May 08/2018
Compiled & Prepared by: Elias Bejjani


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Bible Quotations
Strive to enter through the narrow door/Indeed, some are last who will be first, and some are first who will be last

Luke 13/22-30: "Jesus went through one town and village after another, teaching as he made his way to Jerusalem. Someone asked him, ‘Lord, will only a few be saved?’ He said to them, ‘Strive to enter through the narrow door; for many, I tell you, will try to enter and will not be able. When once the owner of the house has got up and shut the door, and you begin to stand outside and to knock at the door, saying, "Lord, open to us", then in reply he will say to you, "I do not know where you come from."Then you will begin to say, "We ate and drank with you, and you taught in our streets."But he will say, "I do not know where you come from; go away from me, all you evildoers!"There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth when you see Abraham and Isaac and Jacob and all the prophets in the kingdom of God, and you yourselves thrown out. Then people will come from east and west, from north and south, and will eat in the kingdom of God. Indeed, some are last who will be first, and some are first who will be last.’"

Titles For Latest LCCC Bulletin analysis & editorials from miscellaneous sources published on May 07-08/18
All Elections in Occupied Lebanon are illegitimate/Elias Bejjani/07 May/18
Lebanon’s Fake and illegitimate Parliamentary Elections/Elias Bejjani/07 May/18
Interior Minister Announces Incomplete Election Results/ 07/18
Hezbollah eyes gains after Lebanon vote/AFP News AFP News/06 May/18
Hezbollah's Nasrallah Declares Victory in Lebanese Election: 'Mission ccomplished'/A/P/May 07/18
Iran and Assad's Man in Lebanon's Elections Makes Major Comeback/Reuters/May 07/18
Lebanon: An overwhelming victory for Hezbollah, Assad and Iran/Diana Moukalled/Arab News/May 07/2018
WATCH 'It Was Never Obama's Iran Nuclear Deal or War. That's Not Trump's Choice Either'/Emily B. Landau and Esther Solomon/Haaretz/May 07/18
Israel Braces for Iran Missile Attack From Syria Over Last Month's Deadly Strike/Amos Harel/Haaretz/May 07/18
The West Betrays the Kurds/Giulio Meotti/Gatestone Institute/May 07/18
The worst is yet to come for Iran/Abdullah bin Bijad Al-Otaibi/Al Arabiya/May 07/18
Saudi Arabia’s quality of life program vs skeptics/Salman al-Dosary/Al Arabiya/May 07/18
Iran’s not so straightforward exit from JCPOA/Dr. Mohamed A. Ramady/Al Arabiya/May 07/18
Qatar and the two Koreas’ experience/Mohammed Al Shaikh/Al Arabiya/May 07/18
Mike Pompeo and US diplomacy victories without bullets/Abdulrahman al-Rashed/Al Arabiya/May 07/18

Titles For Latest LCCC Lebanese Related News published on May 07-08/18
All Elections in Occupied Lebanon are illegitimate
Lebanon’s Fake and illegitimate Parliamentary Elections
Interior Minister Announces Incomplete Election Results
Nadim Gemayel: All Attempts to Bring Us Down Have Failed
Hezbollah = Lebanon,' Israeli Minister Blasts on Twitter After Lebanese Elections
Nasrallah: New Parliament Guarantee for 'Golden Equation'
Lebanese Speaker Berri Says Big Winners Must Learn 'Hegemony is Useless'
Lebanon's Future Movement wins 21 parliament seats: PM
Hezbollah eyes gains after Lebanon vote
Hezbollah's Nasrallah Declares Victory in Lebanese Election: 'Mission ccomplished'
Iran and Assad's Man in Lebanon's Elections Makes Major Comeback
Lebanese election turnout was 49.2 percent: minister
Lebanon: An overwhelming victory for Hezbollah, Assad and Iran
Titles For Latest LCCC Bulletin For Miscellaneous Reports And News published on May 07-08/18
WATCH 'It Was Never Obama's Iran Nuclear Deal or War. That's Not Trump's Choice Either'
Israel Braces for Iran Missile Attack From Syria Over Last Month's Deadly Strike
Putin Sworn in for Fourth Term as Russian President
Egypt’s Minister of Finance: Delaying Economic Reform Increased Public Debt FivefoldISIS Claims Murder of Election Candidate South of Mosul
Iran says it will fiercely resist US pressure to limit its influence
Israeli minister threatens Assad over any Iranian attacks from Syria
30 regime forces killed fighting ISIS in Damascus
Egypt to share footage with Italy as part of probe of student’s death
ISIS claims assassination of Iraq election candidate
US Embassy road signs go up in Jerusalem
Egyptian businessman allegedly kills his family, then shoots himself

Titles For Latest LCCC Bulletin For Miscellaneous Reports And News published on May 06-07/18
All Elections in Occupied Lebanon are illegitimate
Elias Bejjani/07 May/18
Lebanon is an occupied country. The Occupier is the Iran terrorist proxy, Hezbollah. According to international laws and regulations all elections that take place under the occupation is totally illegitimate.
Lebanon’s Fake and illegitimate Parliamentary Elections
Elias Bejjani/07 May/18
The parliamentary elections in occupied Lebanon came to end yesterday at 7PM, Beirut local time.
More than 100 nominees were winners before the election process started as designed and orchestrated by the Iranian occupier and its ally the Syrian Assad regime.
No actual surprises took place because Hezbollah occupies the country and did impose its Iranian tailored electoral law.
Meanwhile the whole election charade was mostly pre-set pre-fabricated and most of the successful MP’s were practically appointed.
But in spite of the Iranian occupation, the occupier (Hezbollah) failed to eradicate or marginalise the Lebanese Christians pride and dignity, as well as their values for independence and sovereignty.
In Keserwan- Jbiel district Hezbollah’s nominee Sheik Hassan Zaieter was not a winner despite all the tactics of intimidation that were forced on the district’s residents.
In the same realm in Baalbak the Lebanese Forces Nominee Antoine Habchi won the MP seat in spite of the rhetoric war of terrorism that Hezbollah declared openly against him.
Sadly, this Parliament which Hezbollah controls will be heading to legitimize its armed militia in case the Iranian occupation remains in control of Lebanon.
In conclusion, this election is legally illegitimate due the fact that Lebanon is an occupied country and the Lebanese people are oppressed and not able or even allowed to elect freely.
Interior Minister Announces Incomplete Election Results 07th May 2018
Interior Minister Nouhad Machnouk on Monday announced the election results in most of the electoral districts, saying that they are still incomplete as the vote count is still ongoing for the Akkar district.
The Lebanese on Sunday cast their ballots in the first general elections held in nine years, as they chose between 583 candidates who were running on 77 lists in 15 electoral districts to win a seat in the country’s 128-member Parliament.
The overall voter turnout reached 49.2%, compared to 54% in 2009.
Below are the lawmakers who won the electoral race:
- Beirut I
Nadim Gemayel
Imad Wakim
Nicolas Sehanoui
Paula Yaacoubian
Hagop Terzian
Alexander Matosian
Jean Talouzian
Tony Banu
- Beirut II
Saad Hariri
Nouhad Machnouk
Tammam Salam
Roula Tabash Jaroudi
Adnan Traboulsi
Fouad Makhzoumi
Amine Cherri
Mohammad Khawaja
Faysal Sayegh
Nazih Najem
Edgar Traboulsi
- Jbeil and Keserwan
Chamel Roukoz
Naamat Frem
Farid Al-Khazen
Roger Azar
Chawki Daccache
Simon Abi Ramia
Ziad Hawwat
Mustapha Al-Husseini
- Metn
Samy Gemayel
Elias Hankache
Eddy Abi Lamaa
Ibrahim Kanaan
Elias Bou Saab
Hagop Pakradounian
Michel Murr
Edgar Maalouf
- Baabda
Ali Ammar
Pierre Abu Assi
Alain Aoun
Hekmat Dib
Fadi Alameh
Hady Abu Al-Hassan
- Chouf and Aley
Taymour Jumblat
Mohammad Hajjar
Bilal Abdallah
Marwan Hamadeh
George Edwan
Farid Boustani
Mario Aoun
Nehme Tohme
Akram Shuhayyeb
Talal Erslan
Henry Helou
Cesar Abi Khalil
Aniss Nassar
- Sidon and Jezzine
Bahiyya Hariri
Oussama Saad
Ziad Aswad
Ibrahim Azar
Salim Khoury
- Tyre and Zahrani
Nawwaf Mousawi
Inaya Ezzeddine
Hussein Jishy
Ali Khreiss
Nabih Berri
Ali Osseiran
Michel Moussa
- Nabatiyeh, Marjayoun, Hasbaya and Bint Jbeil
Hussein Fadlallah
Ali Bazzi
Ayyoub Hmayyed
Mohammad Raad
Yassine Jaber
Hany Kobeissy
Kassem Hachem
Ali Hassan Khalil
Ali Fayyad
Anwar Al-Khalil
Assaad Hardan
- Baalbek and Hermel
Walid Sukariyyeh
Jamil Al-Sayyed
Ibrahim Mousawi
Hussein Hajj Hassan
Ghazi Zeaiter
Ihab Hamadeh
Albert Mansour
Antoine Habchy
Baker Al-Hujeiri
Ali Mokdad
- Zahle
Assem Araji
Salim Aoun
Michel Daher
Anwar Jomaa
George Okeis
Qaysar Al-Maalouf
Eddy Demerjian
- West Bekaa and Rashaya
Abdul-Rahim Mrad
Mohammad Nasrallah
Henry Chedid
Eli Ferzli
Mohammad Al-Karaawi
Wael Abu Faour
- Tripoli, Miniyeh and Doniyyeh
Mohammad Kabbara
Samir Al-Jeser
Dima Jamali
Najib Mikati
Ali Darwish
Samy Fatfat
Jihad Al-Samad
Jean Obeid
Nicolas Nahhas
Faysal Karami
Otham Alamuddine
- Batroun, Koura, Becharri and Zgharta
Gebran Bassil
Fayez Ghosn
Salim Saade
Fadi Saad
Tony Frangieh
Sethrida Geagea
Joseph Ishak
George Atallah
Estephan Doueihy
Michel Mouawad

Nadim Gemayel: All Attempts to Bring Us Down Have Failed
Kataeb.orgMonday 07th May 2018/Kataeb MP Nadim Gemayel, who was re-elected on Sunday for another parliamentary term in Beirut's first electoral district, said that the results indicate the relentless efforts that were exerted by his rivals to bring him down in Ashrafieh, adding that it was the voters who have foiled these schemes. “The victory that we achieved against all the megabucks and political forces, notably Hezbollah, which joined efforts to defeat us and tried to lay their grip on Ashrafieh, proves that their attempts have come unstuck," Gemayel told the Kataeb website. “A big stream was facing, but we have proved our strength,” Gemayel added.

Hezbollah = Lebanon,' Israeli Minister Blasts on Twitter After Lebanese Elections
Haaretz and Reuters/May 07/18/Photos also emerged on Twitter of a Hezbollah flag planted on the statue of Rafic Hariri, the father of the current Lebanese prime minister and a former prime minister who was assassinated in 2005
Iran said on Monday it respected the votes cast by people in Lebanon's parliamentary election, where unofficial results showed Iran-backed Hezbollah and its political allies won just over half the seats, state TV reported.
"Lebanon is an independent country ... Iran respects (the) vote of Lebanese people ... We are ready to work with ... the government elected by the majority," Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Bahram Qasemi was quoted as saying by state TV. Hezbollah supporters were were seen celebrating in the street of Beirut Sunday night and were reportedly chanting ‘Beirut has become Shia.’ Photos also emerged on Twitter of a Hezbollah flag planted on the statue of Rafic Hariri, the father of the current Lebanese prime minister and a former prime minister who was assassinated in 2005 allegedly by Hezbollah operatives. Israeli minister repsonds. Hezbollah's gains in the Lebanese election on Sunday show that the state is indistinguishable from the Iranian-backed Shi'ite group and that Israel should not distinguish between them in any future war, an Israeli security cabinet minister said. "Hezbollah = Lebanon," Education Minister Naftali Bennett, a rightist in the Israel's conservative coalition government, said on Twitter on Monday. "The State of Israel will not differentiate between the sovereign State of Lebanon and Hezbollah, and will view Lebanon as responsible for any action from within its territory."
Nasrallah: New Parliament Guarantee for 'Golden Equation'
Naharnet/07 May/18/Hizbullah Secretary-General Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah on Monday praised provisional parliamentary election results as a “guarantee” for the so-called “army-people-resistance equation.”"This is a great political and moral victory for the resistance option that protects the sovereignty of the country," Nasrallah said in a televised address. A day after Lebanon's first general election in nine years, Hizbullah and its allies look set to secure a significant bloc. “The elections are a major national achievement for the country and for the new presidential tenure, President (Michel) Aoun, the government, the political forces and the Lebanese people,” Nasrallah added. He noted that the new electoral law, which is based on proportional representation for the first time in Lebanon's history, created “a big chance for a lot of political forces, figures and groups to take part in the elections and be represented.”
Apparently responding to Prime Minister Saad Hariri's announcement that his al-Mustaqbal Movement faced an “elimination” attempt in the elections, Nasrallah stressed that “the proportional representation law does not lead to the elimination of any party.”“We should not return to any form of majoritarian electoral laws,” he underlined. “Based on the results announced by the electoral campaigns, we can say that what we were aspiring for has been achieved. The new parliament represents a guarantee for protecting the 'golden equation' and the country's stability. The resistance forces now have significant parliamentary presence,” Nasrallah boasted. Turning to the domestic situation, Hizbullah's leader added: “If we want a state in the country and if we want security and stability, the parties must cooperate with each other and must pacify their conflicts over the domestic and foreign policy files.”He warned that those who continue the “sectarian rhetoric” after the elections would be “seeking strife” and “blocking any improvement in the country.” “We should not waste time in Lebanon after the elections and the formation of the new government should not take seven or eight months,” Nasrallah urged, citing the volatile regional situation.

Lebanese Speaker Berri Says Big Winners Must Learn 'Hegemony is Useless'
Albawaba/May 07th, 2018/Speaker Nabih Berri made a televised interview on Monday after Sunday’s parliamentary elections, where he advised “big winners” in the polls to derive lessons that “hegemony is useless,” stressing that the “finance ministry will always have a Shiite minister.”Berri, who seldom speaks to reporters, told LBCI: “The biggest winner must learn from the lessons given by these elections that attempts of hegemony and sectarianism do no benefit.”“Exploiting money for electoral purposes have proven futile. The elections gave a lesson about corruption. People want real reform,” added Berri. The Speaker stressed the need to quickly form a new government after the elections, assuring that he has always “supported the term of President Michel Aoun.”On the figure he would name as Premier for the new government, he said: “Everyone knows who my candidate is, but i will not name him today.”To a question on whether the Speaker insists on having a Shiite minister for the finance Ministry, Berri said: “Yes, the Finance Ministry according to the Taef accord is strictly for the Shiite community.”

Lebanon's Future Movement wins 21 parliament seats: PM
Hezbollah-Amal alliance comes in first with 34 out of 128 seats, according to preliminary results
By Ali Abo Rezeg/A/A/07 May/18/Lebanon’s Future Movement, a Sunni coalition, won 21 out of 128 parliamentary seats in Sunday’s elections, Prime Minister and Future Movement leader Saad Hariri said Monday. Speaking at a press conference in Beirut, Hariri voiced his “’satisfaction” with the poll results, going on to describe Lebanon’s new election law -- adopted last year -- as his government’s “most important achievement”. “I will remain an ally of [Hezbollah-allied] President Michel Aoun because this partnership will contribute to [Lebanon's] stability,” he said. Hariri went on to assert that Lebanon “can only be governed by all its political components... we must work together to build our country”. According to preliminary results of Sunday’s poll, a coalition between Hezbollah and the Amal Movement secured the highest number of seats -- 34 -- in the 128-seat assembly. Aoun's Free Patriotic Movement, meanwhile, is expected to come in second with at least 26 seats. Preliminary results also indicated gains by Samir Geagea’s Lebanese Forces (Phalange), which appears to have secured at least 15 seats. In an unprecedented development, many voters broke with the political mainstream, with seven independent candidates -- including five women -- picking up seats. Nevertheless, Sunday’s parliamentary poll -- Lebanon's first in nine years -- saw unusually low turnout of only 49.2 percent. The polls saw 917 candidates from a multiplicity of parties vie for parliamentary seats, half of which (64) are reserved for Muslims while the other half are reserved for Christians. The vote was held under a new proportional system, which divides the country into 15 separate electoral constituencies. Final results are expected to be announced on Monday evening, according to local media.

Hezbollah eyes gains after Lebanon vote
AFP News AFP News/06 May 2018
نصرالله اعلن انتصار محور إيران الأسد في لبنان
Hezbollah was poised to seal its dominance of Lebanon Monday with results for the decade's first general election expected to confirm the Iran-backed party as the main winner. The polls were also marked by a low turnout of 49.2 percent and the emergence of a civil society movement challenging Lebanon's oligarchs that could clinch a pair of seats in parliament. Lebanon's sectarian-based power-sharing politics mean no single alliance in the 128-seat parliament will enjoy a stable majority and analysts expect a fragile status quo to be preserved.
Interior Minister Nohad Machnouk announced the turnout figure at a news conference shortly after midnight and appeared to blame it on the new electoral law agreed last year. "This is a new law and voters were not familiar with it, nor were the heads of polling stations," he said. "Voting operations were very slow."
As provisional estimates trickled in, some candidates' supporters started celebrating in the streets after a polling operation marred only by a few violations but no major incident. Lawmakers had extended their own mandate three times since 2009, ostensibly over security concerns linked to neighbouring Syria's war and political divisions that led to long and crippling institutional crises. A higher turnout had been expected after the long electoral hiatus but the vote was the first to follow a law passed in 2017 and the pre-printed ballots used Sunday appeared to confuse some voters.
Possible kingmaker
Some voters also said that the sometimes absurd web of local electioneering alliances that saw some parties work together in one district and compete in others had put them off. With an hour to go before polling stations closed, several senior political leaders appealed for an eleventh-hour rush to the ballot boxes but stopped short of extending polling hours. Experts differ on who would benefit the most from a low turnout as alliance scenarios varied across the country's 15 districts, whose size and sectarian fabric are all different.
Hezbollah's own estimates a few hours after counting started sees the Shiite movement coming out on top everywhere it fielded candidates, although only official results expected early Monday will confirm the vote's outcome. With an increased number of seats in parliament, Hezbollah is expected with its allies to build a majority in its favour more easily on key issues such as the sensitive matter of the weapons it never laid down after the 1975-1990 civil war.
The leading voice calling for the Tehran-funded movement to give up an arsenal that has now grown to outgun the national army has been Prime Minister Saad Hariri.
Pollsters expect Hariri's Sunni-dominated Future Movement to be among the biggest losers of the election but say he could keep his job.
The new contours of parliament could leave the Christian party of President Michel Aoun, who has allied with Hezbollah and Future, in the position of kingmaker.
"The biggest swing vote will be President Aoun's group, which will move among the other blocs. Hezbollah will benefit from the lack of a broad coalition against it," political analyst Imad Salamey said.
'Made hope possible
Hezbollah, which was created in the 1980s to fight against Israel and currently battles in Syria alongside regime forces, is listed as a terror organisation by the United States. Members of the powerful Shiite group were suspected in the 2005 assassination of Hariri's father Rafiq, himself a former and charismatic prime minister. Lebanon has often been a scene where the rivalry between the region's two heavyweights has played out, but their political clients in this election seemed content to maintain the status quo. Despite the disappointing turnout among an electorate that included around 800,000 people who were too young to vote in the previous general polls, the new electoral law that allows smaller parties to run helped a civil society list break into parliament. Two women, television journalist Paula Yacoubian and author Joumana Haddad, looked poised to secure a seat from which they have pledged to challenge political dynasties they condemn as corrupt. Alexandre Salha, a 30-year volunteer with the "Kulluna Watani" civil society list, gathered with other supporters in a Beirut cafe after the vote and said the most important thing was to get a foot in the door. "We look forward to 2022 and we really believe that change has started. If we get one or two today, hopefully we'll have 10 in four years. We made hope possible," he said
Hezbollah's Nasrallah Declares Victory in Lebanese Election: 'Mission Accomplished'
A/P/May 07/18
نصرالله اعلن انتصار محور إيران الأسد في لبنان
Lebanon held its first parliamentary election in nearly a decade this week with 583 candidates competing for a place in the 128-seat parliament, which is equally divided between Muslims and Christians.
The Iran-backed Hezbollah group and its political allies made significant gains in Sunday's parliamentary elections in Lebanon while the main Western-backed faction lost a third of its seats, according to preliminary results released Monday.
Meanwhile, Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri has said that his Future Movement bloc lost a third of its seats in parliament in Sunday's elections.
The initial results, which were carried by Lebanese media and are more or less expected to match the official count, show that Hariri, a Sunni politician with close ties to Saudi Arabia, has lost at least five seats in Beirut, once considered his party's stronghold. The Iran-backed Shi’ite group and its political allies won more than half the seats in Lebanon’s first parliamentary election in nine years. Hezbollah’s powerful position in Lebanon reflects Iran’s regional ascendancy in territory stretching through Iraq and Syria to Beirut. It is an enemy of neighboring Israel and classified as a terrorist group by the United States.
Hariri told reporters that his Future Movement won 21 seats in Sunday's vote, a drop of 11 from what they got in the 2009 elections. He blamed a new electoral law and a performance "that wasn't up to the standard."Hariri would still have the largest Sunni bloc in parliament, facilitating his return as prime minister to form the next government.
"My hand is extended to every Lebanese who participated in the elections to preserve stability and create jobs," Hariri said in a televised statement Monday. He said he would continue to work closely with President Michel Aoun, who is allied with the rival, Hezbollah-led bloc. Hezbollah and its allies appear to have gained seats, giving another boost to Iran's allies in Lebanon and neighboring Syria, where Tehran's influence has grown in recent years as it has provided crucial support to President Bashar Assad.
Mission accomplished'
Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah said it was a "political and moral victory" for the resistance, as it refers to itself and its regional allies. In a televised address, Nasrallah said "the parliamentary presence" created by Hezbollah and its allies would guarantee the protection of the "resistance". Nasrallah said that the "mission is accomplished" after weeks of campaigning. Nasrallah did not say how many seats his group and its allies won, but early results show that they have won at least 43 of the legislature's 128 seats, giving them the power to veto laws. Early results show that Hezbollah's bloc now has 13 members, one more than previously. The elections were the first since war broke out in Syria in 2011, sending over 1 million refugees to Lebanon, a small country with a population estimated at around 4.5 million. The war has divided Lebanon, pitting parties supporting Hezbollah's intervention in Syria against Saudi-aligned parties opposed to it. The divide reflects the region-wide rivalry between Saudi Arabia and Iran.
Iran welcomed the initial election results, with Foreign Ministry spokesman Bahram Ghasemi saying that his country will "support and cooperate" with any government that is elected by a majority. The unofficial results indicate Sunni voters are losing faith in Hariri's party amid a declining Saudi role in Lebanon, a deteriorating economy and general exasperation over the civil war in neighboring Syria, which has brought more than a million refugees to Lebanon. Official results are expected to be announced by Interior Minister Nouhad Machnouk later on Monday, although no time has been set. Hassan Nasrallah, the leader of Hezbollah, is scheduled to speak later in the day. The next Cabinet, like the outgoing one, will likely be a unity government that includes Hezbollah. Hezbollah and its allies appear set to easily take more than 43 seats in the 128-seat parliament, which would enable them to veto any laws the Shiite militant group opposes. Hezbollah itself appears to have added one seat, giving it a total of 13. Other pro-Syrian factions made their strongest showing since Damascus ended a nearly three-decade military presence in Lebanon in 2005.
Hezbollah is considered a terrorist organization by the United States, while the European Union differentiates between its political and armed wings. Hezbollah has sent thousands of fighters to Syria to shore up Assad's forces, and its alleged military involvement in Iraq and Yemen has led many Sunni Gulf countries to brand it a terrorist group.
The election was marked by a lower turnout than before, reflecting voter frustration over endemic corruption. Machnouk put national turnout at 49 percent, compared to 54 percent in 2009. In Beirut precincts, the turnout was between 32 percent and 42 percent . The drop came despite a reformulated electoral law designed to encourage voting through proportional representation. But many, including Machnouk, blamed the new, complex law for the tepid turnout, particularly in Beirut. The preliminary results show at least one candidate from a civil society list — journalist Paula Yaacoubian — won a seat in the capital, an area traditionally monopolized by established political parties. Some of Hariri's Sunni supporters saw him as being too soft on Hezbollah, and the billionaire businessman also faced criticism after sacking dozens of employees from his companies in Lebanon and Saudi Arabia, largely due to Saudi spending cuts.
The new election law also allowed Sunni rivals to contest the elections. "Clearly, the Future Movement no longer monopolizes the Sunni votes," said political analyst Ibrahim Bayram. He said that while Hariri is still likely to form the next government, he is now weaker and new conditions are likely to be imposed on him. The biggest winner so far is the right-wing Christian Lebanese Forces, which almost doubled its number of seats to 15. The group has vowed to combat the country's rampant corruption.
Iran and Assad's Man in Lebanon's Elections Makes Major Comeback
كثر من التابعين للأسد وإيران عادوا إلى مجلس النواب اللبناني
Reuters/May 07/18
Prime Minister Saad Hariri, a Sunni Muslim, is expected to remain in power though he lost some seats to rivals including candidates allied to Hezbollah
A friend of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad who was once one of Lebanon's most powerful men made a comeback in Sunday's national elections, with the backing of the Iran-backed Hezbollah movement.
Jamil al-Sayyed rose to become Lebanon's feared intelligence chief during Syria's 15-year domination of the country after its 1975-90 civil war. He quit in 2005, weeks after former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri was assassinated, and spent four years in jail until he was released without charge over his killing.
Now 68, the retired general and former spymaster is one of other figures who held office during the Syria-dominated era returned to parliament for the first time since Syrian forces withdrew from Lebanon after the assassination of Rafik al-Hariri, Saad’s father, in 2005..
Prime Minister Saad Hariri, a Sunni Muslim, is expected to remain in power though he lost some seats to rivals including candidates allied to Hezbollah.
But Hariri, who is backed by the West and leads a government that includes Hezbollah and nearly all Lebanon's other main parties, has signalled his concern by indirectly identifying Sayyed as "Bashar al-Assad's candidate".
The Baalbek-Hermel constituency in eastern Lebanon, where Sayyed is running as an independent candidate, was one of the most important battlegrounds in the election. Sayyed says during the campaign Hezbollah's opponents chose it "as a point of confrontation""I am an independent but not neutral," Sayyed told Reuters in an interview in his home village of Nabi Ayla in the fertile Bekaa Valley.
Making clear his allegiance is with Hezbollah, he said: "I have firm political convictions in support of the resistance." Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah has said he will go to the district if necessary to support Hezbollah and its allies against Hariri's Future Movement and the Lebanese Forces party led by Samir Geagea, a former Christian militia leader.
Sayyed's critics say his potential comeback and that of his wartime opponents from the anti-Syria camp, such as Geagea, could entrench old divisions. One of the biggest anti-Syria dissidents of that time, Christian politician Michel Aoun, is now president of the country of 4 million. But Sayyed said he was unfazed that Lebanon is mostly run by leaders from the civil war era. "I know their secrets and what they hide - their history - because I worked as required in the state in security, in politics," he said.
Criticism of Washington
Sayyed criticised U.S. financial support for the Lebanese army, saying it was intended to provoke a confrontation with Hezbollah, which Washington considers a terrorist organisation.But he said the Lebanese army and Hezbollah continue to operate in such a way as to complement each other. Hezbollah remained "a necessity (for the army) all the while the West and America do not supply the army with necessary deterrent capabilities", he said.
Sayyed's candidacy in the election has revived memories of a turbulent period which ushered in a sometimes violent power struggle between allies and opponents of Damascus. If he makes it into parliament, he could become a candidate to one day succeed Nabih Berri as the assembly's speaker -- a post reserved for a Shi'ite in Lebanon's sectarian power-sharing system.
At the peak of his influence, Sayyed inspired fear among opponents of Syrian influence in Lebanon. A career soldier, he was central to what critics saw as a Syria-controlled security order that suppressed voices opposed to Syrian dominance. Sayyed shaped the politics of that era alongside top Syrian officials and Lebanese leaders, many of them militia leaders from the 1975-90 conflict.
At the time of Rafik Hariri's killing, Sayyed was head of the General Security Directorate intelligence agency. He was the most powerful of four Lebanese generals detained in 2005 at the request of Detlev Mehlis, the German prosecutor who headed the early stages of the UN investigation into the assassination and implicated Syrian and Lebanese figures.
A UN-backed tribunal ordered their release in 2009 for lack of evidence and has charged five members of Hezbollah over the assassination. Hezbollah denies any role in the killing.

Lebanese election turnout was 49.2 percent: minister
BEIRUT (Reuters) - The turnout in Lebanon’s parliamentary election on Sunday was 49.2 percent, down from 54 percent the last time legislative elections were held nine years ago, Interior Minister Nohad Machnouk said.

Lebanon: An overwhelming victory for Hezbollah, Assad and Iran
ديانا مقلد/فوز كاسح في الانتخابات اللبنانية لحزب الله والأسد وإيران

Diana Moukalled/Arab News/May 07/2018
Lebanon experienced heavy spring rain on Sunday night. The people needed this cold shower to clean the wounds of the election campaigns and, most importantly, to wake up, contemplate and perhaps understand what the results of the voting process mean and how the consequences will play out in the future.
Everyone has been waiting to see how the past nine years, and all the security and political developments in Lebanon and the region, have affected Lebanese parties — and what the elections would be like.
Processions flaunting Hezbollah flags have been roaming Beirut since the results were announced. They gathered in the city center, where Hezbollah supporters hung their flags on the statue of Lebanon’s late Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, conveying a thousand meanings and messages.
The first blatant truth produced by the elections is that Hezbollah has become more powerful and has won overwhelming legitimacy. The party has won all the Shiite seats in Lebanon, except for one in the city of Byblos.
This mandate will enable Hezbollah to fight its regional wars and battles with strong parliamentary support, which is derived from its new-found powerful political representation, as well as its weapons.
Yes, Hezbollah fought wars in 2006 despite its rivals’ victory but, today, the party has more influence than ever on decision-making in Lebanon at local and parliamentary levels.
Prime Minister Saad Hariri was not defeated; he has won the largest Sunni parliamentary bloc. However, his Future Movement party lost more than a third of the 33 seats it won 2009. These seats are now mostly occupied by his Hezbollah opponents, and by figures closely associated with the Syrian regime — namely with Bashar Assad.
These figures had disappeared from the political scene following the withdrawal of Syrian troops from Lebanon in 2005 but, after Hezbollah and Iran advanced in Syria, they reappeared and now have seats in parliament.
It is now easy to speak of a virtual bloc of close associates and supporters of Assad, which is something we thought was long gone after 2005.
What happened in Lebanon’s elections is also an extension to what has been taking place in Syria, Iraq and Yemen: The advancement of Iran-backed groups.
As long as wars are the region’s only future, Hezbollah’s weapons, backed by Iran, will remain the most powerful force
There is a great deal of truth in the rumor that says Iran now controls its fourth Arab capital. These elections took place under a political settlement between the three major parties — Hariri’s Future Movement, Hezbollah, and the Free Patriotic Movement of the country’s most powerful Christian leader, Michel Aoun.
This settlement allowed the election of Aoun as president, the adoption of a distorted election law based on proportional representation, and the launch of several economic projects.
Most importantly, the settlement neutralized the issue of Hezbollah’s weapons and its fighting outside of Lebanon — especially in Syria — and ruled it out of public debate on the pretext that this consensus has protected Lebanon from the region’s conflicts.
Among the main results of the elections is the fixed position of the two Christian parties, the Aounist party and the Lebanese Forces, who have won good blocs, according to their representation.
As for the so-called candidates for civil society: They have only won a few seats that will allow them to improve women’s representation in the parliament, raising their number to seven. This is still a weak proportion but definitely an improvement.
After the election results were announced, there are those who believe the settlement is still in place and that the loud electoral debate will now be reduced in favor of having parties work on forming a new government.
But this argument is faced with an even stronger logic: There is no political stability or balance in Lebanon under the pressure of Hezbollah and its weapons, with the group seizing every opportunity to grow and become stronger.
The problem lies in the fact that, as long as wars are the region’s only future, Hezbollah’s weapons, backed by Iran, will remain the most powerful force.
Ending wars and finding a comprehensive regional solution would put an end to Iran’s expanding influence and inevitably result in the political and military undermining of Hezbollah in Lebanon.
Without this, Lebanon will remain controlled by the current political equation.
• Diana Moukalled is a veteran journalist with extensive experience in both traditional and new media. She is also a columnist and freelance documentary producer. Twitter: @dianamoukalled
Latest LCCC Bulletin For Miscellaneous Reports And News published on May 07-08/18
WATCH 'It Was Never Obama's Iran Nuclear Deal or War. That's Not Trump's Choice Either'
Emily B. Landau and Esther Solomon/Haaretz/May 07/18
/Dr. Emily Landau, one of the foremost experts on nuclear proliferation in the Middle East, claims that Iran's threats to pull out of the deal if Trump tries to renegotiate it are exaggerated - the deal has been great for Iran - interview. Dr. Emily Landau was a vocal opponent of the way the 2015 Iran nuclear deal negotiations were managed right from the start. She's written that, "In order to sell the deal, the Obama administration misled the American public by presenting the choice as between this deal or war."That "political false dichotomy" was, she believes, the Obama administration's key mistake: Not to push Iran to greater concessions and greater oversight over its military capabilities relevant to its nuclear program. Dr. Landau is seriously concerned by the mixed messages that European allies are transmitting, how Iran might exploit the policy gap between the EU and the U.S., and by the need – which has not yet been properly addressed – to challenge other aspects of Iran's regional aggression, not least from Syria, where it's entrenching itself, and directly threatening Israel. She rejects the notion that there are any grounds for comparison between Israel, an "assumed nuclear state" and Iran on nuclear issues. They are "worlds apart", she states: Israel's "unique model of nuclear ambiguity" has actually "enhanced Mideast stability, not undermined it." Landau considers Iran's "cold rationality" as a key reason it's so dangerous. For those worrying that the current U.S. administration is not being run with the same expert, objective focus, Landau offers a partial corrective: Despite the White House's ongoing controversies, "on this topic specifically" – Iran and nuclear non-proliferation – "we see consistency, we see logic." And here's a second source of partial comfort: Landau doesn't buy the doomsday scenarios for the day after Trump's likely exit from the Iran deal. "We’ll be in a new chapter of this ongoing nuclear crisis," she says. But she warns that time-wasting benefits only Tehran: "The situation regarding Iran needs to be turned around. Now."

Israel Braces for Iran Missile Attack From Syria Over Last Month's Deadly Strike
Amos Harel/Haaretz/May 07/18
Officials believe Iran is determined to retaliate for the April 9 strike on Syria’s T4 base, which killed 7 Iranian military advisers and members of the Revolutionary Guards ■ Israel's anti-missile defense systems 'prepared' to handle strike from Syria, sources say. Israeli defense officials are bracing for the possibility of an Iranian revenge attack from Syria in the near future, in the form of rocket and missile launches at northern Israel. Officials believe Iran is determined to retaliate for the April 9 airstrike on Syria’s T4 airbase, which killed seven Iranian military advisers and members of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards. Iran blames Israel for this attack. Israel has detected unusual involvement by Hezbollah in Iran’s preparations for retaliation, even though the organization has been trying to keep its activity low-profile so as not to affect its position within Lebanon. Aside from Hezbollah commanders, operatives from the Shi’ite militias that Iran funds in Syria have also been active in the preparations. The operational planning, however, is being done by members of the Revolutionary Guards’ Quds force. Israel’s assessment is that Iran seeks to settle its open account with Israel, but wants to do so without sparking a war. One possible solution to this dilemma is trying to fire a limited barrage at military targets in northern Israel. Israel is taking various protective measures against any possible missile fire. Defense sources said Israel’s anti-missile systems are prepared to deal with rocket fire. Over the past few days, military officials have briefed mayors nationwide about the latest developments. The decision to publish this information in the media is presumably meant to deter Iran and Hezbollah from carrying out their plans. On Wednesday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will fly to Russia to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin. At this meeting, Netanyahu will reiterate Israel’s opposition to Iran’s continued military consolidation in Syria and ask Putin to work to prevent it.

Putin Sworn in for Fourth Term as Russian President
Asharq Al-Awsat/Monday,0 7 May, 2018/Vladimir Putin was sworn in on Monday for a fourth term as Russian president. Standing in the ornately-decorated Andreyevsky Hall of the Grand Kremlin Palace, with his hand on a gold-embossed copy of the constitution, Putin swore to serve the Russian people, to safeguard rights and freedoms, and protect Russian sovereignty. "I consider it my duty and my life's aim to do everything possible for Russia, for its present and for its future," Putin said. "I strongly feel conscious of my colossal responsibility," Putin said at the ceremony before thanking Russians for their "sincere support" and "cohesiveness". "We have revived pride in our fatherland," Putin said. "As head of state I will do all I can to multiply the strength and prosperity of Russia." Putin, in power since 1999, was predictably re-elected in Russia's March presidential election with 76.7 percent of the vote – a race he competed in with no serious challengers. His most dangerous opponent, Alexei Navalny, was barred from running and on Saturday Navalny and hundreds of his supporters were detained by police while protesting over Putin’s new term under the slogan: “Putin is not our tsar.” In a speech after the swearing-in ceremony, Putin said that in the next six years Russia would prove a strong, muscular player on the world stage, backed by a powerful military, while pushing hard to improve life for its citizens at home. "Now, we must use all existing possibilities, first of all for resolving internal urgent tasks of development, for economic and technological breakthroughs, for raising competitiveness in those spheres that determine the future," he said. "A new quality of life, well-being, security and people's health — that's what's primary today," he added. For the short journey from his office to the inauguration ceremony, Putin traveled in a new Russian-made limousine. From now on, the limousine will replace the fleet of imported vehicles Putin uses, state television reported. Soon after, Putin put forward Dmitry Medvedev for the post of prime minister, the Kremlin said in a statement on its website.
Medvedev, who had been prime minister since 2012, resigned earlier on Monday along with the rest of the government in line with procedure. Putin was on Monday sworn in for a fourth term. His candidacy still has to be approved by the State Duma, or the lower house of parliament. Foreign diplomats see little prospect that Russia’s standoffs with the West that have dominated the past four years will ease during Putin’s new term. Clashes in the past few weeks over US sanctions on Russia, the conflict in Syria, and the poisoning in England of former Russian spy Sergei Skripal have left some diplomats worried that the confrontation could spiral out of control. Opinion polls show Putin has high levels of support among Russian citizens, and Navalny has not been able to inspire a nationwide upsurge of protests. But the Russian economy is a potential weakness for Putin.
Buffeted by lower oil prices, falls in the rouble, inflation and the impact of sanctions, average monthly wages have fallen from the equivalent of $867 in 2013 to $553 last year. Russia’s economy, the world’s eleventh largest, returned to growth of 1.5 percent last year, helped by a recovery in oil prices. But that fell short of the government’s 2 percent target and was far from the 8.5 percent growth achieved in 2007, the highest level achieved during Putin’s rule. Officials and analysts say bold policies with the best chance of reviving growth have been mired in disagreements among Putin’s policy-makers.

Egypt’s Minister of Finance: Delaying Economic Reform Increased Public Debt Fivefold
Cairo- Asharq Al Awsat/Monday, 7 May, 2018/Egypt's Minister of Finance Dr. Omar Al-Jarhi said that "the layover of the (economic) reform program is the biggest problem that has faced Egypt in previous periods," pointing to the keenness of the political leadership to support the program currently implemented by the government. In his speech at the Inclusive Growth and Job Creation in Egypt Conference, organized by the IMF in cooperation with the Egyptian cabinet on Sunday, Jarhi said that the current reforms target pushing growth to 5% or 6%, noting that the public debt increased fivefold in the past five years. Jarhi added that the ministry of finance is working on a mid-term plan to reduce the level of public debt from 108% of the GDP in the past fiscal year to 80% by 2020. He continued that the government seeks to increase Egypt’s share of the world trade through expanding exports of non-oil products.
Egypt needs to embrace policies that strengthen the private sector and promote job growth in order to cement the gains realized from sweeping economic revival efforts, the International Monetary Fund said. The comments, to an audience that included Jarhi, came as an IMF mission is conducting the third review for the $12 billion loan program it granted Egypt in 2016. David Lipton, the IMF’s first deputy managing director, described strong global growth, projected at 3.9 percent for 2018 and 2019, and low-interest rates likely to rise as “a good window of opportunity for Egypt to undertake reforms...that may not be open for too long.”Cairo's tough reforms have included a currency float that halved the value of its pound, deep cuts to fuel and electricity subsidies and a new value-added tax. Those measures helped push inflation in the import-dependent country to as high as 33 percent last year, but price rises have since cooled, with headline inflation easing to 13.3 percent in March, its lowest rate since May 2016, clearing the way for further subsidy cuts and lower interest rates. But Lipton said the reforms need to move further, particularly with measures aimed at scaling back the country's sprawling public sector in order to allow for dynamic private sector growth. “Egypt needs a less heavy footprint of the public sector in the economy, especially in business and commerce, to clear away room for the growth of the private sector and to relieve entrepreneurs from the un-winnable matchup of competing with the public sector.” The IMF has forecast that Egypt will grow by 5.2 percent this fiscal year, up from about 4.1 percent a year earlier.

ISIS Claims Murder of Election Candidate South of Mosul
Asharq Al-Awsat/Monday, 7 May, 2018/ISIS claimed responsibility for the assassination on Monday of a candidate in Iraq's parliamentary election on the eve of the May 12 polls. Faruq Zarzur al-Juburi, a candidate loyal to Vice President Ayad Allawi, was shot dead by gunmen at his home near Mosul, a local official said. Local official Salah al-Juburi said the gunmen killed the candidate at his home in the town of Qayyarah, 70 kilometers south of Mosul, after storming his house. ISIS had threatened to attack Iraqi polling stations and voters during the parliamentary election that will be held on Saturday. The May 12 polls are the first to be held since Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi declared victory over the militants in December.
Iran says it will fiercely resist US pressure to limit its influence
ReutersMonday, 7 May 2018/Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said on Monday the United States would regret a decision to leave Iran’s 2015 nuclear deal with world powers and Tehran would fiercely resist US pressure to limit its influence in the Middle East. “If they want to make sure that we are not after a nuclear bomb, we have said repeatedly that we are not and we will not be ... but if they want to weaken Iran and limit its influence whether in the region or globally, Iran will fiercely resist,” Rouhani said in a speech broadcast live on state television. Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif warned that Tehran’s “fierce reaction to a violation of the nuclear deal with major powers will not be pleasant for America”, state TV reported.

Israeli minister threatens Assad over any Iranian attacks from Syria

Reuters/Monday, 7 May 2018/An Israeli security cabinet minister said on Monday that Israel could kill Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and topple his government if Iran used Syrian territory to carry out attacks on Israel. “Israel has not gotten involved in the (Syrian) civil war so far,” Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz was quoted as telling the Israeli news site Ynet. “If Syrian President Bashar al-Assad continues allowing Iran to operate within Syrian territory, Israel will liquidate him and topple his regime,” he was quoted as saying. “If Assad lets Iran turn Syria into a military base against us, to attack us from Syrian territory, he should know that will be the end of him.”

30 regime forces killed fighting ISIS in Damascus
AFP/Monday, 7 May 2018/More than 30 Syrian government troops have been killed in a southern district of the capital in a fierce counter-offensive by Islamic State group fighters, a monitor said Monday. Regime forces are seeking to end ISIS's years-long foothold in the Palestinian camp of Yarmuk and neighbouring district of Hajar al-Aswad, both in southern Damascus. Last week, troops managed to sever a route linking the two areas, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitor said, but ISIS launched a fightback at the weekend and successfully reopened it. "Their hit-and-run operations have continued since then, killing a total of 31 regime forces, mostly in ambushes," said Rami Abdel Rahman, head of the Britain-based Observatory. "The regime has since been advancing slowly, taking some positions and buildings, but there hasn't been any strategic advance since Saturday," he told AFP. Regime troops control 60 percent of Hajar al-Aswad, while ISIS still holds more than 80 percent of Yarmuk. Forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad were pounding both districts with air strikes and shelling on Monday, Abdel Rahman said. Since the start of the offensive in mid-April, more than 150 regime forces have been killed, as well as 120 ISIS fighters, the Observatory said. Another 47 civilians also died in the fighting. Yarmuk was once a thriving Palestinian camp that was home to around 160,000 people but only a few hundred are expected to still remain. Syria's government besieged the camp in 2012, and ISIS overran large swathes of it three years later. Assad set his sights on the capital's south after reconquering a major rebel bastion east of Damascus earlier this month.

Egypt to share footage with Italy as part of probe of student’s death
ReutersMonday, 7 May 2018/Egypt’s state prosecutor said on Monday a team of Italian experts would go to Cairo next week to take part in the retrieval of CCTV recordings as part of the investigation into the 2016 killing of Italian student Giulio Regeni. Regeni had been doing postgraduate research into Egyptian trade unions before his death in 2016. His body, showing signs of torture, was found in a ditch on the outskirts of Cairo. The Egyptian public prosecutor Nabil Sadek said in a statement he had invited Rome’s chief prosecutor Giuseppe Pignatone in a telephone call on Sunday to send a delegation to attend the retrieval of the Cairo metro CCTV recordings on May 15. Sadek said Cairo had agreed to give the Italian delegation a copy of the recordings. “The Rome chief prosecutor has decided to send a delegation headed by his assistant, Sergio Colaiocco, and comprising Italian technical experts to attend the retrieval process, on which both sides pin high hopes to reach the truth about the incident and to uncover its perpetrators,” the statement said. “They agreed that the Rome prosecution will obtain a copy of what is retrieved at the end of the process.”Egypt agreed last year to allow experts from Italy and a German company that specializes in salvaging CCTV footage to examine cameras in Cairo, but the timing of the trip was not known. Egyptian officials have repeatedly denied any involvement in Regeni’s death. The case has strained ties between Egypt and Italy, which recalled its ambassador over the case. Relations were restored in August last year when Rome said it would return its envoy to Cairo and continue to search for Regeni’s killers.

ISIS claims assassination of Iraq election candidate
AFP/Monday, 7 May 2018/ISIS group claimed responsibility for the assassination on Monday of a candidate in Iraq's parliamentary election just days ahead of the polls. Faruq Zarzur al-Juburi, a candidate loyal to Vice President Ayad Allawi, was shot dead by gunmen at his home near Mosul, the former ISIS bastion in northern Iraq, a local official said. In a statement on the messaging app Telegram, the militant group said Juburi was killed because he was "an atheist".Local official Salah al-Juburi said the gunmen killed the candidate at his home in the town of Qayyarah, 70 kilometres (43 miles) south of Mosul, after storming his house. ISIS had threatened to attack Iraqi polling stations and voters during the parliamentary election that will be held on Saturday, in a statement last month by its spokesman Abu Hassan al-Muhajir. "Oh Sunnis... we know that the government of Rafida (a pejorative Arabic term for Shiites) is on the verge of what they call elections," he said. "Our judgement will apply to those who call for them and participate in them... The voting centres and those in them are targets for our swords, so stay away from them and do not walk nearby," he added. Juburi is a Sunni Muslim while Allawi is a member of Iraq's majority Shiite community. Sunni extremists like ISIS, and Al-Qaeda before it, have long targeted Shiites in Iraq. The May 12 polls are the first to be held since Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi declared victory over the militants in December. ISIS, which had launched a sweeping offensive in 2014 and at one point controlled one third of Iraq, still holds pockets of desert along the border with Syria.

US Embassy road signs go up in Jerusalem
Stephen Farrell, Reuters/Monday, 7 May 2018/At least three US Embassy road signs went up in Jerusalem on Monday ahead of next week’s opening of the mission in accordance with President Donald Trump’s recognition of the city as Israel’s capital. A Reuters witness saw workmen installing the signs, in English, Hebrew and Arabic, near the south Jerusalem location of a US consulate building that will be repurposed as the embassy when it is officially relocated from Tel Aviv on May 14. Trump announced the move in December, saying he was making good on US legislation and presidential pledges, dating back decades, to back Israel’s designation of Jerusalem as its capital. Other world powers have not done so, sidestepping one of the thorniest disputes between Israel and the Palestinians, and Trump’s policy shift drew consternation among some US allies. The Palestinians want their own state with a capital in East Jerusalem, which Israel captured from Jordanian control in the 1967 war and annexed in a move not recognized abroad. “This move is not only illegal but will also thwart the achievement of a just and lasting peace between two sovereign and democratic states on the 1967 borders, Israel and Palestine living side by side in peace and security,” Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat said in a statement. The Trump administration has left the diplomatic door open for a possible Palestinian presence in Jerusalem, however. “By recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and the seat of its government, we’re recognizing reality,” US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said during a visit to Israel last week. “I also stress, as President Trump has said in December, the boundaries of Israeli sovereignty in Jerusalem remain subject to negotiations between the parties, and we remain committed to achieving a lasting and comprehensive peace that offers a brighter future for both Israel and the Palestinians.”Street signs in Israel have sometimes fallen victim to political vandalism, with Jews erasing Arabic or Arabs the Hebrew. An Israeli police spokesman played down such prospects for the US embassy signs. “We’re not guarding the embassy signs but of course there is upgraded security around the embassy which is already being implemented,” he said. “There are also new CCTV cameras that have been set up in the area. The perimeter and all movement in the area are being closely watched.”

Egyptian businessman allegedly kills his family, then shoots himself

Ashraf Abd al-Hameed, Cairo – Al, 7 May 2018/A family of five was found killed at a villa in the Rehab district in Egypt on Sunday dawn. According to preliminary reports, the father shot his wife and three children and then committed suicide. In the details, residents of the neighborhood told Al that the crime was discovered after they contacted the police to report a foul smell from the house of businessman Imad Saad, 56 years old, who works in contracting. Imad as well as his wife Wafaa, 43, children, Mohammed, 22, Nourhan, 20, and Imad Jr., 18, were found dead by the police.
The gun used to commit the crime was found near the father, according to the police. Some neighbors recalled hearing gunshots a few days ago. Some of the father’s friends said he was going through a financial crisis, adding that imprisonment rulings have been issued against him. The police confirmed that the father killed his family and then killed himself and ruled out other theories, and noted that the bullets used to commit the crime were the same as those in the gun found near the father’s body. Amr I. and Rami M. who have known the family for years told Al that they visited the family six days ago and they were all doing well and in high spirit. Amr, however, said that it’s unlikely that Imad killed himself as he is a good man and a loving father, adding that Imad was in fact having financial problems but not to the extent that might push a man to murder his family. The owner of the villa where the family lived said Imad hasn’t paid rent in three months. According to the New Cairo Prosecution, Imad’s debt is around two million Egyptian pounds.

Latest LCCC Bulletin analysis & editorials from miscellaneous sources published on May 07-08/18
The West Betrays the Kurds
by Giulio Meotti/Gatestone Institute/May 07/18
The Western media have ignored the fate of the Kurds, the people who defeated ISIS for us.
UK Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson tweeted, "Turkey is right to want to keep its borders secure". The West gave the Turks a green light to massacre the Kurds.
The Kurds today, like the Czechs in 1938, were sacrificed in vain. The West has betrayed the Kurds three times in the last three years. They were our ideal allies. They opened their cities, such as Erbil, to tens of thousands of Iraqi Christians expelled by ISIS from Mosul. Iraqi Kurdistan is today the only place in the Middle East, along with the State of Israel, that harbors and protects all religions and minorities.
A new "Munich Syndrome" is now looming over the West. The Kurds, if they did not deserve a state, were at least worthy of our protection, especially after helping us to stop those who slit our throats on the boulevards of Paris.
The Kurds have a proverb: "We have no friends but the mountains". In Afrin, however, even the mountains could not protect them from the Turkish warplanes and the Islamist militias allied with Ankara. Although the videos of terrifying executions are certainly not new in the tragic war of Syria, in this instance the video was shot by a terror group operating under the command of a NATO country, Turkey.
The video shows members of Syrian militias abusing the corpse of Amina Omar, a female Kurdish fighter who was also known as "Barin Kobani". She was killed defending Afrin, a city-canton in Syria attacked by the Turkish army of Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
In the video, Omar, who belonged to the female unit of Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG), is called "female pig" and a soldier steps on her breast. The desecration of her corpse ended up symbolizing not only the ferocity of the Kurds' enemies, but also the sense of a huge, unbearable moral and political betrayal suffered by the Kurds at the hands of their Western allies.
"Shame: the West is turning a blind eye to the fate of the Kurds" wrote Ivan Rioufol in France's Le Figaro. "They fought alongside us in the war against ISIS. Erdogan labels as 'terrorist' this small people arming women, who have their hair in the wind and leave religion in the private sphere".
The Western media have ignored the fate of the Kurds, the people who defeated ISIS for us.
"My sister, Barin, had fought alongside the coalition in Raqqa against the Islamic State and in many other places too", Omar's brother told The Times from the city of Kobane. "How can there be justice or trust between allies when the coalition put their own benefit above morality and allowed Turkey to attack us, and with Nato weapons?"
There has been a "deafening silence" from most Western leaders about the Kurds suffering an illegal Turkish invasion, said Sandeep Gopalan, a law professor at Deakin University in Melbourne. The European chancelleries all abandoned the Kurds to their fate.
Just think, UK Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson tweeted, "Turkey is right to want to keep its borders secure". The West gave the Turks a green light to massacre the Kurds.
Worse, as an appeal published by the New York Review of Books reminds us:
"the Turkish attack on Afrin was entirely unprovoked. In fact, Afrin was so peaceful for most of the Syrian war that it became a safe haven for tens of thousands of refugees — some of whom are now refugees for a second time. In the cantons they controlled, the Kurdish-led forces had established an oasis, unique in Syria, of local self-government, women's rights, and secular rule".
The battle of Afrin was a horrendous defeat for the Kurds in Syria, one with appalling consequences. At least 820 Kurdish fighters were killed in action. Many other deaths have yet to be confirmed. By comparison, 660 Kurds were killed fighting under the insignia of Syrian democratic forces, supported by the United States, in the battle to free Raqqa, the de facto Syrian capital of the ISIS Caliphate.
Robert Ellis has compared Afrin to the Sudetenland in the 1930s:
"Two days before ceding the Sudetenland to Nazi Germany in Munich in September 1938, British prime minister Neville Chamberlain dismissed the issue as 'a quarrel in a faraway country between people of whom we know nothing'. Pretty much the same can be said of the attitude of the West towards Turkey's attack on the Kurdish enclave of Afrin in northwestern Syria".
In the early hours of Sept. 30, 1938, Great Britain, France and Italy allowed the Nazis to annex the Sudetenland, a region of Czechoslovakia. The Czechoslovakian government opposed and resisted, but its Western allies, determined to avoid war "at all costs", were willing to negotiate with Adolf Hitler. The Munich Agreement, however, did not bring peace to Europe; it brought war.
Just as the Czechs were sacrificed in vain, the West has betrayed the Kurds three times in the last three years. The first time in Kobane, the besieged Kurdish city at the border with Turkey, where, in a battle that only "revealed the West's helplessness in the face of radical jihad", the inhabitants fought to escape a certain death under ISIS. After Kobane, the Kurds were abandoned during their referendum for independence from Iraq last September. Now they have been betrayed in Afrin, the Syrian canton where many minorities of the Syrian war took refuge.
When, at the end of 2014, Westerners decided to intervene directly to get rid of the ISIS Caliphate, they encountered an obvious problem. How could the West defeat the Islamists as we are no longer willing to risk our troops and lives on the ground? Through the Kurds. It was the Kurdish forces who gave first aid to those Yazidis fleeing the genocide waged against them by ISIS. Thousands of Yazidis ended up in mass graves or captured and put into sexual slavery. That is when Germany started to send weapons to the Kurds. Now the Yazidis in Afrin are suffering yet a new wave of persecution by the Turkish allies.
Bernard-Henri Lévy, the French philosopher, recently told Le Figaro:
"The tragedy that the Kurds are experiencing is the sign of an unprecedented weakening of the West. Is it the equivalent of the battle of Adrianople, which precedes the fall of Rome? I hope not. But the resignation has been such a great disgrace... one of those seemingly aberrant micro-events that signal a change in the world. This is not the first time that the West has disappointed its allies or sister nations. It was the case during the rise of Nazism. Then, with the abandonment of half of Europe to communism".
The Kurds were our ideal allies. They opened their cities, such as Erbil, to tens of thousands of Iraqi Christians expelled by ISIS from Mosul. Iraqi Kurdistan is today the only place in the Middle East, along with the State of Israel, that harbors and protects all religions and minorities. According to the former European parliamentarian Paulo Casaca, the Kurdish regional government has shown the utmost respect for all minorities that have been widely persecuted in other areas of Iraq. An appeal signed by the French intellectuals Pascal Bruckner, Bernard Kouchner and Stephane Breton states:
"Abandoning them would be an unforgivable moral error. The Kurds of Syria defeated the Islamists who have caused the worst attacks in our history. The Turkish-Islamist atrocities in Afrin do not promise anything good. When young Kurdish fighters with admirable courage are captured by the jihadists, they are tortured, gutted and cut into pieces. This barbarism is unsustainable. The Kurds are also our only allies in the region and have demonstrated their effectiveness in the field. If we abandon them, there will be no one to help us contain new terrorist explosions against us. Finally, the Kurds of Syria are building a democratic society that respects ethnic and confessional pluralism and equality between men and women. This will have a profound influence in a region torn apart by tyranny".
A new "Munich Syndrome" is now looming over the West. The Kurds, if they did not deserve a state, were at least worthy of our protection, especially after helping us to stop those who slit our throats on the boulevards of Paris.
*Giulio Meotti, Cultural Editor for Il Foglio, is an Italian journalist and 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.

Hezbollah's Nasrallah Declares Victory in Lebanese Election: 'Mission Accomplished'
نصرالله اعلن انتصار محور إيران الأسد في لبنان

A/P/May 07/18
Hezbollah eyes gains after Lebanon vote
AFP News AFP News/06 May 2018

The worst is yet to come for Iran
Abdullah bin Bijad Al-Otaibi/Al Arabiya/May 07/18
Observers of the Iranian situation can clearly see that Iran is not living its best days during this historical phase in the region and the world.
Iranian decision makers have not yet understood or comprehended that what’s happening today on the domestic, regional and international levels against Iran is not a conspiracy but it’s simply a natural result of the regime’s policies and strategies over the past four decades.
On the domestic level, the Iranian people have been protesting on and off despite all the oppression and the expansion of dictatorial apparatuses following the Green Movement in 2009. There are still protests which have spread to different cities instead of decreasing.
The people have reached a point where they realize that there’s no hope from the regime of the guardian of the jurist which they know it will never be reformed or amended.
On the regional level – and with reservations over the clerics’ interferences in politics – we can notice three interesting cases in Arab countries which the Iranian regime has bragged that it controls their decision making process.
In Iraq, the highest Shiite marja (reference) in the country Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani issued a fatwa (religious edict) warning of corrupt people and of those who failed from among the political category that dragged the Iraqi state and the people to the abyss and allowed the spread of sectarianism and terrorism and looted all of Iraq’s fortunes.
Sistani also said that this category has direct contact with what he called foreign states, i.e. the Iranian regime that’s violating Iraq’s sovereignty and hijacking the political decision.
The size of the dispute between Sistani and the traditional reference he represents, and which maintains the spirit of the Shiite sect, with what the guardian of the jurist’s regime represents as a version of a political Islam version within the Shiite sect, and which does not have any real religious roots, is well-known.
Iranian regime will find itself alone before a world that’s uniting against it and against its policies and it will realize that the worst is yet to come
Uncalculated adventures
In Lebanon, many Lebanese citizens have complained about the political process in the country and voiced their rejection of Hezbollah’s hijacking of the Shiite sect and state and its monopoly of the Shiite representation by force, violence and threats.
Hezbollah has engaged Lebanon’s Shiites in uncalculated adventures and sent youths to be killed in battles which they have nothing to do with, such as in Syria and Yemen, and involved them in international crimes related to terrorism and drug trafficking. The attempt to end Hezbollah’s monopoly of the Shiite representation thus carries significant symbolism at this stage.
In Yemen, the Houthis’ fate has become semi-finalized on the short term. On the long term, it’s definitely finalized. The world is talking in details about the militias’ crimes, brutality, bloodiness and ideological stubbornness which have led to their political failure and incapability to engage in any political settlement. The fall of the Houthi model in Yemen is just around the corner and it’s only a matter of time.
Morocco has recently severed its ties with Iran – a move that was widely supported by Saudi Arabia and other Arab countries. Morocco’s decision is a natural result of the Iranian regime’s behavior and its military support of the separatist Polisario Front. Morocco has been well-aware of the non-sectarian political and cultural Shiism which Iran has been managing in the country.
However, the situation reached a decisive phase due to direct military support. Morocco’s rejection of the Iranian project in the region is a success to be added to many previous successes. Meanwhile, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Israel has documents which prove Iran has not stopped developing its nuclear program despite the deal it signed with the P5+1 group.
Threatening stability
If this is proven right, it will undermine this bad deal which the Obama administration reached with the Iranian regime and which allowed Tehran to expand, play with ballistic missiles and threaten the stability of Arab countries, primarily the Saudi kingdom. If these documents are true, they will support the vision of the Trump administration towards the Iranian regime’s evil role in the region and the world and its threats against the future of the world.
On the international level, the world is heading in the direction of condemning the Iranian regime and confronting it with all the required force over its flagrant violations of international laws and its policies which support chaos, extremism and terrorism.
In this significant historical phase on the level of international conflicts, North Korea is headed towards openness towards its southern neighbors and is attempting to communicate with the world and end a period of decades when it represented a factor for instability in East Asia and the world.
Following serious threats of military escalation between the US and North Korea, the latter seems to be in a phase in which it’s responding to pressure and opening a new page. A meeting between the American president and the North Korean president is being arranged in the next few weeks.
After mitigating North Korea’s crisis and international role, and after Trump unified his administration to make it more harmonious towards the Iranian regime – via the appointment of Mike Pompeo as Secretary of State and John Bolton as national security advisor – Iran seems to be living its worst days.
Meanwhile, Europe’s resistance in Britain, France and Germany has lessened as they begun to acknowledge the defects in the Iranian nuclear deal and to voice the importance of developing it upon pressures from the Trump administration, Saudi Arabia and Gulf countries. Iran’s days are thus headed towards what’s worse.
On May 12, Trump will announce his final position from the nuclear deal with Iran – a deal he described as the worst in history. The Iranian regime will find itself alone before a world that’s uniting against it and against its policies and it will realize that the worst is yet to come.
The new Saudi Arabia has worked hard to expose the threat of the Iranian regime and sought to besiege its destructive activities via political, diplomatic and military professional approaches which included both hard and soft power. The kingdom has also garnered major gains that are increasing with time, and it has associated these efforts and decisiveness with wisdom and patience.

Saudi Arabia’s quality of life program vs skeptics
Salman al-Dosary/Al Arabiya/May 07/18
Saudi Arabia’s Quality of Life program alongside its 234-page executive summary, announced by the Economic and Development Board last week, was a down-to-the-letter exceptionally gratifying read.
Why? ! In short, because the program goes beyond a vision and into noting down operational details with clear-cut numbers, specific timelines and initiatives set for fulfilling the ultimate goal of making Saudi Arabia the best place to live in for citizens and residents alike.
The program relies on two axes: the first being the development of the individual's lifestyle and the second being the enhancement of overall quality of life in the kingdom.
Upgrading the local environment so that it offers a new array of options that get citizens and residents involved in cultural, recreational and sporting activities is a part of the program’s plan for developing an individual’s lifestyle in the Kingdom.
On the second hand, widening the scope of activities inside the kingdom, diversifying the economy, and planning for at least three Saudi cities to rank top worldwide, will advance the Kingdom’s agenda on improving the overall quality of life in the kingdom.
Quality of Life 2020 aims to include at least three Saudi cities in the list of the top 100 cities in the world to live in by 2030. The program isn’t only focused on long-term goals but has set immediate goals to work.
Year 2022 is the deadline for promoting social sports activities, achieving excellence in several regional and global sports, and developing and diversifying recreational opportunities, meeting the needs of the population.
Upgrading the local environment so that it offers a new array of options that get citizens and residents involved in cultural, recreational and sporting activities is a part of the program’s plan
Rehabilitating economic zones
These goals are set to indirectly improve services provided in Saudi cities such as utilities, public transport, and urban landscape, as well as push the establishing of special areas and rehabilitating economic zones.
More so, the initiative is that it is only one of twelve other key programs identified by the Economic and Development Council as strategically vital for Saudi Arabia to achieve the goals of Kingdom Vision 2030.
Implementing programs in Saudi Arabia is being backed with effective cooperation between state ministries and institutions—nationwide, initiatives cannot be achieved if state bodies operate on an isolated-island principal.
In order to achieve satisfactory results on improving main aspects of life, such as infrastructure, transport, housing, urban design, environment, health care, economic and educational opportunities, security and the social environment, progress must be tightly tied to strict performance indicators.
It goes without saying that improving quality of life in Saudi cities will reflect positively on the welfare of citizens and residents, as well as visitors and tourists.
Developing strong infrastructure in Saudi cities, providing comprehensive services, enhancing social interaction, and offering both quality and diverse lifestyle choices are factors that motivate people and enhance social livelihood. It goes without saying that Saudi Arabia is stepping into an astounding future.
However, some skeptics choose to focus on the obstacles. Pessimists at every corner watch out closely for the smallest misfortunes to put to question the validity of change. They remain hesitant to believe that positive change is actually happening in Saudi Arabia.
It is true that the same people were blaming Saudi Arabia for its steadfastness and lack of flexibility in change, have now become full-time skeptics. They themselves never believed that Saudi Arabia would have a vision and a future project of such astronomical scale.
Nevertheless, doubters aren’t to be blamed-- it is not easy for them to imagine that a new Saudi Arabia is launched and won't slow down until it achieves listed aspirations. The proof of the pudding is in the eating, and skeptics will day by day be dismissed with ground-hard facts.

Iran’s not so straightforward exit from JCPOA
Dr. Mohamed A. Ramady/Al Arabiya/May 07/18
The world is waiting in suspense for May 12 to find out whether Iran sanctions will be waived or not.
US President Donald Trump has made no secret of his disdain for the 2015 nuclear accord negotiated by the Obama Administration between the “P5+1” – comprising the UN Security Council permanent five members, US, UK, France, Russia, China, plus Germany – and Iran.
Referred to as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action or JCPOA, or alternatively, he has even described it as “the worst deal ever”.
A narrower “EU-3” of British, French, and German negotiators, in close consultations with Brian Hook, the US State Department director of policy planning, have in recent weeks been negotiating a new framework to address the US concerns with JCPOA, incorporating and adding to its existing terms that may eventually be accepted by the White House. However, it is a very big bet.
France’s President Emmanuel Macron presented the broad outlines of that proposal to President Trump, with a follow-up by German Chancellor Angela Merkel. It calls for a series of separate new agreements, in effect a “JCPOA Plus,” although the White House may prefer to present it as an entirely new, more comprehensive “Framework Agreement.”
Following his rather extraordinary state visit and over-effusive show of friendship between the two presidents, Macron suggested that Trump might choose to exit the JCPOA anyway.
Even if Trump refuses to extend the specific waivers on Iran sanctions up for review on that date, sanctions may not be immediately reinstated
Not a binary choice
But it is not as simple as it sounds, as that would not be an immediate May 12 binary choice – yes or no. Even if Trump refuses to extend the specific waivers on Iran sanctions up for review on that date, sanctions may not be immediately reinstated and enforced.
And the US could, in theory – as Secretary of State designee Mike Pompeo suggested in testimony before the Senate – even continue to renegotiate the existing JCPOA.
An announcement of the re-imposition of the 2012 National Defence Authorization Act (NDAA) would pull Iranian-oil importing countries Japan, South Korea, India, and China back into the US sanctions cross fire, even if not immediately. That would almost immediately put a chill on Iran’s ability to export oil.
Under the 2012 National Defence Authorization Act, an announcement to end the waivers would re-start the process of requiring countries to “significantly reduce” oil imports from Iran, and requiring any countries that do import from Iran to seek exemptions to avoid secondary financial sanctions from the US on their own state-owned financial institutions and central banks.
Even with those exemptions, they will still be required to “significantly reduce” their oil imports from Iran. In the past, the most directly affected countries have been China, Japan, South Korea, and India. Sanctions may not be immediately enforced, and they will require the US Treasury Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) to re-designate and tag affected entities.
New sanctions
An agreement in principle between the EU-3 and US should ideally come before the deadline on May 12 for the president to renew the waiver on a set of sanctions on Iran as agreed to by the Obama Administration after the 2015 JCPOA deal.
But that is just one in a series of rolling waivers. US sanctions on Iran came in four major pieces of legislation, each with its own mandated review period. The May 12 review will be for sanctions imposed under the 2012 NDAA (National Defence Authorization Act).
The other three sets of US sanctions are on a 180-day review period, and will come up for waivers in July. Those are for sanctions imposed under the ISA (Iran Sanctions Act), adopted in 1996 as the Iran and Libya Sanctions Act, the 2012 TRA (Iran Threat Reduction and Syria Human Rights Act), and the 2012 IFCA (Iran Freedom and Counter proliferation Act).
These acts broadly impose restrictions on investments in Iranian oil production, terrorism financing, revolutionary guard activities, shipping, and insurance. When push comes to shove, it is entirely within the US rights legally to unilaterally re-impose any, or all, of those sanctions.
The White House could in theory even decide to find a reason to declare Iran in non-compliance under Sections 36 and 37 of the JCPOA and set the clock ticking on a multistage international review process towards the “snap back,” or re-imposition, of a different series of UNSC sanctions.
Whether or not an agreement comes in time for President Trump’s May 12 deadline for the extension of a set of US sanctions, if the trans-Atlantic partners are close, the May 12 deadline can be glossed over by the White House until the next series of sanction waivers comes due in July.
Even with a new deal, however, the path forward is fraught with substantial risk. First, an EU3 proposal must not only pass muster with the White House, but will need approval of the member states of the EU as well. It is already broadly assumed that UN Security Council member Russia will not agree to additional new measures, nor will fellow P5 member China.
But the biggest wild card may now lie in Iran, namely in how Tehran responds to what looks increasingly certain – at a minimum – will be an additional series of “measures” imposed on the regime – whether threatened against future potential actions, or enforced right off the bat.
Needless to say, it would all also cast a pall over negotiations the US is about to enter into with North Korea, especially after the successful North- South Korea talks on ending their state of war. With one potential world crisis being doused, the international community will not wish for another to take its place.

Qatar and the two Koreas’ experience
Mohammed Al Shaikh/Al Arabiya/May 07/18
The Qataris say: Why don’t we take the two Koreas experience as a model and sit for dialogue and solve our problems as they did? Let us rationally address this comparison and its differences.
North Korea has nuclear power and its large population as a bargaining chip while South Korea has one of the world’s top 10 economies. Peace between them was thus justified and encouraged by mutual interests.
Qatar, however, has nothing but a satellite television channel, so the question here is: How could this small and marginal crisis be compared to that other crisis which was about to spark a third world war?
Exploiting wealth
Qatar is destined to go back to its Arab and Gulf depth but it must be disciplined for its own benefit and the benefit of its people first and then for the interests of Gulf states.
The ruling regime thinks that it can become an influential regional force thanks to its wealth. To achieve this illusion, it adopted the approach of harming others.
For Qatar to solve its problem, it has to go back to rationality and be politically realistic. It should realize that it is losing on all levels while its opponents are not losing anything worth mentioning.
For Qatar to solve its problem, it has to go back to rationality and be politically realistic. It should realize that it is losing on all levels while its opponents are not losing anything worth mentioning
The core of the problem is Qatar’s adoption of the Muslim Brotherhood, which all terrorist movements emerged from. The Brotherhood organization may have been an element that helped gain popularity in the past, however, after it was defeated in the so-called bloody Arab revolutions, it turned into an ill and exhausted pack that cannot keep up with the rest of the herd.
There is no salvation for Qatar and a solution for its crisis except by ending its support of the group and no longer financing it. Ending this support, if it is carried out with true intentions, would be a serious and important step to minimize the gap between Qatar and its neighbors.
Blackmailing neighbors
The masters of the regime of Hamad bin Khalifa and Hamad bin Jassim, which governs Qatar must realize that what was successful yesterday in blackmailing its neighbors through media outlets, has now become, probably one of the main reasons behind its crisis which it does not know how to get out of.
This crisis is also draining it on all levels and it is not getting anything in return of this major exhaustion. Politics, in many cases, sometimes call on one to accept the smallest harm to avoid a greater one.
Qatar, however, is ruled by what is called there the father emir, i.e. Hamad bin Khalifa, who is a mentally unstable man who no longer trusts even his closest associates so he hired a Turkish force to protect him from any coup, especially that the history of the ruling family there is full of coups and power struggles.
According to the news I have heard from inside Qatar, the Qataris are pessimistic and assert to anyone who asks them about their circumstances that the problem revolves around the father emir.
They await for his death as a solution to their crisis, especially that he is unwell and suffers from different health problems. They say that his death would give Emir Tamim the opportunity to regain power and repair what his father has corrupted.
The question the Qataris avoid answering is: What if he lives for long and continues with this this stubbornness and arrogance and continues to squander Qatar’s wealth? Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir said: If the US transfers its base from Qatar to another country, the regime would fall within a week.
There is no solution for Qatar and its crisis except to cut it short and accept the conditions of Saudi Arabia and the boycotting countries.
Qatar should remember that it is not North Korea and no one will support it and oppose the other four boycotting countries, which are 10 times stronger. This is the truth that the Qataris must keep in mind.

Mike Pompeo and US diplomacy victories without bullets
Abdulrahman al-Rashed/Al Arabiya/May 07/18
“We are experiencing tough times, we have to face the challenges courageously and strongly… we need powerful diplomatic efforts in the Middle East to control Iran’s destabilizing actions in Syria, Yemen and the region”. This was a part of new US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s speech to his staff, who amount to more than 70,000.
The US has a huge capability to weaken and possibly eliminate any regime it opposes, without shooting a single bullet, Pompeo said. Which almost happened to the Iranian regime when Washington imposed further sanctions in 2006 after a Security Council resolution in response to the regime’s insistence on pursuing its nuclear project.
Sanctions included banning the export of many goods, including refined oil products to Iran, preventing banking transactions, suspending financial transactions between Iran and most of the world’s banks, and pursued international oil companies to prevent them from production in Iran. Washington prohibited insurance for the Iranian oil tankers and built an electronic wall that blocked all dealings including registering websites and internet services. Without dollars, information, banks and insurance the Iranian regime was stuck; it could not trade, import nor fulfill the needs of its people.
The events required complicated diplomatic work, political patience, and well-informed intelligence agencies to make sure that the decisions were being implemented; this is what Washington succeeded in during this period. Due to these immense pressures, the Iranian regime resorted to communicate in private with, after three years of Obama’s administration asking to negotiate.
These communications coincided with the Green Revolution in Tehran, which strongly impacted the regime. Then a long set of talks started between the two sides. Iran then had to be more submissive after the revolution in Syria, its strategic ally in the region. In exchange for Iran to suspend its nuclear project for military purposes, the US administration agreed along with its European allies to make a secret deal to lift economic sanctions on Iran while refraining from toppling the Syrian regime. The Iranians, who are skilled in bargaining, had realized that President Obama is ready to give them more in return for the agreement. Thus they took double what they wished for, including large amounts of financial payments which suspended all the hostile campaigns against them and overlooked their military expansion in the region.
Even with Washington’s serious mistakes, the diplomatic work it led for years had resulted in an important agreement that forced Khamenei’s regime to yield without shooting a single bullet.
Power of diplomacy
Even with Washington’s serious mistakes, the diplomatic work it led for years had resulted in an important agreement that forced Khamenei’s regime to yield without shooting a single bullet. This is the power of US diplomatic tools as described by Pompeo in his speech a few days ago. It seems it is doing the same thing with the North Korean regime. What’s worrying is that the same mistakes made in dealing with Iran might be repeated with North Korea, since the circumstances are identical. The current administration needs an urgent preliminary assessment of the situation before November, when the midterm elections will take place. The president’s party should win one of the two chambers, or else he will lose a lot of his authority and be victim to his Democrat opponents.
However, using diplomacy only to force the regime in Tehran to respect UN principles by suspending its activities and interventions in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Gaza and Yemen would succeed but will not achieve quick results. The advantage of diplomacy is that there is no blood nor bullets, but it is very slow and its results would be too late for heated issues, such as wars.
The fear is that the North Korean regime would use Washington’s pressing desire, to have a historic nuclear agreement to exert more pressure. I do not rule out that the North Korean leader would try to rescue Khamenei, his ally, by convincing the Americans that if they retreated in any of their commitments to the Iranian deal it would affect their credibility in their negotiations with him. My fears might not be real, but we know the relationship between the two extreme regimes.