Detailed Lebanese & Lebanese Related LCCC English New Bulletin For November 04/2018
Compiled & Prepared by: Elias Bejjani

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Bible Quotations
You hypocrites! You know how to interpret the appearance of earth and sky, but why do you not know how to interpret the present time
Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ according to Saint Luke 12,54-59/: "Jesus also said to the crowds, ‘When you see a cloud rising in the west, you immediately say, "It is going to rain"; and so it happens. And when you see the south wind blowing, you say, "There will be scorching heat"; and it happens. You hypocrites! You know how to interpret the appearance of earth and sky, but why do you not know how to interpret the present time? ‘And why do you not judge for yourselves what is right? Thus, when you go with your accuser before a magistrate, on the way make an effort to settle the case, or you may be dragged before the judge, and the judge hand you over to the officer, and the officer throw you in prison.I tell you, you will never get out until you have paid the very last penny.""

نشرات اخبار عربية وانكليزية مطولة ومفصلة يومية على موقعنا الألكتروني على الرابط التالي

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Titles For The Latest LCCC Bulletin analysis & editorials from miscellaneous sources published on November 03-034/18
Smart and Simple laws can solve all the vital problems/Roger Bejjani/Face Book/November 03/18
US sanctions on Hezbollah: Subjugation and ‘disciplining/Ali Al-Amin/Al Arabiya/'November 03/18
Beirut's Ghost Apartments Are Haunting the Economy/Dana Khraiche/Bloomberg/November 03/18
Iran Ally Hezbollah Pays Syrian Rebels to Switch Sides/Sune Engel Rasmussen in Beirut and Suha Ma’ayeh in Amman, Jordan/The Wall Street Journal/November 03/18
Christians in Egypt prepare to bury dead a day after attack/AP/November 03, 2018
Recep Tayyip Erdogan: Saudi Arabia still has many questions to answer about Jamal Khashoggi’s killing/Recep Tayyip Erdogan the president of Turkey/The Washington Post/November 03/18
Beware Turkey's Dangerous New Refugee Role/Uzay Bulut/Gatestone Institute/November 03/18
A different perspective on the Middle East from Muscat/Amal Abdulaziz Al–Hazani/Al Arabiya/November 03/18
A first step toward the Syrian end game/Cornelia Meyer/Arab News/November 03/18
Remember, remember, the 4th of November/Camelia Entekhabifard/Arab News/November 03/18

Titles For The Latest LCCC Lebanese Related News published on November 03-04/18
Smart and Simple laws can solve all the vital problems
Israel renews threats to Lebanon by striking Hezbollah rocket factories
Report: Israel Warns It Will Strike Hizbullah Missile Sites
Saudi Envoy Lauds Lebanese Condemnation of Ayyoub's Editorial
US sanctions on Hezbollah: Subjugation and ‘disciplining’
Beirut's Ghost Apartments Are Haunting the Economy
Iran Ally Hezbollah Pays Syrian Rebels to Switch Sides

Titles For The Latest LCCC Bulletin For Miscellaneous Reports And News published on November 03-04/18
Egypt’s Minya holds funeral for victims of ISIS terror attack
Christians in Egypt prepare to bury dead a day after attack
Angry Copts Mourn Egypt Bus Attack Victims
Khamenei: Trump Has Disgraced U.S. Prestige
Erdogan: Khashoggi Kill Order Came from Highest Levels of Saudi Govt.
France, Germany, UK, EU condemn new US Iran sanctions
UN aid trucks reach Rukban refugee camp in Syria, says local source
ISIS kills three Iraq village chiefs in a week in restive north

The Latest LCCC Lebanese Related News published on November 03-04/18
Smart and Simple laws can solve all the vital problems
Roger Bejjani/Face Book/November 03/18
Smart and Simple laws can solve all the vital problems we are suffering from:
1. Lifetime Access to healthcare
2. Affordable quality schooling
3. Environment restoration
4. Clean Energy supply
5. Invigorating Tourism
6. Defense
7. Refugees
8. Armistice agreement 1948/1701
9. Lean and efficient electronic government
10. A fast adjudication of the oil and gas exploitation rights
11. Abolishing income tax and increase VAT
12. Transfer all social and education control and cost to private sector’s responsibility and act as regulator.
13.And above all balancing the budget in a record time
What we need is not Cedar or Paris V. We need and we can do it ourselves by being responsible and smart.
But since we are a bunch of morons who want to militate for the rights of Christians or for Khomenism or for the umma....we are running straight into the dragon’s den.

Israel renews threats to Lebanon by striking Hezbollah rocket factories

Staff writer, Al Arabiya English/Saturday, 3 November 2018/Israel renewed on Friday its threat and warning to Lebanon during a meeting with a French envoy touring the region. Al Arabiya news channel correspondent in Palestine said on Friday that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had passed a threat message through Oman meant for Iran, to spare Lebanon a new war and to stop trying to build precision rockets on its territory. Netanyahu also sent another threat a few days ago, which was delivered by the French National Security Adviser Orléan la-Chevalier, who is said to be one of Macron’s closest confidants, who met with Israeli deputy national security adviser Eitan Ben-David, on Monday to convey to Lebanon’s Prime Minister Saad Hariri that the Lebanese government must put an end to Hezbollah’s missile factories, otherwise, “Israel will solve it” , in reference to a possible military action. Ben-David said that Israel has a time limit to end this file, and is ready to wait diligently to develop diplomatic solutions to this matter, stressing at the same time that “Israel is not ready to accept this reality.”Netanyahu will meet with French President Emmanuel Macaron in Paris on November 11, where he is expected to repeat the warning message to Lebanon regarding Hezbollah’s rocket factories.

Report: Israel Warns It Will Strike Hizbullah Missile Sites
Naharnet/November 03/18/As the political deadlock to form Lebanon’s government lingers, Israel has reportedly warned the Lebanese government via Paris that it might have to “deal sharply” with alleged Hizbullah missile sites in the country if the Lebanese government refused to do so, Israeli media reports said on Saturday. Israel's Channel 10 news said Israel has asked France to deliver a warning message to Prime Minister-designate Saad Hariri. Moreover, Israel’s daily Maariv reported that the message was delivered by Israel’s deputy national security adviser Eitan Ben-David, to a top adviser to French President Emmanuel Macron, during his visit to Jerusalem last Monday, to inform President Michel Aoun that the “Lebanese State must close the sites referred to.”Ben David has reportedly told the French envoy that Israel has a time limit to end this file and that Tel Aviv is ready to wait diligently to find diplomatic solutions to this matter, according to the Israeli daily. Israel “will act on its own” if the matter is not dealt with, it added. These reports came weeks after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu claimed at the United Nations General Assembly that “Hizbullah has positioned three missile sites in Lebanon including one near Beirut's Rafik Hariri International Airport.”

Report: Government Gridlock is Going to 'Persist for a Long Time'
Naharnet/November 03/18/No breakthrough has been reported to ease the gridlock delaying the formation of Lebanon’s government, amid reports it is going to “persist” even longer, al-Joumhouria daily reported on Saturday. Unnamed sources told the daily it has become even more difficult now to resolve the obstacles since each political party adamantly adheres to its positions. Absence of mediators to help ease the problem also adds to the difficulty, they said. The new obstacle related to the representation of March 8 Sunni MPs emerged early this week when the government was no the verge of formation. The so-called independent Sunni MPs, comprised of six lawmakers, demand representation in the new government enjoying the support of Hizbullah and AMAL Movement chief Speaker Nabih Berri. On the other hand, Prime Minister-designate Saad Hariri refuses to allocate a ministerial portfolio for said MPs from his own share. He says those supporting their demands should themselves give up part of their share for said deputies.

Saudi Envoy Lauds Lebanese Condemnation of Ayyoub's Editorial
Naharnet/November 03/18/Saudi Charge d’Affaires in Lebanon Walid Bukhari on Friday hailed Lebanese officials, journalists, opinion leaders and citizens for condemning an editorial in ad-Diyar newspaper that carried insults against him and against Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. The Lebanese people “are the people of the kingdom and its friends,” Bukhari said to a delegation comprising civil society groups, independent figures, businessmen, engineers, physicians, lawyers, clerics and politicians, which visited him at the embassy to deplore the article written by Charles Ayyoub, ad-Diyar’s publisher and managing editor. Bukhari said the editorial “does not reflect the ethics of all media outlets in Lebanon,” noting that “all attempts to question the kingdom’s role and leadership in the region have failed.” The envoy thanked President Michel Aoun, pointing out that “from the very beginning, he focused on taking all the legal measures in a decisive way.”Bukhari also thanked Prime Minister-designate Saad Hariri “who expressed his condemnation and took the necessary legal measures.”“The kingdom will not allow such subservient writers to affect the relation between the two countries,” the charge d’affaires added. “All components of the Lebanese society have expressed their condemnation and I will never forget this stance,” he went on to say. Caretaker Justice Minister Salim Jreissati on Tuesday filed a court case against Ayyoub, accusing him of harming Lebanon's relations with Saudi Arabia. Ayyoub wrote a column blaming the Saudi crown prince for the killing of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi and the deaths of civilians in Yemen. He called on Bukhari to leave Lebanon, and used the terms "dogs" and "pigs" 22 times in describing the two Saudi officials. Jreissati asked the prosecutor general to initiate proceedings against ad-Diyar, saying the article violated Lebanese law and endangered the country. Saudi Arabia is closely allied with one of Lebanon's main political blocs and has provided extensive financial aid to the country.
US sanctions on Hezbollah: Subjugation and ‘disciplining’
Ali Al-Amin/Al Arabiya/'November 03/18
علي الأمين/العقوبات الأميركية على حزب الله: التطويع والتهذيب
US President Donald Trump recently signed a new revised sanction law on Hezbollah and this coincided with the anniversary of the 1983 Beirut barracks bombings, which claimed the lives of more than 200 US soldiers.
Washington accuses Hezbollah of being behind the bombing while the Lebanese organization has denied its role and has refused to take responsibility for the attack.
Partners in crime
The law adopted by the US Congress a few weeks ago puts Hezbollah in the ranks of criminal organizations and criminalizes whoever deals with it be it individuals or institutions. The law also allows the US President to impose sanctions on official institutions, governments and countries that deal with Hezbollah without taking prior consent of the US Congress.
The law is in line with a series of other resolutions and laws issued earlier this year and in previous years against Hezbollah and which aim to block Hezbollah’s sources of funding. It came before implementing the second round of sanctions on Iran in November.
Furthermore, this law was approved in light of persistent attempts by Hezbollah to put pressure on the upcoming government. Following the recent parliamentary elections, the commander of the Quds Force Qassem Soleimani said that Hezbollah and its allies have won majority of the seats in the new Lebanese parliament.
Despite difficulties hindering government formation, the process seems to have reached its final stages and the government is likely to be announced this week after the government formation process finally settled for a formula that would allow Hezbollah to exercise control over the new government via a number of ministers and hence prevent the government from taking any decision that doesn’t meet its interests.
In this context, it can be said from a political and constitutional standpoint that Hezbollah controls two branches of power — the legislative branch through Speaker Nabih Berri, who has applied the rules of alliance with Hezbollah and the executive branch through its ally, the president, and the majority which it controls through the government.
Hezbollah’s hegemony
These steps which Hezbollah has taken by investing in its military and security power to achieve a majority within the constitutional institutions actually complete its control over the Lebanese landscape – a challenge that puts the entire of Lebanon before a possible package of American sanctions that may be difficult to implement unless the American decision has reached the phase where it does not care if it destroys the entire structure over everyone in Lebanon.
The nature of sanctions in the new US law has the potential of making the entire Lebanese government and most of the country’s institutions in which Hezbollah has become involved a target. This certainly affects official Lebanese institutions as it makes them subject to sanctions. The question is if Washington actually implements its sanctions, then do the Lebanese people understand the consequences of these sanctions on them and on their already deteriorating lives?
Amal Member of Parliament Mohammed Khawaja has said that Lebanon can overcome the fallout of this law as it has done in the past. In contrast, American agencies may realize that the law is a means for applying pressure on Hezbollah in the first place and then on Lebanon especially since the new law has broadened the circle of those affected by it. This suggests that there is a coordinating authority that can be used according to the American need and to help Lebanon return to the bosom of the state that is if there are Lebanese parties that are serious about restoring the sovereignty and prestige of the state by finally breaking free from the dual state anomaly, which has allowed Hezbollah to rule and control Lebanon.
The unwilling accomplice
The gradual accretion of US sanctions on Hezbollah has placed financial pressure on the organization and forced it to alter its calculations for immunizing itself within the state. There is no doubt that the party is under financial pressure from the US sanctions on it and on Tehran. As a result Hezbollah has resorted to tightening its grip on Lebanese institutions in order to take advantage of the financial and administrative chaos to cover up partisan costs. Hezbollah used the municipalities which are funded by taxes on citizens to accommodate thousands of its supporters in the so-called “municipal police”. It also took advantage of the Ministry of Health and social security institutions to provide millions of dollars to operate its healthcare centers that mainly treat its supporters and fighters. These centers had benefitted from Iranian funding and from other well-known states.
In addition to these means of entrenchment in state institutions, Hezbollah had through influential people invested in Lebanese ports to bring in illegal goods that benefit a number of traders who pass on part of their profits to the party. There are also the smuggling lines from Syria of legal and illegal goods as Hezbollah controls the borders with Syria.
There are many areas that highlight Hezbollah’s investment in the weakness of the state in order to secure additional financial resources to meet the deficit caused by the US sanctions, but what should be noted is that Hezbollah’s behavior in confronting these sanctions further links the fate of the Lebanese state on the economic, financial and security levels on its own survival, and is implicitly saying that it holds tightly on to the state and that any excessive pressure in targeting it would lead to the downfall of the Lebanese state.
Taking the state hostage
Based on this formula, Hezbollah has refused to listen to the advices given to it by some Lebanese officials not to be partisan in the formation in the new government. Hezbollah has rejected the advice and insisted on giving ministerial positions to party members, in disregard of all the dangers that could be caused by appointing party officials as ministers especially after the new US sanctions law.
The danger of sanctions is looming over Lebanon, and Hezbollah is aware that it has succeeded in putting sanctions on everyone and not just on itself. Washington’s policies are not driven by ideology or vindictiveness, but are led by a purely pragmatic approach. Hezbollah, like Iran, considers that influence is the most important element while ideology is a way to attract supporters and the public, and any understanding that provides this influence does not pose a problem whether it’s implicit with Israel or public between Washington and Tehran. In Lebanon, Hezbollah can remain in control, as long as the Lebanese do not express their discontent, and as long as the party does not violate the rules of international, American and Israeli policies, and this is what was proven through its war against the terrorists.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s visit to Oman and the cold and implicitly welcoming Iranian reactions show that Tehran is ready to follow Israeli interests in order to alleviate the effects of US sanctions on it and ensure the protection of its influence on Arab countries and Lebanon. Netanyahu's visit to Muscat on the eve of US sanctions on Tehran is an Iranian message to Arabs, and that’s where the danger lies.

Beirut's Ghost Apartments Are Haunting the Economy
Dana Khraiche/Bloomberg/November 03/18
Permanently-drawn curtains on the city’s empty luxury high-rises and dust gathering over shuttered storefronts in the Beirut Souks mall offer a glimpse of the economic gloom gathering over one of the world’s most indebted countries.
Prolonged conflict in neighboring Syria and political divisions at home have hit confidence. Economic growth has been stagnant for years, but a sharp downturn in the property sector risks wider spillovers as cash-strapped developers postpone payments to contractors and run late servicing debt to creditors. The recent withdrawal of a central bank-subsidized housing loan scheme has pushed even more potential buyers away.
It’s what Houssam Batal, chief executive officer of Premium Projects, calls the “almost catastrophic scenario” confronting Lebanon’s real estate sector.
“We’ve witnessed a delay in collection and had a very hard time to sell,” said Batal, whose development and construction company’s main focus is high-end central Beirut. After struggling to sell apartments valued at $1.2 million, Batal says demand is now shaky for units worth half as much.
The health of the real estate industry bears watching because it contributes an estimated 15 percent to economic output. According to a study by Bank Audi, property sales plunged 17 percent in the first nine months of this year while the number of construction permits granted fell 23 percent.
A construction boom that began before the Syrian conflict took its toll, means some apartments have been on the market for years. Few expected the war, which began in 2011, to drag on so long, devastating trade, pushing some 1.5 million refugees into their tiny neighbor of 4 million and costing Lebanon’s economy an estimated $18 billion.
The collapse in oil prices in 2014 has deterred the country’s moneyed expatriates. Even Gulf Arab spenders, who once plowed their disposable income into pied-a-terres or buy-to-let investments in Lebanon’s famously-hedonistic capital, are holding back.
The slump is mainly “due to the overall wait-and-see attitude among investors because of the macro and political uncertainties,” said Marwan Barakat, chief economist at Bank Audi.
Lebanon has been without a government for over six months. While political deadlock is nothing new, this time, about $11 billion in loans and grants pledged by international donors are at stake. The economy is creaking under the strain of public debt, which the World Bank warns is on “an unsustainable path” toward 155 percent of gross domestic product by end-2018, while economic growth could slip to 1 percent.
A typical apartment in Beirut, wedged between the Mediterranean Sea and verdant mountains, can cost between $2,000 and $7,000 per square meter, depending on the neighborhood.
Though listed residential prices have not fallen significantly, developers are offering more flexible payment plans. One development in Dbayyeh, just outside Beirut, allows customers to rent for up to three years with the right to purchase later. In urgent need of cash, some developers are offering steep discounts on new units, though most are holding out despite the collapse in sales.
Philippe Tabet, CEO of Har Properties, said the developer had to restructure its financial model after the downturn. “Clients are delaying payments and banks have increased interest rates, making it harder to obtain funds," Tabet said, though he hadn’t heard of many companies defaulting so far.
Seeking to rescue the sector from crisis, a group of developers and investors have set up the country’s first real estate investment platform.
Legacy One will purchase vacant apartments in about 100 projects in Beirut and its suburbs and resell them to buyers abroad, said Samir Cortas, head of the Real Estate Developers Association of Lebanon and a partner in the project.
The plan is to channel as much as $1 billion into real estate in the hope of breathing life into the sector. Beirut-based Lucid Investment Bank is shaping the strategy and has received regulatory approval to raise $325 million in the first stage. It will allow creditors in troubled properties to swap their exposure to developers’ debt for bonds issued by the investment platform.
Loans linked to real estate comprise over a third of private-sector banking debt, according to Cortas, making the scheme attractive to some, though it does little to address the economy’s underlying ills.
Lebanese Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri is edging toward forming a government, potentially providing relief for investors and builders alike. That government must then overcome politi

Iran Ally Hezbollah Pays Syrian Rebels to Switch Sides
مقالة من ول ستريت جورنال: حزب الله الحليف الإيراني يدفع الأموال للثوار السوريين ليغيروا ولائاتهم

Sune Engel Rasmussen in Beirut and Suha Ma’ayeh in Amman, Jordan/The Wall Street Journal/November 03/18
Iran’s ally Hezbollah is paying former U.S.-backed rebels to switch sides and join a growing force in southern Syria, deepening its presence near Israel’s border after appearing to withdraw to avoid Israeli airstrikes, according to activists and a former rebel commander.
The Iran-backed militia has recruited up to 2,000 fighters, these people said, most of them from rebel groups that lost U.S. funding last year, according to the former commander, who tracks recruitment in villages in southern Syria.The Syrian government and its military ally Russia are depending on Hezbollah and other Iran-allied militias to fight the remaining armed opposition in the south, chiefly Islamic State.Israel, which views Iran as an existential threat, has warned it won’t allow forces loyal to Iran to entrench near its border. Lebanon-based Hezbollah’s recruitment of fighters in southern Syria is “a highly destabilizing prospect,” said U.S. Syria Envoy Joel Rayburn. “The idea that Hezbollah would be expanding its presence down there on the Jordanian frontier, near the Golan Heights, near the Israeli frontier. This would increase the chance for conflict,” Mr. Rayburn said Friday during a conference in Manama, Bahrain.
The Pentagon didn’t comment when asked about on U.S. support for the opposition. “We are aware of regime and allied forces recruiting former opposition members in the wake of reconciliation agreements in Southern Syria,” Pentagon spokesman Cmdr. Sean Robertson said, referring to deals in which rebels ceded territory amid intensifying assaults by Russian and Syrian forces.The U.S. has said the removal of Iran-allied forces from Syria is a central goal for its 2,000 troops there and a precondition for allocation of funds to rebuild the war-ravaged country. The Trump administration is reinstating sanctions on Iran intended in part to force Tehran to halt its support for militant groups in the region.
Israel didn’t respond to a request for comment. Israeli officials in the past have said they are mostly aware of everything that happens in their backyard.
Early this summer, as Syria and its allies prepared to move against an antigovernment stronghold in the southwest, Iran appeared to move its militias away from the Israeli border to lessen tensions with Russia. Rebels later said that some militia fighters were donning Syrian army uniforms in an apparent effort to avoid further Israeli airstrikes against Iranian targets in Syria. Hezbollah declined to comment on its recruitment efforts in Syria. The Lebanese organization’s leader, Hassan Nasrallah, has said Hezbollah forces would stay in Syria as long as Syrian President Bashar al-Assad wants them there.
Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah delivers a televised speech in June. He said his group would stay in Syria as long as the Syrian president wants them there. “Russia pushing Iran out is an illusion. It can’t rely on the Syrian army,” said the former rebel commander, who previously fought with the U.S.-backed opposition to Mr. Assad.
In a sign of further efforts to deepen its presence in the area, Iran in late October established a branch of a Shiite religious organization, al-Zahra, in the southern province of Daraa, following a visit to the area by a representative of Iran’s supreme leader, according to ETANA Syria, a civil society organization that monitors southern Syria. For former rebels, joining Hezbollah provides a guarantee against arrest by the Syrian government. It also pays a $250 monthly salary, more than the Syrian army gives and compensation for lost income from U.S. support for their organizations. In June, the U.S. Embassy in Amman, Jordan sent WhatsApp messages to commanders in the south, saying they shouldn’t go into battle with the Assad government with “the assumption or expectation of military intervention by us.”
The U.S. withdrawal left the fighters feeling betrayed, the former rebel commander said. “Go to Russia, go to the regime, go to Iran—that was the message,” he said. The State Department didn’t comment on the message or U.S. support for rebel groups, but said, “We are aware of reports that regime and allied forces are recruiting soldiers in the area.”Israel has struck about 200 targets in Syria over the past 18 months, Israeli officials disclosed recently, both to block weapons shipments to Hezbollah and to prevent Iran from establishing a permanent military presence inside Syria, which would escalate the threat to Israel.
Iranian leaders see such a presence as an effective deterrent against Israeli and U.S. aggression on Iranian soil, according to a 2015 Pentagon assessment. Hezbollah’s recent moves in Syria’s south underscore the difficulty for Israel of rolling back Iranian influence. Backed by Moscow’s air power and Tehran-allied fighters on the ground, Mr. Assad is reasserting control over most opposition-held territory in the country after a more than seven-year civil war. The Syrian government didn’t respond to a request for comment.
In June, Mr. Nasrallah said in a speech that Hezbollah is in Syria at the request of the country’s leadership. “We did not go to Syria with our own project,” he said.
Hezbollah doesn’t reveal its manpower on the ground in Syria. The group has around 25,000 full-time fighters altogether, according to an assessment by Jane’s. The U.K.-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights estimates Hezbollah has recruited around 1,600 new fighters in Syria in recent months. But the former rebel commander said the number is closer to 2,000. “Hezbollah and Iran understand that the winning game is the ground game: you need to embed yourself in communities, you need to build a presence and be part of the local economy and infrastructure,” said Emile Hokayem a senior fellow at the London-based International Institute for Strategic Studies. “It’s not just a headache,” Mr. Hokayem said about the situation in southern Syria. “Along with Lebanon, it’s going to be the fulcrum of the next conflict.”
—Nazih Osseiran in Beirut, Margherita Stancati in Manama, Jordan and Dion Nissenbaum in Washington contributed to this article.

The Latest LCCC Bulletin For Miscellaneous Reports And News published on November 03-04/18
Egypt’s Minya holds funeral for victims of ISIS terror attack
Staff writer, Al Arabiya English/Saturday, 3 November 2018/Coptic Christians in the Egyptian town of Minya, south of the capital of Cairo, held a funeral on Saturday for the victims of an ISIS-claimed terror attack. The Coptic Orthodox Church and the Interior Ministry said Islamic militants on Friday ambushed three buses carrying Christian pilgrims on their way to a remote desert monastery, killing seven and wounding 19. All but one of those killed were members of the same family, according to a list of the victims’ names released by the church, which said among the dead were a boy and a girl, age 15 and 12 respectively. The local ISIS affiliate which spearheads militants fighting security forces in the Sinai Peninsula claimed responsibility for the attack in a statement.

Christians in Egypt prepare to bury dead a day after attack
AP/November 03, 2018
All but one of those killed were members of the same family
The local Daesh affiliate which spearheads militants fighting security forces in the Sinai Peninsula claimed responsibility
MINYA, Egypt: Coptic Christians in the Egyptian town of Minya prepared to bury their dead on Saturday, a day after militants ambushed three buses carrying Christian pilgrims on their way to a remote desert monastery, killing seven and wounding 19. A priest and members of a Christian congregation prayed and chanted over a row of white coffins ahead of a funeral service for the dead. All but one of those killed were members of the same family, according to a list of the victims' names released by the church, which said a boy and a girl, ages 15 and 12 respectively, were among the dead.The local Daesh affiliate, which spearheads militants fighting security forces in the Sinai Peninsula, claimed responsibility for the attack south of Cairo in a statement. It said the attack was revenge for the imprisonment by Egyptian authorities of "our chaste sisters" without elaborating.
The Daesh affiliate claimed that 13 Christians killed and another 18 wounded, but it was not immediately possible to independently verify the claim or reconcile the discrepancy in the number of dead and wounded given by the group and the church. The attack was likely to cast a dark shadow on one of President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi's showpieces — the World Youth Forum — which opens Saturday in the Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh and hopes to draw thousands of local and foreign youth to discuss upcoming projects, with Egypt's 63-year-old leader taking center stage.Daesh has repeatedly vowed to go after Egypt's Christians as punishment for their support of el-Sissi. As defense minister, el-Sissi led the military's 2013 ouster of an Islamist president, whose one-year rule proved divisive. It has claimed responsibility for a string of deadly attacks on Christians dating back to December 2016. El-Sissi, who has made the economy and security his top priorities since taking office in 2014, wrote on his Twitter account that Friday's attack was designed to harm the "nation's solid fabric" and pledged to continue fighting terrorism. He later offered his condolences when he spoke by telephone with Pope Tawadros II, spiritual leader of Egypt's Orthodox Christians and a close el-Sissi ally.
In a somber message of his own, Tawadros said in a video clip released by the church that the latest attack would only make the Christians stronger. "I think that this is a terrorist act which is targeting Egypt through playing the card of the Copts," said Begemy Nassem Nasr, priest of the church of St. Mary in Minya. "We know that ... President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi is hosting the youth forum and they meant to embarrass him."Friday's attack is the second to target pilgrims heading to the St. Samuel the Confessor monastery in as many years, indicating that security measures in place since then are either inadequate or have become lax. The previous attack in May 2017 left nearly 30 people dead. It is also the latest by IS to target Christians in churches in Cairo, the Mediterranean city of Alexandria and Tanta in the Nile Delta north of the capital.Those attacks left at least 100 people dead and led to tighter security around Christian places of worship and Church-linked facilities. They have also underlined the vulnerability of minority Christians in a country where many Muslims have since the 1970s grown religiously conservative.
The Interior Ministry, which oversees the police, said Friday's attackers used secondary dirt roads to reach the buses carrying the pilgrims, who were near the monastery at the time of the attack. Only pilgrims have been allowed on the main road leading to the monastery since last year's attack. The Interior Ministry maintained that only one bus was attacked, but the latest statement by the church said three buses were targeted and put the death toll at 7 and the wounded at 19, including two in critical condition. The Interior Ministry said police were pursuing the attackers, who fled the scene. Egypt's Christians, who account for some 10 percent of the country's 100 million people, complain of discrimination in the Muslim majority country. Christian activists say the church's alliance with el-Sissi has offered the ancient community a measure of protection but failed to end frequent acts of discrimination that boil over into violence against Christians, especially in rural Egypt. In Minya, the scene of Friday's attack, Christians constitute the highest percentage of the population — about 35 percent — of any Egyptian province. It's also in Minya where most acts of violence, like attacks on churches and Christian homes and businesses, take place.

Angry Copts Mourn Egypt Bus Attack Victims
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/November 03/18
Angry Coptic Christians in mourning kept a vigil outside a hospital in central Egypt overnight to receive the bodies of relatives killed in a gun attack on a bus transporting pilgrims. The Islamic State (IS) group claimed Friday's attack which killed seven Christians returning from a visit to Saint Samuel monastery, the latest assault on Egypt's religious minority. A security source said seven people were also wounded in the attack near the city of Minya, the second such attack in two years targeting the desert monastery. Outside the main hospital in Minya, dozens of victims' family members waited until the early hours of Saturday to receive the bodies for burial. An elderly woman wept for her dead son and wailed as she sat on the ground outside the hospital morgue. "He was the best child... I'll never see him again," she said, as other mourners rushed to carry a coffin to an ambulance to be taken to a church for a funeral. Security forces remained on the alert outside the hospital for fear of further attacks, while roads were blocked to the scene of the shooting. Bishop Makarios of Minya visited the hospital to try to comfort mourners.Another Coptic cleric, asking not to be named, told AFP around 24 people had escaped the attack unharmed and spent the night at a church in a nearby village.
String of attacks
"Should I carry a gun with me when I go to pray or when I'm at home? Because I could die if I go to church," said Michel, a 23-year-old Copt whose neighbour was killed in the attack. He said three of the victims had been siblings. "What do these terrorists want? Do they want us to hate Muslims?" On Saturday, a burned-out four-wheel-drive truck, which witnesses said had been used by a group of militants in white galabiya gowns, stood near the site of the attack. Residents had attacked the car and handed two of its occupants to security forces, they said. As Egypt's Christians reeled from the latest attack, President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi called Coptic Pope Tawadros II to offer his condolences and led a minute of silence at a youth forum he was attending. Copts, a Christian minority that make up 10 percent of Egypt's 96 million people, have in recent years been repeatedly targeted by the Islamic State jihadist group. In May 2017, masked gunmen ordered Christians travelling to Saint Samuel to get off their buses and recant their faith. The group refused and were shot one by one, leaving 28 people dead in the IS-claimed attack. IS also killed more than 40 people in twin church bombings in April 2017, and an IS gunman last December killed nine people in an attack on a church in a south Cairo suburb. Egypt's army launched a major offensive in February 2018 against IS in the Sinai Peninsula, where the group has waged a deadly insurgency since the fall of Islamist president Mohamed Morsi in 2013, killing hundreds of soldiers and policemen. The military offensive -- Dubbed "Sinai 2018" -- has killed more than 450 jihadists, according to an army estimate, with around 30 soldiers killed. Copts have long complained of discrimination in Egypt and IS is not the only group to have launched sectarian attacks against the community.

Khamenei: Trump Has Disgraced U.S. Prestige
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/November 03/18/Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said Saturday that President Donald Trump has "disgraced" US prestige and would be the ultimate loser from renewing sanctions on the Islamic republic. "This new US president... has disgraced the remnant of America's prestige and that of liberal democracy. America's hard power, that is to say their economic and military power, is declining too," he said on his Persian Twitter account, quoting a speech in Tehran. A defiant Khamenei dismissed the renewed US sanctions -- including an oil embargo -- that take effect on Monday. "The challenge between the US and Iran has lasted for 40 years so far and the US has made various efforts against us: military, economic and media warfare," he said. "There's a key fact here: in this 40-year challenge, the defeated is the US and the victorious is the Islamic republic."Trump announced in May he was withdrawing from the 2015 nuclear deal and reimposing sanctions, sparking outrage among world powers who say Iran has been complying with commitments to restrict its atomic programme. Washington says it wants a new deal with Iran, curtailing its regional interventions and missile programme -- demands which have been flatly rejected by Tehran. "America's goal in taking all these measures has been to regain the domination it had" prior to Iran's 1979 Islamic revolution that overthrew the pro-Western shah, Khamenei said.
The renewed sanctions are designed "to paralyse the (Iran's) economy and keep it backward. However, it has resulted in encouraging a movement towards self-sufficiency in the country," Khamenei added. "Our youth, across the country, support independence. Some may not be so religious but they are sensitive towards domination by foreigners." On Friday, the US said it would add 700 individuals and entities to its Iran blacklist and push the SWIFT global banking network to cut off Tehran as Washington applies "maximum pressure" to cripple the country's economy. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said eight countries -- believed to include India, Japan and possibly China -- would be given waivers to continue importing Iranian oil in order to avoid upsetting the global crude market, but only on condition they slow their purchases. The reimposition of sanctions "is aimed at depriving the regime of the revenues it uses to spread death and destruction around the world", Pompeo said. "Our ultimate aim is to compel Iran to permanently abandon its well-documented outlaw activities and behave as a normal country." Britain, France, Germany and the European Union strongly condemned the latest actions from Washington in a joint statement, and have vowed to preserve the nuclear deal, known formally as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). "The JCPOA is a key element of the global nuclear non-proliferation architecture and of multilateral diplomacy," they said. "It is crucial for the security of Europe, the region, and the entire world. The JCPOA is working and delivering on its goal."The US wants Iran to withdraw from war-ravaged Syria, where the Shiite clerical regime is a key ally of President Bashar al-Assad, and end longstanding support to regional militant movements Hezbollah and Hamas, as well as Yemen's Huthi rebels.

Erdogan: Khashoggi Kill Order Came from Highest Levels of Saudi Govt.
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/November 03/18/The order to murder Saudi journalist and regime critic Jamal Khashoggi came from "the highest levels" of the Riyadh government, Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Friday in a Washington Post op-ed. "We know that the perpetrators are among the 18 suspects detained in Saudi Arabia. We also know that those individuals came to carry out their orders: Kill Khashoggi and leave," he wrote. "Finally, we know that the order to kill Khashoggi came from the highest levels of the Saudi government." Erdogan added that he did "not believe for a second" that Saudi's King Salman had ordered the hit on Khashoggi, who was murdered at the kingdom's consulate in Istanbul on October 2.

France, Germany, UK, EU condemn new US Iran sanctions
AFP, ParisSaturday, 3 November 2018/France, Germany, Britain and the European Union issued a joint condemnation Friday of the US move to place fresh sanctions on the Iranian economy, vowing to protect European companies doing “legitimate” business with Tehran.
“We deeply regret the re-imposition of sanctions by the United States stemming from their withdrawal from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action,” the statement said in reference to the hard-fought 2015 nuclear deal with Iran. Struck between world powers and Tehran after years of fraught negotiations, the deal was aimed at limiting Iran’s nuclear capabilities in exchange for sanctions relief. But US President Donald Trump announced in May that he was walking away from the deal and would re-impose sanctions, leaving the EU scrambling to protect companies that have forged trade links with Iran. Friday’s statement from EU nations defended the deal as “essential for the security of Europe, the region and the whole world”. “Our objective is to protect European economic actors involved in legitimate commercial trade with Iran,” it added. Europe will also seek to “maintain financial channels operational with Iran and to ensure the continuation of Iranian oil and gas exports”, it said. US officials said Friday that Washington was adding 700 individuals and entities to its Iran blacklist and pressuring the global SWIFT banking network to cut off Tehran when expanded sanctions are put in place next week. US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the sanctions were aimed at getting Tehran to halt its nuclear activities and what the US says is broad support for “terrorism” in the region. The EU says 12 consecutive reports from the International Atomic Energy Agency show that Iran has stuck to the terms of the deal.

UN aid trucks reach Rukban refugee camp in Syria, says local source

Reuters, AmmanSaturday, 3 November 2018/A United Nations aid convoy on Saturday reached the Rukban refugee camp in Syria, next to the border with Jordan, where thousands of people are stranded in the desert, a member of the camp’s local council said. “The first convoys have entered the camp,” said Abu Abdullah, a member of the civilian council that runs the camp and has coordinated with the UN on humanitarian aid convoys. Rukban, located close to the Tanf US military base in the desert near where the borders of Syria, Jordan and Iraq converge, is home to more than 50,000 people whose last UN aid convoy arrived in January. The camp was last month besieged on the Syrian side of the border by the Syrian army, preventing smugglers and traders from delivering food. A US-backed rebel group controls the area but it abuts Jordan’s border and is encircled by the Syrian army. Jordan has put a block on aid crossing the frontier after allowing the January delivery through its territory, and says it should not be held responsible for conditions in the camp. UN relief trucks had planned to deliver aid to Rukban a week ago after gaining clearance from Damascus, but were delayed for logistical and security reasons, the United Nations said. Shortages of food and medicine at the camp have caused at least a dozen deaths in recent weeks; the United Nations described conditions there as “concerning” and said thousands of lives were at risk.

ISIS kills three Iraq village chiefs in a week in restive north
AFP, KirkukSaturday, 3 November 2018 /ISIS militants have killed three village chiefs in less than a week in Iraq's restive north, local officials said Saturday, as the targeting of state representatives escalates. Iraq declared victory against ISIS last year, but small jihadist cells still wage attacks, especially in mountainous areas like the northern province of Kirkuk. There, ISIS has attacked state infrastructure and government officials, especially targeting local administrative heads known as "mukhtars." The latest victim, on Friday night, was mukhtar of the village of Mahmudiya near the town of Hawija. The town has long been a bastion of radical Sunni Muslim groups and was one of the last IS holdouts retaken by government troops last year. Mahmudiya mukhtar "Abdallah al-Wasmi was executed by Daesh members who attacked his home," a local security official told AFP, using the Arabic acronym for ISIS. His death followed the similar killing of the mukhtar of a nearby village, Hanutiya, late Wednesday. And on Monday, a provincial official told AFP that "IS fighters attacked the home of Mohammad Jumaa, the mukhtar of the village of Jassemiya", also near Hawija. "They took him out of his house and executed him in front of it before fleeing," the official said. The recent killings bring to nine the number of village chieftains executed by ISIS in the past seven months in Kirkuk province.

The Latest LCCC Bulletin analysis & editorials from miscellaneous sources published on November 03-04/18
Recep Tayyip Erdogan: Saudi Arabia still has many questions to answer about Jamal Khashoggi’s killing
By Recep Tayyip Erdogan the president of Turkey/The Washington Post/November 03/18
The story is all too familiar: Jamal Khashoggi, a Saudi journalist and a family man, entered Saudi Arabia’s Consulate in Istanbul on Oct. 2 for marriage formalities. No one – not even his fiancee, who was waiting outside the compound — has ever seen him again.
Over the course of the past month, Turkey has moved heaven and earth to shed light on all aspects of this case. As a result of our efforts, the world has learned that Khashoggi was killed in cold blood by a death squad, and it has been established that his murder was premeditated.
Yet there are other, no less significant questions whose answers will contribute to our understanding of this deplorable act. Where is Khashoggi’s body? Who is the “local collaborator” to whom Saudi officials claimed to have handed over Khashoggi’s remains? Who gave the order to kill this kind soul? Unfortunately, the Saudi authorities have refused to answer those questions.
We know the perpetrators are among the 18 suspects detained in Saudi Arabia. We also know those individuals came to carry out their orders: Kill Khashoggi and leave. Finally, we know the order to kill Khashoggi came from the highest levels of the Saudi government.
Some seem to hope this “problem” will go away in time. But we will keep asking those questions, which are crucial to the criminal investigation in Turkey, but also to Khashoggi’s family and loved ones. A month after his killing, we still do not know where his body is. At the very least, he deserves a proper burial in line with Islamic customs. We owe it to his family and friends, including his former colleagues at The Post, to give them an opportunity to say their goodbyes and pay their respects to this honorable man. To ensure that the world will keep asking the same questions, we have shared the evidence with our friends and allies, including the United States.
As we continue to look for answers, I would like to stress that Turkey and Saudi Arabia enjoy friendly relations. I do not believe for a second that King Salman, the custodian of the holy mosques, ordered the hit on Khashoggi. Therefore, I have no reason to believe that his murder reflected Saudi Arabia’s official policy. In this sense, it would be wrong to view the Khashoggi slaying as a “problem” between two countries. Nonetheless, I must add that our friendship with Riyadh, which goes back a long time, doesn’t mean we will turn a blind eye to the premeditated murder that unfolded in front of our very eyes. The killing of Khashoggi is inexplicable. Had this atrocity taken place in the United States or elsewhere, authorities in those countries would have gotten to the bottom of what happened. It would be out of the question for us to act any other way.
No one should dare to commit such acts on the soil of a NATO ally again. If anyone chooses to ignore that warning, they will face severe consequences. The Khashoggi murder was a clear violation and a blatant abuse of the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations. Failure to punish the perpetrators could set a very dangerous precedent.
This is another reason we were shocked and saddened by the efforts of certain Saudi officials to cover up Khashoggi’s premeditated murder rather than serve the cause of justice, as our friendship would require. Though Riyadh has detained 18 suspects, it is deeply concerning that no action has been taken against the Saudi consul general, who lied through his teeth to the media and fled Turkey shortly afterward. Likewise, the refusal of the Saudi public prosecutor — who recently visited his counterpart in Istanbul — to cooperate with the investigation and answer even simple questions is very frustrating. His invitation of Turkish investigators to Saudi Arabia for more talks about the case felt like a desperate and deliberate stalling tactic.
The murder of Jamal Khashoggi involves a lot more than a group of security officials, just as the Watergate scandal was bigger than a break-in and the 9/11 terror attacks went beyond the hijackers. As responsible members of the international community, we must reveal the identities of the puppetmasters behind Khashoggi’s killing and discover those in whom Saudi officials — still trying to cover up the murder — have placed their trust.

Beware Turkey's Dangerous New Refugee Role

Uzay Bulut/Gatestone Institute/November 03/18
"Turkish 'police' are now openly patrolling 'Turkish areas' in Berlin... Cars bearing the logo of an elite Turkish police unit have been spotted on the streets of Berlin – but the German authorities say they are powerless to stop them." — The Sun.
In spite of the fantasy still harbored by some Europeans that the immigrants eventually will integrate into the societies of their host countries, the opposite has been the case.
Those Europeans who defend mass, unfettered immigration in the name of "multiculturalism" and "diversity" are ignoring the nature of the Muslim-majority countries from which the immigrants hail. The lack of human rights and free speech, the abuse of women and gays, honor killings, anti-Semitism, and violence against non-Muslims and Muslim "apostates" are characteristic of those countries. Rather than escaping the shackles of those countries, many immigrants are simply transporting them to Europe.
"Sharia law has been recognized by a British court for the first time after a judge made a landmark divorce ruling... that an estranged couple's Islamic faith marriage, conducted in a ceremony called a nikah, falls under British matrimonial law despite it not being legally recognized as such." — The Telegraph.
Turkey, thanks to the United Nations, will now officially be in charge of deciding not only who is a refugee but also where he or she will be placed or transferred. Turkish state authorities have repeatedly threatened to flood Europe with refugees. Pictured: Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan addresses the UN General Assembly. (Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)
Turkey, thanks to the United Nations, will now officially be in charge of deciding not only who is a refugee but also where he or she will be placed or transferred. Turkish state authorities have repeatedly threatened to flood Europe with refugees, such as President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's message to Europe in 2016: "You cried out when 50,000 refugees were at the Kapikule border. You started asking what you would do if Turkey would open the gates. Look at me -- if you go further, those border gates will be open. You should know that."
Given the Turkish threats, this new official position for Turkey should be of concern. The pro-government Turkish newspaper Daily Sabah recently reported: "The U.N. refugee agency has handed over the management of registration procedures for the refugees in Turkey to the country's migration authority. Turkey's Directorate General of Migration Management itself will now oversee the registration of refugees and determine their status. Any foreigner seeking international protection in Turkey will now have to apply to the local offices of the Turkish migration authority."
The concern exists for three key reasons.
In March, Erdoğan slammed French President Emmanuel Macron for his offer to mediate between Ankara and Syrian Kurds. He warned: "With this attitude, France has no right to complain about any terrorist organization, any terrorist, any terrorist attack. Those who sleep with terrorists, welcome them in their palaces, will understand sooner or later the mistake that they made."In April, hours after a man ploughed his van into pedestrians in Münster, Germany, Erdoğan verbally attacked France again, calling it a "stooge":
"... providing support to terrorists at the Elysée Palace... You see what is happening in Germany, right? The same will happen in France. The West will not able to free itself from terror. The West will sink as it feeds these terrorists."
It is not merely threats from Erdoğan that should cause Europe to re-think its lax immigration policies. In recent years, European cities -- such as Manchester, Paris, Brussels, Nice, Copenhagen, London, Amsterdam, Barcelona, Toulouse, Trèbes, Saint-Étienne-du-Rouvray, Berlin and Stockholm -- have been shaken by deadly jihadist attacks. Since many of the terrorists involved in these attacks were radicalized and recruited by jihadist groups, both in the Middle East and in Europe, unchecked immigration from Muslim-majority countries seems risky.
This is not just speculation. Opinion polls indicate that a large number of Muslims worldwide support terrorism or violence on behalf of Islam. There are also reports that ISIS has been infiltrating operatives into Europe via Greece, by disguising them as migrants among the masses. According to a recent Deutsche Welle documentary, "Terror at the Moria Refugee Camp": "A group of IS [ISIS] followers are said to be terrorizing people in the Moria refugee camp on the Greek island of Lesbos. On the pretext of religious propriety, they brutally punish whoever [sic] they deem criminal.
"Recently more and more refugees from Deir ez-Zor, one of the last strongholds of Islamic State in Syria, have been arriving in the camp. Since then, it seems that crime in the camp has taken on a new quality. A group of Syrians is said to be controlling most of the illegal activities. Anyone who doesn't toe the line or is in the way can expect physical violence or even death threats. The perpetrators often cite Sharia law as their justification. More and more graffiti glorify IS."
Among the countries most at risk of becoming "demographic time bombs," according to a Business Insider report in August, are Spain, Italy, Bulgaria, Latvia and the United Kingdom. A low birth rate among Europeans is reportedly one motivation on the part of EU officials for bringing in large numbers of Muslim migrants – to compensate for shrinking European populations. Another motivation has been linked to Europe's aging population. A 2017 opinion piece in Forbes asserted: "If Western Europe wants to keep its social benefits, the countries of the E.U. are going to need more workers. No place in the world has an older population that's not into baby making than Europe. No wonder policy planners are doing what they can to encourage immigration. Eastern Europe is old." Such ideas, however, have already been put to the test. Germany, for example, to "fill the demand for cheap labor in a booming post-war economy," took in Turkish laborers. Although the original plan was for these workers to be temporary "to prevent the Turkish guests from becoming immigrants," the policy changed, and the workers were allowed to stay for long periods and bring their families.
As of the end of 2011, according to Deutsche Welle, "around 2.5 million people with a Turkish background live in Germany, meaning either they or their parents were born in Turkey, making them the largest migrant group in the country."
The result became clear in June, when nearly two-thirds of the Turkish community in Germany supported Erdoğan in the presidential election. Ironically, this is far more than the support he received in Turkey itself.
Three months before the election, MP Alparslan Kavaklıoğlu, a member of Turkey's ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), and the head of the parliament's Security and Intelligence Commission, declared that the demography of Europe was changing in favor of Muslims: "The fortune and wealth of the world is moving from the West to the East. Europe is going through a time that is out of the ordinary. Its population is declining and aging.... But Europe has this problem. All of the newcomers are Muslim. From Morocco, Tunisia, Algeria, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq, Iran, Syria, and Turkey.... It is now at such a level that the most popular name in Brussels, Belgium is Mohammed. The second most popular name is Melih [Malih] and the third one is Ayşe [Aisha]."
If this trend continues, Kavaklıoğlu said:
"The Muslim population will outnumber the Christian population in Europe... there is no remedy for it. Europe will be Muslim. We will be effective there, Allah willing. I am sure of that."
In 2017, Erdoğan called on Turks residing in Europe to multiply: "The places where you work and live are your homelands and new countries now... Make five children -- not just three. For you are the future of Europe."
Judging by recent reports, this future does not look so bright for Europeans. According to The Sun,
"Turkish 'police' are now openly patrolling 'Turkish areas' in Berlin... Cars bearing the logo of an elite Turkish police unit have been spotted on the streets of Berlin – but the German authorities say they are powerless to stop them.
"The vehicles have the words Özel Harekat [Special Operation] written on the side and the unit's logo and were seen cruising around areas of German capital with large Turkish populations."
The influx of mass numbers of both refugees and migrants from Islamic dictatorships -- especially when global jihad is on the rise -- has had a profound effect on European culture. In spite of the fantasy still harbored by some Europeans that the immigrants eventually will integrate into the societies of their host countries, the opposite has been the case. Those Europeans who defend mass, unfettered immigration in the name of "multiculturalism" and "diversity" are ignoring the nature of the Muslim-majority countries from which the immigrants hail. The lack of human rights and free speech, the abuse of women and gays, honor killings, anti-Semitism, and violence against non-Muslims and Muslim "apostates" are characteristic of those countries. Rather than escaping the shackles of those countries, many immigrants are simply transporting them to Europe. In addition, instead of demanding that immigrants comply with European customs and law, much of Europe is simply capitulating to the new reality. According to a recent report in The Telegraph, for instance: "Sharia law has been recognized by a British court for the first time after a judge made a landmark divorce ruling... that an estranged couple's Islamic faith marriage, conducted in a ceremony called a nikah, falls under British matrimonial law despite it not being legally recognized as such." In 2006, Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi proclaimed that Islam would conquer Europe "without firing a shot." Today, a mere 12 years later, Erdoğan appears to be acting on the same principle. This makes it all the more shattering that the United Nations has given his government the authority to vet refugees. Europe must beware and elect leaders who grasp the danger of losing the battle for the continent's heart, soul and democracy.
*Uzay Bulut, a journalist from Turkey, is a Distinguished Senior Fellow at Gatestone Institute. She is currently based in Washington D.C.
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A different perspective on the Middle East from Muscat
Amal Abdulaziz Al–Hazani/Al Arabiya/November 03/18
Although Omani politics seems to be cautious and quiet in its positions and statements, it is actually the only Arab country that has good relations with the main effective parties in the region: Gulf States, Iran and Israel.
What distinguishes the sultanate from other countries that tried to have this same position is that it’s clear and it practices its sovereignty in its political methodology publicly without hiding it and without maneuvering or even explaining itself to anyone. Oman has these relations with opposing parties for reasons that might not please others but that are enough for it.
Oman’s open policy
Muscat is trying to be a mediator on major cases: the war in Yemen, the Palestinian cause and economic sanctions on Iran. These are the three most important cases right now. Whether it has succeeded in playing this role or not, it does not change the fact that Omani policy has a different vision regarding what is proscribed or accepted according to its international relations.
In this regard, Muscat differs from most Gulf States in its position on Iran which is the enemy of most Gulf States. However, it maintains a relationship that it considers a historical one since Shah Mohammad Pahlavi’s times who supported Oman in a way that directly contributed to its stability. Based on this premise, Oman keeps its relation with Iran despite the latter’s hostile practices against countries of the region and its bad international reputation.
The recent visit of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his wife to Muscat is part of the special image that distinguishes Oman from other countries. This visit was broadcast on official TV channels, which is rarely seen.
Establishing a relationship with Israel is not at the heart of the problem as Israel is a fait accompli and a part of the Middle East region. Arabs have a dispute with it – a dispute that all Arab countries and international powers are supposed to resolve or engage in, according to what each country can provide. In the end, solving the problem is in favor of the Palestinians and Arabs in the first place. There have been many rumors about the significance of Oman’s invitation to Israeli Prime Minister to visit Muscat: was it to help resolve the Palestinian-Israeli issue according to the Arab initiative or to the so-called deal of the century, or was it to mediate in Iran’s favor, in less than a week before the unprecedented imposition of US sanctions on it?
Israeli leader’s visit
As for the Palestinian cause, we can accept an Arab mediator as we can accept the American or European one. If we assume hypothetically that the Palestinian case is listed on Muscat’s agenda with Netanyahu, whatever the suggested peace project may be; Egypt remains the cornerstone for the desired negotiations and Saudi Arabia is essential for the acceptance of the final solution regarding the situation of Jerusalem. However, any action taken by any Arab or non-Arab party towards peace is accepted and appreciated.
We cannot ignore that the Israeli Prime Minister’s unique visit comes at a crucial time for the region because of the approaching deadline of economic sanctions on energy trade in Iran as it seems that Iran is seeking US postponement through Omani mediation, after several failed attempts at calming the tone of recent Iranian statements and its readiness to negotiate with Washington. Even so, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif has prayed for the Jews killed in the recent Pennsylvania incident.
In my view, no matter what the type of the mediation is or on which file, it can be done confidentially, out of the media glare and the criticism of Arabs. However, Muscat might want to establish a new perspective about the Omani role on major issues starting from breaking the barrier of the prohibited between it and Israel, and to show that it is brave in clarifying its positions, unlike Qatar for example that had kept its relationship with Israel hidden 20 years ago. After this relation was revealed, it had to justify it as a commercial relationship through the Israeli trade office in Doha and said these ties would be in favor of the Palestinians. As expected, this relation did not serve the Palestinians but it created a gap among them as the Doha regime was biased towards the armed factions such as the Islamic Jihad and Hamas while maintaining strong commercial ties with Tel Aviv. Thus, it was a relationship based on no principle.
In the end, no one has the right to bid on others whether on Oman or others on national issues as long as others’ interests are not affected or harmed. Oman has the right to choose its friends and to be a partner in any political effort, but the bottom line remains that this should not come at the expense of the national security of any other country.

A first step toward the Syrian end game
Cornelia Meyer/Arab News/November 03/18
German Chancellor Angela Merkel and the presidents of Russia, France and Turkey all had different objectives when they met in Istanbul at the end of October to discuss a way forward on Syria. The Russians have skilfully used the conflict to strengthen their foothold in the Middle East; added to their naval base at Tartus, they now have an air base at Hmeimim and several forward bases. Tartus is of particular strategic importance because maritime access south of the Arctic Circle is a priority for the Russian fleet.Now that the war may be nearing its end, Russia is concerned with what it will take to rebuild a country in which swaths of land have been destroyed and many cities reduced to rubble. As Russia does not have the economic wherewithal to do this alone, Moscow needs friends with deep pockets.
Enter Germany and other affluent European countries. President Vladimir Putin had already visited Merkel during the summer to discuss if she would loosen the purse strings to help efforts to rebuild Syria. The conflict matters to Germany, and to most continental European countries for that matter. Hundreds of thousands of Syrian refugees fled westward to the EU, first via the Balkans and then trying to cross the Mediterranean by myriad alternative routes. The EU is institutionally ill-equipped to deal with the seemingly endless streams of migrants, and many of its member states are unwilling to offer them shelter. This crisis, which is larger than Syria alone, has given rise to some European populist movements and strengthened others. Stemming migration, and outright xenophobia, have become part of the daily political discourse in Europe. The issue threatens more than European core values; it may well cause the end of the EU if it cannot be addressed appropriately. Presidents Putin and Erdogan are only too aware of this malaise and are willing to use it to their advantage.
Merkel understands that the flow of refugees will not end unless Syria is rebuilt and its people can again aspire to a life of peace and prosperity. So does Emanuel Macron. They have not agreed to any deal, but the fact that they are engaging is a first step. Macron was clear that from his perspective this summit was all about refugees. It was probably good that the four powers met last month, but we should not forget that the wellbeing of the Syrian people was not the key consideration for any of them. There is a lot at stake for Recep Tayyip Erdogan. The Turkish economy is in a deep crisis and he is housing 3.5 million Syrian refugees. He had agreed with the EU to seal his borders in return for a payment of 6 billion euros, some of which has been withheld because of EU disagreements with Turkey’s approach to human rights and freedom of the press. Therefore, Erdogan too needs money to deal with his country’s faltering economy and sliding currency.
The other two big concerns for Erdogan are Idlib and the Kurds. Erdogan and Putin agreed in September to establish a buffer zone around Idlib province, where Al-Qaeda and other militant opponents of the Assad regime remain holed up. About two million civilians are also trapped there. An offensive by regime ground forces and Russian warplanes would have resulted in a humanitarian disaster and another wave of refugees, which Turkey feels it cannot accommodate. So far, the truce has held. The question is, for how much longer? Erdogan also fears the Kurdish YPG fighters who have been instrumental in helping the Western allies (particularly Germany) to fight Daesh. The Turkish government sees the YPG as an affiliate of the outlawed PKK. Turkish governments react strongly whenever the Kurdish question is brought up, because they fear for their country’s territorial integrity; Turkish military incursions around Kobane, Afrin and Manbij are a manifestation of that concern. It was probably good that the four powers met last month, but we should not forget that the wellbeing of the Syrian people was not the key consideration for any of them. It is also difficult to find a solution without the US, Iran and all the other players who matter at the table. The big elephant in the room, which nobody dared to bring up, was what should happen to Bashar Assad and his regime.
The most specific outcome of the Istanbul summit was the demand that the US reconvene a constitutional committee on Syria. The UN’s outgoing Syria envoy, Staffan de Mistura, has tried that before, and was told in no uncertain terms by Syria’s foreign minister, Walid Al-Muallem that the regime would not play ball. Things may be moving on that front, though. The new UN envoy is the experienced Norwegian diplomat Geir Pedersen, who Russia’s UN ambassador Vasily Nebenzy has said may succeed in forming a constitutional committee on Syria. We can only wish him luck. Solving the Syrian crisis is fiendishly complex. There are so many actors, most of whom are unacceptable to each other, as are their objectives. Compromise is virtually impossible, and peace may remain elusive — but Istanbul was a first step, and hopefully more will follow. For the sake of the Syrian people, we can only hope so.
*Cornelia Meyer is a business consultant, macro-economist and energy expert. Twitter: @MeyerResources

Remember, remember, the 4th of November
Camelia Entekhabifard/Arab News/November 03/18
Until now, Iranians and Americans have remembered the date Nov. 4 for only one reason: It was the day in 1979 when a mob of Iranian students stormed the US embassy in Tehran and took 52 diplomats and other US citizens hostage. They were in captivity for 444 days in what remains the longest hostage crisis in history. Now, the date will be remembered for another reason. US President Donald Trump is about to reimpose tough sanctions on Iran’s oil trader and banking system, a consequence of his withdrawal from the 2015 agreement to curb Tehran’s nuclear program. The regime in Tehran has been doing its best in the past few months to find a way to avoid these sanctions, mainly by working with the European Union, but it is still struggling to persuade its citizens that any such mechanism will work.
Iranians suffered a great deal under the sanctions that were lifted by the nuclear deal in July 2015; they are not ready for a new round of sanctions that Trump has promised will be tougher and more painful than before.
On social media, Iranians are stressed, fearful and angry. They want to know what to expect, and how the new sanctions will affect their standard of living. The Iranian economy is already broken and there is no trust between ordinary Iranians and the regime; indeed, as far as I can see, no one wants to be angry with President Trump — they blame their own leaders for lack of wisdom.
The US sanctions waiver will help the market to avoid an immediate price shock, which Trump would not welcome with the US mid-term elections coming on Nov. 6. Trump has made it clear that he is unhappy with Iran’s regional meddling, such as Tehran’s involvement in the wars in Syria and Yemen. He accuses Tehran of using its oil revenues to fund the activities of militias such as Hezbollah, Islamic Jihad and Hamas, and he has pledged to cut off this source of income. Eight countries will not be penalized by the US for continuing to import Iranian oil, and those revenues will help Iran, although not by enough to allow Tehran to continue financing regional conflicts. Iranian oil exports have already dropped by about 800,000 barrels per day from their peak. It was still selling up to 1.9 million bpd in September, but this is expected to fall to 1 million bpd by the end of November. The US sanctions waiver will help the market to avoid an immediate price shock, which Trump would not welcome with the US mid-term elections coming on Nov. 6.
Already it seems that Oman is involved in back-channel negotiations between Tehran, Washington and Tel Aviv to address concerns such as the presence of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps in Syria, and Iranian support for the Houthi militias in Yemen. Perhaps these talks have led to the sanctions waivers, to new talks on Yemen, and to a new UN envoy for Syria.
But only time will tell if Iran’s regional policy has changed sufficiently to satisfy Trump and achieve his goals.
*Camelia Entekhabifard is an Iranian-American journalist, political commentator and author of Camelia: Save Yourself By Telling the Truth (Seven Stories Press, 2008). Twitter: @CameliaFard