ENGLISH DAILY NEWS BULLETIN
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Jesus touched their eyes and said, ‘According to your faith let it be done
to you & their eyes were openedChrist is not weak in dealing with
you, but is powerful in you
Second Letter to the Corinthians
12/21/13/01-05/: “I fear that when I come again, my God may humble me before
you, and that I may have to mourn over many who previously sinned and have
not repented of the impurity, sexual immorality, and licentiousness that
they have practised. This is the third time I am coming to you. ‘Any charge
must be sustained by the evidence of two or three witnesses.’I warned those
who sinned previously and all the others, and I warn them now while absent,
as I did when present on my second visit, that if I come again, I will not
be lenient since you desire proof that Christ is speaking in me. He is not
weak in dealing with you, but is powerful in you. For he was crucified in
weakness, but lives by the power of God. For we are weak in him, but in
dealing with you we will live with him by the power of God. Examine
yourselves to see whether you are living in the faith. Test yourselves. Do
you not realize that Jesus Christ is in you? unless, indeed, you fail to
pass the test!”
Latest LCCC Bulletin analysis & editorials from miscellaneous sources
published on May 12-13/18
Politicians/Elias Bejjani/May 12/18
By winning Baghdad vote Iran could recoup losses from US-Israeli beatings/Dabka
Iran Targets the Gulf/Richard Miniter/Gatestone Institute/May 12/18
What to make of Mahathir’s return to power in Malaysia/Cornelia Meyer/Arab
Why North Korea could be Trump’s first big foreign policy win/Andrew
Hammond/Arab News/May 12/18
Trump's nuclear decision should not hinder a greater vision for the Arab
region/Raghida Dergham/The National/May 12/18
Merkel, Macron’s pro-Iran stance will push more chaos in the region/Abdulrahman
al-Rashed/Al Arabiya/May 12/18
North Korea: China holds the key to a successful US agreement/Dr. Mohamed A.
Ramady/Al Arabiya/May 12/18
Was there ever a unified Arab stance towards Iran?/Mashari Althaydi/Al
Hope fades for Qatar’s long wait/Sawsan Al Shaer/Al Arabiya/May 12/18
Radicalism: The Real Shock Was the Reaction of the Americans/Majid Rafizadeh/Gatestone
Titles For Latest LCCC Lebanese Related News published on May 12-13/18
Lebanon's Corrupted Politicians
Lebanon: Hariri Rejects Preconditions on Cabinet Seats
Hariri tells Jumblatt to 'leave Future Movement alone'
Berri Calls for Quick New Government
Hariri, Jumblat Trade Remarks on Twitter
Report: LF, FPM Not Decided on Speaker Re-Election
Hariri Dissolves Election Commission, Coordinates over ‘Election Results’
Bukhari visits Jisr, congratulates him on elections victory
PSP apologizes to Hariri, responds to Arslan
Jreissati: Choueifat incident is under justice control
Jumblatt: Strange how some losers claim victory, others resort to media hype
Geagea to LF partisans in Australia: We are preparing well for
Karam expects delay in cabinet formation
Franjieh confers with newly elected MP's Khazen, Samad over parliamentary
Bassil inaugurates "Emigrants Houses" at the end of Diaspora Energy
Conference: No hand will tamper with Lebanese Diaspora!
Hashem meets with UNIFIL French Contingent Commander
Shbib, Shorter, Baroudi inaugurate "Beirut Here" with the British Embassy's
Titles For Latest LCCC
Bulletin For Miscellaneous Reports And News published
on May 12-13/18
By winning Baghdad vote Iran could recoup losses from US-Israeli beatings
One person killed in Paris knife attack, attacker shot dead
Eleven Iranians among Dead in Israel Strikes on Syria Thursday
Washington Calls for Pressure on Iran to Change its ‘Dangerous Behavior’
US accuses Iran of destabilizing the Middle East
Israel closing Gaza cargo crossing after weekly protests
Iran Minister on Diplomatic Tour to Save Nuclear Deal
Iraq Holds First Nationwide Election since IS Defeat
Syria Fight against IS in Damascus Stalls, Dozens Dead
Backed Into a Corner, Hamas Adopts Peaceful Pose
Observatory: 19 Iranians Killed in 2 Days of Israeli Strikes on Syria
Defeated Malaysian Leader, Wife Barred from Leaving Country
US Pullout from Nuclear Deal Amplifies Iranians' Suffering
Iraq Tightens Noose on Baghdadi after Aide’s Arrest
US Fighter Jets Intercept Russian Bombers Off Alaska
Latest LCCC Lebanese Related News published on May 12-13/18
Elias Bejjani/May 12/18
Sadly all the Lebanese political parties with no one exception are mere
puppets and Trojans. They all succumbed to the Hezbollah occupation in
exchange for marginal power gains (ministers and MP's). They all forged a
dirty deal with Hezbollah and accepted cowardly to practice under the
umbrella of its hegemony and occupation. No hope from all the current
corrupted politicians and parties. Lebanon needs a new breed of patriotic
Opportunist and puppets in
the Lebanese political arena do not have the guts or the decency to take
clear and overt stances against the occupier Hezbollah. Sadly 99% of the
Lebanese Politicians and in particular our Maronites ones fall in this
Lebanon: Hariri Rejects Preconditions on Cabinet
Beirut- Asharq Al Awsat/Saturday, 12 May, 2018/Lebanon’s Prime Minister Saad
Hariri rejected on Friday that political parties demand in advance certain
portfolios in the next cabinet lineup, directly responding to Speaker Nabih
Berri, who previously announced that a Shi’ite minister should head the
Ministry of Finance. Meanwhile, Hezbollah Deputy Secretary-General Naim
Qassem called for forming a new cabinet that respects national unity as well
as the results of the parliamentary elections, adding that all the Lebanese
parties must cooperate to build their country and confront enemies.
Following his meeting with President Michel Aoun at Baabda palace Friday,
Hariri told reporters that a cabinet session will convene next Wednesday,
without confirming whether it would be the last session of the current
government. “I recognize one custom in Lebanon: The presidency of the
Republic and that of parliament and the cabinet. I am not willing to
acknowledge other customs. Preconditions on ministerial portfolios are
worthless,” Hariri said. In Lebanon, there is a custom stipulating that the
president be a Maronite Christian, the Prime Minister a Sunni Muslim and the
speaker of parliament a Shi’ite Muslim. However, following last week’s
Parliament elections, Berri, who is a Shi’ite, repeatedly spoke about a
custom of a Shi’ite figure heading the Ministry of Finance. Hariri rejected
this demand. In response to a question about the speakership, Hariri said:
"If Speaker Nabih Berri is a candidate, then I am with him." Concerning the
next cabinet lineup, Hariri said, “Let us first elect a new Speaker and then
await the results of binding consultations to see what would happen.” After
the new Parliament elects its Speaker, President Michel Aoun should hold
binding consultations with legislators to name the next PM, who will
negotiate with leading political parties and figures the lineup of the
country’s next cabinet.
Hariri tells Jumblatt to 'leave Future Movement alone'
Annahar/May 12/2018/BEIRUT: Prime Minister Saad Hariri and Progressive
Socialist Party (PSP) head Walid Jumblatt traded barbs on Saturday on
Twitter as the Future Movement celebrated what its leader dubbed success in
Lebanon's parliamentary elections. "It's strange that some of the losers of
the elections are claiming victory, while others are creating some sort of
media hype instead of respecting the law," Jumblatt tweeted. The PSP head
was referring to the Future Movement parliamentary bloc losing over a third
of its seats compared to the 2009 elections, securing only 20 seats in
parliament from their prior 34 seats. Hariri got back at Jumblatt tweeting
"I wish that you would leave the Future Movement alone, and stop blaming all
your problems on us, and thank you."Jumblatt and Hariri's relationship has
deteriorated over the increasingly close ties between the Future Movement
leader and President Michel Aoun's Free Patriotic Moveme
Berri Calls for Quick
Associated Press/Naharnet/May 12/18/The formation of a new Cabinet in
Lebanon that represents all factions should take place quickly because of
growing regional tensions and the fragile country's struggling economy,
Speaker Nabih Berri said. Berri spoke in an interview with The Associated
Press in his office in Beirut days after Lebanon held its first
parliamentary elections in nine years. In the vote, Berri's Amal group,
along with its allies including Hizbullah, won more than a third of the
seats, giving them the power to veto any legislation against them in the
future. Berri, 80, has held his post for more than 25 years and is widely
expected to be re-elected when the new parliament reconvenes later this
month. Lebanon has been suffering for years from spillover of Syria's
seven-year civil war and the flow of more than a million refugees, or nearly
a quarter of the tiny country's population, putting pressure on an already
crumbling infrastructure. On Friday, Berri received a big boost from Prime
Minister Saad Hariri who named him as his candidate for the country's second
top post that Berri has been holding since 1992. Support from Hariri, whose
bloc has 21 seats of the 128-member legislature would guarantee that Berri
is re-elected for the post that he has been holding since 1992. Berri did
not say who his candidate for prime minister is, since the government will
have to resign within days following the elections. After the new
parliament's four-year term begins on May 21 and a new parliament speaker is
elected, President Michel Aoun will call for consultations with legislators
to name their candidate for forming the new government. "The situation
around us (in the region) pushes the Lebanese to hurry as much as possible
to form a Cabinet, a government that represents everyone," Berri said. Berri
said that this is his opinion and that of Aoun and Hariri as well. "The
devil is in the details but we should hurry up," Berri said, adding that the
formation of a Cabinet should not take months as in the past. "It used to
take us seven to eight months to form a Cabinet and this is dangerous,"
Berri said, mentioning tension on Syria's borders with Israel. "There is
another war that we are fighting without noticing, and this is the economic
war in Lebanon, and it has been ongoing for a while."Lebanon has a national
debt of $80 billion making it one of the highest in the world, standing at
150 percent of the country's gross domestic product.
Berri said that Lebanese authorities should have direct contacts with the
Syrian government so that refugees start heading back to their country,
criticizing anti-Syrian Lebanese politicians who refuse any dealings with
the Syrian government. Berri referred to last month's return of hundreds of
Syrian refugees to Syria after government forces retook areas they came
from. "This makes Syrians who are returning to their country happy and also
reduces pressure on the Lebanese," Berri said. "This should be going on
daily basis. We should not say that we do not contact the Syrian brothers,"
Berri said. "There should be always contacts between the Lebanese and Syrian
governments," said Berri, a close ally of Syrian President Bashar Assad.
"Such contacts are for the good of Lebanon."
Hariri, Jumblat Trade Remarks on Twitter
Naharnet/May 12/18/Prime Minister Saad Hariri replied to remarks made by
Progressive Socialist Party MP Walid Jumblat on Saturday, telling him to
“leave al-Mustaqbal Movement alone.”“I wish you would leave al-Mustaqbal
Movement alone, Walid Beik, and stop blaming us for your problems,” said
Hariri in a tweet. Jumblat had earlier hinted at Hariri’s Movement without
naming the party, he said: “Now that the elections are over, it is weird how
some losers claim victory and others resort to media hype instead of
respecting the law.”
Report: LF, FPM Not Decided on Speaker Re-Election
Naharnet/May 12/18/The Lebanese Forces and Free Patriotic Movement have not
yet disclosed whether they will re-elect Speaker Nabih Berrii for a sixth
term, as they prepare for consultative meetings with their party members. In
that regard, Foreign Minister and FPM chief Jebran Bassil assured that each
positive “signal” from Berri’s end (AMAL Movement chief) will be met by a
similar one from the FPM’s side. Asked whether he considers as “positive”
the Speaker’s reference describing Bassil as “someone who moves a lot,” the
Minister said: “Every positive sign is met with a positive sign, words by
words, action by action, voting by voting, participation with
participation.” Relations are strained between Berri and Bassil against the
latter’s “thug” remarks, which ignited a series of clashing positions
between the two men. On the other hand, the LF is set to decide on the
nomination of Berri during the meeting of its bloc, the “Strong Republic
bloc,” when the session to determine the new speaker, his deputy and
parliament bureau is set, said al-Joumhouria daily.
LF sources told the daily: “We are preparing, at this new political stage,
to keep up with the upcoming entitlements at the level of the Parliament
elections and the formation of the new government. Internal consultations
have started in preparation for this stage. “The head of the party (Samir
Geagea) will call the "Strong Republic bloc" to the meeting when the
parliamentary election session is set to take the appropriate position in
that regard," added the sources on condition of anonymity. The new
parliament will hold a session on May 22, reportedly to re-elect Berri to a
sixth term as Parliament Speaker.
Hariri Dissolves Election Commission,
Coordinates over ‘Election Results’
Naharnet/May 12/18/Prime Minister and al-Mustaqbal Movement leader Saad
Hariri decided to “dissolve the electoral campaign commission and
Mustaqbal’s coordinators of Beirut, Bekaa, Koura and Zgharta,” over the
latest “parliamentary election results.”The Mustaqbal chief decided to
dissolve the coordinates of Beirut, West Bekaa, Central Bekaa, Koura and
Zgharta, and to disband the commission that was tasked with organizing the
Movement's electoral campaign for the country’s parliamentary elections held
last Sunday. Mustaqbal official Moustafa Allouch said, in a televised phone
call to al-Jadeed, that Hariri’s decision is “linked to the latest
parliamentary results,” emphasizing that such decisions are carefully
studied. “Mustaqbal Movement consistently reviews its speeches and choices
on the basis of the reality,” said Allouch, assuring that “decisions taken
by the base are thoroughly studied and assessed.”
On Monday, Hariri admitted that his Mustaqbal Movement had lost a third of
its seats in parliament following the country's first general election in
nine years, while noting that it faced “a scheme to eliminate it from
The elections credited Mustaqbal with 21 of parliament's 128 seats, a drop
from the 33 it controlled in the outgoing legislature.
Bukhari visits Jisr, congratulates him on
Sat 12 May 2018/NNA - Saudi Chargé d'Affaires Walid Al Bukhari visited
Saturday MP Samir Jisr at his Tripoli residence, congratulating him on his
achieved victory in the Lebanese parliamentary elections. The encounter was
a chance to dwell on local and regional developments. Jisr expressed his
gratitude to Al Bukhari, who in turn, expressed his appreciation and
admiration for the city of Tripoli.
PSP apologizes to Hariri, responds to Arslan
Sat 12 May 2018/NNA - In an issued statement on Saturday, the Progressive
Socialist Party responded to the press conference by Lebanese Democratic
Party Chief, MP Talal Arslan, saying, "The Progressive Socialist Party
confirms that it will not be dragged into pointless debates nor engage in
futile discussions, the aim of which is to veer away from the main incident
that took place in Choueifat and led to the martyrdom of Alaa Abu Faraj."
The statement underlined the Party's firm position that the official sides
concerned assume their responsibilities in order for justice to take its
toll; hence, all those involved in this regretful incident would receive
their punishment in accordance with the law. The Party statement concluded
with an "apology to the first man of the State of Lebanon, Saad Hariri,"
making it clear that the Party "solely aims at drawing his attention to the
Choueifat incident, which requires his close follow-up and the
implementation of law and justice."
Jreissati: Choueifat incident is under justice
Sat 12 May 2018/NNA - "After the press conference held by Minister Talal
Erslan and for those living in Choueifat, I call upon you to remain calm, as
the judiciary has put its hand on the recent events in Choueifat," Minister
of Justice, Selim Jreissati, reassured via Twitter on Saturday.
Jumblatt: Strange how some losers claim victory, others resort to media hype
Sat 12 May 2018/NNA - "Now that the parliamentary elections are over, it is
strange how some losers claim victory while some others resort to media
publicity instead of respecting the law," tweeted Democratic Gathering
Chief, MP Walid Jumblatt, on Saturday.
Geagea to LF partisans in Australia: We are
preparing well for responsibilities
Sat 12 May 2018/NNA - Lebanese Forces Party Chief, Samir Geagea, deemed that
opponents have succeeded in covering up LF's real size through various means
in the past, most prominently by dissolving the Party, and continued to do
so until the legislative elections of 2018, which finally revealed the
Party's true size. "We are preparing well for responsibilities ahead," added
Geagea in a televised speech from Me'rab addressing LF partisans in Sydney,
Australia. Celebrating the accomplished victory in the elections, Geagea
praised the efforts exerted by all Lebanese Forces electoral machine
members, who reflected the Party's best image. "We deserved this victory way
back...but the circumstances prevented it from happening...It is true that
this victory took a long time and a lot of injustice and imprisonment, but
in the end the truth prevailed and everyone saw the outcome," he reiterated.
Geagea concluded by vowing to aim for the rise of the efficient, strong and
capable state, free of corruption and one that works for the equal interests
of its citizens.
Karam expects delay in cabinet formation
Sat 12 May 2018/NNA - "Strong Republic" Parliamentary Bloc Secretary, MP
Fadi Karam, anticipated Saturday a delay in the formation of the government,
ensuring that the Lebanese Forces will apply the principle of separation
between ministerial function and parliamentary mandate. Karam, whose words
came during an interiew to "Free Lebanon" Radio Station, reminded that all
those who think that Hezbollah will control the new parliament "are wrong".
"Lebanon will remain in danger as long as Hezbollah's involvement in foreign
projects persists," the lawmaker added, noting that the state, the people
and the Republic will pay the price. Asked about the relationship between
the Lebanese Forces and Speaker Berri, Karam said that LF-Amal relation is
based on mutual respect, despite political differences.
Franjieh confers with newly elected MP's Khazen,
Samad over parliamentary bloc formation
Sat 12 May 2018/NNA - Al-Maradah Movement indicated in an issued statement
on Saturday that in preparation for its parliamentary bloc formation, the
Movement Chief Sleiman Franjieh met at his residence in Bnichi'i with newly
elected Deputy Farid Haikal al-Khazen, with talks touching on the latest
developments. Following the meeting, al-Khazen confirmed his support for
Franjieh's "national march," stressing "constant mutual cooperation and
solidarity." "MP Franjieh briefed us on the deliberations underway to form a
parliamentary bloc, which will soon see the light. This gathering is perhaps
one of few in the country not characterized by sectarianism," said al-Khazen.
"A balanced bloc with an effective national presence will be formed, which
will work on the unity of Lebanon, bringing political forces closer together
to serve Lebanon's national interests," he added. The Maradah statement also
indicated that Franjieh met in the same context with newly elected MP Jihad
al-Samad, with current developments and the issue of forming a broad
parliamentary bloc topping their discussion.
Bassil inaugurates "Emigrants Houses" at the end of Diaspora Energy
Conference: No hand will tamper with Lebanese Diaspora!
Sat 12 May 2018/NNA - Foreign Affairs and Emigrants Minister Gebran Bassil
concluded the works of the Diaspora Energy Conference on Saturday by
inaugurating the Lebanese-Mexican, Lebanese-African and Lebanese-Australian
Houses, in addition to the "Emigrants Museum at the House of Emigrants" in
the old Qalaa alley within the region of Batroun. In his address on the
occasion, Bassil stressed that "no hand will be allowed to tamper with or
have control over the Lebanese Diaspora." "We are meeting for the fifth
consecutive year in this place, renewing our commitment to restoring the
relationship between the Lebanese resident and Lebanese emigrant...and what
we are seeing today concerning the restoration of these houses is part of
the restoration of this relationship," Bassil added reassuringly. "The
communication between the Lebanese resident and emigrant needs continuous
follow up, in order to fully reconnect between us and consolidate this
mutual bond...This project must be spread across all regions. We must find
houses for emigrants in every town and village. We must take the initiative
to disseminate this model," he emphasized.
Bassil praised the efforts of "all those who worked on the launching of this
project model and everyone who contributed to its completion." The event was
attended by State Minister for Republic Affairs Pierre Raffoul, MP's
Naamtallah Abi Nasr and Farid al-Khazen, alongside a number of ambassadors
and diplomatic missions, and a crowd of Lebanese expatriates and prominent
dignitaries from the Batroun region. Following the inauguration of the
Emigrants Houses, the attending guests moved to "Batrouniyat" where Bassil
held a luncheon in honor of Lebanese expatriates and residents who took part
in the event.
Hashem meets with UNIFIL French Contingent
Sat 12 May 2018/NNA - MP Kassem Hashem met Saturday with Commander of the
French Contingent operating within the UNIFIL peacekeeping forces in the
South, Colonel Bode Olivier, heading a delegation of Contingent officers.
Hashem praised the "good relations that bring together the people of the
South region with UNIFIL forces, a relationship that is developing
positively day by day." He also commended UNIFIL's efforts to assist the
Lebanese army, noting that the South and borderline areas are the most
stable thanks to the awareness and cooperation of its people. "This
stability is not shaken by the Israeli provocation through its occupation of
parts of our land in Shebaa Farms and the hills of Kfarshuba, alongside its
daily violations of our land, sea and national airspace," added Hashem.In
turn, Commander Olivier thanked the people of the South for their "excellent
relations with UNIFIL and cooperation that contributes to stability."
Shbib, Shorter, Baroudi inaugurate "Beirut Here"
with the British Embassy's support
Sat 12 May 2018/NNA - Beirut Governor Ziad Shbib, British Ambassador Hugo
Shorter and "March Association" Head Lea Baroudi inaugurated Saturday the
"Beirut Here" cultural center in the Horsh-Tayouneh area, with support and
funding by the British Embassy in Beirut. The opening ceremony was attended
by Ghubairi Municipality Head Maan Khalil, members of the British Embassy
and Beirut Municipal Council, representatives of security forces and various
intellectual and cultural figures. In his word on the occasion, Ambassador
Shorter said, "We are in a place that used to be a line of demarcation
between two warring areas, and today Beirut is embracing all those living
within its borders." He pointed out that "the event today is a bridge of
communication between all the Lebanese, especially young people from Beirut
and those from Tripoli, as ambassadors for peace and coexistence."
"Through instability, one can see the light, especially that the Lebanese
have confirmed that the logic of violence has deceived them...and their duty
is to seek peace," Shorter affirmed. He disclosed that project aims at
"spreading the culture of peace and the policy of coexistence and acceptance
of the other."
The British Ambassador concluded by thanking Governor Shbib and the
Municipality of Beirut for offering the piece of land on which to establish
the cultural center, calling for "greater involvement of women in Lebanese
political life, especially following the parliamentary elections results."In
turn, Shbib expressed gratitude for the British Embassy's support in making
this project a reality. "Beirut deserves to have similar initiatives in this
region, which is full of historical symbolism," emphasized Shbib. "Today's
generation and the group of young men and women who will fill this place
with vitality will add life and beauty to Beirut," he asserted. Shbib hailed
Association Head Baroudi for her relentless efforts and for being "a model
of Lebanese women capable of doing a great job that deserves appreciation
and support outside the known political frameworks."
Bulletin For Miscellaneous Reports And News published
on May 12-13/18
By winning Baghdad vote Iran could
recoup losses from US-Israeli beatings
Dabka File/May 12/18
But an election loss by its Iraqi pawn on Saturday, May 12, would land more
misfortune on Tehran after US/Israeli serial blows. The Iranians hope that
the outcome of the Iraqi election will reverse their fortunes after the
blows landing on their heads since President Donald Trump announced the US
withdrawal from the nuclear pact on May 8. US sanctions rolling out since
are targeting the Revolutionary Guards, Iran’s central bank and its oil
exports. Israeli air strikes are meanwhile wiping out their military assets
around Damascus and southern Syria. Iran’s leaders will watch with dismay
the triumphant dedication of the US embassy in Jerusalem on Monday, May 14,
while waiting impatiently for the wheel to turn back in their favor when the
results of Iraq’s general election are published the next day. A win by the
pro-Iranian Shiite group of Iraqi militias headed by Hadi al Amiri will be
hailed in ringing tones as Iran’s conquest of Baghdad and a counter-blow for
the American-Israeli triumph in Jerusalem.
The first step of an Amiri-led government would be an announcement in the
new parliament of an order for the immediate evacuation of US forces from
Iraqi soil, DEBKAfile’s intelligence sources report. He has been provided
with a detailed timeline for the US withdrawal. Our sources add that the
collapse of the US military presence in Iraq would put at grave risk the key
American military position in northern and eastern Syria. It may also
incidentally provide North Korean ruler Kim Jong-un with a strong card for
demanding the evacuation of US forces from Korea, when he meets President
Trump in Singapore on June 12. In a word, Iran’s takeover of Baghdad through
a strong military proxy would badly shake Trump’s strategy for containing
Iran as well as Israel’s military campaign for demolishing Tehran’s platform
of aggression in Syria. While the US force would lose its Iraqi back-up,
Tehran’s Syrian venture would gain strong backing from a pro-Iranian Iraqi
government and army.
Washington and Tehran therefore have strong conflicting stakes in the Iraqi
election. The US, Israel, Jordan and Saudi Arabia all shudder at the
prospect of being hemmed in by the Iranian pawn Al-Amiri in Baghdad and
across the border to the west, Syria in the clutches of Al Qods commander
Qassem Soleimani and Lebanon controlled by another Iranian pawn, Hassan
Nasrallah. In the past week, Trump administration and Saudi agents have been
shelling out millions of dollars to win local leaders of Iraq’s majority
Shiite community and their votes – either for incumbent prime minister
Haydar al-Abadi’s Victory party or Al Amiri’s other leading challenger, the
popular Shiite cleric Moqtada Sadr’s alliance. Shortly before polling, Al-Abadi
was estimated to be pulling ahead, but it would not be the first time that
informed forecasts have been proven wrong.
One person killed in Paris knife attack,
attacker shot dead
Reuters/May 13/18/Paris police shoot dead assailant who went on stabbing
spree near French capital's Opera landmark; at least four reported wounded,
one killed; attacker reportedly yelled 'Allahu akbar' during attack.
A man killed a passer-by in a knife attack in the heart of Paris Saturday
night and wounded four others before being shot dead by police, French
authorities said. The Europe 1 network reported the assailant cried out "Allahu
akbar" during the attack. pierre Gaudin, a senior official at the Paris
prefecture, told reporters, "A person attacked five people in the second
district of Paris. Police intervened immediately.""The individual died.
Another person, seriously injured (by the attacked) died from their
injuries."French Interior Minister Gerard Collomb called it an "odious"
attack while extolling officers' "swift response in neutralizing the
attacker."The Paris prefecture had earlier said a person had carried out a
knife attack in the second arrondissement—or district—of the French capital.
Paris's opera and landmark retail stores are located in that area.
Eyewitness described a panic in the streets of central Paris, saying people
were attempting to hide in restaurants and cafés. According to unconfirmed
reports, police attempted to use a taser gun to incapacitate the attacker,
but later fired two bullets at him, killing him. "I left a performance near
Place de l'Opera in central Paris and was immediately told to go back inside
because there was a madman with a knife," a local reporter recounted. "When
I went back in, we heard sirens and two gunshots. I spoke with eyewitnesses
then who told me a man stabbed a lot of people." A man who resides on the
street where the attack took place described seeing the "body of a man whose
hands were bloodied." France has been on high alert as a series of attacks
commissioned or inspired by Islamic State have hit the country over the past
three years in which dozens of people have been killed.
Eleven Iranians among
Dead in Israel Strikes on Syria Thursday
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/May 12/18/At least 11 Iranians were among
those killed in unprecedented Israeli strikes on Syria this week, a monitor
said Saturday. "At least 27 pro-regime fighters were killed" in Thursday's
strikes, said Rami Abdel Rahman, director of the Britain-based Syrian
Observatory for Human Rights. He said "six Syrian soldiers and 21 foreign
fighters, including 11 Iranians" were among the dead. That updates the
monitor's initial toll of 23, which did not specify the number of Iranians.
"The new report is due to the death of wounded or missing persons whose
deaths have been confirmed," Abdel Rahman said. Israel says it struck dozens
of Iranian targets inside Syria early on Thursday in response to a salvo of
rockets allegedly fired by Iranian forces into the Israeli-occupied Golan
Heights. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Iran had "crossed a
red line" and that Israel's bombardment against targets in Syria was "a
consequence". The Jewish state has long warned it will not accept Iran
entrenching itself militarily in neighbouring Syria, where the Islamic
Republic backs Assad's regime in the country's seven-year civil war. Israeli
forces have been blamed for a series of recent strikes inside Syria that
have killed Iranians, though it has not acknowledged those raids.Israel says
it has conducted dozens of operations in Syria to stop what it says are
advanced arms deliveries to one of its main foes, Iran-backed Hezbollah.
Washington Calls for
Pressure on Iran to Change its ‘Dangerous Behavior’
Asharq Al-Awsat/Saturday, 12 May, 2018/The Trump Administration on Friday
slammed Iran for its "reckless actions,” calling on “responsible nations” to
put pressure on the country. The White House said that Iran "pours resources
into exporting destabilizing influence throughout the Middle East, even as
the Iranian people are victims of a struggling economy." "Already this week,
the IRGC has fired rockets at Israeli citizens, and Iran's proxies in Yemen
have launched a ballistic missile at Riyadh. "These actions are further
proof that the Iranian regime's reckless actions pose a severe threat to
regional peace and security. "It is time for responsible nations to bring
pressure on Iran to change this dangerous behavior."The statement came after
Iranian forces in Syria were accused by Israel of launching some 20 missiles
into the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights, prompting Israeli strikes against
positions held by the Revolutionary Guard Corps inside Syria.
US accuses Iran of destabilizing the Middle East
AP/May 12, 2018/A prominent Iranian cleric is threatening two Israeli cities
with destruction if the Jewish state “acts foolishly” and retaliates against
White House calls on “responsible nations” to pressure Iran to “change this
WASHINGTON/TEHRAN: The White House on Friday condemned Iran’s “reckless
actions,” accusing the country of “exporting destabilizing influence
throughout the Middle East.”White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders
issued a statement citing actions in Syria and Saudi Arabia. She called on
“responsible nations” to pressure Iran to “change this dangerous
behavior.”An Iranian rocket barrage on Israeli positions in the Golan
Heights prompted an Israel attack Thursday on Iranian targets in Syria.
Saudi Arabia is also accusing Iran of providing missiles that Yemeni rebels
have fired toward Riyadh.
Trump spoke with British Prime Minister Theresa May Friday. The White House
said both condemned the rocket attacks. Downing Street also said May
reiterated support for the Iran nuclear deal, which Trump withdrew from this
week. In Tehran, a prominent Iranian cleric threatened two Israeli cities
with destruction if the Jewish state “acts foolishly” and retaliates against
it again. The comments by Ayatollah Ahmad Khatami followed a week of
escalating tensions that threaten to spill over into a wider conflict
between the two bitter enemies. Israeli airstrikes struck Iranian military
installations inside Syria on Thursday — its biggest coordinated assault on
Syria since the 1973 Mideast war — in retaliation for an Iranian rocket
barrage on Israeli positions in the occupied Golan Heights. The remarks from
Khatami drew chants of “Death to America!” from those gathered for Friday
prayers in Tehran. Thousands later demonstrated across the country to
protest President Donald Trump’s withdrawal from the nuclear deal. The
Iranian government warned that it will take “whatever reciprocal measures it
deems expedient” if it is not fully compensated for the US withdrawal from
the nuclear agreement as provided for in the accord. A lengthy government
statement issued Friday said the other parties to the agreement — especially
Britain, France and Germany — must safeguard the accord, implement their
commitments, and “proceed from giving pledges to taking practical action
without any preconditions.”Iran reiterated that no provisions or timeframes
in the 2015 agreement “are negotiable in any manner.” It also reiterated
that the foreign minister is seeking “required guarantees” from the five
other parties to the agreement as well as Iran’s other economic parties. At
the same time, the government said it has tasked the president of the Atomic
Energy Organization of Iran with “taking all necessary steps in preparation
for Iran to pursue industrial-scale enrichment without any restrictions,
using the results of the latest research and development of Iran’s brave
nuclear scientists.”The statement was sharply critical of President Donald
Trump, calling his administration “extremist” and the US withdrawal from the
accord “unlawful.” The government said the US pullout damages US credibility
on the world stage and the credibility of accords the US has signed, and
puts “the present system of international law in serious danger.”
Free trade pact with Russia
Moscow, meanwhile, said Russia and its ex-Soviet allies will sign a free
trade pact with Iran. Putin’s foreign affairs adviser Yuri Ushakov said
Friday the deal between Iran, Russia and other members of the
Moscow-dominated Eurasian Economic Union is set to be signed next week. The
grouping includes Kazakhstan, Belarus, Armenia and Kyrgyzstan. While Ushakov
noted that the pact’s signing had been planned for long time, the move
coincides with the US exit from the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran that set the
stage for re-imposing painful economic sanctions against Iran and rattled
many US allies.
Ushakov said Putin will discuss the US withdrawal from the Iranian deal with
German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron, who
are set to visit Russia later this month. European Union foreign policy
chief Federica Mogherini says the EU is determined to make sure the Iran
nuclear agreement is respected despite US President Donald Trump’s decision
to pull out. Mogherini said Friday that “our determination is to keep this
agreement in place. Obviously we need the only country that can unilaterally
destroy this agreement to stay committed, which is Iran.”Mogherini says she
has been reassured about Iran’s intentions by the declarations of President
Hassan Rouhani. She added that the US cannot undo the agreement by pulling
out, saying: “this deal is not a bilateral treaty. It’s a UN Security
Council Resolution and it belongs to the entire world.”
Mogherini will chair talks between the British, French, German and Iranian
foreign ministers in Brussels on Tuesday.
Israel closing Gaza cargo crossing after weekly
AP/May 12, 2018/The military said on Friday that a group of Palestinians, as
part of their weekly protests, burned a fuel complex and conveyor belt on
their side of the crossing. The Kerem Shalom crossing will be closed until
“extensive damage” is repaired. JERUSALEM: The Israeli military says it is
shutting down its main cargo crossing into Gaza because of damage caused to
it by Palestinian protesters. The military says Saturday that the Kerem
Shalom crossing will be closed until “extensive damage” is repaired. The
military said on Friday that a group of Palestinians, as part of their
weekly protests, burned a fuel complex and conveyor belt on their side of
the crossing, causing more than $9 million in damages and disrupting the
import of diesel fuel and building materials. It says the attack rendered
the main fuel and gas lines unusable. Palestinians in Gaza have been staging
weekly protests at the border fence against a decade-old blockade of the
territory. Since March 30, 41 protesters have been killed and more than
Iran Minister on
Diplomatic Tour to Save Nuclear Deal
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/May 12/18/Iran's foreign minister was due to
leave Saturday for a whirlwind diplomatic tour as world leaders scramble to
salvage something from the wreckage of a key nuclear deal after Washington
withdrew. Mohammad Javad Zarif's tour starts two days after unprecedented
Israeli strikes in Syria which a monitor said killed at least 11 Iranian
fighters, triggering fears of a broader conflict between the two
arch-enemies. He will visit Beijing, Moscow and Brussels, a spokesman said,
holding meetings with all of the remaining parties to the 2015 agreement.
Before leaving, Zarif published a government statement on his Twitter page,
slamming the "extremist administration" of US President Donald Trump for
abandoning "an accord recognised as a victory of diplomacy by the
international community". It reiterated that Iran was preparing to resume
"industrial-scale" uranium enrichment "without any restrictions" unless
Europe provided solid guarantees that it could maintain trade ties despite
renewed US sanctions. Zarif's delicate diplomatic mission was complicated by
reports of clashes between Iranian and Israeli forces in Syria on Thursday.
The Syrian Observatory of Human Rights said Saturday that 11 Iranians were
among the 27 pro-regime fighters killed in strikes by Israel, which has
vowed to prevent Iran gaining a military foothold in neighbouring Syria.
Tehran, which has sought to avoid an escalation in regional conflict that
could alienate its European partners, has not commented on whether its
forces were hit. Israel and its allies have blamed the Iranian Revolutionary
Guards for initiating Thursday's exchange by launching missiles into the
occupied Golan Heights. The White House backed Israel's claims, accusing
Iran of "reckless actions" that posed a "severe threat" to stability in the
Middle East. "Already this week, the IRGC (Revolutionary Guards) has fired
rockets at Israeli citizens, and Iran's proxies in Yemen have launched a
ballistic missile at Riyadh," it said. Saudi Arabia is another of Iran's key
regional rivals. Trump spoke with British Prime Minister Theresa May on
Friday, and "both leaders condemned the Iranian regime's provocative rocket
attacks from Syria," the White House said. Iran denies that version of
events, saying the Israeli strikes were launched on "invented pretexts".
Meanwhile, European diplomats in Tehran fumed that Trump's decision to
withdraw from the nuclear deal could undermine years of patient work to
restore commercial and diplomatic ties with the Islamic Republic. "Since the
signing of the JCPOA (nuclear deal), we have gone from an atmosphere like a
gold rush, to one of utter depression," said a Western trade diplomat on
condition of anonymity. "We are waiting now for how the decision-makers in
the European Union will react. If the EU leans towards accommodating the US,
all the progress we have made since 2015 will be lost.",But she emphasised
that many of the problems began long before Trump's move last Tuesday.
"Decisions on the Iranian side took longer than expected, international
banks were reluctant to work with Iran and the recent decline in the value
of (Iran's currency) made international business even more difficult," she
said. Iranian hardliners are already mobilising against the government's
efforts to save the nuclear deal. Demonstrators rallied in Tehran following
Friday prayers to protest Trump's move. "Officials shouldn't trust France
and Britain. They will never abandon the US for us," said housewife
Poormoslem. A photo on the official Instagram site of supreme leader
Ayatollah Ali Khamenei showed him reading a Farsi translation of Michael
Wolff's scabrous account of the Trump White House, "The Fire and the Fury",
quickly picking up more than 100,000 likes. Analysts said Iran was
determined to maintain the moral high ground in the coming weeks. "For the
first time, Iran has the chance to show the world they are not the rogue
nation they are always presented as, that they negotiated in good faith and
keep to their commitments," said Karim Emile Bitar of the Institute for
International and Strategic Studies in Paris. But the government of
President Hassan Rouhani faces political challenges at home, where the
economy was already suffering high unemployment and inflation before Trump's
decision. Many say sanctions allow the government to blame outsiders for its
own bad decisions. The Western trade diplomat gave the example of Iran's
recent restrictions on transferring funds to the EU -- an effort to control
the rapid slide of the rial -- that caused huge problems for importers.
"It's really annoying that the Iranian government is never blamed for the
really bad decisions they have taken lately concerning business, and only
the sanctions are blamed," she said.
Iraq Holds First Nationwide Election since IS
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/May 12/18/Iraq headed to the polls Saturday
for its first parliamentary election since declaring victory over the
Islamic State group, with the country hoping to shore up a fragile peace and
rebuild. Voters across the war-scarred nation cast their ballots under tight
security, as the jihadists still pose a major security threat despite a
sharp fall in violence. The poll comes with tensions surging between key
powers Iran and the United States after Washington pulled out of a key 2015
nuclear deal, sparking fears of a destabilising power struggle in Iraq.
Roughly 24.5 million voters face a fragmented political landscape five
months after IS were ousted, with the dominant Shiites split, the Kurds in
disarray and Sunnis sidelined. Over 15 blood-sodden years since the US-led
ouster of Saddam Hussein, disillusionment is widespread and politics is
dominated by old faces from an elite seen as mired in corruption and
At a polling station in the Baghdad district of Karrada, 74-year-old Sami
Wadi appealed for change "to save the country". "I call on all Iraqis to
participate in the elections to prevent those who have controlled the nation
since 2003 from staying in power," the retiree told AFP. In the former IS
bastion, second city Mosul -- still partially in ruins from the months-long
fight to oust the group -- residents hoped for an uptick in their fortunes
as they struggle to put their lives back together. "I am voting for security
and the economy to stabilise and for a better future," said labourer Ali
Fahmi, 26. Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi -- who took office as IS rampaged
across Iraq in 2014 -- is angling for a new term, claiming credit for
defeating the jihadists and seeing off a Kurdish push for independence. But
competition from within his Shiite community, the majority group dominating
Iraqi politics, should divide the vote and spell lengthy horse-trading to
form any government. Whoever emerges as premier will face the mammoth task
of rebuilding a country left shattered by the battle against IS -- with
donors already pledging $30 billion (25 billion euros). More than two
million people remain internally displaced and IS -- which has threatened
the polls -- maintains the capacity to launch deadly attacks. Iraq has long
been a crucible for the rivalry between Iran and the US, with Tehran
exerting influence over Shiite politicians and Washington deploying troops
to fight IS.
Shiite camp divided
Overall, just under 7,000 candidates are standing and Iraq's complex system
means no single bloc is likely to get anything near a majority in the
329-seat parliament. Abadi -- who has balanced the US and Iran -- is facing
two leading challengers to his Victory Alliance. Ex-premier Nuri al-Maliki
is widely reviled for stirring sectarianism and losing territory to IS, but
draws support from hardliners. "I wish for all to go to the ballot boxes to
make their choice," Maliki said after casting his ballot, demanding
authorities stop "attempts at falsification through the pressuring of
voters". Another frontrunner, former transport minister Hadi al-Ameri, led
Iran-backed paramilitary units that fought IS alongside Baghdad's troops and
heads a list of ex-combattants. Votes in the Sunni heartlands once dominated
by IS -- including Iraq's devastated second city Mosul -- are up in the air
as traditional alliances have been shredded by the fallout of jihadist rule.
Political forces in the Kurdish community -- often seen as potential
kingmakers -- are also in disarray after a September vote for independence
spectacularly backfired. The Kurds look set to lose some of their clout on
the national stage after Baghdad unleashed a battery of sanctions and seized
back disputed oil-rich regions. Putting on a brave face, the prime minister
of autonomous Kurdistan, Nechirvan Barzani, insisted the political process
would not succeed "without Kurdish participation". "No party can form the
next government without alliances," he said in televised comments after
A senior security official told AFP that some 900,000 police and soldiers
are on high alert to protect the vote, with airports and borders shut for
Polling stations are open until 6:00 pm (1500 GMT) and initial results are
expected in three days.
Syria Fight against IS in Damascus Stalls,
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/May 12/18/At least 86 pro-regime fighters were
killed in Syria over the past week in battles against the Islamic State
group as regime forces push to clear jihadists from their last stronghold in
Damascus, a monitor said Saturday. The jihadists have lost 57 fighters in
the clashes in the Hajar al-Aswad district on the outskirts of Damascus
since May 5, according to the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human
Rights. Since mid-April, forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad
have pounded IS in its last Damascus bastion. Retaking the area, which
includes Hajar al-Aswad and the Palestinian refugee camp of Yarmuk, would
place the regime in full control of the capital and its surroundings for the
first time since 2012. "The clashes continue. Despite its firepower, the
regime has been unable to achieve any significant advance on the ground for
a week," Observatory director Rami Abdel Rahman said. "IS is entrenched in
tunnels and underground shelters and it has been conducting counter-attacks
since Saturday." At least 203 pro-government fighters have been killed along
with 159 IS jihadists since April 19, according to the Observatory.
Government forces have retaken 60 percent of Hajar al-Aswad, but jihadists
still control 80 percent of Yarmuk, the monitor said. Once a thriving
district home to some 160,000 Palestinians and Syrians, Yarmuk's population
has fallen to just a few hundred people. The regime continued to pound the
area with air strikes and artillery fire on Saturday, the Observatory said.
IS has been expelled from most of the country since it declared a
"caliphate" across large swathes of Syria and neighbouring Iraq in 2014. But
it still holds around five percent of Syrian territory, in eastern and
central desert holdouts and on the edge of Damascus. Syria's war has killed
more than 350,000 people since it started in 2011 with the brutal repression
of anti-government protests before spiralling into a complex conflict
involving world powers and jihadists.
Backed Into a Corner, Hamas Adopts Peaceful Pose
Renowned for taking on Israel's military might, Hamas is keeping its guns
silent for a change as it backs border protests, a move analysts say is more
opportunistic than a switch to peaceful ideology. The Palestinian Islamist
movement's normally secretive Gaza head Yahya Sinwar gave a first ever
briefing to international journalists this week, ahead of a major protest
along the Israel-Gaza border to coincide with the United States moving its
embassy to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv on May 14. Sinwar stressed the movement
would not give up its weapons but committed its full backing to weeks of
border protests against Israel. Since March 30 thousands of Palestinians
have gathered weekly along the border to demand a right to return to their
historic homelands now inside Israel. While some have thrown rocks and
rolled burning tyres at Israeli snipers along the border, there has been
almost no gunfire -- despite the presence of members of Hamas's vast armed
wing. Fifty-three Palestinians have been killed, while no Israelis have been
hurt. "If we have a way to potentially resolve the conflict without death,
we're ok with that," Sinwar said on Thursday, calling the protests purely
peaceful. Israel says it is protecting its borders and only fires when all
other means of deterrence have failed. Jamal al-Fadi, a professor of
political science in Gaza, said Hamas was searching for a way to refocus
pressure on the decade-long Israeli blockade of the enclave and its
humanitarian implications without risking another devastating war with the
Jewish state. Three confrontations since 2008 have battered Gaza while
causing comparatively little damage to Israel, and Israeli officials have
threatened further destruction in the event of a fourth round.
Lack of options
"Hamas has resorted to peaceful protests because other options are expensive
for it," Fadi said. "If the people hold peaceful protests it rallies
international opinion to the Palestinian cause." The protests are officially
organised by civil society organisations but they have Hamas's explicit
support and a number of the dead have been members of Hamas's armed wing.
Sinwar pointed out they had not been carrying weapons when killed. Seven
weeks of marches are due to culminate on May 14 and 15, with thousands of
protesters expected to gather and potentially seek to break the fence into
Israel. On Thursday Sinwar indicated his support for such a step, despite
potential bloodshed. "The fence is not a holy cow or a taboo that no one
should touch," he said. "What's the problem with hundreds of thousands
breaking through a fence that is not a border?"Israel enforces a crippling
blockade of Gaza it says is necessary to isolate Hamas, but critics say it
amounts to collective punishment for the strip's two million residents.
Hamas maintains a large armed wing and military arsenal, but in recent years
the Iranian-backed movement has found itself increasingly isolated.
Gulf Arab countries such as Saudi Arabia have appeared to privately soften
their position regarding Israel in the face of the perceived joint threat of
Iranian aggression, while Qatar, another longtime supporter of Hamas, has
been blockaded by its neighbours. Wars in Syria, Yemen and elsewhere have
dragged global attention away from the Palestinians, while the election of
Donald Trump in the United States brought to power a government he vowed
would be the most pro-Israeli in US history. Hamas is considered a terrorist
movement by Israel, the United States and the European Union.
Armed resistance 'useless'
Sinwar, who came to power in February 2017, has been seeking largely
unsuccessfully to improve Hamas's strategic position. The party adjusted its
founding charter to tone down some of its anti-Semitic rhetoric, though
without retracting its call for Israel's destruction. Sinwar also pushed for
an ultimately unsuccessful reconciliation deal with the West Bank-based
Palestinian government.Mukhaimer Abu Saada, professor of political science
at Gaza's Al-Azhar University, said Hamas has realised armed resistance is
"useless" currently as a new war with Israel would result in "unprecedented
destruction" in Gaza. But he said it was unclear whether Hamas could ever
genuinely embrace a peaceful strategy "because there are elements that did
not abandon armed resistance". Sinwar himself came from the movement's armed
wing and was serving multiple life sentences in Israel for murder before
being released in a controversial 2011 prisoner exchange. Israeli officials
dismiss any changing strategy as window dressing and the army accuses Hamas
of seeking to use the protests to carry out attacks. What happens after the
protests are officially due to end on Tuesday remains unclear. Hugh Lovatt,
Israel-Palestine fellow with the European Council for Foreign Relations,
said so far mass protests in Gaza had not been met with similar
confrontations in areas outside Hamas control. "The big question (over a
wider escalation) is whether large-scale protests erupt next week in the
West Bank."Sinwar vowed action would continue."This is an intifada for the
right of return. It can continue until we achieve our rights."
Observatory: 19 Iranians Killed in 2 Days of Israeli
Strikes on Syria
Asharq Al-Awsat/Saturday, 12 May, 2018/At least 11 Iranians were among those
killed in unprecedented Israeli strikes on Syria on Thursday, the Syrian
Observatory for Human Rights said Saturday. "At least 27 pro-regime fighters
were killed" in Thursday's strikes, said Rami Abdel Rahman, director of the
Britain-based Observatory. He said "six Syrian soldiers and 21 foreign
fighters, including 11 Iranians" were among the dead. That updates the
monitor's initial toll of 23, which did not specify the number of Iranians.
"The new report is due to the death of wounded or missing persons whose
deaths have been confirmed," Abdel Rahman said. In strikes near the capital
on Wednesday, the Observatory said at least 15 were killed, including eight
Iranians. That brings to 42, including 19 Iranians, the total killed during
the two days of strikes. Israel says it struck dozens of Iranian targets
inside Syria early on Thursday in response to a salvo of rockets allegedly
fired by Iranian forces into the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights. The
Observatory also said Saturday that at least 86 pro-regime fighters were
killed in Syria over the past week in battles against ISIS as regime forces
push to clear militants from their last stronghold in Damascus. The
extremists have lost 57 fighters in the clashes in the Hajar al-Aswad
district on the outskirts of Damascus since May 5, according to the
Defeated Malaysian Leader, Wife Barred from Leaving
Asharq Al-Awsat/Saturday, 12 May, 2018/Malaysia's Immigration Department
said Saturday that former Prime Minister Najib Razak and his wife are barred
from leaving the country, media reported.This came shortly after Najib
announced plans for a short holiday with family. Malaysian authorities
barred ousted Najib and his wife from leaving the country on Saturday, amid
reports that the government was reopening investigations into a
multi-billion-dollar graft scandal at a state fund he founded, according to
Reuters. Najib's coalition suffered a shocking electoral defeat this week
that ended its 60 year-rule. Following strong calls from the party for him
to step down, Najib told a news conference that he was stepping down with
immediate effect as president of the United Malays National Organization as
well as chairman of the National Front coalition, AP reported. The
Immigration Department issued a statement banning Najib from leaving the
country without giving further details. "The Malaysian Immigration
Department would like to confirm that Najib Razak and Rosmah Mansor have
just been blacklisted from leaving the country," the agency said on its
official Facebook page. It gave no . Najib responded instantly in Twitter by
confirming that he respected the department's decision and will stay with
his family in the country. In a Twitter message on Friday, Najib said he was
praying that, "after this divisive period", Malaysia would unite. "I
apologise for any shortcomings and mistakes, and I thank you, the people,
for the opportunity to lead our great nation," he tweeted.
US Pullout from Nuclear Deal Amplifies Iranians' Suffering
Tehran- Faraz Safaei/Asharq Al-Awsat/Saturday, 12 May, 2018/Right off the
side of one of Tehran’s streets sits a 40-year-old Mohammed wearing a denim
jeans shirt and holding a stack of banknotes. Fitting the character of a
currency exchange dealer, I approach Mohammed asking for dollar bills. “It’s
nowhere to be found,” he responds with echoed frustration. “These days
everyone is intimidated by vague currency and police prices,” he continued
explaining. He insisted on its unavailability despite his pressing need for
a US buck. But unwavering urgency finally tempted him to make an offer set
at an outrageous 74,000 Iranian riyals. His sole attempt at selling the rate
was short to a warning, saying that rocketing rates will make the cost of
securing a dollar even steeper an hour later. “There is no news here about
government promises, and everyone made Iranian Vice President Eshaq
Jahangiri’s announcement of pumping dollars into the markets at a fixed
price a laughingstock,” said Mohammed. These days, the dollar is selling at
double the government's market price. “Markets have been in burning anguish
for days since the US announced withdrawing from the nuclear agreement and
from the markets—it has not calmed down since.”“The Trump exit from the
nuclear agreement has sparked fires that are devouring markets.” On the
other hand, gold traders say the metal’s rates change at rapid rates,
sometimes with windows as tight as less than an hour. Although more
expensive gold might provide security to the buyer, it hampers the dealer’s
operations. “It harms the trader, as they have to keep money in banks…. By
and by they purchase less gold with their capital to survive against a
declining currency,” said one of Tehran’s gold shop owners. Iranian currency
fell within 25 weeks, losing almost 100 percent of its value. Last December,
the dollar stood at 36,000 Iranian riyals. now, it sells at rates over
70,000 riyals. But senior officials insist on denying the market struggle.
“Who says that the price of the dollar has shot up?” Jahangiri said a few
days ago. After denying everything, he insisted that the dollar was at
42,000 Iranian riyals, saying that other prices were mere rumors. Debunking
authorities’ claims on the markets doing fine, both the public and rising
commodity prices say a lot about Iran’s economic standing today. Samsung
devices, for instance, have experienced a 90 percent increase in rates
within a week.
The market is so volatile that salespeople are forced at points to halt
dealings as long as hours, said a Tehran shop owner. Economics Professor at
a Tehran university says the government has pumped up dollars to prevent its
prices from exploding. However, the market is inflamed. Warning that this is
only the beginning, the academic who chose to remain unnamed, says that
it’ll be far worse in two weeks later, as some of the sanctions will go into
implementation. Since Monday, another pain has been added to the suffering
of the people. As for the Iranian-Israeli confrontation in Syria, the
Iranians are concerned that the skirmishes turn into war. Iran’s public
being spread too thin has expressed no appetite for war, especially after
being left with international media reports saying that an Iran-Israel
direct confrontation can be right around the corner. Instead, Iranians are
praying that war doesn’t break out saying that it will only exhaust the
people further. “No war! God is keeping us from war; our backs will split
(referring to a harsher economic environment) if war begins,” said another
Tehran gold shop owner.
Iraq Tightens Noose on Baghdadi after Aide’s Arrest
Baghdad- - Hamza Mustafa/Asharq Al-Awsat/Saturday, 12 May, 2018/Iraq
announced on Friday arresting five top ISIS leaders, one of which suspected
to be one of ISIS-founder Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi’s aides. The captures are a
tight move against the terrorist organization’s leader.In a statement, Iraqi
authorities listed the names of those captured. Saddam Hussein Hussein
al-Jamal, dubbed Abu Rukaya al-Ansari, believed to handle security for ISIS’
self-proclaimed Euphrates caliphate and commander of the terror group’s
eastern brigade was among those arrested. Mohammed Hussein Hadar, Issam
Abdul Qader Ashour al-Zobaie, Omar Shahab Hammad Karbouli were also
arrested. Ismail al-Eithawi, who also uses the alias Abu Zaid al-Iraqi, was
captured in February in Turkey by Turkish authorities and handed over to
Iraqi agents, Iraqi security advisor Hisham al-Hashimi told Reuters on
Thursday. Authorities explained that these were arrested inside Syrian
territory bordering Iraq. More so, interrogating the five bigshot ISIS
leaders revealed information which proved helpful and was the cornerstone of
a military air strike which took out no less than 40 ISIS leaders. “This
operation launched with leads shared by Turkey, where another ISIS senior
commander, Eithawi, was arrested,” Iraqi Government Security Adviser Dr.
Hisham al-Hashemi told Asharq Al-Awsat. Eithawi’s phone was used to contact
the other four leaders through Telegram. Following Eithawi’s capture, Iraqi
and American intelligence agents were able to uncover bank accounts used by
the group and also secret communication codes Eithawi used, Hashimi said.
They then used the app on the mobile phone to lure the other men across the
Syrian border and into Iraq where they were arrested. This qualitative
operation uncovered crucial details on Baghdadi, such as possible
whereabouts. “Iraqi and US authorities used to believe Baghdadi could be
located in one eight areas, but now it is narrowed down to one of two areas
only ", Hashemi said. However, the security official refused sharing any
further details. The arrests were the culmination of elaborate US-Iraqi
joint intelligence operations. The ISIS commanders’ confessions were
broadcast on Iraqi television Thursday morning. One by one the men admitted
to being top ISIS leaders. On the other hand, US officials say ISIS
leadership has been decimated but they believe Baghdadi is still operating
on the border between Syria and Iraq.
US Fighter Jets Intercept Russian Bombers Off Alaska
Asharq Al-Awsat/Saturday, 12 May, 2018/Two US fighter jets intercepted two
Russian bombers in international airspace off the coast of Alaska on Friday,
media reported. The Russian TU-95 "Bear" bombers flew into a so-called Air
Defense Identification Zone located about 200 miles off Alaska's west coast,
at about 10 a.m. EST (1400 GMT), North American Aerospace Defense Command
spokesman Canadian Army Major Andrew Hennessy said in a statement to CNN.
Two Alaska-based NORAD F-22 fighter jets intercepted and visually identified
the Russian bombers until they left the identification zone and the Russian
aircraft never entered US airspace, CNN reported, citing the statement.
Russian bombers TU-95 and TU-142 were escorted by two F-22 fighter jets in
international airspace for 40 minutes, the RIA news agency cited the Russian
Defence Ministry as saying on Saturday. The US fighter jets did not get
closer then 100 meters to the Russian bombers, the Russian military was
quoted as saying.
Latest LCCC Bulletin analysis & editorials
from miscellaneous sources published
on May 12-13/18
إيران تستهدف دول
Richard Miniter/Gatestone Institute/May 12/18
Our allies are finally becoming force multipliers -- joining with America to
use its talent and technology finally to defeat the jihadist threat. We
should assist and encourage the UAE and Saudi Arabia, not abandon them.
More than 7,000 miles from Washington and far from America's headlines, a
war in Yemen is rewriting America's strategy against Iran and terrorism.
The three-sided civil war pits two radical Islamist forces -- Al-Qaeda's
largest surviving army and Iran's biggest proxy force -- against each other
and six of America's Arab allies. U.S. Special forces carry out covert raids
and CIA drones rain down missiles on terror leaders.
The outcome of the Yemen war matters: U.S. forces are fighting there and a
new strategy against terrorism is now being tested in the Middle East's
Since Britain's Royal Marines marched out of their Aden Protectorate in
November 1967, Yemenis have killed each other over nearly every
international ideology: colonialism, communism, and radical Islamism. Add in
the tribal rivalries and the religious divides between competing versions of
Sunni and Shia Islam -- and the stage is set for perpetual war. Indeed,
Yemen, in every decade since the 1960s, saw bombings, bloodshed and
Iran has also seemingly been trying to form a "Shi'ite Crescent" across the
Middle East, through Yemen, Iraq, Syria and Lebanon to the Mediterranean.
According to nearly half a million computer files released by the U.S.
Central Intelligence Agency late last year, captured from Osama bin Laden's
compound, Iran had also offered "support to al-Qaeda in exchange for
targeting the Gulf."
The Sheikh Zayed Mosque in Abu Dhabi. Iran offered "support to al-Qaeda in
exchange for targeting the Gulf," according to CIA documents captured last
year from Osama bin Laden's compound.
In addition, Iran has been sponsoring Shia uprisings in Bahrain. The US
ambassador to Bahrain during the Obama administration evidently turned a
deaf ear to pleas from Bahraini officials for help; he presumably feared
upsetting the president's Iran deal, just as Obama had, by failing to act
after his "red line" on the use of chemical weapons was crossed in Syria.
Meanwhile, Iran has been referring to Bahrain as "the 14th province of Iran"
in its state-run broadcasts; Saudi Arabia has said Iran was behind Shia
uprisings in the oil-rich "Empty Quarter," and the UAE has placed nine
Iranian entities and individuals on its terrorism list.
Following the 2011 Arab Spring, outsiders also beat the war drums. Al-Qaeda
In the Arabian Peninsula -- the terror network's deadliest branch since the
death of Osama bin Laden -- struck police stations and army barracks while
convulsing cities with improvised bombs and sniper attacks. Yemen's elected
government begged U.S. President Barack Obama for help.
Given his public statements about the Iraq War and his professed ideology
about foreign intervention, Obama faced a tough decision: letting an
American ally fall to al-Qaeda in the months before a presidential election
or making a major military commitment that might alienate his anti-war
supporters. As usual, he chose a middle course: special forces and drone
This middling effort produced middling results. Al-Qaeda forces were
scattered and driven back into the arid mountains and desert wastes, but
they were only beaten back, not beaten. Indeed, al-Qaeda in the Arabian
Peninsula still holds roughly one-quarter of Yemen.
Meanwhile, Yemen's government and US forces had to face an even deadlier
foe: Iran-backed militias mostly populated by Houthis, an off-shoot of
With a common religious bond, Iranian agents built political alliances with
Houthi clans with flattery, funds and strategic marriages. Their shared
goal, according to Reuters, is to "'strengthen their hand in the region,'
create a Hezbollah-like militia in Yemen, and "encircle the Saudis...,
expand its influence and power projection in the region and develop levers
of unconventional pressure."
The Houthis' effective use of small-unit tactics -- similar to how U.S.
infantry units learn to choreograph their movements as squads and platoons
while centralizing their fire -- soon routed the undisciplined government
troops. The Houthis captured the capital in 2014 and have held it ever
since. They dissolved the parliament in 2015, replacing it with a Supreme
Revolutionary Committee later that same year.
The stakes are high. Yemen's neighbors know that if Yemen fell to Iran's
allies, uprisings in Shia-majority pockets in Saudi Arabia and the Gulf Arab
states would soon follow. America's allies could suffer civil wars of their
own, distracting them from U.S. efforts to destroy ISIS and al-Qaeda in
Syria and Iraq.
The economic effects might also sap the will to fight Iran's ambitions. Oil
and gas prices would climb and Western economies would slow.
What's more, Yemen could give terrorists a new Afghanistan, a secure base
from which to map and stage attacks across Africa, America, and Asia.
So, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Kuwait, Bahrain, and the United Arab Emirates
dispatched troops, tanks, and planes. For most of those nations, it was the
largest deployment of their troops, outside their borders, in their history.
America, as usual in the Obama years, provided largely "soft" assistance:
snatches of phone conversations, medicine, and pallets of
The initial result? An appalling stalemate, in which the amount of
blood-spilled per acre-regained shocked both diplomats and military
planners. One Saudi military adviser told this author in 2017: "The
butcher's bill is as high as the Iran-Iraq War [was in the 1980s] and, five
years later, we still have less than half of the countryside."
Yemen's cities reminded him of Beirut in the 1970s. "Snipers, bombs...
civilians slaughtered, artillery shells landing in apartment blocks." The
career officer shook his head. He didn't ever want to go back.
Now, the tide may be turning against the Islamist rebels.
United Arab Emirates' aircraft smashed a key Houthi command and
communications center near a strategic crossroads some 15 miles from coast.
The UAE, with Chinese missiles, has built a considerable drone force. From a
room that resembles NASA's Mission Control, more than 900-miles north of the
battlefield, the UAE can now key Houthi leaders with its drones. A UAE drone
killed Saleh al-Samad, president of the Houthi's Supreme Political Council,
as he exited a Toyota Land Cruiser in 2016. Many more have followed.
What does this mean for American decision-makers? Our Arab allies are
working on becoming effective ground fighters, capable of expelling
experienced jihadists from fortified positions, in both Yemen and Iraq.
Additionally, the UAE's new generation of drones can deliver "death from
above" as efficiently as their U.S. counterparts, although it is not known
for how long.
Although it might be tempting to copy this model in Afghanistan, Syria-Iraq,
and across North Africa, "the problem," as U.S. Secretary of Defense James
Mattis pointed out this week, "is it's only a matter of time before the
threat manifests in a violent way."
Once Arab government forces can help to vanquish the lands of Islamist
fighters, the balance of power could shift against the terrorists.
This does not mean that the U.S. can withdraw from the Middle East, as Sen.
Rand Paul sometimes suggests. It means that our allies are finally becoming
force multipliers -- joining with America to use its talent and technology
finally to defeat the jihadist threat. We should assist and encourage the
UAE and Saudi Arabia, not abandon them.
**Richard Miniter has written three New York Times bestsellers on foreign
policy, including "Leading From Behind."
© 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
What to make of Mahathir’s return to power in
Cornelia Meyer/Arab News/May 12/18
On May 11, the 92-year-old veteran politician and former prime minister
Mahathir Mohamad was sworn in as the seventh prime minister of Malaysia.
What preceded was quite unprecedented: ever since independence in 1961,
Malaysia had been ruled by the Barisan Nasional (National Front), a
right-wing alliance of various ethnic parties led by the UMNO (United Malays
National Organization), the MCI (Malaysian Chinese Association) and the MIC
(Malaysian Indian Congress), which had, on and off, been joined by other
groupings. Malaysia’s UMNO had been crippled by corruption and the incumbent
Prime Minister, Najib Razak, was particularly weighed down by the 1MDB
(Malaysia’s Sovereign Wealth Fund) money laundering/corruption scandal,
which had the Swiss and Singaporean authorities investigating the
involvement of senior politicians. This was not good for the image of
Malaysia and clearly bothered the people. So when the UMNO veteran Mahathir
launched his campaign to run the country in the last election, the people
responded, giving his new political home the Pakatan Harapan (Alliance of
Hope) a single majority. The surprising thing is that even the young came
out in droves supporting the nonagenarian.
Dato Seri Mahathir Mohamad is an unusual man who had been a towering figure
in the UMNO since the early 1970s. Some of the thinking behind Malaysia’s
National Economic Policy (NEP) was based on thoughts in his controversial
book "The Malay Dilemma," which he had written in 1970. The NEP sought to
achieve economic empowerment of the ethnic Malay majority. It was launched
against the backdrop of the bloody racial riots in 1969 in which the
economically deprived Malay underclass had taken to the streets. The NEP was
a huge economic and social engineering project, and very controversial as it
was built on positive discrimination in favor of the Malays. On the
flipside, it brought about better social cohesion in the country. There were
no racial riots after 1969.
When Mahathir became prime minister in 1981 he put Malaysia firmly on the
global economic map. Looking at Japan’s economic ascent and the successes of
the four Asian tigers, he launched the “Look East" policy, seeking to
emulate how Japan had achieved its hitherto unparalleled growth. The plot
worked and Malaysia became one of the favored destinations for foreign
direct Investment in the 1980s and 1990s.
The surprising thing was that even the young came out in droves supporting
the nonagenarian in the last election.
Mahathir was a visionary, but he had his flaws. His three main disciples
were Anwar Ibrahim, Najib Razak and Abdullah Bedawi. The latter followed
Mahathir as prime minister, but his tenure was not successful. Najib
followed his elder, leaving a legacy of mismanagement and corruption
scandals. Mahathir’s greatest failing was going against his former deputy
Anwar Ibrahim, because he felt threatened by the younger man’s rising
popularity. Anwar paid dearly for falling out with Mahathir as it left him
imprisoned twice. (He currently sits in jail on trumped-up charges.) In the
meantime Anwar’s wife, Wan Azizah Wan Ismail, and his daughter, Nurul Izzah,
kept the flag of the Parti Keadilan Rakyat (People’s Justice Party) flying.
In the latest twist Mahathir has promised to pardon his old foe and bring
him back into the fold of politics. In the meantime, Anwar’s wife will serve
as the deputy PM.
What are we to make of these extraordinary developments? For one, people
will in the end go against corrupt elites and leaders, as we have seen time
and time again. It is also refreshing to see that Malaysian democracy is
alive and kicking and the electorate is capable of overthrowing the status
quo in not returning to power a coalition that has ruled for 47 years.
And what about Mahathir? He is an extraordinary man who had brought economic
success to his country during his 22-year rule. He also is an autocrat who
more often than not refused to tolerate dissenting views. He objected to the
potential of his disciple (Anwar) eclipsing him in popularity.
However, Mahathir is under the current circumstances a safe pair of hands.
We can hope that he has mellowed and understands that, given his age, he has
to hand over power sooner rather than later. Anwar Ibrahim would certainly
be a good candidate, but there may also be others. For the sake of Malaysia,
let us hope that what happened serves as a warning for future leaders not to
engage in corruption and to put the good of the country before the good of
**Cornelia Meyer is a business consultant, macroeconomist and energy expert.
Disclaimer: Views expressed by writers in this section are their own and do
not necessarily reflect Arab News' point-of-view
Why North Korea could be Trump’s first big
foreign policy win
Andrew Hammond/Arab News/May 12/18
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo met in Washington on Friday with his South
Korean counterpart Kang Kyung-wha to help prepare for the landmark June 12
summit between US President Donald Trump and North Korean Supreme Leader Kim
Jong-Un. With positive mood music now surrounding the Trump-Kim session, and
the US president’s earlier May 22 summit with South Korean President Moon
Jae-in, the Korean peninsula offers the potential to become the US
president’s first big foreign policy win.
Any final, comprehensive deal between Washington and Pyongyang is possibly
years away. Yet, it is already clear that it would be a remarkable
achievement if Trump were to help preside over denuclearization of the
Korean continent; help seal a peace treaty between North and South to
supplement the armistice ending the 1950-53 Korea War; and in the process
de-escalate tensions in the world’s last Cold War-era frontier.
Should Kim ultimately decide to abandon North Korea’s nuclear program in
exchange for economic aid and security guarantees, the reason why this would
– potentially – be so central to Trump’s eventual foreign policy legacy is
that almost a year and a half into office, the president’s international
actions have been much more defined by the dismantling of policies of
previous presidents, especially Barack Obama, rather than building something
new. He has, for instance, this week withdrew US participation from the
nuclear agreement between Iran and the United States, China, Russia, the
United Kingdom, France and Germany. Prior to that decision he scrapped US
involvement in the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade deal with key
allies in Asia-Pacific and the Americas; withdrew Washington from the Paris
climate change deal agreed by over 170 nations; and launched a review of the
North America Free Trade Agreement, which may yet collapse in 2018. The
first three of these initiatives (Iran, TPP and Paris) were Obama-era
signature policies, and Trump has also partially rolled back other key
measures from the previous administration, including the Cuba liberalization
“The president’s international actions have been much more defined by the
dismantling of policies of previous presidents, especially Barack Obama,
rather than building something new.”
Yet, for all this diplomatic action, thus far the new administration has
failed to forge any clear, coherent and comprehensive new Trump doctrine,
centered around his “America first” vision. When Trump moved into the White
House, he promised a radical platform that could have reshaped US foreign
and trade policy more radically than at any point since the beginning of the
Cold War, the time that Harry Truman helped build a consensus around US
To be sure, Trump has made some moves to shift away from this post-war
orthodoxy – pursued by both Democratic and Republican presidents – such as
building US-led alliances to expand the liberal democratic order. But in
practice, much of the last year and a half has also been characterized by
policy incoherence and U-turns on issues such as military action in Syria, a
departure from Trump’s 2016 campaign rhetoric; and whether key international
alliances like NATO are “obsolete” or “not obsolete.”
These flip-flops reflect not just the ad-hoc nature of the new president’s
style of governing, and his contrarian character, but also the divisions
within his team on key foreign policy issues. Take the example of the Paris
climate deal, the Iran nuclear agreement and TPP, where then-secretary of
state Rex Tillerson was just one of the senior members of his team urging
Trump to remain in the accords rather than leaving them.
Yet, as the president enters mid-2018, he now appears to have in place a
foreign policy personnel much more aligned to his political instincts.
Former CIA director Pompeo has replaced Tillerson as secretary of state, and
the conservative hawk John Bolton has taken over as national security
adviser from the more pragmatic General H.R. McMaster.
This changing of the guard could be very important to Trump, almost 18
months into office, in the context of the fact that his political window of
opportunity to put an enduring stamp on US foreign policy may soon narrow
rapidly, unless he wins a second term in 2020. With this in mind, he and his
new team will now seek to double down on other foreign policy priorities.
These include the ambition to do the “deal of the century” in the Middle
East with Israel and the Palestinians, which will become more complicated by
the US president’s decision to move the US Embassy this week to Jerusalem;
and forging renegotiated economic relationships with key countries like
Japan and China, which are seen by the president as less one-sided and
detrimental to the United States.
It is also to be hoped that Trump’s new team will prove better foils than
Tillerson and McMaster were for the president’s ad hoc style of governing,
which regularly exposes lack of experience and knowledge of international
issues. If so, this will help serve as a compass for the White House in
helping to navigate the significant uncertainties of international affairs
in 2018 and beyond.
Taken overall, the historic potential opportunity offered by the Korea
negotiations could become a central part of Trump’s foreign policy legacy.
However, in this high-stakes gamble for glory, the president could yet
emulate many others who have failed to bring a sustained, peaceful
diplomatic outcome to one of the key international challenges facing the
**Andrew Hammond is an associate at LSE IDEAS at the London School of
Trump's nuclear decision should not hinder a greater
vision for the Arab region
Raghida Dergham/The National/May 12/18
As decision-makers meet in Abu Dhabi, it is important for this vital bloc not to
retreat into its tragedies or be consumed by anger, writes Raghida Dergham
Just because there are alarming political and security developments in the Arab
region hindering its ambitions does not mean it has to stop thinking in
visionary terms and start planning in strategic terms. It is unhealthy for this
vital bloc to retreat into its tragedies or to be consumed by anger from what
others are doing to and in it.
It is from this standpoint that the Beirut Institute think tank was launched, to
leverage the diversity, creativity and capacity of the region in its search for
solutions and bring together stakeholders to discuss how to shape the future.
Yet the Beirut Institute is an Arab think tank with a global dimension. Its goal
is to exert positive influence in both directions, through frank and
constructive engagement that does not ignore facts but takes them into account
in order to devise new approaches.
Over the next two days, a distinguished group of Arab and international
decision-makers will meet at the second Beirut Institute summit in Abu Dhabi,
whose focus will be “to construct the Arab region’s engagement in the emerging
global future”. This is less of a theme and more of a duty that thinkers,
leaders and ordinary people must assume to move us from despair to hope for the
However, none of this is to downplay the seriousness of political developments
and their impact on the summit. Indeed, the gathering comes in the aftermath of
US President Donald Trump withdrawing his country from the nuclear deal with
Iran – a development that will impact the Arab region both in the present and
the future and requires profound consideration of its immediate and strategic
When current and ex-Arab League chiefs Ahmed Abulgheit and Amr Moussa sit on the
same platform as current and ex-GCC security general Abullatif Al Zayani and
Abdullah Bishara, they will inevitably hold an important talk about the odds of
either direct military confrontation with Iran or genuine reconciliation with
the Islamic Republic in the future of the Middle East.
Another session on new priorities for the region will bring together Prince
Turki Al Faisal, general David Petraeus, Lebanon’s interior minister Nouhad El
Machnouk and Libyan former prime minister Mahmoud Jibril. This session must
tackle in depth what US goals currently are in the Arab region, from the Gulf to
Libya via Lebanon, compared to US policies under former president Barack Obama.
What Mr Trump has done with Mr Obama’s nuclear deal is a dangerous gamble,
unless he is confident in and ready for the necessary next steps. Indeed, one of
the strongest cards Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps has is sabotage and
terrorism across the Arab landscape and beyond, if Tehran should feel cornered.
This would also embolden hardliners in Iran and prompt the IRGC to escalate
against Israel and step up its foreign incursions in Bahrain, Lebanon, Yemen,
Syria and Iraq.
The Europeans in particular are amplifying this very real threat, as they seek
to maintain the nuclear deal becausetearing it apart has huge costs for them.
The Arab region also faces high costs for the end of the deal, albeit from a
Mr Trump effectively challenged Germany, France and Britain to end their
political hypocrisy under the guise of commercial interests. He has given the
three European powers that co-signed the deal with the US, Russia and China an
opening. He has said he did not care how the “bad deal” is reformed as long as
its flaws and shortcomings are addressed. Nevertheless, Europe’s leaders
dismissed Trump’s clear warnings that he was intent to withdraw from the deal
unless he obtained European commitments to address the flaws, only to wake up
too late to his seriousness and the risks for their companies, which are engaged
in massive contracts with Iran.
It is these business dealings that had motivated the Europeans to cave to Iran’s
demands, including allowing the IRGC to expand militarily in Iraq, Syria and
Yemen and dominate Lebanon through Hezbollah.
So what happens now? The onus is on the Europeans primarily. Mr Trump has
exposed Europe’s harmful duplicity and it is up to them to make a move.
For their part, the Arab countries are divided. Some support Mr Trump’s decision
and some oppose or fear its repercussions. However, they are almost united in
their resentment of Europe’s behaviour in the Arab landscape over the past few
decades. This means that the current moment of truth could be an opportunity to
engage in a reform process with multiple goals, including mending the imbalance
in the European-Iranian-Arab dynamic.
Discussing how to induce a positive shift in these troubled relations, including
Arab-Iranian relations, is part of what the Beirut Institute is trying to do.
What is unacceptable in all cases, however, is to freeze the Arab region’s march
towards progress and surrender by fear from the likes of Al Qaeda and ISIS or
possible reprisal from the Islamic Republic. We must not reduce the Arab region
to conflict and terrorism for it is a fertile land for talent, ambition and
determination, despite all appearances.
Beirut Institute is a workshop for ideas and actions, bringing together multiple
generations to speak in the language of empowerment and resolve. When I founded
this think tank eight years ago, I enlisted my daughter, who was still a
university student at the time. As I set out to continue the institute’s work
and overcome the many hurdles facing it, I was not alone but was fortunate to
have an excellent board of directors, led by Prince Turki, who put his faith in
We were also lucky and grateful to be hosted for our summits by the UAE in
October 2015 and now again this week, a testimony that the institute works for
the entire Arab region.
Beyond geopolitical challenges, the summit will hold sessions titled "beyond
fear: toward a pragmatic embrace of tomorrow" and "innovative government:
excellence in the public sphere".
Participants from the US, Russia, China, Europe and the Arab region will hold
both closed and open meetings to discuss the next chapter in the Middle East’s
story but the question remains: who authors the future in the region?
*The Beirut Institute Summit will run today and tomorrow in the St Regis hotel,
Abu Dhabi Corniche
Merkel, Macron’s pro-Iran stance will push more chaos in
Abdulrahman al-Rashed/Al Arabiya/May 12/18
The siren drills in a number of Saudi cities is not a routine amid the tense
circumstances of the region as Iran continuous firing ballistic missiles
targeting populated Saudi cities through their Houthi agent in Yemen, which
shows the danger facing everyone.
Despite this and the spread of the organized violence by the Iranian regime,
both governments of Germany and France are promoting the idea to overlook the
Iranian wars and respect the nuclear agreement with it.
For the first time and bluntly, German Chancellor Angela Merkel talked about
strengthening her country’s military defense policy away from the United States,
telling the Iranian president over the phone that she is committed to the
agreement and cooperating with Iran. Along with Merkel, the French president
also chose to be separated from Washington, promising the regime in Tehran to
trade with it, announcing their desire to become more independent of their
permanent American ally.
The positions opposing the US president’s decision to break the nuclear deal
with Iran poses a series of perceptions that seems positive, but in reality it
is drastically negative. France and Germany commitment to the agreement might be
out of believing that it is the lesser of two evils. They claim that their
position gives Iran an opportunity to think and interact positively so as not to
lose Europe, after it had lost the US. Germany and France are promoting their
biased positon to Tehran as if to prevent the regime from re-building nuclear
weapons and rationalize its policies.
Both Germany and France are giving wrong indicators to the Iranian supreme
leader that he was right in his position against Washington and that he does not
need to reform his regional policies. We are afraid that the Merkel-Macron’s
messages is what is going to push more chaos and wars in the region.
On the other side of this open positon, the Germans and French do not have
enough guarantees for Tehran’s military and economic behavior. Thus, both
countries give wrong indicators to the Iranian supreme leader that he was right
in his position against Washington and that he does not need to reform his
regional policies. We are afraid that the Merkel-Macron’s messages is what is
going to push more chaos and wars in the region.
Creating more chaos
The US president Trump may not be tactful, but in this case he is right.
The nuclear agreement is the worst one in the modern age and it must be
modified. The Middle East region, even with its bad standards, never knew wars,
violence and dangers like those occurred after signing the agreement. The future
would be worse as long as the Iranian regime sees that the major powers had
abandoned its charging means. The Israeli- Iranian confrontation in Syria was
only the result of this agreement which provides the regime with money, allowed
it to spread and makes it fee free in the region. The Europeans has temporary
solutions for huge wars, like in Syria, they donate more tents and blankets,
they are wrong in this. Syria would create more worries due to the imbalances of
powers in the region. As they tried in Libya, which is located directly in their
security area, the Southern Europe security. Europe, whether as a combined or
single powers, could only handle the Civil war in Libya, by deploying the
maritime police to prevent immigrants. Thus due to absence of central authority
and not enabling peace there, Libya became a passage to thousands of Africans,
who are ready to drown in order to immigrate to Europe. Europe’s sleeping policy
needs one of two solutions; either that US would bear the burden of the military
confrontation or let the countries to region burn. Europe is not capable of
making any war decision, it does not have the ability to agree on a joint
military work. If it had not been for the US interference in Bosnia, the crisis
might have been there in Europe itself until today!
Can the Germans and the French let us know their solution for what Iran is doing
in Iraq, Syria, Gaza and Yemen? They do not anything but seeking to sell
weapons, but they refuse to send forces or offer information or logistical
services! With exception of a symbolic French force in Syria, we could not say
that it makes a difference on the ground! Thus, The Europeans submission to the
Iranian regime is at the expense of the restless Iranian people and the
countries of the region which are all targeted by Iran. The only choice left is
to get ready for wider wars.
North Korea: China holds the key to a successful US
Dr. Mohamed A. Ramady/Al Arabiya/May 12/18
Just like Russia seems to be holding the key as an arbitrator between warring
parties like Iran and Israel in Syria , China is playing an important background
role to get North Korea reach a successful outcome with the USA .
The objective of US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s hurried last minute trip to
Pyongyang was to lay the groundwork for a successful historic summit between the
US and North Korean leaders that will be held in Singapore on 12 June, marked by
the release of three US hostages held by the North Korean regime. But there was
more behind the showcase hostage release tv drama, as the White House also timed
Pompeo’s trip to ensure that upcoming nuclear negotiations with North Korea
would not be derailed by President Donald Trump’s controversial decision
yesterday to withdraw completely from the 2015 JCPOA nuclear accord with Iran.
Despite what is likely to be a prolonged and contentious fallout now between the
US and key allies over Trump’s withdrawal from the JCPOA accord and
re-imposition of sanctions on Iran, all the major parties to the North Korea
talks are ready to proceed as planned with the summit and negotiations over the
denuclearization of the Korean peninsula and it is here that China’s critical
role has come into play.
At a two-day meeting hosted in Dalian, in northeast China’s Liaoning Province,
China’s President Xi Jinping assured North Korea’s Supreme Leader Kim Jong-Un
that the Iranian nuclear issue was different from the Korean nuclear issue. Xi
assured Kim that were the US to cancel or suspend an agreement with North Korea,
under any pretext, China would firmly support and stand with North Korea. In a
way, that means China would ultimately backstop the DPRK’s nuclear program. In
their discussions, Kim stressed that the US must work with his country to take
“phased and synchronous measures,” in a responsible manner, to eventually
achieve denuclearization and lasting peace on the peninsula, and Xi agreed.
While President Trump has stated that he hopes for a “ great outcome “ , but
that he can also walk out if no immediate denuclearisation is achieved , Kim has
also stressed that if Trump were to refuse to abide by the “phased and
synchronous” roadmap, talks would fail. Xi assured him he would persuade the US
President to do so putting China in a position to inform the US accordingly, as
many commentators are pointing out that the summit has been hurriedly set up
with little planning from the US side except demanding a total denuclearisation
of North Korea. So long as relevant parties agreed to abolish their hostile
policies and remove security threats against the North Korea, there would be no
need for North Korea to be a nuclear state.
From all accounts following the historic meeting between the two Korean leaders
and Kim’s meetings with the US officials, and with the Chinese leadership, he
has stressed that it has been his consistent and clear desire and stance all
along to achieve the denuclearization of the Korean peninsula.
However, this will not be a one-way street. So long as relevant parties agreed
to abolish their hostile policies and remove security threats against the North
Korea, there would be no need for North Korea to be a nuclear state, and
denuclearization could be realized, but that any roadmap for de-escalation with
the US would have to be “phased” and “synchronous.”
China’s support becomes critical and in addition to coordinating positions on
the upcoming nuclear summit and the impact on North Korea of Iran, Kim and Xi
discussed the North Koreas “open policy” and cooperation between the two
countries on the economic and trade fronts.
The Chinese have reconfirmed China’s support for the North Korea, and for Kim’s
efforts to shift strategic focus on economic construction, promising that China
would surely be the biggest investor in North Korea in the future. In
conclusion, the forthcoming Singapore summit is not only going to be of huge
importance for a domestically embattled US President, and an economically
isolated and sanctioned North Korean leader, but also important for the Chinese
leadership that would like to resolve this potential flash point problem nearer
to home so as to concentrate on the wider and looming trade war with the USA.
Was there ever a unified Arab stance towards Iran?
Mashari Althaydi/Al Arabiya/May 12/18
American President Donald Trump’s harsh blow by withdrawing from the “bad”
agreement with the Iranian regime shocked many parties across the world and
turned heads. The Europeans had bet on playing on Trump’s character and
influencing his decision via some special ways, like when French President
Emmanuel Macron courted Trump. German chancellor Angela Merkel tried to pressure
Trump, and many others tried to change his mind but he neglected all the
Europeans’ statements. He had given them time to pressure the Iranians to
“amend” this destructive agreement which Obama and his global networks brag
about. The essence of the amendment which Trump had demanded was: ending the
ballistic missiles program and halting evil Iranian interferences in the Middle
East. The Europeans however did nothing. As to why the Europeans are dying to
preserve the Iranian deal then this is something else as today I want to comment
on the Arab stance – if it’s right to talk about an Arab stance – in general
regarding the major American withdrawal from the Iranian deal. The story is
clear for Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain. Trump’s measure is
excellent and they can only support him for reasons that pertain to their views
of the nature of the Iranian threat which was neglected by the leaders of the
countries that signed the deal in 2015 without the presence of any Arab party.
What about the rest of the Arabs?
There is the Egyptian stance as expressed by the foreign ministry’s statement.
This part attracted my attention: “Egypt confirms the importance of the
participation of the concerned Arab parties in any dialogue about the future of
the situation in the region, particularly any dialogue that’s linked to the
possibilities of amending the nuclear deal with Iran.”Great, but does this
request include the attendance of, for example, Lebanon, Iraq and Syria? Qatar
which embraces American military bases and which has excellent relations with
Iran is in a bad fix especially after the anti-terror quartet’s boycott. These
countries, or to be more accurate the “actual” ruling authorities in these
countries, are biased to Iran in varying degrees so how can we talk about one
Arab stance in this case? There is also the Kuwaiti stance, as expressed by the
foreign ministry, which falls in the “middle” as it neither strongly supported
Trump’s move nor clearly objected to it. After explaining Kuwait’s
justifications for supporting the deal in the past, the statement said: “Kuwait
respects and understands America’s withdrawal from the deal.” Qatar which
embraces American military bases and which has excellent relations with Iran is
in a bad fix especially after the anti-terror quartet’s boycott. Commenting on
the American move, the foreign ministry said in a statement: “It’s in all
parties’ interest to act with restraint and deal wisely and patiently with the
situation and attempt to resolve current disputes via dialogue.”We do not know
what is meant here by wisdom or the “patience” it calls for. In short, there’s
nothing called a unified Arab stance but there are several Arab interests and
perhaps contradictory ones. This is how the situation is whether you like it or
Hope fades for Qatar’s long wait
Sawsan Al Shaer/Al Arabiya/May 12/18
American President Donald Trump’s harsh blo
It’s been more than a week since US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo visited Saudi
Arabia. He has returned to the US after being reassured that the support his
country needs from Gulf countries, whether it’s logistical or military, is
available to maintain regional security without a need to end the boycott with
US-Gulf security ties
This US conviction is due to Saudi Arabia’s astuteness in keeping the Qatari
participation in the Gulf Shield’s military drills, which the US participated
in, and in not minding American presence at Al Udeid Air Base in Doha. This is
what worried Americans the most as everything else is finalized and
well-arranged. There is a high level of coordination between Gulf and American
troops and everyone is on stand-by for any kind of cooperation as the boycott
has had no effect at all in this sphere.
Pompeo thus returned to the US convinced that the boycott will not affect
American interests in the region, as the issue with Qatar is an internal matter
among the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries, and that if it has to be
resolved, it must be an intra-GCC solution. What’s important is that this
boycott does not influence any security cooperation or coordination between GCC
states and US troops, whether on air, sea or ground. Everyone, including those
who disagree with each other, agree not to involve this dispute with any
security interests with the US. This approach also serves their interests. It
seems Pompeo is convinced that the row between the boycotting countries and
Qatar is outside the scope of US-Gulf interest. Therefore, no statements seeking
an end to the boycott were made. The maximum that was said to address the
dispute with Qatar during the press conference, which Saudi Foreign Minister
Adel al-Jubeir held with his American counterpart Pompeo, was an American
“desire” for Gulf unity to confront challenges and threats surrounding the
region. We share this US desire with Pompeo, however what we disagree with here
is that this time we insist it being on a sound and strong basis. Apart from it,
the dispute with Qatar was not on the agenda of bilateral talks.
Qatar’s euphoria peters out
Those who followed up with the euphoria that Qatar had raised during and after
Pompeo’s visit would have thought that the US had intimidated the kingdom and
that everyone in Saudi Arabia was afraid and that the next day they would
announce lifting the “blockade,” as the Qatari news channel put it! This
scenario was based on a New York Times report that said Pompeo told Saudi Arabia
“enough is enough” and that the Saudis “must stop Qatar blockade.” This account
supposedly came from an American official who is not authorized to be named.
Pompeo has returned to the US convinced that the boycott of Qatar is an internal
matter of the GCC . However, we did not see anything close to this report. The
statements made by Pompeo, the White House, the spokesperson of the US
Department of State did not show any sign of this being true. This was not even
conveyed in the press conference held between Pompeo and Jubeir. On the
contrary, we sensed deep respect and appreciation from the US for the kingdom,
and the word ‘Qatar’ was not even mentioned!
Qatar’s last hope?
So what will Qatar do now especially that this visit may have been its last hope
over the possibility of American “pressure” on the boycotting countries? If
Al-Jazeera television channel reflects how the Qatari regime thinks then what
lack of perception does it suffer from? What naiveté is this? How long does it
need to wake up and end its crisis and tragedy? How many messages, visits and
new attempts will it take for it to understand the reality of the situation?
Does the Qatari regime, which dreams of the end of its nightmare, still hope
things will be better after Trump’s presidential term ends? Does it rely on
waiting another year and a half in the hope that a new Democratic administration
will come to finish fulfilling the dream brought about by Obama to topple
countries and restore his glories and his suspicious role in this project? The
current administration has exhausted its attempts, and more importantly, it’s
convinced that this local dispute will not influence American interests and will
not affect joint military cooperation. If this is the Qatari regime’s only hope,
then it might as well wait. The completion of a year and a half is nigh, if you
wait for it.
Radicalism: The Real Shock Was the Reaction of the Americans...
Majid Rafizadeh/Gatestone Institute/May 12/18
Many extremist Muslims believe that their religious desire is coming true in in
the US. Religiously speaking, for extremist Muslims, ruling America is Allah's
(God's) word. To them, a sacred promise is coming to fruition.
What does being the second-largest religion in a country mean? Voters impact
local and national politics, swing domestic elections, elect more
representatives from the same religious affiliation, are influential enough to
determine who the next president of the United States may be, and change the
laws of the land.
This sense of immunity and dismissal led to the downfall of many countries
"Soon," said the letter, "America Will Be Ours".
The writer, it became clear, was an extremist Muslim in the U.S. who claimed to
be a reputable religious preacher. With each new word, concern grew.
He pointed out, throughout the letter, the "sinful" ways of the West: dancing,
He expressed disgust that most women did not wear the hijab or participate in
prayer five times a day. Then he got straight to the point: "Ours," he
explained, represented Muslims like him.
The sentiment is hardly a new one. A person hears similar proclamations from
many Muslim extremists throughout the years. The real shock was not letter but
the reaction of many Americans after seeing it.
Such a thing, they said, could never happen. The writer's words were "just
bluster," nothing to be taken seriously. Most surprisingly, they stated --
honestly -- that Muslims who speak of such intentions do not really mean what
they say, so these threats should not be cause for concern.
The history of the two nations where I grew up -- Iran and Syria -- taught all
of us there a big lesson about living in this kind of ignorance: the reality of
how quickly a nation can be consumed by the philosophies of a religious state.
An authoritarian and malicious regime, as exists now in Iran -- the world's
leading sponsor of terrorism and brutal even to its own people -- is something
we cannot forget.
In a few centuries, in Syria, where more than 90% percent of the population were
Christians, and in Iran where an overwhelming majority of citizens were
Zoroastrians, the demography drastically shifted to majority-Muslim. Neither
nation could have anticipated such a change.
While many may underestimate the radical preacher's claims that "Soon, America
Will Be Ours", for extremist Muslims these beliefs are strongly and deeply
Many extremists believe that their religious desire -- for a "Muslim takeover of
the White House, a directive from Muhammad himself " -- is coming true in the
US. Religiously speaking, for these Muslims, ruling America is Allah's (God's)
word, a sacred promise is coming to fruition.
A recent survey and demographic research released by the Pew Research Center
found that Muslims will soon overtake members of other religions, including
Jews, as the second-largest religious group in the United States.
This issue should not be taken lightly. What does being the second-largest
religion in a country mean? Voters impact local and national politics, swing
domestic elections, elect more representatives from the same religious
affiliation, are influential enough to determine who the next president of the
United States may be, and change the laws of the land. All it takes is a subtle
shift in power for the entire society, political system and culture of a nation
to be changed.
The number of Muslims in the US has increased by 40% in just five years --
between 2010-2015 -- while in the same period the non-Muslim population of the
US has grown by only five percent. This means that the Muslim population is
growing almost eight times faster than the non-Muslim population in the US.
As an adult, in the Muslim world, I came to hear verses and hadiths frequently
used by extremists and carved into their minds. To them, these are the true
instructions and predictions of the most powerful being. Those Muslims strongly
believe that these verses and hadiths (sayings of Muhammad) will come true
because they are issued by Allah (God) or by his messenger, Muhammad. Allah, for
instance, says in the Qur'an Chapter (9:33) sūrat al-tawbah (The Repentance):
"It is he (Allah) who has sent his Messenger with guidance and the religion of
truth (Islam), in order for it to be dominant over all other religions, even
though the Mushrikoon (disbelievers) hate it."
A popular hadith is: "Verily Allah has shown me the eastern and western part of
the earth, and I saw the authority of my Ummah (nation) dominate all that I saw"
Some extremist Muslims believe that Allah and Muhammad predicted that they would
rule over America even before America was discovered by Europeans. As a certain
radical Muslim activist said on ABC news, "Indeed, we believe that one day, the
flag of Islam will fly over the White House." He quoted a saying of Muhammad,
from the Muslim scholar Al-Tabarani in the 10th-century. "The final hour," he
said, "will not come until Muslims conquer the White House."
Many extremists also insist that Muslims do not need to be the majority in a
country in order to take over the government: "A small portion of Muslims will
rise and conquer the White House."
In the belief of fundamentalist Muslims, it is the obligation of every Muslim to
pave the way for Islam to dominate America. They are encouraged to use various
methods to ensure that this occurs -- these include force, violence and waging
jihad (holy war).
Any action taken for the purpose of accomplishing that goal is applauded by
Muslim extremists worldwide. Islamists and Islamist states, for instance,
heavily praised, and quoted Louis Farrakhan when he predicted that, "God will
destroy America at the hands of the Muslims. God will not give Japan or Europe
the honor of bringing down the United States; this is an honor God will bestow
There is historical proof of great nations succumbing to the ideals of extreme
and determined radical groupsy. History has often taught hard lessons to
powerful nations. Before one dismisses the danger America faces, take the time
to learn about the past and just how easily and swiftly irreversible changes can
happen: Russia in 1917, Germany 1933, Egypt in 1952, Iran in 1979, and so forth.
Do not underestimate the ability of radical Islam to take over your government
and impose Sharia law throughout this once free nation.
Americans should not think that they will somehow be an exception to that
historical rule. This sense of immunity and dismissal led to the downfall of
many countries throughout time. If Americans do not take the issue seriously,
history may teach them the hard way that what once seemed impossible is here.Dr.
Majid Rafizadeh, is a business strategist and advisor, Harvard-educated scholar,
political scientist, board member of Harvard International Review, and president
of the International American Council on the Middle East. He has authored
several books on Islam and US Foreign Policy. He can be reached at Dr.Rafizadeh@Post.Harvard.Edu
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