Detailed Lebanese & Lebanese Related LCCC English New Bulletin For November 05/2018
Compiled & Prepared by: Elias Bejjani

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Bible Quotations
The Fruitless Fig Tree Parable
Luke 13/06-09: "Then Jesus told this parable: ‘A man had a fig tree planted in his vineyard; and he came looking for fruit on it and found none. So he said to the gardener, "See here! For three years I have come looking for fruit on this fig tree, and still I find none. Cut it down! Why should it be wasting the soil?" He replied, "Sir, let it alone for one more year, until I dig round it and put manure on it. If it bears fruit next year, well and good; but if not, you can cut it down." ’""

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 04-05/18
The Middle East Holds Its Breath On Eve Of Iran Sanctions/Jerusalem Post/November 04/18
Netanyahu’s visit to Muscat is no surprise/Mohamad Kawas/The Arab Weekly/November 04/18
Husband of Pakistan Blasphemy Case Woman Pleads for Asylum/Agence France Presse/Naharnet/November 04/18
Why Do Middle Eastern Refugees Vandalize Christian Structures/Burak Bekdil/Gatestone Institute/November 04/18
Tale of a Christian Mother in a Non-Christian Land/Dr. Majid Rafizadeh/Gatestone Institute/November 04/18
The Iran Deal Pullout: How Will Tehran Respond/Michael Eisenstadt/The Washington Institute./November 04/18
Indian mother killed with daughters for failing to produce male child/Manoj Chaurasia Special to Al Arabiya English/November 04/18
How will the new Iraqi government perform over the next four years/Adnan Hussein/Al Arabiya/November 04/18
Afghan elections: Good news amid pessimism/Amir Taheri/Asharq Al Awsat/November 04/18
Parcel bombs: Reminiscent of the Unabomber/Fahad Suleiman Shoqiran/Al Arabiya/November 04/18
The West/Rest divide and the quest for destroying third world’s autonomy/Dr. Mansour Almarzoqi//Al Arabiya/November 04/18
Why is Tehran recruiting Daesh militants/Baria Alamuddin/Arab News/November 04/18
US sanctions on Iran take full effect/Dr. Majid Rafizadeh/Arab News/November 04/18
Turkish-US relations continue to fluctuate/Yasar Yakis/Arab News/November 04/18
Iraq calls on US to stop meddling in its internal affairs/Mina Aldroubi/The National/November 04/18
Tehran’s terror reaches the shores of Denmark/Ali Alfoneh/The Arab Weekly/November 04/18

Titles For The Latest LCCC Lebanese Related News published on November 04-05/18

Al-Rahi Warns of 'Sectarian Conflicts' that May 'Further Obstruct Govt.'
Maronite Patriarch Blames Selfishness, Lust for Power for Current Stalemate
Lightning Strike Takes Major Power Plants Offline
Moussawi Advises Mustaqbal against 'Stubbornness' on 'Sunni Pluralism'
Govt. Formation Grinds to Halt, Berri May Seek to Resolve Sunni Hurdle
Thunderbolt Hits High Voltage Line, Causes Nationwide Outage
Franjieh: Openness is not weakness but a point of strength, we are working within our constants in pursuit of our path
Sami Gemayel windingup Moscow visit: Lebanon would ultimately overcome all challenges through ongoing efforts for change, combating corruption
Putin bestows 'Order of Friendship' upon Shaaban
Belgian Culture Minister visits Amel Association centers in South Lebanon
Kanaan: Health care card underway, funding mechanisms to be discussed on Monday
Bassil: Cabinet formation negotiations reflect correctness of FPM's vision
Hasbani calls for constructive efforts to achieve results
Two gold, one silver, three bronze medals for Lebanon at the Germany International Exhibition of Inventions and New Ideas

Titles For The Latest LCCC Bulletin For Miscellaneous Reports And News published on November 04-05/18
Pope prays for victims of Egypt Coptic attack
Over 30 dead in Italy’s week-long storms
French far-right overtakes Macron in EU parliament election poll
The Middle East Holds Its Breath On Eve Of Iran Sanctions
Netanyahu Hails Trump for Iran Sanctions
Israel’s US envoy says Turkey, Qatar attempting to ‘ruin’ Saudi-US relationship
Pompeo: US sanctions will target Iran’s regime, not people
Iranians rally to mark anniversary of US Embassy takeover
'I Won't Survive': Iranians Reel from Sanctions
Iran rejects law banning terrorist financing
Saudi Readies to Boost Supplies over Iran Oil Sanctions
Syria Says Ready to Cooperate with New U.N. Envoy
ISIS attack kills 12 US-backed fighters in eastern Syria
Syrian rights group says 16 individuals died after torture in detention centers
Amid renewed tension, US forces patrol Syria’s northeast near Turkish border
Assad, Russia envoy discuss Syria constitutional committee
Egypt Says Police Kill 19 Jihadist Suspects Linked to Copt Attack
Bahrain Opposition Chief Gets Life in Jail over Qatar Spy Case
Dozens of Yemeni Rebels Killed in Red Sea Port City
N. Korea Warns of Returning to Nuclear Policy
The Latest LCCC Lebanese Related News published on November 04-05/18
Al-Rahi Warns of 'Sectarian Conflicts' that May 'Further Obstruct Govt.'
Naharnet/November 04/18/Maronite Patriarch Beshara al-Rahi on Sunday warned that “the political crisis is paralyzing the state's cycle in Lebanon and causing a stifling economic, financial and social crisis.”“The dark consciences that are confined to personal, partisan and sectarian interests and foreign loyalties are behind this crisis,” al-Rahi said in his Sunday Mass sermon. “Everyone is practicing this at the expense of the rise of the state of law and institutions, which is manifested in the failure to form a government five full months after designation and six months from the parliamentary elections,” the patriarch lamented. “On top of this, beware of the sectarian rifts and conflicts which some may seek to stoke and which would further obstruct the formation of the government,” al-Rahi went on to say. The new cabinet was on the verge of formation last Monday after the Lebanese Forces accepted the portfolios that were assigned to it but a last-minute hurdle over the representation of pro-Hizbullah Sunni MPs surfaced. Hizbullah has backed the MPs' demand and refrained from providing Prime Minister-designate Saad Hariri with the names of its own ministers in a bid to press him to accept giving a seat to the aforementioned Sunni grouping.
Maronite Patriarch Blames Selfishness, Lust for Power for Current Stalemate Sunday 04th November 2018/Maronite Patriarch Bechara Al-Rahi blamed the politicians' selfishness and foreign allegiances for the current political stalemate which is leading to a severe economic crisis, saying that they only care about their sectarian and personal interests as they are controlled by their lust for power. "Everything is being made at the expense of the establishment of the State and the rule of law," the patriarch said in his Sunday sermon. “We are facing today two paralyzed authorities: the legislative authority and the executive one. Ministries, administrations and the judicial system are dominated by the politicians’ interference and plagued by corruption," he added, deploring the fact that justice has become discretionary and that the growing public debt is pushing the country towards the edge of bankruptcy. "Beware of sectarian rift and divisions that some might ignite to further obstruct the government formation!" he warned. The Patriarch stressed that the Constitution and the National Pact serve as the foundations of the Lebanese nation, affirming that the government formation should be based on these two substructures.
"The government shouldn't be formed based on what politicians agree on, but rather on what is stipulated by the Constitution and the National Pact."

Lightning Strike Takes Major Power Plants Offline
The Daily Star/ Sunday 04th November 2018/A lightning strike on a high-voltage power line has taken the Deir Ammar and Zahrani power plants entirely offline, but they will be running again within hours, an Electricite du Liban source said Sunday. “A shock led to a blackout in [the] Zahrani and Deir Ammar [power plants] and they’re off the grid now, but they will soon be back online. It’s not a big issue,” the source told The Daily Star. The strike occurred between southern Zahrani and Aramoun in Aley. Though the Deir Ammar plant is in northern Minyeh and the Zahrani plant is in the south, they are both connected to the same grid, meaning the shock from the lightning strike affected both. The issue comes at a time of heightened concern over Lebanon’s electricity supply, after officials failed to secure enough fuel to keep the country’s power plants running. This has led EDL over the past days to reduce energy output as it attempts to conserve its fuel reserves. The incremental reduction of the energy supply is set to continue, getting progressively worse throughout the coming week.

Moussawi Advises Mustaqbal against 'Stubbornness' on 'Sunni Pluralism'
Naharnet/November 04/18/MP Nawwaf al-Moussawi of Hizbullah on Sunday said he “advises” al-Mustaqbal Movement against showing “stubbornness” on the issue of representing the so-called opposition Sunni MPs in the new cabinet. “Stability in Lebanon and resolving its crises are based on the pluralism of sectarian representation, that's why we advise the brothers in al-Mustaqbal Movement not to deal stubbornly or intransigently with the issue of political and partisan pluralism in the Sunni community,” Moussawi said. “In the Shiite community, there are the AMAL Movement and Hizbullah, and some might say that we are allied and this is true, so let there be pluralism in the Sunni community and let them be allied,” the MP suggested. The new cabinet was on the verge of formation last Monday after the Lebanese Forces accepted the portfolios that were assigned to it but a last-minute hurdle over the representation of pro-Hizbullah Sunni MPs surfaced. Hizbullah has backed the MPs' demand and refrained from providing Prime Minister-designate Saad Hariri with the names of its own ministers in a bid to press him to accept giving a seat to the aforementioned Sunni grouping. “The results of the parliamentary elections must be respected in the formation of the government. This has been and is still our unchanged stance,” Moussawi said on Sunday. Noting that the so-called Sunni obstacle is not new, the MP pointed out that Hizbullah “had always called for addressing this issue.”“There are 27 Sunni MPs in parliament – 17 for al-Mustaqbal bloc and 10 MPs outside of al-Mustaqbal bloc – so should we deal with these lawmakers as if they don't exist?” Moussawi added. Addressing Hariri, Moussawi also stressed that the MPs Osama Saad, Faisal Karami, Jihad al-Samad and Abdul Rahim Mrad are true representatives of their electorates in Sidon, Tripoli, Dinniyeh and West Bekaa. “They won through Sunni votes,” Moussawi emphasized.

Govt. Formation Grinds to Halt, Berri May Seek to Resolve Sunni Hurdle
Naharnet/November 04/18/Negotiations to form a new cabinet have ground to a halt as a dispute over the representation of pro-Hizbullah Sunni MPs continues to grow, informed sources said. “The setback that stopped the formation drive does not seem to be on the verge of any solution in the near future, at least not before the return of Prime Minister-designate Saad Hariri from his private visit to Paris,” the sources told al-Hayat newspaper in remarks published Sunday. Political sources meanwhile told Kuwait's al-Qabas daily that Speaker Nabih Berri might play a role to find an exit for the Sunni representation crisis. The new cabinet was on the verge of formation last Monday after the Lebanese Forces accepted the portfolios that were assigned to it but a last-minute hurdle over the representation of pro-Hizbullah Sunni MPs surfaced. Hizbullah has backed the MPs' demand and refrained from providing Hariri with the names of its own ministers in a bid to press him to accept giving a seat to the aforementioned Sunni grouping.

Thunderbolt Hits High Voltage Line, Causes Nationwide Outage
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/November 04/18/A thunderbolt struck the 220-kilovolt high voltage transmission line between al-Zahrani and Aramoun on Sunday, bringing all power plants in Lebanon to a halt, the National News Agency reported. Technical crews from state-run firm Electricite Du Liban were exerting efforts to reconnect all groups to the grid within hours, the agency added. Lebanon has been contending with rolling blackouts since the days of its 1975-1990 civil war. Successive governments have failed to agree on a permanent solution for the chronic electricity failures, largely because of profiteering, endemic corruption and lack of political will. Failure to provide the necessary funds for purchasing fuel has also led to additional power cuts in recent days.

Franjieh: Openness is not weakness but a point of strength, we are working within our constants in pursuit of our path
Sun 04 Nov 2018/NNA - Al-Maradah Movement Chief, former Minister and MP Sleiman Franjieh, deemed Sunday that "openness is not a sign of weakness but rather a point of strength," adding that his Movement has always worked within its constants in marching along its political path. Franjieh's words came during his meeting with the families of the Ehden massacre martyrs, whom he briefed on the contacts underway with the Lebanese Forces Party. Franjieh considered that dialogue and meeting with other counterparts in the country are the natural result of the reconciliation that took place in Bkirki, without undermining the dignity of the fallen martyrs and their families. "We look forward to a new phase in which we can overcome the past, while learning the lessons for the sake of our children so that we can persist and continue," Franjieh underscored.

Sami Gemayel windingup Moscow visit: Lebanon would ultimately overcome all challenges through ongoing efforts for change, combating corruption
Sun 04 Nov 2018/NNA - Kataeb Party Chief, MP Sami Gemayel, concluded Sunday his three-day visit to Russia by meeting with the Patriarchal Deputy and Foreign Affairs Official at the Moscow Patriarchate. Talks reportedly touched on the importance of the liberal Christian presence in the East and the need to approach the subject from a national perspective that preserves religious and intellectual diversity, especially in Lebanon, based on freedom of opinion and pluralism. Gemayel and his accompanying delegation also attended a luncheon held in their honor by the Greek Orthodox Church Representative at the Patriarchate of Moscow and the whole of Russia, Nivon Saikali, in presence of Russian President's Special Envoy to the Middle East and African Countries. In his delivered word on the occasion, Gemayel expressed deep gratitude for the warm hospitality during his visit, and stressed on the Kataeb's continued efforts in confronting difficulties. Gemayel deemed that Lebanon would inevitably overcome all challenges as long as relentless efforts are pursued, in order to bring about change and combat corruption. During his meetings with Russian officials, Gemayel conferred with United Russia Party's Foreign Relations Chief on ways of strengthening bilateral cooperation between both Parties, and agreed to form a follow-up committee to tackle various economic and social issues of mutual concern.

Putin bestows 'Order of Friendship' upon Shaaban

Sun 04 Nov 2018/NNA - Russia's President Vladimir Putin bestowed upon Advisor to Prime Minister-designate Saad Hariri on Russian Affairs, George Shaaban, the "Order of Friendship" citation. In his speech marking the Russian National Day at the Kremlin earlier today, Putin praised the role of Shaaban in "strengthening the Russian-Lebanese bilateral relations for the benefit of both peoples and countries." In turn, Shaaban thanked President Putin for his relentless efforts and role in developing and boosting the friendly relations between Lebanon and Russia throughout his career. Shaaban lauded "the Russian leadership's support for Lebanon at various international forums," as well as "the role played by Russia in advocating the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Lebanon." "The Lebanese people appreciate the great contribution of Russia to the fight against terrorism and the establishment of stability and peace in Lebanon and the Middle East," Shaaban underscored. In this connection, Prime Minister-designate Saad Hariri congratulated Shaaban on receiving this high-ranking citation, commending Russia's remarkable gesture.

Belgian Culture Minister visits Amel Association centers in South Lebanon
Sun 04 Nov 2018/NNA - Belgian Deputy Prime Minister, Culture and Education Minister Alda Grioli, toured Sunday the Amel Association branches in southern Lebanon, namely in the areas of Khiam and Ebel Al-Saki, accompanied by Belgium's Ambassador to Lebanon, Hubert Cooreman. The visit was a chance to have a closer look at the Association's humanitarian work with the Syrian refugees and local community members. Grioli expressed her admiration for the Association's achievements so far, especially in terms of veering away from the sectarian and factional aspects suffered by the Arab world, its relentless efforts in popular areas and its continued humanitarian support for the displaced. The Belgian official described the Association as being "a model for change in the world, where man is both the target and the engine."

Kanaan: Health care card underway, funding mechanisms to be discussed on Monday

Sun 04 Nov 2018/NNA - Finance and Budget Parliamentary Committee Head, MP Ibrahim Kanaan, assured Sunday that "the health care card is heading towards completion," adding that discussions over its funding mechanisms will feature high during the Committee's meeting tomorrow. Kanaan pointed to the need for a decisive will at this stage, especially after working on eliminating all obstacles standing in the way of finalizing this important initiative. "The health care card will include the medical file of every Lebanese since birth, and will financially save more than 60 percent of the waste we are witnessing at the level of the non-standard guarantors' funds and the large hospital bill incurred by the Health Ministry annually," he said during a panel discussion at the "Lebanese Health Energy Conference" held at the Lebanese University in Hadath. "The most important aspect is the comprehensive coverage that will be provided, especially since 35 percent of the Lebanese are not covered by health, i.e. about one million and 800 thousand Lebanese," disclosed Kanaan. He added: "The source and financing of this card are the current two points of concern, which are being tackled by the Finance and Budget Committee." Kanaan finally deemed that "linking the health care card to controlling waste expenditure and to a broader reform project at the level of public finance makes it impossible, especially as the budget deficit has reached 6 billion dollars." "Until the tax collection is improved, the allocation of a certain tax amount for an essential project of this kind could constitute a doorway to its financing and sustainability," he underscored.

Bassil: Cabinet formation negotiations reflect correctness of FPM's vision
Sun 04 Nov 2018/NNA - "What's actually happening in the government formation negotiations shows the relevance of the vision and position of the Free Patriotic Movement (FPM)," FPM Chief, Caretaker Foreign Minister Gibran Bassil, said during the opening session of the Movement's political council elections on Sunday. "We are consistent and strong, and we are a need for the country," Bassil said before voting, stressing on fostering productivity within the FPM.

Hasbani calls for constructive efforts to achieve results
Sun 04 Nov 2018/NNA - Deputy Prime Minister, Caretaker Public Health Minister Ghassan Hasbani called via Twitter on Sunday for serious and constructive efforts in working productively to achieve significant results. Hasbani denounced the unjustified political campaigns that fail to yield any favorable outcome or progress in the country. "We have followed the most modern and useful methods in the administration that ranked the Lebanese health sector first in the countries of the region, while there was no progress in the electricity and environment sectors," Hasbani said in response to the waves of criticism targeting his Ministry.

Two gold, one silver, three bronze medals for Lebanon at the Germany International Exhibition of Inventions and New Ideas

Sun 04 Nov 2018/NNA - The National Commission for Science and Research announced in a statement on Sunday that its delegation to the 70th International Exhibition of Inventions and New Ideas (iENA 2018) won two gold medals, one silver medal, and three bronze medals at the exhibition and a number of awards. "The 70th iENA Exhibition, which was held between November 1 and 4, 2018, hosted 721 inventions from around the world, especially from industrialized countries," the statement indicated. "The Lebanese wing, which was added for the first time this year to the list of main participants, was the focus of international delegations," the statement noted. It also indicated that head of the Lebanese participating delegation, Commission Board Chairman and Education Ministry Representative, Radwan Shoaib, held several meetings with German and international figures involved in the field of innovation and transfer of technology to support the creative youth of Lebanon and help him in their inventions. "The Lebanese youth once again demonstrated their outstanding creative ability, and their capability to compete with the most important industrial countries," the Commission statement concluded.
The Latest LCCC Bulletin For Miscellaneous Reports And News published on November 04-05/18
Pope prays for victims of Egypt Coptic attack
Sun 04 Nov 2018/NNA - Pope Francis expresses his sorrow at the terrorist attack that struck the Coptic Orthodox Church in Egypt on Friday.  In words following the Angelus prayer to the faithful in St Peter’s Square on Sunday, the Pope prayed for the victims; pilgrims killed, he said, “for the mere fact of being Christians.” Seven pilgrims were killed and a number of others injured in the attack on two buses carrying Coptic Christians near to the monastery of St Samuel the Confessor in Minya. It was the latest in a series of attacks by extremists on this Christian minority in the country. In May of last year, gunmen fired at a bus carrying Christians to the same monastery, killing at least 28 people. Pope Francis recited the Hail Mary and asked Mary Most Holy to console the families and the entire community in the wake of this latest terrorist attack. --- Vatican News
Over 30 dead in Italy’s week-long storms
AFP/Sunday, 4 November 2018/Floods killed 12 people on the island of Sicily, including nine members of a single family, pushing Italy’s week-long storm toll beyond 30, rescuers said Sunday. After a river burst its banks, the bodies of the family including children aged one, three and 15 were discovered in the town of Casteldaccia in the Palerno region. Their house was near a small river which had burst its banks, rescue services said. The other victims’ ages ranged from 32 to 65. Three family members managed to escape, one by climbing a tree, the Agi news agency reported. This picture shows the flooded house where nine people of the same family died after a small river burst its banks in Casteldaccia. (AFP) “I lost everything, I have nothing left, just my daughter,” one of the survivors, 35-year-old Giuseppe Giordano, told journalists. His wife, two other children, his parents, brother, and sister all died, he said. After flying over Casteldaccia on Sunday, Sicilian prosecutor Ambrogio Cartosio described scenes of “total disaster”. Officials have opened an investigation to determine whether houses built near the river had complied with safety norms. In a separate incident in Sicily, a 44-year-old man was found dead in his car near Vicari, also in the Palermo region. He had been trying to reach a service station, where he was the manager, to help a colleague trapped there. A 20-year-old passenger in the car with him is still missing. Violent winds and strong rain had killed at least 20 other people this week around Italy, especially in the northern parts and around Venice. Two were reported killed on Friday, including a 62-year-old Germany tourist struck by lightning in Sardinia. Six regions remain on high alert for storms.

French far-right overtakes Macron in EU parliament election poll
Reuters, Paris/Sunday, 4 November 2018/France's far-right Rassemblement National (RN) party jumped ahead of President Emmanuel Macron's LREM for the first time in a poll of voting intentions for May 2019 European Parliament elections. An Ifop poll published on Sunday showed the centrist Republic on the Move (LREM) with 19 percent of voting intentions compared to 20 percent at the end of August, while far-right leader Marine Le Pen's RN -- formerly the National Front -- rose to 21 percent from 17 percent previously. Together with the seven percent score of sovereignist Nicolas Dupont-Aignan and one percent each for "Frexit" parties led by former Le Pen associate Florian Philippot and Francois Asselineau, far-right parties won a combined 30 percent of voting intentions, up from 25 percent end August. The poll asked nearly 1,000 French people on Oct 30-31 who they would vote for if the European Parliament elections were to be held the next Sunday. The conservative Les Republicains party led by Laurent Wauquiez slipped two percentage points to 13 percent, while the far-left France Insoumise led by Jean-Luc Melenchon fell from 14 to 11 percent. Melenchon was widely criticised and mocked after yelling at police officers during a raid of his party offices as part of an anti-corruption inquiry. In an Odoxa-Dentsu poll released mid-September, Macron and Le Pen's parties were neck-and-neck at around 21 percent, while the conservative Les Republicains came third with 14 percent and Melenchon's France Insoumise fourth with 12.5 percent. In an Ifop poll in May, the LREM was seen winning 27 percent of the EU parliament vote, well ahead of the far right's 17 percent and more than Macron's 24 percent in the first round of France's April 2017 presidential elections. The European elections are shaping up to be a major battle between centrist, pro-EU parties like Macron's LREM and far-right formations that want to stop immigration and globalisation. The European Parliament elections determine who leads the major EU institutions, including the European Commission, the bloc's civil service, and are also important as a bellwether of sentiment among the EU's 500 million people. In a YouGov poll published last week, Macron's popularity fell to its lowest level since his 2017 election, with only 21 percent of those polled saying they were satisfied with him.
Macron's reputation has been hit by the brusque departure of two high-profile ministers and a summer scandal over his bodyguard, while stubbornly high unemployment, high taxes and rising fuel prices add to a general feeling of discontent.
The Middle East Holds Its Breath On Eve Of Iran Sanctions
Jerusalem Post/November 04/18
On Monday sanctions will hit 700 Iranian entities, according to reports.
No one knows how Tehran will respond to the sanctions being imposed on it this week. Throughout the Middle East coverage of the event is more muted than one would expect, perhaps because adversaries are concerned about too much gloating while friends are afraid to giving the US too much credit. On Monday sanctions will hit 700 Iranian entities, according to reports. The US sanctions are opposed by many countries, including the EU which has said it regrets the imposition of sanctions, many of which were lifted as part of the 2015 Iran deal. But reactions in the Middle East are more complex. Saudi Arabia and its allies tend to support the US and oppose Iran’s actions in the region. A review of the region’s responses shows that the public response to the sanctions has been modest.
In the UAE, a close ally of Washington, The National notes that Abu Dhabi will increase oil production after discovering new large reserves. That should settle oil markets who are concerned about US sanctions targeting Iranian oil. The US had previously indicated in August it wanted Iran oil exports to go down to “zero.” But the UAE announcement says that production will increase to 5 million barrels per day by 2030, which is a long time in the future. Clearly the announcement is timed to coincide with the sanctions, but the articles about it don’t mention the sanctions. Instead another article looks at the US granting waivers to “8 buyers” of Iranian crude. Who they are is not clear. The UAE is one of the top importers of Iranian oil alongside Chine, India, South Korea, Turkey, and Italy, the article notes.
Kuwait’s Al-Jarida also carried the 5 million barrel increase story and has a more interesting story about Iran’s Guardian Council refusing to accept a law that would have tamped down on terror finance. Tehran had passed the law to align itself with UN guidelines and apparently this would help Iran’s banking links “with the world,” an important necessity for Tehran as sanctions kick in. But the council, “controlled by conservatives,” said the law is contrary to “Islamic legislation and the constitution.”
Qatar’s Al-Jazeera has several articles critical of the sanctions. It highlights protests in Tehran calling for “death to America,” part of a series of events Iran is holding to commemorate the 1979 hostage crises. In addition it has an article about Iran’s Ayatollah Khamanei condemning the US for its 40 years of struggle against Iran. Qatar and its media are involved in a major confrontation with Saudi Arabia and Riyadh and it has made Qatar more sympathetic to Iran over the last year, clearly reflected in the narrative pushed from Doha.
In Saudi Arabia Al-Arabiya doesn’t highlight the sanctions, but does have an article about how Tehran rejected the law against terror finance. In English the site also contains almost nothing about the sanctions, except an article about Iran’s rally marking the 1979 hostage crises.
In Jordan Al-Ghad has nothing on the sanctions and in Egypt Al-Ahram the main story is mourning the victims of an attack on Coptic pilgrims. However one article notes that the US has called on Iran to “use its intelligence and return to the negotiating table.”
Turkey, which opposes Iran’s policies in Syria but has grown closer to Russia and Iran over the last year, has pro-government media that has covered the sanctions briefly. These include basic facts about what is being sanctioned. Daily Sabah claimed that Israel’s Prime Minister is “overjoyed” by the sanctions. Also the newspaper reports that Iran Air is looking to buy jets from non-US companies. Iran’s regime, whose official slogan is “death to America,” has been purchasing US commercial jets in the past. On the oped pages Turkish writers are deeply interested in the sanctions. Sadik Unay at Daily Sabah thinks the sanctions might end the US dollar’s world dominance. Another article claims that while Tehran has sent its militias across the region to “fuel chaos,” that the US is working with an “Arab-Israeli bloc” against Tehran. Of particular interest, Hurriyet says that Turkey is one of the 8 country’s exempt from the sanctions on oil. Turkish Energy Minister Fatih Donmez said that Turkey would continue to import Iranian oil. South Korea, India and Japan are on the list as well.
The general sense across the region tends to be a “wait and see” to the sanctions. Iran and the pro-Iranian nexus that includes Hezbollah and the Syrian regime sees the US action as punitive and harming average Iranians. But those who oppose Iran’s increasing role in the region tend to sympathize with the US sanctions. However there are concerns about where Iran might seek to spread instability or strike at the US and its allies in response. In Iraq, for instance, the government has rejected US comments about Iranian-backed militias, called the Popular Mobilization Forces, which are part of the Iraqi paramilitary units. Iraq will find itself on the frontline of Iranian sanctions and it is possible that Tehran could seek to pressure the US in Iraq, leveraging calls by some Iraqi parliamentarians for US forces to leave.
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Netanyahu Hails Trump for Iran Sanctions
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/November 04/18/Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has hailed U.S. leader Donald Trump for reimposing sanctions against mutual foe Iran, ahead of a fresh round of penalties set to kick in Monday. "Thank you, President Trump, for this historic move. The sanctions are indeed coming," Netanyahu said in a statement released by his office. "For years I've been calling for sanctions to be fully reimposed against Iran's murderous terrorist regime, which threatens the entire world."Trump announced in May he was withdrawing the U.S. from a landmark 2015 nuclear deal with Iran and reimposing sanctions, sparking outrage among world powers who say Tehran has been complying with commitments to restrict its atomic program. On Friday, Washington confirmed it was going ahead with a second round of sanctions set to take effect on Monday. Netanyahu said the effect of the first round of sanctions reintroduced in August "were already being felt.""The riyal has plummeted, Iran's economy is depressed and the results are evident," he said. The European Union, France, Britain and Germany -- all signatories to the 2015 deal with Iran -- have condemned the U.S. move to renew its sanctions on Iran. Washington says it wants a new deal with Tehran, curtailing its regional interventions and missile program -- demands which have been flatly rejected by Iran.
Israel’s US envoy says Turkey, Qatar attempting to ‘ruin’ Saudi-US relationship
Staff writer, Al Arabiya English/Sunday, 4 November 2018/Israel’s ambassador to the US Ron Dermer has criticized global double standards over the world’s outcry following the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi. During a panel discussion, he also discussed Turkish and Qatari attempts at ruining Saudi Arabia’s relationship with the United States.Dermer said: “It is hard for me to take seriously statements of outrage that (the murder) caused and the calls for a fundamental change to the relationship with Saudi Arabia, when (the same people) supported an agreement that gave an avowed enemy of the US hundreds of billions of dollars.” He also addressed criticism of the US decision to withdraw from the Iran nuclear deal and impose sanctions. “If we are outraged by the murder of one, we should be five-hundred thousand times more outraged by the murder of five-hundred thousand,” he said, citing how the nuclear deal had “enabled” Bashar al-Assad to kill 500,000 innocent Syrians. “Turkey and Qatar are pressing hard to ruin relationships with Saudi Arabia,” he said, criticizing Qatari-owned news channel Al Jazeera for spreading anti-American and anti-semitic messages. Dermer said the US had to be careful about throwing away the important “strategic relationship” it has with Saudi Arabia, adding that the US and Iran share “no interests and no values.”

Pompeo: US sanctions will target Iran’s regime, not people

Staff writer, Al Arabiya English/Sunday, 4 November 2018/United States Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has said that upcoming economic sanctions against Tehran is focused on targeting the Iranian regime, not its people. “On November 5, we will place tough sanctions on #Iran’s ruling regime. Our aim is to compel Iran to abandon its destructive activities. The sanctions will target the regime—not the people, who have suffered the pain of their government’s mismanagement, theft, and brutality,” he tweeted. Washington will on Monday reintroduce far-reaching sanctions on Iran’s vital oil sales and banking sectors to try to force the Islamic Republic into negotiations to scrap its nuclear energy and ballistic missile programs and end its support for proxies in conflicts across the Middle East. On November 5, we will place tough sanctions on #Iran’s ruling regime. Our aim is to compel Iran to abandon its destructive activities. The sanctions will target the regime—not the people, who have suffered the pain of their government’s mismanagement, theft, and brutality. Pompeo’s statement on Saturday echoed that of UAE’s minister of state for foreign affairs, Anwar Gargash, who said on Saturday that Iran’s “aggressive policies” were “largely responsible” for the reimposition of US sanctions on Tehran.

Iranians rally to mark anniversary of US Embassy takeover

The Associated Press, Tehran/Sunday, 4 November 2018/ Thousands of Iranians have staged a rally in Tehran marking the anniversary of the 1979 US Embassy takeover as Washington restores all sanctions lifted under the nuclear deal. The crowd chanted "Down with US" and "Death to Israel" during Sunday's rally in the capital, and state TV says similar demonstrations were held in other cities and towns. On Friday, the Trump administration announced the restoration of sanctions on Iran's shipping, financial and energy sectors, the second batch of penalties to be restored after President Donald Trump withdrew the U.S. from the 2015 nuclear agreement in May.Iranian students stormed the embassy shortly after the 1979 Islamic Revolution, taking 52 Americans hostage for 444 days.

'I Won't Survive': Iranians Reel from Sanctions
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/November 04/18/Seventy-year-old Heidar Fekri has been selling industrial equipment from his small store in a Tehran bazaar since before the revolution, but for the first time he is not sure he can survive. He means it literally: "My shelves are empty, my warehouses are empty and soon I will have to close the doors. This has been my entire life -- I won't survive long after the doors close." Iran's economy had plenty of problems even before U.S. President Donald Trump decided in May to abandon the 2015 nuclear deal and reimpose "crippling" sanctions. But that move exacerbated a record drop in Iran's currency, down 70 percent in the past year, and prompted an exodus of foreign firms. Anticipation of the return of the oil embargo -- due to kick in on Monday -- has already plunged the country into recession and will see the economy shrink by 3.6 percent next year, says the International Monetary Fund. For Fekri, who has been bringing in industrial pumps and drills from Europe for 47 years, the uncertainty means he has not imported anything for more than a year. "Sales have dropped 90 percent compared with six months ago. The whole bazaar is suffering," he told AFP. Almost all products in Iran -- from medicines to aircraft spares to plastic bottles -- is tied into the global supply chain, so the currency collapse and renewed isolation threatens every corner of society. The government has been forced to provide food baskets to around half Iran's households as inflation soars.
- 'Bullying' -For the middle class, perhaps the biggest blow is psychological, as the burst of hope that accompanied the nuclear deal in 2015 -- the promise of the country finally shedding its pariah status -- has evaporated. "No one knows what the Americans actually want. We did everything they wanted and it wasn't enough. It feels like bullying," said Sam Cordier, head of PGt Advertising, which represents foreign clients such as British Airways and Nestle in Tehran. Washington says the sanctions are designed to curtail Iran's "destabilizing" activity in the Middle East, but many see them as an attempt to trigger a revolution. "It's not fair for the Americans to incite violence. If this continues, all the professional businessmen with something to share through knowledge and investment will leave," said Cordier. He was forced to sack six of his 30 staff and reduce salaries for the rest as, one by one, his foreign clients packed their bags. "I was crying every 10 minutes when I told them. These are the people who are being hurt. Many young, educated people are leaving the country. There's a massive brain-drain," he said.
- 'Burned generation' -
There is plenty of hatred towards the Trump administration, but a surprising number of Iranians pin the blame on their own government for not better protecting them. "Yes, America is doing bad things but they are looking out for their interests. If our state had looked out for Iran's interests, we wouldn't have the situation we have now," said Erfan Yusufi, 30, whose hip new coffee shop is struggling to cope with rising prices and falling demand. Iran's leaders face a tricky balancing act, remaining defiant in the face of U.S. pressure, while acknowledging the economic pain felt in the country. "All of us understand people are suffering and under pressure," President Hassan Rouhani told parliament last weekend. "We cannot tell our people that because of America's pressure, we cannot do anything. This answer is not acceptable." He blamed foreign media for "filling people's minds with false propaganda" about soaring prices, though Iran's own central bank says food prices rose 46.5 percent in the year to September. For all the problems, there is little sign that Iranians want another revolution, not least because a sizable number are still fiercely supportive of the last one. Most others are fearful of violent unrest, cowed by the security forces or uninterested in doing the bidding of a foreign power. There is instead a sad resignation among many young people, who often refer to themselves as the "burned generation" for having been denied the chance to realize their potential. "I'm worried about the future," said Yusufi in his coffee shop. "Our generation starts each day not knowing what will become of us."

Iran rejects law banning terrorist financing
Arab News/November 04/18/As US sanctions begin, Tehran chooses to fund Hezbollah, HamasPrevious legislation on money-laundering and organized crime has also been delayed by higher authorities, including the Guardian Council, after being approved by Parliament
JEDDAH: Iran’s powerful Guardian Council on Sunday rejected legislation to join the UN convention against terrorist financing, just a few hours before the reintroduction of tough US sanctions on Tehran’s oil trade and banking sector. Joining the convention is crucial to Iran’s hopes of obtaining European support in evading the sanctions, which came into effect at midnight on Sunday. But conservative hawks on the council fear it would prevent them from funding groups such as Hezbollah in Lebanon and Hamas in Gaza, by forcing greater financial transparency.
The council said aspects of the bill were against Islamic law and the constitution and sent it back to Parliament for revision. The legislation “has flaws and ambiguities,” spokesman Abbas Ali Kadkhodaie said. The bill, narrowly passed by Parliament last month, is one of four proposed by President Hassan Rouhani’s government to meet demands set by the international Financial Action Task Force (FATF), which monitors countries’ efforts to tackle money-laundering and terrorist financing. Rouhani’s government says the law is vital after US President Donald Trump withdrew from the 2015 nuclear deal and reimposed sanctions. The other parties to the deal — Britain, France, Germany, China and Russia — have demanded that Iran accede to the FATF if it wants to maintain trade. “Neither I nor the president can guarantee that all problems will go away if we join the UN convention, but I guarantee that not joining will provide the US with more excuses to increase our problems,” Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said during the parliamentary debate last month. Previous legislation on money-laundering and organized crime has also been delayed by higher authorities, including the Guardian Council, after being approved by Parliament. The council is made up of six clerics appointed by supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and six lawyers appointed by the judiciary. Iran’s failure to pass the FATF “is only symptomatic of the larger issue of Iran’s support for extremist and terrorist groups and organizations,” the security analyst Dr. Ted Karasik told Arab News. “The legislation is good for domestic consumption by particular groups of officials, but the whole process is of course a sham. “Its funding for terrorist militias and its acts of espionage make Iran, and specifically the Quds Force, simply unqualified for FATF status.”

Saudi Readies to Boost Supplies over Iran Oil Sanctions

Agence France Presse/Naharnet/November 04/18/With Washington poised to curtail Iran's oil exports, OPEC heavyweight Saudi Arabia and its partners stand ready to ramp up supplies even as market conditions remain uncertain, analysts say. The renewal of sanctions on the Islamic republic comes at a time of major supply disruptions in several producer nations and as U.S. President Donald Trump aims to prevent an oil price hike. Analysts expect that Iran's oil exports, which reach around 2.5 million barrels per day in normal times, to plunge by one million to two million bpd when sanctions take effect on November 5. That is expected to strain an already tight market. Outages in Libya, Venezuela, Nigeria, Mexico, Angola and others forced OPEC and non-OPEC producers in June to abandon an agreed cut in output and boost supplies."We are entering a very crucial period for the oil market," the International Energy Agency said in a September report. "Things are tightening up."
- Spare capacity in Saudi -
Saudi Arabia is the only producer with significant spare capacity of around two million bpd that can be tapped into to compensate for the loss of Iranian supplies. The kingdom has been under scrutiny after Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi -- the former royal court insider-turned-critic -- was killed in his country's consulate in Istanbul in October. Even as relations soured between the West and Riyadh over the murder of the Washington Post contributor, Saudi Arabia said it had no plans to wage a retaliatory oil embargo. Saudi Energy Minister Khalid al-Falih said his country, which raised output by 700,000 bpd to 10.7 million bpd in October, was prepared to further bump up production to 12 million bpd. "We have sanctions on Iran and nobody has a clue what Iranian exports will be," he told the Russian news agency Tass last week. In addition, there are potential declines in Libya, Nigeria, Mexico and Venezuela, he said, also pointing to uncertainty over U.S. shale oil production.
Falih said the kingdom could turn to its huge strategic reserves of around 300 billion barrels to meet global demand. Anas al-Hajji, a Houston-based oil expert, said the fall in Iranian exports was tough to assess but he expected "less than what most analysts are talking about".
"The Iranians have perfected their game working under sanctions. There will be a black market for Iranian crude," Hajji told AFP. Saudi Arabia's neighbors the United Arab Emirates and Kuwait can also raise their output by up to 300,000 bpd if needed.
- 'It's unsustainable' -
Kuwaiti oil expert Kamel al-Harami said he doubts Riyadh can sustain production of 12 million bpd for a prolonged period. "It is very unlikely... They never even did 11 million bpd on a sustainable basis... Its unsustainable," Harami said. OPEC is constrained by low spare capacity in a tight market under threat from unplanned outages, low investment and unpredictable geopolitical unrest. Iranian officials are betting on the unstable market conditions to beat US sanctions. "Mr Trump both tries to decrease Iran's oil exports significantly and also wants prices not to go up. These two can't happen together," Iranian Oil Minister Bijan Namdar Zanganeh said late September. Tehran sold oil to private buyers through its energy exchange for the first time on October 28, as part of efforts to counter the imminent return of sanctions. Some estimates show Iran's crude exports have already dropped by a third since May with even companies from traditional clients China and India abandoning purchases. Hajji said he believes the market is well-supplied and that Saudi Arabia does not need to exceed production of 11 million bpd. "They (Saudi) have 12 million bpd capacity, but there is no need for Saudi Arabia to use all its spare capacity," he said. "People forget that demand declines in the first quarter relative to the fourth quarter, and the IEA expects a one million bpd decline," Hajji said. Oil prices which rebounded from under $30 a barrel in early 2016 to a four-year high of over $86 a barrel in early October have fallen to around $75 due to fears of weaker global demand. Oil prices slid Tuesday as the market discounted concerns about potential supply disruptions following remarks by Falih suggesting output would stay high.

Syria Says Ready to Cooperate with New U.N. Envoy

Agence France Presse/Naharnet/November 04/18/Syria is ready to cooperate with new U.N. envoy Geir Pedersen as long as he avoids the methods of his predecessor, its deputy foreign minister said in remarks published Sunday. Pedersen, who assumes the role at the end of November, is the fourth negotiator to have been appointed the U.N.'s special envoy to Syria since the country's war broke out in 2011. A seasoned Norwegian diplomat, he replaces Staffan de Mistura, who announced he is leaving the post last month after a four-year stint. "Syria will cooperate with the new U.N. envoy Geir Pedersen provided he avoids the methods of his predecessor," Deputy Foreign Minister Faisal al-Meqdad said, quoted by Al-Watan newspaper. It would work with him if "he announces his support for the unity of Syria's land and people and does not side with the terrorists as his predecessor did," he added, referring to rebel groups. The regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has long accused de Mistura of bias during his tenure. Its opponents have said the change in U.N. envoy would have little impact on the fate of the country as international will and consensus were lacking. Yahya al-Aridi, spokesman for the Syrian Negotiations Commission, this week told AFP he hoped Pedersen would be "more decisive" and call things out for what they are. De Mistura, an Italian-Swedish diplomat, announced he was stepping down to spend more time with his family after four years in the demanding post. He had been appointed in July 2014 after veteran Algerian diplomat Lakhdar Brahimi resigned following two years in the position. Brahimi stepped in after late U.N. chief Kofi Annan quit just six months into the role which he described as "mission impossible."Pedersen was a member of the Norwegian team to the secret negotiations that led to the signing of the 1993 Oslo accords between Israel and the Palestinians.

Syria calls on new UN envoy to avoid predecessor’s ‘methods’
The Associated Press, Damascus/Sunday, 4 November 2018/Syria said Sunday it will cooperate with new UN envoy Geir Pederson if he avoids the “methods” of his predecessor. Pedersen succeeds Staffan de Misutra, who steps down this month after four years of peace efforts that led nowhere. Deputy Foreign Minister Faisal Mekdad told the pro-government daily Al-Watan that Syria would cooperate with Pederson if he commits to the country’s territorial integrity and stops supporting “terrorists, as his predecessor did.”The government regularly refers to the opposition as “terrorists.”The conflict, now in its eighth year, has killed more than 400,000 people, displaced half of the country’s population and left entire neighborhoods and towns in ruins. It has also drawn in international powers, with Russia and Iran backing the Syrian government and a US-led coalition and Turkey also sending in troops. Beginning in July 2014, de Mistura convened several rounds of indirect peace talks between the government and the opposition, with little success. Russia started a separate process that resulted in local cease-fires but failed to kick-start a political process. De Mistura’s latest efforts focused on negotiating a joint government-opposition committee to draft a new Syrian constitution. The government largely rejected those efforts, saying they amounted to meddling in its internal affairs. Pedersen previously served as UN special coordinator for Lebanon in 2007 and 2008, and was a member of Norway’s team that negotiated the 1993 Oslo accords between Israel and the Palestinians.

ISIS attack kills 12 US-backed fighters in eastern Syria
AFP, Beirut/Sunday, 4 November 2018/ISIS killed 12 US-backed fighters in a surprise attack Sunday from the extremists’ holdout in eastern Syria on the Iraqi border, a Britain-based monitor said. Twelve fighters of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) were killed and 20 wounded in a suicide car bombing and subsequent clashes in the eastern province of Deir Ezzor, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said. An SDF spokesman, however, denied any members of his Kurdish-led alliance had been killed. “There are counter-attacks every day and the clashes are ongoing, but the talk of martyrs among our ranks is not true,” Mustefa Bali said. According to Observatory chief Rami Abdel Rahman, Sunday’s attack “started with a car bomb driven by a suicide attacker against an SDF position between Hajin and Al-Bahra”. The attack allowed ISIS to advance towards Al-Bahra from its holdout around Hajin, and push back the first lines of defense of the SDF, which is backed by the US-led coalition, the Observatory said. The SDF, with the support of coalition air strikes, in September launched an offensive to wrest the Deir Ezzor pocket including Hajin from ISIS, making slow advances. But the alliance suffered a major setback as they retreated last week from the entire pocket after ISIS suicide bombings and low visibility due to sand storms. Last Wednesday, the SDF suspended its fight against the extremists after Turkish forces fired on the group’s positions in northern Syria. The coalition estimates that 2,000 ISIS fighters remain in the Hajin pocket. A total of more than 360,000 people have been killed since Syria’s multi-front war erupted in 2011 with the brutal repression of anti-government protests.

Syrian rights group says 16 individuals died after torture in detention centers

Ahed Fadel, Al Arabiya English/Sunday, 4 November 2018/The Syrian Network for Human Rights has reported that 16 detainees opposed to President Bashar al-Assad in Syria have “died due to torture” in a report on ongoing violations inside detention centers. The report released earlier this month, said “no fewer than 16 individuals died due to torture in Syria in October”.The report noted that 14 have died at the hands of Syrian regime, while Kurdish Self-Management forces were responsible for two deaths. According to the report, the highest number of deaths due to torture in October was recorded in Aleppo and Damascus, with three individuals killed under torture in each. The remaining death toll is distributed as follows: Two in Hama, two in Deir Ez-Zour, two in Hasaka, one in Damascus, one in Daraa, one in Homs, and one in Idlib.
Rania al-Abbasi has been detained by Assad forces since 2013 and her fate ever since been unknown. (Supplied) Among those killed under the regime’s detention is opposition member Qutaiba Mohammed Hakoush, who was killed due to torture in November 2014, and was officially confirmed dead on the 29th of last month.Hakosh was born in 1990. At the time of his arrest, he was a student at the engineering institute of the University of Damascus. According to the network, he was tortured after 10 months of detention in prison. The report documents that 949 individuals have died due to torture at the hands of the parties to the conflict in Syria since the start of 2018. Among those unaccounted for who were arrested by the Assad regime is Palestinian poet Salma Abdel Razzaq, who arrested by Syrian security apparatus on December 30, 2012. (Supplied) Since the beginning of this year, the Syrian regime has begun to send lists of the death of its detainees and to request the civil registry departments to register them dead, without mentioning the date of death. Among those who died under detention are opposition brothers Hussein Ahmed Fata, and his brother Fayyad. The report notes that Syrian regime forces arrested the two brothers, the first Hussein was arrested in 2013, and the second Fayyad was arrested in 2014. They were confirmed dead due to torture, on the 24th of last month. The Syrian Commission for Missing and Detained Affairs said on Oct. 19 that Syrian and Arab chess hero Rania al-Abbasi has been detained by Assad forces since 2013 and her fate ever since been unknown.

Amid renewed tension, US forces patrol Syria’s northeast near Turkish border
AFP, SyriaéSunday, 4 November 2018/US forces on Sunday patrolled an area in northeastern Syria bordering Turkey after renewed tensions between Ankara and Syrian Kurds, a spokesman and an AFP reporter said. Three armored vehicles carrying soldiers wearing the US flag on their uniform arrived in the Kurdish-held northeastern border town of Al-Darbasiyah, the correspondent said. Turkey last week raised threats against Kurdish forces in northeastern Syria, shelling their positions and flagging a possible new offensive. The Kurds spearhead the Syrian Democratic Forces alliance, backed by the US-led coalition that has been fighting ISIS extremist group in Syria. Coalition spokesman Sean Ryan said Sunday’s patrol was the second in a week, after a first one by US forces on Friday. “The US forces’ assurance patrols enable us to maintain safety and security in the region,” he said, but are not carried out “on a regular basis”. An SDF spokesman said the US patrols, in coordination with the SDF, were directly linked to recent tensions between the Kurds and Ankara. “They are not routine patrols. They are directly linked to these threats. The objective is to call on Turkey to stop its aggression,” Mustefa Bali said. Sunday’s patrols were headed towards Ras al-Ain, around 50 kilometres (30 miles) to the west of Al-Darbasiyah along the frontier, he said. The US State Department has said it had been in touch with both the SDF and Turkey to push for de-escalation. Turkey accuses Syria’s Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG)- which form the backbone of the SDF- of being “terrorists”. In what appeared to be an attempt by Washington to appease Turkey, US and Turkish troops on Thursday launched joint patrols on the outskirts of the northern city of Manbij. Although the YPG claim to have pulled out of the city after the SDF seized it from ISIS in 2016, Ankara has recently complained that the group still has a presence there, repeatedly threatening military action. On Wednesday, Turkish shelling of Kurdish positions in the Kobane sector of northern Syria killed four fighters, according to Turkey’s state-run Anadolu news agency. On Tuesday, two days after another round of shelling of Kurdish posts in northern Syria, Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said his country had completed preparations for a new operation to “destroy” Kurdish fighters. Since 2016, Turkey has carried out two operations against Kurdish forces in Syria, the last of which saw Ankara-backed Syrian rebels take the border city of Afrin in March.

Assad, Russia envoy discuss Syria constitutional committee
AFP, DamascusSunday, 4 November 2018/Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and an envoy from ally Russia on Sunday discussed “removing the obstacles” to forming a constitutional committee demanded by international powers to help end the seven-year war, the presidency said. The leaders of Russia, rebel backer Turkey, Germany, and France last week in Istanbul called for the committee to be formed by the end of the year to discuss a post-war constitution, “paving the way for free and fair elections” in Syria. On Sunday, Assad held talks with Russian envoy Alexander Lavrentiev on “forming the committee to discuss the current constitution”, the presidency said in a statement. They agreed “to continue joint Syrian-Russian work towards removing the obstacles still in the way of forming this committee”, it said. A Turkish-Russian deal for Syria’s last major bastion of Idlib has revived a push towards a diplomatic solution to the country’s conflict, with international efforts focused on setting up the 150-member committee. Under a UN plan, the regime would choose 50 of the committee members, the Syrian opposition another 50 and the UN would nominate the final 50, composed of representatives of civil society and technical experts. But last week, Damascus rejected a UN list presented by the world body’s outgoing envoy to Syria Staffan de Mistura. Instead, the Damascus regime is to draw up its own list, along with Russia, Iran and Turkey, according to de Mistura, who is set to step down at the end of the month. Even if the committee is formed, analysts say the task of discussing a post-war constitution will be difficult. The opposition has pushed for an entirely new constitution, but the regime has said it will only discuss altering the current one. Assad’s forces have notched up a series of victories against militants and extremists since Russia intervened militarily on its side in 2015, and now control almost two-thirds of the country. Syria’s war has killed more than 360,000 people and displaced millions since the war broke out in 2011 with the brutal repression of anti-government protests.

Egypt Says Police Kill 19 Jihadist Suspects Linked to Copt Attack
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/November 04/18/Nineteen suspected jihadists linked to a deadly attack on Coptic Christians in central Egypt have been killed in a shootout with police, the interior ministry said Sunday. Those killed in the exchange of fire were part of a cell that left dead seven pilgrims in Friday's attack in Minya province, a statement by the ministry said. "The terrorist elements opened fire on the (security) forces who responded," the statement said. The 19 suspected jihadists were found "as part of a pursuit of terrorist elements involved in carrying out hostile operations in the country, including the last armed attack which targeted citizens returning from the Saint Samuel monastery," the ministry said. The Islamic State group claimed Friday's attack in a message via its propaganda agency Amaq. Raids were undertaken in the mountainous western desert of Minya province to track down the "fugitive terrorist elements," the interior ministry said. Copts, a Christian minority that make up 10 percent of Egypt's 97 million people, have in recent years been repeatedly targeted by IS jihadists. In May 2017, masked gunmen ordered Christians traveling 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.

Bahrain Opposition Chief Gets Life in Jail over Qatar Spy Case

Agence France Presse/Naharnet/November 04/18/Bahrain sentenced the head of the country's Shiite opposition movement to life in prison Sunday for spying for rival Gulf state Qatar in a ruling rights groups have called a travesty. Sheikh Ali Salman, who headed the now-banned Al-Wefaq movement, and two of his aides had been acquitted by the high criminal court in June, a verdict the public prosecution appealed. The public prosecutor said in a statement that the three had been unanimously sentenced by the appeals court for "acts of hostility" against Bahrain and "communicating with Qatari officials... to overthrow constitutional order."Bahrain, along with Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, severed all ties with Qatar in 2017, banning their citizens from travel to or communication with the emirate over its alleged ties to both Iran and radical Islamist groups. Sunday's verdict against the charismatic Shiite cleric can still be appealed. Ruled for more than two centuries by the Sunni Al-Khalifa dynasty, Bahrain has been hit by waves of unrest since 2011, when security forces crushed Shiite-led protests demanding a constitutional monarchy and an elected prime minister. Opposition movements, both religious and secular, have been outlawed and hundreds of dissidents have been imprisoned -- many of them stripped of their citizenship in the process.
'Unlawful verdict'
Salman's Al-Wefaq was dissolved by court order in 2016. Another opposition group, the leftist National Democratic Action Society, or Al-Waad, was banned the following year over allegations of links to terrorists. Salman is currently serving a four-year sentence in a separate case -- "inciting hatred" in the kingdom. Human rights groups have said cases against activists in Bahrain -- men and women, religious and secular -- fail to meet the basic standards of fair trials. Advocacy groups like Amnesty International slammed Sunday's ruling against the 53-year-old Salman and his aides, Hassan Sultan and Ali al-Aswad as political reprisal.
"This verdict is a travesty of justice that demonstrates the Bahraini authorities' relentless and unlawful efforts to silence any form of dissent," said Heba Morayef, Amnesty's Middle East and North Africa director. "Sheikh Ali Salman is a prisoner of conscience who is being held solely for peacefully exercising his right to freedom of expression."Bahraini activists said Sunday's verdict highlighted a broader regional policy towards freedom -- the same policy that saw Saudi Arabian journalist Jamal Khashoggi murdered this month. "Despite the ongoing scrutiny on the Gulf region, with Saudi Arabia being under the spotlight for its brutal murder of Jamal Khashoggi, Bahrain has made a decision that reeks of arrogance," said Sayed AlWadaei, head of advocacy for the London-based Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy.
- Upcoming election -
The verdict comes ahead of controversial parliamentary elections that Bahrain's King Hamad has called for November 24. Dissolved opposition parties, including Al-Wefaq and the secular Al-Waad, do not have the right to put forward their own candidates in the vote.
Bahrain last year ratified an amendment to the constitution granting military courts the authority to try civilians charged with terrorism, a term loosely defined by the country's penal code. In June, Bahrain amended its law on political rights, prohibiting "leaders and members of political associations dissolved for violating the kingdom's constitution or its laws" from running in legislative elections. Bahrain, a key ally of the United States and home to the U.S. Fifth Fleet, accuses Shiite Iran of provoking unrest in the kingdom. Iran denies the allegations. The United Nations and rights groups including Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have criticized the Bahraini monarchy over its treatment of protesters. Amnesty and HRW categorize Salman and other jailed opposition leaders prisoners of conscience.

Dozens of Yemeni Rebels Killed in Red Sea Port City

Agence France Presse/Naharnet/November 04/18/Dozens of Yemeni rebels have been killed in battles and air strikes in Hodeida, medics said Sunday, as pro-government forces advanced in the insurgent-held Red Sea port city. Fifty-three Huthi rebels were killed and dozens were injured over the past 24 hours, medical sources in the area told AFP. According to a pro-government military source, clashes intensified in Hodeida city and centered around its university on Saturday and Sunday morning. Saudi-led coalition warplanes carried out dozens of air strikes to support pro-government forces in the fighting which began on Thursday evening, according to military officials. Thirteen pro-government troops were killed, medical sources in Aden and Mokha -- where the fighters were transported -- told AFP. The clashes erupted just hours after the government said Thursday it was ready to restart peace talks with the Iran-backed Huthis. The offer followed a surprise call by the United States for an end to the Yemen war, including air strikes by the coalition. Hodeida port is the entry point for more than 70 percent of imports into the impoverished country, which is teetering on the edge of famine. After U.N.-backed peace talks collapsed in September, the coalition announced it was relaunching an assault on Hodeida. Yemeni government officials said Tuesday that the coalition had sent more than 10,000 new troops towards the battleground city. Saudi Arabia and its allies intervened in the war in 2015 to bolster Yemeni President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi after the rebels took over the capital Sanaa.  According to the World Health Organization, nearly 10,000 people have been killed in the conflict since 2015. Some rights groups estimate the toll could be five times higher. U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Friday called for a halt to violence to pull Yemen back from the "precipice.".

N. Korea Warns of Returning to Nuclear Policy
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/November 04/18/North Korea has warned the United States it will "seriously" consider returning to a state policy aimed at building nuclear weapons if Washington does not end tough economic sanctions against the impoverished regime. For years, the North had pursued a "byungjin" policy of simultaneously developing its nuclear capabilities alongside the economy. In April, citing a "fresh climate of detente and peace" on the peninsula, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un declared the nuclear quest complete and said his country would focus on "socialist economic construction." But a statement issued by the North's foreign ministry said Pyongyang could revert to its former policy if the U.S. did not change its stance over sanctions. "The word 'byungjin' may appear again and the change of the line could be seriously reconsidered," said the statement carried by the official KCNA news agency late Friday.At a historic summit in Singapore in June, U.S. President Donald Trump and Kim signed a vaguely-worded statement on denuclearization. But little progress has been made since then, with Washington pushing to maintain sanctions against the North until its "final, fully verified denuclearization" and Pyongyang condemning U.S. demands as "gangster-like.""The improvement of relations and sanctions are incompatible," said the statement, released under the name of the director of the foreign ministry's Institute for American Studies.
"What remains to be done is the U.S. corresponding reply," it added.The statement is the latest sign of Pyongyang's increasing frustration with Washington. Last month, the North's state media carried a near 1,700 words long commentary accusing the U.S. of playing a "double game", implicitly criticizing Trump for his comments aimed at barring Seoul from lifting sanctions against Pyongyang. Despite a flurry of diplomacy on and around the peninsula differences are emerging between Seoul and Washington, which stations 28,500 troops in the South to protect it from its nuclear-armed neighbor. The South's dovish president Moon Jae-in has long favored engagement with the North, which is subject to multiple U.N. Security Council sanctions over its nuclear and ballistic missile programs. He has dangled large investment and joint cross-border projects as incentives for steps towards denuclearization, while the U.S. has been adamant pressure should be maintained on Pyongyang until it fully dismantles its weapons programs. In an interview with Fox News on Friday, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo reiterated that sanctions will remain until Pyongyang carries out denuclearization commitments made in Singapore, adding he will meet with his North Korean counterpart next week.

The Latest LCCC Bulletin analysis & editorials from miscellaneous sources published on November 04-05/18
Netanyahu’s visit to Muscat is no surprise
Mohamad Kawas/The Arab Weekly/November 04/18
Anyone contemplating the various “thorny knots” in the region will conclude that the “owners” of these knots accept to intersect in Muscat.
Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s visit to Muscat was a media event that deserved all the attention it received but it is hardly surprising, so let’s stop pretending to be astonished.
During the last decades, top Israeli officials, such as Yitzhak Rabin and Shimon Peres, visited Oman. There are reports of visits by Israeli officials to other Arab capitals at different times and on different occasions and each time those trips kicked up a storm of controversy. Some of the ensuing debates were useful but most were just political auctions stuffed with populist slogans meant for settling old scores between various Arab capitals.
In the Arab world, Oman has always had its own peculiar outlook on things. Muscat has taken a different stand on the burning issues of the Arab world and has shown great wisdom and acumen. Oman, for example, never resorted to pompous discourse such as vowing “to throw Israel back to the sea” and has adopted a realistic approach to issues. Other Arab countries only recently discovered this approach.
Muscat never wavered on issues agreed upon collectively by Arab countries. Oman is part of the Arab League and it abides by the league’s literature, choices and decisions. When Arab leaders fell prey to their own rigid political cant, Muscat was ready to throw them a political lifeline to eliminate dead ends and allow the Arab narrative to continue without embarrassing the narrator.
There is speculation about the reasons for Netanyahu’s meeting with Sultan Qaboos bin Said Al Said. There has been talk of an Iranian connection or a link with the Palestinian question. Some claimed symptoms of normalisation with Israel were taking root in the Arabian Gulf.
What is known is that Oman is not playing a mediating role in anything. Omani Minister of Foreign Affairs Yusuf bin Alawi bin Abdullah said Muscat is trying to facilitate what other parties want. In other words, interests behind the scenes need to communicate with each other — through Oman of course.
The real question is: Who are these actors and what are these interests?
Israeli officials have visited several Arab capitals since the Madrid Conference, Camp David, Oslo and Wadi Araba. Arab capitals have framed the visits in different ways — at times as “peace efforts” or because the visitors were part of important international delegations or simply “to please Washington,” to borrow the phrase of former Qatari Prime Minister Hamad bin Jassim bin Jaber al-Thani.
Muscat never did that, never feeling compelled to invent justifications and reasons, so much so that bin Alawi, commenting on Netanyahu’s visit and its timing, said that it was “not strange.”
“Not strange,” indeed. Hamas in the Gaza Strip is seeking, through Egyptian mediation, a long-term truce with Israel. The matter is being conducted in accordance with overt communications between Israel and Qatar, not to mention full diplomatic relations between Tel Aviv and Ankara. We should also not forget Egyptian-Israeli communications concerning Gaza in times of war as well as in times of peace.
There is no mystery because Israel has a say in Syria’s fate. It is dictating its conditions for positioning along the border between the two countries while exerting painful military pressure on Iranian positions in Syria, despite the strain it causes in relations with Moscow.
There is no surprise because, whether people in the region like it or not, Israel is a key player in the game of stability and tension in the Middle East. Within the framework of the Arab Peace Initiative adopted by the Arab League in 2002, communication with Israeli leaders was permissible.
Hours after the arrival of Sultan Qaboos’s envoy to Ramallah and the delivery of the sultan’s message to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian National Council announced its hard-line decisions: the PLO withdraws from its agreements with the occupation authorities; the recognition of the State of Israel is suspended; and the Palestinian Authority ceases all security coordination with Israel.
The two events may be unrelated but, then again, they might turn out to be tightly connected. Whatever was being cooked up has necessitated a Palestinian escalation against developments brewing in Muscat.
Netanyahu’s visit was a few days before the second round of US sanctions against Iran went into effect. The region is entering an era that requires close monitoring.
Kuwaiti Emir Sabah Ahmad al-Jaber al-Sabah hinted that the region is heading towards developments quite different from the ones that preceded the sanctions. US Defence Secretary James Mattis’s statement about a direct US intervention in Yemen portends dispossessing Tehran of its Yemeni card.
Iran will not be able to withstand international US-led pressures. It can expect much pain that will inevitably lead to major transformations and new negotiations.
The region seems to be on the brink of major decisions and crucial changes in the approaches to many issues. A Turkish-Russian-German-French summit in Istanbul did not include Iran. A settlement in Syria sounds imminent. Meetings in London of the Mini-Group for Syria reveal that the world is positioning itself to pressure Russia as the world refuses to let a settlement in Syria depend on the wishes of the Syrian regime.
It may be discovered that Netanyahu’s visit to Muscat is a tiny detail in a vast map about to witness major transformations. The visit took place under the auspices of the United States and approved by Gulf states. The entire region took notice. Tehran’s “affectionate” reservation about the event indicates its concern about its own crisis.
Anyone contemplating the various “thorny knots” in the region will conclude that the “owners” of these knots accept to intersect in Muscat, despite each one’s different agenda. Therefore, it is “not surprising” that Oman should launch another workshop in which it does not play the role of a mediator but rather that of a vital facilitator for connections that this party or the other ardently desires.
*-Mohamad Kawas is a Lebanese writer.
Husband of Pakistan Blasphemy Case Woman Pleads for Asylum
الحكومة الباكستانية لم تطلق سراح المسيحية اسيا بيبي بعد تبرئتها من تهمة التجديف وزوجها يطالب باللجوء خوفاً على حياة عائلته
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/November 04/18
The husband of a Pakistani Christian woman at the center of a divisive blasphemy case has pleaded for international help to leave the country, saying he feared for his family's safety. The request by Asia Bibi's husband Ashiq Masih came a day after he criticized a government deal with hardline Islamists that left her in legal limbo, and called on authorities to protect her. Bibi -- who had been on death row since 2010 on blasphemy charges -- was acquitted by the Supreme Court Wednesday, triggering large street protests by ultra-conservative Islamists who paralyzed Pakistan for three days, blocking roads and disrupting traffic.The government reached a deal Friday to end the protests by agreeing to a travel ban preventing Bibi from leaving the country, and saying it would not object to hardline movements appealing the verdict. An appeal has now been filed with the court against Bibi's release.
Masih criticized the government deal, saying it was "wrong." "I request President Donald Trump to help us to leave (the country), and I request the prime minister of the UK to do their level best to help us, to grant us freedom," said Masih, in a video message, seen by AFP, also requesting help from the Canadian prime minister. Wilson Chowdhry, of the British Pakistani Christian Association, told AFP that the family was resting its hopes on the U.S., Britain or Canada to grant them asylum and help them reach a place of safety. "These nations have the largest Pakistani Christian communities," Chowdhry said, added that Masih also wants asylum for some members of the extended family and those who have helped with his wife's case, one of whom could speak English. "If Asia Bibi leaves the country, every family member, every person associated to her, will be killed," he said.
- 'Totally shattered' -
Chowdhry said the family's initial relief at Bibi's acquittal has turned into anguish.
"The daughters are weeping. They still haven't seen their mother. The family is totally shattered," he said. "They absolutely don't know when they will see their mother. Since (the court decision), with the violence and the protests, it is too dangerous for them to see their mother in jail." Blasphemy is a hugely inflammatory charge in Muslim-majority Pakistan, where even unproven allegations of insulting Islam can spark attacks and killings at the hands of vigilante mobs. Masih Saturday told German Deutsche Welle radio the court had been "very courageous" to acquit his wife, an illiterate mother in her 50s who was accused of blasphemy a decade ago. "The current situation is very dangerous for us. We have no security and are hiding here and there, frequently changing our location," he told the German radio station, saying he was worried his wife would be attacked in prison.
The case began in June 2009 when Bibi was asked to fetch water while out working in the fields. Muslim women laborers objected, saying that as a non-Muslim, she should not touch the water bowl, and reportedly a fight erupted. A local imam then claimed Bibi insulted the Prophet Mohammed -- a charge she has consistently denied. Bibi's lawyer fled Pakistan on Saturday, fearing for his life. "In the current scenario, it's not possible for me to live in Pakistan," Saif-ul-Mulook, 62, told AFP before boarding a plane to Europe. Masih demanded the government reinforce Bibi's protection in prison, worrying that she may be attacked. He cited the case of two Christian men who were shot dead after a court acquitted them in another blasphemy case.

Why Do Middle Eastern Refugees Vandalize Christian Structures?
الصحافي التركي بمراك بكديل: لماذا يخرب اللاجئون الشرق أوسطيون المؤسسات المسيحية االأوربية
Burak Bekdil/Gatestone Institute/November 04/18
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has often argued that Christian Europe should admit more Muslim refugees.
"I'll tell you strictly Muslim-to-Muslim. These (European social workers) are funny. I don't know why on earth they are in love with a Muslim cause that even we Muslims despise." — Syrian migrant to the author, Lesbos, Greece.
"The Syrian refugee crisis in lands stretching from the Middle East into the heart of Europe is another episode in a grandiose, multi-faceted Middle Eastern dilemma: Muslims in this part of the world view the Christian West as 'evil;' yet they know Christian lands are the most decent places to live economically and politically." — Burak Bekdil, 2015.
The local population on the Greek island of Lesbos has been extremely helpful to all Muslim migrants, but recent clashes there show the more realistic side of the Muslim immigration into Christian lands. Pictured: Pope Francis meets migrants at the Moria migrant camp on Lesbos, April 16, 2016. (Photo by Andrea Bonetti/Greek Prime Minister's Office via Getty Images)
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, in his speech at the United Nations General Assembly in September, launched a scathing attack on the European Union. He accused the EU of having not done enough to support the refugees and claimed that the EU should pay Turkey more than it pledged (three billion euros).
Erdoğan has often argued that Christian Europe should admit more Muslim refugees. In a 2016 speech, he angrily threatened to open the floodgates of migrants into Europe again (in 2015 alone, three quarters of a million migrants passed through Turkey on their way to Europe).
Is Erdoğan using the mostly Syrian migrants as a bargaining chip to recalibrate his country's failed admission to the EU? Is he simply carpet-trading by trying to maximize the amount of European money coming as aid into Turkey? No doubt, but not only that. His Islamist ideology dictates that the number of Muslims living in all corners of the Old Continent should one day herald a demographic victory for Islam.
"Occupying infidel lands" by the force of sword was an Ottoman idea. Occupying infidel lands through demographics is one of the features of post-modern Islamism, as Muslim nations, unlike the Ottoman Empire, lack the military might needed for military invasion.
Recent events on the Greek island of Lesbos, where the welcoming local population has been extremely helpful to all Muslim migrants, show the more realistic side of the Muslim immigration into Christian lands. Even Pope Francis visited the mostly Syrian migrants in two camps on the island of Lesbos in April 2016 to express his solidarity with them and raise awareness regarding their plight.
In April, however, serious clashes between migrants and locals were reported in the main square of Mytilene, the chief port town of Lesbos. For about a week, migrants occupied the main square to protest their conditions. The demonstrations first sparked the anger of locals, and then some far-right groups who wanted the square cleared.
The clashes were followed by more serious news. A television report by Deutsche Welle claimed that criminal gangs of Syrians sympathetic to the Islamic State (ISIS) had established a reign of terror in the Moria migrant camp on Lesbos. The report, partly shot in secret, showed pro-ISIS slogans on the walls of the overcrowded camp.
Apparently, it was not only the inhumane conditions at the Moria camp about which the migrants felt sick. Unidentified migrant groups vandalized a crucifix on Lesbos. Only a few days later, and in a second act of desecrating Orthodox symbols, extremist Muslims on the island vandalized and destroyed a small proskinitari (a small shrine that holds an icon).
This much tension on an otherwise peaceful Greek island does not happen without a reason. In 2017, a Syrian migrant on Lesbos told this author, "I'll tell you strictly Muslim-to-Muslim. These [European social workers] are funny. I don't know why on earth they are in love with a Muslim cause that even we Muslims despise."
The same year on the same island to the same author, an Afghan said, "One day, we good Muslims will conquer their infidel lands."
At the start of the refugee crisis in 2015, you can read in this journal:
"The Syrian refugee crisis in lands stretching from the Middle East into the heart of Europe is another episode in a grandiose, multi-faceted Middle Eastern dilemma: Muslims in this part of the world view the Christian West as 'evil;' yet they know Christian lands are the most decent places to live economically and politically. Wealthy Arab states rigidly turn their back on the plight of fellow Muslims who are in need of a helping hand; and Islamist hypocrites blame it all on the West."
Three years later, it is truer than ever.
**Burak Bekdil, one of Turkey's leading journalists, was recently fired from the country's most noted newspaper after 29 years, for writing in Gatestone what is taking place in Turkey. He is a Fellow at the Middle East Forum.
© 2018 Gatestone Institute. All rights reserved. The articles printed here do not necessarily reflect the views of the Editors or of Gatestone Institute. No part of the Gatestone website or any of its contents may be reproduced, copied or modified, without the prior written consent of Gatestone Institute.

Tale of a Christian Mother in a Non-Christian Land
د. ماجد ربيزاده: قصة أم مسيحية في بلد غير مسيحي

Dr. Majid Rafizadeh/Gatestone Institute/November 04/18
It is time for the international community and human rights groups to turn their focus on the plight of these children, held hostage by a faith they are never given an option to choose.
Everyone should be free to practice any faith he or she desires without threats, without fear that their children will be tormented and ultimately executed for their beliefs.
One can only hope that one day this will be true for her family, and the multitudes of other families faced with the same oppression.
The Christian mother said it had all started out as a young woman might hope: with romance. She had fallen in love with a Muslim man and was certain that she wanted to spend the rest of her life with him. She moved with him to his country, a place where radical Islamist laws govern the society. It seemed to her an adventure, a chance to see another part of the universe. But after the consequences it had for her and her family and their safety, she asked to remain anonymous.
As she entered into the dreamed-of wedded bliss with her husband, she had no idea, she said, of the legal and religious ramifications of her marriage that would follow. Yes, she noticed differences about her new way of life, but it was not until she gave birth to two children that these differences began to set in.
Her husband was away most of the time; she spent her days at home caring for her children. She raised them as she herself had been raised, the most natural way she knew, practicing Christianity. Although she had her own beliefs, she allowed her children the freedom to choose whatever faith they preferred. Their father was a Muslim, and the country they were born into practiced Islam, but they chose to follow the Christianity.
One day, as her children grew, she was confronted by a radical Muslim preacher who insisted that she needed to bring them to the mosque to pray. They were Muslims, he said. What she did not know, not then, and not when she agreed to marry her husband, was that in the eyes of a sharia court, her children had been considered Muslim from the day they were born.
While many religious traditions require a commitment to a faith, in Islam, a child does not need to state the Shahaadatayn ("There is no god but Allah, and Muhammad is his Messenger") to become a Muslim.
In Islam, the Muslim preacher explained, if even only one parent is Muslim and the other parent practices another religion, the children are considered Muslim.
He referred her to Al-Mawsoo'ah Al-Fiqhiyyah ("The Encyclopedia of Islamic Jurisprudence"), which points out that Islam prevails over all other religions:
"Muslim jurists have unanimously agreed that if a father embraces Islam and has young children, or someone who is legally like them, such as an insane child who has reached puberty, then they are considered Muslims, as a consequence of the father. The majority of Muslim scholars (Hanafis, Shaafi'is and Hanbalis) maintained that the key factor in this regard is that either parent is Muslim, be it the mother or father; the children are then Muslims as a consequence of their Muslim parent, because Islam prevails and no other religion prevails over it, since it is the religion of Allaah which He is pleased with for His slaves."
Her children and she are now are forced to live two different lives. While out during the day, especially at school, they must adhere to Islamic beliefs, but at home, and apparently in their hearts, they continue to be faithful to Christianity. As confusing as this is for the children, it is necessary for their safety. If they are ever suspected of rejecting their Muslim status, in the eyes of extremist Muslims, they will be considered kufaar (unbelievers) -- apostates. When the fundamentalist preacher informed her of this, he proved it by quoting the instructions from a source:
"... if after reaching puberty he says or does something that indicates that he is not content with Islam, then he is to be regarded as an apostate and is to be treated as one who has apostatised from the religion of Islam."
What would be the punishment for these children? They would be put to death and further humiliated with a dishonorable funeral.
It is stated:
"If a Muslim apostatizes and meets the conditions of apostasy – i.e., he is of sound mind, an adult and does that of his own free will – then his blood may be shed with impunity. He is to be executed by the Muslim ruler or by his deputy – such as the qaadi or judge, and he is not to not be washed (after death, in preparation for burial), the funeral prayer is not to be offered for him and he is not to be buried with the Muslims."
They will also be stripped of all basic rights such as inheritance.
The teachings of most religious instructors encourage acceptance of the beliefs of others; they do not demand punishment for choosing a different faith. In many families in the U.S., when one parent is, say, Christian and the other Jewish, the children grow up practicing any or some or none of their parents' religions. They are free to explore and to believe as they choose. Sometimes, one child will practice Christianity and the other Judaism.
It is time for the international community and human rights groups to turn their focus on the plight of these children, held hostage by a faith they are never given an option to choose.
While the Christian mother holds her breath and hopes her children will be safe, many other families share her fear.
Women and children in Muslim-majority countries are all too familiar with these strictures. Subjected to the dictates of the most rigid interpretation of Islam at the hands of their patriarchal societies, they live as second-class citizens across the Middle East. Those who dare to go against the grain in any fashion -- even by belonging to another religion -- can meet the cruelest fate.
Everyone should be free to practice any faith he or she desires without threats, and without fear that their children will be tormented and ultimately executed for their beliefs. One can only hope that one day this will be true for her family, and the multitudes of other families faced with the same oppression.
**Dr. Majid Rafizadeh is a Harvard-educated scholar, businessman, political scientist, board member of Harvard International Review, and president of the International American Council on the Middle East. He has authored several books on Islam and US Foreign Policy. He can be reached at Dr.Rafizadeh@Post.Harvard.Edu
© 2018 Gatestone Institute. All rights reserved. The articles printed here do not necessarily reflect the views of the Editors or of Gatestone Institute. No part of the Gatestone website or any of its contents may be reproduced, copied or modified, without the prior written consent of Gatestone Institute.

The Iran Deal Pullout: How Will Tehran Respond?
Michael Eisenstadt/The Washington Institute./November 04/18
What can the Trump Administration do to shape Iran’s choices?
Iranian leaders have doubtless been assessing their options in the wake of President Trump’s May 8 announcement that the United States would withdraw from the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) and pursue a policy of maximum pressure designed to force them back to the negotiating table. We may soon learn how their assessment concluded, since far-reaching sanctions are about to be reimposed on Iran’s oil sector (its main source of government revenue and foreign exchange) and foreign companies that do business with it—on November 4. Many foreign customers have already cut or halted purchases of Iranian oil in anticipation of this deadline. The challenge for Washington is to apply sufficient pressure to induce Tehran to renegotiate, while deterring it from using force to enhance its diplomatic leverage or impose costs on the United States.
In the past, Tehran has generally responded to pressure on its nuclear program by accelerating its nuclear activities in order to show that the greater the pressure, the greater Iran’s progress. Thus, despite the escalation of pressure from 2006 to 2015, Iran increased the number of operating centrifuges from zero to nearly 20,000. And as pressure on it broadened and intensified, Tehran responded more or less in kind—while eschewing escalatory steps that could have sparked a broader conflict with the United States. Thus, it countered joint U.S.-Israeli cyberattacks on its nuclear program with cyberattacks on U.S. banks and financial institutions (2012); it answered the assassination of its nuclear scientists with attacks on Israeli diplomats in several Asian countries (2012); and it responded to intensified U.S. drone overflights with attacks on U.S. drones in the Persian Gulf (2012-13).
Iran, however, now faces a more complex dilemma: It is suffering under U.S. sanctions that may cut deeply into its oil income but that Europe and many other countries oppose; yet the European powers have told the Iranian leadership that if it violates or withdraws from the JCPOA, they will vote to snap-back UN sanctions on Iran, ensuring that the U.S. policy of maximum pressure will be even more effective.
Thus, as long as Tehran stays in the JCPOA, it is constrained in what it can do in the nuclear domain to push back against U.S. pressure. It could approach but not cross JCPOA limits by, for example, ramping up production of enrichment feedstock and centrifuge components, pushing up against caps on enrichment levels and stockpiles, and conducting research on nuclear power plants for naval vessels. Or it could engage in low-level nuclear brinkmanship by crossing various JCPOA thresholds to see if there is any wiggle room with the Europeans.
If U.S. sanctions truly hurt, Iran could try to gain leverage over the United States by going far beyond JCPOA enrichment and stockpile caps, interfering with International Atomic Energy Agency monitoring or, in extremis, reviving its nuclear weapons program. Or it could push back in areas that have not generally been linked to its nuclear program. It could: accelerate the detention and imprisonment of U.S. dual-nationals (resumed earlier this year following a 2016 hiatus); ramp up medium-range missile tests (halted in 2017) or the harassment of U.S. naval vessels in the Persian Gulf (likewise halted in 2017, after U.S. vessels fired warning shots across the bow of Iranian patrol boats); try to disrupt maritime traffic in the Strait of Hormuz (which it has threatened to do if it can no longer export oil); and resume offensive cyber operations against the United States (halted when nuclear negotiations gained traction in 2013). Iran could also use its militant proxies in Iraq to renew attacks on U.S. personnel there (which ceased following the withdrawal of U.S. forces in 2011). The U.S. government has warned of severe consequences should it do so, though this has not deterred recent proxy rocket attacks on U.S. diplomatic facilities in Baghdad and Basra.
Tehran faces several difficulties, however. Kidnappings, missile tests, and the harassment of naval vessels would probably not provide leverage over Washington and could easily backfire. Attempts to close the Strait of Hormuz would gravely harm Iran’s own interests, as nearly all of its oil exports and imports pass through this chokepoint. It would make sense to do this only if all Iranian oil and gas exports were halted. While the United States may be vulnerable to Iranian cyberattacks, it can inflict much greater harm on Iran in this area. And the killing of U.S. personnel in Iraq or elsewhere could prompt the U.S. government to unleash its own lethal campaign against the IRGC’s Qods Force, employing techniques perfected in its war against al-Qaeda and the Islamic State (ISIS).
Such actions would carry many dangers for Iran. Although Iranian leaders have learned since the 1980s that they can wage proxy warfare against the United States without incurring the risk of military retaliation, they nonetheless view the United States as an unpredictable and potentially dangerous adversary. After informing Baghdad that it had no position on the crisis leading up to Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait in 1990, the George H.W. Bush Administration mobilized a global coalition to counter Iraqi aggression. George W. Bush, having rejected “nation-building” during the 2000 presidential campaign, ordered the invasion of Afghanistan and Iraq after the 9/11 attacks, as well as costly nation-building efforts in both countries. And after pledging to avoid yet another Middle Eastern war, President Barack Obama launched a campaign against ISIS following its conquest of Mosul and northern Iraq in June 2014.
President Trump’s volatile personality and erratic policies have reinforced Iranian concerns about U.S. unpredictability. After declaring his intention to withdraw U.S. forces from Syria, the latter dug in and pushed back against probes and attacks by pro-Iran militias near Tanf and pro-regime forces near Deir al-Zour. U.S. forces also conducted two strikes in response to the use of chemical weapons by regime forces. Military officials have threatened to respond even more forcefully to future chemical attacks.
Tehran has taken a more cautious approach toward the United States since then, and for good reason. American officials have indicated that U.S. forces will remain in Syria as long as necessary to ensure the “enduring defeat” of ISIS and the departure of Iranian forces and their proxies. Tehran will likely continue its highly successful proxy activities, though at a level that it believes will not prompt the United States to use military force against it. And there will be an ever-present temptation to strike a painful blow against U.S. interests, entailing a risk of escalation.
In the face of firm U.S. ripostes in Syria and the Gulf, Tehran has ratcheted up pressure on America’s foremost regional allies, Saudi Arabia and Israel. It provided the Houthis in Yemen with missiles capable of reaching Riyadh (which has been targeted repeatedly since late 2017). It has likewise accelerated efforts to build up missile production facilities and other military infrastructure in Syria and Lebanon. And in February of this year, it sent a drone packed with explosives into Israeli airspace (it was shot down by Israel), prompting a series of clashes that led to a major Israeli strike against Iran’s military infrastructure in Syria in May. Iran has also intensified activities against opposition groups that it fears may be used by the U.S. government against it, plotting an attack against a Mujahedin-e-Khalq (MEK) rally in Paris in June, conducting a missile strike against the Kurdistan Democratic Party of Iran (KDP-I) headquarters in northern Iraq in September, and launching another missile strike against ISIS facilities in Syria in October, in response to a terrorist attack on a military parade in Khuzestan.
Iran’s response to the U.S. withdrawal from the JCPOA will largely depend, then, on how deeply renewed U.S. sanctions bite. If Iran is able to muddle through—because it sells enough oil, repatriates sufficient funds from foreign customers, benefits from higher oil prices, or some combination of these—it may continue to observe JCPOA limits and try to wait President Trump out, hoping for a different U.S. President in January 2021. Meanwhile, it may push back against U.S. efforts by largely symbolic means—in order to avoid a military confrontation with the United States, while lashing out however it can against U.S. allies, partners, and perceived proxies.
This is not necessarily a bad place for the U.S. government to be, with the Iranian leadership contained by the JCPOA and rigorous sanctions. It is not, however, what the Trump Administration had in mind when launching its policy of maximum pressure. As with so much else about the Administration’s policies, it’s not clear whether real but unanticipated benefits will share the same thought-space as likely unattainable maximal goals.
Should sanctions cut deeply and exacerbate ongoing domestic unrest, Iran will face a choice: agree to a new round of negotiations with the United States in which it offers concessions in return for sanctions relief, or undertake various destabilizing activities—violating JCPOA limits, intensifying proxy attacks on U.S. allies, or even conducting proxy operations against U.S. interests and personnel—so that it can re-engage Washington from a position of strength. If hardliners in Tehran win the day, destabilization efforts could even include waging a low-level, open-ended struggle to oust the United States from the region. This being the case, what considerations should guide U.S. policy toward Iran, and what can the Trump Administration do to shape Iranian choices?
First, U.S. officials should strive to keep tensions with Tehran below the threshold of armed conflict. Domestic opinion won’t support another Middle Eastern war, with heightened tensions with North Korea, Russia, and China now making competing claims on U.S. military resources. Nor, by all appearances, would President Trump. Moreover, long-term strategic competitions of the sort that characterize U.S.-Iranian relations aren’t decided by a single knockout blow. U.S. policy must be tempered by and reflect that reality.
Second, hardliners in Iran may push for a military riposte in response to real and imagined U.S. actions, especially if the pressure campaign destabilizes Iran internally. And they might get their way if the influence of the IRGC grows, or the Supreme Leader becomes incapacitated or dies. Preserving the credibility of the U.S. deterrent will therefore be key to avoiding escalation.
Third, at least for the time being, Washington needs to avoid crossing red lines that might prompt Tehran to respond to U.S. pressure with proxy attacks or military action. In practical terms, this means permitting Iran to sell just enough oil and repatriate just enough income to keep its economy on life support, while eschewing efforts to actively foment regime change in Tehran. It is not a bad thing for Iranian leaders to know that the U.S. quiver still contains many arrows.
Thus, Washington should apply sufficient pressure to incentivize Tehran to re-engage in order to salvage its economy but avoid cornering Iran so that it feels it has no other choice than to fight back. Washington should also avoid sanctions so crushing that they could, in tandem with Iran’s ongoing water crisis, eventually transform it into another failed Middle Eastern state. With Iran, acting prudently will be the key to managing escalation, avoiding further instability and conflict, and achieving an acceptable policy outcome.
**Michael Eisenstadt is the Kahn Fellow and director of the Military and Security Studies Program at The Washington Institute.

Indian mother killed with daughters for failing to produce male child
Manoj Chaurasia Special to Al Arabiya English/November 04/18
Women bearing girl babies continue to be treated with disdain in the eastern Indian state of Bihar despite billions having been spent on launching campaigns to generate awareness about the fair sex. Sounds strange but torture of women producing girl child goes on unabated in the sate even in this jet age, mocking the much-flaunted “Save Girl Child Campaign” or the “Selfie With Daughter” campaigns. The issue triggered public debate again when a woman was burnt alive along with her two little daughters by her in-laws earlier this week just because she had failed to bear male child, highlighting the acute gender discrimination. Victim Pushpa Devi, 40, was married to Manoj Soni, a resident of Siswar village in Kaimur district, some 20 years back. During this period, she was able to produce only two daughters but no male child, ultimately leading to tension in the family.
With her in-laws hell-bent on having a son at all cost, her husband took her to various doctors and also sought helps from exorcists to ward of any “evil spirits” if any gripping the woman but to no avail. Eventually, her husband decided to get rid of the lady who was unable to fulfill his wishes.
On Wednesday night when the entire world was sleeping, her in-laws soaked the woman and her two daughters aged eight and five with kerosene oil and set them afire after apparently gagging them, police said. The victims prayed for mercy by the accused continued watching them going up in flames until they had fallen lifeless.
Billowing smoke
The incident came to light when local villagers saw the balls of smokes billowing from the house and a stench of burning human flesh filling the air. Subsequently they informed the police. However, by the time the police arrived on the scene, all the accused persons had fled the scene.
“They (in-laws) had been torturing my sister for long for not producing a son but we had never imagined this fancy would turn out to be so deadlier one day,” victim’s brother Santosh Soni told the police after registering a case with the police. Woman’s husband, his mother and sister were made named accused in the case. The killing of girl babies or their mother for the very reason is nothing new to Bihar. Only this weekend, a newborn baby girl was buried alive in Banka district by her parents but thanks to local villagers the baby could be saved after seven hours.
The villagers rescued her after hearing her shrill cries coming out from the grave and when they dug out the grave they were amazed to see a barely month-old baby battling for survival inside. They soon rushed her to the local health center where she was given immediate medical treatment. The baby is safe now but her parents are still to be searched. Another such horrible tale was reported in March this year from Vaishali district where the parents killed their seven-month-old daughter by throwing out from the roof of the house. Even more horrible story was reported from Samastipur district where a family killed their six-day-old baby girl by dumping her into toilet tank. The incident took place in January this year.
Injecting poison
Last year, a man from Bhagalpur district had injected poison into his infant girl as she didn’t want girl child while a man from Nawada district even handed out divorce to his wife for giving birth to a girl. One of the women got so much frustrated at her routine tortures at the hands of her in-laws that she ultimately poisoned her three daughters aged three and eight to death before ending her own life by consuming poison. The incident took place in Gaya district in May this year. Social scientists find the trend serious and say this highlights the deep-rooted social bias. “In Hindu society, sons are still considered the natural inheritors of fathers’ properties and also they hold the right to light the funeral pyres of their parents. These are the reasons why Hindu family opts for a son,” explained prominent social scientist Sachindra Narayan. Narayan who earlier worked with the Patna-based AN Sinha Institute of Social studies feels education can pay a significant role in changing the existing situation but laments the pathetic condition of schools in the rural pockets of Bihar.  “Education indeed can bring social, cultural change in the society but the schools are in very pathetic state in the rural areas, imparting no quality education due to absence of qualified teachers. The government looks more attentive towards providing food to the students, rather than improving the quality of education,” says Narayan.

How will the new Iraqi government perform over the next four years?
Adnan Hussein/Al Arabiya/November 04/18
Iraqis had to wait for more than five months after the parliamentary elections to form a new government. On the day of the announcement of the formation of the cabinet, they had to stay up after midnight for the announcement of two-thirds of the names of the new ministers.
They now have to wait two more weeks to learn about the names of the other one-third in the government. Due to this incomplete formation, the new cabinet came as a disappointment in terms of what it can do for the country, which has been greatly suffering for 15 years, in the next four years.
The elite return to power
The conditions of Iraq when the parliamentary elections were held and afterwards necessitated a speedy government formation and not delaying the process of forming a new government to replace the previous one which like its predecessors failed to carry out its basic tasks, such as improving public services and resolving the problems of unemployment, poverty and administrational and financial corruption.
These circumstances also made it imperative that influential forces form a strong government which everyone – including the parties which won in the elections – had publicly agreed that it appoints honest and competent experts without being impaired by the quota system which has been adopted in the distribution of state posts and functions and which has proven to be a total failure, as acknowledged by everyone.
This delay in forming the cabinet is one of the reasons for the outbreak of the strongest and largest protest movement in the history of Iraq last July, which started in the province of Basra which although it floats on a sea of oil, it has suffered from the lack of clean water for drinking and agriculture.
This delay was due to conflicts between powerful forces as they do not only aim to ensure their survival but also want to maintain their hegemony over state administrations – an influence that the election results showed it’s this time seriously threatened since 60 percent of voters expressed their apathy towards the electoral process which always brings the failed parties to manage the state. As for those who voted, the majority of them voted against traditional candidates belonging to powerful parties hence blocking the return of some of them to parliament.
All of this was a bad omen for the influential powers which are mostly Shiite and Sunni Islamist groups. Therefore, they tried to shuffle their cards again. First, they challenged the election results and the integrity of the election commission which was replaced by a new commission that recounted the votes in areas which raised suspicions but the result, which took weeks, remained the same. Thus began a long series of conflicts, schemes and clashes regarding the largest bloc to be entrusted with the formation of the new government.
It was not easy, but these forces found a way to agree on a neutral figure with no connection to them, but who was from the Shiite political class, which has been monopolizing the task of forming a government under the system of sectarian and national consensus that’s been agreed on since 2003. Adel Abdul Mahdi who was selected as prime minister had previously held ministerial positions and the post of vice president, and he was accepted by the two main players in the Iraqi arena: Iran and the United States.
New crown of thorns
In a maneuver to absorb popular anger over the electricity, water and jobs crises in southern Iraq, all powerful forces announced that they would leave Abdul Mahdi free to choose members of his government who meet the conditions of integrity, competence and experience. These traits were among the demands of the protest movement that was accompanied by unprecedented acts of violence.
At first, this announcement made it seem like the path of Abdul Mahdi would be paved with a red carpet and welcomed with flowers but when it was time to finally appoint members of the cabinet, Abdul Mahdi found himself besieged by conflicting wills of powerful forces, sometimes under the pretext of "the electoral merit" and sometimes under the pretext of merits based on sectarian and national concerns.
Out of the 14 picks– and who constitute two thirds of the cabinet – who won the parliament’s vote of confidence, only four or five ministers met the specifications of experience and efficiency. The rest were not assigned to suitable positions based on their competence. The same applies to the other one third whom the parliament did not vote on. As for integrity, which is one of the main conditions to be appointed as a minister in Abdul Mahdi’s cabinet, it’s not something that can be proven because during the discussion at the parliament, it turned out that Abdul Mahdi did not run the name of the ministers by the integrity commission and by the accountability and justice commission so they can look into the political history of the candidates, in relation to their connections to the former regime or terrorist groups. Some media outlets and social media pages have shared shocking information challenging the integrity of quite a few candidates and their political history.
More of the same
The list of ministers, of which some were endorsed while others were not, showed that they were actually chosen according to the quota system, and some of them are actually relatives of the leaders of the influential parties!
Abdul Mahdi has eight ministers left to add them to his government on November 6. If he chooses them they way he chose others, or if they are imposed on him, then he will likely doom himself and his government to failure as his government will not be any different or better than the previous failed governments. This will be the case as long as Abdul Mahdi’s cabinet is not free of the quota system, and this means that we are probably faced with four more lean years for Iraq.

Afghan elections: Good news amid pessimism
Amir Taheri/Asharq Al Awsat/November 04/18
The latest general election in Afghanistan has provided a new occasion for pundits and experts, once again, to label the country as a lost cause and invite the major powers still involved there to get out as fast as they can.
The elections are dismissed as a meaningless charade if only because fewer than 40 percent of those eligible to vote actually did so while reams of reports have been produced on all kinds of fraudulent practices to affect the outcome.
The problem today is that the average citizen is faced with a tsunami of information, which seems impressive in its depth and diversity but, on closer examination, is revealed to be produced by a cancer-like multiplication of a few often narrow partisan views.
The current fashionable view would have us believe that Afghanistan would be more comfortable with rule by the Taliban than an ersatz form of democracy imposed by Western powers.
The fact that at the height of their power the Taliban never managed to make their rule acceptable to more than a fraction of the Afghan population is quietly ignored.
In the year 2000, the Taliban controlled Kabul and pretended to be the legitimate government of Afghanistan and with mediation by Qatar had persuaded the Clinton administration in Washington to grant them full diplomatic recognition. President Clinton’s special envoy Bill Richardson had visited Kabul and met with Taliban leader Mullah Omar to put the final touches to a grand bargain.
Afghanistan had never had an over-centralized system of government if only because of its rich religious, ethnic and linguistic diversity which is best reflected by a parliamentary system of government
Clinton presidency
A number of minor diplomatic hitches prevented the scheme to be completed before the end of the Clinton presidency.
The incoming administration of President George W Bush was not opposed to the deal hatched by Clinton but wanted to take time and shape its own version. Then came the 9/11 attacks which destroyed the scheme. Without it, we might have had yet another obnoxious Islamist regime backed by the US and its allies.
Interestingly, Washington policymakers paid no attention to the fact that the Taliban were in meaningful control of no more than half of Afghanistan’s 32 provinces. Nor did they mind that, at the time, almost half of the nation’s population had become refugees, mostly in Pakistan and Iran.
Despite the fact that the claim of Taliban’s popularity has never been tested in anything resembling an election, we still have pundits who insist that the antediluvian gang is the true representative of the Afghan people.
Even if the new Afghan regime installed with help from the US was far from ideal, the ultimate failure of the Taliban experiment was good news for the “Muslim world” and beyond. It showed that Islamist extremism in its various forms, from Khomeinism in Iran to Boko Haram in Nigeria and ISIS in Iraq and Syria are never able to submit to a genuine electoral test in any shape or form.
Those who dismiss the Afghan election because of the low voter turnout forget the fact that it takes a long time for electoral politics to become part of a nation’s ambient culture.
In Great Britain, where electoral politics started, voter participation was limited to between 10 and 12 percent only because few people were classed as eligible while women didn’t have the vote until the 1920s. It took Britain and the US 150 years to reach their cruising speed in electoral politics.
Historic difference
A Western observer has little difficulty in imagining the geographical distance between London and Kabul but would find it hard to gauge the historic difference in the two societies insofar as politics is concerned.
For me, however, it is almost a miracle that millions of Afghans seem to have developed a liking for elections and regard the exercise as an efficient means of impacting the decision-making process.
If British and American democracies needed 20 to 30 elections to reach their level of maturity, should we not give the Afghans time and space to go through at least 10 elections?
A survey of the issues raised, the platforms presented, the speeches made and the debates conducted reveals a quality that this writer, for one, did not expect to witness so soon in Afghanistan.
It seemed that the whole of Afghanistan, especially the urban areas, were turned into a giant-size school of political practice. By one unscientific survey, more than 100 new words and phrases referring to politics in an open society have entered the average Afghan’s vocabulary.
Equally impressive was the level of participation by women both as candidates and as voters. To be sure, the results are unlikely to be commensurate with the energy and commitment deployed by Afghan women. But a solid foundation has been laid for further progress.
The election campaign also witnessed the raising of a vital issue of a possible reform to replace the presidential system imposed by the US with a parliamentary one. Afghanistan had never had an over-centralized system of government if only because of its rich religious, ethnic and linguistic diversity which is best reflected by a parliamentary system of government. That reality assumes more importance at a time that the so-called identity politics appears the favorite flavor across the world.
Outsiders may not appreciate how important it is to have the average citizen in a society used to deference and fascination with the hierarchy to publicly express anger and/or scorn against any grandee in a position of power.
Afghan democracy is a young plant (or setak in Persian Afghan) threatened by strong adverse winds. The fact that it is still standing and growing may indicate a profound change in the socio-cultural configuration of a society emerging from decades of confusion, violence and war.
The latest elections will not solve Afghanistan’s problems ranging from tribalism to systemic corruption. But these elections could strengthen those institutions that, if made effectively accountable to the people, would be able to shape the policies needed to do so.
The parliamentary election could also be regarded as a dress rehearsal for next year’s presidential election which could speed up Afghanistan’s march towards a better future. Keep fingers cross!

Parcel bombs: Reminiscent of the Unabomber
Fahad Suleiman Shoqiran/Al Arabiya/November 04/18
The parcel bomb war has invaded the US these days. This is a cruel type of violence that was prevalent in the 1980s. Anyone who watched ‘Manhunt: Unabomber’ series, produced by Discovery channel in 2017, would know about Fitzgerald, the personality analyst in the FBI, searching for the murderer who was distinguished for his rare brutality that was not driven by any kind of usual motives of political terrorism as he had personal and psychological problems, as one can tell from the series. The murderer’s name is Ted Kaczynski (also known as the Unabomber) as he sent parcel bombs to universities and airline companies.
The anarchist professor
Born on 22 May 1942, he was a mathematics professor, who lived as a recluse in a remote place and was opposed to technology. He has been described as the most violent serial bomber in history as he sent parcel bombs over a 17 year period. In November 1979, he nearly blew up an airliner (Flight no. 444 of the US Airways). His parcel bombings peaked in 1981-82, when he targeted several universities.
What is strange is that he issued messages against the world and broadcasted his mysterious messages through various means and even the US press, under threat, provided coverage to his ideas. His statements read: “They want you to be sheep like they are sheep. When your only tool’s a hammer, everything looks like a nail. The only way to be human, the only way to be free, is to rebel. Stand up, play your heart out so the whole world can hear you. (Human beings have been reduced to) engineered products and mere cogs in the social machine, etc.”
In order to find him, investigators established a specific unit that employed “criminal linguistics”; a method whose legal validity stirred much debate, but resulted in great success.
Suicide bombings
In his book ‘Leaders and Their Followers in a Dangerous World’, psychologist Jerrold M. Post narrates a story which he says changed his life: “A funny thing happened on the way to my career in my academic psychiatry. In my final year, as a clinical associate at the National Institute of Mental Health, planning to return to Boston where I had been offered an appointment in the Department of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, I received a cryptic phone call from a medical school acquaintance who wanted to discuss ‘a most unusual job opportunity.’ I was intrigued, and we met over lunch.”
“To my astonishment, I was offered an opportunity to start a pilot program for the United States government developing indirect assessments of the personality and political behavior of foreign leaders. The unit would be based at the Central Intelligence Agency but would serve as an analytic unit of common concern, providing in-depth personality studies of world leaders to assist the president, secretary of state, secretary of defense, and other senior government officials in conducting summit meetings and other high-level negotiations, as well as in dealing with crises. I thought that would be an interesting divertissement for several years, and then I would return to the groves of the academe. The planned two-year diversion ended up lasting twenty-one years, from 1965 to 1986, in what became a remarkable intellectual odyssey. It quickly became apparent that the field of psychodynamic psychiatry would be insufficient to the task at hand. Accurately locating the political actor in his historical, cultural, and political context would require substantial expertise to complement that of the psychiatrists in the unit. Accordingly, I proposed and received support to develop an interdisciplinary unit,” he added.
The author talks about one of the interviewed commandeered, Hassan Salameh — the man who led a terror squad that carried out a series of bombings in 1996 leading to the death of 46 Israelis resulting in the defeat of Shimon Peres and the election of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Salameh, who was sentenced to 64 consecutive life sentences, said: “A suicide bombing is the highest level of jihad, and highlights the depth of our faith. The bombers are holy fighters who carry out one of the more important articles of faith.”Another commander, asserted: “It is suicide attacks which earn the most respect and elevate the bombers to the highest possible level of martyrdom.”
Counter-terror expertise
The author shares his experience when he talks about his experience as an “expert witness” in the trials of al-Qaeda terrorists, who were convicted in bombing of the US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania. He had a copy of the Justice Department documents on al-Qaeda terror handbook “Jihad Declaration”; which is an exceptional document that goes very far in explaining how the terrorists of the September 11, 2001 attacks managed to maintain their cover in the US; in the so-called ‘enemy’s country’.
In the eighth lesson, part of what the precautions which the “undercover” member should do was that his appearance should not indicate an Islamic orientation and that he should avoid visiting famous Islamic places.
The book shows how intelligence and security agencies can renew investigation units depending on the type of crime. There is the criminal linguistics unit as we saw in Ted’s story and the personality analysis unit through observing the behavioral and psychological pattern, like Post did. This clarifies the crisis of terrorism and the necessity to confront it with security methods that merge with scientific expertise, be it linguistic or psychological skills.

The West/Rest divide and the quest for destroying third world’s autonomy

Dr. Mansour Almarzoqi//Al Arabiya/November 04/18
There exists a divide between Western countries (the West), and the other countries of the World (the Rest). Also, there is a considerable skepticism in the Rest towards the Western discourse on human rights. It is based on conceptual justifications, on past and contemporary events, and on international norms that provide a framework for the functioning of international relations. These justifications suggest that the West claims to have a “moral superiority”. They also suggest that the West is systematically instrumentalizing this supposed “moral superiority” in order to secure internal gains, mainly electoral, as well as external ones, such as political and economic concessions.
The West/Rest divide
There exists an important level of diversity among Western countries. Yet, one could argue that they remain a widely unified entity at the level of discourse when contrasted with other countries of the World, that is to say with the “Rest”.
If one takes the scientific discourse in social sciences, one remarks this gap between the "Center", the West, and the "Periphery", the Rest. At the beginning of social sciences in the 19th century, the Center was studied by political science, economics and sociology. As to the Periphery, it was studied by anthropology and orientalism (1). Although this approach has much changed, the legacy as well as many ideas of this epoch still persist. And if one takes the political discourse, one observes the same gap, between the “free World” and the “non-free World”. The Cold War and the war on "terrorism" provide ample examples.
Moral superiority, “selflitis,” and the “Final Solution”
There seems to be a tendency when we are talking about human rights, that the talk is one-sided: from the West to the Rest. In other words, it is a lecture, not a dialogue. And it is not only a matter of arrogance and self-righteousness, but also a strategic position with more than four colonial centuries dragging behind.
As a strategic position, this tendency concerns World Order. Hedley and others have noted that the postwar international system is essentially the European states system made large (2). This essentially European international system suffers from what Julien de Sanctis calls "Ethno-centered universalism". According to him, the West tries to extend its value system to the World, in a way that does not take into consideration contextual, historical, and civilizational boundaries (3). Only a claim to a “moral superiority” could be used by the West to justify transcending those boundaries. Despite its origins in the Age of Enlightenment, this claim still persists.
Both, World system and the aforementioned universalism, have historical trajectories that left enduring traits, such as "colonial accumulations". These accumulations are visible in the retaining of zones of influence in previous colonies as part of the price they paid to colonizers to gain independence. Indeed, at a certain moment in history, a set of circumstances of strength helped the West secure a set of mechanisms that protect and advance Western privileges and interests—which were accumulated during the colonial period. A critique of this ethno-centered universalism, and having a two-sided talk, necessarily implies a critique of colonial accumulations, that is to say Western privileges and interests. It is here that lies the real motive behind the persistence of the claim to a “moral superiority” which justifies the one-sided talk from the West to the Rest. This one-sidedness is a defensive tool, among many others, of colonial accumulations.
It is very difficult to believe that the West attempts to advance the cause of freedom whenever it is possible, and when it is not possible, it sits in waiting for the first glimpse of an opportunity to do so. But there is every reason to think that the cause of freedom for the West is a flail intended to crush Third World’s autonomy and is a share in a cruel, capitalist stock market.
There seems to be in the West a deep entrenchment in this one-sidedness, a passionate unwillingness to consider a different perspective, something that I could call “the virus of selflitis”. This inflammation of the self makes it difficult for the West to listen, to consider, to understand. And in the midst of this difficulty, the West strikes with « judgmentalism ».
The rise of populist and extreme right movements across the West is neither accidental nor a passing phenomenon. Rather, it is a product of many complicated factors, one of which is selflitis. The greatest fear is that selflitis would one day lead to some form of the “Final Solution”. The West has done it several times before - such as in the concentration camps of indigenous peoples in the Americas, the massacres in the Congo, and the atrocities of Auschwitz. There is absolutely no assurance that the West would not do it again.
Extortion, destroying the Rest’s autonomy, and hypocrisy
Claiming “moral superiority” was the spearhead of colonialism in the past, and the persistence of the same claim now is the spearhead of capitalism. During the negotiations of a free trade agreement between the Arab Gulf states and the EU, the latter used the card of promoting human rights and democracy in a pragmatic way so as to extort economic concessions from the GCC, particularly in the aluminium and petrochemical industries, as Ahmad Qasim Hussein remarks (4).
Moreover, there is what Amitav Acharya calls “subsidiary norms,” whereby state-actors from the Third World would create their own norms, judged to be regional responses to regional problems. According to him, subsidiarity led to two effects. The first is resistance and challenge to Western bias. Second, regional state-actors support only the norms of the “international community” which are judged to be helpful in preserving Third World states’ autonomy, otherwise known as “rules of all, by all, for all”. Such rules include sovereignty, equality of states, and nonintervention (5).
These norms are subject to power relations between states. As many experts have pointed out, the United Nations charter has a problem of reconciling principals such as sovereignty on the one hand with the protection of human rights on the other (6). As a consequence, reconciliation of the two principles then becomes a matter of continuous negotiations (7). And of course, power relations are the only framework in which these negotiations can take place. Under the pretext of protecting human rights, more powerful states infringe upon the sovereignty of the less powerful states and intervene in their domestic affairs.
These infringements upon sovereignty are sometimes viewed as systematic attacks on the few important norms in international relations that help the less powerful states protect their autonomy. Destroying the autonomy of those states renders them more vulnerable to big powers, and hence more likely to cede economic and political concessions, as was intended in the free trade negotiations between the EU and the GCC. Moreover, by systematically attacking these norms, the West hopes to disperse and undermine any potential movement of revolt against, and liberation from, the capitalist Western hegemony of the World.
One must always remember that such an infringement upon sovereignty never happened to the U.S. in the “black lives matter,” Guantanamo, Abu Guraib prison, invasion of Iraq or the on-going American drones campaign in the World. Somehow these U.S. violations of human rights, as well as of international law, are invisible to the West, including Canada, Germany, France, and the UK. Israeli Apartheid, colonialism, testing of chemical weapons on Palestinians, open-prison of Gaza are equally invisible to the « free World ». This is seen by the Rest as a gruesome hypocrisy. There is a selectiveness in the West when it comes to promoting human rights, as is evident in Canada‘s thundering silence towards human rights violations in China and Iran.
It is very difficult to believe that the West attempts to advance the cause of freedom whenever it is possible, and when it is not possible, it sits in waiting for the first glimpse of an opportunity to do so. But there is every reason to think that the cause of freedom for the West is a flail intended to crush Third World’s autonomy and is a share in a cruel, capitalist stock market.
1- Wallerstein, Immanuel, “Les sciences sociales battent de l'aile. Quel phénix en renaîtra ? Perspectives théoriques”, Cahiers de recherche sociologique, No. 24, 1995, pp. 209-222.
2- Bull, Hedley, and Adam Watson, Eds., The Expansion of International Society, 1984, Oxford: Clarendon Press.
3- Conversations with Dr. Julien de Sanctis, in Lyon, July 10, 2018. He is a researcher at the IRSEM in Paris and is an expert of the philosophy of French military strategy in Africa.
4- Hussein, Ahmad Qasim, “The European Union and the Gulf Crisis: Context and Attitudes”, Siyasat Arabia, No. 30, 2018, pp. 63-79.
5- Acharya, Amitav, “Norm Subsidiarity and Regional Orders: Sovereignty, Regionalism, and Rule-Making in the Third World”, International Studies Quarterly, Vol. 55, No. 1, 2011, pp. 95-123.
6- Volsky, Alexander, “Reconciling Human Rights and State Sovereignty, Justice and the Law in Humanitarian Interventions”, International Public Policy Review, Vol. 3, No. 1, 2007, pp. 40-47; Saporita, Christopher, “Reconciling Human Rights and Sovereignty: A Framework for Global Property Law”, Indiana Journal of Global Legal Studies, Vol. 10, No. 2, 2003, pp. 255-281; Massa, Anne-Sophie, “Does Humanitarian Intervention Serve Human Rights? The Case of Kosovo”, Amsterdam Law Forum, Vol. 1, No. 2, 2009, pp. 49-60. Available at: <>. Date accessed: 16 aug. 2018.
7- Scheipers, Sibylle, Negotiating Sovereignty and Human Rights: International society and the International Criminal Court, 2009, Manchester: Manchester University Press.

Why is Tehran recruiting Daesh militants?
Baria Alamuddin/Arab News/November 04/18
I am constantly astounded at how otherwise-sensible journalists and diplomats are willing to believe Iranian and Russian professions of good faith, despite all evidence to the contrary. Earlier this year, many credulous figures pronounced the end of Iranian expansionism in Syria. Why? Because Russian President Vladimir Putin had promised Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in good faith that Iranian proxies would be purged from southern Syrian.
Iran has invested tens of billions of dollars in the Syrian meat-grinder, with dozens of Islamic Republican Guard Corps (IRGC) personnel killed. It will not meekly depart Syria with its tail between its legs at the first hint of pressure from Netanyahu. Despite a token withdrawal of some Hezbollah foot soldiers, the group’s leader Hassan Nasrallah defiantly announced that Hezbollah would remain in Syria as long as President Bashar Assad desired — as if Assad is even allowed to sneeze without asking Iran’s permission first.
Tehran understands that to perpetuate its dominant position in Syria, it must rely on local assets. Sectarian militias responsible for the worst massacres were trained and armed by Iran. Now it is reportedly recruiting a new generation of Syrian militias. IRGC and Hezbollah officers have embarked on a recruitment campaign throughout refugee camps, and batches of trainees recently graduated near the Syrian city of Deraa.
Hezbollah has reportedly paid around 2,000 former rebels to change sides, particularly among those forces that recently lost US funding. American officials sent WhatsApp messages to rebel commanders saying they should not go into battle with the “expectation of military intervention by us.” One commander bitterly interpreted Washington’s betrayal as meaning: “Go to Russia, go to the (Assad) regime, go to Iran.”
For rebels with their backs against the wall — many of whom picked up a gun when they were scarcely out of primary school — the prospect of a regular wage for performing the only role they know must be highly seductive, no matter whose agenda they will be serving.
Meanwhile, Iran-backed Al-Hashd Al-Shaabi paramilitaries in Iraq are recruiting Daesh fighters by offering them a salary, a military ID and a clean record. Around the flashpoint town of Jalawla, Al-Hashd has recruited dozens of militants. A Kurdish official observed how these extremists resurfaced “wearing new uniforms.”
Local Daesh commanders Mutashar Al-Turki and Zaid Mawlan, who fought the Kurds in 2014, have been identified fighting for Al-Hashd. According to one Al-Hashd source, Al-Turki “turned out to be a good man right after he changed allegiance, and now he is ensuring the security of the town of Tawuq against Daesh.”
Iran is often portrayed as having a pro-Shiite agenda, yet the Zaidi Houthis and Syria’s Alawites hail from significantly different schools of Islam. Also, Tehran exports weapons to the Taliban in Afghanistan, and after 2005 it was observed transferring munitions to Sunni extremists fighting the Americans in Iraq.
The recruitment of militants in Syria and Iraq illustrates Tehran’s desperation as it grapples with US sanctions. Iran hopes to put its regional proxies on a war footing as a bargaining chip, and in readiness to recommence their war with the West when the time is right.
Anti-Shiite terrorist leader Abu Musab Al-Zarqawi repeatedly took refuge in Iran and received training from its Quds Force. Iran for decades hosted Al-Qaeda leaders, sometimes detaining them, sometimes offering them safe passage or allowing terrorists such as Saif Al-Adl to coordinate atrocities such as the 1996 attack in Saudi Arabia that killed around 20 US personnel.
When US President Donald Trump previously speculated about siding with Assad against Daesh, he risked getting into bed with the creators of the monster he wanted to slay. Assad’s relationship with the figures who established Daesh dates back to the 2004-2011 period when his regime flooded Iraq with jihadists to fight the Americans.
Evidence from Syrian military defectors illustrates how Assad, with Iranian support, cultivated and released future Daesh leaders after the 2011 uprising began. Daesh was wielded both as a force to weaken the rebels, and as a bogeyman to terrorize the West.
Almost no major battles have been recorded between these supposed mortal enemies. Experts note how Syrian regime and Russian bombing raids touted as attacks against Daesh have mainly hit civilians. Iran, Russia and Daesh coordinated assaults against rebel forces for maximum impact.
Documents show how the city of Palmyra repeatedly changed hands peacefully, with the regime entrusting central Syrian regions to the militants whenever it lacked the capacity to hold them itself. Around 72 percent of Daesh’s wealth from oil trading came from the regime, which facilitated Daesh’s commercial activities, redeployments, and the arrival of new batches of terrorists.
Iran is not the defender of Shiites, but the patron of terrorist groups that inflicted the greatest harm on Shiite communities, fueling sectarian conflicts that killed countless thousands of innocent Arabs. Through the facilitation of Al-Qaeda in Iraq, the mobilization of Shiite militants against US forces, the nurturing of Daesh in Syria, and the creation of the largest paramilitary force of them all — Al-Hashd — Iran sits octopus-like at the nexus of regional terrorism.
Bloody terrorist attacks perpetrated by Hezbollah and the Quds Force during the 1980s in Lebanon, the Gulf and globally invented the genres of coordinated suicide bombings and Islamist terrorism, culminating in the 9/11 attacks.
Whenever Iran, Assad and Russia seek legitimacy by proclaiming their roles in combatting terrorism, we must not forget the fateful role they played in empowering the very forces they pretend to fight. Al-Hashd brought together pre-existing Tehran-sponsored militias in 2014 under the guise of fighting Daesh, yet most of their energies were thrown into sectarian cleansing campaigns against Sunnis and other vulnerable groups.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo recently said the Quds Force is conducting “covert assassination operations in the heart of Europe.” Along with the attempt in Denmark to assassinate oppositionists, Tehran was behind a botched bomb plot in Paris and a 2015 assassination near Amsterdam. European police recently arrested an Austria-based Iranian diplomat and a succession of other figures complicit in such attacks.
The recruitment of militants in Syria and Iraq illustrates Tehran’s desperation as it grapples with US sanctions. Iran hopes to put its regional proxies on a war footing as a bargaining chip, and in readiness to recommence their war with the West when the time is right.
Across Africa, the Middle East, Central Asia, Latin America and even Europe, Iran has been a reliable patron of terrorists and criminal networks. As fast as militants in Iraq, Yemen and Libya can be defeated, they regain strength and return to the offensive. The world will continue to be blighted by terrorism as long as Iran enjoys a free hand to meddle with impunity. Is any further argument required for why the containment of Tehran’s terrorist leadership must be a top global priority?
*Baria Alamuddin is an award-winning journalist and broadcaster in the Middle East and the UK. She is editor of the Media Services Syndicate, and has interviewed numerous heads of state.

US sanctions on Iran take full effect

Dr. Majid Rafizadeh/Arab News/November 04/18
The full re-imposition of US sanctions on Iran will put an unprecedented level of pressure on its theocratic establishment. When US President Donald Trump withdrew from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), commonly known as the Iran nuclear deal, a period of time went into effect in order to re-impose two sets of sanctions that were lifted by the Obama administration to appease Tehran and reach the deal.
The sanctions were divided into primary and secondary. The US Treasury Department had a 90-day and 180-day period respectively to re-impose all economic sanctions on Iran. These windows were designed to give adequate time and warning to foreign companies to leave Iranian markets and halt their dealings with the country.
The first set of sanctions took effect on Aug. 6, 2018. It was leveled against Iran’s automotive industry, its precious-metals industry, major transactions in its currency, the buying or selling of dollars by its government, any direct or indirect purchases, trade, transfers or selling of major construction materials, and any action associated with the regime’s sovereign debt.
Although the primary sanctions put pressure on Tehran, today’s sanctions are much more vital. To begin with, they are targeting Iran’s oil industry. Any oil-related transactions with the regime — including affiliated institutions such as the National Iranian Oil Co., the Naftiran Intertrade Co. and the National Iranian Tanker Co. — are illicit. Some 80 percent of Iran’s total exports are linked to its oil exports, and revenues from its petroleum industry account for roughly 30 percent of the country’s total budget and revenues.
Sanctions are also hitting another major part of Iran’s energy sector: The gas industry. Iran holds the world’s fourth-largest and second-largest proven crude oil and natural gas reserves, respectively. Tehran was hoping to become a major provider of gas to Europe.
Despite Tehran’s efforts to dismiss US sanctions, Iranian leaders are very concerned and apprehensive.
When the nuclear deal was reached, Total — one of the seven “supermajor” oil companies in the world — signed a deal worth an estimated $5 billion to develop Iran’s South Pars, which was going to be the world’s largest natural gas field after completion. But Total, like many other foreign companies, quit its project recently and took immediate action to back out of Iran’s market thanks to the US sanctions.
Iran’s oil revenues have already begun sinking, and will likely continue to do so. In fact, its oil revenues and exports have been steadily falling since the US withdrew from the JCPOA. In the first week of October, Iran’s oil exports dropped to approximately 1.1 million barrels per day (bpd). In April, before the US pulled out of the nuclear deal, Iran was exporting more than 2.5 million bpd. That represents a decline of more than 50 percent.
Today’s sanctions are also significant because they will cut off the flow of funds to the regime and significantly impact its efforts to fund and sponsor terrorist and militia groups across the region. Furthermore, sanctions against some Iranian individuals that were lifted by the Obama administration in January 2016 will be re-imposed.
Despite Tehran’s efforts to dismiss US sanctions, Iranian leaders are very concerned and apprehensive as they have already witnessed the financial repercussions of the previous sanctions.
Tehran will likely frame them as solely affecting US citizens, but the sanctions are also applied to non-US citizens and entities. As the Treasury Department previously stipulated: “Non-US, non-Iranian persons are advised to use these time periods to wind down their activities with or involving Iran that will become sanctionable at the end of the applicable wind-down period.”
Although the US may not try to bring foreign entities to court for violating the sanctions, non-American persons and companies run the risk of losing their business with the US and being sanctioned. As such, large corporations and foreign firms ought to be extremely cautious in conducting any business with Iran.
*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

Turkish-US relations continue to fluctuate
Yasar Yakis/Arab News/November 04/18
Turkish-US tensions eased slightly last week with Ankara’s release of American pastor Andrew Brunson, who was detained for two years in Turkey. Washington and Ankara subsequently lifted reciprocal sanctions. The thaw continued when the US decided to keep eight countries outside the scope of sanctions on Iran because of their dependence on Iranian oil. Turkey’s energy minister said his country was among the eight.
Ankara and Washington also agreed to carry out joint patrols on the outskirts of the northern Syrian city of Manbij. It remains to be seen whether the agreement will be implemented to Turkey’s satisfaction and lead to the withdrawal of all fighters of the Syrian-Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) from Manbij.
If the Turkish-US thaw continues, it may contribute to easing other tensions. One of them is the ban imposed by the US Congress on the delivery of F-35 fighters to Turkey. The irony is that Turkey manufactures several components of the aircraft, so the entire production program may be affected negatively. It may take more than a year to fill the gap if Turkey stops delivery of these components. Another defense-related issue is Ankara’s purchase of the Russian S-400 air defense system, which is not interoperable with the NATO air defense equipment that the Turkish military is equipped with.
If the S-400 identifies an imminent threat directed at Turkey, it will not be able to convey this message automatically to the country’s air defense system, rendering useless billions of dollars’ worth of Turkey’s defense infrastructure. This is a major shift in defense doctrine, which is conceivable only if there is a major shift in the threat perception.
If the Turkish-US thaw continues, it may contribute to easing other tensions.
The extradition of Turkish cleric Fetullah Gulen is another thorny issue. Ankara considers him the mastermind of the attempted military coup in July 2016, and is pushing hard to secure his extradition. But the US, where Gulen resides, has not been forthcoming.
Then there is the fine to be imposed on Turkish state-owned lender Halk Bankasi for its involvement in circumventing US sanctions on Iran. The US Treasury Department is yet to announce the amount of the fine. If it turns to be sizeable, Turkey’s economy will become even more fragile.
None of the aforementioned disagreements is as important as the one about US support for the YPG. On Oct. 26, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced preparations for a military operation against the group east of the Euphrates River in northern Syria.
The day after the announcement, a summit meeting in Istanbul between the leaders of Turkey, Russia, France and Germany issued a final communique confirming Erdogan’s statement in different words, saying the leaders “expressed their determination to reject separatist agendas aimed at undermining the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Syria as well as the national security of neighboring countries.”
But support for the “security of neighboring countries,” in other words Turkey, does not mean that if Turkish and American forces clash east of the Euphrates, Russia, Germany and France will side with Ankara. Last Tuesday, Erdogan said: “We will soon crush the (YPG) terrorist organization with more comprehensive and effective operations. We have completed our preparations.” If this means a military operation east of the Euphrates like the ones in the Syrian cities of Al-Bab or Afrin, the risks will be higher this time for two reasons.
Firstly, the YPG is better armed and trained than in the past. Secondly, the operations in Al-Bab and Afrin were carried out with tacit US consent, and there was no American military presence in these areas. There are now more than 20 US military bases and several thousand American troops in YPG-held territory, and there is no US consent this time.
On the contrary, the State Department’s spokesman said: “Unilateral military strikes into northeast Syria are of great concern to us because there may be American personnel in the vicinity.” One can only hope that Turkish decision-makers have thoroughly considered all the potential consequences of such an operation.
*Yasar Yakis is a former foreign minister of Turkey and founding member of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP). Twitter: @yakis_yasar

Iraq calls on US to stop meddling in its internal affairs

Mina Aldroubi/The National/November 04/18
Iraqi Popular Mobilization Forces march as they hold their flag and posters of Iraqi and Iranian Shiites spiritual leaders during "al-Quds" or Jerusalem Day, in Baghdad, Iraq. AP
Iraqi Popular Mobilization Forces march as they hold their flag and posters of Iraqi and Iranian Shiites spiritual leaders during "al-Quds" or Jerusalem Day, in Baghdad, Iraq. AP
Iraq has called on Washington to stop meddling in it's internal affairs after the US Department of State said Iran must respect Baghdad's sovereignty and disarm Shiite militias that operate in the country.
The department last week published 12 requirements for Iran to behave like a "normal state" before new sanctions on Iran's oil and financial sector would take effect on Monday. The demands, published on Twitter, include calls for Tehran to demobilize and end support for it's proxy forces in Syria, Iraq, Yemen, Palestine and Lebanon.
The far-reaching demands were translated into Arabic and shared on the US embassy in Baghdad's Twitter page, drawing criticism from Iraqi officials.
"Iraq's foreign ministry rejects the embassy's statement. It is seen as an interference in Iraq's internal affairs," foreign ministry spokesman, Ahmed Mahjoob, told The National on Sunday.
Mr Mahjoob said the statement violated diplomatic norms and disregarded Iraq's sovereignty.
Both Tehran and Washington have competed for influence in Iraq since the 2003 US invasion that toppled former dictator Saddam Hussein. In an interview with The National last week, Brett McGurk, the US envoy for the global coalition to defeat ISIS, said that Washington wanted to help Iraqi's strengthen their country's sovereignty and independence.
"That is the objective for the new government and we look forward to do all we can to help them in that regard," Mr McGurk said. The Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF), a controversial organization that consists of around 50 predominantly-Shiite paramilitary groups, including factions linked to Iran, were formed in 2014 after Ayatollah Ali Al Sistani, Iraq's top Shiite cleric, urged citizens to take up arms against ISIS.
The PMF provided instrumental support to the Iraqi army and security forces in the many battles against ISIS since the militants overran large areas of the country in 2014. This critical auxiliary role awarded them semi-official status as an an independent military formation that is part of the Iraqi armed forces. However, the Iraqi government has so far failed to bring them under complete state control, even after the defeat of ISIS in December.
A sizable portion of the country's Shiite majority view the PMF as the primary bulwark against radical militant groups, making the task of disarming the militias one of the biggest challenges facing newly appointed Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi.
However, many in the country, including Shiite followers of the powerful cleric Moqtada Al Sadr, see the PMF as an instrument of Tehran's regional ambitions.
Washington has continuously called on Iran to end it's support for the PMF especially as sanctions approach. "Here’s a reminder about the second requirement for the Islamic Republic of Iran to behave like a normal state: The Iranian regime must end the IRGC-Qods Force’s support for terrorists and militant partners," the State Department said in a tweet on Saturday.

Tehran’s terror reaches the shores of Denmark

Ali Alfoneh/The Arab Weekly/November 04/18
Regardless of which agency was behind the suspected terror plot in Denmark, Europe must brace itself for more assassination attempts.
Iran has a long history of espionage and even assassination of political opponents abroad. For some time, however, while the espionage continued, the regime appeared to have abandoned the practice of political assassinations. Members of the opposition never posed a real threat to the regime in Tehran and the diplomatic cost of such operations was too high.
However, the arrest of an Iranian/Norwegian dual national in Sweden indicates a change in calculations and mode of operation by some group in Tehran.
On September 28, Danish police started a manhunt that paralysed the country because the eastern island of Zealand, home to Copenhagen, was cut off. Danish police said they were looking for a black Swedish-registered car with “possibly three people onboard” in connection with “serious criminality.”
A few days later, it became clear that Danish police expected the imminent assassination or kidnapping by Iranian agents of an individual known by the pseudonym Yaquob Hurr al-Tisteri.
The target, who lives in Ringsted, 60km south-west of Copenhagen, is the spokesman of the secessionist Arab Struggle Movement for the Liberation of Ahwaz (ASMLA).
Tisteri publicly defended the September 22 terrorist attack against an Iranian military parade in Ahvaz. In an interview with Iran International TV in London, Tisteri credited the Ahvaz National Resistance (ANR) with the attack. He said the Ahvaz independence movement endorsed “armed struggle against the military and legitimate targets, including oil pipelines and facilities, the [Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps] IRGC and military forces of the Islamic Republic, to the extent that ordinary citizens are not harmed.”
The other organisation that claimed responsibility for the attack was the Islamic State (ISIS). On September 23, ISIS released a video allegedly showing three perpetrators on their way to the parade, which largely discredits Tisteri’s claim on behalf of the Ahvazi group.
Authorities in Denmark remain tight-lipped but, in an October 30 news conference, Danish Security and Intelligence Service chief Finn Borch Andersen said an arrest had been made in Gothenburg, Sweden. Andersen said the individual had been arrested on suspicion of helping an unspecified Iranian intelligence service “to act in Denmark” and for alleged involvement in a plot to assassinate members of the ASMLA.
Norway’s TV2 reported that the arrested man is a father in his 30s. He is said to have achieved a residence permit — possibly political asylum — in Norway by claiming he was opposed to the regime in Iran. He has a “technical education” from Iran and worked with different companies in the IT sector in Norway.
He attracted the interest of Danish police when he photographed ASMLA’s small office from a car with Swedish registration plates. He shook off the Danish police tailing him but was apprehended in Sweden.
It is not yet known which Iranian intelligence service the Iranian/Norwegian dual national was working for. However, considering the IRGC was targeted in the Ahvaz terror attack, the suspect probably cooperates with the IRGC Intelligence Organisation. This intelligence outfit’s calculations may differ from those of the more professional Ministry of Intelligence and Security (MOIS).
The MOIS has, from the mid-1990s, generally shied from the assassination of Iranians abroad but the IRGC Intelligence Organisation is just asserting itself as the premier agent of extraterritorial assassinations.
Had the IRGC Intelligence assassinated Tisteri and his associates, it would have accomplished two things: intimidating the Iranian opposition at home and embarrassing President Hassan Rohani and his technocratic government abroad.
In any case, regardless of which agency was behind the suspected terror plot in Denmark, Europe must brace itself for more assassination attempts.

Husband of Pakistan Blasphemy Case Woman Pleads for Asylum
الحكومة الباكستانية لم تطلق سراح المسيحية اسيا بيبي بعد تبرئتها من تهمة التجديف وزوجها يطالب باللجوء خوفاً على حياة عائلته