Detailed Lebanese & Lebanese Related LCCC English New Bulletin For November 12/2018
Compiled & Prepared by: Elias Bejjani

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Bible Quotations
Come now, you rich people, weep and wail for the miseries that are coming to you
Letter of James 05/01-06: "Come now, you rich people, weep and wail for the miseries that are coming to you. Your riches have rotted, and your clothes are moth-eaten. Your gold and silver have rusted, and their rust will be evidence against you, and it will eat your flesh like fire. You have laid up treasure for the last days. Listen! The wages of the labourers who mowed your fields, which you kept back by fraud, cry out, and the cries of the harvesters have reached the ears of the Lord of hosts. You have lived on the earth in luxury and in pleasure; you have fattened your hearts on a day of slaughter. You have condemned and murdered the righteous one, who does not resist you.

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 11-12/18
Mount Lebanon's resistance during WWI/Dr. Walid Phares/Face Book/November 10/18
Dr. Walid Phares Urges Middle Eastern Americans to Run for Office in 2020/November 10/18
Hezbollah, Iran using card of Lebanese government formation/Mohamed Kawas/The Arab Weekly/November 11/18
Deputy commander of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC): Any war Zionists start will lead to them being erased/Jerusalem Post/November 11/18
Israel Kills Hamas Military Commander in Gaza, Palestinian Officials Say/Haartz/November 11/18/
Facebook’s Nostalgic Mood Isn’t Helping/Shira Ovide/Bloomberg/November, 11/18
German Conservatives Face Off Over Their Party’s Soul/Leonid Bershidsky/Bloomberg/November, 11/18
Iranian human rights violations show up Rouhani’s empty /Dr. Majid Rafizadeh/Arab News/November 11/18
Assad's statue stunt betrays regime's skewed priorities/Mohamed Chebaro/Arab News/November 11/18
A Bloodbath for Christians, No Response from Egypt/Raymond Ibrahim/Gatestone Institute/November 11/18
A disastrous scenario stares Tehran in the face/Nadim Koteich/Al Arabiya/November 11/18
The art of arranging hostilities/Abdullah bin Bijad Al-Otaibi/Al Arabiya/November 11/18

Titles For The Latest LCCC Lebanese Related News published on November 11-12/18
Mount Lebanon's resistance during WWI
Dr. Walid Phares Urges Middle Eastern Americans to Run for Office in 2020
Maronite Patriarch Calls on Politicians to Discuss 'Morbid' Situation in Lebanon
Nasrallah Insists on March 8 Sunnis’ Representation in New Government
Netanyahu to Reportedly Ask Macron to Press Lebanon on Hizbullah
Hariri to Hold Beirut Press Conference on Govt. Formation Developments
Alain Aoun: Hizbullah 'Can Scare', Nasrallah Remarks Indicate Solution Not Impossible
Hezbollah, Iran using card of Lebanese government formation
Titles For The Latest LCCC Bulletin For Miscellaneous Reports And News published on November 11-12/18
World Leaders Mark 100 Years since WWI Armistice in Paris
Rouhani: US Sanctions Have No Impact on Our Economy
Deputy commander of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC): Any war Zionists start will lead to them being erased
Iran Upholds Prison Term for Official Convicted of Spying
Reports suggest Iran executes 22 people in Ahwaz
Trump assures Macron that Saudi Arabia is the cornerstone of stability in the Middle East
US Grants Iraq 45-Day Waiver Over Iran Sanctions to Purchase Natural Gas, Electricity
Palestinian Authority Slams Qatar for Encouraging Gaza Separatist Agenda
Netanyahu Says Unaware of Corruption Linked to Submarine Deal
Netanyahu defends Qatari cash infusion to Gaza
Hamas commander killed in Gaza, say Palestinian officials
Israel Kills Hamas Military Commander in Gaza, Palestinian Officials Say
Hayat Tahrir Al-Sham Kills 8 Regime Troops in Hama, Syria
Turkish air strike ‘neutralizes’ 14 Kurdish militants in Iraq
Egypt, Bahrain firm on list of 13 demands to end Qatar crisis
Egypt puts key members of ‘al-Jama’a al-Islamiyya’ on terror list
Clashes Reach Residential Streets in Yemen's Hodeida
The Latest LCCC Lebanese Related News published on November 11-12/18
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
Dr. Walid Phares Urges Middle Eastern Americans to Run for Office in 2020
د.وليد فارس يحث الأميركيين الشرق أوسطيين الترشح للإنتخابات الأميركية في العام الفين وعشرين
WASHINGTON, DC, USA, November 10, 2018 /
-- Dr. Walid Phares, senior advisor to the American Mideast Coalition for Democracy is urging Americans with strong ties to persecuted communities overseas to run for Congress in 2020. AMCD seeks to provide support for Yazidis, Assyrians, Syriacs, Chaldeans, Darfuris, Copts, Bahais, Ahmadis and Sufis who have come to America fleeing persecution in their homelands. Phares, who helped launch a large coalition of moderate Middle East and Arab Muslim NGOs during his tenure as a foreign policy advisor for the Trump campaign in 2016, said, “We also strongly encourage Americans from Egyptian, Iranian, Lebanese, Syrian, Iraqi and Turkish descent, and who support democracy and human rights, to consider running in the next congressional elections in 2020 and 2022, in order to better represent these communities on the Hill.”
“Both Republicans and Democrats should reach out to these overlooked communities,” continued Dr. Phares. “Men and women who have actually experienced ethnic or religious persecution are among the most grateful new citizens. These people know what it is like to live in unfree societies and will be zealous in their guardianship of liberty.”“Sometimes Americans take their freedom for granted,” added AMCD co-Chair Tom Harb, “and they don’t realize how fragile that freedom really is. We are hopeful that fielding candidates who know first-hand what it is like to live without basic freedoms will benefit all Americans because these people know how precious freedom really is and how easily it can be lost.”AMCD calls its members to consider running for Congress and all other elected offices. The organization will provide support for them in the next election cycle.
Rebecca Bynum
American Mideast Coalition for Democracy
+1 615-775-6801

Maronite Patriarch Calls on Politicians to Discuss 'Morbid' Situation in Lebanon 11th November 2018, 11/Maronite Patriarch Bechara al-Rahi on Sunday urged politicians to gather in the Parliament and to "positively" and "responsibly" discuss the "morbid" situation that the nation is going through on the political, economic, social and developmental levels. “We hope that they scrutinize files and seek to find solutions with a sense of responsibility and impartiality. We hope that they would get ready to mark, in the most apposite way, the first centennial of the establishment of the State of Greater Lebanon,” Rahi underlined in his Sunday sermon.

Nasrallah Insists on March 8 Sunnis’ Representation in New Government

Beirut - Asharq Al-Awsat/Sunday, 11 November, 2018/Lebanon’s President Michel Aoun said he would spare no effort to resolve the current nodes hampering the formation of the new government. In parallel, "Hezbollah" Secretary General Hassan Nasrallah insisted on the representation of the Sunnis of March 8 bloc in the cabinet, few hours after meeting with caretaker Foreign Affairs Minister Gebran Bassil. In a televised speech on Saturday, Nasrallah said Hezbollah had informed the concerned parties that it would not accept a government that did not represent the “independent Sunni deputies.”He stressed that his party was not against the Free Patriotic Movement (FPM) having “more than the vetoing third, because we are allies.” “We were sincere when we spoke of a national unity government. There is no national logic, or moral logic, or legal logic ... for anyone in Lebanon to come out and say ‘it is forbidden for the Sunnis of March 8 to be represented in the Lebanese government,” Nasrallah said. “If it is forbidden, come let’s talk again from the start,” he added. Saturday’s meeting between Nasrallah and Bassil focused on the formation of the government and the means to resolve the nodes impeding the birth of the new cabinet. Informed sources described the meeting as “good”, pointing out that there was an exchange of ideas for a solution, awaiting the return of Prime Minister-designate Saad al-Hariri to Beirut. Meanwhile, Aoun told his visitors on Saturday that he would exert all possible efforts to overcome obstacles hampering government’s formation. The president said that he would spare no effort to “solve the complexities that stand in the way of the formation of the new cabinet.” “It takes the courage and patience to reach a happy end, but we will definitely find the solution because waiting is a waste of time,” he affirmed.

Netanyahu to Reportedly Ask Macron to Press Lebanon on Hizbullah

Naharnet/November 11/18/Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has traveled to France and is likely to ask Paris to intensify pressure on Lebanon regarding “the precision missile factories that Iran has built on its soil,” Israeli media reports said. According to the reports, Netanyahu will meet French President Emmanuel Macron on Monday on the sidelines of the ceremonies marking 100 years since the end of World War One.
The reports said Netanyahu had considered canceling his trip to France but eventually decided not to call it off. Hizbullah chief Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah warned Israel Saturday against any attack or strike on Lebanon. President Michel Aoun and caretaker Foreign Minister Jebran Bassil have denied Israeli accusations that Hizbullah has set up secret missile facilities near Beirut's airport. On September 27, Netanyahu said in an address to the U.N. General Assembly that Hizbullah had secret missile conversion sites there. The Israeli PM showed satellite imagery pinpointing three alleged sites and accused Hizbullah of using civilians as human shields. Nasrallah for his part has announced that Hizbullah has already acquired "precision missiles." Israel has fought several conflicts against Hizbullah, the last in 2006. The Israeli military believes Hizbullah has between 100,000 and 120,000 short-range missiles and rockets, as well as several hundred longer-range missiles.

Hariri to Hold Beirut Press Conference on Govt. Formation Developments
Naharnet/November 11/18/Prime Minister-designate Saad Hariri has decided to return to Lebanon and voice a stance on the current standoff in the cabinet formation process, his office said. A statement issued by the office said Hariri will hold a press conference Tuesday at 1:30 pm at the Center House to discuss “the developments in the cabinet formation process.”Hariri traveled to Paris on November 1 and his long stay there is believed to be in protest at Hizbullah's insistence on representing a grouping of six Sunni MPs in the new government.
The PM-designate had reportedly said that he prefers to step down rather than give those MPs a seat from his own share. Hizbullah chief Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah threw his support behind the Sunni group on Saturday, insisting that they should be represented in the government.
“Sectarian incitement will not benefit you and the solution to the Sunni obstacle lies with you,” Nasrallah said, addressing Hariri. “The decision belongs to the Sunni MPs and we will accept what they accept,” Nasrallah, whose party has refrained from providing Hariri with the names of its Shiite ministers, added.

Alain Aoun: Hizbullah 'Can Scare', Nasrallah Remarks Indicate Solution Not Impossible
Naharnet/November 11/18/MP Alain Aoun of the Strong Lebanon bloc noted Sunday that Hizbullah has the ability to “scare” others, as he said that Hizbullah chief Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah's remarks on Saturday indicated that a solution to the so-called Sunni obstacle is not impossible. “The voice of the independent Sunnis should have been louder from the beginning and they should not have waited for five months. One of the weaknesses of the independent Sunni grouping is that they did not go as one bloc to the (binding parliamentary) consultations (to name the PM-designate),” Aoun said in an interview with al-Jadeed TV. And warning that “due to the clash over the independent Sunni MPs the settlement between al-Mustaqbal Movement and Hizbullah has been dealt a blow,” the lawmaker said the Free Patriotic Movement and President Michel Aoun will play a “rescue role.” “We are stuck between PM-designate Saad Hariri's stance and the remarks Sayyed Nasrallah voiced yesterday. This obstacle has been approached with very sharp-toned stances and now there is a need to address it through giving each their right,” Aoun added, stressing that no party should feel “defeated.”He added: “There is Sunni representation outside of al-Mustaqbal and the electoral law reflected this. There are also four other MPs who don't belong to al-Mustaqbal and not only the six MPs have the right to be represented in the government.”“Hizbullah can 'scare' and Sayyed Nasrallah re-acknowledged his allies yesterday and his speech indicated that a solution is not impossible and he is calling for respecting these parties,” Aoun went on to say.

Hezbollah, Iran using card of Lebanese government formation

Mohamed Kawas/The Arab Weekly/November 11/18
The United States has dealt with Hezbollah issue in Lebanon with unprecedented swiftness and enthusiasm. US Ambassador to Lebanon Elizabeth Holzhall Richard had already warned Beirut of the negative consequences of allocating the Lebanese Ministry of Health to Hezbollah, saying US financial protocols supporting the ministry and its programmes would be affected. US Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Levant Affairs and Special Envoy for Syria Joel Rayburn visited Beirut and informed the Lebanese political, military and economic authorities of Washington’s plans for the region, especially those related to Iranian presence in the region and Hezbollah in Lebanon. The rivalry between Washington and Hezbollah has remained within the context of the basic parameters of the United States’ relationship with Iran and its proxies.
Hezbollah remains confident that yesterday’s basic rules of coexistence that prevented major clashes with the United States even after the kidnapping of US hostages and the bombing of US Marines’ barracks would apply today despite the changes in the region and even if US President Donald Trump does not share his predecessors’ dogmas and proclivities.
Hezbollah seems to have decided that the current context no longer favours setting up a Lebanese government that it can just infiltrate. The pressure on Iran and its network of international, regional and local proxies requires the immediate and unambiguous control of the Lebanese government. Relying on its ally, Lebanese President Michel Aoun, and his movement simply will not do anymore. The Shia party must get involved directly and heavily in the new Lebanese government. It’s through this perspective that one can understand Hezbollah’s keenness on showing its “loyalty” to its Sunni allies and its insistence that they be represented in the government.
Hezbollah, however, considers the “independent Sunnis” to be merely instruments of the Syrian guardianship over Lebanon. It is also true that those “patriots” have benefited greatly from their loyalty to Damascus. They enjoyed high positions and privileges. Hezbollah never admitted and doesn’t want to admit that these people have other reasons for joining the Hezbollah camp besides the former patronage of Damascus and the subsequent patronage of Iran and Hezbollah later. If they chose to be with Hezbollah in the March 8 alliance, it was because they had no other alternative available to them to protect themselves from the anger that gripped the country after the assassination of Sunni leader Rafik Hariri.
By contrast to Hezbollah’s deftness in constructing arguments, it seems the constants of the memorandum of understanding between it and Aoun’s Free Patriotic Movement were subjected to an experience not previously witnessed by their alliance. Aoun was surprised by Hezbollah’s unexpected obstruction of the formation of the new government but this aspect of Hezbollah’s behaviour is a fact of life that the Lebanese presidency had to get used to and even, on previous occasions, reinterpret and reformulate for the benefit of the party in accordance with its wishes. However, Aoun’s position on this issue this time, and which weighed on the side of the Prime Minister-designate Saad Hariri, was a surprise to Hezbollah and was considered a precedent in the nature of the relationship between the party and Aoun in the first place, and the party and Aoun’s son in-law Gebran Bassil in the second place. Considering this development, it seems the presidency was acting with new facts.
Aoun says that, due to external reasons related to Iran’s whims, Hezbollah is obstructing the birth of the government. The party’s silence about the Christian and Druze knots complicating the formation of the government that have been making headlines is more indicative of Hezbollah’s satisfaction with having other parties hamper the birth of a government it does not desire in the first place, rather than of any desire to facilitate the process. What is even more ironic is that Aoun has felt that the “loyalty” or “gratitude” manoeuvre by Hezbollah does not target Saad Hariri but intends to drown the government with Hezbollah’s cronies and to prevent Aoun from securing a majority in the government, who had seemed to swing in favour of the presidency in the finer details of the negotiations. However, the Aoun-Bassil duo, which was cautioned by the United States not to have a government with Hezbollah in charge of the Ministry of Health, was also warned by the Americans and the international community against turning Lebanon into a “Hezbollah state.”It seems that Aoun, who had lent his full support to Hezbollah’s “resistance” ideology and its weapons and had defended the group left and right in international forums, allowed himself this time to expand the boundaries of his interests, even if that meant contradicting, however circumstantially, Hezbollah’s interests and its agendas.
Bassil rushed to instruct members and supporters of the Free Patriotic Movement to stop debating Hezbollah on social media. Hezbollah was taken aback by Aoun’s turn-about and did not know how to respond without clashing with him. These aspects are indicative of a crisis in the management of the presidency-Hezbollah alliance. Hezbollah will not let go of the Lebanese government. Hariri, the Christian leader Samir Geagea and the Druze leader Walid Jumblatt received specific messages from abroad prompting them to accept whatever is available to facilitate the birth of the new government.
While the international community was clamouring for this birth, Iran wants to delay it during the US sanctions against it. Iran wants to hold on to formation of a government in Lebanon as a trump card for the next round of negotiations.
*Mohamed Kawas is a Lebanese writer.

The Latest LCCC Bulletin For Miscellaneous Reports And News published
on November 11-12/18
World Leaders Mark 100 Years since WWI Armistice in Paris
Naharnet/Agence France Presse/November 11/18/World leaders gathered in the driving rain in Paris on Sunday to mark 100 years since the end of World War I, with host Emmanuel Macron warning against nationalism at a time of growing strain between Europe and Donald Trump's America. Around 70 leaders including US President Trump and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin marked the centenary of the 1918 Armistice in the French capital at 11am local time (1000 GMT). After church bells rang out across France, the leaders sat together at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at the Arc de Triomphe for a memorial that included a performance by star cellist Yo-Yo Ma and the reading aloud of letters by WWI soldiers. Macron delivered a 20-minute speech that called on his fellow leaders not to forget the lessons of the past and worldwide hopes for peace. "Ruining this hope with a fascination for isolation, violence or domination would be a mistake for which future generations would rightly find us responsible," Macron told them. He also delivered a stinging indictment of nationalism, calling it "the exact opposite" of the patriotism shown by soldiers. "Nationalism is a betrayal," he said.
"By saying our interests come first and others don't matter we are erasing what makes a nation precious, what makes it live, what makes it great and most importantly of all, its moral values," he said, watched by Trump, who prides himself on being called a nationalist. The service concluded with the bugle call that was played at 11am on November 11, 1918 to signal the end of fighting on the Western Front. Elsewhere, ceremonies in New Zealand, Australia, India, Hong Kong and Myanmar began a day of remembrance services around the world for a conflict that involved millions of troops from colonized countries in Asia and Africa. The leaders of Commonwealth nations -- whose forces were deployed under British command 100 years ago -- also delivered messages of peace. "This was a war in which India was not directly involved yet our soldiers fought world over, just for the cause of peace," Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Twitter. "For our tomorrows, they gave their today," Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison told people gathered at a ceremony in Canberra. British Prime Minister Theresa May and Prince Charles, standing in for Queen Elizabeth, attended a separate remembrance event in London where thousands of well-wishers also paid their respects to fallen soldiers.
'A world of rules'
In Paris, German Chancellor Angela Merkel was due to give the opening address alongside U.N. Secretary General Antonio Guterres at a peace conference following the memorial service on the Champs-Elysees. The Paris Peace Forum, conceived by Macron, is intended to highlight the importance of international institutions in helping resolve conflicts, avert wars and spread prosperity. "The aim of the forum is to show that there are lots of forces in the international system -- states, NGOs, foundations, intellectuals, companies -- who believe we need a world of rules, an open world and a multilateral world," chief organizer Justin Vaisse told AFP. Despite the show of unity at the Arc de Triomphe, tensions lurk beneath the surface. Trump, whose hardline nationalism has badly shaken the Western alliance, arrived in Paris on Friday criticizing host Macron for being "insulting." Trump took umbrage at a recent interview in which Macron talked about the need for a European army and cited the U.S., along with Russia and China, as potential security risks. During talks with Trump Saturday Macron said his remarks had been misinterpreted and that he was merely saying Europe needed to take greater ownership of its own security.
The "America First" leader, who faced criticism on Saturday for canceling a trip to an American cemetery because of rainy weather, will snub the Peace Forum.
A day of remembrance
Other notable attendees of Sunday's Paris memorial service and Forum included Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Canadian premier Justin Trudeau and Israel's Benyamin Netanyahu. Despite maximum security in a city repeatedly targeted by jihadists since 2015, a protester from the radical feminist group Femen managed to jump over a barricade and got within meters of Trump's motorcade as he made his way up the Champs-Elysees. She was hauled away by security along with two others who were stopped on the edge of the famous avenue. French Interior Minister Christophe Castaner later said Trump's security had "in no way been threatened." About 70 current-day nations were involved in WWI, which had six empires and colonial powers at its heart: Austria-Hungary, Britain, France, Germany, Russia and the Ottoman Empire.Around 10 million soldiers are estimated to have been killed during the fighting and more than double that number wounded. Between five and 10 million civilians are estimated to have been killed.
Rouhani: US Sanctions Have No Impact on Our Economy
London - Asharq Al-Awsat/Sunday, 11 November, 2018/Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said on Saturday that US sanctions announced recently have had no effect on Iran’s economy because Washington had already practically reimposed them earlier. “The sanctions have had no impact on our economy because America had already used all the weapons at its disposal and there was nothing new to use against us,” Rouhani said in remarks carried live on state television. The President stressed that the US just issued a long list of banks, their branches, and airlines and their planes, which shows that they are merely trying to affect the Iranian nation psychologically. Addressing the Iranian nation, Rouhani said, “In providing basic goods, we have no problem and our warehouses are ready more than any other time to provide people’s essential needs for many months”. Rouhani asserted that the country’s current conditions are good and export has risen in the first 7 months of the current year compared to the same period last year, and this means that “production has increased and people’s business is good.”“It has now become clear that America cannot cut Iran’s oil exports to zero,” Rouhani added, speaking after a weekly meeting with the heads of the parliament and the judiciary, Ali and Sadek Larijani. Iranian officials were saying from the first day that US officials are not able to reduce Iran’s oil export to zero, Rouhani noted, but they “kept repeating that they would do this and they recently admitted that they cannot reduce Iran’s oil export to zero.”The President also went on to say that their argument was that if they could reduce Iran’s oil export to zero, the price of oil will rise to $150 per barrel and this is what “we kept saying from the first day that either the entire region exports oil or if Iran’s oil export is stopped, others will face problems too.”The President also said, “In the coming months, Americans will understand well that the path they have chosen is wrong. This does not tire the Iranian nation, but makes them ready for more production and having closer relations with neighbors”. In related news, the US State Department announced that the Special Representative for Iran Brian Hook will travel to Israel and the United Arab Emirates between November 12 and 20, where he is expected to meet officials and discuss cooperation on countering Iranian threats. The trip aims to advance the US President Donald Trump’s strategy on Iran and increase pressure on the Iranian regime to cease its destructive policies, including its nuclear and missile proliferation threats, support for terrorism, and other regionally destabilizing activities, State Department’s statement read. “The United States is committed to working with our allies and partners to fully implement our maximum pressure campaign in order to change Iran's destructive behavior,” it added. The restoration of sanctions is part of a wider effort by Trump to force Iran to curb its nuclear and missile programs as well as its support for “proxy forces in Yemen, Syria, Lebanon and other parts of the Middle East.”

Deputy commander of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC): Any war Zionists start will lead to them being erased

Jerusalem Post/November 11/18
Brig.-Gen. Hossein Salami also claimed that Iran was improving its ballistic missiles.
The deputy commander of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) in Iran slammed Israel and warned that the Islamic Republic has bases from the Red Sea to the Mediterranean.
In comments made public over the weekend, Brig.-Gen. Hossein Salami told a forum at the University of Damghan in Semnan province in northern Iran that his forces have bases throughout the Middle East and that Iran was confronting “the Zionists” and Americans in the region. Speaking at the National Forum for honoring “mujahideen,” which included “jihadist figures from Bahrain and Yemen,” according to Iran’s Al-Alam News Network, the IRGC commander claimed that Iran had emerged victorious from recent conflicts in the Middle East.
“The Zionists know that today any war they start will lead to their being erased. We have bases of the Islamic Revolution from the Mediterranean to the Red Sea,” he said. Hezbollah has become a “nightmare” to Israel, according to Salami. He also pointed to the war in Yemen and said Iran’s Houthi allies in Yemen “will never die.”
Salami also claimed that Iran was improving its ballistic missiles, noting that “our missile capabilities have grown today in all dimensions as we need high accuracy.” He also said Iran would confront the US economically and defeat the US sanctions that were reimposed on November 5. As evidence for Iran’s ability to get around the sanctions he noted that the US had given eight countries exemptions, allowing them to trade with Iran. This was a victory for Tehran. “The IRGC is very strong and popular today. It has been formed in Syria alongside the official army, which is not fighting the remnants of the United States,” he said according to a Fars News report. Salami also hinted that in Iraq those who oppose the US presence, including many Iranian-backed allies among Shi’ite militias that are affiliated with the government, could “abide the enemy,” indicating they would wait out the American presence until the US leaves.
The speech charts a course for Iran’s role in the region. It not only shows that Tehran is seeking to construct a corridor of power stretching from Tehran to the Mediterranean via Iraq, Syria and Lebanon, but that it also sees the Red Sea as part of its plan. Over the last two years as the Syrian civil war continued and the war on ISIS led to Iran gaining increasing influence in Iraq and Syria, experts warned about Iran’s “road to the sea.”This is one of the first speeches in which the IRGC has acknowledged that it has constructed a map of influence and bases across the region, and that those bases are directed at the US and Israel. Combining these details with his detailing of the increasing precision of Tehran’s missile programs, illustrates that Iran is no longer concerned about boasting about the power it wields.In September and October, Iran launched ballistic missiles at Kurdish opposition groups in Iraq and at ISIS in Syria, showcasing its abilities. In Yemen it continues to improve the missiles of the Houthi rebels that they have been fired at Saudi Arabia.

Iran Upholds Prison Term for Official Convicted of Spying
Asharq Al-Awsat/Sunday, 11 November, 2018/An Iranian appeals court has upheld the 10-year prison sentence of a former Foreign Ministry official convicted of spying. The semi-official Fars news agency on Sunday quoted judiciary spokesman Gholamhossein Mohseni Ejehi as saying the court upheld Kamal Amirbeig's sentence and fined him $200,000, AP reported. The report did not provide further information. According to AP, Iran rarely discloses the names or occupations of alleged spies. Authorities have jailed several dual nationals in recent years on espionage charges. Rights groups have criticized those detentions, suggesting hard-liners in the judiciary are jailing Iranians with Western passports to use them as bargaining chips.
Reports suggest Iran executes 22 people in Ahwaz
Staff writer, Al Arabiya English/Sunday, 11 November 2018/Unconfirmed reports have suggested that Iran has allegedly executed more than 22 people, accusing them of being behind the ISIS-claimed attack on a military parade in the southwestern Iranian city of Ahwaz last October. The sources said the authorities of the Revolutionary Court had informed some of the families of those allegedly executed on Thursday. A relative of the victims said the Revolutionary Court summoned some of the families of those who were reportedly executed and handed them death warrants, without any information about the corpses, and warned them not to hold funerals or risk prosecution. In the wake of the attack on the military parade, the Iranian security arrested hundreds of Ahwazi activists, including civil society activists who do not belong to any extremist groups. Human rights activists say the Iranian authorities used the attack as an opportunity to attack civil society activists and intellectuals interested in the national rights of Arabs in southern Iran.
Trump assures Macron that Saudi Arabia is the cornerstone of stability in the Middle East
Arab News/November 10, 2018/LONDON: US President Donald Trump assured French President Emmanuel Macron Saturday that Saudi Arabia is the cornerstone of stability in the Middle East, a French presidency source reported. Trump also said that he refuses to allow anything to undermine the Kingdom’s stability, and emphasized Saudi Arabia’s importance as a partner of the United States. The two presidents held a meeting at the Elysee Palace on the eve of the commemoration ceremony for Armistice Day, 100 years after the end of the First World War, in Paris, France. The US and French presidents are also keen that a political solution in Yemen is found, and pushed for foundations of the solution to be laid. Trump assured Macron of the effectiveness of sanctions on Iran, and called for a new agreement to ensure that Iran does not obtain nuclear weapons, the presidency source said. Trump's visit kickstarts two days of events marking the centenary of the end of World War 1. Some 70 leaders will gather at 11 am Sunday (1000 GMT) at the tomb of the Unknown Soldier at the Arc de Triomphe, in Paris, to mark the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I.

US Grants Iraq 45-Day Waiver Over Iran Sanctions to Purchase Natural Gas, Electricity
Baghdad - Asharq Al-Awsat/Sunday, 11 November, 2018/Iraq confirmed that the United States gave it an exception to the strict sanctions imposed on Iran in order to continue to buy Iranian natural gas and electricity, however, Baghdad has been silent about a US announcement to reduce the grace period. On Saturday, US Embassy in Baghdad announced that Iraq will be permitted to purchase energy from Iran until the end of December. “The United States has given Iraq a temporary relief from the sanctions for 45 days to continue purchasing natural gas and electricity from Iran,” officials from the Embassy said in a Facebook video. “This relief gives Iraq time to start taking steps towards energy independence,” the video said. While no official statement was issued by Iraqi authorities on the announcement, a source told Asharq al-Awsat, that Iraq imports 14 million cubic meters of gas from Iran, as well as 1300 MW of electricity indicating that if the grace period was not extended, Iraq can do nothing after 45 days. Speaking on condition of anonymity, the source noted that gas projects need years to address the crisis and therefore, the time granted is not enough, both on the level of natural gas and electricity, which he believes, puts Iraq in an impending crisis. Iraq central bank officials said in August that the country’s economy is so closely linked to Iran that Baghdad would ask Washington for exemptions from some of the sanctions, Reuters reported.

Palestinian Authority Slams Qatar for Encouraging Gaza Separatist Agenda
Ramallah – Asharq Al Awsat/Sunday, 11 November, 2018/Palestinian officials accused Qatar of funding the Gaza Strip separatist agenda, supporting Hamas in an attempt to sabotage Egyptian efforts to achieve intra-Palestinian reconciliation. A member of the Executive Committee of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), Ahmed Majdalani, slammed Qatari Ambassador to Gaza Mohammed Al-Emadi for smuggling funds to Hamas-ruled Gaza without the Palestinian Authority’s approval.Majdalani told Asharq Al-Awsat that Al-Emadi, in agreement with Israel and Hamas, “used illicit means to transfer money in bags to Gaza, widening divisions among Palestinians and sabotaging Egyptian efforts to achieve reconciliation.”
- A Cheap Price For Blood
Al Emadi transferred some $ 15 million in bags to Gaza, The ambassador is said to have arranged for moving $15 million in bags into Gaza through Israel, which was described by the official Palestinian news agency (WAFA) as “a cheap price” for Gaza residents being exploited by Hamas leadership hoping to advance US-Zionist plots for separating the Gaza Strip from the West Bank. The money, with Israeli agreement, was transferred in three suitcases and entered through the Erez Crossing in the northern Gaza Strip. “We will continue efforts for countering US-Israeli conspiracies and plots aimed at separating Gaza from the West Bank, hoping to eventually isolate the West Bank and Jerusalem,” the PA said in a statement published on Wafa. The $15 million represents the first installment of $90 million Qatar has allocated to pay the money of Hamas-employed civil servants. Israel agreed to Qatar funding Hamas, so long all the names receiving payments get vetted by Israeli security checks.
- Deprived Employees
Israel had objected to over 2,000 names of Hamas employees getting paid with the Qatari money, sources told Asharq Al-Awsat. Qatari superintendents oversaw the handover of dollar-paid salaries, and asked recipients to hand over identity documents and signatures, as part of a mechanism to reassure Israel. Funds have been distributed in a remarkable state of calm in Gaza Strip and coincided with a decline in the momentum of Great Marches of Return on Gaza border, which began on March 30. At least 220 Palestinians were killed during Israeli assaults on the marches. It is worth noting that Hamas has curbed demonstrators at the borders with Israel, adhering to a treaty struck to allow the entry of Qatari funds and fuel into the Gaza Strip. West Bank-based Fatah accuses Hamas of trading Palestinian blood for money. “This farce confirms that Hamas has manipulated the people and undercut the Palestinian cause, using return marches to secure weapons,” it said in a statement. Sources told Asharq Al-Awsat that Qatar plans to improve living conditions in Gaza by improving the power network in Gaza, building a gas-powered station, building sewage and desalination networks, and creating job opportunities through small projects. The Palestinian Authority’s outcry against Qatar’s policy in Gaza set off the alarms on the latter backing the sector’s separatist ambitions, and undermining the Palestinian cause.
Netanyahu Says Unaware of Corruption Linked to Submarine Deal
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/November 11/18/Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said he was unaware of any corruption linked to a deal to buy German submarines, after police recommended charging his lawyer in the investigation. "As you know, there are no claims as to my involvement," Netanyahu said late Saturday in his first comments on the issue since police issued their findings in the long-running investigation last week. "Which is not a minute thing since people don't hesitate to blame me with the most absurd claims." Asked about the alleged offenses committed by his relative and family lawyer David Shimron, Netanyahu said: "You know I didn't know.""Secondly, I suggest to wait until the end of the procedures and not rush to make a judgment," he said before boarding a plane for Paris, where he will join world leaders in marking the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I. Police said Thursday there was evidence to charge Shimron and others with bribery in connection with negotiations for Israel's purchase of submarines and other vessels from German industrial giant ThyssenKrupp. The investigation into the deals reportedly worth $2 billion is one of several cases that have put Netanyahu's long tenure in office under the spotlight. Besides Shimron, police said the former chief of Netanyahu's office, David Sharan, is also suspected of bribery, as is the former head of the navy, Eliezer Marom. Two other navy ex-generals were named as being suspected of similar offenses, as was a former minister, Eliezer Zandberg. Netanyahu was questioned as a witness and not a suspect in the case. The police's findings will now be handed over to the attorney general, who will decide whether the suspects should be charged. Israeli opposition politicians have questioned how Netanyahu could be unaware of the alleged corruption and called for a commission of inquiry. In February, police recommended Netanyahu be indicted in two other graft probes, though the attorney general has yet to decide whether to do so. Allegations against Netanyahu include seeking a secret deal with the publisher of Israel's top-selling newspaper Yediot Aharonot to ensure positive coverage in return for pushing forward a law that would have limited the circulation of a rival. Another case involves suspicions that the prime minister and his family received luxury gifts from wealthy individuals in exchange for financial or personal favors.Netanyahu denies all the allegations, calling them a bid by his political enemies to force him from office.
Netanyahu defends Qatari cash infusion to Gaza
AFP/11 November 2018/JERUSALEM: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has defended his decision to enable Qatar to bring $15 million into Hamas-controlled Gaza for salaries, saying it would calm tensions and prevent a Palestinian humanitarian crisis. Netanyahu’s remarks late Saturday were his first on the issue since Israel allowed the cash to be transferred to the enclave controlled by Hamas, considered not only by the Jewish state but also the United States and European Union as a terrorist movement. “I’m doing what I can, in coordination with the security elements, to return quiet to the southern communities, but also to prevent a humanitarian crisis,” Netanyahu said, referring to Israeli towns near the Gaza border and deteriorating conditions in the Gaza Strip. Netanyahu said the Israeli security establishment supported the move and that ministers in his security cabinet approved it. “We held serious discussions,” he said ahead of his flight to Paris, where he will join world leaders marking the centenary of the end of World War I. “I think we’re acting in a responsible and wise way.” He added: “At this time, this is the right step.” On Friday, Palestinian civil servants began receiving payments after months of sporadic salary disbursements in cash-strapped Gaza, with money delivered into the Palestinian enclave through Israel, reportedly in suitcases. The Israeli-authorized money transfer appeared to be part of a deal that would see Hamas end months of often violent protests along the border in exchange for Israel easing its blockade of Gaza. Border protests have been much calmer the last two Fridays. The money influx was criticized by the Ramallah-based Palestinian Authority, which saw it as undermining reconciliation efforts with rivals Hamas and its attempts to return to power in the Gaza Strip. Netanyahu has also faced political pressure within Israel, including from opposition head Tzipi Livni, who called it the premier’s “submission to Hamas,” which would strengthen the Islamist movement.Deadly clashes have accompanied the major protests along the Gaza border with Israel that began on March 30, generating fears of a new war between the Jewish state and the strip’s militant rulers. Israel and Palestinian militants in Gaza have fought three wars since 2008.At least 221 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli fire, the majority shot during protests and clashes, since the protests began. Others have died in tank fire or air strikes. One Israeli soldier has been killed along the Gaza border in that time.
Hamas commander killed in Gaza, say Palestinian officials
Reuters, Gaza/Sunday, 11 November 2018/Israeli security forces killed a commander from Hamas faction in the Gaza Strip on Sunday, Palestinian officials said. They said a group of Hamas members were fired at from a passing car. Local witnesses also said that Israeli planes fired over 20 missiles into open areas where the incident took place. The Israeli military said in a brief statement that: “During IDF (Israel Defense Forces) operational activity in the Gaza Strip, an exchange of fire evolved.”On Friday, a Palestinian was killed by Israeli fire Friday during clashes along the Gaza-Israel border, the health ministry in the Hamas-ruled coastal enclave said. The border between the blockaded Gaza Strip and Israel has been rocked by deadly violence since March 30 when major protests backed by Hamas and clashes broke out along the frontier. But for the last two weeks, clashes along the border were lower in intensity than in previous weeks, amid talk of a truce deal between Hamas and Israel.
Israel Kills Hamas Military Commander in Gaza, Palestinian Officials Say
Haartz/November 11/18/
Israeli forces killed a commander in Hamas' military wing in the southern Gaza Strip, Palestinian officials in the Strip said Sunday. The Israeli army confirmed a fire exchange took place, with local reports in Gaza saying that Israeli planes fired at the open area near the place of the incident.
The Hamas-run Interior Ministry in Gaza said in an official statement that members of the group were killed and wounded in the incident, which took place east of Khan Younes. Security forces in Gaza announced a state of high alert.
The Red Crescent emergency responders reported four to five people were killed in Khan Younes.
Sirens sounded in Israeli communities near the Gaza border.
Palestinian sources told Haaretz that one of the casualties is Nur Barake, a deputy commander of an elite unit of Iz al-Din al-Qassam, the military wing of Hamas. Barake and an additional commander were said to be killed in Khan Younes. Palestinian officials said the group of Hamas men were fired at from a passing car. According to reports from Gaza, an elite Israeli force entered the city of Khan Younes and killed the. The reports said that the force was then exposed. The two sides then began exchanging fire, and Israeli aircraft accompanied the ground forces. Residents of nearby Israeli towns were asked to remain in safe areas. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who is visiting in Paris, is receiving live updates and holding consultations on the topic. Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman is holding consolations at the military headquarters in Tel Aviv. Netanyahu said earlier on Sunday that there is “No political solution exists for Gaza, just as there isn't one with ISIS" and that he is doing everything he can to avoid “unnecessary war.” Netanyahu is attending the Paris Peace Forum, hosted by French President Emmmanuel Macron. Qatar reportedly finished paying the July salaries of Hamas officials on Saturday. Thousands of officials who have not received their salaries claim that they are part of Hamas' military wing. According to the deal, Qatari money will be transferred to civilian officials only.
Reuters contributed to this report

Hayat Tahrir Al-Sham Kills 8 Regime Troops in Hama, Syria
Beirut, London – Asharq Al-Awsat/Sunday, 11 November, 2018/Eight regime troops were killed during an attack led by "Hayat Tahrir al-Sham" in Hama near a planned buffer zone, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR). "An assault by Tahrir al-Sham targeted a Syrian regime position on the outskirts of the de-militarised zone" and was followed by clashes in which eight regime forces were killed, Observatory chief Rami Abdel Rahman told AFP. SOHR reported that the attack happened after members of Tahrir al-sham were able to infiltrate positions of the regime forces and militiamen loyal to them and the 5th Legion which "was established by Russia in al-Tarabea’ area south of Halfaya town in the northern countryside of Hama within the demilitarized area."Through its infiltration, Tahrir al-Sham fighters were able to kill and injure 8 members of the regime forces and militiamen loyal to them. Two Tahrir al-Sham members were killed. Two months ago, Russian President Vladimir Putin and the Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan agreed on a demilitarized area in Idlib. Syrian forces earlier attacked Jaysh al-Izza site in the demilitarized are in Hama’s northern countryside, killing at least 23 of Jaysh al-Izza fighters. Tahrir al-Sham and other groups control two-thirds of the zone and a large portion of the demilitarized zone. A military official of Hayat Tahrir al-Sham told Deutsche Presse-Agentur (DPA) that Tahrir al-Sham fighters attacked the military operations room in al-Tarabea’ area, killing over 20 fighters of Syrian regime, Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), and Lebanese Hezbollah, as well as 7 Russian soldiers.

Turkish air strike ‘neutralizes’ 14 Kurdish militants in Iraq

Reuters, IstanbulSunday, 11 November 2018/An air strike by a Turkish warplane “neutralized” 14 militants of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) in northern Iraq, the military said on Sunday, destroying hideouts and armories. The Turkish army uses the phrase neutralize when it has killed, captured or wounded combatants. The air strike carried out on Saturday targeted the Avasin region, the military said. “Fourteen armed members of the separatist terror organization, who were in preparation for an attack on military bases, were neutralized. Weapons, hideouts and armories were destroyed,” the military said, using its term for the PKK. Turkey regularly carries out air strikes against PKK targets in northern Iraq, where the group is based in the Qandil mountains. The PKK, considered a terrorist organization by the United States, the European Union and Turkey, has waged a three-decade insurgency in Turkey’s largely Kurdish southeast that has killed about 40,000 people.

Egypt, Bahrain firm on list of 13 demands to end Qatar crisis
Ashraf Abdul Hamid, Al Arabiya English/Sunday, 11 November 2018/The Egyptian and Bahraini foreign ministries affirmed their firmness on sticking to a list of 13 demands including six principles the anti-Terror Quartet issued last year as the basis for resolving ongoing crisis with Qatar. In a joint statement, the two countries said at the end of a Bahraini-Egyptian Committee session held in Manama on Sunday that all the Qatari attempts to circumvent those demands would only prolong the crisis. The joint statement further applauded Kuwait’s continuous efforts to end the crisis. The two sides affirmed their keenness to coordinate work and consult together on regional and international platforms and forums, especially the Arab League, the Organization of Islamic Cooperation and within the United Nations system, in order to achieve their interests and support joint Arab action to achieve the hopes and aspirations of their two peoples. Egypt and Bahrain stressed the centrality of preserving the security and stability of the countries of the region, preserving their sovereignty and independence, and the importance of the security of the Arab Gulf and the Arab region as a whole.
The two sides expressed their strong condemnation of the continued firing of ballistic missiles on Saudi Arabia from Yemeni territory by the Iranian-backed Houthi militias as part of their interference in the Yemeni affairs and their attempts to dominate the region through supporting the militias by all means. The statement added that this led to prolonging the conflict.Both countries reiterated their condemnation of terrorism in all forms, stressing the importance of coordination of bilateral, regional and international efforts to combat various forms of terrorism and address its roots and causes.
Egypt and Bahrain also stressed the importance of supporting the Palestinian cause and following up on its political developments, as the central issue of the Arab and Islamic nations, and affirmed that a just and comprehensive solution can be achieved only by safeguarding the legitimate rights of the Palestinian people and establishing its independent and sovereign state with East Jerusalem as its capital along the lines of 4 June 1967, based on the relevant resolutions of international legitimacy and the Arab peace initiative, stressing that this initiative is the best solution to end the Arab-Israeli conflict.

Egypt puts key members of ‘al-Jama’a al-Islamiyya’ on terror list
Ashraf Abdul Hamid, Al Arabiya English/Sunday, 11 November 2018/Egyptian authorities have added several leaders of the extremist group “al-Jama’a al-Islamiyya” along with 164 of its members to the country’s designated terror lists. Cairo Criminal Court, headed by Counselor Mohamed Fahmi, ruled to include 164 members of the extremist group known in English as “The Islamic Group” on the terror list, including Mohammed Showqi al-Islambouli, brother of Khalid al- Islambouli, the assassin of the late Egyptian president Anwar Sadat, as well as Tariq al-Zomor and Assem Abdel Majid for five years. The court said that the decision came after the disclosure of attempts by the leaders of the group to revive its terror activities, incitement against the state, recruitment of fighters from the governorates of impoverished Upper Egypt and its association with foreign parties. Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi issued a law to list terrorist entities and terrorists, whereas article 2 in the law allows the public prosecution to prepare the lists and issue rulings in these cases. According to the law, the criminal court rulings would result in the freezing of assets owned by those members who would be banned from travel and issuance of travel documents as well as prohibiting them from any public jobs.

Clashes Reach Residential Streets in Yemen's Hodeida
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/November 11/18/Fighting for control of Yemen's rebel-held city of Hodeida reached residential streets on Sunday, as the Huthi insurgents mounted fierce resistance to government forces backed by Saudi Arabia, military sources said.
Troops entered residential streets in eastern Hodeida with the aim of "purging them of insurgents," according to a pro-government military official. Fears for civilian safety have been rising since the loyalist forces renewed an operation to take Hodeida, which has been under the control of Yemen's Iran-backed Huthi rebels since 2014. More than 400 combatants have been killed in 10 days of clashes in the city on Yemen's Red Sea coastline that is home to the impoverished country's most important port. Hodeida is a vital lifeline for Yemenis across the war-torn country, as the majority of imports and humanitarian aid enter through its port. The docks have been blockaded by the Saudi-led alliance since November 2017 over what the coalition says is arms smuggling from Iran to the Huthis. Tehran denies the charge. Aid groups have urged warring parties to keep the port open. "We cannot predict what will happen in the future, but at the moment there are no problems," Yahya Sharafeddine, deputy director of Hodeida port, told AFP. Pro-government fighters moved into the neighborhood between the May 22 hospital -- the largest in Hodeida -- and Sanaa Road, which links the port city to inland Yemen. Fighters clashed around the Al-Waha (Oasis) Resort, closing in on a civilian district located south of the hospital and north of Sanaa Road. The World Health Organization estimates nearly 10,000 people have been killed since 2015, when Saudi Arabia and its allies joined the government's war against the Huthis, driving the insurgents from the Red Sea coastline but failing to retake Hodeida. Other rights groups believe the toll may be five times as high. The conflict has triggered what the U.N. calls the world's worst humanitarian crisis, with 14 million Yemenis at risk of starvation.
The Latest LCCC Bulletin analysis & editorials from miscellaneous sources published on November 11-12/18
Facebook’s Nostalgic Mood Isn’t Helping
Shira Ovide/Bloomberg/November, 11/18
Technology companies don’t tend to look backward. Reminiscing is for old fogy companies; new economy superstars look ahead. Lately, however, Facebook Inc. has been reaching into its past to inspire outsiders’ confidence in its future. The company’s historical musings feel forced and off base. In recent months, Facebook officials and supporters have repeatedly flashed back to when Facebook overcame an obstacle that could have crippled it. The company’s 2012 initial public offering coincided with a significant acceleration of people using the internet on smartphones rather than on personal computers. Facebook was caught flat-footed by the change. Its smartphone apps were clunky, and it didn’t have a sound strategy for generating advertising revenue from users scrolling Facebook on phones. The mobile shift was the biggest crisis for a young company that had weathered many.
What happened next is a central thread of Facebook’s history. CEO Mark Zuckerberg rallied his company to devote its resources and attention to making Facebook successful in the smartphone boom. It dumped a successful advertising strategy to create a new one for smartphones. It worked spectacularly well. Facebook has been among the biggest winners of the mobile technology age. Now, Facebook wants people to believe its mobile turnaround is a parallel for its current crises. The company’s lead independent director, Susan Desmond-Hellmann, told Bloomberg Television that the board is confident in Zuckerberg’s leadership, which she said he proved in Facebook’s smartphone conundrum. “The switch from desktop to mobile required an enormous drive and leadership and a huge change for Facebook,” she said last month. Don Graham, the former Washington Post CEO and a mentor to Zuckerberg, also recently used Facebook’s 2012 smartphone turnaround to illustrate Zuckerberg’s ability to move mountains.
Last month, Facebook marketing executive Carolyn Everson said Facebook’s determination to stop election interference, protect user data and combat misinformation surpasses Facebook’s mobile resolve. “I have seen us go through many transitions, and the one that everybody talks about is when we had to become a mobile company,” Everson said in an interview. “This is a more important cultural shift at Facebook.” On a conference call with analysts last week, Zuckerberg and Sheryl Sandberg compared its growth-challenged transition period to a previous revenue hiccup as the company shifted its focus to smartphones. These flashbacks to Facebook’s mobile revolution have the same goal: to remind people that Facebook has solved an existential problem before, and to plant the idea that Facebook will overcome its new strategic, social and financial challenges.
“Remember mobile” feels like a mantra for Facebook. But I don’t believe that galvanizing moment is instructive for Facebook’s current threats on everything from growth slowdowns and changing internet habits to misinformation and abuse online. Worse, I fear Facebook’s history of successfully defying doubters is blinding the company to legitimate criticism. Facebook deserves credit for figuring out a smartphone strategy when few believed it would. But Facebook can’t use its mobile history to instill confidence in everything it’s doing. First, Facebook isn’t a reliable visionary about online trends. And second, its challenges now run deeper and are in areas where it hasn’t been traditionally strong.
On Facebook’s oracular abilities, recent history contains episodes of the company misidentifying or missing changes in online behaviors. I noted recently Facebook bet big on live web video, as it did with smartphones, but this time Zuckerberg was wrong. Live video looks like a niche activity, not a dominant feature of online life. It was also Snapchat, and not Facebook, that led the way to people interacting online in private chat rooms and in video-and-photo montages called “stories.” Facebook now says stories are the future of the internet, and it’s pushing people and advertisers to the format. If Facebook is right that stories will be a fixture of online communication in the near future, it will serve as a reminder that Facebook was late to see a significant internet trend. The smartphone crisis showed that Facebook was right about a big shift in online activity, but history has shown that Facebook has been wrong in this area, too. That’s a useful reminder of the limits of Facebook’s mobile rallying cry. And Facebook’s 2012 smartphone reboot was a cinch compared with its current challenges. Facebook now wants to protect elections around the world, weed out misinformation and encourage online behavior that unifies people. Nothing in Facebook’s history shows it’s up to this set of challenges. The stakes are simply higher for Facebook today. This moment is different from the time when users initially revolted against Facebook’s news feed in 2006, or when people grumbled about a separate app for chats. And this time is different from Facebook’s reboot in response to the smartphone threat. 1 Facebook was right in those moments, but that doesn’t make it infallible. I worry that its past success has made Facebook overly confident. Despite many warning signs, the company took far too long to acknowledge that foreign-backed misinformation spread on its social network, that it was too cavalier about information it collects about users, and that its service could be used to divide people.
If the lessons Facebook took from its successful navigation of the smartphone boom is that it’s always right no matter what doubters say, then that bodes ill for both Facebook and the rest of the world.

German Conservatives Face Off Over Their Party’s Soul
Leonid Bershidsky/Bloomberg/November, 11/18
The contest to replace Chancellor Angela Merkel as leader of the Christian Democratic Union when she steps down next month has raised an important question that is being debated within many conservative parties in Europe: Which of the two words in “center right” is more important?
The succession contest will be close. On Dec. 7 and 8, the CDU will hold a party conference in Hamburg and select a new leader among three serious candidates: Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, often referred to as AKK, who Merkel picked to be the party’s general secretary; Friedrich Merz, who heads the supervisory board of the German branch of the asset manager BlackRock and unexpectedly came out of political retirement; and Health Minister Jens Spahn. All three have made clear how they would steer the party, and their differences provide fascinating insights into the political and ideological currents within German conservatism. Similar debates over ideology are taking place less openly in conservative parties from Austria to Spain, and even, though in a different form, in the US Republican Party.
Kramp-Karrenbauer and Merz are the front-runners. In a poll published on Thursday, 36 percent of Germans said they could imagine Merz as a good chancellor; 33 percent said the same of Kramp-Karrenbauer. AKK led among supporters of the CDU and its Bavarian sister party, the Christian Social Union, 52 percent of whom said she’d make a good chancellor, versus 50 percent for Merz and 21 percent for Spahn.
The poll question makes sense: The CDU is Germany’s biggest party, despite a steep decline in recent polls, and its leader has a strong claim on the chancellorship — perhaps even before the current legislative period ends — if Merkel is driven out of office. Most Germans in recent polls say she should quit ahead of time, though that’s not her intention.
The politics of the choice of leader are complicated. The candidates have been vying for the support of various lobbies within the party: AKK is backed by the women’s organization; the powerful Mittelstand group of medium and small business representatives favors Merz; the youth organization is for Spahn. The pretenders to the throne must also woo state organizations. Merz and Spahn come from Germany’s most populous state and AKK from the second smallest, which puts her at something of a natural disadvantage. But the final choice will be about the way the candidates see the party’s future, not their backgrounds.
“We must make it clear again what the CDU is,” Michael Kretschmer, the minister president of Saxony and a leading CDU member, said in a recent interview.
The candidates have all been clear about their views. Merz is a pro-business, pro-American conservative who believes in immigrant assimilation and traditional Christian values. He once proposed a simple tax system that would fit an ordinary German’s returns on a beer mat. In recent years, he has voiced skepticism about the future of the euro. His positions have been unpopular under Merkel’s leadership, and some people who espoused similar views defected to the nationalist Alternative for Germany (AfD) Party, but most stayed: The CDU is the respectable right-wing party with a powerful tradition of leading the country, and that’s important for members of the party’s sober business wing.
Spahn doesn’t quite have Merz’s conservative credentials: He’s young, married to a man (an overwhelming majority of the CDU faction voted against marriage equality last year), and has minimal private sector experience. Yet he hews relatively close to Merz’s line, which could be important if he comes in third and there’s a runoff between Merz and AKK. Spahn wants to make immigration the central issue as a way for the CDU to compete with populists on the right and the left (meaning primarily the Greens, to whom the less conservative CDU voters have been defecting).
Immigration, Spahn wrote in the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, is “the elephant in the room”; the party must say clearly that it opposes the “disorderly influx of mostly male immigrants” that he says still afflicts Germany despite official assurances that everything is under control. That stance wouldn’t be a shift to the right because “the time for reflexive left-right schemes is gone.” Instead, politicians should rely on common sense and “a new honesty,” not just about immigration but about the costs and execution of Germany’s clean energy plans and euro zone rescue efforts.

Iranian human rights violations show up Rouhani’s empty promises
د. ماجد ربيزاده: انتهاكات حقوق الإنسان في إيران تبين أن وعود الرئيس روحاني هي فارغة من أي مصداقية
Dr. Majid Rafizadeh/Arab News/November 11/18
The human rights situation has been deteriorating to an unprecedented level in the Islamic Republic of Iran. This highlights the empowerment of the hard-line judiciary system and Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) under the so-called moderate administration of President Hassan Rouhani.
Specifically, several groups have become the Iranian regime’s targets. The first category is linked to religious and ethnic minorities, including the Arabs, Kurds, Azeris, Baluchis, Sunnis, Christians and Baha’is. The situation has become so alarming that the UN Special Rapporteur on human rights in Iran, Javaid Rehman, recently urged Tehran to “ensure that all those who reside in the country have equal protection before the law, regardless of ethnicity, religion or belief.”It is important to point out that the Islamic Republic is a signatory to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. This means that the Iranian authorities ought to make sure that those defendants who are detained based on criminal charges have access to lawyers or be able to choose their own attorney if they desire to do so. The right to have access to a lawyer is one of the most basic rights guaranteed by international law.
But, unfortunately, the theocratic establishment frequently denies defendants access to lawyers, stopping them enjoying due process and fair legal representation. This is because the regime can intimidate, obtain forced confessions or torture detainees more easily when they don’t have access to a lawyer, and ultimately sentence the defendants to long terms of imprisonment or even execution.
When it comes to ethnic and religious minorities, the Iranian authorities have escalated their crackdown on the Arab population of Ahvaz. According to a recent report by the Iran Human Rights Monitor: “Reports from Ahvaz, in southwest Iran, indicate security forces launched a mass arresting campaign targeting Ahvazi Arab activists. In some districts security forces opened fire on young activists attempting to flee.” The arrests of Ahvazi Arabs have been implemented without any warrant or legal justification in various cities and villages, including Susangerd, Khorramshahr, Kot Abdollah, Kuy Alavi, and Kot Seyed Saleh.
The Iranian authorities are attempting to impose fear on the Arab population of Ahvaz in order to subjugate and further tighten its grip on them. Arbitrary arrests of Christians and Baha’is have also been on the rise. There are generally four state apparatuses that engage in such heightened suppression: The IRGC, the Ministry of Intelligence (Ettela’at), the judiciary system, and local law enforcement.
The Iranian authorities are attempting to impose fear on the Arab population of Ahvaz in order to subjugate and further tighten its grip on them. Arbitrary arrests of Christians and Baha’is have also been on the rise. An August report from Amnesty International indicated that: “Christians in Iran have been a target of harassment, arbitrary arrest and detention, unfair trials, and imprisonment on national security-related charges solely because of their faith.”One recent incident included the sentencing of Pastor Victor Bet-Tamraz and his wife Shamiram Issavi, ethnic Assyrian Christians, along with Amin Afshar Naderi and Hadi Asgari, by Iran’s Revolutionary Court in Tehran. They were sentenced to a combined total of 45 years in prison.
Human rights abuses against Christians have reached such horrendous levels that Amnesty International had to initiate an “urgent action” appeal. The pressure group has called on Tehran to “quash the convictions and sentences of Victor Bet-Tamraz, Shamiram Issavi, Amin Afshar-Naderi, and Hadi Asgari, as they have been targeted solely for the peaceful exercise of their rights to freedoms of religion and belief, expression, and association, through their Christian faith.”In addition, arrests of Baha’is — including elected officials and a city council member — have increased in various areas, including Shiraz, Isfahan and Karaj. The Iranian authorities have not provided any clear charges for these arrests. Michael Page, Deputy Middle East Director at Human Rights Watch, accurately pointed out that: “The more than 20 arrests in a month without providing any justification shows how intolerant the Islamic Republic is toward Iran’s Baha’i community.”
Environmental activists are another group that has become the target of the Iranian authorities. In spite of the fact they had a license for their wildlife projects, eight activists, including two women — Sepideh Kashani and Niloufar Bayani — could face the death penalty for ridiculous, vague, ambiguous charges such as “sowing corruption on earth.”Rouhani continues to make empty promises with respect to promoting citizens’ rights and individual liberties such as the freedoms of speech, the press and assembly. Nevertheless, Iran’s latest horrendous human rights record says otherwise.
According to the Death Penalty Information Center, “Iran is the most prolific executioner of juveniles in the world.” This alarming issue recently prompted Rehman to tell a UN General Assembly human rights committee that: “I appeal to the Iranian authorities to abolish the practice of sentencing children to death, and to commute all death sentences issued against children in line with international law.”
In sum, under the administration of the so-called moderate Rouhani, the human rights situation has become alarming in Iran. Rouhani has emboldened and empowered the IRGC and the hard-line judiciary system.
*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

Assad's statue stunt betrays regime's skewed priorities
Mohamed Chebaro/Arab News/November 11/18
Right now, millions of Syrians are busy considering how to spend the winter in ruined cities with little infrastructure left after seven years of civil strife, and hundreds of thousands more are preparing their tents in neighboring countries to withstand yet another wet and icy season ahead. Meanwhile, the regime in Damascus seems unconcerned and is moving at a snail’s pace toward meeting international demands for starting a serious settlement process. Instead, a statue of the late Syrian leader Hafez Assad has been erected at a key intersection in the ex-rebel town of Deir Ezzor. Such an act is indicative that all the regime cares about is the symbolic return of Syria to the authority of Bashar Assad, regardless of reforms, stabilization efforts, reconciliation or rebuilding of the destroyed country to better rehouse its displaced citizens.
Forget the Geneva peace process led by the UN and its promises to arrive at a negotiated settlement that ensures the peaceful return of all Syrian refugees to their country with guarantees that they will not be arrested or persecuted. Forget too the Astana process led by Russia, Iran and Turkey and its mission to bring an end to the armed rebellion by reinvading all cities that were declared free of regime authority for years. Forget also all unilateral, bilateral or group efforts to draw up a clear road map that would end the conflict and broker an agreement for the way forward.
The statue is believed to be a symbolic statement that Ba’ath regime's authority is back and in full control of the destroyed country, regardless of what desires there are for a negotiated settlement or a new constitution.
The people of Deir Ezzor were shocked to see that the statue of Hafez Assad had been re-erected, seven years since it was removed in the late spring of 2011 to prevent its destruction by a rebellious crowd that thought non-violent change was possible. The statue’s return alludes to the return of Bashar Assad and his henchmen to controlling Syrians’ lives after the war.
The people complained that the central government rushed to erect the statue even though the square where it is mounted is totally destroyed and unsuitable for civilian living. Regime officers, civilian administrators and representatives from the loose-knit alliance of forces that have, for seven years, propped up Assad’s rule attended the ceremony. Among them were Lebanese Hezbollah militia commanders, Iranian military advisers and Russian military police. If anything, this represents a blow to all peace and reconciliation efforts called for by the international community.
The Syrian regime is likely to go on to erect many more statues to demonstrate who is back in charge in a divided and destroyed Syria in the hope that European countries and Japan will contribute to the reconstruction efforts.
In Istanbul recently, the summit of France, Germany, Russia and Turkey showed the schism between what some Western countries views as the way forward in Syria and the views held by Russia, Turkey and, indirectly, the Assad regime and Iran. Everyone in Istanbul discussed the steps required for a long-term settlement, but all parties’ starting and end points differed.
Though Turkey and Russia reiterated their commitment to lowering tensions and to continuing their liaison to keep the cease-fire in the northwestern city of Idlib alive — preventing a government offensive there — Germany and France were more interested in the peaceful transition to a post-war stabilization of Syrian towns. This will mean, as President Emmanuel Macron and Chancellor Angela Merkel said in the four-way press conference, that several steps need to be taken prior to the return of all refugees and displaced people to their homes. These steps must include a real, sustainable, credible and inclusive political process to be started, culminating in constitutional reforms that will pave the way for UN-backed free and fair elections.
This political process, or its non-existence, is what will block or pave the way for regional and international efforts to put Syria back on the path to peace and help it to meet its reconstruction targets.
But the absence of such decisive will by the regime will prove to frustrate all efforts to find a negotiated closure of the Syrian crisis. Assad’s allies, Russia and Iran, who have helped him stay in power, are unlikely to champion a reform process that could check their long-term alliance. Equally, Russia and Iran are both bearing the brunt of international sanctions — the first due to its meddling and wars in Ukraine, and the second due to its nuclear and ballistic missile ambitions — which will render any contribution next to impossible.
Hence, the Syrian regime is likely to go on to erect many more statues to demonstrate who is back in charge in a divided and destroyed Syria in the hope that European countries and Japan will contribute to the reconstruction efforts. The US and its Gulf allies, meanwhile, are unlikely to discuss aid prior to there being clear political steps toward a verifiable process to put Syria on the path toward stabilization. All indicators so far are that this is a far-fetched hope for the foreseeable future.
*Mohamed Chebaro is a British-Lebanese journalist with more than 25 years’ experience covering war, terrorism, defense, current affairs and diplomacy. He is also a media consultant and trainer.

A Bloodbath for Christians, No Response from Egypt
ريموند إبراهيم: حمام دم مسيحي في مصر دون ردة فعل من حكومتها

Raymond Ibrahim/Gatestone Institute/November 11/18
Seven pilgrims were shot to death, "just because they were Christian," said Pope Francis after the attack.
"The pilgrims were killed in such a savage and sadistic way, as if they were enemy combatants, when they were just simple Christians come to get a blessing from a monastery." — Coptic Bishop Anba Makarios of Minya, Egypt.
"The minimum response expected from president El-Sisi is to dismiss the head of State Security and the governor of Minya, as a clear sign of holding officials accountable. Furthermore, given the government's continued failure to protect the Copts, Coptic Solidarity vigorously calls for an independent inquiry by the UN to evaluate the Copts' situation and to recommend necessary measures to alleviate their increasingly perilous situation..." — Coptic Solidarity, Washington, DC.
On November 2, heavily armed Islamic terrorists ambushed and massacred Christians returning home after visiting the ancient St. Samuel Monastery (pictured) in Minya, Egypt. (Image source: Roland Unger/Wikimedia Commons)
On November 2, heavily armed Islamic terrorists ambushed and massacred Christians returning home after visiting the ancient St. Samuel Monastery in Minya, Egypt.
Seven pilgrims -- including a 12-year-old girl and a 15-year-old boy -- were shot to death. More than 20 were left injured with bullet wounds or shards of broken glass from the buses' windows. "I pray for the victims, pilgrims killed just because they were Christian," said Pope Francis after the attack.
Pictures posted on social media reveal "bodies soaked in blood and distorted faces of men and women." In one video posted, a man can be heard crying, "The gunshot got you in the head, my boy!" and repeating, "What a loss!"
After the first and largest bus had passed the ambush point, the terrorists emerged in black 4x4s and opened fire with automatic weapons on the second bus; six pilgrims were injured, including a small child. Fortunately, the bus driver managed to escape and speed away, at which point the terrorists fired on the third and smallest bus as it approached. After the driver was killed, they surrounded the stalled minibus and opened fire on all sides. The bus carried 20 people -- 14 adults and six children -- all from one extended family who had visited the monastery to baptize two of the children.
The terrorists first opened the hatchback and looked to see who was still alive. They then shot all the men in the head and all the women and children in the ankles or legs.
One of the female survivors who was shot in the legs recalls, in a video, only that an explosion of gunfire suddenly opened on all sides of their bus; by the time she could register what was happening, she saw pieces of her brother-in-law's brain splattered on her lap.
Another woman, after realizing that her husband and daughter had been killed, begged the jihadis to kill her, too. They said, "No, you stay and suffer over your husband and daughter." Then they shot her in the ankles so she could not move away.
In a separate report, another survivor said the terrorists told her, "We will kill the men and children and leave you to live the rest of your lives in misery."
Virtually all of the survivors have "had a nervous breakdown of what they have seen and they are in the hospital."
Coptic Bishop Anba Makarios of Minya confirmed that "The pilgrims were killed in such a savage and sadistic way, as if they were enemy combatants, when they were just simple Christians come to get a blessing from a monastery."
Reactions among Egypt's Christians echoed those from earlier incidents. "Oh God, these children were students in my school!" wept one local teacher. "I can't imagine they are dead now!"
The day after the attack, the Egyptian government created more questions than answers. It announced that it had killed 19 terrorists believed to be complicit in the November 2 attack. As one report noted:
"With the suspects now dead, it is impossible to confirm whether they were indeed involved in Friday's attack. Fear continues to permeate the Christian community in Egypt."
Another report stated that government photos of the purported slain terrorists "appear staged in a manner which mirrors past examples of Egyptian security forces executing suspected terrorists."
The attack was a virtual duplicate of another that occurred on May 26, 2017. Islamist gunmen ambushed buses full of Christians returning from the same monastery. Twenty-eight Christians -- ten of whom were children, including two girls, aged two and four -- were massacred. According to accounts based on eyewitness testimonies, the terrorists had ordered the passengers to exit the bus in groups:
"... as each pilgrim came off the bus they were asked to renounce their Christian faith and profess belief in Islam, but all of them — even the children — refused. Each was killed in cold blood with a gunshot to the head or the throat."
Discussing the recent massacre with Bishop Makarios, a television interviewer said, "this is a duplicate of the same event and same place that happened a year and five months ago -- how can this be? What does it mean?" Makarios replied, "Honestly, those best positioned to answer this question are the state authorities.... I add my voice to yours and ask the same questions."
"That the same attack occurred in the same place only means that, despite all the talk, protecting Egypt's Christian minority is not on the government's agenda," Magdi Khalil, Egyptian political analyst and editor of the Egyptian weekly Watani International, told Gatestone by phone.
Despite Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi's many conciliatory and brotherly words to the nation's Christian minorities, they have suffered more under his rule than any Egyptian leader of the modern era, partially because ISIS arose during his term. In December 2017, a gunman killed 10 worshippers inside a church in Helwan. One year earlier, 29 Christians were killed during twin attacks on churches. On Palm Sunday in April 2017, a suicide bombing of two churches killed nearly 50 people and injured more than a hundred.
Coptic Solidarity, a Washington, DC-based organization dedicated to the human rights of Egypt's Christians, condemned the Novemnber 2 attack in a press release:
"Coptic Solidarity reiterates the message published after the May 2017 attack, that the Egyptian government has failed to protect its Coptic minority. Coptic Solidarity strongly maintains that this violence is not perpetrated by foreign terrorists as the Egyptian government would like the world to believe, but is homegrown, one created by a culture of hate and impunity within Egypt.
"Consequently, Coptic Solidarity holds the Egyptian government fully responsible and calls for a transparent investigation of these attacks, and to institute serious measures to prevent future attacks. The minimum response expected from president El-Sisi is to dismiss the head of State Security and the governor of Minya, as a clear sign of holding officials accountable. Furthermore, given the government's continued failure to protect the Copts, Coptic Solidarity vigorously calls for an independent inquiry by the UN to evaluate the Copts' situation and to recommend necessary measures to alleviate their increasingly perilous situation and to avoid repetition of the tragic situation of Christians in Iraq and Syria."
"Our lives have turned into hell," said one man. "I'm a Copt and I curse myself every day for bringing [Sisi] to power. He failed us. He sold us."
"Who can accept these incidents?" asked another Christian, discussing the recent massacre. "Every day, there are many incidents harming Christians. We must leave our land and get out of here. I'm so exhausted... it's so dull and dark these days."
*Raymond Ibrahim, author of the new book, Sword and Scimitar, Fourteen Centuries of War between Islam and the West, is a Distinguished Senior Fellow at the Gatestone Institute and a Judith Rosen Friedman Fellow at the Middle East Forum.
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A disastrous scenario stares Tehran in the face
Nadim Koteich/Al Arabiya/November 11/18
The 4th of November will be remembered as a glorious day of confrontation with the Iranian regime. The re-imposition of US sanctions is the last thing Tehran would have wanted to face at the moment when it is going through its largest “revolutionary” expansion in the region and one of the most critical of its domestic situations since 1979.Iran's problem with US President Donald Trump issues from the clarity of the man. He had stated in his presidential campaign that the nuclear agreement is the worst deal in history, and that he would revoke it if he won the presidency. He has done exactly as he had promised.
The Trump offensive
Trump is also honest when he says he wants good relations with Iran. His only demand is actually quite simple: Iran should stop being the way Iran is. Trump does not know how to use Kissinger’s equations like the phrase “it is necessary for Iran to transform from being a revolution into becoming a state.” His advisors do not have the imaginative literary and narrative techniques such as those possessed by former President Barack Obama's adviser Ben Rhodes, who had written about Tehran's tight grip and Obama’s open hand to greet the Iranians. Trump speaks a different language, a simpler and a more interactive one. You give me something and I give you something back and when this does not work, he says, as he told the North Korean president: “My nuclear button is bigger than yours.” Trump really wishes to see an Iran that is different from the one we know now. He sees in Iran a huge market that needs everything from cotton socks to oil refineries and all that lies in between. He also sees its tourism potential and its role for bringing stability in Asia as well as a gateway to solve other intractable problems in this part of the world — from Israel's security, to solving the intractable peace crisis, alleviating the climate of extremism and terrorism and extinguishing many of the wars that have come to threaten the security of a united Europe because of their displaced victims. This is the most important transatlantic American security achievement after World War II. Trump is not an ideological man. What he really wants is to reach a new agreement that opens the door to a new Iran. He is not seeking to change the regime, though some inkling of this idea has started to emerge in his administration via the remnants of the George Bush administration, particularly through national security adviser John Bolton. It is not his goal to provide credentials to anyone in the name of America to change its image, as Obama’s concern was and who thought that the world would change if he just finds the right words to address it.
Economic slump
Trump’s policy is as simple as the Iranian crisis. He does not have a doctrinal rhetoric that can be confronted with a doctrinal rhetoric, and he is only asking the regime the same things that the Iranians themselves are asking of their regime. It is unfortunate for the regime that these oil sanctions –oil is the backbone of the Iranian regime as it feeds 80% of the treasury's revenues – comes at a time characterized by two factors. The first one is a global economic slowdown and a series of currency crises stretching from Argentina to Turkey. This means the decline of demand on oil. Second, expectations of surpluses in oil supplies in the first half of 2019 comes from either a rise in Saudi and Russian output to protecting prices from harmful hikes, or the introduction of new producers or barrels from non-traditional producers such as Canada and the US. The environment surrounding American sanctions guarantees drying up of Iran's oil revenues and protecting current oil prices and preventing them from going up and threatening global economic disasters. In addition, there are temporary exemptions granted by the Trump administration to eight countries to continue buying Iranian oil, which do not benefit Iran but are placed in special accounts within the procuring state and in the local currency and are only used to pay Iranian bills for food, drugs and materials that are not subject to sanctions.
Iran’s options
A disastrous scenario stares Tehran in the face and it stipulates that Tehran may resort to escalation in Bab al-Mandeb and the Strait of Hormuz to create a militarily tense environment threatening oil trade and increasing oil prices in the hope that the world will turn against the United States. About 12% of the total international trade passes through Bab al-Mandeb, and in 2016 the strait was a gateway for 4.8 million barrels of oil per day, of which 2.8 million barrels of oil per day headed towards Europe. In 2016, the Strait of Hormuz accounted for more than 30% of the total trade of crude oil and liquid gas transported overseas. But any untoward incidents in Bab al-Mandeb and the Strait of Hormuz, or any obstruction of Saudi and UAE transport pipelines in that spot and striking the bases of the Trump plan, will push Europe into America's lap and not the other way around and will prove to the world that Iran is indeed the irrational state that Trump had warned of. Tehran may thus subject itself to a direct military strike launched against it by the Trump administration. The second option, which is the most likely one is that Iran will swallow the bitter pill of sanctions and lick its economic wounds for the next two years in the hope that the term of Trump will end and he won’t return for a second term. Tehran will then move on to negotiate with the new US administration by the end of 2020. Iran believes it has the time, but the reality on the ground indicates otherwise.

The art of arranging hostilities
Abdullah bin Bijad Al-Otaibi/Al Arabiya/November 11/18
In politics, decision-makers need to re-examine and re-arrange priorities that serve their vision, goal and country, and this is a natural part of decision making, which happens whenever certain changes that call for a reevaluation occur.
We can mimic this rearrangement of priorities when looking into the art of rearranging hostilities. It is well known that there is no permanent ally in politics just like there isn’t a permanent enemy.
Failure to adapt
Positions change and develop according to interests, national security and the desired future. In the Middle East, there are currents, parties, movements and organizations that have been frozen for more than five decades and could not re-arrange their priorities or hostilities since then. This deadlock in a speedy era is like walking against time and it leads to decline in vision and cultural participation and also affects political status and influence. The region has witnessed political storms, in fact devastating earthquakes, but none of them could develop any vision or achieve any change because they believe that political stances are sacred positions or an ideology that must not be touched. This is the best recipe for political failure: ignoring flexibility and not searching for the best while relying on the past as it is. Perhaps this outlook had some benefits before, but it is extremely harmful when strictly adopted in a different time with different challenges.
As an example, let’s look at the relationship of the Gulf with the state of Iraq. The relationship was amicable during the Iraq-Iran war. The Gulf States continued to support Iraq during the eight years of that war. Iraq came out victorious, but switched its loyalty and decided to invade the State of Kuwait, entering it in early August 1990 and annexing it with full military force. All those rational in the Gulf and in the world thus knew well that relations would turn upside down so soon from friendship to enmity. Many movements, parties, currents — whether nationalists, leftists and organizations of political Islam — have remained stuck in their ideological outlook and have completely ignored the convulsions in the pool of regional politics. They have failed to develop any understanding or perception of the events. The international coalition defeated Saddam Hussein's army and sent it back to Iraq with the imposition of international sanctions against him. This only resulted in more inertia and further stubbornness in hanging on to the slogans without any ability to overcome or rearrange priorities or rearrange hostilities.
Iran’s hostilities
Since Khomeini’s revolution, Iran has through exporting the revolution sought to interfere in the internal affairs of Arab countries, by launching direct wars like the one Khomeini fought against Iraq for eight years and lost. This was followed by Khamenei who adopted another strategy not based on a direct military confrontation, but on infiltrating Arab societies through proxy movements and militias. He succeeded in his endeavor to the point that some Iranian officials proudly claim that the Iranian regime now controls four Arab capitals. This is a very big change in the region and everyone should have paid attention to that new, real and imminent danger, but these groups of thinkers, intellectuals and currents were unable to see the extent of change and thus failed to make any development to arrange priorities or hostilities. Today, there are two major hostile schemes working against Arab states and their peoples: one is sectarian and the other is fundamentalist. Those who failed to see the extent of change before still lack insight as those who do not consider these two projects as two hostile projects are ignorant or impotent or an agent to one of them. Finally, it is the ability of man to develop, understand and change that governs his position and influence, and the same applies to currents, parties and even nations.