June 14/2018
Compiled & Prepared by: Elias Bejjani


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Bible Quotations
Instead, as he who called you is holy, be holy yourselves in all your conduct; for it is written, ‘You shall be holy, for I am holy.
First Letter of Peter 01/10-16:"Concerning this salvation, the prophets who prophesied of the grace that was to be yours made careful search and inquiry, inquiring about the person or time that the Spirit of Christ within them indicated, when it testified in advance to the sufferings destined for Christ and the subsequent glory. It was revealed to them that they were serving not themselves but you, in regard to the things that have now been announced to you through those who brought you good news by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven things into which angels long to look! Therefore prepare your minds for action; discipline yourselves; set all your hope on the grace that Jesus Christ will bring you when he is revealed. Like obedient children, do not be conformed to the desires that you formerly had in ignorance. Instead, as he who called you is holy, be holy yourselves in all your conduct; for it is written, ‘You shall be holy, for I am holy.

Titles For Latest LCCC Bulletin analysis & editorials from miscellaneous sources published on June 13-14/18
Can This Man Alter Lebanon's Political Landscape/Bilal Y. Saab/The National Interest/ 13/18
Freeland calls tariffs 'absurd' after meeting U.S. Senate committee/The Canadian Press The Canadian/June 13/18
The "Trump Doctrine" for the Middle East/Guy Millière/Gatestone Institute/Wednesday, 13 June, 2018/
U.N. Envoy, Nickolay Mladenov: Another Gaza war could spark a regional conflict/Jerusalem Post/June 13/18
The Rampage: Supersonic missile developed to destroy high quality targets/Jerusalem Post/June 13/18
Doha and the hockey fans/Mamdouh AlMuhaini//Al Arabiya/June 13/18
Who can stop the Hodeidah offensive/Abdulrahman al-Rashed/Al Arabiya/June 13/18

Titles For The Latest LCCC Lebanese Related News published on June 13-14/18
Report: Britain Ready to Outlaw Hezbollah Terrorist Group
Lebanon: Some Parties Demand Adding New Cabinet Portfolios
UNHCR Asks Lebanon to Review Decision to Suspend Visas for Its Employees
STL Reschedules Filing of Final Briefs, Oral Closing Arguments
Richard Vows Continued Aid as U.S. Delivers 4 Aircraft to LAF
Report: Aoun Rejects FPM, President Cabinet's Share Proposed by Hariri
Bassil Says Important to Preserve FPM-Hizbullah 'Strategic' Alliance
Bassil: U.N. Policy Forbids Refugees’ Return, Lebanese Policy Encourages It
Hariri Asks Putin to Help in Returning Refugees to Syria
Geagea Says Bassil Attacking LF for Impeding 'Power Ships Deal'
Report: Investigation Reveals 40 ‘Non-Eligible’ Individuals for Lebanese Nationality
General Security Finalizing Report on Naturalization Decree
Hankache Says Kataeb Was First to Propose Solution to Refugee Crisis
Can This Man Alter Lebanon's Political Landscape?

Titles For Latest LCCC Bulletin For Miscellaneous Reports And News published on June 13-14/18
Freeland calls tariffs 'absurd' after meeting U.S. Senate committee/The Canadian Press The
Trump Says Summit Ended N. Korea Nuclear Threat
Sadr-Amiri Alliance Shuffles Papers in Iraq
Russian-Iranian Dispute, Preparation for Settlement in Syria
Second Demonstration in Ramallah Against 'Sanctions'
80% of Gaza Strip Population Depends on Aid
Sisi Calls for Political Settlement to Preserve Unity of Syrian Territories
Armed Forces Kill 10 Terrorists in Central Mali
Germany: Police Raid Homes Looking for Human Traffickers
Sarraj Warns Against Intentions to Use Libyan Assets in UK
Italy, France Tensions Spiral over Rejected Migrant Ship
Yemen Forces Launch Major Assault on Hodeida Port City

Latest LCCC Lebanese Related News published on June 13-14/18
Report: Britain Ready to Outlaw Hezbollah Terrorist Group
Breitbart/June 13/18/The UK Home Secretary Sajid Javid is ready to outlaw the Iran-sponsored Lebanese terrorist group Hezbollah in its entirety, a senior Conservative source has said.According to a report in the Jewish Chonicle, Mr. Javid will take “decisive action” after last weekend’s Al Quds Day march in London, where Hezbollah terror flags were once again flown. Hezbollah is an illegal, anti-Semitic organisation, designated as a terror organization in its entirety by the Arab League, Bahrain, Canada, France, Israel, Australia, the Netherlands, and the United States. But the European Union, as well as the United Kingdom, maintain a difference between the group’s military and political wings, seeking only to proscribe the former. A Tory source quoted by the JC said: “Sajid is a very different beast to the Home Secretary he has just replaced. Amber Rudd spoke repeatedly about taking action over Hezbollah – but for whatever reason was not able to get around to doing anything. Sajid has vowed to take decisive action on the matter. He will make this very clear over the forthcoming weeks. According to the report, MP Joan Ryan, chair of Labour Friends of Israel, wrote to Mr. Javid after the rally to say she was “appalled that the government should once again have allowed this Iranian-inspired hate fest to take place on the streets of London”. She added: “I fail to understand why the Home Office has not heeded the repeated warnings raised by LFI MPs and the Mayor of London over the past year. I have today requested an urgent meeting with the Home Secretary to discuss this matter.”Calls were made prior to the Al-Quds march for the government to ban the Hezbollah standard, however the response was muted. Metropolitan Police Commander Jane Conners said both she and Commissioner Cressida Dick “share concerns” that the raising of the anti-Israel Hezbollah flag on London’s streets “may be construed as belonging to a terrorist organisation.”But Conners adds: “Purely holding a flag does not necessarily incite religious or racial hatred. It is the words or actions of the person holding the flag that can cause incitement.”
Lebanon: Some Parties Demand Adding New Cabinet Portfolios
Beirut - Youssef Diab/Asharq Al Awsat/Wednesday, 13 June, 2018/Disputes among political parties on the size of their representation and their shares in the government are common in Lebanon ahead of any cabinet formation. There are 22 portfolios in the Lebanese government. The ministries of Finance, Foreign Affairs, Interior and Defense are considered political portfolios. The Public Works and Transportation, Telecommunications, Energy and Water, Social Affairs, Education, Health and Agriculture are considered services portfolios, whereas the other ministries are not of larger importance. They are the Justice, Information, Culture, Youth and Sports, Industry, Labor, Administration Development, Environment, Tourism, Economics and Commerce ministries. While the cabinet is equally divided between Muslims and Christians, a norm adopted following the Taif Accord approved appointing ministers with no portfolios or to allow the largest political representation among parties. They are called “ministers of state.”Although some parties have voiced discontent on the growing number of portfolios, head of the Kataeb party MP Sami Gemayel and MPs Nadim Gemayel and Elias Hankash presented on Tuesday two draft laws to Parliament seeking to break up both the Ministry of Public Works and Transport and the Ministry of Interior and Municipalities. The bill said the transportation sector has not been dealt with seriously due to the multitude of tasks carried out by the ministry’s public works department. It added that the number of municipalities in Lebanon has surpassed 1,030 making it necessary to separate security and political affairs, and personal status from politics from development projects, the environment and the local economy. However, legal and constitutional expert former MP Salah Honein told Asharq Al-Awsat there is no need for extra cabinet seats. He called for forming a 14-member cabinet, which is the case in countries that are ten times bigger in size than Lebanon. “A minister can be tasked with leading two compatible portfolios, such as the Education and the Culture ministries ... We need to merge existing portfolios and not create new ones,” he said.

UNHCR Asks Lebanon to Review Decision to Suspend Visas for Its Employees

Beirut- Caroline Akoum/Asharq Al Awsat/Wednesday, 13 June, 2018/The UNHCR called on Lebanon to reverse its decision to freeze the residency applications of its staff, while the foreign ministry stressed that it would maintain the measure until the agency changed its policy of discouraging Syrian refugees to return to their homeland. Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil ordered the freeze last week after accusing UNHCR of hindering the return of refugees to Syria by “spreading fear”. In remarks to Asharq Al-Awsat, Hadi al-Hashem, director of the foreign minister’s office, noted that the measures would continue “until UNHCR takes practical steps to achieve the return of displaced persons,” rejecting attempts to keep refugees in Lebanon in return for international aid. The most important steps that UNHCR can take are “not to warn the refugees against returning to their country and to sit down with the Lebanese authorities to discuss the plan required to return,” according to Hashem. In a letter to UNHCR, the ministry gave the agency two weeks to develop a plan for the return of the displaced. Asked about the foreign minister’s insistence on his move, despite the rejection of Prime Minister-designate Saad al-Hariri of the decision, which he described as unilateral, as confirmed by the latter’s advisor, Nadim al-Munla, Hashem said: “The actions carried out by Minister Bassil are within his powers, even in the phase of caretaking, such decisions can be made if necessary.”He pointed out that the decision to stop residency applications has so far included two foreigners to be appointed as heads of sections by the agency. Meanwhile, Lebanese Forces Leader Samir Geagea said on Tuesday that the refugees’ return to their homeland was not a kind of normalization of relations with the Syrian regime. “Lebanon has borne the presence of more than a million Syrian refugees for seven years and we are unable to shoulder this burden anymore,” Geagea said in an interview with the German Media Agency (DPA). He added that the return of Syrian refugees required a Lebanese sovereign decision, in coordination with the refugees and the concerned international bodies, noting that any coordination with the Syrian regime would hinder the return of these refugees.

STL Reschedules Filing of Final Briefs, Oral Closing Arguments

Naharnet/June 13/18/The Trial Chamber of the U.N.-backed Special Tribunal for Lebanon has ordered the Prosecutor and the Legal Representatives of Victims in the Ayyash et al. case to file their final trial briefs by Monday 16 July 2018 and the Defense counsel for the four Accused by 13 August 2018, the STL said on Wednesday. In a revised scheduling order issued Tuesday, the Trial Chamber stated that it will hear oral closing arguments from the parties and participating victims in the weeks of Monday 27 August to Friday 7 September 2018. Under Rule 147 of the STL Rules of Procedure and Evidence, following the presentation of all the evidence, the Prosecutor, the participating victims and the Defense may file final trial briefs and present closing arguments. The presentation of the closing arguments concludes the trial in the Ayyash et al. case. The Judges will then withdraw to deliberate and will issue a judgment in due course, the STL said. According to a court statement, a finding of guilt may be reached only when a majority of the Trial Chamber is satisfied that guilt has been proved beyond reasonable doubt (Rule 148). The Prosecution closed its case against the four Accused on February 7, 2018. On March 7, the Trial Chamber dismissed an application for a judgment of acquittal, under Rule 167, made by the Defense of suspected Hizbullah member Hussein Hassan Oneissi. No other Defense counsel made applications under this rule. Further, of the four Accused, only counsel for Oneissi elected to present a Defense case. In April, the Trial Chamber had initially scheduled the filing of final briefs and closing arguments for June and July, respectively, but the order was later suspended due to procedural developments. The tribunal is trying four members of Hizbullah in the 2005 suicide truck bombing that killed ex-PM Rafik Hariri and 21 others. The five indicted and later put on trial in absentia included one of Hizbullah's top military commanders, Mustafa Badreddine, who was killed in Syria in 2016. Hizbullah denies involvement in the murder and the group's leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah has denounced the court as a conspiracy by the U.S. and Israel.

Richard Vows Continued Aid as U.S. Delivers 4 Aircraft to LAF
Naharnet/June 13/18/The United States has delivered four A-29 Super Tucano aircraft to the Lebanese Army at the Hamat Air Base, the U.S. embassy said on Wednesday. “It is just great to be back at Hamat Air Base to mark another milestone in the remarkable development of the Lebanese Armed Forces as one of the most capable militaries in this region,” U.S. Ambassador to Lebanon Elizabeth Richard said in a speech at the air base. She added: “Finally, all six A-29 Super Tucanos are in Lebanon! Congratulations to the Lebanese Armed Forces, the Lebanese Air Force, and all those who worked on this program over the last several years to make it a success, and I include here the representatives with us today from the United States Air Force, who were with you through the entire process.”The first two A-29 Super Tucanos were delivered last October. Richard noted that the delivery of the six aircraft “doesn’t mean the program has ended.”“The U.S. will continue to support the integration of the A29s into your capabilities over the coming years,” the ambassador noted, addressing the army. She added that the Lebanese Army is recognized in the U.S. for “the quality of the officers and soldiers it sends” to U.S. training and education programs. “Lebanese students routinely finish at the top of their classes, earning ‘honor graduate’ recognition. The recently returned A-29 pilots and maintainers upheld this real high LAF standard, and our military is very proud to serve with them,” Richard said. She added: “The acquisition of the A-29 Super Tucano, a new aviation platform featuring advanced technology, will transform an already-strong air power capability that has been a key part of the Lebanese Army’s ability to defend this country.”Noting that the A-29 provides the army with precision guided munitions and advanced precision strike capability, Richard described the military grant as “a game-changing acquisition that takes the LAF to the next level of combat capability.” “With the A-29, the LAF will now be able to conduct joint combined arms maneuvers in all conditions, day and night, in a way that greatly reduces the risk of collateral damage and the danger to civilians,” she explained. She reminded that the U.S. will be complementing the A-29 aircraft with six MD-530G light attack scout helicopters. “As demonstrated in the LAF’s 'Dawn of the Hills' operation last August, the Lebanese people can trust the LAF to achieve national strategic objectives and defend the country,” Richard went on to say. She described the delivery as “another reminder of the strong bond between the U.S. and Lebanon.” “Over the last decade, the U.S. government has invested over $1.5 billion in training and equipment, and we have trained over 32,000 Lebanese troops. We will continue this partnership and support to the Government of Lebanon and to the Army,” Richard reassured.

Report: Aoun Rejects FPM, President Cabinet's Share Proposed by Hariri

Naharnet/June 13/18/President Michel has reportedly refused a Cabinet lineup draft allocating nine ministerial portfolios instead of ten as a joint share between the Free Patriotic Movement and the president, al-Joumhouria daily reported on Wednesday. Well informed sources told the daily that “Aoun has substantial observations on the format presented by the Premier,” they said “he rejected Hariri's proposal regarding the share given to the president and the FPM which is divided between three portfolios for the President and six for the FPM.” Aoun and the FPM demand ten ministerial seats in the new government, said the sources. Although Prime Minister-designate Saad Hariri has submitted to Aoun on Monday a preliminary draft about the parties’s share in the new government, but consultations are still in progress and political parties are still wrangling over portfolios, media reports said. The Lebanese Forces’ proposal to give shared ministerial portfolios between the Free Patriotic Movement and the president triggered a dispute between the two. According to norms in Lebanon, the head of the State gets a specific share of ministerial portfolios. However, this complicated the distribution of political parties's share in light of the fact that Aoun is also founder of an allied bloc that gets a ministerial share separate from his.

Bassil Says Important to Preserve FPM-Hizbullah 'Strategic' Alliance
Naharnet/June 13/18/Free Patriotic Movement chief and caretaker Foreign Minister Jebran Bassil on Tuesday called for preserving his movement's “strategic agreement” with Hizbullah. “We maybe parted ways with Hizbullah democratically in the latest elections, but we preserved our strategic agreement and what's most important is the continuation of this agreement,” Bassil said during an iftar banquet in the Jbeil town of Almat. He added: “In this country no one is submissive to anyone and no one is stronger than the other. We are all submissive to Lebanon through our national unity.”

Bassil: U.N. Policy Forbids Refugees’ Return, Lebanese Policy Encourages It
Naharnet/June 13/18/After a controversial decision that Lebanon will freeze residency permits for U.N. refugee staff, caretaker Foreign Minister Jebran Bassil visited the refugee-crowded town of Arsal where he stressed the need for “safe and rapid return” of Syrian refugees. “We have come to Arsal today because of the conflict between Lebanon and the international community over the refugees crisis. We want the safe and rapid return of displaced Syrians to their country,” stressed Bassil after meeting with a number of committees representing refugees wanting to return to Syria and Arsal’s Mayor Bassel al-Hujeiri at the Municipal Building. Bassil assured that Lebanon does not call for an immediate or forced return of refugees, “we are calling for a progressive and safe return but they (the international community) are not even letting us complete the first phase,” he said. “The UNHCR can offer assistance to the refugees in Syria instead of in Lebanon. They can do that,” said Bassil. “I am only advocating for well principled human rights. I can see the will of Syrians to return home once the return begins” he said, adding that the “UN policy is to forbid the return while the Lebanese policy is to encourage the return.” On Friday, Bassil ordered a freeze on the renewal of residency permits for the staff of the United Nations refugee agency, saying it is not encouraging Syrian refugees to return home. For his part, Hujeiri said the town has been hosting Syrian refugees for 7 years. He stressed saying “the decision to return is the refugees’ alone,” adding that the “municipality is taking a neutral position and respects the decision they see suitable.”

Hariri Asks Putin to Help in Returning Refugees to Syria

Agence France Presse/Naharnet/June 13/18/Prime Minister-designate Saad Hariri held talks Wednesday at the Kremlin with Russian President Vladimir Putin. “The one-hour meeting tackled the various developments in Lebanon and the region and the ties between the two countries,” Hariri's office said. The meeting was also attended by Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov. Putin, for his part, said: “We must continue to enhance commercial exchange between the two countries, especially that there is an inadequacy in this regard, so we must exert efforts to strengthen exchange.” “We must also intensify the works of the joint governmental committee, and in the framework of this committee, there are Russian firms that are working actively and there are intensified efforts in other fields,” Putin added. Hariri acknowledged that the Lebanese-Russian economic ties are below the required level while citing “some progress.”“We will achieve a bigger progress, especially with the new government,” he added. Speaking to reporters after the meeting, the PM-designate said he and the Russian leader extensively discussed the issue of Syrian refugees, their return to Syria and whether Russia can help in this regard. Hariri's meeting with Putin comes on the eve of the FIFA World Cup that Russia is hosting. Hariri will attend the football tournament's inaugural match on Thursday, pitting Russia against his longtime backer, Saudi Arabia. Riyadh has been a key ally of Hariri for years, but the relationship appeared to falter in late 2017 when Hariri announced his surprise resignation during a trip to the kingdom. He subsequently rescinded the decision and in May was appointed for a new term as prime minister following parliamentary elections. He is now in talks to form a coalition government. Hariri, 48, had met Putin in the Russian Black Sea resort of Sochi in September 2017.

Geagea Says Bassil Attacking LF for Impeding 'Power Ships Deal'
Naharnet/June 13/18/Lebanese Forces leader Samir Geagea has lashed out at Free Patriotic Movement chief MP Jebran Bassil, saying the latter is “attacking” the LF's ministers in connection with their role in blocking what he called the “power ships deal.”“If you want to know the motive behind Bassil's attack on the LF's ministers, from health to social affairs, look for the power ships deal. The more we stand our ground in the face of the shady deal, the more the campaigns against us increase,” Geagea said in an interview with al-Markazia news agency. “Amid his impotence in addressing the refugee file, and the procrastination of the defense, interior and foreign affairs ministries, he is throwing the entire crisis at the Social Affairs Ministry, whose jurisdiction in this regard is limited to following on the refugees' social situations exclusively,” the LF leader added. He noted that returning the refugees to Syria requires a “sovereign Lebanese decision.”“It should task the competent ministries with the implementation,” Geagea added, noting that Bassil should talk to Turkey and Jordan on the issue of returning anti-regime refugees to northern and southern Syria. “What has he done in this regard? Nothing other than exploiting such a dangerous file to attack the Social Affairs Ministry and divert attention from his negligence,” the LF leader went on to say. He however noted that the LF's communication will continue with President Michel Aoun, Prime Minister-designate Saad Hariri and “even Bassil.”“The relation between the LF and the FPM is bigger than persons and individuals and no one has the right to manipulate it for personal gains. We are exerting utmost efforts to distance this relation from bickering,” Geagea added.

Report: Investigation Reveals 40 ‘Non-Eligible’ Individuals for Lebanese Nationality
Naharnet/June 13/18/The names of 40 individuals included in a controversial naturalization decree have been proven “unqualified to be granted the Lebanese nationality,” MTV channel said on Wednesday. The channel said that General Security chief, Maj. Gen.Abbas Ibrahim --tasked by the President with verifying the names included in the edict all have the right to become Lebanese-- “is expected to submit his report to President Michel Aoun in the next 48 hours.”The channel said the”report included the names of 40 individuals that have been proven to have behavioral and judicial violations that prevent them from acquiring Lebanese nationality.”On Thursday, the names of hundreds of people were revealed including an Iraqi vice-president to receive Lebanese nationality under a controversial presidential decree. The interior ministry published the list after reports of the May 11 decree emerged a week earlier and the names of wealthy Syrians close to the Damascus regime were leaked to the media. Critics slammed the secrecy of the decree in a country where thousands of people born to Lebanese mothers but foreign fathers remain unable to acquire citizenship.The list published on the ministry's website comprised more than 400 names of various nationalities, including a quarter of Syrians and just over a quarter of Palestinians. Its most notable include one of Iraq's two vice-presidents, Iyad Allawi, who is also British and whose mother was Lebanese, as well as his wife and three children. From Syria, those on the list include the three sons of Syrian steel and flour mogul Farouq Joud, powerful industrialist Khaldun al-Zoabi and Mazen Mortada, the son of a former Syrian minister. Under Lebanese law, foreign businessmen are not permitted to invest in Lebanon without local partners. Foreigners can only be naturalised by presidential decree, signed by the prime minister and interior minister. Naturalisation is controversial in the tiny Mediterranean state, where power is shared according to religious parity. Fears of upsetting that fragile demographic balance are often cited as the reason Lebanese women cannot pass their nationality onto children born to foreign fathers.

General Security Finalizing Report on Naturalization Decree 13/18/General Security chief Abbas Ibrahim is finalizing the report that he is supposed to submit to President Michel Aoun regarding the naturalization decree which has sparked a controversy over the past month, MTV reported on Wednesday. Ibrahim was tasked with vetting the names included on the decree after media reports and several politicians had cast doubt over the background of certain people who were deemed as "suspicious". Ibrahim will be submitting the report to President Aoun within the next 48 hours.According to MTV, the report includes the names of around 40 individuals who were proven to have legal and judicial violations that prevent them from acquiring the Lebanese nationality.

Hankache Says Kataeb Was First to Propose Solution to Refugee Crisis 13/18/Kataeb MP Elias Hankache Wednesday stressed that the call to coordinate the refugees return with the Syrian regime does not change the party's stance towards it, adding that this call has to do with pragmatism and the current political status quo. In remarks published in Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper, Hankache reminded that Kataeb leader Samy Gemayel had called for Russia-brokered talks with the Syrian regime so as to address the refugees' return. "It was the Kataeb party the one that called for establishing camps at the border, but our proposal was rejected under the pretext that this would replicate the same scenario with the Palestinian refugees," he said. On Tuesday, MP Nadim Gemayel said that the only option left is to coordinate this issue with the Syrian government, affirming that this does not change the Kataeb's position. "If we have to choose between keeping the refugees in Lebanon and establishing contacts with the Syrian regime, then we support the second option if it is the only way to return the Syrians back to their country," Gemayel said.

Can This Man Alter Lebanon's Political Landscape?
Bilal Y. Saab/The National Interest/ 13/18
The results of Lebanon’s free and fair parliamentary elections in May suggest that Lebanese society seems uninterested in pushing for real political change and maybe rocking the boat at a time of increasing regional turmoil.
But one political party—the Kataeb—was quite vocal about its desire to break with the status quo. That it secured only three seats (down from five in the previous parliament) might indicate that its opposition to the way things are run in Lebanon is irrelevant, but that assessment would be shortsighted.
The story of the Kataeb matters for three reasons: First, the party has been part and parcel of the Lebanese system since the country’s independence. So its decision to rebel against the establishment is intriguing and potentially significant. Second, the party may not have the size or political influence to reform Lebanese politics, but it can be an effective popular vehicle through which change could take place. Third, the party’s message of reform resonates well among the country’s youths, and while they do not represent a political force today, they most likely will in future electoral contests.
To better understand why the Kataeb has apparently transformed and whether it can ultimately succeed in its quest for political change, one has to take a good look at its current young leader, Sami Gemayel. Unlike past Kataeb leaders, Sami’s political maturity did not form during the Lebanese civil war (1975–1990). For example, when pro-Syrian Druze forces notoriously carried out a siege of Deir al-Qamar, a Christian town in the Shuf Mountains in which twenty thousand Lebanese Christians took refuge, Sami was a toddler. When rival Christian forces fought viciously in 1990 following the signing of the Taef Accord, Sami was in the fifth grade.
However, like many of his generation, Sami was not immune to the war’s horrors, as it influenced his political career and agenda years later. When he was two-years-old, his uncle Bashir, perhaps the most charismatic yet polarizing figure in Lebanon’s modern history, was killed by the Syrians for collaborating with Israel, whose troops had invaded Lebanon in 1982 to uproot the Palestine Liberation Organization and sought to make Bashir president. At the age of eight, Sami’s father, Amin, was forced into exile in part by the Syrians when his term as Lebanese president expired in 1988. He returned twelve years later, though politically marginalized by a Lebanese police state dominated by Damascus. Then in 2006, Sami lost his older brother Pierre, a key figure in the Kataeb and leading anti-Syrian cabinet minister, in an assassination many suspect was perpetrated by the same people who killed his uncle and intimidated his father. Even though it was Syria that tormented the Gemayel family (and anyone else who opposed its rule) for decades, Sami felt more betrayed by a Lebanese system that failed to protect its own public servants. He created distance from what he saw as corrupt Lebanese politicians, even from fellow Christian parties whom he has accused of accommodating, in one way or another, the policies of Hezbollah, Iran’s main ally in Lebanon. Sami’s desire to rise above the fray has earned him much scorn and ridicule by a skeptical Lebanese media and political class, but it didn’t seem to bother him or lessen his determination. To his credit, he walked the walk during the elections by refusing to ally the Kataeb with any other status quo party. The only exception was his entente with the Lebanese Forces in the districts of Batroun, Ashrafieh and Zahleh, although it was an uneasy one, mainly pushed by Nadim Gemayel, his younger cousin and son of Bashir, who still has affinity for the party that served as the Kataeb’s military wing during the civil war and was formed by his murdered father.
But with a new electoral law that required parties to form alliances in order to win, Sami’s decision to essentially run solo cost the Kataeb greater political representation. It’s possible that political pragmatism, rather than idealism, drove Sami to avoid political alliances. After all, the Kataeb’s size and influence had diminished greatly, which didn’t make it an attractive electoral partner. So perhaps anticipating that he might get snubbed by others, Sami chose to side with civil society instead. But that’s not a very convincing explanation because the other parties didn’t shut the door to an electoral alliance with the Kataeb. It was Sami who didn’t even try to reach electoral understandings with others, which might suggest that his political shift is more sincere. Further proof of this is that Sami focused his entire electoral campaign on social, economic and environmental issues that affect every Lebanese household. Of course, all politicians make grandiose promises and often lie when it’s time to vote, but there was something heartfelt about Sami’s many rallies and speeches.
By leading a cross-sectarian and almost apolitical agenda, he sought to win the hearts and minds of a broader swath of Lebanese society. He bet on civil society, but civil society turned him down because it was too small, disorganized and incoherent. But what hurt Sami the most was his failure to capture the hopes and fears of the one community that should have mattered to him the most: the Christians.
It’s true that Lebanese Christians, like all others in the country, long for economic opportunity and better public administration, but they also have distinct existential concerns caused by ISIS’s war against minorities in the Middle East and a Syrian conflict that has brought more than one million Muslim refugees to Lebanon (in addition to the hundreds of thousands of Palestinians that already live in the country). Samir Geagea’s Lebanese Forces and Michel Aoun’s Free Patriotic Movement spoke to those concerns in ways Sami either couldn’t or didn’t want to.
The Kataeb is currently conducting a review of what went wrong in the elections, although it’s evident that this was not merely an electoral failure but rather a political crisis. What happens next? Sami has two choices, and each has pros and cons. He could truly break with the feudal past of the Kataeb and create a new party in his own image, consistent with his pluralist and reformist vision. Or he could make tactical fixes and avoid a potentially destabilizing soul-searching exercise.
The first choice is radical and likely to alienate the old guard in the party. But Sami would be able to woo supporters from outside party ranks who are desperate for political change in the country. The second choice is more pragmatic and limits internal dissent. But it’s gradual and might not be sufficient to terminate the sclerosis that has ailed the party for years. Also, it won’t be able to attract many external supporters. Sami appears to favor the first path, as evidenced by the current composition of his party’s political bureau, which includes figures who don’t have much experience in the Kataeb’s history. If that’s the case, kudos to him for prioritizing political change and essentially realizing that for the Kataeb to live, it has to die first.

Latest LCCC Bulletin For Miscellaneous Reports And News published on June 13-14/18
Freeland calls tariffs 'absurd' after meeting U.S. Senate committee
The Canadian Press The Canadian/June 13/18
WASHINGTON — Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland is in the heart of the U.S. Capitol, where she's denouncing the Trump administration's steel and aluminum tariffs as illegal and absurd. Freeland reiterated Canada's opposition to the tariffs after a meeting this afternoon with the influential U.S. Senate foreign relations committee in Washington.She's the first Canadian politician to set foot in Washington following the Trump administration's personal attacks on Justin Trudeau this past weekend at the end of the G7 summit. The minister stayed above the fray on those attacks, but she did not hesitate to repeat Canada's opposition in the bluntest of terms — in particular the use of Section 232 of U.S. trade law to justify the action on national security grounds. "The Section 232 action — which is, let me remind people, a national security consideration — is frankly absurd," the minister said.
"The notion that Canadian steel and aluminum could pose a national security threat to the United States — I think Americans understand it's simply not the case. That action is also illegal under the WTO and NAFTA rules." Freeland has widespread support in that view from a majority of U.S. senators, said the committee's Republican chair, Sen. Bob Corker. "I do think it's an abuse of presidential authority to use the 232 waiver, and I've tried to pass a piece of legislation on the floor to counter that," Corker said after the meeting with Freeland. Corker is trying to gather support for legislation that would give U.S. Congress, not the president, the authority to impose tariffs under the national security clause of U.S. trade law. Corker isn't seeking re-election in this fall's U.S. midterm elections, and has railed against his fellow senators who are headed to the polls and worried about their electoral success for not standing up to Trump publicly. Corker said there wasn't any question that Trump has damaged relations with Canada, but he hoped cooler heads would prevail. Canada and its allies plan to impose retaliatory action by the end of the month on a broad range of consumer goods. The government has proposed $16.6-billion tariff package, in retaliation for the Trump administration's decision to impose 25 per cent import duties on steel and 10 per cent on aluminum. Freeland said Canada was responding in "sorry rather than anger" but that the government would respond dollar-for-dollar to the U.S. tariffs. "Canada is not a country that we have trade issues with," Corker said. Trudeau incurred Trump's Twitter wrath when he reiterated Canada's opposition to the tariffs at the end of the G7 summit in Quebec on the weekend. Freeland is expected to give a major foreign policy speech later Wednesday. On Thursday, Freeland is expected to meet U.S. trade czar Robert Lighthizer in an effort to keep the renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement on the rails. Canada and the U.S. appear to be at an impasse over Trump's insistence on a five-year sunset clause, something Trudeau himself said this past weekend was a non-starter.
Trump Says Summit Ended N. Korea Nuclear Threat
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/June 13/18/U.S. President Donald Trump arrived home Wednesday, insisting his historic summit with Kim Jong Un had ended North Korea's nuclear threat and the world could sleep safer. "There is no longer a Nuclear Threat from North Korea," Trump tweeted as Air Force One returned from Singapore. North Korean state TV, for its part, hailed Kim for "opening a new chapter" in relations with the US. Official media reported that Trump had accepted an invitation during Tuesday's summit to visit the North. Critics have said the unprecedented encounter was more style than substance, producing a document short on details about the key issue of Pyongyang's atomic weapons. But in characteristically bullish tweets, Trump said everyone "can now feel much safer than the day I took office" and people could "sleep well tonight!"
The first-ever meeting between sitting leaders of the two Cold War foes meant "the World has taken a big step back from potential Nuclear catastrophe!" he said in an earlier message. "No more rocket launches, nuclear testing or research! The hostages are back home with their families. Thank you to Chairman Kim, our day together was historic!" In their joint statement Kim agreed to the "complete denuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula" -- a stock phrase favoured by Pyongyang that stopped short of longstanding U.S. demands for North Korea to give up its atomic arsenal in a "verifiable" and "irreversible" way. The North's official KCNA news agency described the summit as an "epoch-making meeting" that would help foster "a radical switchover in the most hostile (North Korea)-U.S. relations."It said the two men "gladly accepted" mutual invitations to visit each other's countries.
KCNA also asserted Trump had "expressed his intention" to lift sanctions against the North -- something the US president had told a blockbuster press conference would happen "when we are sure that the nukes are no longer a factor.""The sanctions right now remain," he added.
With the headline: "Meeting of the century opens new history in DPRK-U.S. relations", the North's ruling Workers Party official daily Rodong Sinmun splashed no fewer than 33 pictures across four of its usual six pages. ne showed a smiling Kim shaking hands with Trump's hawkish National Security Advisor John Bolton, who has previously advocated military action against the North, which in turn has referred to him as "human scum". In Pyongyang, commuters crowded round the spread of images -- the first they had seen of the summit, for most of them. U Sung Tak, 79, said the future was looking "bright" because Kim was "leading the world's political trend on the Korean peninsula, steering the wheel of history".Ordinary North Koreans consistently voice unequivocal support for the leadership when speaking to foreign media.
'War games'
Pyongyang has reason to feel confident after the meeting, where the leader of the world's most powerful democracy shook hands with the third generation of a dynastic dictatorship, standing as equals in front of their nations' flags. The spectacle was a major coup for an isolated and heavily sanctioned regime that has long craved international legitimacy. "Kim Jong Un got what he wanted at the Singapore Summit: the international prestige and respect of a one-on-one meeting with the American president, the legitimacy of North Korean flags hanging next to American flags in the background," said Paul Haenle, director of the Carnegie-Tsinghua Center. In his post-summit press conference, Trump made the surprise announcement that the U.S. would halt joint military exercises with its security ally Seoul -- something long sought by Pyongyang, which claims the drills are a rehearsal for invasion. The U.S. stations 28,500 troops in security ally South Korea to protect it from its neighbour, which invaded in 1950 to try to reunify the peninsula by force. "We will be stopping the war games which will save us a tremendous amount of money," Trump told reporters, adding that "at some point" he wanted to withdraw U.S. troops from the South. Both Seoul and U.S. military commanders in the South indicated they had no idea the announcement was coming. Japan's Defence Minister Itsunori Onodera pointedly said the drills played a "vital role in East Asia's security".
Smiles and handshakes
Only a few months ago, Kim and Trump were swapping personal insults such as "dotard" and "little rocket man" and the North conducted its sixth and most powerful nuclear test, as well as firing missiles over Japan. Trump vowed to rain down "fire and fury" on Pyongyang if it threatened the U.S. but instead in Singapore it was compliments that flowed, as the president described Kim as "talented" and said they had forged a "special bond." After a day filled with smiles and handshakes watched around the world, the U.S. "committed to provide security guarantees" to North Korea.
The Kremlin welcomed the summit as the start of direct dialogue and said such meetings "help reduce tensions on the peninsula."Victor Cha, a former U.S. pointman on North Korea, said in an opinion piece in the New York Times: "Despite its many flaws, the Singapore summit represents the start of a diplomatic process that takes us away from the brink of war."But critics charged the summit legitimised Kim, whose regime has been accused of multiple human rights abuses, and said the summit was more about headlines than substantive progress. "It was a great photo-op. But the substance needs to be followed up," Akira Kawasaki, from the ICAN anti-nuclear group told AFP.
Sadr-Amiri Alliance Shuffles Papers in Iraq
Baghdad- Asharq Al Awsat/Wednesday, 13 June, 2018/In a surprising move that could shuffle political papers, Iraq's two Shi’ite leaders Muqtada al-Sadr and Hadi al-Amiri announced on Tuesday a political alliance between their blocs, the Sairoon Alliance and the Fateh (Conquest) Coalition. Sadr and Amiri had won first and second place respectively in Iraq’s May parliamentary election. “Our meeting was a very positive one, we met to end the suffering of this nation and of the people. Our new alliance is a nationalist one,” Sadr said. The latest development came amid an Iranian move led by the head of Iran's elite fighting Quds Force, Qassem Soleimani, on the line of “containing the crisis of the ballot boxes.”Soleimani had kicked off moves to arrange the ranks of Tehran’s allies ahead of forming the biggest parliamentary bloc in Iraq which would be responsible for lining up the new government. In parallel with the moves of Soleimani, who carries the mission of an official military advisor to Iraq, Washington was interested to follow up on the political situation in Baghdad, where US Ambassador Douglas Silliman was seen holding meetings with political blocs to assess the latest developments. An Iraqi politician and academic told Asharq Al-Awsat on Tuesday the Iranian general’s meetings with Iraqi officials were still in the framework of the Shi’ite house. “Soleimani is trying to rearrange and restore all disputes that emerged between the top Shi’ite leadership,” he said, adding that Iranian efforts to form the “biggest parliamentary bloc in Iraq” have witnessed several difficulties. Meanwhile, Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi said on Tuesday that he was against repeating the elections, leaving the issue in the hands of the Judiciary. “The matter is exclusively in the hands of the judiciary, not politicians. The government and parliament don’t have the power to cancel the election,” he said. Two days ago, a fire tore through one of the Iraqi electoral commission’s storehouses in Baghdad’ Rasafa area where ballots cast in the May 12 election were being held. The PM called the fire a deliberate act.

Russian-Iranian Dispute, Preparation for Settlement in Syria
Moscow – Raed Jaber/Asharq Al Awsat/Wednesday, 13 June, 2018/Russian media was preoccupied last week following the recent gap between Russia and Iran in Syria, on the backdrop of the understandings reached between Moscow and Tel Aviv regarding the necessity of Iran and its militias to withdraw from the south of Syria. As Russia attempts to reach a final settlement in Syria, some contradictions appeared in the Iranian priorities. The Russian statements regarding the file were accompanied with field movements, including reinforcing the presence of Russian military police in Ghouta and some towns in the Syrian capital, not to mention the manometer conducted by Moscow in Al-Qusayr. Russian experts considered that the aim of these movements was to send messages to the regime and Iran that Moscow is serious in its suggestion of the necessity of offering clear compensations by the regime and Iran to launch the settlement. In the same context, the media published reports about the fact that the relation has deteriorated – according to the reports, two high-rank officials in the regional coalition that supports Syria have affirmed that the Russian forces' presence in Syria near the Lebanese border this week led to tension with the pro-Iranian forces including “Hezbollah” that has objected over the uncoordinated move. Business New Europe said in an article under the title “Russia and Iran: Friends and Silent Foes” written by Emil Avdaliani that, “... real differences between war-time allies start to emerge only after the main hostilities are over. Iran has almost solidified its land reach to the Mediterranean via Syria and Moscow could well be worried that a strong Iran would be less susceptible to following the Russian lead. Russia’s eventual level of willingness to listen to Israel when it comes to containing Iran in Syria could well attune to its own objectives.”Amid these movements, Russian experts see that Moscow hasn’t reached a final decision to face the Iranian presence in Syria and that the talks about the south and the agreements with Tel Aviv have reflected a Russian wish to launch a comprehensive dialogue. The Russian source told Asharq Al-Awsat that Moscow senses that Iran would be more flexible to talk about reducing and not ending the presence in Syria, but the price in return hasn’t been put on the dialogue table yet.

Second Demonstration in Ramallah Against 'Sanctions'

Ramallah- Kifah ZbounAsharq Al Awsat/Wednesday, 13 June, 2018/Palestinians protested for the second time in two days in Ramallah, demanding the cancellation of all punitive measures taken by the Palestinian Authority against the Gaza Strip, and the full payment of salaries of employees in the sector. Dozens of demonstrators, unified within a movement called “Lifting the Sanctions”, shouted against the sanctions and raised slogans, including “one people, one concern, one enemy.”The movement vowed to continue their protests in Ramallah and extend them to the West Bank to force the Palestinian government to abolish the measures.A third demonstration is expected to take place in the city on Wednesday “as part of a series of moves to demand the lifting of the unjust sanctions imposed by the Palestinian Authority on Gaza, which aims to subjugate the Palestinian people and break their steadfastness,” according to a statement issued by the movement. Demonstrations put more pressure on Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Prime Minister Rami al-Hamdallah to reverse previous decisions taken against Gaza, including the transfer of thousands of civil and military employees to compulsory retirement, and the cutting of employees’ salaries by half for the second consecutive month. While the Palestinian security services did not interfere or try to prevent the demonstrations, the government pledged to protect freedom of opinion, demanding at the same time the prioritization of unity and national interest and the rejection of “campaigns of intimidation, defamation, incitement and distortion of facts.”In its first reaction to the demonstrations, the Palestinian government issued a statement denouncing attempts to mislead the public opinion and to divert the attention from the party that is responsible for the suffering of Gaza residents. The government refuses “to deny the responsibility of the occupation for the suffering of our people in the Gaza Strip after 11 years of siege.”It also rejected the acquittal of the “black coup” carried out by Hamas, which has imposed heavy burdens on citizens. The government explained that the salary reductions, promoted as sanctions imposed on the Gaza Strip, were only “temporary,” stressing its commitment to its “national and legal responsibility towards our people in the Gaza Strip.”

80% of Gaza Strip Population Depends on Aid

Gaza- Asharq Al Awsat/Wednesday, 13 June, 2018/The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) confirmed international and human rights reports that spoke of an unprecedented humanitarian crisis in the Gaza Strip. The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) reported that 80 percent of the population of the Gaza Strip was now dependent on humanitarian assistance provided by various international organizations and observed a significant increase in overall unemployment levels in Gaza to more than 49.1 percent.
The UN Bulletin noted that Israel continued to refuse to approve more than 42 percent of Palestinian patients’ requests from Gaza for treatment in its hospitals or in the West Bank, adding that it has approved 58 percent of such requests in the first quarter of 2018. The UN Office accused Israel of violating international law by imposing severe restrictions on the movement of people and goods and continuing to inflict collective punishment on the population. According to the bulletin, residents of the Gaza Strip face an electricity cutout rate of up to 20 hours per day and receive a very low water rate. It added that the Gaza Strip “faces a worsening humanitarian crisis” in light of the “continued land, sea and air blockade imposed by Israel for the twelfth consecutive year, along with the Palestinian division and the restrictions imposed by the Egyptian authorities at the Rafah crossing, which is the main cause of the deterioration of the humanitarian, social and economic conditions in Gaza, which is overcrowded with 2 million people.”The UN Office underlined the urgent need for intervention by the international community to find a solution that would end the humanitarian crisis in the sector, highlighting the importance of programs aimed at supporting Palestinian refugees, in light of the financial crisis after the halting of US aid.

Sisi Calls for Political Settlement to Preserve Unity of Syrian Territories

Cairo- Asharq Al Awsat/Wednesday, 13 June, 2018/Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi underlined his country’s continued efforts to stop the deterioration of the situation in Syria and to preserve the capabilities of the Syrian people, based on its steadfast stance towards the crisis.
Sisi stressed the need to reach a political settlement that would preserve the unity of the Syrian territories and the State entity and institutions and eradicate terrorist organizations. The president's comments came during his meeting on Tuesday with UN Special Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura, in the presence of Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry, Acting Chief of Egyptian General Intelligence Abbas Kamel and Ramzi Ezzeddine Ramzi, Deputy Special Envoy of the United Nations. Ambassador Bassam Radi, spokesman for the Egyptian presidency, said in a statement that the president called on the international community to work towards reaching a comprehensive and lasting solution to the Syrian crisis, stressing Egypt’s support for the efforts of the UN envoy. The spokesman quoted Sisi as saying that Egypt would spare no effort to support the Syrian people, stop their suffering and meet their aspirations to restore security and stability in their country. According to Radi, the UN envoy reviewed latest developments in Syria and the efforts of the United Nations to reach a political settlement, warning that the continuation of the crisis represented a serious threat to regional and international security and led to catastrophic humanitarian consequences. De Mistura also emphasized the importance of Egypt’s role in the Middle East as one of the pillars of stability in the region, adding that he was looking forward to increasing coordination and consultation with the country in the coming period to work to break the deadlock, according to Radi’s statement.

Armed Forces Kill 10 Terrorists in Central Mali

Asharq Al-Awsat/Wednesday, 13 June, 2018/Ten extremists have been "neutralized" in troubled central Mali after clashes with the military, Defense Minister Tiena Coulibaly said in a statement. The Malian military "neutralized 10 terrorists, recovered weapons, explosive devices and other war materials," after fighting in Karakinde in the Mopti region, Coulibaly said on Tuesday. He asked locals "to continue backing defense and security forces in the fight against terrorism in all its forms". The Malian army has recently regularly spoken about the "neutralization of terrorists" in the region but rights groups have raised the alarm saying they were extra-judicial killings. Resident Ousmane Diallo says gunmen on Tuesday entered Bani village and fired into the air, causing panic before they headed for the prefecture, the local symbol of government. No group has claimed responsibility for the attack. Al-Qaeda-linked extremist groups have escalated attacks in the region, targeting Malian soldiers and administrative buildings. On May 19, the army said three Malian soldiers and 12 "terrorists" were killed in fighting at an army camp near the border with Burkina Faso. But locals alleged the dead were all civilians and the army later put out a new statement that spoke of 12 "people" killed. Tensions and violence have intensified in the troubled area over the past three years with clashes between Fulani herdsmen and farmers from the Bambara and Dogon ethnic groups who accuse the pastoralists of colluding with militants. Extremists linked to al-Qaeda took control of the desert north of Mali in early 2012, but were largely driven out in a French-led military operation launched in January 2013.

Germany: Police Raid Homes Looking for Human Traffickers

Asharq Al-Awsat/Wednesday, 13 June, 2018/Germany is witnessing raids by hundreds of federal police who are searching for those in connection with illegal human trafficking networks. The massive raids are targeting traffickers who are bringing people from India and Pakistan by arranging fake marriages for them in Berlin, DPA reported. Prosecutors said the raids started early Wednesday and homes in the eastern cities of Leipzig, Eilenburg and Hettstedt and other towns have been searched, according to AP. No further details were released by the police on the matter. Last month, Reuters reported officials saying the German police have raided flats in Berlin and Brandenburg and arrested suspects of being members of a gang smuggling Vietnamese people into Germany. Also back in April, the German police raided sites across Germany in another crackdown on human trafficking and forced prostitution. The federal police said on Twitter that "the raid, which also involved Germany's GSG9 special operations police unit, represented the biggest mass search in the history of the federal police."

Sarraj Warns Against Intentions to Use Libyan Assets in UK

Cairo - Khaled Mahmoud/Asharq Al-Awsat/Wednesday, 13 June, 2018/Fayez al-Sarraj, head of the UN-backed government in Tripoli, slammed British attempts to lay hands over the Libyan assets in UK banks, frozen since the era of former Libyan President Muammar Gaddafi. The Security Council renewed Monday the embargo imposed since seven years on arming the Libyan army for an additional year. In a statement issued Monday, Sarraj rejected the intention of the House of Commons of the United Kingdom to vote over a decision to compensate victims of attacks conducted by the Irish Republican Army through making use of the Libyan frozen assets in UK, knowing that Gaddafi regime is accused of backing the Irish Republican army in the past century. Sarraj didn’t reveal the source of his information but he expressed rejection of any attempt against the country’s assets, noting that the decision to freeze the Libyan assets is an international decision and is therefore binding for any related country, including the UK. He described this step as dangerous, stating that it violates the international law and the Libyan sovereignty – it is an unprecedented step that might be exploited by others for attempts against assets of other countries in the future. Sarraj, who is following up on the matter closely, threatened that he will resort to all possible legal and diplomatic ways to confront this decision. Reliable Libyan sources told Asharq Al-Awsat that Field Marshal Khalifa Belqasim Haftar is willing to deliver a speech in the coming days in which he officially announces recapturing Darnah, the last stronghold of extremist groups in east Libya. “The LNA is currently controlling most of the city, but there are still pockets of resistance,” its spokesman General Ahmed Al-Mesmari said. “What remains outside the control of our forces is considered a small combat zone,” Al-Mesmari noted, stressing that “the operations are in their final stages and the fighting is very heavy.”

Italy, France Tensions Spiral over Rejected Migrant Ship
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/June 13/18/Italy postponed high-level talks with France on Wednesday after Paris branded Rome irresponsible for refusing to take in a migrant rescue ship.Italy's new economy minister postponed a meeting with his French counterpart in Paris as their countries traded barbs over the treatment of more than 600 migrants rescued off the Libyan coast at the weekend. The migrants were stranded on the Aquarius vessel until Spain said the ship could land at its port of Valencia. It is expected to arrive there later this week. French President Emmanuel Macron accused Italy's new populist government of "cynicism and irresponsibility" for closing its ports to the 629 migrants. Rome called his comments "unacceptable" and summoned France's ambassador on Wednesday. "Such statements are undermining relations between Italy and France," Italy's foreign ministry said in a statement. Macron later appealed for the two sides not to "give in to emotions that certain people are manipulating."In a speech in the western French town of Mouchamps, he insisted that France was "working hand in hand with Italy" to handle migration.
Italy demands apology
Italy's far-right Interior Minister Matteo Salvini had suggested that a planned meeting between the leaders of the two countries should be canceled if France did not issue an "official apology."Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte and Macron are due to hold talks on Friday ahead of a European summit focusing on migration. "If an official apology doesn't arrive, Prime Minister Conte would be right not to go to France," Salvini told reporters. A French presidential source said the country had not received any formal demand from Italy for an apology. Italy's new Economy Minister Giovanni Tria said he was canceling a meeting with his French counterpart Bruno le Maire in Paris. The French economy ministry later said the ministers had "agreed that Mr Tria will come to Paris in the coming days."
'Axis of the willing
European Union member states are divided over how to deal with asylum seekers.
Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz on Wednesday hailed cooperation between the hardline interior ministers of Austria, Germany and Italy on the issue. "I think it marks very sensible cooperation that will contribute to reducing illegal migration to Europe," said Kurz, whose country assumes the EU's rotating presidency on July 1. "We believe an axis of the willing is needed to fight illegal migration."EU leaders in December set an end-June deadline for an overhaul of rules to create a permanent mechanism to deal with migrants. The International Organization for Migration on Tuesday warned against the closing of EU borders. "I fear a major tragedy if states start refusing to accept rescued migrants," its director general William Lacy Swing said.
'A sign of generosity'
Salvini has repeatedly accused fellow EU members of abandoning Italy as it struggles to cope with migrants making the perilous journey from Africa across the Mediterranean. The country has seen more than 700,000 migrants arrive on its shores since 2013. Under EU rules, migrants must apply for asylum in the European nation where they first arrive. Speaking to the Senate Wednesday, Salvini accused France of only receiving 640 of the 9,816 migrants it had promised to take from Italy. He said that between January and May, France had sent 10,249 migrants back to Italy. He demanded that France move from "words to action and offer a sign of generosity" by taking more in. Salvini has accused charities that rescue migrants of working with human traffickers but said Italy would not stop rescuing migrant boats itself. An Italian coastguard ship carrying more than 900 migrants was allowed to dock in Sicily on Wednesday. "Closing ports, whoever does it, threatens rescue at sea, as we have seen in the case of the Aquarius, and therefore is not the right solution," U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi told reporters in Geneva. But he stressed that "the reason why Italy said it had closed ports is something we need to listen to."

Yemen Forces Launch Major Assault on Hodeida Port City
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/June 13/18/Yemeni forces backed by a Saudi-led coalition launched a major offensive on Wednesday to retake the rebel-held port city of Hodeida, despite U.N. warnings of a "catastrophic humanitarian impact."Field commanders told AFP that troops pushed towards Hodeida airport after Yemeni pro-government forces received a "green light" from the coalition. The offensive is controversial because the port serves as the entry point for 70 percent of Yemen's imports as the country teeters on the brink of famine. The coalition accuses the Huthi rebels of using the port to secure Iranian arms, notably the ballistic missiles the militants have increasingly fired into Saudi territory. Coalition sources said the alliance carried out 18 air strikes on Huthi positions on the outskirts of Hodeida on Wednesday. According to medical sources in the province, 22 Huthi fighters were killed by coalition raids, while three pro-government fighters were killed in a rebel ambush south of Hodeida. The port city, home to 600,000 people, was captured by the Iran-backed insurgents in 2014 along with the capital Sanaa. Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and a bloc of other countries intervened in Yemen the following year with the goal of restoring the government to power. Yemen's government said on Tuesday that negotiations had failed to force the rebels from Hodeida, and that a grace period for U.N.-led peace efforts was over. "All peaceful and political means of removing the Huthi militia from Hodeida port have been exhausted," the government said in a statement carried by Yemen's state news agency Saba. The United Nations on Monday withdrew its international staff from Hodeida, saying an attack would "impact hundreds of thousands of innocent civilians." The U.N. has warned that the likely "catastrophic humanitarian impact" would be worsened due to Hodeida's key role as an entry point for aid and commercial goods. "Cutting off imports through Hodeida for any length of time will put Yemen's population at extreme, unjustifiable risk," Lise Grande, U.N. humanitarian coordinator for Yemen, said.
A new reality
The UAE, a pillar of the anti-Huthi coalition, says retaking Hodeida is necessary to force the rebels to make concessions. "The current & illegal Huthi occupation of Hodeida is prolonging the Yemeni war. The liberation of the city & port will create a new reality & bring the Huthis to the negotiations," Emirati State Minister for Foreign Affairs Anwar Gargash tweeted Tuesday. Ahead of the offensive, the UAE sought to project unity with the Yemeni government after months of strained relations -- most recently over its military activities on the Yemeni island of Socotra. Yemeni President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi held rare talks in Abu Dhabi on Tuesday night with Emirati Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed. "Our destiny and that of Yemen will continue to be one, and our shared pain and bloodshed will draw us closer," the UAE strongman told Hadi, Yemen's state news agency Saba reported. Hadi, who lives in exile in Riyadh, was also seeking to repair relations with Abu Dhabi, which has sidelined him over the past year by backing rival forces. "In the meeting, President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi hailed the positions of the UAE leadership ... in defending a common destiny," Saba said. Yemeni forces massing around Hodeida are a mix of local fighters, those loyal to President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi, and supporters of the ex-head of state, Ali Abdullah Saleh. They are backed on the ground by the UAE, while Saudi Arabia has been leading a campaign of air strikes. Analysts say anti-rebel forces are determined to drive the Huthis from the key port, having failed to score any major victories since the first year of the war.
Children in the crossfire
The U.N. Children's Fund (UNICEF) has raised alarm over the plight of Hodeida's 300,000 children and the risk that drinking water supplies will be disrupted. "UNICEF has pre-prepositioned supplies in Hodeida: over 20,000 basic hygiene kits (one kit per family). 40,000 additional kits are in the pipeline. We hope we don't need to use them," UNICEF Yemen representative Meritxell Relano said on her Twitter account. The Huthi leadership on Tuesday called on the international community to "pressure a halt to the escalation", warning an assault on Hodeida would put Red Sea navigation at risk. Saudi Arabia's ambassador in Washington Khaled bin Salman also on Tuesday said the retaking of Hodeida was critical, tweeting that the Iran-backed rebels posed a "growing threat" to maritime security. On Wednesday, the Huthis said they targeted a coalition warship off the coast of Hodeida with two missiles, with rebel outlet Al-Masirah claiming a direct hit.

Latest LCCC Bulletin analysis & editorials from miscellaneous sources published on June 13-14/18
The "Trump Doctrine" for the Middle East
عقيدة ترامب للشرق الأوسط
Guy Millière/Gatestone Institute/Wednesday, 13 June, 2018/
Trump has shown the strength of the United States and restored its credibility in a region where strength and force determine credibility.
Trump more broadly laid the foundation for a new alliance of the United States with the Sunni Arab world, but he put two conditions on it: a cessation of all Sunni Arab support for Islamic terrorism and an openness to the prospect of a regional peace that included Israel.
Secretary of State Pompeo spoke of the "Palestinians", not of the Palestinian Authority, as in Iran, possibly to emphasize the distinction between the people and their leadership, and that the leadership in both situations, may no longer be part of the solution. Hamas, for the US, is clearly not part of any solution.
Netanyahu rightly said that Palestinian leaders, whoever they may be, do not want peace with Israel, but "peace without Israel". What instead could take place would be peace without the Palestinian leaders. What could also take place would be peace without the Iranian mullahs.
After three successive American Presidents had used a six-month waiver to defer moving the US Embassy to Jerusalem for more than two decades, President Donald J. Trump decided not to wait any longer. On December 7, 2017, he declared that the United States recognizes Jerusalem as the capital of Israel; the official embassy transfer took place on May 14th, the day of Israel's 70th anniversary.
From the moment of Trump's declaration, leaders of the Muslim world expressed anger and announced major trouble. An Islamic summit conference was convened in Istanbul a week later, and ended with statements about a "crime against Palestine". Western European leaders followed suit. Germany's Chancellor Angela Merkel said that President Trump's decision was a "serious mistake" and could have huge "consequences". French President Emmanuel Macron, going further, declared that the decision could provoke a "war".
Despite these ominous predictions, trouble remained largely absent. The Istanbul statement remained a statement. The "war" anticipated by Macron did not break out.
The Islamic terrorist organization Hamas sent masses of rioters from Gaza to tear down Israel's border fence and cross over, to force Israeli soldiers to fire, thereby allowing Hamas to have bodies of "martyrs" to show to the cameras. So far, Hamas has sent 62 of its own people to their death. Fifty of them were, by Hamas's own admission, members of Hamas.
Palestinian terrorist groups fired rockets into southern Israel; Israeli jets retaliated with airstrikes. Hamas sent kites, attached to incendiary devices and explosives, over the border to Israel. So far, 200 of the fire-kites that Hamas sent have destroyed 6,200 acres of Israeli forests and farmland.
Pundits who predicted more violent reactions have been surprised by the relatively quiet reaction of the Palestinian and Muslim communities. The reason might be called the "Trump Doctrine for the Middle East".
One element of it consisted of crushing the Islamic State in Syria and Iraq. President Trump had promised quickly to clear the world of what had become a main backbone of Islamic terrorism. He kept his promise in less than a year, and without a massive deployment of American troops. Trump has shown the strength of the United States and restored its credibility in a region where strength and force determine credibility.
Another element of it was put in place during President Trump's trip to Saudi Arabia in May 2017. President Trump renewed ties which had seriously deteriorated during the previous 8 years. Trump more broadly laid the foundation for a new alliance of the United States with the Sunni Arab world, but he put two conditions on it: a cessation of all Sunni Arab support for Islamic terrorism and an openness to the prospect of a regional peace that included Israel.
Both conditions are being gradually fulfilled. In June 2017, Saudi Arabia's King Salman chose his son Mohammed bin Salman (MBS) as heir to the throne. MBS started an internal revolution to impose new directions on the kingdom. The Islamic Military Counter Terrorism Coalition, created on December 15, 2015, was endorsed by the United States; it held its inaugural meeting on November 26, 2017. In addition, links between Israeli and Saudi security services were strengthened and coordination between the Israeli and Egyptian militaries intensified.
An alliance between Israel and the main countries of the Sunni Arab world to contain Iran also slowly and unofficially began taking shape. MBS, calling called Hamas a terrorist organization, saying that it must "be destroyed". He told representatives of Jewish organizations in New York that Palestinian leaders need to "take the [American] proposals or shut up."
Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas was summoned to Riyadh twice -- in November and December 2017; and it appears he was "asked" to keep quiet. Never has the distance between Palestinian organizations, and Saudi Arabia and the Sunni Arab world, seemed so far. The only Sunni Arab country to have maintained ties with Hamas is Qatar, but the current Emir of Qatar, Sheikh Tamim ben Hamad Al Thani, has been under pressure to change his stance.
Immediately after President Trump left Riyadh, a third element emerged. The US presidential plane went directly from Riyadh to in Israel: for the first time, a direct flight between Saudi Arabia and Israel took place. President Trump went to Jerusalem, where he became the first sitting US President to visit the Western Wall, the only historical remains of a retaining wall from the ancient Temple of King Solomon. During his campaign, Trump had referred to Jerusalem as "the eternal capital of the Jewish people", implicitly acknowledging that the Jews have had their roots there for 3,000 years.
After his visit to the Wall, President Trump went to Bethlehem and told Mahmoud Abbas what no American President had ever said: that Abbas is a liar and that he is personally responsible for the incitement to violence and terror. In the days that followed, the US Congress demanded that the Palestinian Authority renounce incentivizing terrorism by paying cash to imprisoned Palestinian terrorists and families of terrorists killed while carrying out attacks. President Trump's Middle East negotiators, Jared Kushner and Jason Greenblatt made it clear to Palestinian leaders that US aid to the Palestinian Authority could end if the US demand was not met. Nikki Haley told the United Nations that the US could stop funding UNWRA if Palestinian leaders refused to negotiate and accept what the US is asking for. Since it was founded in 1994, the Palestinian Authority has never been subjected to such intense American pressure.
The fourth element was President Trump's decision to leave the Iran nuclear deal. President Trump immediately announced he would restore "the harshest, strongest, most stringent sanctions" to suffocate the mullahs' regime. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has since presented to Iran a list of 12 "basic requirements" for a new agreement.
President Trump's decision came in a context where the Iran regime has just suffered a series of heavy blows: the Israeli Mossad's seizure in Tehran of highly confidential documents showing that Iran has not ceased to lie about its nuclear program; the revelation by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of the Mossad operation, and the Israeli army's decisive response to an Iranian rocket barrage launched from Syrian territory. By it, Israel showed its determination not to allow Russia to support Iran when Iran uses its bases to attack Israel.
Netanyahu was invited by Russian President Vladimir Putin to Moscow on May 9 to commemorate the Soviet victory over Germany in 1945; during that visit, Putin seems to have promised Netanyahu neutrality if Israel were attacked by Iranian forces in Syria. Putin, eager to preserve his Russian bases in Syria, clearly views Israel as a force for stability in the Middle East and Iran as a force for instability -- too big a risk for Russian support.
In recent months, the Iranian regime has become, along with Erdogan's Turkey, one of the main financial supporters of the "Palestinian cause" and Hamas's main backer. It seems that Iran asked Hamas to organize the marches and riots along the Gaza-Israel border. When the violence from Gaza became more intense, Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh was summoned to Cairo by Egypt's intelligence chief, who told him that if violence does not stop, the Israel military would carry out drastic actions, and Egypt would be silent. It could become difficult for Iran to incite Palestinian organizations to widespread violence in the near future.
It could become extremely difficult for Iran to continue financially to support the "Palestinian cause" in the coming months. It could soon become financially unbearable for Iran to maintain its presence in Syria and provide sophisticated weapons to Hezbollah. Turkish President Erdogan speaks loudly, but he seems to know what lines not to cross.
Protests in Iran have become less intense since January, but the discontent and frustrations of the population persist and could get worse.
The Trump administration undoubtedly realizes that the Iranian regime will not accept the requirements presented by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and that the harsh new sanctions might lead to new major uprisings in Iran, and the fall of the regime. Ambassador John Bolton, now National Security Advisor, mentioned in January that the "strategic interest of the United States" is to see the regime overthrown.
Referring recently to the situation in the Middle East and the need to achieve peace, Pompeo spoke of the "Palestinians", not of the Palestinian Authority, as in Iran, possibly to emphasize the distinction between the people and their leadership, and that the leadership in both situations, may no longer be part of the solution. Hamas, for the US, is clearly not part of any solution.
No one knows exactly what the peace plan to be presented by the Trump administration will contain, but it seems certain that it will not include the "right of return" of so-called "Palestinian refugees" and will not propose East Jerusalem as the "capital of a Palestinian state". The plan will no doubt be rejected by both the Palestinian Authority and Hamas; it already has been, sight unseen.
Netanyahu rightly said that Palestinian leaders, whoever they may be, do not want peace with Israel, but "peace without Israel". What instead could take place would be peace without the Palestinian leaders. What could also take place would be peace without the Iran's mullahs.
It should be noted that on December 7, 2017, when Donald Trump announced the transfer of the United States Embassy to Jerusalem, the leaders of the Muslim world who protested were mostly Turkey's Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Iran's Hassan Rouhani. Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates and Oman did not send representatives to the Islamic summit conference in Istanbul. When the US embassy in Jerusalem opened its doors on May 14, Saudi Arabia, Egypt and the Gulf emirates were quiet.
On that day, Angela Merkel and Emmanuel Macron repeated what they had said on December 7, 2017: that the embassies of Germany and France in Israel would remain in Tel Aviv. Macron condemned the "heinous acts" committed by the Israeli military on the Gaza border but not aggression of Hamas in urging its people, and even paying them, to storm Gaza's border with Israel.
If current trends continue, Macron and Merkel could be among the last supporters of the "Palestinian cause." They sound as if they will do just about anything to save the corrupt Palestinian Authority.
They are also doing everything to save the moribund Iran "nuclear deal," and are deferential to the mullahs' regime. During a European summit held in Sofia, Bulgaria, on May 16, the Trump administration was harshly criticized by the European heads of state who argued that Europe will "find a way around" US sanctions and "resist" President Trump. European companies are already leaving Iran in droves, evidently convinced that they will be better off cutting their losses and keeping good relations with the United States.
On June 3-5, Benjamin Netanyahu went to Europe to try to persuade Merkel, Macron and British Prime Minister Theresa May to give up backing the Iran nuclear deal. He failed, predictably, but at least had the opportunity to explain the Iranian danger to Europeans and the need to act.
As Iran's nuclear ties to North Korea have intensified in the last two years -- Iran seems to have relied on North Korea to advance its own nuclear projects -- the denuclearization of the Korean peninsula that might have begun with the Donald Trump-Kim Jong-Un meeting in Singapore on June 12, clearly will not strengthen the Iranian position.
European leaders seem not to want to see that a page is turning in the Middle East. They seem not to want to see that, regardless of their mercenary immorality, of their behavior staying on the page of yesterday, is only preventing them from understanding the future.
**Dr. Guy Millière, a professor at the University of Paris, is the author of 27 books on France and Europe.
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U.N. Envoy, Nickolay Mladenov: Another Gaza war could spark a regional conflict
المبعوث الدولي للشرق الأوسط: الحرب الثانية في غزة قد تؤدي لصراع في المنطقة

Jerusalem Post/June 13/18
Another Gaza war could spark a regional conflict, UN Special Coordinator to the Middle East Peace Process Nickolay Mladenov told Army Radio in an interview published on Wednesday.
“What unites everyone both here in the region and internationally is that no one wants to see another war in Gaza,” Mladenov said during the interview, which took place this week.
“It would be much more devastating than 2014, it would engage the region. We can still do what we need to do to prevent that from happening,” he said.
Mladenov explained that the UN has had a critical role in reducing the possibility of such an outbreak. “If we stop the humanitarian aid. If we stop running the schools and running the hospitals or providing fuel, you will have a war in a couple of days.”
He is working on humanitarian plan to help ease the plight of the two million people in Gaza.
Israel placed restrictions on the flow of goods going in and out of Gaza, since Hamas took over the Strip from Fatah in violent coup in 2007.
The situation has been exacerbated in the last year. Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas has taken economic measures against Gaza in hopes of forcing Hamas to relinquish control of the Strip. While addressing the AJC Global Forum on Monday, Mladenov said he would like to see a plan that exchanged economic assistance to Gaza with a Hamas pledge to refrain from violence against Israel.
Such measures could be used “to get from those responsible for the situation in Gaza [Hamas] a commitment to keep the situation quiet and to keep security and reduce and the amount of rockets and attacks against Israel.”
Army Radio suggested that Mladenov had told them he was not planning to prioritize the release of the bodies of two IDF soldiers as well as two other Israelis held in Gaza, as part of that plan.
“Nothing comes for free. Unfortunately and I say this with great regret, today our focus being on preventing war and preventing a humanitarian disaster in Gaza, but I believe that if we improve the situation for people in Gaza we create a constituency, we create a basis through which to address all these other issues,” Mladenov said.
Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman demanded on Tuesday that Israel exchange economic aid for the return to the hostages.
“The return of the captives and missing soldiers opens a huge window that promises humanitarian and economic assistance for all the residents of Gaza,” Liberman said.
In his Army Radio interview, Mladenov also pushed backed against the Israeli belief that the UN is biased on Israel, explaining that the international body’s efforts had helped rather than harmed Israel.
“If we stop talking to both the Israelis and the Palestinians, I assure you the picture that will be presented of this conflict internationally will be far more difficult and far more biased,” Mladenov told Army Radio.
He added that he believed it would be difficult to move forward on the peace process at this time. The international community should do its best create conditions to allow for such talks to be productive, he said.
“If you take Prime Minister [Benjamin] Netanyahu and [Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas] Abu Mazen today and you put them in the same room, there is little they can negotiate.
“What we need to do is to make sure that we support both the Israelis and the Palestinians to make the conditions that would make such a meeting meaningful and such a discussion productive,” Mladenov added.

The Rampage: Supersonic missile developed to destroy high quality targets تطوير صواريخ إسرائيلية فائقة الدقة
Jerusalem Post/June 13/18
With tensions still high between Israel and Iran, a new supersonic air-to-surface missile designed for the annihilation of high quality targets has been developed by Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) and Israel Military Industry Systems (IMI).
Dubbed “The Rampage” after a popular video-game, it is an accurate supersonic, long-range air-to-ground assault missile with a warhead, rocket engine and advanced navigation suit which allows for precision targeting at a very low mission cost compared to existing solutions.
The missile can be fitted to the Israel Air Force’s F-15, F-16 and F-35 fighter jets and is meant to be fired into areas protected by air-defense systems.
Amit Haimovich, director of marketing and business development for IAI’s Malam engineering unit told The Jerusalem Post that due to the combination of the Rampage’s speed and physical form, “it can be detected, but it is very hard to intercept.
“If you take the Middle East arena and areas protected by air-defense systems, the whole point of this missile is that it can hit targets within standoff ranges” without threatening the launching platform, he said.
The 4.7-meter-long missile, which weighs 570 kg., is guided by a GPS system giving it the ability to operate in all weather conditions as well as during the day or night.
According to Haimovich, once the Rampage is launched, it flies toward predefined coordinates, shaping its trajectory to hit the target according to its nature. The missile, he said, does not have a “pure ballistic trajectory which adds to its ability to penetrate any defended target.”
The targets that best fit the capabilities of the missile include communication and command centers, air force bases, maintenance centers, infrastructures and valuable field targets protected by anti-aircraft batteries.
The Rampage also features a warhead which was designed for optimal penetration, allowing for the destruction of targets inside bunkers.
Boaz Levy, general manager and executive VP of IAI’s Rockets and Space Group, said in a statement that the Rampage “is an important product that fulfills a true operational need in a very efficient way. IMI and IAI have invested a great deal of thought in developing this product, which reflects the extensive technological know-how and experience of both companies, with a price tag which is attractive and relevant for all global markets.”
“IMI Systems and IAI are proud to unveil a response to the challenges of modern battlefields. The Rampage joins a family of accurate rockets which we have been providing to advanced militaries for years,” said Eli Reiter, manager of IMI Systems firepower division. “Rampage complements the air response with a quantum leap in performance and extraordinary cost-effectiveness ratio, two factors which are important to many air forces around the world.”
Haimovich told the Post that IAI already has a buyer for the Rampage but could not reveal its identity.
The announcement of the Rampage comes as tensions on Israel’s northern borders remain high, with the IDF continuing to step up its cross-border strikes on Iranian targets in Syria.
Israel has been “managing a campaign against Iranian forces, especially on Israel’s northern border” for the past two years, IAF Commander Maj.-Gen. Amikam Norkin said in late May, just weeks after the air force carried out the most extensive operation in Syria since 1974, striking over 50 Iranian targets following a missile barrage of 32 Fajr-5 and Grad missiles toward Israel’s front-defensive line in the Golan Heights.
In an operation called “House of Cards,” dozens of positions and targets belonging to the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps' Quds Force in Syria – including the launcher used to fire the rockets into Israel’s Golan Heights – were destroyed within 90 minutes by the IAF and the Northern Command.
Despite destroying a large amount of Iranian military hardware in the war-torn country, a senior IAF officer said last month that Iran still has long-range capabilities to strike Israel, which has continued to strike targets in Syria.
“The Iranian resolve in the region continues, and we keep operating,” he said, stressing that: “We have maintained our freedom of action over Syria.”

Doha and the hockey fans
Mamdouh AlMuhaini//Al Arabiya/June 13/18
In order to break the quartet’s boycott, Qatar has resorted to almost everything such as hacking, propagating false news and launching costly public relations campaigns. However, they have all ended pathetically without literally achieving anything. It resorted to Jewish communities considering their strong financial and political influence in Washington, and we have seen delegations that consist of prominent figures arrive in Doha. In January, five figures who are influential in Jewish circles, such as the famous lawyer Alan Dershowitz, arrived in Doha. The visit was aimed at launching a campaign to enhance Qatar’s reputation but it quickly failed and Doha did not make any benefits worth mentioning despite the high cost it paid. Those who benefitted from Qatar mentioned it in a couple of their statements then forgot about it completely. Although results were disappointing, Qatar has, due to its blind despair, turned into a loose bank whose doors are wide open. Qatar continues to pay money to figures who make fake promises and exaggerate their capabilities to exert pressure to end the boycott but nothing happens as the boycott continues and Qatar’s image as the terrorists’ happy land has not changed.
Few days ago, two prominent public relations figures announced they have completely cut their relations with Doha. One of them said Qatar’s image as a sponsor of terrorism will not change because Qatar has not taken any real steps to cleanse its reputation. The country’s Emir receives Qaradawi, the mufti of suicide bombings, and its funds end up in the pockets of Sunni and Shiite terrorists. Those who are on its terror list participate in marathons and hold public celebrations so how can Qatar be defended? These two PR figures thus viewed this as a losing cause that harms their reputation because it linked them to a suspicious party involved in supporting terrorism. They thus washed their hands off it. Qatar continues to pay money to figures who make fake promises and exaggerate their capabilities to exert pressure to end the boycott
Diplomatic efforts
Politico, which published the report, said the move came as a blow to Qatar’s diplomatic efforts. This comes as a new failed step as after all the expensive contracts it offered, the person assigned to defend Qatar said he failed in a mission that has been impossible from the start and which others failed to accomplish. This lends credence to one of the factors behind the boycott, which is neutralizing the fake PR game. A country cannot change its image via an advertising campaign in newspapers or by bribing celebrities and players with generous contracts when all it does is the complete opposite of the image it wants others to see. The most pathetic behavior in PR campaigns – to win the Americans’ minds and hearts through money – was Doha’s move of extending the metro operation hours in Washington for one more hour at night after a hockey game between Washington Capitals and Tampa Bay Lightning so people can return home early. It’s a funny strategy, aimed at gaining the admiration of hockey fans that do not know where Qatar is on the map. The other goal is to gain the amiability of officials in Washington by making the fans of their city’s team happy after saving money on taxi or Uber fares. Of course nothing changed. The scene however is revealing. The government which until recently schemed conspiracies and claimed that it’s capable of destroying Arab countries and changing the region is begging for the sentiment of hockey fans and making sure they return home for free!
Qatar has taken all these desperate measures while claiming victory and alleging that the boycott does not concern it and does not affect it. However, we have witnessed the propagation of plenty of deceitful news even by top American officials for the sake of stirring a fuss.
Before US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s recent visit to Riyadh, the Qatari-Brotherhood media promoted news that Pompeo will decisively ask the four countries to end the boycott. Pompeo however visited and concluded the visit without evening mentioning Doha once.
Propagating deceitful news, promoting rumors and twisting statements have all become common. All these methods after a year of frequent attempts ended, just like the PR campaigns, with zero results.
Hacking operations
The same happened with the continuous hacking operations. A year ago, a group that calls itself GlobalLeaks hacked the email of UAE’s Ambassador to the US Yousef al-Otaiba and sent his e-mails to a number of dailies and news websites, including the famous Daily Beast.
Qatar’s fingerprints can be seen all over this operation as seen by the style and goals and the media coverage later. GlobalLeaks said it wasn’t a hacking operation and as per the common Qatari denial approach, claimed that it got the e-mails from a lobbying group in Washington.
It is an obvious lie because all evidence shows that the e-mail was hacked as photos of the e-mails were taken using a digital camera. The goals are also Qatari and aim to plant division between Abu Dhabi and Riyadh and publicly expose Otaiba’s “scandals” and show the UAE as an anti-Islamic country. As for the media coverage, it was handled by well-known as well as well masked Qatari media outlets, which engaged in live coverage and launched vulgar propaganda campaigns about a completely made-up subject. The results of the hacking and the propaganda campaign backfired and disappointed Doha and its hired hackers’ expectations. This is not the only incident as there were also other hacking operations. The most recent one was hacking the e-mail of Elliott Broidy – one of the most prominent symbols of American President Donald Trump’s campaign – and of his wife. The leaked documents were sent to media outlets including the New York Times. All Qatari attempts are disappointing and pathetic and confirm once again that the boycott was a noble and brave step to shut down the terrorists’ bank and neutralize the extremists’ landfill after the region has been poisoned for decades; but not anymore.

Who can stop the Hodeidah offensive?

Abdulrahman al-Rashed/Al Arabiya/June 13/18
After the forces of the Arab coalition and the Yemeni legitimacy arrived on the outskirts of Hodeidah’s main port two weeks ago, the UN Security Council hallways buzzed with activity and many organizations and governments warned of a horrific massacre and demanded halting the military offensive. Newly-appointed Yemeni Foreign Minister Khaled al-Yamani did not say it all as he said there is a state that stands against liberating Hodeidah and he did not name it. However, he made enough hints for the ordinary observer to know which state it is. He said it’s the same country that stood against the protection of civilians in Syria. Not many thought that superpowers in the UN Security Council will intervene in the Yemeni war when they had rejected intervening to restore the legitimate government which was found based on the decision of the UN Security Council that abandoned it after the coup.
Above all that, the UN Security Council failed at condemning Iran for its support of the Houthi rebels due to the use of veto power. So why do the coalition’s cannons abstain from fighting and take into consideration the UN Security Council if it can seize Hodeidah, the Houthis’ most important city?
It is because the legitimacy wants to please the five permanent members of the Security Council to get their support in the remaining military and political measures to end the coup. Iran and the Houthis are planning a huge massacre in Hodeidah and proof to that is that their militias and their reinforcements have infiltrated residential areas and fortified themselves with civilians
Fortified with civilians
Iran and the Houthis are planning a huge massacre in Hodeidah and proof to that is that their militias and their reinforcements have infiltrated residential areas and fortified themselves with civilians. This is the same as Hezbollah’s approach during its war with Israel in 2006 as after it carried out an attack on the borders, it escaped towards the inside of Lebanon and deployed its missiles in southern towns where they were targeted by Israeli warplanes. Most of the group’s fighters disappeared during the confrontations leaving cities and towns under the mercy of Israeli cannons and missiles.
The Houthi Ansar Allah militias that support Iran use the same tactic. It’s for these exact fears that the coalition forces stopped at the outskirts of Sanaa when they arrived there around a year ago. These forces are still stationed there and they have not stormed the capital out of fear of inflicting human losses among civilians after the Iranian militias withdrew and stationed inside the city to fortify themselves among them. The rush to liberate Hodeidah is due to the fact that it’s the Houthis’ flow of life. Sanaa was profitable to them when they first occupied it up until they bankrupted the Central Bank and looted commercial banks. Sanaa to the rebels represents nothing except political symbolism.
Source of money
Hodeidah, however, is their major source of money thanks to the fees they make on merchandise. The port is their source of weapons and support which they receive from Iran by sea by using small boats that transport this aid from bigger boats.
Yemeni forces now besiege the roads leading to Hodeidah, its port and airport, and they’re detecting what’s happening on the ground from the air to paralyze the Houthis’ capabilities and resources. Some hope that the “state” which opposes storming Hodeidah has alternative solutions that prevent bloodshed thus pleasing both sides. It’s unlikely but not impossible. There is talk that the Houthis will be allowed to reposition temporarily by getting them out of the city and putting the city and the port under international management. This is similar to a proposal which Saudi Arabia made three months ago and the Houthis rejected it back then. The aim was to deliver international aid to residents and prevent the Houthis from stealing it. Perhaps the Houthis can peacefully withdraw from the city; therefore saving themselves as well as citizens. However if legitimate forces manage to control the port, there will be no need to put it under the UN management. The coalition is more competent and the Yemeni forces are the owners of the land and represent the legitimate rule approved by the Security Council.