November 19/1
Compiled & Prepared by: Elias Bejjani

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Bible Quotations For today
You are from below, I am from above; you are of this world
John 08/21-30: "Again he said to them, ‘I am going away, and you will search for me, but you will die in your sin. Where I am going, you cannot come.’ Then the Jews said, ‘Is he going to kill himself? Is that what he means by saying, "Where I am going, you cannot come"?’He said to them, ‘You are from below, I am from above; you are of this world, I am not of this world. I told you that you would die in your sins, for you will die in your sins unless you believe that I am he.’ They said to him, ‘Who are you?’ Jesus said to them, ‘Why do I speak to you at all?I have much to say about you and much to condemn; but the one who sent me is true, and I declare to the world what I have heard from him.’They did not understand that he was speaking to them about the Father. So Jesus said, ‘When you have lifted up the Son of Man, then you will realize that I am he, and that I do nothing on my own, but I speak these things as the Father instructed me. And the one who sent me is with me; he has not left me alone, for I always do what is pleasing to him.’As he was saying these things, many believed in him."

Titles For Latest LCCC Bulletin analysis & editorials from miscellaneous sources published on November 18-19/18
Hezbollah money laundering has a 'safe home in Germany'/Benjamin Weinthal/Jerusalem Post/November 18/18
Saad Hariri Seeks to Counter Hezbollah's Trans-Sectarian Hegemony/Mohamed Kawas/The Arab Weekly/November18/18
Iran’s dubious empathy for the Sunnis in Lebanon/Khairallah Khairallah/The Arab Weekly/November 18/18
Economy crumbling under Iran’s Islamic Caliphate/Nikoo Amini/Iran News Wire/November 18/18
“A Pure Genocide”: Extremist Persecution of Christians, June 2018/Raymond Ibrahim/Gatestone Institute/November 18/18
When the revolutionists regret it/Mohammed Al Shaikh/Al Arabiya/November 18/18
Iraq’s government: A non-productive recycling/Adnan Hussein/Al Arabiya/November 18/18
A European Army: Is it a viable project/Amal Abdulaziz Al–Hazani/Al Arabiya/November 18/18
The Problem Isn’t Theresa May. It’s Brexit/Therese Raphae/Bloomberg/November, 18/18
West should beware Iranian regime’s opposition smear campaign/Dr. Majid Rafizadeh/Arab News/November 18/18

Titles For Latest LCCC Lebanese Related News published on November 18-19/18
Beirut Airport Refrains from Refueling Iranian, Syrian Planes
Aoun, Hariri May End Maronite-Sunni Seat Swap as Solution to Crisis
Aoun Yet to Accept Naming Consensus Sunni Minister from His Share
Geagea: Sunni Representation Issue 'Invented', Govt. Formation Hinges on Iran Decision
Bassil: We want a government of national unity that preserves the state and does not link it to any external path.
Bassil Urges Everyone to 'Put Lebanon's Interest First'
Alain Aoun: Hariri Must Admit March 8 Has Right to Get Additional Minister
Italian writer criticizes closure of ANSA in Lebanon
Murr at Interpol General Assembly in Dubai: We will not allow terrorism to prevail
MP Bahia Hariri meets with participants in the Arab Union for Paper Industries Conference
Sitin along RiyakBaalbek Highway in protest against delay in resolving Litani River pollution problem
Khalil optimistic over cabinet formation
MP Dima Jamali: Situation in Lebanon critical
Hezbollah money laundering has a 'safe home in Germany'
Saad Hariri Seeks to Counter Hezbollah's Trans-Sectarian Hegemony
Iran’s dubious empathy for the Sunnis in Lebanon

Titles For Latest LCCC Bulletin For Miscellaneous Reports And News published on November 18-19/18
Economy crumbling under Iran’s Islamic Caliphate
Washington Questions Leaks in Khashoggi Case
Macron, Merkel Aim to Present United Stance in Trump Era
Trump Says U.S. to Make Final Conclusions on Saudi Killing in Days
In Iraq, Bloody Tribal Custom Now Classed as 'Terrorism'
Egypt Rounds Up Dozens of Human Rights Defenders
More than 400 Hurt in French Fuel Price Protests
Egypt and Ethiopia to discuss Nile dam dispute
Netanyahu says ‘unnecessary and wrong’ to call snap Israeli polls
Damage from Gaza Missiles Exceeds Israeli Estimates
Rebels say Syrian army steps up attacks in Idlib
New Ambassadors Sworn in before Saudi King
Iraqi PM Close to Filling Vacant Posts in his Govt.
'Sad' Trump Visits Fire-Wracked California, Blames Mismanagement

Latest Lebanese Related News published on November 18-19/18
Beirut Airport Refrains from Refueling Iranian, Syrian Planes
Beirut - Nazeer Rida/Asharq Al-Awsat/Sunday, 18 November, 2018/Lebanon has made a commitment to refrain from supplying Iranian and Syrian airlines with fuel at Beirut airport, in line with US sanctions. These companies are on a long list of sanctions received by the country. Beirut’s Rafik Hariri International Airport responded to the decision of international sanctions on a number of airlines, including Iranian airlines. The airport refrained from supplying the aircraft of those companies with fuel. The list includes more than 20 airlines from 15 countries around the world. Senior Lebanese sources told Asharq Al-Awsat that the list included Iranian airlines, such as Iran Air, Mahan Air and others, Syrian airlines such as Cham Wings and Syrian Arab Airlines, in addition to a Belarusian airline, Belavia. The list also includes other airlines that do not land in Beirut, the sources said. “The decision is international and cannot be disregarded by Lebanon,” Lebanese political sources said. “Lebanon will not violate international resolutions, but will abide by them.” They said that government instructions received at the airport ordered full commitment to the list. Several international companies supply Beirut airport with jet fuel, some of which are linked to the parent companies British Petroleum (BP) or Total, which have taken the decision to abide by the sanctions. The sources told Asharq Al-Awsat: “The decision is effective and is being applied at the airport since the US sanctions against Iran came into force.”In recent statements, Secretary of the Association of Iranian Airlines Maqsoud Asadi Samani confirmed the halting of supply of fuel to Iranian aircraft at the airport in Beirut, saying: “Unfortunately, in recent days, there were talks about this issue, and we have now reached the stage of implementation. Iranian airlines cannot currently refuel at the Lebanese airports.”

Aoun, Hariri May End Maronite-Sunni Seat Swap as Solution to Crisis
Naharnet/November 18/18/The political parties are mulling a swap of Maronite and Sunnis seats between President Michel Aoun and Prime Minister-designate Saad Hariri as an exit from the government formation deadlock, media reports said. Under the proposal, Aoun would give up the Sunni seat in his share in return for Hariri's giving up of the Maronite seat that is part of his share, informed sources told Kuwait al-Anbaa newspaper in remarks published Sunday. “This would raise Aoun's Maronite seats to two instead of one and Hariri would recover the Sunni seat that he had given to Aoun, raising the number of his Sunni seats to five out of six. This would give the sixth Sunni seat to Hizbullah, which would save everyone from embarrassment,” the sources said. “In this case, Hizbullah would guarantee the appointment of Faisal Karami, whose nomination has been rejected by Aoun, while Hariri would lose the seat of Ghattas Khoury, his favorite adviser,” the sources added. The government was on the verge of formation on October 29 after the Lebanese Forces accepted the portfolios that were assigned to it but a last-minute hurdle over the representation of pro-Hizbullah Sunni MPs surfaced. Hizbullah has insisted that the six Sunni MPs should be given a seat in the government, refraining from providing Hariri with the names of its own ministers in a bid to press him. Free Patriotic Movement chief MP Jebran Bassil is meanwhile trying to convince the rival parties to accept a settlement based on naming a “consensus” Sunni minister.

Aoun Yet to Accept Naming Consensus Sunni Minister from His Share
Naharnet/November 18/18/President Michel Aoun has not yet accepted the possibility of naming a consensus Sunni minister from his own share as a solution to the gridlock preventing the formation of the new government, media report said. “This has not happened yet and any indications on President Aoun and Minister (Jebran) Bassil's approval have not yet emerged,” An Nahar newspaper reported on Sunday. “Bassil is expected to meet with the six MPs of the Consultative Sunni Gathering and afterwards with PM-designate (Saad) Hariri in a bid to arrange a meeting between the two parties,” the daily added. The government was on the verge of formation on October 29 after the Lebanese Forces accepted the portfolios that were assigned to it but a last-minute hurdle over the representation of pro-Hizbullah Sunni MPs surfaced. Hizbullah has insisted that the six Sunni MPs should be given a seat in the government, refraining from providing Hariri with the names of its own ministers in a bid to press him. Bassil is meanwhile trying to convince the rival parties to accept a settlement based on naming a “consensus” Sunni minister.

Geagea: Sunni Representation Issue 'Invented', Govt. Formation Hinges on Iran Decision
Naharnet/November 18/18/Lebanese Forces leader Samir Geagea has described as “invented” the obstacle over the representation of pro-Hizbullah Sunni MPs in the new government, noting that Iran is actually behind delaying the cabinet. “The issue of representing March 8's Sunnis is invented and that can be demonstrated by reviewing the video of the parliamentary consultations, when each MP of them arrived with his real bloc. The question today is why they did not attend the consultations as a unified bloc?” Geagea said. “The answer is clear: there is no existence of such a bloc or a group called March 8's Sunnis. They were brought together over the past few months to be used as a card when the time comes,” the LF leader added. Noting that the formation process “is no longer linked to domestic calculations or factors,” Geagea said the formation of the new government is hinging on “Iran's evaluation of things.” “If it sees that it is benefiting from obstruction, the impasse will protract for several months, and if it sees that it is affecting it negatively or that it won't be able to exploit it politically, it will then release the process from captivity,” the LF leader went on to say. The government was on the verge of formation on October 29 after the Lebanese Forces accepted the portfolios that were assigned to it but a last-minute hurdle over the representation of pro-Hizbullah Sunni MPs surfaced. Hizbullah has insisted that the six Sunni MPs should be given a seat in the government, refraining from providing Prime Minister-designate Saad Hariri with the names of its own ministers in a bid to press him.

Bassil: We want a government of national unity that preserves the state and does not link it to any external path
Sun 18 Nov 2018/NNA - Caretaker Foreign Affairs Minister, Gebran Bassil, stressed Sunday on "forming a government that preserves the state and national unity, without linking it to any external course or waiting for any external betting." He assured that the mandate shall continue until this is achieved, regardless of all challenges. "The only bet is on our independence...and God willing, we will come together as Lebanese and form a national unity government," affirmed Bassil. His words came during the Independence Day march organized by the Free Patriotic Movement, which set out this morning towards the "Evacuation Plate" in Nahr El-Kalb that symbolizes Lebanon's independence. "We have entered the Nahr El-Kalb area and seen a part of our history, its nature and importance, and our heritage...I rely on the deputies of Metn and Keserwan to preserve and develop this river and to create religious, archaeological and environmental tourism in this area. Today, tourism is more important than independence, and our students and youth must come to visit this place and see these archaeological paintings, since the Museum of Independence is open to people in nature to review Lebanon's history," Bassil said. "We are the Free Patriotic Movement, the Rock of Lebanon and Independence, and we are the ones who stay because our ideology is strong as a rock in fighting for the independence of Lebanon, and it resembles a bridge in bringing the Lebanese together through national unity," he corroborated.

Bassil Urges Everyone to 'Put Lebanon's Interest First'

Naharnet/November 18/18/Free Patriotic Movement chief MP Jebran Bassil on Sunday urged all parties to “put Lebanon's interest first.”“The government is not linked to any foreign factors,” Bassil said during an FPM ceremony. “We hope everyone will put Lebanon's interest first so that we form a national unity government,” Bassil, who is leading a mediation effort, urged. The government was on the verge of formation on October 29 after the Lebanese Forces accepted the portfolios that were assigned to it but a last-minute hurdle over the representation of pro-Hizbullah Sunni MPs surfaced. Hizbullah has insisted that the six Sunni MPs should be given a seat in the government, refraining from providing Prime Minister-designate Saad Hariri with the names of its own ministers in a bid to press him. Bassil is meanwhile trying to convince the rival parties to accept a settlement based on naming a “consensus” Sunni minister.

Alain Aoun: Hariri Must Admit March 8 Has Right to Get Additional Minister
Naharnet/November 18/18/MP Alain Aoun of the Strong Lebanon bloc has called for resolving the current government deadlock through a solution based on having “no victors and no losers.”“The obstacle today is that Prime Minister-designate Saad Hariri must admit that the representation of the March 8 camp has grown bigger and that it has the right to get an additional minister. The (March 8) camp must also contribute to the solution by naming a minister who would represent a solution to the crisis. If this theory is not implemented, we will stay where we are,” Aoun warned in a TV interview. “The Shiite duo cannot be bypassed in the formation process after they voiced support for the independent Consultative Gathering,” the MP noted. He added: “If we put aside March 8's mistake of delaying the announcement of its representation demands and the delay in the formation of the Consultative Gathering, the March 8 camp has grown bigger and it has the right to get an additional minister.” The government was on the verge of formation on October 29 after the Lebanese Forces accepted the portfolios that were assigned to it but a last-minute hurdle over the representation of pro-Hizbullah Sunni MPs surfaced. Hizbullah has insisted that the six Sunni MPs should be given a seat in the government, refraining from providing Hariri with the names of its own ministers in a bid to press him. Free Patriotic Movement chief MP Jebran Bassil is meanwhile trying to convince the rival parties to accept a settlement based on naming a “consensus” Sunni minister.

Italian writer criticizes closure of ANSA in Lebanon
Sun 18 Nov 2018/NNA - The renowned Italian writer Alberto Negri criticized Sunday the Italian authorities' decision to close the office of the Italian agency, ANSA, in Beirut. "We have historical relations and strong interests in Lebanon, in addition to the presence of a military contingent that is the largest within the UNIFIL peacekeeping forces in southern Lebanon," Negri told the National News Agency. He pointed to an expected move by Italian journalists who have worked for many years in Lebanon and are well aware of the importance of the Lebanese scene "where journalists enjoy full freedom in a democratic country." "We will arrange for questioning this decision through our friends in Parliament," said Negri, recalling that ANSA did not leave Lebanon during the civil war years and had a prominent role in defining the Lebanese situation and its events. "The Agency had a strong influence on Italy, which ranks among Lebanon's most important donors," he added. "Unfortunately, the closure of the Beirut office means that Lebanon will be affiliated to the Jerusalem office," Negri concluded.

Murr at Interpol General Assembly in Dubai: We will not allow terrorism to prevail
Sun 18 Nov 2018/NNA - Head of Interpol Foundation, former Minister Elias Murr, stressed Sunday on striving to defeat terrorists and criminals in the world, saying, "We will not allow the terrorist threat to turn into a nuclear terrorist danger tomorrow...nor will we wait until the terrorists have biological, radiological or chemical weapons, giving them the chance to use artificial intelligence in their criminal operations." "We will not permit terrorism to prevail or criminal organizations to break security and threaten people anywhere in the world," Murr affirmed. His words came during the opening ceremony of the 87th session of the Interpol General Assembly held in Dubai, UAE, under the patronage of UAE Vice President, Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum. Murr pointed to "a roadmap to modernize Interpol's role and capabilities, and to develop a broader strategic vision, encompassing the needs of countries and communities, in a unique and exemplary world experience." He also valued "the historic role of the United Arab Emirates in supporting the Interpol within a five-year strategic partnership and ambitious plan, including the launch of seven of the world's most advanced security programs," deeming this support as proof of UAE's commitment to ensuring the international community's security and safety. "We seek to build, hand-in-hand with citizens and law enforcement agencies, societies that are dynamic, sustainable and non-violent...and we seek strong and interlinked law enforcement agencies guided by wise leaders to meet the emerging challenges of international crime," Murr underscored.

MP Bahia Hariri meets with participants in the Arab Union for Paper Industries Conference
Sun 18 Nov 2018/NNA - MP Bahia Hariri met at her Majdelyoun residence on Sunday with the participants in the "Arab Union for Paper Industries, Printing and Packaging" Conference, which was recently held in Beirut. The delegation, chaired by Lebanese Industrialists Association Head, Fadi Gemayel, briefed MP Hariri on the outcome of their conference and the headlines of the EU action plan to protect and develop the paper industry sector in Lebanon. Gemayel also handed Hariri a copy of the Union's book on the history of the Arab paper industries. MP Hariri, in turn, welcomed the visiting delegation, valuing their initiative in holding their conference in Lebanon. She pointed to the essential role of the paper industry in Lebanon and the Arab world. "The importance of holding such a conference in Lebanon lies in the fact that it is a meeting space for interaction and sharing of expertise between Arab paper industrialists to spread its usefulness to the entire Arab world," deemed Hariri. "We are in dire need in Lebanon for such creative initiatives that contribute to the advancement of many sectors, especially in wake of the challenges facing different areas and professions," MP Hariri underlined. "As much as we are able to embrace and stimulate innovation, as much as we can promote this country," she emphasized.

Sitin along RiyakBaalbek Highway in protest against delay in resolving Litani River pollution problem

Sun 18 Nov 2018/NNA - The citizens of Hoch-Rafika village and its surrounding neighborhood staged a sit-in Sunday along the international Riyak-Baalbek highway, in protest against the delay in solving the Litani River pollution case. Protesters lashed out at officials for failing to carry out their duties, raising placards and images that criticized state authorities for their negligence and carelessness. They also observed a minute of silence in tribute to the cancer victims who lost their lives due to the polluted river water. Protesters vowed to pursue their demands for an immediate solution to the pollution problem that has become a source of threat for the health of citizens and their families.

Khalil optimistic over cabinet formation

Sun 18 Nov 2018/NNA - Caretaker Finance Minister, Ali Hassan Khalil, voiced optimism that the long-awaited cabinet will see the light soon. Khalil, whose words came during a ceremony in South Lebanon, called for "a productive government that respects the results of the legislative elections and fair representation of all parties." He also called on the political class to speeding-up the formation of a new government for the sake of the country.

MP Dima Jamali: Situation in Lebanon critical
Sun 18 Nov 2018/NNA - MP Dima Jamali on Sunday described the situation in Lebanon as "dangerous". Jamali, whose words came during an interview with "Radio Liban", called on all political counterparts to "find a solution to form a government."The lawmaker added that "the pressure exerted on PM-designate Hariri is illegal and hinders the process of formation."In the same context, Jamali ruled out the formation of the government before Independence Day. Finally, she reminded the Lebanese counterparts of the critical economic and social conditions in the country, warning of a collapse in Lebanon's economy.

Hezbollah money laundering has a 'safe home in Germany'
تبيض وغسل أموال حزب الله له موقع آمن في ألمانيا
Benjamin Weinthal/Jerusalem Post/November 18/18
Illegal profits used by Lebanese terrorist group to purchase weapons for Syrian war.
Lax German illicit terror finance policies permitted Hezbollah to run a vast enterprise to raise funds through a money laundering operation in Europe and South America.
French prosecutors put 15 members of the criminal organization on trial last week in Paris. According to three German media outlets – NDR, WDR and the Süddeutsche Zeitung – two of the accused men lived in the German state of North Rhine-Westphalia and an additional two men who were charged lived near the city-state of Bremen in northern Germany.
The members of the crime ring are charged with laundering Columbian narcotics money via a complex finance evasion scheme with the aid of the Lebanese diaspora.
“Germany is an ideal location for organized money laundering,” Sven Giegold, a Green Party member of the European Parliament, said according to a report in the paper Westfälischen Nachrichten.
“It is fully acceptable that one can pay cash for luxury goods or real estate,” Giegold said. “There are also no legal limits on the use of cash... Cash from dirty sources has a safe home in Germany.”
An export trader, named Ali Z., based in the city of Münster in North Rhine-Westphalia is believed to be one of the main alleged Hezbollah agents who oversaw the illegal narcotics operation that trafficked cocaine for a Columbian drug cartel, and used the profits to purchase weapons for Hezbollah to wage war in Syria.
German media declined to report Ali Z.’s last name due to privacy considerations. Ali said he was innocent and his flourishing export business was manipulated by the other accused men on trial. The Hezbollah criminal network was named the “Cedar Affair” by the authorities after Lebanon’s prized national tree.
According to German media reports, the Paris prosecutor suspects that the Lebanese network bought jewelry and watches worth roughly 10 million euros in cash from jewelry stores in North Rhine-Westphalia and other German states in one year.
In connection with the trial in Paris, 250 million euros in cash were seized, along with a weapon and a luxury vehicle, according to a report in Westfälischen Nachrichten, which quoted a spokesman for the prosecutor’s office in the city of Aachen in North Rhine-Westphalia. Two alleged money couriers for the criminal Hezbollah network were also arrested in the Aachen area with a half million euros in cash. The criminal enterprise is believed to have laundered as much as one million euros per week during the high point of its operation.
Armin Laschet, the Christian Democratic Union Party minister president of North Rhine-Westphalia, has declined to call for a ban of Hezbollah’s entire network in his state.
The Hezbollah operation worked to take proceeds from narcotics to Europe, where the money was laundered and collected, and then funneled to Lebanon and back to Columbia. According to the United Arab Emirates-based news outlet The National, an “ancient banking system known as hawala” was used to transfer drug money by circumventing regulatory controls. The National wrote, “The financial arm of Hezbollah uses supporters in the Lebanon diaspora around the world to raise funds.”
The US Drug Enforcement Agency intercepted calls in 2015 among Columbian cartel operatives that would help expose the transatlantic and Middle East criminal and terrorism networks.
The two accused men from the city-state of Bremen on trial in Paris and the role Hezbollah in Bremen may add fuel to the fire about the dangers of Hezbollah activities in Germany.
The Jerusalem Post reported exclusively in June that the Al-Mustafa Community Center in Bremen is a major hub for raising funds for Hezbollah. The Bremen intelligence agency’s report in June confirmed that the center “supports Hezbollah in Lebanon, especially by collecting donations.”
Germany allows 950 Hezbollah operatives to raise funds and recruit new members in the Federal Republic, according to numerous intelligence reports in the country that were reviewed by the Post. The United States, Canada, the Arab League, the Netherlands and Israel classify Hezbollah a terrorist organization. Germany and the European Union merely designate Hezbollah’s military wing as a terrorist entity.

Saad Hariri Seeks to Counter Hezbollah's Trans-Sectarian Hegemony

محمد قواص: سعد الحريري يسعى لتعطيل ومواجهة هيمنة حزب الله على الطوائف في لبنان
Mohamed Kawas/The Arab Weekly/November18/18
Since its inception, Hezbollah has aimed to change all of Lebanon -- not just the Shia community -- and make it subservient to Iran’s interests.
Lebanese Prime Minsiter Saad Hariri speaks during a press conference at his residence in downtown Beirut on November 13, 2018. Lebanese Prime Minsiter Saad Hariri speaks during a press conference at his residence in downtown Beirut.
Saad Hariri stated recently that he was the “father of the Sunnis” in Lebanon. Through such a statement, he was countering moves by Hezbollah to meddle in the affairs of other sects and use them as an excuse to impose its vision of how they should be represented in Lebanese institutions.
Hezbollah does not accept to be a political player with limited turf. Since its inception, the party declared that its goal was to change all of Lebanon -- not just the Shia community -- and make it subservient to Iran’s interests.
The party had first to complete its dominance of the Shia community in Lebanon and subdue its competitor, the Amal Movement, through ideological, political, financial and even military means. It had done that in the 1980s.
Next, the party had to get inside the other sects in Lebanon. It did that by appealing to the slogan of backing the Lebanese resistance. It also encroached on the Christian turf through its “Memo of Understanding” with Michel Aoun and that gave Hezbollah greater space of “legitimacy” in Lebanon than just the mere space of the Shias and their weight in Lebanese society.
The late Rafik Hariri was an exceptional phenomenon in Lebanon in that his rise gave the Lebanese Sunnis a leader. The Sunni leadership in Lebanon had disintegrated during the 1975-90 civil war because of the dominance of Palestinian factions allied with various leftist and nationalist forces.
Even before the war, the Sunni leadership was dispersed geographically. There wasn’t one Sunni leader in Lebanon. Sunni loyalties at that time went to external forces, such as Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser or Riyadh.
The Lebanese Sunnis had seen in Rafik Hariri a leader who came to save them from a political humiliation imposed by the Syrian tutelage over Lebanon. They were being persecuted. In 1989, Lebanon’s grand mufti, Sheikh Hasan Khaled, was assassinated. Saeb Salam went into self-exile in Switzerland and the security machine of the regime went after the Sunni leadership.
However, with Rafik Hariri, the Sunnis were aware that he had arrived in Lebanon through Damascus but they needed a strong man to represent them and defend their standing in the Lebanese social fabric.
The Syrian regime only tolerated Rafik Hariri. It placed many shackles on him and imposed many red lines inside Lebanon and the Sunni community. The Syrian regime was trying to dam the social and economic flow of Lebanese interests towards Syria.
Lebanese authorities, for example, had forbidden Hariri from travelling to the Bekaa Valley or to northern Lebanon. Damascus considered the Sunnis of those places as spoils of war, living in what it considered its vital space and no one had the right to cross into it. When Rafik Hariri was prime minister, leaders of the other sects did not tolerate him in areas under their control.
He formed the Future Movement Party as a cross-sectarian political current. It was not easy to market it among some segments of the Sunni community in Lebanon because it was a novel concept. They had not expected that the Hariri political doctrine would appeal to the concept of a national space, which was supra-sectarian.
The other major political parties in Lebanon were proudly engaged in defending their respective turfs and the rights of the Christian community or promoting the untouchability of the Shias in Lebanon.
Saad Hariri had inherited his father’s political doctrine and did his best to rid it of Sunni sectarian suspicion, even at the height of the regional tension between Sunnis and Shias. In a recent news conference, he reminded of the many cross-sectarian leadership figures inside the Future Movement but ended up by saying that he was the “father of the Sunnis."
Politicians in Lebanon know that Hezbollah Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah's anger and his mentioning of previous forces that had worked against the Lebanese people are inconsistent with his claims of Hezbollah victories in Syria and of Iranian victories in the region.
They are aware that Hezbollah is under great pressure, the least of which from US sanctions (including placing Nasrallah's son on a terrorist list). Indeed, the real painful pressure is from within the party’s own Shia community, which is demanding to join the rest of the country in finding solutions to the many problems plaguing Lebanon and improve living conditions.
Nasrallah is trying to let whoever is concerned know he is the father of the Shias in Lebanon. It seems that his trans-Lebanese roles are drying up and he wants to compensate that loss by emphasising his trans-sectarian roles in Lebanon.
To this end, Hezbollah strongly supported the new election law so it could break into the Sunni community by imposing Sunni figures loyal to it. It considers its success in forcing the Lebanese to elect Aoun president as the ultimate feat of breaking through the Christian community and their top constitutional position in the country.
Nasrallah uses facts and processes internal to Lebanon to complete his seizure of power in Lebanon. The issue of allotting a ministerial portfolio to Hezbollah’s Sunnis is one more step to force everybody in Lebanon, including Aoun and Hariri, to surrender to Hezbollah.
Hariri, on the other hand, proceeds from different facts and calculations and perhaps needs to revise his strategy. He disavowed some of his previous choices, which perhaps did not receive adequate regional support, such as when he supported Suleiman Frangieh, Syrian President Bashar Assad’s “friend,” and then Aoun, a Hezbollah ally, for the presidency.
Hariri admitted that those decisions were unpopular in his own community. He says that "sacrificing for the sake of the homeland" has limits and that the political concessions have reached a red line, both internally at the level of balance of power and regionally at the level of the shift in the international mood towards Iran and its proxies.

Iran’s dubious empathy for the Sunnis in Lebanon

خيرالله خيرالله: تعاطف حزب الله المريب مع السنة في لبنان
Khairallah Khairallah/The Arab Weekly/November 18/18
There is a great deal of tension in Tehran and the relief valve for this tension is not going to be the government imposed on Hariri by Hezbollah.
A few days before Lebanon celebrated the 75th anniversary of its independence, Saad Hariri’s news conference confirmed there is someone acting as a barrier against the downfall of Lebanon.
No Lebanese politician who is interested in finding solutions to the country’s crisis, within the boundaries of reason and logic and in conformity with the constitution, can bear the burden of protecting Lebanon alone, no matter how experienced and respected that person is. This is why Hariri had to make sure that everybody knew his or her duties.
At the top of the list of the parties concerned by Hariri’s remarks stands Hezbollah, which doesn’t understand that the prime minister-designate including it in the new government constitutes a very daring risk.
It is a great risk for Lebanon. It is a risk to the Lebanese economy and to Hariri’s political career. He knows better than anyone the significance of the US sanctions against Iran and Tehran’s sectarian militias. While Hariri was giving his news conference, the US State Department announced that Hezbollah Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah’s son had been classified as a “global terrorist.”As if that were not enough, the United States sanctioned four other people — three Lebanese and an Iraqi — for backing Hezbollah’s activities and its sources of funding.
Instead of wasting time imposing conditions on Hariri, such as giving a ministerial portfolio to one of its six “Sunni representatives,” Hezbollah should have been thinking of how to prevent Lebanon’s economic collapse. The dire consequences of this, should it happen, will not spare any Lebanese, Shias included. Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri seems to have understood this simple fact and that made him very sympathetic towards Hariri’s position.
The Lebanese situation can be summarised in one word: “difference.” There is a difference between two schools — a school that believes in the culture of life and whose motto is defending Lebanon’s interests and another that believes in the culture of death and that wants to sacrifice Lebanon for the sake of Iran. It’s as simple as that. Only Hariri makes this difference and is giving shape to it. Hariri is striving to prevent Lebanon from falling into the Iranian trap while Hezbollah is doing exactly the opposite. Hariri has paid dearly for refusing to become a puppet of Iran. It is trying in 2018 to reproduce the 2008 conquest of Beirut and Al Jabal but with political manoeuvrings this time. In May 2008, Hezbollah’s militia invaded Beirut and Al Jabal targeting Hariri and Walid Jumblatt. Hezbollah’s insistence on having one of its Sunnis nominated to the new cabinet is but the apparent facade of this Iranian invasion. It was supposed to happen in the general elections of 2009 but, as it turned out, those who refused to submit to Hezbollah’s will triumphed in those elections when Hariri stepped up to the challenge.
Hariri remained defiant even when he travelled to Tehran in 2010 as Lebanon’s prime minister. He rejected Iran’s three demands. The first was that Lebanon drop the visa requirement for Iranians entering Lebanon putting them on an equal footing with Arab citizens. The second was to accept a Lebanese-Iranian defence treaty, similar to the one between Iran and the Syrian regime. The third was to open the Lebanese banking system to Iran. Iran is still clutching at this last demand, which doesn’t seem possible in the present situation. What explains this renewed attack on Hariri is the shrinking of Iranian influence in more than one spot, including Yemen, where the battle for Hodeidah is gaining momentum in light of an unclear British position about the Houthis. Iran must accept the fact that pressuring Lebanon will not do it any good, especially since Lebanon is the United States’ least concern right now. Lebanon has not yet become an ally of Iran despite everything the latter has done to impose its guardianship on Lebanon, such as erasing the border between Lebanon and Syria so Hezbollah militias can participate in the war on the Syrian people from a purely sectarian standpoint.
An Iranian victory over Lebanon will not help Iran. Iran can take Lebanon as a hostage but that will bother Washington none. Iran can infiltrate the Lebanese Sunnis all it wants but it won’t do it any good. If Iran is so keen on defending the interests of the Sunni community in Lebanon, why doesn’t it stop persecuting its own Sunni citizens in Baluchistan and Ahvaz in addition to the Sunni Kurds? Why does it refuse to permit the construction of a Sunni mosque in Tehran? How come there has not been a single Sunni minister since the 1979 Islamic Revolution? What about Iran’s handling of Iraq’s Sunnis? Iran’s game in Lebanon is clear. There is a great deal of tension in Tehran and the relief valve for this tension is not going to be the government imposed on Hariri by Hezbollah. Neither will it be a victory over Lebanon, its Sunnis, its Christians nor its Druze

Latest LCCC Bulletin For Miscellaneous Reports And News published on November 18-19/18
Economy crumbling under Iran’s Islamic Caliphate
انهيار الاقتصاد في ظل الخلافة الإسلامية في إيران

Nikoo Amini/Iran News Wire/November 18/18
Profit without production
Profit without production is a “miracle” that became possible in the economy of Iran’s Islamic Caliphate.Of course, this is only possible at the expense of the health of the economy and widespread poverty and hunger. Parliament member Mohammad Reza Mansouri recently addressed a topic that has already been acknowledged by a number of other authorities in Iran. “If we did what we did with our economy to the German economy, that economy would also be destroyed,” he said. More than theUS imposed sanctions, what has brought the country’s economy to a point ofcollapse, are the policies of Iran’s Islamic Caliphate.
Profit without production
The MP also pointed to the fact that Iran’s economy had a profit despite having no production. “An economy can only profit and not produce for a maximum of 10 years, after which it collapses,” he said. “If we put a currency at a rate of 24% in the bank, it will double in the first four years, it will then quadruple in the next four years and so on. So let’s suppose that the one billion that we put in the bank 40 years ago is now equivalent to more than 2,048 billion to mans. Where did all this money come from? Did we manufacture and import refrigerators? In the span of four years, this money will be 4,096 billion tomans,” the MP who is a member of the Parliamentary Industry and Mines Commission explained.
Those who eat it up
In this way Mohammad Reza Mansouri acknowledged the “miracle” in the economy of the Velayat-efaqih, in which a person can, without doing any work, have astronomical wealth,even in an economy that “has no imports” and is unclear “where it’s money comes from.”
He then goes on to explain the economy in the past 20 years of the Iran’s Islamic Caliphate. “Those who knew how, took everything… In Iran some profits (are so high) that one cannot count the zeros.”
Poverty in Iran
Official numbers on the extent of poverty in Iran vary. The official number is usually given as 35% but on March 11 Shahab Naderi, the Parliament Representative from a town in Kurdistan Province said that 80% of the people lived under the line of poverty in Iran.
In August, citing official numbers, Mohsen Hashemi, the Head of the Tehran City Council said that one third of Iranians lived under the line of poverty while one tenth lived under the “line of absolute poverty”. In April, in comments carried by state media, an economist said that the line of absolute poverty for an urban family of four was around 4 million tomans. Based on this claim, he had concluded that around 33% of the people suffered from extreme poverty in Iran and that six percent of them lived “under the line of hunger”. 80% of Iranians live in poverty due to the regime’s destructive policies & such incidents will only increase the people’s anger against the mullahs. Iranian officials have acknowledge that more than 1.5 million Iranians cannot afford food. Hedayatollah Khademi, a member of the parliament also severely criticized the dire state of the economy and the people’s living conditions in July.
“You have made the Iranian people miserable. You have taken away their respect and confidence. They don’t know what to do due to poverty and desperation. They have turned to selling their organs including their kidneys due to poverty.Look what you have done to a country that makes up one percent of the global population but has eight percent of the world’s natural resources,” he had said on July 29. The MP also said that it had been 40 years that 200 families had taken the destiny of Iran as a “hostage”

Washington Questions Leaks in Khashoggi Case

Washington, New York – Moaz al-Omari and Ali Barada/Asharq Al Awsat/November 18/18
The American administration denied on Saturday that it had reached a final conclusion in the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul in October. The allegations were made after US President Donald Trump contacted Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and CIA chief Gina Haspel. “Recent reports indicating that the US government has made a final conclusion are inaccurate,” State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said in a statement. “There remain numerous unanswered questions with respect to the murder of Mr. Khashoggi.”The State Department will continue to seek facts, Nauert said, "while maintaining the important strategic relationship between the United States and Saudi Arabia."Trump on Saturday described Saudi Arabia was "a truly spectacular ally in terms of jobs and economic development."Meanwhile, Saudi Ambassador to the US Prince Khalid bin Salman bin Abdulaziz categorically denied Washington Post claims that he had communicated with Kashoggi before his death. “As we told the Washington Post the last contact I had with Mr. Khashoggi was via text on Oct 26 2017. I never talked to him by phone and certainly never suggested he go to Turkey for any reason. I ask the US government to release any information regarding this claim,” he tweeted. “Unfortunately the @washingtonpost did not print our full response. This is a serious accusation and should not be left to anonymous sources,” he added.
The following is Prince Khalid’s full response: “The Ambassador met Jamal once in late September 2017 in person for a cordial discussion, and they communicated via text after the meeting, the last message sent by the Ambassador to him was on 26 of October 2017. At no time did Prince Khalid discuss anything related to going to Turkey with Jamal.”“Amb Prince Khalid bin Salman has never had any phone conversations with him. You are welcome to check the phone records and cell phone content to corroborate this in which case, you would have to request it from Turkish authorities; as our Public Prosecutor have numerous times to no avail.”“The claims in this purported assessment is false. We have and continue to hear various theories without seeing the primary basis for these speculations.”Ever since Turkish authorities announced Khashoggi’s disappearance in Istanbul, American media has published varying reports about the case. The Washington Post has however, adopted tough rhetoric, publishing a series of accusations over the past few weeks, saying Saudi Arabia was complicit in the murder. It went so far as to accuse Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Defense, of being involved. Shane Harris, a specialist in national security and intelligence affairs, Greg Miller, a national security correspondent and Josh Dawsey, a White House reporter, made the accusations in a recently released article in which they relied on anonymous intelligence sources.

Macron, Merkel Aim to Present United Stance in Trump Era

Agence France Presse/Naharnet/November 18/18/German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron were due to meet in Berlin Sunday in a show of unity against rising populism in the era of U.S. President Donald Trump. At their second meeting in a week, the two are expected to once again raise the idea of establishing a European army as a symbol of a united continent, a proposal that has raised Trump's hackles. Macron's visit comes a week after world leaders met in Paris to commemorate the end of World War I a century ago and marks Germany's Day of Mourning for victims of war and dictatorship. After a wreath-laying ceremony, Macron was at 1230 GMT to address the German parliament -- housed in the glass-domed Reichstag still bearing the scars of World War II -- in the first speech by a French leader to the assembly in 18 years. Macron and Merkel, who were to meet for talks from 1400 GMT, are both committed pro-Europeans who have resisted rising populist, euroskeptic, and anti-immigration forces in Europe, as well as Trump's isolationist "America First" stance. As the world has remembered World War I, which ended a century ago this month, Macron has repeatedly invoked its horrors to drive home the message that rising nationalism is again destabilizing the world. Macron and Merkel have proposed a European army that would operate within NATO -- an idea Trump has mocked by tweeting that "it was Germany in World Wars One & Two - How did that work out for France?" But German Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen insisted Sunday that a joint military force would need not just common equipment and training but also "the political will to resolutely defend European interests when a conflict breaks out". And France's Minister for European Affairs, Nathalie Loiseau, told the Journal du Dimanche: "it is not a question of being against the United States but of taking our destiny into our own hands to no longer count on others."
Weakened leaders
While strong on symbolism, the Franco-German partnership and European reform push have been plagued by policy differences and the domestic troubles of the two leaders. Since a Franco-German joint cabinet meeting on Europe in June, challenges have piled up with Brexit nearing and a budget conflict escalating between Brussels and Italy. The Berlin talks also come at a time when both leaders are politically weakened, reducing the traditional driving power at the heart of the bloc. As Trump gleefully tweeted days ago, Macron's once stellar approval ratings have dropped off into the mid-twenties. And Merkel, after 13 years in power, has in recent weeks announced the beginning of the end of her reign by declining to stand again as leader of her center-right Christian Democrats (CDU). She has vowed to serve out her fourth term, which runs until 2021, but many observers expect Merkel could be brought down earlier by infighting within the CDU or the unhappy three-party coalition she leads. There is much frustration in Paris about Merkel's perceived foot-dragging on Macron's bold reform plans, especially on forging a eurozone with a major common budget and finance minister. The two countries agreed Friday on the outlines of a proposed budget for the euro area, Macron's flagship project to support investment, but not on the amount, which remains undefined. Another area of contention is that Germany and France have so far failed to find a united strategy on EU efforts to introduce a digital tax on internet giants such as Google and Facebook. The joint army plan, too, faces tricky challenges, including post-war Germany's traditional reluctance to send combat troops abroad and the fact that parliament must approve military missions.

Trump Says U.S. to Make Final Conclusions on Saudi Killing in Days
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/November 18/18/The United States will make final conclusions by early next week over the killing of Jamal Khashoggi, President Donald Trump has said, following reports that the CIA had held Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman responsible. Saudi Arabia has repeatedly changed its official narrative of the October 2 murder, first denying any knowledge of Khashoggi's whereabouts and later saying he was killed when an argument degenerated into a fistfight. Earlier this week, a Saudi prosecutor exonerated the crown prince of involvement in the brutal murder. Speaking to reporters in Malibu, California after surveying damage from wildfires, Trump said "we'll be having a very full report over the next two days, probably Monday or Tuesday."State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert earlier said reports indicating the United States had already made final conclusions in the case were "inaccurate.""There remain numerous unanswered questions with respect to the murder of Mr Khashoggi," she added. The State Department will continue to seek facts and work with other countries to hold those involved in the killing accountable, Nauert said, "while maintaining the important strategic relationship between the United States and Saudi Arabia.""In the meantime, we will continue to consult Congress, and work with other nations to hold accountable those involved in the killing of Jamal Khashoggi." She noted that Washington had already taken "decisive measures" against individuals, including visa and sanctions actions. The remarks appeared to contradict reports that the Central Intelligence Agency had determined Saudi Arabia's powerful Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman ordered the killing of Khashoggi, a vocal critic.
'Truly spectacular ally'
The killing and the international uproar it triggered has frayed ties between Washington and longtime ally Riyadh, which has sought to end discussion of the murder and rejected calls for an international investigation. But ahead of a briefing by his secretary of state and CIA director, Trump demured when asked about possible retaliation against Riyadh. "They have been a truly spectacular ally in terms of jobs and economic development," Trump told reporters. "And I also take that -- you know, I'm president -- I have to take a lot of things into consideration."The Washington Post, which broke the story, said the CIA found that 15 Saudi agents flew on government aircraft to Istanbul and assassinated Khashoggi in the Saudi consulate. Khashoggi, a Post columnist, had gone to the consulate to obtain documents necessary to marry his Turkish fiancee. European Union foreign affairs chief Federica Mogherini meanwhile reiterated calls for a "thorough, credible and transparent" probe into Khashoggi's killing. "The need remains to shed full clarity on the circumstances surrounding this horrendous crime as well as to ensure accountability for all those responsible for it," she said in a statement. Reiterating the EU's categorical opposition to the death penalty, Mogherini said "we will continue to stress that the kingdom of Saudi Arabia must put in place measures to ensure that something like this can never happen again." "In due course, the EU and its member states will consider how they can act together towards appropriate measures against those responsible, in support of the rules based international system," she added. In the latest version of the events presented by the Saudi prosecutor on Thursday, a 15-member squad was formed to bring Khashoggi back from Istanbul "by means of persuasion" -- but instead ended up killing the journalist and dismembering his body in a "rogue" operation.

In Iraq, Bloody Tribal Custom Now Classed as 'Terrorism'

Agence France Presse/Naharnet/November 18/18/A bloody, age-old custom used by Iraq's powerful tribes to mete out justice has come under fire, with authorities classifying it as a "terrorist act" punishable by death. For centuries, Iraqi clans have used their own system to resolve disputes, with tribal dignitaries bringing together opposing sides to mediate in de facto "hearings". If one side failed to attend such a meeting, the rival clan would fire on the absentee's home or that of fellow tribesmen, a practice known as the "degga ashairiya" or "tribal warning". But in an age when Iraq's vast rural areas and built-up cities alike are flooded with weapons outside state control, the "degga" may be deadlier than ever. A recent dispute between two young men in a teashop in the capital's eastern district of Sadr City escalated to near-fatal proportions, leaving a 40-year-old policeman with a broken hip and severely damaged abdomen. His cousin Abu Tayba said the policeman was "wounded in a stray bullet during a 'degga' on a nearby home.""Weeks after the incident, he's still in the hospital, hovering between life and death," Tayba told AFP. Even in Baghdad, disputes often involve machine guns and rocket-propelled grenades, the city's military command warned a top Iraqi court recently. That body, the country's Superior Magistrate Council, issued a decision last week classifying "deggas" as "terrorist acts" -- and therefore warranting the death penalty -- because of their impact on public safety. A few days later, it announced it would take legal action against three people accused of targeting a home in Al-Adhamiyah, north of Baghdad, with the deadly custom.
'Iraq is like a jungle'
In Iraq, a country of 39 million people, clan origin and family name can carry weight in securing a job, finding romance, and gathering political support. They can also interfere in the work of the state, as tribal structures in some areas can be more powerful than government institutions. Last year, Iraq's tribes and the ministries of interior and justice pledged to work closer together to impose the law, but "deggas" seem to have hindered such cooperation. Raed al-Fraiji, the head of a tribal council in the southern province of Basra, told AFP the warnings have become commonplace. "This happens every day. Yesterday it happened twice. The day before, three times," he said. "Two months ago, a domestic dispute between a husband and wife turned into an armed attack on the husband's home. The exchange of fire killed one person and wounded three." Fraiji said tribal influence and practices were growing because the state was seen as unreliable. "For an Iraqi citizen, the law has become weak. Meanwhile, tribes impose themselves by force.""Iraq is like a jungle -- so a citizen will turn to a tribe to find solutions to their problems."The country has been ravaged by years of conflict since the U.S.-led invasion in 2003 that removed strongman Saddam Hussein and led to the rise of militias. A decade later, the Islamic State jihadist group overran much of Iraq and was only ousted from its urban strongholds across the country late last year. - Taking on tribes -Years of instability have left many of Iraq's communities flush with weapons and largely out of the state's reach, contributing to a preference for tribal mediation methods. "The government is responsible for the increase in tribal conflict and of 'degga' cases," said Adnan al-Khazaali, a tribal leader in Baghdad's Sadr City. "Most of the young men today are armed and even the security forces cannot stand in their way."Tribal leaders and government officials alike are clinging to the hope that the new ruling could change things. "These incidents are continually happening, and are often causing casualties," interior ministry spokesman Saad Maan told AFP. "Court rulings and their implementation," Maan said, could be the only way to secure peace. Back in Basra, the head of the local human rights commission estimated around a dozen people were wounded or killed in "deggas" last year. "These incidents threatens social peace," said Mahdi al-Tamimi. "It's sad and worrying, and cannot be eliminated without a solid and effective law."But Fraiji, known in Basra for his relatively progressive views, feared the court's ruling would not be enough to take on Iraq's powerful clans. "The decision will only remain ink on paper if the security forces do not enforce it on the tribes," he said.

Egypt Rounds Up Dozens of Human Rights Defenders
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/November 18/18/Egyptian authorities have rounded up at least 40 rights workers, activists and lawyers since late October and detained them in "undisclosed locations", Human Rights Watch said Sunday. "Many of those arrested were people who provided humanitarian and legal support to families of political detainees," HRW said, calling on the government to reveal their whereabouts. The rights group spoke with a lawyer and three activists who had been "in direct touch" with the families of those detained, it said. "The Egyptian security agencies' repression now extends to disappearing those brave men and women who have been trying to protect the disappeared," said Michael Page, deputy Middle East and North Africa director at Human Rights Watch. One source told HRW as many as 80 people had been detained in the wave of arrests, but the rights group said it could only verify 40 names. It called on Egyptian authorities to "immediately reveal all the detainees' whereabouts, release all of those arrested solely for exercising their rights, and bring any others swiftly before a judge to review their detention". Sources told HRW that some of the detainees were close to the Egyptian Coordination for Rights and Freedoms, an independent human rights group it said has come under fire from pro-government media in recent months. Among those arrested is Hoda Abdelmoneim, a 60-year-old lawyer and former spokesperson for the Egypt's Women Revolutionary Coalition -- a group close to the Muslim Brotherhood. Authorities also arrested Aisha Khairat al-Shater, the daughter of a former Muslim Brotherhood leader currently in detention, along with her husband, lawyer Mohammed Abu Horayra. The Brotherhood was outlawed and branded a "terrorist" organization in December 2013, months after the military ousted Islamist president Mohamed Morsi following mass protests against his rule. Former armed forces chief Abdel Fattah al-Sisi won the presidency in 2014 and has since launched a crackdown against the Brotherhood that has also hit Egypt's secular opposition. Egypt's courts have sentenced hundreds of Brotherhood leaders and supporters to death or lengthy jail terms after other speedy mass trials. Earlier this month, Amnesty International denounced the arrest of at least 19 lawyers and human rights activists, including Shater and Abdelmoneim.

More than 400 Hurt in French Fuel Price Protests
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/November 18/18/More than 400 people were hurt, 14 seriously, in a day and night of "yellow vest" protests over rising fuel price hikes around France that claimed one life, Interior Minister Christophe Castaner said on Sunday. The injury toll, more than double the last tally provided on Saturday, followed what Castaner described as a "restive" night in 87 locations around the country where protesters had blocked roads to express their anger at a series of hikes in petrol tax. The injured, 409 in total, included 28 police, paramilitary police or firefighters. Castaner told RTL radio that 288,000 people had taken part in Saturday's protests at 2,034 locations countrywide. About 3,500 stayed out overnight, he added. Police questioned 282 protesters in total, 73 during the night, of whom 157 were taken into custody. "Last night was restive... There were assaults, fights, stabbings," Castaner said. "There were fights among 'yellow vest' protesters. There was a lot of alcohol at certain venues, which led to this idiotic behavior." Protest organizers have called for more demonstrations Sunday at about 150 locations countrywide, the minister added. Protests were reported Sunday several regions across France. On Saturday, groups blocked roundabouts, major highways and thoroughfares to express anger over increased taxes on fuel and their shrinking purchasing power under President Emmanuel Macron. Tempers flared at times as some drivers confronted the protesters or tried to force their way through the barricades. In the eastern Savoie region, authorities said a woman trying to get her daughter to a doctor panicked after protesters surrounded her car and banged on the roof. She accelerated into the crowd and killed a 63-year-old woman. The protesters are nicknamed "yellow vests" for the high-visibility jackets they wear. An opinion poll published in the Sunday paper Journal du Dimanche meanwhile indicated that Macron's popularity had dipped a further four points to 25 percent. The survey was conducted November 9-17 with 1,957 respondents.

Egypt and Ethiopia to discuss Nile dam dispute
Reuters, Cairo/Sunday, 18 November 2018/Egypt said on Sunday it would hold talks with Ethiopia in the next two weeks to iron out differences over an Ethiopian dam on the River Nile that Cairo sees as a threat to its water supplies. The two countries and Sudan have held a series of meetings over the $4 billion hydroelectric Grand Renaissance Dam, but have yet to reach a deal on managing flows and other issues. Egypt fears the scheme will restrict the waters coming down down from Ethiopia’s highlands, through the deserts of Sudan, to its fields and reservoirs. Ethiopia, which wants to become Africa’s biggest power exporter, says it will have no such impact. Egypt’s prime minister, Mostafa Madbouly, said he and his Ethiopian counterpart, Abiy Ahmed, agreed “to start bilateral discussions in the next two weeks to agree on the points that remain unagreed,” state news agency MENA reported. MENA cited Abiy as saying he wanted to preserve Egypt’s Nile river rights. The dam was scheduled to be finished by 2020, but Abiy said in August it would be delayed by several years.

Netanyahu says ‘unnecessary and wrong’ to call snap Israeli polls
AFP, Jerusalem/Sunday, 18 November 2018/Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Sunday it would be “unnecessary and wrong” to call snap polls, as he sought to hold his governing coalition together following the resignation of his defense minister. “In a period of security sensitivity, it’s unnecessary and wrong to go to elections,” Netanyahu said at the start of a cabinet meeting. He noted past instances when right-wing governments had called elections that did not turn out as they had hoped. “We need to do whatever we can to avoid such mistakes,” he said. Netanyahu’s coalition was thrown into crisis Wednesday when Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman resigned over a controversial Gaza ceasefire deal, sparking speculation over whether early elections were now inevitable. After Lieberman’s withdrawal, Netanyahu’s government was left clinging to a one-seat majority in the 120-seat parliament. The veteran premier was to meet Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon, whose center-right Kulanu party has 10 seats, later Sunday to discuss ways of holding the coalition together. Education Minister Naftali Bennett of the far-right Jewish Home party, which holds eight seats in parliament, has demanded the defense portfolio, but Netanyahu says he will take it over at least temporarily. Bennett is one of Netanyahu’s main right-wing rivals. On Saturday, Bennett told Israeli television that Lieberman had “collapsed the government.”“There is no more government and we are heading towards elections,” he said. “There is no other alternative.”Elections are not due until November 2019.

Damage from Gaza Missiles Exceeds Israeli Estimates

Gaza - Asharq Al-Awsat/Sunday, 18 November, 2018/Direct damage suffered by Israel during the last escalation with the Gaza Strip has exceeded estimates, according to a report published by Israel Hayom newspaper. Until now, up to 406 compensation applications have been submitted, 317 out of them are for houses and residential apartments, 81 are for vehicles and for are for farms. Applications are likely to increase in the coming days and compensations would amount to dozen millions of shekels, according to the newspaper. Israel Hayom added that Ashkelon was most damaged by missiles from where 312 compensation applications have been submitted, 286 out of them are for residential apartments and houses, while 36 are for vehicles. In Sderot, there are 40 direct damages, 19 out of them are houses and residential apartments and 21 are for vehicles. Welfare and Labor Minister Haim Katz and National Insurance Institute Director General Meir Spiegler announced the postponement of the date for submitting applications in Gaza until Monday.

Rebels say Syrian army steps up attacks in Idlib
Reuters, Amman/Sunday, 18 November 2018/Syrian rebels said on Saturday the Syrian army and their allies were intensifying attacks on a demilitarized zone in the northwest in an attempt to undermine a Russian-Turkish deal that has averted a major offensive on their last stronghold. They said the army has stepped up its onslaught with hundreds of mortar and rocket attacks on a string of rebel-held villages and towns in northern Hama, southern Idlib and Latakia that fall within a demilitarized zone agreed last September between Russia and Turkey. “The regime has targeted all the fronts in the demilitarized zone. We have responded by striking at their military posts that have struck populated villages and towns,” said Captain Naji Abu Huthaifa, a spokesman for the National Liberation Front, an alliance of Turkish-backed rebels. Russia and Turkey reached a deal in Sochi last September to enforce a demilitarized zone in Idlib and adjacent areas that are the last stronghold of rebels who rose against President Bashar al-Assad in 2011. Idlib province is also home to an estimated three million people, more than half of whom have already been displaced at least once during the war. The Syrian army and allied militias had wanted to press on to regain the last of the rebel held areas after recapturing southern Syria and ending insurgent control around the capital. Syrian state media, quoting army sources, blamed rebels for the attacks and accused them of trying to wreck the Russian-Turkish initiative. Under the deal Turkey had pledged to drive out al Qaeda-inspired extremists from the zone, but Russian military is increasingly questioning Ankara’s ability to implement it. The main extremist group, Tahrir al Sham, has so far not withdrawn heavy weapons, a regional intelligence source said on Saturday. A suicide attack by the Ansar al Islam militant group on an army checkpoint on Friday had killed at least 23 soldiers, rebels said. But despite flare-up in violence, the Russian and Syrian air force have so far not resumed aerial bombing since the deal. The attacks have also forced hundreds of families that had earlier been encouraged to return to some of the frontline villages in the zone to flee further north near the Turkish border, residents said.

New Ambassadors Sworn in before Saudi King
Asharq Al-Awsat/Sunday, 18 November, 2018/New ambassadors of Saudi Arabia were sworn in on Sun before Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman bin Abdulaziz, reported the Saudi Press Agency. The ceremony held at the Al-Yamamah Palace in Riyadh included Ambassador-designates to Morocco, New Zealand, Azerbaijan, Peru, Guinea, Lebanon, Sultanate of Brunei, Nepal, Algeria, Eritrea and Gabon. The swearing-in ceremony was attended by Prince Abdulaziz bin Saud bin Naif bin Abdulaziz, Minister of Interior, Minister of State and Cabinet's Member Dr. Musaed bin Mohammed Al-Aiban and Minister of Foreign Affairs Adel al-Jubeir.

Iraqi PM Close to Filling Vacant Posts in his Govt.

Baghdad – Hamza Mustafa/Sunday, 18 November, 2018/Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi has filled six out of eight remaining posts in his government, revealed lawmakers and informed sources. The eight posts are the defense, interior, education, planning, displaced, justice, culture and higher education. The PM is expected to present his proposed candidates before parliament on Monday or Wednesday. Binaa alliance MP Moenes al-Ghanemi confirmed to Asharq Al-Awsat that the premier had filled six of the vacancies. All that remains are the interior and defense portfolios that are subject to disputes between Sunni and Shiite powers, he revealed. The Binaa alliance has been insisting on naming Faleh al-Fayyad as interior minister. Differences, meanwhile, still stand among the Sunnis over the defense post. Ghanemi stressed that the dispute over the defense and interior portfolios “will be resolved through a vote at parliament, not a prior agreement, given the ongoing differences. Asked by Asharq Al-Awsat if there were other potential candidates for the portfolios, he replied: “The Binaa alliance is committed to Fayyad. His history backs his nomination because he is a well-known political security figure given the posts that he occupied and the files that he helped address.”“There are therefore no justifiable reasons to reject his candidacy,” he added. Moreover, the MP remarked that Abdul Mahdi himself had suggested Fayyad’s nomination. Meanwhile, the Sunnis are leaning towards nominating former parliament Speaker Salim al-Jabouri as defense minister. “This issue needs complete consensus because Jabouri is a legal official, while the defense minister needs to have a military background,” said Ghanemi. Separately, Turkmen officials criticized Abdul Mahdi for failing to name any Turkmen candidates to his cabinet. Deputy chief of the Iraqi Turkmen Front Hassan Turan told Asharq Al-Awsat: “The Turkmen are not represented yet in his government.”“Everyone knows that the Turkmen are deliberately being wronged and viewed as a third minority in Iraq,” he continued. “Balance cannot be achieved in Kirkuk if Turkmen are not represented in government,” he stated.
'Sad' Trump Visits Fire-Wracked California, Blames Mismanagement
Naharnet/November 18/18/President Donald Trump expressed sadness Saturday at the devastation caused by fires in a California town, but persisted in his controversial claim that forest mismanagement is responsible for the tragedy which has left 76 dead and more than 1,000 listed as missing. "This is very sad," Trump said after surveying the remains of Paradise, where nearly the only people out on the road were emergency services workers, surrounded by the twisted remains of a community incinerated by the flames. "They're telling me this is not as bad as some areas; some areas are even beyond this, they're just charred," he added after looking at a street lined with melted cars, tree stumps and the foundations of wrecked houses. The deadliest and most destructive wildfire in California's history, the so-called Camp Fire, has now claimed 76 lives after authorities on Saturday confirmed five more victims. The blaze has devoured an area roughly the size of Chicago, destroying nearly 10,000 homes and more than 2,500 other buildings. In Chico, near Paradise, Trump met with firefighters and other first responders at makeshift headquarters for emergency services. High-ranking fire officials recounted how quickly the fire spread, complicating evacuation efforts, as Trump studied a huge map spread across a table showing where fires continue to burn. Keeping alive an earlier controversy, Trump repeated his claim that California had mismanaged its forests and was largely to blame for the fires."I'm committed to make sure that we get all of this cleaned out and protected, (we've) got to take care of the forest, it's very important," Trump said in Paradise. Days ago Trump threatened to cut federal funding to California over its alleged "gross mismanagement" of forests.
Fire haze
Brian Rice, president of California Professional Firefighters, called Trump's earlier remarks "ill-informed," noting the federal government had cut spending on forest management. Asked if he believed climate change had played any role in the fires, Trump again pointed to the forest "management factor" and insisted that his "strong opinion" remained unchanged. Trump has long been skeptical of man's role in global warming despite mounting scientific evidence that the burning of fossil fuels is heating the planet and leading to more extreme weather. The inferno erupted November 8, laying waste to Paradise in the northern foothills of the Sierra Nevada mountains and sending thousands fleeing. The Camp Fire and another huge blaze have created a serious smoke problem across vast areas of the country's largest state, and when Trump stepped out of Air Force One at Beale Air Force Base north of capital city Sacramento, the sun struggled to cut through haze so dense it covered the base like a fog. Butte County Sheriff Kory Honea had on Friday told reporters the number of people unaccounted soared from 631 to 1,011 in 24 hours as authorities received more reports of people missing, and after earlier emergency calls were reviewed. He called it "a dynamic list," while noting there could be duplicates and some people who had escaped could be unaware they were listed as missing. More than 300 people who were listed as missing have now been found. The Republican president was accompanied on his visit by son-in-law Jared Kushner and chief of staff John Kelly.
Living in tents
They were met on the tarmac by Governor Jerry Brown and Governor-elect Gavin Newsom, both of them Democrats in a state that leans strongly that way. As they drove through the state, several signs thanked Trump for coming but one called him a "moron."Roslyn Roberts, 73, who fled from her home in Paradise, said she voted for Trump but disagrees with his views about forest management. "I would tell him that this fire has nothing to do with forest mismanagement. Thousands and thousands of homes got destroyed with no trees around," she said at a shelter set up by the American Red Cross in a church. In Chico, volunteers had erected a tented encampment for evacuees. "Just trying to make it day by day. It's all we can do," said Dustin Kimball, who worked at the Paradise cemetery. The Camp Fire has burned 149,000 acres (60,000 hectares) and was 55 percent contained late Saturday, California's fire service said. Authorities said 47,200 people had been evacuated because of the fire and nearly 1,200 were living in shelters.
Hoping they are alive
Smoke from the fire forced schools to close in San Francisco on Friday and the city's iconic cable cars had to suspend service. The Golden Gate Bridge was shrouded in thick smog. Much of the rescue work is now focused on Paradise, where many retirees were unable to get out in time. Rescuers with sniffer dogs have been conducting a painstaking house-to-house search. "I'm still going to keep on looking and hope for the best," Jonathan Clark told AFP. He was hunting for his brother, sister-in-law and nephew. Three other people have died in southern California in a blaze dubbed the Woolsey Fire, which engulfed parts of Malibu, destroying the homes of several celebrities. That inferno, which is about two thirds the size of the Camp Fire, was 84 percent contained Saturday as Trump surveyed the damage at well-to-do homes there.

Latest LCCC Bulletin analysis & editorials from miscellaneous sources published on November 18-19/18
“A Pure Genocide”: Extremist Persecution of Christians, June 2018
ريموند إبراهيم: ابادة صافية…سجل شهر حزيران 2018 لعمليات تبين اضطهاد المتطرفين للمسيحيين
Raymond Ibrahim/Gatestone Institute/November 18/18
The majority of those 6,000 Christians massacred this year were “mostly children, women and the aged… What is happening in … Nigeria is pure genocide and must be stopped immediately.” — Christian Association of Nigeria.
“There is no doubt that the sole purpose of these attacks is aimed at ethnic cleansing, land grabbing and forceful ejection of the Christian natives from their ancestral land and heritage.” — Christian Association of Nigeria.
“Realistically speaking, Christianity is on the brink of extinction in Nigeria. The ascendancy of Sharia ideology in Nigeria rings the death toll for the Nigerian Church.” — Christian Association of Nigeria.
“Just one in 400 Syrian refugees given asylum in the UK last year were Christians despite them being subjected to ‘horrendous persecution.'” — Express, UK.
A Catholic priest at the Milk Grotto in Bethlehem (pictured) suffered minor injuries on June 1, when a man struck him with what appeared to be a knife. (Image source: Bashar Nayfeh/Wikimedia Commons)
The Jihad on Nigerian Christians
In what the Christian Association of Nigeria called a “pure genocide,” 238 more Christians were killed and churches desecrated by Muslims throughout the month of June. This brings the death toll of Christians to more than 6,000 between January and June of 2018 alone. According to a joint statement by the Christian Association, an umbrella group of various Christian denominations, “There is no doubt that the sole purpose of these attacks is aimed at ethnic cleansing, land grabbing and forceful ejection of the Christian natives from their ancestral land and heritage.” In one of the attacks, “over 200 persons were brutally killed and our churches destroyed without any intervention from security agencies in spite of several distress calls made to them.”
The majority of those 6,000 Christians massacred this year were “mostly children, women and the aged… What is happening in … Nigeria is pure genocide and must be stopped immediately.” The details of the murder of these thousands, though seldom reported, are often grisly; many were either hacked to death or beheaded with machetes; others were burned alive (including inside locked churches or homes); and women are often sexually assaulted or raped before being slaughtered.
These nonstop Islamic attacks are causing the Christian population of the West African nation to plummet — to the point of extinction by 2043, warned Bosun Emmanuel, the secretary of National Christian Elders Forum. On June 23 he was reported as saying that the current administration of President Muhammadu Buhari in Nigeria “is openly pursuing an anti-Christian agenda that has resulted in countless murders of Christians all over the nation and destruction of vulnerable Christian communities.” Accordingly, “the Church has been weakened and unable to stand before its enemies. Realistically speaking, Christianity is on the brink of extinction in Nigeria. The ascendancy of Sharia ideology in Nigeria rings the death toll for the Nigerian Church.”
Muslim Attacks on Christian Churches
Bosnia: Unknown persons set a Serbian Orthodox church on fire in the overwhelmingly Muslim majority town of Visoko. The arson attack occurred sometime in the early morning hours of Sunday, June 24. According to the report, “a majority of objects inside the Church of the Nativity of the Theotokos — including icons and holy books — has been destroyed, along with a portion of the roof… [T]he main part of the altar has also been broken.” That the church had only recently been “repaired over a period of two years” may be significant: According to the Conditions of Omar, which consists of discriminatory stipulations to which Christians must adhere in order to exist under Islamic rule, Christians are required “not to build a church in our city — nor a monastery, convent, or monk’s cell in the surrounding areas — and not to repair those that fall in ruins or are in Muslim quarters.”
Indonesia: Local Muslims forced the closure of another Christian church in Banjarmasin. “Muslims claimed that the approval given to the church by local authorities was not valid and should be cancelled,” the report related. “As a result of the increased tension, the church has had to suspend services, leaving the 100-strong congregation without anywhere to meet.” Indonesian law requires the signatures of at least 60 local, non-Christian — meaning Muslim — households before applications for Christian churches are accepted. Due to such requirements, another church that was established in 1995 in the same city has had to move its meeting location seven times. “Christians comprise at least 15% of the population of Indonesia and, until a generation ago, Christians and Muslims lived peaceably as equals,” says the report. “However, Christians are now facing increasing discrimination and violence. There have been a number of attacks on churches, including the triple church suicide bombings carried out by members of the same family on Sunday 13 May 2018.”
Pakistan: After months of local harassment — including being told “to remove every visible sign of Christianity from their church” — Christians were finally ordered to demolish their church because “Muslims are in the majority in the village, [and] we can’t allow a church here,” to quote one local Muslim leader. He said the forty Christian families would need to build a church outside the village. “When it is done, we will make the Christians write an agreement that they will sell this current church building or at least dismantle the church structure and crosses,” he said. “The church belongs to Full Gospel Assemblies, an evangelical group working in Pakistan, and was built on land belonging to [a] 70-year-old Christian” man who had bequeathed it to the church, the report states. According to Rafaqat Masih, who represents the Christian cause: “The construction began in 2012 and we had been holding worship services since then. But in December 2016 the local Muslims objected over it and filed an application against us in the local police station. At that time, a compromise was reached and we again started holding services. But, again, in December 2017, they submitted an application in the police station, after which we were called in and were told to sign an agreement,” halting all use of the building as a church. After Christians were summoned to another meeting on June 2, Masih said:
“We are being forced to demolish the existing church structure and, in lieu of this, they would let us build a church on a piece of government land outside the village which is already dedicated for a school. They haven’t even given any documentary proof that this piece of land would be transferred to Christians. Then another issue is that we worked for several years to construct this church building. Now who is going to pay for building from scratch?”
“Most of the Christians are poor labourers,” the report added.
Extremist Contempt for and Mistreatment of Christians
Bethlehem: A local man struck a Catholic priest with an unidentified object — variously described as a knife, a key, and a blunt object. According to one report:
“At Bethlehem’s Milk Grotto, the Rev. Fadi Shallufi on Friday afternoon [June 1] opened the chapel gates to foreign tourists, including women who were being harassed by two men… Chapel security footage shows the Franciscan friar exchanging words with the two men through the bars of the closed gates. One of the men pulls what appears to be knife from his pocket and strikes Shallufi as the Franciscan clergyman backs away, the footage shows.”
The priest suffered minor injuries. Palestinian police reportedly detained two men as they take “such incidents seriously as they can harm tourism. About 80 to 85 percent of the West Bank population is Sunni Muslim.” Speaking of this incident, one human rights activist said:
“While we are grateful that no one was seriously injured during this incident, the reality is that Middle Eastern Christians constantly live in fear of such attacks. Sadly, the escalation of intimidation, harassment, and violence towards Christians is an all too common occurrence during Ramadan.”
Pakistan: A mentally disabled Christian man convicted on blasphemy charges was beaten by Muslim inmates for praying on June 22. Three years earlier, Yaqoob Bashir, 25, was accused by a Muslim cleric of burning pages of a booklet carrying Koran verses. He was arrested and imprisoned. According to a local human rights activist familiar with the case:
“Bashir was set to have a hearing in court on June 23 and before appearing, the young Christian wanted to pray at night. However, the prisoners with him did not allow him to pray in front of them. When Bashir continued, four of them got annoyed and beat him very badly. He sustained injuries to his face, eyes, chin, and head.”
“It is sad to hear that Christians are not secure even in police custody,” Bishop Samson Shukardin of the Hyderabad Diocese said.
“It is the duty of the state to ensure the protection of all citizens. If a young Christian is facing violence and torture in jail, then one can only imagine the new heights of persecution…. At this stage, I am worried for his life. Allowing an attack on a mentally disabled prisoner shows that the prison authorities are not sincerely trying to protect the citizens nor does the government have a clear policy to curb extremist movements.”
Tajikistan: Local Muslims tried to prevent a Christian man from burying the corpse of his wife until he returned to Islam. “When an elderly Christian woman from a Muslim background died last week,” explains the June 20 report.
“… her husband Mihrab and children — all of them Christians — organised a funeral ceremony and invited people from their church. But Mihrab’s Muslim relatives also invited local Muslims, including a cleric, who demanded that Mihrab convert back to Islam, otherwise he would refuse to hold the ceremony and prevent them from burying the Christian woman in the local cemetery. Mihrab responded that the pastor of her church could hold the ceremony, but the Muslims present vowed that they would not allow the woman’s body to be buried, saying Mihrab and her family were ‘betrayers of Islam.'”
After appealing to a local official, the Christian family was eventually given permission to lay their wife and mother to rest. “Burials are one example of the ways in which Christians are put under pressure across Central Asia,” noted the report.
“The common tradition is for the dead body to return to the village community where the family originated, but converts are seen as bringing shame on the community. As a result, they and their family members, whether or not they have also converted, are often prevented from being buried there.”
Morocco: While deemed significantly less radical than other Muslim nations, Christians in the North African Muslim kingdom are still seen and treated as second-class citizens; any public expression of faith creates difficulties for them. For example, “[b]y law, only foreign Christians are allowed to collectively worship in churches, many set up during the French colonial era, and proselytism is punishable by up to three years in prison,” according to a June 8 report. Similarly, two converts to Christianity had to:
“… marry in a small ceremony in a meeting room of a human rights group in the Moroccan capital, ignoring threats from people in their conservative hometown… They are part of a tiny minority who have converted to Christianity and are demanding legal recognition of their marriage. Islam is the religion of state in predominantly Sunni Muslim Morocco where only Muslim and Jewish marriages are deemed legal.”
“From now on I have to wear niqab [face veil] if I want to walk in the streets of my hometown,” the new bride said after the ceremony. “We want to be recognized as Moroccan Christian citizens and to enjoy the right to legal marriages and burial ceremonies according to our religion,” said a local human rights representative. Another Christian couple who they refused to get married in a Sharia setting, and therefore their Christian marriage remains unacknowledged, said:
“We are running the risk of being accused of fornication punishable under the penal code… We suffer from discrimination by authorities which do not recognize us as Moroccan Christians coupled with social pressure and harassment because of our choice of faith.”
According to VOA, “The native Christian community is estimated by local leaders at more than 50,000 but no official statistics exist.”
Extremist Abuse of Christians in Egypt
After Christians objected that a group of Muslim men were swimming completely nude in front of their homes — while Christian women were sitting outside — “[a] Muslim mob gathered around the homes of Christians across the canal and began pelting them with bricks and stones, while shouting ‘Allahu akbar’ [Allah is greater] and chanting slogans against Copts,” a local resident, Nashaat Ezzat, said. “They broke the windows and doors of some houses, looted and destroyed some properties.” Six Christians were injured and required stitches in their heads. Police arrived three hours later and arrested seven Christians and two Muslims. According to the report, “Local Christians said the police arrested them in order to pressure the Christian community to reconcile with their Muslim attackers in exchange for the release of the detained Copts.” They were all released five days later.
Although Christians are not legally required to observe Ramadan, including by joining Muslims in fasting during the day, one Christian was arrested and two Christians beaten for failing to observe the Muslim holiday. When Hani George, 31, arrived at the Giza rail station, a police officer asked for his identification. Once the officer realized that Hani was Christian he began searching through his bag: “There was a bottle of water inside my bag and, while he was searching it, he was staring at this bottle with anger,” George said. “He took my ID from me and asked me to follow him. When I resisted and asked where he was taking me, he started insulting me and ordered that I stopped talking — as if I was a criminal.”
“The officer told me, ‘Why did you have this bottle of water while we are in Ramadan?’ I told them I was not fasting because I was a Christian, but they insulted me and said that I would stay there until sunset and that I was not allowed to sit…. I was held at the police station for more than two hours and was dealt with in a very humiliating way for having done nothing. When I am at work, I don’t eat or drink in front of my Muslim colleagues, as a sign of respect.”
Separately, on June 6, a farmer, Adel Ayoub, 52, was drinking water outdoors when he was approached by a group of young men. “They asked me, ‘Why are you breaking Ramadan fasting?’ I told them I was a Christian. As soon as they heard the word ‘Christian,’ they attacked and beat me with their hands until I almost fainted.”
In another incident that occurred on June 1, a Christian bus driver was beaten for drinking tea. While waiting at a bus stop, an eyewitness saw a group of men attack a bus and smash its windows. “I approached the microbus and found out that the driver was attacked because he was drinking a cup of tea inside and also because he was a Christian. There was a tattoo of a cross on his right wrist,” he added. According to the report:
“The Egyptian Fatwa House, an Islamic research centre presided over by the government, declared in 2016 that eating or drinking during the fasting hours of Ramadan ‘is not part of the personal freedom of people,’ but rather an aggression against Islam.”
Finally, discussing what it calls “a spike in kidnappings and disappearances of Christian women and girls in rural areas of Egypt and some cities,” a June 13 report explained that there is “a trafficking strategy that targets Coptic Christian young ladies and forces them to convert to Islam then sell them into either into domestic care in other international locations or into the sex trade.” This is “a tactic to demoralize the women and to humiliate the Christian community.”
“[T]here were seven kidnappings of Coptic Christian women in the month of April [alone] and an eighth one on May 2… One of the girls who was kidnapped, Mirna Malak Shenouda, a 16-year-old Coptic Christian girl, escaped her kidnappers… [S]he was kidnapped by two women and a man in Aswan. She had been knocked out but awoke on a train. At one of the stops, she jumped off and called her parents. However, Shenouda’s escape and rescue are rare.”
Christian families complain that police often do nothing.
In one instance, “after the family reported to the police, they returned to the station for updates and the police stated the woman had come into the station, said she was not missing and had willingly converted to Islam. The family says they do not believe she would ever willingly convert to a different religion as she loves God. However, the local police will not investigate this case or similar cases any further.”
Western Enablers of Religious Supremacism against Christians
Iraq: A Christian community leader lamented that “the Pope’s [Francis’s] repeated emphasis on a greater tolerance for and understanding of Islam has left the deeply persecuted Chaldean minority [Iraqi Christians] feeling insecure and vulnerable,” says a report. In an interview, Aziz Emmanuel al-Zebari, 68, a Chaldean political candidate and professor at the Catholic University of Erbil, said, “We have actually been weakened by the stance taken by the Vatican. The Vatican is teaching the community to be submissive. That won’t help us get our rights.” Zebari referred to the Pope’s approach as “naïve and short-sighted… There can’t [be] dialogue when one party is down and the other party has the upper hand…. There is no equal ground here.” Iraq’s Chaldeans, he said, “have paid a high price for being Christian, and we cannot prevail without protection. When I am displaced, when my family is threatened with sexual violence and I’m then told just to pray and be tolerant… We don’t expect any support from the Vatican. We are in a hopeless situation.”
United Kingdom: “Just one in 400 Syrian refugees given asylum in the UK last year were Christians despite them being subjected to ‘horrendous persecution,'” a June 23 report found. “The number of Christians granted asylum by Britain has slumped considerably since 2016, when 1.5 per cent were Christians.” Critics of these statistics argue that, because Christians amount to 10 percent of Syria’s population, so 10 percent of Syrian refugees should be Christian. Yet if anything, “Last year that percentage dropped to just 0.23 — amounting to 11 of the 4,832 Syrians who were resettled in the UK.” The overwhelming majority of those nearly 5,000 refugees are Sunni Muslim, the one sect not targeted by the Islamic State, which itself is Sunni.
Canada: During a parliament session, MP Garnett Genius asked Prime Minister Justin Trudeau if he would acknowledge, as other heads of nations had done, that the Islamic State was persecuting Christians. Trudeau did not give a clear answer. Genius later wrote in a Facebook post:
“Today in Question Period I asked the Prime Minister to acknowledge the persecution of Christians in the Middle East and to recognize that Christians were victims of genocide at the hands of Daesh/ISIS. The Prime Minister did not answer the question at all, and would not even use the word ‘Christian’ in his response. The government’s response to minority persecution around the world has been underwhelming, but on issues impacting Christians in particular, they have steadfastly refused to engage at all.”
Similarly, Andrew Scheer, another Canadian MP, said “Justin Trudeau’s failure to stand up against the persecution of Christians and other minorities around the world is completely unacceptable.” Discussing this incident, one report noted:
“When it comes to criticism of radical islamism, Justin Trudeau immediately denounces it as ‘islamophobia,’ seeking to shut down any discussion whatsoever. But when it comes to persecution against other faiths, particularly Christianity, Trudeau is silent.”
Austria: “Catholic children forced to learn Islamic songs at [an] Austrian elementary school,” is the title of a June 20 report. “At an elementary school in Linz, Catholic children have to memorise and recite Islamic songs as part of the Islamic Ramadan festival. They were forced to take part and were punished if they refused.” After picking up her young son from school, one Catholic mother was shocked to hear him loudly chanting “Allah, Allah.” He told her that for two months the entire class had been compelled to sing songs about Islam, or else risked punishment. “It felt like a slap in my face!” said the mother. According to the report, “The Islamic religious teacher came to the children in the class and ordered the students to learn the appropriate Ramadan songs, because the whole class must celebrate this festival.”
Such “Islam first” incidents have been growing around Austrian schools. An elementary school teacher from Vienna had said earlier that it is becoming impossible to integrate Muslim children. “Sharia law is superior for many of my students,” she warned.
“Music and dance are rejected on religious grounds. Also discussions and fights take place with increasing frequency along religious lines…. Many schools are getting more and more out of control” and “the problems in the classrooms are almost impossible to solve anymore.”
© 2018 Gatestone Institute. All rights reserved. The articles printed here do not necessarily reflect the views of the Editors or of Gatestone Institute. No part of the Gatestone website or any of its contents may be reproduced, copied or modified, without the prior written consent of Gatestone Institute.

When the revolutionists regret it
Mohammed Al Shaikh/Al Arabiya/November 18/18
When asked on a television show about the current situation in Iraq and the state of corruption, which is hindering government formation even as ISIS prowls near the borders, Iraqi member of parliament Izzat Shabandar said: “I would accept a President and a government, even if 70 percent or 60 percent of it is corrupt and infiltrated, over a situation of void that might lead to dire civil war that lasts for a quarter of a century.”The interviewer then asked him: “If this be so, then why did you not accept Saddam Hussein? He was a dictator, why do you accept (what you just said) but reject him?” Shabandar courageously replied: “If I had the present awareness before Saddam was toppled, I would have supported my country against the US invasion and let Saddam stay.”
Although I disagree with this politician over many of his views, especially as he belongs to the Shiite Dawa Party, which is equivalent to the Sunni Muslim Brotherhood, I appreciate his candor in that he admitted the truth despite it being so bitter for many revolutionists to accept.
When Arab citizens do not care about this wealth, their inevitable fate would be what is happening now in Iraq, Syria, Libya and Yemen. Iraqi Arab citizens should never forget that those who led bloody revolutions in these countries are the Islamists who used religion and made it a pragmatic tool
Islamist movements
I definitely believe that what this Iraqi politician has said is what many citizens of Arab countries, who responded to the call of Qataris and the Muslim Brotherhood who used to call their movement ‘The Arab Spring,’ are currently saying. Experience is the best evidence. All those who were fooled by ideologies and slogans and who were swept away by revolutionary actions are now regretting it as security and stability are the state’s real fortune. When Arab citizens do not care about this wealth, their inevitable fate would be what is happening now in Iraq, Syria, Libya and Yemen.Iraqi Arab citizens should never forget that those who led bloody revolutions in these countries are the Islamists who used religion and made it a pragmatic tool. Here you can witness the consequences of these revolutions; what these false religious appearances had done to their countries — bloody civil wars, that just when they are about to calm down, they are ignited again and so on. As for us in Saudi Arabia and the Gulf, the withdrawal of Islamist movements and exposure of their true faces is reassuring. Their repeated attempts to ignite tensions again collude with peoples’ support for their leadership. It is also crystal clear that many of their traitorous figures who had worn false religious appearances have raised the white flag as they suddenly realized what happened to those whose stability and security were harmed by what was falsely called the ‘Arab Spring’. This ‘Arab Spring’ has exposed their schemes and made people realize what the true goals are. Such Islamist movements are receding now. Years ago, I had expected this end for the Islamist movement; however, this so-called Arab Spring was tantamount to the high price which Arab people had to pay to get rid of these devilish movements that deceive people in the name of Islam.

Iraq’s government: A non-productive recycling

Adnan Hussein/Al Arabiya/November 18/18
The current Iraqi scene suggests that no one has done anything to change or improve the situation of the country, which has been deteriorating ever since Islamist parties managed to dominate the state and society, with the help of external actors like the Americans and Iranians, through an electoral process that was never fair as acknowledged by some parties.
The constitution which the Iraqi people defied al-Qaeda and other terrorist organizations for, and voted in its favor in 2005 concluded with an article that obligates amending it within a period of time that actually expired in 2007. To this day, not a single letter has been amended!
Now two parliamentary terms have ended since the first one (2006-2010) without reverting to the original text, i.e. the constitution. In fact, some have enthusiastically and boldly declared that “the quota system is here to stay” and that it “has become a reality”
Quota system
It’s as if the powerful forces, which put this constitution aside right after holding a referendum on it and replaced it with a system of sectarian and nationalist quotas, did not pledge that they would do so for only one parliamentary term until all sectarian and national components are assured that each has a place and a role in the new regime, as it was claimed at the time. Now two parliamentary terms have ended since the first one (2006-2010) without reverting to the original text, i.e. the constitution. In fact, some have enthusiastically and boldly declared that “the quota system is here to stay” and that it “has become a reality”.
It’s as if the forces that won in May’s parliamentary elections had not all announced their conviction of the importance of abandoning the quota system and seeking to establish a civil state, as well as the order of citizenship after the majority of Iraqis (60%) boycotted the elections. They did so in protest over the administration’s management that is based on the quota system which has been tantamount to a ‘Pandora’s Box’ full of evils including greed, vanity, slander, lies, envy, weakness, insolence, and so on.
It is as if these same forces did not publicly pledge after the elections that they would not intervene in the formation of the new government and that they would let Prime Minister-Designate Adel Abdul Mahdi handle the formation and freely choose the ministers!
In spite of all of this, everything in Iraq has gone back to square one. The quota system is still in place and it again determined that the Speaker of the House of Representatives should be a Sunni, the President of the Republic is a Kurd and the Prime Minister is certainly a Shiite. Ministers are hence appointed according to the same sectarian equation without any consideration or attention to the eligibility for holding state positions: competence, experience, integrity and patriotism.
Abdul Mahdi has formed an incomplete government, trapped in the selfsame vicious circle of the quota system. Selecting ministers for the remaining posts is obstructed by the quota barrier which Abdul Mahdi did not dare jump over although powerful forces had publicly said he would be able to.
The quota system has therefore reproduced itself with the new government. The deteriorating or rather worn-out political process is recycling itself and its components leading to the same threats of worsening political conflict, fragmenting the social structure and increasing financial and administrative corruption. This is in addition to corrupt political practices such as shamelessly buying and selling ministerial posts and insisting on appointing people with no political background or popular support. Some of them are even involved in terrorism and corruption related cases.
The consequences
What will all of this lead to? This recycling process will push Iraqis to express their anger at the powerful political class, an anger that has often expressed itself in the form of continuous and escalating protest movements as well as the boycotting of elections.
The public protest in Iraq has been rising steadily since 2010, along with deterioration in the public services system, especially electricity, water, transport, housing, health and education. This is in addition to the escalating crisis of unemployment and poverty and the disruption of development projects due to corruption and mismanagement as a result of granting leadership positions to unworthy and incompetent figures. Indeed, last summer was the scene of violent protest movements.
Amid an expired political process that’s viewed as illegitimate by many Iraqis, the current cabinet, which is being formed by Mr. Abdul Mahdi like the previous cabinets were formed, cannot take Iraq out of the long, dark tunnel that it has been stuck in for the last 15 years. This will only mean that Iraqi anger, which is difficult to put out its embers, can this time be devastating if it explodes again amid losing hope of ever exiting this tunnel.

A European Army: Is it a viable project?
Amal Abdulaziz Al–Hazani/Al Arabiya/November 18/18
French President Emmanuel Macron wrongly timed the announcement of the idea of forming a European army to protect Europe from Russia, China and the US and to reduce reliance on the US for maintaining European security. The timing was wrong because the French president had to meet leaders of the concerned states the very next day, at the commemoration ceremony marking the end of World War I. He had to diplomatically correct what he said a few days ago to the European radio station.
The idea is not new as even Macron himself had actually presented it two years ago. Before him, Charles de Gaulle had proposed it. It was also Napoleon’s project to fulfill his dream of dominating Europe. What are the Europeans’ real concerns that are pushing them to form a continental army? Have things changed from the time of De Gaulle to Macron?
The French president specified countries, which he says Europe is afraid of. These include China, Russia and the US. As for Russia, President Vladimir Putin has welcomed the idea of a European army. Perhaps, he hopes that the idea would result in the dismantling of NATO
Europe’s grudge
After World War II, General De Gaulle felt that the victory gave him the opportunity to have a place among the top four powers that control the world and that the defeat of Nazi Germany was thought of as a declaration of the emergence of the most powerful state in Europe, France. France intended to be at the core of the formation of this army, not as a defense for the continent as much as a mechanism symbolizing a unified military force that is compatible with the new EU power. Britain was and still is against the formation of this European military union at a time when NATO still exists and includes the US.
According to Macron, Europe has faced two instances that have adversely affected the continent. The first is Britain’s withdrawal from the EU, wherein Britain has not clarified the procedural mechanisms for its withdrawal plan yet, which would impact European markets. It looks like Britain is paying it back to France, which opposed the British joining the EU until 1973. The second setback was the re-imposition of US sanctions on certain countries for political reasons and which Europe will pay for indirectly.
The US withdrawal from the nuclear agreement has embarrassed the European governments with their private sector that had signed many contracts with Iran when the nuclear agreement was signed. Washington now threatens any companies which may continue to work with the Iranians.
European governments seem incapable of compensating companies for their losses and of standing up against US President Donald Trump over his decision. This setback is on the economic side, but it also has political and military implications. The French army, which is considered the fifth strongest army in the world, is the strongest in Europe. Germany, despite its economic might and superiority in military industries, is still semi-occupied by about 40,000 US troops across several military bases, and is not ready for the withdrawal of the Americans who provide protection for it from the side 0f Eastern NATO countries.
Russia upbeat
The French president specified countries, which he says Europe is afraid of. These include China, Russia and the US. As for Russia, President Vladimir Putin has welcomed the idea of a European army. Perhaps, he hopes that the idea would result in the dismantling of NATO, which was established to defend European states from the erstwhile Soviet Union. From his point of view, a military alliance without the US is in his interest. It is noteworthy that the separatist revolution in Crimea, which was backed by Russia, led to tough US sanctions – that are tougher than the European ones – on Moscow.
I believe that Macron raised the idea of establishing a European army to confront the danger of growing US dominance over Europe and the feeling among Europeans that the US is forcing them to take the direction it chooses according to its policies. Even Germany, despite the large presence of US military on its territory, is trying to involve small European states — such as the Czech Republic and Romania — for building a military bloc from which an inter European military alliance would be launched. Not all European countries accept the idea of a European army, as they see the NATO as a military entity that’s enough in warding off threats.
Europe must come clean
The problem of modern Europe is not related to Trump, China or Russia. Its main issue is that it has kept itself away from major issues of the world and at the same time it wants, due to its role in history, to gain the upper hand in decisions pertaining to certain issues, mainly those related to combating terrorism.
The world is open nowadays. It is no longer accepted or understood, how major countries in Europe would defend their relations with countries and groups that support terrorism, though its countries, especially France, are among the most affected.
All that Trump’s administration has done is that it has gotten more involved in various theatres; in relations with North Korea, competing in the Syrian arena and limiting Iranian activity that threatens world peace. Meanwhile, Europe abandoned Libya at a crucial time after the overthrow of Colonel Muammar Gaddafi, and its positions are also not clear with respect to the Lebanese Hezbollah, the Houthis and their supporter, Iran. To conclude, Europe without a powerful NATO that is supported by it and by the US would be considered a weak spot by its real enemies. The idea of a European army on which there is no harmony over would be another failure that would add to its political failures in major issues.

The Problem Isn’t Theresa May. It’s Brexit
Therese Raphae/Bloomberg/November, 18/18
If not Theresa May’s Brexit deal, then what?
That’s the question British lawmakers face if they reject the divorce agreement the prime minister negotiated with the European Union. MPs may find some answers — but none will be satisfying, and it’s unlikely any would command a parliamentary majority.
On Wednesday night, May announced that her cabinet had collectively agreed a deal that would ensure Britain’s orderly departure from the EU. The agreement would allow the country to limit immigration, one of the Brexiters’ key demands.
By Thursday morning, the deal was on its deathbed.
Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab slept on it and then became the second holder of that office to resign in protest of a deal he supposedly helped to negotiate. That was followed by a cascade of other resignations lower down the ranks. There is a good chance now that her deal will be rejected by Parliament and her leadership challenged by members of her own party. May herself hasn’t conceded anything: She spent some three hours in Parliament Thursday defending her agreement and calling on MPs to act in the national interest.
Her plan is undeniably flawed, the timing awful, and the prime minister herself made mistakes along the way. And yet the chief problem here isn’t any of these. It is that the country’s lawmakers can’t agree about how they should honor the 52-48 percent referendum vote to leave the EU.
Saying “no” is tempting. Each group of opponents can say they stood firm at their red lines.
For the Democratic Unionist Party, the small Northern Irish party that has propped up May’s minority government, the fact that the deal allows Northern Ireland to be treated differently from the rest of UK is unacceptable as they see it as a violation of the country’s constitutional integrity. The opposition Labor Party complains the deal is too great a compromise to be acceptable. It doesn’t guarantee access to EU markets sufficiently, or protect workers’ rights for starters.
Brexiters in May’s own party are unhappy that the EU will have a veto over whether Britain leaves the backstop arrangement keeping it in the customs union and that the European Court of Justice will remain the final arbiter of EU law. But none of these complaints amount to a positive proposal for anything on which a majority of MPs could agree. Those who reject May’s deal need to have a better idea with which to replace it.
There were always two alternative routes, but neither commanded a parliamentary majority. The one preferred by Brexiters is a free trade agreement, with some enhancements to reflect the closer UK-EU relationship, using the European Union’s trade deal with Canada as a base. And yet that option doesn’t solve the Irish border question and imposes more costs to the UK economy than the closer arrangements on offer. Another alternative was closer cooperation in the form of a Norway-style arrangement by which Britain remains inside the single market, but outside the customs union. It would be free to negotiate its own trade deals. This, the least economically damaging form of Brexit, had several insuperable problems, not least that the UK voted to leave Europe in part to regain control over immigration and the single market requires accepting the free movement of labor.
Neither of those options is any more feasible now. Crashing out of the EU without a deal would be unconscionable and it is unlikely Parliament would allow it. That leaves two further outcomes: Allowing a popular vote, or making amendments or concessions that might make the existing agreement palatable. May was repeatedly asked about a second referendum in Parliament on Thursday — and rejected it. There is growing support for the idea, but it presents several obstacles: Should voters be asked if they want to remain in the EU as one option? Brexiters would consider that a betrayal of the original referendum. What happens if the vote is in favor of staying by a similar margin? And what if voters favor no deal?
Surely Parliament would be unlikely to accept the latter; but neither will Brexiters accept a vote between a deal they hate and remaining in the EU, something they hate even more.
May hasn’t quite run out of options: She could make further concessions, such as allowing Parliament a say over the treaty governing the future trade relationship with the EU, something which will be negotiated after March 29, 2019. That might buy some time and may satisfy some of the softer opponents to her deal. But her position of leadership is in jeopardy. There are no easy ways out. Whatever Britain decides, it will have to do so by consensus, and that’s what all sides have yet to come to terms with. Replacing May might give some Brexiters a degree of satisfaction; that’s why someone invented punching bags. But it won’t help. They will still be faced with an uncomfortable truth: The problem here isn’t May or her agreement; it’s that Brexit forces some uncomfortable choices on the country.

West should beware Iranian regime’s opposition smear campaign

د. ماجد ربيزاده: على الغرب أن يتنبه لحملة تشويه معارضة النظام الإيراني
Dr. Majid Rafizadeh/Arab News/November 18/18
For whatever reason, or however unreasonably, there are apparently some circles that are still prepared to close their eyes to the Islamic Republic of Iran’s human rights abuses, aggressive military expansionism, sponsorship of terrorism and cyber warfare in favor of “constructive dialogue.” Rather than taking a firm line and demanding that Iran behaves like, in the words of US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, “a normal country,” certain journalists are all too willing to naively, or perhaps maliciously, lap up every shred of misinformation about the Iranian opposition and augment every iota of pro-regime propaganda. These “useful idiots” crop up in newspapers and on radio and television in Europe and the US.
Of late, the blather has gone from a wave to a barrage. A well-funded, highly organized misinformation campaign attempts to demonize the only viable alternative to Tehran’s rulers, the Mujahedin-e Khalq (MEK), whose four decades of opposition to one of the world’s most evil regimes apparently equates with being some sort of terrorist cult.
As is often the case, it is all about timing. With the introduction of the final phase of tough new US sanctions on Iran, which target oil exports, shipping and financial transactions, and while protests are spreading and expanding nationwide, the clerical regime is flailing.
Its first response, as always, is repression at home. With a collapsing economy, massive unemployment and growing recognition among the young and well-educated Iranian population that Iran’s vast oil resources have been systematically misused to enrich the mullahs and to finance proxy wars across the Middle East, protests are now occurring regularly.
Iran Human Rights Monitor has reported an increase in executions, repression and human rights abuses this month, including 22 hangings in two weeks, as the mullahs try desperately to contain the growing unrest that has seen nationwide protests continue for almost a year. They also report arbitrary murders, deaths in custody, inhuman treatment, cruel punishments, and appalling prison conditions.
However, the protests, strikes and clashes are continuing, and protesters have proven willing to push back against the repression to make their voices heard on the street.
Unable to crush the unfolding uprising at home, the Iranian regime is striking overseas. Terrorist plots targeting the MEK in Albania, France, the US and Denmark have been foiled this year. One Iranian diplomat is jailed in Belgium, three have been expelled from France and the Netherlands, and the terrorist arrested in Denmark has been exposed as closely linked to the regime’s ambassador in Norway. Thankfully, those attacks have been to no avail.
A well-funded, highly organized misinformation campaign attempts to demonize the only viable alternative to Tehran’s rulers, the Mujahedin-e Khalq (MEK), whose four decades of opposition to one of the world’s most evil regimes apparently equates with being some sort of terrorist cult.
And so we arrive at the third front: The misinformation campaign demonizing the MEK, whom Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei has described as the “foot soldiers” of the uprising. Tehran is desperately seeking Western journalists and media outlets that can be persuaded to smear the MEK, in conjunction with a widespread campaign to manipulate Facebook and Twitter. Tehran is also employing the services of Iranian nationals posing as journalists to do the bidding of the Ministry of Intelligence and Security (MOIS).
In August, Facebook closed 652 accounts and Twitter shut 770 accounts, declaring them false profiles for Iranian government advertising and disseminating fake news and lies. Some of these accounts were used to smear the Iranian opposition. Meanwhile, articles demonizing the MEK began popping up in the US and Europe, most penned by pseudo-journalists and experts whose affiliation with or admiration of Tehran’s rulers is well known. Moreover, the “sources” who consistently appear in their articles as “former members of the MEK” have a documented history of collaboration with Iran’s MOIS.
The distortions are blatant and readily open to fact-checking in numerous independent sources. The fact that publications in Europe and the US would pay lip service to them is deeply disturbing.
Indeed, the recent arrest of Iranian agents in Europe and America, who were planning assassinations and terror attacks on members of the Iranian opposition, are evidence of the regime’s malign intentions. Moreover, the allegations against the MEK could equally be applied, by association, to myself and the many other independent scholars and personalities from all political parties and from differing religious and ethnic backgrounds who annually attend the Iran Freedom Rally in Paris — the very gathering targeted this year by Tehran’s terrorist-diplomats.
Eighty million beleaguered citizens of Iran, more than half of whom are aged under 30, are being denied their future by a murderous and misogynistic regime. A significant majority have risen up demanding change, despite the risks of dire reprisals. The MEK and its parent coalition, the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), led by the charismatic Maryam Rajavi, offers a viable democratic alternative.
The journalists who echo the propaganda fabricated by the radical mullahs should recall Voltaire’s warning: “Those who can make you believe absurdities, can make you commit atrocities.”
*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