November 22/1
Compiled & Prepared by: Elias Bejjani

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Bible Quotations For today
But do not ignore this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like one day
second Letter of Peter 03/01/15/This is now, beloved, the second letter I am writing to you; in them I am trying to arouse your sincere intention by reminding you that you should remember the words spoken in the past by the holy prophets, and the commandment of the Lord and Saviour spoken through your apostles. First of all you must understand this, that in the last days scoffers will come, scoffing and indulging their own lusts and saying, ‘Where is the promise of his coming? For ever since our ancestors died, all things continue as they were from the beginning of creation!’ They deliberately ignore this fact, that by the word of God heavens existed long ago and an earth was formed out of water and by means of water, through which the world of that time was deluged with water and perished. But by the same word the present heavens and earth have been reserved for fire, being kept until the day of judgement and destruction of the godless. But do not ignore this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like one day. The Lord is not slow about his promise, as some think of slowness, but is patient with you, not wanting any to perish, but all to come to repentance"

Titles For Latest LCCC Bulletin analysis & editorials from miscellaneous sources published on November 21-22/18
Lebanon Is An Occupied Country/Elias Bejjani/ November 22/18
President of the Republic, Michel Aoun in his address to nation on Independence Day: Lebanon is undergoing government formation crisis/Wed 21 Nov 2018/NNA
Mass Commemorates Pierre Gemayel 12 Years After Assassination/ 21st November 2018
Anti-Syrian Regime Websites: Regime Granting Citizenship To Millions Of Iranians, Hizbullah Operatives To Change Country’s Demography From Sunni To Shi’ite Majority, Conceal The Fighters’ Presence In Syria/MEMRI/November 21/18
ANALYSIS: New Information Shows Iran Behind Latest Gaza Crisis/Yochanan Visser/Israel Today/November 21/18
Statement on the Election of a New Interpol President/Garry Kasparov and Members of the Standing Committee of the Free Russia Forum/Gatestone Institute/November 21/2018
Germany: Turkish-Muslim Appointed Second-In-Command of Domestic Intelligence/Soeren Kern/Gatestone Institute/November 21/2018
The Single Sentence That Would Rescue Theresa May's Brexit/Malcolm Lowe/Gatestone Institute/November 21/2018
“All White Women are Sluts and Deserve to be Raped”: The West Adopts Islam’s Perspective/Raymond Ibrahim/American Thinker/November 21/18
Conflict between Major Powers/Hal Brands/Bloomberg View/November,21/18
A map of the world in the campaign against Saudi Arabia/Fares bin Hezam/Al Arabiya/November 21/18
The determinist discourse: How science moved away from humanism/Adil Rasheed/Al Arabiya/November 21/18
Saudi Arabia: No regression, no surrender/Mashari Althaydi/Al Arabiya/November 21/18
US-China trade war spats: Where to next/Dr. Mohamed A. Ramady/Al Arabiya/November 21/18
Iran/Hizballah build new militias in Syria against northern Israel. What is Eisenkot missing/Debka File/November 21/18

Titles For Latest LCCC Lebanese Related News published on November 21-22/18
Lebanon Is An Occupied Country
President of the Republic, Michel Aoun in his address to nation on Independence Day: Lebanon is undergoing government formation crisis
Trump sends wishes to Berri on Lebanon Independence Day
Trump: Iran Supporting the Terror Group Hezbollah in Lebanon
Lebanon’s Mustaqbal Movement: Bassil Adopts Hezbollah’s Logic
Lebanon Marks 75th Independence Day as Country Stalls to Form Govt.
Ibrahim in Order of the Day: Defeating Terrorism is Our Key Concern
Mass Commemorates Pierre Gemayel 12 Years After Assassination
Sami Gemayel Vows to Not Allow Anyone to Tarnish Martyr Brother's Cause
Sami Gemayel: We Will Not Compromise Until Pierre's Dream Achieved
Politicians Pay Tribute to Martyr Pierre Gemayel on Assassination Anniversary
Sayegh: Hariri Must Face Hurdles to Secure Government Formation
Bassil signs bill to amend law regulating entry, residence and departure from Lebanon
Loyalty to Resistance after bloc meeting: Refusal of independent Sunni deputies' representation unjustified
Shbib: Independence stems from citizenship, away from confessionalism
British Embassy: Additional £5 million to UNICEF in support of nonformal education across Lebanon
UAE Embassy concludes Breast Cancer Awareness Campaign
British Minister Burt congratulates Lebanon on its Independence Day
Anti-Syrian Regime Websites: Regime Granting Citizenship To Millions Of Iranians, Hizbullah Operatives To Change Country’s Demography From Sunni To Shi’ite Majority, Conceal The Fighters’ Presence In Syria

Titles For Latest LCCC Bulletin For Miscellaneous Reports And News published on November 21-22/18
Ghosn Custody Extended as Crisis Deepens at Nissan
Amnesty to Expand Probe of U.S.-Led Campaign in Syria's Raqqa
Iranian FM Mocks Trump Statement on Saudi Prince
Pompeo tells Khamenei: Iran should spend on its people, not terrorists
US Sanctions Target Russian Oil Deliveries to Syria Regime
US Representative: We Do Not Challenge Russia’s Interests in Syria
Israeli Minister Threatens Hamas’s Gaza Leader
Iraq: Top Officials Rent Public Offices for Low Prices
Iraq’s Muqtada al-Sadr: Mosul is in danger
Houthis Say UK Draft Resolution for Hodeidah is 'Nonbinding’
Heavy Metals, Ammonia Blamed for Iraq Carp Deaths

Latest Lebanese Related News published on November 21-22/18
Lebanon Is An Occupied Country
Elias Bejjani/ November 22/18
Psalm 92:12: "The righteous will flourish like a palm tree, they will grow like a cedar of Lebanon".
Today, the Lebanese back home in beloved Lebanon, as well as those living in Diaspora are all remembering with sadness, anger and frustration their country's Independence Day.
Although the country is practically not independent and savagely occupied by Hezbollah, Iran's terrorist proxy army, but every sovereign, faithful and patriotic Lebanese is hopeful and fully confident that this era of terrorism, evilness, oppression and hardship is ultimately going to end. By God's will Lebanon's freedom spring is on the horizon.
Lebanon through its deeply rooted history of 7000 years have witnessed hard times and all kinds of invaders, occupiers, dictators, and tyrants, they all were forced to leave Lebanon with humiliation and Lebanon maintained its freedom and sovereignty. There is no doubt that the fate of the current occupier is going to be any different.
There are numerous reasons behind the ongoing devastating internal and external wars that are being waged against Lebanon and his people. These reasons have varied throughout contemporary history with the changing instruments of fighting, circumstances, financiers and profiteers.
However, the main reasons and targets were always and still are the privileged Lebanese distinctive identity, multiculturalism, freedoms and coexistence. Almost every nation and people in the Middle and Far East look upon Lebanon as a heaven for freedoms and as an oasis for the persecuted.
At the present time and since 1982, the Iranian armed terrorist militia, Hezbollah, which was created by the Iranians with its mini-state during Syria's bloody occupation era of Lebanon (1976-2005) imposes an extremely serious and fundamental threat to all that is Lebanese: culture, identity, history, civilization, freedoms, coexistence, tolerance, democracy, peace, openness, order and law.
But as our deeply rooted history teaches us, this Stone Age armed terrorist group shall by God's will be defeated as was the fate of all invaders, tyrants, dictators and occupiers whose sick minds fooled them that Lebanon could be tamed and his people could be subdued and enslaved. They all were disappointed and forced to leave with humiliation and disgrace.
The Syrian occupier in 2005 and after almost 30 years of savage occupation had to face the same scornful fate. Hezbollah will have ultimately the same end sooner or later although its armed militiamen are Lebanese.
We thank God for the ultimate failure of all savage attacks which the faithful Lebanese shattered with stubbornness, perseverance, courage and self-confidence, and remained attached to their identity, and steadfast against hatred, foreign expansionism schemes and evil conspiracies.
The distinction of Lebanon is that it is a nation of diverse religious denominational groups and civilizations living together in agreeable coexistence, without coercion or oppression or becoming a melting pot, despite transient harsh confrontations at certain periods of history always instigated and orchestrated by external forces. Lebanon’s air of liberty has been made equally available to its extensive mosaic of communities to help them maintain freedom of their cultural and religious particularities and distinctions.
All Throughout history these distinctions gave Lebanon his pluralist flavour and made the majority of the Lebanese people into a homogeneous society attached heart and spirit to the one Lebanese identity that personifies their roots, cultures, hopes and civilizations.
The confessional diversity permits each of Lebanon’s 18 ethnic communities to express its original goodness within its core and the sanctity of its faith. Even though the communities’ perspective towards God may be different, they do not disagree on the truth of God’s essence, and He remains the All Mighty Creator and the source of all good to all people.
Accordingly, all Lebanese have learned that none of them should presume to monopolize God’s relationship through himself, or seek to acquire all God’s graces by eliminating others, because these others were also created by God and are also His children, and that He is the only ultimate judge.
All religions in Lebanon worship the same God, and He definitely accepts them all each according to their sincerity and trust. God knows the content of hearts and intents, and He is not fooled by the various rituals and styles of worship.
The majority of the peace loving Lebanese people strongly believe that no one Lebanese community should claim that it is the best, or the closest, or the only path to God. They all trust in the fact that God knows all wants, and uncovers all intents. Hezbollah is an odd exception among the Lebanese communities.
In conclusion, for Lebanon, the land of the holy cedars to be victorious in the face of the Axis of Evil powers dirty and evil wars against his existence, Each and every Lebanese in both Lebanon and Diaspora has a patriotic and ethical obligation and a holy duty to preserve by all means Lebanon's graceful identity and solidify its implantation in the conscience, hearts and souls of the new Lebanese generations and to root it in their awareness, as well as in Lebanon's blessed soil.
N.B: The above article is from the archive.

 President of the Republic, Michel Aoun in his address to nation on Independence Day: Lebanon is undergoing government formation crisis
Wed 21 Nov 2018/NNA
In his address to the nation on Lebanon's 75th Independence Day, President of the Republic, Michel Aoun, said: "Our nation's independence is 75 years old.
During these seventy five years, Lebanon has gone through hard times, it has lived wars, occupations and trusteeships, and our independence was subject to setbacks that almost made us lose it, but it also knew glorious moments that we are proud of, through the great sacrifices made by our people and army to safeguard Lebanon's sovereignty, freedom and independence.
It has been seventy-five years that Lebanon is celebrating independence on the 22nd of every November. Yet, independence is not a mere celebration, and it cannot be reduced to a date or narrowed down to a festivity, although we celebrate and rejoice.
Being an independent country means having a sovereign decision.
Being an independent country means having sovereignty on its territories.
Being an independent country means presumably being capable of saying "yes" and "no" in everything that concerns it or relates to it.
I therefore address my remarks to you, fellow Lebanese, by saying: you have paid a lot to achieve real independence, and to have a nation with a sovereign decision. It is the responsibility of all of us to preserve this independence, and the first safeguard thereof is by maintaining our national unity, and our will of coexistence within the frame of human and social values which are stronger than all laws, and which bind and unite us, knowing that every fault here paves the way for a fault there.
Always remember that the entry of the external factor makes us lose the freedom of decision, thus wasting the essence of independence and jeopardizing sovereignty as well.
Also keep in mind that the nation's independence and sovereignty must remain outside the equation of loyalty and opposition and outside the scope of struggle over power, for disputes must not be about the nation but rather about politics, and they are accepted as long as their ceiling remains below that of the nation and its higher interest.
My call today to all officials, parties, movements and confessions, on this national occasion which inflames our hearts with pride and glory, is to reject our differences, set aside our personal interests and show a sense of responsibility towards those who entrusted us with their fate, their livelihood affairs, the dignity of their existence and the welfare of their families; towards the Lebanese people who are sick of promises and almost despaired by snitching interests, and tired of the indifference of decision-makers to their concerns, their unemployment, their rights and their broken dreams.
It is our duty to reassure them about their future, and to get along in the House of Representatives and in the Government, striving day and night to plan and work on rescuing our country economically, socially, environmentally and ethically... Yes, ethically; because poisonous words that are launched at each other like arrows in the media and social media, clearly indicate the rock bottom that ethics have hit, and the lack of authenticity and humanity which have always characterized our people. With such a decline, there is no resurrection for the nation.
Lebanon is undergoing today a government formation crisis. It is true that it is not one of a kind, as we have previously experienced it in the past years. It also happened and is happening in States with a long-standing democratic and civilizational heritage; but it makes us lose time irreversibly, and blocks our abilities to produce and follow up the interests and affairs of the country and the citizens, in particular to address the economic situation. (If you want the State to rise, remember that Lebanon does not have anymore the luxury of wasting time).
During the past period, priority was given to ensuring security stability and keeping Lebanon away from the fires of the surroundings. Today, after having achieved that, it is indispensible to embark on tackling the pressing economic situation as well as the citizens' fears and livelihood concerns. It is no longer possible to make do with local instantaneous treatments, and to postpone the desired reform at all levels, especially that the national economic plan has become clear and awaits the adoption of its schemes and decisions in the Council of Ministers and House of representatives; for the real strength of nations is not measured by their military capabilities, but rather by their real economy, its sustainable development and its adaptation to evolution and modernization.
Independence cannot be complete and national sovereignty does not take its full dimension unless the national economy is emancipated and converted from a catch-up economy to a productive one, by activating the production movement in the various sectors and throughout the country.
The Lebanese economy suffers from structural and financial problems which have aggravated over the past 28 years and resulted in the outcome that we are facing today, whereas real growth remained weak and incapable of generating enough employment opportunities for the youth, workers and businesspeople alike.The overall private and public consumption exceeds the GDP.... and as the saying goes "Pity the nation that wears a cloth it does not weave, eats a bread it does not harvest, and drinks a wine that flows not from its own wine-press".
Lebanon is a country small in area but large in capabilities. Investing properly in these capabilities and potentials requires a serious approach to national economy, a modern perspective of production in the various sectors, and a total commitment to this orientation by both the society and the State, thus enabling Lebanon to build a productive economy that responds to the aspirations of our people and encourages our youth to work in their country to achieve an added value which enhances the national wealth and ensures a permanent and solid prosperity, thus consolidating the foundations of independence, promoting sovereignty and giving freedom - the freedom of the citizen in addition to the freedom of the nation - its real meaning which is closely linked to human dignity, wellbeing and ease.
Despite all the current difficulties, and although some feel that horizons are closed and that the future is cloudy and gloomy, I say most confidently and responsibly: we will not let the country moan longer, we will not be lenient in countering corruption and the corrupt, and we will not draw back on promises of reform, sustainable development and finding work opportunities for our youth. I will personally work with all my power, and with all the prerogatives vested in me as President of the Republic, in collaboration with the Speaker of Parliament and the Prime Minister, to push forward the wheel of the economy, rationalize expenditure, cut waste short, and improve services and infrastructure, which are some of the citizens' most basic rights.
I am determined to keep working personally and daily on following up corruption files - whether small or big - with the concerned parties in the judiciary, the control agencies and the security and administrative organs, in order for the citizens to feel that something is changing in their daily lives, and that fighting corruption and the corrupt is not a mere slogan, but rather a continuous action which - despite being hard - will become tangible.
We face another problem, imposed on us by the war of the neighborhood, and putting strain on our economy, society and security, notably the situation of the Syrian displaced who are living in misery camps, in tents that neither protect them from heat nor from cold. One of their most fundamental rights is to return to their home and land, especially after the recession of the war and danger in most of the Syrian regions. Yet, some are hindering this return for hidden motives, whether by evoking the voluntary return while using all the means of encouragement and intimidation to make the displaced choose to stay where they are, or by trying to link the return to the political solution; and both means cause a great damage for Lebanon which strives to solve its accumulated problems and can never bear additional burdens. Although war broke out in the neighborhood, we have been receiving the largest share of its repercussions for years, and today it has exceeded our capabilities in all fields. We are therefore working daily on encouraging the Syrian displaced to return and on facilitating this return and ensuring its requirements.
Experience has taught us that gaining independence, no matter how hard and costly, remains easier than preserving it, especially in a world governed by interests and force, a world where ethics and justice are absent, and we are well aware of it.
Experience has also taught us that independence can turn into a mere commemoration and a formal folk celebration, free from any content or essence. Let us make it a priority to preserve our real independence and hold on to it, because it is the cornerstone upon which are built the country's stability, freedom, security, peace and prosperity."

Trump sends wishes to Berri on Lebanon Independence Day
Wed 21 Nov 2018/NNA - House Speaker, Nabih Berri, on Wednesday received a congratulatory cable from U.S. President Donald Trump, expressing warmest wishes for Lebanon and the Lebanese people on the 75th anniversary of Lebanon's Independence Day. In his message, Trump highly appreciated the partnership between the US and Lebanon and the progress that the Lebanese government achieved last year, which includes the successful legislative elections and their struggle against terrorism. Trump said in his cable the US supports a prosperous, safe and peaceful Lebanon.
The US President added that his country looks forward to working with a new Lebanese government which is committed to endorsing Lebanon's sovereignty and independence. On the other hand, Speaker Berri received congratulatory cables on Independence Day and the holy Prophet Mohammed's birthday, namely from Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, and the Speaker of the Iranian Shura Council, Dr. Ali Larijani. This afternoon, Berri met with the Vice President of the Republic of Ghana, Mahamudu Bawumia, accompanied by a civilian and military delegation. Talks reportedly touched on means of strengthening bilateral relations and the role of Ghana's contingent operating within UNIFIL in south Lebanon.

Trump: Iran Supporting the Terror Group Hezbollah in Lebanon 21st November 2018/U.S. President Donald Trump on Tuesday said that Iran is responsible for a "bloody proxy war" against Saudi Arabia in Yemen, slamming it as “the world’s leading sponsor of terror.”
"Iran is trying to destabilize Iraq’s fragile attempt at democracy, supporting the terror group Hezbollah in Lebanon, propping up dictator Bashar Assad in Syria (who has killed millions of his own citizens), and much more," Trump said in a statement issued by the White House.
"Likewise, the Iranians have killed many Americans and other innocent people throughout the Middle East. Iran states openly, and with great force, 'Death to America!' and 'Death to Israel'!”Trump said that Saudi Arabia would "gladly" withdraw from Yemen if the Iranians would agree to leave, adding that they would immediately provide desperately needed humanitarian assistance.

Lebanon’s Mustaqbal Movement: Bassil Adopts Hezbollah’s Logic
Beirut - Caroline Akoum/Asharq Al-Awsat/Wednesday, 21 November, 2018/Al-Mustaqbal movement said the caretaker foreign minister has adopted the logic of “Hezbollah” in the ministerial representation of the March 8 coalition’s Sunnis, while the Free Patriotic Movement (FPM) insisted that it was still possible to resolve this obstacle and that Gebran “Bassil’s efforts in this regard will not stop.” Statements issued following Bassil’s meeting with the Hezbollah-backed March 8 Sunni deputies on Monday have revealed lack of optimism on an imminent solution to the government deadlock. The foreign minister, who is also the FPM chief, described the problem as intra-Sunni, recognizing the Sunni coalition’s right to representation and inviting Prime Minister-designate Saad Hariri to meet its demand. However, al-Mustaqbal senior official Mustafa Alloush stressed that Hariri rejects such a request. The demands of the Hezbollah-backed Sunni lawmakers is the latest obstacle to Hariri’s government formation efforts. In remarks to Asharq Al-Awsat, Alloush said: “After Bassil’s declared and undeclared positions, he is obviously moving in a vicious cycle… which means adopting the logic of Hezbollah that will not lead to a solution.”While Alloush said he believed that the government would not be formed soon if the positions remained unchanged, he considered that President Michel Aoun could find a solution through a serious offer to save his tenure and agree with Hezbollah on a Sunni minister of his share. But he added that the presidency seemed to be insisting on keeping its share of 11 ministers “at all costs.”On the other hand, FPM MP Mario Aoun rejected claims that Bassil was siding with a party against the other, saying that the other parties should also work to find a solution. He told Asharq Al-Awsat: “The foreign minister did not announce the failure of the talks, and he assumed this task and will continue with it, especially since it is normal that things will not be resolved from the first meeting.” Despite Bassil’s announcement after his meeting with the Sunni deputies on the failure of a proposal to swap Aoun’s Christian minister with a Sunni minister of Hariri’s share, Aoun said that all the proposals were still under consideration and that other suggestions might appear in the next stage.

Lebanon Marks 75th Independence Day as Country Stalls to Form Govt.
Naharnet/November 21/18/Lebanon celebrated Independence Day on Wednesday with several challenges facing the country, including forming its government after several months of delay. The country marked 75 years of independence with an official ceremony staged at the Defense Ministry in Yarzeh. President Michel Aoun, Prime Minister-designate Saad Hariri, Speaker Nabih Berri and several officials and political figures attended the ceremony marking the country's independence. Lebanon has still to form a government six months after the designation of its Premier in May. Disagreements between political parties over Cabinet shares has so far hampered the formation

Ibrahim in Order of the Day: Defeating Terrorism is Our Key Concern

Naharnet/November 21/18/General Security Chief, Maj. Gen. Abbas Ibrahim stressed on Wednesday that the Directorate's may concern was to defeat terrorism. His remarks came in his Order of the Day marking the 75th anniversary of Independence Day, the National News Agency reported.
"The General Directorate of the General Security stands before a new stage at both the security and administrative levels in order to score new achievements that would add to Lebanon's value in a way that the Lebanese merit," Ibrahim said. "Fellow soldiers, in line with what has been achieved at the security and administrative levels, the General Security's key concern for the upcoming stage is to defeat terrorism and to sap its effects and tools, in addition to fighting the Israeli enemy rings in all their forms," he added.

Mass Commemorates Pierre Gemayel 12 Years After Assassination 21st November 2018/
On the 12th anniversary of the assassination of Minister Pierre Gemayel, a mass was held at Bickfaya's Saint Michael Church on Wednesday to commemorate the martyr Kataeb figurehead. Following the service, former President Amine Gemayel took pride in his son who defended his country until the last breath, praising the exemplary role that he had played in guarding Lebanon's sovereignty and independence. Gemayel stressed that the state of despair the country is witnessing is the result of the political forces' relinquishment of national unity, deeming the disintegration of the March 14 coalition as the "biggest crime" committed against the country. "Nowadays, we are experiencing a futile policy that has no clear goals or programs; one that is driven by selfishness and that is only generating conflicts over shares," he said. "There is no option other than re-embracing the constants and goals that were defended by Pierre."Gemayel pledged to not back down on the sacred duty and legacy left behind by the martyrs, vowing unwavering resistance for the sake of Lebanon. Amine, the son of the late minister, sounded the alarm over the deplorable situation that Lebanon is currently witnessing, saying that it is time to cut fake appeasement and lies because "the cost will be very high". "I promise you to carry on your struggle until the end,” he said. The priest officiating the mass, Father Antoine Achkar, said in his sermon that Pierre Gemayel’s absence is a great loss, especially amid the critical phase that the country is going through as the government formation has turned into a process of partitioning and spoils splitting. "We renew our faith and firm determination to remain committed to the path and the struggle illustrated by the martyr during the few years he had lived, and to the treasured legacy he has left for us."
“Dear Pierre, rest assured that there is someone to carry the torch after you; a person who embodies everything you wished for to the party and Lebanon. A person whose leadership is rational, his national constants are gleaming, and his bold truthfulness is brilliant," Father Achkar said in a clear reference to Pierre's brother, Kataeb leader Samy Gemayel. "He does not utter falsehoods in order to gain the applause of the populace, and there he is taking difficult decisions to reach the State that you dreamed of." Pierre Gemayel, who was a prominent figure in the “Cedar Revolution" and the son of former President Amine Gemayel, was shot dead in broad daylight as his car was driving through Jdeideh on November 21, 2006. He then served as the Minister of Industry in the Cabinet of former Prime Minister Fouad Siniora. One of Gemayel's bodyguards, Samir Chartouni, was also killed in the attack.

Sami Gemayel Vows to Not Allow Anyone to Tarnish Martyr Brother's Cause 21st November 2018/On the 12th assassination anniversary of Minister Pierre Gemayel, Kataeb leader Samy Gemayel stressed that his brother stood firm to his national struggle despite being aware that his life was at risk, saying that the latter had paid the price on behalf of everyone else. "The synchrony of Lebanon's Independence Day, as well as the anniversaries of the Kataeb party's foundation and the assassination of Pierre Gemayel proves that the Kataeb is an integral part of Lebanon," Gemayel told MTV channel.
The Kataeb chief vowed to not allow anyone to tarnish the cause that Pierre Gemayel had believed in and died for, pledging that the Kataeb party will not compromise its constants and will strive to achieve the martyr's dream. "We will not compromise no matter what the price we will have to pay, and regardless of the circumstances and the threats that will come in our way," he affirmed. For his part, former President Amine Gemayel hailed his late son as an exemplary model of selflessness and altruism, noting that the date of his assassination encloses a significant importance given its association with the national events that the Gemayel family had witnessed throughout history.

Sami Gemayel: We Will Not Compromise Until Pierre's Dream Achieved 21st November 2018/On the 12th assassination anniversary of Minister Pierre Gemayel, Kataeb leader Samy Gemayel stressed unwavering determination to fulfill his brother’s dream of a free, sovereign and independent Lebanon. “We will not compromise until Pierre’s dream is achieved,” Gemayel pledged in a post on his Twitter page.

Politicians Pay Tribute to Martyr Pierre Gemayel on Assassination Anniversary 21st November 2018/As Lebanon marks the 12th anniversary of the assassination of Minister Pierre Gemayel, Kataeb officials and other prominent politicians paid tribute to the young minister who sacrificed his life for the sake of his nation. Prime Minister-Designate Saad Hariri saluted the late minister as a "loyal" friend and a "noble" warrior for the freedom of Lebanon, its democracy and its independence. "May the soul of Pierre, and all the martyrs, rest in peace," he wrote on his Twitter page. Shortly later, Kataeb leader Samy Gemayel replied to Hariri's tweet, thanking him for the salute he made on this "painful" day. "Let the memory of our martyrs serve as a motive for us to stand firm, revolt and trust our power to make a change for a better future for us and our children," Gemayel wrote.
Kataeb MP Elias Hankache outlined the importance of the lesson that Pierre Gemayel's martyrdom has taught everyone, saying that the latter proved unconditional and unlimited love for Lebanon since he himself adored his country to the extent of martyrdom.“We will not compromise as will abide by righteousness to preserve Lebanon's identity, dream and the message,” Hankache affirmed in an interview on Voice of Lebanon radio station. “The assassination of Pierre Gemayel only ramps up our determination; an influential message comes out of his martyrdom and that is the reason behind my decision to return to my country after living abroad for several years," he pointed out. MP Nadim Gemayel said that Pierre is still present despite being physically absent, stressing that martyrs don't really die as theylive on forever in the hearts of people. For his part, Kataeb leader's top adviser Fouad Abu Nader blasted the turn of events 12 years after Gemayel’s assassination, criticizing the failure to uncover the perpetrators. “It is strange that we still cannot identify the murderers of Minister Pierre Gemayel, which only confirms that the crime was perfectly planned," Abu Nader told Voice of Lebanon. “Martyrs paid a heavy price so that we safeguard our independence. There’s no fear over Lebanon and its future. This dark cloud that is hovering over our country will eventually pass,” he concluded. Former Kataeb MP Elie Marouni described this day as painful, deploring the fact that the country is still trapped in a vicious cycle of corruption, poverty and unemployment. “We have never forgotten Pierre [...]. He is still with us every day, in every memory and in every work that we do. We take inspiration from his short journey during which he kept on spreading love for his homeland,” he told Voice of Lebanon.
“The concerned security agencies are not lifting a finger to uncover the truth and punish the perpetrators. Unfortunately, Pierre Gemayel’s assassination case is still empty, with no tangible evidence of his killers. Our country is incapable of achieving justice,” Marouni stated.
Lebanese Forces leader, Samir Geagea, also paid tribute to the late minister, pledging that “a revolution will not wither as long as the spirit of a revolutionary martyr still lies within it.”Free Patriotic Movement chief Gebran Bassil hailed Pierre Gemayel, saying that the latter contributed to spreading hope among the Lebanese youth. "We stand with respect to commemorate the martyrdom of Pierre Gemayel who loved Lebanon and worked to restore its sovereignty," Bassil wrote on Twitter.Former Minister Ashraf Rifi said that Gemayel, along with all the other martyrs, were killed in a bid to lockup Lebanon, adding that they murdered Gemayel because he was one of the brave people who were holding onto their dream of a sovereign and free Lebanon. "We promise you, our dear martyr, that we will resist until we liberate Lebanon from their guardianship,” Rifi tweeted. Former MP Fares Souaid also saluted the martyr, adding that Lebanon had lost a "true visionary leader".

Sayegh: Hariri Must Face Hurdles to Secure Government Formation 21st November 2018/Kataeb's Deputy-President Salim Sayegh on Wednesday urged President Michel Aoun to address the concerns and fears of the Lebanese, saying that the latter should openly tell the people how the State is planning to deal with the U.S. sanctions on Hezbollah. "We all stand by his side to be really a strong president who solves the issue of non-state arms in the country," Sayegh said in an interview on Future TV. "A strong president is the one who imposes his power on the strong, not the weak." Sayegh warned that Hezbollah is seeking to nibble away at the State institutions, stressing that the president, who reached office thanks to that party, should ensure the implementation of the defensive strategy mentioned in his inaugural speech. Sayegh also called on Prime Minister-Designate Saad Hariri to face all the hurdles hindering the government formation and to not yield to the conditions being imposed on him, warning that the situation can no longer bear any further delay. "Keeping the situation unchanged means dismantling the Lebanese State, and this is something that doesn't serve the interest of anyone."

Bassil signs bill to amend law regulating entry, residence and departure from Lebanon
Wed 21 Nov 2018/NNA - On the eve of Independence Day, "Strong Lebanon" bloc head, Minister Gebran Bassil, signed a draft law to amend some articles in the law regulating entry, residence and departure from Lebanon, issued on July 10, 1962, and amended in accordance with Law #173 dated 14/2/2000. Minister Bassil's announcement on Wednesday came during a press conference at the Conference's Center in Sin El-Fil, attended by Caretaker Minister of State for Presidential Affairs, Pierre Raffoul, and bloc MPs. Speaking at the press conference, Minister Bassil said the announcement of the draft law came on the eve of Lebanon's Independence Day due to its association with the Lebanese national sovereignty and its integrity. The Minister said this law is sovereign in its nature and promotes national independence and sovereignty, enjoying human aspects that are very important and respectful of human rights. Bassil said this law guarantees the rights of foreigners either visiting or working in Lebanon, and preserves the rights of the Lebanese citizens.

Loyalty to Resistance after bloc meeting: Refusal of independent Sunni deputies' representation unjustified
Wed 21 Nov 2018/NNA - "Loyalty to Resistance" bloc on Wednesday held its periodic meeting at its headquarters in Haret hreik, under the chairmanship of bloc head, MP Mohammed Raad. The bloc discussed an array of matters on the local and regional arena. In a statement issued in the wake of the meeting, well-wished the Lebanese people on the 75th anniversary of Lebanon's Independence Day, calling on the sons of the nation to unite in order to maintain their country's sovereignty and safeguard their dignity. The bloc deemed real independence as a supreme national value that opposes dependence, submission and extortion, and solely matches with free and genuine stances. "Loyalty to the Resistance" bloc also called on the Prime Minister-designate to take serious action to accomplish the government formation, urging him not to close the doors in front of assumed solutions.The bloc reiterated its support for the six independent Sunni deputies and their right to be represented in the government, saying rejecting their representation in Cabinet is unjustified, in form and content.

Shbib: Independence stems from citizenship, away from confessionalism
Wed 21 Nov 2018/NNA - Beirut Governor Judge Ziad Shbib said on Wednesday that independence was derived from genuine citizenship, far from confessionalism. "Confessionalism is a form of racism," Governor Shbib said during a ceremony held at Haigazian University on the occasion of the 75th anniversary of Lebanon's Independence Day. Addressing university students in his delivered word, Governor Shbib underlined the paramount importance of practicing genuine citizenship, living in coexistence. "True independence is when the individual reaches a certain maturity and ability to act on his own," he corroborated. He finally stressed that the values on which Haigazian University is based were an example to follow. An art exhibition displaying 30 paintings on the concept of independence by students from different Lebanese schools was then inaugurated.

British Embassy: Additional £5 million to UNICEF in support of nonformal education across Lebanon
Wed 21 Nov 2018/NNA - 'Education is the future, it offers children a ladder out of poverty to transform their communities and countries. As the world celebrates World Children's Day, the UK is proud to be a committed partner to education in Lebanon. I am pleased to announce that the UK Secretary of State for International Development Penny Mordaunt has today announced an additional £5 million to our support to UNICEF's non-formal education programme working with the most vulnerable children across all of Lebanon', said British Ambassador to Lebanon, Chris Rampling, during the week of World Children's Day and Lebanon's 75th Independence Day. In a press release by the British Embassy in Beirut, it said: "The additional funding will continue to support girls and boys with non-formal education and provide child protection and Gender Based Violence services to the most vulnerable, bringing the UK's support in this area to £65m over four years. Over 14,000 girls and boys aged between 3-5 years, 8-18 years will receive community-based early childhood education and attend Basic Literacy and Numeracy classes, and over 10,600 will receive child protection and other related services." Release added: "Since 2016, the project has succeeded in providing non-formal education to almost 64,000 refugee boys and girls and supported over 116,000 disadvantaged boys, girls and women in Lebanon who are vulnerable to abuse with a package of services to help them deal with trauma and prevent abuse in the future." "Every child has the right to an education, that is why the UK's strong partnership with Lebanese and international partners will continue to help ensure that all children in Lebanon receive an education," release concluded.

UAE Embassy concludes Breast Cancer Awareness Campaign
Wed 21 Nov 2018/NNA - The United Arab Emirates Embassy's Development and Humanitarian Affairs Department concluded Wednesday its Breast Cancer Awareness Campaign. The campaign was launched last October by UAE Ambassador to Lebanon, Dr. Hamad Saeed Al-Shamsi, at the Embassy headqauaters in the presence of VICE Prime Minister, Public Health Minister, Ghassan Hasbani. The UAE campaign, launched in conjunction with the national campaign to combat breast cancer, was conducted over a month in all Lebanese regions and villages, funded by the "Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan Foundation for Humanitarian Works" within the "Zayed Initiatives 2018."In this framework, awareness seminars were organized to shed light on the risks of breast cancer, ways of prevention and treatment conducted by supervising doctors, specialized cadres and volunteers. At the conclusion of Breast Cancer Campaign, Ambassador Shamsi said the campaign aimed to raise awareness of Breast cancer and encourage women to undergo the necessary preventive measures for early detection, diagnosis and full recovery.

British Minister Burt congratulates Lebanon on its Independence Day
Wed 21 Nov 2018/NNA - British Minister of State for the Middle East at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, Alistair Burt, congratulated Lebanon on its 75th anniversary of independence. Minister Burt said in a statement: "The UK was among the first countries to recognise Lebanon's independence 75 years ago, and remains a staunch supporter of its sovereignty and territorial integrity. The relationship between our two countries has never been stronger. The UK is proud of our partnership with Lebanon, as we work together to build strong, legitimate state institutions, secure Lebanon's borders, support Lebanon with its refugee crisis, and boost our nations' prosperity. The UK looks forward to the early formation of a Lebanese government, a government with which the UK can continue to strengthen its partnership. On behalf of Her Majesty's Government I am delighted to send my congratulations to President Aoun, Prime Minister-designate Hariri, Parliamentary Speaker Berri, and the Lebanese people as they mark this momentous anniversary."

Anti-Syrian Regime Websites: Regime Granting Citizenship To Millions Of Iranians, Hizbullah Operatives To Change Country’s Demography From Sunni To Shi’ite Majority, Conceal The Fighters’ Presence In Syria
موقع ميمري: نظام الأسد يجنس ملايين الإيرانيين وحزب الله يغير الديموغرافيا السورية ليصبح الشيعة فيها أكثرية
MEMRI/November 21/18
Throughout the Syria war, websites opposed to the Assad regime have repeatedly claimed that this regime and its ally Iran were using the war to change Syria’s demography by expelling Sunni populations, deemed a potential threat to the regime, and bringing in Shi’ites, who are more likely to support it. According to these reports, the Assad regime and Iran use a variety of methods – including threats, siege and starving – to compel Sunnis to emigrate and then seize their property and replace them with elements loyal to the regime, including non-Syrians.[1] President Assad outlined this policy in a July 2015 speech, saying, “The homeland does not belong to those who live there, nor to those who hold a passport or are citizens. The homeland belongs to those who protect and guard it.”[2]
In the recent months, several websites reported that the regime was naturalizing thousands and even millions of Shi’ites, members of Iranian and Iran-backed militias that are fighting alongside the Syrian army. On November 17, 2018, for example, the Saudi website and the Syrian opposition website posted what they claimed was a letter from the head of Syria’s General Intelligence to Syria’s interior minister. The letter contained a list, provided by the “special office” in the Syrian President’s Office, of Iranians to be granted Syrian citizenship. According to Elaph, this is only one of thousands of documents in its possession indicating “systematic action by the regime to settle Iranians throughout Syria.”
This report joins many others published in the past claiming that the Syrian regime has granted citizenship to some two million Iranians, including operatives of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC).Other reports state that the regime is also granting citizenship to Hizbullah operatives deployed in southern Syria, along the border with Israel. This may be an attempt to conceal the presence of Hizbullah in the region, which contravenes the understandings reached between Israel and Russia.
This document reviews the recent reports about the granting of Syrian citizenship to Iranians and Shi’ite militia members.
President’s Office Presents Interior Minister With List Of Iranians To Be Naturalized
As stated, on November 17 the website posted a document signed by the head of Syria’s General Intelligence and addressed to the Syrian interior minister. Attached to the document was a letter from the Syrian President’s Office listing several Iranian nationals and instructing the minister to add them to Syria’s civil registers in four governorates – Damascus, Rif Dimashq, Aleppo or Deir Al-Zor – and inform the General Intelligence of the identity numbers issued to them, listed by governorate. The document, numbered 59954/, reads: “Attached please find a letter, no. 5170, from the Presidency of the Republic – Special Office, instructing to add the names below to the civil register and inform us of their identity numbers and details, listed by governorate – Damascus, Rif Dimashq, Aleppo and Deir Al-Zor.”
The document as it appeared on the site
The website noted: “These official documents indicate that the Syrian regime is systematically settling Iranians in different parts of Syria in order to change the demography [of these areas] by granting citizenship to Shi’ite Iranians and settling them in Sunni areas whose original inhabitants have been expelled… The document presented [here] is not the only one; hundreds of thousands [of Shi’ite] have been granted [Syrian] citizenship and settled in various areas, most of them members and operatives in the Iranian IRGC… These Iranians have begun to receive Syrian citizenship, as preparation for bringing in their families and settling in the areas to which they have been assigned.”[3]
The document was also posted the same day on the Syrian opposition website, which stated that the Iranians listed in the document were IRGC commanders stationed in Syria.[4]
Syrian Opposition Website: 200,000 Shi’ites And Iranians Have Been Issued Syrian Passports On Orders Of Presidential Palace
As stated, this report joins others from the recent months claiming that the Syrian regime is granting citizen status to Iranians and other members of the Iran-backed Shi’ite militias that are fighting alongside the Syrian forces. On April 2, 2018, the Syrian opposition website reported that “the Passports and Immigration Department in Damascus recently issued 200,000 passports to Iranians” on orders of the Syrian security apparatuses, officers at the presidential palace and associates of the president’s brother, Maher Al-Assad. The report stated further that this was part of naturalizing Iranians as well as Afghan and Pakistani Shi’ite militiamen fighting in Syria, and that the move was aimed at granting the foreign militias legal status that would enable to maximize their efficacy in the future.[5]
Lebanese Daily: Two Million Shi’ites, Including Hizbullah Fighters, Have Been Issued Syrian Identity Cards
On May 30, 2018, the Lebanese daily Al-Nahar published an article by journalist Ahmad ‘Ayyash which stated, citing diplomatic sources, that the Syrian president “has issued [Syrian] identity cards to some two million Iranians and operatives of militias belonging to the Iranian IRGC Qods Force, and to their families, as well to Hizbullah [operatives]. The [regime] does not just issue them Syrian identity cards, but helps them to settle in parts of Damascus’s Ghouta and in the rural areas of Damascus, Hama, Homs and Aleppo that have been emptied of their original inhabitants.” According to the article, this is part of the regime’s compliance with the interests of Iran and the militias subordinate to it. It added that “many members of the Iranian regime have obtained Syrian identity cards in order to evade the American sanctions.”[6]
Report: Hizbullah Operatives In Southern Syria Near Israel Border Are Being Naturalized
Another report about the naturalization of Hizbullah members appeared October 14, 2018 in the Syrian opposition website This report claimed that Hizbullah operatives in Dara Governorate, in southern Syria near the Israeli border, were being issued Syrian identity cards. According to the website, these operatives arrive at the civil registry offices in Dara and demand to be issued identity cards, and if the local registrar refuses, a regime officer arrives and orders him to comply.[7]
In this context it should be noted that the presence of Hizbullah in this area contravenes the understandings reached between Israel and Russia this year, according to which the Iranian and Shi’ite forces must withdraw from southern Syria. The issuance of identity cards to these fighters may be aimed at enabling them to stay there, ostensibly without violating the understandings.
[1] On the regime’s and Iran’s efforts to change Syria’s demography, see MEMRI Inquiry & Analysis No. 1280, Together With Its Allies, The Syrian Regime Is Forcing Demographic Change In Areas Of The Country – For Self-Protection And Self-Preservation, November 15, 2016; Special Dispatch No. 7454, Lebanese Journalist: Hizbullah Settling In Syria As Part Of Iranian Plan To Change Its Demography, May 3, 2018.
[2] Al-Watan (Syria), July 26, 2015.
[3], November 17, 2018.
[4], November 17, 2018.
[5], April 2, 2018.
[6] Al-Nahar (Lebanon), May 30, 2018.
[7], October 14, 2018.

Latest LCCC Bulletin For Miscellaneous Reports And News published on November 21-22/18
Ghosn Custody Extended as Crisis Deepens at Nissan
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/November 21/18/Japanese authorities Wednesday extended Nissan Chairman Carlos Ghosn's -of Lebanese descent- detention by 10 days, as it emerged the car giant itself could face charges over the alleged financial misconduct that laid low its once-loved leader. Monday's stunning arrest of the millionaire auto tycoon, who is credited with turning around the Nissan-Renault-Mitsubishi Motors alliance, sent shockwaves through the global car sector, corporate Japan and beyond. On Wednesday, several media reported that the Tokyo district court had ordered the 64-year-old Brazil-born businessman held for a further 10 days as prosecutors step up their investigation over the alleged under-reporting of Ghosn's package by about five billion yen ($44.5 million). Prosecutors had 48 hours after his arrest to either press formal charges, release him or request this 10-day custody extension to continue the probe. The titan of the car industry is being held in a detention centre in northern Tokyo in conditions far removed from his flashy lifestyle. "In principle, he will be all alone in a cell," lawyer Ayano Kanezuka told AFP. "There is everything you need, heating, a bed but conditions are spartan," said Kanezuka's colleague Lionel Vincent, who also said there would be an inner courtyard with bars. The crisis appeared to be going from bad to worse for Nissan, as the Asahi Shimbun reported that prosecutors believe the firm also had a case to answer. Both Nissan and the authorities declined to comment. - 'Too much authority' -Nissan's board will decide Thursday whether to remove him as chairman, a staggering reversal of fortune for the once-revered manager who created the three-way alliance which together sells more cars worldwide than any other automaker.
Ghosn's fate appears all but sealed after his hand-picked replacement as CEO, Hiroto Saikawa, launched an astonishing broadside at his mentor, saying "too much authority" had been placed in his hands and lamenting the "dark side of the Ghosn era."Saikawa pointedly refused to offer the deep "apology bow" that usually accompanies corporate scandals in Japan and played down the role Ghosn had personally played in reviving the firm's fortunes. However, in France, Renault said it was sticking with the fallen manager as chief executive although it named chief operating officer Thierry Bollore as deputy CEO, handing him the "same powers" as the "temporarily incapacitated" Ghosn.
After an emergency board meeting, Renault urged its sister company Nissan to share "evidence seemingly gathered" against Ghosn from a months-long internal investigation, saying it was unable to comment on the charges without this information.
Paris and Tokyo have been scrambling to contain the fall-out from the arrest, with the finance ministers of both countries declaring strong support for "one of the greatest symbols of Franco-Japanese industrial cooperation."The scandal -- the latest in a string to affect Japan Inc. -- wiped millions off the stock value of all three companies but Nissan bounced back marginally in opening Tokyo trade, climbing nearly half a percentage point in a falling market.
And Ghosn won some support on the street of Tokyo, with passer-by Yoshiaki Watanabe telling AFP: "I think this is someone who was able to do what we Japanese, stuck in our ways, were not able to do."- 'Flamboyant glory-hogging ways' -Ghosn was once the darling of corporate and even popular Japan -- even having a manga comic inspired by him -- and has been the glue holding the auto tie-up together since 1999. He had a reputation as a workaholic and won the nickname "Le Cost Cutter" in France for his slash-and-burn approach to corporate restructuring. Under his stewardship, Nissan and Renault became deeply entwined. Renault owns 43 percent of Nissan while in turn the Japanese firm has a 15-percent stake in Renault. Nissan has become the alliance's key player however, posting sales of 12 trillion yen ($106 billion) last year compared with Renault's 59 billion euros ($67 billion). According to the Financial Times, Ghosn was working on a merger of the two carmakers that Nissan opposed because it feared the Japanese company could be relegated to a secondary role. Jeff Kingston, director of Asian Studies at Temple University Japan, told AFP that Ghosn was "a victim of his own hubris and success.""He trampled on Japanese cultural norms with his flamboyant glory-hogging ways, and his massive compensation incited jealousies and invited retaliation," he told AFP. 'Greedy' -Local media reported that Nissan's representative director Greg Kelly, who was arrested along with Ghosn, ordered other executives to "hide salaries."Some compensation due to other executives reportedly ended up going to Ghosn, although it is not clear how the scheme worked. Public broadcaster NHK reported that Nissan had paid "huge sums" to provide Ghosn with luxury homes in Rio de Janeiro, Beirut, Paris and Amsterdam "without any legitimate business reason." Even when his reputation was sky-high, he attracted criticism for a flashy lifestyle at odds with traditional Japanese corporate culture and his salary -- an estimated 13 million euros in total last year. Media reports also spoke of a lavish Marie Antoinette-themed party in 2016 for Ghosn's second wedding, at the grandiose palace of Versailles.

Amnesty to Expand Probe of U.S.-Led Campaign in Syria's Raqqa
Associated Press/Naharnet/November 21/18/Amnesty International said Wednesday it is enlisting the help of thousands of online activists to speed up its investigation into the U.S.-led campaign that drove Islamic State militants from their self-styled capital of Raqqa but left the Syrian city in ruins. The London-based rights group said the new phase of its investigation enables thousands of online activists, using satellite imagery of the city, to map out the destruction over the four-month campaign, which ended in October 2017. The U.N estimates that more than 10,000 buildings were destroyed— or 80 percent of the city. Amnesty's Strike Tracker campaign, in partnership with Airwars, would help narrow down when and where coalition air and artillery strikes destroyed buildings. Amnesty hopes to compel the U.S-led coalition to accept greater responsibility for the destruction and conduct its own investigation into the deaths of hundreds of civilians.The coalition says it worked to avoid civilian casualties in Raqqa. Col. Sean Ryan, a spokesman for the coalition, said it is "always willing to review if new evidence is reported."In an earlier phase of Amnesty's investigation inside Raqqa, the group provided new evidence that compelled the coalition to acknowledge 77 civilian deaths. In total, the coalition has acknowledged 104 civilian deaths from the hard-fought campaign. "With bodies still being recovered from the wreckage and mass graves more than a year later, this is just the tip of the iceberg," said Milena Marin, senior adviser on Amnesty's Crisis Response team. "There is a mountain of evidence left to sift through, and the scale of the civilian devastation is simply too large for us to do this alone." Some 2,500 bodies have been pulled from the rubble and uncovered in mass graves, and searches are still underway. Amnesty suspects hundreds of civilians died in the campaign. Raqqa was the capital of the Islamic State group's self-styled caliphate, which once encompassed a third of Syria and Iraq. In recent years the group has been driven from virtually all the territory it once controlled, and holds just a few small, remote pockets in Syria.

Iranian FM Mocks Trump Statement on Saudi Prince
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/November 21/18/Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif has issued a mocking response to President Donald Trump's announcement that he would stick by Saudi Arabia despite the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi. "Mr. Trump bizarrely devotes the FIRST paragraph of his shameful statement on Saudi atrocities to accuse IRAN of every sort of malfeasance he can think of," Zarif wrote on Twitter late Tuesday. Trump's statement on Saudi Arabia did indeed open with a litany of complaints against Iran, which he used to justify his continued backing of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman. "Perhaps we're also responsible for the California fires, because we didn't help rake the forests," Zarif added. This was a reference to recent mockery of Trump for his claim that forest fires -- such as those that have hit northern California in recent days -- could be prevented with "more raking and cleaning and doing things". Trump has resisted mounting evidence of Saudi government involvement in the Khashoggi killing -- including from his own intelligence services. "It could very well be that the crown prince had knowledge of this tragic event –- maybe he did and maybe he didn't!" he wrote.

Pompeo tells Khamenei: Iran should spend on its people, not terrorists
Staff writer, Al Arabiya English/Wednesday, 21 November 2018/United States Secretary of State Mike Pompeo took to twitter to directly challenge Iran’s supreme leader Ali Khamenei to spend on Iranian people, not terrorists. “Iran should decide if spending the Iranian people’s money on the Iranian people is more important than inventing schemes to fund Assad, Hezballah, Hamas, and other terrorists,” Pompeo wrote. His response came after the US moved to disrupt an Iranian-Russian network that sent millions of barrels of oil to Syria and hundreds of millions of dollars to indirectly fund militant groups Hamas and Hezbollah. “The US Treasury sends a clear message: There are grave consequences for anyone shipping oil to Syria, or trying to evade US sanctions on the Islamic Republic’s terrorist activities,” he added in another tweet. US officials said Russia facilitated the delivery of oil from Iran to Syria, and that a variety of mechanisms were used in an attempt to conceal the shipments and oil-related payments.

US Sanctions Target Russian Oil Deliveries to Syria Regime
Asharq Al-Awsat/Wednesday, 21 November, 2018/The United States slapped on Tuesday sanctions against figures linked to an Iranian-Russian network that was providing millions of barrels of oil to the Syrian regime and funding the Hamas and Hezbollah groups. The complicated arrangement, described by the US Treasury, involved a Syrian citizen using his Russia-based company to ship Iranian oil to Syria with the aid of a Russian state-owned company. Syria then helped transfer hundreds of millions of dollars in cash to Lebanon’s Hezbollah, as well as to the Palestinian Hamas movement in the Gaza Strip. Since 2014, vessels carrying Iranian oil have switched off transponders to conceal deliveries to Syria, the Treasury Department said, adding it, the State Department and the US Coast Guard had issued an advisory to the maritime community about the sanctions risks of shipping oil to Syria’s regime. The sanctions target six individuals and three entities. "Today we are acting against a complex scheme Iran and Russia have used to bolster the (Bashar al-) Assad regime and generate funds for Iranian malign activity," US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said in a statement. "Central Bank of Iran officials continue to exploit the international financial system," he added. Richard Nephew, a sanctions expert at Columbia University, said: “The arrangement exposes Russia’s efforts to support Assad for their own interests, which has the function of thwarting the US desire to no longer have Assad in power.” Those targeted include Syrian Mohammad Amer Alchwiki and his Russia-based company Global Vision Group, which were central to the delivery of Iranian oil to Syria and the transfer of funds to the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps’ Quds Force’s “lethal proxies”, the Treasury Department said in a statement. Other targets include: Syrian national Hajji Abd Al-Nasir, Lebanon national Muhammad Qasim Al-Bazzal and Russian national Andrey Dogaev as well as Iranian nationals Rasoul Sajjad and Hossein Yaghoubi Miab, the statement said. The US Treasury's designation of the individuals and entities effectively cuts them off from the global financial system by blocking any of their assets under US jurisdiction and warning non-US institutions against dealing with them. Russia will continue supplying oil to Syria in line with its agreement with Damascus despite pressure from the United States, RIA news agency quoted Oleg Morozov, a member of the Russian Federation Council, as saying late on Tuesday. According to Morozov, Russia acts and will act “absolutely legally”. “We have an agreement with Syria and therefore it’s up to us to decide what we supply and to whom. This will be our answer, (it is) much more effective than counter sanctions,” he added.

US Representative: We Do Not Challenge Russia’s Interests in Syria
Washington - Heba El KoudsyAsharq Al-Awsat/Wednesday, 21 November, 2018/Once Iran pulls its troops out of Syria and a political solution to its crisis is found, all other foreign forces would be ready to leave, US Special Representative for Syria Engagement James Jeffrey said in a conference call with reporters. However, the official did not include Russia in his demands for foreign troops to leave the country. Russian military presence in Syria includes a naval port and an air base. “All the other forces would be ready to leave if the Iranians left and if there was a political solution,” he confirmed. Jeffrey explained that Russia wants a friendly government in Damascus and wants to keep its military bases in Syria and “we are not challenging it”. However, he indicated that Washington wants Moscow to put pressure on Bashar Assad’s regime to change its behavior. “The Syrian state that has lost half its population, almost half its territory, that cannot receive international support for its reconstruction because of its terrible behavior.”The United States is trying to make clear to Russia its basic interests that there be a friendly Syrian government and military positions in Syria, he noted, adding that it is in its interest to be its partner and that the Syrian government is supported by the Syrian people. He reiterated that the international community can not support a government that is acting similar to the Syrian regime and that Russia should do its best to change the actions of the current regime. Asked about the Iranian militias in Syria, Jeffrey stated that the US is trying to it clarify to Russia that Tehran’s forces are not only there to support the Assad regime, but to achieve long-term goals in the region. They are seeking to impose regional hegemony and influence power in Syria as they did in Lebanon, Yemen and other countries. Since President Donald Trump took office in January last year, the US focus in Syria has shifted from ousting Assad to combating Iran’s role, explained Jeffrey. The US has about 2,000 soldiers deployed in northeastern Syria to support Kurdish-led forces who control the area. Turkey has troops in northwestern Syria. He stressed that Trump's policy on Syria was clear, as Washington seeks to ease the conflict, and therefore welcomed the ceasefire in Idlib and pushed for a UN-led political process based on Resolution 2254. The envoy stressed that pushing for a political process is crucial to ending the conflict and maintaining security in the region. He confirmed that the withdrawal of Iranian troops from Syria is an undisputed demand and that changing the regime's conduct is a condition for Syria to receive international aid. At the same time, Jeffrey refused to set a time frame for the US military presence in Syria. “More generally we do not put a timeline on the Syrian conflict. It is going on obviously far too long. We want to see it end as soon as possible, but we don’t set any timeline for our involvement because if we did, then people would just wait until we stopped our involvement.”He explained that US presence confirms its commitment to the security of Syria, whether it is to confront ISIS forces or counter the Iranian influence, saying: “The specific military combat mission of our forces in Syria today is the enduring defeat of ISIS. More broadly, our overall presence in Syria has economic, diplomatic and military aspects.”He told reporters that Washington has worked closely with the Turkish, French, German and Russian governments to try to ensure that the Istanbul summit, which they held in October, would reinforce revitalizing the political process and de-escalating the conflict.

Israeli Minister Threatens Hamas’s Gaza Leader
Asharq Al-Awsat/Wednesday, 21 November, 2018/Israel’s Housing Minister Yoav Gallant declared on Wednesday that the days of Hamas's leader in the Gaza Strip were numbered. "Yehya al-Sinwar's time is limited," said Gallant, a former general who once oversaw operations in the Gaza Strip. "He won't finish his life in a retirement home."The official made his remarks days after a controversial truce ended a severe flare-up and triggered a coalition crisis. Speaking at a conference organized by the Jerusalem Post newspaper, Gallant said Hamas's leaders must "recalculate their route" and decide whether to fight Israel or retain the relative quiet of recent days. A ceasefire with Hamas last week ended the worst escalation between Israel and Palestinian militants in Gaza since a 2014 war. But the deal led hawkish Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman to resign in disagreement, sparking a coalition crisis that nearly forced early elections. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu managed to avoid early polls when other key coalition members agreed to remain in the government. Speaking at the same conference, Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan said it was time for Israel to "move from defense to offense" in its battle with Hamas by "going back to targeted killings of the terrorist leaders of Hamas's military wing." Erdan also said Israel should be "willing to capture and hold the Gaza Strip until we dismantle the terrorist infrastructure.""Today we are closer than ever to doing this," he said. Netanyahu has taken a more cautious approach to Gaza, saying he wants to avoid war if it is unnecessary. He has allowed Qatar to provide the blockaded enclave with millions in aid and defended last week's ceasefire. His backers say he and his security chiefs are in agreement on their approach to Gaza, while many analysts warn against starting another war without a clear strategy for how it will end. Lieberman had in the past taken an especially aggressive tone toward Gaza, but backed off after becoming defense minister and said he was committed to "reasonable policy". Prior to becoming minister, Lieberman had pledged to kill Hamas leader Ismail Haniya within 48 hours if he did not hand over two detained Israeli civilians and the bodies of soldiers killed in a 2014 war. Haniya was not killed. Meanwhile, Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked said that US President Donald Trump was wasting his time trying to push for an Israeli-Palestinian peace plan. Reaching peace is currently impossible and Trump should focus his energy elsewhere until the Palestinians are ready to compromise, he added. Speaking at the Jerusalem Post Diplomatic Conference, Shaked says "I think personally it is a waste of time."The US is preparing to release its long-anticipated Middle East peace plan, which Trump calls the "Deal of the Century."Trump's Mideast team, headed by his adviser and son-in-law, Jared Kushner, has been working on a peace proposal for months but has not said when it will be released. The Palestinians consider the plan a non-starter, accusing Trump of being unfairly biased toward Israel.

Iraq: Top Officials Rent Public Offices for Low Prices
Baghdad – Fadel al-NashmiAsharq Al-Awsat/Wednesday, 21 November, 2018/State-owned properties in Iraq have come under the spotlight as several officials revealed sales and rents at knock-down prices, a scandal with ramifications on various parties and influential political figures of different sects. Asharq Al-Awsat obtained a copy of a document which revealed that about 240 Iraqi officials and employees are buying or renting state property at a very low rate compared to market prices. In June 2015, the Prime Minister’s office submitted a report to the cabinet to adopt a certain mechanism for leasing state-owned properties in the Green Zone and the neighboring al-Qadisiyah and al-Jadriya complexes. According to Green Zone workers, most of the officials still occupy leased properties at low prices, knowing that all rented houses are owned by the state and by the Ministry of Finance. The document suggests the employee pays the rent, provided that the amount is deducted from his original salary without considering additional allowances, at a rate starting from 5 percent of the salary for tenants of less than 100 square meters, and 8 percent for over 300 square meters. These amounts often represent no more than 15 percent of the rent value in the Green Zone and adjacent compounds within Baghdad's premium neighborhoods. Among the beneficiaries of the low rents cited in the document: An employee at a former vice-president's office rented an 850-square-meter house for only $26, the son of the same former vice president occupies a 400-square for less than $50, a former prime minister rents a 400-square-meter house in the Green Zone for about $670, and a current ambassador rents a 2,000-square-meter house in al-Qadisiyah for about $210. The document also revealed that some officials occupy more than two houses belonging to the government; for instance a former senior military official and former deputy prime minister rent 3 houses each. Last week, Sairoon coalition, supported by Moqtada al-Sadr, presented to the parliament a set of proposals on the privileges of deputies and rental and ownership of state property. During his visit to Karbala last week, Speaker Mohammed al-Halbousi discussed real estate owned by the government in the Green Zone and asserted that the parliament will debate the matter. Former chief of Integrity Commission Rahim Uqaili said in his resignation letter in September 2011 that looting state funds and real estate is the undeclared part of power struggle in Iraq. According to a judicial expert, corruption in leasing state properties is due to the gross injustice caused by low rent rates, which are not assessed based on the area or location, but on the employee's salary. Renting these properties violates the principle of equality because the tenants belong to an influential class, while the rest of Iraqis, even if they are public employees, are not equally allowed to rent such properties, according to the expert. Legal expert Tariq Harb agrees with the judicial expert, and tells Asharq Al-Awsat that selling and leasing land and state-owned property have caused significant losses in the budget. He revealed a lawsuit filed against a person who has refused to pay the $10 rent for a 2,500-square-meter agricultural land in Jadiriya.

Iraq’s Muqtada al-Sadr: Mosul is in danger
Staff writer, Al Arabiya English/Wednesday, 21 November 2018/The head of the Iraqi Sadrist movement, and a leading player in Iraq's political scene Muqtada al-Sadr has stated that “Mosul is in danger”, adding that terrorist cells are still active in the city, and that “corrupt hands” are taking advantage of the situation. On his official Twitter account on Wednesday, Sadr said: “Mosul is in danger. Terrorist cells are active and corrupt hands are snatching,” adding the hashtag ‘Save Mosul’. Late last year, Iraq announced it had successfully ousted ISIS from the group’s urban strongholds across the country. But extremist cells still wage hit-and-run attacks. This month alone, a deadly string of attacks hit the capital and a car bomb exploded in ISIS’s onetime capital Mosul, killing three. At least five civilians were also killed in a car bomb blast in Iraq’s Tikrit earlier this week.
Three of the dead were women, the sources said, and another 16 people were wounded. Tikrit spent nearly 10 months under ISIS rule before Iraqi security forces retook it in the spring of 2015. Nineveh province’s commander, Major General Najm al-Jabouri had earlier declared his unwillingness to hand over command of security to any province. During a meeting with the governor of Mosul, Nofal al-Akoub, and senior officers of the province, Jabouri questioned their readiness to give up their posts and leave the city, referring to the stance of the officers of the interior and defense ministries in 2014 during ISIS’s invasion of Mosul, where they had left their military uniforms and fled the province. Jabouri stated that all officers must support the morale of their soldiers and fighters, and not intimidate residents. The Iraqi government had announced the liberation of Mosul, the last city occupied by ISIS, and the completion of military operations in December of last year, but has not yet begun reconstruction of liberated cities or the return of displaced families.

Houthis Say UK Draft Resolution for Hodeidah is 'Nonbinding’

Sanaa - Asharq Al-Awsat/Wednesday, 21 November, 2018/Yemeni Houthi militias, ahead of a scheduled visit by UN Special Envoy Martin Griffiths to their stronghold, Sanaa, lambasted the draft resolution for halting military operations in Hodeidah presented by the UK to the United Nations Security Council. The Iran-backed putschists said that the draft resolution in its current wording and conditions is nonbinding. Despite being relieved by international efforts easing the push of Yemeni army forces against coup ranks in Hodeidah, Houthi strongman and leader Abdulmalik Badreddine al-Houthi said his group was hoping for a complete lifting of the siege surrounding the militias and a lenient arrangement which allows an unrestricted flow of Iranian arms into insurgency areas. The UK proposal demands the militants halt all missile launches and drone attacks against Yemen’s neighbors, namely Saudi Arabia, added to the removal of all obstacles inhibiting the delivery of humanitarian aid. Addressing the crowd at a rally held in observance of the birth of Islam’s prophet Mohammed (pbuh), Houthi reaffirmed the coupists are committed to a wider sectarian project guided by Iran’s Khomeini ideology, saying any other option is equivalent to apostasy. Following in the footsteps of Khomeini-styled mass rallies, Houthis have employed coercive measures and threats to bring out Sanaa residents to participate in coup-styled events and rallies. The group is very focused on putting out a bellicose display of sectarian authoritarianism, local sources, speaking under the conditions of anonymity, told Asharq Al-Awsat. Among the threats that faced civilians, who did not wish to attend Houthi marches, was the risk of losing their jobs at coup-controlled public institutions. Despite Yemen’s ailing economy, Houthis have allocated over YER65 billion (some $108 million) to organize a collective display of power across the war-torn country’s governorates and districts controlled by the Iran-backed putschists. Sanaa walls were covered in posters showing Houthi fighters killed in combat and painted slogans glorifying the coup. Sources reported Houthi militants ordering Sanaa locals to paint their porches, house facades, and neighborhood streets green, the group’s trademark color. Public schools were also dragged into holding massing crowds in their courtyards. At the rallies, Houthi officials and leaders would rile up the crowds with sectarian mottos to squeeze out more funds and fresh young recruits. The group’s collapsing ranks across multiple fronts has forced them to look for additional sources of fighters and money to finance their war efforts.

Heavy Metals, Ammonia Blamed for Iraq Carp Deaths
Asharq Al-Awsat/Wednesday, 21 November, 2018/The death of thousands of freshwater fish in the Euphrates river in Iraq was due to high levels of coliform bacteria, heavy metals and ammonia in the water, the World Health Organization (WHO) said. Thousands of tons of freshwater carp have washed up dead this month, leaving Iraqi fish farmers reeling from the significant loss of earnings, Reuters reported. Carp is the country's national dish, commonly served barbecued. Agriculture officials had ruled out deliberate poisoning. A joint investigation by the Iraqi health ministry and WHO also revealed the contamination was not toxic to humans. "Testing on dead fish has revealed serious issues that warranted WHO to conduct a second investigation related to probable viral infection of fish causing the death of thousands in the river. Results of the second test are due next week," WHO said in a statement on Tuesday. The incident illustrates worsening pollution problems in Iraq, which is struggling to provide a sufficient supply of clean water, especially in the south of the country, Reuters said.

Latest LCCC Bulletin analysis & editorials from miscellaneous sources published on November 21-22/18
ANALYSIS: New Information Shows Iran Behind Latest Gaza Crisis
Yochanan Visser/Israel Today/November 21/18
Information released this week and comments made by Israeli Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu during an address to the Israeli public on Sunday shed new light on the mini-war between the Palestinian terror groups in Gaza and the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) at the beginning of last week and the Israeli decision not to launch a ground offensive.
Netanyahu said during his address to the nation, which was meant to save his coalition after Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman resigned, that as leader of Israel he sometimes had “to hide crucial considerations that must be concealed from the enemy” and hinted that there were plans for a military operation in the future."I can not elaborate on our plans for the future but we will determine the right conditions and the right times for the State of Israel, those which are optimal for the security of our citizens,” the Israeli PM earlier told participants in a state memorial service commemorating the 45th anniversary of the passing away of former Israeli PM David Ben Gurion.
Some understood this as a hint to a future ground operation against the terror organizations in Gaza after Netanyahu decided to enter into a ceasefire with them on Tuesday last week.
However, from a briefing to the Knesset Committee for Foreign Affairs and Defense last Monday it became clear Netanyahu’s statement was related to Iran’s continuing preparations for a three-front war with Israel.
The three fronts are Syria, where the IDF has succeeded in preventing Iran from establishing a foothold on the Syrian Golan Heights according to Gaby Eisenkot the Chief of Staff of the IDF, Lebanon and Gaza.
Netanyahu said during the Knesset briefing that Israeli “spy-planes continue to fly and collect information” on the movements of Hezbollah in Lebanon and Syria and the Iranian military build-up in Syria.
The Israeli PM and new Defense Minister also revealed he had tried to enlist Russian President Vladimir Putin for the effort to drive Iran out of Syria but acknowledged that this effort would require the help of a third country.
His remarks immediately led to speculation Israel could be this third country.
During his address to the Israeli nation Netanyahu hinted at a very large military operation which would demand “sacrifice”.
The Israeli military and government are very concerned about Iran’s activities in Lebanon where it is helping Hezbollah with converting crude rockets into guided missiles which can reach all of Israel and about the continuing Iranian entrenchment in Syria.
The Quds Force of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) has founded the so-called Golan Liberation Brigade a 80,000 men strong umbrella organization of Shiite militias which fought in Iraq and Syria and which is commanded by Qassem Soleimani the shrewd commander of the Quds Force.
Until recently the Israeli air force (IAF) used to frustrate the Iranian military build-up in Syria by carrying out airstrikes on weapon convoys and military facilities but the delivery of the Russian S-300 anti-aircraft missile shield has limited the operational capabilities of the IAF.
The Iranian-led pro-Assad coalition is currently setting its sights on the Israeli Golan Heights and last week threatened Israel with war over what it calls the ‘illegal Zionist occupation’ of the mountainous plateau.
During a meeting of the fourth committee of the General Assembly of the United Nations Dr Bashar al-Jaafari the Syrian ambassador to the UN said “we will reclaim Golan by peace or by war.”
Al-Jaafari’s statement indicated that Syria and Iran are looking for a casus belli to start the anticipated three-front-war against Israel after the Iranians most likely tested the Israeli military via the mini-missile-war last week in Gaza.
The Meir Amit Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center in Israel revealed on Monday that Iran –via Hezbollah - had delivered the Kornet missile which was used to open the offensive against Israel by the Palestinian terror groups on Monday last week.
The anti-tank missile destroyed a bus which had just transferred and unloaded a group of 50 IDF soldiers to the border with Gaza an action which was filmed by Hamas and which was clearly taken out of Hezbollah’s playbook for wars.
Shortly after the Kornet missile was launched Hamas and Islamic Jihad started to pound southern Israel with roughly 460 rockets while the IAF destroyed 150 terror-related targets in Gaza in response.
Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah openly admitted his organization had supplied the Palestinian terror groups in Gaza with the Kornet missile, according to the Meir Amit Center.
Islamic Jihad, furthermore, reported it had used a new missile with a large warhead to destroy a complete building in the coastal city of Ashkelon in southern Israel.
The short-range missile was a copy of the Iranian Falaq-2 rocket and was assembled in Gaza. The missile onslaught in southern Israel was furthermore conducted in waves an indication the Iranian-backed terrorgroups in Gaza wanted to test the limitations of the Iron Dome anti-missile shield of the IDF.
All this shows that the actions of Hamas and Islamic Jihad last week bore the hallmarks of a Hezbollah operation and that the Palestinian terror groups in the Gaza Strip acted on orders from Iran.
Hamas leader Yahya Sinwar has been very open about who is calling the shots in Gaza.
During an interview with al-Mayadeen TV in Lebanon on May 21, 2018 Sinwar said Hamas and Hezbollah are working in tandem in the war against Israel “almost on a daily basis” and claimed the relationship between the two terror groups is “excellent and evolving” while he also said they are conducting joint operations.
The Hamas leader boasted about the “strong powerful and warm ties” with Soleimani and said Iran had provided the Islamist Sunni terror group with “large amounts of cash, ‘equipment’ and expertise.”
Sinwar told the Lebanese TV station that Hamas had “greatly developed its capabilities” thanks to friends, “first and foremost the Islamic Republic of Iran” and said that with Allah’s help “the resisters will stand on a united front”.
His remarks led to an IDF statement that read “Hamas is Iran, Iran is Hamas”.
This week the radical Hamas leader intended to pay a visit to Tehran but he was barred from flying to Iran by the Egyptian authorities.

Statement on the Election of a New Interpol President

Garry Kasparov and Members of the Standing Committee of the Free Russia Forum/Gatestone Institute/November 21/2018
It is well-established that Russia has abused Interpol as a tool to persecute abroad the political opponents of the ruling Russian regime who have been forced to emigrate.
Such an influential organization as Interpol cannot be led by a representative and functionary of an unfree nation that violates the rights and freedoms of its own citizens, violates its international obligations, annexes the territories of other states, and is currently the protagonist of several wars of aggression.
Would Interpol target these people on Russian request? It is difficult to imagine otherwise should a Russian official becomes the head of Interpol. The candidate for the post of the head of Interpol also raises questions. Alexander Prokopchuk is a major general of the Russian police, an organization known for its corruption and persecution of representatives of the Russian opposition.
On November 21, the election of a new President of Interpol will take place. The leading candidate for this post is the representative of the Russian Federation, Major General of the Russian Police Alexander Prokopchuk. The Standing Committee of the Free Russia Forum expresses its categorical protest against the election of this candidate to the post of head of Interpol. Such an influential organization as Interpol cannot be led by a representative and functionary of an unfree nation that violates the rights and freedoms of its own citizens, violates its international obligations, annexes the territories of other states, and is currently the protagonist of several wars of aggression.
It is well-established that Russia has abused Interpol as a tool to persecute abroad the political opponents of the ruling Russian regime who have been forced to emigrate. Critics and other targets of the Putin regime residing outside of Russia have repeatedly been victimized by Interpol mechanisms such as Red Notices and "diffusion" notices, as a result of which they were detained and put through lengthy legal procedures before they managed to convince Interpol of the political nature of their persecution — often requiring political intervention on their behalf.
A few examples: members of the Standing Committee of the Free Russia Forum Leonid Nevzlin and Ilya Ponomarev, founder and CEO of the Hermitage Capital Management investment fund William Browder, employee of the Anti-Corruption Foundation Nikita Kulachenkov, anti-fascist Peter Silaev, Voina activist Oleg Vorotnikov, Izhevsk journalist and activist Andrei Nekrasov, Ulyanovsk blogger Sergey Kryukov, former head of the Tutaevsky municipal district of the Yaroslavl region Jan Andreev.
This list could be continued. The election of the official representative of the Russian Federation to the leading position of Interpol will reinforce the negative trends in the work of the international police. In the hands of an operative of the Russian police, Interpol can become a dangerous weapon in the Kremlin's deadly campaign against representatives of the Russian opposition abroad and other opponents of Putin's regime outside of Russia.
Of special concern is that Interpol can be used against citizens of other states who find themselves in the territories annexed by the Russian Federation. For example, pro-Ukrainian activists who lived or are now living in the territory of the illegally-annexed Crimea, and who were subjected to illegal persecution by the Russian occupation authorities, could become victims of international prosecution. Would Interpol target these people on Russian request? It is difficult to imagine otherwise should a Russian official becomes the head of Interpol.
The candidate for the post of the head of Interpol also raises questions. Alexander Prokopchuk is a major general of the Russian police, an organization known for its corruption and persecution of representatives of the Russian opposition. Prokopchuk is directly subordinate to President Vladimir Putin and, of course, is an obedient tool in his hands. In addition, over the past few years, Prokopchuk headed the Russian National Interpol Bureau. It was during his tenure at this post that cases of unlawful use of Interpol mechanisms for targeting opponents of the Putin regime outside Russia became more frequent.
There is no doubt that should he become the head of Interpol, this Russian official will only intensify the persecution of opponents of the Russian authorities. The Russian Federation is not a democratic, legal state. There is no independent judiciary, no concept of fair application of justice. A dictatorial regime has been formed inside Russia and is pursuing its opponents both inside the country and abroad. Political repression, the murder of political opponents, the use of chemical weapons on the territory of other states, interference in the internal political processes in Western countries and other hybrid operations are just a few of the illicit methods used by the Putin regime against its enemies.
To entrust a representative of this regime with such an important function as the leadership of the international police is absolutely intolerable. The Standing Committee of the Free Russia Forum appeals to the members of the General Assembly of Interpol to abandon any support for the representative of Russia for the post of head of Interpol.
Members of the Standing Committee of the Free Russia Forum:
Vladimir Ashurkov— Co-founder of the Anti-Corruption Foundation
Marat Gelman— Russian art collector, gallery owner, publicist
Garry Kasparov— Chairman of the Human Rights Foundation
Daniil Konstantinov— Chairman of the Russian European Organization, a former political prisoner
Leonid Nevzlin— Entrepreneur, public policy advocate
Ilya Ponomarev— Former MP of the Russian State Duma
Andrei Sidelnikov— Leader of the international Speak Up! movement
Ivan Tyutrin— Co-founder of the Free Russia Forum
Mark Feygin— Human rights lawyer, political activist
Evgenia Chirikova— Environmental activist
© 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.

Germany: Turkish-Muslim Appointed Second-In-Command of Domestic Intelligence

Soeren Kern/Gatestone Institute/November 21/2018
Sinan Selen, a 46-year-old Istanbul-born counter-terrorism expert, will be the first Muslim to fill a top leadership position within Germany's intelligence community.
Throughout his government career, Selen has been resolute in confronting Islamic fundamentalists in Germany. He also led efforts at the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution (BfV) to monitor the Turkish nationalist Milli Görüs, an influential Islamist movement strongly opposed to Muslim integration into European society.
The leadership changes at the BfV were spurred by a cellphone video that purportedly showed right-wing mobs attacking migrants over the murder of a German citizen in Chemnitz by two failed asylum seekers. According to the respected blog Tichys Einblick, the video actually documented migrants attacking Germans, not Germans "hunting" migrants.
Chancellor Angela Merkel has appointed a Turkish immigrant to fill the second-highest position in Germany's domestic intelligence agency, the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution (BfV). Pictured: The building of the BfV in Berlin. (Image source: Wo st 01/Wikimedia Commons)
Chancellor Angela Merkel has appointed a Turkish immigrant to fill the second-highest position in Germany's domestic intelligence agency, the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution (Bundesamt für Verfassungsschutz, BfV).
As the BfV's new vice president, Sinan Selen, a 46-year-old Istanbul-born counter-terrorism expert, will be the first Muslim to fill a top leadership position within Germany's intelligence community.
The appointment comes just weeks after Merkel fired BfV President Hans-Georg Maaßen for publicly defending the anti-mass-migration party Alternative for Germany (AfD) against attacks from Merkel and her junior coalition partner, the center-left Social Democratic Party (SPD).
By choosing Selen, Merkel appears to be trying to achieve several objectives. First, she seems to be attempting to save her floundering government by placating the SPD, which has demanded that the domestic intelligence agency begin monitoring the AfD party, and which has called for more people with a "migration background" in leadership positions at federal agencies.
Selen's appointment also seems to be a symbolic move aimed at reaching out to Germany's Turkish community, which has long complained of "institutionalized racism" within the German security apparatus. Finally, by appointing an ethnic Turk, Merkel appears to be trying to mollify Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who has repeatedly pressed for her to crack down on anti-Turkish Kurdish elements in Germany.
Selen studied law at the University of Cologne and in 2000 began his career at Germany's Federal Criminal Police Office (Bundeskriminalamt, BKA), where he was promoted to head of the counterterrorism investigation unit. In 2006, he became deputy head of the cross-border crime unit at the Federal Police (Bundespolizei). In 2011, he was named head of the counter-terrorism unit at the Interior Ministry.
In May 2016, Die Welt reported that Merkel had appointed Selen to lead — apparently at Erdogan's behest — a special counter-terrorism task force at the German Interior Ministry. The concession was part of the March 2016 EU-Turkey migrant deal, which was designed to halt the flow of migrants from Turkey to Greece. In a lengthy article that examined Erdogan's growing leverage over Merkel, Die Welt wrote:
"The Federal Government is going so far as to reorganize its internal organizational structure in order to adapt it to Turkish wishes. The Turks have agreed to a 'new common mechanism' in the fight against terrorism, with Sinan Selen, of Turkish origin, appointed as the responsible authority at the Federal Interior Ministry....
"Selen is an experienced civil servant who has worked mainly in the field of organized crime; but the fact that such a high-profile position is being created for him has only one explanation: the Turks are to believe that when discussing counter-terrorism with Berlin, they will be speaking with one of their own."
As leader of the task force, Selen was a key interlocutor with senior Turkish security officials and hashed out a bilateral agreement aimed at improving intelligence cooperation and information sharing. Turkish commentators have posited that Merkel's appointment of Selen is aimed at sending a message that she wants to continue working with Erdogan's government in security matters.
Some in the German blogosphere have speculated about Selen's ideological background. What is known is that throughout his government career, Selen has been resolute in confronting Islamic fundamentalists in Germany. He also led BfV efforts to monitor the Turkish nationalist Milli Görüs (Turkish for "National Vision"), an influential Islamist movement strongly opposed to Muslim integration into European society.
The leadership changes at the BfV were spurred by a cellphone video that purportedly showed right-wing mobs attacking migrants over the murder of a German citizen in Chemnitz by two failed asylum seekers.
The protests erupted after a 35-year-old German-Cuban man, Daniel Hillig, was stabbed to death by two migrants during the annual festival in Chemnitz on August 26.
Police initially refused to reveal the identities of the perpetrators, but on August 27 a police report — since scrubbed from German websites but still remaining on a Russian site — was leaked on social media. The police report showed that the murderers were illegal migrants from Iraq and Syria. Both had extensive criminal histories but were allowed by German authorities to roam free on German streets. Police later confirmed that the leaked document was authentic and said they had opened an investigation into a suspected "violation of official secrets."
Thousands of people took to the streets for several days to protest both the murder and the government's inaction on spiraling migrant crime. The protests brought together a broad spectrum of German society, including members of the so-called "far-right scene" as well as counter-protesters.
Near the end of one of the marches, some of the protesters became violent and began insulting migrant passersby. This incident then transformed the narrative in the media from one of the Germans protesting migrant crime to one of far-right attacks on innocent migrants.
Few if any of Germany's mainstream politicians condemned Hillig's murder. They were, however, quick to denounce attacks on migrants.
On August 27, Merkel's spokesman, Steffen Seibert, in a national press conference, condemned the "hunting of humans of a different appearance, of different origins" on the streets of Chemnitz. Chancellor Merkel echoed him:
"We have video footage about the fact that there were hunts, that there were riots, that there was hatred on the street, and that is unacceptable in our constitutional state."
It later emerged that all of the government's allegations had been based on a single 19-second video — entitled "Hunting for Humans in Chemnitz" — that had been posted on Facebook by an "anti-fascism" group called Antifa Zeckenbiss and later broadcast by the public television channel ARD.
The video simply shows one individual chasing another in what appears to be an isolated incident. The narrative, however, had already been set in motion.
The chairman of the German Parliament's Internal Affairs Committee, Burkhard Lischka (SPD), warned of the danger of a civil war:
"There is a small right-wing mob in our country that will take its violent fantasies of civil war to our streets. That in the Bundestag [German parliament] a party applauds these excesses against foreign fellow citizens as legitimate self-justice, shows that the majority of our country must become even louder when it comes to rule of law, democracy and cohesion in our society."
Bundestag Vice President Thomas Oppermann (SPD) demanded that the BfV domestic intelligence service begin monitoring the anti-mass-migration AfD: "The refugee question divides society and the AfD rides ever more radically on this wave."
German Interior Minister Horst Seehofer (CSU) countered that he saw no basis for monitoring the AfD. On the sidelines of a closed-door meeting of his political party in Brandenburg, Seehofer defended the Chemnitz protesters: "Just because someone protests, that does not make him a Nazi." Seehofer added: "Migration is the mother of all problems."
Saxon Prime Minister Michael Kretschmer (CDU) later contradicted the government's claims: "There was no mob, there was no hunting down of people, there was no pogrom in this city."
Saxon Attorney General Spokesman Wolfgang Klein added: "After examining all of the material available to us, there was no hunt in Chemnitz."
When asked to rectify his claims, Seibert doubled down:
"I will not have a semantic debate here over a word. Of course, if the Attorney General's office says so, I will take note. However, it remains that a video shows how people of foreign origin were chased and how they were threatened. It remains true that there were statements that were threatening, close to the call for vigilante justice. So, in my opinion, there is nothing to talk about."
Like Seibert, Merkel refused to back down:
"We saw pictures that very clearly revealed hate and the persecution of innocent people. One must distance oneself from that. That is all there is to say."
On September 7, Maaßen cast doubt on the authenticity of the video:
"There is no evidence that the video circulating on the internet for this alleged incident is authentic. According to my cautious assessment, there are good reasons to believe that the video is targeted misinformation, possibly in order to distract the public from the murder in Chemnitz."
Maaßen's refusal to support the government's false narrative unleashed a fury of condemnation from Merkel and her coalition partners in the SPD.
On September 18, Maaßen was fired from the BfV intelligence agency, but the conservative Interior Minister Horst Seehofer stood behind Maaßen and promoted him to a better-paid position in the Interior Ministry.
On November 5, however, Maaßen was fired from government service altogether, after delivering a closed-door speech to other European intelligence chiefs. In it, he condemned the "naive and leftist" policies of Merkel's government and that added that "radical-left forces" in the SPD were determined to get him fired:
"I'm seen in Germany as a critic of idealistic, naive and leftist foreign and security policy. I can imagine a life outside public service, for example in politics or business."
The Social Democrats welcomed Maaßen's dismissal. "It was long overdue," said SPD general secretary Lars Klingbeil. "He has just given yet another indication of his penchant for rightist conspiracy theories."
Meanwhile, on November 16, a leading German blog, Tichys Einblick, reported that it had located and questioned the creators of the video:
"There was no hunt on August 26, 2018 in Chemnitz.... The research confirms the testimony of Hans-Georg Maaßen, who has since been dismissed as president of the BfV because he denied the authenticity of the video and thus got in Merkel's way: This alleged piece of evidence is targeted misinformation. Maaßen dared to contradict the Chancellor. The result: a government crisis."
According to Tichys Einblick, the video provided an incomplete picture of what actually occurred. It was filmed by a German couple who were participating in Hillig's funeral procession when the march was attacked by migrants. The video shows someone in the procession fending off the migrants. In other words, the video documented migrants attacking Germans, not Germans "hunting" migrants.
The video, falsely interpreted by the guardians of German multiculturalism, set into motion a wave of politically correct hysteria, which plunged the government into "permanent crisis mode" and led to the firing of intelligence chief Maaßen for refusing to toe the line.
Maaßen's successor, Thomas Haldenwang, has already announced that under his leadership, the BfV will focus on "right-wing extremism." Speaking to the Parliamentary Control Board (Parlamentarisches Kontrollgremium, PKGr) of the German Bundestag on November 16, Haldenwang — who previously was the BfV's second-in-command, and whose position will now be filled by Selen — said that although Islamist terrorism poses the greatest threat to German security, the BfV will keep "the possible development of right-wing terrorist structures firmly on the radar." He also promised to make a "professional assessment of how to deal with the AfD party."
**Soeren Kern is a Senior Fellow at the New York-based Gatestone Institute.
© 2018 Gatestone Institute. All rights reserved. The articles printed here do not necessarily reflect the views of the Editors or of Gatestone Institute. No part of the Gatestone website or any of its contents may be reproduced, copied or modified, without the prior written consent of Gatestone Institute.

The Single Sentence That Would Rescue Theresa May's Brexit Deal

Malcolm Lowe/Gatestone Institute/November 21/2018
Article 20 of the Protocol on Ireland/Northern Ireland should be supplemented by a sentence of the form: "If not earlier, this Protocol shall cease to apply [x] years after the end of the transition period unless both the European Union and the United Kingdom agree to extent its application in whole or in part." Here "[x]" should be a number (of years) that is sufficiently large to convict the EU of bad faith if it refuses to countenance such a sentence, but sufficiently small not to be absurd. We think that "three" would be a suitable number of years, but even "five" would establish the principle that the United Kingdom must have a guaranteed prospect of liberty.
The border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.
Theresa May presented her Brexit deal to her cabinet on November 14, 2018 and to the House of Commons the next day. It consists of two documents, the "Draft Agreement on the withdrawal of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland from the European Union and the European Atomic Energy Community" (585 pages) and the "Outline of the political declaration setting out the framework for the future relationship between the European Union and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland" (8 pages). The documents were released to the public only after the conclusion of that cabinet meeting.
The Problematic Protocol.
The Members of Parliament hardly had time overnight to read the Draft Agreement in its entirety. Instead, they rushed to read the "Protocol on Ireland/Northern Ireland" because they knew that this had been the most controversial element in the negotiations between the United Kingdom and the European Union.
The Protocol recalls in its preamble that "the Withdrawal Agreement... does not aim at establishing a permanent future relationship between the Union and the United Kingdom" while noting that both parties recognize the need to maintain the "soft border" that exists between Northern Ireland, as an integral part of the United Kingdom, and the Irish Republic. Although it is hoped that that "permanent future relationship" will have been negotiated by the end of the "transition period" during which the United Kingdom completes its withdrawal from the EU, this may not happen. The aim of the Protocol, therefore, is to serve, if necessary, as a "backstop" arrangement to preserve the soft border even after the transition period while negotiations on the permanent future relationship are completed.
The mechanism of the Protocol is to define a certain kind of "customs union" between the United Kingdom and the European Union in lieu of a permanent relationship. Both Theresa May and her EU counterparts have expressed their firm belief that the Protocol will never need to be activated.
What Members of Parliament noted, however, was that the Protocol does not give the United Kingdom the right to withdraw unilaterally from the operation of the Protocol. Article 20 of the Protocol merely permits the United Kingdom to make a claim, sometime in the future, that the Protocol is no longer needed and to request that the EU agree to end the application of the Protocol. If the EU refuses, Article 20 permits the case to be taken to arbitration, which may rule against the United Kingdom. Thus the Protocol could go on forever and the United Kingdom would never escape from the grip of the EU.
Conservative Opposition to May
Although both Theresa May herself and probably a considerable majority of the Conservative MPs are prepared to risk that danger, two groups within the Conservative parliamentary faction do not agree with her. Moreover, the Conservatives are a few MPs short of a majority in the House of Commons and rely on the support of the Democratic Unionist Party of Northern Ireland (DUP), which is intensely suspicious of the Protocol. May's hope of nevertheless obtaining a majority for her Brexit deal in the Commons, which she is pursuing with impressive vigour, is surely in vain.
The one group styles itself the European Research Group (ERG). It claims some 60 MPs, most of whom are currently determined to vote against the deal. Conservative MP Jacob Rees-Mogg, leader of the ERG, has requested a vote of no-confidence in Theresa May, in a formal letter to the Conservative Party's parliamentary group. If 48 MPs (namely, 15% of the Conservative MPs) make such formal requests, an election for party leader must be called. May seems likely to win reelection, but the process would take some weeks as March 29 looms -- the date on which the United Kingdom is due to leave the Union and the transition period will begin. Reelection would also bring May no closer to getting her Brexit deal through the Commons.
The second group consists of five senior ministers who decided not to resign alongside others on November 15, but to stay on in the hope of persuading May to seek modification of the Protocol, although both she and her EU counterparts insist that it is too late to do so. The members of this "Gang of Five" are (in alphabetical order) Liam Fox, Michael Gove, Chris Grayling, Andrea Leadsom and Penny Mordaunt. If May is intransigent in refusing their request and they resign, her prospects of gaining a parliamentary majority for her Brexit deal -- or even surviving as leader of the Conservative Party -- will be all the slimmer.
The One-Sentence Solution
The problem is that neither the ERG nor the Gang of Five has explained what would persuade it to support the Brexit deal. The ERG is simply content that on March 29, 2019 the United Kingdom should leave the European Union and that trading relations should switch to World Trade Organization terms.
Overnight, therefore, all sorts of tariffs would be imposed on the vast number of individual goods, components and spare parts, etc., that currently flow in both directions tariff-free, while all means of transport and communications would themselves be disrupted, along with police and judicial cooperation, etc. In short, all those detailed issues would spring up which half of the Withdrawal Agreement is devoted to preventing. That is, the half of the text -- diligently and conscientiously compiled by experts -- that MPs did not have time to read before the Commons debate, There is no need to describe the disastrous impact on industry, agriculture, the 66 million population of the United Kingdom and a larger number of residents of the EU; others have already eloquently spelled it out.
As for the Gang of Five, they are reported to be demanding "a unilateral exit mechanism from the so-called 'backstop' arrangement over Northern Ireland," but they have not specified what form that would take. But it would doubtless be, like Article 20 of the Protocol, a procedure in which the United Kingdom would have to submit an application and negotiate the timetable of its implementation. In short, a tedious process, however assured its outcome.
What is needed is rather not "a unilateral exit mechanism" but a "self-termination mechanism" -- an automatic expiry date. We have carefully studied the terminology of the Protocol and the whole Withdrawal Agreement and discovered that the addition of a single sentence to the Protocol would suffice.
Article 20 of the Protocol on Ireland/Northern Ireland should be supplemented by a sentence of the form:
"If not earlier, this Protocol shall cease to apply [x] years after the end of the transition period unless both the Union and the United Kingdom agree to extent its application in whole or in part."Here "[x]" should be a number (of years) that is sufficiently large to convict the European Union of bad faith if it refuses to countenance such a sentence, but sufficiently small not to be absurd. We think that "three" would be a suitable number of years, but even "five" would establish the principle that the United Kingdom must have a guaranteed prospect of liberty.
By refusing to permit that modification to the Protocol, the EU's negotiators would demonstrate that they do intend to submit the United Kingdom to indefinite captivity. Repudiation of the deal in the UK would be justly overwhelming. If the EU accepts the sentence, the biggest obstacle to obtaining a majority in the Commons for the Brexit deal would be removed. Even many ERG members, as well as the DUP, might reconsider their intention to vote against the deal. The prospect of an election for leader of the Conservative Party would likely vanish.
*Malcolm Lowe is a Welsh scholar specialized in Greek Philosophy, the New Testament and Christian-Jewish Relations.
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“All White Women are Sluts and Deserve to be Raped”: The West Adopts Islam’s Perspective?
Raymond Ibrahim/American Thinker/November 21/18
European women are to blame for being raped by Muslim men. Such is the latest position—the latest apologia—being offered by those dedicated to exonerating undesirable Muslim behavior, particularly in the context of welcoming more Muslim migrants into the West.
On October 14, seven Muslim migrants raped a teenage German girl in a park, after drugging her at a disco in Freiburg. (She at least survived; in a similar case that occurred a week earlier in Italy, the drugged rape victim was left murdered.) Bernhard Rotzinger, the police chief of Freiburg, responded by saying, “We cannot offer citizens an all-risk insurance [against crime], but I can advise this: Don’t make yourself vulnerable by using alcohol or drugs.”
Similarly, after mobs of Muslim migrants sexually assaulted as many as one-thousand women on New Year’s Eve 2016 in Cologne, Germany, its mayor, Henriette Reker, called on the women, the victims—not their male rapists—to make changes: “The women and young girls have to be more protected in the future so these things don’t happen again. This means they should go out and have fun, but they need to be better prepared, especially with the Cologne carnival coming up. For this, we will publish online guidelines that these young women can read through to prepare themselves.”
Such advice against alcohol, drugs, and reckless behavior would be more welcome had it not been made under duress. As things stand, it is a copout. Or, as a November 8 report discussing the aforementioned rape in Freiburg puts it, “The focus on prevention is a good thing, but also shows how German authorities and media barely hold the migrant crisis responsible for the disaster that is unfolding in Germany. Political correctness has caused officials to put the blame for the criminal acts on the women instead of Merkel’s guests.”
These are hardly the first times officials “put the blame for the criminal acts [of Muslim men] on the women.” Nor is this phenomenon limited to Germany. For instance, after a 20-year-old Austrian woman waiting at a bus stop in Vienna was attacked, beat, and robbed by four Muslim men—including one who “started [by] putting his hands through my hair and made it clear that in his cultural background there were hardly any blonde women”—police responded by telling the victim to dye her hair:
At first I was scared, but now I’m more angry than anything. After the attack they told me that women shouldn’t be alone on the streets after 8pm. And they also gave me other advice, telling me I should dye my hair dark and also not dress in such a provocative way. Indirectly that means I was partly to blame for what happened to me. That is a massive insult.
Likewise, Unni Wikan, a female professor of social anthropology at the University of Oslo, insists that
“Norwegian women must take their share of responsibility for these rapes,” because Muslim men found their manner of dress provocative. The professor’s conclusion was not that Muslim men living in the West needed to adjust to Western norms, but the exact opposite: “Norwegian women must realize that we live in a Multicultural society and adapt themselves to it.”So much for the feminist claim that women are free to dress and behave as promiscuously and provocatively as they want—and woe to the man who dares cite this as justifying male sexual aggression. Apparently this feminist refrain does not apply to Muslim men.
But perhaps the greater irony of all these excuses is that, from the very start of Islam 14 centuries ago, European women—even chaste nuns—have always been portrayed by Muslims as sexually promiscuous by nature.
This is easily discerned by examining medieval Muslim perceptions—and subsequent treatment—of European women, as documented throughout Sword and Scimitar: Fourteen Centuries of War between Islam and the West (see American Thinker review here).
Consider Muslim views concerning neighboring Byzantine women, who came to represent all European/Christian women to Islam. As one Western academic of Muslim origin (rather euphemistically) explains:
The Byzantines as a people were considered fine examples of physical beauty, and youthful slaves and slave-girls of Byzantine origins were highly valued. . . . The Arabs’ appreciation of the Byzantine female has a long history indeed. For the Islamic period, the earliest literary evidence we have is a hadith (saying of the Prophet). Muhammad is said to have addressed a newly converted Arab: “Would you like the girls of Banu al-Asfar [the yellow (haired?) or pale people]?”
Muhammad’s question was meant to entice the man to join the Tabuk campaign against the Romans and reap its rewards—in this case, the sexual enslavement of attractive women. In other words, as “white-complexioned blondes, with straight hair and blue eyes,” to quote another academic, Byzantine women were not so much “appreciated” or “highly valued” as they were lusted after. [All quotes in this article are sourced from and documented in Sword and Scimitar.]
But any sense of compliment ended there. As contemptible and corrupt infidels—or simply to support the fantasy that they were eager to be sexually enslaved—Muslims habitually portrayed Europe’s Christian women, beginning with those they first encountered in neighboring Byzantium, as sexually promiscuous by nature. Thus, for Abu Uthman al-Jahiz (b. 776), an Abbasid court scholar, the females of Constantinople were the “most shameless women in the whole world”; “they find sex more enjoyable” and “are prone to adultery.” Abd al-Jabbar (b. 935), another prominent scholar, claimed that “adultery is commonplace in the cities and markets of Byzantium”—so much so that even “the nuns from the convents went out to the fortresses to offer themselves to monks.”
For all these reasons and more, European women, typified by neighboring Eastern Roman women, became Islam’s “beautiful femme fatale who makes men lose their self-control,” as Nadia Maria el-Cheikh, author of Byzantium Viewed by the Arabs, explains:
Our [Arab/Muslim] sources show not Byzantine women but writers’ images of these women, who served as symbols of the eternal female—constantly a potential threat, particularly due to blatant exaggerations of their sexual promiscuity. In our texts, Byzantine women are strongly associated with sexual immorality. . . . While the one quality that our [Muslim] sources never deny is the beauty of Byzantine women, the image that they create in describing these women is anything but beautiful. Their depictions are, occasionally, excessive, virtually caricatures, overwhelmingly negative.
Such fevered fantasies—which “are clearly far from Byzantine reality”—existed only in the minds of Muslim men and “must be recognized for what they are: attempts to denigrate and defame a rival culture. . . . In fact, in Byzantium, women were expected to be retiring, shy, modest, and devoted to their families and religious observances. . . . The behavior of most women in Byzantium was a far cry from the depictions that appear in Arabic sources.”
Clearly, little has changed some 1400 years after the founding of Islam: European women continue to be seen as naturally promiscuous and provoking Muslim men into raping them.
Thus in the United Kingdom, a Muslim man explained to a British woman why he was raping her: “you white women are good at it.” Another Muslim man called a 13-year-old virgin “a little white slag”—British slang for “loose, promiscuous woman”—before raping her.
Another British woman was trafficked to Morocco where she was prostituted and repeatedly raped by dozens of Muslim men. They “made me believe I was nothing more than a slut, a white whore,” she recollects. “They treated me like a leper, apart from when they wanted sex. I was less than human to them, I was rubbish.”
In Germany, a group of Muslim “refugees” stalked a 25-year-old woman, hurled “filthy” insults at and taunted her for sex. They too explained their logic to her—“German girls are just there for sex”—before reaching into her blouse and groping her. A Muslim man who almost killed his 25-year-old German victim while raping her—and shouting “Allah!”—asked afterwards if she enjoyed it.
In Austria, an “Arabic-looking man” approached a 27-year-old woman at a bus stop, pulled down his pants, and “all he could say was sex, sex, sex,” prompting the woman to scream and flee. In Australia, a Muslim cabbie groped and insulted his female passengers, including by saying “All Australian women are sluts and deserve to be raped.”
In short, the ancient Islamic motif concerning the alleged promiscuity of European women is alive and well—irrespective of the latter’s behavior—and continues justifying the Muslim rape of Western women.
Yet, even in this, Islam can turn to those “progressive,” godless elements that dominate Western society for cover. For, just as “the Left” has worked long and hard to portray Islamic intolerance, violence, and terrorism as the West’s fault—because of the crusades, because of colonialism, because of cartoons, because of Israel, because of freedom of speech—it now adds Islam’s worldview concerning Western promiscuity to the list of reasons that “provoke” Muslims to behave like Muslims.
[For numerous documented examples of Muslims sexually objectifying — and sexually enslaving millions of — Western women throughout history, see author’s new book, Sword and Scimitar: Fourteen Centuries of War between Islam and the West.]

Conflict between Major Powers

Hal Brands/Bloomberg View/November,21/18
In recent years, we have seen the renewal of a phenomenon that seemed to have passed into history with the end of the Cold War: fierce and potentially violent competition between the most powerful countries on the globe. Yet as dangerous as that competition is in its own right, it is also worsening prospects for solving many of the world’s other problems, from migration to economic crises to climate change.
Relations between the great powers — the US and its allies on the one hand, and countries such as China and Russia on the other — represent the new, volatile center of gravity in world politics. When there is instability at the center, it spreads outward and affects everything it touches.
Until relatively recently, many observers believed just the opposite: that all good things would go together in global affairs. One of the most widespread and optimistic notions of the 1990s and 2000s was the idea that the decline of traditional state-versus-state geopolitical conflict was making it easier to deal with the array of international and transnational challenges that threatened all of us. With American dominance unquestioned, and the major powers mostly getting along, the international community could focus greater attention on terrorism, climate change, pandemics, nuclear proliferation and other shared dangers. That cooperation, in turn, could reinforce the good feelings between the major powers.
This belief had bipartisan support. In 2002, the George W. Bush administration’s National Security Strategy held that the international community had an unprecedented opportunity to banish the geopolitical rivalries of the past by working to suppress the transnational dangers of the present. “Today, the world’s great powers find ourselves on the same side," that document noted, “united by common dangers of terrorist violence and chaos.”
During Barack Obama’s presidency, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton made the same argument. "Most nations worry about the same global threats," she explained. By inducing greater cooperation and reducing competition, Washington could make an emerging “multipolar world” into a “multi-partner world.”
This argument was always just true enough to be alluring. In the two decades after the Cold War, the US-led international community did achieve real cooperative success in grappling with a range of issues, from Saddam Hussein’s aggression in the Persian Gulf, to the brutal war in Bosnia in the mid-1990s, to piracy off the Horn of Africa, to the worldwide economic and financial crisis of 2008-09. In all of these areas, the historically low level of conflict between the major powers was critical to getting things done.
Yet the imperative of working together on these challenges was not strong enough to overcome the impetus toward renewed competition as China and Russia gradually gained the ability to reassert themselves. And as geopolitical tensions have flared over the last decade, the prospects for positive-sum collaboration have dimmed.
Consider the ongoing civil war in Syria. For nearly eight years, frictions between the US and Russia (as well as Russia’s ally in that conflict, Iran) have consistently stymied greater international pressure on the Bashar al-Assad regime to hand over power or simply stop the killing. At every step, Moscow protected Assad and helped him keep waging war against his own population rather than seeing a Russian partner in the Middle East toppled by a US-backed revolt. If successful international intervention, blessed by the United Nations Security Council, in Bosnia in 1995-96 was a symbol of the mutually reinforcing relationship between great-power comity and global cooperation, the nightmare in Syria stands as a marker of the perverse symbiosis between great-power conflict and global disorder.

A map of the world in the campaign against Saudi Arabia
Fares bin Hezam/Al Arabiya/November 21/18
Turkey, along with Qatar, had thought that the opportunity was ripe to slash Saudi Arabia in the past few weeks. With every day that passes of this campaign, they noticed that no other country joined them as the region’s countries proved that they are more aware by estimating the scene and putting it in its accurate framework (it being a temporary campaign), and a page that will be turned and then it will be time for accountability.
In a few days, it will be two months since the hideous crime of murdering Khashoggi. The media campaign has, since the first days, escalated in an organized manner that sought to turn the incident into a constantly burning flame; hence no longer categorizing what happened as a political crime and transforming it into an organized project to target Saudi Arabia. During these heated days, the map of Arab and foreign countries’ stances was formed.
Arab countries stood by Saudi Arabia, except for Qatar. Islamic countries also stood by Saudi Arabia, except for Turkey. Even Iran did not entirely jump to side by Ankara and Doha
The fierce media campaign pushed opposing parties in various western countries to ride the wave to punish their governments. The Khashoggi case became a claw in the local political conflicts in Europe and in the mid-term elections’ agenda in America. All this was frank, and European governments had to respond to their rivals’ pressure so they had no other option but to increase their condemnation of the crime and hold the Saudi government responsible.
Arab countries stood by Saudi Arabia, except for Qatar. Islamic countries also stood by Saudi Arabia, except for Turkey. Even Iran did not entirely jump to side by Ankara and Doha. The West appeared to have three models; Russia provided the model that’s frankly in support of Saudi Arabia, America sought to balance between its strategic relations but also to respond to the call to punish Riyadh, and Europe’s major countries agreed to stand against Saudi Arabia.
A change of stances
This scene in the first weeks began to take a new form especially with Saudi Arabia’s measures of announcing the crime, declaring that the accused have been arrested and that those who were politically responsible were dismissed, as well as revealing the preliminary details of what happened. Arab support for Riyadh increased, Washington frankly voiced new support and Europe’s mood changed towards encouraging the Kingdom to move forward in its measures.
The fierce media campaign succeeded in achieving international mobilization against the Kingdom in the first weeks. Today, we are in a phase of accelerating retreat after the West calmed down and got preoccupied with its affairs and brave voices emerged hinting to the political tampering in Ankara, which turned the crime into a political game to trade with Riyadh and western capitals. One of these voices is the French foreign minister.
What the French minister publicly said is what his western counterparts are saying behind closed doors when they meet with Saudi officials and the Kingdom’s allies. However, it’s for domestic considerations in local conflicts that they do not dare to frankly announce this. The French minister’s remarks spoke for all of these, and let’s keep in mind that his country along with Britain and Germany made strongly-worded statements at the beginning of the crisis.
Turkey and Qatar’s efforts have failed today, and the iron masks have fallen. When will some know that heroism is not to harm others and it’s not in the blind prowess and extending fangs in the false wind? Heroism is in having a path for review and a held banner to preserve dignity.

The determinist discourse: How science moved away from humanism
Adil Rasheed/Al Arabiya/November 21/18
Although proponents of modern science and political thought might not concede it, but they have been taken aback by the growing influence and radicalization of pseudo-religious and illiberal nationalist ideologies in recent times.
It was thought that the strength of scientific and liberal ideals had delivered humanity a decisive verdict with the proverbial ‘end of history’ and that fundamentalist and ultra-nationalist worldviews would never be popular again. This sense of certitude has proven disastrously wrong.
Somewhere down the line the discourse of science started losing its plot. By becoming the preserve of big corporations and government agencies, science started moving away from the common man’s sensibilities
The message of reason
At the onset of the modern age, when religious institutions had become elitist and merely instilled the fear of damnation over hapless souls, the message of reason and empiricism as the reliable measure of truth as opposed to untenable dogma revolutionalized human civilization.
Modern science was able to effectively communicate to humanity its clear, emancipating and universal ideals, such as liberty, equality and progress for all.
In fact, the values preached by modern science helped liberate man from the outdated social constructs of class as well as racial, religious and gender prejudice.
The rapid pace of technological advancements literally put Man on the moon and even incredible ideas like intergalactic space voyages and time travel fell into the realm of possibility. The horizons of human imagination widened, as fantastic new vistas of science fiction rapidly became science fact.
However, somewhere down the line the discourse of science started losing its plot. By becoming the preserve of big corporations and government agencies, science started moving away from the common man’s sensibilities.
Just like religious institutions of yore, the average Joe now started associating science and technology with a highly influential industrial and political elite — cold, distant if not alien. Science was no longer the problem solving friend of the past, but the cause of many of mankind’s current woes — such as climate change, unemployment (caused by automation) and production of WMDs.
Even computers and the Internet are today being vilified as insidious means of mass surveillance or agents to bring about socio-political unrest. It is in this atmosphere of growing estrangement and mistrust that the irrational and diabolical messages of pseudo-religious and ultra-nationalist ideologies have started gaining traction. Even in contemporary science fiction, the fanciful flights of futurism, the expanding horizons of space and time and the promise of medical breakthroughs have been replaced by grotesque dystopian constructs, post-apocalyptic futures and irreconcilable moral dilemmas caused by failed scientific experiments.
From freewill to determinism
The public narrative of science has also become vague, and at times contradictory. It is ironic that even prominent advocates of modern science and rationalism such as Richard Dawkins, Lawrence Krauss and Sam Harris espouse hard determinism over the principles of freewill, long championed by votaries of liberalism. Man is no longer an agent of change or progress, but appears more of an insignificant player in a universe that has predetermined his destiny.
The philosophy of determinism has historically been the argument of entrenched socio-political dispensations, averse to reform and progress, as they give precedence to noumenal metaphysics as opposed to the phenomenal reality, which is the domain of science.
This conundrum also raises interesting questions on moral accountability of individuals for human actions, which according to determinists seems illogical. Again, the very existence of irrational thought and action by the very opponents of science cannot be explained by exponents of determinism. Determinism also leaves no room for human freedom and is fundamentally antithetical to modern political thought.
However, even if one were to stick to the insistence on causality-based determinism as the essential premise for scientific investigation, laws of quantum physics today flout most physical laws at the subatomic level. Even Einstein could not accept this randomness and said: “God does not play dice”. Thus, the quantum realm has led modern science to make unsubstantiated speculations of parallel universes, hyper space etc that seems as fanciful as any medieval mythological or scholastic treatise.
Clearly these rational inconsistencies, moral turpitudes and apparent disregard of humanity in pursuit of technological breakthrough has more to do with the inability of the scientific community to chart the right course for itself in the 21st century, than for the discipline of science itself.
It is time to build a consistent and effective scientific discourse to offset the growing resonance of dogmatic and intolerant narratives of radical religious and nationalistic thought that often make pseudo-scientific claims or reject scientific reasoning altogether to spread their menace.

Saudi Arabia: No regression, no surrender
Mashari Althaydi/Al Arabiya/November 21/18
“The Kingdom will continue to confront terrorism and extremism, and carry out its leading and developmental role in the region.”
This was the clear message conveyed in King Salman bin Abdulaziz’s speech before the Saudi Shura Council two days ago.
Its meaning is clear, and it stipulates that whoever bets on a trembling Saudi state or on “regression” in its stance in terms of confronting “extremism” – and not just terrorism – must review himself first!
When we say confronting extremism, this means addressing the roots of the malaise instead of just getting preoccupied with addressing its symptoms. This disease that fragmented Arab security and the entire world’s security due to terrorist groups, ISIS, Al-Qaeda, Hezbollah, the Revolutionary Guards and the Houthis, is the ideology which inspires all these murderers and evil groups.
Educational and intellectual confrontation is the main point, and it’s the task of intellectual, wise and educated men with, of course, the support of the state and the society. The state’s task though is to legally pursue these figures and groups
Ideology is the battle’s arena, and it is its headline and tool. It’s not just the terrorist act that we see on the surface, such as explosions, assassinations, kidnappings, murders or suicide bombings as these are the results of heinous ideas that directed the acts of these murderous or corruptive creatures.
Confronting extremist factories
The first factory of this fatal intellect is the Muslim Brotherhood factory whose thoughts like hakimiyyah, jahiliyyah, emotional isolation etc… The theoretical kit we know comes from people like Sayyid Qutb, Hassan al-Banna, Sa’id Hawwa, Al-Sawwaf, Fathi Yakan, Muhammad Qutb, Safar al-Hawali and others.
Hence, educational and intellectual confrontation is the main point, and it’s the task of intellectual, wise and educated men with, of course, the support of the state and the society. The state’s task though is to legally pursue these figures and groups, hold them accountable and spread media and educational awareness, and this is what Arab countries, including Saudi Arabia, have begun doing.
Among the political manifestations of this confrontation is the boycott of Qatar, which “melted” in the Brotherhood’s cup and utilized itself to serve them. Among its other manifestations is confronting the Khomeini Iranian project, which is in its essence the major fruit of the political Islam tree. This helps us understand the current mutually beneficial cooperation between Erdogan’s Turkey and Khomeini Iran.
Many hoped that the storm of Khashoggi’s murder will become a tool to intimidate Saudi Arabia and prevent it from resuming the confrontation of extremist groups – I repeat extremism and not just terrorism – or at least reduce its momentum in confronting the Brotherhood and Khomeinist Iran.
The Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman’s pledge to resume the battle against extremism and protect Islam and moderation from the harm and evil of these groups is the clear cut answer to the Brotherhood’s campaigns, and to those who chew the Brotherhood and Iran’s propaganda, such as the malicious American and western left whose most recent shameful acts was publishing an article for an international terrorist, i.e. Mohammed Ali al-Houthi in the Washington Post! Really, what a shame.

US-China trade war spats: Where to next?
Dr. Mohamed A. Ramady/Al Arabiya/November 21/18
The recent APEC summit in Papua New Guinea has ended without a communiqué for the first time reflecting the deep divisions between the USA and China on trade issues. For the first time since leaders began attending the annual Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation meeting in 1993, no statement was issued after two days of talks in Papua New Guinea. The Pacific island nation’s Prime Minister Peter O’Neill blamed “two big giants in the room” for the discord.
It does not leave it to much imagination to guess who are the two big giants he is referring to. Reading the press that followed , traders might be forgiven for thinking the tough cross-talk between US Vice President Mike Pence and China’s President Xi Jinping at the APEC summit was setting the stage for a new war of sorts between the countries. But for all the verbal acrimony, senior officials in both Washington and Beijing are perfectly capable of separating out the heated long term strategic rivalry and rhetoric that has now marked President Trump’s broader bilateral strategy towards China for two years running, from the near term objective of working towards progress on the trade front at the upcoming G20 summit meeting in Buenos Aires between Presidents Donald Trump and Xi at the end of this month.
Chinese officials clearly do not expect the trade wars to end suddenly, or for existing sanctions to be rolled back or lifted, certainly in this round. They believe, however, as the Federal Reserve hikes rates, and as the US, and global, growth momentum perhaps slows, the China-US trade wars could be concluded in full by 2020
China's expectations
Indeed, while the more highly visible visit of China’s Vice Premier Liu He to Washington may not now occur before the summit as envisioned before, senior officials in Beijing continue to expect enough concessions on offer in Buenos Aires to set the stage for a cease fire in the automatic escalation in January of tariffs on existing, or new, Chinese exports to the US as threatened by Trump, at least through the first quarter of 2019, as negotiations go on.
Chinese officials clearly do not expect the trade wars to end suddenly, or for existing sanctions to be rolled back or lifted, certainly in this round. They believe, however, as the Federal Reserve hikes rates, and as the US, and global, growth momentum perhaps slows, the China-US trade wars could be concluded in full by 2020 – which of course would also represent the year for new US Presidential elections. In the meantime the USA is playing good cop and bad cop strategies, although it might be forgiven if the Chinese do not see a good cop in the US negotiating team.
This time the US Vice President who seems to like being in the background has stepped up as the bad cop face of the USA . Tensions were already high heading into the APEC summit after Xi and Vice President Mike Pence traded barbs in back-to-back speeches a day earlier. Pence warned nations against taking Chinese loans, saying the US “doesn’t drown our partners in a sea of debt,” while Xi said implementing tariffs and breaking up supply chains was “short-sighted” and “doomed to failure.” When it comes to the Pence speech at the East Asia and APEC summits, China is indeed, not surprisingly, angered at his direct, as well as veiled, attacks on Beijing’s behaviour, past and present.
But this is not the first time the Vice President has been dispatched to deliver the toughest of messages to China, and they note that Trump himself has refrained from such direct attacks on Beijing, and most especially on Xi himself. Rightly or not, they see Pence as a voice comparably in the same camp as other hard liners such as National Security Adviser John Bolton, White House Trade Adviser Peter Navarro, and US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer.
They furthermore suspect Pence’s remarks may represent part of a coordinated effort to pile the pressure on Beijing right before the G20 summit. And so while on high alert for any sudden U-turn of sorts, Chinese officials are looking beyond the verbal spats of Papua New Guinea, and do not believe these particularly impact the current state of China-US relations or the existing trade discussions either way. In the meantime, Beijing admits the current trade tensions have hurt China more than the US in the first year. But they maintain, if they are to be escalated, that they will hurt both countries equally in 2019, and, for what it’s worth, the US more so -- in 2020.
Mutual benefits
This important for both countries and the global energy markets that have seen oil prices fall dramatically over the last few weeks to the $65 levels on trade worries and global oversupply. A month is a long time on the energy markets and it was not long ago that prices were above $80 a barrel with some wondering if new higher levels can be reached. And then came the surprise Iran oil sanctions waiver that caught many off guard and the rest is history.
How President Trump reacts is important for this transactional President. If there is one thing President Donald Trump does not take kindly to, it is having his negotiating stance on China undermined by “globalists” seemingly eager to grab any deal proffered by Beijing beneficial in the short term to corporate interests and Wall Street. It is with that in mind that the comments should be taken from US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer before the APEC summit , a tough negotiator himself, in which he firmly denied rumors he was telling business executives the bump up in tariffs to be imposed on China come January were effectively already off the table. That is certainly not an assurance one would telegraph before a key negotiation.
The dynamics in Washington given the recent mid term Democratic blue wave in Congress, are indeed shifting to where, beyond a simple photo-op when President Trump meets with his counterpart Chinese President Xi Jinping at the November 30 - December 1 G20 summit in Buenos Aires, President Trump is willing to accept a “victory” and with it a cease-fire or truce that would entail a likely postponement of the threatened escalation of tariffs on China in January. But the USA feel that China has to make the first move. Key to that “truce” would be for Beijing to deliver on a framework of negotiations to be followed through next year addressing Intellectual property theft and forced technology transfer issues on top of the traditional trade tariff and barrier issues.
And for Beijing’s very real concerns about longer term strategic pressure from Washington on China, senior Chinese officials believe indications are that both Xi and Trump are interested in a mutual compromise, and are fully prepared for the summit to achieve a trade war truce if not an actual agreement, even if temporary and focused largely in principle.
Nevertheless, the Chinese side believes the US ban on the import by Chinese companies of certain sensitive technologies will not be lifted. The Trump administration, they believe, is still sending mixed signals in public that include both a willingness to reach a reconciliation with Beijing, and tough rhetoric accusing China of being untrustworthy. Once again the world is holding its breath to see if the big boys will manage a truce at the G20 Argentine meeting but until then the global energy markets will remain destabilised affecting the Gulf economies fiscal balances.

Iran/Hizballah build new militias in Syria against northern Israel. What is Eisenkot missing?
إيران وحزب الله يبنيان ميليشيات جديدة في الشمال السوري ضد إسرائيل/ ماذا يفتقد رئيس أركان إسرائيل بالمقابل

Debka File/November 21/18
Heads were scratched in many security circles on Monday, Nov. 20, when IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Gady Eisenkot was heard to declare that the fact that “Iran and terrorist groups were very far from the place they hoped to attain” was down to “continuous quality operations.” The IDF would continue to foil their efforts, he said, while keeping one eye on the security situation in the north and keeping to its commitment to protect Israel’s civilians.'
Speaking during a tour of the Bashan Division on the Golan, Eisenkot did not specify the place that Iran “hoped to attain” or the place it had reached in consequence of IDF operations.
The general typically calls on this sort of vague, bombastic rhetoric for obscuring shortcomings or blunders. He has been caught using it to misrepresent the balance of strength in the Gaza standoff with Hamas, although some colleagues have urged him to drop it. The trouble with the chief of staff is that, on the one hand, he invites his officers to freely express their opinions, while, on the other, he is deaf to criticism or any opinion that conflicts with his own. This personality defect has persuaded more and more military officers on active duty and in the reserves to determine in recent months that the IDF is not ready for the next war, especially on the northern front.
Eisenkott has clearly made up his mind that Tehran is planning to deploy a large Iranian military force in Syria on the scale of a division and-a-half which the IDf must be geared to combat. Tehran – i.e. its Mid-East war commander, the Al-Qods chief Gen. Qassem Soleimani (whose remit also includes the Gaza Strip).
But this perception misses the facts. Contrary to Eisenkot’s evaluation, the Iranians never depart from their proxy strategy. Soleimani is accordingly putting together a Syrian army of local, pro-Iranian militias for the conduct of synchronized operations on multiple fronts. This strategy replicates the Shiite militia model which works for Tehran in Lebanon and Iraq. There are no Iranian troops in either country, only surrogate militias, some of them stronger and better armed than the national armies of Iraq and Lebanon. The most notorious example being Hizballah.
Although Hizballah is making good progress in planting those militias in southern Syria, Eisenkot has not ordered the IDF to thwart the project – or even strike their training camps and command centers. Some 2,000 recruits have joined up in the Daraa region, many of them former rebels, who fought with the US and Israeli armies before the Daraa and Quneitra regions (opposite the Jordanian and Israel Golan borders) were captured by the Syrian army with Russian help in June.
The Iranian Revolutionary Guards pays each a generous $250 per month, to buy their combat experience and priceless knowledge of IDF methods of operation on Israel’s northern border from years of exposure and personal acquaintance with its commanders.
Soleimani plans to deploy these militias opposite Israel’s Golan lines. It was to this plan which Maj. Gen Yoel Strick, OC of the IDF’s Northern Command referred when he commented on Sunday, Nov. 18, that the Israeli military is well aware of Hizballah’s actions for establishing “a terrorist structure on the Golan” and the Lebanese terrorist group will not be allowed to go through with it. Strick’s words have not so far been backed by deeds.
Gen. Eisenkot displayed his tendency to fudge on serious security issues when he stated that the IDF had hampered Iran’s effort to arm Hizballah with precision-guided rockets. He was backed by Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu (who is now also defense minister) who reported a “slowdown in Iranian arms shipments to Syria” to account for the pause in Israeli air strikes in Syria. However, according to the Western military observers tracking Iran’s steps in Syria and Lebanon, this major upgrade of Hizballah’s surface rocket arsenal is still ongoing undisturbed, after Israel and its air force refrained from interfering. Still, Eisenkot’s missed perspective is shared by some IDF officers.