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Godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation and brings no
regret, but worldly grief produces death
Second Letter to the Corinthians 07/04-11: "I
often boast about you; I have great pride in you; I am filled with
consolation; I am overjoyed in all our affliction. For even when we came
into Macedonia, our bodies had no rest, but we were afflicted in every way
disputes without and fears within. But God, who consoles the downcast,
consoled us by the arrival of Titus, and not only by his coming, but also by
the consolation with which he was consoled about you, as he told us of your
longing, your mourning, your zeal for me, so that I rejoiced still more. For
even if I made you sorry with my letter, I do not regret it (though I did
regret it, for I see that I grieved you with that letter, though only
briefly). Now I rejoice, not because you were grieved, but because your
grief led to repentance; for you felt a godly grief, so that you were not
harmed in any way by us. For godly grief produces a repentance that leads to
salvation and brings no regret, but worldly grief produces death. For see
what earnestness this godly grief has produced in you, what eagerness to
clear yourselves, what indignation, what alarm, what longing, what zeal,
what punishment! At every point you have proved yourselves guiltless in the
Latest LCCC Bulletin analysis & editorials from miscellaneous sources
published on May 14-15/18
Hariri Family Commercial Company, Al Mustaqbal/Elias Bejjani/May 14/18
Mother’s Day: Love, Sacrifices and Commitment/Elias Bejjani/May 014/18
Lebanon's Corrupted Politicians/Elias Bejjani/May 13/18
Shattering the myths of Lebanese elections/Makram Rabah/The Arab Weekly/May
Lebanon’s elections and the threat of war/Radwan al-Sayed/Asharq Al Awsat/May
43 killed in Gaza riots; IAF strikes multiple Hamas targets/Yoav Zitun,
Elior Levy/Ynetnews/May 14/18
Noose Tightens around Qatar/Salman Al-dossary/Asharq Al Awsat/May 14/18
Half of evangelicals
support Israel because they believe it is important for fulfilling end-times
Philip Bump/The Washington Post/May 14/18
Iraq’s election and overcoming the past/Abdullah bin Bijad Al-Otaibi/AlArabiya/May
Iraqis’ Chance to Regain Their Country/Ghassan Charbel/Asharq Al Awsat/May
People Are Silicon Valley’s Best-kept Secret/Sebastian Mallaby/The
Washington Post/May 14/18
Ambiguity of 'Climate Change'/Faye Flam/Bloomberg View/May 14/18
Putin’s stock rises as 'go-to' mediator between Israel, Iran/Al Monitor/Week
in Review May 14/18
Iran in Syria: “Cognitive Empathy” and Interests/Aymenn Jawad Al-Tamimi/Syria
Comment blog/May 14/18
The Privileged Palestinian "Refugees"/Efraim Karash/Middle East Quarterly
Volume 25: Number/May 14/18
Titles For Latest LCCC Lebanese Related News published on
Hariri Family Commercial Company, Al
Mother’s Day: Love, Sacrifices and Commitment
Lebanon's Corrupted Politicians
Lebanese Minister: Trump's Middle East Moves Fuel Tensions
Lebanese leaders denounce Israeli aggression as dozens of Palestinians
Judge postpones court hearing over LBCI ownership
Hamadeh says Ministry of Education against calling off Brevet official exams
Defense Case Begins at Special Tribunal for Lebanon
Constitutional Council Annulls Article 49 of State Budget
Hariri Voices Dismay over U.S. Jerusalem Move, Geagea Slams 'Massacre'
Nasrallah Says Golan Attack Tells Israel Its Raids Won't Go Unpunished
US ambassador commends Aoun on elections, ahead of Jerusalem embassy opening
Lebanon’s Hariri Dismisses Future Officials as PM Seeks Accountability
Lebanon Set for Caretaker Government
Berri Chairs ‘Farewell’ Parliament Bureau Meeting
Berri Says 'March 8 Not Seeking Bigger Govt Share'
Hizbullah Official Says Trump Embassy Decision ‘Worthless’
Shattering the myths of Lebanese elections
Lebanon’s elections and the threat of war
Titles For Latest LCCC
Bulletin For Miscellaneous Reports And News published on May 14-15/18
43 killed in Gaza riots; IAF strikes multiple Hamas targets
Trump Calls Jerusalem Embassy Move 'a Great Day for Israel'
U.S. Not the First Nor Last Embassy to Open in Jerusalem
US Open to Negotiating with Europe on Iran
Arab Troop Deployment in Syria Not on Agenda of Astana Talks
Likud Calls for Nobel Peace Prize for Netanyahu over Iran
Iran, Qatar Hold Joint Economic Committee Meeting
Another Family Behind New Indonesia Suicide Blasts
Iran FM in Moscow as Russia Moves to Save Nuclear Deal
Preliminary Results Show Sadr ahead of Abadi in Iraq Elections
Arab League Honors Emir of Kuwait
Syria Talks Renew in Astana amid Growing Regional Fears
Erdogan Says U.S. Has Lost 'Mediator Role' in Middle East
GCC urges Iran to stop destabilizing region
Latest LCCC Lebanese Related News published on
Hariri Family Commercial Company, Al Mustaqbal
Elias Bejjani/May 14/18
Mr.Saad Hariri is the sole owner of Al Mustakbal family commercial company.
Accordingly he is free to hire and fire the way he likes. His employee's
current changes and shuffling have nothing to do with any thing that is
reform, sovereignty or patriotism. The man is guarding his own personal
interests no more no less
Mother’s Day: Love,
Sacrifices and Commitment
الأم: محبة وإلتزام وتضحية
Elias Bejjani/May 013/18
The Spirit Of My mother who like every and each loving departed mother is
definitely watching from above and praying for all of us. May Almighty God
Bless her spirit and the Spirits of all departed mothers.
In Christianity Virgin Merry is envisaged by many believers and numerous
cultures as the number one role model for the righteous, devoted, loving ,
caring, giving, and humble mothers.
Today while in Canada we are happily and joyfully celebrating the Mothers’
Day, let us all pray that Almighty God will keep granting all mothers all
over the world the needed graces of wisdom, meekness and faith to highly
remain under all circumstances honoring this holy role model and to stay as
Virgin Merry fully devoted to their families.
In all religions and cultures all over the world, honoring, respecting and
obeying parents is not a favor that people either chose to practice or not.
No not at all, honoring, respecting and obeying parents is a holy obligation
that each and every faithful individual who believes in God MUST fulfill, no
Almighty God in His 10 Commandments (Exodus 20:2-17 ) made the honoring of
both parents (commandment number five) a holy obligation, and not a choice
or a favor.
“Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long upon the land
which the Lord your God is giving you”. (Exodus 20:12)
Reading the Bible, both the Old and New Testament shows with no doubt that
honoring parents is a cornerstone and a pillar in faith and righteousness
for all believers. All other religions and cultures share with Christians
this holy concept and obligation.
“Honor your father and your mother, as the LORD your God commanded you, so
that your days may be long and that it may go well with you in the land that
the LORD your God is giving you.” (Deuteronomy 5:16)
“You shall each revere your mother and father, and you shall keep my
Sabbaths: I am the LORD your God.” (Leviticus 19:3).
Back home in Lebanon we have two popular proverbs that say: “If you do not
have an elderly figure in your family to bless you, go and search for one”.
“The mother is the who either gathers or divides the family”
How true are these two proverbs, because there will be no value, or meaning
for our lives if not blessed and flavored by the wisdom, love and blessings
of our parents and of other elder members.
He who does not honor the elderly, sympathize and empathize with them,
especially his own parents is a person with a hardened heart, and a numbed
conscience, who does not know the meaning of gratitude.
History teaches us that the easiest route for destroying a nation is to
destroy, its cornerstone, the family. Once the family code of respect is
belittled and not honored, the family is divided and loses all its Godly
“Any kingdom divided against itself is laid waste; and a house divided
against itself falls” (Luke 11-17)
One very important concept and an extremely wise approach MUST apply and
prevail when reading the Holy Bible in a bid to understand its contents and
observe the Godly instructions and life guidelines that are enlisted. The
concept needs to be a faith one with an open frame of mind free from doubts,
questions and challenges.
Meanwhile the approach and interpretation MUST both be kept within the
abstract manner, thinking and mentality frame, and not in the concrete way
We read in (Matthew 15/04: “For God said, Respect your father and your
mother, and If you curse your father or your mother, you are to be put to
This verse simply dwells on The Fifth Biblical Commandment: “Honor your
Father and Mother”. To grasp its meaning rightfully and put it in its right
faith content one should understand that death in the Bible is not the death
of the body as we experience and see on earth. DEATH in the Bible means the
SIN that leads to eternal anguish in Hell.
The Bible teaches us that through His crucifixion, death and resurrection,
Jesus defeated death in its ancient human, earthly concept. He broke the
death thorn and since than, the actual death became the sin. Those who
commit the sin die and on the judgment day are outcast to the eternal fire.
Death for the believers is a temporary sleep on the hope of resurrection.
Accordingly the verse “If you curse your father or your mother, you are to
be put to death”, means that those who do not honor their parents, help,
support and respect them commit a deadly sin and God on the Judgment Day
will make them accountable if they do not repent and honor their parents.
God is a Father, a loving, passionate and caring One, and in this context He
made the honoring of parents one of the Ten Commandments.
In conclusion: The abstract and faith interpretation of Matthew 15/04 verse
must not be related to children or teenagers who because of an age and
maturity factors might temporarily repel against their parents and disobey
Hopefully, each and every one of us, no matter what religion or denomination
he/she is affiliated to will never ever ignore his parents and commit the
deadly SIN of not honoring them through every way and mean especially when
they are old and unable to take care of themselves.
For all those of us whose mothers have passed away, let us mention them in
our daily prayers and ask Almighty God to endow their souls the eternal rest
in His heavenly dwellings.
Happy Mothers’ Day to all mothers
Elias Bejjani/May 13/18
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
Trump's Middle East Moves Fuel Tensions
Reuters/Monday 14th May 2018/Lebanon’s foreign minister on Monday
called the U.S. decisions to move its embassy to Jerusalem and to withdraw
from the Iran nuclear deal policy failures that will lead to more tensions
and extremism in the region. Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil, whose Free
Patriotic Movement is aligned with the Iran-backed Lebanese group Hezbollah
in parliament, said moving the U.S. embassy in Israel would undermine peace
in the Middle East. “This is a move that will cause more tensions and lead
to more extremism in the region,” he told Reuters on the sidelines of a
conference in Brussels. “We cannot accept to have any kind of peace while
Jerusalem is being kidnapped.” Alongside U.S. President Donald Trump’s
decision to withdraw from the Iran nuclear deal, he said U.S. moves added to
a long list of U.S. policy failures in the region. “This is another
failure,” Bassil told Reuters. “Israel has declared a long time ago that it
is seeking anything but peace, but now the United States is backing Israel
in its policy of launching wars against the peoples of the region.”
Lebanese leaders denounce Israeli aggression as dozens
of Palestinians killed
Annahar Staff /14 May 2018/Lebanese Prime Minister Saad
Hariri called the U.S. decision to move its embassy to Jerusalem a
"provocative" act that closes the doors for any attempts to reach peace
between the Israel and Palestinians.
BEIRUT: The opening of the U.S embassy in
Jerusalem was marked by mass protests along the Gaza border and the death of
over 50 Palestinians, drawing condemnation from across the Lebanese
political spectrum. The embassy was moved from Tel Aviv after a highly
controversial decision by U.S President Donald Trump last December. Lebanese
Prime Minister Saad Hariri called the U.S. decision to move its embassy to
Jerusalem a "provocative" act that closes the doors for any attempts to
reach peace between the Israel and Palestinians.
Hariri in a series of tweets Monday said he regrets "this decision that is
igniting the anger of millions of Arabs, Muslims and Christians." He said
Lebanon denounces the "provocative" decision that is deepening the conflict
and allowing the "Israelis to spill more blood of innocent Palestinians and
increases the intensity of extremism that threatens the world community."The
embassy move comes on the day marking Israel's creation 70 years ago, which
Arabs call the "Nakba" or catastrophe, in reference to the displacement of
hundreds of thousands of Palestinians who fled or were expelled from what is
now Israel. Lebanon was one of the Arab countries to receive many of the
Palestinian refugees. Today, there are more than 170,000 Palestinian
refugees living in Lebanon.
Meanwhile, Lebanon's militant Hezbollah group says the U.S. decision to move
the American embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem is a unilateral step "that
Palestinians will not accept and therefore it is worthless."
The group's deputy leader, Sheikh Naim Kassem, made his comments in a speech
in Beirut on Monday marking the 70th anniversary of the "Nakba", adding that
"God willing, the Nakba that happened 70 years ago will be a motive for
change and liberation."
The U.S. is to formally inaugurate the embassy in Jerusalem later on Monday.
The Palestinians are holding mass protests along the Gaza border to condemn
the move, and to try to break a decade-old blockade of the Hamas-ruled
territory by Israel and Egypt.
Lebanese Forces leader Samir Geagea was quick to condemn the violence as
well, saying "we denounce the use of live bullets on demonstrators which
killed doezens and wounded hundreds."Geagea also called on the international
community to "intervene immediately to stop the massacre of Palestinians who
are simply calling for justice based on the two-state solution."
Local Palestinians took to the streets to protest the move as hundreds
gathered in front of the Saudi embassy in Beirut.
Organizers chose the Saudi embassy given the "close relationship between
Trump and the Gulf Kingdom." - With AP.
Judge postpones court hearing over LBCI ownership
Georgi Azar/Annahar/May 14/2018/BEIRUT: A legal hearing over the ownership
of local broadcasting station LBCI was postponed until June 22 after
Lebanese Forces (LF) leader Samir Geagea missed the proceeding citing
security concerns. LF MP and lawyer George Adwan, who represented Geagea,
requested that the hearing be held at the party's headquarters in Maarab.
Adwan asked for the hearing to take place in Maarab, where Geagea resides,
to maintain the LF leader's safety. "Everyone knows that Geagea is under
threat, he's been under strict security for years and was targetted not too
long ago," Adwan said, adding that "we'll not give enemies of the state the
opportunity to undermine the stability of the country."
Hamadeh says Ministry of Education against calling off
Brevet official exams
Mon 14 May 2018/NNA - Minister of Education and Higher Learning, Marwan
Hamadeh, said that "what is being circulated about the possibility of
dropping the Middle School official exams (Brevet) is based on a law
proposal issued by a number of deputies, not a draft law issued by the
government and the competent ministry, and therefore it is submitted to the
government for opinion."He added that the Ministry of Education did not
approve on calling off those exams for educational reasons, and it still
clings to this position.
Accordingly, the Ministry has re-published today the dates for conducting
both the Middle School and High School official exams.
Defense Case Begins at
Special Tribunal for Lebanon
Naharnet/May 14/18/Defense counsel for the Accused Hussein Hassan Oneissi
began Monday the presentation of evidence before the Trial Chamber of the
U.N.-backed Special Tribunal for Lebanon. The presentation began with the
testimony of an expert witness, Professor Siegfried Ludwig Sporer. Sporer
testified in relation to the general principles of eyewitness testimony and
identification. The STL noted in a statement that “the Oneissi Defense is
the only Defense which elected to present a case” and that it has notified
the Trial Chamber that it would call two witnesses to testify, Sporer and
Lebanon's former General Security head Maj. Gen. Jamil al-Sayyed. The Trial
Chamber also decided to allow the Oneissi Defense to amend its witness list
by “adding four witnesses, DHO-003, DHO-004, DHO-005 and Mr Xavier Laroche
(DHO-006), and to receive their witness statements into evidence in lieu of
their oral testimony.”The 'Ayyash et al. case' concerns the 14 February 2005
attack in Beirut that killed formerPrime Minister Rafik Hariri and 21
others, and injured 226 more. Oneissi and four other suspected Hizbullah
members are currently facing trial in absentia. They are charged with
conspiracy to commit a terrorist act, and several other related charges.
Hizbullah chief Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah has dismissed the court as a
U.S.-Israeli plot against his group and vowed that the suspects will never
Constitutional Council Annulls Article 49 of State Budget
Naharnet/May 14/18/The Constitutional Council on Monday annulled 7 Articles
of the state budget including Article 49 which grants residence permits to
foreign property owners. Said articles were appealed by Kataeb chief MP Sami
Gemayel and nine other MPs late in April. Judge Tarek Ziadeh, who spoke to
reporters after a reported four-hour council meeting, assured that the
annulment does not affect the state budget, however he stressed that it was
“binding.”Article 49 of the state budget stipulates granting residence
permits to every Arab or foreign who buys a housing unit in Lebanon. A group
of mainly Kataeb lawmakers led by Kataeb chief MP Sami Gemayel lodged an
appeal late in April before the Constitutional Council to challenge the
Hariri Voices Dismay over U.S. Jerusalem Move, Geagea
Naharnet/May 14/18/Lebanese leaders on Monday reacted to Washington's
inauguration of its deeply controversial embassy in Jerusalem and to
Israel's killing of dozens of Palestinian protesters on Gaza's border.
In a statement, Hariri expressed “Lebanon's extreme dismay over the decision
to move the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem.”“After the anniversary of Palestine's
Nakba (catastrophe) on May 15, the U.S. administration is declaring May 14
as another calamitous day,” Hariri added. The premier warned that the U.S.
move “puts all peace tracks in the region in the face of a dead end.”“I
express deep regret over a decision that infuriates millions of Arabs,
Muslims and Christians and that leads to aggravating violence and giving
Israelis the freedom to shed the blood of more innocent Palestinians, not to
mention that it will exacerbate the extremism that has started to threaten
the entire international community and its countries and peoples,” Hariri
added. He also cautioned that “this provocative step aggravates the
conflict, acts of oppression and the horrible bloody massacres that Israel
is committing against the Palestinian people,” urging the international
community to “move quickly to put an end to these appalling atrocities and
to help the Palestinians in their endeavor for the rise of an independent
Palestinian state with Holy Jerusalem as its capital.” Lebanese Forces
leader Samir Geagea meanwhile said he strongly condemns “all the ongoing
incidents in West Bank and Gaza from the use of live rounds against
protesters to the dropping of incendiary grenades on them, which has
resulted in the death of dozens and the wounding of hundreds.”“We stress the
need for the international community to intervene immediately to put an end
to the massacre that is being committed against the Palestinian people which
is demanding its right to just and comprehensive peace on the basis of a
two-state solution,” Geagea added. Progressive Socialist Party leader MP
Walid Jumblat meanwhile likened the opening of the U.S. embassy in Jerusalem
to Britain's 1917 “occupation of Jerusalem,” the 1948 creation of Israel,
the 1967 occupation of the West Bank and the ongoing construction of
Says Golan Attack Tells Israel Its Raids Won't Go Unpunished
Naharnet/May 14/18/Hizbullah chief Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah announced Monday
that Thursday's rocket attack on the occupied Golan Heights was a “message”
that Israel can no longer bomb Syria without facing a response.
“For the first time ever, the occupation posts in occupied Golan were
targeted with such a bombardment. Israel said that only 20 rockets were
fired some of which were downed, but the truth is that 55 rockets some of
which of heavy-caliber were fired at a number of military posts, creating
huge explosions, which forced all residents in Golan and some in north
Israel to scramble to bomb shelters in panic,” Nasrallah said in a televised
address marking the second anniversary of the death in Syria of Hizbullah
commander Mustafa Badreddine. Israel has blamed Iran's Quds Force for the
rocket attack, saying it retaliated by bombing "nearly all the Iranian
infrastructure in Syria."Commenting on Arab media reports that 23 Syrians
and Iranians were killed in the strikes, Nasrallah slammed them as a
disinformation campaign launched by Gulf media outlets, endorsing Syria's
official announcement that only three Syrians were killed in the air raids.
“This is one form of the response to Israel's attacks on Syria. The message
that the enemy received was resounding and we are following the Israeli
media outlets. The message is that you are mistaken if you think that you
can continue to kill and bomb as you please,” Nasrallah said. “The other
parties will respond at the appropriate time and place and with the
appropriate method. You as an enemy can no longer continue to violate
Syria's sovereignty and attack it without facing a response or punishment.
This landmark rocket attack has launched a new phase,” Nasrallah added.
Noting that Israel “has stayed mum over its losses and the targeted
locations,” Hizbullah's leader added that the Israelis had contacted U.N.
forces in Syria to ask Damascus to end the round of hostilities.
He also revealed that Israel was warned via a foreign state that “the next
response would be in the heart of occupied Palestine should any red lines be
crossed” in Israel's retaliation to the Golan attack.
Nasrallah added: “Everyone must know that among the most important
indications from this incident is that (Israel's) domestic front is not
ready for war. The Israelis sought to cover up the events with lies.
(Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor) Lieberman said that all Iranian bases in
Syria were destroyed but this did not happen.”Turning to Lebanon, Nasrallah
said Hizbullah has obtained information that “hostile regional countries”
are asking some Lebanese parties “not to rush the formation of the
government.”“They're asking them to plunge the country into a crisis and
heeding these demands does not serve the national interest at all,”
Nasrallah cautioned. He also blasted Bahrain's foreign minister, calling him
an "idiot" and a "traitor" for supporting Israel's "right" to respond to the
barrage of rockets coming from Syria.
Nasrallah called the creation of Israel, which marks 70 years of its
creation Monday, a "mark of shame" for humanity. He said the pressure from
Israel and the United States on Iran is not just because of its nuclear
program, but is in essence because of its support to the Palestinians and
other "resistance" groups. He urged the Palestinians not to accept any new
U.S. peace plans.
US ambassador commends
Aoun on elections, ahead of Jerusalem embassy opening
The Daily Star/May 14, 2018/BEIRUT: The U.S. ambassador to Lebanon Monday
congratulated President Michel Aoun on the country’s general elections, in a
meeting held hours before the scheduled opening of the U.S. Embassy in
Jerusalem. U.S. Ambassador to Lebanon Elizabeth Richard commended Aoun
during their sit-down on the “success of the parliamentary elections” that
took place last Sunday, according to a statement from Aoun’s office. The
tweet did not mention any discussion between the two regarding the highly
controversial transfer of the U.S. Embassy from the Israeli city of Tel Aviv
to occupied Jerusalem. The embassy move comes after U.S. President Donald
Trump last December announced his official recognition of Jerusalem as the
capital of Israel, in what was widely seen by critics as a blow to the
Palestinian cause. Later in the day, Aoun received a delegation from the
U.K.’s Royal College of Defense Studies, along with British Ambassador to
Lebanon Hugo Shorter. The president discussed Lebanon’s elections during the
meeting, saying the new proportional law governing the elections had
provided the “right balance between the majority and the minority, as well
as between [religious sects].”
Aoun said that while under the previous majoritarian electoral law, national
unity governments had been formed with the participation of most parties,
the new law would allow majority governments to be formed without including
the opposition, if they preferred.
Aoun reiterated his position that the Syrian refugee population in Lebanon
was a “burden” on Lebanon’s “economy security and employment capacity,”
citing a figure of some 1.85 million refugees residing in Lebanon. The U.N.
refugee agency counts less than one million registered Syrian refugees in
The president thanked the U.K. delegation for the significant military and
security aid the country provides to Lebanon, while urging them not to
withdraw funding from the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon, as the
force – he said – plays a key role in “keeping peace between Lebanon and
Dismisses Future Officials as PM Seeks Accountability
Beirut - Nazeer RidaAsharq Al-Awsat/Monday, 14 May, 2018/The results of
Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri’s first assessment of the performance of
officials from his Future Movement began appearing on Sunday when the
premier dismissed two of them. The dismissal of Wissam Hariri and Maher Abu
al-Khudoud came as the premier’s cousin and chief of staff, Nader Hariri,
resigned. The prime minister’s press office said that Hariri thanked his
chief of staff for his efforts throughout his tenure and wished him success
in everything he aspires to. Hariri decided to appoint Mohammed Mneimneh as
acting chief of staff, his office said in a terse statement. “There are a
lot of theories and speculation about what happened,” the prime minister
tweeted late Sunday. “The dismissals that happened have one reason, and that
is accountability.” Hariri’s parliamentary bloc shrank from 33 to 21 in the
May 6 parliamentary elections, although it remains one of the four largest
in the legislature. His move on Sunday seemed to be the starting point for
the reorganization of his movement after coming under popular pressure and
receiving complaints of certain gaps in the work of some Future officials.
Those gaps could have contributed to the smaller share that the movement
received in the last elections. But sources close to Hariri told Asharq Al-Awsat
not to make wide speculations and to give the issue some time. Future MP
Mohammed al-Hajjar denied that Hariri’s move was aimed at restructuring the
movement. He told the newspaper that the current measures were the result of
an evaluation process that all democratic parties undertake. “We were
expecting better election results although we scored higher than what our
rivals thought we would,” the lawmaker said.
Annulls Article 49 of State Budget
Naharnet/May 14/18/The Constitutional Council on Monday annulled 7 Articles
of the state budget including Article 49 which grants residence permits to
foreign property owners. Said articles were appealed by Kataeb chief MP Sami
Gemayel and nine other MPs late in April. Judge Tarek Ziadeh, who spoke to
reporters after a reported four-hour council meeting, assured that the
annulment does not affect the state budget, however he stressed that it was
Article 49 of the state budget stipulates granting residence permits to
every Arab or foreign who buys a housing unit in Lebanon.
A group of mainly Kataeb lawmakers led by Kataeb chief MP Sami Gemayel
lodged an appeal late in April before the Constitutional Council to
challenge the article.
Lebanon Set for Caretaker Government
Naharnet/May 14/18/Lebanon’s Cabinet is expected to convene on Wednesday to
address several key files, including a controversial electricity file,
before it turns into a caretaker government on May 20, al-Joumhouria daily
reported on Monday. The meeting will take place at the Baabda Palace to
“tackle and place several files on the solution track before the government
turns into a caretaker cabinet,” well-informed sources told the daily. They
added: “An understanding was reached between President Michel Aoun and Prime
Minister Saad Hariri, during their meeting on Friday, to hold a second
special government session before May 20 if Wednesday’s meeting was not
enough to tackle the files.”Now that Lebanon has completed its parliamentary
elections on May 6, 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
Berri Chairs ‘Farewell’ Parliament Bureau
Naharnet/May 14/18/Speaker Nabih Berri chaired at his residence in Ain el-Tineh
a “farewell” meeting of the Parliament Bureau before the legislature
concludes on June 20 its mandate that extended over a nine-year period. The
meeting was held in the presence of Deputy House Speaker Farid Makari, MPs
Michel Moussa, Antoine Zahra, Ahmed Fatfat, Wael Abou Faour, and Serje
Tersarkisian and Parliament Secretary-General Adnan Daher, said the
state-run National News Agency.“The bureau convened at Berri’s request. It
was a farewell meeting where several administrative issues were discussed
and decided on. That’s all we did,” said Makari. Lebanon’s newly elected
parliament will will hold a session on May 22 to reportedly re-elect AMAL
Movement leader Nabih Berri to a sixth term as Parliament Speaker.
Berri Says 'March 8 Not Seeking Bigger Govt
Naharnet/May 14/18/Speaker Nabih Berri said that the so-called March 8
alliance is “not seeking a bigger share” in the upcoming government despite
the favorable parliamentary elections outcome, noting that both alliances of
March 8 and March 14 are “totally finished,” the pan-Arab Asharq al-Awsat
daily reported on Monday. In remarks he made to the daily, Berri said:
“March 8 alliance does not seek to increase its share in the government
despite the (promising) results gained in the country’s general
elections."However, the Speaker said he would “prefer the next government to
include all parties represented in the parliament,” considering the once
known March 8 and March 14 alliances as "totally finished." Polls held on
May 6, the first in nine years, saw Hizbullah's allies (mainly Berri's AMAL
Movement) in parliament garner enough seats to block any attempt by its
political foes in parliament to make it disarm.
In Sunday's vote, AMAL scored 16 seats out of parliament's 128, three more
than its ally Hizbullah. Berri added that some political alliances have been
“reshuffled in a completely incomprehensible manner,” pointing out that
“March 8 has more than 50 parliament seats (out of 128),” after the latest
polls, but denied that his ally, Hizbullah wants to increase its share
within the government. On the other hand, Berri stressed that he is seeking
to “establish a broad national bloc within the new Lebanese parliament,”
which will begin its mandate on June 21. He said he is not currently
discussing with political parties any matter related to the new government,
pending the start of the mandate of the new parliament. The new parliament
is supposed to meet on the 22nd of May to elect its president, deputy, and
the parliament bureau and then launch binding parliamentary consultations to
name a new head of government.
At the economic level, Berri stressed that the “government should address
the economic issue,” pointing out that the loans obtained by Lebanon from
the Cedre Conference held in Paris recently "are not free."“This time, it is
conditional on reforms. The eyes of the international community are open to
evaluating the government performance,” he concluded.
Hizbullah Official Says Trump Embassy Decision
Naharnet/May 14/18/Hizbullah deputy chief
Sheikh Naim Qassem stated that the decision of U.S. President Donald Trump
to move the U.S. embassy in Israel to Jerusalem was “worthless,” LBCI
reported on Monday. “Trump’s decision to move the embassy is worthless. Last
week's attacks on Israeli positions in the Golan Heights affirmed balance of
deterrence,” said Qassem. The Hizbullah official stressed saying:
“Currently, the goal is to liberate all of Palestine. We want the people of
the region to be able to create their own future.”“Syria has always
supported Palestine, that’s why they tried to destroy it,” he went on to
say. Lashing out at Arab countries that have normalized relations with
Israel, he said: “Arab countries that have normalized relations with Israel,
have always been a burden on the Palestinian cause with their oil, thrones
and emirates.”Qassem's remarks come as the U.S. prepares to move its embassy
in Israel to Jerusalem later Monday after months of global outcry,
Palestinian anger and exuberant praise from Israelis over President Donald
Trump's decision tossing aside decades of precedent. The inauguration that
follows Trump's December 6 recognition of the disputed city as Israel's
capital also comes at a time of heightened regional tensions.
Shattering the myths of Lebanese elections
Makram Rabah/The Arab Weekly/May 14/18
The results of this supposed democratic election go beyond confirming
Hezbollah’s hegemony over the Lebanese state.
Following a 9-year electoral hiatus, many Lebanese were extremely keen to
cast votes in the May 6 parliamentary elections — at least it seemed so.
Much of the fuss over this supposedly routine activity was because of a new
proportional election law, which, theoretically, offered voters a chance to
either dislodge Lebanon’s political elite or challenge their hegemony.
However, the anticipated excitement never made it as far as Election Day.
Voter turnout was about 49% nationwide, including a measly 34% in Beirut.
The results, given revisions to the law and the gerrymandering that went
into it, were hardly unexpected. Most of the traditional political parties
retained their share of seats, although some factions gained seats in
districts the previous majoritarian electoral law had barred them from
The main casualty of the election was Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri,
who saw his Future Movement bloc reduced from 33 to 21 seats, as the
distinctly underwhelming Sunni turnout allowed Hezbollah and its pro-Syrian
Sunni allies to win five seats in Beirut, a traditional Hariri stronghold.
More important, Hezbollah, with its Shia ally the Amal Movement, secured
most of the Shia seats in parliament and helped its allies challenge the
hegemony of the Future Movement in the Sunni community.
Hariri’s electoral debacle served as a painful reminder of the bargain he
struck with Lebanese President Michel Aoun and the consequent abandonment of
his father’s legacy he demonstrated by turning his back on traditional
allies Samir Geagea and Walid Jumblatt.
Above all, Hariri and his Future Movement failed to address key grievances
of their constituency, which had sent alarming messages in the latest
municipal elections by essentially boycotting the vote.
In addition to Hezbollah, the other two victorious parties were the Free
Patriotic Movement led by Aoun’s son-in-law and Lebanese Foreign Minister
Gebran Bassil and the Lebanese Forces. Bassil conjured up and gerrymandered
districts to secure his win. The Lebanese Forces surpassed expectations with
15 seats, one of which is deep in the heart of Hezbollah-controlled area in
Yet the results of this supposed democratic election go beyond confirming
Hezbollah’s hegemony over the Lebanese state. They lay to rest some myths
and misconceptions about reforming the archaic Lebanese political system.
Contrary to the expectations of the political factions, which approved this
diabolical electoral law, the proportional electoral system was not well
received by most of the Lebanese. For evidence, there is the appalling
turnout. Realistically, Lebanese feel uneasy voting for a locked list with
one preferential voting option, something that would entail them publicly
endorsing one faction over the other.
Interestingly, there is something very non-Lebanese about Bassil’s law, at
least from the perspective of the voters. Most Lebanese who are not
affiliated to political factions, either by choice or by tradition, prefer
to divide their votes between opposing candidates, allowing them to petition
either side for favours as circumstances dictate. Such locked lists require
that the parties running present a clear and realistic political and
economic platform, something that none of those running May 6 managed to do.
Funnily enough, even if such a political programme existed, it is highly
unlikely the Lebanese would even consider it, as they would rather continue
voting for their traditional sectarian and tribal leadership, something that
the election results confirmed. Despite the government’s campaign
instructing voters how the system worked, 38,909 void ballots — a large
number for an election in Lebanon — were cast, suggesting the system was too
complex for ordinary electors.
Perhaps one of the most important myths that the election shattered was one
campaigned on by many independent political activists: that electoral reform
was key for political reform. In reality, the Lebanese electorate chose not
to endorse the so-called civil society candidates, who assumed that their
active social media profiles were sufficient to get them to parliament, and
voted for the status quo instead.
Perhaps it is permissible to spend hours analysing and looking for reasons
to justify the election results. However, what cannot be disputed is that,
while they are entitled to celebrate their democratic achievement, the
Lebanese have a long way to go before they can call themselves a democracy.
**Makram Rabah is a lecturer at the American University of Beirut,
Department of History. He is the author of A Campus at War: Student Politics
at the American University of Beirut, 1967-1975.
Lebanon’s elections and the threat of war
Radwan al-Sayed/Asharq Al Awsat/May 14/18
As Lebanon neared the end of its elections and the announcement of its
results, it was hit with two storms. The first was the storm of armed
Hezbollah and Amal Movement supporters who took to the streets of Beirut
under the pretext of celebrating the victory achieved by the “Shiite duo”,
and the second was the US president backing out of the nuclear deal with
Iran. Hezbollah and its weapons were the biggest victors in the battle as 26
Shiites out of 27 on Hezbollah and Amal electoral lists won, in addition to
15 of their allies who also won which include seven Sunnis. Therefore what I
expected since 2017 has happened, which is that the settlement which brought
about Lebanon’s president and prime minister would make the country a
follower of Hezbollah, not just on the security and military levels, but
also on the political level.
What I expected since 2017 has happened, which is that the settlement which
brought about Lebanon’s president and prime minister would make the country
a follower of Hezbollah . The president and the prime minister insist that
stability would not have been achieved without this settlement, and that
constitutional and administrative institutions would not have gone back to
work without it.
Those who oppose the settlement, however, think that what has been achieved
is very little when considering things from a national perspective. No one
was capable of rejecting stability but none of the Muslims had approved of
the electoral law. Rejecting the newly adopted law would not have threatened
stability. Not to mention that Prime Minister Saad Hariri knew well that he
was the biggest loser behind approving this law and he did in fact lose one
third of his bloc. Those who won were not some of the best candidates!
The US and Iran's nuclear deal
Meanwhile, American President Donald Trump withdrew from the nuclear deal
with Iran. Trump said he was withdrawing from it because it’s a very bad
deal in the balance of American interests and because Iran threatens the
world with ballistic missiles and spreads terrorism. There will be difficult
negotiations, or let’s say disagreements, because the Chinese and the
Russians are against Trump’s move and so are the Europeans. There are
lurking parties here, primarily Israel, which has been attacking Syria for
years under the pretext of combating Iranian interferences. The bet was that
America will prevent Israel and that Russia will prevent Iran from
escalating the situation towards transforming into a comprehensive war.
However, there are now two new factors. The first one is that Trump
mentioned the spread of terrorism as a reason behind the dispute with Iran
and that Israel thinks it has the chance to destroy Iranian presence in
Syria now that Iran is exposed there. No one really knows whether Putin
allows this or what the American military really thinks of this!
Hezbollah's control of Lebanon
In 2006 when the war erupted between Hezbollah and the Zionists, Lebanon’s
situation was much better. Its government enjoyed wide popularity and it was
supported by the strong political front of the March 14 coalition. The
Americans and Arabs did what they could to save the country’s structure and
the army. Today, however, Lebanon is under the control of Hezbollah, which
is a terrorist group in the eyes of the US, the international community and
Arabs. Lebanon will thus not find any supporters if Hezbollah is pushed to
get involved in a possible Iranian-Israeli war.
UN Security Council Resolution 1701 stipulates that the Lebanese army and
international troops are the only two authorized parties to be present in
the South. However the president said that the army was weak and it needs
Hezbollah’s support to deter Israel and that Hezbollah has another task
which is to combat terrorism! The immunity which the international
resolution and the government had provided was thus fractured.
The Taif agreement
As for the electoral law, it shook the Taif Agreement and the constitution
because it underestimated co-existence when it intentionally separated
Christians from Muslims in most constituencies. The president and the prime
minister underestimated UNSCR 1701 and the immunity it provides Lebanon with
when they considered that Hezbollah is an alternative to the army and the
international troops. After the elections ended, the president called for
dialogue to implement the Taif Agreement and to formulate a defense
strategy. The implementation of the Taif Agreement calls for going back to
the principle of co-existence and for repealing the discriminatory electoral
law. The defense strategy is useless without respecting UNSCR 1701 and 1559,
which was reached before the latter, and which stipulate disarming all
militias, mainly Hezbollah, so only the army and security forces are armed.
Can the president or the prime minister do that or even speak out on that? I
do not think this is possible or else what’s the point of the “settlement”
which brought them to power upon the conditions of the Iranian-backed armed
Those who oppose the settlement must resume their efforts to protect Lebanon
as a nation and a state by insisting to respect the Taif Agreement, the
constitution, UNSCR 1701 and other related resolutions. Meanwhile, Lebanon
will remain under the threat of war, which will happen tomorrow, that is if
it doesn’t happen today.
Bulletin For Miscellaneous Reports And News published
on May 14-15/18
43 killed in Gaza riots; IAF strikes
multiple Hamas targets
Yoav Zitun, Elior Levy/Ynetnews/May 14/18
Protests on Gaza border fence escalate ahead of US embassy opening in
Jerusalem; medical sources say more than 900 people wounded, 450 of them
from live fire; Hamas orders protesters to pull back; PA announces national
day of mourning.
The death toll in the Palestinian riots on the Gaza border fence rose to 43
on Monday afternoon, Gaza medical sources said, a short while before the
official opening of the US Embassy in Jerusalem.
According to reports, four of the dead were members of Hamas's security
apparatuses. An IDF soldier was lightly wounded, likely from a stone, and
received medical care.
About 40,000 Palestinians have gathered near the border fence since the
morning hours. At least 43 were killed and more than 900 were wounded, 450
of them from live fire. This is the highest Palestinian death toll since
Operation Protective Edge. There were 13 conflagration zones around the
strip, and Hamas ordered all those present in the border area to return home
The Palestinian government in Ramallah rushed to accuse Israel of committing
a "horrible massacre" and declared a national day of mourning, to be held
In addition, the Palestine Liberation Organization called a general strike
across the West Bank and Gaza on Tuesday in response to the deaths, the
official Palestinian news agency Wafa said Monday.
The agency reported that PLO Executive Committee member Wasel Abu Yousef
announced a "complete strike" across the Palestinian Territories "to mourn
the martyrdom" of those killed in Gaza on Monday
The IDF confirmed that combat jets had attacked five Hamas targets in a
training camp in Jabalia, in the northern Gaza Strip, following earlier
attempts to plant an explosive device on the fence and fire at IDF soldiers.
The protestors burned tires and threw stones at the soldiers, trying to
approach the fence. An IDF quadcopter was shot down near Jabalia. The IDF
fired gas grenades and warning shots at the protestors in response. Several
thousand others were located in the tent area about half a kilometer from
The IDF killed three terrorists who tried to plant an explosive device in
the Rafah area and attacked a Hamas post in the northern strip after shots
were fired on soldiers.
Palestinian media reported another IDF strike in the Jabalia area, this time
using tanks. According to the report, the target was a Hamas post east of
IDF thwarts attempt to plant explosive device on Gaza border
The IDF warned the protestors that Israel wouldn’t tolerate any breach of
the fence, but a military official estimated that the worst was yet to come.
"Hamas is threatening the Palestinians to go out and protest near the fence.
We are prepared for activity above and beyond the fence and deep within the
strip," a military source said. He added that while the number of protestors
was higher than before, it wasn't as high as Hamas had hoped for, which is
why the organization raised its level of violence.
"Hamas placed many women at the front in an effort to make it difficult for
us to deal with terror targets. That's the most significant level of
violence we have seen since the start of the protests.
The Palestinian government called for "immediate and urgent international
intervention to stop the massacre committed by the Israeli occupation forces
against the protestors in Gaza." The statement added that "the Arab and
Islamic governments must take measures to stop the bloodshed of the
Palestinian people and stand by the Palestinian leadership as it deals with
the aggression of the Israeli occupation."
Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah accused the United States of
"blatant violations of international law.
"Choosing a tragic day in Palestinian history (to open the Jerusalem
embassy) shows great insensibility and disrespect for the core principles of
the peace process," Hamdallah wrote.
Qaudcopter drops smoke grenade on protestors
Meanwhile, several dozen Palestinians hurled stones at IDF forces in several
areas in the West Bank, including Nablus, Ramallah, Hebron, Rachel's Tomb
and Bethlehem. The forces responded with crowd dispersal means.
Defense establishment officials said Hamas was offering Palestinian families
in the Gaza Strip $100 if all family members took part in the protests.
Most protestors gathered in the northern area, near the Saja’iyya
neighborhood, facing Kibbutz Nahal Oz. A general strike was declared in the
Gaza Strip on Monday to encourage residents to flock to the protest sites.
Egypt has also raised its alert level along the Gaza border, boosting its
security forces in the area.
Meanwhile, European foreign ministers say the US decision to move the
American embassy to Jerusalem was unwise and likely to exacerbate tensions.
Irish Foreign Minister Simon Coveney said Monday that the move "is inflaming
already a very tense situation, and the relationship between Israelis and
Palestinians." His Dutch counterpart, Stef Blok, said "we don't consider it
a wise decision to move the embassy."
Russia's Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov on Monday described the
relocation of the embassy as "short-sighted."
Their comments came after the Czech Republic, Hungary and Romania blocked
the full 28-nation European Union from publishing a statement about the US
move. The IDF operated in several sites Sunday night to disrupt Hamas
infrastructures planned to be used as a front base for terrorist activity on
Monday and Tuesday. The IDF Spokesperson's Unit said the army was prepared
for a wide variety of scenarios and has boosted its forces in the area. IDF
commanders are constantly evaluating the situation from the ground.
A closed military zone was declared in the fence area. Any activity in that
area requires the IDF's approval. No special orders have been issued for the
home front. The IDF Spokesperson's Unit stressed that the army would act
against any terrorist activity, work to maintain the Israeli sovereignty and
prevent attacks on citizens and soldiers.
Thousands of fighters, some from the Nahal and Givati Brigades, are
reinforcing the routine security regiments in the Gaza Division and Judea
and Samaria Division. The forces have been instructed to prepare for several
radical scenarios, including shooting attacks or explosive devices that
might be planted during the attempts to break through the fence. Another
scenario is the abduction of a soldier after the fence is breached. The army
is preparing for the possibility of armed Hamas members trying to infiltrate
Israel together with the protestors.
Hamas' goal: 100,000 protestors
A source in the Gaza Strip told Ynet, "If Hamas fails to bring 100,000 of
protestors, it can just go home." According to the source, if Hamas failed
to bring that number of protests, "its motivation to carry out a violent act
will grow." The protestors were expected to move between 12 to 14
demonstration centers in a bid to wear the forces out and create a
distraction. In every center, there is a small group controlling the
protestors and receiving movement instructions from a control center inside
Hamas has gone to great lengths to bring more people to the fence protests.
All schools and higher education institutions in the strip have been closed
for the day, and the organization forced merchants to declare a general
strike so as not to create alternatives for the Gazan public. In addition,
Hamas has offered the residents transportation to the fence area and to the
different points of friction.
Sources in strip told Ynet that a failure to bring 100,000 protestors after
the Gaza leadership's massive and expensive campaign would affect the
organization's status and prestige. "If Hamas fails to bring 100,000 people
to the protests after such an investment, it can hand back the keys and go
home," one of the sources sad. According to the sources, a large number of
protestors reduces the chances of a violent conflict and an escalation with
Israel. "100,000 protestors will be a major show of force for Hamas and the
organization will be able to hold onto this number to show the world that
this is a non-violent mass protest. "If Hamas fails to bring a large number
of protestors and to reach this number, its motivation will grow to carry
out a violent act like a mass crossing of the fence or a terror attack that
will put the limelight back on Gaza. Hamas wants the world to focus on Gaza
at all costs, whether peacefully or violently."
Shin Bet reveals Hamas' methods. Earlier Monday, the Shin Bet accused Iran
of funding the recent protests in the strip. According to the organization,
an investigation of a 19-year-old Hamas member from Gaza revealed the
methods of the terror organization ruling the strip. The young man was
arrested while making his way to Israel to steal security cameras and to cut
the fence along the Gaza Strip.
His investigation revealed that Hamas was instructing its members to cut the
fence and steal security cameras to help pull and bring down the fence and
to disrupt the IDF's activity ahead of Nakba Day. The organization is
working to market its activity to the media as a popular uprising rather
than as violent activity led by its members.
The investigation further revealed that Hamas members were taking an active
part in the violent protest activities along the fence every Friday,
carrying knives, iron scissors and bottles of petrol.
The Hamas members' job, according to the Shin Bet, is to provide Gaza's
residents with tires and help burn them, in a bid to create thick smoke and
convince the residents to enter Israel, throw Molotov cocktails and prepare
flaming kites and hand them over to the violent activists.
The investigation further revealed that the Hamas members themselves are
forbidden to approach to fence so as not to get killed or be apprehended by
the security forces. If they manage to bring down the fence, they should
enter Israel with weapons and carry out terror attacks.
The Shin Bet statement refers to another Gaza resident, 21-year-old Salim
Abu Daher, who was arrested on April 28 after infiltrating Israel "in a bid
to burn fields and groves." He told his investigators that Hamas members in
plain clothes were providing the protestors with incendiary materials and
that the organization was funding the violent activity, including sending
flaming kites into Israel. Another Palestinian, arrested on May 4, said
Hamas was encouraging children and teenagers to cross the fence to steal IDF
equipment. A 13-year-old boy was wounded the same time after taking part in
the infiltration to steal a security camera at the Karni Crossing.
**Matan Tzuri and Daniel Salami, Reuters and AP contributed to this report.
Trump Calls Jerusalem Embassy Move 'a Great Day
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/May 14/18/US
President Donald Trump on Monday hailed the scheduled opening of the US
embassy in Jerusalem as "a great day for Israel," even as violent clashes
erupted between Palestinians and Israeli security forces on the Gaza border.
The Gaza Health Ministry said 12 Palestinians were killed by Israeli fire
amid mass protests on the border against the transfer of the US embassy from
Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. Trump made no reference to the violence in an early
morning tweet, instead inviting Twitter followers to watch live coverage of
the embassy opening on Fox News channels, which was to begin at 1300 GMT.
"Lead up to 9:00 A.M. (eastern) event has already begun. A great day for
Israel!" Trump tweeted.
U.S. Not the First Nor Last Embassy to Open in
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/May 14/18/When the United States opens its
embassy in Jerusalem on Monday it will be the most high-profile diplomatic
inauguration in the holy city, but not the first nor the last. Several
countries, mainly African and Latin American, have previously had their
ambassadors based in Jerusalem and some are expected to return. After the
1973 Yom Kippur war, Ivory Coast, Zaire (now the Democratic Republic of
Congo) and Kenya severed relations with Israel in protest and closed the
doors of their embassies in Jerusalem. They later renewed relations but
moved their missions to Tel Aviv. In 1980 Israel enacted a law declaring
Jerusalem, including the mainly Palestinian eastern zone, its "complete and
united" capital. The United Nations Security Council branded the move
illegal and adopted a resolution calling on "those states that have
established diplomatic missions at Jerusalem to withdraw such missions." The
Netherlands, Haiti and several Latin American countries complied. Costa Rica
and El Salvador returned to Jerusalem in 1984, but left again in 2006. In
the wake of Trump's announcement on December 6, some at least are heading
back -- and Israel is hoping for more. Guatemalan President Jimmy Morales
has said his country's embassy will move to Jerusalem on May 16, and
Paraguay's foreign ministry said on Wednesday it would follow suit. The
Israeli foreign ministry said in a statement that Paraguayan President
Horacio Cartes would attend the opening ceremony, which would take place "by
the end of the month."
Eastern Europeans weigh move -
Romania's government, supported by the speaker of its parliament, has
adopted a draft proposal to move its embassy, which would make it the first
European Union member to do so. But Romanian President Klaus Iohannis, who
has frequently clashed with the government, opposes the move in the absence
of an Israeli-Palestinian agreement, and has called for Prime Minister
Viorica Dancila's resignation. On a visit to Jerusalem last month, Dancila
acknowledged that at this stage she did not have "support of all parties as
we would wish" to carry out the embassy move. Czech President Milos Zeman
has said he too would like to see his country's embassy transferred to
Jerusalem. He did not reveal any firm plan, however, and the government has
only announced the reopening of its honorary consulate in Jerusalem and the
establishment of a Czech cultural center in the city. On the other side of
coin, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe told Palestinian president Mahmud
Abbas his country would not move its Tel Aviv embassy to Jerusalem, official
Palestinian media reported. The EU is sticking firmly to the international
community's decades-long position that sovereignty in Jerusalem can only be
decided by negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians. Shortly after
the Trump announcement, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu traveled
to Brussels for talks with EU foreign ministers. "I believe that all or most
of the European countries will move their embassies to Jerusalem," he told
them, earning a chilly response from the bloc's foreign policy head Federica
Mogherini. "He can keep his expectations for others, because from the
European Union member states' side this move will not come," she said.
US Open to Negotiating with Europe on Iran
London - Asharq Al-Awsat/Monday,
14 May, 2018/US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced on Sunday that
Washington wanted to work “closely” with its European partners to reach a
new agreement on confronting Iran’s “bad behavior” in wake of the US
withdrawal from the 2015 nuclear deal. He told Fox News that the pullout was
not aimed at the Europeans, saying that Washington wanted to work with its
allies on a more comprehensive agreement. “My mission from President Trump
is to work to strike a deal that achieves the outcomes that protect
America,” he said. Pompeo added he was “hopeful in the days and weeks ahead
we can come up with a deal that really works, that really protects the world
from Iranian bad behavior, not just their nuclear program, but their
missiles and their malign behavior as well.”President Donald Trump announced
last week his country’s withdrawal from the “defective” Iran nuclear deal,
which saw Tehran build its army and increase defense spending by 40 percent
since 2015. White House national security adviser John Bolton, meanwhile,
warned that Iran’s military took advantage of the easing of pressure on its
economy to meddle in Middle East conflicts during the past three years. He
told CNN on Sunday that Tehran “hid behind the deal” to expand in Iraq,
Syria, Lebanon and Yemen. Up until Trump’s withdrawal from the deal, it was
creating change in the balance of power in the Middle East, he remarked. In
a tweet on Sunday, Trump wrote: “Remember how badly Iran was behaving with
the Iran Deal in place. They were trying to take over the Middle East by
whatever means necessary. Now, that will not happen!”On whether the US was
willing to impose sanctions on European countries that work with Iran,
Bolton stated: “It's possible. It depends on the conduct of other
governments." On whether Washington was seeking a regime change in Iran,
Bolton replied: “I’m not the national security decision-maker. Trump makes
the decision and the advice that I give him is between us.”
Meanwhile, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammed Javad Zarif had embarked over
the weekend on a tour of Iran deal signatory nations in an attempt to save
the agreement. Zarif said in Beijing on Sunday: "We hope that with this
visit to China and other countries we will be able to construct a clear
future design for the comprehensive agreement."China's Foreign Minister Wang
Yi said Zarif's tour would improve understanding of Iran's position and help
Tehran protect its legitimate interests. Iranian President Hassan Rouhani
has said Tehran will stay committed to the deal, which China, Russia,
Britain, France and Germany also signed, provided those powers ensured Iran
was protected from sanctions. The three European states have recommitted to
the agreement. British Prime Minister Theresa May had telephoned Rouhani on
Sunday to stress Europe’s commitment. The foreign ministers of Britain,
France, Germany and Iran will hold talks in Brussels on Tuesday to discuss
saving the deal. They will be joined by European Union foreign policy chief
Arab Troop Deployment in Syria Not on Agenda of
Cairo - Asharq Al-Awsat/Monday, 14 May, 2018/Head of the opposition military
delegation to the Astana talks Colonel Fateh Hassoun said the ninth round of
negotiations on Syria, kicking off in the capital of Kazakhstan Monday, is
an essential step to solve the country’s crisis, denying that participants
would discuss US President Donald Trump’s proposal to assemble an Arab force
replacing the US contingent in the country.“There is no item listed in the
talks on replacing US troops in Syria. Such issue would not be discussed
during the Astana talks, even indirectly, because countries that could
possibly send their forces to Syria are not participating or sponsoring
those talks,” Hassoun told the German news agency on Sunday. Last month, the
Trump administration renewed an effort to replace US troops in Syria with an
Arab force. During the weekend, Kazakhstan’s Foreign Ministry said all
parties to the negotiations in Astana have confirmed their participation in
the two-day meeting. It added that the talks would be attended by
delegations of the guarantor states - Russia, Turkey and Iran - along with
delegations of the Syrian regime and armed opposition. A UN delegation led
by Special Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura and a delegation from Jordan
will take part in the meeting as observers. Hassoun hoped that the ninth
round of talks would witness progress on prisoners and missing persons.
“Although we don’t believe that Russians, Iranians or the Syrian regime
would be responsive to this issue, the opposition would again insist on
discussing the situation of prisoners and the missing,” Hassoun said. He
added that there are more than 200,000 prisoners inside prions run by the
Assad regime. Hassoun denied that the Syrian opposition was facilitating the
task of foreign states, particularly Turkey, to control northern Syria.
Likud Calls for Nobel Peace Prize for Netanyahu
Tel Aviv - Asharq Al-Awsat/Monday, 14 May, 2018/Likud party activist Lior
Harari has revealed an initiative to nominate Israeli Prime Minister
Benjamin Netanyahu for the Nobel Peace Prize over the success of his policy
towards Iran. “I believe everyone must thank Netanyahu for revealing the
plot of a country that threatens the entire enlightened world,” Harari was
quoted as saying last week. Harari sent a letter to Israeli Nobel winners,
asking them to nominate Netanyahu for the prize. Asked why Netanyahu
deserved the prize, he said: “Giving it to him would be giving it to the
Mossad and others involved as well." “Netanyahu has been leading the issue
internationally for decades. He even got the Arab world to wake up and
realize what a problem they have.”Harari noted that Netanyahu’s first speech
to Congress warning the world to take action to stop Iran’s nuclearization
was not in March 2015 but in July 1996. "The 1996 speech showed that he is
decades ahead of the world,” Harari said. “Others don’t open an umbrella
until it starts raining.” “He gets the umbrella years in advance and then
gets the evidence to persuade the skeptics.”
Iran, Qatar Hold Joint Economic Committee
Dammam- Asharq Al Awsat/Monday, 14 May, 2018/An Iranian-Qatari joint
economic committee convened in Doha on Sunday for the first time in 13
years. An Iranian delegation of 70 experts and businessmen from the private
and public sectors headed by Deputy Minister of Industry, Mines and Trade
Mohammad Reza Fayyad arrived in Doha to participate in the two-day meeting.
Iran’s news agency (IRNA) quoted Fayyad as saying that the meeting would
discuss many pending issues between the two countries. He added that there
were five committees that would hold specialized meetings to deal with
various issues related to trade, mines, customs, oil, petrochemicals,
exports and banking. “Close cooperation between Iran and Qatar is taking a
new direction and [we are] moving towards strengthening of relations.
Although the volume of trade exchange with Qatar is very small, trade is
expected to witness remarkable progress through appropriate planning,” he
added, as reported by IRNA. The Iranian official also stressed that there
were “no serious obstacles” that would prevent Iran and Qatar from
strengthening their bilateral relations. The sixth meeting of the economic
committee at the level of experts was held on Sunday, and continues on
Monday at the ministerial level. Relations between Iran and Qatar have
witnessed remarkable growth in the past year after Saudi Arabia, the United
Arab Emirates, Egypt and Bahrain cut ties with the Arab peninsula. The value
of trade exchange between the two countries during the past year amounted to
Another Family Behind New Indonesia Suicide Blasts
Asharq Al-Awsat/Monday, 14 May, 2018/A family five, including a child,
carried out a suicide bombing outside a police building in Indonesia's
second city Surabaya on Monday, the police chief said, a day after a deadly
wave of ISIS-claimed attacks on churches staged by another family. Security
forces have arrested hundreds of militants during a sustained crackdown that
smashed some networks, and most recent attacks have been low-level and
targeted domestic security force. But that changed Sunday as a family of six
-- including two young girls -- staged suicide bombings of three churches
during morning services in Surabaya, killing 14. On Monday, members of
another family blew themselves up at a checkpoint outside the police station
in the city, wounding 10. "There were five people on two motorbikes. One of
them was a little kid," national police chief Tito Karnavian said. "This is
An eight-year-old girl from the family survived the attack and was taken to
hospital, while her mother, father and two brothers died in the blast, he
told a news conference. On Sunday evening, just hours after the church
bombings, a further three people in another family were killed and two
wounded when another bomb exploded at an apartment complex about 30
kilometers from Surabaya. Police said the father in the church bombings --
Dita Oepriyanto -- was a confidante of the man killed in the apartment, who
police said had a bomb detonator in his hand when he was shot by
"The father was Dita's close friend," said Karnavian, the police chief.
"When we searched the flat we found pipe bombs, similar to pipe bombs we
found near the churches."
Iran FM in Moscow as Russia Moves to Save
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/May 14/18/Iran's
foreign minister said on a visit to Moscow on Monday he was seeking
"assurances" from the backers of the country's nuclear deal after the US
pulled out. Russia is trying to keep the landmark 2015 accord alive in the
wake of US President Donald Trump's decision, pushing it into rare
cooperation with Europe. "The final aim of these negotiations is to seek
assurances that the interests of the Iranian nation will be defended,"
Mohammad Javad Zarif said at the start of a meeting with his Russian
counterpart Sergei Lavrov. After the talks, Zarif praised the "excellent
cooperation" between Moscow and Tehran and said Lavrov had promised him to
"defend and keep the agreement". Lavrov, for his part, said Russia and
Europe had a duty to "jointly defend their legal interests" in terms of the
Zarif's diplomatic tour took him to Beijing at the weekend and will see him
visit Brussels later in the week, as the international backers of the
agreement scramble to save it.
After meeting his Chinese counterpart on Sunday, Zarif said he was hopeful
of forging a "clear future design" for the accord. Russian President
Vladimir Putin has already spoken with Germany's Angela Merkel and Turkey's
Recep Tayyip Erdogan about the efforts, after voicing his "deep concern"
over Trump's decision.
- Renewed coordination? -Trump's move to ditch the nuclear deal has
infuriated Washington's allies in Europe as well as China and Russia.
"(European) cooperation with Russia, which until recently seemed impossible
because of the Skripal (spy poisoning) case, with the expulsion of diplomats
and the reduction of contact, is now receiving a fresh boost," consultant
Andrei Baklitski of the PIR Center NGO said. "The Europeans, after the
withdrawal of the US from the deal, have found themselves forced to save the
Joint Cooperative Plan of Action themselves," he told AFP. Moscow would have
to play a key role in ensuring Tehran does not resume its nuclear programme,
he added. On Sunday US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Washington still
wants to work with Europe to counter Iran's "malign behaviour". But while
Pompeo talked up the prospect of renewed coordination with America's allies,
another top aide reminded Europe its companies could face sanctions if they
continue to do business with the Middle Eastern power. - Russia key regional
player -Russian efforts to save the accord will boost its role as a
power-player in the Middle East, after its intervention on the side of
Bashar al-Assad's regime in Syria. This, along with its diplomatic moves to
orchestrate an end to the conflict, has put Moscow at loggerheads with the
US and Europe, which have intervened against the regime. Germany's Merkel is
set to visit Russia and meet Putin for a working visit in the Black Sea
resort of Sochi on Friday, while French President Emmanuel Macron will be in
Saint Petersburg later in the month for an economic forum. Putin will also
meet Yukiya Amano, the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency in
Sochi, presidential aide Yury Ushakov said.Iran has said it is preparing to
resume "industrial-scale" uranium enrichment "without any restrictions"
unless Europe can provide solid guarantees that it can maintain trade ties
despite renewed US sanctions. After long negotiations, Iran had agreed
in July 2015 to freeze its nuclear programme in return for the lifting of
punishing international sanctions.
The deal was negotiated between Iran and the five permanent members of the
UN Security Council -- Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States
-- plus Germany. Russia and Iran once had difficult relations but have seen
ties improve since the end of the Cold War. The countries sought to
strengthen their business ties long before the 2015 agreement, despite
international sanctions in place. Analysts have suggested Russia could
benefit economically from the US pull-out, as it is less exposed to the
consequences of renewed sanctions than Europe.
Preliminary Results Show Sadr ahead of Abadi in Iraq Elections
Asharq Al-Awsat/Monday, 14 May, 2018/Iraqis sprung a political surprise by
voting for two electoral lists opposed to the current political class during
Sunday’s parliamentary elections, showed preliminary results on Monday.
Powerful Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr and a rival bloc of the Popular
Mobilization Forces (PMF) appeared to surge in surprise preliminary results
from the country’s first poll since the defeat of the ISIS terrorist group.
Prime Minister Haidar al-Abadi, who is the internationally favored
incumbent, lagged behind after a vote hit by record abstentions.
The ballots of some 700,000 security personnel who voted and some one
million Iraqis abroad were yet to be tallied up, meaning Abadi could get a
boost five months after he announced victory over ISIS. According to partial
results seen by AFP, the Marching Towards Reform alliance of Sadr and his
communist allies was ahead in six of Iraq's 18 provinces and second in four
others. Next in the running is the Conquest Alliance, made up of ex-fighters
from the mainly Iran-backed PMF, with results putting them ahead in four
provinces and second in eight others. The head of the list is Hadi al-Ameri,
a long-time ally of Tehran. Both Sadr and Ameri are long-time political
veterans well-known to Iraqis, but they pitched themselves as seeking to
sweep clean the country's elite.
Sadr’s apparent victory does not mean his bloc could necessarily form the
next government as whoever wins the most seats must negotiate a coalition
government, expected to be formed within 90 days of the official results.
Turnout was 44.52 percent with 92 percent of votes counted, the Independent
High Electoral Commission said - that was significantly lower than in
previous elections. Full results are due to be officially announced later on
The commission did not announce how many seats each bloc had gained and said
it would do so after announcing the results from the remaining provinces.
During the election campaign, frustrated Iraqis of all shades complained
about their political elite’s systematic patronage, bad governance and
corruption, saying they did not receive any benefits of their country’s oil
Iraq has been ranked among the world’s most corrupt countries, with high
unemployment, rife poverty, weak public institutions and bad services
despite high oil revenues for many years. Endemic corruption has eaten at
the government’s financial resources.
Celebrations erupted on the streets of Baghdad after the commission’s
announcement, with thousands of Sadr’s supporters singing, chanting, dancing
and setting off fireworks while carrying his picture and waving Iraqi flags.
Many of his supporters chanted “Iran out”.
Whoever wins the election will have to contend with the fallout from US
President Donald Trump’s decision to quit Iran’s nuclear deal, a move Iraqis
fear could turn their country into a theater of conflict between Washington
He will also face the mammoth task of rebuilding a country left shattered by
the battle against ISIS -- with donors already pledging $30 billion (25
billion euros). The results unexpectedly showed former Prime Minister Nuri
al-Maliki, who was touted as a serious challenger to Abadi, lagging behind.
Arab League Honors Emir of Kuwait
Kuwait - Asharq Al-Awsat/Monday, 14 May, 2018/The Arab League honored Emir
of Kuwait Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmed al-Jaber al-Sabah during a ceremony
organized by the organization in collaboration with Kuwait Women's Institute
for Development and Peace for his humanitarian, philanthropic and
development contributions regionally and internationally. The ceremony
themed: "Honoring of His Highness the Emir of Kuwait Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad
al-Jaber al-Sabah...Man of Peace...Humanitarian Leader", was held in Cairo
on Sunday, in the presence of Arab, Kuwaiti, regional and international
Arab League Secretary-General Ahmed Abul Gheit reiterated that the Emir is a
key stalwart of political and humanitarian action at both Arab and global
The Emir is sparing no effort in helping many Arab, Islamic and friendly
countries, and is renowned for shouldering great tasks, Abul Gheit said in a
speech delivered on his behalf by the league's culture department chief
Mohammad al-Hajri. He lauded the Emir's large political experience in
running political and humanitarian crises and problems. Permanent
Representative of Kuwait to the Arab League Ambassador and Representative of
the Emir, Ahmed al-Bakr, described Kuwait's diplomacy as moderate and
balanced throughout history. "This approach had been instilled by His
Highness the Emir since he was the foreign minister of Kuwait and the dean
of diplomacy in the world," he said. Bakr pointed out that, through its
non-permanent membership in the Security Council, Kuwait is doing all in
power to defend Arab issues, mainly the Palestinian cause and other areas of
conflict. In addition, Chairperson of Kuwait Women's Institute for
Development and Peace Kawthar al-Jowaan said the Emir has established the
pillars of a philosophy in humanitarian activities, based on the spirit of
responsibility, credibility and respect for human dignity and rights. She
pointed out the world honoring of the Emir was undoubtedly due to his great
efforts in the humanitarian field.
Syria Talks Renew in Astana amid Growing
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/May 14/18/Negotiators from Iran, Russia and
Turkey gathered in Kazakhstan's capital Astana on Monday, hoping to make
progress on a political settlement in Syria as diplomatic tensions fan out
across the region. The two-day talks are the first time the three foreign
powers most deeply involved in Syria's seven-year war have met together
since Iran and Israel became embroiled in a spat over reported cross-border
military strikes last week. It is also the first meeting of the three sides
since US President Donald Trump announced Washington's withdrawal from the
Iran nuclear deal earlier this month in a move further complicating the
regional picture. A spokesman for Kazakhstan's foreign ministry Anuar
Zhainakov on Monday confirmed delegations from the three power-brokers and
the Syrian regime had arrived in the capital and were locked in closed-door
A rebel delegation was expected to arrive late on Monday ahead of Tuesday's
plenary session concluding the meeting, he wrote on Telegram. The
United Nations envoy on Syria Staffan de Mistura was also expected in the
capital Monday, Zhainakov wrote. The latest negotiations in Kazakhstan are
set to discuss "further steps to advance the process of resolving the
crisis" in Syria, according to a Kazakh foreign ministry statement. The
multi-sided conflict that has killed more than 350,000 people took a new
turn last week after Israel and Iran became embroiled in a dispute over
reported cross-border strikes. Israel claims it struck dozens of Iranian
targets inside Syria on Thursday in response to a salvo of rockets fired by
Iranian forces into the occupied Golan Heights. The flare-up between the
pair may feature in talks between Iranian foreign minister Mohammad Javad
Zarif and Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov in Moscow Monday. But the main
focus of the Moscow talks will be the Iran nuclear deal Washington walked
out of earlier this month, triggering broad international condemnation and
fears of fresh conflicts in the region. Zarif has already visited Beijing
and will head to Brussels after Moscow as part of a bid to salvage the deal.
Since negotiations on Syria in Astana began at the beginning of last year,
they have mostly focused on attempts to keep Syrian regime forces and their
rebel opponents at arm's length. But any limited achievements in reducing
government-rebel hostilities were put into reverse gear in February when
regime forces allied with Moscow and Tehran began a devastating assault on
Eastern Ghouta, a suburb of Damascus that was under rebel control at the
time. On Friday, Syrian state media and The Syrian Observatory for Human
Rights war monitor both said that the last rebel groups had exited towns
close to the capital. Their departure means that militants from the Islamic
State group fighting on the outskirts of Damascus are now the main challenge
to government control over the capital and its surrounding area.
Erdogan Says U.S. Has Lost 'Mediator Role' in
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/May 14/18/The
U.S. has lost its role as mediator in the Middle East by moving its embassy
in Israel to Jerusalem, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said in
London on Monday. "With its latest step America has chosen to be a part of
the problem, not a solution, and lost its mediator role in the Middle East
peace process", Erdogan told the Chatham House international affairs think
tank. "We are rejecting once again this decision which violates
international law and which is against U.N. resolutions," he said. Erdogan
called the U.S. embassy move from Tel Aviv to the disputed city of Jerusalem
"very, very unfortunate" and said it "will increase tensions and ignite an
even greater fire between communities." "The international community must do
its part as soon as possible and take swift action to put an end to Israel's
increasing aggression," he went on. "The establishment of an independent
Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital is the only way for lasting
peace and stability," he said. A White House delegation and Israeli
officials are set to attend an inauguration ceremony for the U.S. embassy
later on Monday and there have been clashes between Palestinians and Israeli
forces along the Gaza border. Seven Palestinians were killed and more than
500 were injured on Monday as violence flared at five spots along the
border, the Gazan health ministry said.
GCC urges Iran to stop destabilizing region
Arab News/May 14/18/RIYADH: The Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) on Sunday
urged the international community to pressure Iran to respect the UN
Charter, stop providing ballistic missiles to Houthi rebels in Yemen to
attack Saudi Arabia, and stop meddling in the affairs of Arab states.
“The GCC countries want a Middle East free from all weapons of mass
destruction, including nuclear weapons,” said Secretary-General Abdullatif
Al-Zayani, adding that Iran has been using its resources to destabilize the
region despite a struggling economy. If Tehran wants regional security, it
should meet certain requirements, including “the completion of the nuclear
file in terms of inspection, not providing terrorists with ballistic
missiles, respecting UN Security Council resolutions and non-interference in
neighboring countries,” he said. The Gulf initiative to resolve the Yemeni
crisis has received support from Arab, regional and international countries,
Al-Zayani added. He welcomed the assistance provided by the King Salman
Humanitarian Aid and Relief Centre (KSRelief) to the Yemeni people. The GCC
Supreme Council has directed all GCC agencies to work individually and with
international agencies to rehabilitate and promote Yemen’s economy with the
aim of integrating it with that of the Gulf, he said. Dr. Ibrahim Al-Qayid,
a founding member of the National Society for Human Rights, said: “Iran has
been supporting militant and terrorist groups across the Middle East since
the enactment of the 2015 nuclear deal.” He added: “Tehran provides funds
and weapons to groups throughout the Middle East, in addition to extending
all support to networks of operatives across the globe to launch terrorist
attacks.” Iran has the largest number of ballistic missiles in the Middle
East, evidenced by attacks on Saudi Arabia from Yemeni soil, Al-Qayid said.
Meanwhile, the GCC said Kuwait will host an important meeting of its
Financial and Economic Cooperation Committee. The meeting, which will be
chaired by Kuwaiti Finance Minister Dr. Nayef Falah Al-Hajraf, will be
attended by Al-Zayani and member states’ ministers of finance and economy.
Meanwhile, Saudi Arabian forces have reached the Yemeni island of Socotra,
the Arab coalition announced through Al-Ekhbariya channel. The presence of
the forces on the island is to train and support Yemeni forces. The
coalition said the forces were deployed after coordination with the
legitimate Yemeni government.
The move comes after Yemeni President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi praised the
Arab coalition’s constant support for the legitimacy in Yemen and for the
Latest LCCC Bulletin analysis & editorials
from miscellaneous sources published
on May 14-15/18
Noose Tightens around Qatar
Salman Al-dossary/Asharq Al Awsat/May 14/18
In June last year and days before Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates,
Qatar and Bahrain announced their decision to sever ties with Qatar, US
President Donald Trump said that he had agreed with his secretary of state
and military commanders on the need for Doha to cut its terrorism funding.
“It is time to call on Qatar to stop supporting terrorism,” he said at the
This was the first time that a US president had openly, firmly and directly
called out an ally. For the past 11 months, Doha tried hard to find a
solution to its historic crisis. Its foreign minister toured the globe four
times. It created several crises. Spread countless rumors. Paid billions of
dollars in arms deals that exceed its capacity. Resorted to Turkish forces.
Allied with the world’s pariah, Iran. It thought it could fool Washington.
In the end, it turned and turned and came back to where it stared: It is a
state-sponsor of terrorism.
This was revealed by Britain’s the Sunday Telegraph over the weekend. The US
administration had called on Qatar to stop funding pro-Iran militias after
it uncovered evidence that showed Doha had cooperated with terrorist groups
in the Middle East. It backed this claim by releasing several emails between
senior Qatari government officials and leaders from groups such as
“Hezbollah” and top Iran Revolutionary Guards members. The never before
released messages revealed that senior Qatari government officials enjoy
strong ties with prominent Guards officials, such as Qassem Soleimani, and
“Hezbollah”, such as its chief Hassan Nasrallah.
The Telegraph also reported that Doha had paid millions of dollars, possibly
even a billion, as part of a ransom to release hostages held by Shiite
militias in Iraq! Isn’t this exactly what the four Arab countries said a
The US call on Qatar to review its ties with terrorist groups means that the
Doha government had wasted a whole year, through stalling and denial, to
discover that it had complicated its crisis much more than it was in June
The truth is that Doha is aware of the US president’s stance on Iran. It is
also aware of his hardline position on supporting terrorist groups. At the
same time, it could not abandon its policy of contradictions that it has
been adopting for two decades. It has, however, overlooked the fact that its
behavior now infringes on US interests and that the period of the US
administration turning a blind eye to Qatar’s contradictions is over.
One email, which was intercepted by foreign governments, said that a senior
Qatari official had paid 50 million pounds to Soleimani in April 2017,
reported the British newspaper. He had also paid 25 million pounds to an
Iraqi Shiite terrorist group that is accused of killing dozens of American
soldiers in southern Iraq.
This is clear documented evidence that Iran had used Doha in financing its
militias, which are at the root of suffering in the region. This is why when
the four countries announced their Doha boycott last year, they were aware
that the road would be long in correcting Qatar’s policies and veering it
off the course of supporting terrorism in all of its forms. The most
dangerous kind of terror is the one taking place under a state umbrella.
Here we have Qatar, whose options have become limited after its policy of
supporting terrorism tied a noose around its neck.
The Qatari government now has no option but to comply with US demands, which
seem serious in isolating Doha and stopping all forms of terrorism backing.
Half of evangelicals
support Israel because they believe it is important for fulfilling end-times
Philip Bump/The Washington Post/May 14/18
Southern Baptist pastor Robert Jeffress spoke at the opening of the U.S.
Embassy in Jerusalem May 14. Here's a look at some of his controversial
statements. (Elyse Samuels/The Washington Post)
Well before he was asked to offer a prayer at Monday’s ceremony marking the
U.S. Embassy’s move from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, earning the enmity of Mitt
Romney, Pastor Robert Jeffress offered tangential insight into why he and
many evangelicals think the move was so important.
“Jerusalem has been the object of the affection of both Jews and Christians
down through history and the touchstone of prophecy,” Jeffress told CNN last
year. “But, most importantly, God gave Jerusalem — and the rest of the Holy
Land — to the Jewish people.”
The latter half of that quote hints at the deep religious meaning of the
existence of Israel for Jeffress and other Christians. As University of
North Texas professor Elizabeth Oldmixon told Vox last year, the issue of
recognizing Jerusalem is inextricable from that belief.
“The tenet of Christian Zionism is that God’s promise of the Holy Land to
the Jews is eternal. It’s not just something in antiquity,” Oldmixon said.
“When we talk about the Holy Land, God’s promise of the Holy Land, we’re
talking about real estate on both sides of the Jordan River. So the sense of
a greater Israel and expansionism is really important to this community.
Jerusalem is just central to that. It’s viewed as a historical and biblical
Polling bolsters Oldmixon’s explanation. In December, LifeWay Research
conducted a poll evaluating the views of evangelical Americans on issues
related to Israel and the politics of the Middle East. (The definition used
to identify evangelicals, we’ll note, was more specific than most polls
necessitate.) Among the questions was one about the biblical promise of the
Holy Land to Abraham and his descendants. Two-thirds of respondents strongly
agreed that the promise was an eternal one from God.
But it’s also worth picking out another part of what Jeffress said to CNN.
Jerusalem, he said, is “the touchstone of prophecy.” That prophecy is the
biblical prophecy of the return of Jesus Christ and the beginning of the
Rapture — the end times.
“What kick-starts the end times into motion is Israel’s political boundaries
being reestablished to what God promised the Israelites according to the
Bible,” Pastor Nate Pyle told Newsweek in January.
This is not an uncommon view.
The LifeWays poll found that 80 percent of evangelicals believed that the
creation of Israel in 1948 was a fulfillment of biblical prophecy that would
bring about Christ’s return.
That meshes with a poll conducted by the Pew Research Center in 2003. Pew
asked respondents whether the existence of Israel fulfilled biblical
prophecy. About a third of Americans said it did — while more than 6 in 10
evangelicals agreed. (So did more than half of black respondents.)
The LifeWays poll also asked evangelical respondents what factors contribute
to their support for the state of Israel. More than 6 in 10 cited God’s
pledge to Abraham. The third-most-cited reason was that the existence of
Israel was necessary for fulfilling prophecy. More than half of evangelicals
said that was a reason they supported Israel’s existence.
Sixty percent of those age 65 and older said the fulfillment of prophecy was
an important factor in their support for Israel. In a follow-up question, 12
percent of respondents said the fulfillment of prophecy was the most
important reason they supported the state of Israel. A third pointed to the
promise made to Abraham. (Forty-five percent of poll respondents said the
Bible was the biggest influence on their views about Israel — 11 times as
many people as those who said that their church was the biggest influence.)
A great deal of attention has understandably been paid to the fact that
evangelical support for President Trump has been robust despite Trump
apparently not always meeting the personal moral standards one might expect
from someone with strong religious support. The LifeWays poll makes clear
that part of it is simply that evangelicals skew so heavily conservative.
(In September 2016, Pew found that more than a third of evangelicals said
their support for Trump in the 2016 election was based mostly on his not
being Hillary Clinton.)
While Trump’s conservative politics (and deeply religious vice president)
have led to concrete gains in other areas of importance to evangelicals, his
support for Israel and for the move of the embassy has been an important
factor as well.
“At this point, Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of
Israel is the only concrete thing that his evangelical supporters can point
to as part of fulfilling biblical prophecy to bring about the second coming
of Christ,” religion historian Neil Young told Newsweek in January.
That reads like an indictment, but it’s safe to say that for those eagerly
anticipating the Second Coming, any progress is welcome. And the move on
Monday is apparently seen by many evangelicals as precisely such a step.
*Philip Bump is a correspondent for The Washington Post based in New York.
Before joining The Post in 2014, he led politics coverage for the Atlantic
Iraq’s election and
overcoming the past
Abdullah bin Bijad Al-Otaibi/AlArabiya/May 14/18
In the past few days, Iraq’s parliamentary election was being held. This
election will determine Iraq’s future for the next four years within a
changing Iraqi, Arab, regional and international scene where powers are
Last week, the Lebanese parliamentary election was held but it did not
receive much attention considering Lebanon’s size in regional equations and
because conflicts there are intractable since they are based on the
ideologies and personal calculations of parties and leaders.
Iraq’s election, however, has real political significance considering Iraq’s
size, influence and the different phases it has been through after Saddam
Hussein’s regime was toppled in 2003.
Regardless of the election’s results and details, from the nature of the
circumstances which produced them, to the government which will be formed
and will govern for the next four years, Iraq’s future must only be in the
hands of its citizens
The importance of Iraq
Iraq is the country of consecutive civilizations since the dawn of history.
Its modern history witnessed colonization, a monarchy and military coups,
from Abd al-Karim Qasim to the communists to Saddam Hussein and the
Baathists. Then came the phase after Saddam was toppled in 2003 which
witnessed Iranian interferences in domestic affairs. However, the Iraqi
scene hasn’t been under the full control of the Iranian regime for a few
years now as there have been other developments.
The effective axis today in the Arab world is the axis led by Saudi Arabia
allied with the UAE, Egypt, Bahrain and other Arab countries that do not
have effective influence in today’s Iraq.
This axis has been working for years to restore Iraq to its Arab path and
empower it to restore its identity, sovereignty and independence. It rejects
any foreign interference in Iraq’s domestic affairs. Iraq, after Saddam
Hussein, witnessed several important phases.
One of these major phases was the governance of Nouri al-Maliki who, while
serving as prime minister, included the Iraqi state within the Iranian
regime’s project. He was publicly involved in this plan as he offered it
services that helped incite strife in Iraq such as eliminating Sunni sahwas
which eradicated al-Qaeda and enabling ISIS to attain a quarter of Iraqi
land and seize advanced American weapons thus keeping Iraq, the region and
the world busy for years.
This phase was marked with corruption via the systematic, continuous and
organized looting of Iraq’s wealth. The looted money was used to support the
Iranian economy and was distributed on corrupt Iraqi politicians. This is in
addition to reliance on terrorism and sectarianism and imposing this as a
fate that the Iraqis do not even have the option of confronting. The Iraqi
Shiite reference represented in Sayyed Sistani warned of this ahead of the
elections. Sistani has suffered a lot from Iran’s political interferences in
his country and from the spread of the manifestations of corruption and
terrorism, as well as of Iran’s continuous attempts to weaken his reference
and perhaps intimidate it. Regardless of the election’s results and details,
from the nature of the circumstances which produced them, to the alliances
which will be formed afterwards, to the government which will be formed and
will govern for the next four years, Iraq’s future must only be in the hands
of its citizens.
This should happen while taking into consideration one important question:
Which regional and international countries stand with Iraq, its independence
and its interests?
The Iraqi state and people’s only solution is to endeavor on restoring full
independence and sovereignty away from conflicting regional projects that
want to exploit it and its causes.
Overcoming the near past may be more difficult than overcoming what happened
a very long time ago but this is what every Iraqi who wants to restore his
worth, influence, state and independence must think about.
Iraqis’ Chance to Regain Their Country
Ghassan Charbel/Asharq Al Awsat/May 14/18
It is not about the name of the Iraqi prime minister, despite its
importance. It is about the Iraqi State itself, and its ability to
reassemble its components, treat its cracks and heal its wounds… its ability
to revive its decision-making within its borders and to consolidate the
march towards making Iraq a normal state at home and abroad.
It is not about the prime minister’s name in Lebanon. It is firstly about
the Lebanese State itself, and its capacity to recover relations between its
components, regain its ability to decide within its own borders, and to lay
the foundations of a normal state at home and abroad.
Time is gold. The Iraqis and Lebanese do not have the luxury of wasting more
Threats are lurking within the country or along its borders. The failure to
turn the elections into an opportunity to emerge out of the rubble will be
another crime added to many crimes already committed.
We are unfair to our countries when we demand that the elections be
identical to those of old democracies. We forget sometimes that in order for
democracy to be rooted in a country, cultural, economic and political
conditions cannot be disregarded. And then, there are those who believe that
the idea of democracy, including the elections, is a plant imported from
another world that went through a long labor, while we were falling into
However, this does not negate the fact that resorting to the people is an
opportunity to identify the size of the forces in the society, their trends
and aspirations, and that repeating this trial is supposed to be the
guarantee of the process of correction and revision.
Two fresh experiences from two countries that cannot walk out of the
Iranian-American crisis, nor from the flames of neighboring Syrian fire with
the Iranian-Israeli crisis on the Syrian arena. It is perhaps because of
this huge turmoil in the region that the elections turn into an opportunity
to escape the fire by restoring the national fabric and reviving the
decision that is supposed to lie inside the map, not outside it.
One of the advantages of elections in a country of diversity is that they
remind each component of its need for the other component to win and obtain
a national mandate to take power. The need for the other means to listen to
them, to understand their demands and concerns, and to meet them halfway,
specifically in the heart of the State.
What we said about democracy also applies to the idea of a state. This
institution is supposed to serve the people and their development… to
guarantee their rights, security, and chance to express themselves and
This task is difficult and thorny because it is quite different from the
approach of replacing an unjust individual with an unjust community. One
does not exaggerate when saying that our inherited culture rests on the
image of the victor and the hero and the cancellation of the opponent, not
on the idea of union, mutual concessions and decision-making within
We must remember that the current cycle of disasters began when the regime
of Saddam Hussein was overthrown, and the Iraqi opposition could not quickly
establish itself as a convincing alternative. Late Iraqi president Jalal
Talabani considered that the Iraqis once missed a precious opportunity that
could have spared them the experience of the governing council and the
decisions of Paul Bremer to dissolve the Iraqi army. He said that General
Jay Garner, the first US military commander of Iraq after the invasion, told
the opposition leaders: “Iraqis, you should form a temporary government to
run the country, and you, the opposition that we have dealt with, please
form a government on your part.”
Garner believed that Talabani could lead the government. Then-US Ambassador
Zalmay Khalilzad had the same opinion. Talabani said that Washington was
ready to put the basic files in the hands of the interim government, but
sectarian demands thwarted this proposal and put Iraq in the hands of Bremer
and his decisions.
Today, it is necessary to deal with the Iraqi elections as an opportunity,
after the Iraqi State succeeded, with the help of the allies, in defeating
ISIS. It is increasingly important to seize this opportunity at a time when
an Iranian-American confrontation is looming, and when Iraq may become one
of its arenas unless the elections result in a government with a vision that
will prevent the country from being again a filed test for exchanging bloody
I return to Talabani because he was a brilliant politician who knew the
sensibilities of the Iraqi structure and the sensitivities of the region.
During his opposition to the era of Saddam Hussein, he lived in Tehran and
Damascus and was a friend of the two capitals. Talabani said that Tehran
would make a big mistake if it believed it could manage Baghdad as Damascus
did with Beirut, and the result was known.
He went further to explain the issue of Iraqi Shiites. He said: “I think
that the Shiites of Iraq will never be affiliated with the Shiites of Iran.
First, let me give you examples of authorities. We have four spiritual
leaders, headed by Sayyed Ali al-Sistani. Those converge with Iran on the
issue of the mandate of the jurist [wilayat al-faqih]; they do not want the
mandate of the jurist, and this constitutes a big difference. It is
something reminiscent of the global communist movement and the rift between
China and Russia. Second, those spiritual leaders consider themselves as the
Shiite spiritual authorities in the world. Third, Al-Najaf Al-Ashraf – not
Qom nor Mashhad - is the ‘Shiite Vatican’ in the world. Fourth, the largest
tombs of Shiite Imams are located in Iraq, including the tombs of Imam Ali,
Al-Hussein, Al-Abbas, Al-Kadhim and Al-Askarian. There is only one who died
in Mashhad. When they visit his grave they say: “O stranger of the house,
peace be upon you.” Therefore, there is no threat that the Shiites of Iraq
will be followers of Iran.”
The most important thing Iraqis can do is turn the elections into an
opportunity to restore their social fabric and their decision-making, and to
put Iraq back into the hands of the Iraqis… Taking it back from the grip of
nearby and distant countries, so Iraq becomes a player, not a playground,
and a factor of stability and prosperity in the region.
Every extension of the unnatural roles on Iraq’s territory is an extension
of the country’s pain. The roles that were imposed when Iraq was a mere
arena should be regulated to become normal relations after the establishment
of the Iraqi State. There will be no return to stability without things
returning to normal: Iraq for the Iraqis, Syria for the Syrians and Lebanon
for the Lebanese. A capital managed by a different capital is the recipe for
prolonging the great turmoil.
People Are Silicon Valley’s Best-kept Secret
Sebastian Mallaby/The Washington Post/May 14/18
Outside Silicon Valley, commentators obsess about robots, artificial
intelligence, big data. Inside Silicon Valley, paradoxically, the tech
tribe’s preoccupations often lie elsewhere: less with code than with people.
Facebook’s Sheryl Sandberg wrote two of the hottest books to come out of the
Valley in the past half-decade — one is about women’s professional
confidence and the other about coping with bereavement. The late Steve Jobs
of Apple is the subject of endless fascination in Silicon Valley, not
because he invented stuff but because his quirky New Age perfectionism
somehow led him to greatness. Now John Doerr, the Valley’s most famous
venture capitalist, has come out with a book that underscores this paradox.
To anyone who fears that technology advances at the expense of humanity, it
is salutary reading.
“Measure What Matters: How Google, Bono, and the Gates Foundation Rock the
World with OKRs” distills four decades of Silicon Valley experience, from
Doerr’s early years at the semiconductor pioneer Intel to his spectacular
bets on long-shot start-ups such as Amazon and Google. But the focus that
Doerr chooses is revealing. Although he is an engineer, he writes little
about technology. Although he is an investor, he says nothing about finance.
Instead, Doerr’s book is squarely about people: how to motivate them, how to
forge productive teams, how to knit them into networks.
Doerr has much to say about his formative experiences at Intel in the 1970s.
But the Intel leaders he reveres are not co-founders Gordon Moore, whose
eponymous law anticipated modern electronics, or the brilliant engineer
Robert Noyce. Instead, Doerr was influenced most profoundly by Andy Grove,
the tightly wound Hungarian immigrant who marshaled Intel’s sales and
product teams with the help of a management tool known as Objectives and Key
Results — “OKRs,” in the jargon. The subtitle of the British edition calls
OKRs “The Simple Idea that Drives 10x Growth,” and Doerr makes a good
argument that laying out transparent objectives and measurable steps toward
completing them has transformed companies and philanthropies alike. But the
really striking thing is that getting the most out of people apparently
interests Doerr more than getting the most out of electronic circuits.
Doerr’s other heroes are equally revealing. He quotes the great management
guru, Peter Drucker: a manager’s first role “is the personal one. It’s the
relationship with people . . . the creation of a community.” He throws in a
lovely line often attributed to Albert Einstein: “Not everything that can be
counted counts, and not everything that counts can be counted.” He extols
Google’s Larry Page, not as the inspired engineer who co-invented the
world’s best search engine, but rather as the manager who embraced OKRs,
devoting two days per quarter to scrutinizing the precise phrasing of each
goal for each coder at Google.
Doerr ends his book with a tribute to Bill Campbell, a sort of stealth rival
to Steve Jobs as the patron saint of Silicon Valley. Neither an engineer nor
a public visionary, Campbell was the beloved backroom guy with a talent for
friendship; he was known as “the Coach,” both because of his early career in
college football and because of his gift for mentoring fellow Valley
executives. Leaders from Google to Apple to Amazon sought out his gruff
counsel, and when he died two years ago, they all showed up at his funeral.
Campbell was, writes Doerr, “a world-class listener, a hall-of-fame mentor,”
a man whose “profane humanity” shaped the culture of dozens of companies in
What does it tell us when a storied tech figure produces a book, and it
turns out to be about people? When a man who has earned billions from
hardware and software seems most interested in what some techies call
wetware? It tells us that, however much technology advances, we still live
in a human-centric world — and probably always will do so. Doerr cites the
business thinker, Dov Seidman: “In our open-sourced, hyperconnected world,
behavior defines a company. . . . It’s the one thing that can’t be copied or
commoditized.” Companies with strong values-driven cultures are better at
motivating and retaining employees. And they tend to do better at
Doerr takes us on a tour of tomorrow: a start-up that makes pizzas with
robots, another that displaces trainers and nutritionists with an app on
your smartphone. But what we find in every case study is people: people who
need to be encouraged and empowered, people who will be happiest when they
feel part of a team that’s pulling together. The old days of dehumanizing
production lines and top-down manager-to-worker diktats are long gone,
precisely because the dehumanizing jobs are increasingly done by robots.
Contrary to much conventional thinking, technology forces human beings to
double down on their humanity.
Ambiguity of 'Climate Change'
Faye Flam/Bloomberg View/May 14/18
As scientific terms go, “climate change” is failing. Good terms are
specific, descriptive and help people to understand complex concepts.
Climate change is ambiguous, referring perhaps to the most pressing
human-generated environmental problem of the century, or to other kinds of
changes that happen through natural forces and have been going on since long
before humans arose.
Last week I chatted with Columbia University paleontologist Dennis Kent
about some new work he and his colleagues published in the Proceedings of
the National Academy of Sciences about the surprisingly big influence of
Venus and Jupiter on the climate of Earth. The gravitational tug of the
second and fifth planets from the sun act to stretch Earth’s annual orbit
like a rubber band, pulling it into a more oblong ellipse and then back to
something very close to a perfect circle over a cycle of 405,000 years. And
that leads to big changes in our climate – or the climate of whatever
creatures lived here.
The ambiguity of “climate change” plays into the problems that a Wall Street
Journal op-ed identified last week in a piece headlined “Climate Activists
Are Lousy Salesmen.” This is science, not advertising, and the terms that
scientists come up with aren’t decided by public-relations experts using
focus groups. Most of the burden of explaining climate changes, past and
present, has fallen not to “activists” but to scientists, whether or not
they have an interest in or aptitude for persuasion.
According to historians, the same people who were fascinated by dramatic
natural climate changes were the ones to discover that burning up lots of
fossil fuel was likely to cause a short-term spike in the global
temperature. The start of that spike is already measurable. Research on
human-generated and natural climate changes are related, and many of the
same people still study both kinds in order to get a better handle on where
things are headed in the coming decades, centuries and millennia.
Kent said that basic Newtonian physics shows that Venus and Jupiter actually
change Earths’ orbit significantly. At its most oblong, the long axis of the
orbit is five percent longer than the shorter one. During that more oblong
part of the cycle, the Earth strays farther than normal from the sun (twice
a year) and also flirts closer to the sun than usual (twice a year). So
other natural changes reach greater extremes – the ice ages colder and the
periods in between warmer.
What Kent and his colleagues did was expand the record of those cycles by
digging out cores of Earth hundreds of feet long from Arizona and Northern
New Jersey. They used the natural clocks provided by radioactive materials
and signs of reversal of the Earth's magnetic field to figure out when and
how the climate changed. The cycles, he said, go back more than 200 million
years, to the time when dinosaurs first appeared.
We are currently in the rounder, more even phase of our orbital cycle, Kent
said, meaning the ice ages should be relatively mild. We’re also in between
ice ages and could go into a new one in a few thousand years, though some
think that human-generated global warming will be enough to offset it.
Putin’s stock rises as 'go-to' mediator between Israel, Iran
Al Monitor/Week in Review May 14/18
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu may have given Russian president
advance notice of attack on Syria; Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan
labels United States as loser in decision to withdraw from Iran nuclear
Sputnik/Alexei Nikolsky/Kremlin via REUTERSRussian President Vladimir Putin
and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu attend the Victory Day parade,
marking the 73rd anniversary of the victory over Nazi Germany in World War
II, at Red Square in Moscow, May 9, 2018.
Russian diplomacy shifts into high gear
Following the Trump administration’s decision to withdraw from the Joint
Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), Russian President Vladimir Putin may
be the best bet, or last man standing, to offer a diplomatic off-ramp for
Israel and Iran to avoid war.
Two weeks ago, this column observed that Russia might be well-placed as a
potential mediator between Iran and Israel, a trend Al-Monitor has followed
for over four years. That role places Putin on a tightrope balancing
Russia’s all-in support for the Syrian government, while facing the limits
of Moscow’s uneasy but vital relationships with both Iran and Israel and
reckoning with a continued slide in US-Russia relations. The regional
picture is additionally complicated by the US decision to relocate its
embassy to Jerusalem, the Palestinian demonstrations in the Gaza Strip, the
absence of an Israeli-Palestinian diplomatic track and Hezbollah’s win in
The events of the past week reflect this new direction and urgency in
Putin’s approach to the region. On May 8, the Russian Foreign Ministry
slammed Trump’s decision on the JCPOA as “new confirmation of Washington’s
intractability. They also show that the US objections to Iran’s absolutely
legal nuclear activity are nothing but a smokescreen for settling political
scores with Iran,” adding that “Russia is open to further cooperation with
the other JCPOA participants and will continue to actively develop bilateral
collaboration and political dialogue with the Islamic Republic of Iran.” The
next day Moscow slammed new US sanctions on Russia “allegedly for violating
the Iran, North Korea, and Syria Nonproliferation Act, which has no
connection to Russia. In effect, this US decision has been precipitated by a
trivial desire to get even with Russia over the failed missile attack on
Syria, which the United States, Britain and France launched on April 14 in
violation of international law."
Perhaps most telling of Putin’s diplomatic turn was the visit of Israeli
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to Moscow on May 9. Netanyahu was accorded
a seat of honor on the occasion of Victory Day, which commemorates the
Soviet Union’s victory over Nazi Germany in World War II. The Israeli prime
minister gave a moving testimonial to the sacrifices of Russian soldiers in
liberating the Auschwitz concentration camp.
Netanyahu claimed that he was able to persuade Putin to delay the sale of
advanced weapons, including S-300 missiles to Syria. Israeli warplanes
struck Iranian military targets inside Syria on May 10, the very next day,
suggesting that Netanyahu may have given Putin advance notice of the attack.
The Russian reaction to the incident was muted, while highlighting Russian
mediation. “In our contacts with Iranian and Israeli leaders, including at
the May 9 meeting between President of Russia Vladimir Putin and Prime
Minister of Israel Benjamin Netanyahu, we have repeatedly noted the need for
both sides to avoid any actions that would provoke the other,” said Russian
Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov. “Iran and Israel assure us that they have no
such intentions, but, as you know, incidents, nevertheless, happen. It is
particularly alarming that they occur despite the fact that all of us have
underscored our commitment to respecting the sovereignty and territorial
integrity of Syria.”
Also on May 10, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov met with
Iran's deputy foreign minister for political affairs, Abbas Araghchi, in
Tehran. Putin himself worked the phones, speaking with Turkish President
Recep Tayyip Erdogan and German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
Maxim Suchkov explains that “Netanyahu understands he can’t sway Russia from
its position opposing the US exit from the nuclear Joint Comprehensive Plan
of Action (JCPOA). Therefore, while with Trump, Netanyahu sought to arm the
US president with arguments for leaving the JCPOA, but with Putin, Netanyahu
seeks to expose the ‘malignant nature of the Iranian regime’ and thus
legitimize Israeli efforts at countering it. The latter is a hard sell with
the Kremlin, but Netanyahu hopes that there is a chance that if Russia has
heard the essence of Israeli concerns, Putin would be (a) more persuasive
with Iran on its actions in Syria and (b) have a higher tolerance level for
Israeli’s actions in Syria, and perhaps against Hezbollah in Lebanon.”
Suchkov reports that there is a deconfliction "hotline" between the Russian
Khmeimim air base in Syria and the Israeli Kirya command center in Tel Aviv,
and concludes that “while the parties still seek to lure Moscow to their own
camp, they are also discovering that Russia’s role as the only ‘go-to’
entity for bilateral ‘matters of life and death’ might just be beneficial
for them all. Therefore, whereas Putin may have genuine empathy for
Netanyahu’s concerns and sincerely appreciate his symbolic overtures, he’d
still be interested in listening to the opposite camp and measuring the
recent moods in Damascus and Tehran. In this regard, one shouldn’t be
surprised to see a high-level visitor or two from Syria or Iran to Russia
Turkish president tells Rouhani US decision on JCPOA is "wrong"
Erdogan said the United States will be the loser from the Trump
administration’s decision to withdraw from the JCPOA while telling his
Iranian counterpart, Hassan Rouhani, that the US decision is “wrong.”
Turkish presidential spokesman Ibrahim Kalin said, “We do not wish the
Iranian people to be negatively affected by these sanctions and we won’t
hesitate to do our part if we’re to do something about them.”
Amberin Zaman writes that the “the timing of the US withdrawal [from the
JCPOA] will have shifted Turkish conspiracy thinking into even higher gear.”
Zaman explains, “Iran is among Turkey’s top suppliers of oil and natural gas
and a vital land bridge for Turkish truckers carrying goods to Central Asia.
They are unable to access the region via neighboring Armenia, a far shorter
route, because of Ankara’s refusal to open its borders with the former
Soviet republic out of solidarity with Armenia’s top enemy Azerbaijan. The
longtime regional rivals share a porous mountainous border and a common fear
of Kurdish separatists active on both sides. The fear of Kurdish gains
overseen by US forces in northern Syria has propelled Iran and Turkey into
shelving their differences over the Syrian regime and their respective
claims of leading Shiite and Sunni Muslims and forming an alliance with
Adding to Turkish conspiratorial thinking is that “the decision comes as a
federal court in Manhattan prepares to sentence Mehmet Hakan Atilla, a
Turkish banker accused of involvement in a Byzantine scheme that saw
Turkey’s state-owned Halkbank allegedly conspiring with now jailed
Iranian-Turkish gold trader Reza Zarrab to launder hundreds of millions of
dollars through the US financial system on behalf of Iran. Erdogan and
assorted Turkish officials have long charged that the case is part of a
global plot to undermine Turkey. Meanwhile, Turkish businessmen nervously
await the scale of an expected fine to be levied on Halkbank by the US
Treasury and its likely effects on Turkey’s wobbly finances.”
Erdogan’s bravado may obscure alarm over the potential impact on Turkey of
the renewal of US secondary sanctions on Iran. Fehim Tastekin reports,
“Although some analysts think the new sanctions will not affect trading with
Iran, some are predicting much tougher days ahead. Turkey — which had taken
advantage of some tolerance by the United States earlier — is this time
under strict surveillance, accused of breaking the original sanctions via
Turkey’s state-owned Halkbank.”
Tastekin adds, “Turkish-American political relations have become much more
complex. The United States' patience might be short now that Turkey has
agreed to buy S-400 missile defense systems from Russia despite NATO’s
reservations. The US Congress is also unhappy with Ankara because of
Turkey's continuing detention of American missionary Andrew Brunson. Even if
Trump includes exemptions for Turkey from the secondary sanctions, that may
not win the approval of Congress.”
Tastekin continues, “A group in the AKP wants Ankara to revert to the
US-Israel axis because of economic threats Turkey is facing, while another
group demands ‘resistance’ to the United States. But the prevailing opinion
is that this time, the Turkish government may not support Iran.”
Some of this may have to do with the value of their banknotes. “Now both
sides must be ready for disappointment regarding their hope of using local
currencies in their trade, as both Turkey's lira and Iran's rial weaken
against the dollar, and the business world will not find it wise to use them
in their transactions,” Tastekin concludes. “Turkey now faces a tough
period. Which way its relations go with Iran will depend on the new list of
US exemptions and whether Ankara can maintain its supportive attitude toward
Iran in Syria: “Cognitive Empathy” and Interests
Aymenn Jawad Al-Tamimi/Syria Comment blog/May 14/18
How should Iran’s intentions in Syria be understood? The question is all the
more relevant in light of the recent exchange of missile fire on the border
between the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights and Syria. Writing in The
Intercept back in March 2018, Robert Wright argued that DC think-tanks “warp
our vision” and prevent us from applying “cognitive empathy” when it comes
to Iranian intentions in Syria in particular. By “cognitive empathy,” Wright
means understanding how a particular side thinks about a situation and why
it acts in certain ways in that situation. Through this lens, Wright argues
that Iran’s intentions in Syria should primarily be understood as embodying
objectives of defence and deterrence: intervening to save a key ally (the
Syrian government) and deterring the threat of attacks by the U.S. and
Israel against Iran.
There is some truth to Wright’s framing of Iranian intentions, and
“cognitive empathy” is no doubt an important thing to remember in analysis.
However, I believe his piece assumes too much of a false dichotomy: either
Iran’s intentions are primarily defensive or offensive/expansionist in
nature. In reality, it can be simultaneously true that Iran has a policy of
“forward defence” in Syria (as Vali Nasr puts it) and wishes to increase its
influence in Syria and the wider region in comparison with the pre-2011
status-quo for a variety of reasons that are not merely matters of defence
and deterrence. Here, I will explore in more detail some key controversies
regarding Iran’s presence in Syria and how they relate to questions of
Iranian intentions in the country.
The Land Route: The concept of a land route running from Iran to the
Mediterranean has repeatedly come up in reference to the military campaigns
launched against the Islamic State in the east of Syria. It has been argued
that Iran considers it vital to secure a contiguous land route as an
alternative to its use of air routes to supply its clients inside Syria and
Lebanon (airlift to Syria and then a very short land route to Lebanon),
partly because the land route running from Iran to the Mediterranean would
supposedly make it easier to conceal weapon supplies and thus prevent weapon
transfers from being hit by Israeli strikes. In one reading, this land route
would be a “prize of such enormity that even the great Persian empires have
scarcely dreamt of it.”
Unsurprisingly, the campaigns launched against the Islamic State in eastern
Syria last year involved a competition for grabbing territory in Deir az-Zor
province, with the Syrian Democratic Forces and the United States on one
side and the Syrian government and its Iranian and Russian allies on the
I would caution against viewing a land route for Iran as the main motivation
for the offensive on the part of the Syrian government and its allies. The
Syrian government had its own very compelling reasons to go on the
offensive: seeking to reclaim oil and gas resources and re-open a land trade
route with Iraq in a bid to boost its economy and reduce dependence on aid
from its allies. Further, the air routes Iran utilises are well-established
and reliable. After all, there is no U.S.-imposed no-fly zone over all of
Iraq and Syria. Technically speaking, a land route for Iran did exist for a
brief window in the first months of 2012 following the U.S. withdrawal from
Iraq, though it was not used.
However, it does not follow from these points that the Iranians do not have
any interest in a land route. Indeed, Iranian-client forces- such as the
Iraqi groups Kata’ib Sayyid al-Shuhada’, Harakat al-Nujaba’ and Kata’ib
al-Imam Ali, as well as the Afghan Shi’i Fatemiyoun- maintain a heavy
presence in the Albukamal area in eastern Deir az-Zor province on the border
with Iraq. There have also been deployments to Albukamal on assignments for
units of the Iranian-backed Local Defence Forces, which is on the registers
of the Syrian armed forces, has both Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard
Corps [IRGC] commanders and Syrian army officers in its leadership structure
and has integrated many of the familiar Syrian Hezbollah groups into its
ranks. Liwa al-Baqir, one of the most prominent Local Defence Forces group,
has established a more lasting presence in the border areas and Deir az-Zor
province . According to the former leader of Liwa al-Imam Zain al-Abidin,
who is currently in Deir az-Zor and regularly goes to the Albukamal area,
“The Revolutionary Guard [IRGC] is responsible for it [security in Albukamal].”
Members of Liwa al-Mukhtar al-Thiqfi (Idlib Local Defence Forces affiliate)
with Afghan fighters in al-Mayadeen, eastern Deir az-Zor province.
These data points do not mean that there is no role for the Syrian army in
security in the border areas. For example, Syrian army general Hassan
Muhammad is both chief of staff of the Syrian army’s Third Legion (III
Corps) and head of the Syrian government’s security committee in Albukamal.
Part of his role entails security inspections along the border. Yet the
concentration of Iranian forces and their clients in the area is highly
unlikely to be a coincidence and points to an interest in a land route.
Rather than conjuring up sensationalist images of the land route as an
imperial prize rivalling the conquests of Persian empires, one should
instead think of it as a long-term project and a back-up plan in case the
air routes are completely blocked off, in so far as a land route has real
benefits on the ground. Thus, the land route would become more relevant in
the scenario of a future war between Iran and another country (e.g. Israel
and/or the U.S.). The concept of the land route is also inextricably bound
to the political and security scene in Iraq. As Michael Knights notes, the
land route can be seen as a “political space” rather than a “physical
space.” As he explains, the land route “only exists on the days it’s used,
and its basis is Iraq’s case-by-case willingness to allow it.”
Demography: One way this argument runs is that there is an
Iranian-backed/directed plan to depopulate large parts of Syria (e.g. the
border areas with Lebanon) and replace the displaced Sunnis with foreign
Shi’i settlers and their families. The supposed intentions behind this
alleged plan are to ensure that these areas do not become future epicentres
of revolt, to alter the nature of Syria’s demographic makeup (i.e. rendering
it far more Shi’i and ideologically aligned with Iran) and to create a
stable land-route running from Iran to the Mediterranean and populated with
Shi’a loyal to Iran.
Little evidence has emerged to support claims of an Iranian plan along these
lines. Demographic engineering on such a scale would be a very difficult
task to accomplish. There is also little prospect for Iran to transform
Syria into an Islamic republic. Meanwhile, displacements in many places are
explained more readily in terms of the Syrian government’s own thinking
(e.g. the Alawite-Sunni sectarian dynamic in Homs city and the desire for
insurgent elements and their supporters in proximity to the capital to be
Nonetheless, in a few areas- most notably the “Triangle of Death” area at
the intersection of Damascus countryside, Quneitra and Deraa governorates-
bases for Iranian client forces (clearly intended for long-term military
purposes) have been established at the expense of displaced locals. For
instance, the village of Deir Maker in that area is virtually devoid of all
of its original inhabitants as it has become a base for Hezbollah, according
to a rebel originally from Deir Maker who fought in Beit Jann, as well as
sources in the nearby town of Kanaker to the northeast, which agreed to a
“reconciliation” at the end of 2016.
Deir Maker and the wider area.
The outlet al-Modon touched on this matter in a report in May 2017, claiming
that Hezbollah’s official in the “Triangle of Death” area- al-Hajj Abu
Abdullah- had given orders to allow for Syrian Hezbollah fighters to bring
their families to the area and settle there. The outlet claimed that more
than 70 families of Syrian Hezbollah fighters had arrived to settle in the
localities of Deir Maker and Sultana. The outlet added that the families of
these Syrian Hezbollah fighters had come from al-Fu’a and Kafariya (the two
besieged Shi’i villages in Idlib province) and the al-Wafideen camp (Sunni
Palestinian-Syrian refugee camp northeast of Douma). The report says that in
contrast, the displaced original inhabitants of the “Triangle of Death” area
had tried petitioning the Syrian military intelligence branch in Sa’sa’ to
return to their villages but without success.
Another issue that relates to Iranian intentions in Syria and partly touches
on demography is the matter of encouraging conversions to Shi’i Islam. Iran,
after all, is a state that engages in proselytism for Shi’i Islam, so it is
logical to expect that Iran would exploit opportunities to promote the
faith. Indeed, Iranian proselytism was already active on the ground in Syria
before the civil war, despite downplaying of the phenomenon by some foreign
observers back then. In some places of course, such as the primarily Druze
province of al-Suwayda’, proselytising proves too controversial to make any
meaningful headway, and there are non-Shi’a who join Syrian Hezbollah groups
with no intention of converting to Shi’i Islam.
Arguably, the most prominent armed group linked to the phenomenon of
conversion to Shi’i Islam is Liwa al-Baqir, which plays on the link between
Bekara tribesmen and the fifth Shi’i imam Muhammad al-Baqir. Conversions of
some Bekara tribesmen had already been occurring before the war in Aleppo
province in particular, but Liwa al-Baqir’s ascendancy is undoubtedly
continuing that trend and encouraging conversions beyond the group’s
original recruitment base.
Proselytising efforts for Shi’i Islam in Syria have created some
controversy. From a post in late February 2018 by a pro-government page for
al-Zahara’ neighbourhood in Aleppo city: “By decree of the Awqaf ministry
and his eminence Sheikh Ahmad Badr al-Din Hassoun the mufti of the Syrian
Arab Republic! Our correspondent has affirmed that people from the
Iranian-Iraqi Ahfad al-Hussein commission are giving lessons in creed in a
number of mosques of Aleppo urging children to become Shi’a and encouraging
them with rewards and gifts.”
More broadly, the former leader of Liwa al-Imam Zain al-Abidin characterises
one Iranian aim in eastern Syria as “Shi’ifying the Deir az-Zor region in
its entirety.” As he explained to me:
“I am not against any sect or madhhab, but Deir az-Zor has Shi’i customs in
it of course by instinct and habit, and a large proportion of the youth who
joined the fighting fronts have become convinced to become Shi’a of course
out of love for our Sayyid al-Hussein and Imam Ali, and there has been good
faith on the part of the Revolutionary Guard [IRGC] and Hezbollah in
treatment and granting rights. This thing has had a great impact on the
generation of youth in the city [of Deir az-Zor].”
Striving for conversions to Shi’i Islam among parts of the native population
seems much more realistic as a goal than settling large numbers of foreign
Shi’a in Syria. Incidentally, from Deir az-Zor there have been claims of
Afghan Shi’a settling in houses in Albukamal. On these claims, the former
leader of Liwa al-Imam Zain al-Abidin explains that “this thing [Afghans
occupying homes in Albukamal] is temporary as the area is almost devoid of
people. As for the people who return, their houses are evacuated and handed
over to them.”
Golan Front Against Israel: This concept has repeatedly come up in reference
to the proximity of Iranian forces and their clients to the border with the
Golan Heights and their presence in southern Syria more generally. The
matter came up in an al-Mayadeen interview with Hezbollah’s leader Hassan
Nasrallah at the beginning of this year:
“Q: Sayyid, there is the front of the south of Syria and many have spoken
about it and it is a source of great concern with the Israelis: that
Hezbollah and Iran, with the aid and support of the Syrian army that has
also fought for seven years, are preparing a resistance on the borders from
the Golan to the southern borders in their entirety. Is it true that there
is a new resistance on the Syrian-Palestinian borders against Israel?
A: This is also among the matters about which it is better to be silent on
in the end.
Q: This is a silent interview, Sayyid.
A: You are the one going to difficult questions. The enemy has the right to
be worried, because what has happened in the south of Syria in the end is
experience that has been made available now among the Syrian people and the
Syrian army as a regular army. You know that those who fight in Syria are
not only the army: those they call the auxiliary forces in the Syrian media.
There are popular Syrian formations: youth from the sons of different
villages, towns and regions, they have fought in their provinces. There is
great advanced experience that these youth have obtained especially on the
southern front because the fighting in the southern front has sometimes
taken the classical form and sometimes the form of guerrilla warfare from
the two sides. Practically this has given rise to a manpower structure on
the level of thought, experience and preparedness that can be brought
together perhaps during 24 hours. It is not conditional on the existence or
lack of existence of a real formation. Our very presence in southern Syria,
whose circumstances have been connected with the nature of the current
battle in Syria: the fact we are present, it is natural that the Israelis
should be worried, because there is conflict between us and the Israelis.
Thus we see the Israelis are worried about all that is happening in the
south of Syria. And they are working, applying pressure and trying to
benefit from American pressure and speaking with Russia. And they are trying
to threaten that there should be no resistance or resisting presence in
southern Syria, but they have not realised this until now.
Q: I understand from your words Sayyid that resistance cells prepared for
any future war with Israel have arisen there?
A: The resistance is present in southern Syria, and in all circumstances,
regardless of the defensive title, this is very natural because it is
Syria’s right that this should be present for it in the event of aggression
against it one day and it has the right if one day it takes the decision to
resort to the popular resistance in liberating the Golan. And if you
remember in the last years before the beginning of the events in Syria,
President Bashar al-Assad referred to this matter and also stated that it is
possible for us one day to arrive at this choice. It is a logical and
natural choice, and Israel deeply fears it.
Q: President al-Assad was speaking about a popular Syrian resistance. Now,
according to what I understand from you sir, there is a popular Syrian and
non-Syrian resistance present in the southern front?
Is the intent here to build up a “resistance” front and start a “liberation”
war against Israel, or is it really just about deterring Israel from
attacking as “no side wants war”? The answer lies somewhere in between.
There is probably no wish for an all-out war on any side, but the constant
rhetoric of “resistance” and fighting Israel demands some form of
realisation on the ground in order to maintain credibility: that is,
building up a “resistance” front in proximity to the border areas with a
view to harassing Israeli forces through occasional small-scale probing.
In conclusion, there are grounds for understanding some of Iran’s policies
in Syria in terms of pragmatism and rational interests, but there is also a
clear element of ideology behind some of its actions, and those actions
cannot be understood only in terms of defence and deterrence. Otherwise, one
risks becoming an apologist for Iranian policies that are problematic in
many ways, such as the aggravation of wider sectarian tensions in the
The Privileged Palestinian "Refugees"
Efraim Karash/Middle East Quarterly Volume 25: Number/MAY 14, 2018
No sooner had the Palestinian Arabs fled their homes during the 1948-49 war than
they were taken under the protective wing of the international community and
protected like no other group in similar circumstances. This special treatment
ranged from their very recognition as refugees despite the failure of many to
satisfy the basic criteria for such status, to the unprecedented creation of a
relief agency committed exclusively for their welfare: the United Nations Relief
and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East, or UNRWA.
Yet rather than help resolve the Palestinian refugee problem, this unparalleled
indulgence has only served to confirm its permanency. And no factor has
contributed more to this perpetuation than UNRWA, which, instead of ending
direct relief and transferring responsibility for the refugees to the host Arab
states within months, as stipulated by its mandate, has kept them on the U.N.’s
dole for decades under false humanitarian pretense.
SINGLED OUT FOR PRIVILEGE
World War II created an unprecedented humanitarian crisis. In Europe alone, more
than 16 million refugees and displaced persons languished in search of a
solution to their plight. This included some 13 million Germans expelled from
Poland, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Romania, and other East European countries;
nearly 2.5 million Poles, Ukrainians, Byelorussians, Russians, and Lithuanians
driven from their homelands to their newly demarcated states; some 250,000
Jewish Holocaust survivors herded in overcrowded camps (mainly) in the country
that had just slaughtered six million of their brothers; and over 400,000 Finns
driven from Soviet-occupied Karelia for the second time in half-a-decade.
Not only has UNRWA not helped to resolve the Palestinian refugee problem, it has
amplified the problem. UNRWA was initially envisaged as a short-lived agency,
but its mandate was perpetuated by declaring Palestinian “refugee” status
hereditary, allowing its application to descendants of the original refugees.
These massive refugee problems were handled by the International Refugee
Organization (IRO), established by the U.N. General Assembly in December 1946
and succeeded in January 1951 by the High Commissioner’s Office for Refugees (UNHCR),
which rapidly expanded its initial Eurocentric outlook to include refugees and
displaced persons from all over the world. There was only one exception to this
pattern: the Arab escapees of the 1948-49 war who received their own relief
agency, the United Nations Relief for Palestine Refugees (UNRPR), set up in
November 1948 and succeeded on May 1, 1950 by UNRWA. And while UNHCR was created
on a shoestring annual budget of $300,000, UNRWA was established on the
assumption that “the equivalent of approximately $33,700,000 will be required
for direct relief and works programmes for the period 1 January to 31 December
1950.” In other words, the Palestinian refugees received 110 times the money
allocated to the treatment of all other refugees throughout the world.
Sixty-eight years later, UNHCR comprises nearly 11,000 personnel handling 17.2
million refugees (or 1,568 refugees per worker) and 65.6 million forcibly
displaced persons compared to UNRWA’s 30,000-plus employees handling some 5.3
million “refugees” (or 176 refugees per worker). That is: Palestinian “refugees”
receive ten times the human resources as their less fortunate counterparts
anywhere in the world, and 34 times the humanitarian support extended to
displaced persons worldwide.
The word “refugees” has been put in quotes with regard to the Palestinians
currently cared for by UNRWA for the simple reason that they do not correspond
to the conventional refugee concept, which views this phenomenon as a temporary
plight that needs to be rectified swiftly. As early as 1929, the League of
Nations decided that its International Office for Refugees would shut down
within a decade at the most. Its U.N. successor, the International Refugee
Organization, was similarly created as a temporary organ due to cease activities
by the end of 1950 while the High Commissioner’s Office for Refugees was
initially conceived as a three-to-five-years-long agency.
Likewise, the U.N.’s Relief for Palestine Refugees was set up on the assumption
“that the problem would be resolved in a matter of months,” and even UNRWA
was initially envisaged as a short-lived agency though it quickly had its
mandate perpetuated by uniquely making the Palestinian “refugee” status
hereditary so as to allow its indefinite application to descendants of the
What makes this distinct self-perpetuating leniency all the more extraordinary
is that even the original designation of the Palestinians as refugees ran
counter to both the standard definition of this status and the international
treatment of similar, if not worse, contemporary humanitarian predicaments.
Misconstruing failed aggressors for victims. The notion of refugees and
displaced persons has been invariably equated with unprovoked victimhood: being
on the receiving end of aggression. Members of aggressing parties, including
innocent civilians victimized as a result of their governments’ aggression, have
been viewed as culprits, undeserving of humanitarian international support.
Thus, for example, not only did the IRO constitution deny refugee status to the
millions of “persons of ethnic German origins” driven from their homes in the
wake of the war—thereby forcing West (and East) Germany to resettle them in
their territories at their expense—but it also singled out persons who “have
voluntarily assisted the enemy forces since the outbreak of the second world war
in their operations against the United Nations.” It moreover stipulated that
Germany and Japan should pay, “to the extent practicable,” for repatriating the
millions of people displaced as a result of their wartime aggression.
Likewise, Finland not only had to absorb the 400,000-plus Karelian refugees with
no international support but was forced to pay massive reparations to Moscow for
having assisted the German attack on the Soviet Union.
Child refugees at Wilhelmshaven, Germany. After World War II, Europe saw more
than 16 million refugees and displaced persons. UNRWA received 110 times the
funds for the 600,000 Palestinian refugees than the amount allocated for all
other refugees throughout the world. The Germans as aggressors were not
recognized as refugees, but the Palestinians were.
In contrast, the Palestinians and the Arab states have never been penalized for
their “war of extermination and momentous massacre,” to use the words of Arab
League secretary-general Abdul Rahman Azzam, against the nascent state of
Israel. Quite the reverse, in fact. Despite U.N. secretary-general Trygve Lie’s
admonition that “the United Nations could not permit that aggression to succeed
and at the same time survive as an influential force for peaceful settlement,
collective security, and meaningful international law,” the Palestinians and
the Arab states were generously rewarded for that very aggression. The former
have become the most privileged refugee group ever; the latter have been
generously remunerated for hosting the displaced persons whose dispersal they
caused in the first place.
This unprovoked war of aggression should have ipso facto precluded the
Palestinians from refugee status, should have obliged them to compensate their
Jewish and Israeli victims, and should have made their rehabilitation incumbent
upon their leaders and the Arab regimes as with post-World War II Germany and
collaborating parties. However, it did not. In addition, their designation as
refugees also failed to satisfy the internationally accepted definition of this
status in several other key respects.
“Internal refugees”? The IRO constitution defined refugee as “a person who has
left, or who is outside of, his country of nationality or of former habitual
residence,” and this definition was reaffirmed by the 1951 Convention
Relating to the Status of Refugees, which applied the term to any person who “is
outside the country of his nationality and is unable or … unwilling to avail
himself of the protection of that country; or who, not having a nationality and
being outside the country of his former habitual residence as a result of such
events is unable or ... is unwilling to return to it.” This definition has
been expanded by the UNHCR without changing its general gist to include “persons
who are outside their country of nationality or habitual residence and unable to
return there owing to serious and indiscriminate threats to life, physical
integrity or freedom resulting from generalized violence or events seriously
disturbing public order.”
The equation of refugeedom with being outside the national homeland was neither
accidental nor a semantic sophistry. Apart from the immense dislocation
occasioned by World War II, the immediate postwar years saw a number of massive
population dispersals, notably the 13 million Hindus and Muslims displaced
during the 1947 partition of the Indian Subcontinent into the new states of
India and Pakistan; the millions dispersed during the Chinese civil strife, and
the 700,000 displaced during the Greek civil war. Overwhelmed by the
post-World War II European refugee crisis and daunted by the magnitude of the
problem elsewhere, the newly established United Nations sought to shun
responsibility for these crises as evidenced by the IRO constitution and the
deliberations leading to its replacement by the UNHCR and the 1951 refugee
convention. Insisting that the protection of refugees “could only gain substance
if it were given by all the Members of the United Nations,” the U.S.
representative (and former First Lady) Eleanor Roosevelt emphasized the
impracticality of the idea. Only eighteen states had become members of the IRO
while most other governments refrained from doing so mainly for financial
reasons, she argued.
It would, therefore, be better to adhere to the IRO’s definition of refugees
that focused on protecting those outside their national homeland than to seek
the unattainable goal of providing material assistance to “all categories of
refugees existing in any part of the world.” As this line of thinking
prevailed, the millions of Indian, Pakistani, Chinese, and Greek “internal
refugees” were not recognized as refugees by the 1951 convention.
There was, however, once again, one notable exception: the Palestinians. While
480,000 of the 600,000 Palestinian Arabs who fled their homes during the 1948-49
war—or 80 percent—remained in what used to be the country of their nationality
at the outbreak of hostilities, namely mandatory Palestine, they were,
nevertheless, recognized as refugees. And by way of legitimizing this
aberration, the 1951 convention specifically excluded the Palestinians from the
need to comply with its definition as a result of them benefitting “from the
protection or assistance of a United Nations agency other than UNHCR.” This
allowed UNRWA to adopt the highly inclusive definition of a refugee as “a needy
person, who, as a result of the war in Palestine, has lost his home and his
means of livelihood,” aware of the countless borderline cases resulting from the
continued presence of the “refugees” in their country of nationality:
In some circumstances, a family may have lost part or all of its land from which
its living was secured, but it may still have a house to live in. Others may
have lived on one side of the boundary but worked in what is now Israel most of
the year. Others, such as Bedouins, normally moved from one area of the country
to another, and some escaped with part or all of their goods but could not
return to the area where they formerly resided the greater part of the time.
To be sure, the 200,000 escapees to the Gaza Strip and the 280,000 who fled to
the territory that became the West Bank after its April 1950 annexation to
Jordan were in no position to return to their prewar dwellings. This was because
their leaders and the Egyptian and Jordanian governments that conquered these
areas during the war would not allow this, and because Israel would not allow
their repatriation before a comprehensive peace was concluded in case this might
be “exploited in order to encourage subversive or hostile activities” as feared
by the IRO.
American Friends Service Committee members hand out blankets to Palestinian
refugees, Gaza, 1948. A British diplomat was told by refugees that “they have no
quarrel with the Jews… and are perfectly ready to go back and live with them
again.” They clearly had no “well-founded fear of being persecuted.”
Yet these displaced persons remained in their country of nationality and could
have readily rebuilt their lives there as ordinary citizens rather than
refugees, either by being allowed to proclaim their own independent state in the
West Bank and Gaza, as stipulated by the partition resolution of November 1947,
or as citizens of the respective occupying states.
Indeed, the 280,000 escapees in the West Bank, alongside the 88,000 who had fled
to Transjordan (east of the Jordan River)—i.e., a total of 368,000, more than 60
percent of those who had fled their homes during the war—became Jordanian
citizens even before the area’s official annexation to the Hashemite Kingdom of
This, on its own, should have disqualified them for refugee status as both the
IRO constitution and the 1951 convention unequivocally deny this status and its
attendant benefits to any refugee who “has acquired a new nationality, and
enjoys the protection of the country of his new nationality.” In line with
this ruling, in 1952-53, the High Commissioner for Refugees declined Ankara’s
request to grant refugee status to the 154,000 persons of Turkish origin who had
been expelled from Bulgaria on the grounds that they ceased to be refugees upon
receiving Turkish citizenship. Yet this principle has never been applied to
the Palestinians who have been granted Jordanian citizenship or their
descendants—amounting to some 3 million “refugees” in today’s terms.
Even less deserving of refugee status are the Palestinians who moved from the
West Bank of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan to its eastern bank during the June
1967 war. Not only did they remain in the country of their nationality under the
rule of their own government, but as members of the aggressing party, they did
not meet the basic requirement for refugee status: victimhood.On June 5, at the
outbreak of hostilities on the Egyptian front, Israel passed several secret
messages to Jordan’s King Hussein, pleading with him to stay out of the fighting
and pledging that in such an eventuality, no harm would be visited upon his
kingdom. Had the king heeded these pleas and refrained from attacking
Israel, there would have been no war, and the West Bank would have remained
under his control.
Justified flight? Last but not least, the 1951 convention linked people’s flight
from their national homeland, which qualified them for refugee status, to
“well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion,
nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion.”
Yet no such fear should have existed in the Palestinian case—not in 1967, when
it became evident within days that West Bankers faced no imminent threat to
their lives or properties, and not in 1948-49, when the Zionist leadership went
out of its way to articulate its desire for peaceful coexistence with the
country’s Arab population. Indeed, no sooner had the guns fallen silent than a
senior British diplomat on a fact-finding mission to Gaza in June 1949 was told
by the refugees that “they have no quarrel with the Jews, that they have lived
with the Jews all their lives and are perfectly ready to go back and live with
These were no idle words. In accepting the partition resolution, the Zionist
movement acquiesced in the principle of a two-state solution and all subsequent
deliberations were based on the assumption that Palestine’s Arabs would remain
as equal citizens in the Jewish state that would arise with the termination of
the British mandate. In the words of David Ben-Gurion, soon to become Israel’s
first prime minister: “In our state, there will be non-Jews as well—and all of
them will be equal citizens; equal in everything without any exception; that is:
The state will be their state as well.”
In line with this conception, committees laying the groundwork for the nascent
Jewish state discussed in detail the establishment of an Arabic-language press,
the improvement of health in the Arab sector, the incorporation of Arab
officials in the government, the integration of Arabs within the police and the
ministry of education, and Arab-Jewish cultural and intellectual
interaction. No less importantly, the military plan of the Hagana (the
foremost Jewish underground organization in mandatory Palestine) for rebuffing
an anticipated pan-Arab invasion (or Plan D) was itself predicated, in the
explicit instructions of Israel Galilee, the Hagana’s commander-in-chief, on the
“acknowledgement of the full rights, needs, and freedom of the Arabs in the
Hebrew state without any discrimination, and a desire for coexistence on the
basis of mutual freedom and dignity.”
The same principle was enshrined in Israel’s Declaration of Independence of May
14, 1948, which undertook to “uphold absolute social and political equality of
rights for all its citizens, without distinction of religion, race, or sex” and
urged the Arab citizens “to take part in the building of the state on the basis
of full and equal citizenship and on the basis of appropriate representation in
all its institutions, provisional and permanent.” In its first meeting two days
later, the provisional Israeli government discussed a basic law regulating the
nascent state’s ruling institutions and practices, which ensured, among other
things, the right of Arab citizens to be elected to parliament and to serve as
cabinet ministers as well as the continued functioning of the autonomous Muslim
(and Christian) religious courts that had existed during the mandate. Four
months later, the government decided that Arabic, alongside Hebrew, would serve
as the official language in all public documents and certificates.
Had the Palestinian leadership and the neighboring Arab regimes similarly
accepted the partition resolution rather than attempt to destroy the state of
Israel at birth, there would have been no war and no refugee problem in the
first place. Most of mandatory Palestine’s Arab population would have resided in
the prospective Arab state and a substantial Arab minority would have lived
peacefully in Israel. Hence, the Palestinian exodus was not a result of
“well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion,
nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion” but a
corollary of a failed war of annihilation against a peaceful neighbor.
Likewise, the Palestinian flight during the 1967 war was not the consequence of
a “well-founded fear of being persecuted.” The Israeli defeat of the second
pan-Arab attempt to destroy it in a generation posed no threat to the West
Bank’s civilian population. Quite the contrary, had it been up to Israel, war
would not have come to this front in the first place as evidenced by the secret
pleas to King Hussein noted above. Besides, with West Bank fighting over within
a mere four days, it was clear to all that there was no Israeli plan to harm,
let alone expel the Palestinian population in this territory.
INFLATING REFUGEE NUMBERS
Apart from recognizing the Palestinians as refugees despite their failure to
meet the basic criteria for this status and assigning a distinct agency to tend
to their affairs, the U.N. blindly registered countless false claimants as
refugees despite its keen awareness of the pervasiveness of this fraud, then let
their falsely obtained status be passed on to future generations.
Palestinians who moved from the West Bank of Jordan to its eastern bank during
and after the Six-Day War, as these seen here crossing the Jordan River, June
22, 1967, are not refugees as they remained in the country of their nationality
under the rule of their own government.
At the beginning of August 1948, after eight months of Arab-Jewish fighting, the
director of the U.N. Disaster Relief Project (DRP) in Palestine, Sir Raphael
Cilento, set the number of refugees at 300,000-350,000, and the September 16
General Assembly report by the U.N. mediator for Palestine Folke Bernadotte
settled on the slightly higher figure of 360,000. A supplementary report
submitted a month later by Bernadotte’s successor, Ralph Bunche, raised the
figure to 472,000, estimating the number of people who would require U.N. aid in
the 9-month period from December 1, 1948 to August 1, 1949, at 500,000.
By now, however, the Arabs had dramatically upped the ante. In October 1948, the
Arab League set the number of refugees at 631,967, and by the end of the month,
official Arab estimates ranged between 740,000 and 780,000. When the U.N.’s
Relief for Palestine Refugees began operation in November 1948, it found some
940,000 refugees on its relief rolls.
U.N. officials deemed these figures to be grossly exaggerated, not least since
there had been no major influx of refugees since Bernadotte and Bunche submitted
their far lower estimates. By way of illustrating the inflated Arab figures,
Cilento pointed to allegations of growing refugee presence in certain locations
at a time when their real numbers in these sites had actually decreased.
Similarly, in his October report, Bunche noted the false allegation by the
Syrian authorities of the existence of 30,000 refugees in the northern cities of
Aleppo, Latakia, Hama, and Homs whereas the actual figure was hardly half that
size. Sir John Troutbeck, head of the British Middle East office in Cairo,
got a firsthand impression of the pervasive inflation of refugee numbers during
a fact-finding mission to Gaza in June 1949. He reported to London:
The Quakers have nearly 250,000 refugees on their books. … They admit, however,
that the figures are unreliable, as it is impossible to stop all fraud in the
making of returns. Deaths for example are never registered nor are the names
struck off the books of those who leave the district clandestinely. Some names,
too, are probably registered more than once for the extra rations.
This state of affairs is hardly surprising. Population figures of Palestinian
Arab society, especially of rural Muslim communities, were notoriously
unreliable, based as they were on information provided by rural and urban
headmen (mukhtars) that was deliberately inflated in order to obtain greater
government support, especially food rations. As explained in the preface to the
mandatory government’s Village Statistics 1945, for all the “very detailed work”
invested in this comprehensive compendium of rural Palestine, its estimates
“cannot … be considered as other than rough estimates which in some instances
may ultimately be found to differ even considerably, from the actual
figures.” Likewise, the supplementary volume to the Survey of Palestine
(1946), compiled in June 1947 for the information of the U.N. Special Committee
on Palestine (UNSCOP), revealed that
many cases of death, especially in rural areas, have not been reported. These
omissions (which are mainly due to the attempt to obtain food rations of
deceased persons) seriously impair the reliability of the death rates
(particularly infant mortality rates) and that of the rate of natural
Even if accepting the supplement’s estimate of 1.3 million Palestinian Arabs at
the end of 1946 (the actual figure was most probably 10 percent lower), the
number of refugees could by no stretch of the imagination approximate the
alleged Arab figures. This is because some 550,000-600,00 Arabs who lived in the
mandatory districts of Samaria, Jerusalem, and Gaza (which subsequently became
the West Bank and the Gaza Strip) remained in situ while another 160,000 Arabs
remained in, or returned to, Israel. This, in turn, puts the number of refugees
at 540,000-590,000. Likewise, according to an extrapolation of the Village
Statistics 1945, the non-Jewish population of the area that was to become
Israeli territory at the end of the war amounted, in April 1948, to some
696,000-726,800. Deducting Israel’s 160,000-strong postwar Arab population from
this figure would leave 536,000-566,800 refugees beyond Israel’s frontiers.
Indeed, the interim report of the United Nations Economic Survey Mission for the
Middle East of November 16, 1949, which formed the basis for UNRWA’s creation
three weeks later, recommended that the number of rations issued by UNRPR
“should be reduced by 1 January 1950 from the present rate of 940,000 to
652,000.” Yet, while conceding the impossibility to exclude fraudulent
individuals and groups from its refugee rolls, in part given the outpouring of
destitute non-Palestinian Arabs seeking to enroll in its services, UNRWA not
only refused to reduce refugee numbers below 800,000 but subsequently raised
this figure to one million. In the agency’s first year of operation, the number
of “refugees” housed in its camps grew by 20 percent with “many thousands of new
applications … received each month.” These included new arrivals from
Israel—well over a year after the end of hostilities—and “some considerable
movement of the [non-Palestinian] population in the search of water,
particularly in Jordan, as a result of the severe drought that has dried up
wells and cisterns.”
FROM TRANSIENCE TO PERMANENCE
UNRWA was established on a very precise, highly limited, and short-term mandate:
(a) To carry out in collaboration with local governments the direct relief and
works programmes as recommended by the Economic Survey Mission;
(b) To consult with the interested Near Eastern Governments concerning measures
to be taken by them preparatory to the time when international assistance for
relief and works projects is no longer available.
The Economic Survey Mission, the recommendations of which UNRWA was established
to implement, was set up in August 1949 by the Conciliation Commission for
Palestine in order “to examine economic conditions in the Near East and to make
recommendations for action to meet the dislocation caused by the recent
hostilities” in line with Resolution 194 of December 1948. Having found both
options suggested by the resolution—repatriation of those refugees “wishing to
return to their homes and live at peace with their neighbors” and “resettlement
and economic and social rehabilitation of the refugees” in the Arab
states—to be impractical in the immediate future, the mission proposed a
graduated integration of the refugees in the host countries by moving from
direct relief to public works. It argued, “Rather than remain objects of
charity, the refugees who are idle must have an opportunity to go to work where
they are now.” It reasoned that such work
would increase the productive capacity of the countries in which they have found
refuge … halt the demoralizing process of pauperization, outcome of a dole
prolonged … [and] increase the practical alternatives available to refugees, and
thereby encourage a more realistic view of the kind of future they want and the
kind they can achieve.
Specifically, the mission recommended eliminating free rations supplied to the
refugees by the end of 1950, by which time the new relief agency (i.e., UNRWA)
would have negotiated with the Arab governments their takeover “as soon as
possible, and at latest by 31 December 1950, responsibility for the maintenance
of such refugees as may remain within their territories.” In other words,
within months of its creation, UNRWA should have handed over responsibility for
its operations to the host countries and been subsequently disbanded with the
ending of U.N. support for the works program on June 30, 1951. In other words,
within months of its creation, UNRWA should have handed over responsibility for
its operations to the host countries and been subsequently disbanded with the
ending of U.N. support for the works program on June 30, 1951.
Nothing of the sort happened. In his first report to the General Assembly in
October 1950, five months after its launch, the UNRWA director recounted a
smaller reduction in rations distribution and lower employment rates than
envisaged by the Economic Survey Mission, with only 17,500 refugees working on
new projects. The director attributed this underperformance to UNRWA’s later
than expected start of operation; to the unsatisfactory economic conditions in
certain areas; and to the difficulty in “selling” the works program to the Arab
governments and the refugees. Blaming the United Nations and the West for their
plight, the refugees showed “little, if any, gratitude for the Agency’s efforts
to maintain or improve [their] condition” instead demanding “increased medical
and educational services and improved rations both in quantity and quality.”
Hundreds of thousands of hapless Jews were expelled from the Arab states during
and after the 1948-49 war. Most of these refugees were absorbed by the Jewish
state. No U.N. agency was created to deal with this influx.
Yet rather than seek to dispel this misguided sense of victimized entitlement
and steer the refugees toward rehabilitation as stipulated by its mandate, UNRWA
began edging in the opposite direction. While paying lip service to its
obligation to help “the Near East countries assume responsibility for
administering the refugee programme,” it proposed the continuation of direct
relief beyond 1950 (budgeting its operations until July 1952) and the effective
transformation of the works program into a relief operation “specifically
directed toward improvement of the refugees’ living conditions, current and
future.” By 1956, its original mission of reintegration had been all but
No less importantly, the director’s report absolved the Arab states (let alone
the Palestinian leadership) of responsibility for reintegrating the refugees as
stipulated by UNRWA’s mandate. While the Economic Survey Mission sought to
strengthen the governing and administrative capabilities of the Arab states by
empowering them to execute the works programs “to the fullest degree possible,”
with the international community reduced to advisory and supervisory roles, the
director declared this endeavor “to be beyond the present capacity of Near
Eastern governments to bear.” Instead, he insisted that “the magnitude of
and the danger inherent in the Near East refugee problem needs the fullest
understanding and support of the nations of the world”—this at a time when
millions of refugees elsewhere received no international support whatsoever.
What makes this instantaneous dereliction of duty particularly galling is that
UNRWA had an excellent example of how to execute its mission. The 48,000
displaced persons in Israel—17,000 Jews and 31,000 Arabs—who initially fell
under its jurisdiction were absorbed into Israel’s socioeconomic structures as
fully-fledged citizens within a few months in stark contrast to their
Palestinian counterparts whose refugee status has been perpetuated for
generations. In their discussions with UNRWA, the Israelis rejected the idea of
international relief distribution altogether, considering it to be the state’s
responsibility to care for displaced persons, especially the aged and infirm
among them, through its normal social welfare machinery, which is precisely
what was envisaged by UNRWA’s own mandate.
It is true that the scope of Israel’s refugee problem was numerically much
smaller than its Palestinian counterpart, yet its relative burden was three time
heavier: The 48,000 displaced persons constituted 6 percent of Israel’s total
population while the 600,000 Palestinian refugees accounted for a mere 2 percent
of the Arab states’ population. And this figure does not include the hundreds of
thousands of Jewish refugees expelled from the Arab states during and after the
1948-49 war—whose numbers exceeded Israel’s total population—who were also
absorbed by the Jewish state.
In late 1949, the American Friends Service Committee, which had shouldered most
of the Palestinian refugee relief in Gaza, informed the U.N. of its intention to
end its operation at the earliest possible moment:
It is obvious that prolonged direct relief contributes to the moral degeneration
of the refugees and that it may also, by its palliative effects, militate
against a swift political settlement of the problem.
The same logic informed the establishment of UNRWA, only to be discarded by its
leadership within months. Rather than “start [the refugees] on the road to
rehabilitation and bring an end to their enforced idleness and the demoralizing
effect of a dole,” as instructed by the Economic Survey Mission, the agency
not only sustained their misery but has ensured its perpetuation for decades.
It is true that culpability for this dismal state of affairs is not UNRWA’s
alone. With the partial exception of Jordan, which integrated the 1948-49
escapees as full citizens (which should have ended their refugee status), the
Arab governments kept the refugees in squalid camps for decades as a means of
extracting financial international aid, derogating Israel in the eyes of the
West, and arousing pan-Arab sentiments.
Nor were the refugees themselves eager to substitute gainful employment for
welfare support. Considering the U.N. to be “entirely responsible for both
[their] past and present misfortunes,” they viewed its aid programs as their
natural right and were loath to lose its considerable benefits. In the words of
It is probably true to say that the refugees are physically better off than the
poorest levels of the population of the host countries; and in some cases better
off, in the way of social services, than they were in Palestine.
Yet it is precisely this misguided sense of victimized entitlement and total
absence of self-criticism that have turned generations of Palestinian “refugees”
into passive welfare recipients rather than productive and enterprising free
agents, thus allowing the decades-long manipulation of their cause by successive
Palestinian leaderships and the Arab regimes. This in turn means that neither
UNRWA, nor the Palestinian Authority, nor the Arab states, nor even the
“refugees” themselves are likely to initiate a real change to this state of
affairs, which has long benefitted their self-serving interests in one way or
One can only hope, therefore, that as UNRWA nears its seventieth anniversary,
the agency’s main donors, first and foremost the United States and the European
Union, which bankroll nearly half of its budget, will find the necessary
courage and integrity to acknowledge the urgency of deep reform and condition
future contributions on UNRWA’s reversion to the original mandate: that is, its
gradual transfer of responsibility for the Palestinian “refugees” to the
Palestinian Authority and the host Arab governments, thus ending their eternal
“refugeedom” and facilitating their integration in their respective societies as
equal and productive citizens. This will be seventy years later than originally
conceived, but better late than never.
Efraim Karsh, editor of the Middle East Quarterly, is emeritus professor of
Middle East and Mediterranean studies at King’s College London and director of
the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies at Bar-Ilan University.
 “About Us: Figures at a Glance,” U.N. High Commissioner’s Office for
Refugees (UNHCR), New York.
 “General Assembly Resolution 302. Assistance to Palestine Refugees,” United
Nations, A/RES/302 (IV), Dec. 8, 1949, art. 6
 See, for example, “The Integration of Refugees into German Life. A Report of
the ECA Technical Assistance Commission on the Integration of Refugees in the
German Republic, Submitted to the Chancellor of the Federal Republic of Germany,
Mar. 21, 1951”; Malcolm J. Proudfoot, European Refugees: 1939-52. A Study in
Forced Population Movement (London: Faber, 1956)
 “About Us: Figures at a Glance,” UNHCR; “Who We Are,” United Nations Relief
and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA); Programme
Budget 2016-2017, UNRWA, Aug. 2015
 Deborah Kaplan, The Arab Refugees: An Abnormal Problem (Jerusalem: Rubin
Mass, 1959), pp. 118-19, 124; Mrs. Roosevelt at the General Assembly’s 4th
sess., 3rd comm., “Refugees and stateless persons,” Lake Success, N.Y., Nov. 12,
1949, p. 132
 “Assistance to Palestine Refugees. Interim Report of the Director of the
United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East,”
General Assembly Official Records, 5th sess., supplement no. 19, (A/1451/Rev.),
Oct. 6, 1950, art. 6.
 “Report of the commissioner-general,” UNRWA, July 1, 1970-June 30, 1971,
UNGA A/8413, fn. 1.
 “Constitution of the International Refugee Organization,” The Yearbook of
the United Nations, 1946-47, pp. 810, 816-17.
 David Barnett and Efraim Karsh, “Azzam’s Genocidal Threat,” Middle East
Quarterly, Fall 2011, pp. 85-8.
 Trygve Lie, In the Cause of Peace. Seven Years with the United Nations (New
York: Macmillan, 1954), pp. 162-3.
 Constitution of the International Refugee Organization, p. 806.
 “Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees. Done in Geneva on 28 July
1951,” Collection of International Instruments Concerning Refugees (Geneva:
Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, UNCHR, 1979), art.
 UNHCR Resettlement Handbook (Geneva: UNHCR, 2011), p. 19 (emphasis in the
 Joseph B. Schechtman, Postwar Population Transfers in Europe, 1945-1955
(Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1962); Schechtman, Population
Transfers in Asia (New York: Hallsby Press, 1949).
 General Assembly, 4th sess., 3rd comm., meeting 260, Nov. 11, 1949, pp.
124-5; see, also, meeting 258, Nov. 9, 1949; meeting 259, Nov. 10, 1949; meeting
261, Nov. 12, 1949; meeting 262, Nov. 14, 1949; meeting 263, Nov. 15, 1949;
meeting 264, Nov. 15, 1949.
 Efraim Karsh, “How Many Palestinian Arab Refugees Were There?” Israel
Affairs, Apr. 2011, pp. 224-46; “First Interim Report of the United Nations
Economic Survey Mission for the Middle East,” Chairman of the United Nations
Conciliation Commission for Palestine, submitted to the U.N. General-Secretary,
Nov. 16, 1949, p. 18.
 “Convention and Protocol Relating to the Status of Refugees,” UNHCR, art.
1-D, p. 16.
 “Interim Report of the Director of the United Nations Relief and Works
Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East,” Oct. 6, 1950, art. 15.
 Constitution of the International Refugee Organization, Annex I, 1(d), p.
 “Progress Report of the United Nations Acting Mediator for Palestine
Submitted to the Secretary-General for transmission to the Members of the United
Nations,” (Supplement to Document A/648, Part Three), A/689, Oct. 18, 1948,
Appx. B, p. 3.
 Constitution of the International Refugee Organization, sect. D (b), p.
817; “Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees,” arts. 1/C (3), 1/E.
 Kaplan, The Arab Refugees, p. 129.
 See, for example, Michael Oren, Six Days of War: June 1967 and the Making
of the Modern Middle East (New York: Ballantine Books, 2002), p. 184.
 “Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees,” art. 1/A (2).
 Sir J. Troutbeck, “Summary of General Impressions Gathered during Week-End
Visit to the Gaza District,” June 16, 1949, The National Archives, London, FO
371/75342/E7816, p. 123.
 David Ben-Gurion, Bama’aracha (Tel Aviv: Mapai Publishing House, 1949),
vol. 4, part 2, p. 260. Ben-Gurion reiterated this pledge on May 4, 1948, ten
days before the proclamation of Israel: “We hope to have soon a free parliament
in the state of Israel, democratically elected by all its citizens: all the
Jewish citizens and all Arab citizens who would like to remain in Israel.” David
Ben-Gurion, Behilahem Israel (Tel Aviv: Mapai Publishing House, 1951; 3rd ed.),
 See, for example, protocol of the Situation Committee’s meetings on Nov. 24
and Dec. 22, 1947, Ben-Gurion Archive, Sde Boker; protocol of the subordinate
Committee C meetings on Dec. 1, 2, 22, 1947, Ben-Gurion Archive; Secretariat of
Subordinate Committee B, “Proposal for the establishment of a Police in the
Hebrew State,” Dec. 31, 1947, Ben-Gurion Archive.
 Hagana commander-in-chief to brigade commanders, “Haarvim Hamitgorerim
Bamuvlaot,” Mar. 24, 1948, Hagana Archive, Tel Aviv, HA/46/199z.
 “Protocol of Israel’s Provisional Government Meeting,” Israel State Archive
(ISA), Jerusalem, May 16, 1948, pp. 11-18, 20; Protocol of the Provisional
Government Meeting, ISA Sept. 5, 1948, p. 5.
 “Disease Threatens Refugees,” The New York Times, Aug. 3, 1948.
 “Progress Report of the United Nations Mediator on Palestine Submitted to
the Secretary-General for Transmission to the Members of the United Nations in
Pursuance of Paragraph 2, Part II, of Resolution 186 (S-2) of the General
Assembly of 14 May 1948,” U.N. General Assembly, General Assembly Official
Records: 3rd sess., suppl. no. 11 (A/648), Sept. 16, 1948, p. 78.
 “Progress Report of the United Nations Acting Mediator for Palestine,” pp.
 “Refugees Put at 700,000,” The New York Times, Aug. 17, 1948; “First
Interim Report of the United Nations Economic Survey Mission for the Middle
East,” p. 17; Rony E. Gabbay, A Political Study of the Arab-Jewish Conflict. The
Arab Refugee Problem (A Case Study) (Geneva: Librairie E. Droz, 1959), pp.
167-8; W. de St. Aubin, “Peace and Refugees in the Middle East,” Middle East
Journal, July 1949, p. 251.
 Beirut to Foreign Office, Oct. 1, 3, 1948, FO 371/68679.
 “Progress Report of the United Nations Acting Mediator for Palestine, Appx.
A, p. 3.
 Troutbeck, “Summary of General Impressions.”
 “Explanatory Note,” Village Statistics 1945 (Jerusalem: Palestine Office of
Statistics, 1945), p. 2 (A5).
 Government for Palestine, Supplement to Survey of Palestine: Notes compiled
for the information of the United Nations Special Committee of Palestine
(London: HMSO, June 1947; reprinted in full permission by the Institute for
Palestine Studies, Washington, D.C.), p. 14.
 Ibid., pp. 10-11; “The Palestinian Refugee Problem (Report No. 3),” Israeli
Foreign Ministry, Middle East Dept., Feb. 2, 1949, Israel State Archives, FM
347/23; Israeli Foreign Ministry, “Notes on Arab Refugees, the Boundaries of
Israel, and Jerusalem,” Aug. 22, 1949, FM 347/23; Walter Pinner, How Many Arab
Refugees? A Critical Study of UNRWA’s Statistics and Reports (London: MacGibbon
and Kee, 1959), part III.
 “First Interim Report of the United Nations Economic Survey Mission for the
Middle East,” p. 17
 “Interim Report of the Director of the United Nations Relief and Works
Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East,” Oct. 6, 1950, arts. 13, 14, 16;
“Assistance to Palestine Refugees: Report of the Director of the United Nations
Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East,” General
Assembly Official Records: 6th sess., suppl. no. 16 (A/190), Sept. 28, 1951,
“Foreword,” art. 28.
 “General Assembly Resolution 302. Assistance to Palestine Refugees,” art.
 “First Interim Report of the United Nations Economic Survey Mission for the
Middle East,” pp. 14-15.
 “194 (III). Palestine - Progress Report of the United Nations Mediator,”
General Assembly, A/RES/194 (III), Dec. 11, 1948, art. 11.
 “First Interim Report of the United Nations Economic Survey Mission for the
Middle East,” pp. 16-17.
 Ibid., p. 17.
 “Interim Report of the Director of the United Nations Relief and Works
Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East,” Oct. 6, 1950, arts. 26, 28, 29,
 Ibid., arts. 65, 67, 76.
 Edward H. Buehrig, The UN and the Palestinian Refugees: A Study in
Nonterritorial Administration (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1971), p.
 “First Interim Report of the United Nations Economic Survey Mission for the
Middle East,” p. 18.
 “Interim Report of the Director of the United Nations Relief and Works
Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East,” Oct. 6, 1950, arts. 74, 76, 79,
 Ibid. arts. 30-1.
 Asaf Romirowsky and Alexander H. Joffe, Religion, Politics, and the Origins
of Palestine Refugee Relief (New York: Palgrave-Macmillan, 2013), p. 88.
 United Nations Conciliation Commission for Palestine, “Final report of the
United Nations Economic Survey Mission for the Middle East” (Lake Success, N.Y.:
United Nations, Dec. 28, 1949), “Introduction,” p. vii.
 “Report of the Director of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for
Palestine Refugees in the Near East,” Sept. 28, 1951, arts. 34-6.
 Governments and EU Pledges to UNRWA (Cash and In-kind) for 2015 – Donor
Ranking in USD AS 31 December 2015, UNRWA.