June 20/2018
Compiled & Prepared by: Elias Bejjani


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Bible Quotations
The saying is sure: If we have died with him, we will also live with him; if we endure, we will also reign with him; if we deny him, he will also deny us; if we are faithless, he remains faithful for he cannot deny himself."
Second Letter to Timothy 02/08-13: "Remember Jesus Christ, raised from the dead, a descendant of David that is my gospel, for which I suffer hardship, even to the point of being chained like a criminal. But the word of God is not chained. Therefore I endure everything for the sake of the elect, so that they may also obtain the salvation that is in Christ Jesus, with eternal glory. The saying is sure: If we have died with him, we will also live with him; if we endure, we will also reign with him; if we deny him, he will also deny us; if we are faithless, he remains faithful for he cannot deny himself."."
Titles For Latest LCCC Bulletin analysis & editorials from miscellaneous sources published on June 19-20/18
Ambassador from Lebanon to the U.S.: Who Is Gabriel Issa/AllGov/uesday, June 19/18
Lebanese General Bids to Circumvent Congress/Tony Badran/Tablet Mazagine/June 19/18
Former minister arrested on suspicion of spying for Iran/Anna Ahronheim/Jerusalem Post/June 19/18
Turkey: Glorification of Murder, Martyrdom and Child Soldiers/Uzay Bulut/Gatestone Institute/June 19/2018
Post-Ramadan Reflections on the Muslim World/Salim Mansur/Gatestone Institute/June 19/2018
On Khamenei, Abdelnasser, Jews, and Israel/Hazem Saghieh/Al Arabiya/June 19/18
Can Kim-Trump summit be replicated with Iran/Hamid Bahrami/Al Arabiya/June 19/18
Liberation of Hodeidah and the rapid strategic shift/Radwan al-Sayed/Al Arabiya/June 19/18
A unified call for ‘Sports without Politics’/Mohammed Al-Hammadi/Al Arabiya/June 19/18
An Islamophobic Eid/Raheel Raza/Clarion Project/June 19/18
Criticism Of Russia In Iran: 'Russia Must Not Interfere In Syria's Internal Affairs'; If Russia 'Wants To Stand [Against Us], We Will Surely Stand Against It'/MEMRI/June 19/18
Titles For The Latest LCCC Lebanese Related News published on June 19-20/18
Merkel in Beirut on Thursday to Discuss Economic Files, Displaced Syrians
Report: Lebanon to Annul Decision on Passport Stamping for Iranians
‎‎Aoun Meets U.S. Bishops, Urges Facilitation of Refugees Return
Report: LF Signals ‘Publishing Maarab Agreement’ with FPM
LF, 'Strong Republic' MPs to Appeal Citizenship Decree
Abi Khalil: Lebanon Shifts from Red to Green Diesel Usage
Raad: Hizbullah in Better Position after General Elections
Former Speaker Husseini meets Iranian Ambassador
Army commander, Pakistani ambassador talk general situation
Financial Prosecutor orders investigation into Ras Baalbeck flooding
Berri, interlocutors tackle overall situation
Presidency office: Health Ministry exclusive reference if hospitals refuse to admit patients
Brevet results to be announced Friday: Hamade
UN: 68.5 Million People Displaced Worldwide, 85% in Lebanon, Pakistan, Uganda
Hariri, Bassil Talk Govt. Formation in Paris Meeting
FPM: Govt. Blocked by Those Seeking Shares Bigger than Their Sizes
Khalil Says No 'Serious' Govt. Formation Efforts, Vows to Sign Consul Decrees
Khalil Assures He Will Sign Honorary Consuls Decree
Hankache: Kataeb's Participation in Government Depends on Certain Criteria
Ambassador from Lebanon to the U.S.: Who Is Gabriel Issa?
Lebanese General Bids to Circumvent Congress

Titles For Latest LCCC Bulletin For Miscellaneous Reports And News published on June 19-20/18
US withdraws from UN rights council: Haley
White House says Kushner met Jordan's Abdullah about peace
Rouhani Conveys to Qatari Emir his Fear over Houthis’ Decline
Iran commander: ‘We have the ability to increase our missile range’
UN experts urge Iran to halt ‘unlawful execution’ of juvenile offender
Israeli Military Drone Patrolling Northern Border Fell in Syria
Israel Accuses Former Minister of Spying for Iran
Shells hit south Syria city for first time in three years
Israel Behind Attack in Syria That Killed Dozens, U.S. Official Reportedly Says
UN Experts Urge Iran to Halt 'Unlawful Execution' of Juvenile Offender
Recording of Crying Children at Border Adds to Outrage
Trump Says US Not 'Migrant Camp' amid Family Separation Crisis
US, S. Korea Confirm Suspending Military Drills
Merkel, Macron Search for Reforms to Halt EU 'Disintegration'
France's Le Pen Ordered to Repay €300K to Europe Parliament
Afghanistan's Surprise Ceasefire Celebrations Raise Hopes for Peace
Former minister arrested on suspicion of spying for Iran
Latest LCCC Lebanese Related News published on June 19-20/18
Merkel in Beirut on Thursday to Discuss Economic Files, Displaced Syrians
Beirut - Caroline Akoum/Asharq Al-Awsat/Tuesday, 19 June, 2018/German Chancellor Angela Merkel will arrive in Beirut on Thursday at the head of an economic delegation to meet with Lebanese officials and discuss economic issues and the controversy over the return of the displaced Syrians to their country. Official sources said that Merkel’s visit would focus on three main topics: the political situation, the economic sector and regional files. Prime Minister-designate Saad al-Hariri’s advisor, Nadim al-Munla, told Asharq Al-Awsat that the German chancellor would review with Lebanese officials means to bolster bilateral relations and the contribution of the German private sector in reconstruction and infrastructure projects in wake of the Cedre donor conference. Meanwhile, the chairman of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Mohammed Shukair, underlined the importance of the visit. He called for the need to take advantage of the international interest in Lebanon and to speed up the formation of the government to launch the implementation of projects pledged by Lebanon at international conferences.
Official sources told Asharq Al-Awsat said that Merkel would first meet with Hariri, then with President Michel Aoun and Speaker Nabih Berri. An economic gathering will take place at the Grand Serail on Friday morning in the presence of the German economic delegation and a group of Lebanese businessmen and economic experts, following which Merkel and Hariri will hold a joint press conference. The sources said that the German chancellor’s meeting with Aoun would touch on the return of the displaced Syrians to their homeland, whereas the president would urge Merkel to support the return of Syrians to safe areas as soon as possible, taking into consideration the increasing social and economic burdens borne by Lebanon. Economic relations between Berlin and Beirut cover several sectors. The Lebanese community in Germany is the largest among western countries, with an estimated 114,0000 Lebanese according to the German Federal Statistics Office.

Report: Lebanon to Annul Decision on Passport Stamping for Iranians
Naharnet/June 19/18/Interior Minister Nouhad al-Mashnouq will reportedly scrap a controversial decision allowing Iranian passengers to enter into Lebanon without having their passports stamped at the airport, media reports said on Tuesday. Mashnouq plans to suspend the General Security Directorate step, arguing that “such decisions must be taken by the Cabinet.” Lebanese officials and citizens were up in arms over the procedure, despite assurances made Sunday by General Security chief Maj. Gen. Abbas Ibrahim who said the measure “was normal and has been adopted for years in several Gulf and European countries.”Ibrahim assured “it does not mean that Iranians or other nationals are allowed to enter Lebanon illegally.”Many in Lebanon considered the aim of the decision was to “circumvent the international sanctions imposed on Iran and Hizbullah, and facilitate the transfer of funds and fighters to Syria.”Reports emerged accusing Hizbullah of “exploiting” the Rafik Hariri International Airport by allowing the “Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps to take the airport as a base for Iranian regime operations, which consists of transporting weapons and fighters to locations and countries serving the Revolutionary Guards’ strategy for regional intervention.”Lebanese Forces MP Wehbe Katicha has urged Mashnouq in a letter to “take the right decision due to the political implications it has.” He said “Ibrahim has administrative authority to exempt individual cases for special reasons in terms of stamping the passport or not, but when it is linked to a whole state, these become a power of political authority.”

‎‎Aoun Meets U.S. Bishops, Urges Facilitation of Refugees Return
Naharnet/June 19/18/The crisis of Syrian refugees in Lebanon was the focal point of discussion between President Michel Aoun and a delegation of U.S. Catholic Bishops at the Baabda Palace on Tuesday. Aoun called upon the delegation to back Lebanon’s stance and urge the U.S. administration to facilitate the return of refugees. He pointed to obstacles created by some “foreign parties hampering Lebanon’s efforts to return the displaced.”On the U.S. decision to move its Israel embassy, Aoun reflected Lebanon’s position rejecting the transfer of the US embassy in Israel to Jerusalem. “The Holy city includes religious landmarks for Christians, Muslims and Jews and can not be for a religious group without the other,” said Aoun. Lebanon hosts around 1.5 million Syrian refugees, or roughly a quarter of the population, since the war broke out in neighboring Syria in 2011, according to the United Nations. Their presence has strained public services and the country’s infrastructure and suppressed economic growth.

Report: LF Signals ‘Publishing Maarab Agreement’ with FPM

Naharnet/June 19/18/A Lebanese Forces MP said the party is willing to “publish to media” their so-called Maarab agreement with the Free Patriotic Movement that brought President Michel Aoun to his post “shall the FPM disavow the accord,” al-Hayat daily reported on Monday.
“We insist on the understanding we reached with Gen. Aoun before he became President. But, shall they (FPM) repudiate it, then we will publish it in media outlets,” MP Wehbe Katicha of the the LF’s Strong Republic bloc was quoted as saying. He stressed the LF’s right for “Cabinet representation based on the results we achieved in the parliamentary elections,” pointing out that Maarab agreement with Aoun clearly included the issue of the LF representation in the governments of Aoun, taking into account the “quantity and quality,” of portfolios. On a controversial issue giving the President Cabinet portfolios separate from the ones allocated to his Free Patriotic Movement, Katicha said the “whole Cabinet must be considered part of the President’s share. Limiting the president to a specific share only weakens the head of state position.”As for Prime Minister-designate Saad Hariri’s position regarding the distribution of portfolios, Katicha said: “Hariri is very keen on respecting the LF’s right for representation,” assuring that ties with Hariri and his Mustaqbal Movement have returned back to normal after getting strained during the parliamentary elections.
The 2016 Maarab agreement brought the onetime foes together, LF chief Samir Geagea and FPM founder Aoun. Geagea had withdrawn from the presidential race in favor of Aoun endorsing him for the head of State post.

LF, 'Strong Republic' MPs to Appeal Citizenship Decree
The Lebanese Forces party and several MPs from the Strong Republic parliamentary bloc will on Wednesday file an appeal with the Constitutional Council against the latest controversial citizenship decree.“The decree violates the Constitution's stipulations and the applicable laws,” the LF said in a statement. It added that the MPs George Oqais, Antoine Habshi, Joseph Ishaq and Fadi Saad and the head of the LF's legal dept. Eliane Fakhri will file the appeal Wednesday at 12:00 pm. The Progressive Socialist Party and the Kataeb Party have also vowed to appeal the decree before the Constitutional Council. The Interior Ministry published the highly controversial decree earlier this month, after politicians and ordinary citizens alike fumed over the secrecy that initially shrouded the move. The list published on the ministry's website comprised more than 400 names of various nationalities, including a quarter of Syrians and just over a quarter of Palestinians. Its most notable include one of Iraq's two vice-presidents, Iyad Allawi, who is also British and whose mother was Lebanese, as well as his wife and three children. From Syria, those on the list include the three sons of Syrian steel and flour mogul Farouq Joud, powerful industrialist Khaldun al-Zoabi and Mazen Mortada, the son of a former Syrian minister.The decree's critics have slammed the secrecy that surrounded the move and said it adds insult to injury for thousands unable to acquire nationality because they were born to Lebanese mothers and foreign fathers. Although it was issued on May 11, according to the an Interior Ministry statement, news of the decree's existence only emerged when dozens of names allegedly included in the edict were leaked to the media. The president's office confirmed the decree's existence, but said it had submitted the names to the General Security agency to verify they all have "the right" to become Lebanese. That agency, in turn, established a hotline and encouraged citizens to call in any relevant information about named individuals. Lebanese media has reported the list may include businessmen known to be close to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. General Security is currently reviewing the backgrounds of the individuals included in the decree.

Abi Khalil: Lebanon Shifts from Red to Green Diesel Usage

Naharnet/June 19/18/Energy Minister Cesar Abi Khalil announced on Tuesday that Lebanon will be shifting from the usage of red diesel to economically friendly green diesel, noting that he informed the Cabinet of this decision. Abi Khalil’s remarks came at a press conference he held after meeting with representatives of oil and car import companies. "Market conditions led to equal prices of red and green diesel," he said, pointing out that the coming weeks will witness a steady decline in fuel prices. Red diesel is usually not for on-road use, which saves money because it doesn't have the same taxes associated with it as do regular diesel or gasoline for vehicles that use national, state and local highways. Green diesel fuel is what its name implies: a fuel created from renewable energy sources.

Raad: Hizbullah in Better Position after General Elections
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/June 19/18/Hizbullah MP Mohammed Raad on Monday said the “party was now in a better position than before, following the parliamentary elections,” the National News Agency said. "After the elections our situation is at its best compared to the past. Things have become better. We are not pressured, neither regarding a permanent majority at the Parliament, nor about forces that can impose any decision on the country without consulting us," the head of the Loyalty to the Resistance parliamentary bloc said during a memorial ceremony in the southern Bint Jbeil town of Kherbet Selm. "Our security situation is also at its best; and our political condition is promising in terms of real action," he added.

Former Speaker Husseini meets Iranian Ambassador

Tue 19 Jun 2018/NNA - Former House Speaker, Hussein Husseini, met at his Ain-el-Tineh residence on Tuesday, with Iranian Ambassador to Lebanon, Mohammad Fathali, who came on a farewell visit upon the end of his diplomatic mission in the country. The meeting was an occasion for the pair to dwell on the Lebanese-Iranian bilateral ties, in addition to the current situation in Lebanon and the broader Arab region.

Army commander, Pakistani ambassador talk general situation
Tue 19 Jun 2018/NNA - Army commander, General Joseph Aoun, on Tuesday received at his Yarzeh office Pakistani Ambassador to Lebanon, Aftab Ahmad Khokher, with talks reportedly touching on the general situation in Lebanon and the broader region.

Financial Prosecutor orders investigation into Ras Baalbeck flooding
Tue 19 Jun 2018/NNA - Financial Prosecutor Judge Ali Ibrahim on Tuesday inspected the damages caused by the heavy flooding that had swept Ras Baalbeck region and ordered probe into the reasons behind the rise of water levels.

Berri, interlocutors tackle overall situation
Tue 19 Jun 2018/NNA - Speaker of the House, Nabih Berri, on Tuesday met at Ain Tineh residence with Vice Speaker Elie Firzli, with whom he discussed the current situation notably governmental and legislative affairs. On emerging, Firzli underlined the dire need for the swift government formation amidst the existing situation, urging all political forces to facilitate such a process. In reply to a question whether he is conducting a mediation between Baabda and Ain Tineh, Firzli stressed that the "atmosphere between Baabda and Ain Tineh is excellent" and "in no need of mediation." On the other hand, Speaker Berri met with Australian Ambassador to Lebanon, Glenn Miles, with talks between the pair reportedly touching on most recent developments and the bilateral ties. Outgoing Argentinean Ambassador, Ricardo Lariera, also called on Speaker Berri on a farewell visit at the end of his term of office in Lebanon. Berri also received a congratulatory cable from Algerian National Assembly Speaker, Abdel kader Ben Saleh, bearing on greetings on Eid Al-Fitr.

Presidency office: Health Ministry exclusive reference if hospitals refuse to admit patients

Tue 19 Jun 2018/NNA - The press office of the presidency of the republic maintained in a statement on Tuesday, that the Ministry of Public Health is the sole side to resort to in case any hospital refuses to admit patients. The statement follows a viral social media post claiming to be issued by the presidency and inviting people to contact it in the aforementioned case. "The press office of the presidency of the republic confirms that the so-called circular is unfounded and that the Ministry of Public Health is the only reference in the event of hospitals' refusal to admit patients, and not the presidency of the republic," the statement read.

Brevet results to be announced Friday: Hamade
Tue 19 Jun 2018/NNA - Caretaker Minister of Education and Higher Learning, Marwan Hamade, said he will hold a press conference at 4:00 pm Friday to announce the results of the official Brevet exams.Results will be posted on the websites of the ministry and that of the National News Agency, in addition to other apps and electronic means.
UN: 68.5 Million People Displaced Worldwide, 85% in Lebanon, Pakistan, Uganda
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/June 19/18/A record 68.5 million people have been forced flee their homes due to war, violence and persecution, notably in places like Myanmar and Syria, the UN said on Tuesday. By the end of 2017, the number was nearly three million higher than the previous year and showed a 50-percent increase from the 42.7 million uprooted from their homes a decade ago, according to a report by the UN refugee agency. The current figure is equivalent to the entire population of Thailand, and the number of people forcibly displaced equates to one in every 110 persons worldwide, it said. "We are at a watershed, where success in managing forced displacement globally requires a new and far more comprehensive approach so that countries and communities aren't left dealing with this alone," said UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi.
But around 70 percent of that number are people from just 10 countries, he told reporters in Geneva ahead of the report's launch. "If there were solutions to conflicts in those 10 countries, or in some of them at least, that huge figure, instead of rising every year, could start going down," he said, calling for more political will to halt the crises driving so many from their homes.
Every two seconds
The report showed that 16.2 million people were freshly displaced last year, and included those forced to flee for the first time as well as those who had been previously displaced. This equates to some 44,500 people being pushed out of their homes every day -- or one person every two seconds, UNHCR said. Most people flee within their own country, and are defined as internally displaced people, or IDPs. By the end of 2017, there were some 40 million IDPs worldwide, down slightly from previous years, with Colombia, Syria and Democratic Republic of Congo accounting for the greatest numbers. Another 25.4 million people -- more than half of them children -- were registered as refugees last year. That is nearly three million more than in 2016, and "the highest known total to date", it said.
South Sudan numbers soar
Syria's seven-year conflict alone had, by the end of last year, pushed more than 6.3 million people out of the country, accounting for nearly one-third of the global refugee population. Another 6.2 million Syrians are internally displaced. The second largest refugee-producing country in 2017 was Afghanistan, whose refugee population grew by five percent during the year to 2.6 million people. The increase was due mainly to births and more Afghans being granted asylum in Germany, UNHCR said. South Sudan meanwhile saw the largest increase last year, with the number of refugees fleeing the world's youngest nation soaring from 1.4 million at the beginning of the year to 2.4 million at the end. Grandi said South Sudan was experiencing "a very bad emergency" which had apparently escaped the notice of both the government and the opposition who did not appear to be "taking seriously the desperate situation of their own people."
Most refugees in poor countries
Refugees from Myanmar more than doubled last year to 1.2 million, as a brutal army crackdown forced hundreds of thousands of Rohingya Muslims to pour across the border into Bangladesh. Tuesday's report also highlighted large-scale displacements in Iraq, Somalia, Sudan, and DR Congo among others. And as Israel marks 70 years of independence, there are some 5.4 million Palestinians still living as refugees, it said. Despite the focus on migrant numbers arriving in Europe and the United States, a full 85 percent of refugees are living in low- and middle-income countries like Lebanon, Pakistan and Uganda, Grandi said. Turkey was hosting by far the largest number of refugees, with 3.5 million registered there by the end of 2017, most of them Syrians.
Hariri, Bassil Talk Govt. Formation in Paris Meeting
Naharnet/June 19/18/A meeting has been held in the French capital Paris between Prime Minister-designate Saad Hariri and caretaker Foreign Minister and Free Patriotic Movement chief Jebran Bassil, media reports said. LBCI television quoted FPM sources as saying that the meeting tackled the deadlocked cabinet formation process. The main obstacles delaying the new government are reportedly the number of seats that should be allocated to the Lebanese Forces and whether or not MP Talal Arslan should be given a portfolio. Hariri was tasked with forming the new government on May 24.

FPM: Govt. Blocked by Those Seeking Shares Bigger than Their Sizes
Naharnet/June 19/18/Political parties demanding “shares bigger than their parliamentary sizes” are behind the delay in the cabinet formation process, the Free Patriotic Movement said on Tuesday. “We are with a national unity government with the broadest possible representation and this should be reached through the premier-designate and according to the constitutional rules of formation as well as parliamentary sizes,” MP Ibrahim Kanaan announced after the weekly meeting of the Strong Lebanon bloc of the FPM. “The people said their word in the elections and defined the sizes and the distribution of rights according to these sizes would finalize the cabinet line-up in 15 minutes,” Kanaan added. “Those seeking shares bigger than their parliamentary sizes are responsible for the delay in the cabinet formation process,” the MP went on to say, warning that the current circumstances “do not allow delay in addressing the files and the challenges.”Stressing that the FPM is showing openness and is not “clinging to any ministerial portfolio,” the lawmaker called for unified standards that apply to all parties. The main obstacles delaying the new government are reportedly the number of seats that should be allocated to the Lebanese Forces and whether or not MP Talal Arslan should be given a portfolio. Saad Hariri was tasked with forming a new government on May 24.

Khalil Says No 'Serious' Govt. Formation Efforts, Vows to Sign Consul Decrees
Naharnet/June 19/18/Caretaker Finance Minister Ali Hassan Khalil lamented Tuesday the absence of “serious efforts” to form a new government. “We have not witnessed serious efforts in the cabinet formation process until the moment,” Khalil decried. Separately, the minister promised to sign decrees appointing new consuls that have been referred to him from the Foreign Ministry. The previous decrees should also be sent for signing, in line with the agreement,” he added. He also denied as “totally baseless” reports claiming that “the signing of these decrees is linked to the decrees of those who passed the Civil Service Council tests.” Media reports say caretaker Foreign Minister Jebran Bassil had recently appointed honorary consuls without asking Khalil to sign the decree. Bassil and Khalil had recently clashed over a decree promoting a number of army officers.

Khalil Assures He Will Sign Honorary Consuls Decree
Kataeb.orgTuesday 19th June 2018/Caretaker Finance Minister Ali Hassan Khalil on Tuesday assured that he will sign the decree referred to him by the Foreign Ministry to appoint new honorary consuls, saying that other decrees preceding it should also be referred to the Finance Ministry to be signed. The National News Agency quoted Khalil as dismissing claims that the consuls' decree is linked to civil service appointments.

Hankache: Kataeb's Participation in Government Depends on Certain Criteria 19th June 2018/Kataeb MP Elias Hankache said that the party's participation in the new government depends on several criteria, stressing that it must be politically balanced unlike the previous one. "The Kataeb's participation is linked to the government's shape and structure," he told Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper. “The party will give the government a chance without any prejudices. What matters to us the most is to secure balance so that neither party would have control over the others like Hezbollah has on the current government,” Hankache said. "We may not be represented in the government if it is based on 24-member structure. The situation will be different if it consists of 30 or 32 ministers,” he added.

Ambassador from Lebanon to the U.S.: Who Is Gabriel Issa?
AllGov/uesday, June 19, 2018
The recently installed ambassador from Lebanon is actually a Lebanese-American who lived in the U.S. more than 40 years. Shortly before the October 2016 presidential election in Lebanon, Gabriel Issa of Detroit returned to Lebanon on a permanent basis and became a close advisor to Lebanon’s soon-to-be president, Michel Aoun. Aoun appointed Issa ambassador in July 2017 and Issa presented his credentials to President Donald Trump on January 24, 2018. As ambassador to the U.S., Issa succeeds Antoine Chedid, who served from July 2007 to January 2016. Born March 15, 1957, in Lebanon, Gabriel Naoum Issa immigrated to the U.S. in 1975 at age 18. Settling down in the Detroit area, which has had a large Lebanese-American community since the 1870s, Issa earned a BS in Civil Engineering at the Detroit Institute of Technology in 1980. Even before graduation, Issa had already founded two businesses, AAA Language Services and Iterotext Translation Services, in March 1978. Both are located in the Detroit suburb of Bloomfield. Among Interotext’s achievements has been translating General Motors car manuals into languages other than English. Issa spent his career building those two businesses, along with several others, including AAA Properties, founded in August 1995; G&T Enterprises (February 1996); AAA International Group (May 1997); PreBuy (January 1999); and Joules International (January 2009). Although he became a naturalized US citizen, Issa has been deeply involved in Lebanese politics for years. Lebanon’s politics revolve around the religious divisions in the country, whose population is 54% Muslim, 40.5% Christian, and 5.6% Druze, according to the CIA World Factbook. A Maronite Christian, Issa has long supported the “Free Patriotic Movement,” (FPM) which is one of two large Christian parties. Last October, the FPM elected its first president of Lebanon, Michel Aoun, who forged an alliance between the FPM and the Shi’ia party Hezbollah. Issa is a long-time associate of Aoun, who, while in exile, sent Issa to Syria in 2005 to discuss Syria withdrawing troops from Lebanon, a goal Issa had been pursuing since 1990, and which was achieved, after a 29-year occupation, in 2005. Issa has been active in the Lebanese-American community. He has served as president of the Lebanese American Council of Detroit, as president of the Lebanese American Political Action Committee in Detroit; and as co-founder (in 1990) and vice-president of the Lebanese American Council for Democracy in Washington, DC. Issa speaks fluent Arabic and French. He is married to Bernadette (Gaberiel) Issa, with whom he has four children. Issa renounced his US citizenship in order to serve the government of Lebanon.
-Matt Bewig
Lebanon Names Former Bloomfield Hills Resident Gabriel Issa as its Ambassador to Washington (Arab American News)
Bilateral Relations between Lebanon and the U.S Are Fine: Gabriel Issa Explains (by Marlene Sabeh, Lebanese American Council for Democracy)

Lebanese General Bids to Circumvent Congress
قراءة لطوني بدران في أهداف زيارة قائد الجيش الجنرال جوزيف عون لإميركا

Tony Badran/Tablet Mazagine/June 19/18
Making Beirut nervous, American lawmakers are finally demanding accountability concerning the disarmament of Hezbollah
Last Wednesday, the Lebanese press reported that the commander of the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF), Gen. Joseph Aoun, is preparing for an official visit to Washington in the coming few days. According to the Lebanese daily Al-Joumhouria, Gen. Aoun will have a packed schedule of meetings at the Defense Department “to ensure the continuation of American military support.”
Emphasis on “continuation.” American military assistance to Lebanon has become not just routine but, thanks to a series of obfuscations established during the Obama administration, institutional. The Obama administration needed a cover to integrate Lebanon into its policy of realignment with Iran, and it found it in UNSCR 1701, the United Nations Security Council resolution that came out of Israel’s 2006 war with Hezbollah. That resolution called on the Lebanese government to disarm Hezbollah, a task which justifies American aid. But the Obama administration systematically wrote Hezbollah out of UNSCR 1701 and made it about combating “Sunni jihadists.”
This sleight of hand continues well into the Trump administration, as evident in this factually challenged State Department fact sheet from May, which claims that American security assistance “supports implementation of UN Security Council Resolutions 1559, 1680, and 1701.” Having redefined the purpose of the UNSC resolutions away from anything having to do with Hezbollah, the U.S. could ignore that the LAF long ago became Hezbollah’s active partner as it continues to pour weapons to it. Take for instance U.S. ambassador to Lebanon Elizabeth Richard’s remarks at the delivery of four A-29 Super Tucano light attack aircraft to the LAF, last Tuesday, ahead of Gen. Aoun’s reported trip to Washington. It was all framed in reference to the LAF’s skirmish with Sunni militants on the border with Syria last summer. It ended in the militants’ negotiated withdrawal, which the head of the Lebanese general security arranged with the Assad regime. Of course, Ambassador Richard conveniently omitted that the LAF had used American-supplied munitions to provide support to Hezbollah, which spearheaded part of the fighting. Gen. Aoun played up the charade, praising the LAF’s “dazzling achievements combating the threat of terrorism.”
American lawmakers are very slowly waking up to the scam, which may be why Gen. Aoun is rushing to D.C. In recent weeks, for instance, Sen. Ted Cruz introduced language into the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for fiscal year 2019 trying to establish accountability. It was reportedly a bipartisan compromise agreed to by both the majority and minority on the Senate Armed Services Committee.
The new language requires the Secretary of Defense, in coordination with the Secretary of State, to report on American assistance to the LAF, not later than September 1, 2018. Among other things, the report will include a description of the objectives of American support to the LAF, and an evaluation of the specific actions taken by the LAF to implement the terms of UNSCR 1701—namely, “to address progress toward the disarmament of Hezbollah and other armed groups in Lebanon, the movement and establishment of Iranian or Hezbollah arms, personnel, and infrastructure in and through Lebanon.”
This has made the Lebanese nervous. After all, for over a decade now, they have received over $1.5 billion in American taxpayer money without ever being asked to meet benchmarks or timelines toward fulfilling clearly established objectives, namely pertaining to Hezbollah, the primary U.S. interest in Lebanon. The explicit emphasis on Hezbollah in the new NDAA language upsets the routine.
To be sure, the Lebanese are putting on a brave face. In the story talking about Gen. Aoun’s impending meetings, Al-Joumhouria added dismissively that these meetings are “far from the information and scenarios being circulated, which are put out from time to time, and which talk about reconsidering American military assistance to Lebanon.” Then the paper pointedly asserted that this assistance “has not been amended despite Congress’s decision to decrease American military and nonmilitary foreign aid, which in none of its aspects concerns Lebanon.”
That the Lebanese should come to Washington to make their well-rehearsed pitch is to be expected. Hopefully, no one in the U.S. government is encouraging Gen. Aoun to help lobby against a bipartisan congressional decision.
**Tony Badran, Tablet magazine's Levant analyst, is a research fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies. He tweets @AcrossTheBay.
Latest LCCC Bulletin For Miscellaneous Reports And News published on June 19-20/18
US withdraws from UN rights council: Haley
Arab News/June 20/18/WASHINGTON: The United States has withdrawn from the UN Human Rights Council, US ambassador Nikki Haley said Tuesday, branding the global body a “cesspool of political bias.” “We take this step because our commitment does not allow us to remain a part of a hypocritical and self-serving organization that makes a mockery of human rights,” she said.
White House says Kushner met Jordan's Abdullah about peace
Tue 19 Jun 2018/NNA - White House Senior Adviser Jared Kushner, who is also President Donald Trump's son-in-law, met on Tuesday with Jordan's King Abdullah about the humanitarian situation in Gaza and the Trump administration's efforts on creating peace between Israel and Occupied Palestine, the White House said on Tuesday. The meeting, which also included Special Representative for International Negotiations Jason Greenblatt, came one day after a tete-a-tete between the king of the Arab nation and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on advancing regional peace. The Trump administration has been working on an Israeli-Palestinian plan, but it has yet to be made public. ---Reuters

Rouhani Conveys to Qatari Emir his Fear over Houthis’ Decline
London - Asharq Al-Awsat/Tuesday, 19 June, 2018/Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani voiced his concern over the decline of the Houthi militias in Yemen, during a telephone call on Monday with Qatari Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani. Rouhani stressed that the Yemeni crisis could not be resolved through a military solution, but through political channels, saying: “Some countries’ roles in the region are incorrect.” “This path will aggravate problems in the region, in particular in Palestine, Syria and Yemen,” he stated. Rouhani’s comments come as Iran faces accusations of waging a proxy war against Arab states that oppose its interference in the Middle East. Tehran provides support to Bashar Assad’s regime in Syria, Iraqi militias, the Houthis in Yemen and the Lebanese “Hezbollah” group. It has repeatedly rejected accusations that it has provided financial and military support to the Houthis in the Yemeni war. Rouhani told the Qatari emir that he was willing to promote relations with Doha, stressing that he regarded the Gulf boycott of the Arab peninsula as unfair. He also said his country “is doing its utmost to cooperate and help the Qatari people and government, and to achieve stability in the region,” according to the German news agency. For his part, the Qatari emir expressed Doha's appreciation for Iran's stances, saying Doha "will never forget them."

Iran commander: ‘We have the ability to increase our missile range’
Staff Writer, Al Arabiya English/Tuesday, 19 June 2018/Iran has the ability to extend the range of its missiles, which currently have a 2,000-km reach, the Revolutionary Guards commander said on Tuesday. “We have the scientific ability to increase our missile range but it is not our current policy since most of the enemies' strategic targets are already within this 2,000-km range. This range is enough to protect the Islamic Republic...,” Major General Mohammad Ali Jafari was quoted as saying by Tasnim news agency. Jafari said previously that the range of Iran's ballistic missiles was based on limits set by Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who commands the armed forces. President Donald Trump withdrew the United States last month from the 2015 accord between Iran and world powers that curbed Tehran's nuclear activity in exchange for sanctions relief. He said the deal was deeply flawed as it had not curbed Iran's ballistic missile programme or reined in its support for proxies in conflicts in Syria, Iraq and Yemen. Jafari said on Tuesday previous negotiations with the United States about Iran's nuclear program were “an exception”, and called Iranian politicians and activists who have favored fresh talks with Trump as “traitors and anti-revolutionaries”.

UN experts urge Iran to halt ‘unlawful execution’ of juvenile offender
AFP, GenevaTuesday, 19 June 2018/Two UN rights experts urged Iran on Tuesday to halt the execution of a man scheduled to take place shortly following the end of Ramadan, after he was sentenced to death for a murder committed when he was 15-years-old. The experts said that Iranian authorities must comply with their international obligations and “halt the execution of this juvenile offender” after being notified that Mohammad Kalhori, who was imprisoned for killing his teacher, would be executed after Ramadan. UN special rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions Agnes Callamard and head of the UNCRC Renate Winter said that international standards prohibit the imposition of the death penalty on persons under 18-years-old at the time of the offence. Callamard and Winter said that Iran had committed to following these international norms, which makes this execution “unlawful and arbitrary.”They referred to Iran’s 2013 amendments of its Islamic Penal Code that allow for alternative sentencings for juveniles if there is uncertainty about their “mental development” at the time of the crime or if they did not realize the nature of the crime committed. Iran’s State forensic institution had concluded that Kalhori was not mentally mature at the time of the crime, and that the Criminal Court had initially sentenced him to prison and a fine, they said. According to an April report by Amnesty International, Iran put at least 507 people to death last year, including at least five juvenile offenders. The Supreme Court overturned the verdict and he was sentenced to death during a retrial, after “an appeal and apparent letters” had been sent by “a government official and a member of parliament,” they said. “Notwithstanding the clear prohibition of the application of the death penalty for those under the age of 18, this case demonstrates flagrant disregard for the amendment to the Penal Code itself,” they added. They cautioned that it also “raises concerns about possible interference in the independence of the judiciary.” Iran does not publish official statistics on the number of people it has executed. According to an April report by Amnesty International, Iran put at least 507 people to death last year, including at least five juvenile offenders.
Israeli Military Drone Patrolling Northern Border Fell in Syria
Haaretz/June 19/18/IDF says yet to be determined why aircraft fell
A small Israeli military drone operating on the northern border fell into Syrian territory on Tuesday, the Israel Defense Forces said. According to the IDF, there is no risk of any information being leaked from the aircraft, which was patrolling the northern border for observational purposes. The army added that it remains unclear as to why the drone fell. The drone is a Skylark manufactured by Elbit Systems (known as Rochev Shamayim, or Sky Rider, in the IDF). The IDF uses the relatively small Skylark drones for various tactical intelligence and operational purposes for ground forces units.

Israel Accuses Former Minister of Spying for Iran

Ramallah - Kifah Ziboun/Gatestone Institute/June 19/2018/In an unprecedented case, Israeli Internal Security Agency allowed the Shin Bet to publish details about the indictment of Gonen Segev, a former Israeli minister, for spying for Iran. Segev, who served as energy and infrastructure minister in the mid-1990s and lived in Nigeria, is accused of aiding an enemy country, spying against Israel, and passing multiple messages to an enemy, according to a statement by the Shin Bet. On Friday, Jerusalem District Prosecutor’s Office submitted charges against Segev, who was arrested upon his arrival in Israel based on information he may have been in communication with Iranian intelligence and assisting them in their activity against Israel. According to the investigation, Segev was an Iranian intelligence agent and was first contacted by two Iranian intelligence agents in 2012. The former minister sent information to his Iranian sources regarding Israel's energy sector, security sites, structures and identity of officials in the security and political establishments, according to Shin Bet. Based on the indictment, he maintained contact with Israeli citizens in the defense, security and diplomatic sectors. He tried to connect some of these citizens with Iranian sources, while claiming these sources were investors. In recent years, Segev resided in Nigeria and traveled to Equatorial Guinea in May. Local police turned him over to Israel after refusing to grant him entry to the country because of his criminal record. Segev, 62, was imprisoned for three-and-a-half years for trying to smuggle more than 30,000 ecstasy tablets into Israel from the Netherlands and forging a diplomatic passport. He was released in 2007. The former minister, a physician, served as energy and infrastructure minister from 1992 to 1995. Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan said that if Segev is convicted of the offenses attributed to him, he must end his life in prison.

Shells hit south Syria city for first time in three years
AFP, Beirut/Tuesday, 19 June 2018 /Rebel shellfire slammed into the southern Syrian city of Sweida on Tuesday for the first time in three years, a monitor said, as fresh regime reinforcements arrived in the area. The government holds most of Sweida province but rebels still control much of the nearby Daraa and Quneitra governorates. On Tuesday, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said opposition forces fired shells into Sweida city, “which led to loud blasts but no casualties.”“It is the first time since 2015 that the city has been subjected to shellfire,” said Observatory chief Rami Abdel Rahman. Syrian state news agency SANA also blamed rebels “spread out in the towns and villages in eastern parts of Daraa province” for firing shells on Sweida. Sweida, whose residents are mostly from the Druze minority, has remained relatively insulated from seven years of war that ravaged the rest of the country. But rebels hold a sliver of territory in western Sweida that borders their main bastion in the province of Daraa, and clashes and exchanges of fire have erupted in that area in recent days. Syria’s government has set its sights on ousting rebels from the south and has been dispatching troops and equipment there for weeks.
On Tuesday, they dropped new flyers on the rebel-held half of Daraa city, calling on residents to expel rebels, “like your brothers did in Eastern Ghouta and Qalamun,” referring to two areas near Damascus recently recaptured from the opposition. Rebels appeared to fear the regime would use Sweida’s civilian population as justification for the assault, and issued a message addressed to them on Tuesday. “We call on our people in Sweida province not to serve as bait for the goals of the regime, sectarian militias from Iran, and Hezbollah, which are trying to occupy this land and divide its people,” they said in a statement. But the government has also hinted that a political settlement over the south’s fate could be reached. “We have moved towards the south and we are giving the political process a chance,” Syrian President Bashar al-Assad said last week.
“If that doesn’t succeed, we have no other option but to liberate it by force.”

Israel Behind Attack in Syria That Killed Dozens, U.S. Official Reportedly Says
Haaretz/June 19/18/CNN reports that Israel is responsible for Sunday's airstrike, carried out close to the Iraq-Syria border
Israel is behind an attack in Syria that killed dozens, CNN reported Monday, citing a U.S. official. According to Syrian state television, the strike targeted pro-regime forces and caused multiple casualties. The airstrike took place on the Iraq-Syria border on Sunday and killed 22 members of a Shiite militia. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a UK-based war monitor, said the number of pro-regime casualties had risen to 52. The attack took place in al-Harra, southeast of the town of al-Bukamal, state news agency SANA said, citing a military source. Earlier today, Syrian state TV reported that the U.S.-led coalition struck a military position in the country's east. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reports that 40 pro-Assad regime fighters were killed in the strike. The strike took place in al-Harra, southeast of al-Bukamal, Syrian state media said, though official reports did not confirm the death toll. According to CNN, Sunday's strike is unlike those normally carried out by Israel, as those attributed to Israel tend to occur in Syria's western region, around Damascus and Homs, and mostly targeting Iran's infrastructure and military presence in Syria. Sunday's attack took place in Syria's east and targeted pro-Assad forces, not Iranian ones. A commander in the military alliance backing Syrian President Bashar Assad also told Reuters that drones, “probably American,” had bombed positions of Iraqi factions between al-Bukamal and Tanf and Syrian military positions. “No member of the U.S.-led coalition carried out strikes near Albu Kamal,” Major Josh Jacques, a U.S. Central Command spokesman, told Reuters. The U.S.-led coalition is supporting an alliance of Syrian Arab and Kurdish militia fighting Islamic State northeast of al-Bukamal.
UN Experts Urge Iran to Halt 'Unlawful Execution' of Juvenile Offender
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/June 19/18/Two UN rights experts urgently appealed to Iran on Tuesday to halt the planned execution of a man sentenced to death for a murder committed when he was 15 years old. The experts said they had received word that Mohammad Kalhori would be executed shortly after the end of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, which concluded last week. "The Iranian authorities must halt the execution of this juvenile offender and annul the death sentence against him in compliance with their international obligations," the experts said in a statement.
Agnes Callamard, the UN special rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, and Renate Winter, who heads the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, pointed out that international standards "unequivocally forbid the imposition of the death sentence on anyone under 18 years old at the time of the offence". They also stressed that Iran had committed to following these norms. "As such, this execution is unlawful and arbitrary," they said. Callamard and Winter noted that in 2013, Iran had amended its Islamic Penal Code to allow judges to pronounce alternative sentences for juvenile offenders if there was any uncertainty about their "mental development" at the time of the crime, or if they did not fully realise the nature of the crime committed.The experts pointed out that Iran's State forensic institution had concluded that Kalhori, who was convicted of killing his teacher at the age of 15, was not mentally mature at the time of the crime, and that the Criminal Court had initially sentenced him to prison and a fine. But "following an appeal and apparent letters sent by a government official and a member of parliament," the Supreme Court overturned the verdict and he was sentenced to death during a retrial, the experts said. "Notwithstanding the clear prohibition of the application of the death penalty for those under the age of 18, this case demonstrates flagrant disregard for the amendment to the Penal Code itself," they said. They cautioned that it also "raises concerns about possible interference in the independence of the judiciary." Iran does not publish official statistics on the number of people it has executed. According to an April report by Amnesty International, Iran put at least 507 people to death last year, including at least five juvenile offenders.

Recording of Crying Children at Border Adds to Outrage
Associated Press/Naharnet/June 19/18/An audio recording that appears to capture the heartbreaking voices of small Spanish-speaking children crying out for their parents at a U.S. immigration facility took center stage Monday in the growing uproar over the Trump administration's policy of separating immigrant children from their parents. "Papa! Papa!" one child is heard weeping in the audio file that was first reported by the nonprofit ProPublica and later provided to The Associated Press. Human rights attorney Jennifer Harbury said she received the tape from a whistleblower and told ProPublica it was recorded in the last week. She did not provide details about where exactly it was recorded. Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen said she had not heard the audio but said children taken into custody by the government are being treated humanely. She said the government has high standards for detention centers and the children are well cared for, stressing that Congress needs to plug loopholes in the law so families can stay together. The audio surfaced as politicians and advocates flocked to the U.S.-Mexico border to visit U.S. immigration detention centers and turn up the pressure on the Trump administration. And the backlash over the policy widened. The Mormon church said it is "deeply troubled" by the separation of families at the border and urged national leaders to find compassionate solutions. Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker, a Republican, reversed a decision to send a National Guard helicopter from his state to the Mexican border to assist in a deployment, citing the administration's "cruel and inhumane" policy. At the border, an estimated 80 people pleaded guilty Monday to immigration charges, including some who asked the judge questions such as "What's going to happen to my daughter?" and "What will happen to my son?"Attorneys at the hearings said the immigrants had brought two dozen boys and girls with them to the U.S., and the judge replied that he didn't know what would happen to their children. Several groups of lawmakers toured a nearby facility in Brownsville, Texas, that houses hundreds of immigrant children. Democratic Rep. Ben Ray Lujan of New Mexico said the location was a former hospital converted into living quarters for children, with rooms divided by age group. There was even a small room for infants, complete with two high chairs, where two baby boys wore matching rugby style shirts with orange and white stripes. Another group of lawmakers on Sunday visited an old warehouse in McAllen, Texas, where hundreds of children are being held in cages created by metal fencing. One cage held 20 youngsters. More than 1,100 people were inside the large, dark facility, which is divided into separate wings for unaccompanied children, adults on their own, and mothers and fathers with children. In Texas' Rio Grande Valley, the busiest corridor for people trying to enter the U.S., Border Patrol officials say they must crack down on migrants and separate adults from children as a deterrent to others trying to get into the U.S. illegally. "When you exempt a group of people from the law ... that creates a draw," said Manuel Padilla, the Border Patrol's chief agent there. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, speaking to reporters during a tour of San Diego immigration detention facilities with Rep. Juan Vargas and other House Democrats, said family separation is a "heartbreaking, barbarian issue that could be changed in a moment by the president of the United States rescinding his action.""It so challenges the conscience of our country that it must be changed and must be changed immediately," she said during a news conference at a San Diego terminal that is connected to the airport in Tijuana, Mexico, by a bridge. U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas announced late Monday that he was introducing emergency legislation intended to keep immigrant families together. "All Americans are rightly horrified by the images we are seeing on the news, children in tears pulled away from their mothers and fathers," Cruz said. "This must stop."President Donald Trump emphatically defended his administration's policy Monday, again falsely blaming Democrats. "The United States will not be a migrant camp and it will not be a refugee holding facility," he declared. "Not on my watch."

Trump Says US Not 'Migrant Camp' amid Family Separation Crisis
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/June 19/18/President Donald Trump vowed Monday that the United States would not become a "migrant camp," as he faced soaring pressure to end the separation of immigrant families on America's southern border. While top administration officials stood by Trump's policy of "zero tolerance" towards unauthorized border crossers, and insisted children were being held in humane conditions, criticism swelled from rights groups and within the president's own Republican Party. With the US border crisis shaping up as a critical challenge of his presidency, Trump stood defiant even as Democratic lawmakers accused authorities of keeping children in "cages" separate from their incarcerated parents and Amnesty International likened the practice to "torture.""The United States will not be a migrant camp, and it will not be a refugee holding facility," Trump said at the White House. "You look at what's happening in Europe, you look at what's happening in other places, we can't allow that to happen to the United States," he said. "Not on my watch." Earlier, Trump barged into an immigration row rocking Europe, where countries have clashed on the issue, saying the continent made a "big mistake" by allowing in migrants. The US leader has repeatedly stoked fears of migrant-driven crime to advance his anti-immigration agenda.On the home front, Trump has said he wants family separations to end, but has refused to take responsibility -- instead blaming Democrats, the minority party in Congress, for blocking legislation on the broader issue of illegal immigration.
"CHANGE THE LAWS!" Trump bellowed on Twitter.
New Department of Homeland Security data shows that 2,342 children have been separated from their parents or guardians since early May, when the administration said it would arrest and charge all migrants illegally crossing the Mexican border, regardless of whether they were seeking asylum.
Since children cannot be sent to the facilities where their parents are held, they are separated from them. In heartbreaking audio released by transparency group ProPublica, several Central American children separated from their parents are heard desperately sobbing and wailing, some so hard they almost cannot breathe. "Mommy! I want to go with dad," a young girl is heard crying out. The United Nations slammed the practice as unconscionable, while rights group Amnesty International blasted a "spectacularly cruel" policy which has resulted in frightened children pried from their parent's arms and taken to overflowing detention centers. "This is nothing short of torture," said Amnesty's Americas director Erika Guevara-Rosas.
US public opinion appears divided along partisan lines on the family separations, with two-thirds of all American voters opposed, but 55 percent of Republicans supporting the policy, according to a Quinnipiac University National Poll. - 'Utter atrocity' -A Republican-led Congress is drafting legislative options to address the crisis, with possible votes later this week. "Some in the administration have decided that this cruel policy increases their legislative leverage. This is wrong," said Republican Senator Ben Sasse, an occasional Trump critic. "Americans do not take children hostage, period."A disgusted Republican Senator John McCain tweeted: "The administration’s current family separation policy is an affront to the decency of the American people, and contrary to principles and values upon which our nation was founded. The administration has the power to rescind this policy. It should do so now."
And Democrats stepped up their opposition, as lawmakers conducted a second straight day of visits to processing and detention facilities, including a converted Walmart supermarket in Texas housing some 1,500 immigrant children. Lawmakers spoke of children being held behind chain-link fencing inside the centers. "I went into these facilities yesterday. They are cages," House Democrat Mark Pocan said Monday. The Democratic fury was loud and unsparing.
"President Trump's family separation policy leaves a dark stain on our nation," House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said in a statement. "Ripping vulnerable little children away from their parents is an utter atrocity that debases America's values and our legacy as a beacon of hope, opportunity and freedom." Pelosi was among 14 House Democrats who visited Casa San Diego, a southern California facility housing 62 children, many of whom had fled gang violence from Central American nations like Honduras. "President Trump, do the decent thing, pick up the phone, stop this unconscionable policy," congresswoman Judy Chu said. Amid the outcry, independent investigative news organization Pro Publica published audio obtained from inside a US Customs and Border Protection facility in which children are heard wailing. "I don't want them to stop my father," a distraught girl's voice can be heard, as others cried in the background. "I don't want them to deport him."
'Not' controversial -Immigration is one of the most divisive issues roiling American politics.
Trump's own wife, First Lady Melania Trump, said she hates to see families separated -- although she stopped short of criticizing her husband's policies. Democratic former president Bill Clinton and Trump's 2016 rival Hillary Clinton each denounced the practice, as did Laura Bush, wife of Republican ex-president George W. Bush, in a poignant message retweeted by her successor as first lady, Michelle Obama. Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen insisted that "we do not have a policy of separating families at the border," but warned that anyone crossing the border illegally would face prosecution, with the result of their children being taken away. "What has changed is that we no longer exempt entire classes of people who break the law," she said. "This is not a controversial idea."

US, S. Korea Confirm Suspending Military Drills
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/June 19/18/US and South Korean officials confirmed Tuesday the suspension of scheduled joint military drills, making good on a pledge by President Donald Trump during his summit with North Korea's leader. Seoul, which has tens of thousands of US troops on its soil to help protect it from its hostile northern neighbour, said the suspension would affect the large-scale Ulchi Freedom Guardian exercises slated for August. "South Korea and the US plan to continue discussions for further measures," the South's defence ministry said in a statement, adding that "no decisions have been reached for other ensuing drills." Some 17,500 US military personnel were due to take part in the Freedom Guardian drills. "We are still coordinating additional actions. No decisions on subsequent war games have been made," Pentagon spokeswoman Dana White said in confirming the suspension. "There is no impact on Pacific exercises outside of the Korean Peninsula."White said US Defence Secretary Jim Mattis, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and National Security Advisor John Bolton would meet later this week at the Pentagon to discuss the issue. Last week, Trump made the surprise announcement that the US would halt "war games" with its South Korean security ally -- without making clear when the freeze would begin. The US leader raised eyebrows by describing the exercises as "provocative" -- a term used by the North. US and South Korean forces have been training together for years, and routinely rehearse everything from beach landings to an invasion from the North, or even "decapitation" strikes targeting the North Korean regime. Pyongyang typically reacts furiously. Following drills last year, the North fired ballistic missiles over Japan, triggering global alarm. Complete denuclearisation -Trump's decision raised concern in Japan, which hosts tens of thousands of US troops and has eyed the diplomatic outreach to Pyongyang with deep suspicion. But officials were sanguine on the announcement Tuesday, with Defence Minister Itsunori Onodera saying Trump's move would not affect US-Japan exercises. "In talks with Secretary Mattis, we confirmed that we will implement drills between Japan and the US," he told reporters. Foreign Minister Taro Kono added that Tokyo understood the drills were being halted as a way to press Pyongyang to negotiate in good faith. "I understand that if North Korea stops negotiating with good will, the joint drills will resume," he said. Choi Hyun-soo, a South Korea defence ministry spokeswoman, added: "We are expecting a corresponding measure from North Korea in response to the suspension of the joint drills."At their landmark Singapore summit, Trump and North Korea's Kim Jong Un signed a joint statement in which Pyongyang committed to "work toward complete denuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula."But critics have pointed to the vague wording of the non-binding document and raised fears that the summit could weaken the international coalition against the North's nuclear programme. Pompeo, who has stressed that sanctions will remain in place until North Korea's complete denuclearisation, said he plans to meet Kim for follow-up talks. South Korea said sanctions against the North could be eased once it takes "substantive steps towards denuclearisation," seemingly setting the bar lower than Washington for such a move. But Pompeo's office said both allies remain "committed to the goal of complete, verifiable and irreversible denuclearisation."

Merkel, Macron Search for Reforms to Halt EU 'Disintegration'

Agence France Presse/Naharnet/June 19/18/German Chancellor Angela Merkel hosted French President Emmanuel Macron on Tuesday to hammer out reforms that can stop the "disintegration" of the European Union, torn by populist forces and deep discord over immigration.
The two leaders of Europe's biggest economies will seek to thrash out a compromise between Macron's bold vision for sweeping EU change and Germany's stance that is more cautious, especially when it comes to finance. Merkel and Macron have both stressed that, as US President Donald Trump openly challenges the EU with a trade war and over security and climate policy, the bloc must learn to stand its ground on the world stage. The ministerial retreat at Meseberg castle near Berlin aims to agree a joint Franco-German stance ahead of a key June 28-29 summit on the EU's post-Brexit future, at a time when populists and eurosceptics are rapidly gaining ground. As outspoken pro-Europeans, Merkel and Macron both face harsh opposition from nationalist and right-wing populist forces at home, and in the governments of Italy, Austria and several eastern European countries. Ahead of the meeting, French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire warned that "Europe is in a process of disintegration. We see states that are turning inward, trying to find national solutions to problems that require European solutions.  "It is essential to propose a new European project on immigration, on economic issues, on financial issues to consolidate Europe in a world where you have the United States on one side, China on the other and we are trapped in the middle."- 'Domino effect' -The question of how many migrants the bloc can absorb came back to the fore strongly when last week Italy and Malta both turned back a rescue vessel carrying 630 refugees, which was eventually accepted by Spain. The move sparked a clash between France and Italy as immigration also triggered a domestic crisis for Merkel, a leader already weakened by her decision in 2015 to keep open German borders to a mass influx of more than one million refugees. Merkel now faces a dangerous mutiny from her hardline Bavarian Interior Minister Horst Seehofer, who has vowed to defy her and order police to shut German borders to most asylum seekers by early July absent an EU accord.
Merkel, arguing that the issue must be resolved at the EU level, has pledged to reach deals with transit and arrival countries in the narrow two-week window ending with the Brussels summit. "Turning away migrants at our borders at the heart of Europe will lead to negative domino effects that could hurt Germany and put into question European unity," she has warned. Trump chimed into the debate with a Twitter taunt Monday, charging that "the people of Germany are turning against their leadership as migration is rocking the already tenuous Berlin coalition". Merkel and Macron agree that overburdened Mediterranean countries need financial support or incentives, and that the EU's Frontex border force must receive more funding, while Paris also advocates the creation of asylum processing centres in Africa. 'Unhinged world' -While migration looked to be the most urgent issue, a host of other tricky topics were on the agenda Tuesday -- from eurozone finance and investment to common defence. Macron last year outlined his vision for a stronger, more united Europe as a forceful reply to what was known as the National Front, a far-right party he defeated at the polls. But he was long left waiting for a response from Berlin as Merkel, weakened by poor September election results, was occupied by half a year of arduous coalition talks. When she finally gave a reply several weeks ago, it fell short of many of Macron's core demands. She dashed Macron's hopes for a joint eurozone finance minister and budget, mindful of German public fears that their tax money be squandered on what voters see as fiscal irresponsibility in southern EU states. The Elysee Palace said Monday it hoped for "a substantial agreement" on reform of the common currency area, with a specific budget for a "safety net" to save banks in trouble. Merkel has agreed on a common investment budget for the bloc, but says it should be worth several tens of billions of euros, not the hundreds of billions suggested by Macron. Paris and Berlin are also discussing ways to turn the European Stability Mechanism into a more potent firefighter akin to a European IMF, and how to create greater defence cooperation. Germany's Sueddeutsche daily praised the partnership, saying that "with unrest so rife across the EU, Europe can consider itself lucky if it is able to find any common ground at all".
"In an unhinged world, France and Germany should be grateful for the ties which still bind them."

France's Le Pen Ordered to Repay €300K to Europe Parliament
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/June 19/18/French far-right leader Marine Le Pen must repay nearly 300,000 euros to the European Parliament for funds paid incorrectly to an assistant, a top EU court ruled on Tuesday. The General Court of the European Union, the bloc's second-highest tribunal, rejected a bid by Le Pen to overturn a ruling that she had wrongly used parliamentary funds to pay an aide who was based at her party's headquarters in Paris. The Luxembourg-based court said in a statement that it "confirms the decision of the European Parliament to recover from Marine Le Pen MEP almost 300,000 euros ($347,000) for the employment of a parliamentary assistant, on the ground that she did not prove the effectiveness of that assistant’s work". Le Pen, who lost the 2016 French presidential election in a run-off with Emmanuel Macron, provided no evidence "of any activity whatsoever on the part of the parliamentary assistant that comes under parliamentary assistance, which she moreover acknowledged during the hearing," the court said. Le Pen, who served as an MEP from 2009 to 2017, swiftly announced her intention to take the case to the Court of Justice of the European Union, the bloc's highest court.
"This ruling is based not on the substance of the case but on a procedural aspect. We are going to appeal against this decision," she told AFP. Le Pen's National Rally party -- known until a recent name change as the National Front -- criticized the court's ruling. "When you don't submit evidence the General Court says there was no parliamentary work. When you submit evidence it says it's in the wrong form. Then when you submit the evidence in the right form, it says it's too late," the party said in a statement. In December 2016, the parliament ruled that 298,500 euros had been "unduly" paid to Le Pen over a five-year period for parliamentary assistance provided by her aide Catherine Griset, who was based in Paris and not at parliament, which meets in both Brussels and Strasbourg, eastern France. The parliament began withholding part of Le Pen's allowances as an MEP to recover the money -- a move that she unsuccessfully challenged in the EU court last year. A source at the European Parliament told AFP that it managed to recover around 60,000 euros from Le Pen before she quit the assembly in 2017. Le Pen is not the only member of the former National Front to run foul of rules on payments to parliamentary aides. Her father Jean-Marie Le Pen, the founder of the National Front, was ordered to repay 320,000 euros in 2016, while parliament has demanded a total of nearly 400,000 from three other MEPs.

Afghanistan's Surprise Ceasefire Celebrations Raise Hopes for Peace

Agence France Presse/Naharnet/June 19/18/Extraordinary scenes of Afghan Taliban and security forces spontaneously celebrating a historic ceasefire showed many fighters on both sides are fed up with fighting, analysts say, raising hopes for peace in a country ravaged by war. The jubilant response to the first truce between the Afghan government and the Taliban over the Eid holiday took many by surprise, although observers warn that an end to the nearly 17-year conflict is still a long way off. "It is difficult to predict what the next move might be, but the spell has been broken," Afghan political analyst Ghulam Sakhi Ehsani told AFP. "From all the photos and videos, it seems the foot soldiers from both sides are tired of war." In scenes unimaginable only a few days ago, Taliban fighters and security forces long locked in a seemingly intractable conflict were seen hugging and taking selfies together around the country.
Civilians, who have borne the brunt of the bloody war, also flocked to greet the insurgents as they entered urban areas that they usually visit only to attack, including the capital Kabul. Fighters on both sides of the conflict expressed hopes for the unprecedented ceasefire to continue.
"We have held the ceasefire well so far," Taliban commander Baba told AFP during celebrations in the eastern province of Nangarhar on Saturday. "Everyone is tired of war and if our leaders order us to continue the ceasefire, we will hold it forever," he said.
But the sight of its fighters openly mingling with security forces and civilians appeared to alarm the Taliban's leaders, who ordered their men back to their posts. Michael Kugelman, an analyst at the Wilson Center in Washington, DC, said the Taliban leadership may have feared that "more days without fighting could convince the rank and file that peace is better than a war".
"A little bit of freedom is good but too much, why go to paradise," a Western diplomat told AFP, referring to the virgin angels the Muslim holy book, the Koran, says await good Muslims, especially martyrs, when they die.
'Building block' - Two suicide attacks in Nangarhar, both claimed by the Islamic State group -- which was not part of the ceasefire -- marred the otherwise peaceful Eid holiday that follows the holy month of Ramadan. But the fact that the truce held and was welcomed on both sides suggested the "dynamics of this conflict may have changed", Afghanistan Analysts Network co-director Kate Clark told AFP. "Once there's a recognition of common humanity, that everyone is Muslim, that people in the cities were celebrating Eid as in the villages, that it's really nice to have an ice cream with someone, hopefully it becomes more difficult to kill them," she said. Kugelman said the ceasefire had provided "a major building block" for the government's efforts to negotiate a peace deal with the Taliban, which have so far failed. "While reconciliation still feels like a remote prospect, it now feels at least a bit more of a possibility," he said. Initial euphoria over the ceasefire quickly turned to disappointment and anger among many Afghans when the Taliban resumed fighting on Monday. While analysts had expected the Taliban to return to the battlefield, some people saw it as a betrayal.
"Death to the Taliban and their backers. Once again they have shown that they love shedding the blood of innocent Afghans," Madena Momad posted on Facebook. Hopes for dialogue - What comes next in the long conflict is unclear.
There has long been secret back-channel dialogue between interlocutors on both sides of the war, and direct talks between Kabul and the Taliban were held in Pakistan in July 2015, but were quickly derailed. Analysts say even if the Taliban could be convinced to give formal talks another try -- they now refuse to negotiate with the Afghan government, which they see as illegitimate -- it could still take years to reach and then implement an agreement.There is no roadmap and neither side appears to be clear on what a post-conflict Afghanistan would actually look like or has identified their "red lines" in talks.
President Ashraf Ghani announced over the weekend that the government's eight-day ceasefire, due to expire on Tuesday, would be prolonged for another 10 days. But while Taliban leaders hailed the three-day truce a success and a demonstration of their "full control" over their fighters, they refused Ghani's request for an extension. The government's move may buy the president more time to work out how to keep the momentum going. "Ghani's only option is to keep trying for peace," Kugelman said. "The war can't be won militarily so he'll need to make any and all possible efforts to secure some type of negotiated end to the war." Ghani's February offer of peace talks with the Taliban, considered to be one of the most comprehensive plans ever offered by an Afghan government, was ignored by the militants, which went on to launch their annual spring offensive. The insurgents have repeatedly demanded direct dialogue with the United States, which Washington has refused, and the withdrawal of foreign troops. But last month the Pentagon said that senior Taliban officials have been secretly negotiating with Afghan officials on a possible ceasefire. "This weekend was a very strong indication that if the pieces fall together in the right way there can be a constructive dialogue," another Western diplomat said.

Former minister arrested on suspicion of spying for Iran
Anna Ahronheim/Jerusalem Post/June 19/18
He was arrested on suspicion of committing offenses by assisting the enemy in a time of war and spying against the State of Israel and providing intelligence to the enemy.
Former government minister Gonen Segev has been charged with spying for Iran, Israel’s Shin Bet internal security agency announced on Monday. The former energy and infrastructure minister – who also spent time in jail for drug smuggling, forgery and fraud – was arrested on suspicion of assisting the enemy in a time of war, spying against the State of Israel and providing intelligence to the enemy.
An indictment was filed in the Jerusalem District Prosecutor’s Office on June 15 and approved by the attorney-general and the state attorney. Segev is suspected of providing his Iranian handlers with intelligence related to, among other things, Israel’s energy industry, security sites, buildings and officials in Israeli political and security bodies. According to the Shin Bet, Segev arrived for a visit in May to Equatorial Guinea, where he was refused entry to the country due to his criminal past.
Security authorities had gathered intelligence indicating that Segev was maintaining contacts with Iranian intelligence and assisting them in their activities against the State of Israel. The Israel Police subsequently requested his extradition to Israel, where he was immediately arrested upon his arrival for questioning by the Shin Bet. The investigation by the Shin Bet and the Israel Police found that Segev was recruited and acted as an agent on behalf of Iranian intelligence. In 2012, Segev first met with elements of the Iranian Embassy in Nigeria, knowing they were from Iranian intelligence, and later traveled twice to Iran to meet with his handlers. The investigation also found that Segev, who received a secret communications system to encrypt messages between himself and his Iranian handlers, met with them in various countries, in hotels and apartments used for clandestine Iranian activity. In order to accomplish the tasks he received from his handlers, Segev maintained ties with Israeli citizens who are related to Israel’s security and foreign relations spheres. According to the Shin Bet, Segev tried to connect some of the Israelis to Iranian intelligence, all the while trying to fool them and present the Iranians as innocent businessmen. At the request of the Shin Bet and the Israel Police, a gag order has been imposed on other details of the case. Attorneys Eli Zohar and Moshe Mazor of Goldfarb Seligman, representing the former minister, said they have been accompanying him since his arrival in Israel about a month ago, confirming that an indictment against their client was recently filed. “Most of the details are confidential at the request of the state. Even at this early stage, it is possible to say that the publication that was permitted makes things even more difficult, even though from the indictment – whose full details remain confidential – a different picture emerges.”
Segev was born in Israel in 1956 and served as a military pilot in the Israeli Air Force in the 1970s, reaching the rank of captain. Following his service, he studied medicine at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev and became a medical doctor.
He was elected to the Knesset in 1992 as part of the now-defunct, hawkish opposition Tzomet Party and was lured to join Yitzhak Rabin’s government as energy minister in 1994 before he quit politics. He was arrested and convicted for drug smuggling and credit card fraud in 2005 after attempting to smuggle 32,000 ecstasy (MDMA) tablets from the Netherlands into Israel. He was released in 2007 after serving two years of a five-year sentence. Segev, who said he thought the tablets were M&Ms, moved to Nigeria where he practiced medicine after his license was revoked in Israel. In 2016, Segev requested that Health Minister Ya’acov Litzman pardon him so he could move back to Israel and return to his practice as a doctor; his request was denied.
Latest LCCC Bulletin analysis & editorials from miscellaneous sources published on June 19-20/18
Turkey: Glorification of Murder, Martyrdom and Child Soldiers
Uzay Bulut/Gatestone Institute/June 19/2018
The celebrations are not just about the glorification of guns and killing for national or religious purposes. The events are also marked by historic revisionism in which the genocide victims are blamed for their own extermination.
There are many factors that drive the hysteria in Turkey extolling deaths, killings and attempts to brainwash children and turn them into "voluntary martyrs": Systematic racism, ultra-nationalism, Islamic jihad and belief in martyrdom as well as the denial of the Christian genocide combined with pride in having waged it.
The 2015 "Islam Law" of Austria, which Erdogan was protesting, states that "The freedom of religion is secured in the Austrian Constitution – individually, collectively and cooperatively" -- and that this freedom should not be allowed to be exploited by those who incite hate or violence for any group.
Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz recently announced that the government was shutting down a Turkish nationalist mosque in Vienna and dissolving a group called the Arab Religious Community that runs six mosques, according to the Associated Press. "Parallel societies, political Islam and tendencies toward radicalization have no place in our country," Kurz told reporters.
"The move comes after images appeared on Twitter in April of children in a Turkish-backed mosque playing dead and reenacting the World War I battle of Gallipoli (in which an allied invasion of Ottoman Turkey was defeated). Their "corpses" were then covered in Turkish flags. The mosques association called the event 'highly regrettable,'" according to the CBN News.
These decisions by the Austrian government also follow its 2015 "Islam Law", which bans foreign funding of religious groups and introduces a duty for Muslim organizations to have "a positive fundamental view towards [Austrian] state and society".
The 2015 "Islam Law" of Austria, which Erdogan was protesting, states that "The freedom of religion is secured in the Austrian Constitution – individually, collectively and cooperatively". This freedom should not be allowed to be exploited by those who incite hate or violence for any group. European governments should be alert and take all measures available to monitor mosques -- their sermons and activities -- and bring to account the imams who attempt to indoctrinate Muslims in teachings that imperil the safety and liberty of others.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has warned the Austrian government that "These measures taken by the Austrian chancellor are, I fear, leading the world towards a war between the cross and the crescent," he said, referring to Christianity and Islam. "You do this and we sit idle? It means we will take some steps too." He added that the "western world should get their act together."
Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has warned the Austrian government that "...measures taken by the Austrian chancellor are, I fear, leading the world towards a war between the cross and the crescent." (Photo by Chris McGrath/Getty Images)
Austria is not the first European government taking precautions against Islamic radicalization. In 2016, the Washington Post reported:
After three major terrorist attacks in the last year and a half, public outrage has forced the French government to respond...
...Prime Minister Manuel Valls called for an outright ban on the foreign funding of mosques in France "for a period to be determined." Days later, Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve announced that, in fact, more concrete measures had already been taken: Since December 2015, he said, 20 Salafist mosques were shut down altogether.
"There is no place in France for those who call for and incite hatred in prayer halls or in mosques," Cazeneuve said.
Children reenacting the WW1 and playing dead at a place of worship might be considered out of ordinary for the 21st century Austria and other EU countries, yet the public use of "child soldiers" in military costumes and with "toy guns" is extremely widespread in Turkey.
At a private kindergarten in the city of Kırıkkale, for example, children between the ages of 3 and 6 were also made to put on military costumes and take up "toy arms" to commemorate the 97th anniversary of the battle of Gallipoli in 2012. According to news reports, "the martyred students were covered with Turkish flags."
Such commemorations that normalize and even glorify killing are officially organized in Turkey. Events celebrating "the liberation from enemy forces" of every city and town across Turkey are held annually. The "enemies" are Western powers such as Britain, France, Russia and Greece as well as the Christian peoples of Turkey, who are portrayed as "criminal traitors", including Armenians, Anatolian Greeks and others. In many of these events, stage plays are performed by locals including children who "wipe out the enemy from the homeland and sacrifice their own lives" during and after the WW1.
In 2011, for instance, during the ceremony of the liberation of the city of Bayburt, children in military costumes and with guns were put on stage. The "martyred" ones were – as usual - covered in Turkish flags.
There are countless examples.[1]
The celebrations are not just about the glorification of guns and killing for national or religious purposes. The events are also marked by historic revisionism in which the victims of the 1914-1923 Christian genocide are blamed for their own extermination.
"The Ottoman campaign against Christian minorities of the Empire between 1914 and 1923 constituted a genocide against Armenians, Assyrians, and Pontian and Anatolian Greeks," by contrast, the International Association of Genocide Scholars (IAGS) announced in 2007.
Turkish historiography asserts that Armenians, Assyrians, and Greeks were "dealt with" by Turks for their "criminal and treacherous" activities such as their political cooperation with other countries and the desire of these groups to establish an independent state of their own.
On January 5, 2018, for instance, celebrated as the day the city of Adana was "liberated from enemies", the city's mayor, Hüseyin Sözlü, held Armenians responsible for their own annihilation. "January 5 is the name of our honorable stance against French invaders who took their power from colonialism and against their local cooperators, Armenians, who they deceived with the promise of establishing a state of their own," he said, adding that Turks "drowned the enemy" because the enemy "wanted to exterminate and wipe Turks out from history".
The formal celebrations for the March 12 "liberation of Erzurum from the enemy invasion" were for years done by bayonetting "Armenian gang members" in public.
Some personnel at the municipality, however, declared they did not want to play the bayoneted Armenians - not because it is inhumane to do so but because they did not want to be Armenian even in a play:
"We definitely do not want to be Armenian. We don't want to play the role of an Armenian even if they give us 1 billion Liras. We don't want the people in the neighborhood to talk about us all the time. They should make the ceremony without bayonetting Armenians."
Armenian gang members often are played by municipal workers in the town.: "I have played the Armenian soldier Ohannes for 30 years. Today, I will commit a massacre. I will show what Armenians did in this country and let future generations know about it. Today, I will take the lives of Mahmut and Şevket Efendi whose bread I have eaten for years," said one retired municipal worker in 2015.
Some municipal workers, however, have expressed their unwillingness even to play the role of Armenians:
"We get negative reactions from everyone because we play the role of Armenians in these ceremonies. We are sometimes mocked. They call us 'Armenian servants'. We don't want to do this, but we do because our mayor orders us to."
In 2016, the mayor, Enver Başaran, told an audience: "In your presence, I remember once again with mercy and gratitude our glorious ancestors who extirpated the Armenians whose history is filled with blood and treason from these lands."
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has also publicly promoted child martyrdom. At a party congress, he spotted a weeping six-year-old girl in a military uniform. He brought her onto the stage to tell her that if she died as a martyr, her coffin would be covered with the Turkish flag she held in her pocket. "You are ready for anything, aren't you?" Erdogan asked. The terrified child, through her sobs, hardly managed to say "yes."
There are many factors that drive the hysteria in Turkey extolling deaths and killings and attempts to brainwash children and turn them into "voluntary martyrs": Systematic racism, ultra-nationalism, Islamic jihad and belief in martyrdom as well as the denial of the Christian genocide combined with pride in having waged it.
Sadly, Turkish schoolchildren have for decades been indoctrinated in these anti-humanitarian values. Why should the Austrian and other European governments be expected to allow Turkey to export the same destructive values to Europe as well?
*Uzay Bulut, a journalist from Turkey, is a Distinguished Senior Fellow at Gatestone Institute. She is currently based in Washington D.C.
[1] A few more include the 2008 celebrations for the "liberation from enemies" of the town of Pasinler in which "the majority of the children watching the theater play had guns in their hands."
In another event, on the 90th anniversary of "liberation of Rize from enemy forces" on March 3, 2008, an official ceremony was organized in which a stage play was performed in which two thirteen-year-old girls were made to shoot guns at "enemy forces."
For years, public celebrations in the city of Rize were carried out by locals using blank cartridge pistols and rifles, but even these caused some injuries. So, in 2009, upon the instruction of the governor of the city, toy guns were used instead. "Was Rize saved with toy guns?" some locals asked. Halil Bakırcı, the mayor of the city, was not happy with the decision either. "The festival of liberation of Rize cannot be celebrated without guns," he said.
© 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.

Post-Ramadan Reflections on the Muslim World
Salim Mansur/Gatestone Institute/June 19/2018
Muslims, in effect, are trapped in a state of bewilderment over how to repair their broken cultures, or how to build them anew -- when they are full of doubts about what is new, what is modern and what has been built by others belonging to a different faith and culture.
Muslims in general are a "third world" people whose understanding and practice of Islam remain fixed in their pre-modern cultures. To many Muslims, due to their pre-modern worldview, this paradox is mostly incomprehensible. It is also hugely obstructive in easing their transition to modernity.
The fury of the internal upheaval inside the Muslim world will eventually exhaust itself when a sufficiently large segment of the Muslim population reconciles reason and revelation to discover that God never meant any religion, including Islam, to be a burden preventing man from threading a relationship with Him in harmony with human nature. Embracing modernity does not mean abandoning God.
As Ramadan drew to a close this year, the spectacle of a contrived Muslim rage on the last Friday of Islam's sacred month -- branded "Al- Qud's [Jerusalem] Day" by Iran's late leader, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini – was on display across the Muslim world and in the West.
The Qur'an, Islam's sacred text, calls upon Muslims to fast during Ramadan as part of prayers and quiet reflection "to ward off evil." Extremist Muslims, instead, call upon their co-religionists to display their rage against their real and imagined enemies, especially Jews. Most Muslims, however, steer away from such angry demonstrations, which degrade the meaning and purpose of their devotion to fasting and prayers during the month in which the Qur'an was first revealed to Muhammad.
The public display of rage on the last Friday of Ramadan, which has now become a ritual since Khomeini called for it soon after the 1979 Islamic Revolution in Iran, is another vivid indicator of how deeply and fatefully divided within itself is the Muslim world.
The causes dividing the Muslim world are many, given the vast diversity among Muslims of ethnicity, language, culture, resources, levels of literacy and economic development. Public display of rage increasingly seems an indicator of the collective frustration of many Muslims in their inability to understand and contend with the requirements of the modern world.
The late scholar Bernard Lewis devoted his 1990 Jefferson Lecture -- later published as "The Roots of Muslim Rage" in the Atlantic Monthly -- in explaining how to make sense of "Muslim rage."
The Nobel laureate in literature, V.S. Naipaul, after witnessing regular displays of this rage across the Muslim world during his travels, observed in his book, Among the Believers: An Islamic Journey, that it was as if "the Muslim world had been on the boil."
This pervasiveness of Muslim rage, frequently accompanied by violence, might be explained as a symptom of pre-modern cultures caught in a whirlpool of a much-delayed transition into modernity. Muslims, in effect, are trapped in a state of bewilderment over how to repair their broken cultures, or how to build them anew -- when they are full of doubts about what is new, what is modern and what has been built by others belonging to a different faith and culture. If they need to build what is new to them, they require reconciling modernity with the principles of their own faith tradition and culture. This is the nub of their problem as Muslims -- not extremists, as extremists dogmatically insist that the solution for any and all problems of the Muslim world is the unreconstructed implementation of Islamic law, Shariah.
Analogies for understanding the problems involved in transitioning from pre-modernity to modernity exist in India, the world's largest democracy, and China, the world's fastest-growing economy, and both are two of the oldest civilizations. Yet both are still having difficulty making the passage to modernity.
Muslims in general are a "third world" people whose understanding and practice of Islam remain fixed in their pre-modern cultures. As a matter of belief, Muslims take the Qur'an as divine revelation and its meaning as eternally valid. If this belief is the doctrinal truth for Muslims, then a reading of the Qur'an in the modern age cannot be the same as it was, for instance, in the 10th century. To many Muslims, though, due to their pre-modern worldview, this paradox is mostly incomprehensible. It is also hugely obstructive in easing their transition to modernity. Neither the Indians nor the Chinese have had to overcome a similar obstruction bound up with their respective pre-modern religiously based worldviews in their effort to modernize.
Hence, Muslims need to open their minds to a new reading of the Qur'an that will be consistent with the requirements of the modern age, science and democracy. They need to rethink the relationship between God and man: embracing modernity does not mean abandoning God.
In our lifetime, Muslims have had to confront the fundamental theological questions that were once faced by Christians. Despite flaws, Christianity emerged from a long, conflict-ridden history in reconciling with modernity, represented by open societies and liberal democracies, based on the rule of law and individual freedom. To evolve theologically into present day Christianity, it underwent a tumultuous transition from a Europe of the Inquisition, complete with witch-hunts and burning heretics tied to stakes, to the Renaissance, the wars of Reformation and Counter-Reformation, Enlightenment, philosophical and scientific revolutions, revolutionary wars of dynasties and emergent states, regicides and civil wars, the guillotines of the French revolution, the Reign of Terror, colonial conquests, world wars, the Russian Revolution, genocides, fascism, gulags, and the Holocaust.
If all of the above in Europe's transition has been more or less forgotten, we need merely to observe the horrific violence within the contemporary Muslim world and recognize how much alike it is to what occurred in Christendom between the time that Christopher Columbus set sail on his voyage of discovery and when Allied forces liberated Europe from Nazi Germany.
As political questions are sometimes theological in nature, and vice versa, different cultures have had to work out answers as to what God means to them, or how people of different faith traditions apprehend God. In most societies the relevance of God is central to the meaning of a "good society" in moral and ethical terms.
In Islam, unlike in Christianity, theology as a tool of religion is an impoverished discipline. In Islam, the certainty about God's reality as the omnipotent Creator, the Lord of the Universe and the Master of the Day of Reckoning is never in question. God's reality is at once simple and overwhelming; He is singular, unique and there is none like Him.
Islam, an offspring of Abrahamic monotheism, also insists on God as One, Absolute and Transcendent. In Islam and in Judaism, there is not much to be disputed about the nature of God as there has been in Christianity. In Islam, since the early years of the religion, Muslim religious scholars have instead been preoccupied with the details of prescribing laws derived from God's revelation to Muhammad as the last prophet; in other words, to work out the details of the right way to live, derived from the ethical norms set forth in the Qur'an.
According to traditional Islam, man is God's vice-regent on earth. As God's deputy, his role is to fulfill God's command set forth in the revelation received by Muhammad. God is Sovereign; He has spoken; and a righteous Muslim is one who abides by His command, follows the traditions of the prophet, and is faithful to his community and its customs as compiled in Shariah – the legal code prepared by jurists during the first three centuries of Muslim history (the 8th, 9th and 10th centuries of the Common Era).
Traditional Islam, by and large, is preoccupied with the externalities of religion -- the observance of rituals and customs -- and the minimum requirements of faith that bind individuals into communities. Its understanding and interpretation of the Qur'an are literal. It was shaped by the thrust of history that turned it, in the years immediately following the demise of the prophet, into a world-conquering faith, which brought Arabs from deep in the desert and from the margins of civilizations to found an empire and sweep aside the armies of Byzantium and Persia.
The triumphal and unprecedented entrance of Arabs, as the first Muslims in history, was also, in retrospect, the vulnerable part of how Islam came to be understood and practiced. The certainty about God that filled the pre-modern imagination of Muslims – and which, in large measure, shaped the political culture of Islam -- left them unprepared to deal with a new world that emerged around the time of the 16th century. In addition, as their early victories receded in memory and history, defeats suffered at the hands of non-Muslims came to pose troubling questions about the nature of their religious convictions.
There was a brief flash of interest in theology during the early two centuries of Islam. This interest was awakened, in part, as a result of conquests that brought Jews, Christians, Zoroastrians in Persia and Hindus in India into the realm of Islam, causing the Arabs of the desert to come into contact with high cultures, which posed difficult and challenging questions to their simplistic faith in the God of Abraham. The Qur'an is very much a Jewish book that recalls for Muslims the story of Jews -- the people most proximate to the Arabs among whom Muhammad was born and raised -- and instructs the pagan Arabs on the worship of One God.
In Baghdad, the Arab capital of the Abbasid rulers as Caliphs of Islam during the early Middle Ages, inquiry and debate took place about revelation and reason. The writings of some ancient Greek philosophers, such as Plato and Aristotle, were made available through the conquest of Alexandria and translated into Arabic. Curiosity was aroused. Could God be apprehended outside of revelation and, if so, would the God of the philosophers be the same as the God of revelation?
In Baghdad, the Arab capital of the Abbasid rulers as Caliphs of Islam during the early Middle Ages, inquiry and debate took place about revelation and reason. Pictured: An image from an Abbasid manuscript, produced in the year 1237. (Image source: Académie de Reims/Wikimedia Commons)
At first, the Caliphs encouraged such speculative discussions, for it seemed that there could be nothing about them that threatened the supremacy of Islam either religiously or politically. With such encouragement, Muslim thinkers emerged to suggest that, logically, revelation and reason could not conflict: that God's creations were sustained by the laws He set for them and these laws could be apprehended by man's rational faculties. These Muslim thinkers were known as Mu'tazilites, or rationalists. They initially won the favor of the Abbasid rulers, but the traditionalists -- who preached a populist doctrine appealing to the common man's piety -- mounted effective resistance to their speculations.
Dispute was never far from the question about whose understanding of God was closest to what was revealed in the Qur'an. The rationalists tended to read and interpret the text non-literally, with a greater attention to the hidden meanings of terms expressed allegorically, and to describe God's attributes and prescriptions as universal and inclusive; their opponents, the traditionalists, insisted on the particulars, on the concrete and historically specific examples, on a literal reading of the text that laid greater insistence on God's absolute power than on the universality of His justice and mercy.
The major collision came over the issue of predestination versus free will. Had God predetermined all things, including man's conduct, for all times? Or was man a free agent whose choosing between good and evil was responsible for his conduct? This schism was further aggravated by the debate over whether the Qur'an is relative in time and should be understood accordingly -- with the prescriptive verses of the Qur'an read contextually -- or whether it is eternal and coeval with God. The opponents of the Mu'tazilites found support among common men, and their populism eventually turned the rulers against philosophers and early theologians of Islam. There was an inquisition, and the rationalists were condemned as heretics and forbidden to propagate their supposedly subversive ideas. Hence, speculative enquiry, philosophy and theology in Islam came to be proscribed and Islamic culture, as a result, soon arrived at a dead end.
There is a parallel here with nominalism in Christian thinking that came several centuries later. The most prominent Christian theologian associated with this doctrine is William of Ockham (1285-1347) in the early 14th century. Ockham sought to rebut Christian scholastics and their effort to reconcile Aristotle's rationalism with revelation. The works of those who followed St. Thomas Aquinas -- those who believed in Thomism and its goal to mediate between God and man -- appalled him.
Ockham and his followers argued, as the opponents of Mu'tazilites had done, against universals that would constrain God's unique and absolute power to create at each instant of time whatever He wishes. It was not for man, they argued, to comprehend God, who is not bound by any law, consideration, demand or supplication of His creation. In seeking to place God beyond all contingency, in making the distance between God and man as absolute as God is omnipotent, Ockham and the nominalists seemed to turn Him into a capricious sovereign, one to be feared and obeyed; one whose will must be submitted to without questioning.
Nominalism as a theological doctrine was eventually trounced as Christendom advanced by embracing rationalism. In the Muslim world, the reverse had happened. The defeat of rationalism entrenched what might be described as the Muslim version of nominalism; it suited the needs of the rulers and buttressed their tendency to reign with arbitrary power. The Muslim jurists declared about the same time that there was nothing further to add or amend to the corpus of legal rulings that they had derived from the Qur'an and the traditions of the prophet. Consequently, the doors of what is known in traditional Islam as ijtihad -- the effort invested in interpreting the sacred text -- were closed, and Muslims were required to abide by the corpus of laws formally compiled into Shariah.
The officially approved understanding of God in Islam, both in the majority Sunni tradition and in the minority Shi'ite tradition, appeared arid and unsatisfying to many Muslims. These Muslims quietly turned to mysticism, and became known as Sufis. They did not, however, openly contest the official doctrine; they publicly abided by the prescribed rituals of popular or traditional Islam.
The Sufis searched for the inner meanings of the Qur'anic verses. In their view, the outer realm of Islam hid the inner dimension of man's spiritual journey to seek a union with God. For them, God was the source and fulfilment of love; and, at times, their quest – driven by the desire to experience, in the here and now, the presence of God in their lives – was condemned by the orthodoxy as heresy.
Sufism is the humanizing of God. A verse in the Qur'an (50:16) states that God is closer to man than his jugular vein, and the Sufi is one who affirms that, apart from God, all else is unreal.
The Muslim world currently appears trapped within the parameters of the pre-modern world, based on its quasi-nominalist view of God. The Sufi understanding of God as universal love seems not fully to meet the Muslim world's urgent need to figure out how to negotiate modernity without abandoning the God of the Qur'an. The fury of the internal upheaval inside the Muslim world -- the Muslim rage that is incomprehensible to non-Muslims -- will eventually exhaust itself when a sufficiently large segment of the Muslim population reconciles reason and revelation to discover that God never meant any religion, including Islam, to be a burden preventing man from threading a relationship with Him in harmony with human nature.
As the transition from pre-modernity to modernity proceeds with its twists and turns, the Muslim world, over time will progress and develop to the point that eventually there will arise a theology, as occurred in Christendom, consistent with the needs of Muslims and reconciled with modernity.
*Salim Mansur is a Distinguished Senior Fellow at Gatestone Institute. He teaches in the department of political science at Western University in London, Ontario, and is the author of "The Qur'an Problem and Islamism"; "Islam's Predicament: Perspectives of a Dissident Muslim"; and "Delectable Lie: A Liberal Repudiation of Multiculturalism."
© 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.

On Khamenei, Abdelnasser, Jews, and Israel
Hazem Saghieh/Al Arabiya/June 19/18
Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei has quite unexpectedly started criticizing Gamal Abdelnasser, the leader of Arab nationalism who passed away in 1970. The new Twitter controversy sprung up in the context of Abdelnasser’s alleged statement that he would throw all the Jews into the sea, while in reality he never said this. The statement was in fact made by Ahmad al-Shukeiri, the first chairman of the Palestine Liberation Organization.
This does not mean that Nasserism was innocent of anti-Semitism. During its heydays, a large number of anti-Semitic European literature was translated into Arabic. Gamal Abdelnasser’s brother Al-Leithi was one of those who translated The Protocols of the Elders of Zion into Arabic in 1968.
Similarly, Abdel Halim Hafez sang a song written by Abdul Rahman Al-Abnoudi titled Christ in which the final line read “the same Jews” had “crucified” Christ. However, after Al-Azhar had pointed out and cautioned that Christ, according to Islam, was not crucified, they replaced the word “crucified” with “betrayed.”All this is history now. It is expected that Khamenei, who translated some of the books of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood member Sayyed Qutb into Persian, would not be a fan of Abdelnasser who executed Qutb.
What is surprising about Khamenei’s tweet is how he appears to have retracted from his promise of “wiping Israel off the map,” by underlining that Iran is “playing rationally” and demanding “democratic methods to solve the conflict between the Palestinians and Israelis,” even insisting that “democracy today is the modern approach accepted by the whole world”
Nevertheless, it is still not understandable why Khamenei opened up this matter now. The movement, which the supreme leader belongs to, is one of most active in terms of denying the occurrence of the Holocaust. Former President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was one of the most prominent Holocaust deniers. Khamenei himself has endorsed such views in a video clip posted on his website on the Holocaust Memorial Day on January 27, 2016. In Tehran, conferences for people who deny the Holocaust were organized. This is in addition to caricatures and exhibitions.
Ayatollah Khomeini promoted the "International Jewish Conspiracy" in the 1960s and called the Shah a closet Jew. His book The Islamic Government is replete with this “wisdom” and superstitious rulings concluding that the “Israelis are not humans.”
Khamenei’s flip-flop
What is surprising about Khamenei’s tweet is how he appears to have retracted from his promise of “wiping Israel off the map,” by underlining that Iran is “playing rationally” and demanding “democratic methods to solve the conflict between the Palestinians and Israelis,” even insisting that “democracy today is the modern approach accepted by the whole world.”This rhetoric is not that of Khomeini or Khamenei, and adopting it is not due to ideological reasons but most likely due to politics. The Israelis have besieged Iran’s presence in Syria and have placed Tehran before options of which the best is humiliating. The economic situation is very bad, and with the return of American sanctions it will get worse. The relationships between the wings of power inside Iran are not so good. The cost of external expansion has significantly increased over the past two years. We know that the Islamists of Iran, like Arab Islamists, engage in a kind of cheap pragmatism that makes them change with changing circumstances. We also know that Iran, when Khomeini was still alive, combined between the peak of enthusiasm to “export the revolution” with the extreme willingness to cooperate with ‘Great Satan’ as revealed in the notorious Iran–Contra affair. Is it possible to assemble such scattered pieces for a useful purpose? Is it possible that Iran is feeling the pulse of Israelis and advocating a bridge between the two countries? Could the Russians have hinted to the Iranians to behave as such, so that Tehran can break free from its Syrian dilemma without Moscow having to openly declare its open tilt towards Israel in a confrontation between two of its allies? Is it possible that the Iranian leadership has found a reference to imitate in the recent US-North Korean deal?
If the answers are ‘yes’, then we can say that Khamenei’s recent “intellectual” position is not based on ideals at all. In fact, the aim of negatively and falsely talking about Abdelnasser may be to confirm the distance between the Islamists of Iran and the Arab nationalists whom calls to eliminate Israel have been historically linked to. If this scenario is true, there is still a startling oddity. Iranian Islamists have incited and inflamed Arab and Palestinian nationalists when they were calming down. This scenario thus implies that those who have adopted this inflammation approach will from now on cool down the situation and perhaps completely extinguish it. We may be on the eve of exciting transformations in an exciting region.

Can Kim-Trump summit be replicated with Iran?
Hamid Bahrami/Al Arabiya/June 19/18
The US President hailed the historic summit with North Korean dictator, Kim Jong-un, following a year of political roller coaster and exchange of threatening words.Many global security pundits are confused about the rationale behind why Kim has changed his mind on the relationship with the US.
President Trump’s strategy to solve the North Korean crisis has been to tighten the noose around Kim’s regime in order to force him to respect international laws. Seemingly, this strategy has worked as North Korea has already agreed to dismantle its nuclear capacity.
It appears that the US National Security team pursues the same strategy with regard to addressing the Iranian regime’s nuclear ambition and regional mischief. But the Iran situation is in fact a very different story. The US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s list of 12 demands from Iran directly targets the theocracy’s fundamental pillars, namely its export of terrorism and domestic repression.
It is evident that Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei seeks to salvage his totalitarian regime. However, the quandary is that if he accepts only two of the 12 American demands and reforms the Islamic Republic’s behavior accordingly, nothing will remain of his regime.
Khamenei fully understands this, which is apparent from his most important condition for staying in the nuclear deal. Drawing a red-line for the EU3, the Supreme Leader made it clear that the EU should pledge not to seek negotiations on the regime’s regional activities.
Commanders of Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) have consistently repeated that if the IRGC does not fight beyond Iran’s borders, the regime will face perilous threats on the streets of Tehran. In contrast to the Iranian regime, North Korea has never destabilized its neighbors and in reality what President Trump expects from Kim does not threaten the existence of his regime
Pouring cold water
On the other hand, the so-called moderate President of Iran poured cold water on all hopes for negotiations with Iran in the Post-Nuclear Deal era.
During a meeting of regime officials on Friday on the occasion of Eid al-Fitr, Rouhani said: “It is amazing that a power who has the blood of the people of this region from Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria and Yemen to other regions on its hands, has worn the mask of peace and speaks about negotiation, and the usurper regime who is killing people every day is traveling around to portray a false image of the Islamic Republic and people of Iran”.
This is the main reason that I strongly believe the IRGC will never pull out its forces from the Middle East through diplomatic negotiations or sanctions. Restrictions on the regime’s source of income will certainly limit its influence but the US should eventually consider expelling the IRGC from the region.
In contrast to the Iranian regime, North Korea has never destabilized its neighbors and in reality what President Trump expects from Kim does not threaten the existence of his regime.
Hence, it is naive to expect for a real negotiation between Iranian clerics and President Trump even if the US gives them security guarantees. Historically, no one can secure a regime that is deeply hated by its own people.
Ideological leverage
Now, one may argue that both dictators could lose their ideological leverage and be overthrown by their suppressed masses if the political and social atmosphere are opened up. The Iranian regime has of course already lost its religious leverage among the people.
In reality, this argument could not be realistic for North Korea because Kim’s regime is not facing massive popular protests with chants of regime change at home.
On the contrary, in Iran, economic and political crises have risen to a decisive point as the regime has been faced with an organized opposition, the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), which regime officials blames for the ongoing nationwide protests inside the country.
As the NCRI prepares for its annual gathering in Paris on 30 June, known as Free Iran, my source inside Iranian President’s Office tells me that during a phone call between the French and the Iranian Presidents a few days ago, Rouhani asked for restrictions to be put on the event, which the French President declined. As history teaches us, the US administration should not waste time to hear anything from theocracy. Instead, both Arab states and President Trump should pay close attention to the message out of NCRI’s gathering in Iran, which will echo the real voices of Iranians.

Liberation of Hodeidah and the rapid strategic shift
Radwan al-Sayed/Al Arabiya/June 19/18
Yemeni army forces and resistance factions, aided by the coalition’s ground, aerial and naval forces, are advancing toward the city of Hodeidah as fierce battles continue. I do not have any military experience but ever since the Houthis were driven out of South Yemen, it has been clear that containing the Houthi coup requires three military goals: expelling the Houthis away from the Saudi borders, getting them out of the central governorates and getting them out of ports, specifically the Hodeidah Port.
The Hodeidah Port is the main naval entrance to North Yemen, and it is also important because most food imports and other goods come through it. The Houthis have benefitted a lot from its financial resources and have used it to smuggle Iranian weapons and to threaten international navigation.
They have also relied on the port to control wide areas, which never embraced them in Yemen. Military oppression and army barricades in support of Ali Saleh were not enough to subjugate these areas so the Houthis resorted to famine, like Bashar al-Assad did in Syria, to control people.
Interestingly, the Houthis, who view themselves as part of the Iranian camp, used the same methods adopted by Hezbollah and other Iranian militias, i.e. murder, starvation, displacement and imposing Iranian domination on the abandoned land under the pretext of Shiism.
Many observers think that storming the west coast has been delayed a lot but they disagree over the reason. The most prominent reason they note is that the coalition countries, which succeeded in the issuance of UN Security Council Resolution 2216 before they intervened, had to listen to the UN Security Council at every step of the way.
Envoys always proposed truces, discussions and negotiations in Oman, Kuwait and other places. Meanwhile, the Houthis have been stalling to improve their control over Yemen, and then came the health and humanitarian crises. This called for taking many things into consideration and to listen to people’s worries and tragedies, which the Houthis do not care about. The circumstances in 2015 were the darkest but the decisive Arab countries turned this darkness into hope
Divided army
In addition to that, I think the Yemeni situation also plays a role here. The Houthis’ arrival to Aden, Hadhramaut and Hodeidah during a month or less meant the Yemeni army was divided or practically shattered.
Therefore the coalition’s and the legitimate government’s ability to rebuild the Yemeni army during less than three years is considered an important and a fateful achievement as the army’s presence and efficiency is now essential in the ongoing war to restore the country from the Houthis who control the capital and other major cities. It’s true that the resistance forces remained active on the ground in Taiz and other areas and in Hodeidah later but the main factor on the ground now is the Yemeni army in addition to Emirati and Sudanese forces. The air force is very important alongside the forces that are liberating lands and managing them.
There is another strategic factor which significance has appeared now. In 2015, the year of seizure and interference, the situation was entirely in favor of the Iranian axis as at the time the Russian intervention happened in Syria and the international coalition had intervened in Iraq.
The Iranians had been in Syria for around three years. Iran and its militias were the actual power on the ground after Assad’s army was exhausted. This made Arab communities desperate especially that armed militias were also in control of Libya or had spread in some of parts of the country.
During this extreme Arab weakness, all what could possibly be saved was international resolutions. In that year in particular (2015), it seemed that the Arab Levant was back to the colonial phase of the 1930’s and 1940’s, i.e. the countries witnessing unrest had lost their independence and ability to act and had fallen victims of superpowers’ and regional powers’ conflict over areas of influence in the Arab world.
The apparent reason for this power struggle is new and it’s fighting terrorism. The strategic change noted in the article’s headline is represented in the decision of Saudi Arabia, the UAE and other Arab countries, which joined them to take action in Yemen to save legitimacy there and begin confronting Iran’s interferences. This decision required courage, wisdom and the capability to act even if under the umbrella of the UN Security Council decisions and the legitimate government’s request. It’s said that the darkest hours at night are those before dawn. The circumstances in 2015 were the darkest but the decisive Arab countries turned this darkness into hope.
The years 2016 and 2017 saw the liberation of the south and restoration of vast areas in Yemen and the rebuilding of the army. The third step now is liberating the west coast and its capital Hodeidah so 80 percent of Yemen is under the control of the Arab and Yemeni legitimacy.
The Arab strategic rise began with the Arab decision of Saudi Arabia and the UAE following around two decades of vacuum. What’s happening in Yemen will happen in Libya, Syria, Iraq and Lebanon. Woe to the Arabs!

A unified call for ‘Sports without Politics’

Mohammed Al-Hammadi/Al Arabiya/June 19/18
The Saudi Football Federation has done well to file a complaint with FIFA over the exploitation of Qatar-owned BeIN Sports channel’s exclusive rights to the 2018 World Cup to broadcast politicized messages aimed at harming Saudi Arabia.
What happened in the channel’s studio while analyzing the football match between Saudi Arabia and Russia after it ended is a disgusting chapter of a media scene that is falling and declining every day. This was not the first time that this channel, which is supposed to be a sports channel, broadcasts political messages. Sometimes, it has even broadcast inciting messages against countries that the Qatari regime politically disagrees with. We were hoping this channel will dissociate itself from the behavior of the mother channel Al-Jazeera which has mastered propagating strife and working on dividing Arab unity. This is in addition to the channel’s exposed work at supporting terrorism and paving way for terrorists to voice their opinions and regularly send their messages through it.
Same mastermind
It’s clear that the mastermind who manages Al-Jazeera is not that different from that managing BeIN. Therefore, the task is one and the messages are similar. This is why everyone is calling for a serious and unified stance against the channel and the behavior of its supervisors and employees.
Mixing sports with politics is completely rejected. The exploitative approach of this channel which monopolizes the broadcast of World Cup matches to millions of Arabs in the Middle East is immoral and is rather hostile as it directly contradicts with the great purpose of organizing the World Cup and which is uniting all people, bringing them closer to each other, forgetting political disputes and regional interests and focusing on fun, co-existence and love.
What we see on beIN Sports does not reflect any of this as even the channel’s selection of some Arab analysts and commentators shows that the channel has an agenda that’s distant from sports and close to inciting strife and stirring problems. Therefore, the initiative launched by top sports figures in the Gulf and the Arab world on Monday under the slogan “sports without politics” is very important and it’s a civilized step that reflects Arab athletes’ concern to keep sports distant from politics.
What pushed them to launch this initiative is BeIN Sports’ insistence to involve politics in sports. We’ve noticed in the past few months how the channel’s reporters and hosts intentionally involved athletes and the audiences in political disputes which they have nothing to do with. This has called for a firm response taking a real position to end this unprofessional, unethical and irresponsible behavior.
The Qatari channel’s continuous instigation and inciting of hatred violate the media’s professional ethics and FIFA’s rules which stipulate that it is a must to dissociate sports from politics. Therefore, the Saudi move is welcomed and it must be supported to end the channel’s unsporting behavior.

An Islamophobic Eid?
رحيل رضا من كندا/عيد للإسلموفوبيا

Raheel Raza/Clarion Project/June 19/18
My Islamic holiday of Eid al-Fitr started with an incredible and unbelievable tweet by the Canadian parliamentarian and the MP for Mississauga Centre, Omar Alghabra, which went viral:
“Eid Mubarak, friends! I wish I could celebrate it with you but @AndrewScheer couldn’t set aside partisanship for 1 day and is forcing votes for 30 hrs straight on one of the holiest days for Muslims!”
In response, MP Erin O’Toole wrote, “It is clear you recognize your tweet was misleading Omar. Considering the context you really should apologize” to which Mr. Alghabra responded by tweeting “You don’t believe Islamophobia exists! You disrespect the importance of Eid!”
Seriously? Mr. Alghabra is citing Islamophobia? The vote was called for by the Liberals, the party that Mr. Alghabra belongs to. But he decided to make Eid a political issue and embarrass Canadians. He certainly embarrassed me by making such an ignorant remark.
Mr. Alghabra has a clear choice: Whether to identify as Islamist or Canadian. His constituents are not just Muslim – they are Canadians of every faith.
Eid is a celebration of the feast after the fast of Ramadan for Muslims. Eid is a time where one is meant to think about others, and what better way to do this than to spend time resolving Canadian issues in parliament?
Therefore, this Eid was very meaningful for me. I was in Ottawa where I attended an event hosted by the Hungarian ambassador about persecution of Christians in Muslim-majority areas of the Middle East. Following this, I attended an event about the continued genocide of the Yazidis in Iraq and Syria.
It was heartrending to meet some of the victims of ISIS brutality. At this event, it was mentioned more than once that the Canadian government is dragging its feet about bringing Yazidi families into Canada, especially those that already have some family members here.
Canada has agreed to bring 40,000 Syrian refugees, which is a good thing. However, Syrians are victims of a civil war and many will be able to go back home when things clear up. The Yazidis, on the other hand, have no place to go because they have been persecuted for centuries and have now been ousted from their place of birth.
Even though I was unable to be with my family for Eid celebrations, the fact that I was able to contribute in some small way to the cause of justice for humanity definitely made it worthwhile.
Canadians should be aware that we are going down a slippery slope – first with M103 (the motion condemning Islamophobia and all forms of religious discrimination in Canada) and second with this latest tweet by Mr. Alghabra – which may be the first shot to show how Islamophobia will be used as a weapon at every turn, even in parliament.
So if Mr. Alghabra wants to know the real meaning of Eid, he should stop being selfish and consider the intention of the holiday. Although Muslims are a large part of the Canadian mosaic, if he wants to observe all Muslim holidays at work in a secular country, he should not be in the Canadian parliament. I hear there are vacancies (due to members who whose heads have been chopped off) in Saudi Arabia and Iran.

Criticism Of Russia In Iran: 'Russia Must Not Interfere In Syria's Internal Affairs'; If Russia 'Wants To Stand [Against Us], We Will Surely Stand Against It'
الانتقادات في إيران لروسيا: لا يجب أن تتدخل روسيا في شؤون سوريا الداخلية. إن وقفت ضدنا نحن بالتأكيد سنكون ضدها

MEMRI/June 19/18
Iran responded resentfully to Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov's statements in late May 2018 regarding the need for all foreign forces to withdraw from Syria – meaning also Iranian forces or those sponsored by Iran, such as Hizbullah and the Shi'ite militias.
Iranian regime spokesmen, from both the pragmatic and ideological camps, rejected the demand, that came from Russia's most pro-Iran representative, Lavrov. They clarified that Iran was in Syria at the permission of Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad, and that therefore Russia's demand was illegitimate. The Iranian Ghanoon daily, which is affiliated with the Iranian reformist stream, openly expressed opposition to reliance on Russia, even mounting a personal attack against Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Ali Akbar Velayati, advisor and associate of Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, is the most senior political figure in Iran's ideological camp, which has in recent years pushed for cooperating with Russia to counter the pro-West, and particularly pro-U.S., policy promoted by the pragmatist camp, led by Iranian President Hassan Rohani and Foreign Minister Javad Zarif. He attempted to defend his pro-Russia policy and Russia itself, saying that it had consistently supported Iran's position in the face of the West's pressure on Iran and false promises to it (for more on the rival Iranian camps' choice between a pro-West or a pro-Russia strategy, see MEMRI Inquiry and Analysis No. 1191, Iran At The Crossroads: Between Russia And The U.S., October 13, 2015). Velayati stated that Russia does not want to, and cannot, force a policy on Iran.
Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesmen were more vehement in their criticism of Russia. After recalling Russia's generally pro-Iran policy, they stated that Russia does not determine Iranian policy, and warned it, albeit not strongly, not to dictate to Iran to pursue Russian interests in Syria.
Below is an analysis of the situation in Syria from an interview with Jahangir Karami, director of a research group on Russia at Tehran University, on the subject, followed by reactions from officials of Iran's pragmatic, reformist, and ideological camps to Russia's demand that all foreign withdraw from Syria.
Director Of Research Group On Russia At Tehran University: Russia Will Not Hesitate To Choose The West Over Iran
The Tasnim news agency, which is close to Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC), interviewed Jahangir Karami, director of a research group on Russia, Central Asia, and the Caucasus at Tehran University. In the interview, Karami noted Iran's inferiority to Russia in the Syrian arena and the limitations of its power in the global political arena. He discussed Iranian, Russian, and Israeli interests in Syria, and noted that Iran-Russia relations do not constitute a comprehensive military alliance, and that Russia will prefer to join the West, not confront it militarily, and in particular will prioritize Israel's interests over Iran's. He recommended that Iran cooperate with Russia in Syria, rather than confronting it. The following are the main points of the interview:
"Iran-Russia ties are not considered a comprehensive military alliance... Iran expects Russia not to prioritize Israel over Iran. [Iran is aware] that Moscow views Israel in a positive light and has no essential problem with it. Russia views Israel as a player that can significantly benefit it bilaterally, regionally, and internationally...
"[As for Iran], Moscow and Tehran have shared bilateral and international interests, and particularly regional interests, which have reached the point of military and operational cooperation. But as far as the Kremlin is concerned, its ties with Iran come at a heavy price [for instance, the economic punishments levied by the U.S. for dealings with Iran]. Sadly, this has caused Israel, the West, and the Arabs to succeed in casting a shadow on some [aspects of] Iran-Moscow relations...
"Russia had considerable need for Iran at the military phase cementing the status of the Syrian government. But at the next phase, the diplomatic phase, Russia has a greater need for players other than Iran. At this [stage] America, Europe, the Arabs, and even Israel are important. Israel held discussions with the Russians and promised that if Iran and Hizbullah retreated from the Israel-Syria border, Israel would help [promote a political solution in Syria]. The painful truth is that Iran is conspicuously weak when it comes to the diplomatic stage [of seeking a political solution] in Syria, which gives the Russians a more prominent role...
"Israel's objective is to expel Iran from all of Syria, or at least drive it back from the Israel-Syria border. The Russians want all foreign forces out of Syria – Iran, the U.S. and Turkey. Iran has apparently agreed [to withdraw its forces] provided that Syrian forces take their place. Some Iranian political institutions regard this Russian [position] as a betrayal of Iran, although it was clear from the start that along with the agreement between Iran and Russia about combatting terror and maintaining the Syrian regime, there were also disagreements between them on the Syrian issue. At the time, they were silent about this, because cooperation was more essential... The important point is that, sadly, if Russia or any other country [finds itself] at a crossroads, [required to choose] between ties with Iran or with the West, it will not hesitate to choose the West [over Iran]...
"The Russians apparently do not think that an agreement with Israel is necessarily at Iran's expense. They believe they are acting as mediators to prevent confrontation between the two sides in Syria. [As for] Iran-Israel relations, Russia is neutral, [favoring] neither side...
"[Iran] needs to cooperate with Russia on various issues. We cannot have rivalry or hostility with Russia, China, or any other country vis-à-vis their relations with the West or with Israel – because no player, not even Putin's Russia, wants to form a military coalition [with us] against the West..."[1]
Reactions From Iran's Pragmatic And Reformist Circles
Pragmatic Daily Ebtekar: Iran Must Not Allow Itself To Be Depicted As A Player That Destabilizes Syria
In its May 31, 2018 editorial, the pragmatic Ebtekar daily addressed the strategy Iran should adopt vis-à-vis Syria. It concluded: "Iran can cooperate with all sides at the same time. When external regional forces lead an initiative to reduce tensions in Syria, Iran must not allow itself to be depicted as a player undermining stability, and to become a target for American-Western negative propaganda. Perhaps the optimal strategy for Iran right now is to cooperate with all the players in the Syrian arena."[2]
Reformist Daily Ghanoon On Putin: "A Swindling Scoundrel"
On June 3, 2018, the reformist daily Ghanoon published a photo of Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu with Russian President Putin, captioned "A Swindling Scoundrel" – apparently in reference to Putin.
The caption goes on to say: "The people expect that just as those in charge shout about the excessive demands of America and the West and protest against their support of Israel, the murderer of children, they will also respond to these actions by Russia [i.e. demands that Iran withdraw its forces from Syria] and skillfully implement the principle of 'neither East nor West', [thus] following in the footsteps of the founder of the Islamic Revolution [Ayatollah Khomeini]...[3]
"Russia was not supposed to withdraw its support of Iran in the post-ISIS period and sign a pact of brotherhood with Iran's major enemy, that is, the Zionists – thus trampling the Iranian blood that has been spilled in Syria. It seems that once again, the historic nature of the Russians has been revealed – [their disloyalty and a willingness to again betray [Iran]...
"Russian elements have been speaking for a while now of expelling Iran from certain areas in Syria... [But] Iran has invested efforts in Syria and has paid a price, and it must extend its strategic border as far as it serves its national might. Iran must not allow countries that think only of their own interests to make decisions for it."[4]
Foreign Minister Javad Zarif: Iran Was Invited Into Syria And Iraq By Their Governments
Foreign Minister Javad Zarif said at a May 23, 2018 press conference: "With regard to the statements by Putin's representative in the matter of Iran's withdrawing from Syria, it is true that this statement was amended. But I must emphasize the Iranian position on this matter, which was always explicit: Anywhere Iran has a military advisor presence – whether in Iraq, Syria, or anywhere else – [this presence] is at the invitation of that state, and with the aim of fighting terrorism. In effect, Iran is the only country in the region, and in the world, that is fighting terrorism, paying the price for doing so and sacrificing martyrs. Iran arrived at the invitation of the countries of the region – not like other countries, that came without permission. We will continue our aid as long as these countries wish it. I believe that this aid is for the good of the entire world, because the terror groups that we are fighting with threaten the entire world."[5]
IRGC Spokesman Baharam Qassemi: "No One Can Force Iran To Do A Thing... Iran Sets Its Policy According To Its National Interests"
On May 21, 2018, IRGC spokesman Baharam Qassemi told a press conference: "Iran will remain in Syria as long as there is a need [for it to do so], as long as there is a danger of terrorism in Syria, and as long as the Syrian government asks it to continue its aid to Syria.
"With regard to the Russian elements that said that foreign forces must withdraw from Syria, and the question of whether it is possible for Russia to force Iran to exit Syria – I must clarify that no one can force Iran to do a thing. Iran is an independent state that sets its policy according to its national interests in the region and in the world. Iran is present in Syria at the invitation of the Syrian government. Our main aim is fighting terrorism and suppressing terrorism in Syria, so that Syria's sovereignty is preserved... Whoever comes to Syria without the permission of its government and violates its sovereignty must be the one to withdraw from Syria."[6]
Reactions From Iran's Ideological Camp
The following are several reactions to Russia's demand from Iran's ideological camp:
Ali Akbar Velayati, Senior Advisor To Khamenei: "Russia Cannot And Also Does Not Want To Force Exaggerated [Demands] On Iran"
Ali Akbar Velayati, senior advisor to Khamenei, said at a May 30, 2018 conference titled "The Eternal Lesson –Another Look At The Positions Of The Leader in the Matter of the JCPOA": "One of the most important things [with regard to Iran's foreign policy] is turning eastward [i.e. towards Russia and China]. Unfortunately, those afflicted with the Western disease and the fools [i.e. the reformist and pragmatic camps] very much oppose this. Some [of them] say that Russia has broken past promises. They should be asked whether Europe has fulfilled, with its pure intentions, everything we wanted?! Every country operates according to its national interests. In certain places, we have interests with Russia and China, and we can cooperate. The Russians vetoed England's cunning anti-Iran draft resolution regarding Yemen at the UN [Security Council], and without a doubt did so explicitly and swiftly.
"After America withdrew from the JCPOA, Putin met with [French President Emmanuel] Macron, and at this meeting Macron talked a lot and said that the JCPOA should be complemented by [other agreements] on the missile issue and on [Iran's expansion] in the region. But Putin told him explicitly that the missiles and the region[al expansion] were completely unconnected to the JCPOA. Who of the Westerners are willing to do something like Putin did? ...
"Russia cannot and also does not want to force exaggerated [demands] on Iran. We have defense cooperation with Russia, and Russia gave us almost everything we wanted. The reactor that the Russians built was meant to be built by the Germans, but they left after the [1979] revolution and never made the smallest move [to compensate us]. But the Russians built the reactor, and gave us things for which the Europeans would not give us a single bolt.
"At the height of the sanctions, China cooperated with us, and the volume of our commerce reached $52 billion... Many years ago, at a meeting with China's president, the leader [Khamenei] spoke about a [political] turn eastward, and reminded us that we want strategic relations with China; [China] also noted this point. The Chinese want to work in the oil fields in the south, at Pars and Bazargan. Therefore, turning eastward is the easiest way to be rid of the game of hide and seek with the West. We must not be influenced by the propaganda of those afflicted by the West and who love Paris more than Moscow."[7]
Hossein Sheikh Al-Islam, Advisor To Iranian Foreign Minister: "Russia Must Not Interfere In Syria's Internal Affairs"
Former Iranian ambassador to Syria Hossein Sheikh Al-Islam, who is currently an advisor to Foreign Minister Zarif, said on June 3, 2018: "We all know that the Syrian government is the official government elected by the parliament. We are there in accordance with an official invitation by the Syrian government, [and our presence there] is compatible with all the international laws and the UN Charter. It is the Syrian government – and no other government – that determines who will be there and who will not. Therefore, as long as the Syrian government and Iran want it, the work of the [Iranian] military advisor will continue. It is clear that both we and Russia want those who came to Syria on other pretexts to leave it...
"Russia must not interfere in Syria's internal affairs. Only the Syrian government, and no one else, has the authority to determine who remains and who will not. We must note that [Syrian] Deputy Foreign Minister Faisal Miqdad stressed, after Russia's statements, that Iranian forces and Hizbullah are in Syria at our [Syria's] request, and their presence will continue...
"In any event, Russia has a decisive role to play in stabilizing Syria, and this began seven years ago, with the first resolutions initiated by the West in the UN in the matter of [Iran's] intervention in Syria's affairs – which Russia vetoed three times. [Russia's] air force helped the Syrian government where necessary, and this was because the Syrian government's air force was not precise, and unfortunately, when it carried out bombing, some civilians were mistakenly harmed. The Russian government, alongside Iran, helped the Syrian government and army, and did not allow Syria to disintegrate.
"Russia played an active role in fighting terrorism, because of its interests; many of the terror elements came to Syria from regions in southern Russia, and were trained, and then returned to Russia to carry out [terror] operations. Russia came to Syria, undoubtedly, because of its own national and regional interests, and not for us. In some places, we succeeded in precisely defining joint interests with Russia and with the Syrian government, including [the interests of] destroying terror and preserving Syria's unity stability and the region's security – and we cooperated in these issues. If we again have joint interests, we will again collaborate. The Assad regime and the Syrian government will decide whether to have closer [relations] with Russia or with Iran – I am not deciding for them.
"Make no mistake, we have not sacrificed martyrs in Syria in order to now grab money [at their expense]. We sacrificed martyrs to protect Iran's security. This does not mean that we will have no role in rebuilding Syria. Previously, we played a very large role in the Syrian economy. If you've ever been to Damascus, you've seen that most of the taxis there [were made in Iran]. Once, we had a prominent role in the Syrian economy, and this role will continue. The Western Satan wants to provoke us and prevent our beneficial presence in Syria, so it is spreading false rumors. You must know that Iranian companies have won more than 50% of Syrian electricity and water tenders. We built there a refinery and a silo [sic]. Ten silos were built during my term as ambassador to Syria. We have there companies for assembling [Iranian] Faraed and Samand cars. We provide technical and engineering services for many projects for building roads and so on. All these will continue. It is not like after all this we will leave Syria and return [to Iran], because the Syrians will not leave us."[8]
Gen. Kosari, Deputy Commander Of IRGC's Tharollah Command In Tehran: If Russia "Wants To Stand [Against Us], We Will Surely Stand Against It"
Gen. Ismail Kosari, deputy commander of the IRGC's Tharollah Command in Tehran, said on May 22, 2018: "I believe that Russia has not stood against us in any matter, but if it wants to stand [against us], we will surely stand against it – like we did against the USSR."[9]
IRGC-Affiliated Kayhan Daily: Israel And Russia Do Not Decide About Withdrawal Of Iranian And Hizbullah Forces From Syria
In its June 11, 2018 editorial, the IRGC-affiliated Iranian daily Kayhan, which reflects the views of Iran's ideological circles, opposed the withdrawal of Iranian forces and of Hizbullah from Syria. It stated that Russia cannot decide for Iran on this issue:
"Iran's military advisors, and Hizbullah forces, did not come to Syria with Israel's or Russia's approval, and therefore the [latter] cannot decide now about withdrawing them... It is inconceivable that there should be any deal between any of the sides involved in Syria with regard to the Iranian presence and the role of Hizbullah. This is because the policy of the resistance axis is clear and independent, and insists on non-reliance on other powers. Secret negotiations [between Russia and Israel] cannot influence this principled policy. Furthermore, no side can decide on Iran's policy and role in the region..."[10]
[1] Tasnim (Iran), June 5, 2018.
[2] Ebtekar (Iran), May 31, 2018.
[3] "Neither East nor West" was a revolutionary principle of Islamic Revolution founder Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini – that is, not to be identified as either an American or a Russian satellite.
[4] Ghanoon (Iran), June 3, 2018.
[5] ISNA (Iran), May 23, 2018.
[6] ISNA (Iran), May 21, 2018.
[7] Tasnim (Iran), May 30, 2018.
[8] Majlis website (Iran), June 3, 2018.
[9] ILNA (Iran), May 22, 2018.
[10] Kayhan (Iran), June 11, 2018.