June 11/2018
Compiled & Prepared by: Elias Bejjani


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Bible Quotations
The Concept Of Anger, Gossip, vengeance and forgiveness In The Bible
Sirach/28/01-26: The vengeful will suffer the LORD'S vengeance, for he remembers their sins in detail. Forgive your neighbor's injustice; then when you pray, your own sins will be forgiven. Should a man nourish anger against his fellows and expect healing from the LORD? Should a man refuse mercy to his fellows, yet seek pardon for his own sins? If he who is but flesh cherishes wrath, who will forgive his sins? Remember your last days, set enmity aside; remember death and decay, and cease from sin! Think of the commandments, hate not your neighbor; of the Most High's covenant, and overlook faults. Avoid strife and your sins will be fewer, for a quarrelsome man kindles disputes, Commits the sin of disrupting friendship and sows discord among those at peace. The more wood, the greater the fire, the more underlying it, the fiercer the fight; The greater a man's strength, the sterner his anger, the greater his power, the greater his wrath. Pitch and resin make fires flare up, and insistent quarrels provoke bloodshed.  If you blow upon a spark, it quickens into flame, if you spit on it, it dies out; yet both you do with your mouth! Cursed be gossips and the double-tongued, for they destroy the peace of many. A meddlesome tongue subverts many, and makes them refugees among the peoples; It destroys walled cities, and overthrows powerful dynasties. A meddlesome tongue can drive virtuous women from their homes and rob them of the fruit of their toil; Whoever heeds it has no rest, nor can he dwell in peace. A blow from a whip raises a welt, but a blow from the tongue smashes bones; Many have fallen by the edge of the sword, but not as many as by the tongue. Happy he who is sheltered from it, and has not endured its wrath; Who has not borne its yoke nor been fettered with its chain; For its yoke is a yoke of iron and its chains are chains of bronze! Dire is the death it inflicts, besides which even the nether world is a gain; It will not take hold among the just nor scorch them in its flame, But those who forsake the LORD will fall victims to it, as it burns among them unquenchably! It will hurl itself against them like a lion; like a panther, it will tear them to pieces. As you hedge round your vineyard with thorns, set barred doors over your mouth; As you seal up your silver and gold, so balance and weigh your words. Take care not to slip by your tongue and fall victim to your foe waiting in ambush."

Titles For Latest LCCC Bulletin analysis & editorials from miscellaneous sources published on June 10-11/18
Hezbollah helping Hamas establishing militarily in Lebanon/Daniel Salami, Itamar Eichner/Ynetnews/June 110/18
Citizenship sale exposes Lebanese political hypocrisy/Makram Rabah/The Arab Weekly/June 10/18
How Lebanon Transformed Anthony Bourdain/Kim Ghattas/The Atlantic/June 09/18
Netanyahu: Removing Iranian forces from Syria 'is a process'
Assad: Israel, Russia not coordinating on Iranian pullout from south Syria/Daniel Salami/Ynetnews/June 110/18
IDF launches surprise exercise in Golan Heights/Yoav Zitun|/Ynetnews/June 110/18
Iran’s Fighting Force in Gaza Is the One Calling and Firing the Shots/Yaniv Kubovich/Haaretz/June 10/2018
Iran Escalates, Europe Defends/Salman Al-dossary/Asharq Al Awsat/June 10/18
Companies Really Can ‘Do More With Less’/Conor Sen/Asharq Al Awsat/June 10/18
Pay Attention to What is Happening between the US and its Traditional Allies/Robert Ford/Asharq Al Awsat/June 10/18
Trade Tensions Risk Undermining the G-7/Mohamed El-Erian/Asharq Al Awsat/June 10/18
Marching for Terrorism in London? No Problem/Judith Bergman/Gatestone Institute/June 10/2018
The Closing of the Cultural Mind/Giulio Meotti/Gatestone Institute/June 10/2018
Murdoch Gets What He Wants Out of Brexit Britain/Chris Hughes/Bloomberg/Asharq Al Awsat/June 10/18

Iran’s Fighting Force in Gaza Is the One Calling and Firing the Shots/Yaniv Kubovich/Haaretz/June10

Titles For The Latest LCCC Lebanese Related News published on June 10-11/18

Hezbollah helping Hamas establishing militarily in Lebanon
Rahi criticizes naturalization decree, says it contradicts the preamble of constitution
Cabinet formation focus of Aoun, Hariri dinner
Jumblat Meets Mohammed bin Salman in KSA
Bassil and Khalil in New Confrontation
Criticism as Bassil Calls to Freeze UNHCR Residency Permits
Report: Hariri Meets Bassil
Aoun and Hariri Hold Surprise Zaitunay Bay Dinner Talks
Bassil to Halt Escalation as PM Says He's in Charge of U.N. Ties
Hariri contacts Army Chief to discuss Ain alHilweh electronic gates issue
No to Plastic' Campaign to clean up Jbeil coast marking World Environment Day
Khoury at Media Professionals Iftar Ceremony: Our battle is reform, extending and implementing Casino franchise
Shbib at Greater Beirut City Horse Racing Award Ceremony: Our goal is to preserve this sport, welcome international horses
Raad: No obstacle delaying government formation
Riachi, Khouri discuss cabinet formation
Citizenship sale exposes Lebanese political hypocrisy
How Lebanon Transformed Anthony Bourdain

Titles For Latest LCCC Bulletin For Miscellaneous Reports And News published on June 10-11/18
Pope Francis says praying that Korea summit leads to peace
Trump, Kim Arrive in Singapore for Their Historic Summit
Putin Says Ready to Meet Trump 'as Soon as' Washington is Ready
One US soldier killed in battle against militants in Somalia
Assad Denies Moscow Running the Show in Syria
Deadly Clashes as Nusra-Led Fighters Attack Besieged Syria Regime Villages
UAE President Makes Rare Appearance
Turkey Plans to Impose Commercial Dumping Tariffs on Giant US Companies
Jordanian Public Debt Rises to 96% of GDP in April
World Union of Arab Bankers Awards 'Samba' Arab Bank of the Year
Netanyahu: Removing Iranian forces from Syria 'is a process
Assad: Israel, Russia not coordinating on Iranian pullout from south Syria
IDF launches surprise exercise in Golan Heights
Iran’s Fighting Force in Gaza Is the One Calling and Firing the Shots

Latest LCCC Lebanese Related News published on June 10-11/18
Hezbollah helping Hamas establishing militarily in Lebanon/حزب الله يساعد حماس عسكريا في لبنان
Daniel Salami, Itamar Eichner//Ynetnews/June 110/18
Lebanese newspaper says Hezbollah is training thousands of 'Palestinian fighters' and working to build facilities for rocket and missile production for the Gaza terror group; Israeli Foreign Ministry issues rare confirmation: 'Issue is regularly on the agenda.'Hamas is trying to establish a base in Lebanon with Hezbollah's help, which greatly concerns Israel, the anti-Hezbollah Lebanese newspaper Al Joumhouria reported on Saturday. According to the paper, over the past few weeks Israel has been trying to persuade the United Nations to address the matter, presenting the UN with evidence of Hamas and Hezbollah's military-logistic ties under the patronage of Iran. Hamas and Hezbollah are reportedly working together to establish a Hamas military force in Lebanon, including thousands of Palestinian fighters as well as facilities to manufacture rockets and missiles. Israel's Foreign Affairs Ministry, according to the paper, presented the UN and the UN Security Council with "intelligence information" establishing these claims.In addition, the paper said Israel was basing its claims on comments made by the leadership of Iran's Revolutionary Guard Corps, which Israel says prove that Tehran intends to use Lebanon as a gathering site to rally the troops before it launches a war against Israel with fighters from all over the world. The intelligence Israel reportedly presented to the UN indicates Hezbollah has built training camps in Lebanon for Hamas. The construction of the training camps was reportedly overseen by a senior Hezbollah official dubbed M.H., who is also on Israel's wanted terrorists list. According to the paper, Israel has also made two demands to the UN, with the first being that the UN investigates Hamas-Hezbollah ties as a violation of resolution 701, and takes the matter under advisement in a few months when discussing the renewal of the UNIFIL mission in southern Lebanon. Israel also demanded that the international call on Hezbollah to stop its activities outside Lebanon (including in Syria, Iraq and Yemen) includes its ties with Hamas as well. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs issued a response to the Arab report, something it rarely does. "The topic is on Israel's agenda at the UN and is brought up regularly in meetings, official missives and speeches, both in front of the UN Secretariat and the Security Council," it said. Israel's Ambassador to the UN Danny Danon noted that "We're witnesses the implications of the Hamas terror regime in Gaza. Now Hamas is strengthening its ties with Hezbollah, with the approval and support of Iran, and working to establish its capabilities on Lebanese territory as well. We won't sit idly by when faced with these threats."

Rahi criticizes naturalization decree, says it contradicts the preamble of constitution
Sun 10 Jun 2018/NNA - Maronite Patriarch Cardinal Beshara Boutros Rahi criticized Sunday the naturalization decree, saying "it contradicts with the preamble of the Lebanese Constitution, which categorically and clearly stipulates that there will be no division or resettlement." In his sermon during Mass service in Bkirki this morning, Rahi stressed that Lebanese citizenship should be granted to those of Lebanese origin only. "How can we accept such approach when the Foreign and Interior Ministries leave thousands of cases of people of Lebanese origin seeking to restore their nationality unattended?" Rahi wondered. Commenting on the controversial file of the Syrian refugees, the Prelate considered that "the main problem lies in the attitude of the international community which does not encourage the return of these refugees to Syria, triggering their fears of said return." In this context, Rahi revealed that he conveyed his deep concerns to French President Emmanuel Macaron, asking him to "separate the political situation in their country [Syria] from the returning policy, while guaranteeing refugees' right to citizenship instead of practicing the intimidation policy on them." Finally, Rahi asserted that foreign countries and Lebanese officials are both calling for serious reforms and fighting corruption in ministries and public administrations in Lebanon.

Cabinet formation focus of Aoun, Hariri dinner
The Daily Star/June 10/18/BEIRUT: President Michel Aoun and Prime Minister-designate Saad Hariri held an impromptu meeting over the weekend to discuss the latest developments in the formation of the new government. “They had dinner alone at one of the restaurants [in Zaitunay Bay], and it was a chance to discuss the current situation and developments in the government formation [process],” a statement from the presidency said. Aoun and Hariri’s meeting came after the two leaders attended a ceremony celebrating the 157th anniversary of the Internal Security Forces. During the ceremony, the president commended the ISF for its hard work and success over the years. “Security and stability are the foundation of prosperity, and if there is no security and stability, no tourist will come and no factory will be built, so we are always working to establish security and stability in Lebanon,” Aoun said during his speech in Downtown Beirut. He added: “We thank God that the security situation is stable, but few are aware of where we were and where we are now.”But the president noted that security and stability aren’t enough. “We have to comfort the people mentally,” he said, adding that the media has a responsibility in this regard. “Because if we are pessimistic about every step we make, this proves that we have become a people who have lost confidence and are unable to escape crises.”
Jumblat Meets Mohammed bin Salman in KSA
Naharnet/June 10/18/Progressive Socialist Party leader Walid Jumblat has held talks with Saudi Arabia's powerful crown prince Mohammed bin Salman in the kingdom, media reports said. The meeting tackled the current situations in Lebanon and the region according to the reports. Jumblat had traveled Saturday to Saudi Arabia accompanied by his son MP Taymour Jumblat and MP Wael Abu Faour. The PSP leader had recently encouraged the young crown prince to engage in dialogue with Riyadh's regional arch-rival Iran to avert a possible war. Jumblat also slammed the Saudi-led war in Yemen as “absurd” and warned that “no one can win in Yemen,” describing the war-torn country as “the Afghanistan of the Arab world.”“In my opinion, every war is absurd and dialogue is much better than any war that consumes money and lives,” Jumblat added. The PSP leader also criticized U.S. President Donald Trump's visit to Saudi Arabia and said that he is “against the privatization” of the Aramco oil firm.
“It belongs to the Saudi people and Arabs,” Jumblat said.

Bassil and Khalil in New Confrontation
Naharnet/June 10/18/A new political confrontation has erupted between Free Patriotic Movement chief and caretaker Foreign Minister Jebran Bassil and caretaker Finance Minister Ali Hassan Khalil -- the political aide of Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri. The row broke out after Bassil appointed honorary consuls without asking Khalil to sign the decree, sources close to Berri and Hizbullah told Kuwait's al-Rai newspaper in remarks published Sunday. The decree “also disregarded an essential component in terms of the Shiite names it included,” the sources added. The sources revealed that Khalil is preparing a letter that will be sent to the embassies of the countries to which the consuls were allocated. The letter will warn these countries that “there is a constitutional dispute over the decree and that it is marred by numerous flaws,” the sources added. “He will call on them not to accept the appointment of the consuls,” the sources went on to say. Bassil and Khalil had recently clashed over a decree promoting a number of army officers.

Criticism as Bassil Calls to Freeze UNHCR Residency Permits
Naharnet/June 10/18/Calls of caretaker Foreign Minister Jebran Bassil to freeze the renewal of residency permits for the staff of the United Nations refugee agency were criticized on Saturday as a “threat to Lebanon’s ties with international bodies.”“The Foreign Minister is acting as if the State is declaring a war of abolition against international organizations,” said caretaker Minister Marwan Hamadeh. “Bassil is not taking the local repercussions, Lebanon’s reputation and the expected losses into account shall the refugees stay in Lebanon and the aid is cut off,” he added. Hamadeh said Bassil “is launching a new policy towards the return of displaced Syrians and international organizations as if there is no government, no new parliament and no agreed criteria between the government and the committee tasked with the file,” he added. For his part, ex-Minister Rachid Derbas said that “enmity with the United Nations does not serve the country. “Positions from the international community is a public policy adopted by the government, not by a single minister, even if he proves right. Lebanon has many interests with the United Nations starting with the UNIFIL forces,” he noted. On Friday, caretaker Foreign Minister Jebran Bassil ordered a freeze on the renewal of residency permits for the staff of the United Nations refugee agency, saying it is not encouraging Syrian refugees to return home. Bassil said in a statement from his office that UNHCR is scaring Syrian refugees in Lebanon from returning by asking them about compulsory military service, security conditions and whether they have a place to live.

Report: Hariri Meets Bassil
Naharnet/June 10/18/Prime Minister-designate Saad Hariri reportedly received caretaker Foreign Minister Jebran Bassil on Friday, who stressed “the need to include all political components to reflect their parliamentary representation,” al-Joumhouria daily reported on Saturday. Bassil said the “Lebanese Forces must be justly represented in the Cabinet,” reiterating his calls to allocate “Cabinet shares for the minority of the Syriac and Alawites.”Hariri has been tasked with forming a Cabinet -- typically a drawn-out process involving horse-trading among Lebanon's competing political forces over ministerial portfolios. The Lebanese Forces and Free Patriotic Movement are in disagreement over the share of the President in the Cabinet. The Druze share has also raised conflict between the Progressive Socialist Party leader Walid Jubmlat and Lebanese Democratic Party head MP Talal Arslan. Jumblat argues that the whole 3-seat Druze share in the Cabinet should be allocated to the PSP.

Aoun and Hariri Hold Surprise Zaitunay Bay Dinner Talks
Naharnet/June 10/18/President Michel Aoun and Prime Minister-designate Saad Hariri surprised citizens overnight by arriving at the Zaitunay Bay promenade on Beirut's waterfront for a previously unannounced dinner meeting. The two leaders were met by “clapping and cheering” from restaurant and cafe goers, the National News Agency said. “President Aoun and PM-designate Hariri had a bilateral meeting over dinner at one of the restaurants and it was an occasion to discuss the current situations and development, the cabinet formation process and other issues,” NNA added.
The meeting followed the two leaders' inauguration of a fair marking the 157th anniversary of the creation of the Internal Security Forces at Zaitunay Bay's 'Le Yacht Club'.

Bassil to Halt Escalation as PM Says He's in Charge of U.N. Ties
Naharnet/June 10/18/Prime Minister-designate Saad Hariri has told caretaker Foreign Minister Jebran Bassil that the relation with the U.N. is “part of his jurisdiction as a premier” and that he “cannot be bypassed” in this regard, after Bassil's decision to block residency permits for UNHCR officials sparked a storm of criticism, media reports said. Official sources following up on the Syrian refugee crisis added in remarks to al-Hayat daily that Bassil, in his turn, told Hariri that he will not take further measures against the U.N. refugee agency. “Hariri expressed his rejection of such steps,” the sources said. The sources also expected Bassil to reverse his decision in the near future, noting that “the Foreign Ministry's role is limited to registering the residency permit requests whereas the deciding authority in this regard is exclusively the General Security agency.”Bassil has said he ordered the freeze on the renewal of residency permits for UNHCR's staff because the agency is “scaring” Syrian refugees against returning to their country instead of “encouraging” them. Lebanon is home to more than a million Syrian refugees, or about a quarter of the country's population. Bassil's statement came amid reports that some 3,000 Syrians are getting ready to head back home later this month.A Foreign Ministry statement said Bassil's measure came after direct warnings by the ministry to UNHCR representative in Lebanon Mireille Girard who was summoned twice recently.

Hariri contacts Army Chief to discuss Ain alHilweh electronic gates issue
Sun 10 Jun 2018/NNA - MP Bahia Hariri contacted Sunday Army Commander, General Joseph Aoun, dwelling on the issue of the electronic gates set up by the Army at the entrances to Ain el-Hilweh refugee camp, and ways to ease the measures taken in this regard on the daily lives of the Camp's residents.

No to Plastic' Campaign to clean up Jbeil coast marking World Environment Day
Sun 10 Jun 2018/NNA - On the occasion of World Environment Day, the "Human Being for Environment and Development" Association organized its "No to Plastic" Campaign to clean up the coastal shores of the City of Byblos under the slogan adopted by the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) this year: "Reduce the risk of plastic pollution on the environment and human beings." The Campaign took place in collaboration with international organizations, the Lebanese Red Cross, Lebanese Scouts, Civil Defense and the Municipalities of Jbeil and Blat, in presence of various political officials and prominent dignitaries. In her word on the occasion, Head of the National Commission for Lebanese Women, Special Assistant to the President of the Republic, Claudine Aoun Roukoz, outlined several important components for a healthy and civilized society. "Respect for the laws and regulations of nature, preservation of a healthy environment, prevention of air pollution, good management of solid waste and water resources, and the treatment and disposal of well as improving the sustainability of land management to maintain the flow of vital ecosystem services are the basis for a healthy, developed and civilized society," Roukoz underscored. "When we talk about cleanliness, we mean the civilized facet of society and the extent of its progress, and we know that development requires education and learning, and that hygiene is an acquired behavior we learn as we grow up," she added. Roukoz highlighted the relentless efforts of the President of the Republic to accomplish every project that will protect our nature and preserve our environment, outlining the various initiatives launched in this respect. "It is the right of every human being to live in a completely clean environment. We face the dangers of pollution by spreading awareness among members of society and cooperating with private and public associations and organizations, locally and internationally, in order to create a healthy environment and a beautiful, pure and clean nature," Roukoz concluded.

Khoury at Media Professionals Iftar Ceremony: Our battle is reform, extending and implementing Casino franchise
Sun 10 Jun 2018/NNA - In a first time initiative by the "Casino du Luban", it organized Saturday evening an Iftar ceremony in honor of media professionals, attended by Press Syndicate Dean Aouni el-Kaaki, National News Agency Director Laure Saab Sleiman and a crowd of media representatives. In his word at the occasion, Casino Chairman and Board of Directors Head, Roland Khoury, said this pioneering initiative in the history of the Casino comes to honor media professionals "who are principle partners in the path towards rebuilding the Casino." "Following the parliamentary elections, we have to dwell on the extension of the Casino's franchise and its implementation," said Khoury, adding, "Our battle is reform, not only for the Casino but for the State's Treasury, for we pay half of our income to our partner, the State." Khoury criticized the numerous poker games centers spread out across the country with no control, which pose a risk to youngsters who frequent them, urging the State and security apparatuses to work to resolve this matter. He also stressed the need re-study the taxes imposed on the Casino, calling for "a new smart tax system that prevents the Lebanese State from losing money while at the same time allowing the Casino room to move and flourish."

Shbib at Greater Beirut City Horse Racing Award Ceremony: Our goal is to preserve this sport, welcome international horses

Sun 10 Jun 2018/NNA - Beirut Governor Ziad Shbib patronized Sunday the Greater Beirut City Horse Racing Award Ceremony, disclosing plans to preserve this sport and welcome international horses in Lebanon. Speaking at the Ceremony organized by the "Protection and Improvement of Arabian Horse Breed" Association at the Beirut Hippodrome, Shbib stated that the aim of this annual Horse Racing Award is "to renew the City's commitment to preserving this historic field, which is an essential part of the heritage of Beirut." He added that this Award is also intended "to reiterate to all lovers of this ancient sport in Lebanon and the world that Beirut City will maintain the field of horse racing, and will provide it with all means of development, modernization and maintenance." Shbib hoped that "this sport will continue, and that horse lovers from all over the world will come to celebrate with us and exercise their hobby." The Beirut Governor concluded by promising to "work on developing this field to receive not only Arabian horses, but also international horses, including English horses, to raise the level of this racing sport."

Raad: No obstacle delaying government formation
Sun 10 Jun 2018/NNA - "Loyalty to Resistance" Bloc Head, MP Mohamad Raad, considered that there is no obstacle to delay the new cabinet formation, especially from a realistic perspective based on the presence and size of significant forces in the country. "No obstacle can delay the new cabinet, which must be formed and begin its work because the country cannot afford any postponement in dossiers, starting with the delineation of land and sea borders and confronting the Israeli risks, far-reaching developmental issues in all regions," said Raad. Speaking at an Iftar held under his auspices in Al-Sharqiya Municipality in Nabatieh on Saturday evening, Raad declared the launching of a workshop to determine goals and steps to follow in regards to combating corruption. He concluded by stressing that "the resistance which has offered many sacrifices deserves to be the focus of our cohesion and a source of pride for our nation, boosting its presence in the region and the world."

Riachi, Khouri discuss cabinet formation
Sun 10 Jun 2018/NNA - Caretaker Information Minister Melhem Riachi met Sunday afternoon with Caretaker Culture Minister Ghattas al-Khouri who visited him at his residence, with talks centering on the new government formation.

Citizenship sale exposes Lebanese political hypocrisy
Makram Rabah/The Arab Weekly/June 10/18
Aoun and Hariri are playing a high-stakes game and it is Lebanon’s citizens who are unwittingly providing the stake money.
Throughout Lebanon’s 15-year civil war, much of the country’s internal debate centred on how the naturalisation of the country’s Palestinian refugees could be halted, with the predominantly Christian right-wing opposing the Palestinian Liberation Organisation within Lebanon and accusing it of working towards naturalising the Palestinians and establishing Lebanon as a surrogate state.
The post-civil war settlement in 1990 resulted in a clear amendment to the preamble of the Lebanese Constitution, dismissing the likelihood of either the settlement or naturalisation of any foreigners within the country. Nevertheless, following the outbreak of the Syrian crisis and the influx of more than 1 million refugees, the spectre of naturalisation has returned to the Lebanese stage with most Lebanese opposed to the idea.
This has led Lebanese cabinets to adopt xenophobic measures intended to make refugees feel unwelcome in Lebanon, barring them from work and limiting their ability to purchase property. Despite this anti-naturalisation policy, many non-Lebanese have acquired citizenship through a special decree issued by the Lebanon’s president, who, by the provisions of the constitution, has the discretionary authority to bestow medals, special pardons and, it seems, nationality.
As has become the custom, each departing president would have towards the end of his term bestowed this privilege on affluent Arab businessmen and their families — mostly Palestinian and Syrian — making it possible for them to own property and avoid the hassle of red tape and residency requirements.
These naturalisation acts were regarded as something of a retirement fund for any outgoing president, with the suspicion of significant bribes accompanying acts of presidential largesse. That such acts are ripe for criticism is beyond dispute, with Lebanon’s current president, Michel Aoun, and his Free Patriotic Movement being among the loudest past critics of any practice they suspect risks upsetting Lebanon’s demographic balance.
However, the recent naturalisation decree signed by Aoun, granting approximately 400 individuals Lebanese citizenship, unleashed a gale of criticism and deafening cries of hypocrisy. Chief among the allegations against Aoun are those of corruption, with payments totalling millions of dollars thought to have taken place, further exposing the hypocrisy of the anti-naturalisation camp led by Aoun.
Be that as it may, the real controversy surrounding this naturalisation act goes beyond mere financial skulduggery on the part of those involved, which coincidentally included Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri and Interior Minister Nouhad al-Mashnouk.
The Lebanese government initially refused to disclose the names of those naturalised, claiming that such an ordinary decree is beyond the realm of public discourse, a claim refuted by the Access to Information Law passed by Aoun’s own parliamentary bloc in January 2017. The decree, which was signed May 11, was released to the public on June 7, leaving three days to contest it in front of the constitutional council.
However, as has become typical, where officialdom fails, social media succeeds and the gradual trickle of those beneficiaries of Lebanese citizenry has made its way into the public sphere.
Chief among them are the prominent Syrian businessmen who have provided the backbone to the Assad regime, giving it access to the financial network targeted by US and Western sanctions. Consequently, granting these individuals Lebanese nationality removes restrictions on them acquiring Lebanese property that can be used to hide or conceal ill-gotten gains. More important, as Lebanese citizens, they enjoy unmitigated access to Lebanon’s banking sector and its invaluable secrecy laws.
One could safely assume that the Lebanese are not overly surprised at the level of corruption and decadence enjoyed by their political class. However, allegations of individual corruption pale next to the huge risks these moves hold for the economic prospects of the country. The merest hint of Lebanon helping the Assad regime avoid international sanctions constitutes an open invitation to the international community and the US government to impose sanctions on the Lebanese banks and financial institutions.
As it stands, Aoun has declared his intention to reconsider this recent decree, delegating the Lebanese National Security Agency to investigate the names of the individuals and issuing recommendations that might lead to him reverse his position. No one familiar with how matters are settled in Lebanon would wager on a positive outcome of this review process, which will be equally shrouded in mystery and will likely lead to a widening of the schism between the Lebanese and their security institutions.
While the Lebanese Constitution does grant the president the authority to sign off on such decrees, the spirit of the law assumes the holder of these powers has the insight and fortitude to practise them wisely, placing the public good above all else, something that, unfortunately, doesn’t appear to have registered with Aoun and Hariri.
Such an imprudent move by the country’s leadership constitutes a clear breach of Lebanon’s dissociation policy that both leaders have pledged to upkeep, risking the further isolation of Lebanon regionally and internationally. Aoun and Hariri are playing a high-stakes game and it is Lebanon’s citizens, already suffering under years of economic and political mismanagement, who are unwittingly providing the stake money.
**Makram Rabah is a lecturer at the American University of Beirut, Department of History. He is the author of A Campus at War: Student Politics at the American University of Beirut, 1967-1975.

How Lebanon Transformed Anthony Bourdain

Kim Ghattas/The Atlantic/June 09/18
In 2006, he found himself in a country falling into war—an experience that forever altered how he would understand people, culture, history, and conflict.
Growing up in Beirut during Lebanon’s 15–year civil war, I wished for someone like Anthony Bourdain to tell the story of my country: a place ripped apart by violence, yes, but also a country where people still drove through militia checkpoints just to gather for big Sunday family lunches, or dodged sniper fire to get to their favorite butcher across town to sample some fresh, raw liver for breakfast. Bourdain, the legendary roving chef and master storyteller who committed suicide on Friday in France at the age of 61, would have approved of such excursions in search of the perfect morsel—he probably would have come along.
Coming of age during conflict made me want to become a journalist. I hoped to tell the story of my country and the Middle East—a place rife with conflicts, sure, but also layered with complexities, a place of diverse peoples full of humanity. In the summer of 2006, I was the BBC’s Beirut correspondent when war erupted between Israel and Hezbollah, the pro-Iran Shia militant group. Hezbollah had kidnapped three Israeli soldiers, triggering the month-long conflict. Within a day, the Israelis had bombed Beirut’s airport out of action. I worked 34 days in a row, 20 hours a day, reporting live on television and radio, alongside dozens of colleagues who’d flown in to help cover the conflict.
I didn’t know it then, but Bourdain was there too, filming an episode of his show No Reservations. And perhaps he didn’t know it then, but Lebanon would change him forever. In the episode, he talked about how he had come to Beirut to make a happy show about food and culture in a city that was regaining its reputation as the party capital of the Middle East. Instead, he found himself filming a country that had tipped into war overnight. Filming on the day the violence broke out, he managed to capture that split second where people’s faces fell as they realized their lives had been upended.
After a few days in Beirut itself, Bourdain and his team moved to a hotel just north of the capital, closer to their eventual evacuation spot. By then, Israeli jets were bombing not only areas with a Hezbollah presence, but bridges and power plants across the country. Yet the show never became about the experience of a terrorized American stranded in a scary place. Bourdain never made it about Bourdain—Lebanon was the story. And even during the dramatic scene of his departure, on a ship surrounded by Marines and hundreds of other evacuees—Americans and dual citizens—his focus remained on Lebanon and the distraught faces of its people, leaving behind country and family, uncertain of whether they’d ever return.
Despite the trying circumstances he faced, Bourdain still managed to produce a 43-minute piece later nominated for a news and documentary Emmy. We were also nominated for our coverage of the 2006 war, albeit in a different category, and won. While Bourdain did not win (although he would go on to pick up many other Emmys), I knew his episode had told my country’s story better than I ever could. I cried when I watched it.
I met Bourdain briefly at the award ceremony in New York, and managed to mumble a few awestruck words of thanks for his work on television and as a writer. I fantasize about opening a restaurant one day, and had devoured Kitchen Confidential, Bourdain’s 2000 memoir about working as a chef in New York City’s cut-throat restaurant scene. Here was a man who had revolutionized food writing, food shows, and international reporting, all at once. But more importantly, he did it with an inimitable blend of empathy and levity, and a remarkable eye for nuance.
One might think that after Bourdain’s first trip to Lebanon, he would never go back. But four years later he returned, this time to make the fun episode he’d originally set out to produce. The 2006 experience, however, had changed him, something he talked about at length in a freewheeling 2014 interview with Blogs of War. He described that first trip as a “defining moment for the show—and some kind of crossroads … personally,” while still talking up Beirut as a “magical” place of “unbelievable possibilities.”
After Beirut in the summer of 2006, Bourdain decided it was time to tell more complicated stories, as he put it in that 2014 interview. “To stand there, day after day, useless and relatively safe by a hotel pool, looking at the people and the neighborhoods I had just been getting to know being hammered back 20 years a few short miles away was ... well... it was something,” Bourdain said. But he was also struck by “the complete disconnect between what [he] was seeing and hearing on the ground from Beirutis of all stripes and what was being reported” by the media, he said.
Bourdain developed a new approach that used conversations about food to tell the story and politics of the countries he visited in ways that hard news couldn’t. Perhaps Beirut had taught him what every Lebanese knows: that conversations around and about food allow people to let their guard down. Discussions about the secret source of your spices, or how to pound your meat, erase all differences.
And so off Bourdain went to make Parts Unknown, his next show, in Libya, Cuba, Haiti, Liberia, Iraq, Beirut again, and Israel, the West Bank, and Gaza. He was horrified by what he saw in Gaza, and even more dismayed when he was criticized for showing Palestinians doing ordinary things, like cooking, as though that meant he had chosen sides. “The world has visited many terrible things on the Palestinian people, none more shameful than robbing them of their basic humanity,” Bourdain said.
Every time I read Bourdain on Lebanon, I marvel at his ability to grasp the subtleties of a place where he’d never lived. There’s a joke about my country: If you think you understand Lebanon, someone’s just done a bad job explaining it to you. But he understood it just the way I did. “The food’s delicious, the people are awesome. It’s a party town. And everything wrong with the world is there,” he told Blogs of War. “Hopefully, you will come back smarter about the world. You’ll understand a little more about how uninformed people are when they talk about that part of the world,” he added. “You’ll come back as I did: changed and cautiously hopeful and confused in the best possible way.”
I suspect people in other countries Bourdain visited felt he understood them too, spoke for them, and saw them for who they were: ordinary people with real names, lives filled with hope, love stories, heartbreak, and laughter. He cared about people outside the lens of violence, beyond the headlines and the reductionist clichés. He broke down the barrier of the other, especially in countries with long-standing political enmity with the United States, like Iran and Cuba. Americans probably learned more about the world watching his shows than any news programs.
I don’t know why Bourdain decided to end his life. But I know he understood places and people intuitively. He grasped their pain, their intensity, and their humanity, in the way that only someone with great empathy could—the kind of empathy that comes with raw vulnerability and deep creativity, the kind that can bring with it inner demons.
In this age of dislocation and isolation, walls and travel bans, the world needs more Anthony Bourdains. Tragically, now it has none.

Latest LCCC Bulletin For Miscellaneous Reports And News published on June 10-11/18
Pope Francis says praying that Korea summit leads to peace
Sun 10 Jun 2018/NNA - Pope Francis said on Sunday he hoped a forthcoming summit in Singapore between U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un will lead to peace for Korea. "I want, once more, to offer the beloved people of Korea an especial thought of friendship and prayer that the talks which will take place in the coming days in Singapore can contribute to the development of a positive path that guarantees a peaceful future for the Korean peninsula and for the whole world," the pope said in his regular Sunday address. --- Reuters

Trump, Kim Arrive in Singapore for Their Historic Summit
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/June 10/18/North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and Donald Trump arrived in Singapore Sunday for an unprecedented summit, with Pyongyang's nuclear arsenal at the top of the agenda and the U.S. president calling it a "one-time shot" at peace. Bringing the Korean War to a formal end 65 years after hostilities ceased will also be on the table at the first-ever meeting between a North Korean leader and a sitting president of its "imperialist enemy." It is an extraordinary turnaround from the tensions of last year, when Kim accelerated his weapons programs -- earning the North more sets of U.N. Security Council sanctions -- and the two men traded personal insults and threats of war. But critics charge that the meeting risks being largely a triumph of style over substance. Kim arrived in Singapore on board an Air China 747 that according to flight tracking website Flightradar24 took off from Pyongyang in the morning ostensibly bound for Beijing, then changed its flight number in midair and headed south. He was driven into the city center in a stretch Mercedes-Benz limousine accompanied by a convoy of more than 20 vehicles, and later met Singaporean President Lee Hsien Loong, thanking him for hosting the event. "If the summit becomes a success, the Singaporean efforts will go down in history," Kim said. Trump landed in the evening after a long flight from Canada and the G7 meeting there, telling Singaporean officials who welcomed him that he was feeling "very good" about the summit. Authorities imposed tight security around the Singapore summit venue and the luxury hotels where the leaders were to stay -- including installing extra pot plants outside Kim's accommodation to obstruct reporters' views.
Not just a photo op
Washington is demanding the complete, verifiable and irreversible denuclearization of the North, while Pyongyang has so far only made public pledges of its commitment to the denuclearization of the peninsula -- a term open to wide interpretation -- while seeking security guarantees. Former U.S. deputy secretary of state Richard Armitage expected little progress on the key issue of defining denuclearization. "The success will be in the shutter clicks of the cameras," he said. "They both get what they want."Trump insisted last week that the summit would "not be just a photo op", saying it would help forge a "good relationship" that would lead to a "process" towards the "ultimate making of a deal". But as he embarked for Singapore he changed his tune, calling it a "one-time shot" and adding he will know "within the first minute" whether an agreement will be possible. "If I think it won't happen, I'm not going to waste my time," he said. He has also dangled the prospect of Kim Jong Un visiting Washington if the meeting goes well. But the value of the event -- long sought by the North, and which Trump apparently impulsively agreed to in March, reportedly without consulting his advisers -- has been called into question. "People call it a historic summit but... it is important to understand that this summit was available to any U.S. president who wanted to do it and the point is no U.S. president wanted to do this, and for good reasons," said Christopher Hill, a former lead U.S. nuclear negotiator with North Korea.
Decades of tensions
The two countries have been at loggerheads for decades. The North invaded the South in 1950 and the ensuing war pitted U.S.-led U.N. troops backing Seoul against Pyongyang's forces which were aided by China. The conflict ended in an armistice which sealed the division of the peninsula. Occasional provocations by the North have continued while Pyongyang has made increasing advances in its nuclear arsenal, which it says it needs to defend against the risk of a U.S. invasion. Last year it carried out by far its most powerful nuclear test to date and launched missiles capable of reaching the U.S. mainland, while Trump threatened the North with "fire and fury" and Kim dubbed him a "mentally deranged U.S. dotard." But the South's Winter Olympics in February were the catalyst for a flurry of diplomatic moves as South Korea's dovish leader Moon Jae-in sought to bring the two sides together. Kim has met twice with both Moon and Xi Jinping, the president of China, long the North's most important ally. Pyongyang has taken some steps to show sincerity, returning three U.S. detainees and blowing up the entrances to its nuclear test site. U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said last week that progress was being made in bringing the two sides together in their understanding of denuclearization. But Trump baffled observers when he said he did not think he had to prepare "very much" for the summit. "It's about attitude," Trump said. "So this isn't a question of preparation."

Putin Says Ready to Meet Trump 'as Soon as' Washington is Ready
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/June 10/18/Russian President Vladimir Putin on Sunday said he was ready to meet his U.S. counterpart Donald Trump as soon as Washington was ready, adding Vienna could be a possible venue for such a summit. "As soon as the American side is ready this meeting would take place depending on my working schedule of course," Putin told reporters in the Chinese city of Qingdao. "The U.S. president himself repeatedly said that he would consider such a meeting helpful. I can confirm this. It's true," Putin said. He said he did not discuss a possible meeting venue with Trump but "many" countries including Austria were keen to help in organizing such a summit. "But I believe it's a technical issue," he said. "It's important for such meetings -- if they take place -- to have concrete contents."The Wall Street Journal, citing a senior European official, reported that Putin asked Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz on a visit to Vienna earlier this week to help organize such a meeting and that Washington was considering it. Under the conservative Kurz, Austria has striven to act as a mediator between Russia and the West. While the EU-state imposed sanctions on Russia over Crimea along with the rest of the bloc, Austria did not expel Russian diplomats like other Western nations following the March poisoning of a Russian former double agent and his daughter in Britain, an attack London has accused Moscow of being behind.

One US soldier killed in battle against militants in Somalia
MEM/June 9, 2018/A US commando was killed and four others were wounded on Friday when they came under fire in Somalia during an operation against al-Shabaab militants, the US military said. The US special operations forces were fighting alongside about 800 troops from the Somali National Security Forces and Kenyan Defence Forces when they were attacked about 2:45 p.m. by mortars and small arms fire. One local soldier was also wounded in the attack, the US military said in a statement, without clarifying whether that fighter was part of the Somali or Kenyan armed forces.
Although one of the wounded Americans did not receive additional care after being treated in the field, the other three and the wounded local soldier were medically evacuated for follow-up care. The troops had been on a mission to clear al-Shabaab from contested areas as well as villages the militants controlled, “and establish a permanent combat outpost” to expand the reach of the Somali state, the US military’s Africa Command said in a statement. “The US provided advice, assistance and aerial surveillance during the mission,” it said. About 500 US troops are deployed in Somalia. Al-Shabaab is fighting to overthrow Somalia’s central government and establish its own rule based on its interpretation of Islamic law. Since being pushed out of Mogadishu in 2011, the group has lost control of most of Somalia’s cities and towns, but it retains a strong presence in regions outside the capital.

Assad Denies Moscow Running the Show in Syria
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/June 10/18/Syria's President Bashar al-Assad denied Moscow is running the show in his war-torn country, saying in an interview released Sunday his government operates independently of its Russian and Iranian allies. In a wide-ranging interview in Damascus with the Mail on Sunday, Assad slammed the United States and British military actions in Syria as "colonial" while praising supporter Russia. "We've had good relations with Russia for more than six decades now, nearly seven decades. They never, during our relation, try to dictate, even if there are differences," he told the British newspaper. Assad admitted his government has disagreed with Russia and Iran throughout the country's seven-year conflict. "That's very natural, but at the end the only decision about what's going on in Syria and what's going to happen, it's a Syrian decision," he said. Moscow intervened militarily in Syria's conflict in 2015, when Assad's forces were struggling to hold territory against rebel fighters. Russian air strikes and military advisers have since helped regime troops seize back more than half the country. Tehran, too, has sent military advisers to Syria, but Assad has denied that Iranian troops are on the ground. Iran's regional foe, Israel, has repeatedly warned it will not accept an entrenched Iranian presence in Syria. It is suspected of carrying out numerous raids on Syrian government positions over the years, and last month announced unprecedented strikes on what it said were Tehran-operated bases in Syria. In his interview, Assad denied Moscow had ever had prior knowledge of such strikes, despite close cooperation between Israel and Russia. "No, no, that's not true," he said. "Russia never coordinated with anyone against Syria, either politically or militarily, and that's (a) contradiction," he said. "How could they help the Syrian army advancing and at the same time work with our enemies in order to destroy our army?" Syria's war has also drawn in many Western powers, who first backed rebel groups against Assad then shifted their focus to defeating the Islamic State jihadist group as part of a U.S.-led coalition. Assad lambasted the American and British interventions, saying they were "breaching the sovereignty of Syria." "This is colonial policy, that's how we see it, and this is not new," he said. He also told the Mail on Sunday that his country had stopped intelligence sharing with European nations. "They want to exchange information despite their governments being politically against ours, so we said... When you change your political position, we're ready," he said. "Now, there's no cooperation with any European intelligence agencies including the British." The interview, according to the Mail on Sunday, was Assad's first with a British journalist since 2015. Its full transcript was published on Syrian state news agency SANA.

Deadly Clashes as Nusra-Led Fighters Attack Besieged Syria Regime Villages
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/June 10/18/Deadly clashes erupted overnight as jihadist fighters attacked two besieged regime-controlled villages in northwestern Syria, a monitor said on Sunday. The villages of Fuaa and Kafraya represent a tiny pocket of regime-held territory in Syria's northwest Idlib province, which is otherwise almost entirely controlled by various jihadist and hardline rebels. Occasional skirmishes erupt there but the frontline has been quiet in recent months. Late Saturday, fighters from al-Qaida's former Syrian affiliate attacked Fuaa and Kafraya, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. "Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) began heavily shelling the two villages, and broke into Fuaa to attack local fighters," said Observatory chief Rami Abdel Rahman. "This is the fiercest attack in around three years," he told AFP. The fighting, which was continuing Sunday, had killed six Syrian pro-regime fighters and at least three from HTS. Syrian state news agency SANA also reported the attack, and said local fighters had been able to push HTS back. Around 10,000 people, most of them Shiite Muslims, are estimated to live in the two villages. Syrian troops also hold some territory in Idlib's east, including the key Abu Duhur airbase. In apparent retaliation for the attack, Syrian warplanes pounded several towns around Fuaa and Kafraya on Sunday, AFP's correspondent and a monitor said. Fuaa and Kafraya are the only two places in Syria currently designated as besieged by the United Nations. Siege tactics have been used throughout Syria's seven-year conflict, mostly by the government. Troops have employed the tactic alongside heavy bombing to cut off food and medicine to rebel-held areas, then coerce people to agree to leave in population transfer deals. After such agreements, the United Nations no longer considers those areas as besieged. The fate of Fuaa and Kafraya has been heavily impacted by such deals. They made up part of the Four Towns Agreement, a complex deal that saw tit-for-tat evacuations and aid deliveries between Fuaa and Kafraya on one hand, and the government-besieged towns of Zabadani and Madaya. Idlib, which lies on the border with Turkey, has seen its population balloon in recent years as fighters and civilians evacuated from other opposition areas are dumped there. Rebels overran most of Idlib in 2015, but the mainstream opposition's influence has dwindled as jihadists like HTS have solidified their grip on the province. In recent months, regime forces have recaptured a sliver of the province and the Islamic State group is conducting hit-and-run attacks there against its HTS rival. Last week, clashes in Idlib between HTS and an IS sleeper cell made up of Iraqi jihadists left more than two dozen fighters dead, mostly from IS. In retaliation, the IS cell executed five HTS fighters it had abducted in Idlib, the Britain-based Observatory said Sunday. HTS also killed six IS members it had captured in the clashes.

UAE President Makes Rare Appearance

Agence France Presse/Naharnet/June 10/18/United Arab Emirates President Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al-Nahyan has met with family members in France, UAE media reported Sunday, one of his rare appearances since a stroke in 2014. The official WAM news agency published photos of white-bearded Abu Dhabi Emir Sheikh Khalifa, 70, chatting with relatives at his residence in the French resort town of Evian. Sheikh Khalifa in 2004 succeeded his father, the late UAE founding president Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al-Nahyan, as ruler of Abu Dhabi -- the largest and wealthiest of the seven-member United Arab Emirates. Sheikh Khalifa has previously made only one public appearance since undergoing an operation following a stroke in January 2014, marking the Muslim Eid al-Fitr holiday last year. Khalifa has withdrawn from day-to-day decisions, allowing his half-brother and crown prince, Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed, to assume greater power.

Turkey Plans to Impose Commercial Dumping Tariffs on Giant US Companies
Ankara - Saeed Abdul RazekAsharq Al-Awsat/Sunday, 10 June, 2018/The Turkish government has announced its intention to impose commercial dumping duties on giant US companies that cause unfair competition and receive substantial subsidies from the state. This is in a new step to respond to the imposition of additional tariffs by the United States on steel and aluminum imports from a number of countries, including Turkey. In remarks during his visit to the Denizli State Agriculture Chamber in the west of the country, Economy Minister Nihat Zeybekci stressed that Turkey is considering imposing commercial dumping duties on these companies. He said large US firms receive major support from the government. "We are working on the process of beginning anti-dumping investigations against these companies," he said. Commercial dumping is a state of discrimination in the pricing of a product. It takes place when a product is sold in the market of an importing country at a price lower than that of its sale in the exporting country or constitutes competition for a similar domestic product. Zeybekci said Turkey was continuing to take action to counter the US decision to impose tariffs on its steel and aluminum imports. He added that Ankara has made some decisions regarding the import of products, such as soy, cotton, almonds, walnuts and rice, from the United States. Zeybekci stressed his country’s determination to tighten measures against US products, saying further measures could be taken in the coming days. After holding government consultations, his ministry will announce the names of US products and companies that are causing unfair competition. Turkey’s goal from imposing measures on US products and companies is aimed at pushing Washington to back down from its new tariffs, Zeybekci explained, adding that Ankara also wants to increase the volume of bilateral trade with Washington. The United States has recently imposed a 25 percent tariffs on imported steel products and 10 percent tariffs on imported aluminum products. Washington then granted temporary exemptions to the European Union, Canada and Mexico, which expired on June 1. Turkey responded by imposing additional duties on a number of US goods, including coal, paper, nuts, almonds, tobacco, rice, automobiles, cosmetics, machinery and equipment and petrochemical products.

Jordanian Public Debt Rises to 96% of GDP in April
Amman - Asharq Al-Awsat Asharq Al-Awsat/Sunday, 10 June, 2018/Jordanian data has revealed that the country’s public debt rose during April to 96 percent of the GDP, while the new government is facing popular pressure to limit financial austerity policies.The Jordanian finance ministry said in its monthly released report on Thursday that the total public debt reached in April around JOD27.7 billion (USD39 billion) with a slight increase from 2017 in which it reached JOD27.2 billion, 95.3 percent of the GDP. The public debt was at 60 percent of the GDP during 2008, and it rose gradually during the past years. Jordan witnessed this month the biggest protests in years over a tax hike as part of policies recommended by the International Monetary Fund to reduce public debt. The protests led to the government’s collapse and the appointment of a new prime minister, Omar al-Razzaz, who said that he is willing to withdraw the income tax bill which drew widespread anger among the people. As the net public debt of the country reached around 90.7 percent of the GDP, the net internal debt continued to represent the biggest burden with 50.2 percent of the GDP and an external debt of 40.6 percent. Jordan acquired in 2016 the approval of the IMF on a three-year funding program worth USD723 million to support structural reforms in the country. The program aims at reducing the public debt to 77 percent of the GDP by 2021. Ahmad Awad, head of the Jordan Center for Economic Research, said that the tax bill was the straw that broke the camel's back, adding that its withdrawal was inevitable.

World Union of Arab Bankers Awards 'Samba' Arab Bank of the Year
Riyadh - Asharq Al-Awsat/Sunday, 10 June, 2018/World Union of Arab Bankers has named Samba Financial Group for Arab Bank of the Year Award 2018 in recognition of its performance and superior standards and policies in the management of its banking and financial activities.
Samba has also taken steps to stimulate growth rates over the past years, maintaining an advanced credit record and supporting its strong presence on the local and regional arenas and gaining a high profile among banking and investment providers. CEO of Samba Financial Group, Rania Nashar expressed her pride in this achievement, which reflects the regional position of Samba and the efforts that the Group has been able to build thanks to its commitment to the concept of excellence and innovation in its banking activities. Nashar said that this choice, which is an extension of the wide range of awards that the Group has earned during the course of its career, adds a new responsibility to it to enhance its performance in providing the best levels of service to customers, provide them with more innovative products and services that give their banking experience added value, as well as consolidate the concept of excellence for all customers. The CEO lauded the efforts of all employees of the Group who are the reason for the outstanding reputation of the Group as a pioneer of banking in the Kingdom and the region. The award will be presented at a special ceremony organized by the World Union of Arab Bankers on July 6th in Lebanon, in the presence of a group of senior bankers, international and regional figures and representatives of the economic, financial and investment bodies in the Arab region.

Netanyahu: Removing Iranian forces from Syria 'is a process'نيتانياهو: ازاله القوى الإيرانية من سوريا هي عملية متكاملة
Yael Friedson|/Ynetnews/June 110/18
Commenting on his meetings with Merkel, Macron and May last week, the prime minister says he 'focused on Iranian aggression in our region and primarily Iranian entrenchment in Syria' and that the goal of reaching international understandings about the matter was achieved 'to a large extent.'
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Sunday that removing Iranian forces and their proxies from Syria "is a long process."
"I made it clear that we will take strong action against attempts to establish a presence against us, and also against attacks on us," Netanyahu said at the start of the weekly Cabinet meeting.
Earlier, Syrian President Bashar Assad claimed in an interview with the Mail on Sunday that Russia and Israel are not coordinating the withdrawal of Iranian forces and their proxies from the Golan Heights. "Russia never coordinated with anyone against Syria, either politically or militarily, and that’s contradiction; how could they help the Syrian Army advancing and at the same time work with our enemies in order to destroy our army?" Assad said. Netanyahu also spoke about his trip to Europe last week, where he met with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, French President Emmanuel Macron and British PM Theresa May.
"I visited Europe and spoke to three main leaders there. I concentrated on the Iranian aggression in our region, on the latest developments in our region and—first and foremost—on Iran's efforts to establish a military presence in Syria," he said.
"The leaders agreed with the main goal that I set, and this is formulating a broad international agreement that Iran needs to leave Syria, from all of Syria. This was the goal of the trip and it was, to a large extent, achieved."
Last month, Russian newspaper Kommersant reported that Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman and his Russian counterpart Sergey Shoygu have agreed that Iranian and Hezbollah forces would withdraw from southern Syria, and in return Israel will not interfere when Assad's forces enter the area to fight the rebels. Lieberman himself told Ynet on Sunday that "All we're interested in when it comes to Syria is the complete evacuation of Iranian and Hezbollah forces. Nothing short of that."
"This is our position, and we're having a dialogue about this with the entire international community, including Russia and the United States," he added. "I think our position is clear to everyone, to all of those involved here in the Middle Eastern arena. When we have reached an agreement and get willingness from everyone to act to remove Iranian and Hezbollah forces, then we could say we've achieved our goal."The Wall Street Journal reported on Friday that Hezbollah and Iranian militia fighters have reportedly returned to southern Syria dressed in Syrian army uniforms and under Syrian flags. Lieberman, however, said only "a few dozen" Hezbollah members remain in southern Syria, "who serve as advisers or goaders."

Assad: Israel, Russia not coordinating on Iranian pullout from south Syriaالأسد: روسيا وإيران لا ينسقان للإنسحاب الإيراني من الجنوب السوري
Daniel Salami/Ynetnews/June 110/18
Syrian president insists 'Russia never coordinated with anyone against Syria, either politically or militarily,' adding 'how could they help the Syrian Army advancing and at the same time work with our enemies in order to destroy our army?'
Syrian President Bashar Assad continues insisting there is no coordination between Russia and Israel on the withdrawal of Iranians forces and their proxies from the Golan Heights.
"Russia never coordinated with anyone against Syria, either politically or militarily, and that’s contradiction; how could they help the Syrian Army advancing and at the same time work with our enemies in order to destroy our army?" Assad told The Mail on Sunday in an interview.
A week and a half ago, the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said Iranian advisers and Hezbollah fighters were preparing to withdraw from the southern regions of Daraa and Quneitra near the Golan Heights.
The Russian newspaper Kommersant, meanwhile, reported that Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman and his Russian counterpart Sergey Shoygu agreed that Iranian and Hezbollah forces would withdraw from southern Syria, and in return Israel will not interfere when Assad's forces enter the area to fight the rebels.
Both Syria and Israel have denied these reports.
Asked about Russian and Iranian forces in his country, the Syrian president reiterated that "The Russians were invited by the Syrian government, their existence in Syria is a legitimate existence, the same for the Iranians."
He decried interference by Britain, France and the US, accusing the UK of "publicly support(ing) the White Helmets that are a branch of Al-Qaeda, al-Nusra, in different areas of Syria," and adding the UK and France were "political satellites to the US.""It’s not the role of the West to tell us who’s responsible in Syria," he stressed. "This is a Syrian issue; we decide who."
He blamed the Western nations for the hundreds of thousands of deaths in the civil war in Syria.
"When you talk about war, the natural and the self-evident result is death and blood everywhere, but the question is: who started this war, and who supported this war? The West. The West supported the war from the very beginning, and it supported the terrorists who started exploding everywhere and killing everywhere and everyone and beheading. The West supported Al Qaeda," he argued.
Assad also accused the West of prolonging the war. "I have always said that in less than a year we can solve this conflict, it’s not very complicated. What has made it complicated is the external interference," he asserted. "The more we advance, the more support the terrorists have from the West... But in spite of this, we are closing the gap."
Assad will finish his current term as Syria's president in three years, but he said it's too early to determine if he runs for another term. "It’s still early to talk about it... If I’m going to run for the presidency, there are two factors: First of all, will – personal will to take responsibility, and second – which is the most important, the will of the Syrian people," he said.

IDF launches surprise exercise in Golan Heights/مناورات عسكرية للجيش الإسرائيلي في الجولان
Yoav Zitun|/Ynetnews /June 110/18/
After last week's massive Air Force exercise, military calls up thousands of reservists for drill in the Golan Heights, which is expected to last several days; exercise was planned in advance as part of 2018 training plan.
The IDF called up thousands of reservists on Sunday morning for a surprise exercise in the Golan Heights, the IDF's Spokesperson's Office said. The exercise will last several days, during which there will be an increased presence of military vehicles in the area, and explosions will be heard.
The IDF Spokesman's Office stressed the surprise drill was planned in advanced as part of the 2018 training schedule and is meant to help maintain troops' preparedness.
A massive Air Force exercise ended on Thursday simulating a two-front aerial campaign on the southern and northern borders, with Israeli jets battering hundreds of simulated targets. Taking place against a backdrop of heightened tensions between Israel and the Hamas terror organization along the Gaza border, the drill was intended to sharpen the IAF’s preparedness for war scenarios on more than one front. Hundreds of fighter jets and helicopters participated in the drill, taking to the skies day and night for seven days. During the exercise training for scenarios on the southern border, which was also intended to enhance air support for infantry soldiers, dozens of fighter jets practiced for rapid attacks on hundreds of targets in the Gaza Strip. The technical staff armed the planes and helicopters for the flight drills that included hundreds of reservists from all the ranks.

Latest LCCC Bulletin analysis & editorials from miscellaneous sources published on June 10-11/18
Iran’s Fighting Force in Gaza Is the One Calling and Firing the Shots
الميليشيات التابعة لإيران في غزة هي المسيطرة والتي تقوم باطلاق النيران

Yaniv Kubovich/Haaretz/June 10/2018
Hamas may rule the Strip, but it’s Islamic Jihad that will determine whether rockets are directed at Israel
Hamas did in fact take control of the recent demonstration on the Gaza border with Israel but it is not the only party responsible for the subsequent escalation in Gaza – or for putting a stop to it. Hamas may finance, direct and decide the level of intensity of the border protests, but to a large extent it is Islamic Jihad that will determine whether the confrontation with Israel remains along the border — or escalates into the firing of mortar shells and rockets over the border.
In recent years, members of Islamic Jihad have managed to create clear rules of the game vis-à-vis the Israeli army. Unlike Hamas, which is also responsible for the civilian population in Gaza and has political ambitions, Islamic Jihad is committed to nothing other than armed confrontation with Israel. It therefore dictates how the Israel Defense Forces conducts itself: Any incident in which Islamic Jihad inflicts casualties or property damage – for the most part involving the firing of rockets or a significant attack along the border fence, is immediately countered with an Israeli military response.
And yet, Islamic Jihad is not exactly the master of its own house. By providing economic and military assistance over the years, Iran has turned the organization into its own military wing in Gaza and the West Bank. “The more we continue to see harm to Iran in Syria and to the extent that its situation is difficult, the more Tehran’s motivation to deploy Islamic Jihad in Gaza against us will increase,” a senior officer in the IDF’s Southern Command said recently. “The Jihad’s command headquarters is outside Gaza, but the Iranians have an interest in escalating the situation here. Tomorrow Iran, from its standpoint, can take a decision to deploy the Jihad against Israel.”
Even if IDF officials don’t admit it, the significance of hitting Islamic Jihad targets is well understood in the army, as demonstrated by two recent incidents in which the organization was dealt a blow. The first occurred on October 30 when Islamic Jihad members were killed in an Israeli attack on terror tunnels near Kissufim. Army officials knew that this would prompt a response, despite Hamas’ attempts to head one off. A month later Islamic Jihad fired mortar shells at Israeli communities and army forces near the Gaza border.
The second incident occurred last month, when massive weapons fire was directed at communities near the Gaza border and a mortar shell hit a kindergarten at Kibbutz Ein Hashlosha. That was in response to the IDF’s killing of three Islamic Jihad members two days earlier. The army then had a day of combat that ended after Hamas demanded a cease-fire.
Hamas isn’t interested in escalation, but it can’t prevent an Islamic Jihad response every time. Hamas is also aware of the following that Islamic Jihad has on social media after it clashes with the IDF and the power that it has on the Gaza street when it fires mortar shells at Israeli border communities. Hamas has chosen to cooperate with Islamic Jihad, albeit in a limited way.
Palestinian Islamic Jihad was founded in Gaza in the late 1970s and early 1980s based on the radical ideology of Egypt’s Islamic Jihad, an offshoot of the Muslim Brotherhood that preached the establishment of an Islamic caliphate through armed struggle. The focus of Palestinian Islamic Jihad has been armed struggle with Israel.
Palestinian Islamic Jihad currently has several thousand fighters whose military training is directed by Iran. Initially the group received assistance from Hamas in obtaining weapons but in recent years, it has already amassed a substantial arsenal including Qassams and Grad rockets with ranges capable of targeting the center of Israel. It also has its own weapons production facilities.
The relationship between Islamic Jihad and Hamas has been exceedingly complicated recently. Usually Islamic Jihad toes the Hamas line on policy and sometimes cooperates with Hamas during periods of military escalation. The two claimed joint responsibility for the recent rocket fire across the Israel border.
And yet, the difference in the goals of the two groups has meant that Islamic Jihad members often pose a challenge to Hamas, mainly by carrying out attacks in violation of restraints Hamas tries to impose. Despite Hamas’ desire to assert its authority in Gaza, it sometimes yields to Islamic Jihad’s actions out of a desire to draw closer to Iran, in light of the difficult situation in the Gaza Strip.
As the senior source in the IDF’s Southern Command put it: “There is currently coordination between the organizations, and Hamas has control but at every step, the Islamic Jihad can also be independent and act as it sees fit to realize the Iranians’ interests.”

Iran Escalates, Europe Defends
Salman Al-dossary/Asharq Al Awsat/June 10/18
While defying the international community by announcing its readiness to resume enriching uranium, Iran is left entangled in emerging evidence linking its cleric-led regime to the infamous September 11 attacks. Recognizing Tehran involvement in terror attacks, international affairs assistant in the Iranian judiciary Mohammad-Javad Larijani confessed in unprecedented remarks that Iran facilitated the passage of al-Qaeda members who carried out the September 11, 2001, terror attacks in New York.
Rebooting its uranium enrichment program and declaring affiliation to Qaeda terror attacks are enough to silence Europeans adamant on salvaging a long-dead Iranian nuclear deal.
Pulling the US out the deal, President Donald Trump said that economic sanctions against Tehran will be reinstated—a move which will substantially debunk economic aspirations on which the deal is founded.
Despite Iran saying its going back to enriching uranium was supposed to bring out resentment among Europeans trying to save the agreement and protect their companies from US sanctions, they turned a blind eye as if nothing had happened.
British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson said that his country believes alongside France and Germany that Iran's nuclear deal is the best way to ensure the future of regional security and stability.
Such a testament validates an allegedly “well-behaved” Iran to pursue sabotage under international watch.
More so, Larijani’s serious remarks recognizing behavior qualifying Tehran as a state-sponsor of terrorism stands to discredit poor arguments made by the deal’s five signatories who chose to continue with adhering to the nuclear agreement.
However, they insist that what Iran does outside the agreement does not justify the need to abolish it.
But such a disastrous confession presents a great contradiction and compromise to the foreign policy credibility of any state which chooses to continue defending the nuclear deal.
The largest terrorist event of the 21st century—responsible for two major wars in Afghanistan and Iraq that cost an astronomical $6 trillion dollars—being linked to a country defended by claims of it one day becoming a moderate state seeking security and stability of the region is self-defeating.
No stability can be fostered with a system that recognizes September 11 attackers’ presence and movements on its soil under full intelligence surveillance.
It must be noted that Larijani’s official recognition is in line with documents presented to the judge of the New York Federal Court on Tehran facilitating the transfer of al-Qaeda operatives to training camps in Afghanistan, a move which was vital for the success of the 9/11 attack.
Documents also showed that Hezbollah’s militant chief Imad Mughniyah visited the perpetrators in October 2000 and arranged for their travel to Iran with newly forged passports, assuring their security before operations were carried out.
Even more, documents proved that the Iranian government issued orders to border guards not to stamp passports of passing perpetrators, making their travel all the more easy.
With such prevailing evidence, it is hard to ignore state terror exacted by the Iranian regime.
Although intransigence brands Iran’s regime and serious and conclusive evidence emerging on terror-related activity, Europeans still rule out such revelations as a harmless muddling of the overall picture.
It is clear that European capitals, unlike what they claim, do not closely care about the possibility of nuclear arms falling in Iranian hands as much as they do about an imaginary scenario of greater regional chaos in the aftermath of scrapping the Iran deal.
Europe therefore is the first vulnerable target of any potential refugee crisis or terrorist operations.
Iran successfully enriching uranium and weaponizing nuclear energy does not seem as threatening to European capitals--even if Iran recognizes terror activity time and time again, it is not a concern to Europeans who believe they enjoy safety at a distance.

Companies Really Can ‘Do More With Less’
Conor Sen/Asharq Al Awsat/June 10/18
With the unemployment rate at generational lows, companies are increasingly trying to squeeze more economic growth out of their current workforces, rather than hiring. That may prove counterproductive, as shown in labor trends in fields where performance is closely monitored. While more difficult culturally, a better change would be to have more workers laboring for fewer hours each. "Do more with less" is the typical corporate response whenever labor is scarce or revenue is pinched. If an employer downsizes, that means remaining workers take on more responsibilities. Businesses, which presumably are performance-driven, are doing the opposite of what's occurring in fields where employee performance is intensively measured. Take pitchers in Major League Baseball. Monitoring pitch counts has been standard operating procedure in baseball for years, with starting pitchers rarely allowed to throw much beyond 100 pitches in a game anymore. Higher pitch counts are believed to lead to decreased effectiveness and greater risk of injury. Added to that is the somewhat newer notion of a "third time through the batting order" penalty, the theory that when batters see a pitcher for the third time in a game they're more successful. Beyond sports, it's well-documented that in health care, providers make worse decisions the longer they've been on shifts. There's not much cognitive difference between a physician who's been awake for 24 hours and one who's drunk. This leads to higher costs and worse patient outcomes.
Aaron Edelheit made a similar argument in his recently published book, "The Hard Break," where he argues white-collar professionals toiling in an always-on smartphone culture should take a digital sabbath one day a week. He's been doing it for over a decade, and has found that it improves his mood and gives him time to be fully present with his family, and that consistent, predictable rest helps his creativity and productivity.
No matter how much evidence we have that there are diminishing returns to hours worked and clear benefits to rest and time off, businesses are always going to tend to think that hours worked equals productivity, and that time off equals lost production. But perhaps like the Golden Knights with little other choice, a constrained labor market may prompt employers to court workers – which could inadvertently help productivity. With more employment alternatives, workers are likely to choose employers that offer more time off and compensation tied to performance rather than the willingness to sit in an office for 60 hours a week. Employers focused on finding workers willing to commit to grueling schedules are going to find it harder to attract and retain talent. And from a broader economic standpoint, while the unemployment rate is at generational lows, labor-force participation is still below what it's been at prior economic peaks. There are probably more people we could induce to join the workforce in a part-time, productive fashion, if only employers would get a little more creative in how they operate. If companies don't figure this out, they're going to pay the price in lost productivity and output – one way or the other.

Pay Attention to What is Happening between the US and its Traditional Allies
Robert Ford/Asharq Al Awsat/June 10/18
It is easy to understand why readers of this newspaper pay very close attention to the many crises in the Middle East such as in Yemen and Syria. I hope the readers will forgive me therefore if I offer some advice. Don’t forget to watch what is happening between the United States and its traditional political and economic allies in Europe and Japan. In my 40 years as a diplomat and university professor, I have never seen the relations between the United States and its traditional allies with such big problems. And in my experience, it is impossible to have a dependable political alliance if the members of the alliance are in the middle of an economic war. Here is the first event to watch. On June 7 and 8 a meeting of defense ministers of the NATO alliance was held in Brussels. The discussions were supposed to focus on military spending and military capabilities. All the NATO members had confidence in US Defense Secretary James Mattis. However, trade issues entered the NATO agenda. The defense minister of Canada, Harjit Sejjan, told Canadian media he would talk a lot at the NATO meeting about the new trade restrictions the United States is imposing on Canada. The Trump administration acknowledged it has imposed new taxes on Canadian steel imports to protect American national security. The Canadians say it is ridiculous to call Canada a national security threat to the United States. Some of the European members of NATO have said that they also wanted to discuss new American taxes on European steel and aluminum exports on the margins of the NATO meeting. The Secretary General of NATO, Jens Stoltenberg, told the media on June 5 that these economic disputes are causing serious divisions inside the Atlantic Alliance and he has to try to “reduce and limit the negative consequences for NATO.”
The next event to watch is the summit of the leaders of the 7 major economies, the G7, in Canada that kicked off on Friday. At a meeting last week to prepare for the summit, the finance ministers of the seven countries could not agree on a joint communique. There were big disagreements about trade, about environment policy and, of course, about the American withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal. It is extremely unusual for the seven countries – who have been close allies for 60 years – not to agree on a joint communique. A Japanese official told the media that he has participated for 20 years preparing these summits and he had never seen the United States isolated like it is now.
French President Emmanuel Macron and British Prime Minister Theresa May have talked to Trump this week, but the conversations were terrible according to media reports. The strongest criticisms of America came from Canada, perhaps America’s closest ally. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, angry about the new American taxes on Canadian steel and aluminum exports, executed new taxes against some American products in retaliation. He said the American trade actions are “insulting” to Canada which had fought in wars alongside American soldiers. A woman in the Canadian city of Hamilton, where there is a big steel factory, told the New York Times on June 1 the American tax is a “slap in the face of Canadians.”
Meanwhile, President Trump last week ordered his administration to stop sanctions against a large Chinese telecommunications company, ZTE, that had been doing business with Iran and North Korea. The business deals were illegal under American sanctions. The American legal penalties were going to be severe, but the President in a tweet said that he wanted to help save Chinese jobs. The administration has not been able to explain why the president is worried about jobs in China, which is not an American ally, but not so worried about deteriorating economic relations with NATO countries and Japan.
Perhaps this is part of Trump’s negotiating strategy. Perhaps he will change his mind. NATO will not collapse next week. Unlike America’s trading partners in Canada and Mexico, the European countries and Japan have not implemented their threats to retaliate and launch a trade war. NATO had a crisis in 1956 about Suez and a crisis in 2003 about Iraq. We should also remember that 1956 and 2003 didn’t involve business relations and the health of alliance members’ economies. A former American ambassador to NATO, Ivo Daalder, told the American media this week that alliances like NATO depend on trust. What we are watching is a Trump administration acid eroding before our eyes the key western alliances that American presidents since Franklin Roosevelt were building. If this doesn’t change, international geopolitics in less than 20 years will be extremely different.

Trade Tensions Risk Undermining the G-7
Mohamed El-Erian/Asharq Al Awsat/June 10/18
Pity the participants in the Group of Seven meeting. The summit, which has been a collaborative gathering for like-minded countries for years, risks being dominated more by its divisions than by achievements.
The leaders gathering in Canada face a stark choice in organizing their discussions. Should they focus on the trade issues that are central to the health of the global economy, even though that topic would most likely pit the US against the six other countries? That, in turn, could undermine progress on other key global challenges. Or should the US's partners aim for progress on those other issues by accommodating America’s unilateral approach to making international trade fairer?
It's not an easy choice.
The risk of a steady slide toward a global trade war, accelerated by the recent US tariffs and retaliatory steps by others, could undermine a pickup in global growth that is already being challenged by a growing set of domestic factors. One consequence is to expose underlying domestic economic and financial vulnerabilities, and the threat of capital outflows (Brazil). Governments, companies and investors are increasingly forced to play a game of whack-a-mole in response to disruptions including Italy's near financial meltdown and currency breakdowns in several emerging countries.
The re-establishment of a more collaborative approach to trade negotiations would be an important step in reducing the risks to global economic growth and prosperity. That is why it would be short-sighted of G-7 leaders to set aside trade for the sake of a more harmonious summit. Moreover, the gathering provides a particularly good forum for putting in place a cooperative process. After all, every member has a legitimate concern about China’s continued use of non-tariff barriers such as joint-venture requirements and with its treatment of intellectual property.
A collaborative strategy for trade negotiations could also provide the foundation for much-needed global efforts to modernize existing agreements. Many of the pacts were reached when domestic and global economies were functioning very differently than they are today. These agreements haven't fully adjusted to domestic structural changes, the impact of technology and global economic and financial realignments. At the same time, maintaining trade as a central part of the agenda carries considerable risks. If the topic isn't handled skillfully, the US could find itself isolated and aggravated, which would undermine the summit’s overall progress. Besides, there are a lot of other issues to discuss, including the US-North Korea meeting in Singapore next week, the consequences of America's withdrawal from the Iran deal, the situation in the Middle East, migration and the plight of refugees, and the need for a more coordinated approach to the growing impact of Big Tech (especially when it comes to data-privacy issues and artificial intelligence). And that is far from a complete list.
The mishandling of trade could easily tip the G-7 into a blame game, instead of making the summit a forum for productive discussion of the issues cited above. Finger-pointing at US protectionism would be countered by complaints that the six other countries are not doing enough to promote economic growth at home. The US almost certainly has at the ready a list of structural impediments to growth in Europe and Japan that can and should be alleviated by sustained policy implementation.
Not long ago the major challenge facing a united G-7 was the erosion in its ability to inform, influence and deliver superior global economic outcomes. Then, it was surpassed in importance and attention by the Group of 20. Now, the G-7 faces the added challenge of maintaining the operational coherence to deal with issues that are mainly under its preview.

Marching for Terrorism in London? No Problem
Judith Bergman/Gatestone Institute/June 10/2018
The leader of last year's London Al Quds Day rally, Nazim Ali – director of the "Islamic Human Rights Commission", which organizes the annual march – called for the annihilation of Israel. They also carried banners that said, "We are all Hezbollah," (what a comforting thought for the British). If, however, like the scholar Robert Spencer, one reports on these activities, one is barred from entering England.An afternoon of racism is in store for Londoners on Sunday, but as long as the hate is directed against Jews by Muslims, British authorities apparently have no problem with it.
On Sunday June 10 in London, the yearly so-called Al Quds Day march -- Al Quds is the Arabic name for both Jerusalem and for the day, invented by Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, who led Iran's 1979 revolution that overthrew the Shah -- will take place. The march is, basically, a call for the destruction of Israel, sometimes also Jews in general. Many other cities, among them Toronto, Berlin and Tehran, will also be "celebrating" the day.
Last year in London, around 1000 people waved countless Hezbollah flags, in honor of Iran's proxy terrorist organization, while chanting slogans such as "Zionists/ISIS are the same, only difference is the name" and "From the river to the sea - Palestine will be free". They also carried banners that said, "We are all Hezbollah," (what a comforting thought for the British).
The leader of last year's London Al Quds rally, Nazim Ali – director of the "Islamic Human Rights Commission", which organizes the annual march – called for the annihilation of Israel and accused British Jews -- falsely -- of being behind the 2017 fire in London's Grenfell Towers apartment complex. "This demonstration calls on justice for Grenfell. Some of the biggest supporters of the Conservative Party are Zionists. They are responsible for the murder of the people in Grenfell". He also made it known to the crowd that he thought the UK should effectively become free of Jews: "We are fed up of the Zionists. We are fed up of their rabbis. We are fed up of their synagogues. We are fed up of their supporters.""It's just an opinion," a female police officer said.
After complaints about Ali's statements, the Metropolitan Police investigated, but the Crown Prosecution Service declared in December 2017 that he would not face prosecution:
"We considered whether offences of inciting racial or religious hatred or a public order offence had been committed, in line with the tests set out in the Code for Crown Prosecutors. We concluded that the evidential test in the Code was not met and therefore no charges have been authorised."
In the UK, calling for the annihilation of an entire people – the Jews – as well as blood libeling and inciting against British Jews is not considered "inciting racial or religious hatred" and apparently does not even lead to charges. British authorities apparently consider marching with terrorist flags while calling for the death of Jews a legitimate activity.
If, however, like the scholar Robert Spencer, one reports on these activities, one is barred from entering England. Not only was Nazim Ali never charged, but he will have ample opportunity to have another go on Sunday.
Last year, the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, wrote to then Home Secretary Amber Rudd asking her to close the legal loophole that makes it legitimate for terrorist supporters to fly Hezbollah flags on the streets of London. The loophole is the fact that the "political wing" of Hezbollah is not proscribed in the UK. In response to Khan, Amber Rudd wrote:
"The group that reportedly organised the parade, the Islamic Human Rights Commission, is not a proscribed terrorist organisation. This means they can express their views and demonstrate, provided that they do so within the law. The flag for the organisation's military wing is the same as the flag for its political wing. Therefore, for it to be an offence under Section 13 of the Terrorism Act 2000, for an individual to display the Hizballah flag, the context and manner in which the flag is displayed must demonstrate that it is specifically in support of the proscribed elements of the group".
In other words, showing support for the terrorist group Hezbollah in the UK is legitimate, because the authorities make believe that the support is for the "political wing". As someone once said, "If the Salvation Army had a wing called Murder Inc. that would be fine."
This year, Khan has again written to the Home Secretary, Sajid Javid, but it is unlikely that the letter will yield a different response from last year's. According to the mayor's spokesperson:
"Anti-Semitism or hate crime of any kind has no place in our city or in our society. Sadiq has written to the Home Secretary to raise his deep concerns about the support shown for Hezbollah at the annual Al Quds Day march. He has called on him to urgently reconsider his predecessor's decision not to take action to stop this."
This year, the vicar Stephen Sizer, who has suggested that Israel was behind 9/11 and was banned from social media by Church of England authorities for six months for sharing "clearly anti-Semitic" material, will be one of the main speakers at the Al Quds march. Sizer has also apparently met top Hezbollah officials in Lebanon and participated in a 2014 conference in Iran where he was to deliver a speech on the "Israeli lobby". The conference was reportedly attended by several Holocaust deniers; it was intended to "unveil the secrets behind the dominance of the Zionist lobby over US and EU politics". Jeremy Corbyn defended the vicar at the time, claiming that he had been condemned because he had "dared to speak out against Zionism".
Mick Napier, of the Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign, will also be speaking at the march. An activist who promotes isolating Israel to destroy it economically, Napier was convicted of aggravated trespass against an Israeli cosmetics store in 2014 and of failing to follow police orders to leave the store. An afternoon of racism is in store for Londoners on Sunday, but as long as the hate is directed against Jews by Muslims, British authorities apparently have no problem with it.
*Judith Bergman is a columnist, lawyer and political analyst.
© 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 Closing of the Cultural Mind?
Giulio Meotti/Gatestone Institute/June 10/2018
In France, recently, a group of intellectuals published a manifesto asking the Islamic world to eliminate anti-Semitic verses from the Koran. The initiative followed the murder of an 85-year-old Holocaust survivor, Mireille Knoll.
The Turkish Council of Higher Education responded with a moratorium on establishing additional departments of French studies in Turkey.
There are no guarantees that curiosity, self-doubt and free speech will create a more liberal society. But closed-mindedness and censorship, in the Middle East, Europe or anywhere, are not likely to, either.In the West, books and documentaries have been cancelled. In France, recently, a group of intellectuals published a manifesto asking the Islamic world to eliminate anti-Semitic verses from the Koran. The initiative followed the murder of an 85-year-old Holocaust survivor, Mireille Knoll. The Turkish Council of Higher Education responded with a moratorium on establishing additional departments of French studies in Turkey. For years, under the presidency of Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Turkish culture has been closing in on itself. "Going into a Turkish bookstore is like walking into a psychiatric ward," according to the British journalist Gareth Jenkins in The New Yorker. Turkey sentenced journalists and writers to prison, and put publishers of foreign novels, such as its most famous translator, Necmiye Alpay, on trial. The problem, however, may not be just Turkish, but, as the author Robert R. Reilly called it, "the closing of the Muslim mind".
A new report for the Atlantic Council written by Hossam Abouzahr, the founder of the Living Arabic Project, details the dramatic cultural change in the Arab world:
"The Arab world is now publishing only between 15,000 and 18,000 books annually, as many as Penguin Random House produces on its own. Egypt was once the largest producer of books with an output between 7,000 and 9,000 per year. Although its output was previously on the rise, it dropped by a whopping 70 percent after the 2011 revolution, and as of 2016 was only 'showing signs of recovery'. Greece translates five times as many books into Greek as all 22 Arab nations combined".
According to a report given at the Frankfurt Book Fair, "the Arab world, with its population of over 362 million people in 2012" produced about the same "number of books produced in countries like Romania (with a population of 21.3 million in 2012) and Ukraine (population 45.6 million) in 2012". Another report by the RAND center also notes that "the number of public libraries in Egypt is about a tenth of those in Germany, which has a comparable population". The Economist noted that Arab publishing industry is in "troubled".
Many great writers in Islam are now foreigners at home. Salman Rushdie, targeted by an Iranian fatwa, has become "the disappeared". At the age of 82, Naguib Mahfouz, the only Egyptian Nobel Laureate for Literature, was stabbed nearly to death by an Islamist. The Syrian poet Adonis exiled himself to Paris. The most celebrated Algerian writers, such as Kamel Daoud and Boualem Sansal, are treated as pariahs and threatened. Orhan Pamuk, the greatest Turkish writer, was also persecuted. The Lebanese Nobel laureate Amin Maalouf lives in France. And many writers in Bangladesh have been hacked to death. Iran is experiencing a devastating "brain drain" to the West. And images of book-burnings have become sadly popular in the Muslim world, from the historic books burned at the Cairo Institute to ISIS's destruction at the Mosul library.
At the age of 82, Naguib Mahfouz, the only Egyptian Nobel Laureate for Literature, was stabbed nearly to death by an Islamist. (Image source: Alaraby/Wikimedia Commons)
Unfortunately, Islam's cultural changes -- as attested to by the lack of producing books and translations -- may have severe consequences for the radicalization of the new generations. There are no guarantees that curiosity, self-doubt and freedom of speech will create a more liberal society. But closed-mindedness and censorship, in the Middle East, Europe or anywhere, are not likely to, either. There is an Arabic saying: "Books are written in Cairo, printed in Beirut and read in Baghdad". Is this same cultural malaise being adopted by the West?
*Giulio Meotti, Cultural Editor for Il Foglio, is an Italian journalist and author.
© 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.

Murdoch Gets What He Wants Out of Brexit Britain
Chris Hughes/Bloomberg/Asharq Al Awsat/June 10/18
The U.K. government has all but approved Rupert Murdoch's bid to take full control of Sky Plc. That's good news for the satellite broadcaster's shareholders. It's also a sign that even the most controversial foreign offers for British companies have a fighting chance of success. U.K. Culture Secretary Matt Hancock said Tuesday he will clear the bid by Murdoch's 21st Century Fox Inc. if the company can find a long-term steward for Sky's news operation -- most likely Walt Disney Co., which has already offered to take the unit on. There's a two-week deadline for hammering out the details. Underwriting Sky News will be expensive. But Disney has a vested interest in helping Fox get over the line here: the US entertainment giant has a separate deal to buy most of Fox's assets, including its 39 percent stake in Sky — which would become a controlling position if Fox's bid for the rest of the shares succeeds. Meanwhile, Murdoch himself will want to finish the job of buying Sky even though he's selling up to Disney — an insurance policy if for any reason the deal to sell up to Mickey Mouse’s parent falls through. Sky's shares climbed slightly to 13.54 pounds on Tuesday, a sign investors anticipate a bidding war that will push Fox and rival bidder Comcast Corp. to the pain barrier. Assume Sky absent a deal is worth between 9.50 pounds and 10 pounds a share and the synergies from the deal are worth more than 4 pounds a share, as UBS analysts reckon, and the current stock price makes sense. The main risk to an auction now is that Fox teams up with Comcast — which also covets Murdoch’s assets — and Disney decides not to bid for Sky either. It's been a long slog for Murdoch. The goal has always been to make this battle about financial power only. That point has nearly arrived. Nearly. Disney needs to convince Hancock it will be a committed owner of Sky News even if its deal for the Fox assets fails, leaving it with a U.K. News operation it would never have bid for otherwise. As for other overseas bidders, the British government is taking care to be seen to scrutinize high-profile deals thoroughly while also laying out achievable hurdles to let them proceed. Even in the current fraught political climate, both foreign and hostile deals aren't impossible.

Hezbollah helping Hamas establishing militarily in Lebanon
حزب الله يساعد حماس عسكريا في لبنان
Netanyahu: Removing Iranian forces from Syria 'is a process'
نتنياهو: إزالة القوات الإيرانية من سوريا عملية متكاملة
Assad: Israel, Russia not coordinating on Iranian pullout from south Syria
الأسد: روسيا وإيران لا ينسقان للإنسحاب الإيراني من الجنوب السوري
IDF launches surprise exercise in Golan Heights
مناورات عسكرية للجيش الإسرائيلي في الجولان