June 17/2018
Compiled & Prepared by: Elias Bejjani


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Bible Quotations
Jesus expels out Merchants From The Temple
John 02/13-25: "The Passover of the Jews was near, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. In the temple he found people selling cattle, sheep, and doves, and the money-changers seated at their tables. Making a whip of cords, he drove all of them out of the temple, both the sheep and the cattle. He also poured out the coins of the money-changers and overturned their tables. He told those who were selling the doves, ‘Take these things out of here! Stop making my Father’s house a market-place!’ His disciples remembered that it was written, ‘Zeal for your house will consume me.’ The Jews then said to him, ‘What sign can you show us for doing this?’Jesus answered them, ‘Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.’The Jews then said, ‘This temple has been under construction for forty-six years, and will you raise it up in three days?’But he was speaking of the temple of his body. After he was raised from the dead, his disciples remembered that he had said this; and they believed the scripture and the word that Jesus had spoken. When he was in Jerusalem during the Passover festival, many believed in his name because they saw the signs that he was doing. But Jesus on his part would not entrust himself to them, because he knew all people and needed no one to testify about anyone; for he himself knew what was in everyone.

Titles For Latest LCCC Bulletin analysis & editorials from miscellaneous sources published on June 16-17/18
Fathers’ Day: The Holy Gift Of Fatherhood/Fathers on Earth are God’s servants/Elias Bejjani/June 17/18
Lebanon Is Protecting Hezbollah’s Cocaine Trade in Latin America/Emanuele Ottolenghi/Foreign Policy/June 16/18
What Power Is Left for Lebanon’s Prime Minister/Eyad Abu Shakra/Asharq Al-Awsat/June, 16/18
Human Rights: Other Views - Part III/Refugees and the Arab States/Denis MacEoin/Gatestone Institute/June 16/18
The Diplomatic Big Bang/Ahmed Charai/Gatestone Institute/June 16/18
Polar Ice Is Live-Blogging Human History/Faye Flam/Bloomberg View/June 16/18
Iraq stuck in an electoral quagmire/Diana Moukalled//Arab News/June 16/18
The Arab world needs trade not a trade war/Hafed Al-Ghwell/Arab News/June 16/18
Trump and De Niro’s diatribe against him/Mashari Althaydi/Al Arabiya/June 16/18
Let our youth not fall into this seditious trap once again/Sawsan Al Shaer/Al Arabiya/June 16/18
A new achievement for political Islam in Iraq/Adnan Hussein/Al Arabiya/June 16/18
Cleaning up London’s tarnished reputation for money laundering/Dr. Mohamed A. Ramady/Al Arabiya/June 16/18

Titles For The Latest LCCC Lebanese Related News published on June 16-17/18
Fathers’ Day: The Holy Gift Of Fatherhood/Fathers on Earth are God’s servants
Trump sends greetings to Lebanese Muslims
Maronite Synod Calls for Government Formation Away From Partitioning
Aoun Reportedly Rejects Giving LF 'Sovereign Portfolio', Deputy PM Post
2 Dead, Many Hurt in Baalbek Town Family Clash
Rahi: We cannot accept officials who ignore people's interests, manipulate State institutions' fate
Taxi driver loses control of his car, hits a crowd in Moscow injuring 7 people
Hasbani from Rmeish: We call for the return of Syrian refugees, solving the problem of Lebanese exiles
Tueni: Former mandates since independence bowed before the enemy
Abu Faour: We are still waiting for Naturalization Decree investigations, attempts to bury the facts will not succeed
Middle East Airlines launches direct line to Madrid
Cutting off Shmastar Taraya Road in protest against failure to survey flood damages
Lebanon Is Protecting Hezbollah’s Cocaine Trade in Latin America
What Power Is Left for Lebanon’s Prime Minister?

Titles For Latest LCCC Bulletin For Miscellaneous Reports And News published on June 16-17/18
State Department Warns Americans of Terrorist Threat at World Cup
Report: Trump Threatens to 'Send 25 Million Mexicans to Japan'
U.N. Envoy in Yemen for Hodeida Crisis Talks
Taliban, Afghan Forces Hug, Take Selfies as Ceasefire Holds
Graffiti Boys who Lit Syria War Brace for Regime Attack
Jordan: Foreign Ministry Won’t Name New Ambassador to Iran
Islamabad: Killing of Pakistan Taliban Chief 'Significant'
HRW: Turkey-Backed Forces Seizing Property in Afrin
Iraqi Shiite Cleric Says ‘Faked’ Alliances Won’t Solve Election Complications
Egypt Announces Steep Increase in Gasoline Prices
Latest LCCC Lebanese Related News published on June 16-17/18
Fathers’ Day: The Holy Gift Of Fatherhood/Fathers on Earth are God’s servants
Elias Bejjani/June 17/18
“Blessed indeed is the man who hears many gentle voices call him father!” (Lydia M. Child, U.S. Author)
Canadians observe Father’s Day on the third Sunday of June. It is a day for people to show their appreciation for fathers, grandfathers, godfathers and fatherly figures. Father figures may include stepfathers, fathers-in-law, guardians, foster parent, and family friends. Hopefully, all men will have the blessed grace of being fathers. Being a father is a heavenly endowment, a great satisfaction, and a fulfilling Godly obligation as the Holy Bible teaches us: “Genesis 1:28 “God blessed them. God said to them, “Be fruitful, multiply, fill the earth, and subdue it.”
Almighty God has blessed both parents, fathers and mothers and recommended that they be honored, respected, cared for, and obeyed by their children. God’s fifth commandment delineates this heavenly obligation and duty: “”Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long in the land which The Lord your God gives you.” (Exodus 20:12 ).
God is our Holy Father, and we all, men and women, are His beloved children. Fathers on Earth are God’s servants who are entrusted by Him to safeguard, raise, embrace, support, provide and teach their children. Meanwhile fathers are required to carry their holy duties in raising their children in the fear of God, with the best of their knowledge, all their resource and means, full devotion and with all required sacrifices.
Fathers are the cornerstone of their families upon which children depend, learn, nurture, hold fast and shape their lives. Caring, devoted and righteous fathers are always given a hand by God and blessed for their rearing and erection of boundaries. Today we are celebrating “Fathers’ Day”, with all those who cherish fathers, appreciate their sacrifices and honor their Godly role. Best wishes to all fathers hoping they will be shown today all the due gratitude from their sons and daughters. On this very special day our deceased fathers’ and mothers’ spirits are roaming around sharing with us our joy and happiness, God bless their souls.
Attitudes of gratitude or ingratitude towards fathers on Fathers’ Day, are very sensitive issues that affect and touch the hearts and minds of many people. These two contradicting attitudes exhibit how much a person is either appreciative or ungrateful. The majority of people hold on dear to their fathers and do all that they can to always show them their great and deeply felt gratitude, while sadly there are those odd ones out who show no gratitude, abandon them and even at times endeavour to ruin their lives and inflict harm and pain on them. By doing so and negating God’s commandments that stress an utmost respect for parents, these people make themselves enemies of Christ Himself. Definitely God will be angry about such condemned conduct. This deviation from all human norms occur because of ignorance, selfishness, lack of faith and hope. These people fall into temptation, become proud of what they should be ashamed of, worship things that belong to this world and forget all about “Judgment Day”.
Colossians 3/20: “Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord”.
Leviticus 20/09: “For anyone who curses his father or his mother shall surely be put to death; he has cursed his father or his mother; his blood is upon him”
Fathers no matter what must be loved, honored, dignified and respected. God Himself is a Father and He will not bless those who deny their fathers’ heavenly right of fatherhood and respect. In this context, Billy Graham says: “A good father is one of the most unsung, unpraised, unnoticed, and yet one of the most valuable assets in our society.” The Holy Bible in tens of its verses warns and puts on notice all those with callous hearts and numbed conscience who show no gratitude to their fathers and break their hearts.
Isaiah 46:4: “Even to your old age I am he, and to gray hairs I will carry you. I have made, and I will bear; I will carry and will save.”
Even when fathers are abandoned by their children and denied their heavenly rights, they never ever hold any grudges, feelings of hatred or hostility against them. No matter what, fathers always wish their children health, prosperity and success. One of our Lebanese deeply rooted sayings portray how fathers constantly feel towards their ungrateful children: ” My heart beats for my son no matter what, while my son’s heart is callous like a rock”. Many verses in the Holy Bible overtly call on the children to treat their parents with love, endurance, affection and utmost care. At the same time the Bible instructs parents to value the Godly delegation to them to raise their children with all means of righteous, protection and provision.
Proverbs 23/22: “Listen to your father who gave you life, and do not despise your mother when she is old”.
Ephesians 06/01-02: “Children, it is your Christian duty to obey your parents, for this is the right thing to do. Respect your father and mother is the first commandment that has a promise added: so that all may go well with you, and you may live a long time in the land”.
Many grown-up men and women do not appreciate their parents’ sacrifices unless they themselves have become parents. Back home in Lebanon where the family has always been sacred, we have a saying that shows how important it is in the eyes of the God that parents are always to be respected, honored and loved. “God will not bless or facilitate the life of those who mistreat their parents and He will reply to the parents’ wrath when they ask for punishment for their ungrateful children”. Good, loving , faithful and God-fearing fathers know no hatred, grudges or despair. They remain, always, hopeful and keep on praying to Almighty God that their children, (grateful or ungrateful ) are constantly healthy, prosperous, happy, and successful .
Philippians 04/04-07: “May you always be joyful in your union with the Lord. I say it again: rejoice! Show a gentle attitude toward everyone. The Lord is coming soon. Don’t worry about anything, but in all your prayers ask God for what you need, always asking him with a thankful heart. And God’s peace, which is far beyond human understanding, will keep your hearts and minds safe in union with Christ Jesus.”.
Happy Fathers’ Day to all Fathers.
N.B: This above piece is republished with minor changes
Trump sends greetings to Lebanese Muslims
The Daily Star/June. 16/2018/BEIRUT: U.S. President Donald Trump sent Eid al-Fitr greetings to Lebanon on behalf of the American people Saturday in a cable to President Michel Aoun. Trump spoke of Islam’s commitment to justice and equality for others. “Eid al-Fitr reminds us of the responsibility to help one another ... and to build a society in which everyone can achieve his or her ambitions,” Trump said, according to a statement from Baabda Palace. Trump also spoke of the U.S. being a land of different religions, “in which there are American Muslims who have great contributions to our country, including those who served in our armed forces.”

Maronite Synod Calls for Government Formation Away From Partitioning 16th June 2018/The Maronite Patriarchal Synod members on Saturday called for the swift formation of a new government away from partitioning and selfishness, stressing the need for a cabinet that is able to carry out the reforms requested by donor countries at the recent international conferences. In a statement issued at the closing session of its meetings in Bkirki, the Synod urged officials to unify their stances and act jointly on the refugees' return to their homeland, adding that the international community must encourage them to go back home instead of intimidating them for political purposes. The Synod demanded that the naturalization decree, inked recently by President Michel Aoun, would be reconsidered, stressing that the Lebanese nationality should be rather granted to the thousands of people of Lebanese origins who are seeking it. The Synod also urged politicians and officials to work together to eradicate the rampant corruption plaguing the state administrations, saying that squandering and bribery must be completely ended.

Aoun Reportedly Rejects Giving LF 'Sovereign Portfolio', Deputy PM Post
Naharnet/June 16/18/President Michel Aoun has rejected granting the Lebanese Forces a so-called sovereign ministerial portfolio or the deputy premier post in the new government, a media report said. In remarks to al-Hayat newspaper published Saturday, sources informed on the negotiations also said Aoun asked Prime Minister-designate Saad Hariri about MP Talal Arslan's share. Aoun, however, did not express a "hardline stance" regarding Arslan's representation during the talks with Hariri, the sources added. The LF's share after its significant win in the elections and whether or not the Progressive Socialist Party should be given all three Druze seats are reportedly the main points of contention hindering the cabinet formation.

2 Dead, Many Hurt in Baalbek Town Family Clash

Naharnet/June 16/18/Two people were killed and several others wounded Saturday in an armed clash between members of the Shouman family in the Baalbek district town of Sarine. The clash broke out against the backdrop of old disputes, media reports said. The National News Agency identified one of the dead as Hussein Mefleh Shouman.LBCI television meanwhile said a woman died of her wounds. The army was carrying out raids in the town in the wake of the clash.

Rahi: We cannot accept officials who ignore people's interests, manipulate State institutions' fate

Sat 16 Jun 2018/NNA - Maronite Patriarch Bechara Butros al-Rahi firmly stated Saturday that officials who ignore the interests of the people cannot be accepted nor can the manipulation of State institutions' fate be tolerated. Presiding over a ceremonial Mass marking the silver jubilee of the "Lebanese Cooperative for Development" Association in the external church of the "Capella of Resurrection" in Bkirki, Rahi said, "Kindness alone is the way to building a more human, just and fraternal world. The Church is always committed to serving social welfare in its dioceses and monasteries, and in its various institutions, which is the best support for the State." He added: "Social affairs are a primary duty of the State, because the purpose of political action is serving all citizens and providing them with a decent living by securing all their basic rights and needs, from housing, to roads, water, electricity, food, education, medicine and work." "It is impossible to accept political officials who are concerned only with securing their own interests while neglecting the interests of the people until they are impoverished...It is unacceptable to manipulate the fate of State institutions, especially the government, which has now become hostage to quarrels between parliamentary, party and sectarian blocs, far from the spirit of the National Charter," the Patriarch underscored. "Our political community is in need of love and kindness, which are the source of all human and social virtues and ethics," Rahi concluded.

Taxi driver loses control of his car, hits a crowd in Moscow injuring 7 people

Sat 16 Jun 2018/NNA - Reuters quoted sources in Russia's emergency services that a taxi hit a crowd in the center of Moscow, leading to the injury of seven people. Moscow Police said the taxi driver had probably lost control of his steering wheel.

Hasbani from Rmeish: We call for the return of Syrian refugees, solving the problem of Lebanese exiles
Sat 16 Jun 2018/NNA - Caretaker Deputy Prime Minister, Public Health Minister Ghassan Hasbani called Saturday for "the return of Syrian refugees to their country, as well as solving the problem of Lebanese exiles and allowing them to return from the occupied territories." Hasbani's words came during his visit to "Our Lady's Monastery" in Rmeish, the first stop-over in his Southern tour among the villages of Bint Jbeil Casa. "I am pleased to be among you today in the oasis of coexistence, an oasis filled with hope, a vision of the future, full of vitality and faith in Lebanon which we all dream of...a home for all its citizens, a nation of coexistence, cooperation and genuine partnership," said Hasbani, addressing the town's dignitaries who gathered to welcome his visit. "Today, Lebanon is going through a delicate phase with great challenges, both at the regional and international levels. The most important challenges facing citizens are the economic and social problems, and they have to be at the top of our priorities because we are here, first and foremost, to serve the citizens and help them achieve a decent life," Hasbani added. "Lebanon is undoubtedly suffering from many crises, including the refugee crisis, which weighs heavily on the Lebanese society, and we are working to reach a quick end to this exceptional situation through the safe and swift return of the displaced to their country...But we also do not forget that there are Lebanese outside and we ought to equally work to ensure their return to Lebanon," Hasbani underscored. "In the spirit of partnership, openness and kindness, we hope to remain on this path with all transparency and credibility in a clear and straight direction, and work together regardless of our disputes and opinion differences...The important thing is to keep the partnership and work hard to build our state institutions that are the pyramids for building a strong, democratic state," he asserted. "We will continue to work together, citizens and officials, to reach the maximum potential for progress and social and humanitarian stability, and to build our society and nation in real partnership, coexistence and cooperation," Hasbani concluded.
Army: Situation back to normal in Ser'een, one perpetrator arrested. Sat 16 Jun 2018/NNA - In an issued statement by the Lebanese Army Command - Orientation Directorate, it indicated that "following the death of Army Sergeant Hussein Mufleh Shouman and Mona Ali Shouman, who were killed in a clash between members of the Shouman family, and the injury of five persons who were taken to nearby hospitals for treatment, an Army force intervened and worked to resolve the issue and restore the situation back to normal." The Army statement added that one of the persons involved in the clash was arrested while search operations are underway to arrest the remaining perpetrators and refer them to the concerned judiciary.

Tueni: Former mandates since independence bowed before the enemy

Sat 16 Jun 2018/NNA - Caretaker State Minister for Anti-Corruption Affairs, Nicola Tueni, deemed Saturday via his Twitter account that "His Excellency, the President of the Republic remains the hope of the good and honorable people...The previous mandates since independence have mostly resulted in submission to the enemy in their weakness and hindered will, and in succumbing to civil wars...And this is confirmed by all, for the atrocities of our wars and self-murder will not be repeated!"Tueni added in a second tweet, saying: "I wish today we would return the right to its owners and live again in dignity and free national will without divisions and suspicion, which only serve the enemy who will not have mercy on our country if it finds a gap from which to infiltrate, as it has done several times before...If only we would learn!"

Abu Faour: We are still waiting for Naturalization Decree investigations, attempts to bury the facts will not succeed
Sat 16 Jun 2018/NNA - "We are still, like all the Lebanese, waiting for the answers of officials about the outcome of the investigations into the infamous Naturalization Decree...Attempts to blur the facts or divert the attention of some politicians to dissolve the case will not succeed," said Democratic Gathering Member, MP Wael Abu Faour on Saturday. Speaking at a graduation ceremony held at Ain Aata Public School in Rashaya, Abu Faour called for "aborting the decree in action not in form, and apologizing to the Lebanese people and punishing those who violated the law through this decree of shame." "The state of law does not rise when the law is enforced on citizens only, but also when officials are subject to the rule of law," Abu Faour underscored.

Middle East Airlines launches direct line to Madrid

Sat 16 Jun 2018/NNA - A Middle East Airlines flight to Madrid took off this morning from Rafik Hariri International Airport, launching a direct line with the Spanish capital.
On board Flight #241 were Caretaker Ministers Nuhad al-Mashnouq, Jamal al-Jarrah, Youssef Fenianos and Melhem Riachi, as well as Foreign Affairs and Emigrants Ministry Director-General Hani Shmeitili, Tourism Ministry Director-General Nada al-Sardouk and Economy Ministry Director-General Alya Abbas, alongside several other prominent officials. Praising this move by the Middle East Airlines Company, Riachi considered that "Lebanon and Spain share a historic-cultural relationship, a relationship between Andalusia and the Phoenicians that is deep in history," adding, "We are very late to do this step."
Riachi commended the Middle East Airlines Company and its Chairman Mohamed al-Hout "who made this very bold move and a new prelude to connect with the Spanish world, one that begins in Spain and ends not in Portugal and Argentina but far-reaches all Latin American Spanish-speaking countries."
"This step is an important cultural beginning that provides Lebanon with a huge trade and economic speedy connection, and most importantly, the speed of cultural communication and the strengthening of relations between the Lebanese and Spanish people in a manner consistent with their interests and future," he asserted. Riachi also considered that "the launching of the direct line between Beirut and Madrid is a very important step for Lebanese expatriates, making it easy for them to come to Lebanon." Referring to the new government formation, Riachi said, "It is underway...After the holidays the wheels will move quickly." In turn, Minister Jarrah welcomed the Middle East Airlines step, saying, "There is no doubt that MEA is constantly evolving to connect Lebanon to all parts of the world and make it easier for the Lebanese to come to Lebanon, especially from Latin American countries."
"This is a step that helps the Lebanese to communicate with their country," Jarrah added. For his part, Minister Fenianos said, "With the launching of this line with Madrid, we can welcome visitors from all the countries of South America and distant states, including Australia."
"We hope that this summer will be a prosperous one for Lebanon, and that relations between the Lebanese will be more and more established," he added. Fenianos expressed optimism regarding the upcoming tourism season, noting that "bookings have risen to approximately 80 percent."

Cutting off Shmastar Taraya Road in protest against failure to survey flood damages
Sat 16 Jun 2018/NNA - Farmers from the villages of West Baalbek have cut-off the Shmastar-Taraya Road this evening in protest against the Higher Relief Commission's failure to survey the recent flood damages in their area, demanding compensations for their incurred losses, NNA correspondent in Baalbek reported.

Lebanon Is Protecting Hezbollah’s Cocaine Trade in Latin America
نقلاً عن موقع الفورن بولسي: لبنان (المقصود الدولة اللبنانية) تحمي تجارة حزب الله بالكوكايين في أميركا اللاتينية
Emanuele Ottolenghi/Foreign Policy/June 16/18
The country's institutions are not a counterweight to Hezbollah, but its enablers.
Days after the Trump administration withdrew from the Iran nuclear deal, Washington ramped up sanctions against Hezbollah as part of its offensive against Tehran and its proxies. Yet U.S. policy toward the Lebanese militant group continues to be incoherent. By flexing its muscles against Hezbollah while supporting Lebanese state institutions that it has heavily penetrated or fully controls, the White House ends up undermining its own pursuit of the group’s illicit sources of finance.
This contradiction at the heart of U.S. policy is now playing out in Paraguay, where the Lebanese Embassy is attempting to block the extradition of alleged Hezbollah financier Nader Mohamad Farhat. While Hezbollah’s arsenal and fighters are concentrated in Lebanon and Syria, Latin America is an indispensable theater of operations for the criminal networks that generate much of Hezbollah’s revenue.
Paraguay hosts a significant and growing money laundering operation connected to Hezbollah in the Triple Frontier, where Paraguay intersects with Argentina and Brazil. Increasingly, Hezbollah’s local operatives are involved in the local boom of cocaine trafficking — and there is evidence that Hezbollah is sending senior officials to the Triple Frontier to coordinate these activities.
After more than a decade when U.S. policymakers neglected the Triple Frontier, federal investigations are now finally unearthing multibillion-dollar criminal schemes run by Hezbollah. It was no surprise that Hezbollah would push back by leveraging local influence. It was less obvious that it would do so through the Lebanese Embassy, which is, technically speaking, an arm of the state institutions Washington wants to strengthen as a counterweight to Hezbollah.
On May 17, while the U.S. Treasury was announcing new Hezbollah designations, Paraguayan authorities raided Unique SA, a currency exchange house in Ciudad del Este, on the Paraguayan side of the Triple Frontier, and arrested Farhat, its owner, for his role in an alleged $1.3 million drug money laundering scheme. Farhat is alleged to be a member of the Business Affairs Component, the branch of Hezbollah’s External Security Organization in charge of running overseas illicit finance and drug trafficking operations.
U.S. authorities want to extradite Farhat — the clearest indication that his money laundering activities touched the U.S. financial system. But the Lebanese government wants to prevent that from happening. On May 28, the Lebanese charge d’affairs in Asunción, Hassan Hijazi, sent a letter to Paraguay’s attorney general intimating that she should reject the U.S. request to extradite Farhat.On May 28, the Lebanese charge d’affairs in Asunción, Hassan Hijazi, sent a letter to Paraguay’s attorney general intimating that she should reject the U.S. request to extradite Farhat.
Hijazi is clearly entitled to look after the interests of a Lebanese national. He could do so by offering consular services to the detainee while publicly distancing his country from this type of financial crime. He could also offer prosecutors the embassy’s cooperation and make Lebanese institutions available to oblige any request they might have. Interfering in the legal process of his host country, on the other hand, is an infringement of diplomatic protocol and a sure sign that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Beirut is prioritizing Hezbollah’s interests over those of Lebanon.
Washington should not let this slip quietly, and neither should Paraguay. Asunción should declare Hijazi to be persona non grata and unceremoniously dispatch him back to Lebanon. Such a step would send a clear message to Hijazi’s boss, Lebanese Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil: You can get U.S. aid or you can do Hezbollah’s bidding. But you cannot do both at the same time and get away with it.
The United States should give reassurances to Paraguay that punishing the envoy and extraditing the culprit is the right course of action. Farhat’s money laundering scheme is the tip of Hezbollah’s criminal iceberg in the Triple Frontier. Investigators who raided Farhat’s business found deferred checks for millions of dollars issued by companies with the beneficiary’s names purposely left blank. Some of the companies are wholesale importers of brand goods — an indication that the money exchange house may well have been part of a trade-based drug money laundering network. To run smoothly, such schemes rely on the complicity of local authorities, who rarely check incoming and outgoing merchandise that traverses the Triple Frontier weekly through Ciudad Del Este’s Guaraní International Airport by cargo plane from Dubai and the United States.
Past and ongoing cases are evidence that the airport is a gateway for illicit traffic, much of which goes through the United States. An ongoing case in Miami, investigated by the local FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force, specifically mentions a weekly Miami-Ciudad Del Este cargo flight as the conduit for delivery of counterfeited electronics. Last year, Paraguay extradited to Miami a Lebanese drug trafficker with ties to Hezbollah after he was caught shipping cocaine through the same airport. When they arrested him, authorities found that he was conspiring to ship 100 kilograms of cocaine a month to a Houston business associate by air cargo. Recent visits by U.S. authorities to the airport have only highlighted the glaring deficiencies in local controls.
Paraguayan authorities have been cooperative but are susceptible to local pressure. They may never convict Farhat if he is tried domestically. There is a history of lost opportunities to go after Hezbollah in Paraguay. Last December, the local penitentiary system let two suspected Hezbollah drug traffickers escape during a transfer between prisons. Asunción has not taken any steps to enforce decade-old U.S. sanctions against Triple Frontier-based Hezbollah operatives, many of whom continue to live and trade on the Paraguayan side of the border.
Washington will no doubt work with the Paraguayans to bring Farhat to justice and, hopefully, to encourage more work to dismantle the larger schemes sustaining Hezbollah’s finances in the Triple Frontier. But it also needs to recognize that Lebanese institutions are not a counterweight to Hezbollah, but its enablers.
**Emanuele Ottolenghi is a senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies.

What Power Is Left for Lebanon’s Prime Minister?
Eyad Abu Shakra/Asharq Al-Awsat/June, 16/18
It is quite normal for an ambitious politician to exploit internal political imbalance to his/her advantage; especially, in a fragile state that lacks proper institutions and traditions of accountability.
Furthermore, it is not strange in the Arab world that a large sector of the population has become religiously extremist and overtaken by desire of defeating and suppressing those it regards as enemies; nor is it rare in the ‘Third World’ that one sect or group monopolizes patriotism, civilization, national ‘resistance’, even being close to God Almighty, to the extent of giving itself exclusive rights and freedoms that it claims are taboos to others.
Still, what happened in Lebanon recently has been truly noteworthy. Foreign Minister Gibran Bassil, decided on his own, as if he was not a cabinet member, to declare war on the UNCHR (a UN agency) after he accused it of “inciting Syrian refugees based in Lebanon to refuse to return home, through scaring them of what is in store for them in Syria if they did!”. This, as far as I can make out, is unprecedented!
Yes, the same UN which we have seen how its envoy to Syria ‘undersold’ the Syrian people since his unfortunate appointment to the post in July 2014, is now being accused by Bassil of inciting the refugees not to return home while Assad regime remains in power. The UN, in fact, has been since July 2014 almost a ‘false witness’ to the conspiracy of systematic uprooting and displacement of 13 million Syrians carried out after a series of massacres committed by the military forces of the regime and its allies. Yet the Lebanese minister thinks that the UNHCR needs to ‘scare’ the refugees from a regime they have experienced its ‘interaction’ with its people since 2011!
On the other hand, the minister knows that the UN knows that he and the party he leads – i.e., the ‘Free Patriotic Movement’ (The Aounists) – are ‘allies’ of Hezbollah whose active participation in the Syrian war was a main cause of the refugees’ plight. Indeed, the ongoing ‘alliance’ between Hezbollah and Bassil’s Party, forced on the Lebanese the ‘election of General Michel Aoun as president of Lebanon, and that Aoun – Bassil’s father-in-law – was among the first leaders to declare their support of Assad, in accordance with the ‘alliance’.
Moreover, both the UN and the Lebanese people are quite aware of the overt and unabated contacts between the Lebanese coalition that includes Aoun and Bassil – of course, is led by Hezbollah – and the Assad regime, among which the communications between Bassil and the regime’s counterpart Walid Al-Moallem. Thus, if one may give the UN the benefit of the doubt with regard to the fate of the refugees, this does not apply to a minister who leads a party that is a member of an openly pro – Assad coalition, and is actively backing it in the conflict!
As if this was not enough, the overall scene became even more ‘surrealistic’ after the naturalization ‘scandal’, whereby a large number of Assad cronies, henchmen, financial backers and front men were granted the Lebanese citizenship; while some in the Lebanese government are sparing no effort in expelling poor helpless refugees and displaced under the pretext of ‘preventing resettlement’ of Syrians! The Assad cronies and henchmen still have the palaces, money and influence in Syria and hence are not threatened by a regime that they serve, and enjoy its protection, which is a far cry from the tent-dwelling displaced who have lost everything but fear and hunger.
Unlike global businessmen and wealthy people who are usually granted citizenship in several countries all over the world in return for previous proof of investment, there are no guarantees that Assad’s cronies and henchmen are going to invest in Lebanon. Indeed, among many of these are suspects or people accused internationally of crimes of corruption, including bribary and dubious deals. As such it was necessary to wonder about the reasons for a naturalization bill prepared secretly and only came to light officially after a media and political onslaught. Even then, the ‘clarification’ included in official reaction was self-defeating as it stated that the suspects’ names would be referred to the Directorate of Internal Security which would carry out the required ‘investigations’, although the conventional wisdom would have been to investigate before signing the naturalization bill.
What is known so far is that the naturalization bill carried the signatures of Prime Minister Saad Al-Hariri and his political ally Interior Minister Nuhad Al-Mashnouq, in addition to President Michel Aoun. Therefore, Hariri and Mashnouq share the moral and political responsibility for such a bill. Both Hariri and Mashnouq, although now politically close to Aoun, still claim to be against the Syrian regime. On the other hand, sources with Hariri’s Future Movement’ accuse certain elements with Aoun’s and Bassil’s FPM to have been the driving force behind the naturalization bill, and that the Prime Minister and his Interior Minister are not connected to it, but they only signed it because they did not want to appear to deny the President one of his constitutional rights, among which is granting nationality or citizenship.
This may well be true; however, the problem with such excuse is that while Hariri is so keen to uphold the President’s constitutional rights and privileges, the Aounists are doing their best to belittle and cut down the Prime Minister’s rights and privileges in what seems to be a ‘silent but serious accelerated coup’.
Many Lebanese feel today that the post of Prime Minister is back to what it was before ‘The Taif Accords’; i.e., a powerless valueless post, as the President insists on attending all ministerial meetings, and nibble either directly or indirectly – through the FPM ministers and MPS – at the Prime Minister status and role. In this context, the Foreign Minister flagrant disregard and disrespect to the cabinet’s collective responsibility and solidarity is not actually new. He has been doing this for some time now buoyed by the President’s support, Hezbollah’s de facto security hegemony, and Hariri’s declaration that his solid political strategy is now based on ‘stability’ and ‘moderation’!
The strategy of ‘stability’ and ‘moderation’ has been the ‘weird’ justification used by Hariri for ‘following’ Aoun, voting for him in the Presidential elections, and agreeing on his choice (and Hezbollah’s choice) of an electoral law based on proportional representation.
In reality, Harari has accepted that his only role in government is now to seek foreign aid while the ‘Aounists’ – and Hezbollah, in the background – take the important strategic, political and military decisions in Lebanon.
This, regardless of Hariri’s good intentions, is nothing short of yielding to the clear-cut conspiracy to undermine ‘The Taif Accords’, destroy national consensus, and get rid of Lebanon’s last chance of true co-existence.

Latest LCCC Bulletin For Miscellaneous Reports And News published on June 16-17/18
State Department Warns Americans of Terrorist Threat at World Cup
The Hill/Saturday 16th June 2018/The State Department is warning Americans traveling to Russia for the World Cup that terrorists could target the games or related venues during the month-long tournament, though it has not mentioned any specific threats.The department issued a travel advisory on Friday urging Americans to "reconsider travel to Russia due to terrorism and harassment.""Although security for the World Cup will be extensive, terrorists may seek to attack event locations such as stadiums and Fan Fest viewing areas, tourist sites, transportation hubs, and other public venues," it states. The State Department's advisory also notes that assistance to U.S. citizens from American consulate services could be "unreasonably" delayed by Russian authorities. "Due to the Russian government-imposed reduction on U.S. diplomatic personnel in Russia, the U.S. government has reduced ability to provide services to U.S. citizens," the department wrote. Russia faces unrest in the North Ossetia and Chechnya regions, among others, according to the advisory. The travel advisory was issued two days after it was announced that the U.S., Canada and Mexico had jointly won a bid to host the 2026 World Cup. President Trump had lobbied for the bid on his Twitter account and during a press conference with Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari in April. "The U.S., together with Mexico and Canada, just got the World Cup," Trump tweeted on Wednesday. "Congratulations - a great deal of hard work! This year's World Cup in Russia kicked off Thursday and is slated to go until July 15.
Report: Trump Threatens to 'Send 25 Million Mexicans to Japan'
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/June 16/18/Donald Trump threatened Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe he would ship 25 million Mexicans to his country, one of a series of bizarre missives that jarred fellow leaders at last week's acrimonious G7 meet, according to a report on Friday. The Group of Seven summit gathering of top industrialized democracies finished in disarray after the U.S. president abruptly rejected its consensus statement and bitterly attacked Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. Behind the scenes, Trump's counterparts were dismayed by verbal jabs on topics ranging from trade to terrorism and migration, The Wall Street Journal said, quoting European officials who were present. At one point he described migration as a big problem for Europe then said to Abe: "Shinzo, you don't have this problem, but I can send you 25 million Mexicans and you'll be out of office very soon," creating a sense of irritation in the room, according to an EU official. The source added that when the topic turned to Iran and terrorism, Trump took aim at French President Emmanuel Macron, saying: "You must know about this, Emmanuel, because all the terrorists are in Paris." European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker also came under fire and was repeatedly described by Trump as a "brutal killer" in reference to the bloc's antitrust and tax fines against U.S. tech companies that have run into billions of dollars. Bitter differences over trade dominated the summit hosted by Canada, with leaders of the world's largest economies lining up against Trump's threats to impose stiff tariffs on imported steel and aluminum. After rejecting the joint statement, Trump and his top aides assailed Trudeau, accusing him of dishonesty and betrayal. Trump on Friday rejected reports of discord, blaming the "Fake News Media" on Twitter for portraying a false picture while posting several photos of himself appearing to get along well with fellow G7 leaders.

U.N. Envoy in Yemen for Hodeida Crisis Talks
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/June 16/18/The U.N. envoy for Yemen arrived in the rebel-held capital Sanaa on Saturday for emergency talks on the key aid port of Hodeida where rebel fighters are battling a regional coalition. Martin Griffiths is expected to propose to rebel leaders that they cede control of the Red Sea port to a U.N.-supervised committee to avoid further fighting with advancing government troops which are backed by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. He did not speak to reporters on his arrival at Sanaa international airport. More than 70 percent of Yemeni imports pass through Hodeida's docks and the fighting has raised U.N. fears of humanitarian catastrophe in a country already teetering on the brink of famine. The Yemeni government and it allies launched their offensive on Wednesday. At least 139 combatants have already been killed, according to medical and military sources.
The rebels have controlled the Hodeida region with its population of some 600,000 people since 2014. Earlier this year, the Saudi-led coalition imposed a near-total blockade on the city's port alleging that it was being used as a conduit for arms smuggling to the rebels by its regional arch rival Iran. The capture of Hodeida would be the coalition's biggest victory of the war so far and on Thursday rebel leader Abdel Malek Al-Huthi called on his forces to put up fierce resistance and turn the region into a quagmire for coalition troops.
Hodeida airport
The Yemeni army on Saturday claimed it had seized control of the rebel base at Hodeida's disused airport, which has been closed since 2014. An AFP correspondent on the front line could not confirm the news. A spokesman for the coalition, which has ground troops taking part in the Hodeida offensive, did not respond to repeated requests for comment. There was no immediate word from the rebels. The army had said on Friday it was two kilometers (little more than a mile) from the airport, which lies to the south of the vital docks. The United Nations and relief organizations have warned that any all-out assault on the city would put hundreds of thousands of people at risk. The fighting is already nearing densely populated residential areas, the Norwegian Refugee Council warned, and aid distributions have been suspended in the west of the city. The International Committee of the Red Cross said thousands were likely to flee if the fighting continued. On Thursday, the U.N. Security Council demanded that Hodeida port be kept open to vital food shipments but stopped short of backing a Swedish call for a pause in the Saudi-backed offensive to allow for talks on a rebel withdrawal. The Yemen war has claimed some 10,000 lives since the coalition intervened in 2015 when President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi fled into exile when the rebels overran much of the country. More than 22 million Yemenis are in need of aid, including 8.4 million who are at risk of starvation, according to the U.N., which has described the conflict as the world's worst humanitarian crisis.

Taliban, Afghan Forces Hug, Take Selfies as Ceasefire Holds
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/June 16/18/Taliban fighters and Afghan security forces hugged and took selfies with each other in restive eastern Afghanistan on Saturday, as an unprecedented ceasefire in the war-torn country held for the second day of Eid. Carrying assault weapons and rocket-propelled grenade launchers, members of Afghanistan's biggest militant group travelled by car and motorbike through the contested district of Bati Kot in Nangarhar province, waving Afghan and Taliban flags. Afghan forces manning checkpoints offered Eid greetings to the Taliban, embracing and posing for photos with the same people they are usually trying to kill -- a scene that would have been unthinkable only a few days ago. Villagers also flocked around the insurgents, hugging them and happily taking selfies with the heavily armed fighters as they celebrated the Muslim holiday capping the holy month of Ramadan. "I am here to offer greetings to our brothers in the police and army," Taliban commander Baba told AFP. "We have held the ceasefire well so far. Everyone is tired of war and if our leaders order us to continue the ceasefire, we will hold it forever." A Taliban fighter on a motorbike carrying the Afghan and Taliban flags welcomed the ceasefire, but said long-lasting peace would only be achieved if U.S. forces left the country. "We want an Islamic country and government. This cannot happen unless America leaves (Afghanistan)," he told AFP. The Taliban announced a ceasefire for the first three days of Eid, which started Friday, promising not to attack Afghan security forces for the first time since the 2001 U.S. invasion. They said they would continue attacking U.S.-led NATO troops. That came after President Ashraf Ghani announced that police and troops would cease operations against the Taliban for eight days, starting last Tuesday -- though he warned that operations against other militants, including the Islamic State group, would continue.
Powerful propaganda -
Afghan Deputy Interior Minister Masood Azizi told AFP both sides had so far respected the ceasefire. "Luckily it's going well so far," Azizi said. Bati Kot is on the highway connecting the Nangarhar provincial capital of Jalalabad with Torkham, one of the major border crossings into Pakistan, which has long been accused of supporting the Taliban and providing safe haven to its leaders, charges it denies. Afghans shared photos on social media purportedly showing Taliban fighters around the country gathering with security forces and locals for the holiday. The bizarre images served as powerful propaganda for both sides and have fanned hopes among war-weary Afghans for the ceasefire to continue. "Look, they are brothers. If their leaders come, sit and talk just like their soldiers we will have peace tomorrow," Said Hasibullah posted on Facebook under a photo purportedly showing a Taliban fighter and Afghan soldier having a cup of tea together. The Taliban had "exploited" the opportunity to show their popularity among ordinary Afghans, a Western diplomat in Kabul told AFP. "(That's) no bad thing if they are able to see the benefits of talking not fighting," he said. The unusual bonhomie between the two sides came as Ghani confirmed that Pakistani Taliban chief Maulana Fazlullah had been killed in a U.S. drone strike. U.S. forces targeted Fazlullah in a counterterrorism strike on Thursday in eastern Kunar province, close to the border between Afghanistan and Pakistan, U.S. officials said, without confirming his death. Ghani said Pakistani leaders had assured him the strike was a "great step toward building trust between the two nations," while urging them to "bring (the) Afghan Taliban residing in 7 to the negotiation table." On Tuesday, Pakistan's powerful army chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa visited Kabul where he met with Ghani.

Graffiti Boys who Lit Syria War Brace for Regime Attack
"Your turn, Doctor." Seven years after scribbling the anti-Assad slogan that sparked Syria's war, activists-turned-rebels Moawiya and Samer Sayasina are bracing themselves for a regime assault on their hometown Daraa. They were just 15 when they and friends, inspired by the Arab Spring revolutions they saw on television, daubed a groundbreaking message on one of the southern city's walls in the spring of 2011. "We'd been following the protests in Egypt and Tunisia, and we saw them writing slogans on their walls like 'Freedom' and 'Down with the regime'," said Moawiya, now 23. "We got a can of spray paint and we wrote 'Freedom. Down with the regime. Your turn, Doctor'," referring to President Bashar al-Assad, a trained ophthalmologist. Within two days, security forces stormed their homes and detained the boys, who are unrelated but share a common family name. "They tortured us to find out who had provoked us to write it," Moawiya said. The teenagers' detention prompted a wave of angry protests demanding their release, in what many point to as the spark to Syria's nationwide uprising. "I'm proud of what we did back then, but I never thought we'd get to this point, that the regime would destroy us like this. We thought we'd get rid of it," he said. The words that sparked the revolution more than seven years ago are no longer visible today, covered up under a coat of black paint.
'All because of us'
Samer, also now 23, remembers emerging from detention in March 2011 to find his whole country in uproar against the government. "We were in jail for about a month and ten days. When we got out, we saw protests in Daraa and all over Syria," he said. Violently smothered, the demonstrations evolved into a conflict that has since killed more than 350,000 people and thrown millions out of their homes. "In the beginning, I was proud of being the reason for the revolution against oppression. But with all the killing, the displacement and the homelessness over the years, sometimes I feel guilty," said Samer. "Those people who died or fled, all this destruction -- it all happened because of us."During the first months of protests, security forces rounded up dozens of people in Daraa, including 13-year-old Hamza al-Khatib. After he was tortured to death, according to his family, he became one of the early symbols of the Damascus regime's brutal repression. With protests melting into civil war and rebels seizing territory, Moawiya and Samer took up arms in 2013. But the rebel movement has since fragmented and suffered a string of devastating blows, with the regime with Russian support retaking more than half the country. Last month, the army regained full control of Damascus for the first time since 2012, and Assad has now turned to the cradle of the uprising against him. In a recent interview, the president gave Daraa's rebels two options: negotiated withdrawal or full-fledged attack.
'Write it all'
But the young men who first demanded he step down remain determined to fight, as they once wrote, until the regime falls. "The regime's threats of entering Daraa don't scare me," Moawiya said. "Assad's regime may have weapons, but so do we. The only difference is he has warplanes and we have God Almighty."He refuses any settlement for Daraa like those that have preceded it for the armed opposition to evacuate other parts of Syria. "I'd prefer death to Bashar al-Assad's reconciliation," he said. Going out on patrol, Moawiya swapped his civilian clothes for grey military-style trousers and a black sweater. He moved between destroyed buildings with just sandals on his feet, a Kalashnikov in his hand and his eye trained on the horizon for any movement. Moawiya and Samer lost many friends to the war, including classmates from school who became their cellmates in jail. "We were a group of young guys," recalled Samer. "Some are dead now. Some fled. Some are still fighting," he said, counting off friends who died in clashes in 2015 or subsequent bombing raids on Daraa. Moawiya too struck a nostalgic tone. "We grew up on revolution, on weapons and on fighting. We started to lose friends, to bury them with our own hands. We grew up on war and destruction," he said. Despite the losses, he insisted: "My opinion of the revolution hasn't changed. For us, the revolution continues.""When I get married and have a son, I'll tell him what happened to me. I'll teach him to write on the wall whenever he sees injustice -- not to be afraid of anyone, and to write it all."

Jordan: Foreign Ministry Won’t Name New Ambassador to Iran
Amman - Mohamed Al-Daameh/Asharq Al-Awsat/Saturday, 16 June, 2018/Reviewing current regional circumstances, Jordan announced deciding to not send an ambassador to Iran and opt for operating the Jordanian embassy with minimum staff. A royal decree had approved the cabinet's decision on the transfer of Ambassador Abdullah Abu Rumman from the Jordanian embassy in Iran last May. Abu Rumman told Asharq Al-Awsat that the Jordanian Foreign Ministry informed him of a decision to move him out of the Jordanian embassy in Tehran.
After the move being approved, the Ambassador said that he is currently awaiting a final decision concerning his services as a diplomat. “I am waiting for the decision of the ministry, either I will be appointed to another Jordanian embassy or I will remain an ambassador at the foreign ministry,” Abu Rumman said. In the same context, an official source said that the decision to transfer Abu Rumman to the foreign ministry is based on a previous decision to summon him, stressing that “there is no intention to send a new ambassador to Iran.” The source added that the decision comes as a confirmation of Jordan's rejection of Iranian regional policies and its interference in the affairs of the Arab countries, especially the Gulf states, stressing that “the security of Saudi Arabia and the Gulf countries” is equivalent in importance of Jordan's national security. The Jordanian government decided in April 2016 to summon the Jordanian ambassador to Tehran. At the time which followed the signing of Iran's 5 + 1 nuclear deal, Jordan’s government had considered positions undertaken by the Iranian government as inconsistent with Jordanian broader hopes. During this period, Jordan says Iran and Tehran officials carried out an unacceptable behavior and intolerable interference in the internal affairs of fellow Arab countries, particularly the Gulf Arab states. Denouncing Iranian behavior, Jordan said that Tehran’s approach leads to the creation of crises and deepening of regional instability, condemning blatant attacks carried out against the Saudi Arabian embassy and consulate in Tehran and Mashhad. The government concluded that an assessment was needed at this stage. In light of regional developments, the decision to summon the Jordanian ambassador to Tehran for consultations and the return of the ambassador from Tehran to Amman was required.

Islamabad: Killing of Pakistan Taliban Chief 'Significant'
Asharq Al-Awsat/Saturday, 16 June, 2018/Pakistan's caretaker Prime Minister Nasir-ul-Mulk described the killing of Pakistan Taliban chief Mullah Fazlullah in a US drone strike in Afghanistan as a "significant development in the fight against terrorism." Mulk made the comment in a telephone conversation Friday night with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani and thanked him for sharing information about Fazlullah's killing, said a Pakistan government statement. According to The Associated Press, the call was initiated by Ghani, who tweeted that Fazlullah's killing was "the result of tireless human intel by Afghan security agencies."A US official said Washington believes that it is likely the strike killed Fazlullah, but efforts are ongoing to confirm his death. The official spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss preliminary information. In his tweet, Ghani said he also called Pakistan's Army Chief Gen. Qamar Javed Bajwa. In both conversations Ghani said he urged Pakistan "to take practical steps to bring Afghan Taliban residing in Pakistan to the negotiation table."Thursday's drone strike, which reportedly killed Fazlullah and five other insurgents when missiles slammed into the car in which they were driving, occurred just hours before Afghanistan's Taliban began a three-day cease fire, the AP reported. Also Saturday, a senior Pakistani police official said gunmen riding on motorcycles have opened fire on a vehicle carrying paramilitary soldiers in the country's southwestern city of Quetta, killing three troops before fleeing. Officer Naseeb Ullah said the attack took place in the city's Saryab Road neighborhood when residents were celebrating the three-day Eid al-Fitr holiday. No one claimed responsibility for the attack and Ullah said police transported the bodies to a nearby hospital. Also late Friday, militants killed three Pakistani soldiers in a cross-border attack in the North Waziristan region bordering Afghanistan.

HRW: Turkey-Backed Forces Seizing Property in Afrin

Asharq Al-Awsat/Saturday, 16 June, 2018/Turkey-backed rebels in northwest Syria’s Afrin have seized, looted and destroyed Kurdish civilians’ property after taking control of the region in March, Human Rights Watch said on Thursday. Turkey’s military and its Syrian rebel allies launched a cross-border operation into Syria earlier this year and drove fighters from the Syrian Kurdish YPG militia out of the town of Afrin and the surrounding area. Ankara sees the YPG as a terrorist group and an extension of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), which has waged a three-decade insurgency on Turkish soil. Turkey has threatened to drive the YPG from the entire length of its border. The United Nations said 137,000 people were displaced by the Afrin offensive, another large population movement in the seven-year long Syrian conflict which has forced more than half of the country’s pre-war population from their homes. According to Reuters, Rights group HRW interviewed people who had been displaced from Afrin. They accuse Turkey-backed forces of moving their fighters and people from other parts of Syria into vacated homes and of taking over business premises without paying compensation. One interviewee, Roni Seydo, left Afrin in March but was told by a friend that an armed group had taken over his house, painting the word “seized” on the outside wall. He said his neighbors were questioned about his family and it possible links with the PKK. Another former Afrin resident, photographer Ser Hussein, said one of his two studios was burned down and the other turned into a butchers shop. “Those who made the decision to take over Afrin also took on the responsibility of ensuring that both the residents of Afrin, and people there who have been displaced elsewhere have basic shelter in a way that doesn’t infringe on either of those groups’ rights,” HRW’s acting emergencies director Priyanka Motaparthy said in a report. “So far it seems that they are failing to do the right thing by either group.”Under the laws of war, pillaging, or forcibly taking private property for personal use is prohibited and can constitute a war crime, HRW said. The laws of war also prohibit destruction of property not justified by military necessity. HRW said owners should be compensated for the use and damage of their property and the rights of rights of owners and returnees should be guaranteed. Reuters was not immediately able to reach the rebel groups for comment. Turkish officials in March said they were looking into allegations of looting and property seizure and that they would ensure Afrin would be a safe place for residents to return to.

Iraqi Shiite Cleric Says ‘Faked’ Alliances Won’t Solve Election Complications
Baghdad - Hamza Mustafa/Asharq Al-Awsat/Saturday, 16 June, 2018/A leading Iraqi Shiite cleric, who called for boycotting parliamentary elections, said that the intricate hitches in national politics cannot be resolved by 'faked' alliances. Iraq’s May parliamentary election was marred by low turnout and allegations of fraud, stalling talks on forming a new government. Parliament mandated a nationwide manual recount of votes and some politicians called for it to be repeated. Iraqi political leaders of various political coalitions, or "lists" as they're called, have been negotiating to form larger alliances to gain legislative power. “The crisis created by the occupation and its political process and the fake and burning elections, can’t be solved by artificial alliances and shifting media meetings,” Khalisiya school imam Sheikh Jawad al-Khalisi, said in a statement. “The crisis is in fact the quota itself, which is the last unresolved issue among political parties, leaving them unable to form an Iraqi government to undertake fulfilling national demands,” said the Kadhimiya-based cleric. Khalisi gave a “final” piece of advice for every Iraqi urging them to seek a solution within Iraq, and away from foreign embassies, especially American and British missions. Iraq’s Fatah Alliance led by Hadi al-Amiri has announced the joining of the Irada Movement led by Hanan al-Fatlawi and a coalition of Competencies bloc led by Haitham al-Jubouri.
Speaking under the condition of anonymity, a local source told Asharq Al-Awsat that many differences exist among the civil bloc’s internal ranks, which include the Iraqi Communist Party, especially on the topic of striking alliances with Islamist movements—in reference to civil movements lobbying with the Sadrists. Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi’s invitation for political groups meeting after the Eid al-Fitr Muslim holiday to establish a new parliament and government, was met with timid and faint responses as only two Sunni blocs announced agreeing to holding dialogue.
The coalition of Iraqi forces led by Jamal al-Karbouli and the National Dialogue Front led by Saleh al-Mutlaq were the two blocs who responded to Abadi’s invite.
No Shiite or Kurdish parties commented on the prime minister’s proposal.

Egypt Announces Steep Increase in Gasoline Prices

Asharq Al-Awsat/Saturday, 16 June, 2018/Egypt raised gasoline prices by up to 50 percent, the oil ministry said on Saturday, as part of the country's economic reforms and austerity measures. The ministry said the new prices will go into effect starting Saturday morning. Prices for cooking gas increased from 60 to 100 pounds (from $3.3 to $5.6) per cylinder, a more than 60 percent increase. Ninety-two octane gasoline increased from 5 pounds to 6.75 pounds per liter, or about a 34 percent increase. Eighty octane gas increased from 3.65 to 5.5 pounds, nearly a 50 percent increase per liter. This is the third time the government has increased fuel prices since austerity measures were announced. Oil Minister Tarek El Molla said the price rise will cut the funds allocated for fuel subsidies to 89 billion pounds from 139 billion pounds. "Moving fuel prices will help reduce petroleum products consumption by about 5 percent," Molla said. Egypt hopes that reforms such as tax hikes and subsidy cuts will lure back foreign investors.

Latest LCCC Bulletin analysis & editorials from miscellaneous sources published on June 16-17/18
Human Rights: Other Views - Part III/Refugees and the Arab States
Denis MacEoin/Gatestone Institute/June 16/18
Whereas refugees arriving under the UNHCR are entitled to be granted asylum and eventually citizenship, the UAE is clear from the start that it wants to send its refugees back home. Back home to what? To a half-ruined country still ruled by one of history's most brutal dictators hand-in-hand with Iran, Russia, and Hizbullah?
As the years pass, as more and more countries struggle with poverty, conflict, religious extremism, terrorism, ethnic divisions, governmental incapacity, corruption, and declining levels of education, huge sections of the world's rapidly growing population will look in vain for safe places... The Western states who support the UNHCR cannot possibly handle this without suffering internal decline.
In the first part of this series, as many surveys have shown, we saw how difficult it has been, and apparently remains, for many Muslims to be assimilated into non-Muslim societies.
In Part Two, we examined how difficult it remains to allow Syrian and other refugees even to settle into other Muslim and Arab countries, including places such as Turkey, Lebanon, Iraq, and Jordan, which have taken in millions.
In this final part, we shall look at the remaining Muslim countries, which have taken in few or no refugees from the Syrian civil war. These are the richest countries in the Arab world, and the least troubled by disintegration. Many are generous in their funding for humanitarian aid, but that money is donated on the understanding that the refugees are looked after by the UNHCR and the countries they have already reached. Seeing why may be a help.
In 2014, Amnesty International published a short article, "Facts and Figures: Syria refugee crisis & international resettlement", in which it stated that "The six Gulf countries - Qatar, United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Bahrain - have offered zero resettlement places to Syrian refugees".
This conclusion was echoed Deutsche Welle, the BBC, Time magazine, CNN, the Washington Post , the Huffington Post, the Jerusalem Post and other media. The most detailed report, however, came from the Brookings Institution in a September 2015 article by Luay Al-Khateeb, a prominent Arab expert on the geopolitics and economics of the GCC. Al-Khateeb noted that:
"condemnation of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) stance on the region's refugee crisis has reached a crescendo... they have countered criticism by asking the world to do more.
"The GCC, it is pointed out, has nonetheless given more money for refugees than any other [country]."[1]
As early as 2013, this amounted to $40 billion. Despite this generosity, the bulk of GCC aid money goes to other Muslim states, notably Egypt and Morocco, which, as noted in Part Two, have taken almost no refugees.
At this point, things become murkier. In 2015, Alex Nowrasteh, writing for Newsweek, argued that there are more Arabs and Muslims living in Arab and Muslim lands than ever before:
Many more Syrians are living in Saudi Arabia and the Gulf States than at the beginning of the Syrian civil war in 2011.
The World Bank reports that 1,000,000 Syrians resided in Saudi Arabia in 2013, a whopping 795% increase over 2010. There were 1,375,064 Syrian migrants living in the Gulf States in 2013, a 470% increase over 2010.
Excluding Oman, the 2013 Syrian population in every Gulf State has increased dramatically since right before the beginning of the Syrian civil war.
Others have also taken up cudgels on behalf of the GCC countries. Open Source Investigations, writing in December 2015, argued that the story about GCC failure to receive refugees is "a myth". Just before that, the Guardian opined that Saudi Arabia had said criticism of their refugee response was "false and misleading". The humanitarian organization HumanRefuge(e) published an article entitled "How Many Syrians Let in by the Gulf States?"
The HumanRefuge(e) post even features a map that purports to show high numbers of Syrian refugees who have been settled in Saudi Arabia.[2]
Why is there such a discrepancy between these two accounts: on the one hand, that the Gulf states have taken in no refugees and, on the other, that they have taken large numbers?
The explanation given by HumanRefuge(e), Open Source Investigations, the Saudi government and others hinges (or appears to hinge) on the fact that:
The UNHCR counts refugees using the 1951 Refugee Convention, among other protocols. Gulf states like Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar, and the UAE did not sign any UN protocols on refugees, so most refugees residing in these areas aren't counted by agencies like the UNHCR.
A clearer explanation is given by Chaker Khazaal, commenting on a 2014 report by Amnesty International:
The reason it's difficult to establish just how many refugees are being hosted by countries in the GCC is because they do not officially recognize incoming asylum-seekers as refugees. Since the GCC is not a signatory of the United Nations' 1951 Refugee Convention, they are not bound by law to provide these people with the standard treatment and rights typically afforded those seeking refuge in a new country.
Admittedly, while the Arab states of the GCC might not have officially resettled any of the Syrian refugees, it would be incorrect to say that Arab states have not received any of the millions of Syrians who have been displaced since the civil war began.
The problem is that being an official refugee and being a guest of a GCC work-sponsorship program are not one and the same. The most significant difference is that official refugees in countries that have agreed to the 1951 Refugee Convention are eligible to become citizens after a certain period of time.
There are (or have been) a lot of Syrians in some of the countries in question. But these are migrant workers, not people fleeing from the civil war. Instead of treating these workers as asylum seekers entitled to the rights of resettlement and citizenship, the Gulf states are trying hard to expel them.
Saudi Arabia, for example, has experienced physical and social decline from its migrant population. Dr Khalid Mandeli (PhD from Newcastle University), a lecturer at Jeddah's King AbdulAziz University, has published a number of articles that show concerns about the impact of migrant workers living in slum areas.[3] Their presence goes back to the 1970s, when the country brought in cheap foreign labour after the oil boom and religious awakening of the period.
By 2013, the Saudi government had embarked on a "Saudization" campaign that aims to remove foreign workers in order to put more Saudis to work. The result has been alarming:
Until recently, of the kingdom's 30 million residents, more than nine million were non-Saudis. Since the labour crackdown started in March, one million Bangladeshis, Indians, Filipinos, Nepalis, Pakistanis and Yemenis have left. And the campaign has moved into higher gear after the final deadline expired on 4 November, with dozens of repatriation flights now taking place every day. By next year, two million migrants will have gone.
In 2015, Human Rights Watch published a short report on the issue: "Detained, Beaten, Deported: Saudi Abuses against Migrants during Mass Expulsions". The report noted that:
None of the workers interviewed were allowed to challenge their deportations or apply for asylum. Saudi Arabia has not established an asylum system under which migrants could prevent their forced return to places where their lives or freedom would be threatened.
Is it plausible, however, that a country that sees foreigners as a problem and has no asylum system in place has brought in as many as two million Syrian refugees to add to their woes?
The same problem apparently lies behind the rejection of refugees in the rest of the region. Khazaal notes that:
The mass deportation of workers is considered to be a result of the region's reported attempts to prioritize giving employment opportunities to their local citizens. There is also widespread perception that Syrians wishing to seek refuge in the Gulf states are unlikely to be granted a visa in the first place.
This was confirmed by the BBC:
Although those fleeing the Syrian crisis have for several years been crossing into Lebanon, Jordan and Turkey in huge numbers, entering other Arab states - especially in the Gulf - is far less straightforward.
Officially, Syrians can apply for a tourist visa or work permit in order to enter a Gulf state.
But the process is costly, and there is a widespread perception that many Gulf states have unwritten restrictions in place that make it hard for Syrians to be granted a visa in practice.
In 2017, UNHCR reported on a "landmark agreement" between themselves and Kuwait to aid Syrian refugees. Good news, but it is important to read the small print. The agreement is worth $10 million and is aimed "to improve the living conditions of Syrian refugees in northern Iraq". But, given that Kurdistan is linguistically and culturally different from Syria, those refugees will find it hard, almost impossible, to settle there. Kuwait's money will only ease refugees living in camps.
Bahrain fits the same narrative. In March 2018 Bahrain pledged a mere $2 million "to build schools in the Zaatari Refugee Camp in Jordan". That is small help for a country already highly pressurized by the numbers of refugees it has taken. This too is not a solution.
In March 2018, the Gulf kingdom of Bahrain pledged a mere $2 million "to build schools" in the Zaatari Refugee Camp in Jordan (pictured above). Photo by Jeff Mitchell/Getty Images.
The UAE boasted in 2016 that is planning to take in 15,000 refugees over the following five years -- three thousand a year. But the long-term prospects of those refugees are not encouraging. Reem Al Hashemi, the UAE's minister of state for international cooperation explained that:
Ultimately, we must offer a source of hope for displaced persons that allows them to maintain dignity, return home, reintegrate themselves into their societies, and rebuild their countries and their lives. [Emphasis in original.]
Whereas refugees arriving under the UNHCR are entitled to be granted asylum and eventually citizenship, the UAE is clear from the start that it wants to send its refugees back home. Back home to what? To a half-ruined country still ruled by one of history's most brutal dictators hand-in-hand with Iran, Russia, and Hizbullah? To Eastern Ghouta? To Aleppo, Homs, Hama, Lattakia, Deir al-Zur, al-Raqqa, Tartus, Daraa, al-Hasakeh, al-Qamishli? In order to "maintain their dignity... reintegrate themselves... and rebuild their countries and their lives"?
This is the response from the sixth richest country in the world (taking the Emirates together)? The second richest in the Arab world (after Saudi Arabia)? Where Abu Dhabi has been described as "the richest city in the world"?
What of Qatar, ranked by Fortune magazine in 2017 as the richest country in the world per capita? Qatar houses a large number of migrant workers, mainly Pakistani and Indian, with three out of four residents male. The migrants make up 94% of the country's workforce and 70% of its total population. In January 2017, Qatar offered to house Salvadorans who may be expelled from the United States. But they would be admitted on a temporary basis only. The treatment of migrant workers by the state, however, has been strongly condemned by the European Parliament and others. A report by the BBC in 2015 gives some details.
As the years pass, as more and more countries struggle with poverty, conflict, religious extremism, terrorism, ethnic divisions, governmental incapacity, corruption, and declining levels of education, huge sections of the world's rapidly growing population will look in vain for safe places in which to live, work, and raise their families. The Western states who support the UNHCR cannot possibly handle this without suffering internal decline.
This decline in many parts of the world will accelerate the growth of refugee and migrant populations, creating a downward spiral that will drag down even the more affluent countries. According to Paul Ehrlich, "Collapse of Civilization is a near certainty within decades". The failure of so many Islamic states and the refusal of some of the richest countries in the world to do much to help, alongside their expenditure of billions of dollars over many years to spread the radicalization of Islam and finance Islamic terrorism, is one of the greatest problems facing the modern world and challenging the democracies.
This situation theoretically calls for major intervention by the United Nations, but the UN is effectively controlled by the very countries that are causing or contributing to the problem. With the Organization of Islamic Cooperation adding to the pressures on the democracies by working in the interest of Muslim states, it is time for a response. But so far, the Western nations have shown no willingness to create one.
*Denis MacEoin taught Arabic and Islamic Studies in England and is currently a Distinguished Senior Fellow at New York's Gatestone Institute.
[1] Saudi Arabia and Qatar have provided some $900 million in humanitarian aid to Syrians. The United Arab Emirates have donated $530 million in aid since 2012. Problematically, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees' Syria Regional Response Plan has requested another $4.5 billion, to ensure basic dietary and sanitation conditions in the refugee camps.
[2] Saudi Arabia (500,00 to 2.5 m.), Kuwait (120,000), Bahrain (1,750), Qatar (19,000 to 25,000), and the United Arab Emirates (242,000).
[3] E.g. Khalid Nasralden Mandeli, "The realities of integrating physical planning and local management into urban development: A case study of Jeddah, Saudi Arabia", Habitat International 32 (2008) 512–533
© 2018 Gatestone Institute. All rights reserved. The articles printed here do not necessarily reflect the views of the Editors or of Gatestone Institute. No part of the Gatestone website or any of its contents may be reproduced, copied or modified, without the prior written consent of Gatestone Institute.

The Diplomatic Big Bang
Ahmed Charai/Gatestone Institute/June 16/18
Diplomacy is changing before our eyes.
"The unspoken objective is to constrain the U.S., and to transfer authority from national governments to international bodies. The specifics of each case differ, but the common theme is diminished American sovereignty, submitting the United States to authorities that ignore, outvote or frustrate its priorities.... By reasserting their sovereignty, the British are in the process of escaping, among other things, the European Court of Justice and the European Court of Human Rights." — Ambassador John R. Bolton, Wall Street Journal, March 7, 2017.
The Singapore summit is indeed historic. First, it is so because just a few weeks ago we were closer to a nuclear war than to even the semblance of a peace process. The way we got here is surprising, because it did not obey the usual rules.
A few days ago, during the G7 summit held in Canada, US President Donald Trump upheld his decisions on tariffs and his positions on the trade deficit. These stances followed his decision to pull out of the Paris climate change agreement and the Iranian "nuclear deal". It is clear that the new US administration challenged the alliances inherited from the Cold War. President Trump, a businessman, not a politician -- one of the reasons he was elected -- is asking America's trading partners just to have "free, fair and reciprocal" agreements. It is probably not all that unusual to feel affronted when asked for money or to regard the person asking for it as mercenary or adversarial. It does not always mean that this feeling is justified.
In short, President Trump's arguments, which sound like a leitmotif, go back to the economic aspect of things. NATO? Why should it be normal that, in order to defend Europe, the American taxpayer pays the heaviest part. Free trade? Why should America suffer a trade deficit with so many countries? Climate change? The results of the Paris Climate Change conference, COP 21, were apparently not only costly but questionable, and to critics, looked like a list of unenforceable promises that would not have come due until 2030 -- if ever.
A new paradigm is shaping up on the international scene: This is the first time that the US domestic policy is to prevail over its so-called "strategic" role -- sometimes possibly to the detriment of allies.
Ambassador John R. Bolton, before he was appointed National Security Advisor, rejected any external constraints or supranational authority -- starting with the WTO's trade dispute body, the Dispute Settlement Understanding (DSU):
"The unspoken objective is to constrain the U.S., and to transfer authority from national governments to international bodies. The specifics of each case differ, but the common theme is diminished American sovereignty, submitting the United States to authorities that ignore, outvote or frustrate its priorities.... While many European Union governments seem predisposed to relinquish sovereignty, there is scant hint of similar enthusiasm in America.... By reasserting their sovereignty, the British are in the process of escaping, among other things, the European Court of Justice and the European Court of Human Rights."
Unfortunately, Europe is the first to suffer from this new reality. But is the European Union able to stage a showdown? Probably not. The populist wave flooding the EU countries is primarily the result of the social impacts of the fiscal policy imposed by Germany. While the US has an unemployment rate effectively past full employment, the rather sluggish growth in Europe produces a near-zero effect on this indicator. With 27 members, and because of the rule of "one country one vote," as well as a possibly outdated view of how to incentivize growth and finance pensions, Europe has been slowing down even the possibility any development on issues such as immigration or common defense. Europe is shattered, all the more that there does not seem to be any solution on the horizon.
The group called the European Union does not weigh much against the forced march of Donald Trump. The US president only believes in bilateral agreements when it comes to international relations. The use of the principle of ex-territoriality, or diplomatic immunity, has taken the agreement with Iran out of the equation. The big French and German companies have already withdrawn from it. Diplomacy is changing before our eyes. "The Western camp," it seems, is becoming nothing more than a specter that does not rest on any on-the-ground reality.
Inevitably, each power will have to adapt, according to its own interests. As Europeans continue to cast their votes, these adjustments may, in turn, feed current divisions even more.
Ahmed Charai is a Moroccan publisher. He is on the board of directors for the Atlantic Council, an international counselor of the Center for a Strategic and International Studies, and a member of the Advisory Board of The Center for the National Interest in Washington and Advisory Board of Gatestone Institute in New York.
© 2018 Gatestone Institute. All rights reserved. The articles printed here do not necessarily reflect the views of the Editors or of Gatestone Institute. No part of the Gatestone website or any of its contents may be reproduced, copied or modified, without the prior written consent of Gatestone Institute.
Asharq Al-Awsat/Saturday, 16 June, 2018/

Polar Ice Is Live-Blogging Human History

Faye Flam/Bloomberg View/June 16/18
By the dawn of the 20th century, when the first humans set foot on Antarctica’s seemingly pristine ice cap, pollution had beaten them there. Lead and other heavy metals quickly amassed in the ice in 1888 and beyond, leaving a record of the industrial revolution. Not a subtle one, either. It was like “a switch turning on,” said Joseph McConnell, a hydrologist and ice core expert with the Desert Research Institute in Nevada. On both Greenland’s and Antarctica’s ice caps, snow settles in layers, like sediments, recording what was in the atmosphere, year by year. By digging out ice cores hundreds of feet long, scientists can read an environmental history going back thousands of years. Now, with newly precise measurements, McConnell and colleagues announced they can use Greenland’s ice to read subtle ups and down of lead pollution emanating from the Roman Empire.
Millennia from now, when our civilization is long gone, and our ashes and dust are spread around the earth, scientists and historians could learn much about us by digging into this same ice. They might use written records too, but physical remnants carry a different view of history – a perspective that emphasizes change over time. As with other extinct civilizations, what we leave behind will reveal much more than the history we write down.
That’s why historians are getting so excited about the newfound ability to read ancient history in ice. They say most of the lead from the Roman era was released from the process of extracting silver from ore, for use in coins. The periods of heavy lead contamination correspond to the periods the Romans made the most silver coins, and these correspond, roughly, to times of a strong economy.
The idea of looking for lead emissions buried in ice started with a geophysicist named Clair Patterson. He became concerned about lead pollution while attempting to calculate the age of the earth using a natural clock based on the decay of uranium into lead. In a story that’s laid out in Bill Bryson’s “A Short History of Nearly Everything,” Patterson ran into a snag when he discovered massive lead contamination in his lab, on his person, on his colleagues, and pretty much everywhere.
In 1953, after a monumental effort to create a clean laboratory, he correctly calculated the Earth’s age of 4.55 billion years, and soon afterwards started investigating the source of the extra lead, which he realized must be coming from industrial lead and, especially, leaded gasoline. To convince the government to consider regulating lead, Patterson needed to prove that emissions brought levels higher than the natural background. To do that, he found remote spots in Greenland and Antarctica, dug deep into the ice, and found lead levels had ballooned to 200 to 300 times what they’d been in 1700.
That work revealed other, smaller peaks in lead levels in Greenland, including one during the period corresponding to the Roman Empire. Levels then were only 1/50 what they’d been during the 20th century, but the rise and fall of Rome was clearly recorded.
McConnell’s team applied more precise measurements than were possible in Patterson’s time, and for the first time gave us a detailed record. The heavier emissions appear to mark periods of prosperity, such as the peaceful period known as the Pax Romana from 27 BCE to 180 CE. Emissions decreased later during each of several plagues. The researchers used telltale particles from known volcanic eruptions as time markers to match the ice layers to the calendar. McConnell said that researchers can anchor their ice core in time to within an accuracy of a year or two, even going back three millennia.
It’s not so much a backup to history but a new kind of history, said Joseph Manning, a Yale historian who has collaborated with McConnell on other ice core work. The ice core information tells them about changes over time – and may help historians better understand why things changed.
Manning sees history becoming more integrated with science – and practiced more like a natural science. Historians are increasingly appreciating that political events, leadership and victory in war all play out amid equally powerful influences of heat waves, cold spells, droughts and other environmental changes.
Are people learning from history, especially as it applies to pollution? Scientists are getting better at identifying hazardous substances, said Lloyd Tepper, a physician at the University of Pennsylvania who has written on lead, mercury and beryllium for the Journal of the Society for Industrial Archeology. But scientists have limited power. Think of a fulcrum, he said, with national wealth and personal comfort and convenience on the one he said, and health costs on the other. Scientists don’t set the fulcrum, he said. Political interests do – as they always have.

Iraq stuck in an electoral quagmire

Diana Moukalled//Arab News/June 16/18
Iraqis did not linger long on analyzing the causes of the fire that ripped through Iraq’s biggest ballot-box warehouse, destroying the ballot papers filled in by a large segment of the electorate in the May elections. This fire did not affect the votes cast by Sunnis or Kurds, but by Shiites, whose choices changed the political climate and represented a significant setback for Iranian influence.
Amid allegations of widespread electoral fraud and violations, as stated by numerous judges, deputies and observers, Parliament had ordered a manual recount of the votes. Iraqi cleric Moqtada Al-Sadr cautioned against the eruption of a “civil war” in Iraq in the aftermath of the burning of the ballot-box warehouse before the nationwide recount. The fire will not affect the recount, because the votes are all stored electronically.
Suddenly, the Iraqi political scene witnessed an apparent breakthrough. The results of the elections confirmed the victory of an anti-Iranian Shiite figure, but soon enough this victory was undermined by Sadr announcing his alliance with Iranian-backed militia chief Hadi Al-Amiri. There are no clear details about this alliance between these two blocs that ran against each other in the elections, and the sharp division between them almost led to an inter-Shiite conflict in Iraq.
The declaration of an alliance between Sadr and Al-Ameri tempered the tensions and undermined fears of fighting between armed Shiite factions. This alliance was considered a victory for Iranian Revolutionary Guards commander Gen. Qassem Soleimani, who controls Iran’s policy with respect to Iraq, and who reportedly was stationed at Karbala when announcing the new alliance. It seems that Soleimani, who has resided in Iraq since the end of the elections, is trying to redraw Iraq’s political course.
This fire did not affect the votes cast by Sunnis or Kurds, but by Shiites, whose choices changed the political climate and represented a significant setback for Iranian influence.
The new alliance between Al-Ameri and Sadr remains fragile and faces substantial obstacles regarding the allocation of posts, the means of nominating a pick for prime minister and the distribution of ministerial posts, but it extinguished the hopes of seeing the birth of a broad coalition government that goes beyond communities and components.
In addition to Shiite balances and dwelling on Iran’s role in this convergence by Iraqi and Arab sources, the fear of losing seats and risks to election results after Parliament’s decision to dismiss the Elections Commission and appoint judges to supervise the elections, as well as the decision to resort to a manual recount, all played a role in uniting the two Shiite rivals who refuse to recount all the votes manually and want to deal with appeals and doubts by resorting to partial solutions.
Besides the Iranian role, the future government lineup is still incomplete, and until it becomes clearer, the Iraqi media machines keep talking about a great Iranian breakthrough reflecting in bringing together Shiite factions within a broad framework to prevent the Shiite parties from losing the presidency of the Cabinet after the electoral fragmentation witnessed on the Shiite political scene during the elections.
Observers and politicians expect that the new “surprising” Shiite alliance will motivate Sunni parties to try to tighten their ranks and form a union or coalition opposing the larger Shiite bloc. There are also calls by Kurds to unite their ranks before heading to Baghdad, despite the difficulties to achieving this goal.
Until the political situation becomes clearer, the Iraqi political scene remains contingent upon various cross-sectarian, religious and nationalist alliances; everyone understands the need to get rid of them, but they soon reintegrate and consolidate again.
*Diana Moukalled is a veteran journalist with extensive experience in both traditional and new media. Twitter: @dianamoukalled

The Arab world needs trade not a trade war
Hafed Al-Ghwell/Arab News/June 16/18
If we peel away the intrigue and the headlines coming out of the White House, a troubling American descent into isolationism becomes visible. Before the election, the Trump campaign framed themselves as “fixers,” ready to roll up their sleeves to mend what the previous administration “broke” at the expense of the average American. They touted dying farms, mines, power stations and industries battling declines inflicted by overzealous, regulatory excess and unwarranted concern for honoring foreign pacts now crippling Middle America.
To half of the American electorate and much of the world, this was a ludicrous proposition. The US had spearheaded a robust recovery from the 2008 recession, and the global economy was showing signs of roaring back to life. The resurgence was not without its pains, but the 2016 election came at an important juncture. Surely it was inevitable that, whichever candidate won, they would at least maintain America’s premier role in the global economy.
But along came Donald Trump.
Setting aside the speculation behind Trump’s motivation for America to exit the world stage, a minimal US. footprint in a recently recovered global economy is an extremely unsettling development. Nations in the developing world that had just recently shrugged off the effects of the Great Recession must now contend with the world’s foremost economy shutting its doors to trade, immigration, peacekeeping and its role as a stabilizing force in the world.
The effects of America’s retreat are readily visible in the Middle East and North Africa, where the US has remained entwined in this region’s political and socioeconomic developments, from outright war and regime change to development and military aid. In fact, much of the Arab world’s history since the end of the Second World War has been influenced greatly by the shifting tides and winds of Washington politics.
It has become imperative for the Arab world’s economies to treat Trump’s recent show at the G7 as a serious crisis that, if left unchecked, could have serious ramifications, especially for post-Arab Spring nations undergoing IMF-advocated austerity measures.
Democratic administrations have always sought conciliatory diplomacy and development aid in their policies, much to the ire of the Israelis. Meanwhile, Republicans have tended to be more combative, electing for variations of military involvement and punishing sanctions, for instance. However, in the 70-year history of the global order since the end of the Second World War, never has the US adopted such an isolationist stance before, fueled by the otherism that defines Trump politics.
Thus, it has become imperative for the Arab world’s economies to treat Trump’s recent show at the G7 as a serious crisis that, if left unchecked, could have serious ramifications, especially for post-Arab Spring nations undergoing IMF-advocated austerity measures that have even recently sparked economically motivated protests in Jordan and added to a region-wide sense of despair. There is no knowing how the current administration would respond should the region descend into chaos again if the global economy slowed and reversed gains from punishing economic policies meant to hinder excessive government spending.
However, the Arab world can possibly mitigate the effects of a disengaging America by engaging with other trade partners in Europe and Asia, whittling down any substantial trade with the United States where possible. Most US allies and Asian nations have opted simply to work with other countries, especially among themselves, and join alternative trade pacts and multilateral agreements to react to Washington’s lack of direction and conclusive policy.
Engaging with new trading partners or, at the very least, preparing and integrating local markets and export industries for this new reality would ensure that, when the negative effects of global disengagement strike the US economy, Arab world economies would not be dragged down with it. However, the Trump administration’s closeness to some Arab economies and its traditional support of Egypt would make such decisions difficult to implement without upsetting Washington.
As the New Yorker magazine put it: “Under Trump, ‘America First’ really is turning out to be ‘America Alone.’ From trade…to NAFTA, the president has created the highest level of tension between the US and its allies in decades.”
Trump’s combative attitude toward America’s allies, who have contributed greatly to the American-led relative peace in the past 70 years, somewhat indicates that the time might be ripe for a new kind of world order. The world has grown far too complex for a tiered approach to diplomacy, whereby the U.S. would go it alone and others join in. Perhaps the time has come for the US to shed some of its obligations to other entities such as the European Union, China, the United Nations and other international organizations that are better placed and more knowledgeable for the growing intricacies and complexities of a multifaceted 21st-century world.
• Hafed Al-Ghwell is a senior adviser at the international economic consultancy Maxwell Stamp and the geopolitical risk advisory firm Oxford Analytica, a member of Strategic Advisory Solutions International in Washington DC and a former adviser to the board of the World Bank Group.
Twitter: @HafedAlGhwell

Trump and De Niro’s diatribe against him

Mashari Althaydi/Al Arabiya/June 16/18
Hollywood actor Robert De Niro’s recent insult of Trump is not his first. There is actually a famous video of Robert De Niro’s speech after Donald Trump became an American political reality and not a clowning puppet for the leftist American media. De Niro’s attitude is unprecedented in its use of despicable language. While US President Donald Trump has achieved unprecedented breakthrough in US foreign policy and in opening a gap in the fort called North Korea, the hot-tempered American actor made slanderous remarks and insulted him at the opening of a restaurant in Canada.
The Hollywood actor belongs to a globalist-American-western movement that has decided to master burning Trump’s image and Trumpism in all ways possible even if it entails the use of profane language, like we witnessed in De Niro’s round of insults in Canada and which the audience warmly applauded. Even the Canadian media outlets desisted from covering De Niro’s sentence which included the word of abuse. There is a bloc that includes the left and other parties including the “neo-Brotherhood,” “neo-Khomeinist” and global feminist groups that oppose Trump, right-wing and political groups and that of course oppose the interests of Saudi Arabia and Gulf countries or most of them.
In fact, Trump’s successful steps and policies upset this bloc.
Trump’s response
After returning from Singapore where he held a summit with the North Korean leader, Trump responded to De Niro’s insults and described the latter as being “a very low IQ individual.”Trump attributed De Niro’s low level of intelligence to receiving too many hits to the head by real boxers in various movies.
A globalist-American-western movement has decided to master burning Trump’s image and Trumpism, even if it entails the use of profane language . “I watched him last night and truly believe he may be ‘punch-drunk.’ I guess he doesn’t realize the economy is the best it’s ever been with employment being at an all time high,” Trump said. Then, addressing De Niro in a tweet, Trump said: “Wake up Punchy!” Apart from Trump’s harsh comment against De Niro’s insult, the question is: For how long will the leftist media or the liberal media stay in this state of denial against Trump and his measures?
I also ask this question from those who feed off this media in our Arab world.

Let our youth not fall into this seditious trap once again
Sawsan Al Shaer/Al Arabiya/June 16/18
As we look at Jordan and pray for protection of our nations and for an end to the destructive project in the region and its repercussions that are still alive with the heads of sedition and decay always lurking, we hope that the youth of Jordan understood the lesson of “devastation” that has impacted our Arab world and which some countries, including Jordan, survived and that they maintain this blessing. This leads us to take great care of our youth here in our nations, whether those at risk of being deceived or already have been deceived to be used as fuel for ill practices.
The destruction and ruin that have afflicted our Arab countries as a result of incitement to chaos must become a material to teach our students in schools and universities and youths who are serving sentences in rehabilitation centers for carrying out acts punishable by law, just like it’s a lesson to governments to take into account every possible scenario.
Inciting approach
This inciting approach was used to feed the minds of young people to stir chaos while deluding them into thinking that their actions are heroic and will help them attain freedom and welfare if they live or go to heaven if they die. Look how Iraq and Egypt were and how Lebanon was in terms of beauty and security. Look at the destruction in Yemen, Syria and Libya. What has happened in Jordan shows that the incitement to destruction is still present and that its tools are still effective. Not realizing the consequences and the outcomes is a characteristic of impulsiveness and enthusiasm. Not having enough knowledge is a great disaster  The pictures of refugees in camps and displaced people in Europe and on borders, the pictures of burned and ruined cities and of people who were forced to eat cats and dogs and of those who hide in caves to escape shelling, the pictures of hospitals that suffer from the lack of medicine and equipment and the pictures of the dead must become educational material to raise awareness. They must be given as mandatory lectures so people can see the big picture of the project that seduces them to engage, without further knowledge about what they truly are.
Explain to them the projects of the great powers, their schemes and how they marked our regions as if they were uninhabited places without people. The published documents and confessions of country leaders, both filmed and written, reveal the extent of involvement of these major countries in the devastating projects of our countries and the involvement of many of our youth in such projects as chess pieces without knowing the big picture.
Let the young people who came out of their captivity narrate their experiences. Host those who were deceived and woke up from Lebanon, Iraq and Yemen and open universities, clubs, rehabilitation centers and places of worship for them.
What has happened in Jordan shows that the incitement to destruction is still present and that its tools are still effective. Not realizing the consequences and the outcomes is a characteristic of impulsiveness and enthusiasm. Not having enough knowledge is a great disaster.
Do not fall asleep as the devil is still awake.

A new achievement for political Islam in Iraq
Adnan Hussein/Al Arabiya/June 16/18
The ruling political Islam in Iraq has added to its great record of “achievements” a new great “achievement” that might bring it great pride and joy for many years to come.
Before tackling this new accomplishment, let’s review this record first.
There is the sectarian war which has cooled down gradually since 2008 but that is still linked to hate speech propagated by radio and television stations, social media sites, religious books and magazines, speeches and lectures spewing out of mosques and Husayniyat.
There is also administrative and financial corruption which has not spared any part of the state and society and which has been carried out under the direct supervision and management of leaders of political Islam groups and their militias.
Ruling political Islam groups also overthrew the democratic system which the people have chosen during the constitutional referendum. They overthrew it by obstructing this constitution, replacing it with the nationalist and sectarian quota system, taking over state posts and functions, fostering nepotism of a few families, clans, parties and militias and turning the “independent commissions” into partisan dens.
The people’s will in all parliamentary and local elections was harmed by forging election results. This is in addition to legislating electoral laws, an electoral commission and parties that guarantee the confiscation of people’s will and freedoms and not allowing free, fair and impartial elections
The people’s will in all parliamentary and local elections was harmed by forging election results. This is in addition to legislating electoral laws, an electoral commission and parties that guarantee the confiscation of people’s will and freedoms and not allowing free, fair and impartial elections.
Inciting hatred
There is also inciting hatred and racism among Iraqi ethnicities, especially between Arabs and Kurds, in an uncommon way except during Saddam’s regime.
As for ISIS’ occupation of Iraq, it can only be compared to catastrophes during the Saddam reign, such as the Iran-Iraq war, the invasion of Kuwait, the second Gulf War, crushing the March 1991 uprising and the Anfal and Halabja events.
This long record of “achievements” is now capped by the Turkish occupation. The scattered military presence of Turkish units in various parts of the Kurdistan region is now developing into large and permanent military bases. Turkish Defense Minister Noureddine Ganikli announced on Tuesday that the Turkish army will permanently stay in the Kurdistan region.
According to Turkish media reports, he said: “Our operations within the region are different since for the first time the Turkish army is establishing military bases,” adding that the Turkish army “will remain permanently in the Kurdistan region.”History has shown that Turkey did not occupy an area except to annex it into its own territories, and Sanjak of Alexandretta of Syria is one such example, and northern Cyprus is another. This does not raise the slightest concern of the Islamist leaders, who are preoccupied with the struggle for power, dominance and money and with maintaining the state of tension in the political and social life because it is necessary to sustain their control over the country and continue their corruption. The baffling question now is: What is the next “great” step one might expect from Iraqi political Islam?

Cleaning up London’s tarnished reputation for money laundering
Dr. Mohamed A. Ramady/Al Arabiya/June 16/18
The bizarre assassination attempt against a former Russian double agent and his daughter in Britain has unleashed a spate of intense debate on the fortunes of so- called Russian oligarchs, especially those close to President Putin, and their wealth in Britain as well as the wider question of money laundering in UK real estate. It is widely assumed that the offshore finance industry puts trillions of dollars worldwide beyond the local taxman’s reach but there are legal and jurisdictional issues as no one can actually agree on what a tax haven is. The issue is simple: one person’s tax haven is another’s “offshore financial centre”.
No one can also agree on how many there are, as new one is popping up all the time, .nor on exactly how much money is stashed offshore. The industry’s key word is privacy, or secrecy - a word it doesn’t like so much but that is what it is in reality. As one taxation expert summed it up nicely: “Those who know don’t talk. And those who talk don’t know.”
And so a guessing game begins on how much is stashed away in these centres with some putting this at about 10 percent of global Gross Domestic Product or $7.8 trillion, and others at $10 trillion.
Others put it at a mind boggling $36 trillion – twice as big as the US economy. But no one really knows but what is known is that money is disguised and laundered by owners to hide its original source. This is often done legally through double taxation; tax inversion; trusts; shell companies, but the question is whether these methods are ethical or not. The legal reasons are seemingly innocent and some stem from self preservation of wealth and passing these to future generations or keep it out of the reach of would be creditors.
Staving off creditors
If you want to protect your assets to stave off creditors, stick them in an offshore shell company, making them much harder to get at. Similarly, if one wants to hide ownership of a property, then this can be done through a trust.
This is not illegal. There are many other schemes, legal, illegal and sometimes ethically debatable. The USA and UK are two of the biggest Offshore Financial Centres (OFCs), with setting up shell firms is easy in some US states, like Delaware.
In the UK the City of London acts as the facilitating hub for Crown dependencies and overseas territories that channel trillions of offshore dollars. But OFC’s are not free wheeling centres as some are also better regulated than others, but not enough according to OFC critics, as the dealings in the Panama Papers and more recently the Paradise Papers exposes so dramatically revealed.
Some of the UK’s overseas dependent territories in the Bahamas object to the term of tax havens and argue, like Bermuda has fully signed up to an international agreement that allows for the automatic transfer of tax information within governments and such a jurisdiction cannot be a tax haven. Transparency International, which tacks global governance and corruption index says it is far too easy for criminals to bring dirty money into the UK. According to those investigating money laundering activities in the UK, corrupt individuals cannot steal public funds unless they have a getaway vehicle and anonymous companies are the getaway vehicle and UK assets, such as property, are the safe haven, prompting Labour shadow chancellor John McDonnell, to state that the UK has become the money laundering capital of the world
What makes this a vicious circle is that many governments are fully prepared to sanction offshore finance to generate income and what is worse is that many people in government use it, whether inadvertently or not, as in the case of former UK Prime Minister Cameron’s trust, as these leaks show.
Panama Papers
The Panama Papers revelations and the fast paced modern social media has forced governments to be seen to act and secrecy is now harder to achieve, transparency is greater. International cooperation is also greater with country by country reporting requiring multinationals to break down how they operate in different nations and public registries of companies has increased with more disclosure of final ownership. Even Russia, which has suffered from ill -gotten gains by oligarchs, has brought in a law requiring the disclosure of offshore assets but there was an unintended consequence whereby many of the corrupt oligarchs gave up Russian residency to avoid it and moved abroad, many to London. Like many other investors looking for a solid return on their capital, the gangsters saw a promising opportunity for their cash in the London property market.
Transparency International, which tacks global governance and corruption index says it is far too easy for criminals to bring dirty money into the UK. According to those investigating money laundering activities in the UK, corrupt individuals cannot steal public funds unless they have a getaway vehicle and anonymous companies are the getaway vehicle and UK assets, such as property, are the safe haven, prompting Labour shadow chancellor John McDonnell, to state that the UK has become the money laundering capital of the world.
“Our reputation is being damaged by it. There’s been too many examples over years of dirty money coming into the city and by allowing this to happen we are almost aiding and abetting these criminals,” he said. This stinging rebuke has prompted the ruling Conservative government to promise to introduce a public register to reveal the true owners of UK properties owned by offshore companies. Key to this is the power to seize assets and the new powers include unexplained wealth orders, which allow assets to be seized where the source of funds is suspicious. But those wishing to hide ill-gotten wealth will find loopholes and with the assistance of clever auditors and unethical lawyers there will always be a way to be one step ahead of slow moving regulators.
The only way to reduce these schemes is if all the major financial centres put ethical considerations above narrow national interests and cooperate to expose illegal assets before yet more Panama Papers type scandals erupt and claim political scalps.