June 06/2018
Compiled & Prepared by: Elias Bejjani


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Bible Quotations
We have been buried with Jesus by baptism into death & we too might walk in newness of life with Him
Letter to the Romans 06/03-11: "Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? Therefore we have been buried with him by baptism into death, so that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life. For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we will certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his. We know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body of sin might be destroyed, and we might no longer be enslaved to sin. For whoever has died is freed from sin. But if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. We know that Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him. The death he died, he died to sin, once for all; but the life he lives, he lives to God. So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus."

Titles For Latest LCCC Bulletin analysis & editorials from miscellaneous sources published on June 05-06/18
Iran Will Spare Hezbollah in Its Conflict with Israel, for Now/Hanin Ghaddar and Nader Uskowi/
The Washington Institute/June 05/2018
Lebanon goes back to the future as Assad allies return to politics/Sunniva Rose/MEE/June 05/18
Samir Kassir: The message and the award/Adnan Hussein/Arabiya/June 05/18
Future to Propose Bill on Naturalization of Spouses, Children of Lebanese Women/Thaer Abbas/Asharq Al Awsat/June 05/18
Qatar … A Year of Isolation/Salman Al-dossary/Asharq Al Awsat/June 05/18
Markets Have No Use for Economists These Days/Robert Burgess/Bloomberg View/June 05/18
Egypt's Al-Azhar Insists on Anti-Semitism/A. Z. Mohamed/Gatestone Institute/June 05/18
Palestinians: A Story You Have Not Heard in the West/Bassam Tawil/Gatestone Institute/June 05/18
The Arab World Needs to Move on From the Liberation of Palestine/Khalaf Al Habtoor/Haaretz/June 04/18
Netanyahu on Iran's Increased Uranium Enrichment: They Want a Nuclear Arsenal to Destroy Israel/
Noa Landau (Paris)/Haaretz/June 05/18
Iran’s Response: The ‘Strategy Of Tension’/Jonathan Spyer/Jerusalem Post /June 04/18
Dr. Bashar and comrade Kim, passion and revenge/Mashari Althaydi/Arabiya/June 05/18
Is Russia now the main sponsor for global terror/Dr. Azeem Ibrahim/Arabiya/June 05/18
The condition of Iran’s withdrawal for Assad to stay/Abdulrahman al-Rashed/Arabiya/June 05/18

Titles For The Latest LCCC Lebanese Related News published on June 05-06/18
Lebanon: Hezbollah Sets Stage for Post-election Phase
Report: Israeli Raids Hit Hizbullah Positions in Syria
Lebanon Border Demarcation Focal Point at Baabda
Russians Withdraw from Syria-Lebanon Border
Israel Says Oil Rights Dispute with Lebanon 'Delayed' Exploration
Sayegh: Citizenship Priority Must Go to People with Lebanese Origins
Kataeb, LF and PSP Leaders Join Measures as Per Naturalization Decree
Deal to broadcast World Cup for free in Lebanon finalized
US mediation may help resolve Lebanon-Israel oil and gas dispute, says Israeli minister
Future bloc calls for new law that regulates naturalization and allows Lebanese women to grant citizenship to their children
Hariri meets US Ambassador
Hariri chairs meeting of ministerial committee in charge of World Cup 2018 transmission
Gemayel says position on naturalization decree to be made after copy examination
Geagea, Kardel tackle local, regional affairs
General Security solicits information on names listed in naturalization decree
Lebanon asks UNHCR for devised plan on Syrian refugees' return to safe areas
Army commander meets Arslan
Sarraf discusses with French Military Attaché preparations for his visit to France
Iran Will Spare Hezbollah in Its Conflict with Israel, for Now
Lebanon goes back to the future as Assad allies return to politics
Samir Kassir: The message and the award
Future to Propose Bill on Naturalization of Spouses, Children of Lebanese Women

Titles For Latest LCCC Bulletin For Miscellaneous Reports And News published on June 05-06/18
Macron Walks Fine Line as Netanyahu Seeks Anti-Iran Front
Iran Tells UN It Will Hike Uranium Enrichment Capacity
Iran’s Supreme Leader Orders Uranium Enrichment
Kurdish YPG to Withdraw from Syria’s Manbij
Iraq: US Ambassador Meets Several Officials
Syria Kurds Say to Pull Forces from Flashpoint Town Manbij
Syria: Moscow Links Southern Battle to Iran’s Withdrawal
Seven Syrian Children Drowned off Turkey
Air Strike in Northeast Syria Kills 11 Civilians
US-Led Coalition Committed 'Potential War Crimes' in Syria, Says Amnesty
Bahrain: Court of Cassation Upholds Death Sentence ِِAgainst Killer of Policeman
UN Slams 'Chronic' Arbitrary Detention in Egypt
King Warns Jordan 'at Crossroads' over Economic Protests
Canada: Foreign Affairs Minister reaffirms Canada’s commitment to Americas
Latest LCCC Lebanese Related News published on June 05-06/18
Lebanon: Hezbollah Sets Stage for Post-election Phase
Beirut - Paula Astih/Asharq Al Awsat/Tuesday, 5 June, 2018/Following Lebanon’s parliamentary elections last month, Hezbollah has sought to re-attract to its camp several allies the Shiite party had lost during the electoral battle when it only allied with the Amal Movement against a number of political parties across the country. The first signs of the new plan appeared when Hezbollah Secretary General Hassan Nasrallah sat down with Free Patriotic Movement leader Gebran Bassil last Friday and when both head of coordination in Hezbollah, Hajj Wafiq Safa and Nasrallah’s political aid Hussein Khalil met with Progressive Socialist Party leader Walid Jumblatt on Sunday. Sources close to the party placed those meetings in the framework of “assessing the results of the elections, particularly that the last battle left wounds that need to be healed.”The sources told Asharq Al-Awsat that, “what currently happens is an attempt to sort out the current mess ahead of kicking off the post-government lineup phase.”According to the same sources, following the Nasrallah-Bassil and the Jumblatt-Khalil-Safa meetings, there would be two separate meetings between the party and MP Talal Arslan and head of the Marada Suleiman Franjieh. “Khalil was lately handed the file of Hezbollah’s relationship with a number of figures and forces, particularly Jumblatt, Arslan and Franjieh,” the sources added. A statement issued Sunday by the FPM Media Bureau said the Nasrallah-Bassil meeting focused on "setting a preliminary plan to combat corruption and adopt a common mechanism afterwards.” The Jumblatt-Safa-Khalil meeting focused on economic issues and the need to combat corruption, PSP spokesman Rami al-Rayyes told Asharq Al-Awsat. Speaking to the PSP-linked Al Anbaa website, sources denied that talks between the three men had tackled the issue of the next government lineup. The sources spoke about a “positive mood that reflected the two sides’ keenness on enhancing joint relations at the political internal level.”
Report: Israeli Raids Hit Hizbullah Positions in Syria
Naharnet/June 05/18/Israeli airstrikes have reportedly hit military positions of Hizbullah in Syria’s western region of Qalamoun, Sky News Arabia reported on Tuesday. It said on Twitter quoting “activists” that air raids believed to be Israeli, have struck Hizbullah military positions and an arms depots in the western region of Qalamoun in Syria.” The strike came around 5:00 am according to reports.The sources said that violent explosions rocked the area near Assal al-Ward and were caused by Israeli raids on the party. The reports could not be confirmed, it added.
Around 500 Iranian military advisers and members of Hizbullah, are deployed in the south of Syria.

Lebanon Border Demarcation Focal Point at Baabda
Naharnet/June 05/18/The demarcation of Lebanon’s southern border was the focal point of a meeting held Monday at Baabda Palace between President Michel Aoun,Speaker Nabih Berri, PM-designate Saad Hariri, General Security chief Maj. Gen. Abbas Ibrahim and head of the Lebanese military delegation participating in the tripartite meetings held in Naqoura Brigadier General Amin Farahat and Brigadier General Ruli Fares. The outcome of ongoing negotiations conducted between Lebanon and Israel through the United Nations was presented in order to address 13 disputed border points of the "Blue Line", al-Joumhouria daily said. Lebanon says Israel is constructing a cement separation wall on its southern border between Lebanon and occupied Palestine and building it in 13 disputed points, pending the final demarcation of the borders by the United Nations.
Consecutive meeting are held at the headquarters of the UNIFIL forces in Naqoura between the Lebanese and Israeli military delegations to that end. Hariri clarified after the meeting “the Lebanese delegation is doing serious work through the UN, and Major General Ibrahim is also working on this,” he said, hoping talks will record a progress on this issue. Al-Joumhouria daily said the meeting was not planned in advance, but was “hastily” decided by the President to “unify Lebanon’s position in light of the latest developments and the appointment of the new US envoy, David Schinger, to manage the negotiations on the disputed borders with Israel and Cyprus, replacing David Satterfield, who was retired.”Aoun’s invitation came ahead of the forthcoming meeting of the Lebanese-Israeli tripartite committee in the presence of the international forces in the south next week, devoted to discuss the land borders and the fate of the cement separation wall being built by Israel.

Russians Withdraw from Syria-Lebanon Border
Associated Press/Naharnet/June 05/18/A Russian force that deployed on Syria's border with Lebanon has reportedly withdrawn and been replaced by Syrian troops. The Lebanon-based Al-Mayadeen TV, which has reporters throughout Syria, says the Russian force withdrew Tuesday from the border area on the outskirts of the town of Qusair, a stronghold of the Lebanese Hibzullah group. Russia and the Iran-backed Hizbullah are both fighting alongside Syrian President Bashar Assad's forces. Al-Mayadeen and the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said Russian troops had deployed to the area on Monday. Neither provided details as to why they left. The rare deployment of Russian forces near the border came amid repeated Israeli warnings about Iran's growing military presence in Syria. Israel is widely believed to have been behind an airstrike on Qusair last month that killed and wounded Hizbullah fighters.

Israel Says Oil Rights Dispute with Lebanon 'Delayed' Exploration

Agence France Presse/Naharnet/June 05/18/Israel said on Tuesday that U.S. back-channel negotiations between the Lebanese and Israeli sides to solve the dispute over maritime borders have delayed exploration for oil and gas.” Israeli Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz said that “suggestion of new ideas proposed through the US back-channel talks to mediate a maritime dispute between Israel and Lebanon have complicated operations for gas and oil exploration.”He added that some “new ideas are on the table,” but declined to elaborate further. The acting U.S. assistant secretary of state for Near Eastern Affairs, David Satterfield, has shuttled between the countries in recent months as a mediator. “There is room for cautious optimism, no more than that. I hope that in the coming months, or by the end of the year, we will be able to reach a solution or even a partial solution for the dispute,” said Steinitz. In February, Lebanon signed its first contract to drill for oil and gas off its coast with a consortium comprising energy giants Total, ENI and Novatek, including in a block disputed by Israel. Israel says one of two blocks in the eastern Mediterranean where Lebanon wants to drill for oil belongs to it, and denounced any exploration by Beirut as "provocative". This has led to tension between both sides--which are technically still at war-- promising to protect their resources and warning about encroachment. Tension also mounted as Israel pursues the construction of a wall along the border. Block nine is the disputed block with Israel. Exploration is set to begin in 2019.
Sayegh: Citizenship Priority Must Go to People with Lebanese Origins 05th June 2018/Kataeb’s Deputy-President Salim Sayegh on Tuesday said that Lebanon is going through a critical phase amid the economic repercussions of the U.S. sanctions on Lebanon, stressing the need not to provoke further measures and international pressure.
Speaking following his meeting with the Maronite Patriarch Bechara Al-Rahi in Bkirki, Sayegh said that granting the Lebanese citizenship must be based on the right of blood, adding that priority should go to those of Lebanese descent who do not hold the nationality of their homeland.
“We are keen on fortifying the strong Lebanon and the strong presidency, as well as enhancing and safeguarding the President's powers. Vital issues that concern the people must be addressed so that the country remains an active partner in the international community,” he added.
Kataeb, LF and PSP Leaders Join Measures as Per Naturalization Decree
Naharnet/June 05/18/As part of coordinating efforts to counter a controversial naturalization decree granting Lebanese citizenship to foreigners, lawyers of three political parties met on Tuesday at the Kataeb headquarters in al-Saifi, the National News Agency said on Tuesday. Lawyers from the Kataeb party, Lebanese Forces and Progressive Socialist Party held talks to discuss the law that is yet to be disclosed. Kataeb chief MP Sami Gemayel headed the meeting. It comes one day after the same parties dispatched delegations to the interior ministry asking for a copy of the decree which raised criticism.
After the meeting Gemayel said: “Kataeb MPs have met with Interior Minister Nouhad al-Mashnouq yesterday who issued a statement saying the decree will be announced in 48 hours and the names to be granted the citizenship will be disclosed. We hope to get an answer tomorrow.”
Gemayel said getting a copy of the decree is a “priority so that we can study it and give an opinion about it. In order to take any legal or constitutional step we need to have the full text and names.”The law signed by President Michel Aoun reportedly grants citizenship to some 300 people mostly including names of Syrian figures close to Syrian President Bashar Assad who are also subject to US financial sanctions, to Palestinians, Western and Gulf businessmen, as well as a number of stateless applicants.The decree has provoked criticism, especially since it will be issued by a caretaker government.
Deal to broadcast World Cup for free in Lebanon finalized
Annahar first reported the breakthrough deal last week, after a source confirmed that a preliminary agreement was reached on May 30.
Annahar Staff /June 05/ 2018/BEIRUT: A deal between the Lebanese government and SAMA group, the sole distributor of BeIN Sports in Lebanon, was finally announced Tuesday after Télé Liban confirmed that it would broadcast the 2018 FIFA World Cup free of charge.
Annahar first reported the breakthrough deal last week, after a source confirmed that a preliminary agreement was reached on May 30. Lebanon's government and representatives of SAMA had been hashing out the final details of the agreement to provide the games to Lebanese households for free via the state-owned Télé Liban. The source added that both mobile network operators Alfa and Touch would split an estimated $5 million contract fee on behalf of the Lebanese government, enabling football fans across Lebanon of avoiding a payment of $100 to secure access to beIN Sports channels, a sports industry source told Annahar.The 21st edition of the World Cup will be held in Russia between June 14 and July 15, where 32 teams will battle it out for the most coveted international football prize.
US mediation may help resolve Lebanon-Israel oil and gas dispute, says Israeli minister
Annahar Staff/June 05/18 /Lebanon and Israel have been feuding over an 860-sq km disputed area that extends along the edge of three of the 10 blocks that form Lebanon’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ), with both parties staking their claim to the oil-rich surface.
BEIRUT: A partial deal over the delicate Lebanese-Israeli maritime dispute could be set up this year after new ideas were proposed by a U.S led back-channel mediation mission, Israel's Energy Minister told Reuters. Lebanon and Israel have been feuding over an 860-sq km disputed area that extends along the edge of three of the 10 blocks that form Lebanon’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ), with both parties staking their claim to the oil-rich surface. The area in question, which falls partially within Block 9, has been approved for oil and gas exploration after Lebanon signed in February its first exploration and production agreements. The agreement also includes exploration of Block 4 as well located further north along Lebanon's coast. The government had approved two bids by an international consortium of energy companies, comprising France’s Total, Italy’s Eni and Russia’s Novatek. In an interview with Reuters, Israel's Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz said that "some new ideas are on the table, more than that I cannot discuss."The Minister oversees energy exploration in Israel and is the pointman in indirect negotiations with Lebanon, according to Reuters. David Satterfield, the acting U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs, has also held separate meetings with both Lebanese and Israeli of officials over the past few months to try and resolve the dispute. Steinitz added that "there is room for optimism" over the geopolitical standoff while expressing "hope that in the coming months, or by the end of the year, we will manage to reach a solution or at least a partial solution to the dispute.”Earlier this month, Lebanon’s outgoing Energy Minister Cezar Abi Khalil said that the first phase of oil and gas exploration off the coast had begun after approving an exploration plan submitted by the consortium to search in two of the country’s 10 offshore blocks. Khalil added that drilling would begin in 2019.
Future bloc calls for new law that regulates naturalization and allows Lebanese women to grant citizenship to their children
Tue 05 Jun 2018/NNA - The Future Parliamentary Bloc held on Tuesday afternoon a meeting under the chairmanship of Prime Minister-designate, Saad Hariri, at the Center House. At the end of the meeting, MP Tarek Merehbi read the following statement: "The meeting focused on the developments regarding the government situation and the stances that accompanied the announcement of the decree granting Lebanese nationality to some persons. First, the bloc discussed some of the political tensions accompanying the ongoing consultations to form the government, and saw in them a natural expression of the positions of the blocs less than two weeks after the designation, and an extension of the atmosphere of the parliamentary elections and their results. These tensions do not surpass the usual ones in the formation of governments, and are still within the acceptable range of the give-and-take process between the concerned forces. The bloc emphasized the soundness of the orientations adopted by Prime Minister Hariri to overcome any possible obstacles hindering the formation and his call for awareness of the economic and social challenges facing Lebanon and the need to avoid tensions that waste time and unnecessary delay the process of formation. The bloc emphasized that the consensus of the various parties on the importance of reaching a comprehensive government formula that addresses these challenges responsibly, must encourage them to facilitate the task of the Prime Minister-designate, to reduce the conditions, and to launch a serious ministerial workshop that would be up to the Lebanese people's aspirations and the international community's expectations from Lebanon and its constitutional institutions, to implement the results of the support conferences. Second, the bloc regretted some of the reactions and stances that accompanied the announcement of the naturalization decree. It considered the publication of many misleading and incorrect information about the naturalization list and the inclusion of names that did not originally appear in the proposed decree, non-innocent attempts to impede the discussions to form the government and move the attention away from them to undermine the credibility of the presidency of the Republic and the government in dealing with the issue of naturalization. The bloc expressed its appreciation for the action taken by His Excellency the President of the Republic to postpone the publication of the names concerned by the naturalization, while waiting for the additional verification of these names and their innocence from any accusation that contravenes Lebanese laws and the requirements for granting citizenship. The bloc stressed that the experiences of granting the Lebanese citizenship and the questioning campaigns that accompanied them over the past years require working on the preparation of a special law that does not violate the constitutional right of the president to grant citizenship to those he deems fit, and regulates the process in the context of the national interest and the legal and human rights of those entitled. In this regard, the bloc emphasizes the priority of working to include in the draft law articles related to the right of Lebanese women married to Arabs or foreigners to grant citizenship to their children. This will put an end to the injustice suffered by thousands of Lebanese mothers who are denied the right to transmit their nationality to their sons and daughters."

Hariri meets US Ambassador
Tue 05 Jun 2018/NNA - Prime Minister-designate, Saad Hariri, met at the Center House on Tuesday, with US Ambassador to Lebanon, Elizabeth Richard. The pair reportedly discussed the current situation in Lebanon and the broader Arab region, in addition to the bilateral Lebanese-US relations.

Hariri chairs meeting of ministerial committee in charge of World Cup 2018 transmission
Tue 05 Jun 2018/NNA - Prime Minister-designate, Saad Hariri, on Tuesday chaired at the "Center House" the meeting of the ministerial committee in charge of discussing the issue of the transmission of World Cup 2018 matches. Attending the meeting had been Caretaker Information Minister, Melhem Riachy, Caretaker Telecom Minister, Jamal Jarrah, and Youth and Sports Minister, Mohammad Fneish. The meeting took place in the presence of Sama Company Chairman, Mohammad Mansour, and several advisers. At the end of the meeting, Minister Riachy announced that Tele Liban will broadcast the 2018 Football World Cup free of charge throughout Lebanon, following an agreement clinched at the "Center House." "The Lebanese will watch the World Cup matches across all Lebanon from Naqoura to the Great River," Riachy said after the meeting, disclosing that TL will screen the 'World Cup' free of charge. Riachy thanked SAMA company and its Chairman in this regard, and welcomed the efforts exerted by PM Hariri and the ministerial committee on this issue. The Minister underlined the national need for all the Lebanese to watch the full World Cup matches, pointing out that "the deal signed with Sama Company preserves the rights of companies and service providers.""Our job was to secure the right of all the Lebanese people to watch the World Cup 2018 and to prevent any piracy project or infringement on the rights of others," Riachy corroborated. "We will preserve the rights of people and companies that provide this service to citizens and all residents on Lebanese territories," Riachy noted. He also revealed that the agreement settles low prices for restaurants.

Gemayel says position on naturalization decree to be made after copy examination
Tue 05 Jun 2018/NNA - Kataeb party leader, MP Sami Gemayel, on Tuesday maintained that having a copy of the naturalization decree is a priority, in order to study it before taking a related position. "We must have the full text and names before we make any legal and constitutional step," he said. Gemayel made these remarks following a meeting he chaired at the Kataeb's central house in Saifi, in presence of lawyers representing the Lebanese Forces and the Progressive Socialist Party. "Today's meeting was preliminary; we will follow up on this dossier together to provide the Lebanese people with information and to announce the legal steps," Gemayel said. He explained that he contacted LF leader Samir Geagea and former MP Walid Jumblatt yesterday, to coordinate their stances regarding the naturalization decree. "The Kataeb party respects the president's power to issue naturalization decrees," he said.

Geagea, Kardel tackle local, regional affairs
Tue 05 Jun 2018/NNA - Lebanese Forces leader, Samir Geagea, on Tuesday received at his Meerab residence the Acting U.N. Special Coordinator for Lebanon Pernille Dahler Kardel, with talks reportedly touching on local and regional affairs. Geagea also met with Australian Ambassador to Lebanon, Glenn Miles, who congratulated him on the outcome which his party reaped during the recent legislative elections.

General Security solicits information on names listed in naturalization decree
Tue 05 Jun 2018/NNA - The General Security on Tuesday solicited citizens who have information on the names included in the recent naturalization decree to come forward and report it to the agency via its website, as of forthcoming Thursday.

Lebanon asks UNHCR for devised plan on Syrian refugees' return to safe areas
Tue 05 Jun 2018/NNA - Director of the Political and Consular Affairs at the Foreign Ministry, Ambassador Ghady Khoury, on Tuesday met with UNHCR representative to Lebanon, Mireille Girard, and the accompanying work team. The meeting featured high on the Lebanese reservations on the UNHCR policy towards the Syrian refugee crisis in Lebanon, especially as stability has been restored to several regions in Syria. A statement by the ministry indicated that upon the instructions of Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil, Ambassador Khoury has handed his guests a letter hereby demand the UNHCR to change its approach to the Syrian refugee issue, considering that many areas inside Syria are now safe. In the letter, Lebanon also asks the UNHCR to hand it a devised plan on the procedures intended to be taken to guarantee a safe return of refugees to the war-free zones.
While Girard maintained that the UNHCR is only concerned with the humanitarian causes, she tackled the negotiations the agency is holding to secure suitable humanitarian conditions for the refugees' return.

Army commander meets Arslan
Tue 05 Jun 2018/NNA - Army Commander General Joseph Aoun, on Tuesday received at his Yarzeh office, Caretaker Displaced Minister, Talal Arslan, with whom he discussed the general situation in the country. Maj. Gen. Aoun also received former Minister Jean-Louis Kordahi, at the top of a delegation, who presented a donation to the Lebanese army to equip Mount Lebanon dispensary with the necessary medical apparatuses. Aoun also received outgoing Egyptian Military Attaché, Colonel Wael Mahmoud Zakaria, who came on a farewell visit at the end of his mission in Lebanon.
The outgoing Military Attaché introduced his successor, Col. Mohammed Salah Eddine Ahmed Si.

Sarraf discusses with French Military Attaché preparations for his visit to France
Tue 05 Jun 2018/NNA - Caretaker Defense Minister Raid al-Sarraf, on Tuesday received French Military Attaché Colonel Christian Herrou, with whom he discussed preparations underway for his upcoming visit to France next week.Minister Sarraf also received outgoing Spanish Military Attaché, Colonel Jose Antonio Vega Mancera, who came on a farewell visit upon the end of his mission in Lebanon. MP Adnan Trabulsi also visited Sarraf.
Iran Will Spare Hezbollah in Its Conflict with Israel, for Now
حنين غدار ونادر يسكووي: إيران تشرك حزب الله في صراعها مع إسرائيل في الوقت الراهن

Hanin Ghaddar and Nader Uskowi
The Washington Institute/June 05/2018
Hezbollah is an organic part of the IRGC-QF, so its purported desire to distance itself from Iran would only mean its end.
According to recent media reports, some Israeli officials and military assessments have concluded that Hezbollah is trying to undo its reputation as an “Iranian puppet.” Such claims do not necessarily indicate that the terrorist group seeks actual independence from Tehran; if anything, their relationship has become closer than ever in the past few years. Rather, the reports suggest that both partners are trying to sequester Hezbollah from Iran’s brewing regional conflict with Israel.
Since Hezbollah first intervened in the Syria war, its identity has been altered. Its fighting force, its relation to other Shia militias, and the dynamics within its support base have all changed. Moreover, Hezbollah has taken on additional responsibilities such as recruiting, training, and leading other groups of fighters in Syria, Iraq, and Yemen. In essence, the organization has evolved into a virtual arm of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) and its expeditionary Qods Force, providing the connective tissue for a growing network of Shia militias.
The accompanying challenges have proven difficult for Hezbollah’s top echelons, who are expected to train and command a fighting force with new functions and goals. As their regional role develops, they require closer and more frequent coordination with IRGC commanders.
When Hezbollah’s former military commander Imad Mughniyah was assassinated in Damascus in 2008, his brother-in-law Mustafa Badreddine took his place. But when Badreddine was killed in 2016, no official appointment was made to replace him. Instead, Qods Force commander Qasem Soleimani became the default military commander for Hezbollah and other Shia militias fighting under his jurisdiction.
The IRGC's relationship with Mughniyah was very special. They knew him since he was a teenager and held him in high regard. He personally planned and executed the 1983 bombings against the U.S. embassy, Marine barracks, and other targets in Beirut, making him a symbol of the struggle against the West and Israel. Iranian decisionmakers always took his opinions into account when formulating regional policy. Today, only Hezbollah’s secretary-general, Hassan Nasrallah, enjoys this privilege—none of the group’s military commanders can claim such cachet.
This situation is likely attributable to the fact that Hezbollah has failed to find a commander who can match Mughniyah's skills. Not even Badreddine was able to fill his shoes; in fact, his numerous confrontations with Soleimani about Hezbollah’s mission in Syria reportedly led to serious tension between the two right up until his assassination.
Afterward, Soleimani apparently decided to adopt a more hands-on approach to Hezbollah’s military operations. While veteran commanders such as Ibrahim Aqil, Fuad Shukr, and Talal Hamiyah have become Soleimani’s link to Hezbollah’s military divisions, they do not enjoy the trust and advisory capacities that Mughniyah held. Furthermore, the group’s newer commanders still lack deep experience and operational capabilities.
The shift to more direct Iranian management began to surface a few years into the Syria war. One indicator came from recent sanctions efforts against Iran, which revealed that the country’s financing to Hezbollah has increased over the past six years. Last month, the U.S. Treasury Department imposed financial restrictions on Valiollah Seif, governor of the Central Bank of Iran, accusing him of helping the IRGC covertly transfer hundreds of millions of dollars to the group. He reportedly used al-Bilad Islamic Bank in Iraq for these transfers, leading Treasury to target the institution and its top two executives, along with a liaison between the IRGC and Hezbollah.
The increased investments have had visible effects in Lebanon, where Hezbollah and its political allies recently won the parliamentary elections. By intervening in Syria and other parts of the region, Hezbollah has been paying Iran back for past favors, but it has tied itself more closely to the IRGC in the process.
For example, this March, the conservative Iranian website Farda News quoted Nasrallah saying that his organization has pledged full allegiance to Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, and that its commitment to the Iranian Supreme Leader goes beyond its obligation to the Lebanese constitution. Nasrallah even reportedly said that when Hezbollah’s central committee discusses an issue, they refrain from any action if they believe Khamenei will be unsatisfied with it. While Hezbollah denies these reports, similar statements have been heard in interviews with Nasrallah’s deputy, Naim Qassem, and former IRGC commander Yahya Rahim Safavi.
In Syria, Iran has wanted different things from Hezbollah at different times. Tehran’s doctrine of proxy warfare calls for deploying foreign militias under the Qods Force’s command—supported by specialized elements of Iran’s armed forces—to compete militarily against enemies, yet without triggering all-out wars that would require its full military involvement. The 2016 victory against opposition groups in Aleppo showed the strength of this doctrine in certain situations.
Since then, however, the Iranian strategy in Syria appears to have changed. With the opposition nearly defeated, the Qods Force’s mission turned to establishing permanent bases all over Syria. Iran leased space in more than twenty Syrian military installations to house the IRGC’s artillery, armor, drones, ballistic missiles, and foreign militia proxies. It also deployed special forces units to Syria, each with its own weapons depots, runways, and missile launchers. Meanwhile, the Qods Force established a land corridor to connect its supply bases in Iran to its forces in Syria.
Yet Tehran’s visible effort to entrench itself in Syria for the long term has led to direct confrontations with Israel, and a wider showdown would force the IRGC to go beyond the Qods Force’s proxy approach. Iranian-Israeli conflict on Syrian soil could quickly escalate into open war, with Israeli forces hitting targets inside Iran and vice versa. Although Hezbollah would play an important role in such a war, its involvement would be relegated to secondary status.
In early May, IRGC missile forces in Syria fired some twenty rockets toward Israeli positions in the Golan Heights in a limited response to Israel’s earlier attacks on Iranian installations in Syria. The salvo seemed at least partly intended to test Israel’s response, which ended up being vast and disproportionate, hitting nearly all Qods Force installations in Syria. Introducing Hezbollah to a confrontation between regular Iranian and Israeli forces would undoubtedly heighten the chances of serious escalation—and Tehran is currently not prepared for such a conflict.
As Syria becomes the main potential venue of Iranian-Israeli confrontation, Tehran seems to be tasking Hezbollah with establishing fuller control of Lebanon, a vital forward base for the Islamic Republic. Hezbollah has accumulated more than 100,000 rockets and missiles over the years and knows how to use them. It is capable of firing 1,200 of them per day and can accurately target almost every major population center and strategic location in Israel.
In this sense, Hezbollah is Iran’s strongest foreign pawn to play against Israel—yet also its last resort. The group’s hold over Lebanon cannot be sacrificed in an open confrontation with Israel at this point. Despite the potential for continued covert operations abroad, Iran will probably keep Hezbollah from retaliating militarily from Syria or Lebanon. The group is unlikely to be used directly until Iran feels it needs to send a strong message to Israel or launch a full-fledged war.
Deterring Hezbollah’s involvement in the longer term would require various types of pressure. The group’s power derives from its sociopolitical status in Lebanon and its organic military relationship with the IRGC. The latter is difficult to break, but it depends in part on Iran’s land bridge across Iraq, Syria, and Lebanon. Cutting that route would make Hezbollah more vulnerable militarily, and make Iran more cautious about involving the group in its next foreign adventure. As for Hezbollah’s domestic status, it seems stronger than ever after the latest elections, but it is still subject to internal economic and political challenges that can be exploited via outside pressure.
Hanin Ghaddar, a veteran Lebanese journalist and researcher, is the Friedmann Visiting Fellow at The Washington Institute. Nader Uskowi is a visiting fellow at the Institute and former senior civilian policy advisor to U.S. Central Command.

Lebanon goes back to the future as Assad allies return to politics
Sunniva Rose/MEE/June 05/18
Figures associated with Syria have again come to prominence in Lebanese politics - and not everyone is happy
BEIRUT - Once, Syria’s pullout from Lebanon in 2005 felt like the end of an era.
After a 29-year occupation and accusations that Damascus was behind the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, Syria’s influence on its smaller neighbour was at a low.
Hariri’s killing brought hundreds of thousands of Lebanese on to the streets, demanding Syria’s exit. It was followed by parliamentary elections that reflected the country’s broad anti-Syrian sentiment, as the 14 March coalition of Hariri allies and Damascus sceptics took the majority of seats.
'It’s clear that Iranian influence in Lebanon is predominant today. It’s like 2005 never happened'
Sandra Noujeim, journalist
But a lot can change in 13 years. In May’s parliamentary polls, the first since 2009, old faces who have been ostracised from Lebanese politics for more than a decade made a comeback.
Some of them had not been seen since the time of the Syrian occupation, a period that many Lebanese associate with repression and a string of political assassinations.
But some see their return as a sign of the growing influence of Syria and, by extension, its sponsor Iran. Sandra Noujeim, a journalist at the Lebanese newspaper L’Orient-Le Jour, said: “It’s clear that Iranian influence in Lebanon is predominant today. It’s like 2005 never happened.”
Spy chief comes in from the cold
The most striking case is that of Jamil Sayyed, the former head of Lebanon’s General Security intelligence agency and a new member of parliament for Baalbek-Hermel near the Syrian border.
Once one of the most powerful men in Lebanon, Sayyed was jailed for four years in 2005 for his alleged involvement in Hariri’s death. He was eventually freed in April 2009 because of lack of evidence, just three months before parliamentary elections.
Newly released, Sayyed immediately had his eye on a political career, although as he told Middle East Eye last month, “it was too early to run as a candidate back then”.
In the end, it would be nine years before elections were held once more: the Lebanese parliament extended its own mandate three times, citing security issues related to the Syrian war across the border and problems with the electoral law.
By May 2018, when elections were finally held, the climate had improved for Sayyed and his ally Hezbollah.
For while Syria's influence has waned since the withdrawal, Hezbollah’s grip on Lebanese politics had proved stronger than ever, its successful military support of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad boosting its regional influence and representing the growing prominence of Iran, its backer.
Sayyed was elected as part of a Hezbollah-backed list to represent a constituency in east Lebanon’s Bekaa Valley. He presents himself as an independent politician but makes no secret of his allegiance to “the Party of God”.
As he received well-wishers a few days after his victory at his family home in the Bekaa, Sayyed said that he finally felt that “justice had been served” after his jailing and political exile.
But for him, his election does not necessarily symbolise the return of pro-Syrian politicians.
“Most of those that are against Syria today used to collaborate with Syria when it was present in Lebanon,” he said. “A real ally is one that stays loyal to you, whether you are strong or weak,” he added, in reference to his relationship to Syria.
Elie Ferzli argues that Lebanon should have a close relationship with Syria (Sunniva Rose/MEE)
“What is happening today is that a few Lebanese who were expelled in exceptionally unfair circumstances have returned, backed by popular demand. It is in Lebanon’s interest, for economic and security reasons, to be close to Syria.”
His arguments are close to those of Elie Ferzli, another Lebanese politician who has been voted in again after failing at the 2005 and 2009 elections.
A Greek Orthodox member of President Michel Aoun’s Free Patriotic Movement, Ferzli has also been re-appointed as vice speaker of parliament, a job he held from 1992 to 2004.
At the time, he was considered a staunch defender of the Syrian occupation. Like Sayyed, he argues for a close relationship with Syria to help Lebanon defend itself against Israel.
“When I hear people accuse me of being pro-Syrian, I don’t care. I don’t consider it to be an accusation,” he said. “I used to be very close to the Syrians. I cannot forget that they protected my community in the 1980s during the Lebanese civil war.”
Naturalisation scandal fuels alarm
Sayyed and Ferzil are not the only ones to have made a successful comeback.
Other political figures associated with Syria who have again come to prominence include Abdel Rahim Mrad (Bekaa), Albert Mansour (Bekaa), and Jean Obeid (Tripoli). Ex-minister Faisal Karame, scion of a family long associated with Assad and his father, was elected in Tripoli for the first time.
Long-time opponents to Syria and Hezbollah are angered by their comebacks, convinced that Damascus is strengthening its hold on the country.
This feeling has only been compounded by a recent scandal involving a naturalisation decree signed by Aoun granting Lebanese citizenship to up to 400 people.
In a country where women are unable to pass their citizenship onto their children, nationality is highly political. According to Nadim Gemayel of the Christian Kataeb party, more than 70 of those naturalised are pro-Assad Syrian and Palestinian businessmen.
“It is not clear how these people were chosen. However, many are wealthy Syrian businessmen close to the Assad regime”, Gemayal told MEE.
“I fear that they will use their newly acquired Lebanese nationality to open bank accounts in Lebanon, even though they are targeted by US sanctions. That would put our entire banking system at risk,” he said, a reference to how banking is the backbone of Lebanon's fragile economy.
Aoun attracts blame
Many opponents of Syria put the return of the likes of Ferzli and Sayyed down to the shifting position of Aoun, who struck an unlikely alliance with Hezbollah in 2006.
Aoun was fiercely anti-Syrian during the Lebanese civil war and lived in exile in Paris during Syria’s occupation. But his alliance with Hezbollah has since borne fruit, as the party’s support helped him win the presidency in 2016.
“It breaks my heart to see Jamil Sayyed elected,"said Fares Souaid, an MP from 2000 to 2005 and a founding member of the Qornet Shehwan Gathering, a predominantly Christian movement that began calling for the withdrawal of Syrian troops in the early 2000s.
According to the Gathering, Syria should have left Lebanon after the Israelis pulled out from the south in 2000, considering that Damascus claimed its presence on Lebanese soil was essential to protect it from Israel.
“Michel Aoun was in charge of politics and security after Syria’s withdrawal. He defended the generals”, Souaid said, in reference to Sayyed and three others who were jailed for their links to Hariri’s assassination.
Now Souaid fears that pro-Syrian MPs could push to legalise the weapons of Hezbollah, the only militia which was not disarmed after the Lebanese civil war. Hezbollah justifies the existence of its militia in the name of Lebanon’s defence against Israel.
“There are two armies in Lebanon: the official Lebanese army and Hezbollah. Those MPs could legalise a situation which I believe to be an aberration.”
Rivals: Fears are unfounded
Yet while some despair at the rise of pro-Syrian figures and their Hezbollah allies, their staunch rivals have also enjoyed a new prominence.
The Lebanese Forces (LF), a militia-turned-political party that Syria banned in the 1990s, almost doubled its MPs from eight to 14 at the May 2018 elections, indicating that sentiment against Hezbollah and Damascus still runs strong in some parts of Lebanon.
'People are afraid to speak out, so we cannot know exactly how many people actually support Hezbollah in Lebanon'
Antoine Habchi, Lebanese Forces MP
Antoine Habchi, an LF MP who was elected in the Hezbollah stronghold of the Bekaa, said his success was despite an intense smear campaign.
“People who didn’t vote for them were accused of collaborating with Israel or the United States," he said. "When that didn’t work, they accused them of supporting the Islamic State.
"People are afraid to speak out, so we cannot know exactly how many people actually support Hezbollah in Lebanon.”As for figures such as Sayyed, Habchi said that they should not expect to enjoy the same prominence that they had under the Syrian occupation.
“Their voices will be heard but I do not think it will change much,” he said. “They still will have to conform to the line of the big political parties that backed them, such as the Free Patriotic Movement or Hezbollah.”

Samir Kassir: The message and the award
Adnan Hussein/Arabiya/June 05/18
Some think that the role of the press and the media in general is declining. This belief is borne by the fact that the extent of public freedom is on the wane in Middle East countries. Even in the developed states in the East and the West, there are manifestations of curbing freedom of expression, and the US under Trump’s presidency is not the only example.
Journalists in our countries are still considered adversaries. Government apparatuses, state institutions as well as political and religious institutions, groups operating outside the law (such as militias) and conservative groups in society all share this view.
The journalists’ main job is providing information. It is not their fault if the information annoys or shocks those who do not want people to know the truth, particularly when it undermines their selfish interests which are mostly served at the expense of other people’s rights and interests.
I was recently a part of significant work experience as the Samir Kassir Center for Media and Cultural Freedom in Lebanon (SKeyes) honored me by making me a member of its jury for the Samir Kassir Award for Freedom of the Press.
The award is named after Arab journalist and academic Samir Kassir (of Palestinian father and Syrian mother and who lived in Lebanon) who was assassinated in a car bombing in Beirut in 2005 because he expressed his thoughts freely. His views were in sync with the interests of the Lebanese people, but were not in harmony with the interests of some local parties and some regional powers that had ascendancy in Lebanon.
This huge quantity of creative work has been produced at a time of declining public freedoms. What if these freedoms were greater? Certainly, we would have been in a far better situation. This is the message that has been sent by the Samir Kassir’s Award.
It is a source of pride that SKeyes has been very firm in committing itself to the codes of professionalism to bestow the award only to those who deserve it. This reinforces the confidence that good still exists in our region and in the Arab world that are satiated with evil.
Another reason for feeling proud is that the 193 entries by journalists from 12 countries are mostly of first-rate professional excellence. What is more important is that they are a true reflection of the Middle East and the Arab world that are still full of courageous journalists who do not hesitate to circumvent political and social prohibitions to convey information as it exists in reality and not as governmental institutions, political organization, militias, religious institutions and other social, conservative and backward groups want to present it.
The 193 press and media entries tackled political, social, economic and cultural cases and warned of the threats which our societies and our various institutions suffer from.
This huge quantity of creative work has been produced at a time of declining public freedoms. What if these freedoms were greater? Certainly, we would have been in a far better situation. This is the message that has been sent by the Samir Kassir’s Award. It is the same message which Samir Kassir devoted his life to. Samir was killed as a punishment. He was robbed of his life, exactly as our lives and future are being taken away right now in one way or another.

Future to Propose Bill on Naturalization of Spouses, Children of Lebanese Women
Thaer Abbas/Asharq Al Awsat/June 05/18
Lebanon’s Interior Minister Nohad al-Mashnouq said that a recent naturalization decree, which has sparked wide controversies, was “legal”. In remarks to Asharq Al-Awsat, the minister stressed that the decree was redrafted to eliminate inconsistencies, and was issued in accordance with the agreed principles and standards, pointing out that the names published in the media were not included in the decree; they were rather aimed at targeting the decree and its signatories.  Amid the growing controversy over the legality and legitimacy of the naturalization decree, which was issued just before the end of parliament’s term on May 20, Mashnouq announced that the Future Movement, led by Prime Minister-designate Saad Hariri, would propose a bill to grant nationality to the spouses and children of Lebanese women, “without exceptions”.
Such bill would open the door for further controversy, in light of a broad Christian objection over the fact that many Lebanese women are married to Palestinians and Syrians. In this regard, a Lebanese source told Asharq Al-Awsat that some 94,000 Lebanese women were married to foreigners, 74,000 of whom were Muslims, which could complicate matters to a large extent.Going back to the controversial naturalization decree, Mashnouq strongly denied that citizenship was offered in return for money, saying those who want to pay could get a European nationality with less than a million dollars.
On Monday, Mashnouq met with the head of the General Security, Major General Abbas Ibrahim, to discuss President Michel Aoun’s request to make sure that all those included in the naturalization decree deserved the Lebanese nationality. Commenting on media reports that some of those naturalized were suspected to be involved in legal and security cases, the interior minister said he had asked the three competent authorities, namely the Lebanese Judicial Gazette, the Information Division and the INTERPOL, to review all names, make remarks and attach the relevant investigations and reports to their files.
Mashnouq added that he attached the results of the investigations to the decree and referred them to Aoun and Hariri. Accordingly, several figures, who did not meet the legal requirements, were removed from the list. The interior minister later visited Aoun at the Baabda Palace, announcing that he had agreed with Ibrahim to “carry out a fourth review for further reassurance that the naturalization decree did not contain names that violate the laws. “Whoever has serious evidence, should submit it, instead of defaming the people, the Lebanese side, President Aoun and PM Hariri, and me,” he stressed.
Three Lebanese parties, including the Kataeb, the Progressive Socialist Party (PSP) and the Lebanese Forces (LF) have reiterated their willingness to challenge the decree. Representatives of those parties visited the Interior Ministry, asking to receive a copy of the decree in order to challenge it before the Higher Constitutional Council. MP Nadim Gemayel, representing the Kataeb, said following the meeting that his party would study three criteria: “First, the sectarian balance; second, the security and administrative scrutiny before the publication of the decree; and third, and most importantly, the criteria adopted for the selection of names.”In turn, PSP MP Faisal al-Sayegh said: “The Lebanese people have the right to know the added value of those naturalized,” stressing that important achievements should be “scientific and cultural, and not financial.”
In a news conference held on Monday, Foreign Minsiter Jebran Bassil said the anti-decree campaign aims to target the president and his tenure. “Collective settlement is rejected; but the individual naturalization of those deserving it and fighting settlement is appropriate,” he added.

Latest LCCC Bulletin For Miscellaneous Reports And News published on June 05-06/18
Macron Walks Fine Line as Netanyahu Seeks Anti-Iran Front
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/June 05/18/French President Emmanuel Macron meets Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Tuesday on the second leg of his European trip amid deep differences over how to contain Iran's ambitions in the Middle East. It will be the third meeting of the two leaders in Paris since last July, and while they agree on the threats posed by Tehran's missile projects and foreign interventions, they differ strongly on the response. Netanyahu has pursued his strident attacks against Tehran during his visit to Europe, warning during a stop in Berlin on Monday that its activities risked fuelling a new influx of migrants towards Germany. Iran was intent on fuelling "a religious war inside Syria and the consequences will be many, many more refugees and you know where exactly they will come," he told German Chancellor Angela Merkel. Netanyahu has been emboldened by US President Donald Trump's decision to pull out of the 2015 accord curbing Iran's nuclear programme -- and the threat of harsh sanctions against European firms doing business in the country. Yet Macron has led a staunch defence of the accord, whose other signatories -- France, Britain, Germany, China, Russia and the EU -- have maintained a common front so far. "Benjamin Netanyahu's goal is to not find himself isolated along with Washington," said David Khalfa of the Institute for European Prospective and Security in Paris. "At a minimum he's looking to force Europeans to reinforce the existing accord" via the US sanctions, but also the prospect of joint Saudi-US-Israel bloc setting the agenda in the Middle East, Khalfa said. Macron has warned that letting the deal fall apart will only inflame tensions, especially if harsh sanctions smother the economic relief Iranians began to enjoy after it was signed in 2015. He and Netanyahu are scheduled to hold a press conference after their talks and launch a season of cultural exchanges between their countries this year. - Balancing act -But relations have been further strained by the killing of 123 Palestinian protesters in Gaza by Israeli forces since March, including at least 61 people on May 14 alone. Macron denounced the "violence by Israel's armed forces" even as he noted the country's security concerns, a position deemed too simplistic by Israeli officials while also being derided by his leftwing critics in France. French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe cancelled a planned trip to Israel last month. Several pro-Palestinian groups are planning protests against Netanyahu in cities across the country, while three journalist unions have called his visit "intolerable". The journalist unions denounced the killing of Palestinian journalists by Israeli forces, as well as women, children and people working for emergency services in Gaza. Against this backdrop, talks on seeking an end to the Palestinian conflict have fallen to the wayside, not least after Trump broke with decades of protocol by recognising Israel's claim of Jerusalem as its capital. Last week, the European Union urged Israel to reconsider its decision to demolish a Palestinian Bedouin village in the occupied West Bank, saying it undermines "prospects for a lasting peace". Macron has announced plans to visit both Israel and the Palestinian territories this year. "Macron is taking a very pragmatic approach, separating the Israeli-Palestinian conflict from their bilateral cooperation," said Khalfa, noting in particular Macron's appreciation of Israel's push to become a "start-up nation". Macron and Netanyahu are also planning to inaugurate a show highlighting Israel's technological innovations, "Israel@lights", at the Grand Palais museum in Paris.

Iran Tells UN It Will Hike Uranium Enrichment Capacity
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/June 05/18/Iran has notified the International Atomic Energy Agency that it has launched a plan to increase its uranium enrichment capacity, nuclear chief Ali Akbar Salehi said Tuesday. "If conditions allow, maybe tomorrow night at Natanz, we can announce the opening of the centre for production of new centrifuges" for uranium enrichment, said Salehi, a vice president and head of the Iranian Atomic Energy Organisation, according to conservative news agency Fars. "What we are doing does not violate the (2015 nuclear) agreement," he said, adding that a letter was submitted to the IAEA "yesterday regarding the start of certain activities". He specified that this was just the start of the production process and "does not mean that we will start assembling the centrifuges".Under the 2015 agreement, Iran can build parts for the centrifuges as long as it does not put them into operation within the first decade. Salehi also emphasised that these moves "do not mean the negotiations (with Europe) have failed." European governments have been trying to salvage the agreement ever since the United States announced its withdrawal last month and said it would reimpose sanctions on foreign companies working in the Islamic republic by November. The other parties -- Britain, France, Germany, China and Russia -- have vowed to stay in the accord but many of their companies have already started to wind down Iranian operations. On Monday, Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei warned the Europeans that "Iran will never tolerate both suffering from sanctions and nuclear restrictions" and called for preparations to speed up uranium enrichment. Iran insists its nuclear programme is for civilian uses only, but opponents in the US, Israel and Saudi Arabia accuse it of seeking to build an atomic bomb.
Iran’s Supreme Leader Orders Uranium Enrichment
London - Adil Al-Salmi/Asharq Al Awsat/Tuesday, 5 June, 2018/Iran's Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei refused on Monday to give up his country’s development of ballistic missiles, criticizing European countries for their positions on US sanctions.
"From some European countries we get the message that they expect the Iranian people to both tolerate the sanctions, deal with and go along with them and give up our nuclear energy activities and continue with the restrictions," he told an audience commemorating the 29th anniversary of the death of Iran’s first supreme leader, Khomeini. “This dream will not come true,” he vowed. Khamenei said the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI) must make the necessary arrangements to reach 190,000 SWU within the framework provided by the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). However, Iran’s uranium enrichment would be limited to 5060 IR-1 centrifuges for ten years based on the JCPOA. The agreement also allows Iran to enrich uranium in research and development without storing enriched uranium and obtaining more efficient centrifuges, such as IR-4, IR-5, IR-6, and IR-8. Khamenei asserted: "The Iranian nation and government will not tolerate being under sanctions and stop nuclear ambitions.”Moreover, he considered the issue of ballistic missiles non-negotiable, pointing out: “Today, our youth have made us the foremost missile power in the region. The enemy must know, if they strike us just once, we will strike back tenfold!”Khamenei criticized internal parties, accusing them of collaborating with "enemies" to oppose the ballistic missile program. "Those insiders who help the enemy, with its psychological war, are today trying to impose a distorted JCPOA on the country.”Khamenei had previously said Tehran reserved the right to resume its uranium enrichment program "at the industrial level" if the deal collapsed.

Kurdish YPG to Withdraw from Syria’s Manbij
Asharq Al Awsat/Tuesday, 5 June, 2018/The Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG) announced on Tuesday their withdrawal from the Syrian flashpoint town of Manbij as Ankara announced that they will be disarmed as part of a roadmap with the United States. The YPG had taken part in the victorious offensive in 2016 to rid Manbij of the ISIS terrorist group. It has since kept military advisors in the town to train local forces. "Now, after more than two years of continuous work and with the Manbij Military Council being self-sufficient in their training, the YPG has decided to pull its military advisors from Manbij," it said in a statement. The YPG forms the backbone of the Syrian Democratic Forces, the Kurdish-Arab alliance that has ousted ISIS from swathes of Syria with help from the US-led coalition.The coalition has both American and French troops stationed in Manbij, but the YPG statement did not say whether they would be redeployed. It made no mention of ongoing efforts between the US and Turkey to resolve the fate of the town. Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu revealed that the YPG forces leaving Manbij would be stripped of their weapons.
Speaking to reporters in Turkey's southern province of Antalya, Cavusoglu said joint work on the roadmap, which he endorsed with his US counterpart Mike Pompeo in Washington on Monday, will begin in 10 days and be carried out within six months. He stated in future the model should also be applied to Syria's Raqqa, Kobani and other areas controlled by the YPG. The United States did not promise to declare the YPG a terrorist organization, Cavusoglu added.  He also said that Turkey's efforts in Manbij with the United States were not an alternative to working with Russia in Syria. For months, Ankara has threatened to march on Manbij, accusing the YPG of being the Syrian branch of the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), which is blacklisted in Turkey.
Those threats raised fears of a confrontation between Turkish and American troops that talks have tried to tamp down.

Iraq: US Ambassador Meets Several Officials
Baghdad - Hamza Mustafa/Asharq Al Awsat/Tuesday, 5 June, 2018/Iranian General Qassem Soleimani, commander of al-Quds brigades, has notably reduced his meetings and talks with Iraqi officials amid consultations currently underway in Iraq to form the largest bloc that will be tasked to form the new government. Meanwhile, US Ambassador Douglas Silliman has been drawing attention with his meetings of various Iraqi political parties, most recently Hadi al-Amiri, head of Fatah movement formed of factions in Popular Mobilization Forces, including League of the Righteous led by Qais al-Khazali, which US recently put on the terror list. Official spokesman of League of the Righteous and newly-elected MP Naim al-Aboudi, played down the importance of the meeting that included al-Amiri with the US ambassador. Aboudi told Asharq Al-Awsat that the meeting between the US ambassador and al-Amiri is not the first, because as a former minister, Amiri met with US officials and others, and therefore "we understand such meetings."The MP stressed that his bloc "categorically rejects meeting with US officials. Even the representative of Sadiqun bloc, the political wing of the League, left the meeting when he knew the US ambassador is attending. "We apologize to our brothers and we do not want to force them to take the same stances, but what I want to say is that Fatah Alliance is united,” he indicated adding that the League believes US officials are not serious in their help for the Iraqi people. Spokesman for Sadr's movement led by Moqtada al-Sadr, Jaafar al-Mousawi said there were "ongoing negotiations between the alliance with other political blocs." Mousawi indicated that he believes the last ten days of the holy month of Ramadan are crucial in this regard, stating that the concept of the patriarchal government which Muqtada al-Sadr suggested means a just state and law applied. Moussawi asserted: "Muqtada al-Sadr is an Iraqi man and his decision is an Iraqi decision." He hinted that it is impossible for Saeroon Coalition and State of Law Coalition to meet at a common point to form a single alliance noting that "it will lead to a collision and disaster."Head of Iraqi Center for Media Development Adnan al-Sarraj, denied to Asharq Al-Awsat reports that Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi will resign from al-Dawa Party. "Al-Abadi will not leave the Dawa Party under any condition, because it is his political capital and he can not compromise it, which is a strong point in the political movement," he said. As for whether Abadi would be prime minister again, Sarraj went on to say that currently there are indications that Abadi’s chances are on the rise. "There is broad international interest now in Iraq, not just US attention, as evidenced by the ambassador's meetings; other ambassadors are taking action now because the internal situation in Iraq has become of interest to the region and the world," he said. As for Iran's position in this issue, Sarraj indicated Iran is moving in the area that seems comfortable for it. He added that Tehran is relying on Shiites majority of the parliament as well as its influence on Kurdish blocs in Kurdistan.
Syria Kurds Say to Pull Forces from Flashpoint Town Manbij
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/June 05/18/A powerful Syrian Kurdish militia announced Tuesday it will withdraw from Manbij, a day after key brokers Ankara and Washington held talks on the fate of the strategic town. The Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG) spearheaded a victorious offensive in 2016 to rid Manbij of the Islamic State group, and had kept military advisors in the town to train local forces. "Now, after more than two years of continuous work and with the Manbij Military Council being self-sufficient in their training, the YPG has decided to pull its military advisors from Manbij," it said in a statement. The YPG forms the backbone of the Syrian Democratic Forces, the Kurdish-Arab alliance that has ousted IS from swathes of Syria with help from the US-led coalition. The coalition has both American and French troops stationed in Manbij, but the YPG statement did not say whether they would be redeployed. It also made no mention of ongoing efforts between the US and Turkey to resolve the fate of the flashpoint town. For months, Ankara has threatened to march on Manbij, accusing the YPG of being the Syrian branch of the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), which is blacklisted in Turkey. Those threats raised fears of a confrontation between Turkish and American troops that talks have tried to tamp down. Last month, Ankara and Washington outlined a "roadmap" to coordinate security in Manbij. US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and his Turkish counterpart Mevlut Cavusolgu discussed the Manbij plan in Washington on Monday, the State Department said. "They endorsed a Road Map to this end and underlined their mutual commitment to its implementation, reflecting agreement to closely follow developments on the ground," it said in a statement, providing no further details.

Syria: Moscow Links Southern Battle to Iran’s Withdrawal
Asharq Al-Awsat/Tuesday, 5 June, 2018/Moscow confirmed on Monday that its jets would not provide air coverage to Syrian regime forces in their “southern battle,” if Iranian-linked militias are allowed to participate in it.The Russian Hmeimim airbase announced in a statement posted on its Facebook page that “Iranian forces and Hezbollah should withdraw from southern Syria, or else Syrian regime forces would not be provided with any support from Russian forces in the upcoming battle in the province of Daraa.”The statement added: “We have fears of losing this battle in the absence of Russian launchers, which helped Syrian regime forces win several battles.”During the weekend, Secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council Ali Shamkhani denied that any Iranian forces were present in southern Syria. Earlier, Moscow and Tel Aviv held advanced talks concerning Syria after Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu met in Russia with Avigdor Lieberman, his Israeli counterpart, while President Vladimir Putin and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu discussed Syria in a phone call. Political sources in Tel Aviv said the advanced Russian-Israeli talks led to an understanding to keep Assad’s forces and to allow their deployment at the border with Israel, in exchange for the withdrawal of Iranian fighters from Syria. Meanwhile, Turkey’s Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said on Monday he discussed with his US counterpart, Mike Pompeo, the roadmap for northern Syria’s Manbij and the conflict in Syria. The roadmap stipulates the withdrawal of the PKK-affiliated People's Protection Units (YPG) group from the northern Syrian city and the establishment of a local council responsible for municipal services, taking ethnic distribution of the population into consideration. Separately, reports said an explosion hit a military base of US-led Coalition troops in northern Syria’s Ain Issa town on Sunday night. However, Washington’s allies later denied the reports.

Seven Syrian Children Drowned off Turkey
Istanbul - Asharq Al-Awsat/Tuesday, 5 June, 2018/Nine Syrian refugees, including seven children, trying to reach Europe drowned on Sunday when their speedboat sank off Turkey’s Mediterranean coast, state media reported. The boat, with 15 persons on board, hit trouble off the Demre district of Turkey’s Mediterranean Antalya province, the Anadolu news agency said, adding that 6 were saved. One woman, a man and seven children lost their lives in the sinking, with the oldest child aged 14 and the youngest just three, according to the agency. The Dogan news agency said they were seeking to head illegally to Europe but their planned route was not immediately clear. The nearest EU territory is the small Greek island of Kastellorizo to the west which lies off the Turkish resort of Kas. Over a million people, many fleeing the war in Syria, crossed Greece from Turkey in 2015 after the onset of the bloc’s worst migration crisis since the Second World War. Turkey struck a deal with the EU in 2016 in an effort to stem the flow of migrants, and agreed to take back illegal migrants landing on Greek islands in exchange for incentives, including financial aid. The deal sharply curbed the number of migrants seeking to cross from Turkey to Greece, however observers say that the numbers seeking to use this route have been rising again in recent months. According to the International Organisation for Migration (IOM), almost 11,000 people crossed to Greece this year up to May 30, sharply more than in the same period in 2017. 35 people lost their lives using this route so far this year, the IOM says.

Air Strike in Northeast Syria Kills 11 Civilians

Agence France Presse/Naharnet/June 05/18/An air strike on an area in northeastern Syria still held by the Islamic State group has killed at least 11 civilians, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said Tuesday. The Britain-based monitor said the strike was conducted early Monday in the south of Hasakeh province by the US-led coalition, which has been battling IS jihadists in the region since 2014. There was no immediate confirmation by the coalition of the strike, the latest in a series to have reportedly caused civilian casualties in the area in recent weeks. The strike "resulted in the death of 11 civilians, including five children," Observatory chief Rami Abdel Rahman told AFP. "The bodies were only pulled out on Tuesday due to continuous bombardment." He said the area targeted was near the village of Jizaa, one of the very last pockets still controlled by IS in eastern Syria's Euphrates Valley. Kurdish-dominated forces backed by the US-led coalition are spearheading the ground offensive in the area. The Observatory, which relies on a network of sources inside Syria, says it determines whose planes carried out raids according to type, location, flight patterns and munitions used. The coalition assesses some reports of civilian deaths resulting from its air strikes, and releases updated figures on the casualties it admits to often weeks or months later. On Friday, the coalition admitted to nine more civilian deaths over a period of a year, bringing the total since the start of its intervention in Iraq and Syria to 892.
Monitoring group Airwars says the number acknowledged by the coalition is well below the true toll of the bombing campaign, estimating that at least 6,259 civilians have lost their lives in both countries.

US-Led Coalition Committed 'Potential War Crimes' in Syria, Says Amnesty
The US-led military campaign to oust the Islamic State (IS) group from the Syrian city of Raqa in 2017 killed hundreds of civilians in indiscriminate bombing, committing possible war crimes, Amnesty International said on Tuesday. The military operation failed to take "adequate account" of civilians and the "precautions necessary to minimise harm" to them in the city, which IS had declared its de facto capital in Syria, the human rights group said in a report. "Coalition claims that its precision air campaign allowed it to bomb IS out of Raqa while causing very few civilian casualties do not stand up to scrutiny," the report concluded. "The coalition strikes detailed in this report appear either disproportionate or indiscriminate or both and as such unlawful and potential war crimes."The United States led a four-month campaign of air strikes from June last year, dubbed a "war of annihilation" by US Defence Secretary James Mattis, to liberate Raqa from IS control. Amnesty researchers travelled to the devastated city in February and spent two weeks visiting 42 coalition air strike sites, interviewing 112 witnesses and survivors. The report -- "'War of Annihilation': Devastating Toll on Civilians, Raqa – Syria" -- details the experiences of four families "whose cases are emblematic of wider patterns". Between them, they lost 90 relatives and neighbours -- 39 from a single family –- almost entirely from coalition air strikes, according to Amnesty. "The cases provide prima facie evidence that several coalition attacks which killed and injured civilians violated international humanitarian law," the report said. The probe, which also analysed satellite imagery and other publicly available material, found the coalition fired vast numbers of imprecise explosive weapons in populated areas. Amnesty has written to defence officials in the United States, Britain and France -– whose forces carried out the air strikes over Raqa -– seeking additional information about these cases and about other attacks, it said. "When so many civilians are killed in attack after attack, something is clearly wrong, and to make this tragedy worse, so many months later the incidents have not been investigated," said Donatella Rovera, Amnesty's senior crisis response adviser. "The victims deserve justice." Coalition spokesman US Army Colonel Sean Ryan told Britain's Press Association that Amnesty International UK director Kate Allen should "leave the comforts of the UK " and travel to Iraq and Syria to see how coalitions forces were "fighting an enemy that does not abide by any laws, norms or human concern". He insisted the coalition made "painstaking efforts" to assess allegations of civilian casualties and any "non-combatant death or injury is a tragedy". A spokesman for the UK ministry of defence said it had been "open and transparent" over its nearly 1,700 Syrian strikes. "We do everything we can to minimise the risk to civilian life," he added. "We must accept that the risk of inadvertent civilian casualties is ever present."

Bahrain: Court of Cassation Upholds Death Sentence ِِAgainst Killer of Policeman
Manama- Obeid Al-Suhaimi/Asharq Al-Awsat/Tuesday, 5 June, 2018/The Bahrain Court of Cassation on Monday upheld a death sentence against a Bahraini national convicted of killing a security man as a result of a terrorist act. The convicted man had planned with a cell of 12 members to target security personnel. The Court of Cassation also upheld sentences ranging from life terms to 10 year-imprisonment against members of the cell and the revocation of the Bahraini nationality from all convicted persons. Attorney General Ahmed Al-Hammadi, head of the Prosecution of Terrorist Crimes, said the High Cassation Court upheld the death sentence against the first defendant in the terror case and confirmed life terms and imprisonment sentences against the other defendants.The first convict established a terrorist organization with others in order to target and kill the police by means of bombings, after they planted bombs in the parking areas of the security forces. On July 4, 2017, the main convict and other collaborators planted an explosive device on Al-Eker Road near the Applied Science University (ASU) and when a police armored vehicle arrived, they detonated it, resulting in the death of a policeman. The case was deliberated in the presence of the lawyers of the defendants, who were provided with all the legal guarantees. The ruling was also approved by the First Criminal Court of First Instance in March.

UN Slams 'Chronic' Arbitrary Detention in Egypt
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/June 05/18/There has recently been a "significant escalation" in Egypt's crackdown on social dissent, the UN said Tuesday, warning that arbitrary detention in the country had become a "chronic problem". Since 2013, international human rights groups have criticised President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi's government for cracking down on secular and left-wing activists, as well as Islamists close to the banned Muslim Brotherhood. But the UN rights office warned Tuesday of a "renewed campaign of arrests, interrogations and detentions of activists, bloggers and journalists in Egypt" in recent weeks. This "appears to indicate a significant escalation in the crackdown against the rights to freedom of expression, association and assembly in the country," spokeswoman Ravina Shamdasani told reporters in Geneva. She said a long line of prominent bloggers, journalists, lawyers and activists were among those who had been detained in the weeks since Egypt's General Prosecutor in February ordered prosecutors to monitor social media sites that "spread lies and fake news". The growing crackdown also coincided with March elections that gave Sisi an official 97 percent of the vote. He was sworn in for his second four-year term last Saturday. Personalities involved in the January 2011 popular uprising that brought down president Hosni Mubarak are among those who have been detained, including blogger and journalist Wael Abbas and Shadi Ghazali Harb one of the youth leaders during the 2011 revolution. In many of the recent cases, those arrested were not presented with a warrant, the UN said. "We are extremely concerned that arrests like this, often followed by harsh sentences, and often for simply exercising the rights to freedom of opinion, expression and assembly, have become commonplace," Shamdasani said. "Arbitrary detention has become a chronic problem in Egypt." She stressed that the cases she was raising were only the "prominent cases ... which have come to the attention of the United Nations. Certainly there must be many other cases".The UN rights office, she said, is calling on authorities in Cairo "to fully ensure the rights of all detainees to their physical and psychological integrity, and to due process". She also called for "the immediate and unconditional release of all those currently being held by the Egyptian authorities for the legitimate exercise of their human rights".

King Warns Jordan 'at Crossroads' over Economic Protests
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/June 05/18/Jordan's King Abdullah II has warned that the country is "at a crossroads", as protesters angered by anti-austerity measures took to the streets again overnight despite the prime minister's resignation. Around 2,000 demonstrators gathered close to the prime minister's office in central Amman to denounce IMF-backed reforms, hours after premier Hani Mulki stepped down on Monday. "We are demanding a change to the government's economic programme, not just a change in prime minister," said university student Ahmad Abu Ghazzal, 23. "We're sick of seeing changes in the cabinet -- it's not good enough and it doesn't have any results," he said. The king blamed the country's economic woes on regional instability, the burden of hosting hundreds of thousands of Syrian refugees and a lack of international support. "Jordan today stands at a crossroads: either it can come out of the crisis and provide a dignified life to our citizens, or, God forbid, it can go into the unknown -- but we have to know where we are going," he told a group of journalists late Monday, according to the official Petra agency. Protesters shouted slogans against the government and the International Monetary Fund as they gathered overnight under a heavy police presence. Some carried Jordanian flags and chanted "we want rights and duties, not tips and handouts! and "down with the IMF!"Some brought children or presented trays of sweets to security forces. Last month, the government proposed a new income tax law, yet to be approved by parliament, aimed at raising taxes on employees by at least five percent and on companies by between 20 and 40 percent. It was the latest in a series of austerity measures since Amman secured a $723-million loan from the International Monetary Fund in 2016. Since January, resource-poor Jordan, which suffers from high unemployment and poverty, has seen repeated price rises including for staples such as bread, as well as extra taxes on basic goods. Fuel prices have risen five times since the start of the year, while electricity bills have surged by 55 percent since February. The measures have sparked some of the biggest economic protests in five years.Jordan, a key US ally, has largely avoided the unrest witnessed by other countries in the region since the Arab Spring revolts broke out in 2011, although protests did flare late that year after the government cut fuel subsidies. Resignation 'not enough' -The latest protests started last week when unions called for nationwide demonstrations. They have rocked several other cities, including Irbid and Jarash in the north, Zarqa in the east, and the southern city of Maan, which saw deadly riots in the 1980s over rising food prices. After accepting Mulki's resignation, the king asked Education Minister Omar al-Razzaz to form a new government, a government source told AFP. But the premier's departure did not stop people from demonstrating after breaking the Ramadan fast in Amman and other cities. "When the protests began they weren't just directed against Mulki as a person, they were against the income tax draft law and the price hikes," said Bushra Abu Jabbara, a 34-year-old pharmacist. "We want the government to respond to our demands and withdraw the bill, which hasn't happened yet," she added. A majority of deputies -- 78 out of 130 MPs -- have said they will vote against the draft legislation. Mulki's resignation was "a positive sign" the government was taking the protesters' demands seriously, Jordanian political analyst Samih al-Maitah said. "The income tax draft law is almost certain to be dropped now," he said. The bill is one of a tranche of measures aimed at slashing Jordan's public debt from over 90 percent of GDP to 77 percent by 2021. King Abdullah said gas supply cuts due to attacks on an Egyptian pipeline to Israel and Jordan had cost the kingdom some $5.6 billion (4.8 billion euros). He added that the closure of the borders with the kingdom's main export markets, war-torn Syria and Iraq, and the cost of securing those frontiers, had added to Jordan's economic woes. The UN refugee agency says it has registered more than 650,000 Syrian refugees in Jordan since the conflict in Syria began in March 2011. Jordan says it hosts 1.3 million Syrian refugees, and has repeatedly called for more international help.

Canada: Foreign Affairs Minister reaffirms Canada’s commitment to Americas
June 5, 2018 - Washington, D.C., United States - Global Affairs Canada
The Honourable Chrystia Freeland, Minister of Foreign Affairs, today concluded her participation at the Organization of American States General Assembly in Washington, D.C.
At the General Assembly, the Minister reiterated the importance of multilateral actions to respond to political and humanitarian crises in the hemisphere. She underscored the need for concerted action to restore the fundamental democratic and human rights of the people of Venezuela. She also highlighted Canada’s contributions to the Caribbean at a time when many countries there are still recovering from the devastating 2017 hurricane season.
Minister Freeland announced, on behalf of the Honourable Marie-Claude Bibeau, Minister of International Development and La Francophonie, $79.21 million in funding for nine projects to support women and adolescent girls’ sexual and reproductive health rights, prevent gender-based violence, increase women’s political participation, improve water security for vulnerable populations—especially women—support climate resilience efforts and increase incomes among smallholder farming families, with an emphasis on woman farmers. This funding demonstrates Canada’s commitment to strengthening the economic prospects and security of some of the hemisphere’s most vulnerable people.
“As an engaged bilateral and multilateral partner, Canada’s commitment to the promotion of democracy, human rights, security and development, for the good of all citizens, is unwavering. We, as members of the Organization of American States, have a responsibility to ensure this multilateral forum is used effectively to make important and difficult decisions.”
- Hon. Chrystia Freeland, P.C., M.P., Minister of Foreign Affairs
“Canada will continue to work with neighbouring states in the Americas to build a more prosperous and sustainable future together. Canada believes that supporting women and girls’ health and their right to security will enable them to play a key role in building climate resilience in their communities and to be drivers of an economic growth that benefits everyone. ”
- Marie-Claude Bibeau, Minister of International Development and La Francophonie
Quick facts
The pillars of Canada’s engagement in Latin America and the Caribbean region are:
promoting democracy, human rights, inclusion and diversity;
supporting inclusive growth and poverty eradication;
supporting climate change and adaptation; and
improving regional security.
Canada’s international assistance in Latin America and the Caribbean focuses on the empowerment of women and girls and the advancement of a progressive, feminist agenda that promotes human rights, prosperity, resilience and democratic governance.
In 2016 to 2017, Canada provided more than $670 million in total international assistance to the Americas.
Canada has seven free trade agreements in Latin America, with Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Honduras, Panama, Peru and Mexico.
Canada is also pursuing free trade negotiations with two of the most important economic blocs in Latin American: Mercosur, composed of Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay; and the Pacific Alliance, composed of Chile, Colombia, Mexico and Peru.

Latest LCCC Bulletin analysis & editorials from miscellaneous sources published
on June 05-06/18
Qatar … A Year of Isolation
Salman Al-dossary/Asharq Al Awsat/June 05/18
Qatar completed yesterday the first year of the diplomatic boycott imposed on it by four Arab countries over its support of terrorism and rapprochement with Iran in a manner that harms its neighbors. Throughout that year, Qatar did not cease its attempts to restore some sense of normalcy.
It tried everything over the table and under the table through legal and illegal means. It sought to achieve a diplomatic breakthrough with the four countries. It tried to use money to pressure the West. It bought the allegiance of several figures inside and outside its borders to promote lies and rumors.
Today is June 5, 2018 and nothing has changed. Qatar is still where it started. All it did was create more isolation for itself. No one can predict when its crisis will end.
Are there signs of an imminent solution? There is no doubt that politics has taught us that surprises cannot be ruled out and nothing is completely final. I, however, do not see any signs for a possible settlement, at least not for the next year. This is not pessimism, but rather a reflection of Qatar’s exposed diplomacy that does not deserve much attention and analysis.
Let us recount what Qatar has done to tackle its crisis. It first resorted to money, then money and later, even more money. This is what it is good at. It believes that wealth alone can end its isolation or ease its suffering.
For example, Doha purchased Paris’ neutrality when it signed a deal, worth 14 billion dollars, with President Emmanuel Macron at the end of 2017. After that, Macron no longer criticized Qatar over its terrorism funding as he had did during his presidential electoral campaign.
What about the United States? It struck a deal with it to acquire F-15 jets worth 12 billion dollars. In Britain, its shopping cart included Typhoon jets worth 6 billion dollars. In the Italian bazaar, it struck a deal to buy seven military ships worth 6 billion dollars. In Germany, it purchased 62 Leopard 2 tanks worth 2 billion euros. We must also not forget the negotiations with Russia over the S-400 missile air defense system.
It is interesting to point out what Russian military expert Viktor Murakhovsky said about Qatar. He noted that any weapons deal does not have a practical purpose, but a political one. “This rich country can buy the S-400 system simply to improve ties with Russia,” he remarked.
Qatar may have spent some 40 billion dollars on major military deals during a single year, but it has practically grown weaker militarily, politically and diplomatically than what it was before June 5, 2017. It is in an unenviable position, even as it frantically piles up the military deals. More importantly, no one knows whether all the weapons, rockets and jets Qatar is collecting can actually fit in its territories.
After a year of isolation, Qatar’s defense minister is entitled to say that his country will not allow its territories to be used for a potential American strike against Iran. The whole world can laugh at this because it knows that if Washington wanted to go through with the strike, it will not pause to wait for Qatar’s permission.
After a year living in crisis, Qatar has the right to “protect the safety of its consumers” by announcing a ban on the import of all products made in the four Arab countries. It also has the right to import food products from other countries, such as Turkey, Morocco and Iran, even as it claims that it is being “besieged.” At the same time, the four Arab countries have the right to practice their sovereignty and take a firm stance against this country, even if the boycott lasted for the next ten years.
Qatar is entitled to many of the things it does, practices and says. Its major problem though is that nothing it does, practices or says can break its isolation.

Markets Have No Use for Economists These Days

Robert Burgess/Bloomberg View/June 05/18
Investors in the US awakened Thursday to a slew of reports from economists upgrading their second-quarter growth forecasts. The new estimates from the likes of JPMorgan Chase & Co. and Amherst Pierpont Securities LLC ranged from 2.75 percent to 4.2 percent. And yet the S&P 500 Index fell and Treasuries rallied. The message? All bets are off in a trade war.
Any optimism investors might have had about the economic outlook was quickly dashed when the Trump administration announced it was imposing tariffs on steel and aluminum imported from the European Union, Canada and Mexico. Bloomberg News called the move the most aggressive trade action yet by the US against its chief allies. Those allies promptly said they would take immediate steps to retaliate. At this point, nobody knows where this will end or what the impact will be on the economy. As such, investors face a pretty big dilemma. They can either stick with higher-risk assets such as equities and hope a full-out trade war is averted, or go into supposed safe assets such as bonds and hope the recent acceleration in inflation proves fleeting despite the red-hot jobs market.
Sticking with stocks isn't a bad idea, relatively speaking. Bank of America on Thursday became the latest big firm to recommend that investors pummeled by turbulence from emerging markets to Europe raise holdings in US stocks, according to Bloomberg News's Lu Wang. Citing heightened political risk in Italy and economic slowdowns from Japan to Europe, strategists including James Barty advised clients to sell shares in the Nikkei 225 Stock Average and buy those in the S&P 500.
The US bond market had an interesting reaction to the tariff news Thursday. On the one hand, longer-term Treasury yields dropped and the difference between two- and 10-year yields shrank to less than 41 basis points for the first time since 2007. Both are classic signs that bond traders expect economic growth to slow. But breakeven rates on five-year Treasuries, or what traders expect the rate of inflation to be over the life of the securities, rose. Put all the moves together and you get what economists call "stagflation," a pernicious development that last struck the US economy in the bad old days of the 1970s. Of course, one day's move doesn't guarantee anything happening in the future, but investors have been quietly debating the issue of stagflation for a few months, given how flat the yield curve has been (an inverted yield curve is notable because it's a reliable precursor to recessions) and forecasts for a recession hitting as soon as late next year.
For whatever reason, May has become a horrible month for the commodities market. The Bloomberg Commodity Index has fallen in May in each of the past eight years. But this May, that losing streak came to an end, with the gauge rising 1.25 percent. Of course, the jump in such energy prices as crude oil and gasoline had a lot to do with that, but the gains were broad-based and included both precious and industrial metals as well as agricultural products. That suggests investors either expect a global trade war to lift prices for raw materials or that they have a lot of confidence in the resiliency of the global economy – or maybe a bit of both.

Egypt's Al-Azhar Insists on Anti-Semitism
A. Z. Mohamed/Gatestone Institute/June 05/18
Signed by politicians from the right and left, as well as Jewish, Muslim and Catholic leaders, the declaration asks that "the verses of the Quran calling for the killing and punishment of Jews, Christians and unbelievers be [denounced as] outdated by theological [Islamic] authorities, as were the incoherencies of the Bible and the Catholic anti-Semitism abolished by Vatican II, so that no believer can rely on a sacred text to commit a crime."
"He [Abbas Shoman, Deputy to the Grand Imam of Al Azhar] also asked the signatories of the manifesto to understand that the Quran is the right way and "if they insist on their misguided understanding [of it], they should go to hell with their wrong understanding." — El Masry al Youm, Egyptian daily.
One wonders how, after having been taught Islamic supremacy all their lives, imams could even try to understand such a manifesto. Sheikh Shoman's remarks may just indicate his own indoctrinated anti-Semitism.
Saying that "Islamist violence has nothing to do with Islam" does not make it so. Like or not, it does.
Whether one likes it or not, the image of the Jews depicted and disseminated extensively by Quran is that they are inherently evil and enemies of Islam, enemies of "the religion of truth," and of all Muslims. When anyone, such as a moderate Muslim or non-Muslim, draws attention to this dismaying fact, such as its direct connection to an indoctrinated hatred of "all" Jews, and when anyone calls for a justified examination or reform of these views, he immediately faces accusations of "Islamophobia." He is then overwhelmed by dozens of false rationalizations and supposed justifications in a way that indicates a deeply-rooted avoidance by senior Muslim scholars and institutions -- and even many mainstream Muslims -- of the truth that Quranic verses are full of hatred of Jews. All of the Jews, no exceptions:
Al-Bukhari (3593) and Muslim (2921) narrated from the hadith of Ibn 'Umar (may Allah be pleased with him) that he said: I heard the Messenger of Allah (blessings and peace of Allah be upon him) say: "The Jews will fight you and you will prevail over them, then a rock will say: 'O Muslim, here is a Jew behind me; kill him.'"
In Saheeh Muslim (2922), it is narrated from the hadith of Abu Hurayrah that the Messenger of Allah (blessings and peace of Allah be upon him) said: "The Hour will not begin until the Muslims fight the Jews and the Muslims will kill them, until a Jew hides behind a rock or a tree, and the rock or tree will say: O Muslim, O slave of Allah, there is a Jew behind me, come and kill him. Except the gharqad (a thorny tree), for it is one of the trees of the Jews."
Christians (and all "disbelievers") are not far behind:
"They have certainly disbelieved who say, " Allah is the third of three." And there is no god except one God. And if they do not desist from what they are saying, there will surely afflict the disbelievers among them a painful punishment." (Quran 5:72) Sahih International translation.
"O you who have believed, fight those adjacent to you of the disbelievers and let them find in you harshness. And know that Allah is with the righteous." (Quran 9:123) Sahih International translation.
"O you who have believed, do not take the Jews and the Christians as allies. They are [in fact] allies of one another. And whoever is an ally to them among you – then indeed, he is [one] of them. Indeed, Allah guides not the wrongdoing people." (Quran 5:51) Sahih International translation
It was no wonder, therefore, that Egypt's al-Azhar University, the most influential school of Sunni Islam, was enraged by a call from many intellectuals in France to amend the verses in the Quran that disseminate anti-Semitism and hatred of non-Muslims.
Recently, Al-Azhar condemned an open letter written by co-founder of the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, Philippe Val, and signed by more than 250 French politicians and public figures such as former President Nicolas Sarkozy, three former Prime Ministers, elected officials, intellectuals, and artists, calling to reconsider outdated the Quran verses that provoke hatred and killing of Jews and promote anti-Semitism. Twelve members of Charlie Hebdo's staff, including its senior editor-in-chief, Stéphane Charbonnier, were murdered and 11 others injured by three Muslim extremists shouting "Allahu Akbar" ["Allah is the Greatest"], on January 7, 2015.
The new manifesto, "Against New Anti-Semitism," which emphasizes the need for urgent action against the rise of anti-Semitism and recent increase in violent anti-Semitic attacks in France, was published in the newspaper Le Parisien on April 21. "In our recent history, 11 Jews have been murdered -- and some tortured -- by radical Islamists because they were Jewish," the manifesto said.
Signed by politicians from the right and left, as well as Jewish, Muslim and Catholic leaders, the declaration asks that "the verses of the Quran calling for the killing and punishment of Jews, Christians and unbelievers be [denounced as] outdated by theological [Islamic] authorities, as were the incoherencies of the Bible and the Catholic anti-Semitism abolished by Vatican II, so that no believer can rely on a sacred text to commit a crime."
In response to the manifesto, the Deputy to the Grand Imam of al-Azhar, Abbas Shoman, decried any calls for purging or considering obsolete any verses of the Quran and labeled such calls as "absolute ignorance," the Egyptian daily al-Masry al-Youm reported. And in obvious taqiyya (dissimulation), Shoman denied that the Quran contains "any verses that command the killing of anyone that has not committed a crime that necessitates that, such as premeditated murder" and falsely described all "war and killing verses" as calling for justified self-defense and as verses of peace. He also asked the signatories of the manifesto to understand that the Quran is the right way and "if they insist on their misguided understanding [of it], they should go to hell with their wrong understanding." Notably, Sheikh Shoman overlooked that the French manifesto not only talks about the murder and abuse of Jews; it was also talks about the culture of anti-Semitism being promoted by dozens of Quranic verses. One wonders how, after having been taught Islamic supremacy all their lives, imams could even try to understand such a manifesto. Sheikh Shoman's remarks may just indicate his own indoctrinated anti-Semitism.
Islam is not the only religious text that contains violence and anachronistic passages -- a fact highlighted by a few imams such as Tareq Oubrou, imam of the Grand Mosque of the southern city of Bordeaux. Yet, as has been noted elsewhere, Islam is the only remaining religion in which "people still live by" these texts, where violence is divinely sanctioned.
Sheikh Shoman correctly says that Allah loves not the aggressor,
"Fight in the way of Allah those who fight you but do not transgress. Indeed. Allah does not like transgressors." (Quran 2:190) Sahih International translation.
Yet, it has often seemed easy to point to others as aggressors -- whether real or imagined -- to justify a "defensive" response and guarantee that the defense of Islam has been "just." The problem, of course, is that what constitutes an "aggression" is wholly subjective. While everyone has the right to defend oneself if attacked, justifications for what constitutes an attack have ranged from children naming a stuffed teddy bear Muhammad (the teacher, who was British, received death threats and served jail time) in the Sudan, or another teacher, in Spain, who was sued for having discussed ham, a major Spanish export, in class.
The Catholic Church issued a declaration ( November 18, 1964) that unequivocally absolved the Jews of all times -- whether in the era of Jesus or in later days -- from the ancient charge of deicide, which meant abolishing incoherencies of the Bible and traditional Catholic anti-Semitism. Muslims strongly believe that the Quran, which forbids befriending "disbelievers" is the permanent word of Allah, the only God, hasn't and will never be altered or modified and should not be equated with other religious texts have been altered and distorted.
"Let not believers take disbelievers as allies rather than believers." -- Quran 3:28; Sahih International translation.
In an egocentric and deceptive spirit, the "Observatory of Islamophobia," which is affiliated with the Egyptian Dar al-Iftaa (an institution run by al-Azhar scholars and is responsible for issuing fatwas [religious opinions]) denounced the manifesto as hateful and Islamophobic, and claimed it that causes attacks and antagonism against Muslims. The statement deliberately ignores that, according to the manifesto:
"French Jews are 25 times more likely to be attacked than their fellow Muslims. 10% of the Jewish citizens of Ile-de-France -- that is to say about 50,000 people -- were recently forced to move because they were no longer safe in some cities and because their children could not attend public schools anymore."
We will never be able to understand Islamist violence in Europe, the Middle East, and around the world if political and religious leaders -- including al-Azhar and Pope Francis -- insist on saying that Islamist violence has nothing to do with Islam. Saying that "Islamist violence has nothing to do with Islam" does not make it so. Like or not, it does.
As the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, remarked in a November 2016 lecture at the Catholic Institute of Paris, "If we treat religiously-motivated violence solely as a security issue or a political issue, then it will be incredibly difficult -- probably impossible -- to overcome it." The archbishop also insisted that, "Until religious leaders stand up and take responsibility for the actions of those who do things in the name of their religion, we will see no resolution."
*A. Z. Mohamed is a Muslim born and raised in the Middle East.
© 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.

Palestinians: A Story You Have Not Heard in the West
Bassam Tawil/Gatestone Institute/June 05/18
Samah Abu Ghayyath still has not been formally charged with committing any crime. Hamas will not say why the mother of five was held in detention for 23 days.
This is the real tragedy of the Palestinians: failed leadership that has deprived them of international aid and a good life in favor of hating and killing Jews. Their leaders have dragged their people from one disaster to another -- from Black September in Jordan in the '70s, to the civil war in Lebanon in the '80s and '90s, to the Second Intifada during the 2000s, and to wars in the Gaza Strip that have claimed the lives of thousands of Palestinians.
Where are all those who claim to be "pro-Palestinian" and are spewing hatred against Israel and Jews at college campuses in the US and Canada? If they really want to help the Palestinians, let them stand up and shout about the rights of women and gays living under Hamas's repressive regime, and journalists who are being harassed and arrested by Mahmoud Abbas's security forces.
Yelling lies about Israel and Jews does not make one "pro-Palestinian." It only makes one an Israel-hater. Hating Israel does not improve human rights conditions for Palestinians living under Hamas and Fatah. Instead, it serves as a distraction and even facilitates Fatah and Hamas in suppressing public freedoms and human rights.
A Palestinian mother of five just spent 23 days in prison. During her incarceration, she was held in unspeakable conditions and denied family visitations. She was also prohibited from consulting a lawyer.
This is a story that no one has heard in the West.
Why? Because the Palestinian woman, Samah Abu Ghayyath, was detained not by Israel, but by Hamas, the Palestinian terror group that rules the Gaza Strip.
Abu Ghayyath would have been "fortunate" if she had been arrested by Israel. Then, the case would have reached the pages of major media outlets around the world and "pro-Palestinian" activists would have staged demonstrations and online campaigns to support her and denounce Israel.
By contrast, for instance, consider the example of Ahed Tamimi, a Palestinian teenage girl from a village near Ramallah in the West Bank. In December 2017, Tamimi was detained by Israeli authorities for physically assaulting an Israeli soldier. After agreeing to a plea bargain, she was sentenced to 8 months in prison.
Tamimi has since become a symbol of the Palestinian "struggle" against Israel. She is glorified by many in the mainstream media in the West and advocates of Palestinian human rights around the world, who have turned her into an icon.
Tamimi has won all this fame and glory because she and her family members have long been staging skirmishes with Israeli soldiers in their village of Nabi Saleh. The teenager and her parents have made it a habit to invite journalists -- or anyone carrying a camera -- to document their provocative actions against the soldiers.
Abu Ghayyath, however, the woman from the Gaza Strip, has been less fortunate than the golden girl from the West Bank.
Unlike Tamimi, the arrest of the mother of five in early May by Hamas did not spark an international outcry. Western journalists and human rights organizations did not endorse Abu Ghayyath, as they were quick to do with Tamimi, a girl who hit an Israeli soldier.
Had Abu Ghayyath been arrested by Israel, her name would have appeared on the front pages of The New York Times and in the broadcasts of the BBC and CNN. The only ones who picked up her ordeal and demanded her release, however, were a few Palestinian women's groups and, of course, her family. Predictably, only a handful of Palestinians -- and no Westerners -- dared to denounce Hamas for arresting the woman.
Even after Abu Ghayyath's release, it remains unclear why Hamas's security forces arrested her in the first place. Some Palestinians speculated that she could have been taken into custody because of her affiliation with Hamas's rivals in Fatah, the secular faction headed by Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas. Others believe she may have been arrested because of her activities on behalf of women's rights in the Gaza Strip.
Abu Ghayyath still has not been formally charged with committing any crime. Hamas will not say why she was held in detention for 23 days. She herself appears to be too afraid to talk about the hard days she spent under interrogation in Hamas prison. In addition, her personal computer and mobile phone were confiscated.
Abu Ghayyath's friends and family claim she was tortured physically and psychologically during her incarceration. They say they cannot understand the silence of many Palestinians and the international community towards Hamas's action against a mother of five (her youngest child is only 8 months old).
During the time Abu Ghayyath was being held by Hamas, her children, some in tears, appeared on a Ramallah-based television station to appeal for the release of their mother. Hamas clearly did not care about these children, who were left at home alone, especially during the fasting month of Ramadan where the older girls (aged 13 and 11) had to prepare food and look after the younger ones.
Abu Ghayyath's friends in Fatah have denounced her arrest as a "stain of shame on the forehead of Hamas." But who said that Fatah's human rights record is any better?
Fatah is the dominant party of the Palestinian Authority that rules the West Bank. Its members and supporters also make up the largest percentage of the PA security forces, responsible for suppressing public freedoms and cracking down on political rivals and dissent.
Abu Ghayyath may have been the latest victim of the 11-year-old power struggle between Fatah on one side, and Hamas in the West Bank and Gaza Strip on the other. Both Fatah and Hamas have been arresting and harassing each other's supporters for more than a decade.
The rivalry between Fatah and Hamas has resulted in a situation where the Palestinians have two separate mini-states -- one ruled by Fatah in the West Bank and another ruled by Hamas in the Gaza Strip. The two mini-states are both failed entities run by vicious and corrupt leaders who are blocking the emergence of new and younger leadership and clamping down on public freedoms.
These two mini-states have spared nothing in their struggle to throttle each other, from throwing Palestinians from rooftops and lynching them in public squares, to cutting off medical supplies, as President Abbas has done to the Gaza Strip.
This is the real tragedy of the Palestinians: failed leadership that has deprived them of international aid and a good life in favor of hating and killing Jews. Their leaders have dragged their people from one disaster to another -- from Black September in Jordan in the '70s to the civil war in Lebanon in the '80s and '90s to the Second Intifada during the 2000s to wars in the Gaza Strip that have claimed the lives of thousands of Palestinians.
But let us return to Abu Ghayyath. Where was Western sympathy or even attention while she was languishing in Hamas prison? Why was no one in the West interested in her story? Because she was not the victim of Israel. She was targeted only by her own people, by Hamas.
As such, Western journalists covering Palestinian affairs could not care less. The same way they do not care about repressive measures taken by Fatah and Hamas against Palestinians. The same way they see no wrongdoing on the Palestinian side. The only stories foreign journalists are interested in are those that reflect negatively on Israel.
This is yet another reminder of the dangerous double standard of the international community. Where all those who claim to be "pro-Palestinian" and are spewing hatred against Israel and Jews at college campuses in the US and Canada? If they really want to help the Palestinians, let them stand up and shout about the rights of women and gays living under Hamas's repressive regime, and journalists who are being harassed and arrested by Mahmoud Abbas's security forces.
Yelling lies about Israel and Jews does not make one "pro-Palestinian." It only makes one an Israel-hater. Hating Israel does not improve human rights conditions for Palestinians living under Hamas and Fatah. Instead, it serves as a distraction and even facilitates Fatah and Hamas in suppressing public freedoms and human rights.
*Bassam Tawil is a Muslim Arab based in the Middle East.
© 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.

The Arab World Needs to Move on From the Liberation of Palestine
مقالة للخلف الحبتور في جريدة الهاررتس تدعو الفلسطينيين واليهود للعيش معاً في دولة واحدة ويطالب العرب بالتوقف عن المناداة بتحرير فلسطين
Khalaf Al Habtoor/Haaretz/June 04/18
Israel is going nowhere, and we in the Arab world have to deal with it. That means offering Israelis prosperity, security and friendship; all Israel needs to do is overcome their prejudices and give Palestinians their rights
For the people caught in the enduring Israeli-Palestinian conflict, their own leaders and Western intermediaries have failed.
Summits, conferences, accords and a roadmap going nowhere have been a waste of time and effort. Earlier attempts at finding solutions brokered by U.S. presidents Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton were genuine - but were stymied. Those that followed were either fig leaves or half-hearted.
Today, there is not only "nothing on the table," there is no table. When Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced there would never be a Palestinian state on his watch – a statement he later retracted for international consumption – he meant every word. Just days ago, his government announced it would consider approving the construction of 2,000 more settler homes on the West Bank.
And, quite frankly, I am beginning to think President Donald Trump’s blueprint for peace is a figment of his imagination.
There is plenty of blame to apportion. But regurgitating past errors of judgment has been done over and over again. It is beyond time for a new page to be opened in this unending book of horrors. How long must we go on rehashing and repeating more than 50 years' worth of mistakes?
Presidents, prime ministers, Middle East envoys and UN Secretary Generals, however well-meaning, have achieved precisely nothing. Relations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority are on the rocks. Rockets and missiles fly both ways over Gaza.
I am convinced that peace will not come from the top down, but rather requires grassroots movements - on the lines of Peace Now, established by Israeli reservists in 1978 to advocate for a two-state solution. Once popular and commanding a huge Israeli following, it is now on the fringe; its activists subjected to death threats.
The climate has worsened since the movement’s heyday, currently dominated by fear, hatred and a thirst for revenge. Those destructive emotions need to change. Trust between the two peoples needs to be built brick by brick; they should learn to see each other as fellow human beings with the same hopes and dreams. Peace Now’s philosophy must be revived in the hearts of minds of not only Israelis but also Palestinians.
Israelis and Palestinians must put a lid on the past, no matter how painful and bloody, else they will suffocate what could be a bright future. Yesterday is just fodder for history books. The only path of any value is forward, a path that takes us away from dark shadows into the light.
What Palestinians have to gain from a peaceful conclusion to this conflict is well known. The tiny spark of hope that gave them the courage to carry on is all but stifled, replaced by desperation, evidenced by recent mass protests in Gaza resulting in dozens of deaths and thousands of injuries.
Their courage is beyond reproach. But other than placing their plight on the international front burner for a brief moment in time, such demonstrations are exercises in futility at a great cost to those who took part.
Yes, Israel’s reputation for brutality has been endorsed again. European states and even sectors of the American Jewish community are outraged. Many countries are beginning to consider Israel a pariah state. However, as long as it remains under a White House umbrella, it will never be held accountable.
Appealing to Netanyahu or Trump to come up with solutions in good faith is pointless. They only understand the language of force.
My appeal is directed at the people of Israel, so used to the status quo that they may be unaware that reconciliation with stable, prosperous Arab states on condition Palestinians get their rights will provide them with untold benefits.
Those benefits include inflows of investments from the GCC and other Arab countries to boost Israel’s economy. That translates into new business opportunities, improved infrastructure, greater opportunities and prosperity.
They include the ability to travel and be welcomed as tourists throughout most of the Middle East.
They include a reduction in anti-Semitism exacerbated, in part, by the occupation.
They include a potential end to the conscription of young Israelis and mandatory reserve duty.
They include an exchange of talent and technologies. Multilateral cultural and social interactions. The end of aggression and loathing.
And they include security and intelligence cooperation, buffering Iran’s belligerence.
I would ask Israelis to set aside their long-held prejudices and dig deep to see what is in their interests. The same goes for Arabs.
Think about your children and grandchildren. Don't indoctrinate them with your fears and hatreds. Don't pollute the minds of future generations. Young people deserve to be carefree, not forced to wear uniforms and carry weapons. Allow them to formulate their own views.
Give them a chance to move forward together, free from the weight of your emotional baggage and bad experiences. Changing attitudes is a crucial prerequisite for Israelis and Arabs to live together with mutual respect on the same soil.
Like it or not, the Israeli state is recognized by the United Nations and the world at large.
Israel boasts high-calibre university graduates, ground-breaking inventions and cutting-edge research. Better to deal with it than fruitlessly wishing it away.
Israel with its nuclear weapons and military might is going nowhere.
Whereas I have championed a two-state solution throughout most of my life, organizing fundraisers and conferences, I am a realist.
The chance of two states happening is gone, other than the creation of another enclave like Gaza, a demilitarized entity with no control over its own borders.
I can only conclude that Israelis and Palestinians must coexist in one state as equal citizens with the same rights.
We all prayed for Palestine to be liberated and for Palestinians to have their own state, but is that achievable now? Or is that simple, wishful thinking within our stubbornly romantic minds?
Wishful thinking will not permit the Palestinian people to live in dignity and security without fear.
Let us shift our thinking towards a logical solution that will secure a better future for our nations, for Arab and Israeli youth and especially for those young Palestinians, born in conflict, who deserve the same chances enjoyed by their peers everywhere.
Israelis and Palestinians should revolt against the useless old leadership and outdated playbooks keeping them on different sides of the fence.
Tear down those figurative and material walls.
People power could be a game changer. The men in suits bent on consolidating power have let you down.
Peace engendered by the very people who have the most to gain (and to lose) could work where all else has failed.
**Khalaf Al Habtoor is the chairman of the Al Habtoor Group, an international business conglomerate with interests in real estate, hotels, the automotive industry, education and publishing, based in the United Arab Emirates. Twitter: @khalafalhabtoor

Netanyahu on Iran's Increased Uranium Enrichment: They Want a Nuclear Arsenal to Destroy Israel
Noa Landau (Paris)/Haaretz/June 05/18
PARIS - Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu responded to news that Iran was increasing its uranium enrichment, saying that "two days ago Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the leader of Iran, said he intends to destroy Israel. Yesterday, he explained how he wants to do it – with unlimited uranium enrichment to create a nuclear arsenal.
"We are not surprised. We will not allow Iran to get nuclear weapons."
Iran has told the UN nuclear watchdog that it will increase its nuclear enrichment capacity within the limits set by the 2015 agreement with world powers.
Behrouz Kamalvandi, the spokesman for Iran's nuclear agency, was quoted by state TV on Tuesday as saying a letter was submitted to the International Atomic Energy Agency detailing the move
Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei had ordered the increase in a speech Monday, in which he vowed that the country would preserve its nuclear program despite the U.S. withdrawal from the landmark 2015 accord. Iran has said it has the option of resuming industrial-scale enrichment now that the U.S. has withdrawn from the deal.
The agreement set strict limits on Iran's uranium enrichment in return for the lifting of U.S. and international sanctions.
Iran has begun working on infrastructure for building advanced centrifuges at its Natanz facility, Ali Akbar Salehi, the director of Iran's Atomic Energy Organization said on Tuesday.
Iran's nuclear activities would remain within the framework of the deal, Salehi said. Salehi also said Iran had developed infrastructure to produce electricity at Natanz.
Iran was set to inform the UN nuclear watchdog in Vienna on Tuesday over its start of a process to increase the country’s uranium enrichment capacity, Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization spokesman Behrouz Kamalvandi told ISNA news agency.
“In a letter that will be handed over to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) ... Iran will announce that the process of increasing the capacity to produce ... UF6 (uranium hexafluoride) ... will start on Tuesday,” Kamalvandi said.
He said Iran had the capacity to accelerate production of centrifuges, which are used to enrich uranium. The UF6 is a feedstock for centrifuges.
Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman spoke at a conference on Tuesday, saying that "Iran is a global problem, a regional problem, not an Israeli problem."
Khamenei said on Monday he had ordered preparations to increase uranium enrichment capacity if a 2015 nuclear deal with world powers falls apart after the U.S. withdrawal from it last month.
“The leader (Khamenei) meant that we should accelerate some process ... linked to our nuclear work capacity to move forward faster in case needed,” Kamalvandi said.
European signatories of the accord back the deal but have concerns over Iran’s ballistic missile program and its influence in the Middle East. Iran says the two issues are non-negotiable.
Under the agreement with the United States, France, Germany, Britain, Russia and China, Iran strictly limited uranium enrichment capacity to satisfy the powers that it could not be used to develop atomic bombs.
In exchange, Iran received relief from sanctions, most of which were rescinded in January 2016.
The deal allows Iran to continue 3.67 percent uranium enrichment, far below the roughly 90 percent threshold of weapons-grade. Before the deal was reached, Tehran enriched uranium to up to 20 percent purity.
Since President Donald Trump’s announcement of the U.S. exit on May 8, EU leaders have pledged to try to keep Iran’s oil trade and investment flowing but admitted that will not be easy to do.
Iranian authorities have said that if the European countries failed to keep the pact alive, Tehran had several options, including resuming its 20 percent uranium enrichment.
*Reuters contributed to this report

Iran’s Response: The ‘Strategy Of Tension’
Jonathan Spyer/Jerusalem Post /June 04/18
Posted on June 01, 2018’s-response-the-‘strategy-of-tension
The United States and its allies are currently in the opening stages of the pursuit of a strategy to contain and roll back the Islamic Republic of Iran from a number of points in the Middle East. This strategy is set to include an economic element (renewed sanctions), a military aspect (involving Israeli action against Iran in Syria, and the Saudi/UAE campaign against the Houthis in Yemen), and a primarily political effort (in Iraq and to a lesser extent in Lebanon).
Iran can be expected to respond with a counter-strategy of its own, designed to stymy and frustrate western and allied efforts. What form will this Iranian response take? What assets does Iran possess in the furtherance of this goal?
First of all, it is worth noting what Iran does not have: Teheran is deficient in conventional military power, and as such is especially vulnerable when challenged in this arena. The Iranians have neglected conventional military spending, in favor of emphasis on their missile program, and their expertise in the irregular warfare methods of the Revolutionary Guards Corps and its Qods Force.
In Syria over the last months, Israel has demonstrated that Iran has no adequate conventional response to Israeli air actions.
In Yemen, coalition forces fighting the Houthis have begun to turn the tide of the war, demonstrating Iran's weakness in this field.
In Yemen in recent days, as government forces close in on the vital Hodaida port, so Iran’s weakness in this field is once more revealed. Hodaida, held by the Houthis, is the main conduit for Iranian supplies to the rebels. It is likely to fall in the period ahead.
Economic sanctions may also limit Iran’s ability to finance its various proxies. Nevertheless, Iran possesses in the Qods Force of the IRGC a doctrine and praxis for the establishment, assembling and utilization of proxy political-military forces which still has no serious rival in the region. It will be these assets and these methods which Teheran will be seeking to utilize to strike back at its enemies in the period ahead.
In Lebanon, thanks entirely to the use of these methods, Iran is at its strongest. There is no prospect in the immediate future for Iran’s opponents to challenge Teheran’s de fact domination of this country through its proxy Hizballah. Recent statements by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo suggest the beginnings of an acknowledgement by the US that Lebanon today is today effectively controlled by Hizballah. But it is difficult to locate within the country any mechanism today capable of seriously challenging the Shia Islamist party.
The recent events in Gaza may well offer an example of the kind of options available to Iran in its efforts to counter US and allied moves against it. Palestinian Islamic Jihad is a wholly owned franchise of the IRGC. While the apparent ‘motive’ for its commencement of rocket fire was the killing of three of its militants by the IDF after a failed IED attack. This incident, however, would not normally have been of sufficient magnitude to generate the largest barrage of rockets since Operation Protective Edge in 2014. It is probable, therefore, that the escalation in Gaza this week was an example of Iran’s ability to mobilize a proxy on one front to place pressure on an adversary, as a result of events taking place in another arena.
Yet this week’s events also demonstrate Iran’s limitations. Hamas is not a wholly owned franchise of Teheran. And the joint interest of Israel, Hamas and Egypt in avoiding a descent to a 2014 style conflagration served to put a lid on the escalation.
As noted above, in Syria, Iran has so far found no adequate response to Israel’s intelligence domination, and its willingness to take air action against Iranian infrastructure.
Further east, however, in the Kurdish-administered, US-dominated 30% of Syria east of the Euphrates, the Iranians may find an arena more to their liking. Here, a fledgling, US-associated and Kurdish dominated authority rules over a population of about 4 million people, including many Sunni Arabs. In this situation, the IRGC’s methods of agitation, assassinations, the fomenting of unrest from below are directly relevant.
Unidentified gunmen are already operating in this area. A prominent Kurdish official, Omar Alloush, was assassinated on March 15th. Graffiti denouncing ‘Ocalan’s dogs’ has appeared in Arab-majority Raqqa city.
This week, demonstrations took place at four locations across the city demanding that the Kurdish dominated YPG quit the area.
It is more usual to attribute the guiding hand behind this activity to Turkish state bodies, rather than Iran. But an IRGC officer looking for vulnerabilities and areas of potential counter pressure on the US and its allies in the neighborhood would surely focus his eyes on this US guaranteed enclave.
A new pro-Assad 'tribal resistance' was announced with the aim of fighting the U.S. presence in Syria. The initiative likely has Iranian support.
More broadly, while Israeli air action may make the Iranians think twice in terms of deployment of heavy weapons systems in Syria, the broader Iranian project of establishing local client militias and stationing proxy forces on Syria soil remains largely untouched and invulnerable to Israeli air action.
Similarly, in Iraq, the ongoing coalition negotiations and Iran’s domination of the Popular Mobilization Units and their political iteration the Fatah list offers Teheran ample scope for action. Fatah came second in the elections, with 47 seats to 54 for Moqtada al-Sadr’s Sairoon list. Much will depend on the nature of the government that will emerge from the 90 day coalition building period now under way.
But whatever coalition emerges, the independent, Iran-controlled, armed element is there to stay in Iraq. For Iran, a controlling influence in Iraq is a necessity, not a luxury. And with Saudi efforts to build influence in the country under way, this looks set to form a central arena for competition.
Again, the evidence of recent years shows that where Iran enjoys an advantage over its rivals in such arenas is in its greater ability to utilize paramilitary and terrorist methods. There are already some indications of possible targeting of elements linked to the Sairoon list. Unknown assailants bombed two offices linked to the Sadrists on May 15th. One was placed at an office of the Saraya al-Salam, the Sadrist militia. The other targeted a religious organization linked to Sadr, Malek al-Ashtar. In addition, on May 25, a double IED attack on the Iraqi Communist Party’s headquarters in Baghdad took place. No group has claimed responsibility for any of these attacks. The evidence suggests that Iran’s methods are at their strongest where it can take on its opponents within a populated area, in a mixed political and military context, and weakest where it faces conventional resistance and a hard border separating it from its enemies. This means that in the emergent contest, Iran is strongest in Lebanon and regime-controlled Syria, powerful and dangerous in Iraq and potentially in the Kurdish controlled, US guaranteed part of Syria, and weaker and with fewer options in Yemen and Gaza.
Iran enjoyed and benefited from the moment when the Arab world was at its most fragmented, and the west at its most rudderless. That period may now be coming to an end. The ‘strategy of tension’, utilizing political and paramilitary means, eschewing conventional ones, remains the IRGC’s preferred method of struggle. The period now opening up in the region will determine its continued efficacy.
**Jonathan Spyer is a fellow at the Middle East Forum and an associate fellow at the Jerusalem Institute for Strategic Studies.

Dr. Bashar and comrade Kim, passion and revenge
Mashari Althaydi/Arabiya/June 05/18
North Korea’s Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) reported that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad decided to visit “wise leader of outstanding political caliber” Kim Jong-Un. This generous description of the Korean leader was made by Bashar himself, according to the news agency of comrade Kim.
US President Donald Trump is scheduled to meet with the “wise” comrade Kim in Singapore on June 12 after some bumps faced the upcoming historical summit. North Korea is just like the Khomeinist Iran and the Syrian Assad regime. They are evil states or regimes that spread chaos and sponsor terrorism and that do not hesitate to use any prohibited weapons to target their rivals and eradicate civilians. Pyongyang ranks first on the technological level in the summit of evil because it is a nuclear state that has fiercely invested in developing ballistic missiles. According to UN reports, North Korea had provided the murderous Syrian regime with weapons, technologies and material that could be used for Bashar’s chemical arsenal.  Bashar’s attempt to ride Pyongyang’s boat to end his international isolation is like “escaping out of the frying pan into the fire!”The regime of comrade Kim has a friendly relation with Tehran. North Korean “nuclear” and missiles’ experts have for years visited Tehran’s nuclear and missiles’ warehouses and camps. There is mutual flirtation between the two regimes. A UN report issued in February accused North Korea of sending 40 shipments of material that could be used in chemical weapons between 2012 and 2015. The New York Times quoted a UN report as saying that experts in manufacturing missiles from Pyongyang were seen in Syrian facilities that manufacture weapons. The American Wall Street Journal said a governmental military research institution in Syria paid money to North Korea via a series of front companies. A report published in September 2017 said reports that there is military cooperation between North Korea and Syria are being investigated.
‘Unforgivable hostile act’
When American battleships targeted the Shayrat Airbase in April 2017 as per President Trump’s orders to punish the regime for using chemical weapons against civilians, North Korea described the attack as an “unforgivable hostile act.”Therefore, Bashar’s attempt to ride Pyongyang’s boat to end his international isolation is like “escaping out of the frying pan into the fire!”Let comrade Kim save himself, his regime and his economy first then he can save the isolated and outcast comrade Bashar. Washington is clear and despite the anticipated summit between Trump and Kim, US Secretary of Defense James Mattis said few days ago: “North Korea will receive relief only when it demonstrates verifiable and irreversible steps.”In this case, will these maneuvers benefit the Syrian regime?

Is Russia now the main sponsor for global terror?
Dr. Azeem Ibrahim/Arabiya/June 05/18
This week, the Ukrainian security services staged the death of a Russian dissident journalist, they claim in order to draw out a Russian assassin who was hunting him on the orders of Moscow. The Kiev authorities have received a huge amount of backlash from Western commentators and media outlets for the stunt, because they felt they were used in a dishonest way. While the frustration of Western sources with the Ukrainian operation is understandable, we must not lose sight of the background in which these events happened: journalists critical of the Kremlin have an unfortunate tendency to end up dead – whether within Russia, or indeed on the streets of foreign cities. The West fell for the Ukrainian ruse because dead journalists are firmly within the normal pattern of Kremlin politics. As indeed are dead Russian dissidents in general. “Something about the climate” in Western countries seems to quite inhospitable to those Russians fleeing the wrath of Putin or his cronies, for whatever reason. It is almost as if the forces of nature themselves actively enforce the omerta underpinning the core of current the Russian state. But wayward Russians are not the only ones whose life-expectancy is adversely affected by the Kremlin’s opinions. Nobody should expect to fly over areas where Russia is “not fighting a war”, and not be blown out of the sky by Russian rockets fired from Russian territory. Unless, of course, they are deliberately trying to get themselves blown up by Russian Buk missiles, to stoke international Russophobic sentiments. But perhaps the deadliest thing you can do, is be Syrian and need to go the hospital. If Assad bombs and chemical weapons won’t get you, then “accidental” Russian aerial bombardment most certainly will. When Libya’s Qaddafi did half of this stuff, he was shunned by the world and blockaded into oblivion. When Putin does this stuff, it is a Russophobic conspiracy by the very Western leaders he helped elect to power. And aspiring European leaders will stand by him. Journalists critical of the Kremlin have an unfortunate tendency to end up dead – whether within Russia, or on the streets of foreign cities
Complete disdain
What we have with the current Kremlin government is a long standing and fast exacerbating pattern of complete disdain for international laws and diplomatic norms. In fact, the very point of many of these actions seems to be nothing more than to test the West’s commitment to those norms, and to undermine them – perhaps best exemplified by the Skripal poisoning in London. There is not other discernible reason for why Moscow would risk direct confrontation with London than to prove that it can flout norms with impunity, in the expectation that London would be incapable of mounting a meaningful response. And so far that gamble has largely paid off: Russia is not substantially worse off for attempting to assassinate British citizens on British soil, despite all the international condemnation. But this needs to stop. We cannot allow Putin to undermine the fabric of our international order any further. This is a distraction we can do without as we must face the existential challenges of climate change in the decades to come. The actions of the Kremlin so far already warrant the kind of blanket containment imposed on North Korea. The first step is to acknowledge a blatant reality and categorise the problem appropriately: the current Russian regime is a terror state. The next step is to use all available international mechanisms we have used previously on terror states, to impose appropriate costs on the Kremlin, and to circumscribe their ability to kill random civilians around the globe with impunity. And lastly, we will need to engage with the Russian people and confront them with this existential question: are you happy being governed by a terrorist, mafia-style regime?

The condition of Iran’s withdrawal for Assad to stay
Abdulrahman al-Rashed/Arabiya/June 05/18
The Khamenei regime and the Assad regime seek to fulfill two aims: keep the Damascus regime as it is and keep Iran’s military and intelligence presence and militias in Syria and negotiate over everything except that. The most recent US proposal though is the opposite: keeping the Assad regime is conditional on ending Iran’s presence in Syria while the rest is negotiable. However, recent trips and statements lower expectations to Iran and its militias “making concessions” and abstaining from engaging in the Daraa battles, where the Syrian-Jordanian-Israeli triangle is, in exchange of having the Kurdish units QSD, that support the US, withdraw from Manbij, and this is Damascus’ and Turkey’s request. Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Mouallem had said that America’s withdrawal from Manbij is essential before committing that Iran’s forces will not be present in Daraa. The Iranians will do like Hafez al-Assad and later Bashar al-Assad did in Lebanon and transform the country into an arena for conflict with Israel. It’s not unlikely that Damascus, which is Iran’s mouthpiece, will later negotiate and accept America’s presence east of the Euphrates River in exchange of letting Iranian General Qassem Soleimani’s forces stay outside Daraa 20 kilometers away from Israel’s “borders.” With this tactic, Syria is “legitimizing” Iran’s presence with international consent and it does not settle with considering it as its own sovereign decision. The occupying Iranian forces will thus be like the Syrian troops in Lebanon in the 1970’s which was an occupation legitimized by the Arab League and approved by the Lebanese government!
Original proposal
This is why there are fears that the negotiations will deviate from the original proposal which is that the Assad regime must choose between its presence and the Iranians’ presence. It’s not possible to have both. Some may ask who has the right to impose such conditions and why?
The Syrian regime’s situation does not allow it to dictate what it wants despite its recent victories which it achieved thanks to its allies’ forces and which turned into huge losses due to the Israeli strikes. Rejecting conditions means the international community does not want it to stay and this puts it in the danger zone again. The Americans want to give it a chance to stay but in exchange of officially stating that it’s asking the Iranians to withdraw from Syria. Let’s keep in mind that one of the 12 American demands is that Iran must militarily withdraw from Syria. However, their withdrawal will not be easy because it will end their long project, one of their prominent foreign policy projects, by imposing their domination over Syria and maximizing their influence to threaten the region from there.
Submitting to Iran
Setting this condition on their withdrawal also tests the sovereignty of the Damascus regime and tests whether it’s really capable of making its own decisions without submitting to Iran’s directions. The Assad regime is between the hammer and the anvil. On one hand, the withdrawal of the Iranians, the Lebanese Hezbollah and the rest of the militias will weaken its power and it can collapse without them and on another hand, if these forces stay in Syria, it means it (the regime) will become a puppet in their hand. The Assad regime is well-aware how the situation will later unfold in their presence. The Iranians will do like Hafez al-Assad and later Bashar al-Assad did in Lebanon and transform the country into an arena for the conflict with Israel. Like Lebanon, Syria will be a country with no authority except through Tehran which will use Syria in its upcoming indirect battles against its rivals, the Americans, the Israelis and perhaps the Turks and others. Regardless of the Iranian and Syrian regime’s goals, allowing Iran and its militias to be militarily present in Syria, even if in a small area, will cause tensions and future wars. Partial solutions like allowing Iran to be militarily present in specific areas often become permanent with time.