Detailed Lebanese & Lebanese Related LCCC English New Bulletin For November 09/2018
Compiled & Prepared by: Elias Bejjani

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Bible Quotations
We renounce shameful things that one hides; we refuse to practise cunning or to falsify God’s word
Second Letter to the Corinthians 04/01-06: "Therefore, since it is by God’s mercy that we are engaged in this ministry, we do not lose heart. We have renounced the shameful things that one hides; we refuse to practise cunning or to falsify God’s word; but by the open statement of the truth we commend ourselves to the conscience of everyone in the sight of God. And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing. In their case the God of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. For we do not proclaim ourselves; we proclaim Jesus Christ as Lord and ourselves as your slaves for Jesus’ sake. For it is the God who said, ‘Let light shine out of darkness’, who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.

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

Daily Lebanese/Arabic - English news bulletins on our LCCC web site.Click on the link below

Titles For The Latest LCCC Bulletin analysis & editorials from miscellaneous sources published on November 08-09/18
Lebanon’s government and Iran’s sanctionsRadwan al-Sayed/Al Arabiya/November 08/18
US urges Russia to allow resumed Israeli air strikes in Syria/DebkaFile/November 08/18
Will Houthis Respond to the US Call/Salman Al-dossary/Asharq Al Awsat/November 08/18
China Infiltrates American Campuses/Gordon G. Chang/Gatestone Institute/November 08/18
How Extremist Scholars Promote Terrorism, Violence/A. Z. Mohamed/Gatestone Institute/November 08/18
Iran’s sanctions and Saudi Arabia’s future/Abdullah bin Bijad Al-Otaibi/Al Arabiya/November 08/18
CASA project and energy dynamics across Central, South Asia/Sabena Siddiqui/Al Arabiya/November 08/18
Nation building through state building/Shehab Al-Makahleh/Al Arabiya/November 08/18
Europe-Iran relations complicated by alleged assassination attempts/Kerry Boyd Anderson/Arab News/November 08/18
Mullahs’ policies exacerbating Iran’s financial crisis/Dr. Majid Rafizadeh/Arab News/November 08/18

Titles For The Latest LCCC Lebanese Related News published on November 08-09/18
Hezbollah-Backed Jamal Suleiman Leaves Lebanon to Syria
Lebanon’s Speaker: No Breakthrough in Cabinet Formation
Hezbollah not cooperating in government dispute
Mashnouq: Hariri Won’t Withdraw, Sunni MPs Made the Wrong Approach
Hawat: Electricity Disaster Result of Your Failures
Houri Says Hizbullah 'Confining' Govt. Formation
Loyalty to Resistance: Key Forces Must Cooperate to Represent Independent Sunnis
Hezbollah: No Compromise on Sunni MPs’ Representation
Lebanon Ready to Assist in Return of 200,000 Syrian Refugees Before Year’s End
Khoury Gets Berri’s Support in Measures against Generator Owners
Taymour Jumblat Meets Bogdanov in Moscow
No information of Syrian refugees killed upon return: Aoun
Maronite Patriarch, Gemayel Confer over Christians Role
Judge Postpones Session to Examine Kataeb Lawsuit in Waste Landfill Case
Lebanon’s government and Iran’s sanctions

Titles For The Latest LCCC Bulletin For Miscellaneous Reports And News published on November 08-09/18
Pakistan blasphemy case: Asia Bibi freed from jail
Gunman opens fire at bar in California leaves 12 dead
Iraq Gets U.S. Sanctions Break to Keep the Lights On
Syria Army Frees Druze Hostages from IS
Kurds near Turkey Border Dread Fresh Offensive
US urges Russia to allow resumed Israeli air strikes in Syria
Bulgaria detains three Iranians with fake Israeli passports
US warns nations not to allow Iranian oil tankers into their territorial waters
Iranians Enraged by Luxury Life of the Rich, Powerful
US Allows Sanctions Exception for Iran Port Development
Raged by Tel Aviv's Policy, Putin Rejects to Meet Netanyahu
Israeli Forces Detain 11 Palestinians Including PLC Member
PLO: Washington Rejected Oman's Attempt to Pave Way for Peace
ISIS Suffers Heavy Syria Losses
Egypt Sentences 8 Militants to Death over Army Attack
New Egyptian Efforts to Reach Reconciliation Between Palestine, Israel
Egypt's Sisi Warns of Social Media Dangers
China Will Not Sell Passenger Planes to Iran
Sudan Expresses Will to Negotiate with Rebels
58 Combatants Killed in Fighting for Yemen's Hodeida
Houthi Leader Pleads with Deserters to Return
Seoul Says N. Korea Asked to Delay Pompeo Talks
The Latest LCCC Lebanese Related News published on November 08-09/18
Hezbollah-Backed Jamal Suleiman Leaves Lebanon to Syria
Beirut - Asharq Al-Awsat/Thursday, 8 November, 2018/Ansarullah Secretary-General Jamal Suleiman has left the Mieh Mieh Palestinian refugee camp in southern Lebanon along with 20 family members under a deal brokered by Hezbollah to end the violent clashes between Ansarullah and Fatah movement that shook the shantytown last month. The Hezbollah-linked Ansarullah leader’s reported departure to Syria was part of the solution intended to restore stability and normal life in the camp, which lies near the southern city of Sidon, and its outskirts. Extracting Suleiman from the camp took six hours and was coordinated between Lebanese and Palestinian officials following a lengthy security meeting at the Zogheib military barracks, under the supervision of the head of Hezbollah’s Liaison Unit, Wafiq Safa. At about 1:00 AM Wednesday, a convoy of four-wheel-drive vehicles headed to Mieh Mieh, accompanied by security officials, and went directly to Suleiman’s security zone. Suleiman had already planned for his departure and was accompanied by his four wives and six sons - Hamza, Maher, Khaled, Hassan, Mohammad and Mustafa - along with ten of his bodyguards. About 45 minutes later, the convoy left the camp, carrying Suleiman and his companions outside the camp, then out of Sidon, and heading to the southern suburbs of Beirut as a first destination. His last destination is Syria, according to informed sources. Shortly before Suleiman left, about 25 Ansarullah members led by the movement’s military official, Maher Owaid, took control of his security zone. With Suleiman’s departure, the most important item in the agreement reached under the supervision of Amal Movement and Hezbollah to end the clashes in the refugee camp has been enforced, pending implementation of further clauses. Scores of people have been killed and injured in the clashes between Ansarullah and Fatah that erupted mid-October in Mieh Mieh.

Lebanon’s Speaker: No Breakthrough in Cabinet Formation
Beirut - Caroline Akoum/Asharq Al-Awsat/Thursday, 8 November, 2018/Lebanon’s Maronite Bishops on Wednesday called for removing “last-minute obstacles to the announcement of the new government," while Speaker Nabih Berri said there was no breakthrough in the lineup. Following their weekly meeting with Berri, deputies quoted the speaker as saying that no solution has been found yet to the representation of the March 8 coalition’s Sunni deputies in the next cabinet, a request made by Hezbollah before handing Prime Minister-designate Saad Hariri the names of the party’s proposed ministers. In this regard, Hezbollah-allied Sunni deputies met Wednesday in Beirut and held Hariri responsible for the delay in the cabinet formation process. Hariri traveled to Paris a week ago. Local reports said he would stay in the French capital until next week to attend the November 11 World War I commemorations. On Wednesday, Hariri’s Mustaqbal Movement said the PM-designate had made a final decision not to name any of the independent Sunni deputies in his new cabinet. Two days ago, a lawmaker claimed that Berri had informed him that he had not heard from Hariri any rejection to appoint one of the March 8 alliance’s Sunni MPs in his next cabinet. However, Mustaqbal swiftly denied the reports. For their part, the Maronite bishops highlighted the necessity to "liberate" the upcoming cabinet from internal and external parties. "Let the government be the gift on Independence Day, which is two weeks away," the Bishops said in a statement following their meeting in Bkirki. They also deplored the spat on the distribution of portfolios. Former Mustaqbal deputy Mustafa Alloush told Asharq Al-Awsat that the bishops’ plea was a sign that the formation process has become very challenging. Meanwhile, a senior political source close to Hezbollah told Reuters it was up to President Michel Aoun to resolve the problem because neither Hezbollah nor Hariri could give ground. “Neither can Hariri retreat, nor can the (Hezbollah-allied) Sunnis, nor can Hezbollah. If the president wants a government he has to take the responsibility,” the source said. With regards to a two-day parliamentary session scheduled for next Monday, Berri described it as more than necessary, saying the legislature would continue to assume its responsibilities and that it would not allow the country to remain paralyzed.
Hezbollah not cooperating in government dispute
Row over Sunni representation final hurdle to formation of new government
Gulf News/Agencies/November 08, 2018/Beirut - The Lebanese Shiite Muslim group Hezbollah will not give way in a dispute over Sunni Muslim representation in a new unity government, the pro-Hezbollah Al Akhbar newspaper reported on Wednesday, signalling no quick end to the standoff. Separately, a senior political source close to Hezbollah told Reuters it was up to President Michel Aoun, a Maronite Christian, to resolve the problem because neither Hezbollah nor Prime Minister-designate Sa’ad Hariri could give ground. Six months since a parliamentary election, the row over Sunni representation is seen as the final hurdle to the formation of a new government. Posts in the 30-seat cabinet are parcelled out along sectarian lines. Lebanon is in dire need of a government able to make economic reforms that are seen as more pressing than ever. The country is wrestling with the world’s third largest public debt as a proportion of the economy and stagnant growth. A deal seemed close last week when a dispute over Christian representation was settled, with the anti-Hezbollah Christian Lebanese Forces ceding ground to Aoun and his Free Patriotic Movement, which is allied to Hezbollah. But Hezbollah, a powerful armed group backed by Iran, is pressing its demand for one of its Sunni allies to be given a cabinet portfolio to reflect gains they made in the May 6 parliamentary election. Al Akhbar, citing unidentified sources, said Aoun and Hariri must listen to Hezbollah’s Sunni allies “and agree with them on a way out” of the row. “Hezbollah will accept whatever the allies find appropriate,” it said. Hariri, Lebanon’s leading Sunni who is currently on a visit to France, has ruled out ceding one of his cabinet seats to the Hezbollah-allied Sunnis. Another possibility would be for Aoun to nominate one of the Hezbollah-allied Sunnis within a group of ministers allocated to him. But he appeared to rule this out last week when he criticised the Hezbollah-allied Sunnis for demanding a ministry, saying their demand was “not proper” or “justified”. The senior political source close to Hezbollah said the ball was in Aoun’s court. “Neither can Hariri retreat, nor can the (Hezbollah-allied) Sunnis, nor can Hezbollah. If the president wants a government he has to take the responsibility,” the source said.

Mashnouq: Hariri Won’t Withdraw, Sunni MPs Made the Wrong Approach
Caretaker Interior Minister Nouhad al-Mashnouq assured on Thursday that Prime Minister-designate Saad Hariri will not withdraw from forming the country’s government, noting that Sunni MPs have made the wrong approach. On Hariri’s presence in Paris amid rumors he is on a retreat in the French capital, Mashnouq brushed off the claims. “It is a matter of days and Hariri will return back to Beirut to hold contacts with the various political parties in a bid to find a solution. Calm rhetoric is crucial in order to form the government, which will be formed according to the national standards,” said Mashnouq. His remarks came after meeting Grand Mufti of the republic Abdullatif Daryan in Dar el-Fatwa. On demands of the so-called independent Sunni MPs of March 8 to be represented in the government, Mashnouq said they “made the wrong approach.”“They used the wrong door and approached it through a political party not suitable to name any of them,” he said, in an indirect reference to Hizbullah. The government was on the verge of formation on October 29 after the Lebanese Forces accepted the portfolios that were assigned to it but a last-minute hurdle over the representation of the aforementioned MPs surfaced. Hizbullah insisted that the six Sunni MPs should be given a seat in the government, refraining from providing Prime Minister-designate Saad Hariri with the names of its own ministers in a bid to press him. President Michel Aoun -- a Hizbullah ally and the FPM founder -- threw his support behind Hariri and rejected the demand during a TV interview, slamming the “use of delay as a political tactic” and insisting that the aforementioned MPs are “individuals and not a bloc.”

Hawat: Electricity Disaster Result of Your Failures

MP Ziad Hawat criticized on Thursday the State’s failure to resolve Lebanon’s chronic electricity crisis. "The electricity disaster is the fruit of your epic failure to secure this service for years," Hawat said via Twitter. "This is the main problem here. Do not throw it only on private generators owners," he wrote. "Provide electricity as you promised, and then the need for generators will be no more. The argument of 'generator traders' will not wipe off the argument of 'politics traders',” he lashed out. Electricity providers had switched off their generators for two hours on Tuesday, plunging most Lebanese regions into darkness, to protest perceived maltreatment at the hands of authorities and security forces. Caretaker Justice Minister Salim Jreissati issued a stern warning afterwards telling them that authorities would “confiscate” their generators should they stage another cut-off protest. Authorities have been trying to implement a decree obliging providers to install meters for their subscribers amid an uproar over new tariffs and alleged technical difficulties.

Houri Says Hizbullah 'Confining' Govt. Formation
Naharnet/November 08/18/Al-Mustaqbal Movement former MP Ammar Houri on Thursday blamed Hizbullah party for the government formation delay, as he assured that head of the Movement, Prime Minister-designate Saad Hariri’s presence in Paris is only “temporary.”“When Hizbullah sees that the regional situation suits it, only then will it let the government be formed,” Houri said in remarks he made to VDL (100.5) radio station. “Hizbullah is holding the Sunni paper and confining the government formation for regional cognition,” he added, referring to the representation hurdle of Sunni MPs of March 8. The MP said that regardless of the reasons, Hizbullah’s main goal is to delay the formation. “If it was not for the Sunni obstacle, Hizbullah would have invented a new one just to hamper the formation,” he stated. On Hariri’s presence in the French capital in light of reports claiming he is on a retreat, Houri said: “Hariri is not on a retreat in Paris. His presence there is only temporary.”The government was on the verge of formation on October 29 after the Lebanese Forces accepted the portfolios that were assigned to it but a last-minute hurdle over the representation of the aforementioned MPs surfaced. Hizbullah insisted that the six Sunni MPs should be given a seat in the government, refraining from providing Prime Minister-designate Saad Hariri with the names of its own ministers in a bid to press him. President Michel Aoun -- a Hizbullah ally and the FPM founder -- threw his support behind Hariri and rejected the demand during a TV interview, slamming the “use of delay as a political tactic” and insisting that the aforementioned MPs are “individuals and not a bloc.”

Loyalty to Resistance: Key Forces Must Cooperate to Represent Independent Sunnis
Naharnet/November 08/18/Hizbullah’s Loyalty to Resistance bloc on Thursday called on the country’s “key forces” to “cooperate” to represent the so-called “independent Sunnis” in the new , government, warning that the marginalization of any component is not in the country’s interest. “The formation of the government is very important in order to delineate the safe tracks that Lebanon must be put on so that it preserves its security and addresses its domestic problems,” said the bloc in a statement issued after its weekly meeting. “A government bringing together most political components is the right and needed framework for confronting the challenges,” Loyalty to Resistance added, noting that “the elimination of any political component and the rejection of its participation in the government do not serve the national interest or the government’s proper functioning.”Referring to the controversy over the issue of representing pro-Hizbullah Sunni MPs in the cabinet, the bloc said “representing the independent Sunnis is a responsibility that falls mainly on the PM-designate,” calling on the “key forces” to “cooperate to achieve this thing.”The government was on the verge of formation on October 29 after the Lebanese Forces accepted the portfolios that were assigned to it but a last-minute hurdle over the representation of the aforementioned MPs surfaced. Hizbullah insisted that the six Sunni MPs should be given a seat in the government, refraining from providing Prime Minister-designate Saad Hariri with the names of its own ministers in a bid to press him. President Michel Aoun -- a Hizbullah ally and the FPM founder -- threw his support behind Hariri and rejected the demand during a TV interview, slamming the “use of delay as a political tactic” and insisting that the aforementioned MPs are “individuals and not a bloc.”

Hezbollah: No Compromise on Sunni MPs’ Representation
The Daily Star/ Thursday 08th November 2018/Despite growing criticism of its role in the Cabinet formation process, Hezbollah does not appear to be willing to compromise over its support for a demand by independent Sunni lawmakers for representation, the last remaining hurdle to the formation, senior party officials said Wednesday. “From the very beginning, we have supported the independent Sunni MPs in their demand to be represented in the new government. These MPs have a weighty representation and have the right to be represented in the government under the criterion used in the formation of a national unity Cabinet,” caretaker Youth and Sports Minister Mohammad Fneish, one two Hezbollah ministers in the outgoing Cabinet, told The Daily Star. “We support these MPs’ right to be represented in the new Cabinet,” he said. Asked how the problem of the six so-called “independent” Sunni MPs not affiliated with the Future Movement would eventually be resolved in order to clear the way for the Cabinet formation, which has been deadlocked for nearly six months, Fneish said: “The solution to this problem lies with the prime minister-designate in understanding with the president.”

Lebanon Ready to Assist in Return of 200,000 Syrian Refugees Before Year’s End

TASS/Thursday 08th November 2018,/Lebanese authorities are ready to assist in the return of about 200,000 Syrian refugees to their native country before the end of the year, Head of the Russian National Defense Management Center Colonel General Mikhail Mizintsev said at the Wednesday meeting of the Russian and Syrian coordination centers for the return of refugees. "Lebanon and Jordan have been actively assisting in the return of Syrian refugees to their homes. Lebanese authorities have expressed readiness to ensure the return of about 200,000 refugees before the end of the year," Mizintsev said.According to the general, these plans imply only voluntary return of refugees based on the fundamental principles of the United Nations.

Khoury Gets Berri’s Support in Measures against Generator Owners
Naharnet/November 08/18/Caretaker Economy Minister Raed Khoury on Thursday announced that he has the support of Speaker Nabih Berri regarding the ministry’s decision to regulate the private power providers sector. “The Speaker supports us in using all the available legal measures to impose the state’s authority and he is ready for any help,” said Khoury after talks with Berri in Ain el-Tineh. “We’re not concerned with the escalation of generator owners, we’re only concerned with implementing the laws and we will act accordingly,” the minister added.
He also revealed that “850 fines have been issued over the past month and have been referred to the judiciary.”Caretaker Justice Minister Salim Jreissati had on Wednesday issued a stern warning to neighborhood power generator providers, telling them that authorities would “confiscate” their generators should they stage another cut-off protest. Providers had switched off their generators for two hours on Tuesday, plunging most Lebanese regions into darkness, to protest perceived maltreatment at the hands of authorities and security forces. Authorities have been trying to implement a decree obliging providers to install meters for their subscribers amid an uproar over new tariffs and alleged technical difficulties.

Taymour Jumblat Meets Bogdanov in Moscow
Naharnet/November 08/18/The head of the Democratic Gathering MP Taymour Jumblat held talks Wednesday in Moscow with Russia’s Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov. A statement issued by the Progressive Socialist Party said the meeting was attended by the Russian official in charge of the Lebanese, Syrian and Palestinian files, Andrey Panov, MP Wael Abu Faour and Dr. Halim Bou Fakhreddine. The terse statement said talks “tackled the latest developments.”Jumblat had visited Moscow in August to discuss the situations of the Druze community in Syria's Jabal al-Arab region in the wake of a bloody Islamic State assault on the region. The young MP said at the time that he discussed means to “protect” the Druze of Syria in his talks with the Russian officials.

No information of Syrian refugees killed upon return: Aoun
The Daily Star/November 08, 2018/BEIRUT: President Michel Aoun said Thursday that there is no information indicating that Syrian refugees who returned to their homeland have been subject to persecution, hours after a group of refugees left Lebanon.
“President Aoun confirmed that there was no information on the persecution of Syrian refugees returning to their country,” a tweet from the presidency’s Twitter read. Aoun was also quoted as saying that “the international community's assistance to Syrian refugees after they return to their country encourages them to return.” The president’s remarks appeared to refer to last week’s claims by caretaker Minister of State for Refugee Affairs Mouin Merehbi that regime forces had killed around 20 Syrian refugees who returned from Lebanon. “The information received ... also shows they were killed by a senior official in the Syrian regime’s army,” Merehbi said at the time.Syrian refugees departed from various gathering points in Lebanon Thursday morning aboard buses destined for their home country, as part of the latest voluntary return process organized by Lebanese General Security, the state-run National News Agency reported. “Many of the Syrian refugees are returning at their own expense, especially after the situation in Syria has become stable and reconstruction has begun,” said Mustafa Mansour, head of the Association of Arab Syrian Workers in Lebanon, according to the NNA. The NNA reported that two buses carrying 53 Syrian refugees departed from a meeting point at the Camille Chamoun Sports City Stadium in Beirut. And in the southern city of Nabatieh, 32 returnees gathered at the Kamel Yousef Jaber Cultural and Social Center in preparation. Another group of Syrian refugees gathered at Bassel al-Assad Cultural Center in the southern coastal city of Tyre ready to return to Syria. A group of 80 Syrians in the northeastern town of Arsal were also ready to depart to their hometowns in Syria’s Qalamoun. The United Nations refugee agency and the Lebanese Red Cross deployed ambulances and mobile clinics to ensure the safety of the Syrian refugees, the NNA said. General Security personnel were also present and monitoring procedures at the assembly points. When General Security announced the return a day prior, it said buses would also be departing from Tripoli and Bekaa before making their way through the Masnaa, Abboudieh and Al-Zamarani border crossings. General Security has been registering Syrian refugees who are willing to return and organizing their transportation, as well as serving as an intermediary with Syrian authorities. Most recently, 545 Syrians returned to their home country last week.
Maronite Patriarch, Gemayel Confer over Christians Role 08th November 2018/Maronite Patriarch Bechara Al-Rahi on Thursday met with Kataeb MP Nadim Gemayel in Bkirki, with talks featuring high on the latest developments in the country. Following the meeting, Gemayel said that he had briefed the Patriarch on his latest visit to Benachii where he met with Marada leader Sleiman Frangieh and his son, MP Tony Frangieh. The two men also conferred over the role that the Christians must play in Lebanon, as well as in the Middle East, amid the large-scale changes being witnessed.

Judge Postpones Session to Examine Kataeb Lawsuit in Waste Landfill Case 08th November 2018/Metn's Urgent Matters Judge Ralph Karkabi on Thursday postponed once again a session aimed at examining the lawsuit filed by the Kataeb party to demand the closure of the Burj Hammoud landfill. The lawsuit was lodged against the Development and Reconstruction Council and the contracting company owned by Dany Khoury. The upcoming session has been scheduled for December 8.
Lebanon’s government and Iran’s sanctions
Radwan al-Sayed/Al Arabiya/November 08/18
For the past three months, the dispute over the formation of the Lebanese government seemed to revolve around two axes: the president’s clash with the prime minister and his jurisdictions and role, and the president’s and his son-in-law’s confrontation with the Lebanese Forces.
For several months it appeared that the president and not Hariri, who is the prime minister-designate, is the one who is forming the government. According to the constitution, the prime minister-designate is the one who forms the cabinet in consultation with heads of the parliamentary blocs. He then presents the cabinet formation to the president who in turn issues a decree and transfers the matter to the parliament to discuss the cabinet’s ministerial statement and vote on it. Presidential spokesmen, however claimed that the president does not only sign the decree but is a participant in government formation. Former prime ministers Fouad Seniora, Tammam Salam and Najib Mikati and constitutional jurists have said that norms and traditions (like those related to the President’s quota) were not considered, and the word is for the parliament hence there is no need for control by the president, or else what is the role of the parliament?!
Three months ago, those close to Hezbollah told me that Hezbollah does not want a government in Lebanon. I said that this is irrational as Hezbollah is besieged and sanctions on it and on Iran are increasing
President versus parliament
Anyway, it seems that Hariri satisfied the president by giving him the right to appoint a Sunni figure from his party as a minister, as it was in the first government. Thus, the debate over the president’s quota fizzled out. Over the past two months, however, a public debate raged between Gebran Bassil, who is Aoun’s son-in-law, and Samir Geagea over the Lebanese Forces’ share in the government. They violently and publicly argued over these two issues: the quota of each of the two parties according to the results of the elections, and the written agreement between both parties in Maarab (2015-2016).
The written agreement states that the ministries and the general directorates of the Christians would be divided in half between them and the Muslims. According to the Lebanese Forces’ calculation, they should have four or five Christian ministers and a deputy prime minister. After long acrimonious exchanges between the two parties and after Walid Jumblatt stopped insisting on choosing the three Druze minister and got convinced to give the president the right to choose the third Druze minister, the Lebanese Forces were forced to accept three ministers and a deputy prime minister. This is in addition to accepting their ministries be of third degree and not to include any important ministries, like the ministry of justice, education or public works!
Anyhow, after clearing all obstacles, the government would now be formed. However, Hezbollah had surprised everyone by calling for appointing a Sunni minister from among the Sunni MPs who are not part of Hariri’s bloc. Hezbollah said that they nominate Faisal Karami. The other surprise was that Hariri and the president refused this under the pretext that these independent Sunnis who were elected do not represent a bloc but they are only factions, adding that some of those allied with Hezbollah won in the elections via non-Sunni votes thanks to the proportional electoral law that was adopted during this year’s elections!
Iran’s remote control
Three months ago, those close to Hezbollah told me that Hezbollah does not want a government in Lebanon. I said that this is irrational as Hezbollah is besieged and sanctions on it and on Iran are increasing, and although it is true that Hezbollah controls Lebanon, the coming months are dangerous hence the government cover, though being transparent, benefits it and does not harm it, as everyone is submissive and they have, for the last two years, challenged the Americans, the Europeans and international laws for Hezbollah’s sake. A few days ago, the UN Secretary General said that Hezbollah could drag Lebanon into war, and that the government should disarm it according to UN resolution 1559. Meanwhile, the president and the prime minister kept saying that Hezbollah does not use its weapons internally!
All these considerations are not part of Hezbollah’s priorities, as there are Iranian considerations that control its decisions. Iran believes that there should be no government in Lebanon that would have to implement the sanctions imposed by Trump’s administration and which would require procedures by the banks and the government. Those who know the Lebanese president and the prime minister-designate also know that they accept all the demands of Hezbollah, even if it may seem detrimental to national interests. As for Hezbollah and Iran they still believe that holding on to Lebanon, Syria, Yemen and Iraq is beneficial for them in challenging the West and negotiating with it at the same time. Although the international community is concerned that a government has not been formed, observers argue that even if the government is formed, it will not solve the national burdens and might even complicate them.

The Latest LCCC Bulletin For Miscellaneous Reports And News published on
November 08-09/18
Pakistan blasphemy case: Asia Bibi freed from jail
BBC/November 08/18/A Pakistani Christian woman acquitted of blasphemy after spending eight years on death row has been freed from prison, her lawyer says. Some reports say Asia Bibi has boarded a plane but its destination was not known. The Supreme Court ruling sparked protests from Islamists and the government had said it would bar her from leaving Pakistan. Her husband had said they were in danger and pleaded for asylum. Asia Bibi, a mother-of-five, was released from prison in the city of Multan, her lawyer Saif Mulook said. Also known as Asia Noreen, she was convicted in 2010 of insulting the Prophet Muhammad during a row with neighbours. Several countries have offered her asylum. The Pakistani government has said it will start legal proceedings to prevent her going abroad after agreeing the measure to end the violent protests. Many of the protesters were hardliners who support strong blasphemy laws and called for Asia Bibi to be hanged.
One Islamist leader said all three Supreme Court judges also "deserved to be killed".A spokesman for the hardline Tehreek-e-Labaik (TLP) party said Asia Bibi's release was in breach of their deal with the government. "The rulers have showed their dishonesty," TLP spokesman Ejaz Ashrafi told Reuters.
The deal also saw officials agree not to block a petition for the Supreme Court to evaluate Asia Bibi's acquittal in the light of Islamic Sharia law.
What was Asia Bibi accused of?
The trial stems from an argument Asia Bibi had with a group of women in June 2009. They were harvesting fruit when a row broke out about a bucket of water. The women said that because she had used a cup, they could no longer touch it, as her faith had made it unclean. Prosecutors alleged that in the row which followed, the women said Asia Bibi should convert to Islam and that she made offensive comments about the Prophet Muhammad in response. She was later beaten up at her home, during which her accusers say she confessed to blasphemy. She was arrested after a police investigation.
Acquitting her, the Supreme Court said that the case was based on unreliable evidence and her confession was delivered in front of a crowd "threatening to kill her".
Why is this case so divisive?
Islam is Pakistan's national religion and underpins its legal system. Public support for the strict blasphemy laws is strong. Hard-line politicians have often backed severe punishments, partly as a way of shoring up their support base. But critics say the laws have often been used to exact revenge after personal disputes, and that convictions are based on thin evidence. The vast majority of those convicted are Muslims or members of the Ahmadi community, but since the 1990s scores of Christians have been convicted. They make up just 1.6% of the population. The Christian community has been targeted by numerous attacks in recent years, leaving many feeling vulnerable to a climate of intolerance. Since 1990, at least 65 people have reportedly been killed in Pakistan over claims of blasphemy.

Gunman opens fire at bar in California leaves 12 dead
Reuters/08 November/18/A gunman killed 12 people including a sheriff's deputy after he walked into a Southern California bar and started shooting late Wednesday night, police said. The gunman was also killed, Ventura County Sheriff Geoff Dean told a news conference early Thursday, though it was not immediately clear by whom. An unknown number of people were wounded during the attack at the Borderline Bar and Grill, a country & western venue in the Los Angeles suburb of Thousand Oaks. "It's a horrific scene in there," Dean said. "There is blood everywhere and the suspect is part of that."The dead officer was identified as Sergeant Ron Helus, a 29-year veteran of the department, Dean told reporters. Helus and a California Highway Patrol officer were the first to arrive at the bar and went inside just before 11:30 p.m. PST (0730 GMT). After a lull of about 15 minutes, more officers went inside and found the suspected gunman dead of a gunshot wound. It was not clear whether he killed himself or was killed by officers, Dean said. The incident came less than two weeks after a gunman with an automatic rifle fatally shot 11 people during sabbath services at a Pittsburgh synagogue. Witness John Hedge told ABC News he was near the front door of the California bar when the shooting began. “I just started hearing these big pops. Pop pop pop. There was probably three or four. I hit the ground. I look up. The security guard ... was shot, he was down. The gunman was throwing smoke grenades all over the place. I saw him point to the back at the cash register and he just kept firing." Dean estimated that 10 to 15 people, including one with a gunshot wound, went themselves to area hospitals. He said he thought their injuries were minor, and that most of them were likely injured as they escaped, some by breaking windows.
None of the civilian victims were identified. Helus died while being treated at an area hospital several hours after he was shot, Dean said. Officials said shots were still being fired when the first officers arrived at the scene.
Iraq Gets U.S. Sanctions Break to Keep the Lights On
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/November 08/18/Iraq has won an exemption allowing it to buy Iranian electricity despite U.S. sanctions, as the country plagued by chronic power shortages walks a tightrope between rivals Washington and Tehran. With US measures imposed Monday taking aim at Iran's banking and energy industries, there were concerns Iraq -- which heavily relies on its eastern neighbor for electricity and consumer goods -- would be caught in the crossfire. But Baghdad has managed to secure an exception. "We granted Iraq a waiver to allow it to continue to pay for its electricity imports from Iran," Brian Hook, the State Department's representative on Iran, announced Wednesday. Iraq would be expected to show the U.S. how it would wean itself off Iranian gas, a well-informed source told AFP. "The U.S. gave us 45 days to give them a plan on how we will gradually stop using Iranian gas and oil," the source said. "We told them it may take us up to four years to either become self-sufficient or find another alternative."The exemption came after talks between Iraqi and U.S. officials, including from the White House and Treasury, the source said.
Iraqi government representatives have shuffled between American and Iranian officials for months in a bid to insulate their fragile economy from escalating tensions. This week, Prime Minister Adel Abdel-Mahdi said Baghdad was in talks with both sides to protect its interests. "Iraq is not a part of the sanctions regime. It talks to everyone, and does not want to get involved in a conflict that it's not a part of," he told reporters Tuesday. Baghdad has a strong relationship with the United States, coordinating on security, politics, and governance. But its economy is profoundly intertwined with that of Iran.
- Keeping the lights on -
Gutted by the international embargo of the 1990s and the US-led invasion of 2003, Iraq's industries produce little. Instead, its markets are flooded with Iranian goods -- from canned food and yoghurt to carpets and cars. These non-hydrocarbon imports amounted to some $6 billion (five billion euros) in 2017, making Iran the second-largest source of imported goods in Iraq. Perhaps most consequential for Iraq's 39 million people is their dependency on Iran for electricity. Chronic cuts, which often leave homes powerless for up to 20 hours a day, were a key driving factor behind weeks of massive protests in Iraq this summer. To cope with shortages, Baghdad pipes in natural gas from Tehran for its plants and also directly buys 1,300 MW of Iranian-generated electricity. That reliance is uncomfortable for the U.S., whose quest to diminish Tehran's influence prompted it to reimpose sanctions on Iranian financial institutions, shipping lines, energy, and petroleum products on Monday. Eight countries would be temporarily allowed to import Iranian crude oil. Iraq's special exemption appears to have come with a condition that it lay out how it would stop using Iranian electricity, said Nussaibah Younes, a senior adviser for the European Institute of Peace. "In order to get this exemption, the Iraqis had given some sort of roadmap idea," Younes told AFP. One way would be capturing the gas set alight when Iraq extracts oil, which according to the World Bank represents an annual loss of about $2.5 billion -- enough to fill the gap in Iraq's gas-based power generation.
- Appeasing Iran -
American firms may help fill the vacuum left by Iran. In January, Iraq signed a memorandum of understanding with U.S. energy company Orion on gas exploits at a southern oil field.
And in October, Iraq signed a memo with the US' General Electric to revamp the electricity sector, after signing a similar agreement with Germany's Siemens. The source told AFP that GE was among several U.S. companies proposed to Baghdad during negotiations with the U.S.
But Iraq has had to simultaneously reassure Iran, in part by granting it an outlet to circumvent U.S. sanctions. "The focus for the Iranians is informal sanctions-busting activity in Iraq, including accessing hard currency through Iraqi exchanges and through smuggling operations," said Younes. Baghdad, she expected, would likely "turn a blind eye." Iraq has simultaneously been granting Iranian officials more time for face-to-face meetings, including its ambassador in Baghdad, Araj Masjadi. He met with new Finance Minister Fuad Hussein and Electricity Minister Luay al-Khateeb on Wednesday, pledging close cooperation on the power sector in the future. For Masjadi, the meetings appeared to be a reminder of Tehran's entrenched role in Iraq.
"We need Iraq the way Iraq needs us," said Masjadi.

Syria Army Frees Druze Hostages from IS
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/November 08/18/Syrian state media said Thursday the army has freed all remaining Druze women and children abducted in July from the southern province of Sweida by the Islamic State group. The army "clashed directly with the IS terrorist organization, which had abducted women and children from the Sweida province," state news agency SANA said.Government troops "were able to liberate all the 19 hostages... and kill the terrorist kidnappers," it added. State television broadcast images of veiled women, boys and at least one girl surrounded by men in military uniforms near a white pick-up truck in a desert landscape. It said the images were broadcast from the desert near the ancient city of Palmyra in the center of the country. IS jihadists abducted around 30 people -- mostly women and children -- from Sweida in late July during the deadliest attack on Syria's Druze community of the seven-year civil war. Nour Radwan, a journalist based in Sweida, confirmed the liberation but said the women and children were freed in a prisoner exchange deal. "The freeing of the remaining hostages came as part of a prisoner swap deal, and today was the second stage of that deal," he told AFP. Two women and four children were released last month in a first step of the same agreement that also saw women and children related to IS fighters freed from regime jails, he said. The Druze community had been hoping for the return of 20 hostages, Radwan said. "IS told the family of one of the female hostages that they had killed her but did not send any proof," he said. "We're waiting for them to arrive in Sweida. If there are 19 of them then it means she really was killed," he said. The jihadists executed a 19-year-old male student among the hostages in August and then a 25-year-old woman in early October. IS said a 65-year-old woman being held by the group also died from illness. Sweida province is the heartland of the country's Druze minority, which made up roughly three percent of Syria's pre-war population -- or around 700,000 people.
Kurds near Turkey Border Dread Fresh Offensive
Chimo Osman's children stopped going to school after Turkish shelling struck his home in northeastern Syria, where Kurdish residents fear another military onslaught is imminent. In recent days, cross-border Turkish artillery fire has targeted positions held by the People's Protection Units (YPG), the main Kurdish militia in Syria. Ankara sees the de-facto autonomous rule set up by Syrian Kurds as an encouragement to the separatists of the Turkey-based Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), which has close ties to the YPG. The village of Ashma is nestled in olive groves in the region of Kobane and directly looks out onto the Turkish flags and wire fencing that mark the demarcation line. The streets of this village and others along the border are empty: "We can't even venture on the roof anymore," said Osman. "We don't leave the house, the kids are scared," said the 38-year-old, standing on the steps leading to his front door, with his five children huddled around him. Nobody can predict when the Turkish forces stationed on the other side of the border will open fire, he said. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on October 30 that plans for an assault were complete and vowed to "destroy" the YPG, which he considers a terrorist organization. One salvo punched a large hole in the second floor of Osman's house and several other homes in the village were damaged by Turkish fire. Five YPG fighters and a child have been killed in Turkish shelling that has in recent days mostly targeted Kurdish positions in the Kobane and Tal Abyad areas, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights war monitor.
The YPG is the backbone of an outfit known as the Syrian Democratic Forces, which is the U.S.-led coalition's main local ally in its battle against the Islamic State group. To protest against the Turkish attacks, SDF forces late last month announced they were suspending their involvement in military operations against one of the very last jihadist pockets in eastern Syria. The move was aimed at obtaining guarantees from their U.S. sponsors that Turkey would not seek to move in across the border as they did in the Kurdish-dominated enclave of Afrin earlier this year. According to the Britain-based Observatory, more than 330 Kurdish fighters have already perished in the course of the latest offensive against IS. Many fighters waging this deadly battle on jihadists in their remote desert hideouts feel they would rather die protecting their ancestral land from Turkey. In Kobane cemetery, hundreds of people attended the funeral Tuesday of an SDF fighter who became the latest casualty of the jihadists' bloody last stand in the Hajin region. Women wept over the coffin as patriotic songs were blared on speakers and local officials gave speeches condemning the Turkish bombardment. "The Turkish state is hostile to the Kurds and we have to right to respond to any attack," Esmat Sheikh Hassan, a Kobane military official, told AFP at the funeral. "They don't differentiate between soldiers and civilians. They strike inhabited villages," he said, replying to Ankara's claims its forces only strike military targets. Hamo Masibkeradi, one of the residents who came to attend the funeral, points to the rows of marble tombstones that mark the graves of fighters who died fighting against IS. "These martyrs fell for humanity. The international community should help us," he said. "Erdogan wants to wipe us out. The U.S. cannot allow this injustice."

US urges Russia to allow resumed Israeli air strikes in Syria
DebkaFile/November 08/18
Special US envoy for Syria, James Jeffrey, said on Wednesday, Nov. 7, “We certainly hope Russia’s permissive approach will continue” for Israeli air strikes in Syria against Iranian targets, despite its supply of S-300 air defense systems to the Syrian government. He noted that Russia has been permissive about the flights in the past – in consultation with the Israelis. The American diplomat spoke after meeting Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem on Monday, Nov. 5. However, DEBKAfile’s military sources have seen no sign of Moscow relenting. Quite the reverse; Moscow indicated this week that should Israeli jets enter Syrian airspace to attack Iranian targets, the S-300 would shoot them down. According to our sources, Ambassador Jeffrey’s talks with Netanyahu, attended also by high-ranking IDF officers, encompassed the situation in Syria, including the possibility of a military clash between Russia and Israel. This clash is envisaged to take place shortly after President Donald Trump sits down with President Vladimir Putin in Paris next Sunday, Nov.11 – or even while it is taking place. The prime minister shared with the US ambassador intelligence showing Syrian operating teams installing the S-300 batteries in recent days and getting into position to fire at Israeli aircraft – not just military planes, and not just over Syria, but also commercial flights flying over Israel. This was the data which the Israeli minister Ze’ev Elkin also disclosed on Monday in a rare briefing to Russian correspondents. He appended a warning: If its aircraft were struck in this way, Israel would not be satisfied with demarches, but take action against the S-300 batteries, even if they were manned by Russian personnel. Two days later, the Kremlin shot back by clarifying that President Putin had no intention of meeting Prime Minister Netanyahu in Paris next Sunday. The Russian-Israeli dispute is not going away any time soon, but deepening,

Bulgaria detains three Iranians with fake Israeli passports
Staff writer, Al Arabiya English/Thursday, 8 November 2018 /Bulgarian border police detained three Iranians attempting to enter the country with fake Israeli passports, the interior ministry said. The men, in their 20s and early 30s, arrived at the checkpoint located on the border between Bulgaria and Turkey on October 31. The three men were transferred to a facility for temporary detention of foreigners in Lyubimets, southeast of the country. Fast-track proceedings against them have been initiated, the Bulgaria’s interior ministry added in a statement. In September, Authorities in Bahrain had also arrested 14 Iranians who allegedly entered the island nation on “forged Asian passports.”Bahrain’s Interior Ministry made the announcement Saturday night, saying those arrested paid for the Asian passports in cash to be able to enter the island off Saudi Arabia.

US warns nations not to allow Iranian oil tankers into their territorial waters
The Associated Press, Washington/Thursday, 8 November 2018/The United States is warning other countries not to allow Iranian oil tankers into their territorial waters or ports, saying such access may run afoul of US sanctions and not only incur penalties, but also result in catastrophic economic and environmental damage should an accident occur. The State Department reminded the global shipping and insurance industries Wednesday that as part of the Trump administration’s “maximum pressure campaign” to get Iran to change its behavior, insuring Iranian tankers will now incur penalties under US sanctions reinstated this week. Brian Hook, the special US representative for Iran, said that as major insurers withdraw coverage from Iranian vessels, Iran will likely turn to domestic insurance companies that will not be able to cover losses for maritime accidents that could run into the billions of dollars.
“From the Suez Canal to the Strait of Malacca and all choke points in between, Iranian tankers are now a floating liability,” Hook told reporters. “Countries, ports and canal operators and private firms should know they will be likely responsible for the costs of an accident involving a self-insured Iranian tanker.”The US “sincerely hopes” accidents do not occur, he said, but he noted that an Iranian tanker was involved in an accident in the East China Sea in January that resulted in the loss of the ship and a massive oil spill. He said the US has evidence that Iranian vessels are trying to evade US sanctions by disabling location transponders used to prevent collisions. “This tactic is a maritime security threat,” Hook said. “These transponders are designed to maximize visibility at sea and turning them off only increases risk of accidents and injuries. Self-insured Iranian tankers engaging in unsafe behavior, with many tons of crude oil on board, is courting environmental and financial disaster.”The sanctions that came into force Monday target Iran’s energy, financial and shipping sectors and mark the end of US participation in the 2015 nuclear deal that President Donald Trump withdrew from in May. The sanctions aim to further isolate Iran by choking off its main source of revenue - oil exports - by imposing sanctions on countries and companies that do not end their imports. However, some trade is still allowed, as the administration has granted waivers for eight major importers to continue buying Iranian petroleum products without penalty for another six months.

Iranians Enraged by Luxury Life of the Rich, Powerful
London - Asharq Al-Awsat/Thursday, 8 November, 2018/With the dark clouds of economic crisis looming over the horizon for Iran, local activists have launched a campaign targeting some of the country’s richest elites and most influential figures. Despite US sanctions threatening to eventually cripple the Iranian economy, alt-right conservative and Revolutionary Guard (IRGC) Commander Mohammad Ali Jafari, alongside his son, continue to lead a life of luxury and housing exotic pets. Seyed Mahdi Sadrossadati posted on Instagram a picture showing Jafari’s son posing next to a tiger resting on a mansion’s porch.
“A tiger at home? What’s going on?” Sadati wrote in the caption, unleashing his anger towards economic inequality between Iran’s rich and the public. "And this from a 25-year-old youth who could not gain such wealth. People are having serious difficulty getting diapers for their children," he added. The campaign blasted corruption and the splurging of the rich who are living lavishly, while the majority of Iranians slave away in an economy strained by US sanctions. In addition to his written contributions, Sadrossadati has posted videos of debates between himself and some of those he has criticized.
In one, he confronted Mehdi Mazaheri, the son of a former central bank governor who was criticized online after a photograph appeared showing him wearing a large gold watch. In a heated exchange, Sadrossadati shouted: "How did you get rich? How much money did you start out with and how much money do you have now? How many loans have you taken?" Mazaheri, barely able to get in a reply, said he would be willing to share documents about his finances. Children of more than a dozen other officials have been criticized online and are often referred to as "aghazadeh" - literally "noble-born" in Farsi but also a derogatory term used to describe their perceived extravagance. The Iranian rial currency has hit 149,000 to the US dollar on the black market used for most transactions, down from around 43,000 at the start of 2018 as US President Donald Trump vowed to pull out of the nuclear deal between Tehran and world powers aimed at curbing its nuclear program. Public anger has been brewing in Iran for some time. Uprisings against economic hardship—faced brutal state repression that killed 25 protesters--began sprouting late last year and spread to over 80 cities and towns.

US Allows Sanctions Exception for Iran Port Development

London - Asharq Al-Awsat/Thursday, 8 November, 2018/The top US diplomat has granted an exception to certain US sanctions that will allow the India-led development of a port in Iran as part of a new transportation corridor designed to boost Afghanistan’s economy, a State Department spokesman said on Tuesday. The exception granted by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to US sanctions reimposed on Iran on Monday also will permit the construction of a railway line from Chabahar port to Afghanistan, and for shipments to the war-torn country of non-sanctionable goods, like food and medicines, the spokesman said. In addition, Afghanistan will be allowed to continue importing Iranian petroleum products, the spokesman said, according to Reuters. “These activities are vital for the ongoing support of Afghanistan’s growth and humanitarian relief,” the spokesman said in a statement emailed to the news agency. The sanctions reimposed on Iran’s oil exports - its main revenue source - and financial sector were triggered by US President Donald Trump’s May 8 decision to abandon the 2015 international deal designed to block Tehran’s development of nuclear weapons.

Raged by Tel Aviv's Policy, Putin Rejects to Meet Netanyahu
Tel Aviv - Nazir Majali/Asharq Al-Awsat/Thursday, 8 November, 2018/Russian President Vladimir Putin's assistants conveyed his apology for not meeting Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Paris next Sunday, where they are due to participate in the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I. Although the Israeli Prime Minister's Office claimed that the cancellation was in response to a French demand not to hold side meetings, reliable political sources affirmed that the Russians canceled the meeting in an indicator of Moscow's rage over the official Israeli policy, especially Tel Aviv's statements on striking targets in Syria and threatening to destroy S-300 missiles system granted by Russia to Damascus. The cancellation was coordinated between Putin and Netanyahu's offices without agreeing on another meeting, according to Israeli political sources. The sources denied claims that this step is an attempt to cover any secret meeting that could take place, noting that Netanyahu might reconsider the Paris trip following the meeting's cancellation. Israeli-Russian ties in September when four Israeli jets raided an Iranian base in Lattakia, after a previous coordination with Russia. The Syrian regime launched missiles against the jets hitting a Russian spy jet and killing all its staff. Russia held Israel responsible for downing the jet. Lately, foreign sources revealed that the Greek and Israeli air forces conducted a joint exercise in which pilots were trained over attacking several targets including destroying S-300 missiles. Russians got wrath over the intensive actions carried out by Netanyahu in a number of Eastern Europe countries, where Russian rivals rule a great part of. He is also signing oil deals that weaken the Russian oil exports. Dmitry Peskov, President Vladimir Putin's spokesman, responded on a related question that this meeting wasn’t even planned for.

Israeli Forces Detain 11 Palestinians Including PLC Member

West Bank- Asharq Al-Awsat/Thursday, 8 November, 2018/Israeli forces detained early Wednesday at least 11 Palestinians, including a member of the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC), across the occupied West Bank. The Palestinian Prisoners Society (PPS) confirmed that Israeli forces detained a member of the PLC, Muhammad Abu Jhesheh, from Idhna town in the southern West Bank district of Hebron. Member of the Palestinian Legislative Council, Mohammed Abu Juhaisheh, In the central West Bank district of Ramallah, one Palestinian was detained and identified as Salah Ibrahim Salah, 28. Two former Palestinian prisoners were detained in the northern West Bank district of Jenin identified as Ahmad Balal Abu Bakr and Ahmad Tareq Abu Bakr. In Qalqiliya, Israeli forces also detained Ahmad Saber Radwan, 23. Two other Palestinians were detained in the northern West Bank district of Nablus. PPS identified them as Muhammad Anis Ashqar, 17, and Sharaf Jamil Abu Asab, 28. In the northern West Bank district of Tulkarem, four Palestinians were detained. They were identified as former prisoner Alaa Yousef Sharbawi, 35, Muhammad Mahmoud al-Azab, 30, Muntaser Yousef Ode, 30, and Walid Suleiman Naawla, 55, who is the father of Ashraf Naawla, 23, who carried out a shooting attack in the Barkan industrial area, in which two Israeli settlers died and another sustained serious injuries. Israeli military raids into Palestinian cities, towns, and refugee camps are a near-daily occurrence.

PLO: Washington Rejected Oman's Attempt to Pave Way for Peace
Ramallah - Kifah Ziboun/Asharq Al-Awsat/Thursday, 8 November, 2018/US asked Oman to “let go of the Palestinian issue”, rejecting any Omani role in the political process, according to Secretary general of the Executive Committee of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) Saeb Erekat. "The Sultanate is not and will not be part of the deal of the century. It has tried to open up prospects for a peace process leading to ending the occupation and establishing an independent Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital," Erekat said during a session of the Amman Security Forum in Jordan’s University. US President Donald Trump’s administration supported the Israeli government in its response to the attempt of Oman. The statements have raised doubts about Oman's ability to achieve a breakthrough in the peace process without US approval. Erekat's speech comes after Jordan’s King Abdullah received Omani Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Yousef Bin Alawi, who delivered a letter from Sultan Qaboos of Oman, according to a Royal Court statement. The meeting focused on ongoing coordination and consultation over issues of mutual interest. They also discussed developments in the Palestinian cause, reiterating the necessity of relaunching peace negotiations between Palestinians and Israelis based on the two-state solution, which leads to the establishment of an independent Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capital. The statement read: “the meeting touched on the Palestinian cause and the need to relaunch Palestinian-Israeli peace negotiations based on the two-state solution and the Arab Peace Initiative, leading to the establishment of an independent Palestinian state on the 4 June 1967 lines with East Jerusalem as its capital.”Omani officials are trying to bring the views closer to launch a new peace process based on the US peace plan. Bin Alawi has said earlier his country is offering proposals to help Israel and the Palestinians come together but is not acting as mediator. Adding that Oman is relying on the US and Trump in working towards the “deal of the century”. Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas opposes the deal, rejecting the United States to be the sole mediator in the peace process after it recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. Abbas called for the launch of an international peace conference resulting in a mechanism to sponsor the negotiations according to specific terms and a set time limit. Abbas has repeatedly said he will not even listen to the deal of the century because Washington has begun to implement it effectively by taking Jerusalem off the negotiating table and ending the refugee issue. Erekat accused President Trump of targeting Palestinians, asserting that “no one aspires to achieve peace more than Palestine, and there are accusations from Trump that we are the ones who started the problems." He indicated that the Trump administration has isolated itself from the peace process and can not be accepted as a partner or mediator because it rejects the right to self-determination of the Palestinian people and supports the racist nationalism law. He also listed some of US measures against Palestinians such as closing the offices of Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) in Washington, cutting aid to UNRWA, and separating Gaza Strip from the West Bank and Jerusalem. Erekat called on the international community to adopt the initiative presented by Abbas at the UN Security Council last February, to hold an international conference based on the international law and the relevant resolutions of international legitimacy which guarantees to end the occupation and achieving the independence of the State of Palestine with its capital East Jerusalem.

ISIS Suffers Heavy Syria Losses
Beirut - London - Asharq Al-Awsat/Thursday, 8 November, 2018/At least 65 ISIS militants have been killed around their last enclave in Syria despite a pause in a two-month Kurdish-led assault, a monitor said Wednesday. The US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces announced a pause in its offensive in the eastern province of Deir Ezzor last week in protest at Turkish shelling of Kurdish positions along Syria's northern border.But waves of US-led air strikes since Monday have killed 48 militants, including during two ISIS assaults on oilfields north of the Hajin enclave, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said. On Tuesday the militants launched an assault on the Azrak oil field, followed by an attack Wednesday on the Tanak oil field where US-backed SDF fighters are based, it said. A coalition spokesman did not immediately reply to a request for comment. The SDF killed another 17 ISIS extremists while defending a base in the village of Al-Bahra just outside ISIS-held territory on Monday, the Britain-based monitoring group said. Alliance spokesman Kino Gabriel had stressed that the pause in offensive operations did not mean SDF fighters would not defend themselves. The SDF launched its assault on the ISIS enclave around the Euphrates valley town of Hajin on September 10. But after making slow progress, it suffered a major setback last month when ISIS used cover provided by sand storms to launch a series of counter-attacks. By the end of the month, the militants had recaptured all of the territory the SDF had won.

Egypt Sentences 8 Militants to Death over Army Attack
Cairo - Asharq Al-Awsat/Thursday, 8 November, 2018/The military court in Ismailia sentenced Wednesday eight people to death in absentia on charges of membership in the ISIS-Sinai Province terrorist organization. The court in northeast Egypt also sentenced 32 people to life imprisonment, while two others were given 15 years.Two defendants were acquitted. The accused were tried for killing 14 soldiers and attempting to kill 16 others. All were identified as members of the Egyptian branch of ISIS, which has led an insurgency in North Sinai and carried out several attacks across the country.
On the other hand, the Cairo Criminal Court said the trial of the deposed former president, Mohamed Morsi, and 28 others, in the 2011 prison break case was postponed to December 2. Until then, it will continue to hear witness testimonies, which will include former President Hosni Mubarak. Ex-Interior Minister Habib al-Adli has already testified in the case. The defendants include Morsi, 27 Muslim Brotherhood leaders, members of the Palestinian Hamas Movement and Lebanon’s Hezbollah. During Wednesday’s session, head of the Border Guard Intelligence in Arish said that those accused of abducting three police officers in northern Sinai requested the release of Mohamed al-Zawahri (al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahri’s brother) and a number of other militants in return for releasing the kidnapped officers. Another department of the Cairo Criminal Court had sentenced to death Morsi, Muslim Brotherhood Supreme Guide and Spiritual Leader Mohamed Badie, his deputy Rashad al-Bayoumi, member of the Guidance Bureau Mohyi Hamed, speaker of Egypt's dissolved Islamist-dominated parliament Mohamed Saad al-Katatni and Muslim Brotherhood leader Essam al-Aryan. It had also sentenced 20 other defendants to life imprisonment, but the Court of Cassation overturned the sentences and ordered a retrial before a new court department. The prosecution said the defendants in the case, which dates back to 2011, have "participated in the planning and execution of the incursion into Wadi Natroun prison and attack on security installations, in agreement with Hamas and the Lebanese Hezbollah." Meanwhile, the Southern Cairo Criminal Court sentenced two police secretaries to three years in jail for inciting citizens against the interior ministry. The same court sentenced on April 28 the same defendants to five years in prison in absentia before being brought to trial.

New Egyptian Efforts to Reach Reconciliation Between Palestine, Israel
Ramallah- Asharq Al-Awsat/Thursday, 8 November, 2018/Member of the PLO Executive Committees of the Fatah and the Central Committee of the Fatah movement Azzam al-Ahmad stressed that Egypt will make new movements in the coming days to achieve reconciliation, based on the agreements signed between Israel and Palestine. He expressed hope that Hamas would not continue its maneuvers, waste time and procrastinate. "Let us give a chance to the Egyptian efforts. They will either succeed or not," he said. Ahmad reiterated the Palestinian Leadership's rejection of an agreement in Gaza that represents a political dimension. “Egypt was putting efforts to reach ta ruce in exchange for easing the situation in Gaza Strip and preventing a new war, but without reaching an agreement,” Ahmad explained. “However, Hamas, through Mladenov and Qatar’s efforts, was seeking to sign an agreement with a political dimension, yet President Mahmoud Abbas, the PLO, and all its factions opposed that.”“The agreement with Israel is a form of negotiations, and therefore it is a national affair, not a factional one, and must be done as in 2014,” he added, stressing the keenness of all Palestinians and all factions to achieve reconciliation before the truce. "It is painful to barter the Palestinian blood with money, and Hamas is doing so with the collusion with some factions and regional parties,” Ahmad noted. Despite the PA’s position, Israel and Hamas are moving forward in the interim agreement. After one week of relative calm in Gaza, Israel has a state of cautious optimism about the possibility of reaching a long-term ceasefire agreement. “Israel, under a clear policy led by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, is seeking long-term compromise with Hamas. It intends to allow further steps by Qatar and Egypt to transfer large sums of money to Gaza to pay civil servants’ wages,” said Political Analyst in Haaretz Amos Harel. “Despite the leaks from the Palestinian Authority, which claim the opposite, the Israeli defense establishment anticipates that Egypt will approve the plan to transfer the money for the salaries,” Harel stressed. “The momentum for achieving a deal has returned – and it’s bringing a certain degree of optimism in terms of preparedness,” he pointed out.

Egypt's Sisi Warns of Social Media Dangers
Cairo- Asharq Al-Awsat/Thursday, 8 November, 2018/President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi recommended forming a national research committee to set a strategy to deal with social media sites in the session titled “Social Media: Saving or enslaving users” on Nov. 5, the second day of the World Youth Forum. “Social media outlets must be used positively and developed countries must deal with social media challenges in a way that does not affect the security and stability of other countries,” Sisi warned. Sisi described the internet as a sign of human development, adding that ways to increase its positive impacts and decrease its disadvantages should be discussed. The president asserted that any trial to fight social media sites will not be successful. “In 2010, I delivered a speech, saying that the development of social media will have a dangerous effect on Egypt and the Arab region in general and that’s what proved to be true later; the country was not ready to face its dangers,” Sisi said. He also warned about how, he said, the spreading of rumors has evolved through social media. "Nevertheless the fault is not in the social media, it is in the fact that we are not ready to use it properly," he said. The roundtable panel on “Social media: Saving or enslaving users” featured 15 experts and prominent figures on social media from all over the world, including researcher in social media and mental health Bailey Parnell, multidisciplinary artist Arwa Abounoun, specialist in digital security Christine Adero, specialist in media networking Khawla Al-Hawi, and Egyptian national security expert Khaled Okasha. This year, the forum’s events revolve around a vision inspired by The Seven Pillars of the Egyptian Identity, a book by Egyptian author Milad Hanna written to emphasize the unity and harmony of Egyptian society despite differences, according to the official website of the forum. Around 5,000 youth are participating in the events. The first World Youth Forum took place last year, also in Sharm El-Sheikh, which has been described by Egyptians officials as the “city of peace.”

China Will Not Sell Passenger Planes to Iran
Asharq Al-Awsat/Wednesday, 7 November, 2018/China will not sell passenger planes to Iran to help the Islamic Republic revive fleet renewal plans, announced the Commercial Aircraft Corporation of China (Comac) on Wednesday. The declaration coincided with a Russian executive’s suggestion that Moscow would be wary of putting its own programs at risk of US retaliation, reported Reuters. The comments in separate interviews at China’s largest air show underscore the challenges Iran faces in rekindling plans to import planes after the US reimposed sanctions, though IranAir reiterated on Wednesday it would welcome offers from suppliers not subject to restrictions on the export of US plane parts. Deals to buy 200 aircraft from Airbus, Boeing and European turboprop maker ATR have virtually all stalled after the United States withdrew from a 2015 nuclear agreement between Tehran and world powers and reimposed sanctions on firms including IranAir. Iran’s search for other suppliers was a talking point on the sidelines of Airshow China this week, where China promoted its growing aircraft industry as it looks to break into foreign markets for planes such as its long-delayed ARJ21 regional jet, said Reuters. But asked whether Iran had shown interest in buying Chinese airplanes, Zhao Yuerang, general manager of Comac, told Reuters: “No, we cannot sell to Iran. Iran is off the table.” Pressed on China’s ability to sell the ARJ21 to Iran, he added: “We need to abide by regulations of both countries.” In May, the US Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) revoked licenses to sell passenger jets to Iran that are required for any plane with more than 10 percent US parts, regardless of where it is made. IranAir has said it is looking to buy planes from any company not requiring the US permits and may consider Russia’s Sukhoi Superjet 100. Asked at Airshow China in Zhuhai whether Moscow was in talks to sell the Superjet to IranAir, a senior official with state holding company Rostec declined to comment in detail. “This is a sensitive issue,” Viktor Kladov, Rostec’s director for international cooperation and regional policy, told Reuters. “You understand why, because we cannot endanger the whole Superjet program,” he added. Besides controlling exports for aircraft containing over 10 percent US parts, analysts say the United States sets the tone for global aviation through its benchmark system of safety regulation and the widespread use of the dollar in plane deals. Kladov said Russia’s industry would continue to follow international standards on regulation and aircraft safety, but would strive to be independent commercially. Rostec is already doing some deals in Russian and other currencies, he added.

Sudan Expresses Will to Negotiate with Rebels

Khartoum - Ahmed Younes/Asharq Al Awsat/November 08/18/The Sudanese government renewed its wish to hold a dialogue with the rebels in Darfur, following South Sudanese President Salva Kiir Mayardit launching a mediation among Sudanese parties.Meanwhile, Berlin hosted meetings between the African mediation and leaders of Nidaa Sudan to revive the African road-map. Juba launched, days ago, the mediation of South Sudanese President between the Khartoum government and armed opposition movements. Amin Hassan Omar, the chief negotiator for the Darfur peace process, said that the door to peace is open for whoever wishes from the armed movements. He pointed out that the government didn’t receive an invitation from any mediator regarding resuming peace negotiations in Darfur. He added to Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper that the initiative of Mayardit is not contrary to previous agreements, clarifying that Juba will only work on facilitating negotiations without intervening in details. Sadiq Youssef, official from Justice and Equality Movement, told Asharq Al-Awsat that there are peaceful movements and initiatives to reach a settlement among Sudanese parties, noting that the German initiative aims to resolve obstacles facing the African road-map, in participation with international parties. Last month, Asharq Al-Awsat reported that there is an approach for negotiations between armed movements and the Khartoum government. Meanwhile, Sadiq al-Mahdi, Head of the National Umma Party (NUP), announced his return to the country, which increases the possibility of the return of Nidaa Sudan to negotiations. Darfur armed movements have been raging a war since 2003 against the government forces, including the Justice and Equality Movement and Sudan Liberation Army. UN reports revealed that the war in Darfur has led to thousands of deaths and millions of refugees and displaced.
58 Combatants Killed in Fighting for Yemen's Hodeida
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/November 08/18/Dozens of combatants were killed as pro-government forces closed in on rebel forces in the heart of the Yemeni port city of Hodeida on Thursday, hospital sources said. Medics at hospitals inside the city reported 47 rebels had been killed in overnight ground fighting and air raids by a Saudi-led coalition supporting the government. Sources at hospitals in government-held areas on the outskirts said 11 soldiers had also been killed. Over the past week, Yemeni government forces backed by coalition troops have slowly edged into the city of some 600,000 people, one of the last rebel strongholds on the Red Sea coast. An army source in Hodeida said rebel trenches and landmines had slowed their advance into the city on Thursday. Nearly 80 percent of Yemen's commercial imports and practically all UN-supervised humanitarian aid pass through Hodeida.
Aid groups have appealed to both the rebels and the coalition to allow civilians to escape the fighting. The rebels have controlled Hodeida since 2014 when they overran the capital Sanaa and then swept though much of the rest of the country, triggering Saudi-led military intervention the following year and a devastating war of attrition. Government forces backed by significant numbers of United Arab Emirates ground troops launched an offensive to retake the city in June.

Houthi Leader Pleads with Deserters to Return
Jeddah - Sanaa - Saeed al-Abyad and Asharq Al-Awsat/Thursday, 8 November, 2018/Leader of Yemen's Houthi militias Abdulmalik al-Houthi called Wednesday on his supporters who had fled Yemeni battlefronts to rejoin the ranks of the insurgents. In a speech in which he looked rather confused, al-Houthi called for general mobilization against an operation launched by the Saudi-led Arab Coalition in Yemen's Red Sea port city of Hodeidah. "I call upon all free men … to head to the fronts to defend the port city," he said in a speech aired by the Houthi-run Al Masirah satellite TV channel. "It is a big battlefield stretching 2,000 km along the Red Sea coast," he said. His speech made no reference about any desire for peace. For its part, the Yemeni government warned from Houthi plots to bomb government buildings and national institutions like the Port of Hodeidah, and terrorist plans of targeting international maritime trade navigation at Bab al-Mandab and the south of the Red Sea, and bombing Safer Oil Tank at Ras Isa Port, which contains nearly a million barrel of crude oil and can cause environment and economic catastrophe to Yemen and the regional countries. Government spokesperson Rajeh Badi said Houthis have placed heavy weapons in populated areas and damaged highways to hamper the delivery of humanitarian aid. On Wednesday, pro-government forces said they had made further advances on Hodeidah after fierce battles that have killed nearly 200 fighters in the past week. In the past 24 hours, 27 Iran-backed Houthi rebels and 12 pro-government fighters have been killed on the outskirts of Hodeidah city, a medical source told AFP on Wednesday. Hodeidah, considered a crucial port city for aid delivery and food imports to Yemen, was seized by the rebels along with the capital Sanaa in 2014. Separately, a Yemeni source said that during a meeting held last Tuesday, the self-proclaimed Houthi Supreme Political Council threatened the remaining council members to blow up their homes in case they try to escape towards government-controlled areas. They also threatened to deal harshly with their family members in Sanaa, the source said.

Seoul Says N. Korea Asked to Delay Pompeo Talks

Agence France Presse/Naharnet/November 08/18/North Korea asked the United States to delay planned high-level talks in New York this week, Seoul's top diplomat said Thursday, a day after Washington abruptly announced the meeting's postponement. The US State Department said Wednesday that the encounter between Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and top North Korean official Kim Yong Chol, initially scheduled for Thursday, had been shelved for "a later date". No further explanation was given, but Pyongyang is demanding sanctions imposed on it over its weapons programmes are eased, while Washington insists they should stay in place until it denuclearises. South Korean foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha said it was Pyongyang that had asked for a delay. "The US told us that it received a message from the North to postpone the meeting," Kang told lawmakers, according to Yonhap news agency. South Korean reports said that Kim -- one of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un's right-hand men -- had been scheduled to catch a lunchtime flight from Beijing to New York on Wednesday. But his reservation was repeatedly cancelled and rebooked on Tuesday, the Chosun Ilbo newspaper reported, until it was cancelled for good. The sudden postponement came only two days after the US State Department announced Pompeo would meet the North Korean in New York to discuss progress towards denuclearisation and plans for a second summit between President Donald Trump and leader Kim Jong Un. Trump and Kim held a historic summit in June in Singapore -- the first ever between the two countries -- where they signed a vaguely worded deal on denuclearisation. Little progress has been made since then, with the two countries sparring over the exact meaning of the agreement. Despite warm words from Trump since meeting Kim in Singapore, his administration has insisted on maintaining pressure on Pyongyang until a final agreement is reached. North Korea, which is subject to multiple UN Security Council sanctions over its weapons programmes, warned last week that it would "seriously" consider returning to nuclear weapons development unless Washington lifts the restrictions. Koo Kab-woo of the University of North Korean Studies said that the differences over sanctions were probably the "biggest reason" for the postponement. "Kim Jong Un needs a visible outcome that can be felt by the ordinary people, and for that, North Korea desperately needs sanctions to be lifted," Koo told AFP. "If there was a problem, it's possible there was a clash between Pyongyang's demand for sanctions to be relaxed even by a little bit and Washington's firm stance that the restrictions will remain," he added.

The Latest LCCC Bulletin analysis & editorials from miscellaneous sources published on November 08-09/18
Will Houthis Respond to the US Call?
Salman Al-dossary/Asharq Al Awsat/November 08/18
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo threw a stone in the stagnant waters of the Yemeni crisis, after calling on all parties to agree on a ceasefire and enter into negotiations in the next 30 days. In parallel, UN Envoy to Yemen Martin Griffith announced that he would work to hold new negotiations between the parties to the conflict within a month. This is an important development that will lead to finding real exits for the Yemeni crisis. The Yemeni government welcomed the call for a ceasefire and a solution based on the three references, namely the Gulf Initiative, the outcome of national dialogue and UN Security Council Resolution 2216. However, will this important and necessary invitation to dialogue, which was received sportively by the Yemeni legitimacy, be faced with positivity by the Houthis? Unfortunately, all the previous attempts to reach a peaceful solution did not work, in the absence of a practical move by the Houthis to enter into serious negotiations to end the war. In fact, in all past negotiations over the Yemeni crisis, the Houthis were a stumbling block to any peaceful solution. In order for any new US vision not to be a clone of the previous initiative by former US Secretary of State John Kerry - which was doomed to failure because it did not take into account the relevant international resolutions – it should reject the status quo and insist on bringing back the situation in Yemen to its previous state, before the Houthi coup in September 2014. However, until now, the US invitation is nothing more than mere statements, it’s not yet a plan nor a program. Any peace plan must pass through the UN Security Council and be in accordance with relevant UN Security Council resolutions, mainly Resolution 2216. Here, we should not overlook the new wave of US sanctions on Iran; the Iranian regime finds in the Houthi coup and the continuation of the war a golden opportunity to respond indirectly to the US and to maintain instability in the region. Are the Houthis really capable of engaging into peace and going to negotiations with a real desire to end the war, while Tehran refuses to do so?! The answer is known.
The Yemeni legitimacy, the Arab Coalition and the international community have a sincere desire to end this war, which resulted from the coup. Good intentions alone, however, do not end of a war. Mattis, in the same speech delivered in Bahrain where he called for negotiations, noted that his country was against the supply of arms from Iran to the terrorist organizations in Yemen and Lebanon. He also said that “Iran threatens global security”, pointing out that Tehran sought to expand its dominance outside its borders and intervene in the affairs of neighboring countries. He stressed that unless the factors contributing to the continuation of this war are stopped, by curbing the Iranian intervention in Yemen’s affairs and its ownership of the Houthi decision, stopping Iran’s export of arms and ballistic missiles to the Houthis, and cutting the umbilical cord between the Houthis and Tehran, any talk of ending the war may be difficult to implement. Every sane person hopes to end the shedding of blood and to stop the war. No one is against the principle of establishing the long-awaited peace, safeguard the Yemenis’ rights and end their sufferings. But all this depends on a group that considers the continuation of the coup as a victory, even if it stands alone, with only one state pushing it to continue with its intransigence.

China Infiltrates American Campuses
Gordon G. Chang/Gatestone Institute/November 08/18
The main points of contact for Chinese Students and Scholars Association (CSSA) chapters in the U.S. are often intelligence officers in the embassy and consulates. China's Ministry of State Security uses CSSA students to inform on other Chinese on campus.
Let us get the FBI to round up Ministry of State Security agents who, up to now, have been given free rein to operate in America. Putting these agents behind bars or even just revoking their visas will end many of the activities that endanger American campuses. The Chinese kill CIA agents in China. The least Washington can do is declare China's agents personae non gratae.
The Chinese feel emboldened to violate American sovereignty and break laws because American administrations have let them do these things -- sometimes openly -- since at least the early 1990s. This is as much a Washington problem as a Beijing one.
Congress can also change laws to make life inhospitable for Confucius Institutes. Legislation should bar an educational institution from receiving any federal funds if it hosts a CI.
China's Communist Party has targeted institutions of higher learning as part of an intensive, multi-decade effort to influence American society. Chinese President Xi Jinping (pictured) has placed great emphasis on international propaganda efforts. (Photo by Thomas Peter-Pool/Getty Images)
Beijing, in seeking influence on American college and university campuses, has been infringing on academic freedoms, violating American sovereignty, and breaking U.S. law. U.S. officials, neglecting their responsibilities to the American people, have allowed this injurious behavior to continue, in some instances for decades.
As an initial matter, some of this impermissible Chinese conduct is harmless, even amusing. As detailed by Anastasya Lloyd-Damnjanovic in a landmark study for the Wilson Center, Chinese officials in 2004 and 2007 threatened then Columbia University professor Robert Barnett, the prominent Tibet expert, that if he did not adopt a more favorable view of China's policies they would -- heavens! -- stop speaking to him.
Most of the time, however, impermissible conduct has taken on a more ominous tone. Barnett, for instance, was also the target of an effort, by a Chinese student at Columbia and a faculty member from China (at another institution), to "depose" him for trying to protect Tibetan exiles from harassment by Chinese students and Chinese consular officials.
In 2009, an official from the Chinese Consulate in New York got in touch with Ming Xia, a faculty member at City University of New York, and demanded he stop work on a documentary on the 2008 Sichuan earthquake. The official, saying China could offer more "financial rewards" than he was getting for the documentary, essentially offered Xia a bribe; when that did not work, the official directly threatened him.
Then there was the Yang Shuping incident in June 2017. Yang gave the commencement speech at the University of Maryland, criticizing Beijing's environmental record and praising American democratic values. She was targeted by the infamous Chinese Students and Scholars Association (CSSA), which called her speech "intolerable", a word inconsistent with the notions of an open campus. Her family back in China was threatened.
China's Communist Party, especially its United Front Work Department, has targeted institutions of higher learning as part of an intensive, multi-decade effort to influence American society. Chinese President Xi Jinping, who has placed great emphasis on international propaganda efforts, in May 2015 identified students as "a new focus of United Front Work," suggesting they should be promoters and implementers of Party efforts.
As a result of this direction from the top of the Chinese political system, United Front Work Department activity, according to one "senior US official" quoted in the Financial Times, has "reached an unacceptable level."
Unacceptable? What the official may have found "unacceptable" was that students from China have acted in ways that have intimidated faculty, staff, and other students at American universities. Chinese students have done this by, among other things, demanding schools remove research materials, by insisting that faculty change teaching content to suit Beijing, by trying to prevent others from criticizing China, and by trying to force the cancellation of academic activities.
Chinese students, not surprisingly, are becoming a part of what is known as "China's long arm." Far more worrying than the activities of students, however, are the actions of Chinese diplomats. Chinese diplomats, as Lloyd-Damnjanovic wrote in her September 2018 report, have been "employing intimidating modes of conversation."
Diplomats have also infringed on academic freedom by complaining about on-campus speakers and events, by trying to coerce faculty, and by threatening retaliation against American university programs in China.
The main instruments of Chinese power on American campuses are the Confucius Institutes and CSSA chapters.
CIs, as the Confucius Institutes are known, were first established in 2004 to provide Chinese language instruction, but they now teach Chinese society, culture, and other topics. They have also, incredibly, organized demonstrations on American soil, often to welcome Chinese leaders or to hound the Dalai Lama.
The CIs operate at Beijing's direction. The 107 or so Confucius Institutes in the U.S. formally report to the Hanban, the National Chinese Language Office, "affiliated" with the Chinese Ministry of Education.
In reality, the Hanban appears to be a front for the Communist Party's United Front Work Department, which is charged with managing relations with other organizations and individuals. Liu Yunshan, once head of the Party's Propaganda Department, in 2010 exhorted CIs to "actively carry out international propaganda battles." CIs appear, in fact, to be funded by the Propaganda Department. A party-state, especially one as problematical as China's, disseminating information as a formal unit of an institution of higher learning is nothing short of alarming, especially considering the Party's renewed emphasis on undermining freedom and democracy worldwide.
Possibly even more alarming are the arrangements between China and American educational institutions. The contracts establishing Confucius Institutes are rarely public. One might well wonder why. According to Rachelle Peterson, director of research projects at the National Association of Scholar:
The contractual language the Hanban pushes on universities poses a more substantive threat to academic autonomy. The Confucius Institute constitution requires all universities to avoid "tarnish[ing] the reputation of the Confucius Institutes" — an offense punishable by revocation of the contract, immediate loss of all Hanban funds, and potential unspecified "legal action." I examined eight signed contracts between American universities and the Hanban, all eight of which duplicate this language almost verbatim.
The institutes, therefore, have been set up from the get-go to be exempt from criticism. This immunity, by itself, undermines the ability of administrators to supervise the CIs.
Even more dangerous are the 150 or so chapters of the CSSA and their closely affiliated groups. These organizations are sometimes covertly sponsored, funded, and, most disturbingly, directed by China's embassy and five consulates in the U.S.
Sometimes these links are openly admitted, but often the chapters try to hide their connections to Beijing. The website of the University of California San Diego chapter once said it was "a subordinate organization" of the Los Angeles Chinese Consulate. The George Washington University chapter says it is "directed by" and "works with" the Chinese embassy. The chapter at the University of Tennessee requires members to swear adherence to certain positions advocated by the Chinese government. The constitution of Southwestern CSSA -- a group of chapters in Arizona, California, Hawaii, and New Mexico -- states that all local CSSA presidential candidates must be approved by China's Los Angeles consulate.
The main points of contact for CSSA chapters are often intelligence officers in the embassy and consulates. China's Ministry of State Security uses CSSA students to inform on other Chinese on campus. Sulaiman Gu, a student at the University of Georgia, told Radio Free Asia that MSS agents tried to get him to inform on fellow Chinese. Gu actually provided RFA with tapes of MSS agents giving him requests for information on certain targets.
Moreover, the Chinese state has, for several decades, been organizing -- and paying for -- Chinese students to engage in demonstrations on U.S. soil outside campuses, thereby impermissibly interfering in the American political process.
So, what should be done about all this?
Let us start with what should not be done. America should not, as President Trump's senior advisor Stephen Miller proposed this year, ban all Chinese students. The U.S. is an open society, and Americans should keep it open. That is why their country is so strong. Americans do not need to create a climate of intimidation and fear against a racial group.
Americans also should not vilify Chinese students as a group or forget that Chinese students and faculty members of Chinese descent are often the targets of Beijing's influence and interference operations. In short, let us not punish victims.
So what should America do?
First, universities can take over many of the functions of CSSA chapters. In addition to their malign activities, CSSA chapters provide important support services, such as helping Chinese students adjust when they first arrive on campus. The Communist Party should not be the only institution providing those services. U.S. colleges and universities benefit from the tuition of about 340,000 students from China, and these institutions can certainly offer services to support their stay.
Second, Washington should rely on existing norms, rules, and laws. American institutions certainly can deal with whatever Beijing throws at them. So, for instance, any CSSA chapter that hides funding from Beijing -- a violation of college and university rules -- should be disbanded.
Most of all, let us get the FBI to round up Ministry of State Security agents who, up to now, have been given free rein to operate in America. Putting these agents behind bars or even just revoking their visas will end many of the activities that endanger American campuses. The Chinese kill CIA agents in China. The least Washington can do is declare China's agents personae non gratae.
The Chinese feel emboldened to violate American sovereignty and break laws because American administrations have let them do these things -- sometimes openly -- since at least the early 1990s. This is as much a Washington problem as a Beijing one.
Third, Congress can also change laws to make life inhospitable for Confucius Institutes. The John McCain 2019 National Defense Authorization Act provides that an educational institution cannot receive Defense Department funds for any program that involves a Confucius Institute.
That is a good start, but the Trump administration should try to extend the prohibition. Legislation should bar an educational institution from receiving any federal funds if it hosts a CI.
Rachelle Peterson of the National Association of Scholars told Gatestone that there are now three bills before Congress -- the Foreign Influence Transparency Act, the Stop Higher Education Espionage and Theft Act, and the Aim Higher Act -- addressing the problems posed by Confucius Institutes.
Fourth, U.S. and campus officials must make sure that Communist Party members do not abuse their First Amendment rights. The First Amendment gives China's Party committees the freedom to convene, but they do not have the freedom to intimidate others, especially Chinese and American students and scholars, a violation of civil liberties.
The existence of a Party cell on a U.S. campus -- there are now several of them -- signals to Chinese students and faculty that, although they are in the United States, they are still subject to Beijing's supervision.
This issue of Chinese intimidation on campus for me is personal. My father, born in China, came to Cornell University in 1945 on a Chinese government scholarship. For Chinese students in the United States, I wish for them what my father had, the experience to study -- and live -- without fear.
*Gordon G. Chang is the author of The Coming Collapse of China and a Gatestone Institute Distinguished Senior Fellow.
© 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.

How Extremist Scholars Promote Terrorism, Violence
A. Z. Mohamed/Gatestone Institute/November 08/18
"I would like to pay tribute to the sincere scholars of Al-Azhar and the Ministry of Awqaf [Endowments] who are working to correct the misconceptions about the tolerant Islamic religion and its moderate middle approach, to address and counter extremism and deviant ideology and to uphold the human, moral and love values among all human kind." — Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi, June 11, 2018.
The Grand Imam conspicuously chose to ignore the fact that many Muslims hate and despise non-Muslims. These Muslims are acting in accordance with what the Quran and the Hadith tell them about the disbelievers. Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi deserves to be universally commended for his words supporting an approach to "counter extremism and deviant ideology and to uphold the human, moral and love values among all human kind." Pictured: Sisi addresses the United Nations on September 25, 2018 in New York City. (Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)
Prominent Muslim scholars continue to argue that the Quran and Prophet Mohammed do not incite intolerance or killing Christians and Jews. Many scholars, however, seem prepared to do their utmost to hide this "inconvenient truth."
Take, for example, Sheikh Ahmed El-Tayeb, the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar, Egypt's preeminent Sunni university, who recently claimed that "there is no single verse in the Quran that calls for killing Jews or Christians."
While it is true that the Quran does not specifically call for killing Christians and Jews, the Hadith — a record of the words, actions, and the silent approval of Prophet Mohammed — does refer to killing all Jews.
The Quran, however does refer to Christians and Jews as disbelievers, and calls on Muslims to fight and kill disbelievers.
The Grand Imam of Al-Azhar made his claim in a speech delivered in Cairo, Egypt, in the presence of President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi, senior government officials and Al-Azhar clerics on June 11 during the annual celebration of Laylat al-Qadr ("Night of Decree").
In his speech, the senior Muslim cleric reconfirmed Al-Azhar's previous condemnation of a call from many intellectuals and politicians in France to reconsider as outdated the verses of the Quran that provoke hatred, killing Jews and other disbelievers, and that promote anti-Semitism and hatred of other non-Muslims. The French declaration says: "... we ask the verses of the Quran calling for the killing and punishment of Jews, Christians and unbelievers be [denounced as] outdated by theological [Islamic] authorities, as were the incoherencies of the Bible and the Catholic anti-Semitism abolished by Vatican II, so that no believer can rely on a sacred text to commit a crime."The following are some examples of verses in the Quran that refer to Jews and Christians as disbelievers and call on Muslims to fight against them:
"They have certainly disbelieved who say, 'Allah is the Messiah, the son of Mary.'" (Quran 5:72, Sahih International translation)
"They have certainly disbelieved who say, 'Allah is the third of three.'" (Quran 5:73, Sahih International translation)
Because all or most Christians believe in the trinity and believe Jesus Christ is God, they are by the Quran and Muslims as disbelievers:
"Among the Jews are those who distort words from their [proper] usages and say, 'We hear and disobey' and 'Hear but be not heard' and 'Ra'ina,' twisting their tongues and defaming the religion. And if they had said [instead], 'We hear and obey' and 'Wait for us [to understand],' it would have been better for them and more suitable. But Allah has cursed them for their disbelief, so they believe not, except for a few." (Quran 4:46, Sahih International translation)
According to the last verse, all Jews, with the exception of a few, are cursed and disbelievers.
"[Remember] when your Lord inspired to the angels, 'I am with you, so strengthen those who have believed. I will cast terror into the hearts of those who disbelieved, so strike [them] upon the necks and strike from them every fingertip.'" (Quran 8:12, Sahih International translation)
This verse and others clearly call on Muslims to wage war on the disbelievers.
"O you who have believed, fight those adjacent to you of the disbelievers and let them find in you harshness." (Quran 9:123, Sahih International translation)
"Fight those who do not believe in Allah or in the Last Day and who do not consider unlawful what Allah and His Messenger have made unlawful and who do not adopt the religion of truth from those who were given the Scripture - [fight] until they give the jizyah willingly while they are humbled." (Quran 9:29, Sahih International translation)
Because Jews or Christians are "disbelievers," Muslims must apparently obey God's orders and fight against them and kill them.
It is verses such as these that inspire Muslim terrorists to carry out attacks against non-Muslims. Moreover, it is verses such as these on which Muslim preachers continue to rely to incite against non-Muslims.
As one can see, that the Quran is quite clear about the need to fight and kill "disbelievers." That detail, however, does not stop senior Muslim clerics such as the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar from continuing to claim that the Quran is only urging Muslims to defend themselves against "aggression."
The Hadith also calls on Muslims to fight and kill Jews:
Al-Bukhari (3593) and Muslim (2921) narrated from the Hadith of Ibn 'Umar (may Allah be pleased with him) that he said: "I heard the Messenger of Allah (blessings and peace of Allah be upon him) say: "The Jews will fight you and you will prevail over them, then a rock will say: 'O Muslim, here is a Jew behind me; kill him.'"
In Saheeh Muslim (2922), it is narrated from the Hadith of Abu Hurayrah that the Messenger of Allah (blessings and peace of Allah be upon him) said: "The Hour will not begin until the Muslims fight the Jews and the Muslims will kill them, until a Jew hides behind a rock or a tree, and the rock or tree will say: O Muslim, O slave of Allah, there is a Jew behind me, come and kill him. Except the gharqad (a thorny tree), for it is one of the trees of the Jews."
Ironically, the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar regretted "that those who publish these statements [in the anti-Semitism manifesto] do not know how much hatred these words could create in the hearts of over 1.5 billion Muslims."
The Grand Imam consciously chose to ignore the fact that many Muslims hate and despise non-Muslims. These Muslims are acting in accordance with what the Quran and the Hadith tell them about the disbelievers:
"You will surely find the most intense of the people in animosity toward the believers [to be] the Jews and those who associate others with Allah." (Quran 5:82, Sahih International translation)
"O you who have believed, do not take the Jews and the Christians as allies. They are [in fact] allies of one another. And whoever is an ally to them among you – then indeed, he is [one] of them. Indeed, Allah guides not the wrongdoing people." (Quran 5:51, Sahih International translation)
"And the Jews say, 'The hand of Allah is chained.' Chained are their hands, and cursed are they for what they say... And that which has been revealed to you from your Lord will surely increase many of them in transgression and disbelief. And We have cast among them animosity and hatred until the Day of Resurrection... And they strive throughout the land [causing] corruption, and Allah does not like corrupters." (Quran 5:64, Sahih International translation)
In his attempt to deny that the Quran verses breed anti-Semitism and hatred of non-Muslims, El-Tayeb, the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar, quoted the following verse from the Quran:
"They are not [all] the same; among the People of the Scripture is a community standing [in obedience], reciting the verses of Allah during periods of the night and prostrating [in prayer]. They believe in Allah and the Last Day, and they enjoin what is right and forbid what is wrong and hasten to good deeds. And those are among the righteous. (Quran 3:113-14, Sahih International translation)
Yes, there are positive references to the Jews in the Quran; one verse even depicts the Jews as the preferred group of people:
"And We did certainly give the Children of Israel the Scripture and judgement and prophet-hood, and We provided them with good things and preferred them over the worlds." (Quran 45:16, Sahih International translation)
Moreover, the Quran verses 5:21 and 17:104 state that the Holy Land was promised to the Jews.
Muslim scholars argue, in response, that verses favoring the Jews refer only to Jews who became true believers, and not the majority whom Allah labeled "kufaar" (disbelievers).
In addition to absolving Islam of any connection to hatred, violence and terrorism, El-Tayeb accused the Anti-Semitism Manifesto of provoking terrorism, saying, "Such boldness on others' sanctity is one of the major causes of terrorism." There seems, however, to be a blind spot about a reciprocal "boldness on others' sanctity" when it comes to respecting non-Muslims.
At the same celebration of Laylat al-Qadr, President El-Sisi, in his brief speech, which came after El-Tayeb's long one, said:
"I would like to pay tribute to the sincere scholars of Al-Azhar and the Ministry of Awqaf [Endowments] who are working to correct the misconceptions about the tolerant Islamic religion and its moderate middle approach, to address and counter extremism and deviant ideology and to uphold the human, moral and love values among all human kind."
President El-Sisi deserves to be universally commended for his words.
The Grand Imam, on the other hand, clearly does not share his president's views on Islam. By continuing to turn a blind eye to the verses of Quran and Hadith that incite intolerance and hatred of non-Muslims, the imam is thwarting any attempt to turn Islam into a tolerant and moderate religion. His approach only serves to promote violence, extremism and terrorism.
*A. Z. Mohamed is a Muslim born and raised in the Middle East.
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Iran’s sanctions and Saudi Arabia’s future
Abdullah bin Bijad Al-Otaibi/Al Arabiya/November 08/18
The destiny of states depends on their leadership, decisions and vision. Those who choose the past remain trapped in it, and those who choose the future reach it. There are two major projects taking place in the Middle East. The first one belongs to the past and is governed by the past and it only invokes evil sectarianism, brutality and terrorism. This is Iran’s project. The other project belongs to the future and is driven by the future. This is the project of the new Saudi Arabia, the Saudi Arabia of King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
At the time of the publication of this article, the toughest US sanctions would have been enforced against Iran. These sanctions are part of the new US strategy announced by President Trump who annulled the worst deal in history — as Trump himself put it — between the Obama administration and the Iranian regime. There are two major projects taking place in the Middle East. The first one belongs to the past and is governed by the past and it only invokes evil sectarianism, brutality and terrorism. This is Iran’s project. The other project belongs to the future and is driven by the future. This is the project of the new Saudi Arabia
The first phase of the sanctions began in early August. The one enforced now marks the second phase. These sanctions will gradually and effectively stifle the Iranian regime along with all its affiliates, both within that country and abroad. These sanctions serve the interest of the US and the world and confront the most powerful regimes spreading extremism, terrorism, disruption and destruction. This development coincides with an amazing model which the new Saudi Arabia is building under the leadership of the Saudi Crown Prince to diversify the economy, renew the country’s identity and develop it towards the future to overcome its challenges. His ambitions’ limits are the sky and his vision and its associated plans are announced and their achievements are quantified in numbers and are aired in the daily news. There is a great deal of flexibility and continuous renewal that ensure the fulfillment of promises and the achievements.
It is important to consider these two contradictory models to look into the behavior of some European countries and most of the liberal Western media which opposes Trump and into the hysteria, as expressed by the Saudi Foreign Minister, they adopted to deal with the Khashoggi case. Saudi Arabia has seriously dealt with this case and it has imprisoned the ones involved in it and referred them to the Attorney General, according to the highest judicial standards. The Kingdom also announced that it will punish them according to the law and will announce the results to the world. How can it be compared to a well-established policy and methodology to kill millions, like those that are openly adopted by Iran which has killed hundreds of thousands in Iraq, Syria and Yemen?
Saudi stand for stability
The Iranian ideology adopts all types of “deadly identities” – as Amin Maalouf and others phrased it – of sectarianism, fundamentalism, brutality and terrorism that have a political, economic, cultural and social system and that have been associated with decisions, policies and strategies over the duration of 40 years.
This ideology killed millions of Iranians and Arabs where the Iranian regime’s wings played a role. This ideology has established the belief that homeland is an idea not a territory. It is expansionist and does not acknowledge borders, countries, international laws or states’ sovereignty. Its prominent figures even boast of occupying four Arab capitals. On the other hand, the Saudi model is the main supporter of stability in the region. It is the most powerful protector of international laws, of the respect for state policies and of rejection of foreign interferences in other countries’ internal affairs. The new Saudi Arabia has used its moral and financial resources to support international laws and protect its interests and the interests of Arab countries and peoples, as well as of the world. The new Saudi Arabia also stood up against the world and the former US administration – the Obama administration – against its shameful nuclear agreement with Iran. This agreement exacerbated the crisis instead of resolving it. Saudi Arabia also stood up against the “fundamentalist Spring” in Arab countries which took the countries that suffered from it centuries back.
The deluded Left
It is very difficult for ideological leftists, nationalists and fundamentalists to back down on their stances or reconsider them or even accept criticism. Thus they are destined to remain hard-line and contradictory. It would be enough to track the way they deal with the crises in this short period, where they exaggerate what they do not want and minimize what they want, or else who would compare the murder of the Assad regime, which is loyal to Iran, of hundreds of thousands with poison gas and other weapons with a mysterious incident which dimensions have not been revealed yet!
Homeland for all of these people is just an “ideology” not a modern state that has borders, sovereignty and independent decision. Ideology can lead to absence of reason, logic and reality. Leftist figures often praised Khomeini “the bearded revolutionist” who looks like Guevara and Castro but with a turban. They were unable to get over such notions, despite the crimes and destruction that took place over four decades, from the moment the French intellectual Michel Foucault supported Khomeini until today, with all the nonsense of the Arab left. One of the salient aspects of the new model being established by the Saudi Crown Prince is a model that provides a new interpretation of the homeland, is that it is not only in conformity with the ideals of a modern nation state, which how Saudi Arabia has been since its formation in the 1930s, but that it is the state of the future. This unique interpretation clarifies the direction, vision and the will. The homeland is its children, youths and future generations; the children who work hard in the present, the youths who are full of aspirations and ambitions and future generations that should be prepared for bearing the flag and continuing the task when their turn comes.
But does this mean to reject or undermine the past? Never! Anyone who studies the Saudi Crown Prince’s vision would find that the past forms a solid foundation for it. It is based on great achievements and is full of cultural and social diversity. It has a vision of tolerance and coexistence and aims to spread peace in the region and the whole world and to overcome mistakes, even if they last for decades, via brave decisions and a sharp insight.
Homeland for posterity
The Saudi Crown Prince represents the future in the eyes of his people. 70% of the people constitute youth who stand behind him because they are aware that the ambitious founders and developers of the state are the ones who build, dream and work. The homeland is undoubtedly a legacy but it’s more than that as it is a future characterized by building and developing. The comparison is usually useful for revealing and giving the mind an area of reflection and meditation. It shows clear results while comparing with the two models presented above. It also exposes the biased ideologies and promotes rational, balanced and realistic attitudes. One hundred years ago, in January 1919, Max Weber wrote: “The fatherland is not the land of the fathers, but the land of the children.”

CASA project and energy dynamics across Central, South Asia

Sabena Siddiqui/Al Arabiya/November 08/18
Having similar objectives as the CPEC and the TAPI, the CASA-1000 happens to be the third most significant, groundbreaking project of the decade for this geopolitical region. Officially declared a project in 2015, the progress of the Central Asia South Asia Electricity Transmission and Trade Project (CASA-1000) has been at a snail’s pace until only recently. Launched in 2016, it involves four countries, namely, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, Afghanistan and Pakistan and most of the funding is arranged from the World Bank, while the Islamic Development Bank (IDB) and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) are also funding it partially. In the broader perspective, this ambitious scheme intertwines two separate geopolitical regions with one single project. Connecting the energy-rich Central Asian states with the massive consumer market of South Asia, both US-backed projects of CASA 1,000 and the Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India pipeline (TAPI) promote regional integration as well as facilitate economic connections and multi-lateral co-operation. With an initial budget of $1.17 billion, the CASA-1000 also happens to be the third most significant, ground-breaking project of the decade in this geopolitical region, after the two bigger projects that are the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor and the Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India pipeline. Hydropower dams running on water cascading from mountain ranges, such an electricity transmission line connecting Central Asia to Afghanistan, Pakistan and maybe even India can uplift the entire region
Unfortunately, CASA-1000 has been quite under-rated and is not as well-known as the other two projects due to perpetual delays which create confusions whether the project is still on. Nevertheless, since TAPI was inaugurated in March this year, there is new hope that the CASA 1000 could also move ahead as it is in the same region. Announcing plans to start building the required infrastructure, the Tajikistan Ministry of Energy and Water Resources has said that, “The implementation of the physical part of the CASA-1000 Project will begin in all countries participating in the Project during this year.”
Assessing the overall impact of this project the following main factors emerge; Firstly, it helps utilize the excess from hydropower plants in Central Asia in summers. Harnessing the surplus of clean energy produced by the republics of Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan, it makes economic sense for these states to utilize their abundant water resources for generating electricity that can be exported.
Hydropower dams running on water cascading from the mountain ranges, such an electricity transmission line connecting Central Asia to Afghanistan, Pakistan and maybe even onwards to India can uplift the entire region. Secondly, it helps establish Afghanistan’s viability as a stable and dependable transit route for supplies. In the construction phase, this large-scale power project is to be stretched 550km across the length of Afghanistan from the Sher Khan Bandar at the Afghan-Tajikistan border to the Torkham border check-point at the Afghan-Pakistan border. Projected to be completed in 2020 now, most of this construction is to happen in early 2019 and it should reach the commercial operation phase in late summer 2021, according to the World Bank. Thirdly, it helps to reduce Pakistan’s energy crisis, which virtually knocks off 3% percent of its economic growth every year. Providing Pakistan financing of around $120 million, the World Bank is facilitating Pakistan in laying the power transmission lines for its part of the project while the US played a prominent role in striking the power supply deal between Pakistan and Tajikistan. Conducting the feasibility research, Canadian company SNC Lavalin has endorsed the viability of the CASA-1000 project. Finalizing modalities, the construction tender was won by two Indian companies in March 2018, and work is to begin with the installation of transmission lines.
Project agreements
To be executed in three phases, all the main project agreements and procurement detail for infrastructure packages have also been settled between the four participants. Once completed successfully, it can be a virtual stepping-stone for the establishment of the CASA Regional Energy Market initiative (CASAREM) which aims to enhance the growth prospects of both Central Asia and South Asia with clean power export revenues and alleviating an energy deficit. Beginning with two Central Asian countries as exporters and two South Asian ones as importers, Afghanistan receives 300 megawatts of power according to its domestic demand, while the remaining 1000 megawatts would be transited to Pakistan via Afghan land routes. Standing to benefit $50 million annually just in transit duty, this is a litmus test for Afghanistan. If it proves to be a successful model there is great potential for more South Asian countries to join in and access reliable energy supply lines from Central Asia. Defining the long-term vision of the project, Lilia Burunciuc, World Bank Regional Director for South Asia has said that, “CASA 1000 is a key part of the broader effort to develop a regional electricity market linking Central Asia with the broader region and is also promoting energy security and economic development in the four countries part of the project.”Connecting states and regions, the idea for this 1200 km, 1300MW link is originally on the pattern of the North American grid that covers a 340,000 km area or even the European power network which spans across 230,000 km of territory. Enabling inter-regional electricity trade, the CASA-1000 can economically uplift some of the poorest regions as well as bring in more infrastructure investment. Not only that, the development plan enhances the energy security of South Asia and upgrades regional stability.

Nation building through state building
Shehab Al-Makahleh/Al Arabiya/November 08/18
To diagnose Arab issues, one should first address two concepts: nation-building and state-building. For more than 80 years, Arabs have lost their real identity due to hundreds of years of colonialism and regional conflicts.
Nation building has been used to refer to multilateral and bilateral engagements in post-conflict situations to brittle and friable states. On the other hand, state building hinges on effective political and economic institutions to build the identity and enrich human resources.
The process of building the state relies on the political paradigm in the first place because the innards and objectives vary according to those who are in charge of the state-building process based on their goals, interests and doctrines. The process also depends on social and economic factors.
Therefore, this ontological incongruity has imposed multiple epistemological definitions of state and nation building as an indicator of the dynamic concept of state and nation building at the theoretical and methodological levels in the Arab world, which can be blamed behind all Arab failures at the international fields politically and economically.
Between state and identity
Looking at the predicaments that Arabs are undergoing from the Levantine (Jordan, Palestine, Syria and Lebanon) and Iraq, North Africa and the Arabian Peninsula, one notices that the denominators are state and nation building. In 1805, Napoleon said: “There cannot be a firmly established political state unless there is a teaching body with definitely recognized principles. If the child is not taught from infancy that he ought to be a republican or a monarchist, a Catholic or a free-thinker, the state will not constitute a nation; it will rest on uncertain and shifting foundations; and it will be constantly exposed to disorder and change.”There is a dire need in the Middle East to focus on institutional reconstruction and to claim that state-construction undertakings do not inescapably entail a concomitant nation-building struggle. The onus on external actors in nation building is to succour through organized architecture, which represents social justice backed by democratic procedures such as free elections, constitution, free media, and rule of law. This cannot act well without healthy economies and free market policies. The link between a state and a nation building is education and media which help to disseminate national cognizance, construct and promote national identity through education, mass media, iconography of the state and its apparatuses. The oxymoron of endeavouring to construct or reconstruct states cannot be achieved without building the nation. Thus, state foundations cannot be operational and productive without bearing in mind the socio-political consistency of communities. The notion of state and nation building in the Middle East is very important to understand the challenges that the Middle Easterners are encountering. State-building is different from nation-building; yet, they are interrelated. This is similar to a hardware (state) and a software (nation). They cannot function well without this juxtaposition. Thus, there is a dire need in the Middle East to focus on institutional reconstruction and to claim that state-construction undertakings do not inescapably entail a concomitant nation-building struggle because once the state is under construction, the nation can be prepared for the next phase as part of socio-political cohesion.
Challenges galore
The Middle East states face many existential threats and challenges. However, the extortions are twofold. First, state governance is very fragile. Second, because most of the Middle East countries depend on other countries to achieve quick and visible results; this can work out on the short run, but will not be beneficial for these states on the mid-term and long-run. A flashback at these states reveals that the nation-building process has borne fruits through improving security, expanding economic activities, and enhancing human development.
Either or both?
Hundreds of years ago, the greatest cities in the world had been Baghdad, Damascus and Cairo were built in synchronisation with building the nation. The secret lies in building a state in parallel with building the nation as the state is the body and the nation is the soul.
Before the Arab Spring broke out in some countries, the issues that would hinder any progress and development of any state were crystal clear in most of the Middle East countries. This has been fueled by external factors that led to mass demonstrations that toppled some Arab regimes and to civils conflicts amongst others. Referring to recent history in the aftermath of Western colonialism of Arab states, none of them has enjoyed peace, integration, prosperity and progress although these countries have gained their independence long time ago. Imperialism effect still controls the hinges of most of Arab countries’ political and economic activities. The 2011 watershed events left many Arab states in shambles and others in muddles due to the ongoing chaotic shift of coalitions, proxy wars, bigoted vehemence which have marred the Middle Eastern geopolitical landscape.
Since 1970s, many Arab countries had states without a system, which paved the way for non-state actors to fill the vacuum in some cities and provinces such as in Iraq, Syria, Yemen, and Somalia. This has enfeebled the existing Arab states in favor of other regional powers such as Israel, Iran and Turkey which have benefited from this status quo by gaining clout and ground.
Diagnosing the crisis
By following up the recent history of all Arab states, it can be realised that the state crisis in the Middle East lies in two spheres. The first is the failure state such as Yemen where the decline of the central authority of the government is at stake.
This has instigated dangerous groups to take the initiative to manage and control the country’s security. The second is that Arab states are between the hammer of modernity of economic and social structures and the anvil of conventional systems. This discrepancy exacerbates governance, development and rule of law. As long as there are conflicting priorities between state and nation-building in the Arab countries, Arab states will not have any political influence regionally and internationally. Thus, state-building should start in line with nation-building through overhauling social, media, economic, educational, security, military and judicial systems in the Arab world to meet future challenges.

Europe-Iran relations complicated by alleged assassination attempts
Kerry Boyd Anderson/Arab News/November 08/18
The leaders of the EU, France, Germany and the UK last week released a joint statement expressing Europe’s ongoing support for the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) and their intentions to try to preserve business and trade with Iran, despite newly reimposed US sanctions. However, recent allegations regarding Iranian efforts to assassinate dissidents based in Europe threatens to undermine the continent’s resolve at a particularly sensitive time.
Friday’s statement noted that Europe is trying to implement mechanisms to allow European firms to continue to conduct business in Iran and to continue importing Iranian oil. “Our collective resolve to complete this work is unwavering,” the European leaders said.
At the same time, the statement contained a warning to Iran, noting that the leaders “expect Iran to play a constructive role” in maintaining the JCPOA. Part of that is a reminder to Tehran that, in exchange for Europe’s efforts to ensure economic benefits for Iran, the regime must continue abiding by the JCPOA’s limitations on its nuclear program. Additionally, the language may also be a warning that Iran needs to be more careful regarding its actions in European countries.
In October, two serious accusations were made against Iran for allegedly attempting to assassinate Iranian dissidents in Europe. The first came early in the month, when French authorities said that Iranian intelligence had plotted to bomb a June gathering in Paris of the political arm of the Mojahedin-e Khalq. Related arrests were made in France and Belgium, and German police arrested an Iranian diplomat who is reportedly the intelligence agent who ordered the attack.
Later in October, Danish authorities revealed that they believe Iran planned to assassinate members of the Arab Struggle Movement for the Liberation of Ahvaz (ASMLA) in Denmark. A Norwegian man of Iranian origin was arrested in Sweden in October and is accused of involvement in the plot.
These cases came at a particularly sensitive time in Iran-Europe relations, but there have been previous cases too. A year ago, ASMLA’s founder, Ahmad Mola Nissi, was killed in the Netherlands, raising suspicions about Iranian involvement. In late 2015, a man was shot in the Netherlands and reports emerged in June this year that the man may have been “Mohammad Reza Kolahi Samadi, who was accused of planting a bomb that resulted in the deadliest attack in modern Iranian history,” according to the BBC.
For now, Europe is likely to continue trying to preserve relations with Iran and the JCPOA. However, it will be important to follow Denmark’s reaction.
There are questions about all of these cases. The Iranian government has denied involvement, blaming the allegations on actors that want to disrupt European-Iranian relations. The publicly available evidence so far is weak, especially in the Danish case, leaving observers to rely on European intelligence agencies. There are multiple reports that Israel’s Mossad provided information in the Danish case, and Israel clearly has a strong interest in weakening European support for Iran. However, many European authorities say they feel confident in their information.
It is possible that factions within Iran that oppose the JCPOA are responsible and acted without the knowledge of President Hassan Rouhani. Furthermore, from Iran’s perspective, given ASMLA’s role in attacks within Iran — including a September attack on a military parade in Iran that killed civilians as well as soldiers — Europe has been harboring terrorists; so it might feel justified in trying to assassinate them.
Regardless of the allegations’ accuracy or the motives of anyone behind them, they pose a significant challenge to European-Iranian relations at a critical time. France responded to the alleged Paris plot in a measured way, freezing the assets of two Iranian officials and choosing not to appoint a new ambassador to Iran. Denmark, however, appears to be seeking a more muscular response; it has recalled its ambassador and is talking with other EU countries about how to respond. Several European nations have recently expressed solidarity with Denmark.
Yet, on Friday, Europe appeared united behind its efforts to continue conducting business and trade with Iran in order to preserve the JCPOA. This leaves Europe facing a dilemma: It wants to circumvent US sanctions and do business with Iran in order to preserve the JCPOA, but its strongest tool for responding to Iranian killings on European territory is to impose sanctions.
European leaders believe that the JCPOA is a successful agreement that significantly limits Iran’s nuclear program as a global and regional threat. They believe the approach of international sanctions leading to negotiations and a deal is a good model, and they do not want to undermine it as a potential plan for addressing other global concerns. Also, the pre-JCPOA sanctions on Iran hurt Europe’s economic interests more than they hurt the US’, and European leaders are keen to allow business and trade. Furthermore, Europeans have many reasons to be annoyed with US President Donald Trump and do not want to hand him a win by imposing their own sanctions on Iran.
For now, Europe is likely to continue trying to preserve relations with Iran and the JCPOA. However, it will be important to follow Denmark’s reaction. If actors within Iran are trying to spoil the JCPOA through assassinations in Europe, more attempts could occur. At a minimum, relations between Europe and Iran are complicated, and much will depend on political outcomes in Iran as well as in Europe.
*Kerry Boyd Anderson is a writer and political risk consultant with more than 14 years’ experience as a professional analyst of international security issues and Middle East political and business risk. Twitter: @KBAresearch

Mullahs’ policies exacerbating Iran’s financial crisis
د. ماجد ربيزاده/ سياسات الملالي تفاقم الأزمة المالية الإيرانية
Dr. Majid Rafizadeh/Arab News/November 08/18
The Iranian leaders continue to project a picture that their country is not facing any economic crisis. Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei recently declared that the Islamic Republic would be one of the most powerful economies in the world over the next five decades. President Hassan Rouhani also famously stated that, over the next three decades, Iran could become one of the top 10 economies in the world. This is an attempt to project power and economic stability to the rest of the world.
But such rhetoric contradicts the reality on the ground. The fact is that the Iranian regime has created the worst economic crisis the nation has faced in many decades.
Iran’s economy is officially in recession, according to the International Monetary Fund. Its national currency, the rial, has dropped to historic lows — one US dollar, which equaled approximately 35,000 rial in November last year, is now worth nearly 150,000.
Although Iran has an educated youth population, almost 30 percent of them cannot find jobs. In some provinces, the unemployment rate is over 60 percent. According to an official representative of the regime’s Planning and Management Organization, “42 percent of unemployed people in Iran have a university degree, and huge sums of money have been spent on their education.”
The unemployment rate among university-educated women is much higher than that of men, hovering near 80 percent in some provinces, and approximately 70 percent in others.
In addition, more than 40 percent of the population, or approximately 32 million citizens, live below the poverty line.
Widespread corruption and economic mismanagement has also led to food shortages in many Iranian cities. In some provinces, such as Sistan and Baluchistan, more than 75 percent of the population is currently struggling with food shortages and a lack of drinking water. This will inevitably result in an unprecedented health crisis.
The main underlying problems lie in the fact that Iran's large wealth is not being redistributed among the nation. Instead, it has been monopolized by the theocratic establishment and spent on financing terror and militia groups.
Meanwhile, inflation is on the rise. In April, inflation was 7.9 percent, but by September it had rocketed to 31.4 percent. While salaries and wages have generally remained the same, the price of commodities, food, housing and rent have soared, making it extremely difficult for many people to afford basic necessities.
The average cost of living in Iran is roughly half of the average cost of living in the US, with the living expenses for one person costing roughly $6,500 a year. But the average salary of an Iranian family is only around $1,900 dollars a year, according to Iran’s official figures.
That is why the economy has been forcing people to take to the streets and revolt against the regime. They have been chanting: “Reformists, hard-liners, the game is over now;” “Leave Syria alone, think about us instead;” “Death to Hezbollah;” and “Forget Gaza, forget Lebanon, I’d give my life for Iran.”
Protests in Iran are regular occurrences as the economy continues to worsen. Currently, Iranian teachers have joined other groups, such as truck drivers, merchants, traders and shopkeepers in Tehran’s Grand Bazaar, by going on a nationwide strike in order to protest poor economic conditions.
Iran’s economy ought to be one of the strongest in the world. With approximately $27.3 trillion of natural resources and it being the 18th-largest country in the world when ranked by purchasing power parity, Iran is considered one of the globe’s richest countries. It has the world’s second and fourth-largest gas (with a value of nearly $12 trillion) and oil (worth nearly $17 trillion) reserves, respectively.
But the main underlying problems lie in the fact that the nation’s large wealth is not being redistributed among the nation. Instead, it has been monopolized by the theocratic establishment and spent on financing terror and militia groups, pursuing military adventurism in the region, boosting the power of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) and further enriching the gilded circle of the ruling politicians. It is worth noting that Khamenei’s financial empire is currently proven to be worth at least $95 billion.
In a nutshell, Iran’s economy is facing its worst crisis in decades. The recent US sanctions against the regime, alongside the Iranian leaders’ unwillingness to redistribute the nation’s wealth, battle financial corruption, halt terror financing, cease money laundering, or make fundamental reforms within its economy, only mean that Iran’s economy will continue its downward spiral.
As long as the mullahs and the IRGC rule over Iran with an iron fist, the Iranian people’s economic conditions will most likely continue to deteriorate.
*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