourth year, the Saudi-led Arab coalition is facing severe criticism, even from critics who initially supported the military intervention.
An understanding of the conflict must begin with the issues that led to the war in the first place. The problem with much of the literature on the war in Yemen is twofold.
First, critics of the military intervention in Yemen do not account for the security ramifications of the rise of a Houthi militia state in Yemen, which are similar to those of the earlier rise of ISIS in Iraq and Syria. Instead, critics simplistically frame the Yemen conflict as a sectarian war.
Second, by focusing on the day-to-day war events, critics overlook the long and costly road that Saudi Arabia and the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) followed to try to avoid the war.
To understand the war in Yemen and its implications for regional security, one must consider it as part of an evolving historical and regional security dynamic rather than as just a sectarian conflict.
Historical background
Since the 1990 unification of North and South Yemen to form the present-day Arab Republic of Yemen, stabilizing Yemen has been a Saudi priority for several reasons. In addition to the long border the two countries share, Saudi Arabia and Yemen share historical, social, and strategic bonds.
Despite the ups and downs in its relations with the former Yemeni president Ali Abdullah Saleh, Saudi Arabia set up a generous foreign aid program and opened its borders to Yemeni expatriates for many years.
Furthermore, Saudi Arabia supported Yemeni accession to the GCC. By 2000, Yemen was allowed to join the GCC’s Ministers’ Councils for education, health, labor, and sport as a prelude to full accession.
With the rise of international terrorism in the late 1990s, Yemen emerged as a major security concern for the international community. From Yemen, Al-Qaeda launched its early attacks, such as the attack on the USS Cole in Aden in 2000.
After Saudi Arabia drove out al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula from the kingdom in 2005, the group relocated to Yemen to join forces with other members driven out from Afghanistan and other places.
The causes of the war in Yemen in particular and the post Arab-spring conflicts in general are complex. Framing these conflicts as one sectarian conflict is overly simplistic and misleading
Since then, al-Qaeda in Yemen has launched brutal attacks that have included the attacks in Abqaiq, Saudi Arabia in 2006, Detroit, USA in 2009, Saada, Yemen in 2010, and Sharurah, Saudi Arabia in 2014.
The deteriorating security situation in Yemen offered an opportunity for other extremist organizations to emerge. One of these organizations was the Houthi militia, which rebelled against the government to further the autonomy of their province, Saada.
To exploit public sentiment against America’s war on terrorism, the Houthis adopted the Iranian slogan “Death to America.” Supported by Iran and the Lebanese Hezbollah, they waged an insurgency that spun off six wars between 2004 and 2010.
Despite the spillover of the fight into Saudi territories, Saudi Arabia did not intervene into Yemeni affairs. Instead, it beefed up its border security and increased its security cooperation with and foreign aid to the Yemeni government to stabilize it against terrorist and outlaw groups.
The long road to war
The failure of the Saleh government to manage the situation in Yemen led to a regime-change uprising against Saleh during the Arab Spring in 2011. Instead of siding with their historical partner Saleh, the neighboring states of the GCC pushed for a peaceful transition of power.
Their efforts culminated in the GCC Initiative, which was designed to achieve a peaceful political settlement and keep Yemen from slipping into full-scale war. The international community, including the UN, the United States, and the European Union, supported the initiative.
Eventually, Saleh stepped down and signed the agreement in Riyadh in November 2011. The Yemeni people then elected Abd Rabbuh Mansour Hadi in a UN-monitored election.
The international community then went further to support the political and economic transition in Yemen. The “Friends of Yemen,” a group of more than 30 countries co-chaired by the UK and Saudi Arabia, met in Riyadh in May 2012, where they pledged a total of $6.396 billion, $3.25 billion of which was pledged by Saudi Arabia.
Although the generous diplomatic and financial support of the international community put Yemen on a road to order and stability, the situation took on a new dynamic. The Houthis, who had fought six wars against Saleh and taken part in the uprising against him, allied themselves with his forces instead of siding with the elected government. Aided by Saleh’s military forces and Iran’s supply of weaponry, the Houthis ended up taking over the Yemeni capital, Sanaa, putting President Hadi and members of his cabinet under house arrest in February 2015. The Houthis did not stop there; they started setting up ballistic missile sites on the Yemeni-Saudi border in range of Saudi cities and oil installations. The UN reacted by adopting Resolution 2216, which urged the Houthis to “end the use of violence… withdraw their forces from all areas they have seized… refrain from any provocation or threats to neighboring states.”
In addition, the UN imposed an asset freeze, arms embargo, and travel ban on Saleh and Houthi commanders. When the Houthis ignored the demands of the international community, President Hadi, who had escaped to Aden, wrote a letter to the leaders of the GCC asking them “to provide instant support by all necessary means, including military intervention, to protect Yemen and its people from continuous Houthi aggression.”An Arab coalition led by Saudi Arabia answered President Hadi’s call by launching Operation Decisive Storm on March 26, 2015. The coalition consisted of the GCC members (except Oman), Egypt, Sudan, Jordan, and Morocco, and was supported by the Arab League, The Organization of Islamic Cooperation, the US, the UK, and France.
War in perspective
The long road to the war in Yemen indicates that Operation Decisive Storm was a last resort in a long history of diplomatic, economic, and security efforts by the GCC states to stabilize Yemen.
It was neither a sectarian reaction, as its critics wanted to frame it, nor a full-scale war to conquer Yemen, as some of its proponents had mistakenly expected. It was a surgical operation with the use of minimum force to roll back the situation to normalcy, where the legitimate government could be restored, the threatening ballistic missile sites destroyed, and the people of Yemen rescued from a humanitarian catastrophe. Thereafter, Operation Storm of Resolve began with a 25-day air campaign to take out the ballistic missile sites. This was followed by Operation Restore Hope, which integrates three dimensions: military, political, and humanitarian relief. These state-building efforts are directed to enhance the capabilities of the legitimate state and to address humanitarian needs, many of which pre-date the war.The asymmetrical nature of the war in Yemen, in which the militants blend in with the population, makes it difficult for the coalition conventional forces to avoid collateral damage and civilian casualties. In one tragic incident, the coalition wrongly targeted a funeral in Sanaa.
After investigating the incident, the coalition admitted that they made a mistake owing to incorrect information. As a result, the coalition established an independent Joint Incidents Assessment Team, updated their rules of engagement, and offered compensation for the families of the victims.
Meanwhile, Houthis continue their indiscriminate attacks against civilians in Yemen and Saudi Arabia with impunity.
The causes of the war in Yemen in particular and the post Arab-spring conflicts in general are complex. Framing these conflicts as one sectarian conflict is overly simplistic and misleading.
If they have something in common, it is not sectarianism, but rather the looming threat of the rise of the authority of militias over the legitimacy of the state. Revolutionary militias and terrorist organizations such as ISIS, the Houthis, al-Qaeda, and Hezbollah have been using sectarianism as a tool to dismantle and control their states. Alarmed by the threat, GCC states have joined regional and international coalitions to fight militants disregarding their sectarian affiliations. The fight against militia states and their supporters in the region is critical to international security.
Therefore, the international community has a responsibility to act collectively and intervene to protect states from falling into the hands of militants and terrorist organizations.