May 28/2018
Compiled & Prepared by: Elias Bejjani


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Bible Quotations
Nathanael replied, ‘Rabbi, you are the Son of God!
John 01/47-51: "When Jesus saw Nathanael coming towards him, he said of him, ‘Here is truly an Israelite in whom there is no deceit!’ Nathanael asked him, ‘Where did you come to know me?’ Jesus answered, ‘I saw you under the fig tree before Philip called you. ’Nathanael replied, ‘Rabbi, you are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel!’Jesus answered, ‘Do you believe because I told you that I saw you under the fig tree? You will see greater things than these.’And he said to him, ‘Very truly, I tell you, you will see heaven opened and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of Man.’"
Titles For Latest LCCC Bulletin analysis & editorials from miscellaneous sources published on May 27-28/18
US Wants to Keep Iran out of Southern Syrian/London- Ibrahim Humaidi/Asharq Al-Awsat/Sunday, 27 May, 2018/
How Scientists Succumb to Corruption and Cook Results/Faye Flam/Bloomberg/May 27/18
Italy’s New Government Could Be the Force That Finally Breaks Europe/Sebastian Mallaby/The Washington Post/May 27/18
China Outspends the US on Defense? Here’s the Math./Tobin Harshaw/Bloomberg/May 27/18
For Young American Jews, It’s Time to Take a Side/Molly Roberts/The Washington Post/May 27/18
Bernard Lewis: Studies, stories and legends/Fahad Suleiman Shoqiran/Al Arabiya/May 27/18
Pompeo gives Iran a new chance to set things straight/Mohammed Al-Hammadi/Al Arabiya/May 27/18
Who will assassinate Muqtada al-Sadr/Abdullah bin Bijad Al-Otaibi/Al Arabiya/May 27/18
The real reasons Tehran is obsessed with Israel/Dr. Majid Rafizadeh/Arab News/May 27, 2018/

Titles For The Latest LCCC Lebanese Related News published on May 27-28/18
Lebanon: Berri, Nasrallah Call for Swift Formation of Government
Report: Hariri Asks Paris to Press Iran on Hizbullah, Dissociation Policy
New Govt. to be Formed around Eid al-Fitr
Lebanese Army Raids in Tripoli in Search of Deadly Clash Fugitive
Syria Militants 'Dig Up Graves' to Find Israelis who Vanished in Lebanon
Hizbullah Official Urges Adherence to 'Army-People-Resistance Equation'
Al-Rahi Urges 'Technocrat-Political Government'
Unidentified warplane circles at low altitude over Tripoli, Akkar
Hashem hopes for rapid government formation to launch rescue plan
Jumblatt: Arab situation dark and frightening, but we draw strength from our honorable past and pursue the struggle
Moussawi calls for preserving security in Bekaa, preventing smuggling
Hasbani: US sanctions could affect government formation
Army Commander to Governor Khodr: Decision to impose security is crucial

Titles For Latest LCCC Bulletin For Miscellaneous Reports And News published on May 27-28/18
21 Including Iranians, Reported Killed In Israeli Air Force Strike In Syria
Iran funding Taliban to affect US military presence in Afghanistan, say police and lawmakers
Russian soldiers among 35 pro-Assad fighters killed in Daesh attack
US Wants to Keep Iran out of Southern Syrian
Four Russian Military Personnel Killed in Syria's Deir Ezzor
Syria's Law 10… Demographic Change at Home, Concerns in Neighboring Countries
Bahrain FM: No Glimmer of Hope in Resolving Crisis with Qatar Now
Abbas Meets Officials, Resumes Work from Hospital
Gaza: Two Palestinians Killed in Israeli Shelling
Israeli Prosecution to Question Netanyahu Again in 'Case 1000'
Trump and Kim Raise Summit Hopes after Days of Brinkmanship
Latest LCCC Lebanese Related News published on May 27-28/18
Lebanon: Berri, Nasrallah Call for Swift Formation of Government
Beirut - Asharq Al-Awsat/Sunday, 27 May, 2018/Speaker Nabih Berri and Hezbollah Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah expressed their satisfaction concerning the re-election of Berri and the re-appointment of the Prime Minister. The two further called for a swift formation of a new national government "that reflects the correct representation." "Hezbollah" and "Amal movement" announced a meeting between Berri and Nasrallah, who were accompanied by caretaker Finance Minister Ali Hasan Khalil and "Hezbollah" official Hussein Khalil. According to a join statement, the meeting was held for several hours as the two parties reviewed regional matters and expressed their full support for the Palestinian people. The statement further expressed the two parties' satisfaction and positive evaluation regarding the elections. "The participation seen during the elections confirmed the people's commitment to the Resistance, and building the state and institutions the way it's carried out by 'Hezbollah', the 'Amal Movement', and their allies," the statement read. The two sides also hoped that the new cabinet will be formed soon, "reflecting a fair and just representation, stressing the need to work to fight corruption" as they both decided on a comprehensive approach.

Report: Hariri Asks Paris to Press Iran on Hizbullah, Dissociation Policy
Naharnet/May 27/18/Prime Minister-designate Saad Hariri has urged Paris to mediate with Iran on the issue of Hizbullah's commitment to Lebanon's declared policy of dissociation from the region's conflicts, a media report said. Hariri believes that "Hizbullah is an Iranian and not a Lebanese problem," informed French diplomatic sources told al-Hayat newspaper in remarks published Sunday. Hariri had announced after his designation on Thursday that "the government will achieve a series of reforms and it is also asked to abide by the dissociation policy and preserve good ties with the Arab brothers." Asked if there is a veto on Hizbullah's participation in the new Cabinet, Hariri said, "I only heard that from the Lebanese media. This is the first time I hear it."
Hariri added: "I am open to all elements and never closed the door in front of anyone."

New Govt. to be Formed around Eid al-Fitr
Naharnet/May 27/18/The line-up of the new government is likely to be announced on the eve of the Eid al-Fitr holiday or shortly afterwards, a media report said. "The parties' demands regarding portfolios and shares will not become totally clear before the end of the one-day official consultations that PM-designate Saad Hariri will hold Monday with the parliamentary blocs," political sources informed on the formation process told al-Hayat daily in remarks published Sunday. "So far, two obstacles have emerged: the dispute between the Free Patriotic Movement and the Lebanese Forces over the Christian shares and portfolios, in addition to the one related to Druze representation," the sources added. The sources said the Progressive Socialist Party is demanding the allocation of all three Druze seats in a 30-member Cabinet to the PSP in a manner that would keep MP Talal Arslan out of the government. "There are no obstacles regarding the representation of Sunnis and Shiites," the sources added, noting that Hariri would demand a portfolio for a Shiite figure close to him should Hizbullah and AMAL Movement seek the appointment of March 8 Sunni figures. As for the LF, the sources noted that the party is not insisting on having the deputy premier post. "It is insisting on having a sovereign ministerial portfolio and three other key portfolios after it doubled the size of its parliamentary bloc in the elections," the sources noted.

Lebanese Army Raids in Tripoli in Search of Deadly Clash Fugitive
Naharnet/May 27/18/The army carried out intensive raids Sunday in Tripoli's al-Qobbeh neighborhood in search of a fugitive who took part in a deadly clash with troops earlier this week, media reports said. “The army encircled the street where the raids took place, deploying units on the rooftops of neighboring buildings,” LBCI television reported. Troops were searching a building after the army obtained information about the presence of the fugitive Khaled Hmeidan, who took part in shooting against soldiers in Tripoli several days ago, the TV network added. A soldier was killed and several others were wounded in Tuesday's clash with a number of fugitives in Tripoli's al-Tal area.

Syria Militants 'Dig Up Graves' to Find Israelis who Vanished in Lebanon
Associated Press/Naharnet/May 27/18/Insurgents in Syria have excavated graves in a cemetery in a refugee camp in the capital Damascus in search of the remains of three Israeli soldiers who have been missing for decades, a Syria-based Palestinian official said. Anwar Raja of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine-General Command said the bodies of the three Israeli soldiers who have been missing since a 1982 battle in Lebanon were transferred to Syria after the incident. He said the insurgents' aim was to find the remains and transfer them to Israel. Last week, Syrian troops regained control of the Palestinian refugee camp of Yarmouk from members of the Islamic State group after a monthlong battle. Rajas said IS and other insurgents dug up the past years' graves in search of the remains.

Hizbullah Official Urges Adherence to 'Army-People-Resistance Equation'
Naharnet/May 27/18/A senior Hizbullah official on Sunday called on Lebanese to cling to the so-called “army-people-resistance equation.”“The security and safety that Lebanon is enjoying -- which enabled Lebanese to hold parliamentary polls two weeks ago without notable incidents -- neither came for free nor as a result of the efforts of the Arab League, the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, the Gulf Cooperation Council, the U.S., Europe or other forces,” Sheikh Ali Daamoush, the deputy head of Hizbullah's executive council, said.
“It was the result of grave sacrifices and the result of the victory over occupation, aggression and terrorism. It was due to the continuous, strenuous and serious jihad and resistance action,” Daamoush added. “Through the army-people-resistance equation, we in Lebanon can defend our country, protect it, repel the aggression and confront all threats, challenges and risks, that's why the Lebanese must cling to this strength equation,” the official went on to say. He warned that “equation is being targeted and the resistance is being targeted more than ever.”“In the face of this campaign, we must strengthen, support, preserve and hold onto this choice. Those among the Lebanese who do not want to back this equation are free, but they should not conspire against it, because this does not benefit Lebanon but rather Israel,” Daamoush added.

Al-Rahi Urges 'Technocrat-Political Government'
Naharnet/May 27/18/Maronite Patriarch Beshara al-Rahi on Sunday called for the formation of what he called a "technocrat-political government.""A new integrated and harmonious technocrat-political government must be formed and it must rise to the level of the challenges cited by the President during the iftar banquet at the presidential palace on Wednesday," al-Rahi said in his Sunday Mass sermon. He said the challenges are "domestic unity, giving the priority to the national interest, approving an economic rise plan, devising practical steps for resolving the growing Syrian refugee crisis, and combating rampant corruption in state institutions.""We add to them the need to conduct reforms and to modernize the administrative and financial sectors and structures," the patriarch added.

Unidentified warplane circles at low altitude over Tripoli, Akkar
Sun 27 May 2018/NNA - An indentified warplane circled a while ago at low altitudes over Tripoli and the coastal areas of Akkar, NNA correspondents in Tripoli and Akkar reported.

Hashem hopes for rapid government formation to launch rescue plan
Sun 27 May 2018/NNA - Member of the "Development and Liberation" Parliamentary Bloc, MP Kassem Hashem, hoped Sunday that the new cabinet would see the light very soon, so as to "begin the stage of serious work in approaching all pending dossiers and developing a rescue plan for the country." Hashem indicated that the status quo cannot persist, stressing that "it has become urgent to address the economic and social challenges and to rebuild confidence between the Lebanese and their State." He also highlighted Lebanon's need for a government of reconciliation and national consensus, in light of the surrounding challenges and pressing circumstances witnessed in the region. Hashem's words came during a meeting with a delegation from the "Social Welfare Center" in the Southern town of al-Arqoub, who briefed him on their initiatives and services provided to the children of the region.

Jumblatt: Arab situation dark and frightening, but we draw strength from our honorable past and pursue the struggle
Sun 27 May 2018/NNA - Progressive Socialist Party Chief, former Minister and MP Walid Jumblatt, touched Sunday on current Arab conditions via his Twitter account, saying, "I know that the Arab situation today is bleak and frightening...In Syria, a methodical destruction and a systematic displacement that is ten times more than the Naka of Palestine...and in Iraq, elections and struggle for influence and the same people...while in Palestine, settlements and colonization of Jerusalem..." "But we should never surrender to despair no matter the circumstances. We draw strength from our honorable past and we continue the struggle," Jumblatt asserted. Jumblatt attached a photo of Palestinian and National Movement leaders during the Israeli siege of Beirut in 1982 to his tweet.

Moussawi calls for preserving security in Bekaa, preventing smuggling
Sun 27 May 2018/NNA - Member of the "Loyalty to Resistance" Parliamentary Bloc, MP Ibrahim al-Moussawi, appealed Sunday to state security and military forces to "carry out their responsibilities in maintaining security in the Bekaa region, especially in the Baalbek-Hermel province," urging them to "arrest those who breach security and bring them to justice because the region and its people are exhausted." In an issued statement earlier today, Moussawi referred to "the great suffering experienced by farmers and the agricultural sector," calling upon state departments, particularly the Lebanese Customs, "to activate their presence in preventing smuggling that harms farmers' seasonal produce, especially potato farmers who suffer severely from illegal competition, leading to recession and threatening their livelihood."
In this context, Moussawi contacted Customs Supreme Council Head, Brigadier General Asaad al-Tufaili, who promised to follow up on the matter.

Hasbani: US sanctions could affect government formation
Sun 27 May 2018/NNA - Deputy Prime Minister, Caretaker Health Minister Ghassan Hasbani, said Saturday night that the US imposed sanctions might affect the new government formation. In a television interview, the Caretaker Minister said that the sanctions in question could influence the nature of the portfolios and ministers representing Hezbollah and the margin given to them in the next cabinet.  Hasbani, however, said that no political party should be isolated from the government, especially parties that have increased in size in the recent parliamentary elections.
He confirmed the insistence of his Party [the Lebanese Forces] to maintain the impartial method of government work, which must be formed, according to him, on the basis of national agreement and consensus, especially that the country's economy is threatened.
"What we are keen on is Lebanon's neutrality from outside conflicts. With our participation in the current government, we have been able to block a path that was veering towards normalization with the Syrian regime, and anchored respect for state institutions and laws," he added.
"We were among the main opposing sides to the monopoly of peace and war decision in the country, and we have taken a clear strategic position in this regard," Hasbani underscored. On another level, the Caretaker Health Minister explained that "the problem with the Law No. 10, promulgated by Syrian President Bashar Assad, lies in the mechanisms of its application and in the short period of its implementation." He noted herein that a large number of Syrian refugees have lost their identification papers while others fear to return to Syria. Hasbani reiterated that the LF Party respects international laws and has established a plan for the safe return of Syrian refugees; a plan that requires the cooperation of the international community.

Army Commander to Governor Khodr: Decision to impose security is crucial
Sun 27 May 2018/NNA - "The decision to impose security is an essential and final decision, with the military institution's keenness on the safety of civilians," Army Chief General Joseph Aoun said during a telephone conversation with Baalbek-Hermel Governor Bashir Khodr on Sunday afternoon, in wake of recent security incidents in Baalbek.

Latest LCCC Bulletin For Miscellaneous Reports And News published on May 27-28/18
21 Including Iranians, Reported Killed In Israeli Air Force Strike In Syria
Haaretz/May 27/18/Twenty one people were killed, including nine Iranians, in Thursday night’s attack on the Dabaa military airport in central Syria, Sky News reported on Saturday. The strike was reportedly aimed at Hezbollah members and militias supporting the Assad regime. According to reports, six strong explosions, allegedly caused by missile strikes, were heard in the Homs region, near the Lebanese border. Syrian air-defense systems reportedly attempted to intercept the missiles. The Syrian Al-Marsad human rights organization said that the missile attack was carried out by Israel. On Friday, the Lebanese army announced that a day earlier, five Israeli Air Force planes circled above Lebanese territory for some 15 hours altogether. According to the report, most of the flights took place in the southern and northern regions of Lebanon, but one of the planes was mentioned to have circled above “all regions of the country.” No offensive action or operation was said to have been carried out by the aircraft. An Israeli military spokeswoman declined to comment.In recent months Israel has carried out several air strikes in Syria, targeting Iranian and Iranian-linked targets. Israeli leaders have repeatedly asserted that Jerusalem would not allow Iran to gain a foothold in southern

Iran funding Taliban to affect US military presence in Afghanistan, say police and lawmakers
Arab News/May 27, 2018/KABUL: Afghan government and police officials have accused Iran of providing financial aid and advice to Taliban militants as part of its opposition to the US military presence in Afghanistan. Mohinbullah Mohin, spokesman for the police of western Farah province, told Arab News on Sunday that Iran’s backing helped the Taliban to conduct a massive onslaught and capture most parts of Farah, which lies near the border with Iran, last week before being flushed out by a US-led Afghan counterattack. “Iran has been seriously helping the Taliban by providing financial assistance for several years now. It was also involved in the latest incidents (Farah city falling to Taliban),” he told Arab News by phone from Farah. “Its assistance is for the western region (expanded over several provinces) and the goal is to build its influence and strike a blow to the US (military presence in Afghanistan),” he said. Earlier the police chief of Farah province, Fazl Ahmad Sherzad, had also claimed that Iran was involved in the May 15 Taliban attack on Farah city and that “they have been directly funding and providing arms to the Taliban as Iran sees Farah as part of its strategic interest.”
This claim was backed by the head of the provincial council of Farah, Farid Bakhtawar, on Wednesday, who claimed that the militant group crossed over from Iran, where it was trained and armed to conduct its attacks.
Some Taliban commanders live in Iran, where they also receive mentoring from Iranian advisers, said Mohib. Officials at the defense ministry and presidential palace refused to comment about Iran’s role in the latest round of the Afghan war. However, last week, the new US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo became apparently the first top American official to publicly accuse Iran. “Iran’s support to the Taliban in the form of weapons and funding leads to further violence and hinders peace and stability for the Afghan people,” Pompeo was cited by media as saying in Washington.
Mohib rejected the speculations that Iran’s aid to the Taliban was in retaliation to President Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw from the Iran nuclear deal this month. Aqa Noor Kentooz, former police chief for Farah province, told Arab News that authorities had found anti-personnel mines with the Taliban with Iran’s marking when he served in Farah a few years ago. Mohib added that Iran’s discourse with Afghanistan in the west was “over water:” Iran felt that the construction of a water dam by Afghanistan would deprive it of its share of water. It was not immediately possible to seek a reaction from Iran’s embassy in Kabul. However, the Taliban spokesman denied that the group had received any assistance from Iran, calling the accusation part of a move by Kabul and Washington to conceal their military setbacks.

Russian soldiers among 35 pro-Assad fighters killed in Daesh attack
AFP/May 27, 2018 /BEIRUT: Russian fighters were among dozens of pro-regime forces killed in eastern Syria this week in a deadly wave of attacks by Daesh militants, Moscow and a monitor said on Sunday. After its collapse last year, Daesh now only holds tiny pockets of Syria, mainly in the vast desert stretching to its eastern border. This week, the militants ramped up their hit-and-run attacks on regime positions there, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights war monitor. The deadliest was on Wednesday, when Daesh targeted a group of Syrian and allied Russian fighters near the town of Mayadeen in the eastern province of Deir Ezzor. “There were 35 pro-government forces killed, including at least nine Russians. Some of those Russian nationals were government troops, but not all of them,” said Observatory head Rami Abdel Rahman. The remaining 26 were all Syrian forces, he told AFP. A steadfast ally of Bashar Assad, Moscow has helped his army recapture swathes of territory since 2015 by providing airstrikes and ground troops. There are also widespread reports of private Russian mercenaries on the ground.
Moscow’s Defense Ministry said on Sunday four of its servicemen were killed in clashes in Deir Ezzor. Two were military advisers supporting Syrian artillery operations and died immediately, and another two died of their wounds in a Russian-operated military hospital in Syria. Three others were wounded. Russia did not specify when, where, or whether Daesh was involved, but it appeared to be the same incident as the Daesh attack reported near Mayadeen. The militant group itself claimed it attacked regime forces in eastern Syria on Wednesday. The assault was the largest in series of Daesh guerilla raids on regime positions this week. On Tuesday, 26 regime forces were killed in a surprise Daesh attack in desert areas of the neighboring province of Homs, according to the Observatory. And a pair of Daesh assaults between Saturday night and Sunday morning killed at least 11 pro-regime forces in Deir Ezzor. “The latest attack brings to 76 the number of Syrian troops and allied Iranian and Russian forces killed since the escalation,” Abdel Rahman said Sunday. He said the uptick came the day after the last Daesh fighters were bussed out of southern parts of Syria’s capital Damascus, including the ravaged Palestinian camp of Yarmuk, in a negotiated withdrawal. Many headed toward the Badiya, the stretch of Syrian desert extending from Homs province through Deir Ezzor to the eastern border with Iraq. The Observatory said the evacuated fighters were actively involved in the recent attacks. Daesh “is trying to take the initiative and show it can still threaten the regime and its allies despite the losses it suffered in other areas,” said Abdel Rahman. Government positions in the Badiya make for an easy target: They are few and far between, so reinforcements take a long time to arrive. Russian-backed Syrian troops hold the western half of Deir Ezzor province, which is divided diagonally by the Euphrates River. US-backed fighters hold the east bank. The river is meant to serve as a de-confliction line to prevent the two sides from clashing as they pursue separate assaults against Daesh. A Syrian military source based in the east told AFP that Assad’s troops had cleared large parts of territory from Daesh, which was now lashing out. “Daesh wants to hinder the army’s combing operations in the Badiya by waging these intermittent attacks,” said the source. It confirmed Russian military advisers were present during Wednesday’s attack and were among those killed. Russia’s government officially acknowledges that 92 soldiers have been killed in Syria, although some estimate the number is even higher. The highest casualties were in March, when a transport plane crashed at Hmeimim air base where Moscow’s airforce is based, killing all 39 people on board. On Sunday, a local Russian newspaper in the Siberian city of Chita reported on the funerals of four soldiers it said were killed in Syria on May 23. The international group Conflict Intelligence Team said up to six Russian soldiers could have been killed in the attack, quoting social media reports of a funeral for a Russian soldier that took place in the Western Russian city of Smolensk this week.
US Wants to Keep Iran out of Southern Syrian
London- Ibrahim Humaidi/Asharq Al-Awsat/Sunday, 27 May, 2018/
The United states is trying to push Russia to comply with the "de-escalation" agreement in southern Syria and prevent regime forces and Iran-backed organizations from advancing to it, as well as to implement the terms of the agreement, which state that Hezbollah and other Tehran-affiliated Syrian and foreign groups must be about 25 kilometers from the Jordanian border.
Parts of the provinces of Daraa, Quneitra and Suwayda south of Syria are one of the areas to reduce the escalation according to US-Russian-Jordanian agreement in July. After Ghouta and Homs, it is clear that Damascus has settled its choice to push its forces and organizations backed by Iran to the south.
On Saturday, Washington asked Moscow to honor its obligations under Presidents Donald Trump and Russia President Vladimir Putin's statement last year.
After Ghouta and Homs, it is clear that Damascus has decided to push its forces and organizations supported by Iran to the south, including the forces of Brig. Suhail al-Hassan, known as the "tiger" and the fourth division, "al-Quds Brigade" of the Popular Front-General Command led by Ahmed Jibril.
On Friday, Syrian aircraft dropped leaflets on Daraa, urging fighters to lay down their weapons or face an offensive. One of the leaflets included a picture showing lined up bodies of anti-regime fighters, with the caption warning that this is the “inevitable fate of anyone who insists on carrying arms.” Another leaflet announced the arrival of the Syrian Arab army’s soldiers.
Opposition factions control 70 percent of Daraa and parts of the district center, while regime forces retain control over the majority of the north.
In May 2017, negotiations were launched between Washington, Moscow and Amman to establish a de-escalation zone in the south, which led to the agreement between Trump and Putin on the sidelines of Hamburg summit. It was later re-established at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit in Vietnam, in November.
At the time, then US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Russian Sergei Lavrov reached an agreement that included de-escalation in the south as a "temporary step" to maintain a ceasefire and ultimate elimination of presence of foreign forces and fighters from the region to ensure a more sustainable peace.
For Moscow, the plan, which guaranteed Russian-US cooperation, meant the total elimination of the al-Nusra Front and ISIS-affiliate Khalid Army. At that time, the Trump administration made a concession that it had frozen the secret program to support opposition factions. At the end of last year, military and financial support for 35,000 opposition fighters on the southern front was effectively halted.
During the battles of Ghouta, opponents tried to mobilize for "Najda al-Ghouta", however, the US Embassy in Amman sent a letter to the leaders of the southern front factions of Free Syrian Army, saying that Russian or Syrian air strikes do not mean in any way the termination of the de-escalation agreement between the United States, Russia and Jordan.
As reinforcements approached Daraa and Iranian militias were re-deployed, opposition allies began to consider their options.
Sources told Asharq Al-Awsat that over the past week, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State David Satterfield was working on formulating a proposal which included the withdrawal of all Syrian and non-Syrian militias to 20-25 kilometers from the Jordanian border, the transfer of opposition fighters and their families to Idlib in northern Syria, the reopening of the crossing point between Syria and Jordan, in addition to the formation of a US-Russian mechanism to control the implementation of the agreement.
Satterfield also wants to discuss the possibility of dismantling US Tanf camp at the Syrian-Jordanian-Iraqi border, which has been publicly criticized by Moscow.
Jordanian officials also tried to get in touch with the Russians to obtain "guarantees" to secure the borders and not to bring new refugees to Jordan. They also want to open the way for the return of Syrian refugees to their country.
Satterfield is likely to leave office and possibly become an ambassador to Ankara.
The State Department announced on Saturday that it would take “firm and appropriate measures in response to Assad regime violations”, saying it was concerned by reports of an impending Assad regime operation in southwest Syria within the boundaries of the de-escalation zone negotiated between the United States, Jordan, and Russia.
“As a guarantor of this de-escalation area with Russia and Jordan, the United States will take firm and appropriate measures in response to Assad regime violations,” State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said in a statement late on Friday.
“It is time for Russia to acknowledge its role in the shooting down of MH17 and to cease its callous disinformation campaign,” added the spokeswoman.
The resumption of talk about the withdrawal of Iranian-backed militias from southern Syria and the pressure to abide by the "southern truce" coincided with two elements: first, the ongoing Israeli raids on Iranian and Hezbollah sites in Syria, and Putin’s statement after meeting with Assad.
A Western official noted that the Israeli raids on Iranian sites in Syria coincided with the visit of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to Moscow, "which means a Russian political and field approval because the Russian army did not operate the defense system of S-400 missiles located in western Syria."
The official explained that it was remarkable that after the raid, Russia did not take any diplomatic measure nor did it criticize them, like it did after the US-British-French tripartite raids on regime sites in April in response to a chemical attack on Douma.
Putin said after meeting with Assad that foreign armed forces will be withdrawn from the territory of the Syrian Arab Republic.
A day later, Putin’s envoy for Syria, Alexander Lavrentiev clarified that Putin’s comment was aimed at the US and Turkey along with Iran and Hezbollah.
“This statement involves all foreign troops in Syria including the Turkish, American, Iranian and Hezbollah,” he said, but added that Putin’s comments should be viewed as a “political statement” rather than as the beginning of a withdrawal process.
Later, Iran’s Foreign Ministry spokesperson Bahram Qasemi responded by saying that as long as terrorism exists and the Syrian government wants, Iran will be present in Syria.
“Those who have entered Syria without the consent of the Syrian government should leave,” indicated Qasemi.
Syria’s Deputy Foreign Minister Faisal Mekdad responded by hailing Iran’s assistance to his country, stressing that the pullout of the Iranian military advisers from the Arab country was not up for discussion.
Diplomats considered it a sign of additional disagreement between Russia and Iran. They believe Damascus is trying to balance between the two allies. However, it is becoming increasingly difficult as the battles approach areas where Moscow has come to terms with foreign countries.
“Damascus seems to be closer to the Iranian option in terms of the southern battle,” they indicated.
One diplomat indicated that the past few days had witnessed a "re-deployment" of Iranian forces, which are now, according to him, few kilometers away from the Jordanian border, but stayed closer to Golan Heights.
Syria sent a proposal through mediators to regional states that included: the withdrawal of Hezbollah and Iranian militias 25 kilometers away from the disengagement area from the occupied Golan Heights, in accordance with arrangements allowing the presence of local councils in Beit Jann and villages in the liberated Golan Heights as well as considering the possibility of reviving the agreement on disengagement between Syria and Israel of 1974.
At the same time, backed by Iran, Damascus continues to reinforce its troops and vehicles to the south. Scenarios similar to Ghouta are proposed for the Damascus region, and before that east of Aleppo, where the forces advance from Daraa to the Naseeb crossing with Jordan. East of de-escalation area will be separated from the west and several strategic hills will become under control. At the same time, troops will increase the raids taking control of areas one after the other.
In practice, this means pushing the opposition to choose between three options: the "Douma model", “Hammouriya model" in Ghouta, which came under the "scorched earth" approach, and the "Sakba model" which is between the first two approaches.
Damascus is trying to put it under the pretense of fighting "al-Nusra Front" or "Khalid army" of ISIS, although the tripartite agreement to reduce the escalation stipulated that it is the responsibility of the guarantors of the agreement, namely US and Russia, which was confirmed by Washington in its Department of State statement.

Four Russian Military Personnel Killed in Syria's Deir Ezzor
Asharq Al-Awsat/Sunday, 27 May, 2018/Four Russian military personnel were killed in fighting in eastern Syria's Deir Ezzor province, Interfax news agency reported on Sunday, citing the Russian Defence Ministry. The fighting erupted after several groups of rebels attacked an artillery battery of the Syrian regime, the ministry said. Two Russian military advisers who directed the fire of the Syrian battery were killed on the spot, Reuters reported. Five other personnel were injured and taken to a Russian military hospital. Two of them succumbed to their wounds. The ministry said that 43 rebels had been killed in the same fighting, Interfax reported.

Syria's Law 10… Demographic Change at Home, Concerns in Neighboring Countries

London, Beirut- Asharq Al Awsat/Sunday, 27 May, 2018/A new law allowing the Syrian regime to redevelop areas devastated by war has alarmed refugees and the countries that host them, prompting fears that people will lose their property and be less likely to return home, Reuters reported.
The terms of “Law 10” could make it difficult for refugees to prove property ownership, and in turn discourage some from returning. Seven years into the war that has killed half a million people, the law signals the regime's intention to rebuild areas of Syria where the rebellion has been defeated even though large parts of the country remain outside its control. The legislation came into effect in April as regime forces were on the brink of crushing the last insurgent enclaves near Damascus, consolidating Bashar al-Assad’s grip over nearly all of western Syria.
It allows people to prove they own property in the areas chosen for redevelopment and to claim compensation. However, aid groups say the chaos of war means few will be able to do so in the time specified. The law has yet to be applied.
The inability of the refugees to practically present what proves their possession (of their properties) during the given time limit might lead to them losing their properties and their sense of national identity. This would deprive them of one of the main incentives for their return to Syria, said Lebanese Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri, whose country hosts more than a million Syrian refugees. Hariri said the law “tells thousands of Syrian families to stay in Lebanon” by threatening them with property confiscation. People forced to flee their homes - more than half the prewar population - will find it hard to make such claims, aid groups say. Many refugees now face a major problem: whether to return home, even if they think it may be unsafe, and claim their property rights in person, or risk losing them along with a big incentive to go back to Syria in future.
“If it is applied to areas once held by the opposition from which the residents have been displaced or where land registries have been destroyed, it will in effect prevent the return of refugees,” said a briefing note circulated to EU states at a recent high-level meeting.
Assad said the law has been misinterpreted in order to inflame Western public opinion against his government. He told the Greek newspaper Kathimerini that the law “is not about dispossessing anyone”. “You cannot, I mean even if he’s a terrorist, let’s say, if you want to dispossess someone, you need a verdict by the judicial system,” he said. Assad’s opponents already accuse him of engineering “demographic change” by driving rebels and their families out of Syria’s cities, and say the law confiscates property and homes of the displaced. Amnesty International has said it effectively deprives thousands of people of their homes and land.
Bahrain FM: No Glimmer of Hope in Resolving Crisis with Qatar Now
Manama - Nasser Haqbani /Asharq Al Awsat/Sunday, 27 May, 2018/Bahrain’s Foreign Minister Sheikh Khaled bin Ahmed Al Khalifa said the Anti-Terrorism Quartet was not affected by its decision to boycott Qatar, noting that Doha was the only side that is suffering from this step.
He added that if the Arab peninsula maintained its abusive behavior, the boycott would continue, hoping that Doha would return to the Gulf, “because it’s in its interest to return to its permanent brethren.” In an interview with Asharq Al-Awsat from Bahrain, the senior official said: “There is a quick and calm mechanism for Gulf leaders to resolve their differences and crises, which usually ends in the interest of the people… But Qatar changed the rules of the relationship, and rushed to present the case around the world, which caused the prolongation of the crisis.”“There is no glimmer of hope now to solve this crisis,” he added. Asked whether the presence of a Turkish military base in Qatar was a threat to the region, the foreign minister said: “Last Ramadan, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan told me at a closed meeting in Turkey that the presence of the military base in Qatar was not a threat to any country, but an earlier agreement between Doha and Ankara, twinned with the current situation. I asked him that his foreign minister clarifies this stance; Mevlut Cavusoglu mentioned this during a press conference, but his words were understood as a protection to the region.” “We are responsible for protecting ourselves, we do not need anyone to protect us in the region; we have allies with the world,” he stressed. Sheikh Khaled commended the US stance against Iran, noting that it converged with the Gulf States’ plan to face the Iranian regime. “The new American position is serious and firm, and this principle was the approach of our leaders in dealing with the affairs of the region,” he stated, adding: “When we read the 12 conditions announced last Monday by State Secretary Mike Pompeo, we saw ourselves in one position in the confrontation line against the Iranian regime.” Asked whether terrorist operations decreased after Qatar’s boycott and the US pressure on Iran, the foreign minister said communication with the terrorists in Bahrain stopped, “because it used to be done directly with intermediaries in Manama...” “But if they have a connection now, it is through Iran. There are different ways of communication, including funding, the media and many more,” he said. Commenting on the transfer of the US embassy to Jerusalem, he said: “We don’t have the same position as Israel on the subject. Israel considers Jerusalem as a unified city, and we disagree with them ... We are adhering to the Arab Initiative that calls for East Jerusalem as the capital of the Palestinians.”“This is something the United States must be aware of,” he underlined.

Abbas Meets Officials, Resumes Work from Hospital
Ramallah - Kifah Zaboun/Asharq Al-Sunday, 27 May, 2018/Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas remained Saturday in hospital for the seventh day in a row, yet he met China's Special Envoy to the Middle East Gong Xiaosheng, who came to check on his health and discuss with him the peace process. Abbas's stay has raised fears concerning his health after officials initially announced he would not stay for more than two to three days. Concerns over Abbas's health condition are further aggravated by his age, 83, and also because his health has been deteriorating as this is the third time he has been admitted to the hospital in just one week. He was hospitalized last week with a fever, just days after undergoing ear surgery. Palestinian officials said he was suffering from pneumonia and was on a respirator, receiving antibiotics intravenously. However, he was taken back to hospital on Friday then returned last Sunday and stayed there. Despite the concern about Abbas's health, there does not seem to be any threat on his life. Abbas had previously appeared walking in one of the corridors of the hospital.
On Sunday, his doctor, Yasser Abu Safiyeh said that Abbas would stay for another day. Meanwhile, the PA President received Xiaosheng, who conveyed the greetings of Chinese President Xi Jinping, wishing him good health and aspiration to receive Abbas soon in China. The Chinese envoy stressed his country's support for the Palestinian people and their legitimate rights in accordance with international law and legitimacy. Abbas thanked the Chinese envoy for this gesture and wished the Chinese people and leadership progress and prosperity.
He stressed the appreciation and confidence in China's permanent and steadfast position in supporting the Palestinian cause in all forums in order to achieve the legitimate rights of the Palestinians. This was the first time that Abbas has received foreign officials in hospital, but he is well-informed of any policy updates, according to informed sources. He appeared to be in good health during his reception of the Chinese guest. Moreover, he received during his stay in the hospital calls from many leaders and met with Palestinian officials, including officials from Fatah, the presidency and the government. Majdi al-Khalidi, Abbas’ adviser for diplomatic affairs, said that the Chinese official’s visit was a token of support by China for the people of Palestine following the US relocation of its embassy to Jerusalem and recognition of the city as Israel’s capital. “We hope that it [China’s role] will grow and be more effective, especially since there is an opportunity to form a multilateral international mechanism for [peace] negotiations according to the plan proposed by President Mahmoud Abbas in the UN Security Council, which could be formed by the five permanent members of the Security Council,” Khalidi said.

Gaza: Two Palestinians Killed in Israeli Shelling
Asharq Al-Awsat/Sunday, 27 May, 2018/Israeli tank shelling killed two Palestinians and wounded a third in Gaza Strip on Sunday, medical officials said. Locals added that the Israeli tank targeted border monitoring site for Islamic Jihad in Rafah. Health Ministry stated that the wounded person is in critical condition. Israel did not comment yet. Israeli warplanes targeted Tuesday night Hamas positions in Gaza Strip. The raids came hours after the Israeli army announced monitoring four suspects who had passed through the security fence in the southern Gaza Strip, burned a tire and then returned to Strip.

Israeli Prosecution to Question Netanyahu Again in 'Case 1000'

Tel Aviv- Asharq Al Awsat/Sunday, 27 May, 2018/Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu is expected to be questioned by police again on June 12, Channel 10 News reported on Friday evening. According to the report, Netanyahu is expected to be questioned three or four more times in Case 1000, Case 2000 and Case 4000. Case 1000 revolves around claims Netanyahu received gifts from a Hollywood billionaire and Australian businessman in exchange for political favor. Case 2000 revolves around allegations Netanyahu tried to reach an agreement with Yediot Aharonot publisher Arnon Mozes that would provide him with positive news coverage in exchange for shuttering rival newspaper Israel Hayom. Case 4000 centers on suspicions that a Netanyahu aide provided chief Bezeq shareholder Shaul Elovitch with regulatory benefits in exchange for sympathetic coverage to the prime minister and his wife on the Walla! news website, which is owned by Elovitch as well. According to Friday’s report, state witness Nir Hefetz told police investigators that during a trip to Manhattan, the wife of Prime Minister Sarah Netanyahu received credit cards with which bought gifts for herself. Specifically in Case 4000, reports revealed that Hefetz testified to the police that he “spoke to Elovitch six to seven times a day” when he served as Netanyahu’s adviser.  Moreover, Hefetz related that during a visit to Manhattan by the Netanyahu family, wealthy Jews gave Sara Netanyahu credit cards with which to buy herself gifts. A statement released on behalf of the prime minister said: “These are total lies regarding the Netanyahu-Elovitch relations. The false and malicious claim that the prime minister and his wife used friends’ credit cards is also false. This never happened.”Hefez turned state’s evidence and gave police text messages and recordings. These allegedly suggest an improper quid pro quo relationship between the Netanyahus and Elovitch, whose Bezeq corporation owns the Walla news website.
According to Channel 10 News, one of the text messages was sent by Sara Netanyahu to Elovitch’s wife a day after the prime minister had approved the merger deal between the satellite television company Yes and Bezeq, which benefitted the giant telecommunication corporation. Sara Netanyahu allegedly expressed resentment over the Walla site’s coverage of the couple, despite the prime minister’s approval of the deal. Last Friday Haaretz reported that, in one of the recordings, Elovitch said: “I understand he was willing to commit suicide for me,” in describing the governmental assistance Bezeq received from Netanyahu, although Elovitch denies that he was referring to the prime minister. Israeli officials said the prosecution saw a significant link between the cases 2000 and 4000, yet the police have not yet made their recommendations yet.

Trump and Kim Raise Summit Hopes after Days of Brinkmanship
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/May 27/18/Plans for a landmark summit with North Korea's Kim Jong Un are moving "very nicely," U.S. President Donald Trump said Sunday, as the South's leader said Kim told him the talks would be a historic opportunity to end decades of confrontation.
The latest conciliatory declarations capped a turbulent few days of diplomatic brinkmanship on the Korean Peninsula that had sent tensions soaring. Trump rattled the region on Thursday by cancelling a planned June 12 meeting with Kim in Singapore, citing "open hostility" from Pyongyang. But within 24 hours he reversed course, saying it could still go ahead after productive talks were held with North Korean officials. "It's moving along very nicely," Trump told reporters late Saturday when asked for an update. "We're looking at June 12 in Singapore. That hasn't changed." Trump's unpredictability sparked a sudden and surprise meeting on Saturday between Kim and South Korean President Moon Jae-in -- only the fourth time leaders from the two countries have ever met -- as they scrambled to get the talks back on track. Pictures showed them shaking hands and embracing on the North Korean side of the Demilitarised Zone separating the two nations. Moon said Kim reached out to him to arrange the hasty meeting "without any formality." There the North Korean leader described the Singapore summit as a landmark opportunity to end decades of confrontation. "He... expressed his intention to put an end to the history of war and confrontation through the success of the North-U.S. summit and to cooperate for peace and prosperity," Moon told reporters in Seoul on Sunday. Pyongyang's state-run KCNA news agency said Kim "expressed his fixed will on the historic DPRK-U.S. summit talks", using the official abbreviation for North Korea. Kim said the two Koreas should "positively cooperate with each other as ever to improve the DPRK-U.S. relations and establish mechanism for permanent and durable peace," KCNA added, saying South and North Korea would hold another round of "high-level" talks on June 1.
Shaky detente
Trump's original decision to abandon the historic summit initially blindsided South Korea, which had been brokering a remarkable detente between Washington and Pyongyang and is desperate to avoid conflict breaking out. However, there was a further signal of progress Saturday as White House press secretary Sarah Sanders confirmed a team of U.S. officials was leaving for Singapore "in order to prepare should the summit take place." Last year, Trump and Kim were trading war threats and insults after Pyongyang tested its most powerful nuclear weapon to date and missiles it said were capable of reaching the U.S. mainland. Tensions were calmed after Kim extended an olive branch by offering to send a delegation to the Winter Olympics in South Korea, sparking a rapid detente that led to Trump agreeing to hold direct talks with Pyongyang. Moon won the election last year partly by vowing to be open to dialogue with the North and finding a solution to a Cold War-era sore that continues to blight the region. The flurry of diplomatic backslapping and bonhomie disappeared in recent weeks as the summit was thrown into doubt by increasingly bellicose rhetoric from both top U.S. administration officials and Pyongyang. There are still stark differences between what the two sides hope to achieve. Washington wants North Korea to give up all its nukes in a verifiable way as quickly as possible in return for sanctions and economic relief. Pyongyang has a different view of what denuclearization might look like and remains deeply worried that abandoning that deterrent would leave the country vulnerable to regime change. "Kim stressed again that he had a firm determination towards complete denuclearization," Moon told reporters Sunday. "The thing he was uncertain about was not denuclearisation but concerns on whether he could trust that the U.S. would end its hostile policy and guarantee the security of his regime when the North denuclearises itself."
Back on track
Saturday's meeting between Moon and Kim took place on the North Korean side of Panmunjom, a heavily fortified village that lies between the two countries where the 1953 armistice was signed. Only last month, the two leaders met in the same village, with Kim famously inviting Moon to step briefly into the North before they both held talks in a building on the South's side. Kim Yong-hyun, professor of North Korea studies at Dongguk University in Seoul, said Moon and Kim moved quickly to defuse the crisis after Trump's shock cancellation. "Moon essentially helped relay messages from Trump to Kim and vice versa, to further smooth the process and to resume negotiations," he told AFP, saying the Singapore meeting was "clearly back on track."Unlike last month's summit, which was held in front of live TV cameras, Saturday's meeting took place in utmost secrecy, with reporters only told later that the face-to-face had taken place. Footage released by the Blue House on Twitter, accompanied by a dramatic orchestral score, showed Moon arriving in a convoy of cars and first shaking hands with Kim's sister Kim Yo Jong, who has played a major public role in recent talks with the South.

Latest LCCC Bulletin analysis & editorials from miscellaneous sources published on May 27-28/18
How Scientists Succumb to Corruption and Cook Results
Faye Flam/Bloomberg/May 27/18
Horrible bosses can cause misery in any kind of business, but in science, they wield uniquely destructive power. In a recent survey compiled by the journal Nature, a number of young scientists reported that they felt pressured to find “particular results” that would presumably please their bosses, as opposed to the truth. That’s a problem for society at large, since it degrades the integrity of research that we’re supporting. Last week, a number of experts weighted in for a special section of the journal devoted to the interconnected problems of bad laboratory leadership and compromised research integrity. One reason some experts see more integrity trouble now is that there’s a growing power chasm in science. So many young people train to be scientists that only a small fraction of those earning Ph.D.s will be able to get the most coveted jobs — tenure-track academic positions. And those who do may still have to spend years in low-paying, insecure post-doctoral fellowships. It’s a source of cheap labor, but with a hidden cost. In an ideal situation, people should be able to pick their bosses and colleagues based on character, said C.K. Gunsalus, who heads the National Center for Professional and Research Ethics at the University of Illinois. It’s tricky to pick your bosses in fields where there’s a prevailing sense that you’re lucky to have a job at all. Scientific integrity became a public issue in the 1980s after a couple of dramatic cases involving famous researchers, but experts say they’ve come to recognize that while the press still focuses on the lone bad actors, most cases involve multiple researchers — some cutting corners or skewing results, and others going along with it. “Most of us believe it’s the smaller lapses of integrity that are more important than the few cases of serious misconduct,” said Nicholas Steneck, who studies research integrity at the University of Michigan. The Nature survey, which included more than 3,200 scientists, revealed something about how people can collectively get into trouble. About one in five junior scientists called their workplaces “stressful,” “tense” or “toxic.”
The journal reported that more than half of the survey respondents said they felt pressured to get a “particular result.” The bosses — or principal investigators, as they’re usually known — responded much more positively about their own leadership skills than did those working under them. Those in junior positions were much more likely to report that it wasn’t clear what was expected of them, that they lacked communication with their bosses, and that they were encouraged to cut corners. Gunsalus, the University of Illinois integrity expert, co-authored a piece on misconduct for the Nature section, citing three examples from her own investigations. In one, a student was wrongly included as an author on a paper that later turned up in an ethics investigation, while in another, a famous researcher was included despite no real involvement in the research. In another situation, two junior scientists quit a lab team after noting that the raw data on some medical scans didn’t support the conclusion their boss was promoting. The experts agreed that the power disparities in science can lead to power abuses, and that there’s little or no training in leadership offered to those who find themselves heading groups. To make matters worse, said Gunsalus, in academic circles people are often suspicious of anyone who actively wants a leadership position — even if that person has a gift for management. It’s seen as careerist, she said.

Italy’s New Government Could Be the Force That Finally Breaks Europe
Sebastian Mallaby/The Washington Post/May 27/18
Europe has weathered so many shocks — the near-breakup of the euro zone, the chaotic influx of 2.5 million refugees, the Brexit referendum — that it is tempting to dismiss the latest existential crisis unfolding in Rome. But Italy’s emerging radical-populist government could be the force that finally breaks the continent’s cohesion. When the man proposed as Italy’s new finance minister declares that “Germany has not changed its vision of its role in Europe since the end of Nazism,” it is time to wake up.
Whether or not Paolo Savona gets the finance job, there is no doubt that he represents the populists’ outlook — one that could have a devastating effect on Europe’s financial position. The two halves of Italy’s new coalition — the right-populist Northern League and the left-populist Five Star Movement — disagree on many issues, but they are united in blaming Italy’s problems generally on the European Union and specifically on the Germans. After Savona’s outburst was published in an Italian newspaper this week, Matteo Salvini, the League’s leader, took to a Roman rooftop and announced on Facebook Live that Savona is “an economist, an expert recognized in Italy and the whole world. . . . His only fault? He dared to say that this EU — as it is — doesn’t work.”
This growling cannot be dismissed because, if shorn of the gratuitous reference to Nazism, it contains much truth. The European Union comprises one brilliant success (a single market that facilitates trade not just in goods but also in services); a series of useful collaborations (in policing, scientific research, student exchanges and so on); one brave but politically risky principle (the free movement of people); and one outright catastrophe (the common European currency). Britain is crazy to leave the European Union, because it is not in the currency zone and its flexible labor market allows it to absorb European immigrants effectively. But Italy is different.
Indeed, Italy is the poster child for the flaws in Europe’s construction. It has amassed terrifying government debts not because it has the privilege of printing the world’s reserve currency (as the United States does); nor because it has a national central bank that can be relied upon to suppress borrowing costs (as Japan does); nor yet because it hid its borrowing behind Wall Street financial engineering and fake statistics (as Greece did). Rather, Italy has been plainly and openly reckless, because such were the incentives created by Europe’s monetary system.
Europe’s policy mix acknowledges this problem. A single central bank with a single interest-rate policy links the borrowing costs of weak and strong countries, so that the weak can run up debts too easily. Recognizing this temptation, Europe has imposed caps on government borrowing, but these have failed in two ways. First, they have ensured that the main word that national politicians hear from Brussels is “no!” — no to government pensions, no to infrastructure spending, no to teacher pay raises. Second, because any budget rule is arbitrary, the caps have not been enforced in practice. They combine maximum friction with minimum effectiveness.
Meanwhile, other European policies have actively promoted recklessness. The European Central Bank treats German government debt and Italian government debt equally, boosting the demand for Italian bonds that would otherwise be considered riskier. The central bank also encourages the presumption that, in a crisis, it would rescue Italy, dampening market discipline further. To get investors to believe Italy could plausibly default one day, Europe would have to break the “doom loop” between government and the banking system, so that the government could go bust without the banking system imploding. But that would require European-wide bank backstops. Despite much earnest discussion about centralized euro-zone deposit insurance and a euro-zone bond that banks could hold instead of dubious national bonds, neither is in the cards.
In the absence of both political discipline and market discipline, Italy has — guess what — borrowed. When the euro was launched in 1999, Italy had a ratio of public debt to gross domestic product of 105 percent; today it is 133 percent. The same incentives are evident elsewhere: In France, for example, the debt ratio has gone from 59 percent to 97 percent. When Italy’s newly elected populists promise to cut taxes and raise spending, they are merely extending the pattern. Their principal innovation is to be brazen about it — and to compare modern Germans to Nazis even as they flout German-backed deficit caps. This will only harden Northern European opposition to centralized bank backstops and so paradoxically entrench the doom loop that perpetuates those incentives for the Italian government to borrow.
How does this game end? In the short term, Europe’s economy is enjoying a cyclical upswing and the central bank is buying bonds via its quantitative easing program, so a crisis is unlikely. But in the longer term, Italy’s debt ratio seems headed into the stratosphere. When the next downturn comes, Europe may find itself dealing with a basket case many times the size of Greece during the last crisis. Greece was small enough to be containable. Italy will be too big to fail, and perhaps too big to save.

China Outspends the US on Defense? Here’s the Math.
Tobin Harshaw/Bloomberg/May 27/18
When is $227 billion greater than $606 billion? When comparing Chinese defense spending to that of the US — and if Army Chief of Staff Mark Milley is the one doing the math. At a hearing last week, the ranking Democrat of the Senate’s defense appropriations subcommittee, Dick Durbin of Illinois, said to Milley: “You tell us that one of our biggest threats, greatest enemies, is Russia; turns out we read recently that Russia spends about $80 billion a year on its military. So let me get this straight: We’re spending 600, 700 billion dollars against an enemy that’s spending $80 billion. Why is this even a contest?”
There are quite a few good answers to that fatuous question, but Milley came up with a new one: We’re the best-paid military in the world by a long shot … the cost of Russian soldiers or Chinese soldiers is a tiny fraction. So we would have to normalize the data in order to compare apples to apples and oranges to oranges….Tale out the MILPERS [military personnel] accounts for both the Chinese, Russians, and/or the US, and then compare the investment costs …
I think you’ll find that Chinese and Russian investments, modernization, new weapons systems, etc., their R&D — which is all government-owned and also is much cheaper — I think you’d find a much closer comparison, Senator.
Does the general have a solid argument, or is this more scaremongering from the brass to get Congress to pump up the Pentagon budget? Fortunately, Sydney J. Freedberg Jr. of Breaking Defense chose to spare us all a lot of work and crunch the numbers. Freedberg decided that there were two adjustments needed to get to oranges-to-oranges: factoring in the purchasing power parity of the three countries (necessary because Russia and China buy most of their military goods from government-owned or heavily subsidized contractors and pay using domestic currency rather than dollars) and subtracting Pentagon spending on pay and benefits from its budget. Here’s what came out of the calculator: China’s spending is comparable to, or even greater than, America's. Russia remains a laggard, but a very dangerous one.
There are a couple of major caveats. First, there is no way to get a truly accurate figure for defense spending from authoritarian and highly secretive countries like China and Russia. Second, this opacity left Freedberg unable to factor in whatever those nations do spend on military salaries, health care, pensions and the like. (It is safe to assume it is a vastly smaller percentage than for the Pentagon.)
Nonetheless, I decided to run this way of slicing the data past a few people who know their way around the Pentagon budget.
“Milley and Breaking Defense have put their finger on a continuing problem: how to compare security spending in countries with different economies and budget practices,” said Mark Cancian, a former Marine colonel now with the International Security Program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. “The US tried to make those comparisons during the Cold War but, when the Soviet Union collapsed, found out that it was spending far more than we had thought.”Cancian warned that any comparison based on spending leaves a lot of uncertainty: “I think that taking personnel costs out of the US accounts overcompensates. Ultimately what matters is what comes out — ships, planes and troops — not what goes in.” Thomas Mahnken, a former deputy assistant secretary of defense for policy planning who is now president of the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments, said his organization is in the early stages of a project to get clarity on Beijing’s military spending. But he had some early conclusions. “Certainly for the US, the fact that we spend so much on manpower increasingly drives our budget,” he said. “But over time, China too is going to have to pay much more for labor. As China becomes a wealthier country, and a grayer one due to demographic changes, and as the military-age cohort declines, there will be new considerations. Also, in recent years Beijing has gone on a modernization spree, and over time there are going to be increasing costs associated with operating and maintaining those forces.”
Bloomberg Opinion columnist Hal Brands noted that differences in military spending need to be looked at in the context of differences in military mission.
“In general, our inputs cost more than their inputs. But the real issue is that it is misleading to simply compare the US and Russian military budgets — or the US and Chinese military budgets — on a one-to-one basis because we operate globally in a way that none of our adversaries does,” he said. “Add in the fact that we only play away games — we operate near our competitors’ territories, at the end of our very long supply lines, all of which gives them a major geographic advantage — and we simply need a lot more military power to make our alliances credible and make our influence felt.”
Unsurprisingly, Bloomberg Opinion columnist and retired four-star Admiral James Stavridis boiled it down: “To compare our soldiers with Chinese or Russian soldiers (or sailors) is like comparing not apples and oranges but apples and hubcaps. You get what you pay for, and we are spending a lot more — and getting good (and necessary) value for our money.”
Let Senator Durbin chew on that.

For Young American Jews, It’s Time to Take a Side
Molly Roberts/The Washington Post/May 27/18
Many Americans have had considerable trouble condemning Israel for killing at least 60 Palestinians at the Gaza border. That should upset no one more than American Jews. It’s hard to separate Judaism from Israel, and of course, that’s the point. Israel exists because Jews who tried to assimilate into non-Jewish society were rewarded with centuries of oppression and slaughter, so they separated themselves instead. Rather than relegate their religion to the margins of daily life, they made their Jewish identity central to their burgeoning state. That state’s success depended, and still depends, on outside support; an essential way to earn it was for Jews who lived elsewhere to view Israel as their home, too. So Hebrew schools in the United States teach students about how Israel once belonged to our ancestors, and how it now belongs to people just like us. And even if someday these children stop going to temple on the high holidays, and even if we never make aliyah, the lesson sticks with us, just as it sticks with children who never really went to temple in the first place but whose parents told them stories of their own childhoods. When the memory threatens to fade, anti-Semitism rears up to remind American Jews that plenty of people still see them as less-than. That’s why there has always been an uneasiness among many progressive Jews here. Even if the empathy for the marginalized that’s central to our faith seems to run up against our support for a country that marginalizes Palestinians every day in the occupied territories where they’re treated as second-class citizens, or in Gaza where they’re blockaded away with scant access to potable water or electricity. Pew has found that younger Americans feel more distance from Israel than our parents and our parents’ parents, but for many, the answer to the dissonance between the Jewish state and Jewish values has been to avoid taking much of a stance at all. Though some have spoken up, and even founded organizations to counter older, more conservative forces like the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), others have stayed quiet. It has been easy enough to say we’re pro-Israel but not pro-occupation, or to use the truth that there’s no simple solution as an excuse to avoid unpleasant complexity.
There is, of course, the catastrophe of this week. Israel mowed down Gaza residents with live ammunition, whether they were carrying rocks or tires or makeshift kite bombs or nothing at all. Israel says many of the protesters were militants. But many others were just frustrated young men and women who have never left a strip of land 25 miles long and three to seven miles wide all their lives. They were willing to rush toward the fence even though they knew that the best thing they’d find on the other side was a free ride to prison — because the society they’re living in feels like a prison already. That “Hamas” exploited their desperation can’t justify their needless deaths. But gratuitous violence from Israel is not new. What is newer is the United States’ repudiation of years of efforts to move toward a two-state solution. Already, Benjamin Netanyahu’s government had made it obvious that Israel had little intention of offering Palestinians even a semblance of a state of their own. Now, the Trump administration has begun to tread the same track, its embassy move a first step.
It is difficult to keep saying we’re pro-Israel but not pro-occupation when our own government seems to have conflated the two, and when that conflation has emboldened Israel’s leaders to act with impunity. It’s more difficult still when our president, most of our representatives and many older Jews refuse to speak out even against acts as atrocious as the latest slaughter. As the US government draws closer to Israel, the rising generation of Jewish Americans has already started to push further away. Weeks such as this one will only hasten the shift.

Bernard Lewis: Studies, stories and legends

Fahad Suleiman Shoqiran/Al Arabiya/May 27/18
Even after his death, Bernard Lewis continues to be surrounded by controversy. There are those who are grateful for his contributions and there are those who attack him for his “Zionism” and hatred of Arabs and Muslims. When you search his name on YouTube, there are many lectures that dramatize his role in mapping the world and his scheming against Muslims. Much of the discussion around him about his role in the making of American policy is nothing but plain exaggeration. In the interviews held with him discussing recent big events in our history, such as the fall of Baghdad and the American war in Iraq, he spoke of his opposition of the war. He voiced his resentment that he was accused of playing roles he is innocent of and noted that he was solely interested in US political protection of democracy in Iraq.
Unduly vilified
An important discussion broke out on Twitter after Marzouq Bin Tanbak wrote: “Bernard Lewis left last Friday after he designed in 1980 the maps for the project of dividing Arab countries. The features of this project have begun to appear in Iraq, Sudan and Syria, and if this project is incomplete, it is underway.” Youssef al Samaan replied to Bin Tanbak and asked about his sources, and noted: “I did not praise Bernard Lewis; I just want to be guided to these Middle East maps that he drew. I just think that this cartoonist vision of the political ruling establishment which is imagined as a group of committed students following the supreme guide Lewis and obeying him for 40 years is naïve.” On the other side, there is a discussion between Mohammed Al'adadi and Othman al-Omair as the latter was displeased when the former described Lewis as a Jew, considering it that it is an insult. Al’adadi, however, agrees with Samaan that “some people see things through their Arab local lenses, thus they exaggerate the roles of some academics like Lewis or Kissinger.” This Saudi academic discussion draws a clear picture between the populist exaggerations and the main role without any exaggeration or hyperbole.
There can be no denying that Lewis is one of the most important scholars on the history of Muslims. It is only natural that American presidents and eminent leaders read his articles and works (such as Condoleezza Rice is said to have carried his articles around). He delved into the Muslim archives in all its different realms — Arabic, Turkish and Iranian. As such, focusing and praising his articles in the backdrop of every decisive event, like the September 11 attacks and others, is driven by a desire to understand. Researches have a certain status in developed countries, as such consulting with Lewis or Al Ajami or others, is a smart tactic since they are experts in their field.
Much of the discussion around Bernard Lewis and his supposed role in US policy making is nothing but plain exaggeration
Amongst Arab researchers, Lewis’ image varies from person to person. Abdel Rahman Badawi attacked Lewis’ researches despite his high appreciation of Lewis’ supervisor of his thesis Massignon. Badawi described Lewis as a conspirator against Islamic culture. Meanwhile, Arkoun criticized them both (Badawi and Louis), as he believed that they were not involved in the new conceptual knowledge tools, thus calling on them to integrate within the concepts of the anthropological revolution, and take advantage of archeology, structuralism styles, and the postmodern results of the "rising intellect.” On the other hand, George Tarabishi questioned Bernard Lewis who refuted the existence of a separation between religion and state in the history of Islam, and I have talked about this before.
Arkoun’s objections
In one of his most recent books Towards a Comparative History of Monotheistic Religions, Arkoun blames Lewis for being like the rest of neoconservatives who strip off the philosophical legitimacy of the United States military actions saying: “I reject the positions expressed by Bernard Lewis after 9/11 when he published in his book entitled What Went Wrong?, which means where is the flaw in in the Islamic civilization that led to the execution of such colossal bombings. There is no doubt that the question should be raised, but the answer shouldn’t be the one given by Lewis. Instead, we should ask what is the problem that occurred in Arab, Iranian, Turkish, and Islamic civilization that led to destructive violence affecting these civilizations and humanity as a whole ?.”(p. 271). Bernard Lewis brought so much to the research field with exceptional and thoughtful ideas. He wrote about Ismailism, the Hashashin (the Assassins), Istanbul and the Islamic Caliphate civilization. He wrote The Crisis Of Islam and The Middle East: A Brief History of the Last 2,000 Years. He was not a cartographer in a war sense of the word that satisfies the vivid imagination of some. About his role, he said: “I don’t think the historian can reasonably be expected to predict the future but there are certain things that the historian can and should do. He can discern trends. He can look at what has been happening and what is happening and see change developing. From this he can formulate, I will not say predictions, but possibilities, alternative possibilities, things that may happen, things that may go this way or that way, in evolving interactions. It is of course much safer to predict the remote rather than the immediate future.” Hence his conclusion about the groups of political Islam and democracy, as he said: “Political Islam did change over time but not necessarily for the best. A dash toward Western-style elections, far from representing a solution to the region’s difficulties, constitutes a dangerous aggravation of the problem and I fear that radical Islamic movements are ready to exploit so misguided a move. In genuinely fair and free elections, the Muslim parties are very likely to win.”
Myth and the man
When he was asked who his favorite author is, he said: “Rifa’a al-Tahtawi, who studied in European universities and spent his life in Egypt in the mid-19th century, wrote several important works about Islam and its compatibility with modernity during an important period of change as the Muslim World interacted with Europe in the 19th century. His perspective and arguments were enriched by his understanding of Europe and how principles of Islam and European modernity could complement one another.” Here we can notice his implied dismissal over the allegation of the Orientalist impressionism that has been attributed to him about the impossibility that Islam and modernity can be compatible.
Lewis is said to be the one who prophesied the clash of civilizations, since he presented the idea before Samuel Huntington, while the truth is the thesis didn’t build the conflict nor did it plan it but it predicted it, just like a historian predicts a major event or a great speech when looking at facts.
Lewis passed away, and in his death as in his life, he stirred controversy. He had an exceptional personality and was an extraordinary researcher. Things he didn’t say were attributed to him, and he was accused of roles that he got bored refuting. Myths were told about his character in legends of wars and he was credited with managing the room where they were redrawing maps and planning divisive plots, but all of these are mere illusions.

Pompeo gives Iran a new chance to set things straight

Mohammed Al-Hammadi/Al Arabiya/May 27/18
The Iranian regime has a new chance to set things straight and rectify its situation so that Iran becomes a responsible state within the international community. The conditions set by US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo reflect an attempt to set everything straight and not allow Tehran to continue what it’s been doing and to warn it that the punishment will be harsh if it does not respond to these demands. The Iranian regime must understand that it’s walking a path that will lead to its loss and that its situation is getting worse, not just at the domestic level but also on the international level. Recent Russian statements about the importance of foreign forces and militias’ withdrawal from Syria must not be overlooked by Tehran. Iran is also not supposed to be more arrogant while dealing with all this as its presence in Syria is wrong and the request of its number one ally Russia seems rational in this current phase and may actually save it from suffering bigger losses. On Monday, Pompeo explained the US president’s point of view as to why he withdrew from the nuclear deal with Iran. Pompeo said the US is willing to negotiate a new agreement with Iran, and proposed 12 points for a new deal. The demands seem logical and could guarantee an agreement between all parties and make the deal real in terms of serving the entire international community and the region’s countries because it puts clear boundaries for Iran’s behavior while lifting the sanctions in exchange for Iran’s commitment to conditions that help maintain security and stability across the world. Russian calls for withdrawal of foreign forces and militias from Syria must not be overlooked by Tehran
The 12 demands come within the context of Washington’s new strategy towards Iran after the US withdrew from the nuclear deal. Washington said it’s willing to eventually lift the sanctions off Tehran if it responds to these demands. The first four demands are linked to Iran’s nuclear activity while the others are: release American citizens and all citizens of US allies, end support to terror groups in the Middle East, like Hezbollah, Hamas and the Islamic Jihad, respect the Iraqi government and allow the disarmament of Shiite militias, end support of Houthi militias, withdraw all forces under its (Iran’s) command in Syria, end support to Taliban and all terrorist members and stop harboring al-Qaeda members, end the Revolutionary Guards’ Quds Forces support to terrorists and stop the practices that threaten its (Iran’s) neighbors of which many are US allies.
It’s clear that these demands were not liked by Tehran as it wants the old agreement that gives it everything for nothing in return, as this allows it to pressure European countries to support it in rejecting the US withdrawal from the deal while keeping the old deal in place. However, according to most experts, Europe cannot continue to accept with the old deal without the US. Therefore, Tehran must reconsider its calculations as the region’s countries and other countries which were harmed by its practices for decades will not allow Iran to continue with its hostile behavior and enjoy the free gift presented in the old nuclear deal.

Who will assassinate Muqtada al-Sadr?

Abdullah bin Bijad Al-Otaibi/Al Arabiya/May 27/18
Muqtada al-Sadr has risen on the Iraqi political scene again but in a different way following the victory of his bloc Sairoon in the elections, topping other Iraqi blocs led by Nuri al-Maliki and Hadi al-Amiri. Today, Muqtada al-Sadr is a national leader. The Iraqi people have expressed their desire in choosing him and his nationalist approach. He is the winning horse for the Iraqi national sectarian reference, distinct from other blocs that merely became tools that exploit Iraq’s wealth for two purposes only. The first is appropriating the country’s wealth through corruption and the second is serving the Iranian revolutionary project, the supreme guide and the Iranian Revolutionary Guards. Sadr has thus become the symbol of a new era for post-2003 Iraq. On the regional level, the new Iraq that had distanced itself from sectarianism and the Iranian regime can bring the country back to its Arab depth in Saudi Arabia, the Gulf states and the Arab states
Al-Sadr, the new hope for Iraq
Muqtada al-Sadr has went through a major transformation in a short amount of time. If one hears the rhetoric of al-Sadr, the national leader who is defending Iraq, its sovereignty and its unity and who has brought the constituents of Iraq’s society under his umbrella and who is seeking to build the country’s present and future, he’d realize it cannot be compared to his post-2003 period and to the Mahdi Army and controlling Najaf. This demonstrates the dynamism of his personality and development in political consciousness and the political vision that governs his movement and supporters.
This political victory, which has turned the internal Iraqi equation upside down, will represent an important phase in the history of modern Iraq if Sadr can build strong and solid alliances. These alliances will permit him to exhibit the Iraqi national movements that have been contaminated for many years by Iraqis working for an Iranian foreign agenda. If he can appoint Iraqi technocrats to lead governmental institutions to eventually achieve developmental and security goals that can restore Iraq’s glory and dynamism. On the regional level, the new Iraq that had distanced itself from sectarianism and the Iranian regime can bring the country back to its Arab depth in Saudi Arabia, the Gulf states and the Arab states. It can go back to being the guardian of the eastern gate of the Arab world, especially with the establishment of the new Arab axis led by Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt. Iraq could be a bonus for restoring balance in the region. On the international level, this Iraqi national approach represented by Sadr and his allies, can make Iraq enjoy refined relations, namely with the United States and the administration of President Trump, who is still trying to wipe out all the problems left out by the flawed vision of the Obama administration.
How will Iran react?
A strong and cohesive Iraq both internally, regionally and internationally is a blessing for the Iraqi state and Iraqis and for Arab countries and their peoples. This could be the beginning of Iraq’s return to its pristine eminence in the region and the world.
Certainly, the Iranian regime will not be happy about this optimistic approach. How will Iran work on reclaiming its role in Iraq? The answer to this question according to Iran will come with assassinations, bombings and threatening people with violence.
So now the question is who will assassinate Muqtada al-Sadr? Or who will assassinate his deputies to reengineer the composition of the Iraqi parliament? This has already happened earlier when the formation of government was taken away from Ayad Allawi and was passed on to Nouri al-Maliki.
It will be at the hand of Iran and no one else, but how will that be done? Will it be done through the hands of Sunni extremists, like when al-Qaeda assassinated Mohammed Baqir al-Hakim? Or will it be carried out by Shiite extremists like the bombing of Al-Askari Shrine in Samarra? The Iranian apparatuses, their militias and their agents in Iraq can answer these questions. Iran is the biggest terrorist country in the world and can operate all of its hands in the region and the world and spread terrorism in various countries, whether close or far. Recent terrorist attacks in the United States, Europe and Indonesia and the atrocities against the people of Gaza by Hamas did not happen spontaneously nor were they a coincidence because they were premediated and orchestrated in coordination from the start.

The real reasons Tehran is obsessed with Israel
Dr. Majid Rafizadeh/Arab News/May 27, 2018/
If you listen to Iranian politicians, the speeches of the Supreme Leader or Friday prayers in Iran, or study its state-controlled newspapers and other media, you will notice that hardly a day passes without the Iranian regime lashing out at Israel, which it commonly refers to as the “Little Satan.”
Some policy analysts argue this suggests two things; that Iran and Israel are natural enemies, and that the enmity is caused by the Iranian leaders’ determination to support the Palestinian people. Apologists for the regime frequently point to Ayatollah Ali Khamenei’s claim that Tehran’s animosity toward Israel is solely to help the “oppressed” Palestinians.
These arguments fail to reveal the strategic, geopolitical, historic and ideological reality. When the ruling clerics of Iran came to power in 1979, Iran-Israel relations shifted dramatically. Before the Iranian revolution, Israel and Tehran enjoyed close geopolitical and strategic relationships. Military cooperation was robust and included arms deals worth millions of dollars.
Iran built amicable ties with Israel for several reasons. The first was that Tehran wanted to undermine pan-Arabism. Secondly, Iran desired to appease the US by aligning itself with Washington’s staunchest regional ally, Israel. Third, Tehran sought to obtain the support of the Jewish community in the US, which was believed to be a powerful lobby group with influence in shaping US foreign policy in the Middle East. Fourth, Iran was seeking to build alliances with countries that shared common interests with Tehran in order to counter the Soviet Union’s influence in the region.
But when the mullahs seized power, Israel became a core element and a focal point of the regime’s foreign policy because the clerical establishment projected Israel as one of its critical enemies. Iran’s late Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, coined the derogatory epithet“Little Satan,” and the chant of “Death to Israel” became an integral part of the regime’s rallies.
There are several reasons for this obsession, and the regime’s colossal and unexpected policy change toward Israel.
Threats to annihilate Israel, Holocaust denial by senior officials such as former president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, and hosting anti-Semitic events such the annual Holocaust Cartoon Competition are common practices within the clerical establishment, and are further examples of the regime’s anti-Semitic stance
To begin with, the clerics did not view their power and revolution as limited to Iran’s borders. One of the vital parts of the regime’s pursuit of regional domination is expanding its influence in the Levant, which has considerable strategic importance in the region. Having a presence in the Levant ensures Iran’s access to the Mediterranean Sea and grants the mullahs a significant edge over the Arab world. Competing with, outdoing, outperforming, and dominating powerful Arab states is one of Iran’s regional aims.
To achieve such an objective, the most effective way was to create an enemy. Which enemy is better than a powerful state such as Israel? From the mullahs’ perspective, having such a strong enemy would justify Tehran’s intensive military adventurism and expansionist policies in Lebanon, Syria, and Palestine.
It would also justify Iran’s efforts to advance its nuclear and ballistic missile programs and allocate a significant part of its budget to the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) and its elite branch, the Quds Force, which is in charge of clandestine and extraterritorial military operations.
Secondly, projecting an obsessive hostility toward Israel paves the way for the Iranian leaders to defend establishing “resistance” groups, such as Hezbollah. In truth, these so-called resistance groups act on behalf of the Iranian regime, advancing its interest in the region, and assist Tehran in interfering in the domestic affairs of Arab nations.
Third, having Israel as an enemy helps the mullahs to repress domestic opposition. One of the charges commonly used to silence dissidents and opponents is being a “Zionist spy.” The penalty can range from long imprisonment to death.
Finally, the Islamic Republic is a revolutionary regime that sits on the bedrock of its extremist founders’ ideology. One of the core revolutionary principals of Khomeini and his gilded circle was anchored in anti-Semitism. The execution in May 1979 of Habib Elghanian, the head of the Jewish community, a businessman, and a philanthropist — after a 20-minute trial on trumped-up charges — was the regime’s first robust anti-Semitic message to Jewish communities and the rest of the world.
Threats to annihilate Israel, Holocaust denial by senior officials such as former president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, and hosting anti-Semitic events such the annual Holocaust Cartoon Competition are common practices within the clerical establishment, and are further examples of the regime’s anti-Semitic stance.
The mullahs’ obsession with Israel has nothing to do with defending and advancing the cause of the oppressed Palestinian people. It is for strategic and ideological reasons; to export the ruling clerics’ extremist ideology, to dominate and expand its influence in the Levant, to justify its military adventurism, and to more easily suppress domestic opposition and dissent.
**Dr. Majid Rafizadeh is a Harvard-educated Iranian-American political scientist. He is a leading expert on Iran and US foreign policy, a businessman and president of the International American Council. Twitter: @Dr_Rafizadeh