July 31/2018
Compiled & Prepared by: Elias Bejjani


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Bible Quotations
No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends
Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ according to Saint John 15/09-16: "As the Father has loved me, so I have loved you; abide in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. I have said these things to you so that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be complete. ‘This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you. I do not call you servants any longer, because the servant does not know what the master is doing; but I have called you friends, because I have made known to you everything that I have heard from my Father. You did not choose me but I chose you. And I appointed you to go and bear fruit, fruit that will last, so that the Father will give you whatever you ask him in my name."
Titles For The Latest LCCC Bulletin analysis & editorials from miscellaneous sources published on July 30-31/18
Nearly three months after Lebanon's election, Hariri is walking a tightrope when it comes to forming a new government/Michael Young/The National/July 30/18
Analysis/Echoes of Deadly ISIS Bombing on Syrian Druze Reverberate in Lebanon/Zvi Bar'el/Haaretz/July 30/18
Russia and West spar over reconstruction of Syria/Associated Press/July 30/18
In Iran, the past is a different country/Amir Taheri/Al Arabiya/July 30/18
If it wasn’t for Riyadh, there would be no castle in Qatar/Fares bin Hezam/Al Arabiya/July 30/18
Criminalizing the Muslim Brotherhood in the US/Mohammed Al Shaikh/Al Arabiya/July 30/18
The Qatari style/Mashari Althaydi/Al Arabiya/July 30/18
The Shirazis: A narrative of eternal grief and sorrow/Hassan Al Mustafa/Al Arabiya/July 30/18

Titles For The Latest LCCC Lebanese Related News published on July 30-31/18
Aoun Promises World Bank Delegation Economic Reforms in Line with Political One
Report: Hariri May Present 24-Minister or Technocrat Govt. after '3 10s' Rejected
Baabda Sources Brush Off Soaid's Tweet on Assassinations
Judicial Council: Judges Benefited from Housing Loans under Special Protocol
Army Asks UNIFIL to Tell Israel to Stop Drilling near Kfarkila
Berri Says Joint Parliamentary Committees to Meet Thursday
LF MP Says Bassil’s Stance Reflects 'Dualism'
Report: LF 'Rejects' Cabinet Quota Same as Before
Former French President Voices Confidence in the Lebanese People
German Ambassador Bids Farewell Visit to Gemayel
Aoun, Sarkozy tackle overall situation
Hariri meets Najjari at Central House
Sarkozy visits former president Sleiman
German Ambassador pays Gemayel farewell visit
Tenanti: No violation of Blue Line
Chbib honors Global Council for Tolerance and Peace President: Beirut is Beacon of Diversity
Nearly three months after Lebanon's election, Hariri is walking a tightrope when it comes to forming a new government
Echoes of Deadly ISIS Bombing on Syrian Druze Reverberate in Lebanon
Titles For The Latest LCCC Bulletin For Miscellaneous Reports And News published on July 30-31/18
36 Women, Children Kidnapped by IS Last Week in Syria's Sweida
Trump Says Willing to Meet with Iran Leaders 'Any Time'
Iran is a threat to maritime navigation: Coalition
Syria's Druze Minority: Walking a War-Time Tightrope
Egypt Investigates 'Mysterious' Death of Coptic Bishop
Kuwaiti Couple Banned from Leaving Sri Lanka over Airport Assault
Israel Arrests Four from Pro-Hamas TV Station
Israel Arrests Italians who Painted Mural of Palestinian Teen
Morocco King Urges 'Urgent Action' on Social Problems
IS Claims Deadly Attack on Tourists in Tajikistan
The Latest LCCC Lebanese Related News published on July 30-31/18
Aoun Promises World Bank Delegation Economic Reforms in Line with Political One
Naharnet/July 30/18/President Michel Aoun broached the overall economic situation at the local scene with a visiting delegation from the World Bank headed by World Bank Group Vice President for Middle East and North Africa, Ferid Belhaj, the National News Agency reported Monday.
"Political reforms that have been implemented in Lebanon will be followed by economic ones. Projects that help activate economic growth and develop infrastructure are a priority," the President told his visiting delegation. "The approval of two state budgets in one year is one of the most important reform steps after the country had remained without a budget for 12 years," Aoun said, stressing that fighting corruption is one of the top priorities of all the political parties. The President also welcomed the role played by the World Bank helping Lebanon to finance necessary development projects, and welcomed efforts to strengthen partnership with the World Bank. For his part, Belhaj said that the World Bank has always been ready to help Lebanon through financing development and production projects. "The two-billion-dollar portfolio allocated by the World Bank for Lebanon is supposed to benefit the country as per priorities set by the Lebanese state," he added. Belhaj finally welcomed the reforms achieved by Lebanon politically and economically, "which will enhance international confidence in Lebanon."Talks also focused on the proposed solutions for the economic situation in Lebanon in the wake of CEDRE conference.

Report: Hariri May Present 24-Minister or Technocrat Govt. after '3 10s' Rejected
Naharnet/July 30/18/Prime Minister-designate Saad Hariri may present a 24-minister or technocrat government format after his proposal to form a so-called “three tens” government was rejected, a media report said. “During the latest tripartite meeting in Baabda (between President Michel Aoun, Speaker Nabih Berri and the PM-designate), Hariri suggested to President Aoun the distribution of shares in the government according to the 3x10 formula,” the Central News Agency quoted unnamed sources as saying. The said formula would distribute the shares in the following manner: ten seats for Aoun and the Free Patriotic Movement (3 for president and 7 for FPM), ten seats for Hariri and the Lebanese Forces (6 for Hariri and 4 for LF), and ten seats for Hizbullah, the AMAL Movement, the Progressive Socialist Party and the Marada Movement (3 for Hizbullah, 3 for AMAL, 3 for PSP and 1 for Marada). The sources noted that such a distribution would not grant any of the three camps a so-called one-third veto power in the Cabinet. “Hariri hinted that the Druze obstacle could be resolved if he and ex-MP Walid Jumblat reach an agreement on a consensus Druze minister in a manner that would prevent the PSP from withdrawing all Druze ministers from the government in the future,” the sources added. “He was surprised that the other camp rejected to discuss this formula,” the sources went on to say. They also noted that continued wrangling could prompt Hariri to propose a “24-minister or technocrat Cabinet.”Hariri was tasked with forming a new government on May 24. The main obstacle hindering his mission is the political wrangling over Christian and Druze representation.

Baabda Sources Brush Off Soaid's Tweet on Assassinations
Naharnet/July 30/18/Sources close to President Michel Aoun have reassured on the security situation in Lebanon, after a tweet by ex-MP Fares Soaid sparked concerns over a possible return to the era of political assassinations. “The predictions about assassinations are baseless and the president reassures that Lebanon is the most safe country in the Middle East and the world,” the sources told al-Jadeed television. Soaid had tweeted in the morning that “a return to assassinations and bombings in Lebanon cannot be ruled out.” “Beware,” Soaid added. The former lawmaker however told MTV in the evening that his tweet was not based on concrete information but rather on “personal analysis that things in the country are heading towards a bad situation.” “There is no government and the repercussions of the regional situation will worsen on Lebanon and things might go back to the pre-2005 era,” Soaid added.

Judicial Council: Judges Benefited from Housing Loans under Special Protocol

Naharnet/July 30/18/The Higher Judicial Council clarified Monday that a number of judges have recently been granted housing loans under a special 2010 “protocol,” after media reports decried alleged favoritism in light of the suspension of loans granted to ordinary citizens by the Public Corporation for Housing. In a statement, the council clarified that the protocol had been signed in 2010 between the Association of Banks in Lebanon and the Judges Solidarity Fund, noting that the agreement stipulated that “loans granted to judges would be paid from the banks' own assets.” Urging media outlets to “seek accuracy and prudence instead of dealing haphazardly with issues related to the judiciary's work” and to “judges performing their judicial mission amidst very difficult situations,” the council warned that any attack on “the judiciary's credibility and image will subject perpetrators, whoever they may be, to prosecution under the applicable regulations.”

Army Asks UNIFIL to Tell Israel to Stop Drilling near Kfarkila
Naharnet/July 30/18/The Lebanese Army on Monday asked the U.N. Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) to tell Israeli forces to stop drilling works on the electronic border fence after they violated the U.N.-demarcated Blue Line and encroached on Lebanese territory, the National News Agency said. Lebanese troops, UNIFIL peacekeepers and Israeli forces went on alert in the area of the Lebanese border town of Kfarkila during the standoff, NNA added. Al-Mayadeen television later reported that the Israeli army had stopped the drilling.

Berri Says Joint Parliamentary Committees to Meet Thursday

Naharnet/July 30/18/Speaker Nabih Berri called on the joint parliamentary committees for a meeting on Thursday to resume discussing several projects and draft laws, the National News Agency reported on Monday. Berri invited the Finance and Budget Committees, Administration and Justice, National Defense, Interior and Municipalities, National Economy and Trade, Industry and Planning, Agriculture and Tourism, Public Works, Transport, Energy and Water and Information Technology. Shall the quorum not be complete, the committees shall meet on the same day at 11:00 by a third of their members, NNA said.

LF MP Says Bassil’s Stance Reflects 'Dualism'

Naharnet/July 30/18/Lebanese Forces MP Antoine Zahra said the process of forming the government got more complicated after the return of Free Patriotic Movement chief Jebran Bassil from abroad, VDL (100.5) said on Monday. “The return of Minister Bassil brought things back to the atmosphere of compromise and impossible conditions, which is the main obstacle to the formation of the government,” Zahra told VDL in an interview. Zahra said that Bassil’s announcement “on the formation of a de-facto or majoritarian Cabinet reflects his dualism.”He added that Prime Minister-designate Saad Hariri and President Michel Aoun have agreed on the government format and all they needed was to issue the decrees, but “then Bassil returns from Washington to disavow the obstruction and insist on the demands and hint yesterday about a majority government,” said Zahra. “The question is, if Bassil really does respect the constitutional rights of the Prime Minister-designate and the President, why hasn't the government seen the light until today?” asked Zahra. He said that Bassil’s return has brought things back to square one amid the impossible conditions he is setting “which are the major problem facing the formation.”

Report: LF 'Rejects' Cabinet Quota Same as Before
Naharnet/July 30/18/The Lebanese Forces denied scenarios on Monday claiming the party has agreed to a “certain” government format, stressing their “steadfast” refusal to get a Cabinet quota similar to the one they have in the current government, al-Joumhouria daily reported on Monday.
“Discussions and ideas are still being exchanged (between political parties) regarding the Cabinet formation. Prime Minister-designate (Saad Hariri) reflects well the LF point of view regarding our representation in the government,” LF sources told the daily on condition of anonymity. They expressed “unconditional” rejection of getting a government quota equal to the one they have in the current Cabinet, arguing “it would be an utter ignorance of the people’s will who voted in favor of the LF which in the end came out with a parliamentary bloc doubling its previous parliament seats.”Lebanon’s May parliamentary elections saw the Lebanese Forces double their parliamentary seats, garnering 14 seats in parliament, compared to only eight in 2009 elections. Hariri was tasked with forming a new government on May 24. The main obstacles hindering his mission are related to the representation of Christians and Druze in the new Cabinet.
Former French President Voices Confidence in the Lebanese People 30th July 2018/Former French President Nicolas Sarkozy met with several Lebanese officials as part of his visit along with his wife, singer Carla Bruni, who will be performing at the Beiteddine Festival. Sarkozy held talks with President Michel Aoun at the Baabda Palace on Monday. During the meeting, the ex-president expressed confidence in the Lebanese, saying that they would overcome all hardships. For his part, Aoun hailed the importance of safeguarding the historical ties that bind Lebanon and France together. The two men discussed the latest developments in Lebanon and the region, as well as bilateral ties between the two countries. Sarkozy also met over dinner on Sunday with both Caretaker Prime Minister Saad Hariri and Progressive Socialist Party leader Walid Jumblat.

German Ambassador Bids Farewell Visit to Gemayel 30th July 2018/Kataeb leader Samy Gemayel on Monday met with German Ambassador Martin Huth in a farewell visit as the latter's diplomatic mission in Lebanon is nearing its end. The meeting was attended by Kataeb's Deputy-President Salim Sayegh and International Relations Officer Marwan Abdallah.

Aoun, Sarkozy tackle overall situation
Mon 30 Jul 2018/NNA - President of the Republic, Michel Aoun, on Monday welcomed at the Baabda palace former French President Nicolas Sarkozy, currently on a private visit to Lebanon. During the meeting, Aoun and Sarkozy discussed the bilateral Lebanese-French relations and issues of mutual concern. The pair also held a tour d'horizon bearing on the current local and regional situation, and Lebanon's stance vis-a-vis these developments. Sarkozy expressed confidence in the Lebanese people's ability to overcome the difficult circumstances they are currently enduring, hailing the wise role of President Aoun in guiding Lebanon towards the safety shores. Aoun welcomed Sarkozy in Lebanon, hailing the longstanding historic bonds between Lebanon and France. On the other hand, Aoun received former Minister Elie Marouni, with whom he discussed the general situation in the country, in addition to a number of developmental projects related to the district of Zahle and the Beqa. Marouni voiced his support to Aoun's efforts in addressing the current soico-economic situation. The head of the state also met respectively with Greek Orthodox Metropolitan of Jbeil and Batroun (Mount Lebanon) Bishop Silouan Moussi, and the newly appointed Lebanon's Ambassador to Hungary Joanna Al-Qazi.

Hariri meets Najjari at Central House
Mon 30 Jul 2018/NNA - Prime Minister-designate, Saad Hariri, on Monday received at his Central House Egyptian Ambassador to Lebanon, Nazih al-Najjari, with talks reportedly touching on the course of the government formation. On emerging, Ambassador Najjari relayed Egypt's keenness on Lebanon's stability and the success of Premier Hariri's efforts to form the new government as quickly as possible.

Sarkozy visits former president Sleiman
Mon 30 Jul 2018/NNA - Former French president, Nicholas Sarkozy, on Monday visited ex Lebanese president Michel Sleiman, at his Yarze residence. The pair discussed the current situation on the international scene, in addition to the bilateral Lebanese-French "historic" and "fraternal" ties.

German Ambassador pays Gemayel farewell visit
Mon 30 Jul 2018/NNA - MP Sami Gemayel welcomed at the Kataeb Central House in Saifi on Monday, German Ambassador to Lebanon, Martin Huth, who came on a farewell visit upon the end of his diplomatic mission in the country.

Tenanti: No violation of Blue Line
Mon 30 Jul 2018/NNA - UNIFIL Official Spokesman, Andrea Tenanti, on Monday announced that there was no violation of the Blue Line, saying "UNIFIL is present on the ground to ensure that there is no breach up till the moment south of the Blue Line."
Tenanti said that UNIFIL is working in close coordination with the parties to find a common solution to this issue to avoid any misunderstanding and to reduce tension.

Chbib honors Global Council for Tolerance and Peace President: Beirut is Beacon of Diversity
Mon 30 Jul 2018/NNA - Beirut Governor, Judge Ziad Chbib, hailed the city of Beirut as "a beacon of diversity and dialogue and a role model of tolerance and peace." Chbib's fresh words came during a dinner banquet on Sunday in honor of the President of the Global Council for Tolerance and Peace, Ahmed bin Mohammed Al Jarwan, at Le Grey Hotel in Beirut, in recognition of Jarwan's relentless efforts "Jarwan's efforts at the international and continental levels to promote the culture of tolerance, dialogue, acceptance of the other and peace values. The dinner banquet was attended by UAE Ambassador to Lebanon Hamad Al-Shamsi, Saudi Minister Plenipotentiary Charge d'Affaires Walid Bukhari, several MPs as well as Deputy Head of the Saudi Mission in Lebanon Majid Aba Al-Ola. "Beirut is a history and a center of humanitarian, intellectual and cultural messages," Chbib corroborated. Al-Jarwan, for his part, branded Beirut as "the white rose in the world" with history bearing witness to its culture and openness. He also deemed Beirut as a long-standing beacon of freedoms, dialogue, and cultural, religious, intellectual and social diversity.

Nearly three months after Lebanon's election, Hariri is walking a tightrope when it comes to forming a new government
مايكل يانك: بعد 3 اشهر على الإنتخابات الحريري يواجه صعوبات جمة في تشكيل حكومة جديدة
Michael Young/The National/July 30/18
The country is at a crossroads, with clashing agendas hampering an already difficult process, writes Michael Young
Although Lebanon held its parliamentary elections in early May, the prime minister designate, Saad Hariri, has yet to form a new government. That’s not surprising since the country is at a crossroads and clashing agendas and ambitions were always certain to delay what was never an easy process.
The elections essentially did two things. On the one hand, they brought pro-Syrian politicians back to parliament, giving the Hezbollah-led bloc and pro-Syrians what is known as a “blocking third” in the legislature. This means they can impede legislation they oppose without having to ally themselves with the large bloc of president Michel Aoun and his son-in-law Gebran Bassil, the acting foreign minister. They would like to replicate this power in the government.
The elections also showed that there is a solid core of Lebanese opposed to Hezbollah, many of whom voted for candidates of the mainly Christian Lebanese Forces party, which expanded its parliamentary bloc to 15 members. While this is unlikely to seriously threaten Hezbollah and Syria’s power, it means the Lebanese Forces are demanding significant representation in the government.
All this helps explain why Mr Hariri has had to face contradictory demands from all sides for a greater share of ministerial portfolios. Resolving this, while also satisfying the legitimate claims of the different parties, will take time.
However, something more fundamental is also taking place and provides a better explanation for the delays in finalising a cabinet: Lebanon’s political forces are repositioning, given the likely end to the conflict in Syria and the emergence, or re-emergence, of political actors on the Lebanese scene as a result of this. The future make-up of the government could very much reflect this new alignment.
While Syrian interests in Lebanon continue to be protected by Hezbollah, recent events suggest that the Syrians are no longer willing to maintain this dependency. Lebanese politicians keen to appeal to Syria, including Mr Bassil, as well as a former head of the General Security Directorate, Jamil Al Sayyed, have been pushing Mr Hariri to initiate direct contacts with Damascus. While neither opposes Hezbollah, this invitation to open a line to the Assad regime suggests they do not believe Hezbollah should be the primary funnel for ties with Syria.
The role of Russia in Lebanon is also a new variable that Mr Hariri has to factor in. The Russians have been active on numerous fronts in recent months, showing a desire to expand their relations with Beirut. They are now setting up a mechanism for a return to Syria of Syrian refugees in Lebanon and Jordan as part of a broader effort to secure western funding for Syria’s reconstruction.
Moscow has also sought to finalise a military co-operation agreement with the Lebanese government, which would grant the Russians military access to Lebanese bases. Pressure from the US and Europe compelled Mr Hariri to put the agreement on hold but as Russian involvement increases, his margin to stall might be reduced.
That’s not all. Russia’s Novatek gas production company is involved in a consortium that will explore Lebanon’s offshore oil and gas reserves. The Russians have also opened cultural centres throughout Lebanon, even as they have revived networks of students who once studied in Russia or the Soviet Union. In other words, Mr Hariri will have to consider this Russian push in determining how he shapes his government, to see if it plays in his favour or not.
The optimists believe an enhanced Russian role could buy Mr Hariri wiggle room with regards to Syria and Hezbollah, while helping to stabilise Lebanon and possibly reduce Hezbollah-Israeli tensions. The pessimists emphasise Russia and Syria might adopt a “good cop, bad cop” routine, in such a way as to advance their mutual interests, at the expense of Lebanese sovereignty.
Mr Hariri must also take into consideration another development in shaping his cabinet: the all-consuming ambition of Mr Bassil to succeed his father-in-law as Lebanon’s president. The foreign minister knows his chances of being elected will depend on his ties with Syria and Hezbollah, even if he must be careful not to come across as a patsy of both, which could undermine his credibility.
What that means for Mr Hariri, however, is whether it is advisable to hand Mr Bassil’s bloc a lion’s share of Christian ministries, as the foreign minister insists, or whether he should balance this with more seats for the Lebanese Forces.
All these calculations are not helped by Mr Hariri’s own ambiguities. It is not clear what the prime minister designate’s priorities are. He needs to address Lebanon’s faltering economy and believes the country’s participation in Syrian reconstruction will help this. At the same time, he does not want to normalise relations with Syria or reinforce the Assad regime. Mr Hariri also hesitates to openly oppose Hezbollah, knowing it would heighten sectarian tensions and push the party to oust him from his post.
It will take considerable time for a new government to see the light of day. Yet time is not a luxury Lebanon has in a severe economic crisis. Mr Hariri is walking a tightrope to get his government right. Given the absence of a domestic consensus, this can seem a Herculean task.
**Michael Young is editor of Diwan, the blog of the Carnegie Middle East programme, in Beirut

Analysis/Echoes of Deadly ISIS Bombing on Syrian Druze Reverberate in Lebanon
زفي باريل من الهآررتس: ترددات مجازر داعش في السويداء السورية ضد الدروز تجد صداها في لبنان

Zvi Bar'el/Haaretz/July 30/18
The Druze in Syria are frustrated with Russia and Assad, who stripped them of their weapons in return for protection, and Lebanese Druze politicians use this storm for their benefit
The shock waves from the Islamic State massacre in the heavily Druze city of Sweida on Wednesday that left more than 260 people dead reached Israel, where thousands of Druze demonstrated in protest, and Lebanon, where more than 300,000 Druze live.
This is probably the worst event to hit the Druze community in general, and in Syria in particular, since the Syrian civil war began.
The deep tragedy was compounded by the deep frustration with Russia, which had promised to protect the Druze community of around 800,000 in Syria and did not keep its commitment. The Druze are also disappointed with the Syrian military, with which Sweida’s Druze had come to an understanding on cooperation that included the return of weapons, enlisting Druze militiamen to the army and even allowing young Druze to start enlisting. Not all of Sweida’s residents supported these agreements, which were made with the sect’s spiritual leaders in the city. But the recognition that Bashar Assad would remain at the country’s helm after the war and the desire to protect themselves and their properties led them to give the Russians and Syrians what they wanted – namely, that the Druze wouldn’t stand in the way of the
But following the massacre an internal dispute erupted in Sweida as to whether their leadership acted correctly when they agreed to sit quietly, dismantle the militias and hand over their weapons to the regime.
In Sweida, the heavy mourning is blocking any response for now. In Lebanon, however, there has been a political storm over the political exploitation of the bloodbath. The spark was lit by Druze political leader Walid Jumblatt, who heads the Progressive Socialist party, who in a speech made at a rally in memory of those murdered blamed the Syrian regime for the massacre.
“Assad wants to forcefully defeat the mountain people [the Druze]. We have understandings with the Russians but we demand guarantees for the safety of the Druze,” he said, ending his address with a controversial declaration. “If only I had a weapon, I would go out to fight alongside the mountain people.” No one could mistake Jumblatt’s political intentions. Not only did he blame Assad and the Syrian regime, but there was more than a hint in his remarks that the Syrian Druze had made an error when they gave up their weapons and made a faulty agreement with the Russians.
The rally, which was meant to display solidarity with the Syrian Druze, immediately turned into a political rally that demanded a response from Jumblatt’s political rivals. Wiam Wahhab, leader of the Druze Arab Unity party, explained that “Jumblatt finds himself in great distress because he bet on Assad’s downfall and he is frustrated by the United States’ backtracking.” He called on Sweida’s residents to “Organize. Weapons are available and if necessary we are prepared to come to you and fight alongside you.”
However, his remarks were less intended for Sweida’s residents than as an effort to deprive Jumblatt of the monopoly on determining the Lebanese Druze position.
The leader of the Druze Democratic Party in Lebanon, Talal Arslan, preferred to accuse Israel of being behind the massacre, along with the United States. Arslan, who has political and personal animosity toward Jumblatt, blames Jumblatt for the difficult situation of the Druze in Lebanon, whom he says suffer from abject poverty, unemployment, school dropouts and drug abuse because Jumblatt hasn’t been able to exploit his position to obtain funds for the community.
But the public struggle between the leaders, complete with insults and offensive remarks, is not necessarily only about the welfare of the Druze. Jumblatt is an ally of Said al-Hariri, the prime minister who has been trying unsuccessfully to form a government for more than two months. Arslan, on the other hand, is considered an ally of President Michel Aoun and intends to form a political bloc with the Free Patriotic Movement, a Christian party founded by Aoun and now headed by Gebran Bassil.
Wiham Wahhab is close to Hassan Nasrallah and his party is Hezbollah’s ally. The two Druze parties, headed by Wahhab and Arslan, supported and still support the Assad regime, as opposed to Jumblatt’s party. The pro-Assad Druze parties are looking forward to the end of the war so they can sign new cooperation agreements with Assad. Naturally, the leaders of these two parties refrained from accusing Assad of responsibility for the massacre in Sweida and are calling on Syria’s Druze not to fall into the trap that Jumblatt is preparing for them, since Jumblatt, they say, is operating in accordance with foreign agendas -- hinting at his ties with the United States.
The controversy and political confrontations in the Lebanese arena sparked by the massacre will have implications not only for the composition of the Lebanese government, but also for Lebanon’s policy towards Syria. Although the Druze have a small representation in the parliament, only eight seats of 128, this is enough to tip the balance during the creation of the political blocs that will get government portfolios.
It is these blocs that will have to decide on the nature of relations with Syria, determine the extent of the prime minister’s powers and whether to challenge or assist the political bloc of Hezbollah. The delicate balance of political power in Lebanon depends not only on victory in the polls, but also on the personal relationships between leaders and the connections they have with countries in the region like Saudi Arabia, Iran, the United Arab Emirates and Qatar. In all these countries the Druze are expected to have their say, and as the Lebanese journalist Mirez Rizk wrote in Al-Akhbar, “The pregnancy began in Sweida, but the birth will be in Lebanon.”
The Latest LCCC Bulletin For Miscellaneous Reports And News published on July 30-31/18
36 Women, Children Kidnapped by IS Last Week in Syria's Sweida
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/July 30/18/The Islamic State group has been holding dozens of Druze women and children hostage since attacking their villages last week in Syria's southern province of Sweida, a monitor said Monday. "At least 36 Druze women and children were abducted after the attacks," said the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. Both the Britain-based monitor and Syrian news outlet Sweida24 said 20 women and 16 children were being held.

Trump Says Willing to Meet with Iran Leaders 'Any Time'
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/July 30/18/U.S. President Donald Trump said Monday he was willing to meet with Iran's leaders with "no preconditions" and "any time they want" -- one week after tensions soared between Washington and Tehran. "I would meet with Iran if they wanted to meet. I don't know if they are ready yet," Trump told a White House press conference with Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte at his side. "No preconditions," he added. "They want to meet, I'll meet. Any time they want."A week ago, after a provocative warning from Iranian President Hassan Rouhani not to "play with the lion's tail," Trump blasted back a reply on Twitter -- in all caps. "NEVER, EVER THREATEN THE UNITED STATES AGAIN OR YOU WILL SUFFER CONSEQUENCES THE LIKES OF WHICH FEW THROUGHOUT HISTORY HAVE EVER SUFFERED BEFORE," Trump warned Rouhani.
Iran is a threat to maritime navigation: Coalition
Arab News/July 30/18/More than 5 million Yemenis are benefiting from the relief programs initiated by the King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Centre
RIYADH: Iran continues to threaten maritime navigation in Bab Al-Mandab and the Red Sea, said Arab coalition spokesperson Col. Turki Al-Maliki. Speaking at the weekly press conference in Riyadh on Monday, he said the coalition is also making efforts to secure navigation in the Red Sea.
The international community has widely condemned the recent Houthi attack on two Saudi oil tankers in the Red Sea. The attack was termed a blatant violation of international law and a serious threat to international maritime navigation.They consider it a serious threat to international trade and maritime navigation. Al-Maliki said the aim of the ongoing military operations in Yemen is to restore legitimacy. He said the Iranian-backed Houthis recently blew up a water station in Tahita in total contravention of international norms. The coalition spokesman also shared a press statement from the office of the Resident Coordinator and Humanitarian Coordinator for Yemen, which raised the issue of airstrikes. The statement by Lisa Grande, the Humanitarian Coordinator for Yemen, said: “These airstrikes are putting innocent civilians at extreme risk.”Rejecting the statement, Al-Maliki said the coalition takes all measures in accordance with international and humanitarian laws. It is the Iranian-backed Houthis, he said, who endanger civilians by using operating from civilian areas. More than 5 million Yemenis are benefiting from the relief programs initiated by the King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Centre (KSRelief), Al-Maliki added.
He said Saada has become a point of launching Iranian ballistic missiles. Al-Maliki said 22 land, sea and air ports in Yemen are still operating, pointing out that the Houthi militias continue to disrupt the entry of aid ships. The coalition spokesman said Houthis lost 521 fighters between July 23 and 30.
Syria's Druze Minority: Walking a War-Time Tightrope
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/July 30/18/Syria's Druze minority, targeted by deadly Islamic State group attacks and kidnappings last week in Sweida, had managed to keep itself relatively insulated from the country's seven-year war. Here is a summary of the community's profile, its role in Syria's conflict and previous attacks against it.
Secretive minority
With around 700,000 people, the Druze community accounted for around three percent of Syria's pre-war population of 23 million. They are located mainly in the southern province of Sweida with smaller pockets around Damascus and in the northwest, although some have fled jihadist held parts of the latter area. Druze are monotheistic and considered Muslim, but the sect is otherwise highly secretive, includes mystical elements like reincarnation, and does not allow new converts. Some 200,000 Druze are located in neighboring Lebanon and over 100,000 are in Israel, while 18,000 live in the Israeli-occupied Golan.
Split by war
Syria's Druze have been split by the uprising that erupted in 2011 against President Bashar al-Assad, who had long portrayed himself as a protector of the country's minorities.
Druze should not be seen "as being neutral in this war -- it's more multifaceted and the Druze are not a monolithic bloc," said Tobias Lang, an analyst focused on Druze populations in the Middle East. One of the first soldiers to defect from Syria's army in protest at its handling of demonstrations was Druze officer Khaldun Zeineddine, who later died in clashes against regime forces. Others remained firmly loyal, like General Issam Zahreddine, one of the highest-ranking Druze army officers who died last year in a mine blast after battling the Islamic State group in Syria's east. Druze leaders have often tried to maintain a precarious relationship with the regime to keep their areas autonomous and spare them from government attacks. One symbol of that complex relationship was Wahid al-Balous, a Druze religious authority who pushed for the sect's soldiers to be deployed near their hometowns, rather than in other provinces.
Balous, who died in a car bomb attack in Sweida in 2015, spoke out against both jihadists and Assad.
Druze defense
Syria's Druze have protected their heartland in Sweida with their own forces. The most powerful has been the Sheikhs of Dignity, which was headed by Balous and included fighters and other religious figures. Sheikhs of Dignity has fought fierce battles against the Islamic State group and al-Qaida's Syrian affiliate. Other militia have been closely linked to the regime, including the Dareh al-Watan (Shield of the Nation), a Druze force founded in April 2015 with 2,000 fighters. The militia appear to have protected Sweida's sons from compulsory military service, with authorities turning a blind eye so long as young men fight in units not opposed to the regime.
Targeted by rebels, jihadists
Suicide bombs and shootings carried out by IS in Sweida on Wednesday left more than 250 people dead, mostly civilians, and the jihadists reportedly kidnapped more than 30 Druze women and children. The attacks were by far the worst against the Druze community in seven years of war, but they were not the first. A car bomb in 2012 ripped through Damascus' Jaramana suburb, which is mostly Druze and Christian. In 2013 and 2014, fierce fighting between Syrian rebels and pro-regime Druze forces rocked Sweida province and Druze areas closer to Damascus. IS began attacking Sweida province in 2015, first targeting Khalkhalah military airport. That same year, 20 Druze Syrians were killed in a shoot-out with al-Qaida jihadists in the village of Qalb Lawzah in northwestern Idlib province. Druze residents of Qalb Lawzah had come out against the regime a year into Syria's uprising. In 2016, IS beheaded four laborers in an area it controlled outside Damascus, accusing them of being Druze. And in 2017, a car bomb killed nine people in Hader, a regime-held village in the southwestern province of Quneitra mostly populated by Druze.

Egypt Investigates 'Mysterious' Death of Coptic Bishop

Agence France Presse/Naharnet/July 30/18/Egyptian police are investigating the death of a Coptic Christian bishop who was found dead in his monastery northwest of Cairo on Sunday, the Coptic Church said. The body of Bishop Epiphanius "was handed to forensic investigators to determine the cause of the death and whether or not it was a murder," a security official said on Monday. "The body was found in one of the monastery's corridors with head injuries," added the security official, who declined to be named. Bishop Epiphanius, 68, was the abbot of Saint Macarius monastery in Wadi el-Natrun. "In light of mysterious circumstances surrounding his death, the authorities were called and they are now carrying out their investigations," Coptic Church spokesman Boulos Halim said in a statement late on Sunday. The bishop joined the monastery in 1984 and was elected as its head in 2013. Copts have long complained of discrimination and intermittent sectarian attacks. They make up about 10 percent of Egypt's 100 million people and were targeted by the Islamic State group in jihadist attacks in 2016 and 2017. No evidence has so far been flagged to suggest the bishop's death was related to sectarian tensions.

Kuwaiti Couple Banned from Leaving Sri Lanka over Airport Assault
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/July 30/18/A Sri Lankan court Monday impounded the passports of a Kuwaiti couple who tried to smuggle a dog into the country and assaulted five customs officers who tried to stop them. A magistrate ordered immigration authorities to prevent the couple from leaving Sri Lanka and fixed a court hearing for August 10. The 32-year-old woman and her 29-year-old male partner were arrested on Friday after they turned violent after being informed of quarantine requirements. They assaulted five customs officers who tried to stop them fleeing the airport with the animal, police said. The couple has been released on a 400,000 -rupee ($2,500) bail. The dog, a Bernese mountain breed, remains with them. The tourists were also ordered to be present at a separate customs investigation. "We will question them on Tuesday and appropriate action will be taken thereafter," customs department spokesman Vipula Minuwanpitiya told AFP. Bringing pets into the island without quarantine clearance can lead to the forfeiture of the animal as well as a fine of up to 100,000 rupees ($625). Airport police said they had never recorded such a case over a pet dog.

Israel Arrests Four from Pro-Hamas TV Station

Agence France Press/Naharnet/July 30/18/Israel's military has arrested four Palestinians in the occupied West Bank from a television station close to Hamas, officials said Monday, after the defence minister branded the channel a terrorist organisation. The military said the arrests of the Al-Quds (Jerusalem) TV journalists were made overnight, while equipment and a vehicle were also seized. The Palestinian journalists' union said two vehicles were seized in addition to equipment including a television camera. According to the union, those arrested included the channel's director in the West Bank, Alaa Rimawi, and three journalists. Rimawi and two others are from Ramallah while the fourth is from a nearby village. They were arrested from their homes, colleagues said. The military said clashes broke out during the arrest raid and soldiers "responded with riot dispersal means". Further details were not immediately available.
Those arrested "were suspected of incitement and involvement in the Hamas-backed Al-Quds television channel", it said. The military said it had in September "declared Al-Quds TV as a Hamas mouthpiece and proved a direct association between the channel and the organisation".
Israeli Defence Minister Avigdor Lieberman earlier this month signed an order declaring the Lebanon-based satellite television channel a terrorist organisation. Israeli authorities have carried out a series of raids against Palestinian media organisations it accuses of incitement, drawing criticism from press freedom advocates.Hamas runs the Gaza Strip, where militants have fought three wars against Israel since 2008. It is listed as a terrorist organisation by Israel, the United States and the European Union.

Israel Arrests Italians who Painted Mural of Palestinian Teen
Agence France Press/Naharnet/July 30/18/Israeli forces have arrested two Italians for drawing a giant mural of a Palestinian teenager seen as a symbol of resistance on the separation wall in the occupied West Bank, police said. The roughly four-meter (13 foot) image near Bethlehem in the West Bank depicts Ahed Tamimi, 17, who was released from prison Sunday after an eight-month sentence for slapping two Israeli soldiers, an episode captured on video. On Saturday, Israeli border police arrested two Italians and a Palestinian "on suspicion of damaging and vandalizing the security fence in the Bethlehem area," a statement said. The three, whose faces were masked, "illegally drew on the wall, and when border policemen took action to arrest them, they tried to escape in their car, which was stopped by the forces," the statement said. On Wednesday, a man drawing the mural had identified himself as Italian street artist Jorit Agoch. A message was posted to a Facebook page under his name saying he had been arrested and pleading for help. On Sunday morning the three were still being held by Israeli forces. At the same time, Tamimi and her mother Nariman were taken from the Sharon prison inside Israel to their home village of Nabi Saleh in the occupied West Bank after serving their sentences. Palestinians see Tamimi as a symbol of resistance to Israeli occupation of the West Bank. For Israelis, Tamimi is being used by her activist family as a pawn in staged provocations. The separation wall cutting the West Bank off from Israel is filled with graffiti in support of the Palestinian cause. Secretive British street artist Banksy is among those who have painted on the wall.

Morocco King Urges 'Urgent Action' on Social Problems

Agence France Press/Associated Press/Naharnet/July 30/18/Morocco's King Mohammed VI Sunday urged the government to take "urgent action" to address social issues, in particular health and education in the north African country which has been hit by protests over employment and corruption. Despite the "achievements accomplished (...) I have the feeling that we continue to be lacking something in social matters," the king said in a speech marking the 19th anniversary of his accession to the throne. Mohammed VI pointed to social support and social protection programs that "overlap each other, suffer from a lack of consistency and fail to effectively target eligible groups". Morocco is marked by glaring social and territorial inequalities, against a backdrop of high unemployment among young people. In 2017, it was ranked 123rd out of 188 countries on the Human Development Index. In his speech, the king called for accelerating the establishment of a national system to register families for social support programs and invited the government to "undertake a comprehensive and deep restructuring" of existing programs. He also called for "a strong boost to programs to support schooling" and a reshaping of the health system, which "is characterized by glaring inequalities and weak management."The king's speech was delivered in the northern city of Al-Hoceima which was the epicenter of the "Hirak" protest movement that rocked the country in 2016 and 2017. The social unrest began in October 2016 after the death of a fisherman and spiraled into a wave of protests demanding more development in the neglected Rif region and railing against corruption and unemployment. Over the past week Moroccan media have said they expect a royal pardon for dozens of demonstrators and activists who were sentenced in late June to up to 20 years in prison. The 54-year-old monarch made no reference to the protests in his speech. Afterwards, an official statement said 1,200 pardons were granted, without specifying if the jailed demonstrators were among them. Moroccan media said none of the "Hirak" protestors was pardoned.

IS Claims Deadly Attack on Tourists in Tajikistan
Agence France Press/Naharnet/July 30/18/The Islamic State jihadist group on Monday claimed an attack that killed four foreign cyclists in Tajikistan in what was originally reported as a hit-and-run road accident. The victims, two Americans, a Swiss and Dutch citizen, were struck by a car and attacked on Sunday while on a popular cycle route in the Danghara district, about 100 kilometers (60 miles) south of the capital Dushanbe. "(The suspects) had knives and firearms," said interior minister Ramazon Hamro Rahimzoda, adding that two other cyclists, Swiss and Dutch nationals, were injured and hospitalized. "One tourist received a knife wound and is being given medical assistance. The victim's condition is stable," said Rahimzoda, without mentioning a nationality. Another cyclist with the group, a French citizen, escaped without injury and had been questioned by police, he added. In a statement published Monday, IS said that a "detachment from the soldiers of the Caliphate" had carried out the attack against "citizens of Crusader coalition countries," according to intelligence monitor SITE. Five people suspected of involvement in the attack were killed by police and at least four suspects detained, according to separate police accounts.
Among the dead suspects was 21-year-old Jafariddin Yusufov, the owner of the Daewoo Leganza car that struck the tourists on Sunday afternoon, local officials said. A Belgian cyclist who said he arrived at the scene after the attack told Flemish broadcaster VRT that he saw "several cyclists on the ground. Some were completely shocked.""When I asked what had happened, the first thing someone said was that they had been hit by a car and that the people who had come out had started stabbing them with knives," cyclist Nicolas Moerman said. The Dutch foreign ministry told AFP on Monday that one of the dead tourists was a 56-year-old man who was cycling the route with his 58-year-old partner, without providing names. The cyclists were traveling on a road that adjoins the famous Pamir Highway, a Soviet-era road surrounded by stunning mountain scenery.
Act of terror'?
"We can't say if it is an act of terror," Rahimzoda said earlier on Monday.
"We are considering all possibilities," he added but said that "state institutions are being guarded... to provide safety for citizens and tourists."The U.S. embassy in Tajikistan confirmed that two of the fatalities were American citizens. The Swiss foreign ministry on Monday told AFP that Switzerland "calls for every effort to be made to shed light on this serious incident". "If it is established that this was a terrorist attack, it will be noted in (Switzerland's) future travel advice for Tajikistan," said ministry spokeswoman Silvia Muller while noting that the motive for the attack was still unclear. A French diplomatic source told AFP that the country's embassy in Tajikistan was "engaged in facilitating the return" of the French survivor of the attack. Tajikistan's President Emomali Rakhmon sent notes of condolence to the U.S., Switzerland and the Netherlands over the deaths and called for increased security throughout the country at a special meeting on Monday with the country's law enforcement chiefs. Tajik authorities had declared 2018 "a year of tourism" in the former Soviet republic. In June, Rakhmon said that state officials found to be soliciting bribes from tourists would be deemed "traitors" and fired from their positions. Visitor numbers had quadrupled in the first five months of 2018 compared the same period last year, he said. Tajikistan is the poorest of the ex-Soviet republics and has been ruled by Rakhmon, 65, since 1992.
The Latest LCCC Bulletin analysis & editorials from miscellaneous sources published on July 30-31/18
Russia and West spar over reconstruction of Syria
Associated Press/July 30/18
Syrian government estimated reconstruction to cost $200 billion and to last 15 years as country's seven-year civil war is nearing an end.
United Nation - Russia and the West sparred over the reconstruction of Syria on Friday as its military forces continue to capture opposition-held territory and Syrians express hope that the country's seven-year civil war is nearing an end.
France's U.N. Ambassador Francois Delattre made clear at a Security Council meeting that the European Union will not participate in rebuilding Syria "unless a political transition is effectively carried out - with constitutional and electoral processes carried out in a sincere and meaningful way. Russia's deputy U.N. ambassador Dmitry Polyansky, whose country is militarily backing Syrian President Bashar Assad, countered that reconstruction should not be linked to politics and the international community should join the country's recovery effort now
But Western nations are adamant about withholding reconstruction money to maximize pressure for a political transition. Colonel General Mikhail Mizintsev, head of the National Centre for State Defence Control said last week that Moscow's will use their experience in rebuilding post Second World War,to help rebuild Syria
"In the course of solving vital tasks for the Syrian people to restore the country, it is necessary to use historical experience. Here we can turn to history and the Russian state. I believe that the experience of our motherland in the restoration of the national economy after the Great Patriotic War is unparalleled," Mizintsev said. "The period of restoration of our country, initially estimated at 15 years, was reduced several times. In five years, the country became the world's second most powerful economic power." Major powers including the five veto-wielding Security Council nations - the U.S., Russia, China, Britain and France - agreed on a roadmap for a Syrian political transition at a meeting in Geneva on June 30, 2012, about 16 months after the Syrian conflict began. The roadmap starts with the establishment of a transitional governing body vested with full executive powers, includes drafting a new constitution, and ends with elections. Successive U.N. envoys have tried to get the government and opposition to the negotiating table, so far unsuccessfully. The current U.N. envoy, Staffan de Mistura, is now working to establish on a committee to draft a new constitution. After seven years of war, the country has suffered catastrophic damage and massive rebuilding is needed. Ground warfare, airstrikes and barrel bombs have left entire cities and infrastructure a landscape of rubble. In some places like Aleppo, the destruction is reminiscent of World War II devastation.
Earlier this year, the government estimated reconstruction will cost some $200 billion dollars and last 15 years. But like neighboring Iraq, which also needs massive reconstruction after the war against the Islamic State extremist group, no one is offering much to help fund the process.
Russia's Polyansky told the council meeting on the humanitarian situation in Syria that "a critical challenge" to the Assad government's call this month for the return of over 5.6 million refugees "is the revival of the Syrian national economy - the generation of new jobs."
"The country is experiencing an acute shortage of construction materials and heavy equipment for which fuel is necessary," he said, and the educational and health systems need to be revived.
Polyansky then said: "It would be wise for all international partners to join assistance in the Syrian recovery effort, to eschew artificial linkages to political momentum." More broadly, he called for Syria to be reintegrated into the regional trade and economic system which "will best advance the objective of overall normalization of relations among states in the Middle East." "And, of course, stabilization will help to advance the U.N.-led political settlement process which is unanimously supported by all members of the Security Council," Polyansky said. But France's Delattre said a political transition with a new constitution and credible elections is "the essential condition for the country's stability, and for our contribution to the financing of reconstruction.""Without that," Delattre said, "nothing can justify having France and the European Union engage in financing reconstruction."And he added that without "a breakthrough" in the political process, the humanitarian situation will never be fully resolved.

In Iran, the past is a different country

Amir Taheri/Al Arabiya/July 30/18
“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 7,000 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 ancient regime, and the Qajar dynasty before that, are featured admiringly amid calls for them to be classified as national treasures and preserved.
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
Khomeini and his cohorts
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.

If it wasn’t for Riyadh, there would be no castle in Qatar
Fares bin Hezam/Al Arabiya/July 30/18
In our neighborhood, there is a respected sheikh, who is the eldest and most dignified, and he has a harmful neighbor. This neighbor has sought to attack this honorable figure to break his prestige. Time passed by and these efforts did not yield any results. However, the neighbor resumed his attacks and he ended up looking like a joke in front of the other neighbors who pray for him to be guided, meanwhile he increases his insults and yells. The very old sheikh never cared for more than his great responsibilities, which go beyond the villainy of this small neighbor which first began attacking the old sheikh then employed mouthpieces in different television channels in hopes it will harm his reputation. This small neighbor’s childish behavior increased as a result of insufficiency and he further embellished this day after day until he depicted himself as a midget across the entire ocean.
The disorder that those who govern Qatar suffer from is what led them to this political obsession. They thought that chaos creates sovereignty over everyone but their instincts preceded their wit and they ended up in this bitter political dilemma
Qatar's Saudi obsession
Qatar has only one project, which is Saudi Arabia, as for Riyadh, it has dozens of matters to address daily. Days go by and the issue pertaining to Doha is not even addressed by the Saudi cabinet; however, Qatar’s authority cannot go by for one hour without looking into their Riyadh files. Frankly, those who know Qatar’s funny image can see how its concerns and behavior has been limited to one cause, which is Saudi Arabia. Qatar does not give up trying to end this complex and invest its money and time at the expense of its own future and the Qataris’ future for the purpose of this cause, which is Saudi Arabia.
This hidden mad behavior became a public and daily approach. Qatar today is in a state of excessive agitation and it requires an examination and dissection to discover the origins of its illness’s symptoms. With little contemplation to understand this sick situation in Qatar and to work on its healing from the Saudi Arabia syndrome, strenuous efforts are a must to first produce enough maturity to comprehend the laws of nature, geography and history. History stipulates that if it hadn’t been for Riyadh, there would have been no ruler in Qatar.
The disorder that those who govern Qatar suffer from is what led them to this political obsession. They thought that chaos creates sovereignty over everyone but their instincts preceded their wit and they ended up in this bitter political dilemma. Perhaps these sweeping ambitions numbed them hence joining the ranks of madmen in the world of politics; yesterday it was Gaddafi and today it’s Hamad. Although all this time has passed by, Qatar has not yet comprehended that screaming will not resolve the dispute and it has not yet been guided to the right path to resolve its problem with its surroundings. It needs to re-evaluate its behavior and to examine its policy during the boycott. Have they yielded results or not? Qatar has been trying to harm the comprehensive alliance between Saudi Arabia and the UAE since before the boycott even began, and it has increased these efforts during the boycott. However, it failed. It even hinted at the possibility of reconciling with Riyadh without Abu Dhabi. Here lies the difficulty of learning and understanding the Saudi approach, despite the harsh experience the Qatar regime has lived through.
And now a year after the correction decision has been made, the Qataris must look at the map well: Who is with their regime and who is against it?
Those with it are countries that are politically and ideologically deviant and mad organizations and parties that spite the Gulf and its entire people.

Criminalizing the Muslim Brotherhood in the US
Mohammed Al Shaikh/Al Arabiya/July 30/18
According to Al Arabiya, experts called on by the US Congress to testify regarding criminalizing the Muslim Brotherhood have praised the efforts made by Republican legislators for reviving a bill that designates the Muslim Brotherhood as a terrorist group. They also reaffirmed that a lot should be done in this respect to achieve the desired security objectives. In my judgement, and according to my readings, terrorism first emerges as an ideology and secondly as a methodology from two main groups. The first is the Vilayat Al-Faqih state of Iran, which seeks to spread Shiism in the Muslim world by force. The other source, which has sectarian differences with the former but agrees with it in terms of the methods used, is the Muslim Brotherhood and its branches, which seeks to establish the so-called Islamic State or Caliphate. Islam, as I have always said, is a religion and has nothing to do with politics. It is rationally impossible to import political solutions from the past to manage today’s crises. If you impose this on today’s world, there will be nothing left but terrorism . In my opinion, today’s world cannot eliminate terrorism and besiege its culture if its groups are not criminalized. The world must also fight the aforementioned two sources. Only then can we fight the ideology and methodology employed by the forces of political Islam.
The US's rightful decision
For this reason, I felt quite optimistic while reading Al Arabiya’s report because the US’s move to designate the Muslim Brotherhood as a terrorist movement will be a crucial step for monitoring and tracking down the organization’s activities, thus monitoring its funding. This will limit its ability to support other Islamist movements around the world, as after the failure of what Obama called the ‘Arab Spring,’ it turned out that it was the supporter of Islamist terrorists. The US has clearly understood that Iran’s Vilayat Al-Faqih regime is a terrorist state, which must be economically besieged. I am certain that the world will also realize that political Islam groups, particularly the Muslim Brotherhood, are as big a threat as Iran. For their part, the Qatari authorities are trying through their money and media outlets to cover up this villainous group’s ill reputation. Qatar has actually given refuge to leaders and important figures of the Muslim Brotherhood shortly after the failure of the so-called ‘Arab Spring’ out of fear that Qatar’s rulers will be criminalized themselves as were a shield of protection for this group. However, I assert that Qatar cannot resist the pressure that’s increasing by the day and cannot continue to defend the Brotherhood and other Sunni political Islam movements for long as their collapse in Egypt, Syria, and Libya makes Qatar’s bet on this failed group similar to he who bets on a donkey that’s racing horses! Islam, as I have always said, is a religion and has nothing to do with politics. It is rationally impossible to import political solutions from the past to manage today’s crises. If you impose this on today’s world, there will be nothing left but terrorism, as is evident from the situation in Afghanistan, Syria and Libya, where the common denominator among these cases is political Islam groups which kill innocent people and carry out terror operations to gain power. Although the Muslim Brotherhood ruled the largest Arab country i.e. Egypt for a while, it failed dramatically so the Egyptians revolted and it was a real popular revolution then the army came to the rescue and reinstated the civilian state.
Some people might ask: What about Erdogan’s experience in Turkey? Turkey is a secular state that separates religion and state. Erdogan himself defends secularism. He even explicitly said: “Today, you cannot rule via a political formula you bring from history.” This Turkish leader’s Islamized approach only aims to fool the naïve. Terrorism will not end, unless the world agrees on criminalizing political Islam movements, whether Sunni or Shiite.

The Qatari style
Mashari Althaydi/Al Arabiya/July 30/18
The recent scandalous report by the British Sunday Times about Qatar’s dark methods to nab the 2022 World Cup bid is nothing strange to Doha’s general behavior, and it’s thus nothing that takes us by surprise and nothing that would make us exclaim “Oh my God!”, like the late stage actor Youssef Wahbi would. It’s perhaps said that the western media campaigns, especially British ones, are all due to the fact that Britain lost the bid to host the major event, but this excuse is used only if parties other than Doha and its Muslim Brotherhood supporters said it. These parties are aided by public relations figures who want Doha’s easy money and others who are willing to carry out any task as long as they’d get paid – and aren’t there several! The unity of the Qatari approach is amazing in terms of these black media campaigns, from football to politics, to religion, art and society. It is the same murderous black spring!
The evidence
An email dated May 2010 with the subject “strategy” read: “For the past 4 months we have undertaken an extensive campaign to undermine the 2018/2022 candidacies of competitor countries, particularly Australia and the US.”
How was this done?
-By recruiting journalists, bloggers and other figures to stir questions and hype up negative stories to harm other countries’ bids through media outlets. -By hiring the head of the Federation of Sports Economists (according to the lite
ral text) to write a comprehensive study on how the World Cup lost money when it was hosted in the US and how suggesting to host the 2018-2022 World Cup will also lead to loss of money.
-Hiring a group of American physical education teachers to ask their representatives in Congress to submit a legislation that opposes hosting the World Cup in the US under the pretext that the money which will be spent on the World Cup can be used for better purposes such as funding sports activities in high schools. Organizing protests by pro-rugby students in Australia who, while watching rugby matches, would raise signs that read “Hands off Our Rugby, No to World Cup!”
Is there any difference between this style and what Doha did while inciting the public opinion in the world and in Saudi Arabia against the presence of an American base in Saudi Arabia (Al-Kharj air base) under the religious excuse of “get the polytheists out from the Arabian Peninsula” only to host a similar base in Qatar?! Is there a difference between these styles and what Doha and its Muslim Brotherhood affiliates did in terms of inciting against Saudi Arabia with the illusion of the “deal of the century” with Israel, when it frankly and publicly worked with Israel?

The Shirazis: A narrative of eternal grief and sorrow
Hassan Al Mustafa/Al Arabiya/July 30/18
Al Arabiya’s last two articles on the Shirazis which addressed religious satellite television channels sparked many comments by these channels’ audience and critics. This reveals the great role these channels play. It’s thus extremely important to monitor these channels’ rhetoric and analyze it.
“These channels drown us in lamentation,” said a reader from Qatif, east of Saudi Arabia, noting the deep psychological effect the Shirazi television channels have. These channels do not only affect the audience but also their families and social surroundings.
These religious channels that are loaded with grief broadcast material related to Imam Hussein, are backed by stories attributed to Ahl Al-Bayt but without authenticating them and adopt a metaphysical discourse backed by visions and dreams and irrational tales. All this mythology reaches its peak with tatbir (striking oneself with a sword on the head), flagellation and the ritual run. It’s as if we are before a scene from Doomsday!
If one watches Al-Anwar TV 2, he’d realize that it has deviated from the Shirazi Movement in plenty of details and has become closer to Iran’s mentality and political line. There are speeches that harmonize with the slogans of the Popular Mobilization and Iraq’s Kata'ib Hezbollah
This grief and worry stains the Shiite character with bleakness that makes the person who lives in the 21st century feel responsible for a crime that happened around 1,338 years ago when Imam Hussein and his supporters died in the Karbala battle. It’s as if Imam Hussein’s appeal when he said “isn’t there anyone to help me” is still heard by the Shiites igniting endless pain and making them feel that they haven’t helped him or done enough! Crying went on and new grief ceremonies were created, such as the event that commemorates the death of Fatimah. This is of course in addition to Ashura.
A sad character does not care about the future because it’s drowned in its problems which it views as endless. This is a negative character that does not think about building life and that actually looks forward to the afterlife because it thinks it has the cure as the murderers of Imam Hussein will be tortured in hell. It is then that sadness goes away and Fatimah, Mohammed’s daughter, who died while grieving her son will restore her smile. Editor-in-chief of ‘Al-Sahel’ magazine Sheikh Habib al-Jumayaa thinks this lamentation “kills one’s spirit of life, obstructs the mind, makes the society lazy and (negatively) impacts its (ideas),” adding: “What Al-Bayt imams ordered us in terms of recalling their biographies and the disasters they endured does not mean living in the dark past but it actually means taking lessons to build the future and to be inspired by their values and morals.” He also said that what’s currently happening is plenty of “distortion to martyr Imam Hussein bin Ali’s biography and a distortion of his great values.”
Minority-based mindset
In 2004, I met Sayyid Morteza Shirazi, the son of late reference Sayyid Mohammed al-Shirazi, in Sayyidah Zaynab neighborhood near Damascus. Religious sciences’ students were among those at the meeting, such as Sheikh Habib al-Jumayaa, Sheikh Sami Bou Khamseen and Seikh Amin al-Ammar. Shirazi spoke about the project of Al-Anwar television channel saying it was for all of the Shiite and not just for one Shiite movement. He explained the difficulties which the channel’s team faced, including music and how they will replace it with something else. He said: “God helped them and they found a solution following months of trouble.” The solution he meant here is “sound effects.” After he finished talking, I commented and said that Almighty God has nothing to do with this issue as it’s purely technical. I also said that not using music is unjustified because many Shiite scholars permit listening to music and do not prohibit it; therefore, there is no need to limit the options especially that the channel is for all Shiites and not just for the Shirazi Movement. The dear guest, however, did not like what I said. This incident which happened around 14 years ago shows the minority-based mentality of those in charge of these channels. They claim that they do not only represent the Shirazis but even when it comes to a simple jurisprudential matter and a tiny detail, their views were still based on their own reference that prohibits music. So how can they be open to the rest of opposing and critical opinions?
This narrow-mindedness in terms of only accepting one opinion was opposed by Shirazi cadres from the beginning as they did not support the idea of satellite channels and thought it opposes what they were used to during the political and active work of reference Ayatollah Sayyid Mohammed al-Shirazi.
Al-Anwar which was first launched as representative of Sayyid Sadiq al-Shirazi’s reference adopted an approach that’s distant from politics. This created disputes among the team so Al-Anwar TV 2 was established.
Iraqi journalist Azhar al-Khafaji, who supervises Al-Anwar TV 2, told Al-Huda Magazine in June 2017 that the channel was launched “in response to necessary requirements in Iraq and the region.” He added that the channel “represents a platform for an honest and brave media outlet.” Khafaji also said that the channel was established at a “very dangerous phase when Iraq was under foreign invasion and when there were remnants of the former regime (affecting it).” If one watches Al-Anwar TV 2, he’d realize that it has deviated from the Shirazi Movement in plenty of details and has become closer to Iran’s mentality and political line. There are speeches that harmonize with the slogans of the Popular Mobilization and Iraq’s Kata'ib Hezbollah. Due to its “revolutionary” approach, it gained a wider audience inside the Iraqi Shiite community as well as presence on social media networks.
Hidden policy
Although most Shirazi religious channels kept away from political affairs, when the Iranian authorities arrested Sayyid Hussein Al-Shirazi in March, the channels Fadak TV and Imam Hussein TV spearheaded the wide media campaign launched by the Shirazi Movement against the Iranian authorities.
These two channels dedicated news segments and reports to follow up on developments on the matter. They also hosted Shiite religious figures which fiercely criticized Tehran and the principle of the guardian of the jurist and which also criticized Ayatollah Khamenei and his ideology and his predecessor Imam Khomeini. The media campaign was accompanied with protests in more than one city and the Iranian embassy’s building in London was stormed and the Iranian flag was taken down and a flag associated with Yasser al-Habib’s group was waved on the embassy’s roof instead. This raises questions about whether it’s true that these channels keep away from politics.
Explaining the phenomenon
What made the reference which was viewed as a pioneer in the field of Islamic work intellectually decline and adopt this fragmented rhetoric? The easy answer is that the movement’s thinker, i.e. Sayyid Mohammed al-Shirazi is dead. However there are also other objective reasons which are:
1. The fact that Sayyid Sadiq al-Shirazi lacks a cultural vision and an experience like the one his brother Sayyid Mohammed had. This is in addition to lacking the influential and charismatic character which was tantamount to an umbrella that all Shirazis gathered under despite their different ideas and orientations.
2. The domination of the movement as a reference over the movement as an active party: The roles of figures like Sayyid Mohammad Taqi al-Modarresi and his brother Sayyid Hadi, who represent the political partisan party, declined and they no longer enjoy wide popularity and have followers. Therefore, the “active” members lost their momentum in favor of the traditional figures within the Shirazi family.
3. The end of the opposing political work projects: The Islamic Front for the Liberation of Bahrain no longer exists. The Reform Movement in Saudi Arabia dismantled its structure and got involved in national work in the kingdom under the law. The Organization of Islamic Cooperation returned to Iraq after the fall of Saddam Hussein’s regime. Therefore, political efficiency was replaced by the rhetoric broadcast by religious satellite television channels.
The ritualistic discourse thus dominated most of the Shirazi Movement’s media wings except for few exceptions such as Annabaa network which is supervised by Sheikh Mortada Maash as its rhetoric is distinguished for its objectivity and moderation and its content is closer to the intellect of late Sayyid Mohammed al-Shirazi. The voices of those who criticized the exaggerated ritualistic approach were not heard inside the Shirazi reference so they preferred to defect from the movement. This is what the next article of Al Arabiya English’s series on Al-Shirazis will discuss.