May 20/2018
Compiled & Prepared by: Elias Bejjani


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Bible Quotations
No fornicator or impure person, or one who is greedy has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God
Letter to the Ephesians 05/03-13: "But fornication and impurity of any kind, or greed, must not even be mentioned among you, as is proper among saints. Entirely out of place is obscene, silly, and vulgar talk; but instead, let there be thanksgiving. Be sure of this, that no fornicator or impure person, or one who is greedy (that is, an idolater), has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God. Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes on those who are disobedient. Therefore do not be associated with them. For once you were darkness, but now in the Lord you are light. Live as children of light for the fruit of the light is found in all that is good and right and true. Try to find out what is pleasing to the Lord. Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them. For it is shameful even to mention what such people do secretly; but everything exposed by the light becomes visible,".

Titles For Latest LCCC Bulletin analysis & editorials from miscellaneous sources published on May 19-20/18
USA-Arabic Sanctions & The Lebanese officials -Politicians Negative Role/Elias Bejjani/May 19/18
How would a Government including Hezbollah develop economic ties to the Gulf and to the United /Dr.Walid Phares/May 19/18
Will Hariri’s next cabinet include Hezbollah members/Mashari Althaydi/Al Arabiya/May 19/18
Lebanese on edge over new sanctions against Hezbollah/Najia Houssari/Arab News/May 18/18
A Month of Islam and Multiculturalism in France: April 2018/"Radical Islam is one of the greatest challenges facing our nation."/Soeren Kern/Gatestone Institute/May 19/2018
Gaza Riots: Really About the /Bassam Tawil/Gatestone Institute/May 19/2018
Israel Needs to Protect Its Borders. By Whatever Means Necessary./Shmuel Rosner/The New York Times/May 19/18
Iran missed its window to attract investment/Camelia Entekhabifard/Arab News/May 19,/18
North Korea-US summit has high stakes for many players/Cornelia Meyer/Arab News/May 19,/18
The benefits of Iraqi protest movements/Adnan Hussein/Al Arabiya/May 19/18
Two-face traders exploiting Palestinian bloodshed/Salman al-Dosary/Al Arabiya/May 19/18
Wake up Europe! Why nobody should trust the Iranian regime/Najah Alotaibi/Al Arabiya/May 19/18

Titles For Latest LCCC Lebanese Related News published 
on May 19-20/18
USA-Arabic Sanctions & The Lebanese officials -Politicians Negative Role
How would a Government including Hezbollah develop economic ties to the Gulf and to the United States
Berri meets with Italian Ambassador, Paqradonian, Hawat, sends condolences cable to Cuban President
Lebanon bids Suheil Bouji farewell in a massive funeral, President bestows upon him Lebanese 'Order of Merit'
Tabbara: U.S. Decided to Distance Lebanon Economy from Sanctions Impact
Report: Hizbullah Eyeing ‘Key’ Share in Cabinet
Report: Franjieh, Miqati Won’t Join Parliament Blocs
Kardel Welcomes Army CIMIC Center in South Lebanon
Aoun: Intl. Community Called Forth to Respect Lebanon’s Will
Abi Khalil Says Govt Incurred Huge 'Losses' because of Mistaken Decisions
Will Hariri’s next cabinet include Hezbollah members?
Lebanese on edge over new sanctions against Hezbollah
Titles For Latest LCCC Bulletin For Miscellaneous Reports And News published on May 19-20/18
Report: 2 killed in shooting in southwestern Germany
Ten Dead in Texas School Shooting, Student Arrested
Russia calls for foreign troop pullout from Syria including Iran, Hezbollah
In speech, Pompeo to call for ‘broad support’ against Iran
US Readies Mideast Peace Plan, but Threatens Palestinian Aid
Istanbul Summit Urges International Force to Protect Palestinians
Global anti-Iran coalition need of the hour, says Mideast expert
Iran: EU promising to salvage nuclear deal despite Trump move
Cleric Moqtada Al-Sadr’s bloc wins Iraq election
In a union of tradition and modernity, U.S actress Meghan marries Prince Harry
Latest LCCC Lebanese Related News published on May 19-20/18
USA-Arabic Sanctions & The Lebanese officials -Politicians Negative Role
Elias Bejjani/May 19/18
No positive pro-Lebanese expectations from the Lebanese officials or the politicians in regards to the USA-Arabic sanctions because Hezbollah is a terrorist armed organization and because they all fear for their lives. Dhimmitude, chameleonism and procrastination will be their coping game.

How would a Government including Hezbollah develop economic ties to the Gulf and to the United States
Dr.Walid Phares/May 19/18
Will the Lebanese Government invite Hezbollah to join the cabinet after it was sanctioned by the United States and several Arab states for terrorism and financial illegal acts? The current Lebanese Government is still silent after the US and the Arab coalition including Saudi Arabia, UAE, Bahrain, Qatar, announced financial sanctions on the leaders of Hezbollah. How would a Government including Hezbollah develop economic ties to the Gulf and to the United States with members of its cabinet under international sanctions? It could get more complicated regarding Lebanon's institutions. How will they be able to receive foreign aid, including military with these sanctions in place? Let's see...

Aoun, Mrad, Daher meet in Baabda
Sat 19 May 2018/NNA - President of the Republic, Michel Aoun, welcomed at Baabda Palace on Saturday newly elected MP Abdul Rahim Mrad. The pair reportedly discussed the latest political situation in the country and the post-election period. The President later met with MP Michel Daher, with whom he discussed general prevailing issues and the needs of Zahle region. On the other hand, the President decided to grant former Cabinet Secretary General Suhail Bouji a Lebanese high-ranking citation in recognition of his administrative, judicial and social contributions.

Berri meets with Italian Ambassador, Paqradonian, Hawat, sends condolences cable to Cuban President
Sat 19 May 2018/NNA - House Speaker Nabih Berri met Saturday afternoon at Ain el-Tineh with Italian Ambassador to Lebanon Massimo Maruti, with talks centering on latest developments and bilateral relations between both countries. The Speaker also met today with Tashnag Party Secretary-General, MP Agop Paqradonian, with whom he reviewed the post-election phase. Berri shared similar discussions with the newly elected MP Ziad Hawat, mainly touching on the elections atmosphere and the upcoming stage. Meanwhile, the Speaker sent a cable of condolences to Cuban President Miguel Mario Diaz-Canel Bermudez in wake of the victims who fell in the recent plane crash incident.

Lebanon bids Suheil Bouji farewell in a massive funeral, President bestows upon him Lebanese 'Order of Merit'
Sat 19 May 2018/Hariri: Lebanon has lost a pillar of judiciary who devoted his entire career to the State NNA - Lebanon bid farewell today its Council of Ministers' Secretary-General Suheil Bouji in a massive funeral held following afternoon prayer at Khashikji Mosque in Beirut, in presence of Prime Minister Saad Hariri representing President of the Republic Michel Aoun, Deputy-Elect Mohammad Khawaja representing House Speaker Nabih Berri, and former PM's Tamam Salam, Fouad Siniora and Najib Miqati, alongside Mufti of the Republic, Sheikh Abdul-latif Derian. With a huge crowd of political officials and social, military, intellectual and diplomatic figures attending his funeral, Bouji was laid to rest at the age of 71. "With the loss of Dr. Suheil Bouji, God rest his soul, Lebanon has lost...Beirut has lost...and I personally have lost one of judiciary's pillars who devoted his entire career life to serving the State," said PM Hariri in his word eulogizing Bouji. "The late Dr. Bouji accompanied me for many years, following the march of Martyr Prime Minister Rafic Hariri...He was to me, as well as to many other statesmen and heads of governments in Lebanon, the best Cabinet Secretary-General who gave his sincere opinion and insight in all legal, administrative and political issues," Hariri added. The Prime Minister expressed his deepest condolences to the late's family, friends and colleagues, asking the Lord Almighty to rest his soul in Heaven and to grant all his beloved patience and solace to endure his loss. On behalf of the President of the Republic, Prime Minister Hariri bestowed up the late Bouji the Lebanese "Order of Merit" as an honorable token for his lifetime achievements in service of his nation.
Tabbara: U.S. Decided to Distance Lebanon Economy from Sanctions Impact
Naharnet/May 19/18/Despite concerns that the U.S. sanctions against Iran and Hizbullah could affect Lebanon’s economy, the former Lebanese Ambassador to the United States Riad Tabbara assured that Washington is keen on “distancing Lebanon’s economy and banking sector” from measures it takes in that regard, al-Joumhouria daily reported on Saturday. In an interview to the daily, Tabbara said: “What matters to Lebanon is the sanctions on Hizbullah and its financiers, and perhaps also on those who support it politically, which of course constitutes an economic threat to Lebanon.
“However, more than two years ago the Americans have announced measures guaranteeing neutralization of the Lebanese economy as much as possible, especially the banking sector. There is no evidence today that this policy has changed,” said Tabbbara. “Washington, however, believes that Lebanon should cooperate with the related U.S. authorities to facilitate its missions in this area, which has already happened in the past and is still part of the Lebanese banking policy,” he added. As for the possible complications that could be facing the formation of Lebanon’s government, he said: “The U.S. administration is watching things from a distance, I do not think it sees great risks to it and to Lebanon in this area. It is aware that the Lebanese will eventually form a constitutional government that distances itself from regional problems as they did in the past, which does not pose a threat to its interests in the region,” he concluded. On Wednesday, the United States and six Gulf Arab states announced sanctions on the leadership of Hizbullah. The US and Saudi-led Terrorist Financing and Targeting Center said the sanctions were aimed at Hizbullah’s Shura Council, the decision-making council, led by the secretary-general Hassan Nasrallah. Nasrallah, Hizbullah Deputy Secretary General Naim Qasim, and three other Shura Council members were listed under the joint sanctions, which aim at freezing vulnerable assets of those named and blocking their access to global financial networks.

Report: Hizbullah Eyeing ‘Key’ Share in Cabinet

Naharnet/May 19/18/Hizbullah party is reportedly eyeing an increased share in Lebanon’s new government amid reports it could “foil its formation” shall Prime Minister Saad Hariri respond to the U.S. “veto” against the party, Saudi daily Asharq al-Awsat daily reported on Saturday. Hizbullah, “will not accept to get the so called non-service-related ministerial portfolios like it did in previous governments,” said the daily. The ministries of Youth and Sports, Administrative Development, State Ministry for Parliamentary Affairs and the Industry Ministry have been allocated to Hizbullah ministers in previous governments. The daily quoted sources close to the party who said: “This time, Hizbullah is eyeing service-related ministerial portfolios in order to serve the people and fight corruption,” noting that the party's share should be three ministers if the Shiite portfolios were six. The sources said the party “categorically rejects” any bid to distance it from the government, and that its political team enjoys a majority in parliament. On the US sanctions on Iran and Hizbullah and their effect on lining Lebanon’s new government, they said that “there will be no government shall PM Hariri respond to the American veto...even if the government was formed, it will not get the confidence vote,” according to the daily.

Report: Franjieh, Miqati Won’t Join Parliament Blocs

Naharnet/May 19/18/The Marada Movement of MP Suleiman Franjieh said that negotiations with ex-PM and MP-elect Najib Miqati to form a joint parliamentary bloc “did not lead to positive results,” al-Akhbar daily reported on Saturday. “Discussions with the former prime minister about joining the parliamentary bloc which Franjieh seeks to form in the parliament did not heap positive results,” Marada sources told the daily. MP-elect Toni Franjieh, son of Suleiman, and Miqati have won seats in Tripoli’s parliamentary elections. “Miqati refuses to join a bloc that is not under his chairmanship,” they said, adding “he is a former prime minister and has big popularity in the north which made him the first winner in his electoral district.”Al-Joumhouria daily on the other hand said, “the two men were in perfect agreement during a meeting they held on Friday, and that they have agreed to put efforts together in the interests of the North.”However, at the political level they reportedly agreed to work as two separate blocs. “Mikati will continue his contacts to form a parliamentary bloc with independent deputies,” said al-Joumhouria.

Kardel Welcomes Army CIMIC Center in South Lebanon
Naharnet/May 19/18/Acting UN Special Coordinator for Lebanon Pernille Dahler Kardel attended the inauguration of the Lebanese Armed Forces regional Civil-Military Cooperation (CIMIC) center for south Lebanon in Marjayoun on Friday, which was established with the support of UNIFIL and Government of Spain. “I am encouraged to see this inauguration reflecting Lebanon’s international commitments including to Resolution 1701, in particular in expanding state authority,” the Acting UN Special Coordinator said. “Activities like those of CIMIC play an important role in addressing security threats through engagement between military and civil communities,” she added. Kardel then visited a site in Meis El-Jabal, also in south Lebanon, where the Lebanon Mine Action Center (LMAC) of the Lebanese army with the Mines Advisory Group (MAG), supported by UNDP, are conducting demining activities.
“I am very impressed by the work that is being done, often in difficult and dangerous conditions, to expand the territory of the area where residents can live and work, safe from the threat of mines,” Kardel said. She welcomed the progress made in clearing south Lebanon from landmines, cluster munities and unexploded ordnance. Kardel underlined the United Nations’ continued commitment to supporting efforts to safeguard Lebanon’s security, stability and sovereignty.

Aoun: Intl. Community Called Forth to Respect Lebanon’s Will
Naharnet/May 19/18/President Michel Aoun on Friday said that the international community must respect the Lebanese will to stay distant from the turmoil and developments around it in the region. “The international community is called forth to support the Lebanese will to distance Lebanon from the developments around it,” Aoun said. His remarks came during his meeting with French Foreign Ministry Chief of the Middle East and North Africa Jerome Bonnafon. On the parliamentary elections the President said: “Post-elections stage will witness the formation of a national unity government that will kick start reforms, combat corruption and implement an economic plan to help advancement.”

Abi Khalil Says Govt Incurred Huge 'Losses' because of Mistaken Decisions
/Naharnet/May 19/18/Energy Minister Cesar Abi Khalil presented at a press conference on Friday the technical terms of conditions for the project of importing liquefied natural gas to Lebanon. Abi Khalil said the plan to import LNG vessels to Lebanon “has been delayed since 2010, resulting in government losses of around $27 billion due to the “agendas” of some, and previous mistaken decisions.”He added saying that “96 companies have withdrawn the books of conditions, while 13 international coalitions have qualified to bid.”
He concluded saying: “We bear the project to build the State and implement the law.”

Will Hariri’s next cabinet include Hezbollah members?
Mashari Althaydi/Al Arabiya/May 19/18
I’ve previously written an article here about Hezbollah that sips at the heart of the Lebanese state. Today, Hezbollah is a blacklisted terrorist group. What can be concluded from this recent Saudi-Emirati-American stance is that there’s no difference this group’s militant wing and its politicians and merchants. It’s on this basis that those funding Hezbollah are being pursued, according to the Terrorist Financing Targeting Center. The members of this anti-terror financing center are: Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, the UAE as well as the US. The American Treasury had categorized Hezbollah leaders as terrorists and imposed financial and banking sanctions against them. They include Hezbollah Secretary General Hassan Nasrallah, his deputy Naim Qassem, Mohammed Yazbeck, Hussein Khalil, Ibrahim Amin al-Sayyid and of course Hezbollah military leader Talal Hamieh, among others.According to a Saudi statement, these leaders were listed in accordance “with the system of combating terror crimes and funding of terror in Saudi Arabia, and is in line with UN Resolution 1373 (2001) that targets terrorists and those who provide support to terrorists or to terror practices.”
Hezbollah’s reality
The joint Gulf-American stance thus deemed the Lebanese Hezbollah Party as a global terror group. The statement rejected the wrong differentiation between the so-called “political wing of Hezbollah” and the group’s terror and military activities. Hezbollah’s reality on the Lebanese political scene is different, as it won the Shiite parliamentary seats in the recent elections along with its Shiite partner, the Amal Movement. Hezbollah’s supporters and youths took to Beirut’s streets to celebrate the victory of seven other MPs and tarnished Rafiq Hariri’s statue. Speaking of Saad, who is the current prime minister, will he be the next prime minister? How will he include ministers from a party which is pursued on the political and security levels and on whom financial sanctions are imposed? In other words, how will his new government include ministers from a group that’s considered a “terrorist organization” by the US, Saudi Arabia, the UAE and other countries? How will Hariri convince Washington and Riyadh of this? Or will he sacrifice the premiership and sit in the opposition camp and throw the burden of forming the government onto another Sunni figure? Some Lebanese politicians and banking figures, mainly the governor of the Central Bank Riad Salameh, tried to make Lebanon a state not responsible for Hezbollah which is “organically” linked to the Iranian regime. However Hezbollah’s leaders are Lebanese citizens and are rather the state’s actual rulers, so how will this even work? The picture gets clearer as the moment of truth nears. The trick of differentiating between the Lebanese-Iranian organization’s political and military wings – which was previously a European ruse – has lost its effectiveness. Lebanon’s wise and rational men – who are many – and those who reject the dominance of the Khomeini party – and who are also many – must translate this into a tangible reality even if the path to do so is the path of pain.
Lebanese on edge over new sanctions against Hezbollah
Najia Houssari/Arab News/May 18/18
BEIRUT: Opinions differ in Lebanon on the issue of US and Gulf sanctions against Hezbollah, the latest of which target members of its consultative council. However, everyone agrees that Hezbollah can always find ways to bypass the “American fist” around it. A university professor, who would not reveal his identity because university regulations prevent him from giving statements, said that “sanctions against Hezbollah do not make a difference in its sympathetic environment. The more sanctions are imposed, the more support it gets from its cohorts. Its popular support has never diminished due to sanctions imposed on it. Rather, it received more sympathy from its supporters.”The university professor added that “imposing sanctions on leading Hezbollah figures would not affect Lebanon, but it could cause trouble for Hezbollah and banking institutions that deal with it. This may have some effects.”
The university professor played down the possibility that the sanctions would affect the Lebanese political reality because “the (Hezbollah) has broad acceptance, popular strength and military power that prevent even the mere thought of removing it from the government or decision centers, over which it will increase its influence, either directly or through its allies.”“The inclusion of Hezbollah leaders on US and Gulf terrorism lists is inseparable from the conflict between the United States and Iran,” said Qasim Hashim, a member of the Liberation and Development Bloc.
Moreover, according to journalist Mona Sukariya: “The US administration’s decision is interference in Lebanon’s sovereign political affairs. I understand that the American administration has not taken a decision over the years of the Arab-Israeli conflict unless it is in the interests of protecting Israel’s security. The issue of sanctions against Hezbollah, which has parliamentary and partisan legitimacy and has participated in the successive governments, raises concern and confusion. After the peaceful end of the parliamentary elections in Lebanon, we hope that these sanctions do not affect the Lebanese economy, provoke disorder and destabilize security.” Sukariya stressed that “no party in Lebanon wants to get involved in any security confusion.” Sanaa Farghal, a Hezbollah opponent, supports the claim that sanctions strengthen Hezbollah among its supporters and weaken its opponents because they cannot do anything against it. “What is happening now will not affect Lebanon,” she said. “It may put pressure on Iran, but Lebanon will be treated as a violator of international law. The situation in Lebanon remains fragile and unstable because we are at a stage of regional attrition. Lebanon stands on the edge of the abyss and no one has decided to push it down. The balance between the United States and Europe preserves Lebanon’s stability.”
However, economic expert Louis Hobeika stressed that the new sanctions “weaken Hezbollah because they restrict it and cannot be ignored. It restricts all people who are with or against the party in the business sector because sanctions may affect them one way or the other.”
Hobeika stressed that the sanctions have caused “an atmosphere of confusion in the business sector. They are asking: ‘If America and the Gulf wanted to impose these sanctions, where do I find support if I ignore them?’ People are usually cautious.”He believes that widening the sanctions may affect new known names that may not be from the Shiite sect, which means “they will affect all those who deal with Hezbollah in Lebanon.”Hobeika said that the term “dealing with Hezbollah” “is very flexible. Hezbollah is not a foreign party in Lebanon. Its members are Lebanese. Even if someone wanted to sell the party wood or iron, he would think 100 times about this step.”The economic expert added noted that “the American president wants to punish everyone. He withdrew from the nuclear agreement and transferred the American embassy to Jerusalem. It’s a negative atmosphere that transcends Lebanon to the whole world. The economic climate may not be comfortable in Lebanon. Questions about remittances will be raised, causing a tense atmosphere.”The governor of the Banque du Liban, Riad Salameh, was quick to stress from the Presidential Palace the “stability of the Lebanese pound” after the sanctions.

Latest LCCC Bulletin For Miscellaneous Reports And News published on May 19-20/18
Report: 2 killed in shooting in southwestern Germany
AP/May 19, 2018/BERLIN: German media are reporting two people have been killed in a shooting near the southwestern city of Saarbruecken. The Saarbruecker Zeitung newspaper reported Saturday that police have a suspect in custody. The newspaper reports the shooting was in the Fechingen area, southeast of the city. Broadcaster Saarbruecker Rundfunk reports that several people are injured in what police say was a domestic incident. Further details are not immediately available.

Ten Dead in Texas School Shooting, Student Arrested

Agence France Presse/Naharnet/May 19/18/Ten people, mostly students, were killed when a teenage classmate armed with a shotgun and a revolver opened fire in a Texas high school Friday, the latest deadly school shooting to hit the United States. The gunman, arrested on murder charges, was identified as Dimitrios Pagourtzis, a 17-year-old junior at Santa Fe High School. He is being held on capital murder charges, meaning he could face the death penalty. Governor Greg Abbott said 10 people died and another 10 were wounded in "one of the most heinous attacks that we've ever seen in the history of Texas schools." "Nothing can prepare a parent for the loss of a child," Abbott told reporters in Santa Fe, located about 30 miles (50 kilometers) southeast of Houston. Abbott said the gunman apparently carried out the attack with a shotgun and a .38 revolver that were legally owned by his father.
At dusk, hundreds of people turned out for a candlelight vigil as the community sought to cope with the tragedy. People prayed and sang "Amazing Grace," tears streaming down some faces. Abbott said searches were being conducted at two residences and "explosive devices" had been found, including a Molotov cocktail. He said journal entries by the gunman suggested he wanted to commit suicide but "he gave himself up."Abbott said the suspect had no criminal history, although he did post a picture on his Facebook page of a T-shirt with the words "Born to Kill" on it. Law enforcement authorities were questioning two "people of interest," the governor said. One may have "certain information," he said, and the other had some "suspicious reactions." Harris County Sheriff Ed Gonzalez said most victims were students. Area hospitals said two victims were in critical condition. One of the wounded was a police officer, John Barnes, who engaged the gunman and was shot in the elbow, officials said.
'I shouldn't be going through this'
The shooting was the latest in what has become an all-too-familiar situation in US schools, where gun violence has become a part of everyday life, part of a broader toll taken by firearms which are responsible for more than 30,000 gun-related deaths annually. "My friend got shot in the art hall," weeping student Dakota Shrader told reporters. "I shouldn't be going through this," Shrader said as her mother comforted her. "It's my school. This is my daily life. I feel scared to even go back." Shrader said fire alarms went off "and everybody just started running outside. "And the next thing you know everybody looks and you hear 'boom, boom, boom' and I just ran as fast as I could to the nearest forest so I could hide and I called my mom."Kali Causey, 20, a graduate from nearby Clear Falls High School, arrived at the school to lay a bouquet of flowers. "Me being a Texan, it's hard to blame it on gun control and the (National Rifle Association). A lot of people just blame that, but it's a bigger picture," she said, pointing to social issues like bullying and mental health conditions. "I don't think there's much you can say to a parent who's just lost a child that will comfort them," she said. "I think being there and letting them know that the community supports them and loves them is the hugest thing for them right now." Earlier this year, 17 people were killed at Marjory Douglas Stoneman High School in Parkland, Florida, -- a massacre that prompted survivors to launch a grassroots campaign against gun violence that led to the largest gun reform rallies in nearly two decades. Friday's was the second mass shooting in Texas in six months. Twenty-six people were killed in a Texas church in November 2017 by a 26-year-old Air Force veteran. President Donald Trump expressed "sadness and heartbreak" over the shooting and ordered US flags to fly at half-staff for the next few days. "This has been going on too long in our country," Trump said, speaking at an event on prison reform at the White House. "We're with you in this tragic hour." Trump, who has previously proposed arming teachers, said he was "determined to do everything in our power to protect our students, secure our schools and to keep weapons out of the hands of those who pose a threat to themselves and to others."
'Get out of here'
The shooting erupted before 8:00 am, as the first classes of the day were starting. "It was pretty quiet for a few seconds, and then we just hear someone shoot a gun, and just a 'pow-pow-pow,'" student Hunter Mead, 14, told AFP. "And everyone just kind of freaked out. You know, everyone has the instinct, 'Just go, get out of here.'"The shooting came three months after the Florida massacre led to mass protests and their call of "Never again!". "We are fighting for you," tweeted David Hogg, a Stoneman Douglas student who has emerged as a leader of the gun control campaign. Separately, one person was killed and another wounded when shots were fired after a high school graduation ceremony late Friday in the southern US state of Georgia, Clayton County police said. Local media said that shots were fired after an argument broke out near Mt. Zion High School. The victims were adult women, police said.

Russia calls for foreign troop pullout from Syria including Iran, Hezbollah

By Staff writer, Al Arabiya English/Saturday, 19 May 2018/In comments published Friday, Russian presidential envoy to Syria Alexander Lavrentiev confirmed that President Vladimir Puttin’s remarks on the need to withdraw foreign troops from Syria had implied Iranian forces and Hezbollah militia fighters as well as Turkish and American troops. On the heels of a meeting between Putin and the Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in the Russian resort of Sochi on Thursday, Lavrentiev added: "This statement involves all foreign troops in Syria including the Turkish, American, Iranian and Hezbollah." Lavrentiev stressed that Putin’s statement on this issue represents a “political message”, but added "not to view it as the beginning of a withdrawal process of foreign troops from Syria.”The Russian envoy said: “This is a very complex matter, because these measures must be implemented collectively, and start in parallel with a stabilizing process, because the military part is nearing its end and the confrontations are currently in a final stage.”Putin had said earlier on Thursday after meeting with Assad that “we start off from the tangible victories and the success of the Syrian army in the fight against terrorism and the launch of an active phase of a political process, which will be followed by the start of the pullout of foreign armed forces from Syrian territory.”

In speech, Pompeo to call for ‘broad support’ against Iran
Reuters, Washington/Saturday, 19 May 2018/US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo will outline a “diplomatic road map” next week that he hopes will convince European and other allies to apply pressure on Iran and force it back to the negotiating table, a senior US official said on Friday.
Rebuffing appeals from France, Germany and Britain, US President Donald Trump withdrew the United States 10 days ago from a landmark 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and six major powers, saying the agreement did not adequately curb Iran’s nuclear ambitions or address Iran’s ballistic missile program and what the Trump administration views as its destabilizing role in the region. In his first foreign policy speech on Monday, Pompeo will call for broad support to address “the totality of Iran’s threats,” said Brian Hook, senior US policy advisor, adding that Washington is seeking a diplomatic outcome with Iran.
“The goal of our effort is to bring all necessary pressure to bear on Iran to change its behavior and to pursue a new framework that can resolve our concerns,” Hook told reporters. “We very much want to be, to have a kind of uptempo diplomacy, one that’s very focused and very determined to achieve our national security objectives,” he said, adding:
“Our broad approach now that we have been emphasizing is that we need a new, a framework that’s going to address the totality of Iran threats.” It was not immediately clear whether Britain, France and Germany would agree to join the US coalition as Washington moves to reimpose sanctions against Iran and they try to salvage economic and trade ties with Tehran that followed the 2015 nuclear deal. Under the agreement, reached to halt what Western countries long suspected was Iran’s attempt to develop nuclear weapons, Tehran agreed to limits on its nuclear program in exchange for the lifting of sanctions against it. Iran has denied it sought in the past to develop an atomic weapon, saying its nuclear program has always been for purely peaceful purposes.
False sense of security
Hook said the Iran nuclear accord had given countries a false sense of security and the United States wanted to ensure any new agreement covered not only Iran’s nuclear and missile capabilities, but also curbed its regional activities.“This involves a range of things around its nuclear program, missiles, proliferating missiles and missile technology and support for terrorists and its aggressive and violent activities that fuel civil wars in Syria and Yemen,” said Hook. Pompeo had been in discussions with European allies since Trump’s announcement that Washington was withdrawing from the deal and Hook said he believed differences could be overcome. “We have a period of opportunity to work with our allies to try to come up with a new security architecture, a new framework,” said Hook, “I think people are overstating the disagreements between the US and Europe.”
US Readies Mideast Peace Plan, but Threatens Palestinian Aid
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/May 19/18/The Trump administration is aiming to roll out its much-hyped but long-delayed Middle East peace plan next month amid signs it may further alienate the Palestinians by slashing millions of dollars in funding for humanitarian and development projects in the West Bank and Gaza.Five U.S. officials and a congressional aide say the administration intends to release the peace plan in mid- to late-June, shortly after the end of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, although they cautioned that the timing could slip depending on developments in the region. They say the plan's main authors — President Donald Trump's son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner and Trump's special envoy for international negotiations Jason Greenblatt — have already begun quietly briefing select allies and partners on elements of the proposal. Yet any Palestinian willingness to even consider the plan would require conditions to improve and anger to subside considerably in the coming weeks, an unlikely scenario as the Palestinians say evidence of one-sided Trump giveaways to Israel continues to pile up. U.S. allies in Europe and the Persian Gulf also have felt compelled to criticize the administration for its approach. Ostensibly, Trump would need buy-in from those same countries to build enough momentum for any peace plan to succeed.
The administration has been resisting congressional demands to fully close the Palestine Liberation Organization office in Washington because Greenblatt and Kushner want to keep that channel open in case the Palestinians are open to re-entering negotiations with Israel based on the plan. The office was ordered closed by former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson last November, but has been allowed to stay open for limited purposes under the administration's interpretation of the law requiring it to be shut down in the absence of peace talks. The prospect of Palestinian interest in the peace proposal appears dim, however, particularly since Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas recalled the mission's chief earlier this week to protest Monday's opening of the new U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem. The embassy move is said to have contributed to violent protests in Gaza that were met with deadly force from Israel. Nearly 60 Palestinians were killed Monday by Israeli forces, prompting condemnations and calls for restraint from Europe and elsewhere. The U.S. declined to join those calls and, while regretting the loss of life, opposed efforts at the U.N. to launch an international investigation into the violence.
Trump's recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital, the embassy move and the administration's unreserved defense of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's policies have alienated and angered the Palestinian leadership, which accuses the administration of abandoning its role as a neutral arbiter in the conflict. Saeb Erekat, the chief Palestinian negotiator, said any deal needs to be between the Palestinians and Israel — not the United States.
"I don't need Jason Greenblatt. I don't need Kushner," Erekat said. "It's our lives."That sense of betrayal may deepen significantly this summer as millions of dollars in U.S. assistance to the Palestinians appears likely to be cut and the funds re-allocated to other regions. That money has been on hold since last year and existing funding for some projects will start to run out in just months if it is not approved in the next two weeks. If that does not happen, the State Department and the U.S. Agency for International Development will have to notify aid recipients that continued U.S. funding is not forthcoming and those programs will begin to be shut down. Local staffers would be laid off and U.S. officials running the projects would be reassigned elsewhere.
Of $251 million in bilateral aid planned for the Palestinians in 2018, only $50.5 million has been reported spent, according to the government's online tracker, The remaining more than $200 million is currently on hold, a figure that does not include an additional $65 million in frozen U.S. assistance to the U.N. Relief and Works Agency that provides services to Palestinians in the West Bank, Gaza, Jordan and Lebanon. The U.S. aid pays for programs on education, health, good governance and democracy promotion as well as disaster preparedness and security.
For several months the White House has been sitting on State Department and USAID recommendations to spend at least some of the money, according to the officials. Three officials said there is no indication those recommendations will be acted upon any time soon despite appeals from lawmakers and even expressions of concern from Israel, which sees value in the assistance especially in the security sector. One official said there was "an overwhelming lack of urgency" about making a decision on the funding. The other two said there was no sign that the end-of-May timeframe would be met.
"The administration is currently reviewing U.S. assistance to the Palestinians," USAID said in a statement to The Associated Press. "USAID is in discussions with all affected implementing partners on the status of the review, and is working closely with the interagency, as the administration concludes its review."
At immediate risk are between five and 10 of the some 20 USAID projects in the West Bank and Gaza, along with proposed new initiatives, the officials said. Without a quick decision those will run out of money by the end of 2018, they said. Nearly all of the others will run out of money in early 2019 unless the money is unblocked, they said.

Istanbul Summit Urges International Force to Protect Palestinians
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/May 19/18/A summit in Istanbul of Muslim heads of state on Friday called for the creation of an international peacekeeping force to protect the Palestinians, as host Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan accused Israel of "brutality" comparable to the Nazis. The 57-member Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) -- seeking to bridge severe differences within the Muslim world -- said in a final communique that Israel had carried out the "wilful murder" of some 60 Palestinians on the Gaza border Monday. It called "for the international protection of the Palestinian population, including through dispatching of international protection force".Erdogan said the sending of such an "international peacekeeping force" was essential to help the Palestinians and stop the international community being a "spectator to massacres". He compared such a force to the UN forces sent to deal with the aftermath of the Balkan wars in Bosnia and Kosovo. The statement also angrily lashed out at the United States, saying that Washington was complicit in the "crimes" of Israel and "emboldened" its government by moving its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.
'No difference with Nazis'
The summit had been called at a few days notice by Erdogan, who had earlier addressed thousands at an open air rally in Istanbul to express solidarity with the Palestinians. Speaking at the opening of the summit, Erdogan compared Israel's actions against the Palestinians in Gaza to the Nazi persecution of the Jews in the Holocaust during World War II. "There is no difference between the atrocity faced by the Jewish people in Europe 75 years ago and the brutality that our Gaza brothers are subjected to," he said, accusing Israel of using methods "similar to the Nazis". Around six million Jews were killed by the Nazis during World War II in the Holocaust. Addressing the earlier rally, Prime Minister Binali Yildirim used similar language, saying Israel was "imitating Hitler and Mussolini" by occupying Palestinian territory and disregarding international law. Palestinian prime minister Rami Hamdallah -- stepping in for president Mahmud Abbas who this week had surgery on his ear -- told the rally that the US was "trying to provoke a religious conflict in the region" by moving its embassy to Jerusalem.
Test for Islamic world'
Erdogan complained that Muslims had too often given a "shy and cowardly" image to their foes and failed to sort out internal disagreements. Describing the issue of Jerusalem as a "test", he said: "If we need to speak clearly, the Islamic world failed in the Jerusalem test."This is the second emergency OIC meeting Erdogan has hosted in the space of half a year after the December 2017 summit, also in Istanbul, that denounced US President Donald Trump's decision to recognise Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.Disputes between the OIC's key players -- notably between Sunni kingpin Saudi Arabia and Shiite Iran -- always complicate the adoption of any measures going beyond harsh rhetoric. Riyadh -- which appears to have softened its stance on Israel as the influence of powerful Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has grown -- and its allies fear alienating the United States with tough measures against Tel Aviv.
Saudi Arabia's chief foreign policy preoccupation, shared with Israel, is ensuring US backing to contain Iran which both Riyadh and the Jewish state see as the main threat to regional peace. In his speech, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani pointedly criticised "the silence of certain countries" without which "the Zionists would have never attempted such a brutality"Both Cairo and Riyadh are wary of Turkey's support for the Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas, as well as its close alliance with Qatar which is currently under a Saudi-led blockade. the Egyptian and Saudi foreign ministers came but not the heads of state.
Called to account'
Erdogan has long craved a role as a Muslim leader within the entire Islamic world, rarely holding back with tirades against Israel even though Ankara has diplomatic relations with the Jewish state. Tensions with Israel and hosting such a meeting also does Erdogan no harm with his core supporters as Turkey heads to presidential and parliamentary polls on June 24. And he has emerged as one of the most outspoken critics of Israel after Monday's bloodshed, earlier this week even accusing the Jewish state of genocide.He called for an international investigation into the "crimes" Israel has committed. "It will be called to account sooner or later," he said.

Global anti-Iran coalition need of the hour, says Mideast expert
Siraj Wahab/Arab News/May 19/18/A coalition is the way to go because history has shown that unilateral actions were less successful in standing against Iran's destabilizing behavior, says Dr. Majid Rafizadeh.Oubai Shahbandar, a Syrian-American analyst, says countering Iran's network will require a great unity of effort among all the Arab states.
JEDDAH: Washington's plan to build a global “coalition” is a welcome against the Tehran regime "is a must", according to one Mideast expert. "The Iranian regime's modus operandi is to expand its influence, export its extremist ideology, and impose its revolutionary principles regionally, globally and domestically," Harvard scholar and Iranian affairs expert Majid Rafizadeh told Arab News. "In order to confront the Iranian regime and contain it effectively, it should be confronted at all levels," he said. The US State Department revealed the plan on Thursday, saying the coalition is needed to stop the Tehran regime's “destabilizing activities.” “The US will be working hard to put together a coalition,” State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert told reporters. US President Donald Trump had earlier decided to pull the US out of the Iran nuclear deal, saying that the deal failed to stop Iran from pursuing its nuclear ambitions and causing chaos in the Middle East. Rafizadeh said history had shown that unilateral actions were less successful in standing against Iran's destabilizing behavior. "The creation of such a coalition is overdue and it should have been created when the fundamentalist Islamic Republic was founded in 1979," he saidh.
"A global coalition will be more effective in confronting the Iranian regime's military adventurism across the region. In addition, such a coalition will be effective in delegitimizing the ruling mullahs in the eyes of the Arab and Muslim world," he said. Oubai Shahbandar, a Syrian-American analyst and fellow at the New America Foundation's International Security Program, said if such a coalition were to succeed, the US would have to invest a significant amount of resources. "Iran has had a headstart and established a robust proxy network throughout the Middle East and the Arabian Gulf," he pointed out. "The irony is of course that the US has military forces stationed alongside some of the Iranian-backed militias in Syria, so the Trump administration will have to be prepared for a potential violent response by Iranian-trained auxiliaries."According to Shahbandar, countering Iran's network will require a great unity of effort among all the Arab states. "Otherwise Washington won't be able to succeed on this front," he added.

Iran: EU promising to salvage nuclear deal despite Trump move
Reuters/May 19, 2018/TEHRAN: Iran’s nuclear chief said on Saturday that the European Union had promised to save the nuclear deal with major powers despite US President Donald Trump’s decision to exit the accord and reimpose sanctions on Tehran. “We hope their efforts materialize ... America’s actions ... show that it is not a trustworthy country in international dealings,” Ali Akbar Salehi told a joint news conference in Tehran with the European Commissioner for Energy and Climate, Miguel Arias Canete. Under the 2015 deal with major powers, Iran curbed its nuclear program in return for the lifting of most Western sanctions on the country. The sanctions were lifted in 2016. Canete, who arrived in Tehran late on Friday for a two-day visit, aims to reassure Iran that the 28-nation EU wants to keep trade open despite the US withdrawal from the pact, announced by Trump on May 8. “We have sent a message to our Iranian friends that as long as they are sticking to the agreement the Europeans will... fulfil their commitment. And they said the same thing on the other side,” Canete said.“We will try to intensify our flows of trade that have been very positive for the Iranian economy.”
The EU was once the biggest importer of Iranian oil.

Cleric Moqtada Al-Sadr’s bloc wins Iraq election
Reuters/May 19, 2018 /PM Abadi is third behind pro-Iran figure, but he could still emerge as a compromise candidate palatable to all sides because he has skillfully managed the competing interests of the US and Iran during his term in office. Iranian Major General Qassem Soleimani has been holding talks with politicians in Baghdad to promote the formation of a new cabinet which would have Iran’s approval. BAGHDAD: A political bloc led by populist cleric Moqtada Al-Sadr, a long-time adversary of the United States who also opposes Iranian influence in Iraq, has won the country’s parliamentary election, the electoral commission said on Saturday. Sadr himself cannot become prime minister as he did not run in the election, though his bloc’s victory puts him in a position to have a strong say in negotiations. His Sairoon electoral list captured 54 parliamentary seats. The Al-Fatih bloc led by Hadi Al-Amiri, who has close ties with Iran and heads an umbrella group of paramilitaries that played a key role in defeating Islamic State, came in second with 47 seats. The Victory Alliance, headed by incumbent Prime Minister Haider Al-Abadi, took third place with 42. The victory was a surprising change of fortunes. The cleric, who made his name leading two violent uprisings against US occupation troops, was sidelined for years by Iranian-backed rivals. His bloc’s performance represented a rebuke to a political elite that some voters blame for widespread corruption and dysfunctional governance. Sadr’s unlikely alliance with communists and secular Iraqis says it fiercely opposes any foreign interference in Iraq, which is strongly backed by both Tehran and Washington. It has promised to help the poor and build schools and hospitals in Iraq, which was battered in the war to defeat Daesh terrorists and has suffered from low oil prices. Before the election, Iran publicly stated it would not allow Sadr’s bloc to govern. In a tweet shortly after results were announced, Sadr said: “Reform is victorious and corruption is diminishing.” Winning the largest number of seats does not automatically guarantee that Sadr will be able to hand-pick a prime minister. The other winning blocs would have to agree on the nomination. In a 2010 election, Vice President Ayad Allawi’s group won the largest number of seats, albeit with a narrow margin, but he was blocked from becoming premier, which he blamed on Tehran. The election dealt a blow to Abadi, but he could still emerge as a compromise candidate palatable to all sides because he has skillfully managed the competing interests of the United States and Iran — unwitting allies in the war against Daesh — during his term in office. Amiri is regarded as one of the most powerful figures in Iraq. He spent two decades fighting Saddam Hussein from Iran. Iranian Major General Qassem Soleimani, commander of foreign operations for Iran’s elite Revolutionary Guards and a highly influential figure in Iraq, has been holding talks with politicians in Baghdad to promote the formation of a new cabinet which would have Iran’s approval. Negotiations are expected to drag on for months. The government should be formed within 90 days of the official results.

In a union of tradition and modernity, U.S actress Meghan marries Prince Harry
sat 19 May 2018/NNA - WINDSOR, England (Reuters) - Prince Harry and his actress bride Meghan Markle married on Saturday in a dazzling ceremony that blended ancient English ritual with African American culture, infusing the 1,000-year-old British monarchy with a blast of modernity. In a medieval chapel at Windsor Castle that 39 English kings and queens have called home since 1066, Harry and Meghan exchanged vows watched up close by royals and celebrities, and from afar by a global TV audience of many millions. Wearing a veil, diamond tiara and a sleek dress with a long train, the American actress was accompanied up the aisle of St George’s Chapel by Harry’s father, Prince Charles, before she and Harry exchanged vows and were proclaimed husband and wife. The couple kissed on the steps of the 15th Century chapel, before delighting the sea of well-wishers, some of whom had camped for days to witness the spectacular show of British pomp and pageantry, by touring Windsor in a horse-drawn carriage. The union of Harry, 33, a former royal wild child and sixth-in-line to the British throne, and 36-year-old Meghan, a divorcee whose mother is African-American and father is white, was like no other the royal family has seen before. "We can break the barriers down, it can be done," said 40-year-old black Briton Yvonne Emanuel, one of the 100,000-strong crowd that thronged Windsor’s streets. The ceremony was typical of royal weddings in many ways. The service was conducted by the Dean of Windsor while Justin Welby, the Archbishop of Canterbury, declared the couple man and wife, beneath the banners of the knights of the Order of the Garter, the world’s oldest chivalric group dating back to 1348.
The newlyweds will also be officially known as the Duke and Duchess of Sussex after Queen Elizabeth bestowed those titles on them. [Reuters]

Latest LCCC Bulletin analysis & editorials from miscellaneous sources published on May 19-20/18
A Month of Islam and Multiculturalism in France: April 2018/"Radical Islam is one of the greatest challenges facing our nation."
Soeren Kern/Gatestone Institute/May 19/2018
More than 250 French public figures — elected officials from all sides of the political aisle, representatives of different religions, intellectuals and artists — signed a manifesto against "the new anti-Semitism" brought to France by mass immigration from the Muslim world.
The manifesto, published by Le Parisien, sounded the alarm against a "low-level ethnic cleansing" of Jews in Paris and demanded that the verses of the Koran which call for the killing and punishment of Jews, Christians and other non-Muslims "be obsoleted" by theological authorities. In a counter-manifesto published by Le Monde, a group of 30 French imams insisted that Islam is not anti-Semitic.
"Anti-Semitism in Europe, in France, in Toulouse is no longer just by the far-right, but from political Islam." — Aviv Zonabend, Deputy Mayor of Toulouse.
An estimated six million people — around one-tenth of France's population — live in 1,500 neighborhoods classified by the government as Sensitive Urban Zones (zones urbaines sensibles, ZUS).
April 1. Interior Minister Gérard Collomb, in an interview with the newspaper Ouest-France, said that French authorities had foiled 20 jihadi attacks in 2017 and two in 2018. He also revealed that of the 26,000 known jihadis in France with S-files (fiche "S," those considered highly dangerous), only 20 were deported during 2017.
April 4. French prosecutors called for Nicolas Dupont-Aignan, an MP for Essone (Île-de-France), to be given a suspended fine of €5,000 ($6,000) for "provocation to hatred or discrimination" for using the words "migratory invasion." While running as a candidate for president in the 2017 elections, he tweeted: "In 2016, the Socialists compensated for the declining birth rate with the migratory invasion." Dupont-Aignan said that his remarks were aimed at the Socialist Party rather than immigration and that, in any event, as an MP he is immune from prosecution. The public prosecutor disagreed: "We have a leading politician, a declared candidate in the presidential election, who publicly promotes, on his personal account, a conspiracy and racist theory born in the depths of the French far right...the thesis of 'the great replacement' by [French writer] Renaud Camus. A failure to condemn him would open the floodgates of uninhibited racist speech...against all those who do not belong to the national community, including migrants and immigrants." The court will decide the matter on June 6.
April 4. Sociologist Olivier Galland, in an interview with the newspaper Libération, said that Islamic radicalism is fueled more by Islamic doctrine than by economic and social factors. Galland is the co-author of "The Radical Temptation," a new book about radicalism which reveals "a cultural cleavage" between young Muslims and non-Muslims in France. He criticized the "blindness" of many of his colleagues who insist that radicalization is caused by socio-economic factors:
"A survey by [demographer] Michèle Tribalat, conducted in the 1990s, was optimistic about what was called at the time 'cultural assimilation.' She observed a trend towards bringing together the norms, values ​​and practices of young people of foreign origin and those of the youth of the majority population. On the contrary, we find a divergence, and the existence of a cultural divide between young Muslims and their comrades. For them, religion dominates the secular world: this is what we have called 'religious absolutism.'
"The 'Islam effect' explains radicalism much better than socio-economic factors. The social level of the family, the student's optimism or pessimism about employment or academic performance have no effect on the degree of adherence to radical religious ideas."
April 4. France renewed border checks with countries in the EU's passport-free zone for a further six months, citing a continuing threat of jihadi attacks. Although the 26-nation Schengen zone allows for free movement across borders, France brought back passport checks at its borders after the 2015 Paris jihadi attacks.
April 6. Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo called on the French government urgently to provide shelter for more than 2,000 migrants sleeping in makeshift camps in Paris at two sites: about 800, mainly Afghans, along the Canal Saint-Martin in the north-east of the city and about 1,500, mostly Eritreans and Sudanese, under an overpass on the Canal Saint-Denis, farther north. Warmer weather means that more may arrive, mainly from Calais, where a heavy police presence has been deployed to prevent the return of the "Jungle" camp of migrants hoping to cross the Channel to Britain. "If nothing is done, in two weeks there will be 3,000," Hidalgo said.
April 9. President Emmanuel Macron caused an uproar after he said that he wanted to repair church-state ties. In a speech to the Bishops' Conference of France at College des Bernardins in Paris, Macron said that "a president of the French republic who takes no interest in the Church and its Catholics would be failing in his duty." In a tweet, the newly-installed Socialist Party leader, Olivier Faure, wrote: "Secularism is the jewel in our crown. That is what a president of the republic should be defending." Jean-Luc Mélenchon, head of the far-left France Insoumise (France Unbowed) party, tweeted: "Macron in full-on metaphysical delirium. Outrageous. One expects a president, one gets a little priest." Interior Minister Gérard Collomb, who is responsible for government relations with religious groups, said that Macron's remarks reflected the need for greater spiritual awareness and did not undermine France's secular traditions. "What he is saying is that for human beings, there is not only the material world but also the search for absolute values, for spirituality, to find meaning in life," he said. "It is perhaps a new tone, but in no way does it break with the great tradition of secularism."
April 9. A female jihadi named Mina B. was found to be in possession of a thumb drive containing the names and numbers of 2,626 French intelligence officers. The woman is being investigated for her ties to Larossi Aballa, a 25-year-old Islamic State jihadi who stabbed to death a policeman and his girlfriend in Magnanville in June 2016. Aballa was killed during a stand-off with police.
April 10. A Muslim man was arrested in Givors after attempting to strangle his 26-year-old daughter's boyfriend. Police said the father disapproved of the boyfriend because he is not Muslim.
April 10. Two men shouting "Allahu Akbar" ["Allah is the greatest"] threatened to kill a train conductor at the central railway station in Saint-Brieuc. More than a dozen police were deployed to detain the men, who were heard ranting against France and Roman Catholics. They were arrested on terrorism charges and then sent to a psychiatric hospital.
April 11. A 28-year-old woman shouting "Allahu Akbar," and accompanied by her two children aged 2 and 4, threatened to blow herself up at an international festival in Cannes. She was arrested on terrorism offenses and then sent to a hospital to undergo a psychiatric evaluation. Her children were entrusted to social services.
April 15. President Emmanuel Macron, in a two-and-a-half-hour television interview, said that radical Islam "is one of the greatest challenges facing our nation" and must be confronted by means of "a work of reconquest." He warned French citizens against "Islamophobia," which he claimed feeds on misconceptions about Islam: "Radical Islam is not Islam." Critics might disagree. Macron also said that Europe is facing an "unprecedented migration phenomenon that will last." Due to migration and demographics, he said, "Europe's destiny is tied to that of Africa."
April 16. The Deputy Mayor of Orléans, Olivier Geffroy, ordered Muslims to stop praying on city streets. Local residents had accused the city of turning a blind eye to the recurring practice of Muslims praying on public spaces in front of a local mosque during Friday prayers. "This morning I received the persons in charge of the prayer room. I told them that it was not possible to pray in public spaces. They perfectly agreed."
April 17. The arrest of a Muslim woman who refused to remove her veil sparked four days of riots in Toulouse. Police attempted to check the identity of the women after she was spotted wearing a niqab, a full-face veil, in the Bellefontaine district. French law prohibits the wearing of niqabs in public spaces. When the woman refused to cooperate, she was placed in a police car. At this point, more than two dozen people attacked the police, who were forced to use weapons and tear gas to escape the mob. Hundreds of Muslims then went on a four-day arson rampage in Bellefontaine and the neighboring districts of Reynerie and Mirail, classified as Priority Security Zones (zones de sécurité prioritaires, ZSP), lawless zones where French authorities are attempting to reassert state control.
April 20. The Council of State (Conseil d'État), France's highest administrative court, ruled that an Algerian woman who refused to shake hands with elected representatives during her naturalization ceremony should be denied French citizenship. On April 11, a court ruled that her refusal to shake hands "on religious grounds" amounted to "a lack of assimilation." She appealed the ruling. In its decision, the Council of State ruled that the denial of citizenship complies with Article 21-4 of the Civil Code: "Such behavior, at such a symbolic place and time, revealed a lack of assimilation."
April 20. Imam El Hadi Doudi, a 63-year-old firebrand Salafist preacher based in Marseille, was expelled to Algeria after a long legal process. Doudi, who was born in Algeria and does not have French citizenship, was imam of the as-Sounna mosque in central Marseille. His was one of the most high-profile cases in the French government's effort to combat radical Islam. The as-Sounna mosque was closed in December 2017 after allegations that Doudi was preaching hatred and violence. A government investigative report cited numerous sermons by Doudi in which he preached that Jews are "unclean, the brothers of monkeys and pigs." Women, he said, could not leave their homes without authorization, and apostates "need to be eliminated by the death penalty to protect Muslims."
April 21. Around 100 activists with the anti-immigration Generation Identity (GI) movement erected a "symbolic border" at Col de l'Échelle near the French border with Italy. The Alpine pass is a "strategic point of passage" for illegal migrants entering from Italy, according to GI spokesman Romain Espino. He criticized what he called "the lack of courage" by public authorities. "With a little bit of will, we can control immigration and borders," he said. Despite snow and freezing temperatures, more than 2,000 migrants are believed to have crossed into France at Col de l'Échelle since the beginning of 2018.
April 22. More than 250 French public figures — including former president Nicolas Sarkozy, three former prime ministers, the former mayor of Paris Bertrand Delanoë, elected officials from all sides of the political aisle, representatives of different religions, intellectuals and artists — signed a manifesto against "the new anti-Semitism" brought to France by mass immigration from the Muslim world. The manifesto, published by Le Parisien, sounded the alarm against a "low-level ethnic cleansing" of Jews in Paris and demanded that the verses of the Koran which call for the killing and punishment of Jews, Christians and other non-Muslims "be obsoleted" by theological authorities. In a counter-manifesto published by Le Monde, a group of 30 French imams insisted that Islam is not anti-Semitic.
April 23. After more than 60 hours of debate and 1,000 proposed amendments, France's lower house approved a controversial asylum and immigration bill. The government defended the bill as balanced, but it was criticized by those on the right for being too soft and by those on the left for being too harsh. The bill halves the waiting time for asylum applications to six months and also makes it easier to deport those turned down as "economic" migrants. The measure keeps asylum seekers awaiting deportation, including children, in detention for up to 90 days. The bill also reduces the time that asylum-claimers have to lodge their application from 120 to 90 days and gives them two weeks to appeal if unsuccessful. The bill now moves to the Senate, where it will be debated in June.
April 23. Salah Abdeslam, the only surviving suspect in the Paris jihadi attacks of November 2015, was sentenced by a Belgian court to 20 years in prison for his involvement in a March 2016 gunfight with police in Brussels. Abdeslam, a 28-year-old Belgium-born French national of Moroccan ancestry, was extradited to France in April 2016 and remains in Paris, where he is being held pending a separate trial over the Paris attacks in which 130 people died.
April 23. A Muslim woman was handed a four-month suspended sentenced for insulting a homosexual couple at a supermarket in Rueil-Malmaison. The Nanterre Criminal Court heard how the woman shouted, "You fagots you do not have the right to live. In Algeria guys like you would have their throats cut. Yes, I am homophobic." At her trial, the woman attributed her rant to fatigue and denied she is homophobic: "I insulted those fags but if they had been fat it would have been for being fat or blonde for being blonde." The woman was ordered to pay €1,350 ($1,600) to each of the two men and €3,000 ($3,500) to two anti-homophobia associations.
April 25. Toulouse Deputy Mayor Aviv Zonabend, the only Jewish member of the Toulouse city council, said that approximately 600 Jewish families had left Toulouse and immigrated to Israel during the past five years due to rising anti-Semitism. "Anti-Semitism in Europe, in France, in Toulouse is no longer just by the far-right, but from political Islam," he said. "The future of the Jewish people in Europe is hopeless."
April 26. Former cabinet minister Jean-Louis Borloo, tasked by President Emmanuel Macron to devise a strategy for rehabilitating France's banlieues — poverty-ridden and crime-infested suburbs with large migrant populations — presented his battle plan. The 60-page report lists 19 programs aimed at bringing about "radical change." They include a focus on education, employment and renovation of decaying buildings. An estimated six million people — around one-tenth of France's population — live in 1,500 neighborhoods classified by the government as Sensitive Urban Zones (zones urbaines sensibles, ZUS), priority targets for urban renewal.
April 26. Paris prosecutor François Molins said that jihadis were "micro-financing" their activities through donors who contribute "small but significant" amounts of cash. He said that French intelligence had identified more than 400 donors in France involved in financing the Islamic State, and another 320 "collectors" based in Turkey and Lebanon, from where the funds were being passed on to jihadis in Syria and Iraq. Molins also noted that the January 2015 attacks against Charlie Hebdo cost €25,000 ($30,000) to carry out, and that the November 2015 attacks in Paris and Saint-Denis cost €80,000 ($95,000). He said that jihadis finance their operations through two primary means: zakat (charitable contributions) and ghanima (spoils of war).
April 29. Toulouse Mayor Jean-Luc Moudenc threatened to fire Deputy Mayor Aviv Zonabend for saying, in an interview with the Hebrew-language Israel Army Radio, that there were "very many, too many" Arabs in the city. Moudenc condemned the remarks as intolerant and said that he hired a professional translator to check if what was published matches what was said. Zonabend said he had meant to say Islamists, not Arabs, and added that he was speaking in "hesitant Hebrew, a language I do not speak." He noted that he has nothing against the city's Arab population and that he has strong ties with the local Muslim community.
April 30. Members of the Communist Party and other far left groups in the Paris City Council introduced a proposal to establish a massive migrant shelter at Paris's iconic Bois de Boulogne park, which is situated in the city's upscale sixteenth arrondissement. The proposal is aimed at achieving a "territorial rebalancing" so that migrants are distributed across all parts of Paris. "Everyone must participate in the effort," said Jean-Noël Aqua, a Communist city councilor. "Solidarity is to be shown by all districts of Paris."
Members of the Communist Party and other far left groups in the Paris City Council introduced a proposal to establish a massive migrant shelter at Paris's iconic Bois de Boulogne park (pictured above), which is situated in the city's upscale 16th arrondissement. The proposal is aimed at achieving a "territorial rebalancing" so that migrants are distributed across all parts of Paris. (Image source: sniperzeta/Wikimedia Commons)
*Soeren Kern is a Senior Fellow at the New York-based Gatestone Institute.
© 2018 Gatestone Institute. All rights reserved. The articles printed here do not necessarily reflect the views of the Editors or of Gatestone Institute. No part of the Gatestone website or any of its contents may be reproduced, copied or modified, without the prior written consent of Gatestone Institute.

Gaza Riots: Really About the Embassy?
Bassam Tawil/Gatestone Institute/May 19/2018 history, the excuses to attack Israel keep changing.
For 8 years under the Obama administration, the Palestinians had portrayed themselves, and been treated as, the deserving underdog -- the "good guys." Now, a foreign government is actually holding the Palestinians accountable and calling them out for activities they had taken for granted, such as incitement to riot and murder, or funding terrorists and their families. The Palestinians do not like it one bit.
The Palestinians hate the Trump administration not because of the decision to move the US embassy to Jerusalem, but because it speaks truth to them and exposes their perfidy and malice. They hate the Trump administration because they see it as an obstacle on their way to eliminating Israel.
What happened at the border between Israel and the Gaza Strip was an act of aggression by Hamas on Israeli sovereignty. It was an act of war. Even the terrorists did not say that they were protesting the embassy relocation. The terrorists and the rest of the Palestinian demonstrators were chanting "Death to Israel" and "Death to America." They were chanting that their goal is to replace Israel with an Islamic state.
The idea that Hamas is concerned about the US embassy move is a sick joke. All one needs to do is to listen carefully to what Hamas is saying, namely that its struggle is to "liberate all of Palestine, from the Mediterranean Sea to the Jordan River." Hamas is saying that the protests it has been orchestrating are aimed at enabling millions of Palestinians to flood Israel and turn it into an Islamic state.
Much of the world is convinced that the Palestinian protests that took place on May 14 and 15 were directly connected to the inauguration of the US embassy in Jerusalem.
This misapprehension can be traced directly to the international media, which helped create the impression that the clashes that took place between Palestinians and the Israel Defense Forces along the border between the Gaza Strip and Israel came in response to US President Donald Trump's decision to move the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.
Instead, what we have witnessed in the past few days is part of the ongoing Palestinian struggle against Israel. This is a struggle that began with the establishment of Israel 70 years ago and is continuing to this day. It is a struggle that every now and then finds a new excuse to launch terror attacks against Israel and kill as many Jews as possible.
Most notably, throughout history, the excuses to attack Israel keep changing.
Once, it was that Ariel Sharon, then Israel's opposition leader, had "invaded the Al-Aqsa Mosque." This was in September 2000, and Palestinians used that lie to launch the Second Intifada: a massive wave of suicide bombings and drive-by shootings and other forms of terrorism that left thousands of Israelis maimed or dead. At that time, Palestinian leaders told their people to take to the streets to defend their holy sites because Sharon and other Jews were planning to destroy them.
About three years ago, Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas and his Ramallah-based associates lied to their people again. This time, they told Palestinians that permitted visits by Jews to the Temple Mount, also known to Muslims as Haram Al-Sharif, were designed to destroy the Al-Aqsa Mosque.
Abbas even went as far as vowing that the Palestinians would not allow Jews to "defile with their filthy feet our holy sites." Abbas's well-known speech ignited another uprising -- this time known as the "Knife Intifada."
It is no secret that the Palestinians were never happy with the election of President Trump. It is no secret that the Palestinians were never happy that President Trump had surrounded himself with a number of Jewish senior advisors: Jason Greenblatt, Jared Kushner and US Ambassador David Friedman.
From the moment Trump took office, the Palestinians saw that the good old days of the Barack Obama administration were gone. The Palestinians had gotten used to hearing the White House and State Department scapegoat Israel for the crimes of the Palestinians. The Palestinians noticed a rather dismaying change in tone between the two administrations.
Suddenly, the Palestinians woke up to see criticism being fired in their direction. This came as quite a shock to them. For 8 years under the Obama administration, they had portrayed themselves, and been treated, as the deserving underdog – the "good guys." Now, a foreign government was actually holding the Palestinians accountable and calling them out for activities they had taken for granted, such as incitement to riot and murder, or funding terrorists and their families. The Palestinians do not like it one bit.
The Palestinians hate the Trump administration not because of the decision to move the US embassy to Jerusalem. They hate the Trump administration because they see it as being pro-Israel. They hate the Trump administration because it speaks truth to them and exposes their perfidy and malice. They hate the Trump administration because they see it as an obstacle on their way to eliminating Israel.
Does anyone seriously think that a young Palestinian living in the Gaza Strip and who has never been outside the coastal enclave really cares whether the US embassy is located in Jerusalem? This Palestinian has never been to Jerusalem or the West Bank; in most instances, young Palestinians have not even been out of the Gaza Strip.
Why should a young Palestinian living in the Gaza Strip care about the embassy relocation from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem when the vast majority of the Arab residents of Jerusalem and Arab countries do not seem to be bothered by Trump's decision?
Proving this week that the last thing on their mind is the issue of the US embassy, the Arabs of Jerusalem did not stage any protests or even go on strike (only a few Arab citizens of Israel and a handful of political activists from east Jerusalem showed up for a planned protest near the site of the new US embassy). Moreover, we did not see millions of Arabs and Muslims take to the streets in their countries to express outrage over the embassy move.
It is true that the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip demonstrated along the border with the Gaza Strip on May 14, the day when the inauguration ceremony for the US embassy took place in Jerusalem.
However, the demonstrations were in the context of the so-called Great March of Return, a six-week campaign launched by Hamas and other Palestinian groups. The organizers said that the march had three main goals: to achieve the "right of return" for Palestinian refugees and their descendants so that they would be able to move to Israel, to thwart Trump's yet-to-be-announced plan for peace in the Middle East, and to return the Palestinian issue to the top of the world's agenda.
The "Great March of Return" demonstrations began in late March and reached their peak on May 14, one day before the Gregorian day marking Israel's 70th anniversary, which the Palestinians call Nakba Day (Catastrophe Day). So the demonstrations that took place on the day of the inauguration of the US embassy in Jerusalem were in the context of the "Great March of Return," and not specifically planned for the embassy move.
The demonstrations that took place that day were no different from the previous weekly protests orchestrated by Hamas and its allies in the Gaza Strip. On May 14, thousands of Palestinians again tried to breach the border with Israel, but were repelled by Israeli troops. They did not try to breach the border to protest against the embassy relocation.
Rather, they sought to infiltrate Israel to wreak havoc and kill Jews. Jerusalem is about 97 km (62 miles) away from the Gaza border, and they knew that they would never be able to reach that city.
What happened at the border between Israel and the Gaza Strip was an act of aggression by Hamas on Israeli sovereignty. It was an act of war. It was an attempt by a terror group to use tens of thousands of civilians as a cover to infiltrate the border. ِEighty percent of those killed by the Israeli army on that day were Hamas members. Even Hamas has admitted this; senior Hamas official and spokesmen Salah Al-Bardaweel revealed in a television interview that 50 of the 62 Palestinians killed by Israeli gunfire were Hamas members.
Pictured: A group of young Gazan men drag away of section of razor wire that was cut away from Israel's security fence, as part of Hamas' attempt to breach the border and cross into Israel, May 14, 2018.
If the protests in the Gaza Strip were against the US embassy inauguration ceremony, what were 50 Hamas members doing trying to infiltrate the border with Israel? Were they on their way to holding a peaceful protest against the Trump administration? Were they on their way to stage a peaceful sit-in strike outside the offices of the United Nations in Jerusalem?
No: the Hamas terrorists were on their way to kill Jews. They were on their way to infiltrate Israeli communities near the border with the Gaza Strip. Even the terrorists did not say that they were protesting the embassy relocation.
The terrorists and the rest of the Palestinian demonstrators were chanting "Death to Israel" and "Death to America." They were chanting that their goal is to replace Israel with an Islamic state. They were chanting that there is no room for Jews in this region. They were chanting slogans against the Saudi crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman, whom they accuse of being too friendly with Israel and the Trump administration.
The Palestinians are using the issue of the US embassy as yet another excuse to pursue their war on Israel. Abbas and his cronies are using the embassy as an excuse to step up their campaign to delegitimize and demonise Jews. Their goal is to isolate Israel in the international community.
Does anyone seriously think that Abbas really cares about the precise location of the US embassy? Why has he never protested against the fact that the US Consulate General is already in Jerusalem? Why has he never protested that the Knesset and the Prime Minister's Office and the Israeli Supreme Court are already based in Jerusalem? Why should Abbas or any Palestinian be upset if the US embassy is located in west Jerusalem and not in an Arab neighbourhood in east Jerusalem? Abbas is not objecting to the embassy; Abbas is objecting to the Israeli state, which he has repeatedly described as a "colonialist project" imposed on Arabs by Western powers.
If he really cared about the US embassy inauguration, he would not have spent the days prior to the ceremony in Chile, Venezuela and Cuba.
The idea that Hamas is concerned about the US embassy move is a sick joke. All one needs to do is to listen very carefully to what Hamas is saying, namely that its struggle is to "liberate all of Palestine, from the Mediterranean Sea to the Jordan River." Hamas is saying that the protests it has been orchestrating are aimed at enabling millions of Palestinians to flood Israel and turn it into an Islamic state with a Jewish minority. Hamas could not care less about the location of the embassy. Hamas wants "Palestine" and "Palestine" in its entirety.
Abbas and Hamas are using the US embassy move to wage another blood libel against Israel, by accusing it of killing innocent and unarmed civilians -- a charge that is wholly counterfactual in the wake of Hamas's own admission that most of the victims were Hamas terrorists. The Palestinians have once again found an excuse to wage war on Israel and Jews, this time in the form of the embassy move.
They are trying to create the false impression that the conflict with Israel began -- and is now focused on -- Trump's decision to move the embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem -- as if before the decision, Palestinians had recognized Israel's right to exist as the homeland of the Jewish people. As if before the decision, Palestinians had not been engaged in semi-daily killings of Jews. As if before the decision, Palestinians had not been inciting and promoting violence against Jews.
Sadly, there are many in the international media who are helping the Palestinians promote the lie that this moment in the Israeli Arab conflict is all about the decision to move the US embassy to Jerusalem. In reality, this moment – and all others – in the Israeli-Arab conflict is about some Arabs rejecting that Israel exists at all, within any borders, in the Middle East.
*Bassam Tawil is a Muslim Arab based in the Middle East
© 2018 Gatestone Institute. All rights reserved. The articles printed here do not necessarily reflect the views of the Editors or of Gatestone Institute. No part of the Gatestone website or any of its contents may be reproduced, copied or modified, without the prior written consent of Gatestone Institute.

Israel Needs to Protect Its Borders. By Whatever Means Necessary.
Shmuel Rosner/The New York Times/May 19/18
TEL AVIV — It is customary to adopt an apologetic tone when scores of people have been killed, as they were this week in Gaza. But I will avoid this sanctimonious instinct and declare coldly: Israel had a clear objective when it was shooting, sometimes to kill, well-organized “demonstrators” near the border. Israel was determined to prevent these people — some of whom are believed to have been armed, most apparently encouraged by their radical government — from crossing the fence separating Israel from Gaza. That objective was achieved.
Of course, the death of humans is never a happy occasion. Still, I feel no need to engage in ingénue mourning. Guarding the border was more important than avoiding killing, and guarding the border is what Israel did successfully.
Why so many thousands of Gazans decided to approach that fence, even though they were warned that such acts would be lethal, is beyond comprehension. Excuses and explanations are many: The event was declared a “march of return,” supposedly an attempt by Palestinian refugees to return to their places of origin within Israel; it was tied in many news reports to the opening of the American embassy in Jerusalem; it was explained by referring to undesirable living conditions in Gaza and the lack of prospects for improvement; it was explained as related to intra-Palestinian political conflict and to the need of Hamas, the terrorist group that runs Gaza, to divert the attention from its many failures. All of those things may have some degree of validity, but they don’t explain why people joined these demonstrations.
Obviously, the people of Gaza weren’t seriously thinking that Israel would give them a “right of return” if they only marched in numbers large enough. And they probably realized that United States would not rescind its decision to open an embassy in Jerusalem, either. And they knew that for the economic situation to improve something more systematic must take place than protests.
So why did they march, and why were some of them killed?
They marched because they are desperate and frustrated. Because living in Gaza is not much better than living in hell. They marched against Israel because they dislike Israel, and because they cannot march against anyone else. Israel puts Gaza under siege, bombs it occasionally, and is still remembered as an occupying power and as the country whose establishment made many Palestinians consider themselves refugees to this day. They marched to Israel because the alternative to marching against Israel would be to march against Hamas, a regime whose actions and policies make Gaza suffer. But if people had dared do that, their government would no doubt have killed scores of them without much hesitation.
Israel has a soft belly. Unlike all the other regimes in the Middle East, it accepts basic Western values and thus tries to minimize casualties. It also has an impressive military power, so it’s easy to accuse it of “disproportional response.” And of course, it is the country that could lift the siege on Gaza.
Critics of Israel tend to mix two types of complaints about its actions in recent days. Why did Israel shoot, rather than use other means of preventing people from crossing the border? And why does Israel isolate Gaza, making its economic situation so dire and its population so desperate? These criticisms must be answered separately, as one — the shooting — is tactical, and the other, the isolation, is strategic.
First, let’s begin with undisputed facts: The marches were at least partly orchestrated by Hamas. And according to Hamas, most demonstrators killed by Israel were members of the group. This was not a peaceful act of protest. This was a provocation by an organization known to engage in acts of terrorism. Thus, Israel had no choice but to treat it as an attempt not just to violate its territorial integrity but also to attack it.
Israel had to take precautions against its soldiers and citizens being killed or kidnapped. It had to make sure that thousands of Palestinians did not force a total shutdown of southern Israel until all infiltrators were located and detained. Knowing Hamas and its tactics, Israel assumed — for good reason — that letting the marchers cross the fence and detaining them later would have had worse consequences: Hamas operatives masquerading as demonstrators would hurt Israelis.
Of course, the question of Israel’s larger policy toward Gaza remains. But the answer is hardly a secret: Israel pulled out of Gaza more than a decade ago. All it wants from Gaza is peace and quiet. But what it gets from Gaza is different: It is an attempt by Hamas to build a base for violence against Israel. To prevent this, Gaza must be isolated until its leaders are replaced or until they realize that their war against Israel hurts the population they rule more than it hurts Israel. And yes, this means that people in Gaza suffer more than they should — not because of Israel, because of Hamas.
It would be dishonest for me to pretend that the interests of Palestinians are at the top of the list of my priorities. I want what’s good for Israel and I expect my government to have similar priorities. Nevertheless, I believe Israel’s current policy toward Gaza ultimately benefits not only Israel but also the Palestinians.
Of course, it does not benefit the Palestinians who dream about “returning,” or in other words, about eliminating Israel. But it is the only way forward for those who have more realistic expectations. The people of Gaza are miserable. They deserve sympathy and pity. But looking for Israel to remedy their problems will only exacerbate their misery. Expecting Israel to solve their problem will only lead them to delay what they must do for themselves.
There are two reasons for that. First, denying Hamas any achievement is the only way to ultimately persuade the Palestinians to abandon the futile battle for things they cannot get (“return,” control of Jerusalem, the elimination of Israel) and toward policies that will benefit their people. If Hamas is rewarded for organizing violent events, if the pressure on it is reduced because of the demonstrations, the result will be more demonstrations — and therefore more bloodshed, mostly Palestinian. Second, only an Israel that has the ability to feel secure about its borders could engage in any serious talks with the Palestinians. As Ehud Barak, a former prime minister and a critic of Israel’s current government, put it, “Those who believe in having separation from the Palestinians, getting into a peace agreement, having borders — you have to make clear that borders are respected.”
The Jewish sages had a famous, if not necessarily pleasant, saying that went something like this: Those who are kind to the cruel end up being cruel to the kind. As harsh as this sounds amid the scenes from Gaza, as problematic as this seems to good-intentioned people whose instinct is to sympathize with the weaker side in every conflict, sometimes there is no better choice than being clear, than being firm, than drawing a line that cannot be crossed by those wanting to harm you. By fire, if necessary.
*Shmuel Rosner (@rosnersdomain) is the political editor at The Jewish Journal, a senior fellow at the Jewish People Policy Institute and a contributing opinion writer.
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Iran missed its window to attract investment
Camelia Entekhabifard/Arab News/May 19,/18
Despite opposition in the US Congress to the Iran nuclear deal, former president Barack Obama managed to secure the support needed from the Senate to protect it. With it, he had wanted to give Iran the opportunity it had been looking for since the revolution in 1979 to boost to its economy and to normalize its cold relations with West.
With the deal, this window of opportunity opened to Iran in July 2015, when the heavy sanctions on the economy, especially the oil embargo, were lifted. OPEC also excluded Iran from last year’s agreement, which asked members to cut production in order to manage the oil market. It made the exception for Iran in order to give it a chance to reach its pre-sanctions capacity.
Iran enjoyed many of the benefits of sanctions relief up until last week, when President Donald Trump announced the United States was leaving the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).
Hearing that countries continuing their business with Iran would be punished, the French company Total, the biggest and most prestigious investor in Iran’s oil industry, announced it would pull out of Iran if it is not excluded from the sanctions.
Iran’s oil minister, Bijan Namdar Zangeneh, quickly responded to Total’s decision, saying the Iranian company Petro Pars and the Chinese are ready to fill the gaps left by the oil giant’s absence.
Tehran signed a contract with Total in 2017, but failed to attract other energy investors when the window of opportunity was open. Hassan Rouhani’s government was too slow to unveil its new Iran Petroleum Contract (IPC), and when it did, potential investors complained that the terms were unattractive.
Oil companies with significant US exposure, such as BP, Total and others, were deterred from seriously investing unless Trump got engaged with a new round of talks with Tehran, which currently is very unlikely.
Hassan Rouhani’s government was too slow to unveil its new Iran Petroleum Contract, and when it did, potential investors complained that the terms were unattractive.
Iran’s oil minister should be reminded that in 2012, the Chinese National Petroleum Corporation was expelled from its South Pars project for non-performance. But in maintaining its oil imports and picking up cheap Iranian barrels, this time China will act to secure its profits from US sanctions on Iran.
Russia, under US and EU financial sanctions, is short of cash and has previously offered Iran oil swaps as a way of evacuating Iranian crude.
The position of Russia is ambiguous, because it will not wish to end its deal with OPEC over the crude exchange in Iran. But it is obvious that, as a major oil exporter, it stands to benefit from higher prices and a reduction in Iranian competition.
It is also a stroke of luck for Russia that Iran’s large-scale entry onto the world gas market is delayed again and has no one but itself to blame. Moscow had gained valuable leverage over high oil prices and the agreement with Gulf Arab states agreement on a non-OPEC partnership.
But a sharp loss of Iranian production could lead to a collapse of the OPEC framework. Saudi Arabia and others would have to increase their production capacity again to prevent prices from skyrocketing, with oil already at $80 per barrel.
At the OPEC ministerial meeting in June, it will be interesting to see if Iraq and Saudi Arabia will fill the gap left by Iran’s possible absence from the market.
An Iranian journalist tweeted that he asked Iran’s oil minister: What is your reaction to those OPEC ministers who have said that OPEC would be able to meet the market demands in case of the reimposition of sanctions?
Zangeneh responded: "We will never forget that."
**Camelia Entekhabifard is an Iranian-American journalist, political commentator and author of Camelia: Save Yourself By Telling the Truth (Seven Stories Press, 2008). Twitter: @CameliaFard

North Korea-US summit has high stakes for many players
Cornelia Meyer/Arab News/May 19,/18
On June 12 US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un are scheduled to hold a summit in Singapore. The smart money is on the meeting taking place on schedule, despite the recent North Korean rhetoric suggesting it could be off. This will be a historic meeting of truly epic proportions, as it will be the first time that a US president sits down with a North Korean leader. At stake is nothing less than the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.
The run-up to proposing this meeting was dramatic, as most things are with the US president. Trump and Kim called each other names for about a year. The latter busied himself carrying out nuclear tests and sending missiles in the direction of the Sea of Japan, while the former instated economic sanctions and threatened the nuclear obliteration of North Korea. Northeast Asian countries beyond the two Koreas were deeply concerned. China did not want to see a failed state on its borders and Japan feared for its security as did Taiwan.
What happened then was astounding. Since March the North Korean leader has paid two visits to China for discussions. There was also the historic summit between the North Korean president and his South Korean counterpart Moon Jae-in. Then on March 8 the White House announced that the US president was to meet the North Korean leader.
In between a lot happened: there was the historic Kim-Moon summit, which resulted in the “Panmunjom Declaration for Peace, Prosperity and Unification of the Korean Peninsula,” and there were two visits of the US secretary of state to North Korea. Both sides made all the right noises when it came to denuclearization. However, their statements lacked specificity. China said it was willing to pour billions of dollars into the economic development of North Korea, if it denuclearized. The US also promised to be generous. On his part, Kim blew up parts of a nuclear test site, which brought him rich praise from the US president.
But we would not be dealing with Donald Trump and Kim Jong-un if there was not at least one curve ball along the way. Kim used the joint US-South Korean two-week military exercise, which started earlier last week, to call off the summit. In that context it was certainly not helpful that US National Security Adviser John Bolton had likened the US North Korea talks to Libya.
Kim certainly remembers what had happened to the Libyan dictator, Muammar Qaddafi, after he handed over his nuclear arsenal to the Americans. This must have brought on his worst fears. Libya’s subsequent descent into a failed state must also have rung the alarm bells. Trump went out of his way to dissuade the world from the Libya comparison. The US still prepares for the summit and South Korea has offered to mediate. Moon will meet Trump this coming week.
High-stakes politics tends to bring with it high drama. We should look beyond that, at what we can realistically expect from the Trump-Kim summit.
High-stakes politics tends to bring with it high drama. We should look beyond that, at what we can realistically expect from the Trump-Kim summit.
For one, it is unclear if and how the two definitions of denuclearization match. The US and the Republic of Korea (ROK) will have more stringent criteria than the North. Former US secretary of defence, William Perry, made a good point at last week’s Asian Leadership Summit in Seoul, which was organised by the Korean media conglomerate Chosun-Ilbo: He argued that during the six-party talks the situation was much different. The negotiations were held between 2003 and 2007 and involved senior civil servants from North and South Korea, China, Russia, Japan and the US. Whereas North Korea did not yet possess nuclear weapons, which meant it only had to give up the ability to develop them, it now needs to give up an actual nuclear arsenal. That will doubtlessly result in a very different negotiation position. True, the North is economically on its knees, but we are dealing with a country and a leader who take great pride in military prowess.
The six-party talks were structurally onto something that Trump would do well to remember. The stakeholders go beyond North and South Korea, China and the US: Russia, Japan and Taiwan are also affected.
The military presence of the US in South Korea is what enabled the ROK to become the world’s 12th largest economy and a member of the G20. The world’s third largest economy, Japan, also has a huge stake in the game. It needs political and economic stability in Northeast Asia. Ever since the end of the Second World War, Japan has been one of the United States’ staunchest and most reliable allies. In other words, stability in the region depends in large parts on a continued US military presence in Korea.
North Korea and China have a very different view on this subject, as may Russia. China’s extraordinary economic rise has brought about a more aggressive military stance, especially in the South China Sea. This worries both Japan and Taiwan a lot. President Trump must not bargain away the US military presence on the Peninsula under any circumstances, because his allies, the Republic of Korea and Japan, depend on it for their national security, which underpins their economic success.
*Cornelia Meyer is a business consultant, macroeconomist and energy expert. Twitter: @MeyerResources

The benefits of Iraqi protest movements
Adnan Hussein/Al Arabiya/May 19/18
I once wrote about protest movements that had erupted in Iraq towards the end of July 2015, which had spread to several governorates including the capital Baghdad. Historically and politically, these were comparable to Al-Wathbah uprising in January in 1948 and to the November 1952 Intifada, which are considered the most important protest movements in Iraq’s modern history as they sought to restore freedoms and national sovereignty and independence.
Impact of protest movements
I do not think that observers who have a modicum of objectivity and fairness can underestimate the significance of the July 31, 2015 and February 25, 2011 protests - the latter complements the former - and treat them like they’re demonstrations of a bunch of people. The February 25 protests, which involved tens of thousands of people and spread from the cities of Mosul up to Basra while being organized for weeks, forced then-prime minister Nouri al-Maliki, who panicked in their wake, to impose a curfew before the movement even started and ordered shooting protestors. Many were killed or injured while several others were arrested.
This is like what happened during the 1948 Al-Wathbah uprising and the Intifada in 1952. The July 31, 2015 movement was far more powerful and lasted for more than two years and a half. It gave rise to strong uprisings including incursion into the Green Zone, sit-ins at its entrance for days and storming of parliamentary buildings and government headquarters.
The government and the parliament were forced to adopt reform bills that included the demands of protestors. However, they did not fulfill their commitments. Both movements demanded reforming the political process by abolishing the sectarian and national quota system, combating administrative and financial corruption, providing public services (electricity, water, health, education, transportation and sanitation), developing national economy to create employment opportunities, bringing down the alarming increase in poverty and unemployment levels, combating terrorism and providing security.
Demonstrations on standby
Now, the Iraqis have started to benefit from the results of these historical protest movements. The recent parliamentary elections gave a strong blow to the influential political class which is highly involved in administrative and financial corruption. A lot of the symbols of corruption, quotas and hate speech were completely wiped out in this election and those who managed to stay did so with great difficulty. This time, we did not see 700,000 or 400,000 or 200,000 votes in favor of the “leader,” whereas the rest had their power diminished as they received less than 100,000 votes.
What is important now is to maintain the strength of the movement by keeping it in standby mode, in case it is needed to rise again. The need might occur at the beginning of the process of forming the new government. If the formation includes the quota system, if the government does not include the appropriate programs for reforms to fulfill the demands of the protest movements and if there are no specific deadlines for achieving these demands, it would then be necessary for the public to take to the streets and to liberation squares, so that the government does what the people want, or quit.

Two-face traders exploiting Palestinian bloodshed
Salman al-Dosary/Al Arabiya/May 19/18
Washington’s decision to transfer of the US embassy to Jerusalem, without any concessions from the Israeli government in exchange was an unfair move and a huge mistake. The embassy move happened without Israel offering anything in return—not even showing the slightest sign of advancing the peace process—is in serious violation of international law and UN resolutions that declare Jerusalem an occupied territory since 1967. States transferring their embassies to the debated territory is prohibited. Saudi Arabia has already warned of the “grave consequences” of such an unjustified move and how it “infringes the feelings of Muslims worldwide.”The embassy transfer serves as a major gift to Israel, emboldening its arrogance. Palestinians suffering isolation and brutality at the hand of occupied forces is not unheard of and has been in practice since the occupation’s onset in 1948.
Exploiting Palestinian blood in political trades and propaganda is also practiced by many countries, parties and groups. The Palestinian cause has always has been molded and shaped differently at different times, at some points it was defined as a source for formative resistance and an inspiration to popular movements and at other times it was seen as a bargaining chip politicians can trade over in a deal. However, times have changed in ways that now the public is less prone to buying into cheap political talk and see past lies and deceit weaved by exploiters. Selling out Palestinian rights for personal gains is no longer acceptable.
'Stubborn things'
Doubts and opportunism headline many countries taking advantage of the Palestinian cause. However, as former US President Ronald Reagan put it: “Facts are stubborn things.”Even though Qatar champions Palestinian rights, it is the first Gulf state to have a deal with Tel Aviv on normalizing ties—a move which goes against Arab consensus. The peninsula is also the first Gulf state to raise an Israeli flag in its capital’s skies. On one hand, Doha outspokenly supports Palestinian rights, but then moves closer to grotesquely normalizing ties under the table with Tel Aviv. In February, Qatari diplomat Mohammed Al-Emadi was kicked out during a hospital tour in Gaza by a rally of angered Palestinians. Fury took over after Emadi trumpeted visiting Israel and signs of ties being established. The senior diplomat said he has visited Israel twenty times over the last four years-- all these trips were made covertly. What about Turkey's close political and economic relationship with Israel ?! After recent IDF –Gaza violence, Ankara asked the Israeli ambassador to leave Turkey ‘temporarily’. But ruling party AKP deputies objected to a draft resolution presented by the opposition bloc to parliament stipulating the cancellation of all political, commercial and military agreements with Israel.
Turkish-Israeli trade exchange amounted to about $5 billion in 2017 alone.
Countries nurturing ties with Israel are clearly the first to sell out on Palestinian blood in order to preserve personal political and commercial interests, unlike other countries working both secretly and openly to unite Palestinian ranks and find a real solution to their cause. It goes without saying that the Palestinian cause is the first and foremost affected by other states playing on their cause. Chanting anti-Israel slogans and adopting heated rhetoric is easy, but upholding firm and decisive positions is difficult. Passing in its darkest moment in the upshot of Arab Spring protests, the Palestinian cause, now more than ever, needs to bring the exploitation misleading Arab peoples’ positions and lowering their sympathy to an end. Without a unified Arab front corroborating the true interests of the Palestinian people, there will never be peace with Israel. At the April 15 Arab league summit hosted by Saudi Arabia and dubbed the “Jerusalem Summit,” Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz affirmed that “the Palestinian cause is a priority and will remain so until Palestinians obtain their legitimate rights.” History will only remember facts.

Wake up Europe! Why nobody should trust the Iranian regime
Najah Alotaibi/Al Arabiya/May 19/18
If you were born and raised in Saudi Arabia in the 1980’s like I was it was palpably clear what the hardliners in Iran were; a malevolent force orchestrating some of the world’s most egregious terrorist acts who would stop at nothing to reach their religious and political goals.
More recently European leaders may have bought Tehran’s ‘undertakings’ about its nuclear program, and turned a blind eye to where all the freed up millions from its sanctions free economy were going, but fortunately for us Donald Trump saw through it.
Dispatched by Theresa May to try and turn the President away from his campaign pledge Boris Johnson did his best. But fortunately nothing was going to sway the Donald. Whatever your views about the US withdrawal from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), the one positive outcome is that there finally seems to be broad acceptance that Iran is a supporter and enabler of terrorism and a malign global force. By all means we should stop the spread of nuclear weapons. But don't throw the rest of the region under a bus to get it.
Lest we forget the truck bombings and kidnappings which defined the Middle East during the 1980s never really went away. Even if after 9/11 the spotlight of the world’s media focused on terrorism inspired by a false interpretation of Sunni Islam. But when Iran’s actions abroad and political system at home are put under the spotlight, any notion that the country is a rules-based member of the international community appears completely fanciful.
There has been no meaningful reform in Iran. Hardliners used JCPOA as cover to strengthen the economy and their own position, while increasing their sponsorship for armed proxies and terrorists in the region.
Inspired by revolution
The political Islam that drove the Iranian 1979 revolution still inspires its paramilitary action in Yemen, Syria and other conflict zones today. As a child I grew up in the conservative shadow it cast across the Middle East – my family and friends increasingly aware of Tehran’s ever increasing determination to meddle and destabilize. As the mullahs and revolutionary guards burned US flags and its newspapers screamed “death to America”, Iran’s real ruling power was evident: The theocratic Wilayat al-Faqih model that enshrines the Iranian clerics’ power, hatred of the West and desire to dominate and defeat their enemies using religious justification. The founding revolutionary constitution of post 1979 Iran declares that Iran’s army and Revolutionary Guards Corps “will be responsible not only for guarding and preserving the frontiers of the country, but also for fulfilling the ideological mission of jihad in God’s way; that is, extending the sovereignty of God’s law throughout the world.”
The real power
Scratch the surface today – and nothing has changed. The victory of President Hassan Rouhani was hugely misleading. Sure he is more telegenic, and a friendlier face than the populist hardliner Ahmadinejad, though that is no great achievement. Rouhani may have sought improved international relations and economic development but behind this so-called “moderate” lies the real power with the Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei. Institutions report to him, not the president. And the advice he provides isn’t general religious counsel or polite suggestions imploring peace and worldly happiness.
A glance at his prayer companions gives the game away. Qassem Soleimani, the leader of the Quds – the paramilitary wing of the Iran Revolutionary Guard Corps worships with the Supreme Leader then seeks his orders. Soleimani’s remit – to spread chaos and instability throughout the region to advance the regime’s agenda.
And Iran has been doing this stealthily since 1979, exporting its politicized version of Shiite Islam regionally and globally, driving violence and instability across the Middle East. And up until now the world has just watched. Militias like Hezbollah operate largely unhindered with Iranian support in Syria, Iraq where it supports to tens armed groups, Yemen, and elsewhere. “But they are so helpful running the hospitals and airports in Lebanon” says many a dewy eyed European traveller when they arrive back from partying in Beirut. A more astute observer would ask why Iran has such a foothold in a sovereign state.
So the message to European leaders seeking to breathe new life into a dead deal is simple. Do what you can to stop the spread of nuclear weapons. But don’t at the time sleepwalk into an alliance with a country whose primary foreign policy aim is to spread a domineering religio-political ideology through terrorism.Iran didn’t use its rapprochement with the West to improve its society, a theocracy where women have to disguise themselves as men just to watch a game of football. No the petrodollars released by the freeing up of sanctions went directly into the militias promoting Iran’s global ambitions.
Anyone could have told you that from the start. Well done Mr President.