June 12/2018
Compiled & Prepared by: Elias Bejjani


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Bible Quotations
Then Jesus said to Thomas, ‘Put your finger here and see my hands
Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ according to Saint John 20/26-31: "A week later his disciples were again in the house, and Thomas was with them. Although the doors were shut, Jesus came and stood among them and said, ‘Peace be with you. ’Then he said to Thomas, ‘Put your finger here and see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it in my side. Do not doubt but believe. ’Thomas answered him, ‘My Lord and my God!’ Jesus said to him, ‘Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe. ’Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book. But these are written so that you may come to believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that through believing you may have life in his name."

Titles For Latest LCCC Bulletin analysis & editorials from miscellaneous sources published on June 11-12/18
A Trump-Kim deal for North Korea’s denuclearization would take years to implement
Kim, Trump in Countdown to Historic Summit
Pompeo Says N. Korea Will Get 'Unique' Security Guarantees
UN Urges Major Powers to Reach Settlement to Avoid Bloodbath in Syria’s Idlib
Rouhani Slams US ‘Unilateralism’ in Iran Deal Exit
Iran's Parliament Suspends Discussions on Terrorism Financing
Saudi Arabia, UAE, Kuwait Offer $2.5 bn in Aid to Crisis-Hit Jordan
Heavy fighting on Yemen’s west coast kills 250 Houthi militants
Iraq Ballot Warehouse Fire 'Deliberate'
Qatar Files Case against UAE at U.N.'s Highest Court
Hamas Seeks to Hold Broad National Palestinian Conference
Palestinian Refugees from Syria See No Hope of Yarmouk Camp Return
Egypt Refers 28 to Trial for Forming Group to Topple Regime
Pilot Rescued as US F-15 Jet Cashes Off Japan's Okinawa
Spain Offers to Take in Stranded Migrant Ship
Philippines Demands China Stop Taking Fishermen's Catch
Turkish Economic Growth Beats Expectations as Vote Looms
Libya: Senior Extremist Leaders Killed in Derna

Titles For The Latest LCCC Lebanese Related News published on June 11-12/18
Iran’s Soleimani says Saudis interfered in Lebanese elections
Hariri from Baabda: Everyone wants government to be formed as soon as possible
Hariri Hands Aoun Govt. Lineup Draft, Slams Soleimani's Remarks
Soleimani Says Hizbullah Now Has '74 MPs' in Parliament
Aoun Inspects Exams Centers for Students with Learning Difficulties, Cancer
Raad Says Hizbullah, Allies Can Now Block 'Harmful' Draft Laws
Zaspykin: Russia to Face Imposition of External Will on Lebanese
Zasypkin: Hezbollah withdrawal from Syria must not be broached amid current juncture
Report: Mustaqbal Says ‘No Saudi Intervention’ in Cabinet Formation
Rahi Says Naturalization Decree Must Be ‘Revoked’
Aoun visits official exams for special case students
Lebanon: Efforts to Contain Dispute between Bassil, Amal Movement over Honorary Consuls
Lebanese Patriarch Rahi to Macron: Int’l Community Discouraging Refugees’ Return Home
Islamic Human Rights Commission Advises Demonstrators How To Fly Hizbullah Flag At London Rally Without Facing Legal Consequences
Hariri committed to all-inclusive Cabinet, urges speedy formation
Iran pays Hezbollah $700 million a year, US official says

Titles For Latest LCCC Bulletin For Miscellaneous Reports And News published on June 11-12/18
Islamic Human Rights Commission Advises Demonstrators How To Fly Hizbullah Flag At London Rally Without Facing Legal Consequences/MEMRI/June 11/18
Hariri committed to all-inclusive Cabinet, urges speedy formation/Georgi Azar/Annahar/June 11/2018
Iran pays Hezbollah $700 million a year, US official says/Joyce Karam/The National/June 05/18
A Trump-Kim deal for North Korea’s denuclearization would take years to implement/Debka File/June 11/18
Two Men from Outside the Box/Ghassan Charbel/Asharq Al-Awsat/Monday, 11 June, 2018
Protectionism is Probably Self-Defeating/David Ignatius/Asharq Al-Awsat/Monday, 11 June, 2018
Germany's Migrant Rape Crisis: "Failure of the State"/Soeren Kern/Gatestone Institute/June 11/18
Report: Netanyahu, White House Working to Drive Wedge Between Palestinians and Gulf States/Amir Tibon/Haaretz/June 11/2018
Here’s how to re-educate an entire ethnic group/Dr. Azeem Ibrahim/Al Arabiya/June 11/18
Why did Khamenei resort to escalation/Mohammed Al Shaikh/Al Arabiya/June 11/18
Anthony Bourdain: A personal eulogy to the man I never met/Walid Jawad/Al Arabiya/June 11/18
Ghabra’s ‘advice’ on Gulf-US relations/Mashari Althaydi/Al Arabiya/June 11/18
After G-7 fiasco, risk is on the rise/Cornelia Meyer/Arab News/June 11/18
Is Iran really complying with the nuclear deal/Dr. Majid Rafizadeh/Arab News/June 11/18

Latest LCCC Lebanese Related News published on June 11-12/18
Iran’s Soleimani says Saudis interfered in Lebanese elections
TEHRAN TIMES/June 11/18/General Qassem Soleimani, the commander of the IRGC Quds Force, said on Monday that Saudis attempted to interfere in Lebanon’s May elections. “Saudi Arabia spent 200 million dollars in a short period of time on the Lebanon elections, however, Hezbollah won. Recent elections in Lebanon were a referendum,” he stated. He also said that Hezbollah won 74 seats out of a total of 128 seats in Lebanon’s parliament and this has turned Lebanon into a resistance government and this is a “great victory”. Lebanese general elections were held on May 6. Hezbollah and groups and individuals affiliated to it were the biggest winners in Lebanon’s first general election in nine years. Hezbollah’s allies include the Amal Movement led by Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri and the Christian Free Patriotic Movement founded by President Michel Aoun. Lebanon’s parliamentary elections were delayed three times since 2009 due to the crisis in neighboring Syria as well as disagreement over the country’s new electoral law.

Hariri from Baabda: Everyone wants government to be formed as soon as possible
Mon 11 Jun 2018/NNA - In the wake of his meeting with President of the Republic, General Michel Aoun, at the Baabda Palace, Prime Minister-designate, Saad Hariri, said, "Everyone wants the government to be formed as soon as possible." A meeting was held on Monday at the Baabda palace between President Michel Aoun and PM-designate Saad Hariri, over the latest atmosphere and contacts undertaken for the new Cabinet formation. Hariri submitted to President Aoun a preliminary vision about the distribution of political parties' shares in the new Cabinet lineup. Speaking to reporters on emerging, Hariri said he opposes keeping any major political party outside the new government. He underlined that all the Lebanese components should be incorporated in the Cabinet. Hariri told reporters that all Lebanese parties want to facilitate the government formation operation, saying such a matter necessitates "concessions and sacrifices" from all. In reply to a question, Hariri said that the preliminary draft he submitted to the President includes his vision over the new government's shares' distribution rather than names. He also favored a Cabinet of 30 ministers. Asked about the recent statement by General Qassem Soleimani, Hariri deemed such utterances as regrettable. "Interference in Lebanon's internal affairs does not fall in the interest of Iran, Lebanon or the countries of the region," Hariri corroborated.

Hariri Hands Aoun Govt. Lineup Draft, Slams Soleimani's Remarks
Naharnet/June 11/18/Prime Minister-designate Saad Hariri announced Monday that he submitted to President Michel Aoun a preliminary draft about the parties' shares in the new government. “Everyone wants the government to be formed as soon as possible and I submitted to President Aoun a preliminary draft about how the shares should be distributed,” Hariri said after meeting Aoun at the Baabda Palace. “We're against keeping major political parties outside the government,” Hariri added. Calling for “sacrifices and concessions” from all parties, the PM-designate said the government should bring together the biggest number of political forces in light of “the difficult regional situation.” Asked about remarks attributed to General Qassem Soleimani, the head of Iran's Quds Force, Hariri described his statement as “regrettable.”“We would have liked to have a state-to-state relation (with Iran) and if some have lost in Iraq, it does not mean that they should seek to compensate for their loss somewhere else,” the PM-designate added.
Soleimani Says Hizbullah Now Has '74 MPs' in Parliament
Associated Press/Naharnet/June 11/18/A top Iranian general has praised Hizbullah and its allies for making significant gains in last month's parliamentary elections, claiming that “Hizbullah has won 74 out of parliament's 128 seats.” General Qassem Soleimani, the head of Iran's elite fighting Quds Force, also accused Saudi Arabia of paying $200 million in support of certain Lebanese parties during the elections. Lebanese media aired a video posted on social media showing Soleimani saying that Hizbullah's electoral victory came at a time when some Arab countries labeled it and its leaders as terrorists. Prime Minister-designate Saad Hariri said later Monday that the comments are "regrettable," adding that interfering in Lebanon's internal affairs is "not in their (Iran's) interest, nor those of Lebanon or the region."

Aoun Inspects Exams Centers for Students with Learning Difficulties, Cancer

Naharnet/June 11/18/President Michel Aoun inspected on Monday two official exam centers at the Uruguay public school for students with special learning needs, and at the Children's Cancer Center of Lebanon (CCCL) where baccalaureate official exams have been taking place, the National News Agency reported. “The will to live encourages us to work for the future,” Aoun told the students during his visit. He said the state has given a special interest to students with special educational needs, especially that they are “an integral part of society.”Caretaker Minister of Education, Marwan Hamadeh, who accompanied the president, thanked Aoun for his visit saying "it will give students a boost."

Raad Says Hizbullah, Allies Can Now Block 'Harmful' Draft Laws
Naharnet/June 11/18/The head of Hizbullah's parliamentary bloc, MP Mohammed Raad, announced Monday that his party and its allies have gained the ability to block draft laws that might “harm the country's interest.”“After the elections, the parliament's situation with its blocs and balance of power has clearly changed and no single camp now has the ability to possess a permanent majority to rely on in approaching laws, proposals and draft laws,” Raad said. Pointing out that the parliamentary majority “will now shift according to the importance of laws and proposals,” the lawmaker added: “This will allow us to block a lot of laws that might harm the country's interest.” “We will be able to push for the approval of a lot of laws that preserve the interests of the country and its citizens,” Raad went on to say. His remarks come after Hizbullah and its allies achieved significant gains in the May parliamentary elections. The polls were held under a proportional representation system in a first for Lebanon.

Zaspykin: Russia to Face Imposition of External Will on Lebanese
Naharnet/June 11/18/Russian Ambassador to Lebanon Alexander Zasypkin stressed on strengthening Lebanese-Russian ties, saying any attempt to impose foreign decisions on the Lebanese’ will be prevented.He assured, in remarks made at the opening of the Russian Cultural Center in Rashaya, that “Russia stands firm against attempts to impose foreign will on the people in Lebanon and Syria with the aim of igniting seditions and conspiracies that undermine the situation and spread terrorism.”“Russia is exerting efforts in all areas aimed at finding solutions to conflicts in the Middle East and North Africa, especially the return of Syrian refugees and finding a political settlement in Syria,” said Zaspykin.

Zasypkin: Hezbollah withdrawal from Syria must not be broached amid current juncture
Mon 11 Jun 2018/NNA - Russian Ambassador to Lebanon, Alexander Zasypkin, on Monday said that the withdrawal of Hezbollah or Iran from Syria must not be a matter of discussion amid the current juncture, especially that terrorism has not been completely eradicated.
"The other camp is focusing on this issue to sow doubt and cause problems between the Resistance axis and Russia; and this is refused," the envoy told an interview on Annour radio station. "The relation between Russia and the Resistance axis in Syria is a relation of cooperation," he said. "The US presence in Syria is a major cause behind the complications in this country, as well as behind the failure to reach solutions," he added. Turning to Lebanon, Zasypkin saw that the government would be formed soon considering the strong political will to do so.

Report: Mustaqbal Says ‘No Saudi Intervention’ in Cabinet Formation
Naharnet/June 11/18/Al-Mustaqbal Movement emphasized that efforts to lineup the Cabinet are in progress as they repudiated Hizbullah allegations of a Saudi intervention in the formation process, al-Joumhouria daily reported on Monday. “There is no direct or indirect Saudi intervention in the process of forming the new government,” stressed Mustaqbal sources in remarks they made to the daily replying to remarks made by a senior Hizbullah official. Hizbullah Central Council member Sheikh Nabil Qaouq has earlier accused SA of “interfering” in the formation of Lebanon’s Cabinet “in order to weaken the resistance,” and of seeking to keep his group out of the new Lebanese government. He stated that “Saudi policy has not saved anyone from its evil, it is still a direct threat to the Lebanese national reconciliation and the stability of political life in Lebanon.”Mustaqbal chief and Prime Minister-designate Saad Hariri faces a daunting task of forming a government amid wrangling among political parties over portfolios. Hizbullah, the only organisation that did not disarm after the 1975-1990 civil war and now has an arsenal that outstrips Lebanon’s own armed forces, has reinforced its strength and its allies’ in the May 6 parliamentary elections. Mustaqbal on the other hand has lost a third of its seats on May 6.

Rahi Says Naturalization Decree Must Be ‘Revoked’
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/June 11/18/Maronite Patriarch Beshara al-Rahi on Monday called for the annulment of a controversial naturalization decree granting Lebanese nationality to “suspicious names” that “dishonor” the Lebanese nationality. “We demand Lebanese official to revoke the naturalization decree because it disturbs people’s confidence, and because it was issued by mistake listing suspicious names that do not honor the Lebanese nationality,” said Rahi at the opening of the Holy Synod. Lebanese politicians and ordinary citizens alike are fuming over a secretive presidential decree granting nationality to dozens of people, allegedly including Syrian investors close to the Damascus regime. Critics have slammed the secrecy surrounding the move and say it adds insult to injury for thousands unable to acquire nationality because they were born to Lebanese mothers and foreign fathers. It was reportedly issued on May 11 after being signed by President Michel Aoun, but news of its existence only emerged lately when dozens of names allegedly included in the edict were leaked to the media. It prompted a wave of public outrage, with Lebanese officials scrambling to defend themselves or defect blame. The president's office confirmed the decree's existence, but said it had submitted the names to the General Security agency to verify they all have "the right" to become Lebanese. Lebanese media reported it may include as many as 300 people, including businessmen known to be close to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

Aoun visits official exams for special case students
The Daily Star/June. 11/2018/BEIRUT: President Michel Aoun Monday visited the Children's Cancer Center of Lebanon and the Uruguay Public School in Ashrafieh to observe the progress of secondary school exams held for special case students. “Today, a stage ends and another stage begins for you. I wish you success in the coming stage. You are the future generation – the young generation that will take our place ... in ministries, as engineers or doctors,” Aoun told a group of 28 young cancer patients taking their official exams at the CCCL, according to a statement from the presidency. Aoun later headed to the Uruguay Public School, where 50 students with learning difficulties were sitting exams. “You have your place in society,” Aoun said. “You are not isolated from us, even if you have learning difficulties.” The president met with teachers during his visit, praising them for their work. Caretaker Education Minister Marwan Hamadeh, who accompanied Aoun on the tour, thanked the president for taking an interest, and expressed hope that the students would excel in the exams. “God willing, the results will be similar to last year, when over 90 percent passed,” Hamadeh was quoted as saying.

Lebanon: Efforts to Contain Dispute between Bassil, Amal Movement over Honorary Consuls

Beirut - Nazeer Rida/ Asharq Al Awsat/Monday, 11 June, 2018/Efforts are underway to contain a new crisis that erupted between two ministers in the Lebanese caretaker government – Finance Minister Ali Hassan Khalil and Foreign Minister Jebran Bassil – over the issuance of a decree, appointing 32 honorary consuls, without bearing the signature of the finance minister. The decree was signed by President Michel Aoun, Prime Minister-designate Saad Hariri and Bassil, while Hassan Khalil insists that any decree entailing financial burdens must bear his signature. While the parties have not concluded that a solution has been reached, well-informed official sources said the issue would certainly be resolved, without giving Asharq Al-Awsat any further details, or whether the solution included a change in the names of the consuls included in the decree. MTV reported that “Hezbollah” - Bassil and Amal’s ally - “succeeded in mediating between the movement and the Free Patriotic Movement (FPM) in the crisis over the decree.”  It said on its website that the foreign minister will send to the Ministry of Finance two decrees to appoint honorary consuls to be signed by Khalil. “President Michel Aoun and Speaker Nabih Berri are keen not to backslide the good relations between them. This has facilitated the efforts of ‘Hezbollah’ to overcome the problems surrounding the appointment of the consuls,” it added. Former Foreign Minister Adnan Mansour remarked, however, that the appointment of honorary consuls does not incur financial burdens on the state, meaning the finance minister’s signature was not necessary. The current crisis, therefore, seems to go beyond the question of ministerial powers, as the decree was submitted in February to the finance minister, who refused to sign it. The decree was issued late last month when the government assumed a caretaker role after the May 6 parliamentary elections. Sources at the Finance Ministry said Hassan Khalil refused to sign the decree “because it did not take into account the sectarian, geographical and regional balance” in Lebanon.
Lebanese Patriarch Rahi to Macron: Int’l Community Discouraging Refugees’ Return Home
Beirut - Asharq Al-Awsat/Monday, 11 June, 2018/Lebanese Maronite Patriarch Beshara al-Rahi revealed that during his recent visit to Paris, he told French President Emmanuel Macron that the international community was not encouraging Syrian refugees to return to their homeland. “The essence of the matter is that the international community does not encourage these Syrian refugees to return, but it is rather intimidating them. This is what I personally told French President Macron and the senior officials I have met,” the patriarch said on Sunday. He added that he raised two main points during his official visit to France in May. “First, the separation of the political situation in Syria from the return of the displaced to their homeland and their homes. Second, the need to encourage refugees to return by focusing on the right to citizenship and the resulting civil rights, and on the duty to preserve their culture, civilization and history, rather than intimidate them,” the patriarch said. Lebanon is hosting over a million Syrian refugees who have fled the unrest raging in their homeland. Some Lebanese officials have grown increasingly disgruntled with the refugees, who are straining the country’s already weak infrastructure. “We, the Lebanese, have demonstrated the courage to return to unsafe places during the war we have lived through,” added Rahi. Lebanon witnessed a civil war between 1975 and 1990. Rahi also commented on the recent controversial naturalization decree, which has sparked a wave of angry reactions among different Lebanese political parties, some of whom even threatened to challenge it before the Higher Constitutional Council. “While the Lebanese people were waiting for the birth of a new government that will confront challenges and meet their expectations, the authorities surprised them with a decree to naturalize a group of foreigners who are not of Lebanese origins,” the patriarch stated. “This matter contradicts with the preamble of the Constitution, which categorically rejects any division of Lebanon or any resettlement,” he added.
Islamic Human Rights Commission Advises Demonstrators How To Fly Hizbullah Flag At London Rally Without Facing Legal Consequences
MEMRI/June 11/18
A video disseminated on YouTube prior to the June 10 Qods Day march in London advises demonstrators how to take advantage of a loophole in the law permitting the flying of the Hizbullah flag, as only the military wing of Hizbullah – and not its political arm – is defined as a terror organization. The video advises protesters to carry a sticker alongside the flag, stating that "this flag is to show my support for the political wing of Hizbullah." It tells them to avoid engaging with "Zionists or counter-demonstrators" and to point to the sticker if asked questions by journalists, and gives instructions on how to act if approached by a police officer. The video was posted on YouTube on June 7 by the Islamic Human Rights Commission. Narrator: "Zionists, their neo-Nazi and Islamophobic allies are targeting Al-Quds day. Their latest strategy is to try to shut down freedom of expression and use that to try and shut down Al-Quds day. They are targeting participants who choose to hold Hizbullah flags. Please note: police and lawyers have advised that while flying the Hizbullah flag is not illegal by itself, waving the flag alongside words and actions showing support for the military wing of Hizbullah, the proscribed arm of the group, is an offence."
On screen: "Anti-Semitism isn't the problem, anti-Israel, anti-Zionism is."
Narrator: "Zionist agitators have figured this out."
Man: "What are you protesting? Are you a fan of Hizbullah? The military wing as well?"
Narrator: "They are training and preparing to trick Al-Quds attendees into incriminating themselves so that they can have individuals arrested and prosecuted. Be aware. Stay vigilant. Be clear. Participants are welcome to bring flags that show solidarity with the Palestinian cause. Flags displayed to show support for an illegal organization will not be allowed. For example: You can bring a Hizbullah flag to show support for the political wing of Hizbullah, this is because the political wing of Hizbullah is not a proscribed organization. If you do carry a Hizbullah flag, please make sure you put a sticker stating: 'This flag is to show my support for the political wing of Hizbullah.' If you are approached by Zionist or counter-demonstrators and they ask you if you support any proscribed organization including the military wing of Hizbullah, do not answer. Walk away and ask one of the stewards to remove them from the event.
"Do not engage with any questions asked by the Zionists or counter-demonstrators however innocent or simple they may seem. Do not answer journalist questions about this, you can direct them to a steward instead. If a police officer approaches you remain calm and polite, if they ask you about your flag you can point to the sticker. If they continue to ask questions: Ask the officer if you are being detained or if you are legally required to respond to his questions. If the officer says no: Tell the officer you do not wish to discuss with them further and would like to go about your lawful business. If the officer says yes: Ask them what law they are questioning or detaining you under, decline to answer any questions without a lawyer present. Flags flown to show support for a proscribed organization will not be allowed. If organizers see this happening, the flag will be taken down, and the individuals asked to leave the march."
On screen: "Al-Quds Day Sunday 10th June 2018 gathering at 3PM outside Saudi Embassy Curzon Street W1J7US organized by the Al-Quds Day Committee."

Hariri committed to all-inclusive Cabinet, urges speedy formation
Georgi Azar/Annahar/June 11/2018
Hariri’s comments came during his meeting with President Michel Aoun at the Baabda Presidential during which he proposed an initial draft of the structure of Lebanon’s new Cabinet.
BEIRUT: Prime Minister-designate Saad Hariri maintained Monday the importance of the swift formation of a Cabinet that brings together parties from across the political spectrum.
Hariri’s comments came after his meeting with President Michel Aoun at the Baabda Presidential during which he proposed an initial draft of the structure of Lebanon’s new Cabinet.
“Everyone is looking to form the new Cabinet as soon as possible and we came up with a proposal about how shares are allocated,” he said, noting that he opposes the "exclusion of major parties" from the Cabinet, in a veiled reference to the Lebanese Forces.
The LF's demand for a significant share of portfolios in the Cabinet has been fiercely disputed by the Free Patriotic Movement, the party founded by Aoun and currently led by his son-in-law caretaker Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil.
The LF have expanded their parliamentary bloc to 15 MPs in the recent parliamentary elections, however, the FPM remain the biggest Christian coalition along with their allies after capturing 29 seats.
Bassil has also called for his bloc to be awarded the Ministry of Interior, a post which has been recently reserved for Sunnis and currently occupied by Nohad Machnouq, a close ally of Hariri.
Bassil and Machnouq have also traded barbs in recent days after the Foreign Minister suspended Friday the residency application process for the United Nations Higher Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) until further notice.
Speaking on Saturday, Machnouq argued that all policies pertaining to the UNHCR should be decided by the Cabinet and not the Foreign Minister.
Bassil’s move came in response to the perceived UNHCR campaign to dissuade Syrian refugees from returning to their homeland by “intimidating those who wish to return voluntarily.”
“Our procedures against UNHCR begin tomorrow, and they will escalate to the maximum extent that sovereign Lebanon can achieve toward an organization which acts against (Lebanon’s) policy of preventing naturalization and returning the displaced to their homeland,” Bassil said in a series of tweets published Thursday.
Lebanon’s political parties, across the board, have been pushing for the return of those displaced to areas deemed “safe,” in a bid to alleviate the burden the 1.5 is currently posing on the country infrastructure and ailing economy.
During his meeting Monday with U.S ambassador Elizabeth Richard, Machnouq reiterated the importance of their “return in line with international standards,” while Kataeb MP Nadim Gemayel took to Twitter underscoring that this process “may require direct coordination with the Syrian government.”
Last week, the head of Lebanon’s General Security Maj. Gen. Abbas Ibrahim announced that communications with Syrian authorities to facilitate the return of Syrian refugees are ongoing, signaling the start of a broader arrangement between both countries.
Hariri also criticized a top Iranian general for comments he reportedly made recently in which he praised Iran-backed groups for making gains in last month's parliamentary elections after Hezbollah and its allies gained more than half the seats of the 128-member parliament in the May 6 parliamentary elections.
Local media aired a video posted on social media showing Gen. Qassem Soleimani, the head of Iran's elite fighting Quds Force, saying that Hezbollah's victory came at a time when some Arab countries labeled it and its leaders as terrorists.
Hariri told reporters later Monday that the comments are "regrettable," adding that interfering in Lebanon's internal affairs is "not in their (Iran's) interest, nor those of Lebanon or the region."
- With AP
Iran pays Hezbollah $700 million a year, US official says
Joyce Karam/The National/June 05/18
Iran has multiplied its support for the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah to more than $700 million a year, according to US estimates.
The new figure is more than three times as much as previous estimates of funding for the group.
Speaking at the Foundation for Defence of Democracies (FDD) in Washington on Tuesday, the US Treasury under-secretary for terrorism and financial intelligence, Sigal Mandelker, condemned the Iranian government’s behaviour on several fronts, including funding illicit activities and supporting terrorism.
She also referred to US-UAE co-operation and the efforts last month to uncover and break up a secret financial network sending money to Iran’s revolutionary guard (IRGC) and Quds force.
Ms Mandelker accused the Iranian regime of using shell and front companies, and forging documents to conceal its tracks in order to “fund terrorists, support weapons of mass destruction proliferation or exploit its own people through corruption and human rights abuses”.
The US under-secretary said: “Iran provides upwards of $700 million a year to Hezbollah.” That figure is more than triple the $200m previously estimated by the US before Hezbollah’s became embroiled in the Syrian civil war.
Hanin Ghaddar, a fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, told The National that the new figure is significant because it represents the “first time a US official pins down such a number.” The expert tied the large increase in Iran's budget to Hezbollah, directly to its regional mission, and not its Lebanese activities.
“Funding for Hezbollah’s social services network [in Lebanon] has decreased over the past 6 years, as the budget for its regional operations kept climbing up” Ms Ghaddar said.
The increase covers Hezbollah’s “mission in recruiting, training, advancing its weaponry and leading the Shi’a Militias – mainly in Syria”.
Ms Mandelker, a former prosecutor at the department of justice, accused Iran of undermining the international financial system. She said Iran’s central bank had a direct role in directing the terrorist funding activities. “What is all the more remarkable about this activity is that we are seeing Central Bank of Iran complicity in Quds Force financing,” she said, referencing the foreign wing of the IRGC.
She praised UAE-US efforts to break up a financial network funding the IRGC. “We took action with our partners in the UAE to designate this network and shut it down” she said, urging other countries to follow suit. “The UAE also sent a very strong message that these exchanges and the Quds force are not welcome there, designating individuals and entities involved in this network and cutting their access to the UAE’s financial system” she said.
Ms Mandelker said: “Iran’s central bank governor, other Central Bank of Iran officials and the Quds force team up to take advantage of Iraq’s banking sector in order to surreptitiously move funds on behalf of Quds and Hezbollah.” And in Yemen, besides sending ballistic missiles to the Houthis, she said Quds printed “counterfeit Yemeni bank notes, potentially worth hundreds of millions of dollars, to support Iran’s destabilising activities”.
She condemned the Iranian regime's clampdown on freedom inside Iran, “restricting access to satellite services, blocking access to social media sites and apps, and imposing other Internet restrictions”.
Ms Mandelker also mentioned Iran’s hacking activities, through the “Mabna Institute, targeting 22 countries, including Germany, Italy, and the United Kingdom, as well as our Asian partners such as Japan and South Korea. The institute conducted massive, co-ordinated cyber intrusions into the computer systems of over 300 universities worldwide, including 144 institutions based in the United States.”
After America's targeting of Iranian airlines and front companies in Turkey, Ms Mandelker said that “since the onset of the Syrian civil war, Mahan Air and other designated Iranian commercial airlines such as Caspian Air, Meraj Air, and Pouya Air have routinely flown fighters and material to Syria to prop up the Assad regime”.
“People do not go on vacation to Syria” she said.
Ms Mandelker urged international action in designating these actors and activities linked to terrorism funded by Iran in the eyes of the US, and warned of targeting of those who do business with those networks globally.
But as far as the impact of the US strategy of imposing sanctions on Hezbollah is concerned, Ms Ghaddar questioned the degree of damage it is inflicting on the party. “The US sanctions bother Hezbollah only in the sense that they make their finances more complicated but they have not stopped the funding as Iran still uses the air and land corridors to transfer the money, mostly in cash,” she said.
“Hezbollah’s economy is a cash economy that’s why sanctions won’t seriously harm it, albeit being a nuisance” Ms Ghaddar continued.
For Hezbollah, it largely depends on its allies and business community for moving money. The US should go after those “enablers,” argued the expert, in “a way that would make them reconsider”.
Latest LCCC Bulletin For Miscellaneous Reports And News published on June 11-12/18
A Trump-Kim deal for North Korea’s denuclearization would take years to implement
Debka File/June 11/18
All three precedents, South Africa, Ukraine and Libya, were full of holes and set a path to nuclear proliferation. A deal to dismantle North Korea’s nuclear program between US President Donald Trump and Kim Jong-un should learn from the shortcomings of these three former cases. Therefore, Kim’s declaration of intent to denuclearize the Korean peninsula is meaningless without a rigid road map for implementation,. This would rest in the hands of the competent military and nuclear establishments of Pyongyang.
Five steps are essential for achieving this goal:
North Korean must surrender all the nuclear materials, research and designs its program has accumulated in 66 years, with minute details of its areas of operation and the individuals and facilities involved. Until these materials and data reach the hands of the United States or international watchdogs, the full scale of North Korean’s nuclear effort and the personnel and facilities involved in the past and the present cannot be evaluated. This essential aspect of the dismantling process confirms the high value of the Iranian atomic archive procured by Israel. The data handover over must cover the factories, research institutions and scientific and technical manpower employed in the nuclear program, as well as the companies supplying the materials over the years. At least a thousand expert inspectors will be required to man a special nuclear watchdog outfit. They will have to work closely with North Korean scientific and managerial personnel to ascertain that dismantlement of the program is total, fully verified and irreversible by North Korea or any other party. Since the scope of North Korean’s nuclear and ballistic missile projects is vast, it will be physically impossible to remove it all from the country as air or sea freight. It will therebefore necessary to blow up some elements on North Korean soil, an operation what will call for a variety of specialists and exceptional precautions. The North’s nuclear reactors for the production of plutonium and the plants for the enrichment of weapons-grade uranium must also be listed for demolition. These steps will take several years to complete if past mistakes are to be avoided.
When South Africa decided 28 years ago to abolish apartheid in return for acceptance by the international community, Pretoria agreed to give up the six nuclear bombs in its arsenal and dismantle its entire bomb-making infrastructure. Some of the plants switched to other products. But some South African nuclear team members went over to Dr. A.Q. Khan, father of Pakistan’s nuclear bomb and a freelance nuclear racketeer. They took with them key components and diagrams of the disassembled program. It was A.Q. Khan who sold Iran its first elements and designs for assembling a nuclear bomb.
In 1991, Ukraine handed over to Russia the entire stock it had held for the Soviet Union of 1,800 nuclear warheads, 172 long-range ballistic missiles and 42 bombers capable of delivering nuclear bombs. In return, Moscow granted Kiev economic assistance and security guarantees. However, there were Ukrainian officers, scientists and technical who cashed in big on sales of missiles and nuclear warheads on the black market to willing buyers, including Iran.
Libya’s program was still in its infancy in 2004, when Muammar Qaddafi agreed to hand it over lock, stock and barrel, for fear that, after the US invasion of Iraq, he would share the fate of Saddam Hussein. Libya had not yet reached the stage of building bombs. It had a handful of facilities conducting uranium enrichment and was in the process of experimenting in the development of nuclear components. After Qaddafi threw in the nuclear towel, a small fleet of US and British air cargo planes were sufficient to lift all the components and equipment from Libyan soil.
Today it is known that not every last component of Libya’s nuclear program actually left the country. And, in fact, it will be seen that all three past denuclearization projects came up short. What happened in the case of South Africa, Ukraine and Libya may therefore be a guide of what not to do in the case of North Korea. Hence, the vital importance of observing down to the last detail all five steps listed above as the follow-up to any deal reached by Donald Trump and Kim Jong-un at their epic face-to-face in Singapore on June 12. Without the pedantic implementation of this process, Pyongyang’s door to nuclear proliferation will remain open.
Kim, Trump in Countdown to Historic Summit
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/June 11/18/Donald Trump and Kim Jong Un were making last-minute preparations Monday on the eve of their historic summit, as officials scrambled to narrow yawning differences over Pyongyang's nuclear arsenal. Tuesday's meeting will be the first time a serving US president has sat down with the leader of North Korea, and comes just months after fears of conflict soared as the two traded personal insults and threats of war. "I just think it's going to work out very nicely," said Trump at a working lunch with the prime minister of Singapore, where the meeting is being held. Behind the scenes, officials held talks for nearly three hours at a neutral hotel, seeking to bridge gaps over "denuclearisation", which means vastly different things to the two parties. The diplomacy is an extraordinary turnaround from last year, when Trump threatened the North with "fire and fury" and Kim dubbed him a "mentally deranged US dotard". The summit has also raised hopes of progress towards a peace treaty to formally end the Korean War, the last festering legacy of the Cold War, after hostilities only stopped with an armistice. The two men will first meet one-on-one in a closed session, before a larger meeting with key advisers, US officials said. A senior White House official said Trump was "feeling good" and that the summit was open-ended.
"It could be two days. They will talk for as long as they need to," said the official, who asked to remain anonymous.
- Hostile policy -Pyongyang is demanding as yet unspecified security guarantees and the end of what it calls a "hostile policy" towards it, and has not made clear what concessions it is offering over the nuclear arsenal it calls its "treasured sword" to defend against a US invasion. Washington is demanding the North give up its weapons in complete, verifiable and irreversible way (CVID), while Pyongyang has so far only made public pledges of a commitment to the denuclearisation of the peninsula -- a term open to wide interpretation. The North, which has been subjected to increasingly strict sanctions by the UN Security Council and others, has made promises of change in the past, such as at the lengthy Six Party Talks process, only for the agreements to collapse later. The US leader has whipsawed on expectations for the meeting, signalling that it could be the beginning of a "process" of several meetings, only to call it a "one-time shot" for peace as he embarked for Singapore. He would know "within the first minute" whether an agreement would be possible, he added, as some analysts warned that it risks becoming more of a media circus than an occasion for substantial progress. The previous US stance, said Bruce Klingner of the Heritage Foundation, was that "we don't deploy a president to negotiate a treaty, we deploy a president to sign a treaty where we know where every piece of punctuation is on that piece of paper". "One of my worries is that we come out of this Singapore summit with something that looks remarkably like the Six Party Talks or anything that the president has previously criticised but it is hyped as something that's historic and new and groundbreaking," he added. - Separate planes -Heavy security and armed police were in place at summit-related venues across the city-state. Outside the Istana, the presidential palace where Trump met Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, well-wishers displayed American flags and a boy held up a sign reading: "I love President Trump!" The North's official KCNA news agency called the summit "historic", saying it would take place in a "changed era" and "under the great attention and expectation of the whole world". Kim would exchange "wide-ranging and profound views" on issues including "building a permanent and durable peace-keeping mechanism on the Korean peninsula" and "realising the denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula", it added.
It formally referred to Trump by his full name in the Monday report, including his middle initial -- the first time it has done so. A White House official described the North Korean reporting as "a sign for optimism". The Rodong Sinmun newspaper, the mouthpiece of the ruling Workers' Party, devoted its first two pages and 16 photos to Kim's trip, including images of him boarding an Air China Boeing 747 for the journey. His sister and close aide Kim Yo Jong is also in Singapore, and is believed to have travelled separately on the ageing Soviet-made Ilyushin-62 that is Kim's personal aircraft. US presidents and vice-presidents generally never fly on the same aircraft to guarantee that one of them survives in the event of a disaster, and the move appeared designed to ensure the preservation of the Kim dynasty, which has ruled the North for three generations.

Pompeo Says N. Korea Will Get 'Unique' Security Guarantees
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/June 11/18/The United States is willing to offer North Korea "unique" security guarantees if it embarks on "complete verifiable and irreversible denuclearization, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Monday. On the eve of a historic summit between President Donald Trump and Kim Jong Un, Pompeo sounded an upbeat tone, saying that preparatory talks were advancing more quickly than expected. Stating that the United States would not again be duped by North Korea, Pompeo said the Trump administration would only accept complete denuclearization. In return, he said, "we will take actions to provide them sufficient certainty that they can be comfortable that denuclearization is not something that ends badly for them," Pompeo said. "Just the opposite. That it leads to a brighter and better future for the North Korean people." Pompeo said these guarantees would be "different and unique" than America has been willing to provide before. "I'm very optimistic we will have a successful outcome with the two leaders," he said. "There are only two people that can make decisions of this magnitude. Those two people will sit in a room tomorrow."
UN Urges Major Powers to Reach Settlement to Avoid Bloodbath in Syria’s Idlib
Asharq Al-Awsat/Monday, 11 June, 2018/The United Nations urged on Monday major powers in Syria to reach a settlement over the rebel-held Idlib province to avoid a bloodbath after a recent escalation in the area. Panos Moumtzis, the UN regional humanitarian coordinator, added that the escalation in fighting and air strikes in Idlib leave 2.5 million civilians with “no place else to go” within their shattered homeland. The northwest province, bordering Turkey, has become a “dumping ground” for civilians and fighters evacuated from other opposition-controlled areas, swelling its population, he said. “With this escalation, this deterioration, we worry really about seeing 2-1/2 million people becoming displaced more and more toward the border of Turkey if this is to continue,” Moumtzis told a news briefing in Geneva. Moumtzis cited reports of a deadly air strike on Sunday that had killed 11 people and hit a pediatric hospital. Air strikes on a village in Idlib killed at least 44 people overnight, the highest death toll in a single attack on the region this year, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said on Friday. The monitoring group said that Russian war planes probably carried out those attacks. Moumtzis said that a major battle for Idlib could be “much more complicated and brutal” than fighting for eastern Aleppo and Eastern Ghouta - two rebel-held areas that surrendered with evacuations in 2016 and 2018, respectively. Following the Eastern Ghouta offensive, and the previous offensive to retake Syria's second city Aleppo, rebels and civilians were forcibly evacuated to Idlib. But for the people of Idlib, "there is no other Idlib to take them out to," Moumtzis pointed out. "Really, this is the last location. There is no other location to further move them." “We cannot see a military solution, it cannot take place,” he said. “Our worry is that with the Idlib situation we may have not (yet) seen the worst in Syria.”At the same time, the mishmash of armed groups in the province are increasingly fighting amongst themselves. "The current composition makes (the situation) highly explosive," Moumtzis warned. Referring to Turkey, Russia and Iran, which have held peace talks, he said: “This is a de-escalation area, we hope the Astana guarantors, everybody will do everything to ensure a calming down of situation.”“The message of today is that the emergency not over. We still see massive displacement, we still see massive humanitarian needs, and have huge concerns on the protection of civilians,” he said. An aid convoy reached Douma in the enclave of Eastern Ghouta outside Damascus on Sunday, but the regime did not allow UN aid workers to accompany it, he said, saying that direct access was vital. Moreover, Moumtzis highlighted ongoing displacement inside Syria, saying more than 920,000 people were displaced during the first four months of 2018, the highest level in the seven-year conflict. “From January to April, there were over 920,000 newly displaced people," he said. The fresh displacement inside Syria brings the number of people internally displaced in the war-ravaged country to 6.2 million, while there are still some 5.6 million Syrian refugees in neighboring countries, according to UN figures. More than 350,000 people have been killed in the Syrian war since it started in 2011 with the brutal repression of anti-regime protests.
Rouhani Slams US ‘Unilateralism’ in Iran Deal Exit
London- Asharq Al Awsat/Monday, 11 June, 2018/Iranian President Hassan Rouhani criticized US “unilateralism” in withdrawing from the Iran nuclear deal and said on Sunday he appreciated efforts by China and Russia to maintain the agreement. “The US efforts to impose its policies on others are expanding as a threat to all,” Rouhani told the summit of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), a regional security grouping led by China and Russia where Iran has observer status. “The recent example of such unilateralism and the defiance of the decisions of the international community by the US government is its withdrawal from the JCPOA,” he said, referring to the nuclear agreement by its official name, the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action. The 2015 agreement between Iran and world powers lifted international sanctions on Tehran. In return, Iran agreed to restrictions on its nuclear activities, increasing the time it would need to produce an atom bomb if it chose to do so. Chinese President Xi Jinping, speaking after Rouhani, expressed “regret” that Washington had withdrawn from the nuclear deal. However, Iranian Parliament Speaker Ali Larijani said on Sunday that his country will not keep to European promises and demands that the European Union clarifies its stance on the 2015 nuclear deal sooner. “Time for negotiations is running out. If Europe sees itself able to preserve the nuclear deal, it should declare its stance sooner and more clearly,” Larijani told a session of the parliament. Each of the European Union, China and Russia have announced their intention to salvage the nuclear deal and tried to persuade Tehran to stay after the US exit, but some senior officials in Iran are skeptical of European positions and accuse them of sharing roles with Washington. But Iran still chooses to demand financial and legal guarantees to stay in the nuclear deal. Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei declared five basic conditions for Tehran's stay in the nuclear deal, namely that the European countries undertaking not to question Iran’s ballistic missile program and Tehran's regional role, in addition to issuing a resolution condemning the US for withdrawing from the agreement and providing guarantees including confronting US sanctions and establishing banking relations with Iranian banks.
Iran's Parliament Suspends Discussions on Terrorism Financing
London - Asharq Al-Awsat/Monday, 11 June, 2018/Iranian lawmakers opposing the government's policies, were able on Sunday to paralyze a draft-law on Iran’s accession to the Convention for the Suppression of Financing of Terrorism (CFT) with 138 voting to postpone discussions on the issue for two months and 103 rejecting such a move. Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araghchi warned of the new sanctions on Iran if it refused to join the CFT, while President of the Economic Committee in Parliament Gholamreza Tajgardoon hinted that the postponement comes as part of Iranian pressure in the negotiations to keep the 2015 nuclear agreement after the US withdrawal. Tajgardoon said that the decision will provide the administration with an opportunity to announce to Europe that it should give essential guarantees to preserve the nuclear deal. The dispute over Iran's accession to the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) dates back to the first months of Iran's announcement of the agreement with the 5 + 1 group on its nuclear program. After a long debate between the government and the conservative camp, including Iran's Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC), the government presented the draft to parliament in November. Prior to the elections, Speaker Ali Larijani supported the position of the government and the reformist deputies to Iran's accession to the CFT. On Sunday, he protested the move of conservative deputies to sign a document against the draft. In March, FATF granted Iran four months to pass laws on terrorism financing and money laundering. Three weeks ago, the Foreign Policy and National Security Committee called on Iran's national security adviser Ali Shamkhani and Foreign Minister Mohammed Javad Zarif to answer deputies' questions in a closed session. Shamkhani's comments provoked controversy, but he denied reports from deputies that Iran's Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei doesn't oppose the draft-law. Spokesman of Foreign Policy and National Security Committee said members of the committee agreed conditionally to put the draft for a public vote. According to the government, the aim of joining FATF agreement is to "get Iran out of FATF's blacklist."Araqchi said in his statement at the parliament that the country’s interests will be protected if it joins the CFT, indicating that in this critical situation, "it will serve the country’s national interests to join this convention."“This very parliament was the victim of ISIS terrorism this time last year... Without international cooperation and joining international conventions, it is impossible to confront it,” said Aragchi. For his part, Iran's ambassador to the UK and member of the nuclear negotiating team Hamid Baeidinejad, stated that the debate in the Iranian parliament was not about FATF agreement, adding that the project is about Iran's accession to the CFT to finance terrorism. Over the past two years, FATF kept Iran on its blacklist but has stopped the measures against Tehran as part of attempts to encourage it to enforce international resolutions. Two weeks ago, the United States blacklisted head of Iran's Central Bank, Valiollah Seif and US Treasury Department accused him of directly financing terrorism. Head of the parliamentary economic committee said that the postponement of discussions on Iran joining CFT aims to send a message to the European countries on the ongoing negotiations on the nuclear agreement.Parliament is willing to pass the new legislation in case Iran is convinced of the results of the negotiations, the Islamic Consultative Assembly News Agency quoted him as saying.

Saudi Arabia, UAE, Kuwait Offer $2.5 bn in Aid to Crisis-Hit Jordan
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/June 11/18/Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Kuwait have offered $2.5 billion in aid for Jordan to ease its economic crisis following a wave of anti-austerity protests, the Saudi state media announced early Monday. Jordan has been rocked in recent days by mass protests against price rises and a proposed tax hike as the government pushes measures to slash the country's debt, leading to the prime minister's resignation. A four-nation summit in the holy city of Mecca, hosted by Saudi King Salman, offered Amman a bailout in the form of a deposit in the Jordanian central bank, World Bank guarantees as well as budgetary support over five years. "In light of the close brotherly ties... it was agreed that the three countries (Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Kuwait) would provide an economic aid package to Jordan totalling $2.5 billion," the official Saudi Press Agency said. The crucial summit was attended by Jordan's King Abdullah II, who offered his gratitude to the three countries, adding the package will "contribute to overcoming the crisis", according to SPA. The announcement comes after European Union foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini on Sunday announced 20 million euros ($23.5 million) in aid for Jordan.
Cash-strapped Jordan, a close US ally that relies heavily on donors, is struggling to curb its debt after securing a $723-million loan from the International Monetary Fund in 2016. Austerity measures tied to the IMF loan have seen prices of basic necessities rise across the kingdom -- culminating in a week of angry protests over tax proposals that forced prime minister Hani Mulki to resign. The authorities on Thursday announced they were withdrawing the unpopular legislation, but still face a mammoth task to balance popular demands with the need to reduce the public debt burden. The Gulf aid package appears driven by the desire to avoid a repeat of the 2011 Arab Spring uprisings, which saw pent-up public anger spilling onto the street across the Middle East, analysts say. "The speed and the gravity with which the Gulf states are responding is a very clear testament to their concern and determination to nip this unrest in Jordan in the bud," Lori Boghardt, a senior fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, told AFP. "They are going to do all they can to thwart another Arab spring on their doorstep." Gulf states, except for Bahrain, largely avoided the pro-democracy protests unleashed by the Arab Spring, but they have sought to deepen economic links in the region following an oil price slump in 2014. Jordan blames its economic woes on instability rocking the region and the burden of hosting hundreds of thousands of refugees from war-torn Syria, complaining it has not received enough international support. The World Bank says Jordan has "weak growth prospects" this year, while 18.5 percent of the working age population is unemployed.

Heavy fighting on Yemen’s west coast kills 250 Houthi militants

Arab News/June 11/18/250 Houthi militiants killed on Yemen western coast among them 20 leading military commanders. The fighting has escalated as government forces close in on the Houthi held Red Sea port of Hodeidah. SANAA: Heavy fighting in Yemen between pro-government forces and Iran backed Houthi militia left more than 250 Houthi militants killed, among them 20 senior field commanders. Yemeni defense sources quoted by Saudi Press Agency said that heavy fighting on Yemen western coast line south of Hodeidah port killed 250 Houthi militants. The defense source added that 140 Iran backed Houthi militiamen were captured by the advancing units of the Yemeni army supported by the Saudi led Arab coalition airforce. The fighting has escalated as government forces close in on the Red Sea port of Hodeida, a vital lifeline through which most of Yemen’s food and medicine enters. The United States urged all parties of the conflict to ensure humanitarian access to the Yemeni people, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Monday. The US, he said, is closely following developments in Hodeidah and urged Emirati leaders to preserve “the free flow of humanitarian aid and life-saving commercial imports.” The United Nations warned Friday that a military attack or siege on Hodeida would affect hundreds of thousands of civilians. Some 600,000 people live in and around the city. UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said Monday that there has been a recent lull in the fighting and that Martin Griffiths, the UN envoy for Yemen, “is shuttling between Sana’a and also the UAE and Saudi Arabia to hope that there will be a way to avoid the military confrontation in Hodeidah.” Yemen has been embroiled in a civil war pitting the coalition against the Iran-backed Houthis since March 2015. The coalition aims to restore the government of exiled President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi to0 Sanaa. The three-year stalemated war has killed more than 10,000 people and displaced more than 3 million according to the UN. The UN considers Yemen to be the world’s worst humanitarian crisis, with more than 22.2 million people in need of assistance. Malnutrition, cholera and other diseases have killed or sickened thousands of civilians over the years.

Iraq Ballot Warehouse Fire 'Deliberate'
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/June 11/18/The fire that ravaged a Baghdad warehouse where votes from May's legislative election were stored ahead of a recount was started "deliberately", Iraqi Interior Minister Qassem al-Araji said Monday. The fire ripped through the warehouse Sunday ahead of a vote recount prompted by allegations of fraud during the election that saw a surprise victory for a populist cleric and Iraqi voters dumping the old guard. "There is no doubt that it was a deliberate act and I am personally following up on the investigation with the criminal police and the committee tasked with probing the fire," Araji said. Firefighters brought the blaze under control several hours after it broke out in a warehouse located in Al-Russafa, one of the largest voting districts in eastern Baghdad. Around 60 percent of the two million voters in Baghdad cast their ballots in the May 12 election in that district. The extent of the damage caused to ballot boxes was still unclear but some officials have suggested that most of them had been spared. On Sunday an AFP reporter saw warehouse staff running out of the building as smoke billowed overhead, carrying blue and white ballot boxes to safety. "Election material, including maybe ballot boxes, were burned but most of the ballot boxes were stored in another building and have been preserved," interior ministry spokesman General Saad Maan told reporters on Sunday. The fire erupted as the Supreme Council of Justice on Sunday appointed nine jugdes to supervise a manual vote recount which had been ordered by Iraq's outgoing parliament. The legislature on Wednesday also sacked the nine-member independent commission which oversaw the polls. The vote was won by populist Shiite cleric Moqtada Sadr's electoral alliance with communists, as long-time political figures were pushed out by Iraqi voters hoping for change in a country mired in conflict and corruption. But the result was contested following allegations of fraud namely by the veteran politicians led by parliamentary speaker Salim al-Juburi.

Qatar Files Case against UAE at U.N.'s Highest Court

Associated Press/Naharnet/June 11/18/Qatar said Monday it filed a case against the United Arab Emirates at the United Nations' highest court, accusing Abu Dhabi of "discrimination against Qatar and Qatari citizens" amid a yearlong boycott of Doha by four Arab nations. An Emirati minister dismissed the filing as a stunt. The case before The Hague-based International Court of Justice focuses on the UAE's decision to expel Qatari citizens, block Qatar from accessing its airspace and other matters arising as part of an ongoing diplomatic dispute, Doha said in a statement. Qatar accuses the UAE of violating its obligations under the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination. Bahrain, Egypt and Saudi Arabia, the other countries boycotting Qatar in the dispute, have not consented to the court's jurisdiction, though the UAE has, Doha said. "The UAE deliberately discriminated against Qataris on the basis of their nationality, resulting in serious human rights abuses," Qatari Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani said. "Today's application is the first step in bringing an end to these violations and to restoring the basic rights of the many Qataris harmed by the UAE's actions." Emirati Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Anwar Gargash wrote on Twitter it was "not surprising" as Qatar previously had "lied." Cases at the ICJ generally take months or years to complete. However, requests for provisional measures like those requested by Qatar are dealt with quicker. Rulings by the ICJ are final and binding on the nations involved. The court declined to comment Monday. The four Arab nations began the boycott in June 2017, accusing of Qatar supporting for extremist groups in the region, charges denied by Doha. The four nations have also pointed to Qatar's close relationship with Iran, with which it shares a massive offshore gas field that provides the peninsular nation its wealth. Qatar restored full diplomatic ties to Iran amid the dispute. Boycotting countries' demands include limiting diplomatic ties to Iran, shutting down the state-funded Al-Jazeera satellite news network and other media outlets, and severing ties to groups labeled as "terrorist organizations," including the Muslim Brotherhood and Lebanon's Hizbullah. Qatar has rejected the demands as violations of its sovereignty.

Hamas Seeks to Hold Broad National Palestinian Conference
Ramallah - Kifah Ziboun/Asharq Al-Awsat/Monday, 11 June, 2018/Hamas Movement is seeking to hold a national Palestinian conference in Gaza with the participation of Palestinian factions and independent figures to discuss recent developments and the ongoing blockade on the Strip. Well-informed Palestinian sources told Asharq Al-Awsat that the movement has sent initial invitations to hold this conference after Eid al-Fitr. Hamas, according to the same sources, is trying to find a leadership body that would represent an alternative to the National Council, if the Palestinian leadership does not respond to calls for a new national assembly, in which Hamas, Islamic Jihad and all other factions participate. The sources confirmed that Hamas officials met with officials of the Palestinian factions in Gaza and Beirut to persuade them to form a national leadership conference, which would decide on national affairs, including the future of the PA and the siege imposed on the Gaza Strip. The meetings were held with representatives from Fatah al-Intifada, the Popular Front, the Democratic Front, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (General Command) and the Islamic Jihad. Hamas’ approach is based on its absolute rejection of the outcome of the 23rd session of the National Council held in Ramallah at the end of April. The meeting saw the election of a new executive committee for the PLO and the agreement over a broad outline of the future Palestinian strategy. However, Hamas described the Council as a “state of exclusivity and dictatorship,” stressing that the outcome of its meeting did not reflect the will of the Palestinian people. It also accused the PA of participating in the siege against Gaza, an issue that will be on the agenda of the upcoming conference in parallel with the Palestinian Central Bank.

Palestinian Refugees from Syria See No Hope of Yarmouk Camp Return

Beirut- Sanaa Ajak/Asharq Al-Awsat/Monday, 11 June, 2018/Palestinian refugees who fled Damascus’ Yarmouk Camp for Lebanon in the aftermath of the Syrian civil war have lost all hope of returning to their makeshift camp any time soon. “Two months ago, we still had hope for returning, but the camp was destroyed last April,” Association of Palestinian Refugees from Syria to Lebanon Chairman Ayham Astitan told Asharq Al-Awsat. “Not to mention the total and complete looting of possessions present in the camp and the utter destruction of infrastructure including power cables, water pipes, sewage networks and all services,” Astitan added. Palestinian refugees displaced by the Syria war are torn apart in Palestinian camps across Lebanon. Asserting that there is no reference to protecting them, they are demanding a legal status which will allow carrying their cause and regulating their tragic situation, which has only been aggravating since 2013. Almost 90 percent of Palestine refugees from Syria (PRS) in Lebanon are under the poverty line and 95 percent are food insecure. There is a critical ongoing need for UNRWA to provide cash assistance, education and health services to mitigate their vulnerability, which is forcing many of them to flee the Middle East region. In view of the high levels of need, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) will support all PRS families. While UNRWA figures indicate that the number of Palestinian refugees displaced from Syria to Lebanon today is estimated at about 32,000 Palestinian refugees who have been registered by Lebanon’s public security as “tourists.”PRS asylum seekers are admitted into Lebanon through a seven-day visa, forcing the refugee to pay $200 to arrange for his short-lived stay.
“Since 2015, the Lebanese public security has issued many memos, which provide for the renewal of residency documents for PRS displaced persons, and to deport all those who entered illegally,” Astitan said. “As of July 2017, accommodation is made available for six months, renewable free of charge for those who entered Lebanon before September 2016, and without imposing any penalty for delay,” he explained. But on the flipside of matters, Astitan says that the 2017 memorandum was a pretext which allowed for deporting persons who entered Lebanon after 2016, in addition to those who crossed borders illegally.
Consequently, a large number of Palestinian refugees escaping devastation in the Yarmouk Camp are still unable to establish a proper stay in Lebanon. Yarmouk Camp is a district of the city of Damascus, populated by Palestinians, with hospitals and schools, but which was virtually demolished by the ongoing Syrian civil war which erupted in 2011. “Reconstruction efforts inside the camp cannot be accomplished until a comprehensive political solution is found to end the war in Syria,” added Astitan on the chances of making the camp habitable for returning Palestinian refugees. He added that regulations established require proof of ownership, leaving refugees distressed with the threat of losing property as most documents have been lost under rubble. With the agonizing loss of their camp homes and destruction still infesting the outskirts of Damascus make it all the more impossible to return. “Yarmouk Camp Palestinians are also afraid of Syrian prosecution, in some cases which can be life-threatening to return to Syria after a long stay in Lebanon,” adds Astitan on complications impeding the refugees’ return. PRS youth will be forced to serve in the military and be thrown into the frontlines of heated clashes led by regime armed forces.
“Despite potential opportunities for peace and stability in Syria, the current conditions for the safe and dignified return of refugees have yet to be realized,” UNRWA's Information Office told Asharq Al-Awsat.However, UNRWA confirmed its commitment to providing services to every Palestinian refugee registered in the five regions of its operations. Since the displacement of Palestinian refugees from Syria to Lebanon, UNRWA continues to provide its basic services in education, health, relief and social services, as well as advocating with relevant stakeholders and protection services.
The support also includes provision of legal assistance services. PRS families continue to receive a monthly multipurpose cash grant worth $100 per family and an additional $27 for each family member per month to cover food costs. Cash for winterization will also be provided. Nevertheless, the harsh reality faced by escapees shows the shortcoming of assistance and the insufficiency of UNRWA's offer of services, structures or protection. “A large number of families are staying in shops which charge a rent between $200 and $300 per shop,” said Palestinian activist Hanadi Owayess. “In the vicinity of the Shatila refugee camp in Beirut’s southern suburb, where a number of Syrian Palestinians live, some of them set up groceries to sell vegetables or the like, but they are forced to pay tally to militias that control the area and control commercial activities there.”UNRWA notes that some 5,500 Palestinian refugees from Syria have been enrolled in all UNRWA-sponsored schools in Lebanon.
Egypt Refers 28 to Trial for Forming Group to Topple Regime
Cairo - Asharq Al-Awsat/Monday, 11 June, 2018/Egyptian Public Prosecutor Nabil Sadeq referred on Sunday 28 defendants, including 19 fugitives, to State Security Emergency Criminal Court on charges of forming a group to topple the regime. The defendants are accused of illegally forming a group called "the Egyptian Council for Change" that seeks to undermine state institutions, according to a statement from the prosecutor general's office. It said the defendants formed the group in an attempt to obstruct the provisions of the constitution and laws to prevent state institutions from functioning and to undermine national unity. They "provided the group’s elements with funds to promote its aggressive purposes, incite protests and spread false news inside Egypt and abroad to harm the country’s national and economic interests and topple its current regime." Investigations carried out by the Supreme State Security Prosecution, headed by Counselor Khalid Diaa, revealed that one of the suspects, identified as Hossam el Din Atef el Shazly, formed the group to incite violence against state institutions and spread false news on social media and some TV channels about Egypt in order to topple the regime.
According to investigations, the so-called Egyptian Council for Change consists of a central committee with several specialized committees that attract elements locally and abroad and assign their duties through closed e-groups to incite against the current regime and state institutions.
The defendants confessed, during the investigations of the Supreme State Security Prosecution as well as the examination of seized devices and personal accounts on social media, that they have launched anti-government campaigns. They also admitted to publishing false news on the official page of the Egyptian Council for Change as well as their personal pages on social media and some TV channels about the failure of the ruling regime in the country in facing political and economic crises and its exploitation of the citizens' properties. They also published that the regime promotes sectarian strife within the country, fabricates incidents and anti-terror confrontations and the existence of a split in the ranks of the armed forces. The Council describes itself on its official Facebook page as "a new generation of opposition, which works to end the era of military rule that has controlled Egypt's capabilities and built a democratic civil system."It denies its subordination to any group, stressing that it “does not carry any reference, banner or address and does not belong to any community, group or entity”.

Pilot Rescued as US F-15 Jet Cashes Off Japan's Okinawa
Asharq Al-Awsat/Monday, 11 June, 2018/The US military said Monday that an Air Force F-15C fighter jet has crashed in waters south of Okinawa in southern Japan, and that the pilot ejected successfully. The Air Force said in a statement that the pilot has been rescued. Japan's public broadcaster NHK said he had a broken leg. The cause of the 6:30 a.m. crash is under investigation. The F-15C from the Air Force's Kadena Air Base in Okinawa was on a routine training mission. The US has a heavy military presence in Okinawa that has been the source of friction with the local government and some residents. A series of emergency landings and parts falling from US military aircraft have highlighted safety concerns. About half of the 50,000 American troops in Japan are stationed on the southern island. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's government is moving ahead with a contentious plan to relocate the US Marines' Futenma airbase from an urban area in central Okinawa to the less populated Henoko district of Nago city in the island's north.

Spain Offers to Take in Stranded Migrant Ship
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/June 11/18/Spain offered Monday to take in a ship stranded in the Mediterranean with 629 migrants aboard after Italy and Malta refused to let the vessel dock in their ports. The migrants, including pregnant women and scores of children, were saved by the French charity SOS Mediterranee on Saturday. They were taken on board its ship Aquarius, which is now between Malta and Sicily. Malta and the new populist government in Italy each refused to take the migrants in, accusing one another of failing to meet their obligations. The row has triggered international concern about the migrants' plight. The refusal to accept the Aquarius in Italy was the first major anti-migrant move since far-right Interior Minister Matteo Salvini took office this month. But Spain's new Socialist Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez agreed to allow the Aquarius to dock in its eastern port of Valencia, his office said in a statement. "It is our obligation to help to avoid a humanitarian catastrophe and to offer a safe port to these people," his office said in a statement.
Fresh supplies
SOS Mediterranee director general Sophie Beau said Spain's offer "is encouraging and shows that some states are sensitive to the humanitarian emergency." She warned that the ship will have to travel some 1,300 kilometers (800 miles) to reach the Spanish coast and that by Tuesday "there will be no more food (on board) apart from energy biscuits."Malta's Prime Minister Joseph Muscat said in a tweet that "Malta is going to send fresh supplies to the ship." Italy and Malta thanked Spain for stepping up, but maintained their dispute over who was responsible. "We asked for a gesture of solidarity from Europe and this gesture has been made," Italy's Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte said. Muscat tweeted his thanks to Sanchez "for agreeing to accept the Aquarius after Italy violated international law and caused an impasse." He added: "It will be necessary to sit down and discuss how to prevent this kind of thing from happening in the future. This is a European issue."Beau said that under maritime law the ship should be allowed to dock in one of the nearest countries, Italy or Malta.
Close the doors'
The U.N. had called on Malta and Italy to immediately allow the boat to dock, describing the situation as "an urgent humanitarian imperative." The EU and the bloc's biggest member state Germany made similar pleas. "The priority of both the Italian and Maltese authorities should be ensuring these people receive the care they need," European Commission spokesman Margaritis Schinas told reporters, calling for a "swift resolution". Salvini refused to back down. "Saving lives is a duty, turning Italy into a huge refugee camp is not. Italy is done bending over backwards and obeying, this time THERE IS SOMEONE WHO SAYS NO," he wrote on Twitter followed by the hashtag #closethedoors.
'Vulnerable patients at risk'
MSF Sea (Doctors Without Borders) said the medical situation of those on the Aquarius was "stable for now but unnecessary delay to disembarkation in safe port puts vulnerable patients at risk." "Particularly seven pregnant woman, 15 with serious chemical burns and several critical drowning hypothermia patients," MSF Sea said. Conte said Sunday that Rome had sent two patrol ships with doctors on board "ready to intervene and ensure the health of anyone on board the Aquarius who might have the need". The migrants were rescued in six separate night-time operations in the central Mediterranean on Saturday. The French organization said those brought on board included 123 unaccompanied minors, 11 small children and the seven pregnant women.
Land of refuge
Under EU rules, migrants must apply for asylum in the European country where they first arrive. That has put pressure on Italy and Greece, the entry points for hundreds of thousands of people fleeing war and poverty in the Middle East, Africa and Asia since 2015. Some in Italy have offered to take in migrants. The mayor of Taranto, Rinaldo Melucci said the southern port city was "ready to embrace every life in danger". "Our land has always been one of refuge, I don't know how you can send away 629 human lives." Naples mayor Luigi de Magistris said on Twitter that "if a minister without a heart leaves pregnant women, children, old people, human beings to die, the port of Naples is ready to welcome them." EU leaders in December had set an end-June deadline for an overhaul of rules to create a permanent mechanism to deal with migrants in the event of a new emergency.
The summer of 2016 saw a surge in mass drownings in the Mediterranean, at the peak of Europe's worst migration crisis since World War II.

Philippines Demands China Stop Taking Fishermen's Catch
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/June 11/18/The Philippines on Monday demanded that China stop confiscating the catch of Filipino fishermen in the disputed South China Sea, calling the practice "unacceptable."The remarks by President Rodrigo Duterte's spokesman were a rare public rebuke from Manila, which has taken a non-confrontational approach with Beijing over the resource-rich waterway. China controls several reefs in the sea including Scarborough Shoal, which Beijing seized from Manila in 2012 and is just 230 kilometers (143 miles) from the main Philippine island of Luzon. China claims almost the entire sea, through which trillions of dollars in trade passes annually, despite competing partial claims from Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam. Duterte's spokesman Harry Roque on Monday confirmed a report that Chinese Coast Guard personnel seized the catch of Filipino fishermen in the shoal in May in violation of an agreement between the two nations allowing Filipinos to fish there. "We are demanding that the Chinese take steps to stop the coast guard from doing these acts," Roque told reporters. "That is unacceptable. That is why we informed the Chinese we will not allow fish to be taken from our countrymen."The Chinese foreign ministry said it was investigating the reports and authorities will "seriously" deal with them if they are confirmed. "Out of friendship, China has made proper arrangements for Filipino fishermen," ministry spokesman Geng Shuang told a regular press briefing. "The Chinese coast guard is monitoring relevant waters to ensure peace and order in the area, and also offers humanitarian assistance to the Philippines fishermen," Geng said. "The Chinese coast guard always abides by the law."Duterte's administration rejects criticism that its response to Chinese activities in the hotly contested waters has been weak. China in May reportedly deployed anti-ship cruise missiles and surface-to-air missiles on the Spratly Islands and flew nuclear-capable bombers to a base in another disputed part of the sea. Duterte's aides have said previously the Philippines is taking "all diplomatic action" to protect its claims while insisting it would not anger China by engaging in "megaphone diplomacy."Manila, which has pursued trade deals and investment from China, instead holds regular talks with Beijing on the dispute. On Monday Roque refused to describe the latest incident as harassment, adding the Chinese Coast Guard gave the Filipino fishermen noodles, cigarettes and water in exchange for their catch. The fishermen, who appeared with Roque in the news briefing, said they were powerless to stop repeated seizures by the Chinese. "The (Chinese coast guard personnel) board our boats, look at where we store the fish and take the best ones. We cannot do anything because their huge vessels are there," said Romel Cejuela, one of the fishermen.

Turkish Economic Growth Beats Expectations as Vote Looms
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/June 11/18/Turkey's economy grew by a higher-than-expected 7.4 percent in the first three months of 2018 compared to the same period last year, official statistics showed on Monday. The figure, released just two weeks ahead of a national election, beat the consensus market forecast of 7.0 percent growth. However economists warned of a future slowdown. First quarter growth was driven by industry, construction and services as well as a rise in exports, official data published by the Turkish Statistics Institute (TUIK) showed. The figure follows 11.3 percent and 7.3 percent growth in the third and fourth quarters of 2017. President Recep Tayyip Erdogan welcomed the latest data, saying that Turkey "continued to be one of the fastest growing" economies. He added on Twitter: "Despite the attacks on the economy and the games being played, we continue to grow strongly with strong macroeconomic fundamentals!" Erdogan's government has repeatedly accused unnamed foreign powers of conspiring to weaken Turkey and its currency. Turkey holds snap presidential and parliamentary elections on June 24, which would give Erdogan beefed up powers. But economists including London-based Capital Economics pointed out that the latest data predates the recent financial market turmoil. "An abrupt slowdown is on the cards over the coming quarters," Jason Tuvey, senior emerging markets economist at Capital Economics, said in a note. The economy has been plagued by fears of overheating despite impressive growth, while inflation figures remained high at 12.15 percent in May with the current account deficit widening. Noting that the Turkish central bank has hiked its interest rates by a cumulative 500 basis points in recent weeks, Tuvey warned that past experience shows tightening financial conditions "on the scale witnessed over recent months" tends to lead to a slowdown in annual economic growth. The bank raised rates twice in two weeks after the lira hit record lows and for the first time ever tested the 5.0 ceiling by hitting 4.92 lira to the dollar on May 23. The lira rallied after the rate hikes. The Turkish currency was at 4.52 against the greenback after 0845 GMT on Monday, losing 1.2 percent. Since the start of 2018, the lira has lost 19.7 percent of its value against the dollar.

Libya: Senior Extremist Leaders Killed in Derna
Cairo- Khalid Mahmoud/Asharq Al-Awsat/Monday, 11 June, 2018/Senior extremist leaders have been killed in fighting in the eastern city of Derna, according to e-accounts affiliated with extremist groups and local activists WHO confirmed this information on Sunday. Among those killed was Omar Rifai Juma'a Sorour, aka Abu Abdullah, a prominent leader of what was known as the Shura Council of Mujahedeen in Derna (SCMD) and its legal judge. Accounts on social media circulated pictures of the house where Sorour, also wanted in Egypt, was staying. Military sources said that "the army was trying to arrest him alive." Al-Qaeda affiliated accounts on social media have announced the death of three of the organization's leaders after the Egyptian fundamentalist residing in London, Hani Sibai, confirmed the death of Omar Sorour, his wife and five children, Abu Omar Abdul Salam al-Awami and Sheikh Abizaid. Sorour belongs to a radical family. His father, Rifai, was a leader of the Jihad organization and died in Cairo in 2012. While his brother Yahya and his sister's husband are still being held. According to information provided by the Sibai, Sorour, who graduated from the Faculty of Engineering, spent eight years in detention in Egypt before his release after the 2011 revolution. He served as a "legal judge" after his arrival in Derna. Operation Chamber of Omar al-Mukhtar sent huge military reinforcements along the coast of the Derna "to purge it of the remaining terrorist elements," pro-army news agency stated. The military information division published photographs of the corpses of a number of gunmen, who were said to have been killed in fighting against the army, and video footage of residents of the West Shiha while they were welcoming troops in their area.
The army forces headed to the eastern Shiha area on Sunday after it managed to extend its full control over West Shiha following "fierce battles against terrorist groups."

Latest LCCC Bulletin analysis & editorials from miscellaneous sources published on June 11-12/18
Two Men from Outside the Box
Ghassan Charbel/Asharq Al-Awsat/Monday, 11 June, 2018
One must be cautious before jumping to conclusions. It would be hasty to compare tomorrow’s scene in Singapore to the Richard Nixon’s visit to China and his historic handshake with Mao Zedong that changed the international scene at the time.
One must be cautious because memories of a sea of blood still weigh heavily on Washington’s ties with Pyongyang. The war that was launched in 1950 by Kim Il-Sung, the grandfather and inspiration of the current leader, led to the death of 3 million Koreans, 37,000 Americans and over 200,000 Chinese recruits.
One must be cautious because tomorrow is about Donald Trump and Kim Jong Un. Two men who are similar in their ability to steal the spotlight and make unpredictable decisions, but are also different in everything else. Two men who come from contradictory worlds and different generations. Kim was born in 1983 when Trump was already 37 years old. They followed completely different paths. Trump emerged from the ballot boxes, while Kim emerged from the sole ruling party, that of his grandfather and father. Trump is addicted to Twitter and Kim is addicted to rockets. The former inherits the miracle of American progress, while the latter inherits the miracle of Korean endurance.
Two men who are alike in their ability to kick up a storm. Over the years, Kim burdened the world as he smiled broadly over a nuclear test or unveiled a new generation of rockets, especially those capable of reaching American soil. He struck panic in neighboring countries with surprises that exhausted their governments, generals and markets. His provocations deepened his regime’s isolation and burdened countries that are not even his enemies. Neighboring China grew tired of him and friendship with him was like holding a bomb with one’s bare hands.
Trump is also an expert in launching storms. Starting from the illegal immigrants file, the wall with Mexico, climate deals, relocating the US embassy to Jerusalem and reaching the current trade war. He has adopted a completely new language to address friends and enemies alike. The world hangs on his every tweet. His style has struck fear in NATO, the European Union and G7, where he made a series of explosives stances before making his exit. He treats the world as if it needs to be restructured. He is obsessed with his “America First” slogan and sees himself adept at the “art of the deal” and at stirring calm waters.
The US president has vast privileges, while decision-making is made at the White House. Trump does not seem too keen however on offices and institutions where these decisions are made. His aides often wake up to a difficult tweet that these institutions are forced to spend the rest of their day clarifying and amending and whose consequences they have to contain. Furthermore, he is a president who does not take too kindly to passive figures. He prefers people to show unconditional loyalty. But America is not North Korea. Its president does not know tomorrow’s headlines before going to sleep. He cannot amend these headlines or eliminate its editors. He has to abide by the constitution, legal system, Congress and investigation committees.
Kim’s privileges, meanwhile, have no boundaries. His will is binding and unquestionable. His country has no room for two opinions or two rulers. It marches to the tune of one player, otherwise it will be swallowed whole by enemies. National dignity is more important than bread. The hungry are prohibited from begging or even growing hungry His aides, generals, party officials and citizens have one job and that is to praise the decisions of a man who is infallible.
His grandfather is the ideal and inspiration. He rules the country from his grave. His some 35,000 statues adorn the country. He still casts his shadow despite his death. He engineered a system of rule that is able to infiltrate imaginations and dreams. His image covers school books. The laws of physics and chemistry bend to his genius.
He was admired by the leaders of progressive Middle Eastern republics. They admired his ability to bend people to his will and teach school students songs of love to the leader and his party. They learned from him and emulated some of his achievements, including rockets and propping themselves up with a chemical weapons arsenal, as well as yearning for the nuclear dream.
Since the beginning of the year, Kim leaned towards a truce. Some believed that his entry to the nuclear club gave him a guarantee that allowed him to open a window. Some believe that the rewards of the handshake will definitely exceed the rewards of nuclear blackmail. It is hard to explain his current behavior. One cannot be completely sure that he knows about the West and the changes in the world. He may have earned his education in Switzerland under a false identity and occasionally claimed to be the son of the driver that drove him to school, but living in Switzerland for years does not however mean that he knows the world.
Confusing behavior by a mysterious man. Did he fear the ongoing isolation and sanctions? Did he fear that his country will break under the weight of hunger and economic failure? Did he learn from the Chinese experience that he can keep Mao’s mausoleum without keeping his failed economic policies? Is he prepared to abandon his nuclear pillow in exchange for a binding American vow not to invade his country? Can his regime withstand the flow of investors, ideas and contact with the outside world?
One cannot predict the post-handshake phase between two men who have an exceptional ability to spring surprises and launch storms. But tomorrow’s handshake in Singapore will be historic indeed. It will at any rate benefit both sides. Trump, who pulled out of the “bad” nuclear deal with Iran, can claim that he is not an advocate of wars or confrontations. He does not hesitate when peace is a possibility. He shakes the hand of those who traded insults with him. Kim can say that he has the audacity to shake the hand of the master of the White House and for deneuclearization to be on the negotiations table.
Two men who are adept at stealing the spotlight. The world will avidly watch tomorrow’s scene. The question remains: What will Iran’s supreme leader say? It is likely that Barack Obama will not be happy tomorrow.
Protectionism is Probably Self-Defeating
David Ignatius/Asharq Al-Awsat/Monday, 11 June, 2018
President Donald Trump’s decision last week to levy duties on steel and aluminum imports from Europe, Canada and Mexico seems, oddly enough, to have become the choke point for many Republicans who had stomached far more outrageous Trump proposals on domestic and foreign policy. Business leaders who brushed off talk of a “trade war” now seem convinced the threat to free trade is real. Trump’s adversaries are some of the GOP’s most influential voices. Their sharp break with the White House suggests that, despite two successful years for Trump’s populist insurgency in cultivating an angry base, the traditional Republican business consensus on trade isn’t dead yet. Three foundations backed by conservative billionaires Charles and David Koch announced last Monday they would mount an advertising and lobbying “mobilization” to combat import tariffs.
The Kochs are major financial backers of Republican candidates and causes, and one of their foundation executives said in announcing the initiative: “Trade is a major priority for our network.” The Wall Street Journal last week accused Trump of starting “a needless trade war with America’s best friends.” The paper wrote in an editorial: “So much for Donald Trump as a genius deal-maker. . . . He revealed he’s merely an old-fashioned protectionist.” The Journal warned that the steel and aluminum tariffs “will hurt the US economy, his own foreign policy and perhaps Republicans in November.”House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.), not exactly a crusader since Trump was elected, also found his voice. “I disagree with this decision,” he said after the tariffs were announced last Thursday. “Today’s action targets America’s allies when we should be working with them.”With the tariff fight, Trump and his critics are battling over an issue that, for more than a century, has helped shape the soul of the Republican Party. Ever since President William McKinley made the shift away from protectionism, Republicans have argued that trade means prosperity, and that tariffs hurt business and workers. Trump’s election undermined that traditional Republican view, as he mobilized angry blue-collar and Rust Belt voters to protest centrist trade policies. But how large and potent is Trump’s base on trade?
The Kochs and other business conservatives have certainly enjoyed the power of the Trump insurgency, but they now seem convinced that, through their “mobilization,” they can draw Republican voters away from outright protectionism. With the midterm elections approaching, the tariff issue is partly a numbers game. How many prospective voters will be helped by protectionist policies, and how many will be hurt? A study released last week by the Peterson Institute for International Economics argues that if Trump moved to the next stage in his trade war, and levied a 25 percent duty on imports of automobiles, trucks and SUVs, the United States could lose 195,000 total jobs and 1.5 percent of the output from its auto and parts industries. Another Peterson Institute study last month argued that because of global supply chains, Trump’s tariffs could hurt American competitiveness and damage some industries. These studies illustrate what economists have long argued, that, in today’s global economy, protectionism is probably self-defeating.
That’s not simply because other countries will retaliate with their own tariffs against our products — as Europe, Canada and Mexico have already promised they will do — but because the tariffs hurt more workers than they help. Protectionism saves yesterday’s jobs at the cost of tomorrow’s. As the Kochs, the Wall Street Journal and Ryan try to bend the GOP back toward its free-trade roots, Democrats have a dilemma. They can try to outbid Trump in protectionist policies, hoping to carve off blue-collar votes in November. Or they can try to frame a genuinely progressive stance on trade, one that focuses on industries that are growing rather than shrinking. The Democrats blew this chance in 2016. By joining in attacking the Trans-Pacific Partnership as a symbol of “bad” trade policies, Hillary Clinton ceded the ground to Trump’s insurgency. But in the end, that stance was a loser for Clinton and the Democrats.

Germany's Migrant Rape Crisis: "Failure of the State"
Soeren Kern/Gatestone Institute/June 11/18
"Susanna is dead. Maria from Freiburg; Mia from Kandel; Mireille from Flensburg; and now Susanna from Mainz...." — Alice Weidel, co-leader AfD party. "Susanna's death is not a blind stroke of fate. Susanna's death is the result of many years of organized irresponsibility and the scandalous failure of our asylum and immigration policies. Susanna is victim of an out-of-control leftwing multicultural ideology that stops at nothing to impose its sense of moral superiority." — Alice Weidel, co-leader AfD party. "On the day of Susanna's murder, you [Merkel] testified in parliament that you have handled the migrant crisis responsibly. Do you dare to repeat that claim to Susanna's parents?" — Alice Weidel, co-leader AfD party. The rape and murder of a 14-year-old Jewish girl by a failed Iraqi asylum seeker has cast a renewed spotlight on Germany's migrant rape crisis, which has continued unabated for years amid official complicity and public apathy. Thousands of women and children have been raped or sexually assaulted in Germany since Chancellor Angela Merkel welcomed into the country more than one million mostly male migrants from Africa, Asia and the Middle East. The latest crime, entirely preventable, is uniquely reprehensible in that it highlights in one act the many insidious consequences of Germany's open-door migration policy — including the failure to vet those allowed into the country and the practice of releasing migrant criminals back onto German streets instead of incarcerating or deporting them. The crime also exposes the gross negligence of Germany's political class, which appears to be more concerned with preserving multiculturalism and the rights of predatory migrants than protecting German women and children from them. Police say that Ali Bashar, a 20-year-old Iraqi Kurd, raped Susanna Maria Feldman, strangled her and then dumped her body in a wooded area alongside railroad tracks on the outskirts of Wiesbaden. Bashar then fled to Iraq on false identity papers. Feldman had been missing from her home in Mainz since May 22. Her mother filed a missing person report on May 23. Police, however, did not even begin to search for the girl until more than a week later, when an unnamed 13-year-old boy, a migrant living in the same refugee shelter as Bashar, contacted the police. Feldman's body was finally recovered on June 6. 14-year-old Susanna Maria Feldman (inset) was raped and murdered by Ali Bashar, a failed Iraqi asylum seeker in Germany. He dumped her body in a wooded area on the outskirts of Wiesbaden. (Image sources: Feldman - Facebook; Wiesbaden - Maxpixel)
Bashar arrived in Germany in October 2015, at the height of the migrant influx, along with his parents and five siblings; claiming to be refugees, they turned out to be economic migrants. Bashar's asylum request was rejected in December 2016. He should have been deported, but after he filed an appeal, German authorities allowed him to stay.
During his three years in Germany, Bashar chalked up an extensive criminal record, including physical assault of law enforcement officers, violent robbery at knifepoint and possession of illegal weapons.
Police said that Bashar was also a suspect in the March 2018 rape of an 11-year-old girl living in the same refugee shelter where he and his family were staying. Bashar was able to flee Germany under a false identity because of bureaucratic incompetence: federal border police failed to check if the name on his plane ticket matched the name on his identity papers.
Bashar was arrested in northern Iraq on June 8 and was extradited to Germany a day later. He is currently being held at a correctional facility in Wiesbaden. Susanna's murder was the fourth German teenager to be murdered by illegal migrants during the past 18 months. October 16, 2016. Maria Ladenburger, a 19-year-old medical student from Freiburg, was raped and murdered after returning home from a party hosted by her school's medical faculty. Her attacker was Hussein Khavari, who entered Germany in November 2015 without identification papers. He claimed to have been born in Afghanistan in November 1999. Because of his alleged age (16), he was granted asylum as an underage unaccompanied migrant and placed with a foster family.
After Khavari was arrested as a suspect in the Ladenburger case, the newsmagazine Stern reported that in February 2014, Khavari had been sentenced to ten years in prison for attempted murder for pushing a 20-year-old woman over a cliff on the Greek island of Corfu. The woman survived the attack and Khavari was released after serving 18 months in prison, based on an amnesty for juvenile offenders. He then migrated to Germany. During his trial in Greece, Khavari told the court that he had been born in Iran in January 1996 and had arrived in Europe in January 2013.
During his trial in Germany, Khavari confessed to raping and killing Ladenburger. It emerged that Khavari was born in Iran on January 29, 1984 and that at the time he killed Ladenburger, he was actually 32. On March 22, 2018, Khavari was sentenced to life in prison for rape and murder, but according to German law, he may apply for parole after serving 15 years.
December 27, 2017. Mia Valentin, a 15-year-old girl from Kandel, a small town in the federal state of Rhineland-Palatinate, near the German border with France, was stabbed to death at a local drugstore. Her attacker was Abdul Mobin, a failed Afghan asylum seeker who claimed to be 15 years old. Valentin and her attacker had been in a relationship for several months, but after she ended it in early December 2017, Mobin began to threaten her. On December 15, the girl's parents filed a formal complaint to police. Police visited Mobin on December 17, and again on the morning of December 27. Later that day, Mobin followed Valentin into the drugstore and stabbed her with a kitchen knife he had purchased at the same store. The girl died a short time later.
Mobin had arrived in Germany in April 2016 and initially resided at a refugee shelter in Frankfurt. He was later transferred to a refugee shelter in Germersheim, a small town in the federal state of Rhineland-Palatinate, and then to a youth facility in nearby Neustadt. His asylum claim was rejected in February 2017, but he was not deported. Mobin, who was known to police after he punched a student at Valentin's school, is being held in custody while German authorities try to determine his true age.
March 12, 2018. Mireille Bold, a 17-year-old girl from Flensburg, was stabbed to death by Ahmad Gulbhar, an 18-year-old asylum seeker from Afghanistan. He allegedly became enraged and killed her after she refused to wear a headscarf convert to Islam. Gulbhar had arrived in Germany in 2015 as an underage unaccompanied migrant. His asylum application was rejected but he was never deported.
Bold, who lived in the same building as her attacker, had called police for help at least once before she was killed. A good friend of Bold's family told the newspaper Bild:
"Ahmad was a jealous rooster who always wanted to control her. They have been in a relationship since January 2016, but there were constant rows. He insisted that she convert to Islam and always wear a headscarf.
"She wasn't sure. Whenever she went scarfless there was trouble. Mireille told me that he fled alone from Afghanistan and had a great longing for his family. He was supposed to have a job in a civil engineering company. Once when she met with him he called her every two minutes on her phone demanding to know what was happening."
The attacker is being held in pre-trial detention.
As with the deaths of the other teenagers, Susanna's murder prompted the usual barrage of political posturing and feigned outrages from German politicians and media.
The level of public outrage over Susanna's case, however, suggests that Germany may be reaching a tipping point: the German government is finally being held to account for its role in the migrant rape crisis.
"The government should beg for forgiveness from Susanna's parents," said the mass circulation Bild. "The only thing that is worse than the murder of a child is the murder of a child by a criminal who should not have been in our country."
The leader of the Free Democrats (FDP), Christian Lindner, said that the crime raises many questions: "Why are rejected asylum seekers not deported more consistently? Why could the perpetrator and his family flee under a false identity?"
"This is typical of our German security agencies," FDP politician Alexander Graf Lambsdorff said. "There are simply too many gaps in this system. This has been terribly upsetting for many years."
SPD manager Carsten Schneider said what had to be quickly clarified was "how the suspect was able to escape, and how he can be brought to court in Germany as quickly as possible."
"The Federal Interior Minister must ensure that the existing control mechanisms are also used during entry and exit," said Burkhard Lischka, an SPD spokesman. "With such questionable papers and in view of the destination, the Federal Police could have determined with a simple fingerprint comparison that a criminal is on the run."
"The cruel murder of Susanna fills me with great sadness and anger," said Eckhardt Rehberg of the CDU. "As a politician responsible for the budget, I say...the entire asylum process needs to be fundamentally reshaped. We will provide the money for that."
The Alternative for Germany (AfD), the anti-immigration party, called for the resignation of the entire federal government. In a video posted on Twitter, AfD co-leader Alice Weidel said:
"Susanna is dead. Maria from Freiburg; Mia from Kandel; Mireille from Flensburg; and now Susanna from Mainz....
death is not a blind stroke of fate. Susanna's death is the result of many years of organized irresponsibility and the scandalous failure of our asylum and immigration policies. Susanna is victim of an out-of-control leftwing multicultural ideology that stops at nothing to impose its sense of moral superiority. Susanna is also another victim of Chancellor Angela Merkel's hypocritical and selfish welcome policy.
"Legally, Ali Bashar should never have been allowed into Germany. His asylum request was rejected more than two years ago, and he should have been deported. Bashar was known to police for physical assault, attacking police officers, and possessing illegal weapons. In March 2018, he was suspected of raping an 11-year-old girl at a refugee shelter. According to the law, Bashar should have had to leave Germany a long time ago or be arrested.
"An absurd asylum law and a grotesque asylum is lenient toward asylum cheaters and criminals but ignores the genuine concerns of German citizens.
"Ali Bashar, his parents and five siblings lived here on the taxpayer's dime, they could not be deported, but after his Ali's crime, they somehow found the money to flee Germany on falsified documents. No problem in a Germany with open borders.
"On the day of Susanna's murder, you [Merkel] testified in parliament that you have handled the migrant crisis responsibly. Do you dare to repeat that claim to Susanna's parents? Well, no. Your hard-heartedness and self-righteousness means you feel you are above offering the victims of your policies a personal word. This is unacceptable to us citizens. Will you finally accept responsibility, Mrs. Merkel? You and your entire cabinet should resign to make possible another asylum policy so that the parents in this country no longer need to fear for the safety of their children."
The newsmagazine Stern concluded:
"The emotional reactions to Susanna's case illustrate how Germany has changed. Already in the summer of the refugee crisis, when hundreds of thousands of people came into the country, there were warnings that the mood in the population could tip....
"The case of Susanna awakens the image of a loss of control, an overstretched state that no longer has a grip on asylum policy — especially in a society that loves law and order. There are now repeated demands for stricter laws. The current scandal over maladministration at the Federal Office of Migration and Refugees [immigration officials accepted cash bribes in exchange for granting asylum to more than 1,200 migrants] seems to emphasize the impression of a failure of the state."
*Soeren Kern is a Senior Fellow at the New York-based Gatestone Institute.
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Report: Netanyahu, White House Working to Drive Wedge Between Palestinians and Gulf States
Amir Tibon/Haaretz/June 11/2018
The New Yorker describes tense relationship between Trump administration and PA, which has deteriorated ever since Trump's decision to recognize Jerusalem
WASHINGTON - The Trump administration is working with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to create a rift between the Gulf states and the Palestinians, according to a wide-ranging report on Trump's Middle East policy that was published on Monday in The New Yorker. The report says that the Trump administration's peace plan, which will likely be much closer to the Israeli government's positions than previous U.S. peace plans, could be used by Netanyahu to divide the Gulf monarchies and the Palestinians. Netanyahu, according to the report, expects the Palestinians to reject Trump's plan, thus creating an opening for the Gulf states to support it and distance themselves from the Palestinian leadership while inching closer towards Israel, with whom they share a common view of Iran as the main threat in the region. According to the report, the Obama administration suspected that Netanyahu secretly met with leaders from the Gulf in 2015 in Cyprus, as part of an attempt to organize a joint strategy against the Iran nuclear deal. Netanyahu did visit Cyprus in 2015, but the report didn't include specific details on when exactly the meeting took place, or who attended it. The prime minister's presence at the meeting was suspected by the Obama administration, but never fully proven.
The report described a tense relationship between the Trump administration and the Palestinian Authority, which has deteriorated into a total disconnect ever since Trump's decision last year to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. At some point, Trump's son-in-law and senior adviser, Jared Kushner, told veteran Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat "we're a sovereign nation, don't threaten us" when Erekat warned that Trump's decision to move the American embassy to Israel would end America's role as a mediator in the region.
According to the report, shortly before Trump announced the embassy decision, he called Abbas to inform him about it, but the call never came through because of technical problems. At one point, Trump thought Abbas was on the line, and he reportedly told the Palestinian leader that he (Trump) would get the Palestinians "a better deal" than what was offered to them under Obama. Abbas, however, wasn't actually on the phone at that moment.
The report included excerpts from an email that Kushner sent to other senior administration officials regarding the decision to significantly cut funding to UNRWA. In the email Kushner boasts that "UNRWA has been threatening us for 6 months that if they don’t get a check they will close schools. Nothing has happened. We have made some big moves and everyone in the region is on their toes which is where they need to be for real change. Our goal can’t be to keep things stable and as they are, our goal has to be to make things significantly BETTER! Sometimes you have to strategically risk breaking things in order to get there.”Another interesting bit of information in the report concerns Trump's ambassador to Israel, David Friedman, who had no prior diplomatic experience before taking the job last year, and was confirmed by the lowest number of Senators ever for an American ambassador to Israel. In the report, Friedman is quoted as wondering why Egypt can't take responsibility for Gaza, since "the people there are Egyptian." Egypt, it should be noted, gave up any territorial demands regarding Gaza forty years ago, as part of an American-brokered peace agreement with Israel. Friedman denied making the comment, which was reportedly heard by a number of State Department officials.

Here’s how to re-educate an entire ethnic group
Dr. Azeem Ibrahim/Al Arabiya/June 11/18
There are 10-11 million native Uyghur Turks living in China’s western-most Xinjiang province. But as many as 1 million of those are believed to be interred in “re-education camps”. That is an astonishing number. And when one stops to consider the sheer logistics involved in such an undertaking, that fact becomes even more incredible. Now China does have a history of doing things on a large scale. And it has a history of suppressing ethnic identities which it perceives as a possible threat to the unity and integrity of the state. But even proportionally, this is on a scale that would make your old, 20th Century efforts at nation-building look modest. And all that is before we begin to look at the environment China is creating in Xinjiang province outside of the concentration camps. I have reported before on the surveillance state China has created in the province which is aimed exclusively at the Uyghur population, and the ridiculous lengths the state is going to criminalise many aspects of Uyghur identity, up to banning Muslim names for Uyghur newborns. One of the more “amusing” aspects of this assault on Uyghur identity has been the alcohol and pork consumption competitions organized by the state during last year’s Ramadan fast.
Less amusing is the inescapable feeling every Uyghur in the province carries with them that they are watched and assessed everywhere they go, and a stray word or a stray glance is all it takes for them to be sent to a re-education camp without any judicial review or right of appeal.
And of course, as it has done in many other provinces, most recently in Tibet, the central government has encouraged large numbers of Han Chinese to migrate to Xinjiang province so as to dilute Muslim Turkic identity in the region. Beijing is not in the business of winning hearts and minds in Xinjiang. Rather, it is in the business of stomping out a cultural identity with the full force employing the latest surveillance technology
Separatist sentiments
The odd thing about transplantation of Han Chinese to the region is that the authorities are not making it easy for the two populations to intermingle and rub off each other in a way that might actually erode Muslim separatist sentiments. Even many of the Han Chinese migrants to the region have complained that the heavy-handed approach to security in the region has made it difficult to, for example, hire local Uyghurs in their businesses, or even have Uyghurs as customers in many instances. So the approach of the authorities seems rather more geared toward segregating the Uyghurs and crushing their spirit and sense of identity, rather than allowing them to build for themselves and identity which is compatible with living in peace and harmony within the greater Chinese state. Beijing is not in the business of winning hearts and minds in Xinjiang. Rather, it is in the business of stomping out a cultural identity with the full force employing the latest surveillance technology. This should ring alarm bells for all of us. That the world is silent in the face of such human rights abuses within China we already knew. This was amply demonstrated in the previous couple of decades in Tibet. But if this is the way China deals with people who it perceives as detrimental to the goals of Beijing when they have power, then the fact that China is amassing an ever increasing amount of power in their region and across the world does not portend well for human rights anywhere. For all their defects, lapses and hypocrisies, the previously dominant Western global powers at least had some kind of discourse about human rights which did set the tone globally, and which did, on the rare occasion, result in positive conflict resolutions: most noteworthy in the Balkans in the 90s. But before long, China will also set the tone for these issues globally, and the tone it will set already looks frightening.

Why did Khamenei resort to escalation?
Mohammed Al Shaikh/Al Arabiya/June 11/18
Iran’s Supreme Leader said that he ordered Iranian scientists to resume uranium enrichment after the US withdrew from the nuclear agreement. Meanwhile, the Europeans failed to persuade Iran to go on with the agreement. The decision to boost uranium enrichment will enable the Iranians to manufacture the nuclear bomb. This will push the rest of the region’s countries, mainly Saudi Arabia to work to acquire nuclear weapons as a deterrent to the mullahs’ state which seeks to occupy the two Holy Mosques as it’s known; i.e. this means entering a phase of a nuclear arms race to deter Iranian ambitions.
Retaliating 10 times harder
Iran’s possession of nuclear weapons is not only rejected by the US, but by all European countries as well as Russia and China. Discouraging Iran from pursuing this dangerous direction must thus be the responsibility of these countries. If Iran insists on its position, it is possible to target it with an airstrike that may destroy its nuclear reactors. The Supreme Leader addressed this when he said that those who attack Iran will be attacked 10 times harder. The question remains: Can Khamenei fulfill his promise? Does he have the needed weapons and military technology? The answer is certainly no.
Iran’s possession of nuclear weapons is not only rejected by the US, but by European countries as well as Russia and China. Discouraging Iran from pursuing it must thus be the responsibility of these countries.Iran has nothing but ballistic missiles whose technology is imported from North Korea. These missiles are primitive and their capability to hit the target is weak. Anti-missiles can easily destroy them. For example, the Houthis fired more than 120 missiles towards different cities in Saudi Arabia and they were all destroyed in the air before reaching their targets. The US and Israel have highly destructive guided missiles so it’s actually possible to target these reactors destroying them into tatters. The question imposed in this context is: Are Iran’s mullah not aware of this? Definitely not, but they got used to pushing things towards the abyss during political conflicts and then backing down in the last minute.
Paralyzed economy
The economic sanctions which will be imposed on Iran by the US will lead to economic recession in Iran. The Iranian economy will thus be affected and be almost completely paralyzed. The Iranians will thus revolt against the mullahs’ state. Therefore, escalating with the US and Western countries will make the Iranian people line up behind the government to confront the invasion. This will provide the government with the capability to resist and confront sanctions. I think this is one of the reasons that made Khamenei escalate the confrontation. It is as if he is speeding up the US strike which would enable him to stay for a longer period. However, if he submits to pressure and complies, he will face a massive famine revolution which he will not be capable of suppressing no matter how much he kills people and governs with an iron fist.
Will Khamenei’s old “new” approach succeed this time? Frankly I think it’s unlikely.

Anthony Bourdain: A personal eulogy to the man I never met

Walid Jawad/Al Arabiya/June 11/18
“No Reservation,” the Anthony Bourdain travel show, was my first experience binge-watching any TV show. Since that time, a few years ago, I became a true fan of the show and the man. Two weeks ago, I added his newer CNN show “Parts Unknown” to my “to-watch” list. Now that I have broken the generational gap, no longer do I watch shows when they come out, I wait until I can binge-watch them one season at a time. As my cell phone blew up yesterday morning, Washington, DC local time, with breaking news of Tony’s death, I had the urge to watch the Saudi episode one more time. A personal eulogy to the man.I felt the loss of this intrepid globetrotter in a way I haven’t felt about someone I never met. I felt the loss of a talented TV host who was able to show us the human factor in peoples we typically brush aside in simplistic, one dimensional, and almost always wrong stereotypical fashion.
That Saudi episode might have been an eye-opener for many, but it was a nostalgic home-video of sorts to someone like me. I left Saudi Arabia over 20 years ago without going back for any meaningful visits. As I re-watched the episode, I found myself identifying with Danya al-Hamrani, the warm and welcoming host who invited Mr. Bourdain to Saudi Arabia. This fellow American-born Saudi, missed out on many Saudi specific experiences as I did. like Danya (up to the point of the filming of the episode), I never ate Dhub (desert lizard), camel meat, or lamb hearts. I am inspired now to make a culinary trip to Saudi Arabia suspending my vegetarianism to summon the courage to try such “delicacies.”The episode reminded me of a time of simplicity and innocence. Even Tony’s demeanor in the episode is playful and cheerful. A markedly different Tony from the one who appears in other episodes. I invite you to watch that episode if you haven’t yet, Episode#13 of Season 4, titled simply: Saudi Arabia. In contrast, you can pick up on Tony’s undercurrent of pompousness, standoffishness, or even contemptuousness show host personality at times in some other episodes.
The uniqueness of Anthony Bourdain’s shows is its ability to zoom out showing us what is beyond the margins of the news frame; i.e. beyond the myopic focus on violence
His unlikely mission
As I reflect on the man and his body of aired work I can’t help but admire Tony’s courage and skill in breaking down the prevailing dehumanizing facade we readily accept as we watch the alluring magical lightbox. The same facade that serves intended or unintended agenda of fear, defensiveness, divisiveness, and hatred. His work was a serious attempt to counterbalance the destructive effects of daily news, even if it were not what he was set out to do. An impossible situation as his weekly show stood firmly in the sea of relentless fear spewing collective. Yet he was able to move the needle farther along the scale of human connectedness than any other show I can think of. They teach in journalism that common events are not newsworthy like when a dog bites a man. But when a man bites a dog it becomes an incident worthy of feeding the 24-hour news cycle. Watching the news, we find the uncommon numerous and violence ubiquitous making what is supposed to be the exception common. Viewers can’t be blamed to point to TV sets concluding that the world is a dangerous place. The sheer number of violent events locally and internationally prompts viewers to divide the world into two camps: evil perpetrators and innocent victims. More troubling is that evil seems to be winning by virtue of imposing its physical will on people. I, for one, am guilty of adding fuel to the fire in more ways than I care to enumerate. Most of us in the media, if not all, believe that you, our fellow thinking humans, need to be informed and that it’s our mission to make you aware of such events. Once you become knowledgeable, you are better equipped to make informed decisions about the world you live in. Unfortunately, the law of unintended consequences overshadows the intended benefits of gaining that knowledge.
Adopting a cause
The news viewing public fall into three major categories: some will decide to adopt a cause and fight, while others become overwhelmed and fearful of the environment and suspicious of humanity itself. And in between, those who will shutdown dismissing such reality, tuning out the anxiety-filled chatter of new channels. A social equivalent to fight, flight, or freeze responses. Arts, entertainment, and hobbies are great options to attempt striking a personal balance, yet external fear mongering of the 24-hour news cycle remains unchecked. These channels have a purpose to serve and should continue their mission. It behooves us to understand the side effects. The uniqueness of Anthony Bourdain’s shows is its ability to zoom out showing us what is beyond the margins of the news frame; i.e. beyond the myopic focus on violence. As much as the news wants to compels us to the contrary, violence is not an inevitability.
If we accept violence as the norm, we are surrendering intellectually under the weight of the emotional pressure of fear and sadness. The bigger picture Tony provided is a good reminder. Some of his episodes featured people from unfavorable countries or war-torn regions, yet we identify with them as human beings. It is essential to understand that conflict is not "bad" in and of itself. In fact, conflict is a driving force to improve the human condition. Resolving conflicts between people leads to equality. Resolving conflict between us and our environment leads to innovation. Only when conflict turns violent that it becomes “bad.” Tony’s showed us people from around the world consumed by what humans everywhere else are consumed by, living a peaceful and happy life. We got to know people of other cultures not as tourist, rather as locals. He was able to challenge his own stereotypical ideas of others and along the way broke our disinterested judgments of others. I mourn the man because I mourn the mission. There is no one out there who can rise to the challenge. I will go back to my “to-watch” list and put Tony’s shows on top my binge-watching cue. I know this time I will watch his shows with the eyes of an anthropologist and the mind of a conflict resolver.

Ghabra’s ‘advice’ on Gulf-US relations
Mashari Althaydi/Al Arabiya/June 11/18
On April 28, 2018, I read in the Kuwaiti daily Al-Qabas comments by Kuwaiti-Palestinian academic Dr. Shafeeq Al-Ghabra and valuable “advice” on how relations should be between Gulf countries and the US. Ghabra’s statements were within a typical context that’s been dully repeated. He wants all Gulf countries – although we know that Qatar, for instance, does not represent the entire Gulf and its policies are closer to Ghabra’s advice – to listen to him and be convinced of his vision as to how ties with the US should be during Trump’s term. In brief, Ghabra’s remarks are the same as the Al-Jazeera channel’s statements or other statements made by the Muslim Brotherhood’s platforms and allies from the remnants of the left and nationalists. Trump and his policy intimidates and angers countries of chaos, destruction, terrorism and strife and dangerous political Islam groups. And we, by that I mean Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and many reasonable Muslims and Arab people, completely support Trump in this approach
Ghabra's advice
For example, according to his article in al-Qabas, Ghabra said: “Obama’s invitation to Gulf countries to have dialogue with Iran, without having to agree with it and without underestimating the size of the dispute with it in Syria and Yemen, which would have been better. Therefore, I think dialogue with Iran (is the means) to respond to Trump’s agenda.”“Coordination between Gulf countries which are aware of this danger (a danger assumed by Ghabra by demonizing President Trump and his administration) is a must through dialogue with Iran,” he also said. Ghabra concludes this genius statement by saying: “The US role in maintaining the Gulf region has fallen or is declining. The fall’s duration is around 10 years, and Gulf countries must think of other security options. One of these options is dialogue with Iran.”Of course, he added Turkey to the basket of alternative allies of Gulf countries, Saudi Arabia and the UAE, to replace the US. He was even more generous as he added NATO to this basket, whose cornerstone is actually the US!
Can these statements be taken seriously?
Trump and his policy intimidates and angers countries of chaos, destruction, terrorism and strife and dangerous political Islam groups. And we, by that I mean Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and many reasonable Muslims and Arab people, completely support Trump in this approach.
The Iranian Khomeinist regime is an enemy, and it is not possible to have dialogue with them. We’ve tried engaging in such dialogues several times before but Iran only got more harmful and destructive. As for Turkey under Erdogan’s rule, ties are normal at the least, and we’re not engaged in a war with it and we shouldn’t be, despite some of the administration’s behavior and some political and media bids. As for the EU and NATO, we have a network of interests with them; but let Europe solve its problems with the US administration first before it can encourage the deluded rebellion against Washington!
Frankly, such sentimental and shallow ideas and perspectives are what drive states and people into the abyss.

After G-7 fiasco, risk is on the rise

Cornelia Meyer/Arab News/June 11/18
Asian markets seemed to shrug off the G-7 upset over the weekend in early trading, which seems to be counterintuitive — but this week alone will see several events that could result in increased geopolitical risk. Over the weekend the G-7 came up with a bland communique that acknowledged freedom, democracy and other shared values. The language on trade went a long way to accommodate the US position: It advocated “free, fair and mutually beneficial trade.” While it insisted that “bilateral, regional and plurilateral frameworks needed to conform with WTO rules,” it also committed to modernize the WTO. It stated the need for “a truly level playing field, addressing in particular non-market oriented policies and practices.”
So far so good. The language skirted around America’s acrimonious differences with Canada, Japan and EU countries on the subject of trade. What happened then bewildered the world. A firm statement by Justin Trudeau enraged the US president so much that he instructed his officials not to sign the communique. The result is that instead of alleviating trade tensions, they intensified. We are now closer to a vortex of retaliatory trade measures, which might well spiral into a full blown trade war. The Europeans will retaliate against US steel and aluminum tariffs with their own on bespoke goods such as peanut butter, whiskey, and motorcycles — all of which hail from Republican congressional districts Trump needs to secure in the upcoming mid-term election.
On July 1, Canada will retaliate too. Trump’s next foray is likely to be cars, which would hurt Germany, Japan and Canada the most. If we go down a tit-for-tat route on trade, all bets for a “free fair and mutually beneficial” vision are off.
Emmanuel Macron said the “G-6” stand united against the US. This is only partially true. Germany needs to protect its car industry. Shinzo Abe needs to ensure that when the US president meets North Korea’s Kim Jong-Un, he does not make unacceptable compromises, which could endanger Japan’s national security. Trump’s main objection is to huge bilateral trade deficits that some G-7 members like Germany and Japan have and other like France don’t.
We are now closer to a vortex of retaliatory trade measures, which might well spiral into a full blown trade war.
It is safe to say that the G-7 is under stress. It also has less economic clout than it used to have. Its members originally accounted for half of the world’s GDP; 45 years on, they account for less than a third. China has s urpassed Japan as the world’s second-largest economy and the G-20 framework — unwieldy as it may be — accounts for more in terms of economic clout and world population than the G-7. Increased trade friction is certainly one of the geopolitical risks. There are others too. A lot will hinge on the Trump-Kim summit. The US has recently downplayed expectations, which is good. Verifiable and irreversible denuclearization of North Korea will be a drawn-out process and involve multilateral mechanisms such as the UN’s International Atomic Energy Agency. Trump, a bilateralist, is bound to feel uneasy about that. The current security arrangements in Northeast Asia have US troops stationed in South Korea and Japan. These arrangements have allowed Japan, South Korea and Taiwan to become affluent. Whereas successful developments on the Korean peninsula are good for the world at large, the risk of the process becoming unhinged is a major threat to the global economy. Europe may have a few surprises of its own. Italy has a new government consisting of two populist parties at the opposite end of the political spectrum. Markets have calmed down somewhat since the new Finance Minister Giovanni Tria affirmed that he had no intention of leaving the euro.
Spain has a new minority government, which pundits think may not last till the end of the year. In other words, we may see more rumbles on the euro zone’s southern rim.
This week the EU Withdrawal Bill will go to the House of Commons after major amendments from the Lords.
Expect the FTSE and European markets to react to the deliberation. More importantly, the UK ought to reach agreement on Brexit with the EU by October and chances are slim that negotiators will get there. There are simply too many contentious issues, the Irish border being but one.
We can expect a June rate rise by the Fed, which will have its effect on emerging markets. Some held steady against a stronger dollar but others — especially those with big current account deficits — like Turkey or Argentina, suffered. Expect more emerging market turbulence this year.
So why are markets so calm? There is probably no point in pricing in event risk until it happens.
However this week alone, there are plenty of events which could turn dicey. Decision-makers and investors need to be aware and vigilant.
Cornelia Meyer is a business consultant, macroeconomist and energy expert. Twitter: @MeyerResources

Is Iran really complying with the nuclear deal?
Dr. Majid Rafizadeh/Arab News/June 11/18
In the last few days, the state media of the Iranian regime has been dedicating significant coverage to a recent statement made by the French President Emmanuel Macron regarding the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, commonly known as the Iran nuclear deal. According to Iran’s Press TV, the French President pointed out that there is “no indication” that the Islamic Republic has violated the nuclear agreement.
The Iranian regime joyfully endorsed Macron’s statement. However, it is time to fact-check Iran’s compliance with the nuclear deal, because reality does not seem to go hand-in-hand with the French president’s comment.
First and foremost, it is important to point out that the terms of the JCPOA are flawed, in the sense that the Iranian regime’s regional policies, as well as the contribution of the nuclear pact to regional instability, are totally disregarded.
Thanks to the nuclear deal and sanctions reliefs, Iran’s aggressive behavior, expansionist policies and military adventurism in the region have significantly ratcheted up. From Baghdad to Beirut to Sanaa, the Iranian regime has increased its support, funding, training, and provision of weapons to terrorist and militia groups. This significantly destabilizes the region, escalates tensions and turns regional conflicts into conflagrations. Iran has been emboldened to such an extent that it is providing ballistic missiles to terrorist and militia groups, such as the Houthis.
With respect to the terms and rules of the JCPOA, meticulous examination reveals that, on several occasions since the day of implementation of the nuclear deal in 2015, the Iranian regime has not been fully complying with the terms. UN Security Council resolution 2231 endorsing the JCPOA is crystal clear in stating that Iran should not undertake any ballistic missile activity “until the date eight years after the JCPOA Adoption Day or until the date on which the IAEA submits a report confirming the Broader Conclusion, whichever is earlier.”
According to reports by the International Atomic Energy Agency, the Islamic Republic has exceeded its threshold for heavy water on more than one occasion since the nuclear deal was implemented
Intriguingly, Iran has significantly ratcheted up its ballistic missile activities since the nuclear deal was reached. By the time President Donald Trump took office, roughly two-and-a-half years after the nuclear deal was sealed, the Tehran regime had fired more than 20 ballistic missiles.
Another issue is that, according to the terms of the JCPOA, Iran must restrict the amount of specific nuclear materials that it possesses. One of these materials is called heavy water, which can be utilized for nuclear energy or for producing nuclear weapons. Iran must keep its stockpile of heavy water at less than 130 metric tons. According to reports by the International Atomic Energy Agency, the Islamic Republic has exceeded its threshold for heavy water on more than one occasion since the nuclear deal was implemented. IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano said in November 2016: “For the second time since implementation of the JCPOA began, Iran’s inventory of heavy water exceeded 130 metric (tons).” He added: “It is important that such situations should be avoided in future in order to maintain international confidence.”
In addition, the Iranian opposition group, National Council for Resistance of Iran (NCRI), which was the first to reveal Iran’s clandestine nuclear activities in two major sites, Natanz and Arak, in 2000, last year released critical information showing that Iran’s nuclear activities continue in the military site at Parchin, which is out of reach of the IAEA’s inspectors. This also points to the fact that the IAEA has failed on several occasions to detect Iran’s nuclear activities. Due to the NCRI’s influence inside Iran, its information is believed to be highly credible. Frank Pabian, an adviser on nuclear non-proliferation matters at the Los Alamos National Laboratory, previously told the New York Times that the NCRI is “right 90 percent of the time.”
Macron ought to consider the facts and latest reports about the Iranian regime’s nuclear activities, as well as Tehran’s increasing belligerence in the region. Otherwise any blanket statement that supports the Iranian regime will only empower and embolden Iran’s hardliners and assist them in pursuing their ambitions for regional hegemony more aggressively.
**Dr. Majid Rafizadeh is a Harvard-educated Iranian-American political scientist. He is a leading expert on Iran and US foreign policy, a businessman and president of the International American Council. Twitter: @Dr_Rafizadeh