May 06/2018
Compiled & Prepared by: Elias Bejjani


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Bible Quotations
Whatever you ask for in prayer with faith, you will receive
Matthew 21/17-27: "Jesus left them, went out of the city to Bethany, and spent the night there. In the morning, when he returned to the city, he was hungry. And seeing a fig tree by the side of the road, he went to it and found nothing at all on it but leaves. Then he said to it, ‘May no fruit ever come from you again!’ And the fig tree withered at once. When the disciples saw it, they were amazed, saying, ‘How did the fig tree wither at once?’ Jesus answered them, ‘Truly I tell you, if you have faith and do not doubt, not only will you do what has been done to the fig tree, but even if you say to this mountain, "Be lifted up and thrown into the sea", it will be done. Whatever you ask for in prayer with faith, you will receive.’ When he entered the temple, the chief priests and the elders of the people came to him as he was teaching, and said, ‘By what authority are you doing these things, and who gave you this authority?’ Jesus said to them, ‘I will also ask you one question; if you tell me the answer, then I will also tell you by what authority I do these things. Did the baptism of John come from heaven, or was it of human origin?’ And they argued with one another, ‘If we say, "From heaven", he will say to us, "Why then did you not believe him?" But if we say, "Of human origin", we are afraid of the crowd; for all regard John as a prophet. ’So they answered Jesus, ‘We do not know.’ And he said to them, ‘Neither will I tell you by what authority I am doing these things."

Titles For Latest LCCC Bulletin analysis & editorials from miscellaneous sources published on May 05-06/18
In Lebanon, it's activists vs warlords, political elite/Ellen Francis/Saudi Gazette/May 05/18
Hezbollah looks to emerge stronger as Lebanese head to the polls on Sunday/Louisa Loveluck and Suzan Haidamous/ The Washington Post/May 04/18
Trump: A New Vision of the Middle East/Ahmed Charai/Gatestone Institute/May 05/18
Integrating Islam or Islamizing Integration/Josef Zbořil/Gatestone Institute/May 05/18
A Month of Islam and Multiculturalism in Britain: April 2018/Soeren Kern/Gatestone Institute/May 05/18
Spoiling the high moments of two mavericks in pursuit of their ouster/DebkaFile/May 05/18

Titles For Latest LCCC Lebanese Related News published on May 05-06/18
In Lebanon, it's activists vs warlords, political elite
Hezbollah looks to emerge stronger as Lebanese head to the polls on Sunday
Ruling parties to keep their clout in Lebanon elections
Ballot Boxes Distributed on Eve of Lebanon’s Parliamentary Elections
Lebanon: 4,450 Registered Jewish Voters Will Not Take Part in Sunday’s Polls
Taimur Jumblat: Walid Jumblat's Will Shall Not be Defeated
Hariri Tours Beirut, Defends 'Moderation' on Eve of 'Crucial' Vote

Titles For Latest LCCC Bulletin For Miscellaneous Reports And News published on May 05-06/18
Trump to Meet South Korea’s Moon as Plan for Kim Summit to Be Released
Russia Rejects Any Amendments to 'Iranian Nuclear Deal'
Morocco Anti-terror Chief: Authorities Tackling Militant Returnees
New Round of Negotiations on Renaissance Dam
Kashmir: Several Killed in Violent Clashes
Pakistan Army Confirms Death Sentences for 11 Taliban
Israel Pulls Out of Race for U.N. Security Council Seat
U.S. Asks U.N. Council to Reject 'Unacceptable' Abbas Remarks
Tensions Brew on Yemen's Socotra after UAE Deployment
Critical US-China Trade Talks End in Beijing
HRW Urges Dubai to 'Clarify' Status of Runaway Princess
Latest Lebanese Related News published on May 05-06/18
In Lebanon, it's activists vs warlords, political elite
Ellen Francis/Saudi Gazette/May 05/18
AN unlikely bunch of activists have joined forces for Lebanon's general election in a rare challenge to the sectarian political dynasties and warlords they say left the country in ruins. A pharmacist, a women's rights advocate, and a TV celebrity are part of a loose alliance striving for a small but meaningful breakthrough in the vote this Sunday, the first in nine years. Lebanese elections have never seen this many independent candidates, with dozens from outside the parties that dominate the country. They stand against a political elite which has barely changed since the 1975-90 civil war. They hope a new voting system will help them unseat at least some of the old guard, and want to tap into anger that fueled a wave of anti-government protests in 2015. "Their failure is our chance," said Gilbert Doumit, who is running in Beirut against the incumbent Nadim Gemayel, the son of one of Lebanon's most prominent war leaders. "We want to get our causes into the parliament." The old order, built on powerful families and past militia chiefs, has sought to regenerate itself again ahead of this election, with fathers making way for sons or relatives.The newcomers face massive hurdles in the parliamentary contest and could win a handful of seats at best. Yet even that would mark a first. They believe it is time to build on public despair, which sparked the 2015 protest movement when piles of trash festered in the streets for months. The garbage symbolized a corrupt power-sharing system unable to meet basic needs, and later helped Beirut activists do surprisingly well in municipal polls, though they did not win.
An uphill struggle
"No doubt, change will not happen in 24 hours, but the elections are one of the main stops," said Doumit, 42, a consultant who has been pounding the streets of mainly Christian east Beirut for weeks. He is contesting a seat reserved for a Maronite Christian in an assembly which parcels out 128 seats among the many religious sects. Doumit is part of the wide coalition of 66 candidates in nine electoral districts. Smaller blocs are also vowing to fight the establishment across the 15 total districts.Some have worked for years to remedy the state's failures. Others rose to prominence after the trash crisis, or came from local fame like talk show host Paula Yaacoubian. But Doumit's district was long a stronghold of the Gemayel family and their Kateab party, which was founded by Nadim's grandfather in 1936 and is now led by his cousin Sami. Nadim's father, Bashir Gemayel, was assassinated in Beirut after being elected president during Israel's 1982 invasion. Images of his father cover the walls of his offices. Gemayel, who is expected to keep the votes of big families with old Kateab ties, has also tried to target young voters.The new faces have a shot as people want alternatives, but their politics falls short, he said. They lack united or clear stances, including on critical issues like the powerful arsenal of Iran-backed Shi'ite Hezbollah, he added. "Soon, civil society will enter parliament," he said of the independents. "They will not be able to achieve anything more than (we) did. They will have to share in the establishment."
He said he does not view himself as a political heir but sees nothing wrong with them if they serve Lebanon.
Passing on the baton
Gemayel, 35, became an MP in 2009 when his mother, Solange, made way for him. Outside Beirut, this election will see other establishment families pass on the baton. Druze leader Walid Jumblatt and Maronite politician Suleiman Franjieh are stepping aside for their sons. President Michel Aoun's two son-in-laws are battling for Maronite seats. The new proportional law has replaced a winner-takes-all system, scrambling alliances among the ruling parties. Critics say the law was still crafted to suit traditional heavyweights, although it may open the door for new faces. Mohanad Hage Ali of the Carnegie Middle East Center said the protest movements after 2015 had failed to produce real political powers that can challenge the old order. Long-time activists accuse some independents of allying with officials close to the establishment to boost their chances. First-timers do not enjoy a level playing field. Incumbent parties wield patronage, handing out government jobs, own hospitals and TV stations, or receive regional funding, he said. In the Beirut district where Doumit and Gemayel face off, all is not lost for independents, partly because its relatively well-off electorate can afford to reject the establishment.
For the working class though, "their lifeline passes through the traditional parties," Hage Ali said. Anyone who wants to contest the elite has to offer viable alternatives. "This is where the real competition is, these are the people." — Reuters

Hezbollah looks to emerge stronger as Lebanese head to the polls on Sunday
Louisa Loveluck and Suzan Haidamous/ The Washington Post/May 04/18
/BEIRUT — Much has changed in Lebanon in the nine years since its last election. Next door, Syria has been ravaged by war, and more than 2 million refugees have sought sanctuary in Lebanon. A long-exiled former general is now president. But most notably, the militant group Hezbollah, which was still in the early years of its political rise back in 2009, is now ascendant. Hezbollah’s main hope in the election Sunday is that its allies win enough seats to lift the ­Hezbollah-led alliance to a slight parliamentary majority — and by doing so, mark another milestone on its path to political dominance.Founded with Iranian support in the 1980s, the group has risen from resistance movement to fully fledged political player. At home, it provides an extensive network of social services to its supporters. Abroad, it has served as an enforcer of Iran’s regional strategy, sending cadres to fight in Syria and Yemen. With a majority in parliament, Hezbollah would be able to more tightly direct Lebanon’s foreign and defense policies and align them with Iranian interests in the Middle East. “Hezbollah is very patient. They play the long game, and they know that time is with them,” said Joseph Bahout, a visiting scholar at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. “They are not doing anything that would openly threaten or provoke. They are just covering their interests.” In an attempt to encourage consensus-building, Lebanon’s new electoral law has gerrymandered the country into 15 provinces of differing sizes and populations. Yet most parties — aside from the Shiite parties, Hezbollah and Amal — have been unable to form joint electoral lists at the national level, instead opting for local alliances to contest various seats.
“Even if Hezbollah is not a winner in terms of seats, then it will have a more dispersed and scattered parliament that is easier to navigate than ever before,” Bahout said.
Ahead of Sunday’s vote, politicians have been out in force, glad-handing supporters with promises of change.
Hezbollah has faced unusually strong electoral challenges in its heartland of Baalbek, an eastern city close to Lebanon’s border with Syria. On Tuesday, Hezbollah supporters set green-and-yellow banners aloft as their leader, Hasan Nasrallah, urged people to provide the group with “political protection” against those conspiring against it. But more broadly, Hezbollah’s place as the most influential player in Lebanese politics is no longer seriously disputed. While debate over the group’s weapons stockpiles and military ambitions have been key issues in previous elections, these have been largely absent from the public debate this time. In the Beirut suburb of Dahiyeh, supporters voiced loyalty to Nasrallah, known to many there as Sayed Hasan, denoting descent from the prophet Muhammad. “If Sayed Hasan has not personally intervened with his speeches, people would not have cared to cast ballots. For his sake, they changed their mind,” said one man, who gave his name as Hussein.  But critics of the movement described its influence in more troubling terms. Nadim Gemayel, a parliamentary candidate and the son of assassinated 1982 ­president-elect Bashir Gemayel, said he saw Hezbollah’s intensified campaign as an attempt to win parliamentary control as a form of legitimacy for its paramilitary stockpiles. “They have grown to be an arsenal way more powerful than the Lebanese army,” said Gemayel. Even beyond foreign and defense policy, the stakes were already high for the average voter. Lebanon has been buffeted in recent years by economic woes, regional strife and the Syrian refugee crisis. Trash regularly piles up on the streets without collection, and problems with the water and electricity supply are endemic. Analysts, however, predict that voter apathy and the new electoral law’s complexity could suppress turnout. In Beirut on Friday, Laila Saade, a housewife, said she would not be participating. “Why should I vote? They are all the same [guys], and nothing will change,” she said.

Ruling parties to keep their clout in Lebanon elections
AFP/Beirut/May 4, 2018/The Iran-backed Hezbollah movement and its allies could stand to dominate parliament and reinforce their clout in Lebanon. Lebanon elects its parliament for the first time in nine years on Sunday, with its ruling parties seeking to preserve a fragile power-sharing arrangement despite regional tensions. The Iran-backed Hezbollah movement and its allies could stand to dominate parliament and reinforce their clout in Lebanon, a small country clamped between war-torn Syria and Israel. A new voting system has raised some hope for an unprecedented civil society list to make a small dent in the decades-old monopoly of political dynasties but disillusionment is rife in the electorate. The triumvirate heading the state is unlikely to change, with parliament speaker Nabih Berri almost certain to keep the post he has held since 1992 and Prime Minister Saad Hariri also set to stay put. President Michel Aoun's position is not up for renewal on May 6 but his party is a key player in a dizzying game of alliances which leads allies in one district to be enemies in another. Hezbollah is allied both to Berri and Aoun and is expected to chip at the camp led by Hariri's movement. "Hezbollah and its allies will be the first beneficiaries" of the new electoral law, said pollster Kamal Feghali. A clear win for Hezbollah, which is active in several conflicts in the region, could further fray the nerves of Israel and Washington. Hezbollah is funded and armed by Iran while Hariri has historically been supported by Saudi Arabia. But both have appeared ready to continue sharing power and neutralise growing tension between their rival sponsors. "These three forces will directly or indirectly be at the helm" after the vote, said Sami Atallah, director of the Lebanese Center for Policy Studies. A fifth of this year's 3.7 million-strong electorate was too young to vote in the last legislative polls in 2009. But the widespread perception that self-serving, hereditary and corrupt traditional parties have long sewn up a deal to preserve the status quo could keep many voters away on Sunday. "What is there to be interested in? It's the same names, the same faces, the same joke," said Joumana, a 51-year-old secretary at a clinic in Beirut. "My son and my daughter are doing their university studies in Europe. That is what's giving them a future, not the Lebanese state." Members of Lebanon's vast diaspora voted abroad for the first time this year, but those who were able to register in time were in small enough numbers that they were not expected to have a major impact on the results.

Ballot Boxes Distributed on Eve of Lebanon’s Parliamentary Elections
Asharq Al-Awsat/Saturday, 5 May, 2018/Polling station employees in Lebanon began on Saturday distributing thousands of ballot boxes ahead of the country's first parliamentary elections in nearly a decade. The distribution came a day before 3.7 million eligible voters are set to cast their ballots. The vote, the first for a parliament since 2009, is also the first under a new election law based on proportional representation which awards the number of seats by the share of vote received. Around 600 candidates are running in 15 districts around the country for the 128-seat parliament. Some 30,000 soldiers and police officers will be deployed across the country on Sunday. The polls open at 7 a.m. on Sunday and close at 7 p.m. and unofficial results are expected to emerge overnight.

Lebanon: 4,450 Registered Jewish Voters Will Not Take Part in Sunday’s Polls

Beirut - Nazeer Rida/Asharq Al-Awsat/Saturday, 5 May, 2018/Jewish voters in Lebanon only exist on paper in the country because the majority of them live abroad. Some one hundred Lebanese Jews, most of them elderly, are currently present in Lebanon and they often abstain from voting in elections.Lebanon will hold parliamentary elections on Sunday, the first since 2009 when only five Jews voted. Jews in Lebanon account for 0.13 percent of the registered voters in Sunday’s polls. They total 4,704, the majority of whom vote in Beirut’s second electoral district, where 4,453 are registered. The majority of these voters, however, do not live in Lebanon. Researcher at Information International Mohammed Shamseddine told Asharq Al-Awsat that Jews are registered in Beirut’s Wadi Abu Jamil and Minet al-Hosn areas. In 2009, the five voters, a male and four females, voted in Minet al-Hosn in favor of the March 14 camp. He predicted a similar low turnout for Sunday’s elections. Lawyer at the Jewish religious authority in Lebanon Bassam al-Hout confirmed the low turnout, saying the Lebanese Jews living abroad constantly visit their home country, “but they do not care about the elections.” He denied claims of a Jewish boycott of the vote over a lack of a representative at parliament, saying that such an objection was “not realistic.” Lebanese law does grant minority sects in Beirut, including Jews, a seat in parliament. The minorities representative is currently Mustaqbal Movement MP Nabil de Freij, an Evangelical Christian, which is another of Lebanon’s minority sects. Since the establishment of the Lebanese republic, no Lebanese Jew has ever occupied a seat at parliament. Jews had a municipal representative in Minet al-Hosn. The last known such representative was Saad al-Minn, who immigrated from Lebanon in 1975 after the eruption of the civil war. Jews in Lebanon have representatives, the most prominent of whom is Jewish Community Council president Isaac Arazi. New York France and Brazil were the main destination of immigrant Lebanese Jews. The largest immigration wave took place in 1984, which left Beirut with a few hundred Jews. Hout said: “Lebanese Jewish expatriates visit their home country from time to time because they love Lebanon.”The young generation often visits Beirut and the cities of Aley and Bhamdoun. They travel to tourist spots and the graves of their ancestors, he explained. “They do not deny that they are Lebanese,” he added. Despite the predicted low turnout, Hout remarked that Lebanese expatriate voting, a first in the country’s history, will encourage the Jews to vote in the future. “Nothing is hindering their return to Lebanon where they have a history and properties,” he said. Moreover, Beirut’s Maghen Abraham Synagogue recently underwent a renovation process, but it has yet to be officially opened.

Interior Ministry Sets Up Hotline for Parliamentary Elections
Naharnet/May 05/18/The Interior Ministry launched a hotline number on Saturday dedicated to take control of complaints and inquiries. Individuals can contact the hotline call centre on the toll-free number, 1766, the National News Agency reported. In a statement, the ministry said it has placed the hotline at the service of the Central Operations Chamber for the Parliamentary Elections to receive communications, complaints and inquiries from citizens and candidates with regards to the electoral process. Lebanon will hold its first legislative elections in nine years on Sunday. The elections will be held in 15 electoral districts and based on a complex proportional representation electoral system replacing a majoritarian winner-takes-all system.

Report: Tight Security Ahead of Parliamentary Elections
Naharnet/May 05/18/At 7:00 am Sunday Lebanon will launch its first legislative elections in nine years under “tight security measures,” ensuring a calm electoral process. 1,800 ballot boxes in 7,000 polling stations will open Sunday around various Lebanese districts. Some 21,000 security personnel from the Internal Security Forces, the State Security and General Security will be in charge inside polling stations. Meanwhile, the army will maintain security around the centers and roads leading to it, al-Joumhouria daily said Saturday. Army units carried out their deployment yesterday in all areas of Lebanon according to a security plan in which additional units were allocated to areas considered “exceptional.” They were marked with "red" to prevent any security repercussions as the result of “atmosphere of electoral tension” in areas of “heated” electoral confrontations at the political and sectarian levels, added the daily. In parallel, work has kicked off in the central operations room intended to coordinate between the various operating rooms belonging to the Lebanese Army, Internal Security Forces, General Security and State Security.

Khalil Slams Bassil as 'Professional Thief, Counterfeiter'
Naharnet/May 05/18/Finance Minister Ali Hassan Khalil on Friday lashed out at Free Patriotic Movement chief and Foreign Minister Jebran Bassil, calling him a “professional thief.”“I wish I heard the response of the real energy minister who is tasked with the foreign affairs portfolio when I rightfully described him during a cabinet session as a professional thief and professional counterfeiter,” Khalil tweeted, referring to the row over the Deir Amar power plant. “He did not answer back then and he is mistaken if he thinks that the repetition of his lie will change people's mind,” Khalil added. Bassil was swift to dismiss Khalil's attack when asked about it during a live TV interview, saying his silence during the session was the best answer. “When someone like Minister Ali Hassan Khalil accuses me of being a thief, this proves my innocence, especially after the latest cabinet resolution,” Bassil added.

'Stop the Political Assassination Attempts', Bassil Tells Geagea
Naharnet/May 05/18/Free Patriotic Movement chief and Foreign Minister Jebran Bassil on Friday accused Lebanese Forces leader Samir Geagea of attempting to “assassinate” him politically. “O Samir, stop hurling the bullets of political assassination at us... Stand by your brother and help him in order to execute projects together rather than impede each other's projects,” Bassil said at an electoral rally in his hometown Batroun on the eve of the electoral silence period. “You should stand by your brother rather than standing idly by and not doing anything in the refugee file, which is among the responsibilities of the Social Affairs Ministry. I was left alone as I was receiving blows from the international community,” Bassil added, addressing Geagea. “You say that your ministers have not been involved in corruption, but this is because they do not do anything,” the FPM chief went on to say. He added: “We had the courage to put our achievements in a book, so let us see your achievements. You talk about corruption while you are taking part in electoral corruption. Your stance over the Orthodox Gathering electoral law and the sacking of the prime minister was subordination, not sovereignty.”Bassil also accused Batroun MP Butros Harb of “not doing anything” despite being a lawmaker for “46 years.”As for the Syrian refugee crisis, he added: “The same as we restored the citizenship of Lebanese descendants, we will return the Syrian refugees to their country.”

Lebanon, Middle East Minnow in the Eye of the Storm
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/May 05/18/Lebanon, which elects its parliament Sunday, is a small multi-confessional country wracked by years of political crisis, a weakened economy and the fallout of the Syrian conflict. The country with the cedar tree flag is one of the Middle East's smallest, with an area of about 10,000 square kilometres. Washed to the west by the Mediterranean, it shares borders with Syria and Israel.
Multi-confessional country
Lebanon is considered relatively liberal in a generally conservative region, but religion remains all-important. A crucible for 18 religious communities, its governance has been dictated by a power-sharing deal between the main sects.
Lebanon is a parliamentary republic, with a 128-member house split half-way between Muslims and Christians. In line with the "national pact" dating from independence in 1943, the president must be a Maronite Christian, the prime minister a Sunni Muslim and the parliament speaker a Shiite.
Fallout of Syria conflict
The outbreak in 2011 of the war in Syria, whose regime occupied Lebanon for 29 years and alongside which the powerful Lebanese Shiite movement Hezbollah is now fighting, has been polarising. The conflict has sporadically spilled over into Lebanon, with several suicide attacks rocking the capital Beirut and other regions, but the country has by and large avoided becoming part of the battlefield.
The most visible impact in Lebanon of the Syria war has been the influx of an estimated 1.5 million Syrian refugees, who now make up around a quarter of the total population. Lebanon's fabled resilience was praised once more but the presence of the refugees, more than half of whom live under the UN's poverty line, has weighed on the election debate.
Economy weakened
Lebanon's economy has, like the rest, been on the brink for years, with public debt soaring to 150 percent of gross domestic product, the world's third highest rate behind Japan and Greece. The service-oriented economy used to expand by close to 10 percent annually before the Syrian crisis broke out, but the growth rate has now dropped to around two percent. The Lebanese pound's two-decade-old dollar peg, a centrepiece of the economy's stability, is looking more fragile than ever but $11 billion in low-interest loans and aid pledged last month in Paris have extended a welcome lifeline. Inequalities have soared, unemployment doubled between 2011 and 2014 to reach 20 percent and the state still can't provide water and electricity to all its citizens, even in central Beirut.

Taimur Jumblat: Walid Jumblat's Will Shall Not be Defeated
Naharnet/May 05/18/Taimur Jumblat, the son and heir apparent of Druze leader MP Walid Jumblat, announced Friday that the Chouf-Aley 'Reconciliation List' will work on “building the state of law and institutions.”“We stand before the teacher Kamal Jumblat who founded our path and we salute all the martyrs who offered their blood to protect this path,” Jumblat said at an electoral rally in Baakline on the eve of the electoral silence period. He vowed that the Reconciliation List, a coalition led by the Progressive Socialist Party and the Lebanese Forces, will “continue the journey and seek to make Mount Lebanon and the country stronger.”And urging a heavy turnout in the May 6 elections, the young candidate stressed that “Kamal Jumblat's strength and Walid Jumblat's will cannot be defeated.”

Hariri Tours Beirut, Defends 'Moderation' on Eve of 'Crucial' Vote
Naharnet/May 05/18/Prime Minister and al-Mustaqbal Movement leader Saad Hariri on Friday visited Dar al-Fatwa, the seat of Lebanon's highest Sunni Muslim religious authority, as he toured several Beirut neighborhoods two days ahead of the May 6 parliamentary elections. Hariri was received at Dar al-Fatwa by Grand Mufti Sheikh Abdul Latif Daryan, who was meeting with a group of scholars and clerics. Daryan welcomed Hariri and said: "By coming here today, you reminded me of the great martyr of Lebanon, PM Rafik Hariri, who used to come to Dar al-Fatwa in the essential periods of the history of Lebanon.” “The good relationship between Dar al-Fatwa and the Premiership must remain strong and solid, because in the end the Mufti of the Republic and the Prime Minister protect the sect and the nation,” the Mufti added. “We are the ones who preserve coexistence, security and stability. You and us have carried the banner of moderation. Yes we are moderates, we are not terrorists,” Daryan added. “I tell you: do not be afraid and do not worry, I am with you and the scholars of Lebanon are with you... We hope that there will be a large participation in the elections,” the Mufti went on to say. Hariri for his part described his visit to Dar al-Fatwa as “one of the most important visits.”“Dar al-Fatwa is the shield of all Muslims in this country, and whenever it is fine, Muslims in Lebanon are fine. Our decision is free and for the sake of moderation and the country. This is what we fight for and we will always be with Dar al-Fatwa," the premier added. He stated: "All I care about is the country, and when extremism was high in Lebanon, I was doing the opposite because I believe that Islam is the religion of moderation, peace and love. Moderation is not weakness, but rather strength, and moderation is what brings security, stability, economy, employment, happiness and love among people.”Referring to the regional situation, Hariri said: “The area around us is burning, but that does not mean that we are going to burn. We have to put out the fire.”Hariri later made several stops in the Beirut neighborhoods of Aisha Bakkar, Zaroub al-Alia, Tallet al-Khayyat, Malla and Tariq al-Jedideh, where he was greeted by huge crowds of supporters. Earlier, Hariri attended a lunch banquet held by Saad El Din Hamidi Sakr on the Beirut Arab University street, in the presence of a crowd of Beiruti figures. After a welcoming speech from Sakr, Hariri said: “The elections that will take place next Sunday are crucial for the country, Beirut, its decision and identity, because the vote will determine the shape of parliament for the next four years.”“If we do not have a large bloc, especially from Beirut in the midst of the upcoming changes and challenges, we will not have an impact and Beirut's decision will go to other known parties,” Hariri warned. “We have a comprehensive and clear program and project for economy, security, openness and dialogue. We are fighting this battle with you to complete this project. Therefore everyone has to vote to prevent anyone from blocking this project,” the premier added.

Latest LCCC Bulletin For Miscellaneous Reports And News published on May 05-06/18
Trump to Meet South Korea’s Moon as Plan for Kim Summit to Be Released
Asharq Al-Awsat/Saturday, 5 May, 2018/US President Donald Trump will meet his South Korean counterpart Moon Jae In at the White House later this month as preparations for his much anticipated summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un are underway. Trump revealed on Friday that a date and venue for the landmark meeting will be unveiled soon. Since Kim met with Moon, Trump has been steadily offering tidbits about his expected meeting with Kim -- even hinting that three Americans imprisoned there could soon be freed. The contentious issue of the drawdown of troops in South Korea, however, is not on the table, Trump said. "We haven't been asked it," he said. "I think a lot of great things will happen. But troops are not on the table. Absolutely."
The US president added, however: "Now I have to tell you, at some point into the future, I would like to save the money. You know, we have 32,000 troops there."  US National Security Advisor John Bolton earlier denied as "utter nonsense" a New York Times report saying Trump had asked the Pentagon for options to prepare for drawing down the 28,500-strong US force.The Times report, which cited several unidentified officials briefed on the deliberations, said reduced troop levels were not intended to be a bargaining chip in Trump-Kim talks. But officials acknowledged that a peace treaty between the two Koreas -- technically still at war since the 1950s, with only an armistice in place -- could diminish the need for the US forces, The Times said. Trump, who has hinted at imminent news about three Americans detained in North Korea, once more sounded an upbeat note regarding their fate.
"We're having very substantive talks with North Korea and a lot of things have already happened with respect to the hostages," he said. "Stay tuned," Trump added. "I think you will be seeing very, very good things."The US president will discuss preparations for the summit when he hosts Moon on May 22. Trump suggested earlier this week that the Demilitarized Zone between the two Koreas -- scene of the historic Kim-Moon talks -- could also be an appropriate venue for his own meeting with Kim.
Other possible sites reportedly include Mongolia, Singapore and Switzerland.
Preparations for a Trump-Kim meeting have gained momentum since the Korean summit a week ago, which saw Pyongyang and Seoul promise to pursue the complete denuclearization of the peninsula and a permanent peace. North Korea has offered to close its nuclear test site this month -- and invited US experts to verify the move. According to South Korea, Kim has said he would be willing to give up his nuclear arsenal if the United States commits to a formal end to the Korean War and pledges not to attack the North. But his exact demands for relinquishing weapons that his nation spent decades building remains unclear. Plans for a Trump-Kim summit follow months of tense saber-rattling over Pyongyang's testing of atomic weapons and long-range missiles, including some theoretically capable of reaching the American mainland. But a spectacular detente in recent months has fed hopes of a historic turning point in the region. Several new steps reflect the harmonious atmosphere between the two Koreas. After their united women's hockey team captured hearts at this year's Olympics, the two Koreas joined forces this week at the world table tennis championships in Sweden rather than play each other in the semi-finals. On Friday the Koreans lost to Japan in the finals. The International Civil Aviation Organization said North Korea had asked for permission to open an air corridor between Pyongyang and Incheon, near Seoul, a move the UN agency expressed a "willingness" to facilitate. Given the progress on multiple fronts, Trump exulted before a crowd at a National Rifle Association meeting in Dallas later Friday. "We're really doing well with North Korea," he said, adding that he had agreed to temper his rhetoric -- such as branding Kim Jong Un a "Rocket man" and threatening "fire and fury" last year as nuclear tensions spiked.
"Now I'm trying to calm it down a little bit," Trump said.

Russia Rejects Any Amendments to 'Iranian Nuclear Deal'
Moscow - Raed Jabr/Asharq Al-Awsat/Saturday, 5 May, 2018/ Russian Foreign Ministry stressed the need to maintain the nuclear agreement with Iran, and warned that attempts to modify it "will not be acceptable."  Moscow might take several steps if Washington pulled out of the deal, including ignoring restrictions on trade and technology with Iran, hinted a senior Russian diplomat. On Friday, Russian foreign ministry said the evidence presented by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Tehran's possession of a secret nuclear program "can not be relied upon." Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Maria Zakharova described the data as "groundless accusations", noting that Moscow considers it unacceptable to replace the existing mechanisms of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), which have already proved effective with various unconfirmed and widespread allegations. "Issues related to the implementation of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) can only be discussed among the members of the joint committee and Iran," asserted the spokeswoman. She added that experts who monitor the implementation would invariably say that Iran is implementing the terms of the deal in good faith, "things that give rise to questions are clarified and jointly settled." Russia called on Israel to immediately give information on Iran continuing its nuclear program to the IAEA, if it has any, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said. “If Israel or anyone else received documents which allegedly prove Iran still having plans to develop nuclear weapons, then these documents should be given to the IAEA," he told the press. The minister pointed out that Israeli intelligence might have come into possession of the outdated files, indicating: "comments I heard from experts, who took part in preparing the JCPOA, suggested that the files obtained by Israel may refer to the past activities that had already been taken into consideration by IAEA inspections."
Director General of the Department for Non-Proliferation and Arms Control at Russia’s Foreign Ministry Vladimir Yermakov told reporters that a US withdrawal from the JCPOA did not necessarily mean the end of the deal.“It might even be easier for us on the economic front, because we won’t have any limits on economic cooperation with Iran. We would develop bilateral relations in all areas – energy, transport, high tech, medicine,” he said. He warned that US will suffer the consequences if Washington breaks the international agreement backed by UN Security Council resolutions. "Neither Iran nor China nor Russia nor the European states should lose out,” Yermakov indicated. Russia would continue to uphold its obligations under the deal, if it was able to and if continuing adherence to the JCPOA was in Russia’s interests. Keeping the deal alive was in the best interests of international security, he said. Yermakov stated that there was no reason for Iran to pull out of the deal, and it was in a strong position because it was fully meeting its obligations. “It’s not in anybody’s interest that Iran goes back to the kind of development of its nuclear program that all states would be concerned about. But Iran is fully entitled to develop peaceful nuclear energy,” he said. If the United States pulled out, there was no question of discussing new UN Security Council sanctions on Iran, added the Director General. Yermakov said nobody could foresee what calculations US President Donald Trump might make about withdrawing from the JCPOA, but the vast majority of UN states at the Geneva conference had supported a joint Russian-Chinese declaration supporting the JCPOA. Practically all states had backed the declaration, but the United States had put pressure on its European NATO allies to persuade them not to give it their backing, Yermakov said.
In addition, Russia's Foreign Ministry's Department on New Challenges and Threats, Dmitry Feoktistov noted that the United States is trying to present Iran and its Hezbollah militant group as a bigger threat than ISIS terrorists. "But Americans talks neither about IS or al-Qaeda. They are only interested in Hezbollah and Iran," he added. Feoktistov noted that US recently stopped describing ISIS as the main threat, meaning they don’t deny that terrorist organization is a threat but they are trying to put this "matter on the back burner."

Morocco Anti-terror Chief: Authorities Tackling Militant Returnees
Asharq Al-Awsat/Saturday, 5 May, 2018/Morocco is working hard to detain and place on trial citizens who have returned home after fighting for ISIS, the country's anti-terror chief, Abdelhak Khiam, has told Agence France Presse. "We have arrested and brought to justice more than 200 returnees," Khiam, director of the Central Bureau of Judicial Investigations (BCIJ), said in an interview. He said the suspects were serving sentences ranging from 10 to 15 years in prison. Legislation passed in 2015 allows police to arrest and interrogate returnees before transferring them to the judiciary, he said. In 2015, an estimated 1,600 Moroccans had joined the ranks of militant groups in Iraq and Syria. "Some died in suicide operations or were shot by (international anti-ISIS) coalition forces," Khiam told AFP. "Others fled to other countries." Moroccan authorities regularly announce the dismantlement of "terrorist cells", although such announcements have fallen from 21 in 2015 to nine in 2017.Khiam also praised the role of international cooperation, saying Morocco's security services had prevented attacks in seven European countries. But he admitted there may be "gaps" and urged authorities to inform "countries of origin" in cases where dual citizens are suspected of preparing attacks.

New Round of Negotiations on Renaissance Dam
Cairo - Waleed Abdul Rahman/Asharq Al-Awsat/Saturday, 5 May, 2018/The irrigation ministers of Egypt, Ethiopia, and Sudan will engage in a new round of talks on the Renaissance Dam in Addis Ababa on Saturday aiming to reach a consensus before a meeting set to be held in mid-May.
A high-level technical delegation led by Egyptian Minister of Water Resources and Irrigation Mohamed Abdel Ati headed to Ethiopia on Friday for the negotiations.Informed sources at the Ministry of Water Resources and Irrigation indicated that the meeting comes in the framework of Egypt's quest to resolve controversial issues, and in conformity with the agreement reached between the leaders of the three countries on the importance of committing to the 2015 Declaration of Principles. The tripartite meeting of irrigation ministers comes after Sudan and Ethiopia announced full agreement on the dam, stressing that Egypt's share of the Nile water will not be affected by its construction. "We are interested in complying with the Declaration of Principles on the reservoir, signed in 2015, and with the importance of the tripartite committee," indicated Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir after meeting with Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed. After 16 hours of closed sessions, representatives of the upstream state, Ethiopia, and the downstream states, Egypt and Sudan, failed to reach an agreement during the Khartoum meeting on April 4 and 5, which brought together foreign ministers, irrigation ministers and intelligence chiefs of the three countries. After the meeting, Ethiopia accused Egypt of paralyzing the tripartite Khartoum meeting. However, the Egyptian Foreign Ministry responded by saying that it wanted "serious agreement" and that it had offered several solutions to break the current stalemate. Egypt then invited the ministers of foreign affairs, irrigation and intelligence officials in Sudan and Ethiopia to a meeting in Cairo. However, the talks never took place. Differences on the dam were announced after the seventeenth meeting of the tripartite technical committee held in Cairo at the presence of water ministers from the three countries in November 2017. In March 2015, the three countries signed an agreement which includes ten basic principles, most of them dealing with the protection of the rights and interests of water. But the talks have been hampered by disagreements. Egypt's Foreign Minister, Sameh Shukri, repeatedly indicated that Egypt is flexible, yet has nothing to fear and nothing to hide. Cairo fears a possible negative impact on the flow of its annual share of the Nile River (55.5 billion cubic meters), the country's main water source.

Kashmir: Several Killed in Violent Clashes
Asharq Al-Awsat/Saturday, 5 May, 2018 /Three suspected rebels were killed during a gunbattle with Indian troops Saturday in Kashmir, officials said. The police blamed insurgents for killing three other men in the disputed region, AP reported. A young man also died after he was hit by an armoured vehicle as hundreds of residents tried to help the rebels escape from the military cordon in the heart of Srinagar, a police officer told AFP on condition of anonymity.  Troops asked the trapped militants to surrender but they insisted on sparking a gunbattle, police statement said. A paramilitary trooper was wounded amid the fire exchange. Hundreds of residents hit the streets to the gunbattle site and threw rocks at troops in order to back the militants. Since 2017 gun battles between government forces and militants seeking an end to Indian rule in Kashmir have become more frequent, in a region divided between India and Pakistan but claimed in full by both, according to AFP. India has deployed more than 500,000 soldiers to tackle the rising militancy and increasing civilian support for the rebels.

Pakistan Army Confirms Death Sentences for 11 Taliban
Asharq Al-Awsat/Saturday, 5 May, 2018/Pakistan's army chief has confirmed death sentences for 11 "hardcore terrorists" after military courts found them guilty of carrying out multiple deadly attacks in recent years. In a statement Saturday, the military said Gen. Qamar Javed Bajwa also approved imprisonment for three people for their involvement in acts of terrorism. It said the 11 convicted Pakistani Taliban had killed 36 civilians and 24 troops in separate attacks in the country. The trials are closed to the public but defendants are allowed to hire lawyers. Pakistan resumed military trials for militants and lifted a moratorium on the death penalty after a 2014 attack on a school in Peshawar that killed more than 150 people, mostly young students. On Friday, unknown gunmen shot dead six laborers in a remote southwestern Pakistani town, officials said, in the latest bout of violence to rock the restive region. The murders took place overnight in Lajjey, about 170 kilometers southwest of Quetta, the capital of Balochistan province, where militants -- including the Taliban-- are active. "Unidentified gunmen shot dead six laborers and wounded another, who is in critical condition," local government official Hashim Ghilzai told AFP. No group has claimed responsibility for the killings

Israel Pulls Out of Race for U.N. Security Council Seat
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/May 05/18/Israel on Friday dropped out of a race for a Security Council seat in 2019 and 2020 following a campaign by Arab states at the United Nations to block the bid. The decision leaves the path clear for Germany and Belgium to take the two seats available for countries of the Western Europe and Others group when the General Assembly votes next month. "After consulting with our partners, including our good friends, the state of Israel has decided to postpone its candidacy for a seat on the Security Council," said a statement from the Israeli mission. It was Israel's first attempt to win a seat at the 15-member council. Palestinian foreign minister Riyad al-Maliki said last month that Arab countries were "doing everything possible to convince as many countries as possible to block the vote on Israel's bid for a seat at the Security Council." South Africa and the Dominican Republic are set to win two of the five seats up for election. Indonesia and the Maldives will be competing for one seat representing the Asia-Pacific group of countries. The Security Council is made up of five permanent members - Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States -- while the ten other seats are filled by elected members that serve two-year stints.

U.S. Asks U.N. Council to Reject 'Unacceptable' Abbas Remarks
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/May 05/18/The United States on Friday asked the U.N. Security Council to reject the "unacceptable" and "deeply disturbing" remarks by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas about Jews that included "vile anti-Semitic slurs."Abbas apologized over the remarks delivered in an address to the Palestinian National Council, but a U.S.-drafted statement called on the president to "refrain from anti-Semitic comments." The proposed statement would express the council's "serious concern" about Abbas' remarks, which "included vile anti-Semitic slurs and baseless conspiracy theories, and do not serve the interests of the Palestinian people or peace in the Middle East." The draft seen by AFP urges "all parties to avoid provocations that make the resumption of negotiations more difficult." Abbas triggered global outrage after he suggested that hostility toward Jews in Europe was not linked to religious intolerance, but because of their "social function related to banks and interests." The United Nations envoy for the Middle East, Nickolay Mladenov, on Wednesday accused Abbas of repeating "contemptuous anti-Semitic slurs" by suggesting that the role of Jews in the banking sector led to their persecution in Europe. On Friday, Abbas apologized and reiterated his condemnation of the Holocaust "as the most heinous crime in history.."Israeli Defence Minister Avigdor Lieberman immediately rejected the apology and said Abbas was a "pathetic Holocaust denier".
Council members were given until 4:00 pm (2000 GMT) to raise objections to the draft statement. The United States has twice blocked draft statements at the council expressing concern about the violence in Gaza, in which nearly 50 people have been killed by Israeli forces. The United States is pushing ahead with plans to open its embassy in Jerusalem on May 14, a move that could further stoke violence.

Tensions Brew on Yemen's Socotra after UAE Deployment
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/May 05/18/A Saudi delegation is on the strategic Yemeni island of Socotra in a bid to defuse tensions which erupted after the United Arab Emirates deployed troops there, Yemeni state media reported. The UAE is a key partner in a Saudi-led coalition that has been fighting Huthi rebels since 2015 to restore Yemen's internationally recognised government to power. A Yemeni government source told AFP the UAE deployed forces in Socotra without informing the government of President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi, which controls the island. Socotra, which has been spared the violence that has ravaged mainland Yemen, sits at the exit of a bustling shipping lane that leads from the Mediterranean Sea to the Indian Ocean. A site of global importance for biodiversity and sometimes referred to as the "Galapagos of the Indian Ocean", it lies around 350 kilometres (220 miles) off Yemen's southern coast. The delegation led by Saudi general Ahmed Abderrahman al-Shiri met on Friday with Yemeni Prime Minister Ahmed bin Dagher in the presence of an Emirati official, Saba news agency reported. It said the delegation was informed by the Yemeni government and Socotra officials "of what has recently happened on the island". Talks also focused on "tensions that have existed in Socotra since the prime minister and his delegation arrived" on the island on Wednesday, Saba said. The government source said the UAE forces arrived in Socotra as the premier landed in the island for a visit. That sparked anger among residents who argued that there were no Huthi rebels on the island to justify such a deployment, the source added. Although the UAE has been a pillar of the Saudi-led coalition fighting the Huthis, it has recently taken its distance from Hadi, analysts have said.
The UAE has worked closely with the Yemeni army and trained southern troops, but also backs separatists who wrenched control of the south from Hadi in January.
Meanwhile the UAE state minister for foreign affairs Anwar Gargash on Friday highlighted in a tweet on Friday the "historic links" between his country and Socotra. "We have historic and family links with the residents of Socotra and we will back them during Yemen's ordeal which was sparked by the Huthis," he said. The Yemen war has claimed nearly 10,000 lives since Riyadh and its allies joined the conflict in March 2015, triggering what the United Nations has called the world's worst humanitarian crisis.

Critical US-China Trade Talks End in Beijing
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/May 05/18/China and the US ended the second day of high-stakes trade talks Friday with "big differences", Beijing said, leaving the world's two largest economies on the brink of a trade war that could have knock-on effects on the global economy. The talks were aimed at forestalling momentum towards the looming conflict, with both sides prepared to pull the trigger on tariffs that could affect trade in billions of dollars of goods. "Both sides recognise there are still big differences on some issues and that they need to continue to step up their work to make progress," China said in a statement released by the official Xinhua state news agency. The discussions promised a potential off-ramp for the trade conflict -- US President Donald Trump has threatened to levy new tariffs on $150 billion of Chinese imports while Beijing shot back with a list of $50 billion in targeted US goods. "The two sides exchanged views on expanding US exports to China, trade in services, bilateral investment, protection of intellectual property rights, resolution of tariffs and non-tariff measures," Xinhua said. It added that they had reached "a consensus in some areas", without elaborating. The countries agreed to establish a "working mechanism" to continue talks, it said. The announcement followed comments by Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin earlier in the day that the two sides were having "very good conversations".
However, American officials declined to give further details of the discussions.
Detailed List
China is confused about what the US actually wants, said Zhang Monan, a researcher at the influential think-tank China Center for International Economic Exchanges. The American pressure on Beijing has heightened, she said, even as Beijing has taken several steps to liberalise its markets. Those reforms include a timeline to lift foreign ownership restrictions for automakers, permitting foreign investors to take controlling stakes in some financial firms, and on Friday, allowing foreign companies to trade iron futures on domestic exchanges. But a list of demands presented to Beijing before the negotiations got under way showed such piecemeal reforms fell far short of US expectations. The document, divided into eight sections, was presented as a starting point for negotiations, according to Bloomberg News. The asks included cutting China's trade surplus with the US by at least $200 billion by the end of 2020, lowering all tariffs to match American levels, eliminating technology transfer practises, and cutting off support for some industries fostered by China's industrial policies, Bloomberg reported.
Industrial policy
Liu He, vice premier in charge of the economy, led the discussions for China.
Known as President Xi Jinping's right hand man on economic matters, Liu was noticeably absent from Xi's speech Friday morning commemorating the birth of Karl Marx and the continued relevance of his theories to China. The speech alluded to Beijing's determination to keep true market capitalism at arm's length -- a key area of concern for the American delegation that has balked at China's state-led industrial policy and fostering of domestic industry. Friction is highest over China's "Made in China 2025" programme, designed to spring China from a maker of sports shoes and denims into high-tech goods.
For Beijing, recent moves by Washington to ban US sales to telecom giant ZTE and the reported opening of a similar probe into goliath Huawei, have reinforced the wisdom of the policy. A spokesperson for the Ministry of Commerce said China had taken up the ban with the US delegation. "The Chinese side made solemn representations with the US in respect of the ZTE Corporation case" the commerce ministry statement said, adding that the Americans said they would relay the issue to Trump. "The trade friction between the US and China is a longterm issue, this is not something that can be solved in the short term," Zhang said.
Trade data
The talks may have received some tailwinds from the latest trade data out of Washington, showing the US global trade deficit narrowing in March. The goods deficit with China fell 11.5 percent from February to $25.8 billion, but analysts cautioned seasonal factors like China's New Year holidays were likely at play. Bilateral trade in coming months could be hurt by US and Chinese buyers planning to avoid tariffs, with news this week that China may already be downsizing its soybean imports from the US. "Whatever they're buying is non-US," said Soren Schroder, CEO of agricultural giant Bunge Limited.
"They're buying beans in Canada, in Brazil, mostly Brazil, but very deliberately not buying anything from the US," Schroder said in the interview with Bloomberg News on Wednesday. Soybeans were China's largest import from the US last year, worth $14 billion.

HRW Urges Dubai to 'Clarify' Status of Runaway Princess
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/May 05/18/Human Rights Watch on Saturday urged Dubai authorities to reveal the whereabouts of a princess and daughter of the ruler, saying her case could constitute "enforced disappearance". In a March video, 32-year-old Sheikha Latifa bint Mohammed bin Rashid Al-Maktoum announced she was fleeing the emirate because of mistreatment and restrictions imposed by her family. She said she was the daughter of Dubai ruler Mohammed bin Rashed Al-Maktoum and an Algerian mother, Horriya Ahmed, and that she had tried to escape in previous years. But the following month a source close to the Dubai government said the runaway princess had been returned to the emirate. "What I can confirm is they took her and she was brought back," the anonymous source told AFP by phone on April 17. In a statement on Saturday HRW said Dubai authorities must "reveal" her whereabouts and "clarify her legal status". "Failure to disclose the whereabouts and status of the princess could qualify as an enforced disappearance, given the evidence suggesting that she was last seen as UAE authorities were detaining her," the US-based rights group said. It cited a witness saying authorities in the United Arab Emirates had "intercepted Sheikha Latifa on March 4, 2018, as she tried to flee by sea to a third country, and returned her to the UAE". "Sheikha Latifa, who told friends that she wished to flee restrictions imposed by her family, has not been seen or heard from for two months," it said. That raised "serious concerns about her safety and well-being, two friends said," HRW added. "UAE authorities should immediately reveal the whereabouts of Sheikha Latifa, confirm her status, and allow her contact with the outside world," said Sarah Leah Whitson, HRW's Middle East director on Saturday. "If she is detained she needs to be given the rights all detainees should have, including being taken before an independent judge." Latifa's cause has been taken up by a UK-based group called Detained in Dubai. The group said Latifa tried to flee Dubai by ship, but the vessel was intercepted on March 4 less than 80 kilometres (50 miles) off the coast of India. It said a Finnish woman and friend of the princess was among foreigners on board. The source close to the Dubai government said last month that the Finnish woman and two French men, one with dual US citizenship, participated in the escape attempt and were wanted in Dubai on previous charges. "It is a domestic issue that transformed into a soap opera that transformed into a rampaging scheme to tarnish the reputation of Dubai and Sheikh Mohammed," the source said

Latest LCCC Bulletin analysis & editorials from miscellaneous sources published on May 05-06/18
Trump: A New Vision of the Middle East
Ahmed Charai/Gatestone Institute/May 05/18
The US president, branded as "unpredictable," has received the fiercest criticism; but a foreign policy is measured by its results.
The last Trump-Macron Summit was a masterpiece of communication. The two men multiplied their signs of complicity and intimacy in front of the cameras. To indicate the strength of their relationship, The French president even declared, "We are two Mavericks." In addition, both criticized the difficulties imposed by the political system, while emphasizing that they have never been politicians to be used, nor were they part of a partisan machine.
Yet the president of the United States did not surrender: not on the climate, nor on Iranian nuclear energy, nor on trade protectionism, nor on any subject. He did not stop repeating, emulating Macron: "I do what I say." In his first year in office, Donald Trump has received the fiercest criticism. International observers have not tired of repeating that he is "unpredictable." But a foreign policy is judged by its results.The so-criticized "extremism" against North Korea has not led to a nuclear war. On the contrary, under pressure, China managed to convince its ally to accept negotiations for denuclearization, something unthinkable a few months ago.
Trump and Macron at the White House. Emulating his French counterpart, the US president kept repeating: "I do what I say." Photo: Wikimedia Commons.
In the Middle East, the American demands, that is, the security of Israel, have been respected. They have achieved an objective alliance between the Gulf monarchies and the Jewish state in opposition to Iran. In return, the Sunni monarchies were called on to finance the war effort.
Trump's decisions can be challenged, but they cannot be reduced to the moods of an unpredictable man. Trump, to gather the necessary regional support, has emphasized bilateral relations. The diplomacy of international summits is not his favorite.
His "twittomania" and the prevarications of his Administration have contributed to the blows at his actions at the international level and to the idea of ​​unpredictability. This is the explanation that can be given to the "Maelstrom", which referred to basic posts in the administrative machine.
After several attempts, Trump seems to have found some stability with three complementary profiles for key positions. Thus, Gina Haspel, who has been head of the CIA, has devoted her entire career to the agency and is an expert in the fight against terrorism. She is called "the iron lady," as she favors the strong methods that correspond to the speech of the president of the United States. Above all, he has an absolute distrust of Iran.
Rex Tillerson, on the other hand, was replaced in the State Department by Mike Pompeo.The former director of the CIA is also aggressive regarding Iran. By relying on his partisan experience in the US Congress and his transfer to the CIA, he would be able to reject the president's strategies.
He spoke in his Senate hearing about "strengthening the finest diplomatic corps in the world. America and the world need us to be that."
He made his first trip to the Middle East beginning with Israel. While maintaining its hard line on Iran, the basis of an objective alliance between the Jewish state and the regional Sunni powers, he also affirmed that "the main priority is to destroy ISIS and other terrorist groups." The problem of the financing of terrorist groups is there even for the regional allies of the United States.
According to The Washington Post, Qatar has paid hundreds of millions of dollars to various terrorist groups to free their hostages, particularly members of the royal family. According to the same newspaper, those hundreds of millions of Kuwaiti dollars were donated to Syrian rebel groups such as Jabhat al Nusra. Former US Treasury Secretary Davis S. Cohen described Kuwait as "a kind of fundraiser for terrorist groups in Syria." All this is real challenge for the Trump Administration and its objective effectively to combat terrorism in the region.
Finally, John Bolton, the new National Security Advisor, is a neoconservative "hawk" of the Bush era. He has appealed for bombing North Korea to defend the interests of the United States instead of getting stuck in multilateral agreements. Bolton recently said on Fox News that Trump should only meet with the Korean president if he "agrees to give up his entire nuclear weapons program" --proof that he is the interpreter of the ultimate reasons for the president having been elected, far from the influence of the media.
This triptych will be the basis of the policy that Trump can implement without presidential problems. He will surely withdraw from the agreement with Iran, which, despite the pleas of the European Union, he considers catastrophic. At the same time, it would likely strengthen the Arab-Israeli alliance against Iran. The discussions with North Korea will be difficult, if not tumultuous. The question of Russia will remain.
The United States is less concerned about Ukraine and the Crimea, but Syria represents the risk of a direct conflict. To avoid this direct confrontation and have others pay for the war effort, Trump would like to replace US troops with Arab troops. The famous political solution is not a priority at this time. There is nothing unpredictable in the agenda of the world leader. Will it work? History will speak.
Ahmed Charai is Chairman and CEO of Global Media Holding. He sits on the Board of Directors of The Atlantic Council in Washington and International Councilors at The Center for Strategic and International Studies. He is also Board of Trustees of the The Foreign Policy Research Institute in Philadelphia, a member of The National Interest's Advisory Council and a member of the Advisory Council of Gatestone Institute in New York.
This article was first published in La Razon. It is reprinted here with minor changes with the kind permission of the author.
© 2018 Gatestone Institute. All rights reserved. The articles printed here do not necessarily reflect the views of the Editors or of Gatestone Institute. No part of the Gatestone website or any of its contents may be reproduced, copied or modified, without the prior written consent of Gatestone Institute.

Integrating Islam or Islamizing Integration?
Josef Zbořil/Gatestone Institute/May 05/18
It is becoming increasingly evident that immigrants from Muslim countries do not spontaneously integrate. On the contrary, there has been a controlled Islamization of integration, rather than the other way around.
The fear among Czechs is that such a trend will lead, within a few decades, to a dangerous demographic shift and ultimate theocratic totality in Europe as in the Middle East.
The government of Singapore controls the interpretation of Islam and Muslim finances, to prevent them from being used for violence and jihad.
If polls are to be trusted, one of the next countries most likely to follow Britain's lead and exit the European Union is the Czech Republic. In 2016, after the Brexit referendum, a mere 25% of the Czech public said it was satisfied with membership in the EU. There are three main reasons for this dissatisfaction.
The first is the unsustainable long-term political and economic functioning of the current system, as described, among others, by the economist Petr Kostka:
"Europe is now crippled by the systemic crisis of two dominant post-war political projects. Social democratic interventionism -- resulting in deformed markets, illusory values of assets and the indebted welfare state -- and the European Union project, opportunistically not respecting its own rules and withdrawn by the eurozone monetary structure, which has been struck by a structural defect since its inception. So a heterogeneous environment like the old continent cannot be tied to a single currency."
During the presidential campaign in January 2018, which resulted in the reelection of Czech President Miloš Zeman, a euro-federalist, he explained that although he supports the euro, he does not want the Czech taxpayer to pay Greek debts. "It is the duty of "every [Czech] president to defend Czech national interests," he added.
The second reason for Czech dissatisfaction with the EU has to do with the desire to retain a national identity, rather than blend completely into a general European "One". It is reminiscent of the 1963 play The Garden Party, by the anti-communist dissident and subsequent Czech president, Václav Havel. The play is an allegory about then-Czechoslovakia, where much of the populace came to spout socialist ideology to comply with the ruling regime The play's protagonist says something that could apply to the current debate over the EU vs. national identity:
"...We are all a bit of what we were yesterday and a bit of what we are today. Always, we a little bit exist, and always, we a little bit do not exist.... It is all just about when it is better to exist more..."
The third reason for Czech concern about the EU is that although its original aim may have been to establish inter-European integration -- with mutual tolerance and respect even with and towards non-European cultures -- it is becoming increasingly evident that immigrants from Muslim countries do not spontaneously integrate. On the contrary, there has been a controlled Islamization of integration, rather than the other way around. The fear among Czechs is that such a trend will lead, within a few decades, to a dangerous demographic shift and ultimate theocratic totality in Europe as in the Middle East.
This fear was expressed by figures such as Tomio Okamura, the leader of Czech Freedom and Direct democracy party, whose slogan, ahead of the Czech parliamentary elections in 2017, was: "No to Islam. No to terrorists." Even former social democratic Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka stated: "When we see problems in other European countries, we no longer want Muslims in the Czech Republic."
The "controlled Islamization of integration" was confirmed by the Organization of Islamic Cooperation in November 2000, in a document entitled "The Strategy for Islamic Cultural Action outside the Islamic World," which states:
"The demographic constituents of western countries... will change and become subject to restructuring into a multi-ethnic and multi-cultural society. Thereby, western countries will no longer remain that harmonious and monolithic society constituted on the basis of a specific historical, economic, social and cultural lineage...."Sensing the importance of Islamic communities and minorities in the west... immunize the second, third and even fourth generations of those communities, who settled outside the Islamic world, against cultural assimilation and loss of their Islamic identity."
While all of the above helps to explain the push for "Czexit," there are ways to avoid it. The first is to redefine the motto of the European Union -- "United in diversity" (which has come to be perceived as a stamp of moral support for federal multiculturalism and unfettered Islamization) -- and substitute, for example, the Czech national motto: "Truth prevails."
The second is to ban political Islam and Sharia law in Europe, because they are incompatible with western values and jurisprudence.
The third is to emulate Singapore, the only state in which the Muslim population has remained constant – 15 % -- for the last fifty years. This was achieved both through a strict immigration policy and, paradoxically, through the establishment of three state Sharia Institutions -- the Islamic Religious Council, the Sharia Court, and the Registry of Muslim Marriages. The government of Singapore controls the interpretation of Islam and Muslim finances, to prevent them from being used for violence and jihad. This is precisely what enabled a non-extremist Muslim, Halimah Yacob, to become president in 2017.
If European integration is to succeed without submission to Islamization, Europeans must choose the path of freedom, and replace empty phrases with practical steps. In the words of the late Czech entrepreneur, Tomáš Baťa (1876-1932):
"Intellectual work is problem-solving, decision-making, creative ingenuity and conceptual realization, not intellectual contemplation in the Cafe Slavia ... Do not support those who went bankrupt; do not go into debt; do not throw away your values for nothing."
**Josef Zbořil, Ph.D., a Czech author, advocates a "SMART permanently sustainable free society with citizenship 4.0"
© 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.

A Month of Islam and Multiculturalism in Britain: April 2018
Soeren Kern/Gatestone Institute/May 05/18
Queen Elizabeth II is a descendant of the Islamic Prophet Mohammed — The Economist, citing the Moroccan newspaper Al-Ousboue.
Nearly two-thirds of "child" refugees who were questioned about their real age after coming to Britain were found to be adults. — Report by David Bolt, the Independent Chief Inspector of Borders and Immigration.
In 2017, there were 620 cases of female genital mutilation (FGM) just in Birmingham and environs. FGM has been illegal in the UK since 1985, but there has still not been a single successful prosecution for the offense.
April 1. National Union of Teachers (NUT) delegates condemned efforts by Ofsted, the chief regulator of British schools, to ban the hijab, a Muslim head covering, in primary schools. Ofsted said the measure was aimed at promoting the integration of Muslim pupils. Teachers blasted the policy, announced by Ofsted director Amanda Spielman, as "racism dressed up as liberalism."
Kauser Jan, a Muslim activist and teacher in Leeds, described the hijab policy as "Islamophobic" and said she would not comply:
"We have taken regressive steps where our children are now being made to feel that must leave their cultural and linguistic and religious identity at the door. I know Muslim girls and men that have shaved off beards, taken off their hijabs so they can anglicize themselves, so they can fit in and not feel they are part of the problem."
Mehreen Begg, a British Muslim from Croydon, described Ofsted's stance on the wearing of hijabs in primary schools as "unwarranted" and "draconian." She added:
"It is wholly inappropriate for Ofsted inspectors to question primary-age Muslim girls on their choice of dress. This is an act of intimidation by a powerful adult on a young child and has no place in our education inspection system. Whilst wearing a hijab may not always be a choice, both here and internationally, it is not for Ofsted to intervene in this debate, which is a debate within the Islamic community."
A spokesperson for Ofsted responded:
"There is nothing political about ensuring that schools and parents aren't being subject to undue pressure by national or community campaign groups. Head teachers need to be able to take uniform decisions on the basis of safeguarding or community cohesion concerns, and Ofsted will always support them in doing that."
April 5. The Economist, citing the Moroccan newspaper Al-Ousboue, reported that Queen Elizabeth II is a descendant of the Islamic Prophet Mohammed:
"Al-Ousboue traced the queen's lineage back 43 generations. Her bloodline runs through the Earl of Cambridge, in the 14th century, across medieval Muslim Spain, to Fatima, the Prophet's daughter. Her link to Muhammad has previously been verified by Ali Gomaa, the former grand mufti of Egypt, and Burke's Peerage, a British authority on royal pedigrees.
"Prince Charles (bin Philip), is intrigued by Islam.... He is said to want a multi-faith coronation and to be ordained as "defender of faith," not "the [Christian] faith."
The late Harold Brooks-Baker, publishing director of Burke's Peerage, once warned: "The royal family's direct descent from the prophet Mohammed cannot be relied upon to protect the royal family forever from Moslem terrorists."
April 6. Aweys Shikhey, a 38-year-old Dutch national originally from Somalia and living in north London, was sentenced to eight years in prison for preparing acts of terrorism. The court heard how Shikhey, a delivery driver who has two wives, one in The Netherlands and one in Kenya, was planning to elope with his Somali-Norwegian jihadi fiancée and travel from London to Turkey, and then on to Syria. The court also heard how he talked to other jihadis about attacking Queen Elizabeth, shooting Jews in Stamford Hill, north London, and football fans as they left Tottenham Hotspur's stadium.
April 8. The Scottish government issued a guidance, warning teachers against using the phrase "British values" when discussing terrorism with pupils because it might be offensive: "The concept can cause offense and could play into the hands of groups who seek to assert that there is an inherent conflict between being British and being Muslim." The British government's anti-terror Prevent strategy defines extremism as "the vocal or active opposition to fundamental British values" such as democracy, the rule of law and tolerance. The Scottish government advised teachers to use the words "shared values" instead. The guidance also urged teachers not to use the terms "war on terror," "Islamist extremist/terrorist," "jihad/jihadist" or "radical" in current affairs lessons. The guidance cautioned: "There is always a danger in using 'Islamist' as non-expert audiences are likely to hear 'Islamic.' All audiences will make a connection to the Muslim faith. This phrase is best avoided."
April 8. Nearly two-thirds of "child" refugees who were questioned about their real age after coming to Britain were found to be adults, according to a report by David Bolt, the Independent Chief Inspector of Borders and Immigration, into the Home Office's treatment of lone child migrants. The statistics showed that Britain's generosity towards genuine child victims of war, terror and humanitarian disasters is open to wide abuse.
April 9. Almost two cases of female genital mutilation (FGM) a day on average are being identified by doctors in the Birmingham area alone, according to an analysis of data compiled by the NHS. In 2017, there were 620 cases just in Birmingham and environs where a woman was newly recorded in the FGM dataset. FGM has been illegal in the UK since 1985, but there has still not been a single successful prosecution for the offense.
April 10. Shamsu Iqbal, a 61-year-old former Home Office employee, was sentenced to 11 years in prison for conspiracy to assist unlawful immigration. Iqbal was the "lynchpin" of a £6 million ($8 million) scam that falsified the records of at least 437 illegal migrants so they could remain in Britain. The potential loss to taxpayers was assessed by Home Office statisticians as £56 million ($76 million), based on the amount the 437 illegal immigrants could falsely have claimed in benefits over the six years of the fraud.
April 11. Delegates to the annual conference of the Association of Teachers and Lecturers (ATL) agreed to a resolution calling on the government to prevent parents from withdrawing their children from classes about Islam. Richard Griffiths, from ATL's Inner London branch, told conference attendees that "parents with certain prejudices including Islamophobia" are pulling their children from Religious Education classes because they do not want them to learn about Islam. This, he said, is "significantly hindering" the ability of schools to "prepare a child for life in modern Britain."
April 12. Ibrahim Hussain, a 35-year-old man from Bradford, was sentenced to 23 years in prison for grooming, abducting and repeatedly raping a 12-year-old girl. Hussain later took the girl to a house in Leeds, where she was gang-raped by five unknown men. Judge David Hatton QC said the girl was raped by "essentially a pack of ravenous wolves." Hussain was already on bail for sexually assaulting a 16-year-old girl he had met through Facebook.
April 13. ITV News reported that Alexanda Amon Kotey, a British jihadi who previously belonged to the infamous four-member Islamic State cell known as "The Beatles," helped to organize a plot to execute soldiers and police officers in London. Kotey and other jihadis are suspected of guiding and funding the would-be attackers in the U.K. —apparently helping to organize the plot "by remote control" from Syria. Kotey, the London-born son of a Ghanaian father and Greek-Cypriot mother, reportedly converted to Islam in his early 20s after falling in love with a Muslim woman. He was arrested by Syrian Kurdish fighters in January 2018 while attempting to smuggle himself back to Europe.
April 14. A YouGov poll found that a large minority of Britons believe that multiculturalism has failed and different communities generally live separate lives. The poll found that 43% predicted relationships between different communities in Britain will deteriorate over the next few years compared to 14% who feel things will improve. More than one third of those who took part in the survey believe that Islam is a threat to the British way of life; 51% believe that immigration is putting pressure on schools and hospitals.
April 18. Shahid Ali, a 43-year-old Washwood Heath man previously convicted of terror offenses, was sentenced to 12 years in prison for deliberately running over a pedestrian's head in a road rage incident. Ali, who apparently became enraged because he thought his victim, a 35-year-old Irish national, was holding up traffic, fled the scene and later dumped his car. The incident was captured by a motorcyclist who had a GoPro camera attached to her helmet. Ali was convicted of causing grievous bodily harm with intent. In his defense, the court heard how he "prayed twice" soon after the incident that his victim "had not been affected in the worst way."
April 18. Rotherham Council was ordered by a government ombudsman to apologize for retaliating against Jayne Senior, a whistleblower who helped to expose the town's Muslim sexual grooming scandal. Senior revealed how the council, police and social services turned a blind eye to the abuse of at least 1,400 children by men of Pakistani origin. Local officials kept silent about the abuse for more than a decade, apparently due to a fear of being charged with racism.
In the city of Rotherham (pictured), the council, police and social services turned a blind eye to the sexual abuse of at least 1,400 children by gangs of men of Pakistani origin. Local officials kept silent about the abuse for more than a decade, apparently due to a fear of being charged with racism. (Photo by Anthony Devlin/Getty Images)
April 18. Exeter Mosque in Devon accepted donations totaling nearly £250,000 ($340,000) from Sheikh Sadiq Al-Ghariani, an extremist Muslim cleric who is on a terrorism watch list due to his support for al-Qaeda-linked jihadi groups in Libya. An online petition called on those who run the mosque to clarify how much money was received and what it was spent on. Trustees of the mosque said they "do not have any links to any form of extremism." Ghariani said the money was to be spent on "completing construction of the [Exeter] mosque," which he said represented "moderate Islam, free of extremism."
April 19. Adam Wyatt, a 48-year-old convert to Islam, was sentenced to three years and nine months in prison for disseminating a terrorist publication that said "Britain must atone for its sins in Palestine" and posting on social media that jihad was an obligation for all Muslims. Wyatt, of Salford, admitted owning booklets, including one called "The Mujahedeen Poisons Handbook."
April 20. Taiyab Hussain, Mohammed Hizar Rizwan, Shaheem Ratyal and Sohail Raja Ali, all from Burton, were collectively sentenced to 17 years in a young offender institution for sexually abusing five girls, aged 13 and 14. Judge Jonathan Gosling, said: "It is clear the girls meant nothing to them whatsoever. They were simply an agency to satisfy their adolescent lust of these men. One girl had only just passed her 13th birthday." Nevertheless, Gosling ordered that the men be released after serving half their sentence, which had already been reduced by 155 days, because the men were not "predatory paedophiles" but "schoolboys."
April 24. The All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on British Muslims called for a "working definition" of "Islamophobia," one that can be "widely accepted by Muslim communities, political parties, and the Government." The APPG is chaired by Sayeeda Warsi, the first Muslim woman to serve in the cabinet. She resigned from government in 2014, describing then Prime Minister David Cameron's pro-Israel policy as "morally indefensible." After resigning, she demanded that the government impose an arms embargo on the Jewish state. More recently, she said that British citizens who volunteer for the Israeli army should be prosecuted.
April 25. Wokingham Mayor Peter Lucey resigned after a "member of the public" complained that he had shared "politically incorrect" articles from Gatestone Institute, Dutch politician Geert Wilders and Canadian author Mark Steyn. In a statement, Wokingham Town Council said: "Councillor Peter Lucey has today resigned from Wokingham Town council for personal reasons."
April 25. The Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) said it was investigating 33 current and former police officers for potential misconduct in the Rotherham child sex abuse scandal. Operation Linden, the IOPC's operation looking into the allegations, grew to 98 investigations by the beginning of April 2018 compared with 62 investigations at the same point in 2017.
April 25. The home of a family member of a victim of a Muslim sex gang in Telford was set on fire, allegedly to stop the woman from cooperating with police. The arson attack appears to have achieved its objective: The woman, now in her 30s, decided against sharing the names of the members of the gang that operated in the 80s and 90s as she fears for the safety of her family.
April 27. Doctors, nurses and teachers are still nervous about being branded racist if they speak to families about female genital mutilation (FGM), according to Hazel Barrett, a professor at Coventry University and expert in FGM. In an interview with the Evening Standard, Barrett said that despite campaigns, many professionals are still unaware of their legal responsibilities, nervous about how to broach the issue, and concerned about being called racist and rejected by communities with which they work. The Serious Crime Act 2015 requires healthcare professionals, social workers and teachers in England and Wales to report to the police if they think a girl aged under 18 is at risk of FGM.
April 27. Komar Uddin, a 68-year-old Bangladeshi imam living illegally in Britain, was sentenced to 15 years in prison for raping a 19-year-old woman during an exorcism. Judge Timothy Spencer QC said:
"She was 19 years old...young enough to be your granddaughter. She was very vulnerable...grieving for (a family member) who had died. She, like the rest of her family, had a deep belief in the spirit world and in djinns (spirits). You encouraged the belief that you were skilled in ridding believers of bad spirits; evil djinns.... You were invited to their house and it was supposed to be for you to help that young woman with her distress, to rid her of the evil spirits. You used your power over her to violate her for your own sexual gratification and did nothing to assist her distress — you greatly added to her distress. You showed no restraint whatsoever. You had her completely at your mercy and you raped her. It's a shameful betrayal of your religion and the position you held within the Islamic community."
The Leicester Mercury was the only publication to identify Uddin as a Muslim. The BBC referred to the man as a "bogus faith healer." The Daily Mail called him a "spiritual healer."
April 27. Rabar Mala, a 33-year-old Iraqi living illegally in Britain, was sentenced to eight years in prison for helping hundreds of jihadis in Iraq, Syria and Turkey communicate online by activating mobile phone Sim cards for them in the UK. Mala, who lived in Warrington, became what amounted to an IT support worker for the Islamic State. Police determined that Mala had registered and activated 360 Sim cards and used them to help jihadis who had no easy means of registering social media accounts without drawing attention to themselves. Mala was caught only because police linked him to extremist material posted on YouTube.
April 30. Sajid Javid, a 48-year-old first-generation Briton of Pakistani origin, was named Home Secretary of the United Kingdom. As the first-ever British-Muslim to hold the post, the most important cabinet position after that of the prime minister, Javid will be in charge of the UK's immigration, security and counter-terrorism efforts.
*Soeren Kern is a Senior Fellow at the New York-based Gatestone Institute.
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Spoiling the high moments of two mavericks in pursuit of their ouster
DebkaFile/May 05/18
hn Kerry is engaged in stealth diplomacy to scuttle Trump’s anti-Iran policy. In Israel, hostile media rain on Netanyahu’s Iranian Atomic Archive coup.
On Saturday, May 5, the Boston Globe revealed former US Secretary of State John Kerry as digging out old contacts and lining them up to counteract President Donald Trump’s rejection of the 2015 nuclear accord with Iran. Kerry sat down with German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier, European Union’s Federica Mogherini and French President Emmanuel Macron. Kerry also got together twice with Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif in New York “to strategize” on salvaging a deal they spent years negotiating during the Obama administration and making sure that no “fixes” were approved.
Macron’s efforts to negotiate amendments to the accord and so enable President Trump to approve its continuation on May12 was stymied. Tehran is standing adamantly by its refusal to renegotiate or amend the original accord, warning that if US sanctions are re-imposed, Iran would immediately switch on its nuclear program and go back to high-grade uranium enrichment.
Kerry’s shadow diplomacy therefore toughened Tehran’s hard line and its the conviction that Trump in his weakened political position at home would not risk pulling the US out of the nuclear accord. Kerry’s campaign struck this chord amid the scandals landing on the president’s head, including the claims of an affair, true or false, by the porn star Stormy Daniels and the muddle over the alleged payout for her silence; the special counsel Robert Mueller’s flagging, circuitous probe of Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential campaign; the tariff war with China; and Democratic gains ahead of midterm congressional elections. Their eye is now on a majority for carrying through the president’s impeachment. In short, the nuclear accord with Iran was tossed into the opposition’s battle to discredit Donald Trump and remove him from office.
The president is not without his own tools of war, especially the popular momentum for sweeping away the old political order which he fronts after it swept him to power. But in the coming weeks, he is also looking forward to a summit with the North Korean ruler and a deal for denuclearization, a global, historic feat which none of his predecessors ever came close to.
There are many equivalents for the siege on Trump in the sustained media persecution of Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and his family. This no-holds-barred chase was briefly interrupted by the sense of national unity generated by Israel’s 70th anniversary earlier this month, celebrated with gusto by the population at large. It was followed by the unifying sense that a military confrontation with Iran was at hand. But last week, the personal and political persecution of Netanyahu was resumed. The media picked up on obscure minutiae from the years of dragging “investigations” of his alleged misdemeanors. Sarah Netanyahu, the prime minister’s wife, was singled out as the latest victim. She is now depicted as haggling over the size of the fine she is said to be willing to pay to avoid prosecution for allegedly misappropriating state allocations for the upkeep of the prime minister’s residence. TV “commentators” are speculating widely about her mental state. The sums involved are cents rather than dollars and her denial of the entire story as made-up from beginning to end is sneeringly glossed over by television “commentators.” No considerations of privacy or humanity apply when it comes to the Netanyahus.
Neither was the prime minister allowed to bask for a second in the light of a remarkable Israeli intelligence coup, the theft of Iran’s top-secret Atomic Archive from a well-guarded hidden location in Tehran. The prime minister was criticized for showcasing the feat in a power point presentation on television. It was picked up around the world and proved that the Islamic Republic had lied when its rulers denied that developing a nuclear bomb was contrary to their religious, and its officials, including Zarif, continued to lie. Netanyahu was accused by his detractors at home of an overly “theatrical” performance. Yair Lapid, head of the opposition Future Party, claimed that the revelation irreversibly damaged the intelligence service by revealing its methods (which he did not). Netanyahu was told that he should have sat on the discovery, despite the fact that the operation’s entire purpose was to produce evidence for the world to see that Israel’s arch enemy had negotiated an accord with the world powers in bad faith and should not be trusted in future. The Atomic Archive’s exposure supported Israel’s joint campaign with the Trump administration to work for a better deal with Tehran and get rid of the ballistic missiles threatening the Jewish state. These considerations are clearly not worth the attention of Netanyahu’s enemies. It appears that all means are justified to further the goal of removing the Israeli prime minister, as in the case of President Donald Trump – even when national security is at stake.