Detailed Lebanese & Lebanese Related LCCC English New Bulletin For November 11/2018
Compiled & Prepared by: Elias Bejjani

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Bible Quotations
For where there is envy and selfish ambition, there will also be disorder and wickedness of every kind
Letter of James 03/13-18: "Who is wise and understanding among you? Show by your good life that your works are done with gentleness born of wisdom. But if you have bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not be boastful and false to the truth. Such wisdom does not come down from above, but is earthly, unspiritual, devilish. For where there is envy and selfish ambition, there will also be disorder and wickedness of every kind. But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without a trace of partiality or hypocrisy. And a harvest of righteousness is sown in peace for those who make peace."

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

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Titles For The Latest LCCC Bulletin analysis & editorials from miscellaneous sources published on November 10-11/18
Mount Lebanon's resistance during WWI/Dr. Walid Phares/Face Book/November 10/18
Israel and Hizballah trade threats over Iran-supplied precision-guidance missiles/DEBKAfile/November 10/18
The Plight of the Druze Hostages Held by ISIS & the War on the Islamic State/Talal el-Atrache/Syria Comment/November 10/18
The Second Chapter of Trump’s Presidency/Abdulrahman Al-Rashed/Asharq Al-Awsat/November 10/18
UN Member States: Migration Is a Human Right/Judith Bergman/Gatestone Institute/November 10/2018
Iranians pray for a normal country/Camelia Entekhabifard/Arab News/November 10/18
Let’s promote healthy aging for the elderly/Dr. Razan Baker/Arab News/November 10/18

Titles For The Latest LCCC Lebanese Related News published on November 10-11/18
Mount Lebanon's resistance during WWI
Israel and Hizballah trade threats over Iran-supplied precision-guidance missiles
Lebanon’s Hezbollah says it won’t give up its rockets
Nasrallah Throws Support Behind Sunni MPs, Affirms ‘Firm’ Relations with Aoun
Aoun Says Efforts Won’t Be Spared to Resolve Govt. Hurdle
Nasrallah, Bassil Meet, Discuss Government Formation
Report: Berri ‘Forbids’ Obstructing Legislative Session Next Week
French Embassy Commemorates Armistice Day
Hezbollah Reiterates Support to Request of Independent Sunni MPs
Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah has met with Caretaker Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil as part of efforts to remove the obstacles hindering the formation of Lebanon’s
Lebanese President: Israeli Claims on Weapons Caches are Baseless

Titles For The Latest LCCC Bulletin For Miscellaneous Reports And News published on November 10-11/18
Saudi Arabia cornerstone of stability in region, Trump to Macron
Report: Khashoggi Corpse Went Down the Drains
Macron's Office Says Trump Anger Based on Misunderstanding
US Hopes to Work with China on Zero Iran Oil Exports
SWIFT to Disconnect Iran Banks Soon
Death Toll in Jordan Floods Rises to 12
After ISIS, Damascus Suburb Residents Blocked From Going Home
Qatari Cash Enters Gaza
Arab Coalition Asks US to Stop Inflight Refueling
Trump Administration May Blacklist Houthis as Terrorist
The Latest LCCC Lebanese Related News published on November 10-11/18
Mount Lebanon's resistance during WWI
Dr. Walid Phares/Face Book/November 10/18
100 years ago...
Often history books ignore the participation of the people of Mount Lebanon, the so-called Mutasarrifiah, in World War II. According to Paul Noujaim, the "minister of foreign affairs" of the Petit Liban, as he wrote and as related by Fuad Afram Boustani, the autonomous Lebanese mountain was preparing to move to full independence from the Ottoman Empire, and declare Baabda as its capital. Secret talks were underway with France one of the guarantors of the autonomy. Suddenly the explosion of the Great War and Turkey's siding with the central powers against the allies, destroyed the project. Ottoman forces invaded Mount Lebanon and a famine was organized, killing almost one third of its population. Almost one third emigrated. Moreover the Ottomans persecuted the political activists across the Petit Liban, as well as in Beirut and other districts outside the Mutasarrifiah. Lebanese have been celebrating "the martyrs" in May of each year. Though never explaining what really happened. What was not revealed also, was the existence of a "Lebanese resistance" in Mount Lebanon between 1914 and 1918, many members of were former gendarmes from the autonomous Lebanese force under Baabda's council.
Mount Lebanon's contribution in that Great War was through its political activists, tortured and murdered by the occupiers, tens of thousands of civilians who died because of famine and lack of medical attention, and the patriots who resisted, the memory of some of whom is visible in portraits hanging on the walls of old houses from Jezzine to Ehden
Let the next Lebanon tell their story to this and future generations

Israel and Hizballah trade threats over Iran-supplied precision-guidance missiles
حزب الله وإسرائيل يتبادلان التهديدات حول تزويد إيران الحزب تقنيات توجيه الصواريخ

DEBKAfile/November 10/18
Israel has sent a final warning to the Lebanese government that it will destroy Hizballah’s new factories for upgrading its missiles unless they were shut down, DEBKAfile’s military sources report. Iran recently supplied Hizballah with precision-guidance munitions. Their components would enable Hizbollah missiles to strike within a 10-meter radius of the intended target, thereby upgrading its missiles to high-precision weapons and ramping up the threat to Israel. They they are being put together in small workshops, very much like those in which Hamas and Islamic Jihad manufacture their missiles in the Gaza Strip. These workshops are scattered widely across Lebanon. which makes them harder to target by air or by missile. European sources report that this warning was not Israel’s first. Lebanon was cautioned more than once through the US and France. However, Israel’s final warning was relayed to Beirut on Monday, Nov. 11, by Aurelien Lechevallier, adviser to French President Emmanuel Macron, who visited Israel on the same day as President Donald Trump’s special adviser for Syria, James Jeffrey. The French official left for Beirut that day with the following message: Shut the new plants down or else face a military attack. On arrival, Lechevallier handed it to Lebanese Foreign Minister Gibran Bassil, who passed it on to President Michel Aoun. On Saturday, Nov. 10, Israel received its answer: Hizballah chief Hassan Nasrallah said in a speech: “The path of the [Hizballah’s] Resistance is decisive, strong and triumphant, achieving historic victories. We are not afraid of any sanctions and we will continue to hold on to our weapons and missiles.”
Lebanon’s Hezbollah says it won’t give up its rockets
Associated Press/November 10/18 /BEIRUT: The head of Lebanon’s militant group Hezbollah said his group will not be compelled by threats or sanctions to give up its rocket a capability, urging his government in comments Saturday to contend with the diplomatic pressure it faces.
Hassan Nasrallah said succumbing to diplomatic pressure would allow Israel to attack Lebanon at will. Nasrallah spoke to supporters in Beirut’s southern district via video link on “Martyrs’ Day,” commemorating the group’s fighters in combat.“Today, on martyr’s day, I want to reaffirm that we are holding on to the strength of Lebanon, which lies in the golden equation: the army, the people and the resistance. We are holding on to the weapons of the resistance and we are holding on to all the rockets of the resistance,” Nasrallah said. Israel and Hezbollah fought a devastating monthlong war in 2006, which ended in a stalemate. Since then, Hezbollah has amassed an arsenal that is believed to include well over 100,000 missiles and rockets, which Israel considers an existential threat. “If we have to sell our homes to protect these rocket capabilities in the hands of the resistance, we will do that,” Nasrallah said. Nasrallah asked his government “to put up with this level of diplomatic pressure because giving in, if we assume it happens, means that Lebanon will be open to an Israeli aggression any time, any moment.” His comments come after Israeli media reported that the Jewish state had asked the Lebanese government through a mediator to act against Hezbollah’s rocket factories, threatening to take military action. “Any attack on Lebanon, any airstrike on Lebanon, or any strikes against Lebanon we will respond definitely, definitely, definitely,” he added.
Nasrallah Throws Support Behind Sunni MPs, Affirms ‘Firm’ Relations with Aoun
Naharnet/November 10/18/Hizbullah chief Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah reiterated backing for the participation of so-called independent Sunni MPs, assuring that relations with his ally President Michel Aoun were intact. “All officials including President (Michel) Aoun and Speaker (Nabih) Berri had initially agreed on the representation of independent Sunni MPs but the PM-designate (Saad Hariri) did not,” said Nasrallah in a televised address marking Hizbullah Martyr’s Day. “Lebanon does not need more than eight or ten ministers to represent all its parties but they chose to make it 30. Why not form the government of 32 and allow place for the representation of Sunni MPs,” he said. Hizbullah chief emphasized that the party has raised the demand to allocate a ministerial portfolio for said MPs “since day one after the Premier’s designation.”“We have never thought about allocating a share for independent Sunni MPs from the share of President Michel Aoun. We want the Premier to give them a seat from his share,” said Nasrallah. On Hizbullah’s relations with his ally, Aoun, Nasrallah said: “Relations between Hizbullah and Aoun are intact and no one can drag us to a rift over the Sunni obstacle,” he said. Nasrallah lashed out at Progressive Socialist Party chief Walid Jumblat who criticized Hizbullah for “delaying the Cabinet formation” over the Sunni obstacle. “Jumblat has obstructed the government formation for a whole of four months and has no right to speak of obstruction,” he said, referring to the PSP demands to get the three Druze ministerial seats as part of the PSP’s share. He concluded saying: “We will stand by the side of independent Sunni allies because we reject isolation.” Noting that whatever said MPs settle for, Hizbullah will be ready to support. On Hizbullah’s Resistance, he said: “The path of the Resistance was decisive, strong and triumphant achieving historic victories. Hizbullah will unquestionably retaliate against any Israeli aggression against Lebanon. We are not afraid of any sanctions and we will continue to hold on to our weapons and missiles.”“We condemn any form of normalization with the Zionist entity,” he added.

Aoun Says Efforts Won’t Be Spared to Resolve Govt. Hurdle
Naharnet/November 10/18/President Michel Aoun stressed on Saturday that he would spare no effort to "solve the hurdles hampering the formation of the new cabinet," the National News Agenct reported. Aoun, whose remarks came during a meeting with Melkite Greek Catholic Patriarch of Antioch and the East, Youssef Absi, added that "it takes courage and patience to reach a happy end, but we will definitely find the solution because waiting is a waste of time." On the other hand, Aoun expressed fears of attempts for settling the Palestinians living in exile. "Some are seeking to find unacceptable and unjust solutions by settling the Palestinians where they are," he said, pointing out if this happens, it will be the biggest massacre of justice in the world. In the same context, the president called on all Melkite Greek Patriarchs to "contribute to finding a solution for the safe and voluntary return of Syrian refugees to their homeland, because linking their return to the political solution in their country is very dangerous." For his part, Absi stressed that "the Greek Catholic community has played a key role in the political, cultural, social and security life in Lebanon and is a key factor in providing stability and prosperity in Lebanon.”Finally, Absi sounded the alarm about the serious repercussions of delaying the Cabinet formation, especially at the economic level.

Nasrallah, Bassil Meet, Discuss Government Formation
Naharnet/November 10/18/Hizbullah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah held talks with caretaker Foreign Minister and Free Patriotic Movement chief Jebran Bassil in the presence of senior Hizbullah official Wafiq Safa, the National News Agency reported on Saturday. Discussions have focused on the government formation process and the means to resolve the obstacle hampering the formation. Hizbullah’s al-Manar TV station said on Twitter: “Nasrallah and Bassil agreed that national unity should be fortified, and that dragging the country into sectarian incitement must be prevented.”Talks have also highlighted the regional situation and the "importance of enhancing stability in Lebanon to meet any developments in the region."

Report: Berri ‘Forbids’ Obstructing Legislative Session Next Week
Naharnet/November 10/18/In light of the governmental gridlock all eyes turn to the legislative session that Speaker Nabih Berri has called for next week, amid concerns of a "lack of quorum or boycott," al-Joumhouria daily reported on Saturday. All political parties have reportedly assured Berri they will attend the session, but information has been circulating in the past few hours about attempts to disrupt this meeting after the adoption of certain items on the agenda, according to the daily. “A step of this kind challenges the Speaker who seeks to launch the legislative work of the council. He studied and approved a set of laws needed for the country, especially those related to the economic file and the oil file on which he relies on as an outlet for Lebanon from its economic crisis,” unnamed sources told the daily. “If someone thinks of disrupting the Council, we advise him not to play this game. The quorum game is a disruptive one. It does not facilitate. I will be on the lookout for any such attempt,” stressed Berri in remarks he made to visitors. “The Council is its own master, there are no impediments that it exercise its legislative role,” stressed Berri, adding “the train of legislation has been launched, and the legislative session set next week constitutes the beginning of several sessions in a row.”In response to a question, Berri said: "The Council is not allowed to be disrupted. It is a major sin to have disruption in mind. It is plain ruin leaving the country without institutions, without a government and with the Council.”

French Embassy Commemorates Armistice Day
Naharnet/November 10/18/French Ambassador to Lebanon, Bruno Foucher, celebrated on Saturday the commemoration of the "Truce of November 11, 1918," during a ceremony held in the French military cemetery in Beirut. Speaking at the ceremony, Foucher said, "Our work in Lebanon is always inspired by our mutual love for peace and reconciliation. Let us unite our efforts and work together to defend this tormented region." Ambassadors of the United States Elizabeth Richard, European Union Christina Lassen, Canada Emmanuelle Lamoureux, Russia Alexander Zasypkin, U.K. Chris Rampling, Romania Victor Mercia, Belgium Hubert Cooreman, Morocco Mohammad Krin and Karim Boudali from Tunisia attended the ceremony. Armistice Day in France on the 11th of November is widely marked in Europe and North America and may also be called Remembrance Day or Veterans Day. It marks the signing of the armistice between the Allies and Germany at Compiègne, France, which ended hostilities on the Western Front of World War I.
Hezbollah Reiterates Support to Request of Independent Sunni MPs
Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah has met with Caretaker Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil as part of efforts to remove the obstacles hindering the formation of Lebanon’s
Beirut - Paula Astih/Asharq Al-Awsat/Saturday, 10 November, 2018/
government as the party insists on giving independent lawmakers a representation in the next cabinet. Following their Thursday visit to Dar al-Fatwa where they held talks with Grand Mufti Sheikh Abdul Latif Derian, the group of six independent Sunni MPs met on Friday with President Michel Aoun, insisting to have a minister in Prime Minister-designate Saad Hariri’s cabinet. “Hariri holds the key to resolving this issue,” MP Abdul Rahim Mrad said in the wake of the meeting. The state-run National News Agency said Saturday that Nasrallah and Bassil discussed ways to find a solution to the cabinet deadlock. Nasrallah is scheduled to deliver a speech on Saturday during a Martyrs Day ceremony. Sources close to the party told Asharq Al-Awsat that in his speech “Nasrallah would renew his support for the request of the six deputies not only as an expression of gratitude to their backing for the party on previous occasions, but also because naming one of them as minister would constitute a strategic gain for Hezbollah.” The sources added that as long as the six ministers demand to be represented in the next cabinet, the party would continue to support them, even if that would delay the formation process for many more months or even a year. Reports have talked about an initiative launched by Bassil, who is the head of the Free Patriotic Movement. “We are trying to bring the viewpoints between the different teams closer,” Bassil’s sources told Asharq Al-Awsat on Friday. They said that Bassil has held separate talks with Hariri and Hezbollah.

Lebanese President: Israeli Claims on Weapons Caches are Baseless

Beirut - Asharq Al-Awsat/Saturday, 10 November, 2018/Lebanese President Michel Aoun renewed on Friday his rejection of Israeli allegations of the existence of weapons factories and caches in a number of Lebanese regions. “The Israeli claims are baseless and the members of the diplomatic corps in Lebanon have confirmed this during their tour of these areas with caretaker Foreign Minister Jebran Bassil,” he told acting United Nations Special Coordinator for Lebanon Pernille Dahler Kardel during a meeting at the Baabda presidential palace. Lebanon is keen to preserve stability along its border with Israel and to implement UN Security Council resolution 1701, while Israel is continuously violating its sovereignty, he added. The UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) has also denied the existence of weapons in its areas of operation, he stated. Kardel, for her part, informed Aoun that she will depart Beirut for New York to submit a regular report before the Security Council on the implementation of resolution 1701. She expressed the UN’s satisfaction with the current cooperation between the Lebanese army and UNIFIL and the measures that are being taken to bolster the military. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had alleged in September that the Hezbollah party had set up three locations near the airport to convert “inaccurate projectiles” into precision-guided missiles. In wake of the claims, Bassil took a number of diplomats on a tour of the locations cited by the Israeli PM. The FM, a political ally of Hezbollah, said Israel aimed to “falsify facts concerning Lebanon and to vocalize lies that carry the seeds of a threat that does not frighten us”. Netanyahu had used the platform of the UN General Assembly “to justify another aggression on a sovereign country like Lebanon,” he added.

The Latest LCCC Bulletin For Miscellaneous Reports And News published on November 10-11/18
Saudi Arabia cornerstone of stability in region, Trump to Macron
Staff writer, Al Arabiya English/Saturday, 10 November 2018/A French presidential source revealed on Saturday that US President Donald Trump assured French President Emmanuel Macron that Saudi Arabia is the cornerstone of stability in the region. Both President have met on Saturday in the Elysee Palace in Paris, ahead of the commemorations marking the 100th anniversary of the November 11, 1918 armistice, ending World War I. The French presidential source further said that president Trump confirmed to president Macron during their meeting, his refusal to endanger Saudi Arabia’s stability. The source explained, according to Al Arabiya news channel’s correspondent that Trump’s position on Saudi Arabia is very firm and clear as he said that “this country (Saudi Arabia) is the cornerstone of the region and a partner of America and should not be subjected to any instability.” As for the US re-imposed sanctions on Iran, the French source revealed that president Trump assured his French counterpart of the effectiveness of these sanctions. The source also said that president Trump has called for a new agreement to ensure that Iran does not obtain nuclear weapons. As for the Yemeni crisis, the French Presidential source said that both presidents will push to lay the foundations for a political solution in Yemen. Trump accompanied by his wife Melania arrived in Paris on Friday to attend the commemorations ending World War I.
Report: Khashoggi Corpse Went Down the Drains
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/November 10/18/The killers of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi poured his remains down the drain after dissolving him in acid, a Turkish newspaper reported Saturday. Samples taken from the drains at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul showed traces of acid, pro-government daily Sabah said, without quoting sources. This led investigators to believe the dead body of the insider-turned-critic of the Riyadh regime was disposed of through the drains as liquid, the paper said. Khashoggi was last seen entering the consulate on October 2 to obtain documents for his forthcoming marriage. His body has never been found. After repeated denials, Saudi Arabia finally admitted the 59-year-old had been murdered at the mission in a "rogue" operation. However, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has accused the "highest levels" of the Saudi government of ordering the hit, while some officials have pointed the finger at the all-powerful Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. Yasin Aktay, an advisor to Erdogan, suggested last week the body may have been dissolved in acid. And on Monday, a Turkish official said Saudi Arabia sent two experts to Istanbul with the specific aim of covering up evidence after the murder. Khashoggi's Turkish fiancee Hatice Cengiz took to Twitter on Thursday writing, "I'm unable to express my sorrow to hear about dissolving your body Jamal!""They killed you and chopped up your body, depriving me and your family of conducting your funeral prayer and burying you in Madinah as wished."A Turkish official this week confirmed a Sabah report that chemicals expert Ahmad Abdulaziz al-Janobi and toxicology expert Khaled Yahya al-Zahrani were among a team sent from Saudi amid investigations into the murder. The paper said they visited the consulate every day from their arrival on October 11 until October 17. Saudi Arabia only allowed Turkish police to search the building on October 15.

Macron's Office Says Trump Anger Based on Misunderstanding
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/November 10/18/France on Saturday attempted to defuse a row sparked by President Emmanuel Macron's comments about a European army which angered US President Donald Trump, suggesting his remarks had been misinterpreted. Trump arrived in Paris for World War 1 commemorations on Friday night blasting what he termed "very insulting" remarks from Macron who had mentioned the US alongside China, Russia as national security threats earlier this week. Macron's office on Saturday acknowledged that his remarks "could create confusion" but stressed: "He never said we need a European army against the United States." Many news organisations, including AFP, quoted from the following remarks from Macron during his interview with Europe 1 radio on Tuesday. "We are being hit by attempted break-ins in cyberspace and interventions elsewhere in our democratic lives," Macron said. "We have to protect ourselves with respect to China, Russia and even the United States. "When I see President Trump announce a few weeks ago that he will pull out of a major disarmament treaty, which was signed after the euromissile crisis in the middle of the 1980s which struck Europe. "Who is the principal victim? Europe and its security," he concluded. Macron went on to make the case for a "true European army" that would give Europe strategic autonomy, meaning that it would no longer have to depend on the US for its security. Trump's uncertain support for the transatlantic military alliance NATO, which Europe has relied on since World War II, has led to a reassessment of Europe's security needs in many European capitals. German Chancellor Angela Merkel has also publicly stated that Europe can no longer rely on US military might alone. One of the French president's closest political allies attacked Trump on Saturday morning. Richard Ferrand, a founding member of Macron's political party, said there was "an aggressive side" to Trump's tweet on Friday night about Macron. The messages were "the word of a travelling salesman who in many ways wants to promote sales of American arms while we want to ensure that Europe... is able to defend itself and produce its own weapons to defend itself," Ferrand told Europe 1 radio. Ferrand is parliamentary speaker in the lower house of parliament.
US Hopes to Work with China on Zero Iran Oil Exports
Washington - Moaz Al-Omari/Asharq Al-Awsat/Saturday, 10 November, 2018/US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Friday his country hopes to work with China on sanctions imposed on Iran, telling a press conference that during an earlier meeting with his Chinese counterparts he expressed a desire to cooperate with China in addressing Iran’s nuclear missile programs and other activities. “We hope to work with the Chinese government and Chinese energy companies in this regard,” Pompeo said. “Bringing Iran’s oil export revenues to zero is a critical component of this campaign and we discussed this today.”A senior US intelligence official said on Thursday that China has been violating an agreement with the United States aimed at stopping cyber espionage through the hacking of government and corporate data. When asked if China was violating the 2015 agreement between then President Barack Obama and Chinese President Xi Jinping, National Security Agency official Rob Joyce said: “We think they are.” But he added that the quantity and number of attacks had dropped “dramatically” since the agreement. “While it’s not black and white, (China) met the agreement or they didn’t meet the agreement, it’s clear that they are well beyond the bounds today of the agreement that was forged between our countries,” Joyce said. Speaking in Beijing on Friday, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying rejected the US allegations. “The US accusations lack factual basis. China firmly opposes them,” she told a daily news briefing. US media reports have said that Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and Pompeo are seeking to resolve problems with China. They met on Thursday with Chinese Politburo member Yang Jiechi and Defense Minister Wei Fenghe. The annual US-China Diplomatic and Security Dialogue was originally set for Beijing last month but had been called off amid rising tensions.

SWIFT to Disconnect Iran Banks Soon
Asharq Al-Awsat/Saturday, 10 November, 2018/The SWIFT financial messaging service announced that it will disconnect some Iranian banks this weekend, said SWIFT chief executive Gottfried Leibbrandt at an event in Paris on Friday.
Earlier this week, SWIFT had already stated that it would be suspending some unspecified Iranian banks’ access to its messaging system in the interest of the stability and integrity of the global financial system. In a brief statement issued earlier this week, SWIFT had made no mention of US sanctions coming back into effect on some Iranian financial institutions on Monday, as part of US President Donald Trump’s effort to force Iran to curtail its nuclear, missile and regional activities. SWIFT’s statement on November 5 said that suspending the Iranian banks access to the messaging system was a “regrettable” step but was “taken in the interest of the stability and integrity of the wider global financial system.”

Death Toll in Jordan Floods Rises to 12

Asharq Al-Awsat/Saturday, 10 November, 2018/The death toll in Jordan’s flash floods rose to 12, announced the civil defense on Saturday. The floods, caused by heavy rains, struck the kingdom's main tourist attraction, the ancient city of Petra. The site was closed for cleanup after what local officials said was the biggest deluge in the area in decades. State television said the waters had reached as high as four meters (13 feet) in parts of the red-rock ravine city of Petra and the adjacent Wadi Musa desert. It broadcast footage of tourists sheltering on high ground on both sides of the access road to Jordan's biggest attraction. Government spokeswoman Jumana Ghuneimat said 3,762 tourists were evacuated. The floods also struck several other regions of Jordan. Rescuers continued the search for missing people around the Wala reservoir in central Jordan on Saturday.  In the southern town of Maan, authorities opened a shelter for dozens of people whose homes were surrounded by water. The casualties included two children and a diver who had been involved in rescue efforts, according to state media and Ghuneimat.
Five people have already been confirmed dead in the area southwest of the capital Amman. To the east, three people were killed near Dabaa on the Desert Highway, one of Jordan's three main north-south arteries, while one was killed near Maan in the south.
Ghneimat said the highway was cut in both directions. The Jordanian army deployed helicopters and all-terrain vehicles to help with the search and rescue operation. Separately, Israel's public radio said contact had been lost with three Israeli tourists in southern Jordan. The Arabic-language Makan Radio said the tourists had last been heard from in the Wadi Rum area, another major tourist attraction. The torrents came two weeks after 21 people, most of them children, were killed in flash floods near the Dead Sea. The tourism and education ministers resigned over the Dead Sea flooding.In Petra, heavy rains began at around 1 pm Friday and last for about 40 minutes, said Rafael Dorado, 41, a tourist from Spain. At about 3 pm, a torrent of water came gushing through the site's steep and narrow access canyon, flooding the area within minutes, he said. Delgado said he was observing from a hilltop temple in the area, but saw other visitors scrambling to higher ground. He said some visitors were later evacuated by trucks and others made their way out on foot. Suleiman Farajat, the chief administrator in Petra, said the site would remain closed Saturday, but would likely reopen Sunday. He said he's never seen flooding of such intensity in the area. "It's really, I wouldn't say scary, but surprising how huge the flood was," he said.

After ISIS, Damascus Suburb Residents Blocked From Going Home
Damascus- Asharq Al-Awsat/Saturday, 10 November, 2018/Abu Mohammed thought he could finally go home after militants were expelled from his Damascus suburb, but he says Syrian authorities have blocked his return by wrongly classifying his dwelling as unfit to live in.
In May, regime forces turfed the ISIS terrorist group out of a chunk of the capital's southern Tadamun neighborhood with a campaign of air strikes and shelling. For the first time in six years that meant full government control was restored over the area, bringing with it a calm that sparked hopes of a homecoming. But instead, Abu Mohammed and others from Tadamun complain, the authorities have deemed many residences unfit, and are blocking their owners from returning ahead of a controversial redevelopment plan. Five months after ISIS was forced out, regime barrages impede access to the former militant stronghold now under tight security. At the last checkpoint, rubble blocked the road. The floors of a nearby building lay pancaked one on top of the other, and a hole was blown in the minaret of a mosque.
Abu Mohammed said he managed to see his home before the state inspectors arrived -- and insisted it was still fine to live in despite the official ruling. "There wasn't even a bullet hole. It had just been pillaged," he said, giving a pseudonym to avoid reprisals. "It's so unfair for citizens who have waited for years (to return) and always stood by the state." Another would-be returnee Othman al-Ayssami, 55, was indignant. "Why can't I and thousands of other residents go home?" asked the lawyer. "After the military operations ended, I entered the neighborhood expecting huge damage," he said. But in his four-floor home, "only the windows were broken", said Ayssami, without specifying if his residence had been deemed unfit. The neighborhood of Tadamun has long been in a grey zone. Once orchards, it has been populated since the late 1960s by people who fled the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights or flooded into Damascus from the countryside, often without official permission to build there. But today its fate seems particularly uncertain after provincial authorities last month announced it would be affected by a controversial development law.
The law, known as Decree 10, allows the government to seize private property to create zoned developments, compensating owners with shares of the new projects. If their land is selected, owners inevitably lose their property and must apply to receive shares in exchange. Construction is not set to start in Tadamun for several years, but officials have already been dispatched to inspect its homes. A provincial commission has been charged with evaluating damage and rating whether around 25,000 residential units are fit for human habitation. Even if their homes are declared up to standard, no resident can move back until further notice. When they realized that a large number of the homes marked as unfit had in fact not been damaged in fighting, members of the community held several meetings with the commission. To vent their frustration, they set up a Facebook page named "The Tadamun Exiles". "It's our right to go home," wrote one displaced resident. The commission has split up the neighborhood into three sectors, the last covering the area that ISIS once controlled. Commission head Faisal Srour told AFP that in the first two sectors inspectors "have visited 10,000 homes until now, of which 2,500 are fit for living in and 1,000 are not". The remainder were still being classified, he said, but most units in the former militant sector were likely to be rated as unfit. "That's where the fighting happened," he said. Tadamun was overrun by rebels in 2012, then part of it fell three years later to the radicals of ISIS. Over the years, most residents were forced to flee their homes, and just 65,000 people live there today, compared to 250,000 before the outbreak of the war in 2011. Homes that are declared fit for habitation are given a serial number and sealed with red wax and officials insist that the owners can reclaim them easily. A resident can "get (their house) back normally after proving ownership", Tadamun mayor Ahmed Iskandar told AFP, talking by a portrait of President Bashar al-Assad in military uniform and sunglasses. But because Tadamun is an informal neighborhood, only 10 percent of the homes have officially registered property deeds -- and that is if they have not been lost during the war. Most of the others from the area only have semi-official papers showing residency. Even for those who do manage to return, the respite appears only temporary. Eventually reconstruction, set to start in four to five years, should see the whole area razed to the ground. Then too, no more than a tenth of the suburb's population will ever be able to present property deeds to receive shares in the reconstruction project. But inspection commission head Srour said those who could not prove ownership -- likely at least 90 percent of residents -- would not be made homeless. "We won't throw people out into the street, but provide them with compensation or alternative housing," he said.

Qatari Cash Enters Gaza

Tel Aviv - Asharq Al-Awsat/Saturday, 10 November, 2018/Palestinian civil servants formed long queues in the Gaza Strip on Friday to receive millions of dollars in Qatari-funded salaries. The $15 million Qatari cash infusion was paid out to impoverished civil servants in the enclave, offering Hamas a potential domestic reprieve though Israel said the money would not go to the group. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, has slashed Gaza budgets, beggaring tens of thousands of government employees, according to Reuters. That has helped stoke a half-year of bloody protests and occasional shelling exchanges across the border of Gaza, which Israel keeps under blockade, it said. The news agency quoted Palestinian sources as saying the Qatari payout, was the first of a total of $90 million that would come into Gaza over the next six months with Israeli approval. Israel had previously agreed to Doha donating materials for civilian construction projects or fuel, worried that more fungible cash donations could reach Hamas, against which it has fought three wars in a decade. "One day, I have no money to get food or medicine for my children - and now I will buy them food, medicine and clothes," said Wael Abu Assi, a traffic policeman, outside a Gaza City post office where people queued to draw their salaries. Observers for Qatar were present at all 12 post offices across Gaza to monitor the salary disbursements. Employees had to present their identity card and be finger-printed, according to Reuters. A member of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's security cabinet played down their significance. "This is not money that is going to Hamas activities. It is money that is going to the salaries of civil servants, in an orderly, organized manner," Environment Minister Zeev Elkin told Tel Aviv radio station 102 FM. Elkin accused Abbas, whose peace talks with Netanyahu stalled in 2014 and who is boycotting the United States because of its pro-Israel policies, of cutting salaries to "inflame Gaza, because he has not been successful on other fronts". Wasel Abu Youssef, a member of the executive committee of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), criticized the move. "Arrangements through Qatar and elsewhere prolong the crisis of Palestinian division," Abu Youssef told Reuters. The money was driven into the Palestinian enclave through Israel late Thursday by Qatar's envoy to Gaza, Mohammed al-Emadi, transporting suitcases packed with dollars, according to a Hamas source. The Israeli-authorized money transfer appeared to be part of a deal that would see cash-strapped Hamas end months of often violent protests along the border in exchange for Israel easing its blockade of Gaza.

Arab Coalition Asks US to Stop Inflight Refueling

Asharq Al-Awsat/Saturday, 10 November, 2018/The Coalition for the Support of Legitimacy in Yemen said that it has asked for the "cessation of inflight refueling support" from the United States. "Recently the Kingdom and the coalition has increased its capability to independently conduct inflight refueling in Yemen," the Saudi-led Coalition said in a statement carried by the Saudi Press Agency. "As a result, in consultation with the United States, the Coalition has requested cessation of inflight refueling support for its operations in Yemen,” it said.
The statement also said the Arab Coalition hoped upcoming UN peace negotiations would lead to a settlement in line with Security Council Resolution 2216, which would see an end to aggression from the Iran-backed Houthi militias

Trump Administration May Blacklist Houthis as Terrorist

Washington - Heba El Koudsy/Asharq Al-Awsat/Saturday, 10 November, 2018/The American administration is considering blacklisting the Iran-backed Houthi militias in Yemen as part of President Donald Trump’s strategy to pressure Tehran, revealed American officials according to the Washington Post Thursday. Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Arabian Gulf Affairs in the Near East Bureau at the US Department of State Tim Lenderking had spoken of this measure to Asharq Al-Awsat in September. He stated at the time: “We will wait and see whether such a step will facilitate the political solution in Yemen or not.”State Department sources said that discussions to blacklist the Houthis have been going on for months. The US administration had not taken any step in that direction in order to give diplomacy a chance to push forward peace talks between the warring parties in Yemen. These discussions intensified in recent months in order to take a tough stance on Iran-backed groups and Tehran’s financial and military support to a number of militias in the Middle East, including the Houthis. The sources revealed that the Trump administration is considering a number of possible steps against the Houthis, such as freezing their assets. Some American officials voiced concerns that blacklisting the Houthis would complicate peace negotiations, led by the United Nations. It would also be considered an escalation by Washington against the Houthis, said the Washington Post. Officials are concerned with the Houthis’ stalling tactics, rejection of solutions and refusal to join consultations, which were last held in Geneva in September. UN special envoy to Yemen Martin Griffiths had stated recently that all parties were prepared to attend a new round of consultations, set for the end of November. The UN said on Thursday, however, that the consultations may be postponed to before the year’s end. Should the US administration blacklist the Houthis, that would lead to a freeze of their assets and a travel ban. The measure would also lead to sanctions against officials suspected of financing the militias, meaning Iran. Alternatives to the blacklisting include imposing strict sanctions against the Houthis and cutting their financial and military supplies from Iran.
The Latest LCCC Bulletin analysis & editorials from miscellaneous sources published on November 10-11/18
The Plight of the Druze Hostages Held by ISIS & the War on the Islamic State
Talal el-Atrache/Syria Comment/November 10/18
Throughout the Syrian war, the Southern Province of Sweida, in coordination with the Syrian army, had succeeded in protecting itself against the jihadist attacks on the province’s Western border with Deraa, and on the Eastern flank, adjacent to the Syrian Desert.
By the end of summer 2018, as the war seemed to reach an end in Southern Syria, the local paramilitary units were partially demobilized. The Syrian army units stationed in Sweida’s Desert were redeployed to the southwest of Deraa, where they joined the fight against an Isis enclave nestled at the foot of the Israeli controlled Golan Heights.
The demobilization was a fatal mistake. On July 25, at dawn, hundreds of Isis fighters emerged from the Eastern Desert. They carried out a coordinated attack marked by suicide bombings, shootings, and stabbings targeted mainly at the Eastern villages overlooking the Syrian Desert. The poorly armed local villagers, men and women, from 12 besieged villages fought bravely against the invaders, but six villages succumbed to the fundamentalist group as it carried out door-to-door massacres with the help of some local Bedouins.
The attack had two objectives. The first was to force the Syrian army to halt its offensive against the Isis enclave in Deraa. The second was for ISIS to provoking a massive exodus from the Druze Mountains.
Within less than two hours, hundreds of Druze fighters rushed to the targeted areas, killing more than 80 ISIS members. Dozens of Druze fighters from Mount Hermon and from the Damascene suburbs of Jaramana and Ashrafiet Sahnaya arrived that same day and joined the combat. The besieged areas, including the six ambushed villages, were liberated by the end of day, boosting the morale of the local population. More than 250 civilians and local Druze fighters lost their lives and another 250 people were injured, in what has become the bloodiest day for the province since the beginning of the war.
Over the next few days, the army dispatched hundreds of soldiers and armored units, before launching a major counterattack in the Eastern Desert. By September,ISIS had lost more than 3000 square kilometers of land, and became completely encircled in al-Safa hills, a 250 square kilometer volcano in the middle of the desert east of Sweida.
ISIS lost the Sweida battle but managed to capture 31 Druze hostages: 20 women and 11 children.
The local fighters found and rescued a woman who had managed to escape in the desert, while a second woman, shot in the head by the fundamentalist group, died.
For the next three months, the hostage issue became the major political, social and humanitarian concern in the Province of Sweida. ISIS conditioned the release of the abductees to the withdrawal of the Syrian army from the Eastern Desert, the neutrality of the Druze, the release ofISIS fighters and their relatives, and the payment of ransom. Damascus and the Druze delegation in charge of the hostage issue systematically rejected ISIS’ conditions, as they would have put the Druze Mountains in harm’s way and strengthened the fundamentalist group. As a result, ISIS killed two of 29 Druze hostages. Muhannad Abou Ammar, a 19 year old university student, was beheaded on August 1.
An older lady, Tharwat Abou Ammar, was shot on October 1. Another 65 year old captive died in custody. The video of the beheading and the pictures of Tharwat’s body covered in blood, published online by ISIS, angered the local population. They were aimed at putting pressure on the government.
On October 19, six Druze hostages were liberated in exchange for the release of 17 women (ISIS relatives/wives) held by the Syrian government, as well as a dozen Bedouin captives that had been kidnapped by some local Druze fighters in the aftermath of the July 25 attacks.
This was the first part of a negotiated agreement between Damascus and ISIS that also included a ceasefire in the Eastern Desert of Sweida, where the Syrian army has been fighting ISIS for the last three months with the help of Russian air force. According to some estimates, between 800 and 1000 ISIS fighters are now surrounded in the Safa volcanic field in the desert.
However, the truce collapsed on November 3 in addition to the second part of the deal that stipulated the liberation of seven Druze women and three children in exchange for the release of 35 ISIS relatives. The group demanded the release of 35 fighters from government custody, but was met with rejection since the initial deal only included civilians.
ISIS has had recent military success in Hajin near the Euphrates city of Deir ez-Zor, where it has killed some 327, US-backed fighters belonging to the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces since the beginning of the military operation there in September. ISIS has regained self-confidence and launched several assaults from the Safa Volcano, before being quickly rebuffed. On November 5, the Syrian army started deploying considerable reinforcements around the volcano, which consists of a plateau of black rocky hills where ISIS has not only been able to successfully resist for more than a month, but even launch deadly attacks against Syrian troops, killing more than 400 Syrian soldiers in the last three months. The Fourth Army Division (one of the toughest) and the Fifth Corps (advised by Russian officers) have deployed alongside Hezbollah units and the Palestine Liberation Army for the upcoming battle against ISIS. The impressive military buildup intimidated ISIS and forced the group to renegotiate.
On November 8, Syrian State media said that the government troops have freed all remaining Druze hostages kidnapped by ISIS. The army’s operation occurred in a remote area Northeast of Palmyra. However, some analysts believe that the liberation of the women and children was part of a prisoner’s deal exchange.
Meanwhile, the Syrian army launched a new assault against Isis on Thursday in the Safa hills. According to a member of the Druze delegation in charge of the hostage issue, there have been a few disagreements between the Americans and the Russians who were assisting the Syrians in the negotiations with ISIS. The Russians wanted to transfer all ISIS fighters from the Safa Volcano to the north of the Province of Hama, a region currently controlled by Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham (ex-Nusra, affiliated to al-Qaeda), while the Americans wanted to gather them in the Hajin region.
The refusal of Washington to cooperate with the Syrians and the Russians in the battle against ISIS has left a hole through which ISIS has been able to operate. The Americans have forbidden the Syrian army from penetrating within a 55 km radius buffer zone surrounding their military base in al-Tanf, 120 km east of the Safa Volcano. This base sits on the strategic Damascus-Baghdad highway. Damascus has declared this buffer zone problematic as it is preventing the Syrian army from cleaning up the area. The government believes the buffer zone is being used by Isis to move its troops undercover between Northern and Southern Syria, and between Syria and Iraq.
In Northern Syria, the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) have halted their military campaign against Isis after suffering heavy losses in the Hajin area in the Euphrates and following clashes against Turkish forces in Northern Syria. The Kurds, who lead the SDF, are focused on their struggle against the Turkish army after President Erdogan announced his intention to eradicate the SDF.
This leaves ISIS with enough room for maneuver to regain influence either in the Euphrates or along the Syrian-Iraqi border. The United States’ refusal to cooperate with the Russian and the Syrian armies might be counterproductive with the absence of troops on the ground capable of eradicating Isis.
Damascus also accuses Washington of training Isis fighters converted to moderate rebels, such as the Pentagon-backed Jaysh Maghawir al Thawra. The Syrian government is asking Washington to either contribute to its anti-Isis campaign in the Syrian Desert, or leave the area and let the Syrian army clean up the desert all the way to the Iraqi border.
On October 29, Syria’s foreign minister Walid al-Moallem declared that “under the pretext of supporting Syrian Kurds, the U.S. has established bases in the North of Syria and a base in al-Tanf in the South, which are in reality used to reorganize ISIS terrorists to fight the Syrian Arab Army (…). What for? Because they want to prolong the Syrian crisis in Israel’s interests”.
US officials have declared that al-Tanf base serves as a launching pad for counter ISIS operations, even though the US coalition has never been involved in any effort to eradicate ISIS to the south of the Euphrates Valley, such as when ISIS invaded Palmyra, the suburbs of Damascus, and the Province of Sweida.
Washington maintains its base in Tanf as leverage in any future negotiations with the Russians. Its strategic goal is to stop Iran from establishing an East-West land corridor stretching from Tehran to Beirut that serves as an arms supply route to Hezbollah.
After the Syrian army and the Iraqi Popular Mobilization Units cleaned ISIS out of most of the desert, the US base in al-Tanf is becoming obsolete as an anti-ISIS tool. Sooner or later, Washington’s choice of maintaining Tanf will risk helping ISIS, rather than hurting it.

The Second Chapter of Trump’s Presidency
Abdulrahman Al-Rashed/Asharq Al-Awsat/November 10/18
There are two long years left in the fast-paced world of US President Donald Trump’s administration. He has relentlessly taken many decisions and made fast moves without backing down or stopping at impediments. There are only a few like-minded people who are daring enough to change the world around them, hence he has made many adversaries. Perhaps the hopes of these opponents, at home and abroad, have been shattered after they had been counting on cutting Trump's upper hand in the recent midterms. Republicans gained a Senate majority, which will protect Trump and allow him to pass key legislation. Clearly, Trump is still on his feet, and this will last until the end of his presidency.
As the White House is set to unveil the roadmap for the second half of the presidency, the focus seems to remain on the same key issues. Trump is still pressuring the Iranian regime; evidence of this being that he deliberately re-imposed oil and financial sanctions two days before midterm voters took to the polls. He instructed US authorities - the Treasury, State Department, Department of Defense and the Pentagon – to implement the sanctions, while adding more sanctions to Iran-backed militias, such as Hezbollah. The exceptions that Trump offered to allied states were aimed at curbing a surge in oil prices, giving a six-month leeway for allied countries to end their oil purchase contracts. And of course, Trump gave plenty of time for the Khamenei regime to make concessions, rather than getting itself trapped in a tight corner. The goal is not to overthrow the regime, so much as it is to modify its behavior.
The second main issue is the peace process between Israel and the Palestinian Authority, which only a year ago was an object of ridicule from skeptics and opposers. Now, everyone in the region has to take the issue seriously, and it’s not impossible to imagine that the course of the conflict and its mechanisms may soon change. Recent news from Oman following the Israeli Prime Minister's visit reflects a new reality; that most of the countries in the region will engage with Israel. Iran was the cause of this, as Tehran conspired to dominate Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Yemen, and Bahrain. Israel has an important role in a coalition against the Iranian Supreme Leader's project. President Trump and his advisor Jared Kushner in the next two years will play a major role in changing the current understandings of disagreements and alliances in the region.
In the next two years, the war in Yemen will also be a priority for Trump who will seek to support his Saudi ally. This comes especially as Yemeni forces, along with their Saudi and UAE partners, are advancing in difficult enemy areas, including Saada province, the homeland of the Houthis, as well as Hodeidah and its key port.
As for the most dangerous and critical issue of Syria, most of the administration’s plans were accomplished in the first half of Trump’s presidency. The president changed his policy on Syria, from withdrawal to survival, and openly declared that he would keep a US military presence in the country, in defiance of the continued presence of Iranian forces and Iranian-backed militias. The difficult challenge now is to persuade Russia to abandon the Iranians or to allow Israel to resume airstrikes on the Iranian military presence, despite Israel’s paralysis following the introduction of a Russian anti-aircraft missile system in Syria.
Still, this is all without taking into account the surprises of the region. We cannot rule out that Iran would retaliate in the coming period to embarrass the Trump administration and force it to make concessions. We have seen this from Iran before with the Obama administration when Iranian forces detained US Marines. This time, Iran may provoke confrontations with Gulf forces or instruct their militias to carry out attacks on US interests in Iraq. While this is all plausible, it would be a dangerous exploit for Iran itself.

UN Member States: Migration Is a Human Right

Judith Bergman/Gatestone Institute/November 10/2018 cannot be stressed enough that this agreement is not about refugees fleeing persecution, or their rights to protection under international law. Instead, the agreement propagates the radical idea that migration -- for any reason -- is something that needs to be promoted, enabled and protected.
The UN has no interest in admitting that its agreement promotes migration as a human right; until recently, there has been little debate about it. More debate might risk jeopardizing the entire project.
UN member states are not only supposed to open their borders for the migrants of the world, but should also help them pick and choose their future country by providing them with comprehensive information about each country they may wish to settle in.
A new UN agreement, which almost all member states plan to sign in December, propagates the radical idea that migration -- for any reason -- is something that needs to be promoted, enabled and protected. Pictured: Thousands of migrants, who plan to enter the United States, walk near Ciudad Hidalgo, Mexico on October 21, 2018, after having illegally crossed into Mexico from Guatemala. (Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)
The United Nations, in a non-binding agreement that almost all UN member states will sign at a ceremony in Morocco in early December, is making migration a human right.
The finalized text of the agreement, the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration, although officially non-binding, "puts migration firmly on the global agenda. It will be a point of reference for years to come and induce real change on the ground..." according to Jürg Lauber, the representative of Switzerland to the UN -- who led the work on the agreement together with the representative of Mexico.
One immediate irony, of course, is that few countries have entry requirements as restrictive as Switzerland's. If one wishes to stay more than three months, not only is a "residence permit" required, but, "In an effort to limit immigration from non-EU/EFTA countries, Swiss authorities impose strict annual limitations on the number of residence and work permits granted to foreigners."
These hard-to-come-by-residencies have, unsurprisingly, become a source of income as "[r]ich foreigners 'buy' Swiss residency."
The UN agreement, on the other hand, notes: "Refugees and migrants are entitled to the same universal human rights and fundamental freedoms, which must be respected, protected and fulfilled at all times." (Preamble, section 4)
It cannot be stressed enough that this agreement is not about refugees fleeing persecution, or their rights to protection under international law. Instead, the agreement propagates the radical idea that migration -- for any reason -- is something that needs to be promoted, enabled and protected. Almost all UN member states, except for the United States, Austria, Australia, Croatia, Hungary and possibly also the Czech Republic and Poland, are expected to sign it.
The UN has denied that migration is being made into a human right. "The question of whether this is an invidious way to start promoting a 'human right to migrate' is not correct. It's not in the text; there's no sinister project to advance that," Louise Arbour, the UN special representative for international migration, recently said.
The UN has no interest in admitting that the agreement promotes migration as a human right; until recently there has been little debate about it. More debate might risk jeopardizing the entire project. The wording of the agreement, as documented below, leaves little doubt, however, that with the signing of the agreement, migration will indeed become a human right.
The agreement is divided into 23 objectives toward which the signatories apparently wish to work. Objective number three, for instance, envisions the promotion and enabling of migration through a number of means. Signatory states commit to:
"Launch and publicize a centralized and publicly accessible national website to make information available on regular migration options, such as on country-specific immigration laws and policies, visa requirements, application formalities, fees and conversion criteria, employment permit requirements, professional qualification requirements, credential assessment and equivalences, training and study opportunities, and living costs and conditions, in order to inform the decisions of migrants."
States, in other words, are not only supposed to open their borders for the migrants of the world, but should also help them pick and choose their future country by providing them with comprehensive information about each country they may wish to settle in.
The service level envisioned to facilitate more migration is also high. Countries are called upon to: "Establish open and accessible information points along relevant migration routes that can refer migrants to child-sensitive and gender-responsive support and counselling, offer opportunities to communicate with consular representatives of the country of origin, and make available relevant information, including on human rights and fundamental freedoms, appropriate protection and assistance, options and pathways for regular migration, and possibilities for return, in a language the person concerned understands."
Once migrants have arrived at their chosen destination, the signatory countries commit to:
"Provide newly arrived migrants with targeted, gender-responsive, child-sensitive, accessible and comprehensive information and legal guidance on their rights and obligations, including on compliance with national and local laws, obtaining of work and resident permits, status adjustments, registration with authorities, access to justice to file complaints about rights violations, as well as on access to basic services."
Migrants are, evidently, citizens of a new world, in which all countries must spring to the assistance of anyone who has chosen to travel and reside there for whatever reason. Borders may exist in theory, but the UN -- comprising nearly all governments of the world -- is working hard at making them disappear in practice.
Migrants, according to the agreement, must also be "empowered to realize full inclusion and social cohesion" in their new countries (objective 16). This means, among other things, that countries must:
"Promote mutual respect for the cultures, traditions and customs of communities of destination and of migrants by exchanging and implementing best practices on integration policies, programmes and activities, including on ways to promote acceptance of diversity and facilitate social cohesion and inclusion."
All cultures are equal and must be equally respected. Presumably, this means that, for example, the tradition of female genital mutilation (FGM), which almost all Somali women experience in Somalia, must be acknowledged in London and Paris as deserving of "mutual respect" in the same way that it would back in Mogadishu.
The agreement goes on to enumerate the work that states must initiate to accommodate migrants. "National... policy goals regarding the inclusion of migrants in societies, including on labour market integration, family reunification, education, non-discrimination and health" should be developed. In addition, the host country should facilitate "access to decent work and employment for which they are most qualified, in accordance with local and national labour market demands and skills supply."
In other words, newly arrived migrants in, say, Europe, should have the same, or at least very similar, rights to education, the labor market and health care, as Europeans, who have worked hard and paid taxes for half a century to gain access to those very same things. Europeans, of course, will have to pay for all of this out of their tax money.
The authors of the agreement evidently do not expect it to go down all that well with their populations. An agreement to facilitate mass migration into primarily Western countries from the rest of the world (there is no migration to speak of in the opposite direction) may prove a bit much for people in the West. The agreement therefore clearly signals that any disagreement with the agenda will not be accepted and that the signatory states will work to dispel "misleading narratives that generate negative perceptions of migrants."
To make this objective a reality, the signatory states first commit to:
"Promote independent, objective and quality reporting of media outlets, including internet-based information, including by sensitizing and educating media professionals on migration-related issues and terminology, investing in ethical reporting standards and advertising, and stopping allocation of public funding or material support to media outlets that systematically promote intolerance, xenophobia, racism and other forms of discrimination towards migrants, in full respect for the freedom of the media." (Objective 17)
This is Orwell on steroids. Almost all UN member states will sign an agreement that says media outlets that disagree with government policies will not be eligible for public funding? On top of this, the agreement claims, bizarrely, that it is being written "in full respect for the freedom of the media", as if that is going to make anyone actually believe it.
Second, the signatory states commit to:
"... eliminate all forms of discrimination, condemn and counter expressions, acts and manifestations of racism, racial discrimination, violence, xenophobia and related intolerance against all migrants in conformity with international human rights law." (Objective 17)
The agreement, conveniently, offers no definitions of what constitutes "racism" or "xenophobia" in this context. What, for example, is "related intolerance"? Is criticism of UN migration policies, for instance, "intolerance"?
Originally, all UN member states, minus the United States, had approved the finalized text of the agreement and appeared ready to sign it in December. Recently, however, more states have announced that they are withdrawing from the agreement.
In July, Hungary withdrew from the agreement. Hungarian Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto described it as "entirely against Hungary's security interests," and added:
"This pact poses a threat to the world from the aspect that it could inspire millions [of migrants]. Its main premise is that migration is a good and inevitable phenomenon. We consider migration a bad process, which has extremely serious security implications."
In July, Australia also indicated that it would withdraw from the agreement, at least in its present form. According to Minister for Home Affairs Peter Dutton:
"We're not going to sign a deal that sacrifices anything in terms of our border protection policies... We're not going to surrender our sovereignty – I'm not going to allow unelected bodies dictate to us, to the Australian people."
In November, both the Czech Republic, and Poland announced that they were very likely to withdraw from the agreement and Croatian President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic wrote in a statement that she would not be signing the agreement. "Our sovereign principles on securing our borders and controlling migration flows are absolutely the priority for us", said Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki.
Also just this month, Austria announced that it also would not be signing the agreement. "We view some points of the migration pact very critically, such as the mixing up of seeking protection with labour migration," Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz said.
The European Union immediately criticized Austria's decision. "We regret the decision that the Austrian government has taken. We continue to believe that migration is a global challenge where only global solutions and global responsibility sharing will bring results" said an unnamed spokeswoman from the European Commission.
This is, by the way, the same EU that is supposedly going to be "cracking down" on migration. If you are "cracking down" on migration, why are you signing agreements that will facilitate and exponentiate it as a human right?
**Judith Bergman, a columnist, lawyer and political analyst, is a Distinguished Senior Fellow at Gatestone Institute.
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Iranians pray for a normal country

Camelia Entekhabifard/Arab News/November 10/18
With the reintroduction last week of US sanctions on Iran’s oil trade, there were fears that the price of oil would soar. Those fears were misplaced. At the end of the week the price was at its lowest for six months.
That is good news for most of us, especially US President Donald Trump, but bad news for Iran, which had hoped for a price rise to bolster its struggling finances. In addition, those countries that have obtained waivers allowing them to continue purchasing Iranian oil still cannot pay Tehran directly; the funds must go into a special account, which Iran can use to pay for humanitarian necessities.
President Hassan Rouhani of Iran has vowed to sell oil regardless of the sanctions. Perhaps he intends to do so on the black market, where customers may be willing to take the risk because of the high quality of Iranian oil, and low prices. In that way Iran may earn some revenue to pay for its continued regional meddling, but whether its rulers can pacify ordinary Iranians, already angry at medicine shortages and daily price increases, is another matter.
The sanctions were originally imposed by Barack Obama’s administration in 2010. They worked. Despite the ayatollahs’ hatred of the US, they came to the negotiating table and signed the 2015 agreement to curb their nuclear program and have the sanctions lifted.
Donald Trump wants to talk about Iran’s behavior in the region, and the sanctions are back until that behavior changes.
From the beginning, however, there have been two issues on the table: Not just the nuclear program, but Iran’s regional behavior too. Obama’s policy was to settle the nuclear issue first, and leave other matters for later. In that, he succeeded. Iran’s nuclear program has been dismantled to the extent that it cannot easily be restarted, however much Iran’s leaders may wish it.
For Obama’s successor, however, this is not enough. Donald Trump wants to talk about Iran’s behavior in the region, and the sanctions are back until that behavior changes. Essentially, Trump wants to complete Obama’s unfinished business.
This will not be an easy task. The region is in chaos, in Syria and elsewhere, and the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps have taken advantage of that chaos to pursue their own regional goals and expand their networks.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has called on Iran to behave like a normal nation, and a normal Iran is what ordinary Iranians pray for every night. However, it is hard to say if the rulers in Tehran are able to withdraw their support for groups such as Hezbollah in Lebanon or the Assad regime in Syria. The challenge confronting the ruling clerics in Tehran comes not just from the US, but from the regional mercenaries Iran has funded.
Unfortunately for the regime, while they look for a way to negotiate and settle their bills with all these militias, the country will be ruined — and it is not clear that the Iranian people have the patience for that.
**Camelia Entekhabifard is an Iranian-American journalist, political commentator and author of Camelia: Save Yourself By Telling the Truth (Seven Stories Press, 2008). Twitter: @CameliaFard

Let’s promote healthy aging for the elderly
Dr. Razan Baker/Arab News/November 10/18
I am sure their are many of you with old parents or grandparents who are inactive and whose health is deteriorating. Then again, many of you will have parents like my father, who in the late 1970s was a footballer. And even though he is getting old, he still knows the importance of exercise. Vision 2030 in Saudi Arabia aims to promote increased participation in sport and this includes the elderly.
But how can we encourage them to become more active?
Using social media is a great way for getting children off the sofa and onto the sports field, but it does not work in the same way for older people. Saudi Arabia is a young country dominated by 15 to 25-year-olds. But according to the General Authority of Statistics, there are over a million people in the Kingdom over the age of 65 and we need to make sure they are not left behind in the drive to become a fitter, more healthy nation.
We need to target the places older people visit, such as parks and mosques. The family-oriented nature of Saudi society encourages gathering at the homes of the elderly at least once a week, but we still have people with no families or people who check up on them.
Sport is a corporate social responsibility and we as individuals are responsible for ensuring older people get active.
What we can do as individuals?
Next time you visit grandparents encourage them to exercise a little bit.
What can a hospital do?
Open a free room with exercise classes so they can join and have fun. This week, I attended a seminar at Brunel University in London and one of the guests speakers was Prescilla Simpson, sport and physical activity manager of a big district in the capital. Simpson said that despite having 200 parks furnished with outdoor gyms, some people were not aware of how to use them. So the council hired coaches to encourage people and ensure the public used the equipment in the right way.
Simpson noted that as the elderly tend to visit libraries, the council made sure to offer classes which focused on sedentary movement, suitable for getting them active. And they made sure they trained the staff at the library to continue the work. The importance of reaching the elderly and motivating them to participate has many benefits, health, of course, is top. But another positive consequence is that participating in exercise can prevent loneliness and depression.
Studies show that deterioration of physical fitness with advancing age is to one of the major causes of dementia. Studies also reveal that the elderly who join a sports group enjoy a better life as they continue to feel they belong to something and have a goal to reach.
Sport is a corporate social responsibility and we as individuals are responsible for ensuring older people get active. We should have a day when people can take their older friends and relatives out and encourage them to get more active.
Sport never has to be expensive or tough, and this is especially so for the elderly. Walking is a great example of this. A study published this year showed the benefits of walking for those suffering with diabetes and coronary heart disease and found regular strolls reduced the risk of heart disease to levels they had before diabetes. Walking is an easy, safe and accessible form of physical activity — and I cannot think of a better starting point in getting the elderly more active.
*Dr. Razan Baker is a member of the board of directors at the Saudi Bowling Federation, a specialist in corporate social responsibility in sports, and a sports columnist/journalist. Twitter: @RazanBaker