November 24/1
Compiled & Prepared by: Elias Bejjani

The Bulletin's Link on the lccc Site

News Bulletin Achieves Since 2006
Click Here to enter the LCCC Arabic/English news bulletins Achieves since 2006

Bible Quotations For today
Whoever is not against us is for us. For truly I tell you, whoever gives you a cup of water to drink because you bear the name of Christ will by no means lose the reward.
Mark 09/38-50: "John said to Jesus, ‘Teacher, we saw someone casting out demons in your name, and we tried to stop him, because he was not following us.’But Jesus said, ‘Do not stop him; for no one who does a deed of power in my name will be able soon afterwards to speak evil of me. Whoever is not against us is for us. For truly I tell you, whoever gives you a cup of water to drink because you bear the name of Christ will by no means lose the reward. ‘If any of you put a stumbling-block before one of these little ones who believe in me, it would be better for you if a great millstone were hung around your neck and you were thrown into the sea. If your hand causes you to stumble, cut it off; it is better for you to enter life maimed than to have two hands and to go to hell, to the unquenchable fire. And if your foot causes you to stumble, cut it off; it is better for you to enter life lame than to have two feet and to be thrown into hell.+t,+u And if your eye causes you to stumble, tear it out; it is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye than to have two eyes and to be thrown into hell, where their worm never dies, and the fire is never quenched. ‘For everyone will be salted with fire."Salt is good; but if salt has lost its saltiness, how can you season it? Have salt in yourselves, and be at peace with one another.’"

Titles For Latest LCCC Bulletin analysis & editorials from miscellaneous sources published on November 23-24/18
Lebanon Is An Occupied Country/Elias Bejjani/ November 22/18
Kataeb Media Council Fires Back at Journalist, Pledges to Face Any Affront to Martyrs/ Friday 23rd November 2018/
Israel Admits It Sank Lebanese Refugee Boat in 1982 War/Agencies/November 23/18
Happy Dependence Day: a letter to my grandfather/Dan Azzi/Annahar/November 23/18
The European Court of Human Rights Submits to Islam/Judith Bergman/Gatestone Institute/November 23/18
Three Reasons to Fear Another ‘Great War’ Today/Hal Brands/Bloomberg View/November 23/18
Like Cambodia, Syria Isn’t a Mistake/Amir Taheri/Bloomberg View/November 23/18
Analysis/Israel's Iron Dome Defense of Saudi Arabia Aims to Avert Collapse of Trump and Netanyahu's Entire Middle East Strategy/Chemi Shalev/Haaretz/November 23/18
How Hamas Sold Out Gaza for Cash From Qatar and Collaboration With Israel/Muhammad Shehada/Haaretz/November 23/18
Iran’s great nuclear deception/Ronen Bergman/Ynetnews/November 23/18
Millions of Arabs to fall under multidimensional poverty/Shehab Al-Makahleh/Al Arabiya/November 23/18
New leadership to tackle ISIS in Libya/Dr. Azeem Ibrahim/Al Arabiya/November 23/18

Titles For Latest LCCC Lebanese Related News published on November 23-24/18
Lebanon Is An Occupied Country
Kataeb Media Council Fires Back at Journalist, Pledges to Face Any Affront to Martyrs
Lebanon Celebrates Independence Day amid Cabinet Crisis
Netanyahu’s Rival Calls for Preemptive Strike on Hezbollah
Lebanese Detained in Iran Congratulates Top Officials on Independence Day
Qaouq Says Hariri Harming Aoun's Presidency, Lebanese Economy
Mustaqbal MP Says Independent Sunni Deputies 'Don’t Constitute a Bloc'
Israel Admits It Sank Lebanese Refugee Boat in 1982 War
Syrian Held Trying to Smuggle 20,000 Captagon Pills to KSA
RPGs, Machineguns Used in Nahle Inheritance Dispute
Lebanese Army Patrol Shoots Fugitive in Baalbek
Happy Dependence Day: a letter to my grandfather
Hariri receives Uruguayan ambassador
Salam: Bloc named "independent Sunni deputies" created to hinder government formation
Machnouk talks current developments with Allawi, Alain Aoun
Makhzoumi talks current situation with Rampling
Lebanese Embassy in Saudi Arabia celebrates Independence Day
Panel discussion on gender equality at 'Beit al Mouhami'

Titles For Latest LCCC Bulletin For Miscellaneous Reports And News published on November 23-24/18
US ‘Isolated Zone’ Separates Kurds from Turkish Army
Egypt: 12 Terrorists Killed in Northern Sinai
Barzani Makes Ice-Breaking Visit to Baghdad
Arab Justice Ministers Recommend Removing Sudan from Terror List
Two Syrian media activists assassinated in Idlib's Kafr Nabl, HTS accused
Griffiths: We're negotiating UN supervisory role in Hodeidah port
Mohammed bin Zayed receives Saudi Crown Prince in Abu Dhabi
Turkey Says Trump Intends to Turn a 'Blind Eye' to Khashoggi Murder
Yemen Rebels Agree to Talks for 'U.N. Role' in Hodeida Port
Gibraltar Rocks Final Stages of Brexit Negotiation
Finland Halts Arms Sales to Saudi, UAE over Yemen Crisis
U.S. oil prices fall by more than 1 percent on concerns of oversupply
4 killed in fresh clashes in C.African capital
Blast at Afghan army base mosque in east kills 9
Cuban doctors head home, leaving Brazilian towns with no care

Latest Lebanese Related News published on November 23-24/18
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

Kataeb Media Council Fires Back at Journalist, Pledges to Face Any Affront to Martyrs Friday 23rd November 2018/
The Kataeb's Media Council on Friday fired back at comments made by journalist Hassan Alleik regarding martyr President Bachir Gemayel in a TV interview one day earlier, blasting any attempt to tarnish the memory of those who sacrified their lives for the sake of the nation.
"We will not keep mum over any affront targeting our martyrs and we will deal with it with categorical firmness and strictness," read a statement issued by the Media Council. "The present statement is not aimed at replying to what Alleik said, but rather to dot the i's, once and for all, when it comes to a cause that no one, like Alleik and those who stand behind him, is allowed to tamper or insult it."The Kataeb's Media Council hailed the martyrs of all the groups affiliated to the Lebanese Resistance as "sacred", taking pride in everything that was done in defense of Lebanon. "We did and will continue to do everything that should be done in line with our national duty to confront foreign conspiracies and  complicity."The Council stressed that the Kataeb party's determination to build a nation along with all the other factions does not mean compromising its convictions, dignity, history, cause, martyrs and sacrifices.
"A nation cannot be built with a mentality of a winner who didn't actually triumph and a loser who was not really defeated," the statement added. "Bachir is still alive in each one of us!"

Lebanon Celebrates Independence Day amid Cabinet Crisis
Beirut - Asharq Al-Awsat/Friday, 23 November, 2018/Independence Day celebrations were held across Lebanon Thursday amid a government deadlock and counter-accusations in the reasons behind the cabinet formation delay. President Michel Aoun presided over a military parade marking Lebanon's 75th Independence Day at the Shafic Wazzan Avenue in downtown Beirut, in the presence of Speaker Nabih Berri, Prime Minister-designate Saad Hariri, Army Commander General Joseph Aoun and a number of former presidents, ex-speakers, former premiers, ministers, deputies, and senior political, military, religious, judicial, diplomatic, economic and media figures. Aoun addressed a word of pride to Lebanese soldiers, assuring them of being the guarantors of this country in the face of storms and challenges. "Today, as we celebrate the 75th Independence Day, we have put this national celebration in your hands so that you can preserve it," he told troops. “With you, we turn independence into hope and promise to move towards a prosperous future of peace and prosperity," he said. At the end of the celebration, the President headed back to the Baabda Presidential Palace to accept congratulations on the occasion, along with the Speaker and Prime Minister. However, the day ended with no developments on the cabinet crisis, despite a closed-door meeting held between Aoun, Berri and Hariri prior to receiving well-wishers at the Presidential Palace. “There is nothing new at all,” Berri told reporters when asked about the latest developments. Also speaking to reporters from Baabda, Hariri said: “The solution is not in my hands.” He was hinting to Hezbollah’s responsibility in hindering the government formation process by insisting on the representation of the March 8 alliance’s Sunni deputies through a cabinet portfolio. Hariri has rejected the request.However, caretaker Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil predicted the formation of the cabinet by Christmas and the New Year.

Netanyahu’s Rival Calls for Preemptive Strike on Hezbollah
Tel Aviv - Asharq Al-Awsat/Friday, 23 November, 2018/Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s rival to head the ruling Likud party, former minister Gideon Sa'ar, has called for a “preemptive strike” against Hezbollah to cripple its ability to fire heavy rockets at Israel in the next war. Sa’ar exploited widespread criticism over Netanyahu’s failures in the recent confrontation with Hamas to say that Hezbollah was upgrading the accuracy of missiles, which will be able to target Israeli civilian infrastructure. He stressed that since the battle with Hezbollah was “definitely coming and getting closer and closer, there is a need to anticipate a blow to paralyze it and destroy as much of its arsenal as possible.”He went on to say: “I call for a preemptive strike against precision-missile factories in Lebanon and other strategic threats that Hezbollah is developing, and I will back up and stand by such a decision if it will be taken.” Sa’ar is a prominent figure in the Likud party. In two consecutive elections, he received the largest number of votes after Netanyahu. He is seeking to be the new leader of the Likud and the government, should Netanyahu resign. He retired from politics four years ago, after feeling that Netanyahu’s supporters were fighting him. He is now a researcher at the National Security Research Institute, but his political activity resumed last year amid a growing popularity. Netanyahu considers Sa’ar a serious threat. In statements last month, he publicly attacked him and accused him of plotting a coup. “There is a former minister preparing to overthrow me by a political coup,” he said. Sa’ar was shocked by the accusation at the time, but did not give up. He continued his campaign to regain his political position, while the Israeli premier and his supporters continued their attack against him, accusing him of drawing closer to the left to defeat Netanyahu.

Lebanese Detained in Iran Congratulates Top Officials on Independence Day
Beirut- Asharq Al-Awsat/Friday, 23 November, 2018/Nizar Zakka, a Lebanese detainee in Iran, contacted President Michel Aoun, congratulating him on Independence Day, and hoping that the “aspirations of the Presidency to have a protective umbrella above every Lebanese would be realized in the new year,” according to a statement issued by Zakka’s family. Zakka also contacted the head of Parliament, saying that he hoped “Speaker Nabih Berri would raise the issue of his continued arbitrary detention during his next visit to Iran.” According to the statement, the Lebanese detainee has also managed to contact Prime Minister-designate Saad al-Hariri from his underground detention cell, hoping that this occasion “would achieve the Premiership’s aspirations of being a father to the Lebanese, to protect them wherever they are and to defend their rights, especially in international forums...and to vote in the United Nations for the benefit of the Lebanese people.”Zakka was arrested after traveling to Iran to attend a state-sponsored conference in the capital, Tehran, in 2015. At the time of his arrest, he was the secretary-general of IJMA3, an Arab communications organization, and had received an official invitation to visit Iran.

Qaouq Says Hariri Harming Aoun's Presidency, Lebanese Economy
Naharnet/November 23/18/A senior Hizbullah official on Friday accused Prime Minister-designate Saad Hariri of “harming” President Michel Aoun’s presidency and the Lebanese economy.
“By insisting on denying the right of independent Sunnis, the PM-designate has harmed everyone. He has harmed the presidential tenure, the anticipated government, the Lebanese economy and the political atmosphere, which has become more tense and polarized,” Hizbullah central council member Sheikh Nabil Qaouq said. “The solution is ultimately with the PM-designate and any procrastination or disregard for the course of representing all political forces would aggravate the problem,” the Hizbullah official warned. He added: “Is it in the interest of the government, the people, the Lebanese and the political forces to form a government of political divisions or a government of political accord? From our position we say that it can’t be a government of political accord if a broad segment of the Lebanese society is excluded and eliminated.”| The new government was on the verge of formation on October 29 after the Lebanese Forces accepted the portfolios that were assigned to it but a last-minute hurdle over the representation of pro-Hizbullah Sunni MPs surfaced. Hizbullah has insisted that the six Sunni MPs should be given a seat in the government, refraining from providing Hariri with the names of its three Shiite ministers in a bid to press him.

Mustaqbal MP Says Independent Sunni Deputies 'Don’t Constitute a Bloc'

Naharnet/November 23/18/Al-Mustaqbal Movement MP Mohammed Hajjar on Friday said the government was on the verge of formation had it not been for the last-minute obstacle placed by Hizbullah regarding the representation of Sunni MPs. “The government formation was ready and everyone was waiting for its announcement from Baabda, had it not been for the emergence of the Sunni obstacle that Hizbullah put on the table,” Hajjar said in remarks he made to VDL (93.3) radio station. Hizbullah “wants to say that the last signature on the government formation is his," he said. Blaming the party for the obstruction he said: “Hizbullah alone is to be blamed for this behavior, not the Premier nor the President. Hizbullah is the only obstructor,” but at the same time affirming that “solutions are underway.”“No one denies the representation of independent Sunni deputies, but they do not constitute a parliamentary bloc. Considering them as such is against the norms,” he concluded.

Israel Admits It Sank Lebanese Refugee Boat in 1982 War
Agencies/Friday 23rd November 2018
An Israeli submarine mistakenly torpedoed a boat carrying refugees and foreign workers off the Lebanese coast during the 1982 Lebanon War, killing 25 people, Israel's Channel 10 news revealed Thursday, after the Israeli army finally lifted military censorship on reporting on the 36-year-old incident. According to Channel 10, the incident occurred off the coast of the northern Lebanese city of Tripoli in June 1982 as Israel was enforcing a naval blockade of Lebanon. According to Channel 10, a local boat apparently tried to take advantage of a brief ceasefire and flee the area with a group of refugees and foreign workers on board. The captain of the Israeli submarine, identified as “Maj. A,” believed the boat was carrying Palestinian fighters, however, and gave an order to fire two torpedoes at the boat, sinking it. The captain told an inquiry committee set by the Israeli army that he was convinced there were Palestinian terrorists on the boat and that he had seen 30 to 40 men, all wearing similar outfits, which he believed to be military uniforms. He also ascertained there were no women and children on board the vessel, the captain testified. “I looked carefully over the ship from end to end, and I saw there were no women or children on board,” Maj. A. testified. He added that he continued to monitor the ship as it sank, and still did not see women or children.
“I kept watching for two hours, until darkness had completely fallen.”The captain of the Lebanese boat and 24 others died in the Israeli strike. Channel 10 said later Thursday there had been 54 people on board in all, and that the boat had been trying to reach Cyprus. The army's investigation into the sinking found that while the captain had made a mistake, he had been acting within his operational orders. However, Col. (Ret) Mike Eldar, who commanded the 11th flotilla during the war, said the captain acted improperly and accused Israel of trying to cover up the incident. “We have rules of engagement even on submarines, you don’t just shoot a boat because you suspect maybe there was something,” he told Channel 10, adding that the submarine should have summoned a navy patrol boat to investigate. Eldar said he sought to have Israel acknowledge the incident for decades. “I turned to the police, the army, the justice department and they all ignored me,” he said. “It’s insulting, personally and nationally.”He also pointed to the testimony of the second in command of the submarine, Capt. B. He had testified that following previous incidents in which the Israeli submarine had refrained from firing on suspicious ships, the mood shifted to “an atmosphere of a desire to attack and fire at any cost. I believed we should not fire because the identification was not definite.”According to Eldar, there were several other officers who wanted to testify at an inquiry but were not allowed to.

Syrian Held Trying to Smuggle 20,000 Captagon Pills to KSA
Naharnet/November 23/18/A Syrian national has been arrested at Beirut’s Rafik Hariri International Airport as he was trying to smuggle 20,000 Captagon narcotic pills to Saudi Arabia, Lebanon’s National News Agency said. “The inspection unit at RHIA arrested yesterday the Syrian national A.Q., 28, after he attempted to smuggle 20,000 Captagon pills hidden in eight Abu Jabal tea bags,” NNA said. He intended to travel to the Saudi city of Jeddah aboard a Middle East Airlines flight, the agency added. “He was referred to the administrative and judicial law enforcement unit where he confessed to smuggling Captagon pills,” NNA said. “He was later detained and referred to the Central Anti-Narcotics Bureau at the request of the relevant judicial authorities,” the agency added.

RPGs, Machineguns Used in Nahle Inheritance Dispute

Naharnet/November 23/18/Medium-caliber weapons were used Friday as a dispute between two men erupted into an armed clash in the Bekaa area of Nahle, media reports said. “A dispute over inheritance between two men from the Faitrouni family escalated into a gunfight involving the use of machineguns and rocket-propelled grenades on Nahle's road,” MTV reported, quoting security sources. No one was hurt in the incident according to the TV network.

Lebanese Army Patrol Shoots Fugitive in Baalbek
Naharnet/November 23/18/A Lebanese army patrol shot and wounded a fugitive near the Baalbek area of al-Taybeh, LBCI TV station reported on Friday. The suspect, identified by his initials as A.Z., was shot in an exchange of fire while being pursued by the army troops. He was taken to hospital for treatment, added LBCI. No further details were given.

Happy Dependence Day: a letter to my grandfather
Please, Jiddo, when you get this letter, stay the f### home and do not demonstrate against the French.
Dan Azzi/Annahar/November 23/18
Dear Jiddo,
You’ve been deceased for 30 years, but I’m hoping one day a time machine would deliver this urgent message. I pray it gets to you before you join the demonstration against the French mandate, 75 years ago. As we celebrate this day with the mandatory national anthem playing twenty times a day when we make a phone call, I can’t help but wonder if we’d be better off had you and your compatriots stayed home that day.
We would now be EU citizens, like our lucky Cypriot neighbors, 200 kilometers away, carrying a passport that allows unfettered access to 174 countries, instead of 37 countries, many of which only an aspiring terrorist would visit. At least our passport would not be six times the price.
We would not have a garbage crisis today. We would have 24-hour electricity. We would have running, potable water in our homes. We would have proper sewage systems that don’t dump waste around us ... or in the sea where we swim ... in between bouts of pretentious bronzage, while we conveniently ignore the stench. We could throw toilet paper in the lavatory without clogging the pipes. We would have paved roads, without giant potholes, and with functioning light-posts that are on at night, instead of day. We would have traffic lights ... and people would actually stop. We would have cars give way to pedestrians crossing on zebra walkways. There would be no noise pollution through honking of cars as a mode of cursing or announcing one’s existence. There would be no pollution, period.
We would politely wait our turn in a queue instead of trying to “nitzeka.” In a two-lane road, if traffic slows, we would not create a third lane, and then a fourth lane, clogging up both ways. We could obtain an official document quickly, because our taxes already paid the salary of the guy working on it, not because we had to bribe him to do his job. We would park on the street not on the sidewalk, blocking pedestrians and forcing them to walk dangerously among cars. We would have Carnival Cruise ships in front of our shores, not ugly electric generator ships or military frigates.
There would be no governmental and extra-governmental armed checkpoints ... and if there ever were, we would be surprised ... and then outraged, at this invasion of our privacy.
We would have a robust public transportation system, with underground trains, electric buses, trams, and rail systems linking the whole country. We would not have monopolies, like the cell phone industry and electricity generators, making us pay some of the highest communication and energy costs in the world. We would not have a debt to GDP ratio putting us in the worst three countries in the world, with nothing to show for it. We would have proper zoning rules that prevent haphazard construction from Akoura to Anjar, destroying the natural forestry, including our national symbol, the cedar tree. When the cedar trees become extinct, Jiddo, would our flag just be red and white?
We would not be converting our majestic mountains to kissarat, digging them up, and carting them off for easy profit — literally wiping them off the map. We would have zoning rules outside big cities that only allow houses with gardens, while building skyscrapers in Beirut, Tripoli, and Sidon.
We would not have swaths of land outside the control of the central government. We would not have had an Israeli invasion in 1978, 1982, and 2006. We would not have had a Syrian occupation for thirty years ... oops, I mean “wisaya.” We would not have an armed chunk of the Lebanese population under a flimsy pretext ... with its own foreign policy, independent from the central government, interfering in the affairs of other states.
We would not be branded at birth like sheep, with a religion and sect that limits our aspirations, ambitions, and government posts that we can attain. We would not have the same shepherds and their incompetent, despotic descendants continuing to rule, exploit, and rob the country. We would no longer follow them, and when we did, we would hold them accountable.
There would be no wasta.
We would no longer strive to build the world’s largest Hummus plate or giant Manoucheh, and excitedly call the Guinness Book of Records. We would no longer have to analyze Shakira’s or Paul Anka’s ethnicity to get a “tartoucheh” of pride in our superior DNA.
We would have free medical care. A retirement plan for every citizen funded in Euros, not Monopoly money, which people in their 30s, 40s, and 50s will never see. Free education. Free healthcare. No flooding every time it rains, while we have to buy water for our houses ... or shower in brown sludge.
We would not have an epidemic brain drain to any country that will accept us ... or get ourselves born there because our prescient mother flew somewhere in her 9th month to exploit a citizenship loophole.
We would no longer have tears rolling down our cheeks as we listen to Fairouz singing “Bhibbak ya Lubnan” in a Las Vegas concert. We would no longer believe Wadih el Safi when he croons “We are staying here in our mountain” as he repeatedly points his non-Oud-playing finger at the ground below him ... on the Champs-Élysées.
We would not need the help of the President of France to host our prime minister when he’s exiled after a misunderstanding with the Wisaya ... or to release him when someone decides to Hotel California his a##. We would not need France’s help to go begging for money in various conferences to save us from a financial demise of our own making.
We would not have chronic traffic jams aggravated by a week of parade rehearsals, sealed off from the general public, with only VIP dignitaries invited — some of whom, the same ones who ran the country into the ground after inheriting the Paris of the Middle East from the Paris of Europe.
We would not be celebrating an Independence Day earned by only one martyr. You heard right. Just one. Hassan Abdel Sater, from the village of Laat, five kilometers outside Baalbek, whom nobody’s heard of today ... while the Algerians earned their independence with a million martyrs ... which can only mean that the French were all too happy to leave. We would simply visit Abdel Sater’s daughter, Zainab, and give her our sincere condolences.
So please, Jiddo, when you get this letter, stay the f### home and do not demonstrate against the French.
Signed: Your grandson, from the future.
**Dan Azzi is a regular contributor to Annahar. He has recently been invited to be an Advanced Leadership Initiative Fellow at Harvard University, a program for senior executives to leverage their experience and apply it to a problem with social impact. Dan’s research focus at Harvard will be economic and political reform in a hypothetical small country riddled with corruption and negligence. Previously, he was the Chairman and CEO of Standard Chartered Bank Lebanon.

Hariri receives Uruguayan ambassador
Fri 23 Nov 2018/NNA - Prime Minister-designate Saad Hariri received today at the Center House the Ambassador of Uruguay Dr. Marta Ines Pizzanelli and discussed with her the developments and bilateral relations. Hariri also received the president of Patriarch Nasrallah Sfeir Foundation, Dr. Elias Sfeir, who invited him to attend the Foundation's annual dinner at Al Habtoor Hotel. He also met with a delegation from the Directorate General of General Security, which included Brigadier General Riad Taha and Colonel Bassam Farah. They presented to him an invitation to participate in the conference organized by the Directorate on the 26 and 27 of November on the defeat of terrorism in the region.

Salam: Bloc named "independent Sunni deputies" created to hinder government formation
Fri 23 Nov 2018/NNA - Former Prime Minister, Tammam Salam, said in an interview with the "Al-Mustaqbal" TV channel that the bloc named "Independent Sunni deputies" was created to hinder the formation of the government. "Prime Minister-designate Saad Hariri has made every possible concession to set up the cabinet, and the political parties should do so with the aim of launching the reform and development process in the country," he said. In response to a question about the prerogatives of the President of the Republic and the Prime Minister-Designate, he said: "The constitution is clear. The government will be created by the designated PM who will present his formula to the Head of State who will either approve or decline it. The president is, according to the constitution, a party that assists the PM-designate without confrontation on ministerial portfolios."Salam added that "the President of the Republic is for everyone and not for a party that should have a share of ministers. This is not mentioned in the Constitution." Regarding the latest position of "Hezbollah" Secretary General, Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah, he said "the party does not facilitate the task of the Premier-designate."

Machnouk talks current developments with Allawi, Alain Aoun
Fri 23 Nov 2018/NNA - Caretaker Interior and Municipalities Minister, Nouhad Machnouk, on Friday received at his ministerial office the Iraqi Vice President, Ayad Allawi, with whom he discussed most recent developments on the regional and international arena, notably in Iraq. Minister Machnouk also met with MP Alain Aoun, with talks reportedly touching on the recent political developments in Lebanon.

Makhzoumi talks current situation with Rampling
Fri 23 Nov 2018/NNA - "National Dialogue" Party head, MP Fouad Makhzoumi, on Friday welcomed at his office in Downtown Beirut the British Ambassador to Lebanon, Chris Rampling.
Talks reportedly touched on the current situation on the regional and international arena. In the wake of the meeting, Makhzoumi congratulated Ambassador Rampling on his assumption of his diplomatic duties in Lebanon, hoping further promotion of relations with Britain. Makhzoumi also highlighted the UK's permanent support to Lebanon's stability. On the other hand, Makhzoumi visited Beirut Governor, Judge Ziad Shbib, with whom he discussed the solutions to the problem of the torrential rain floods that swept Ramlet al-Bayda few days ago.

Lebanese Embassy in Saudi Arabia celebrates Independence Day
Fri 23 Nov 2018/NNA - The Lebanese Embassy in Saudi Arabia, celebrated the 75th Independence Day, in the presence In the presence of the Prince of Riyadh Faisal bin Bandar bin Abdulaziz. The Independence reception, which was held at the residence of Lebanon's Ambassador, Fawzi Kabbara, in Riyadh, was attended by Foreign Ministry Undersecretary for Protocol Affairs Azzam bin Abdulkarim Al-Qain, Saudi Minister Plenipotentiary Ambassador to Lebanon, Walid Bukhari, and scores of the diplomatic corps. Attending the reception had also been Embassy senior officials, members of the Lebanese Labor and Investment Council, and a crowd of the Lebanese community in Saudi Arabia. In his delivered on the occasion, Ambassador Kabbara underlined the deeply entrenched relations between Lebanon and Saudi Arabia, hailing the role played by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in supporting Lebanon through a march of more than 75 years of distinguished brotherly relations between the two countries. kabbara stressed the dire need to fortify Lebanon internally and externally.

Panel discussion on gender equality at 'Beit al Mouhami'
Fri 23 Nov 2018/NNA - Under the patronage of the British Embassy in Beirut, a panel discussion on gender equality titled: "Worldwide Conversation on Women's Higher Education and Equality in the Workplace" was held on Friday at "Neit al-Mouhami", at the invitation of the University of London and the American University of Technology (AUT). Partaking in the panel discussion had been caretaker Minister of State for Administrative Development Inaya Ezzeddine, British Ambassador to Lebanon, Chris Rampling, President of the Lebanese National Commission for Lebanese Women Claudine Aoun Roukoz, Former Dean of the Lebanese Bar Association Amal Haddad, President of the Bureau of the "Francophone Network of Women Leaders in Higher Education and Research" Leila Saade, and University Professor and media figure Rola Azar Douglas. In his delivered word, Ambassaodr Rampling expressed his delight to take part in today's event, seizing the occasion to congratulate the Lebanese on Lebanon's 75th Independence Day. Rampling focussed in his word on the UK progress achieved in this regard and lessons learnt from 100 years since women suffrage in the UK.
He said: "To achieve the goals of sustainable development at the 2030, the following actions should also be taken in the United Kingdom and Lebanon: Work on gender equality, produce world-class statistics through intergovernmental and academic action, a strong and vibrant women's movement working in partnership with governments, financiers and business, and establishing partnerships among governments, civil society, corporate sector and the media to change the social norms that support gender inequality."For her part, Minister Ezzedine recapped in her word the various sorts of challenges facing women, including the nature of the Lebanese system based on quotas and confessional and sectarian considerations, in addition to the patriarchal nature of society especially in advanced political posts where change has to take place on many levels, including laws and legislations.
Ezzedine also considered that the process of improving the situation of women is an integrated process and a culture of community, pointing out that the presence of women in key positions is essential for the improvement of their situation. For her part, President of the Lebanese National Commission for Lebanese Women (NCLW) Claudine Aoun Roukoz, shed light on the NCLW's strategy for 2011-2021 to secure gender equality in rights and duties. At the legislative, legal and regulatory level, Roukoz said that the Commission works to protect women and eliminate all forms of discrimination against them by seeking to amend all laws that are unfair to them, including code of labor and social security, as well as the legislation against early marriage. In this context, Roukoz referred to awareness-raising campaigns on health, environment and education issues in order to spread the culture of gender equality in various fields. At the political level, she said that the Commission is currently working to amend the electoral law to include a women quota.

Latest LCCC Bulletin For Miscellaneous Reports And News published on November 23-24/18
US ‘Isolated Zone’ Separates Kurds from Turkish Army
Washington - London - Asharq Al-Awsat/Friday, 23 November, 2018/US forces operating as part of the anti-ISIS Coalition have started installing observation posts on Syria's northern border with Turkey in a bid to separate their Kurdish allies from the Turkish Army. “We are putting in observation posts in several locations up along the... northern Syrian border," Defense Secretary Jim Mattis told reporters. "They will be very clearly marked locations day and night so that the Turks know where they're at," he added, noting that the decision was taken in close cooperation with Turkey. Since 2016, Ankara has carried out two operations against Kurdish forces in Syria. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported that ISIS launched on Thursday a large-scale offensive on positions of the US-backed forces in eastern Syria, as part of its pre-emptive strategy. The Observatory said ISIS launched the offensive in the morning, while it tried to reach al-Tanak oil field, where the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) has a base with foreign military experts.In response to the offensive, the US-led Coalition warplanes struck ISIS positions, killing 48 of them. Meanwhile, social media sites loyal to the Kurds wrote on Thursday that an agreement was reached between the SDF and the US-led Coalition for Washington to protect its allies in an arrangement that should be renewed every two years. The Observatory also said that Iran continued to expand its presence in border areas controlled by the Coalition. The monitor added that Tehran went further in recruiting Syrians to enroll in its militia ranks in the countryside of Deir Ezzor. “The Syrian Observatory monitored the continuation of recruiting operations of former fighters and residents from the countryside of Deir Ezzor in the ranks of Iranian militias similar to the Iranian Revolutionary Guard or the forces that belong to them,” the Observatory wrote on its website. Sources told the monitor that Tehran was luring citizens to enlist in the ranks of Iran-backed militias operating in Deir Ezzor by offering them a monthly salary of $150.

Egypt: 12 Terrorists Killed in Northern Sinai
Cairo - Asharq Al-Awsat/Friday, 23 November, 2018/Egypt’s Interior Ministry has said that police killed 12 “terrorists” when security forces stormed three deserted buildings used as militant hideouts in the northern part of the Sinai Peninsula. A ministry statement on Thursday said the militants were the first to open fire on the policemen as they surrounded the buildings in the Mediterranean coastal city of el-Arish. The statement said there were no casualties among the police. Egypt has for years battled militants in Sinai. The insurgency intensified after 2013. However, a large military operation launched this year against the militants in northern Sinai has significantly reduced the number of attacks. Also Thursday, the state security prosecutor ordered Aisha al-Shaterm, the daughter of Muslim Brotherhood leader Khairat al-Shater, and five others to be held for 15 days pending an investigation on charges including membership in a terrorist organization.

Barzani Makes Ice-Breaking Visit to Baghdad

Baghdad - Hamza Mustafa/Asharq Al-Awsat/Friday, 23 November, 2018/After more than two and a half years of shaky relations with Baghdad, Kurdish leader Masoud Barzani arrived in the Iraqi capital on Thursday. There are high hopes that this visit would bolster ties between Erbil and Baghdad. Upon his arrival, Barzani met with Iraq's Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi and discussed controversial issues in the aftermath of the Kurdish referendum crisis of September 2017. During a joint press conference, Abdul Mahdi said that Barzani is a key “engineer in the process of building relations, not just in Iraq, but in the region and world.” “Our relationship is an old one,” Barzani said, adding “we express our full support for Abdul Mahdi. We will continue to work to improve ties.”MP Hassan Touran told Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper that any political deal at the expense of Kirkuk factions is doomed to fail. Political parties tried to make such deals in the past but failed to succeed because the solution has to come from Kirkuk. Barzani’s visit to Baghdad is a good start to resolve controversial issues, former MP Majid Shingali told Asharq Al-Awsat. Kurds always affirm three standards in dealing with Baghdad - balance, accord, and partnership in decision-making. Barzani was the president of the Iraqi Kurdistan Region before stepping down, and now he is the leader of the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) that won in last September’s legislative elections. However, Baghdad considered the operation illegal after the majority of Kurdistan regions voted in favor of independence last year. Subsequently, Iraqi armored fighting vehicles headed north to restore disputed regions and imposed economic sanctions. Yet, since naming Abdul Mahdi a prime minister in October, the tension de-escalated between the two parties. The PM stressed that it is highly important to have good ties between Baghdad and Erbil.

Arab Justice Ministers Recommend Removing Sudan from Terror List

Khartoum - Ahmed Younis/Asharq Al-Awsat/Friday, 23 November, 2018/Arab Ministers of Justice have adopted a recommendation calling for the removal of Sudan from the list of states sponsoring terrorism. The ministers discussed a number of Arab issues during their council’s 34th session, which ended in Khartoum on Thursday. The meeting discussed several agreements, including the Arab Convention on Combating Terrorism and its implementation mechanisms, the Arab Convention against Money Laundering and Terrorism Financing, the strengthening of Arab and international cooperation in combating terrorism and the establishment of a network of Arab judicial cooperation to combat terrorism and transnational crime. The Arab justice ministers have also touched on a number of conventions and draft-laws, including a model Arab law to combat terrorism, the enactment of laws to assist victims of terrorist acts, drugs and psychotropic substances, the Arab Convention against Corruption, the Convention on the Status of Refugees in the Arab States and the legal means to deal with Israeli racism. The meeting saw the approval of a recommendation by the Executive Council of Arab Ministers of Justice to remove the name of Sudan from the list of state sponsors of terrorism. Sudan affirmed its readiness to cooperate in the fields of security and the promotion of joint Arab action. The opening ceremony was attended by Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir, Assistant Secretary-General of the League of Arab States Mohamed Al-Amin Ould Akik, Arab Parliament Speaker Meshaal Bin Fahad Al-Salmi, ministers of justice of various Arab countries, senior Sudanese officials and members of the diplomatic corps accredited in Khartoum. In his address to the opening session of the meeting, Bashir said the world and the region were facing many challenges, suffering from terrorism, extremism, human trafficking, drugs and organized and trans-border crime. He emphasized the need for an inter-Arab justice system that would meet the world’s concerns. The Sudanese president underlined his country’s readiness to cooperate in the areas that achieve security and stability and to work to strengthen joint Arab action in the justice field.

Two Syrian media activists assassinated in Idlib's Kafr Nabl, HTS accused
Staff writer, Al Arabiya English/Friday, 23 November 2018/Two of the biggest activists against Bashar al-Assad’s regime in Syria have been assassinated by an anonymous entity in Idlib’s Kafr Nabl that is controlled by Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham (HTS), formerly known as Nusra Front.
The two activists are Raed Fares and Hamoud Junaid; both of whom were previously detained by HTS. In 2014, Fares faced a similar assassination attempt by two masked men in his town which was known for its demonstrations against Assad. Fares was the head of Radio Fresh and one of its founders, and he was also head of the Union of Revolutionary Bureaus (URB), while the other assassinated activist was a video journalist working for the same organization. Syrian activists opposing Assad accused HTS of being behind the assassinations. A page on Facebook called “Jabhat Nusra Violations” revealed that “armed Nusra Front fighters shot them” which immediately caused their death, posting pictures of their bodies. Activists in Idlib, one of the last armed rebel bastions, have voiced the many violations that HTS, in addition to other extremist factions, subject them to. HTS arrested civilian activist and lawyer Yasser al-Salim in Kafr Nabl on Sep 21st, following his public support to Suwayda’s kidnapped women who were detained by ISIS. Salim demanded their freedom after his participation in a demonstration against Assad’s regime in his town.

Griffiths: We're negotiating UN supervisory role in Hodeidah port

Al Arabiya English, Dubai/ Friday, 23 November 2018/The UN special envoy to Yemen, Martin Griffiths, arrived on Friday in the Red Sea port city of Hodeidah, witnesses said. On Thursday, Griffiths met with Houthi leader Abdul-Malik al-Houthi to discuss logistics ahead of planned peace talks in Sweden in December. Hodeidah is a battleground between the Iran-aligned Houthi group, which controls the city, and pro-government forces. Meanwhile sources said that the UN is ready to play a supervisory role in managing the port of Hodeidah. UN spokesman Rheal LeBlanc told reporters in Geneva on Friday, that Griffiths had specific ideas about managing the port that he would present to the parties to the conflict. “As he (Griffiths) has said many times, the UN stands ready to work with the parties on a negotiated agreement, to grant a supervisory role for the UN in managing the port, which would protect the port itself from potential destruction, and preserve the main humanitarian pipeline to the people of Yemen,” LeBlanc said. Griffiths told the UN Security Council last week that Yemen's parties had given "firm assurances" they were committed to attending peace talks he hopes to convene in Sweden before the end of the year. Griffiths has arrived Wednesday in Sanaa and met with Houthi officials, and traveled to Hodeidah, and from there he will be traveling to the Jordanian capital, Amman” according to Russian Sputnik news agency. The agency confirmed that Griffiths will not meet any military parties in Hodeidah, explaining that “it is not within the competence of the Special Envoy to meet military leaders in Hodeidah, as he is a UN commissioner to resume the political process.”

Mohammed bin Zayed receives Saudi Crown Prince in Abu Dhabi

Staff writer, Al Arabiya English/Thursday, 22 November 2018/Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman arrived in the United Arab Emirates on Thursday night and was received by Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces. Sheikh Mohammed tweeted: “We’re proud of our deep-rooted ties” with Saudi Arabia as he welcomed the Saudi Crown Prince to the UAE. Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman replied: “Prospects for close and fruitful cooperation and partnership are in line for the UAE and Saudi Arabia.”“The UAE will always remain loving and supporting to Saudi Arabia,” Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed added. According to Wam, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman was accorded an official reception ceremony upon arrival at the Presidential Airport in the UAE capital where the Saudi national anthem was played and 21-artillery rounds fired. The Saudi Prince shook hands with Sheikhs, ministers and senior officials who welcomed him to the UAE. Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed shook hands with members of the Saudi Crown Prince’s accompanying delegation which included princes, ministers and other top officials. Sheikhs, ministers and senior officials were present, Wam said. Accompanying Saudi Crown Prince is a delegation of princes, ministers and other top officials. The UAE visit is part of a trip to neighboring countries, the Saudi Press Agency said.
“At the direction of King Salman, [the] Crown Prince Mohammed leaves today to visit a number of brotherly Arab countries,” according to a brief statement. At the end of the month, the Saudi Crown Prince is scheduled to attend the G20 Summit in Argentina.

Turkey Says Trump Intends to Turn a 'Blind Eye' to Khashoggi Murder
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/November 23/18/Turkey on Friday said President Donald Trump intended to turn a "blind eye" to Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi's murder after he said Washington's ties with Riyadh would not be affected by the incident. "In one sense, Trump is saying 'I will turn a blind eye'," Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said in an interview with CNN Turk broadcaster, referring to Trump's continued support for Saudi Arabia, which has committed to billions of dollars in US weapons contracts. Trump's backing comes despite global outrage over the grisly killing that has tarnished the image of the kingdom's de facto ruler Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, known as MBS. Trump on Tuesday glossed over the Central Intelligence Agency's reported conclusion that the the crown prince had authorised the killing. "Maybe he did and maybe he didn't!" Trump said, implying Prince Mohammed's culpability in Khashoggi's killing in the diplomatic compound. Trump was widely pilloried for what critics called his mercantile priorities that made him appear more like a lobbyist for Riyadh, raising the prospect of strong congressional action against Saudi Arabia.

Yemen Rebels Agree to Talks for 'U.N. Role' in Hodeida Port

Agence France Presse/Naharnet/November 23/18/Yemeni rebels have agreed to hold talks for the United Nations to play a "leading role" in running the lifeline port in embattled Hodeida, U.N. envoy Martin Griffiths said Friday. Griffiths, who started a Yemen peace mission in rebel-held Sanaa on Wednesday, said he has discussed with Huthi rebel officials "how the U.N. could contribute to keeping the peace" in Hodeida. "I am here to tell you today that we have agreed that the U.N. should now pursue actively and urgently detailed negotiations for a leading U.N. role in the port and more broadly," he told reporters during his first visit to Hodeida. Griffiths urged Yemen's warring parties to "keep the peace" in the port city. "The attention of the world is on Hodeida. Leaders from every country have called for us all to keep the peace in Hodeida," he said. Griffiths was in the country ahead of planned peace talks in Sweden in December between the Iran-aligned Huthi rebels and pro-government forces backed by a Saudi-led coalition. Both warring sides have expressed support for the envoy's mission to hold discussions to end a war that has pushed the country to the brink of famine. According to the World Health Organization, nearly 10,000 people have been killed in Yemen's conflict, though some rights groups estimate the toll could be five times higher.

Gibraltar Rocks Final Stages of Brexit Negotiation
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/November 23/18/Preparations for a summit to endorse Britain's deal to quit the European Union risked running aground on the rock of Gibraltar on Friday, as Spain defended its veto over the fate of the tiny territory. Britain's Prime Minister Theresa May and leaders of the other 27 EU member states are to meet Sunday to approve their divorce agreement and set a course for negotiating their future post-Brexit relationship. But Spanish officials emerged from talks on Friday warning that Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez might not attend if London does not put in writing a promise that no future accord on EU relations involving Gibraltar will be signed without Madrid's specific assent. "We have demanded that it be published by the British authorities before the European Council on Sunday," Luis Marco Aguiriano Nalda, state secretary for European affairs, told reporters in Brussels.
Both British and EU negotiators said that the withdrawal agreement itself would not change at this stage, but in London a spokesman for Number 10 had earlier said: "We will work with the governments of Gibraltar and Spain on our future relationship."It was not immediately clear if this promise would be enough to shift the logjam. In legal terms, Spain's disapproval would not halt the divorce settlement, but would embarrass EU leaders keen to show that the 27 remain united despite Brexit tensions. And, as Aguiriano noted, any final relationship negotiated between London and Brussels after Brexit day on March 29 would eventually have to be approved by all remaining member states -- giving Spain a de facto veto further down the line. May is due in Brussels on Saturday to see EU Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker, but diplomats told AFP that no more substantive negotiations would take place and that Sunday's summit would simply see leaders sign off on the fruit of 17 months of dialogue. A European diplomat told AFP that Gibraltar had been the sole remaining bone of contention in the meeting of so-called "diplomatic sherpas" -- who guide their national leaders to the summit. But he said that when the minutes of Sunday's meeting are read out they will include language stressing the importance of Britain maintaining a level-playing field in trade rules during the post-Brexit transition and on fishing rights. And the summit would make it clear that the European Council, which represents member states, would take the lead over the Commission in negotiating future ties -- another measure that will ensure Madrid that its voice will be heard before any final settlement is reached.
Parliamentary challenge
After that, May will have to sell the deal to the British Parliament, an even greater political challenge. May refused to say whether she would resign if parliament eventually votes down the legal divorce agreement that the EU is set to endorse on Sunday, alongside a shorter political framework to guide talks on future ties. "This isn't about me... I am focused on ensuring we get this deal," she said during a call-in show on BBC radio, adding that she would be touring "up and down" Britain to explain the agreement. "If this deal does not go through, we are back at square one. What we end up with is more division and more uncertainty," she said. May, who voted to stay in Europe in the 2016 referendum, also dismissed calls for a second vote -- but then refused to say whether her deal was preferable to remaining in the bloc. Instead, she said Britain could build a "better future" for itself outside the European Union.

Finland Halts Arms Sales to Saudi, UAE over Yemen Crisis

Agence France Presse/Naharnet/November 23/18/Finland announced late on Thursday it will block new arms export licenses to Saudi Arabia and the UAE, citing the murder of a Saudi journalist and the countries' role in Yemen's humanitarian crisis. The suspension mirrors earlier decisions by Denmark, Norway and Germany to halt arms sales to Saudi Arabia for the time being over the killing and over the kingdom's part in Yemen's war which has left 14 million people facing starvation, according to the U.N. "The situation in Yemen was behind this decision, but of course (the murder of Khashoggi) was part of the overall rationale," Prime Minister Juha Sipila told state broadcaster Yle. A Saudi and Emirati-led coalition has been conducting air strikes on Yemen since 2015. U.N. investigators have accused the regimes of possible war crimes, including killing thousands of civilians, torturing detainees and recruiting child soldiers.
In September the website News Now Finland uncovered video evidence that Finnish-made armored vehicles, some fitted with Russian heavy weapons, were being used by Emirati forces in western Yemen, the scene of some of the war's fiercest fighting. Finland had claimed that all weapons exports to the region were in line with EU rules. Finnish arms exports to Saudi Arabia totaled 5.3 million euros in 2017, down considerably from 51.4m of sales in 2014, according to the think tank SaferGlobe. On Thursday Sipila described the situation in Yemen as "catastrophic.""Any existing licenses (in the region) are old, and in these circumstances we would absolutely not be able to grant any new ones," he said. Unlike Finland, Germany's suspension -- announced in October -- includes revoking existing arms licenses to Saudi Arabia. At the time, Berlin called for EU countries to follow its lead, prompting a dismissive response from French President Emmanuel Macron. On Monday, Germany decided to bar 18 Saudis from entering its territory and Europe's Schengen passport-free zone over their alleged links to the murder of the U.S.-based Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi. Khashoggi, who wrote for The Washington Post and had been critical of Prince Mohammed, was lured to the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on October 2, killed and reportedly dismembered. After lengthy denials, Saudi authorities admitted responsibility and said 21 people had been taken into custody. However, a CIA analysis leaked to the U.S. media went further, reportedly pointing the finger at the crown prince.

U.S. oil prices fall by more than 1 percent on concerns of oversupply
Fri 23 Nov 2018/NNA - Oil prices fell on Friday, weighed down by concerns that producers are churning out more oil than the world needs amid a bleak economic outlook. U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures, were at $53.83 per barrel at 0029 GMT, 80 cents, or 1.5 percent below their last settlement. Front-month Brent crude oil futures had yet to trade. "Oil prices fell as concerns of further oversupply drove sentiment lower," ANZ bank said on Friday. Oil supply has surged this year, with the top-three producers of the United States, Russia and Saudi Arabia pumping out more than a third of global consumption, which stands around 100 million barrels per day (bpd). High production comes as the demand outlook weakens on the back of a global economic slowdown. As a result, oil prices have plunged by around 30 percent since their last peaks in early October.--Reuters

4 killed in fresh clashes in C.African capital
Fri 23 Nov 2018/NNA - At least four people have been killed in fighting between the army and militias in the capital of Central African Republic, sources said on Friday. The clashes erupted in Bangui's mainly Muslim PK5 district -- an area that has become a flashpoint in the troubled country, already weakened by sectarian violence and dogged by militias. The fighting started when a "PK5 fighter fired on the security and defence forces" at around 1600 (1500 GMT) on Thursday, a local resident told AFP, with battles going on for two hours. The bodies of three people were brought to the neighbourhood's Ali Babolo mosque, the local imam said, and a taxi driver was also killed, according to a medical source. More than 20 people were injured.--AFP

Blast at Afghan army base mosque in east kills 9

Fri 23 Nov 2018/NNA - An Afghan official says an explosion inside a mosque at an Afghan military base in the volatile eastern Khost province killed nine people and wounded 22. Abed Ahmad Zia, a provincial government official, says there were fears the death toll from Friday's attack could rise further. It wasn't immediately clear whether the attack was carried out by a suicide bomber. No group immediately claimed responsibility for the attack.--The Associated Press

Cuban doctors head home, leaving Brazilian towns with no care
Fri 23 Nov 2018/REUTERS/NNA - The first of thousands of Cuban doctors left Brazil on Thursday after criticism by Brazil’s far-right President-elect Jair Bolsonaro prompted Cuba’s government to sever a cooperation agreement, leaving millions of Brazilians without medical care.Bolsonaro said the Cuban doctors were being used as “slave labor” because the Cuban government took 75 percent of their salaries. He said the program that began in 2013 could only continue if they got full pay and were allowed to bring their families from Cuba. Bolsonaro, an admirer of U.S. President Donald Trump, was elected last month by Brazilians fed up with rising crime and rampant corruption that reached new highs during almost a decade and a half of leftist governments with close ties to Cuba. The Cubans practiced mostly in poor and remote areas of Brazil where Brazilian doctors do not want to work. The government is now scrambling to replace them in 8,332 positions left vacant by the sudden departures of the Cubans. Cuba has a respected health service and generates major export earnings by sending more than 50,000 health workers to more than 60 countries. Even receiving a fraction of their salaries, the money was good for the doctors by Cuban standards. As they lined up to check in at the Brasilia airport, many had large mainly 49-inch smart TVs packaged to take home to communist-run Cuba, where such imported sets are very expensive.
“I will be happy to see my children but sad to leave people without medical care,” said Lume Rodriguez, a general practitioner who spent two years in the interior of Bahia state. “Our patients came to hug us goodbye,” said Rafael Sosa, 32, from Granma province in eastern Cuba. “I visited many patients here who had never had a doctor in their home.” In many Brazilian towns and the outskirts of cities that relied on the Cuban doctors, usually crowded waiting rooms at public health posts were empty this week and notices said appointments had been canceled until further notice. Adrielly Rodrigues, a pregnant 22-year-old, was turned away on Wednesday when she went for a pre-natal scan in Santa Maria, a town near the capital Brasilia. “We are so worried because we don’t have the money to pay for a private doctor and she is five months pregnant and still needs to be monitored and have tests,” said her mother, Adriana Rodrigues.A national lobby of mayors, the FNP, and the municipal health authorities council Conasems said in a statement that 29 million Brazilians could be left without basic healthcare. They urged the government to make it possible for the Cubans to stay. Bolsonaro, who takes office on Jan. 1, said last week he would grant asylum to any Cuban who asks for it, escalating tensions with Havana. He said Cuban doctors were not qualified and would have to take exams to practice in Brazil. The Health Ministry plans next week to waive a requirement that Cubans validate their medical diploma in Brazil so that they can continue working directly contracted by the Brazilian government and not through the Pan-American Health Organization. It is not clear how many Cubans will want to break with their communist-run government’s doctors-for-export program, which is present in about 60 countries, especially if they have children in Cuba since it would be tantamount to defecting. Brazil plans to fill the medical vacuum with local hires. In just two days since registration opened, 3.648 Brazilians have been selected to fill the empty posts, a ministry spokesman said, but those replacements are mainly in large urban areas.
One Cuban who will be staying in Brazil is Richel Collazo, who was so liked in the small town of Chapada in southern Brazil that the mayor asked him to become municipal health secretary. “My town needs doctors and he has been key to our medical care,” Mayor Carlos Catto said by telephone. -

Latest LCCC Bulletin analysis & editorials from miscellaneous sources published on November 23-24/18
The European Court of Human Rights Submits to Islam
جودث برغمن: محكمة حقوق الإنسان الأوروبية ترضخ لمفاهيم الشريعة الإسلامية

Judith Bergman/Gatestone Institute/November 23, 2018

The ruling of the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) is not only wrong for establishing a precedent for sharia-compliant adherence to Islamic blasphemy laws, but appears to be based on a number of false premises.
The real message the ECHR sent, as it succumbed to fears of "disturbing the religious peace," is that if threats work, keep threatening! What sort of protection of human rights is that?
Just who is it, by the way, that gets to decide what is "incriminating"? Formerly, it was the Inquisition.
Islamic blasphemy laws have now been elevated to the law of the land in Europe.
The European Court of Human Rights ruled on October 25 that to state that the Islamic prophet Muhammad "liked to do it with children" and "... A 56-year-old and a six-year-old?... What do we call it, if it is not paedophilia?" goes "beyond the permissible limits of an objective debate," and could be classified as "an abusive attack on the Prophet of Islam which could stir up prejudice and threaten religious peace."
The Court's judgment has a long history.
In 2011, free speech and anti-jihad activist, Elisabeth Sabaditsch-Wolff, was convicted by an Austrian court of "denigrating religious symbols of a recognized religious group" after she gave a series of small seminars: "Introduction to the basics of Islam", "The Islamization of Europe", and "The impact of Islam".[1]
No Muslims appear to have attended Sabaditsch-Wolff's seminars. The court case against her came about only because a magazine, NEWS, filed a complaint against her after secretly planting a journalist at her seminars to record them.
Wolff was convicted of having said that Muhammad "liked to do it with children" and "... A 56-year-old and a six-year-old? ... What do we call it, if it is not paedophilia?"
On February 15, 2011, the Vienna Regional Criminal Court -- according to the summary in the judgment of the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) -- found that "these statements implied that Muhammad had had paedophilic tendencies", and convicted Sabaditsch-Wolff "for disparaging religious doctrines" under §188 of the Austrian penal code, which states: "Anyone publicly denigrating or mocking any person or thing that is the object of worship of a domestically existing church or religious society... among whom his conduct is liable to cause legitimate annoyance, is punishable by imprisonment of up to six months or a fine of up to 360 daily rates".
Sabaditsch-Wolff was ordered to pay a fine of 480 euros and the costs of the proceedings. The Vienna Court of Appeal upheld the decision in December 2011. Sabaditsch-Wolff then appealed the Austrian court decisions to the European Court of Human Rights. She stated that her right to freedom of expression, safeguarded in Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights, had been violated.
On October 25, the ECHR reached the conclusion that there had been "no violation of Article 10 (freedom of expression) of the European Convention on Human Rights".
In its ruling, the ECHR stated: "The Court found in particular that the domestic courts comprehensively assessed the wider context of the applicant's statements and carefully balanced her right to freedom of expression with the right of others to have their religious feelings protected, and served the legitimate aim of preserving religious peace in Austria. It held that by considering the impugned statements as going beyond the permissible limits of an objective debate, and by classifying them as an abusive attack on the Prophet of Islam which could stir up prejudice and threaten religious peace, the domestic courts put forward relevant and sufficient reasons."
The ECHR's ruling is not only wrong for establishing a precedent for sharia-compliant adherence to Islamic blasphemy laws, but appears to be based on a number of false premises.
First, the ECHR decided that, "The subject matter of the instant case was of a particularly sensitive nature". The subject matter of the case does not, in fact, appear to be more "sensitive" than other subject matter brought before the ECHR. It deals, after all, with cases concerning violence against children, reproductive rights, mental illness and end-of-life issues, among others. It has also addressed politically "sensitive" issues, such as the Case of Sürek V. Turkey (No. 1) in which Kamil Tekin Sürek and Yücel Özdemir, the major shareholder and the chief editor of the Turkish weekly review Haberde Yorumda Gerçek, published two reader letters that expressed sympathy with the Kurdish struggle for independence from Turkey. Because of the letters, Turkey sentenced Sürek and Özdemir to fines and imprisonment. The ECHR found that the convictions violated the right to freedom of expression. The issue of free speech about Kurdish independence in Turkey is, arguably, no less "sensitive" than the issue of free speech about the behavior of Muhammad.
In any event, the ECHR is not supposed to be a political actor dabbling in political correctness and shying away from issues with which its judges might feel uncomfortable or find troublesome. The ECHR is supposed to adjudicate the most complex, sensitive and difficult matters in European human rights law. Ironically, this ruling could well cause life in Europe to become more troublesome.
The ECHR also found that: "the (potential) effects of the impugned statements, to a certain degree, depended on the situation in the respective country where the statements were made, at the time and in the context they were made. Accordingly... the domestic authorities had a wide margin of appreciation in the instant case, as they were in a better position to evaluate which statements were likely to disturb the religious peace in their country".
The domestic courts do not appear to have been in either a better or worse position to evaluate the statements than the ECHR. After all, as Sabaditsch-Wolff said in a 2011 interview:
"My seminars began in early 2008, before a group of no more than six or seven people... Over time these seminars drew the interest of even more people, and in October 2009 there were more than 30 men and women from all walks of life who listened to what I had to say."
The only reason that Sabaditsch-Wolff's comments became public outside her small seminar group was the apparent desire of an Austrian news magazine to "disturb the religious peace." Sabaditsch-Wolff said at the time: her supposed "crime" was "victimless". It seems unlikely, therefore, given the limited audience, that there was much risk of "disturbing the religious peace" and if such "disturbance" did indeed occur, it is not mentioned at all in the judgment of the ECHR.
What is the trade-off for not "disturbing religious peace" -- surrender? Usually, that is what we call agreeing to a detrimental result in order to avoid a conflict. Capitulation to censorship certainly does not serve to build confidence in the court.
The real message the ECHR sent, as it succumbed to fears of "disturbing the religious peace," is that if threats work, keep threatening! What sort of protection of human rights is that?
The ECHR appears to be advocating a permanent pussyfooting to avoid the truth that can only lead to total self-censorship and the total cessation of freedom of expression, as the proponents of global sharia law have been urging for years.
The ECHR concludes its judgment in the case with a discussion of the Austrian courts' ruling that Sabaditsch-Wolff's statements "had not been made in an objective manner contributing to a debate of public interest, (e.g. on child marriage), but could only be understood as having been aimed at demonstrating that Muhammad was not worthy of worship". The ECHR agreed with the domestic courts: "... Mrs S. [Sabaditsch-Wolff] must have been aware that her statements were partly based on untrue facts and apt to arouse indignation in others. The national courts found that Mrs S. had subjectively labelled Muhammad with paedophilia as his general sexual preference, and that she failed to neutrally inform her audience of the historical background, which consequently did not allow for a serious debate on that issue." [emphasis added]
"Untrue facts"? There is no such thing. The words are an oxymoron, a contradiction in terms.
In terms of "historical background", it is unfortunately not possible to ascertain whether or not Muhammad in fact married Aisha when she was six years old and consummated the marriage when she was nine years old; nevertheless, the report that he did has, for many, become official sacred text; therefore, inasmuch as we can determine, that is the official "truth." Is stating the "truth" no longer a defense?
The problem is also that whereas sexual intercourse with a nine-year-old may not have been considered paedophilia in the seventh century (Bukhari 5.58.234), men are using that practice in the twenty-first century as a valid justification for sexually attacking children (see here, here and here).
In the ECHR's previous case law, according to the Council of Europe: [2]
In this respect, the Court has stated that Article 10 protects not only
the information or ideas that are favourably received or regarded as inoffensive or as a matter of indifference, but also those that offend, shock or disturb; such are the demands of that pluralism, tolerance and broad-mindedness without which there is no democratic society.
Opinions expressed in strong or exaggerated language are also protected...
With the current judgment, the ECHR has departed from this previous case law by making a relevant societal issue -- discussing the behavior of Muhammad, who continues to be a role model to more than a billion Muslims -- off limits by ruling that discussing aspects of his behavior are not covered by the right to freedom of speech.
Not only did the ECHR seemingly depart from formerly held positions; it also held that: "... even in a lively discussion it was not compatible with Article 10 of the Convention to pack incriminating statements into the wrapping of an otherwise acceptable expression of opinion and claim that this rendered passable those statements exceeding the permissible limits of freedom of expression."
Article 10 used to protect lively discussions, because, in a democratic society, that is what freedom of expression is all about. Opinions with which most people agree do not need protecting; freedom of speech exists precisely to protect the minority from the majority.
Now, however, the ECHR has set a clear boundary: Even if you are having a lively discussion, which would usually be protected, referring to Muhammad -- in supposedly "incriminating statements" -- is prohibited, even if you do not use disturbing or shocking language but formulate the defamation "in the wrapping of an otherwise acceptable expression of opinion."
Just who is it, by the way, that gets to decide what is "incriminating"? Formerly, it was the Inquisition.
According to this latest judgment, defaming the Islamic prophet Muhammad, even if inadvertently, is quite simply always unacceptable, regardless of the language.
Islamic blasphemy laws have now been elevated to the law of the land in Europe.
**Judith Bergman, a columnist, lawyer and political analyst, is a Distinguished Senior Fellow at Gatestone Institute.
[1] Sabaditsch-Wolff explained that she saw it as her "job and duty to inform citizens about the doctrine of Islamic supremacism and its disastrous effects on our free societies". She lived for several years, both as a child and later as an adult, in Muslim countries in the Middle East.
[2] Monica Macovei: A guide to the implementation of Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights, p 16, (Human rights handbooks, No. 2, 2004).
© 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.

Three Reasons to Fear Another ‘Great War’ Today
Hal Brands/Bloomberg View/November 23/18
Last month, I traveled to Vienna, the former seat of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and a fitting place to contemplate the approaching 100th anniversary of the conclusion of World War I.
That conflict began with Austria-Hungary’s declaration of war against Serbia in July 1914, following the assassination of Austro-Hungarian archduke Franz Ferdinand. It ultimately led to more than 15 million deaths, the collapse of four empires, the rise of communism and fascism in some of Europe’s leading states, the emergence and subsequent retreat of America as a global power, and other developments that profoundly altered the course of the 20th century.
World War I was “the deluge ... a convulsion of nature,” remarked Britain’s Minister of Munitions David Lloyd George, “an earthquake which is upheaving the very rocks of European life.” Although that conflict ended a century ago, it still offers three crucial lessons that are relevant to our increasingly disordered world today.
First, peace is always more fragile than it seems. In 1914, Europe had not experienced an all-out, continental conflict since the end of the Napoleonic wars a century earlier. Some observers believed that a return to such catastrophic bloodletting had become almost impossible. The British author Norman Angell would immortalize himself by suggesting, just a few years before World War I, that what we would now call globalization had rendered great-power conflict obsolete. War, he argued, had become futile because peace and the growing economic and financial linkages between the major European states were producing so much prosperity.
Angell had good company in the multitude of thinkers who believed that improved communications were knitting humanity ever more tightly together, that international arbitration was making war unnecessary, and that nationalism was being suppressed by newer, more enlightened ideologies and improved forms of international cooperation. The eruption of World War I showed that these trends were no guarantee of peace at all, because they were so easily overtaken by the darker forces of conflict and rivalry. Destabilizing shifts in the balance of power, the geopolitical rigidities created by hair-trigger military plans, the rise of social Darwinist and militarist ideas that exalted the role of war in human and national development, and the tensions surrounding a rising Germany’s bid for European preeminence and world power had created a great mass of combustible material that was set alight by the seemingly minor spark provided by an archduke’s assassination. If we assume today that war between the great powers cannot happen — that economic interdependence will automatically hold rising tensions between the US and China in check, that advances in human enlightenment will consign nationalism and aggression to the pages of history — then we, too, risk discovering that our own peace is far more precarious than we think.
Second, World War I reminds us that when peace gives way and international order collapses, the consequences can be far worse than almost anyone imagines. Even after World War I erupted, many observers believed that its duration would be brief and its effects limited. In September 1914, the Economist assured its readers of “the economic and financial impossibility of carrying out hostilities many more months on the present scale.” Yet this prediction, like so many others, was badly wrong, because the very sources of progress that had created so much optimism in the years before the war now made its impact all the more cataclysmic.
So is a third lesson: that when the US pulls back from the world, it may well end up reengaging later at a much higher cost. America played a key role in the economic rehabilitation of postwar Europe during the 1920s. Yet it rejected the sort of long-term strategic and military commitments it would eventually make after World War II. Americans did so for reasons that seemed quite understandable at the time. There was widespread reluctance to abrogate the tradition of non-entanglement in Europe, as well as fear that membership in the League of Nations would undermine US sovereignty and usurp Congress’s constitutional prerogatives with respect to declaring war. Most of all, there was strategic complacency brought on because the defeat of Germany and its allies seemed to have banished significant geopolitical dangers far over the horizon.
This is why the US chose to stay so deeply engaged in the affairs of Europe, the Asia-Pacific and other key regions after 1945: because American officials had learned that in geopolitics as in medicine, prevention is often cheaper than cure.

Like Cambodia, Syria Isn’t a Mistake

Amir Taheri/Bloomberg View/November 23/18
Better late than never! This is what comes to mind when one reads the latest news from Phnom Penh, the Cambodian capital, where two leaders of the Khmer Rouge have been tried and found guilty of genocide for the first time. The charges date back to the 1970s and the two leaders involved Nuon Chea and Khieu Samphan are 92 and 87 years old.
For more than a decade they had tried to claim that the crimes attributed to them were either “part of history” or covered by the so-called principle of “sovereign immunity” that exempts heads of state from prosecution, Khieu Samphan was head of state and Nuon Chea acted as deputy to the party’s top leader Pol Pot. Their conviction rejects both claims. The universally accepted principle now is that such crimes as genocide are not covered by the passage of time and that “sovereign immunity” cannot be applied to genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity. The Phnom Penh trial also firmly establishes the definition of genocide by the United Nations as binding in all such cases.
The two sentences close another debate focused on whether or not what Khmer Rouge did could be regarded as genocide or just ethnic cleansing. In a sense the two men were guilty of ethnic cleansing because they presided over the massacre of Muslim Cambodians and ethnic Vietnamese living in that country. More than a third of Cambodian Muslims were killed and the rest deported. The ethnic Vietnamese community lost 20,000 men, women and children and the remaining 250,000 forced back into Vietnam.
One argument used by the two Khmer Rouge leaders was that their regime’s violence was directed as “class enemies” rather than specific ethnic communities. Between 1975 and 1979 when their regime was overthrown by the invading Vietnamese army, the Khmers killed more than two million people, most of them root-and-branch Cambodians. The Khmer wished to recreate the semi-mythical “self-sufficient” rural Cambodian community that they believed had been sullied, if not actually destroyed, by urbanization and Western influence brought in by French colonialists.
The verdicts came despite strenuous efforts by the Cambodian government, led by Prime Minister Hun Sen, himself a repentant former member of the Khmer Rouge, to slow down the wheels of justice and muddy the waters with pseudo-judicial arguments designed to withhold relevant evidence and testimonies.
Since, having been found guilty of other crimes, the two Khmer leaders are already in prison the latest verdict may not appear significant. But it is for at least two reasons.
The first is that it closes the debate on whether what happened in Cambodia in the 1970s was or was not a genocide. You may not recall the sad fact that when the Khmers were engaged in their genocide some leftist and bleeding heart liberal intellectuals in the West were trying to justify their crimes in the name of de-colonization or even praising their mad project for a return to “rural simplicity” and rejection of “the capitalist industrial society.” Return-ticket revolutionaries from Europe traveled to Cambodia to admire what they saw as an attempt by the Third World to develop an alternative to the Western “Imperialist” model. For some Western intellectuals the fact that the Khmer were anti-American and pro-Soviet was enough to justify all their crimes.
The second reason why the Phnom Penh verdict is important is that it reminds the international community that genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity have continued in several parts of the world. The genocide of the Hutus in Rwanda, and the ethnic cleansing crimes committed by all sides in former Yugoslavia, remain as painful reminders of the United Nations failure to act in time.
Right now the most important case of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity concerns Syria where Bashar al-Assad’s regime and its Iranian and Russian backers are trying hard to obstruct the course of justice. Russia has threatened to use its veto to prevent the International Criminal Court from obtaining the approval of the United Nations Security Council for launching a formal procedure for the prosecution of Assad and his close associates.
Nevertheless, three parallel efforts are continuing to prepare the ground for the time when starting a formal prosecution becomes possible. One effort concerns the United Nations which, despite many ups and downs, has continued to at least monitor the situation in the war-torn country. Another effort is made by a number of private organizations and human rights groups determined to shed as much light as possible on the dark side of Russian and Iranian involvement in the Syrian conflict. A third effort belongs to European countries that seem to have created the best structure for an eventual prosecution of Assad and his allies. The European effort has led to amassing more than two million documents, including some incriminating ones signed by Assad himself, providing a graphic narrative of the Syrian tragedy. The mass of evidence gathered, and kept in an un-named European capital, is described as “many times larger “than what the Allies were able to amass during the Nuremberg trials of the Nazi leaders after the Second World War. A team of 22 international lawyers are working on the project with the help of scores of Syrian human rights activists and former regime officials.
The Western initiative was launched in 2012 by the US State Department with a budget of just over $1.2 million. In 2013, however, for reasons still unknown President Barack Obama decided to scrap the project and stopped its budget. After a brief hiatus the project was taken up by Europe with special financial support from Holland and Germany.
One thing is certain: the world cannot treat the Syrian tragedy with a blasé grin-and-bear it attitude. Almost half a million people, most of them civilians, have been killed and more than 10 million others forced to become refugees or internally displaced. The barbarity manifested by the regime in treating its captured opponents surpasses what the Soviet and Nazi repressive machines did in their time.
In 1979, in his book “The Sideshow”, British writer William Shawcross said: “Cambodia was not a mistake, it was a crime.” Today the same could be said about Syria which is a crime against humanity on a massive scale. Sooner or later someone ought to pay for that crime. The sooner the better.

Analysis/Israel's Iron Dome Defense of Saudi Arabia Aims to Avert Collapse of Trump and Netanyahu's Entire Middle East Strategy
شامي شالف من الهآررتس: دفاع إسرائيل القوي عن السعودية هدفه منع انهيار كامل استراتجية ترامب ونتنياهو الشرق أوسطية

Chemi Shalev/Haaretz/November 23/18
But Democrats view it as yet another expression of the prime minister’s overzealous backing for a despised U.S. president
The Mossad’s Kidon unit, which foreign media describe as Israel’s official assassination squad, must be worried sick over the fallout from the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul. Alongside its many successful hits, some of which are surely still unknown, Kidon’s men (and presumably women) have also known notorious failures, including the mistaken 1970 killing of Moroccan waiter Ahmed Bouchiki in Lillehammer, Norway, the failed 1997 assassination of Hamas leader Khaled Mashal in Jordan and the successful, albeit meticulously filmed 2010 hit on Mahmoud al-Mabhouh in Dubai.
Israel paid a price for these and other operational flops, but it never came close to undermining its international standing or threatening the careers of its leaders.
From a professional point of view, Khashoggi’s murder was exceptionally brutal, but also spectacularly stupid. It was carried out inside a diplomatic installation, the likes of which are routinely under surveillance by host countries, a factor that undermined Riyadh’s ability to plausibly deny responsibility. But rather than stay silent, the Saudi PR geniuses added insult to injury with a series of rebuttals so ridiculous they were seen as admissions of guilt.
The ensuing rage and outcry against Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, aka MBS, especially in the U.S., set a new standard for reactions to botched assassinations, which could come to haunt Israel as well. Unlike most Israeli operations, the Saudi hit was singularly brainless, flouted diplomatic protocol and, on top of that, its target was a Saudi citizen – not a foreign enemy. Nevertheless, the next time Israel is implicated in a failed or even successful assassination on foreign soil, its critics will cite the Saudi precedent in order to press for a forceful international response.
Benjamin Netanyahu is experienced in such matters. The Mashal affair, which took place during his first term in office, compelled the prime minister to release the late Hamas leader Sheikh Ahmed Yassin; the Mabhouh caper, which unfolded during Netanyahu’s second coming, reportedly and allegedly exposed Kidon’s modus operandi for all the world to see. Netanyahu knows that Saudi Arabia will have to pay a price, but the demand for the crown prince's removal seems way too steep. So that even if the sword hanging over Mohammed bin Salman's head did not endanger the entire Middle East strategy he encouraged Trump to adopt, Netanyahu would still have a personal, professional and national interest in minimizing the prince's punishment.
But it is a strategic threat with possible domestic political repercussions that has moved the prime minister to openly take one for the Trump-Netanyahu team. Netanyahu and his aides, led by U.S. Ambassador to Israel Ron Dermer, have been working around the clock to protect Trump and to prevent his administration from “throwing out the prince with the bathwater,” as Dermer put it. Netanyahu has volunteered to serve as Trump’s human shield to protect him from widespread demands by both Democrats and Republicans to punish the crown prince and his kingdom for the Khashoggi assassination.
Netanyahu and Trump hope that the extraordinarily frank but characteristically childish statement issued by the White House this week, in which Trump vowed to stick with Crown Prince Mohammed through thick and thin, will seal the lid on the Khashoggi affair. Saudi Arabia is too crucial an ally for the United States to dump: If George W. Bush successfully maintained ties with Riyadh despite the heavy involvement of Saudi citizens in the September 11, 2001 terror attacks, Trump can certainly afford to more or less ignore the assassination of a journalist who the Saudis describe “as an ‘enemy of the state’ and a member of the Muslim Brotherhood, but my decision is in no way based on that,” as Trump wrote in a “doth protest too much” part of his statement.
Even if Trump no longer has the personal economic interests in Saudi Arabia of which he boasted in the past, his improved ties with the kingdom – especially the half-a-trillion-dollar arms deal signed during his visit to Riyadh last year – is a rare feather in his otherwise barren diplomatic hat.
“The world is a very dangerous place!” Trump explained in his statement, in case anyone thought otherwise. And even though the evidence clearly points to the crown prince's complicity – a conclusion supported by a leaked CIA report – Trump is yet to be convinced: “Maybe he did and maybe he didn’t,” he asserted. “America First!” Trump explained, reverting to the slogan of the pre-World War II and at least partially anti-Semitic movement that encapsulates much of the apprehension of American Jews about the his presidency.
Trump had no hesitation about deploying whatever remains of Israel’s good name as a political Iron Dome. On Thursday night he asserted, “Israel would be in a lot of trouble without Saudi Arabia.” In his written statement, Trump mentioned Israel twice: First to underline Saudi Arabia’s importance in warding off the big Satan Iran and then to justify Washington’s intention of standing by Riyadh in order to “ensure the interests of our country, Israel and all other partners in the region.”
Israel, Trump assumes, is the magic word that will ensure the support of Evangelicals, who will in turn mitigate the harsh positions taken by some Republican Senators, especially Lindsey Graham, against the Saudi crown prince.
Democrats, in any case, were apparently less impressed. Widely respected Washington Post columnist Jackson Diehl wrote that “a lot of Republicans as well as Democrats will be repelled… by the spectacle of an Israeli leader lobbying to excuse an Arab dictator for murder.” Diehl made a direct connection between Netanyahu’s lobbying on behalf of Crown Prince Mohammed and Israel’s staunch defense of Trump in the wake of last month’s massacre of 11 worshippers in Pittsburgh’s Tree of Life synagogue. Netanyahu’s reasoning may be acceptable for Israelis and their right-wing supporters in the U.S., but his handling of both the Khashoggi murder and the Pittsburgh massacre is widely perceived by American liberals as the latest expressions of his overenthusiastic embrace of a president who is arguably the most reviled in American history.
As it is, Israel was already skating on thin ice in its relations with Democrats, who have now returned to wielding real power after seizing control of the House of Representatives in the midterm elections. As U.S. commentators have pointed out in recent days, the Democratic triumph was far more extensive and sweeping than was thought in the first hours after polls closed. Not only do they now enjoy a commanding 35-member majority in the House, which could grow to 37 after the two last races are called, but their 8 percent or 8.6 million vote advantage is their biggest since the 1974 midterms held just after Richard Nixon’s Watergate-induced resignation. The Democratic surge was especially pronounced among women and, more ominously for Israel, among young voters, who came out in droves to vote against Trump.
Israel can still rely on the Democratic old guard, even though Nancy Pelosi, frontrunner to serve as the new Speaker of the House, hasn’t forgiven Netanyahu for his controversial March 2015 speech to Congress against Barack Obama’s nuclear deal with Iran. The Democratic clock, however, is ticking against Israel’s favor: For the party’s new generation, the foundations of traditional support for Israel – the Holocaust, independence and the Six-Day War – are nothing more than historical footnotes. Many of them have grown up with an Israel that is mentioned mainly in connection with its 51-year-old occupation of the Palestinian territories, its steady slide into the ranks of abhorrent anti-democratic, ethnocentric autocracies and its growing estrangement from American Jews, who voted overwhelmingly for Trump’s political opponents. For many Democrats, Jewish or not, Netanyahu’s unequivocal and unseemly backing for Trump is a cardinal and unforgivable sin.
Netanyahu’s willingness to openly and unabashedly defend Saudi Arabia also strays from Israel’s traditional aversion to public scrutiny of its influence on Washington’s decision-making, especially in volatile international crises that could ultimately lead to U.S. military involvement. Israel and its supporters spent years rebuffing distorted claims that it pushed George W. Bush to go to war with Iraq. If the Saudi situation spins out of control, Netanyahu’s involvement will be undeniable: His name on the Saudi debacle will be etched in stone.
Luckily for him, though, Israeli public opinion seems unperturbed by the fate of relations with Saudi Arabia or, for that matter, by the country’s increasingly precarious standing with Democrats. Netanyahu’s decision to refrain from retaliating forcefully to last week’s brazen rocket attack by Hamas enraged the Israeli public, especially on the right, but it is mostly blind to the disturbing wider picture: Netanyahu’s entire, Trump-centered national security policies may be on the verge of complete and systematic collapse.
The evidence is mounting: The huge propaganda victory scored by Hamas in last week’s outburst has undermined Netanyahu’s image as number one security honcho who makes Israel’s enemies tremble with fear. The September downing of a Russian spy plane over Syria has inhibited the air force’s freedom of action against Iran and Hezbollah and undercut Netanyahu’s swagger about his stellar relationship with Vladimir Putin. And the Saudi embroilment in the Khashoggi affair isn’t over yet: In a worst-case scenario it could sabotage the anti-Iranian front conjured by Trump and Netanyahu and undermine Netanyahu’s claim to improve relations with moderate Arab states despite the total freeze on peace moves with the Palestinians.
Crown Prince Mohammed, after all, was to play a critical role in tempering Palestinian expectations and bringing them “back to reality,” as Dermer often says, in advance of the perennially-imminent publication of Trump’s peace plan. Some commentators predict that the Saudi crown prince is now so indebted to Trump that his support for the plan will be even more emphatic, but it’s more reasonable to assume that his newly-precarious hold on power will dissuade him from expressing emphatic support for a peace plan that is bound to enrage Palestinians as well as the proverbial “Arab street” in Riyadh, Mecca and other Arab cities.
Netanyahu might actually welcome Saudi reticence that could help convince the Trump administration to hold off once again with its plan. The recent coalition crisis made it crystal clear that Netanyahu could be one of the first victims of his Washington BFF’s blueprint. Any peace plan published by the White House, even one viewed by Palestinians and the world as completely one-sided in Israel’s favor, will necessarily include relinquishment of territory, in East Jerusalem as well as the West Bank. It will be uniformly rejected by most of the Israeli right. Netanyahu is certainly loath to reject the fruit of Trump’s pro-Israel peace team’s labor, but anything less than a resounding “no” on his part could persuade even more voters to opt for parties to his right in the upcoming elections.
The bottom line is that even the friendliest U.S. president in human history, as Netanyahu often describes him, is carrying a ticking time bomb that could soon blow up in the prime minister’s face. And as Netanyahu has recently learned from the botched military incursion in Gaza, the downing of the Russian plane and the horrid Khashoggi killing in Istanbul, unexpected developments can shake up the Middle East and demolish his image as its master manipulator. When lady luck thumbs her nose at the start of an election year, even the conventional wisdom about Netanyahu’s inevitable victory could dissipate in an instant, along with his hitherto-lauded grand strategies.

Opinion/How Hamas Sold Out Gaza for Cash From Qatar and Collaboration With Israel
محمد شحادة من الهآررتس: كيف باعت حماس غزة مقابل مال قطر والتعاون مع إسرائيل

Muhammad Shehada/Haaretz/November 23/18
Israel’s botched military incursion saved Hamas from the nightmare of being branded as 'sell-outs'. Now feted as resistance heroes, it won’t be long before Hamas' betrayal of the Palestinian national movement is exposed again.
Earlier this month, Hamas was confronted by one of its worst nightmares. The Palestinian mainstream began to brand Hamas with the same slurs that Hamas itself uses to delegitimize the Palestinian Authority.
"They sold us out!” Gazans began to whisper, after Hamas reached a limited set of understandings with Israel in early November. Its conditions required Hamas to distance Gazan protesters hundreds of meters away from the separation fence with Israel and actively prevent the weekly tire-burning and incendiary kite-flying associated with what have become weekly protests.
In return for this calm, Israel allowed a restoration of the status quo ante – an inherently unstable and destabilizing situation that had led to the outbreak of popular rage in the first place.
Other "benefits" of the agreement included a meaningless expansion of the fishing zone for few months, restoring the heavily-restricted entry of relief aid and commercial merchandise to Gaza, instead of the full-on closure of previous months, and a tentative six-month supply of Qatari fuel and money to pay Hamas’ government employees. Basically, a return to square one.
The disaffected whispers quickly became a popular current, which took overt form when the Qatari ambassador visited Gaza. He was met with angry cries of "collaborator," as young Gazans threw stones at his vehicle after the ambassador was seen instructing a senior Hamas leader with the words: "We want calm today...we want calm."
Hamas leaders didn’t dare show their faces to the people for several days following, and the movement’s popular base had a very hard time arguing that the agreement with Israel - which offered no fundamental improvement of condition – and sweetened by Qatari cash wasn’t a complete sell-out by Hamas.
Inside Hamas, there was evident anxiety about public outrage, not least in the form of social media activism, using Arabic hashtags equivalents to #sell-outs. One typical message reads: "[Suddenly] burning tires have became ‘unhealthy’ and [approaching] the electronic fence is suicide! #sell-outs."
Social media is clearly less easy to police than street protests. Even so, there was a small protest by young Gazans in Khan Younis where this "sell-out" hashtag became a shouted slogan; the demonstrators accused Hamas of betrayal.
But relief for Hamas was at hand – and it was Israel who handed the movement an easy victory on a gold plate last week. That was the botched operation by Israel thwarted by Hamas’ military wing, the al-Qassam brigade, which cost the life of a lieutenant colonel from an IDF elite unit.
The ensuing retaliation for Israel’s incursion, led by the Islamic Jihad (prodded into action by Iran), who launched 400 improvised rockets into Israel, was intended to draw a bold red line of deterrence, signaling that the Israeli army cannot do as it pleases in Gaza.
For days after this last escalation, Hamas leaders rejoiced: that exhibition of muscle power proved their moral superiority over the "collaborationist" Palestinian Authority. Boasting about its heroic engagement in the last escalation, Hamas easily managed to silence its critics by showing that the "armed resistance" is still working actively to keep Gaza safe and victorious. Those are of course mostly nominal "victories."
Iron Dome anti-missile system fires interception missiles as rockets are launched from Gaza towards Israel as seen from the city of Ashkelon, Israel October 27, 2018.
Iron Dome anti-missile system fires interception missiles as rockets are launched from Gaza towards Israel as seen from the city of Ashkelon, Israel October 27, 2018. AMIR COHEN/רויטרס
But their campaign was effective in terms of changing the political atmosphere. Now that the apparatus of the Muqawama had "restored our dignity," further criticism of Hamas' political and administrative conduct in Gaza was delegitimized again. Criticism of Hamas became equivalent to undermining the overall Palestinian national struggle for liberation.
Unsurprisingly that silenced the popular outrage about Hamas’ initial agreement of trading Gaza’s sacrifices over the last seven months for a meager supply of aid and money. The few who continued to accuse Hamas of selling out were promptly showered by footage of the resistance’s attacks on Israel, or reports about Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman’s resignation, for which Hamas claimed credit, coming as it did a day after a Hamas leader demanded he resigned.
Mission accomplished, a piece of cake. Now it was time for Hamas to return to business, strengthened by a renewed shield of resistance-immunity that branded criticism as betrayal.
Although Hamas leaders have admitted the reality: no more fundamental cease-fire is being negotiated, and so no fundamental improvements for Gaza can be expected - it continues to sell Gazans the delusion that their decade of endurance is finally bearing fruit and soon, more prosperity, employment and hope will trickle down to the masses.
What has actually trickled down so far are temporary and symbolic painkillers, not an actual end to Gaza’s pain.
Hamas agreed to give a small share of the Qatari spoils to 50,000 poor Gazan families; $100 for each household. They agreed to creating temporary employment programs for 5,000 young university graduates with the aspirational title of Tomoh ("Ambition"). They promised to keep up the fight until Gaza is no longer unlivable, and Hamas leaders pledged with their honor to continue the Gaza Great Return March until the protests’ main goal - lifting the blockade - was achieved.
But does that really mean anything when the protests are kept at hundreds of meters’ distance from the fence, essentially providing the "Gazan silence" Netanyahu wants? When no pressure is applied anymore on the Israeli government to create a sense of urgency for action to end the disastrous situation in Gaza? And when Hamas continues to avoid any compromises about administering the Gaza Strip to the PA in order to conclude a decade of Palestinian division, and consecutive failures?
That Hamas is desperately avoiding war is indeed both notable and worthy, as well as its keenness to prevent further causalities amongst protesters, having already suffered 200 deaths and more than 20,000 wounded by the IDF. That genuine motivation though is mixed with more cynical ones – the protests are now politically more inconvenient for Hamas, and the casualty rate is becoming too expensive to sustain.
Yet one must think, at what price is Hamas doing this? And for what purpose? If the price of Gaza’s sacrifices is solely to maintain Hamas’ rule, and the motive of working to alleviate pressure on Gaza is to consolidate its authority, then every Gazan has been sold out, and in broad daylight.
Only if Hamas resumes the process of Palestinian reconciliation and a democratic process in Gaza would those actions be meaningful. Otherwise, demanding that the world accepts Hamas’ rule over Gaza as a fait accompli – while what a Hamas-controlled Gaza cannot achieve, most critically lifting the blockade, is a blunt betrayal of Palestinian martyrdom.
It means compromising Palestinian statehood in return for creating an autonomous non-sovereign enclave in which Hamas could freely exercise its autocratic rule indefinitely over an immiserated and starving population.
Which, according to PA President Mahmoud Abbas, is what Hamas has always wanted since rising to power in 2009: an interim Palestinian state in Gaza under permanent Hamas rule, not solving the wider conflict but rather obliterating in practice the prospect of a two state solution.
It remains to be seen if the calls of "sell-outs" will return to Gaza’s social networks and streets, not least if Hamas’ obduracy and appetite for power end up selling out any prospect of a formally recognized State of Palestine.
**Muhammad Shehada is a writer and civil society activist from the Gaza Strip and a student of Development Studies at Lund University, Sweden. He was the PR officer for the Gaza office of the Euro-Med Monitor for Human Rights. Twitter: @muhammadshehad2

Iran’s great nuclear deception
رونن بركمان من يديعوت احرنوت: تقرير موثق ومطول عن خداع إيران الذري الكبير

Ronen Bergman/Ynetnews/November 23/18
New details are revealed about the Mossad’s special operation to seize Iran’s nuclear archive, including a rare glimpse into Tehran’s classified documents: secret tests, a plan to manufacture the first 5 nuclear bombs, and even a photo of proud Iranian scientists outside a nuclear facility. This is the story of how Iran tried to deceive the world… and almost got away with it.
“We found a lot of CDs there, what should we do with them? Should we bring them with us?”
In the middle of the last night of January 2018, Mossad agents broke into a secret vault on the outskirts of Tehran, while their commanders watched from afar. The agents encountered an unexpected problem, a “rich people problems,” according to a person familiar with the details of the operation.
The large room contained 32 huge Iranian-made safes, each 2.7 meters in height. The safes were loaded onto heavy container-like installations, on wheels that can carry massive weight.
The documents were secreted behind two different doors—a heavy iron door inside the facility and another iron door equipped with an alarm system and cameras at the facility’s exterior wall. This is where the Iranian Ministry of Defense decided to keep one of the greatest secrets of the Islamic Republic. In fact, only a handful of people in Iran even knew that the Iranian nuclear archive was inside this warehouse, in the heart of a sleepy suburb in the capital.Prime Minister Netanyahu revealing the location of the nuclear archive .
The agents knew how to disable the alarm system and break through the iron doors, but they also knew they did not have time to break into all the safes. They would have to make do with less than ten, and look for three types of folders: those containing Iran’s correspondence with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA); those detailing the construction of nuclear sites and acquisition of nuclear equipment; and most importantly, those detailing the design and production of the nuclear warhead (which has never been completed).The safes in the Iranian nuclear archive
The safes in the Iranian nuclear archive
But then, inside the safes’ room, agents found something else, besides folders: CDs, piles of them—a massive amount of DVDs and computer discs, most of them unmarked. So what the hell were they going to do now? Should they ignore the potential secrets these CDs may hold? Or take a calculated risk with a new variable that might complicate the operation? The agents received an explicit order from the command room: take everything, including the CDs. At one minute to five in the morning, the agents left the warehouse. When the break-in was discovered, about 12,000 Iranian security personnel went on the pursuit in an attempt to figure out who stole the nuclear archive from under their noses.In the end, despite the unexpected piles of CDs, all of the material was extracted from Iran, and no one got caught. The Iranians could only guess who was behind the heist, but until Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s famous press conference on April 30, they didn’t know for sure what really happened to “the filthy secrets of the Iranian regime,” as dubbed by Mossad director Yossi Cohen.
A few weeks later, when the material arrived in Israel, dozens of translators, experts and analysts—assisted by Persian speakers from Israel’s Military Intelligence Directorate’s (MID) Unit 8200—started digging through the piles of material. It was then that it became clear how important was the decision to risk everything and take the CDs.
CDs seized by Mossad from Iran’s nuclear archiveThe written material comprises of 114 folders, containing more than 55,000 pages, of which 8,500 were handwritten documents, many of them authored by senior government officials, and some by nuclear personnel who died in operations attributed to the Mossad. But the biggest surprise was the massive amount of information stored in the 182 disks. A Mossad case officer told me he would have paid hundreds of thousands of dollars for one CD like this.
The Iranians documented everything: the equipment, the construction of secret plants and sites, the experiments, detailed presentations on the project’s progress, goals and stages, and even themselves, during nuclear experiments.The bottom line is clear: it was a mega-scam, a state-level deception, in which senior Iranian officials and hundreds of others have taken part for years.
For two decades, Iran denied having a military nuclear program. But the contents of the safes tell a different story, a completely different and undeniable account: for years, Iran has been engaged in a covert nuclear project aimed at producing five nuclear bombs, with a yield of 10 kilotons each. And this was only stage one.
According to a Western intelligence source, “over the years, we have seen all sorts of programs, but we have not always understood their overall context. Until we saw these documents, we didn’t really understand how projects that were part of AMAD (the secret project’s code name—RB) were translated into secret projects under the Ministry of Defense, or open projects with a hidden agenda within SPAND (the later, public name, of the project—RB). The material Israel had obtained solved these mysteries.” “The sweeping Iranian denial “is really comical at this point,” the source added. The documents don’t just expose the Iranians’ deceit. It also demonstrates the weakness of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT), which Iran signed and the IAEA failed to enforce. The archives show that under the UN agency’s nose—despite repeat warnings, the information obtained by the Mossad and other espionage agencies, and media exposés—Iran has succeeded in conducting a secret military nuclear program over a long period of time (and Israel claims Tehran continues to do so even today).
Iran continues to deny everything even now; claiming the entire story of the seized archive is fabricated and serves an Israeli-American agenda aimed at canceling the nuclear agreement. This response was to be expected. What might have been less predictable is the lukewarm international response to the material uncovered in the Israeli operation. The reactions ranged from claims the material was “old news” to assertions it does not uncover any “smoking guns” to prove Iran is currently violating the nuclear agreement.Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu presenting Iran's nuclear archive to the world
But if the Islamic Republic is not violating or planning to violate the agreement, why keep such a detailed archive allowing Iran to resume its nuclear effort from where it left off (assuming they actually stopped)? For many years Israel, the United States, France, Britain and Germany have been collecting intelligence about the Iranian nuclear project. Some of this material has been handed to the IAEA over time in the hopes it would provoke an appropriate response. The intelligence gathered was classified by the IAEA into 12 different topics— referred to as “the PMD,” the acronym for “Possible Military Dimensions”— each depicting research, production or other experiments related to the bomb. Over the years, Iran has vehemently denied dealing with any of these topics. The condition for signing the nuclear agreement was that Iran would make a full disclosure of its progress in each of the 12 PMD issues. Before signing the agreement, Yukiya Amano, the Japanese diplomat who heads the IAEA, promised senior Israeli officials, according to their testimony, that “he will never sign the deal” before receiving satisfactory answers on all 12 topics.
At the end of 2015, Amano published a report practically accepting the Iranian denial of ever having a military nuclear project. Now, in light of the material discovered by the Mossad, it appears his report was based on false information. The intelligence uncovered in the operation was revealed to the Americans, the Chinese, the Russians, the French, the British, the Germans, and of course to IAEA officials. With the exception of the US (and, of course, Israel), it seems the world wasn’t floored by the discoveries, and Amano himself has kept quiet. This is despite the fact that the sensitive material includes documentation of advanced stages of practical field research, experiments and timetables for the production of an atomic bomb and its adaptation to the warhead of the long-range Shahab ballistic missile.
Holger Stark, the deputy editor of the German Die Zeit newspaper, contacted the IAEA in Vienna for a response. The agency refused to comment. Quite a lot has been written about the Mossad operation. However, media reports in Israel and abroad dealt less with the archive itself, and more with the difficult questions it poses. Here is a glimpse into the secret intelligence gathered from Iran’s safes room. These are the facts; the questions they raise are for the world to answer.
The scientists
So what is this “Iranian nuclear archive” that Mossad agents managed to transport thousands of kilometers, all the way to Israel?Iran’s secret military nuclear program began to take shape in 1992 or 1993, when the Iranians became interested in acquiring technologies for the production and operation of centrifuges for uranium enrichment. Tehran acquired much of its knowledge from Pakistan’s nuclear project director, Abdul Qadeer Khan, and later from other elements, some of them Chinese. The first centrifuges were designed at a site called Damāwand. Israel warned the international community about the construction of the nuclear enrichment facility, so Iran decided to dismantle it and build another one in its stead. This was the site that would later become well known, the Natanz nuclear facility. In internal Iranian documents, the site was called “Kashan,” and it houses an increasing number of centrifuges.
At first, Israel was alone in its intelligence campaign against Iran. The intelligence it brought to the attention of IAEA and Western countries was greeted with indifference. Even the United States failed to act at first, and didn’t recognize the authenticity or the importance of the material the Mossad collected on Iran. Only at a later stage, when intelligence ties with Israel strengthened and additional information about Kashan was brought to their attention did the Americans start to act.
Meanwhile, the Iranians secretly set up their military program to produce an atomic bomb, entitled “The AMAD Project.” Who gave the orders? This is one question the archive answers unequivocally: the Iranian leadership. The material does not include direct instructions from Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who, after strongly denying that Iran has a nuclear program, apparently made sure his name will not be tied to the project. Nevertheless, the archive contains, without doubt, documents signed by the defense minister at the time and current Secretary of the Supreme National Security Council, Ali Shamkhani. And he’s not alone. “The plan was approved by the Cognitive Sciences and Technologies Council,” the header of one document states. This is a codename for the senior group of executives who manage Project AMAD, which included the president at the time, Mohammad Khatami; then-head of the Supreme National Security Council, Hassan Rouhani (the current Iranian president); then-Defense Minister Ali Shamkhani; and the head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI) at the time, Gholam Reza Aghazadeh. So what is the purpose of the AMAD Project? The answer to this question too can be found in the archive. According to the material obtained in the Mossad operation, the Iranian plan is to produce five warheads with a yield of 10 kilotons each, and develop the ability to assemble these warheads on the Iranian-made Shahab 3 missile.Diagrams from Iran's nuclear archive
Incidentally, nuclear experts who examined the documents say that the Iranian leaders’ plan lays out far more extensive infrastructure than what is needed to produce “only” five bombs. The making of a nuclear bomb and the ability to launch it is a very complex project that requires a state effort and coordination between all Iranian army and intelligence forces. One particularly colorful presentation, which was discovered in one of the CDs, shows the complexity of the Iranian nuclear project. According to the presentation, the plan is based on a joint effort of various Iranian bodies: the Intelligence Ministry, the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (including its Aerospace Force), and the Quds Force—the Guards’ secret unit, which is currently waging war with Israel at the Syrian border. The documents mention time and again the person who is both the manager and the brains behind the nuclear program—Prof. Mohsen Fakhrizadeh. The nuclear archive includes countless documents with Fakhrizadeh’s signature, including documents addressed to him, or approved by him. For example, one letter addressed to Fakhrizadeh, dated January 19, 2001, and written by the director of the explosive mechanism developing team, delineates a long list of features needed to fit the mechanism to the rest of the nuclear bomb (which is comprised of numerous parts). Fakhrizadeh thanked the director at the bottom of his letter and gave him further instructions.Images from Iran's nuclear archive
Images from Iran’s nuclear archive.
According to foreign media reports, Israel considered Fakhrizadeh as a preferred target for intelligence gathering, and even seriously considered harming him, especially during the tenure of former prime minister Ehud Olmert and the late Mossad director Meir Dagan. Since Fakhrizadeh is still alive, the assassination plan has yet to materialize. It appears Olmert decided to halt the operation, and so Fakhrizadeh’s life was spared. If the former prime minister is indeed behind such a decision, there are those who to this day believe it was a mistake. However, someone—Iranian intelligence sure it was the Mossad—was able to reach various Iranian nuclear scientists whose names appear in the seized documents. In his handwriting, Dr. Fereydoon Abbasi-Davani, a senior nuclear program official, inscribes a long technical document to Fakhrizadeh, who replied at length.Dr. Fereydoon Abbasi-
Dr. Abbasi-Davani is the Chair of the physics department at Tehran’s Imam Hossein University and a key figure in Iran’s nuclear program. On November 29, 2010, his colleague Majid Shahriari was assassinated. An assassin on a motorbike tried to kill Davani as well by attaching a bomb to his car window while he was driving, but Davani managed to escape at the last minute and survived. Iran’s president at the time, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, appointed Davani as his deputy to show his appreciation for the doctor’s “contribution to the Islamic Republic and for his courage.” One may feel some discomfort when diving into the piles of Iranian documents, since there’s something eerie about them. For example, the radical state’s dream of creating weapons of mass destruction becomes an orderly and meticulous timeline in Microsoft Project, including information on the program’s budgets, personnel, experiments, and more. At times, the nuclear documents receive a more personal flair. For instance, in one of the archive’s CDs, agents found “selfie” photos of an Iranian nuclear expert, the heavyset Dr. Mahdi Tranchi, wearing protective goggles and posing for the camera at the “Taleqan 1” nuclear test site. What happened to all this effort? All those people, information, and experience gathered? Did they all just disappear?
The nuclear sitesIt was not only the people who worked on the Iranian nuclear project that the documents expose. They also expose the places and sites where the nuclear plot was devised, some of which were new discoveries for the Israeli intelligence community (“I wish I had this information in real time,” said a former Israeli intelligence chief when exposed to the material), including nuclear experiment sites, uranium mines located across the country, tunnels (dug to cover up their real purpose), and more. According to the material, the Iranians were looking for an underground nuclear testing site. It goes without saying that to conduct such an experiment, they needed to first build a bomb, which the Iranians have not yet done.Images from Iran's nuclear archive
Images from Iran’s nuclear archive.
Furthermore, a nuclear experiment does not depend solely on scientific ability, but mostly on the decision of the political leadership. An underground experiment would have certainly been detected by the West. Such a test would essentially constitute a declaration by Tehran that it had indeed developed a bomb. In the meantime, until the Iranians develop a nuclear bomb, the Iranians are getting ready, and according to the documents they have already examined various possible sites and even attempted to detonate small explosives deep underground to test the ground, its durability and their own ability to record the measurements of the explosion at that location. The Israeli intelligence community also discovered new information about some known nuclear sites. For example, the site in Fordow, near the city of Qom, is well hidden at the heart of the mountain, and is extremely resistant to bombs.Aerial images of the Fordow facilityAerial images of the Fordow facility
The Israeli, French, and American intelligence communities exposed it in 2010, but the archive’s documents established its importance as part of the Ghadir Project (another code name for the Iranian secret nuclear program).
Another example of the scale of the Iranian fraud can be found in the Taleqan testing facility, located in an area called Parchin. IAEA reports raised serious suspicions about the site, but Iran’s denials made it difficult to substantiate these suspicions.
The IAEA demanded that its inspectors be allowed to visit the site, but the agency’s requests have been repeatedly denied. When the IAEA threatened to accuse Iran of violating the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, its inspectors were allowed to enter Parchin months later, only to discover that the site had been cleared, and everything in it was carefully removed from the area.
What was there before? One of the crucial steps to building a nuclear bomb is the development of an explosion mechanism that will create critical mass. In the past, Western intelligence agencies circulated sketches of the experiment sites used to build the explosion mechanism. Photos of the site taken by the Iranian scientists look exactly like the sketches. The Iranian nuclear archive proved how much these sketches were in line with reality: it was an accurate record of the sites, bunkers, test tanks, and equipment that Iran has denied, and still denies using in Parchin / Taleqan, or anywhere else in Iran for that matter.
The experimentsThe archive material contains many drawings, presentations, written documents, and photographs. Not just technical images, but also photographs of the nuclear scientists themselves. The scientists must have felt they were a part of Iranian history. Most probably none of them imagined that his pictures would ever find their way to Israel. Many of these photographs record the nuclear experiments. Iran has denied for years that it is conducting experiments on all PMD topics. For instance, Iran has claimed it did not have any neutron detection equipment, but an archive presentation shows otherwise (with colorful text explaining its uses). Apparently the equipment is located next to the Parchin explosives test site.The Parchin nuclear facilityThe Parchin nuclear facility
In the next slide, dated February 2002, there is a description of the nuclear experiment with an exact record of the DU3, the scientific term for the neutrons’ source, whose collision with nuclear fuel atoms creates a chain reaction that ends with an atomic explosion. The archive’s documents also reveal that at a nearby site, the Iranians built another tank for testing high explosives; this time with flash X-ray equipment surrounding it. This equipment made up of a sophisticated camera of sorts that can record, with a precision of nanoseconds, the moment of detonation to guarantee that all explosives go off at the same time. This is critical for making explosive lens: a simultaneous explosion of several charges around the fissile material—for example, enriched uranium at a level of 90%—will start a nuclear fission chain reaction.Tank for testing high explosives, with flash X-ray equipment
Tank for testing high explosives, with flash X-ray equipment
A special contract signed by the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran and Tehran’s Defense Ministry lays out the transfer of part of the enrichment project from the organization to the ministry, in order to produce highly-enriched uranium at a military level of 90%.
The cover-up: the Dark Side of SPNDIn 2003, the United States invaded Iraq, and Tehran feared they were next in line; at the same time, the “National Council of Resistance of Iran,” an Iranian opposition group, published material on the Natanz nuclear facility that led to harsh criticism and sanctions against Iran. The Iranians were worried and so the Scientific Council decided to make some changes and close the AMAD Project, only to reopen it under a different name. This development was interpreted differently by Israel and the United States. The latter determined that closing the AMAD Project brought the nuclear program to a halt. Israel, on the other hand, claimed that it’s an Iranian scam, and that the two projects are one and the same. The documents from the archive show that Israel was right. These documents record how the general decision to close one project and reopen another became a complex bureaucratic process in August and September 2003. The purpose of all this was to deceive the world and develop a project that will continue where the AMAD Project left off. The new project was titled “the SPND Project,” and unlike its father, AMAD, which was entirely secret, SPND has two sides: the overt and public side, which allows the Iranians to claim the nuclear program is meant for peaceful purposes (medicine, etc.), and the covert side, which allows Iran to continue developing nuclear weapons.
SPND, by the way, is still active today.
“Following new instruction by the honorable Minister of Defense (Ali Shamkhani—RB), intensive meetings of Project 110 technical committee (one of the main projects of AMAD—RB) were held in order to accommodate the activities to the instructions. In the new outline, the work would be divided in two: covert (secret structure and goals) and overt (regular structure),” reads one Iranian document.Document determining the new plan, SPND, will have an overt aspect and a covert oneDocument determining the new plan, SPND, will have an overt aspect and a covert one
What would the covert part include? For example, the documents show that the secret SPND project will include the nuclear testing facility Sareb-1, the warhead integration facility Sareb-2, and Sareb-3, the facility for the production of a nuclear warhead for Shahab 3 missiles.According to the documents, all management personnel and 70% of the entire workforce are to transfer from “AMAD” to “SPND.” The scheme was meticulously planned: the documents include a letter written by Abbasi-Davani, to the project’s chief, Fakhrizadeh, on March 3, 2003: “We must make a distinction between overt and covert activities.”One of their colleagues wrote on January 9, 2003: “Overt activities are those that can be explained as part of something else, and not as part of the project (to produce an atomic bomb) itself, so we have an excuse to do them.” Dr. Masoud wrote in March 2003: “Neutron research cannot be considered ‘overt’ and must be covert. We have no way of rationalizing this activity (neutron research) as related to defensive measures. Neutron operations are very sensitive and we cannot explain them.”The construction of a core for a nuclear warheadThe construction of a core for a nuclear warhead
Dr. Mahdi Tranchi, the ‘selfie’ enthusiast, wrote: “Let there be no mistake—the manpower of the overt and covert parts will not be reduced. The whole operation will not be reduced, and every sub-project will oversee both the overt and covert parts.”And so the Iranian project continued from 2004, under SPND, until the signing of the nuclear agreement in the summer of 2015. At some point, a senior American source told Yedioth Ahronoth, the countries negotiating the nuclear agreement with Tehran decided to “let the past go, even though everyone knew very well that the Iranians were lying, and focus on the future. It was clear to everyone that after the spiritual leader said there was no military project, he would never take it back and admit he lied.
The risk was losing the entire deal because insisting on the 12 PMD topics would have led to the collapse of the negotiations.” After the nuclear agreement was signed, two parallel axes were in play. In one, Iran submitted some material, which led to an IAEA report on the PMD in December 2015. This report, which in effect ignores the questions left open, enables implementation of the nuclear agreement. In the other, Tehran began to do everything in its power to hide everything it had on its nuclear program. This was unlike other cases of complete nuclear disarmament. Both South Africa and Libya, for example, truly ended their nuclear programs: they either destroyed all the information, so there was nothing left of their archives, or deposited everything they had—their knowledge, documents, and experience, to IAEA inspectors. The Iranians did the exact opposite: they collected information from countless sites, including private archives and all the material of the AMAD Project, and gathered it it in the Defense Ministry’s archive.
Since the agreement gives the IAEA the right to visit any suspicious site (Tehran currently denies that they have agreed to visits at military sites), the Iranians feared the Defense Ministry archive might also be a target for inspection. So in February 2016, the Iranians moved the archive to an obscure site in a remote suburb of Tehran. The facility is almost entirely unguarded, and therefore does not attract attention. Even the people guarding the facility don’t know what it is that they are protecting.
The break-inIsraeli intelligence had been tracked the “AMAD archive” closely, and had been meticulously planning the operation since early 2017. One Mossad agent responsible for planning the operation said it was “Ocean’s Eleven Style.” In most Mossad operations of this type, the agents usually infiltrate a building, photograph the material inside, and leave unnoticed. This time, Mossad Director Yossi Cohen decided the material must be physically seized. The reason is twofold: to limit the time agents had to spend inside the building, and to prevent Iran from spreading disinformation and claiming the documents are forged. In this manner, Israel could expose the documents to the scrutiny of the international community.Some of the folders with documents from Iran's nuclear archive
Some of the folders with documents from Iran’s nuclear archive
Over the course of two years, hundreds of people from all branches of the Mossad participated in the operation, and fewer than two dozen agents took part in the break-in itself. The operation team in Israel did not sleep for several nights, during which the agents gathered inside Iran to prepare the equipment and scope out the area. Then, on the evening of January 31, the agents entered the vault. When the operation ended and all agents were out of danger, Cohen called Netanyahu and informed him of the operation’s success.The entrance to the Iranian nuclear archive
The entrance to the Iranian nuclear archive
And it was, indeed, a success: The agents retrieved about half a ton of intelligence material that is worth its weight in gold. There has been very few times in the history of intelligence services since World War II when one agency has been able to obtain so much of the enemy’s secret intelligence material at once. “Israel didn’t sign the JCPOA. The Mossad didn’t sign the nuclear agreement,” Mossad Director Cohen said in a closed forum. “I have one agreement, with the people of Israel, in which I commit not to allow the Iranians to have a nuclear bomb. That’s it.”But like everything else, politics got in the way here as well. Since the operation, various claims were made in Israel and abroad against the way the material was presented. Some believe the documents from the archive justify Netanyahu’s claim that the nuclear agreement is a bad deal based on lies. A Western intelligence source that was exposed to the material summed it up thus: “The nuclear archive is in fact an effort made by the Iranian Ministry of Defense to preserve the knowledge achieved in the ‘AMAD Project’ from 1998 to 2003, and to hide it from the international community, especially from the IAEA, for possible future use.”Others, on the other hand, claim these documents prove how close Iran was to producing a nuclear bomb, and so the existence of an agreement that freezes the program and puts the SPND Project under close supervision is a good idea.
פרסום ראשון: 11.23.18, 08:43

Millions of Arabs to fall under multidimensional poverty

Shehab Al-Makahleh/Al Arabiya/November 23/18
The Arab region is presently undergoing a period of rigorous challenges at all echelons resulting from armed conflicts, economic hardships, sectarian wars, and civil wars as well as corruption. All of this has resulted in a high humanitarian toll, unprecedented waves of refugees and displaced people, destructions of many cities and towns which directly affected people’s livelihoods and standards of living. Currently, Arabs face a critical challenge: multidimensional poverty. The World Bank has issued a report entitled: “Poverty and Shared Prosperity in 2018”, presenting a new multi-dimensional poverty measure, taking into account societal poverty without restricting the calculations on household consumption and international poverty line which stood at US$1.9 per person per day. The report introduced 5 new standards which would not negatively affect the numbers of poor people in the world, but rather in the Arab world as well.
New criteria of poverty
Alarmingly enough are ratios and figures of poverty among children in the Arab world. According to the UNICEF, one in four children in the region lives in poverty. The report introduced a new definition of poverty based on 5 standards in order to help reduce the number of people living in extreme poverty to less than 3 per cent by 2030. Since its establishment in 1945, the World Bank has set a specific definition of poverty line as "the lowest level of income a person or family needs to be able to provide for an adequate standard of living in a country" and has set US$1 per person per day.
However, this has changed in 2008 when the bank raised the amount to US$1.25 in light of varying purchasing power scales. Recently, some countries had their own calculations for poverty line. For example, poverty line for Americans who are less than 65 years old is $15 per capita per day and $25 for a family of four. This of course does not apply t citizens in Somalia. Though the rates of poverty line have dropped sharply since 1990s from 36 per cent to about 10 per cent by end of 2017, this is still deemed high as the number of people in acute poverty is about one billion, which is 20 per cent of world population. Thus, calculating poverty rate on the basis of monetary income alone does not help set the ground for objective and realistic comparisons and contrasts between the stated levels of poverty and levels of prosperity among different states or even within a single country over a period of time.
5 standards to define poverty and acute poverty
Experts believe that poverty should be addressed after reaching a clear-cut definition of what is meant by poverty and severe poverty. For this purpose, 5 criteria have been classified. The first is based on individual and family income. This is the old standard. Statistics reveal that more than 50 per cent of world population lives under US$5 per day. The second criterion is the level of education. The World Bank believes that the group entitled for education and do not regularly get their education fall under poverty line. The third is the infrastructure and public utilities in any country. Therefore, those who do not have access to clean and potable water fall under poverty line. The same applies to those who do not enjoy sanitation services or are deprived of electricity, good roads and so forth. The fourth is the level of health services. Those who do not receive good health services fall under poverty line. Those who have no equipped health facilities and children who do not receive vaccines are deemed poor by default. Also, malnourished people and the elderly who are not fully taken care of in hospitals and health centers are considered poor.
The fifth criterion is the security level. Individuals living in high risk, insecure and perilous communities fall under poverty line. In addition, countries that witness natural and man-made disasters are automatically described as states under poverty line. This of course includes countries with high rates of floods, earthquakes, fires, and civil and sectarian wars.
Where do Arab countries stand?
Arab countries face serious poverty cutback challenges since both the extent and intensity of poverty are projected to be extremely high. Based on these five standards, poverty levels worldwide will hike. Poverty rates in the Arab region will rocket too. For example, if calculated based on monetary income in some Arab states such as Iraq, the percentage will increase from 2.5% to 10.5 per cent based on three scales: income, education and infrastructure. However, the ratio will almost reach 29 per cent if the 5 collective criteria are taken into account.
The total number of extremely poor people in 10 Arab countries (Egypt, Tunisia, Morocco, Algeria, Jordan, Sudan, Mauritania, Comoros, Iraq and Yemen) reached 38.2 million, representing 13.4 of population of these countries. However, the number of the poor in these 10 states alone amounted to 117 million, recording 41 per cent of the population of these countries.
If Syria and other war-torn Arab states are included in the percentage, the number will hike to 180 million Arabs who are under poverty. This would simply be interpreted by figures as 50 per of Arab are extremely poor. The remaining 50 per cent would be divided into vertical stratum to show levels of poverty and only less than 10 per cent will be the middle class in the Arab world, whose depletion would lead to a societal malfunction. Alarmingly enough are ratios and figures of poverty among children in the Arab world. According to the UNICEF, one in four children in the region lives in poverty, often deprived of the most indispensable requirements such as apposite accommodation and potable water.
Poverty in rural areas
In the Arab region, poverty is widespread in rural areas more than in urban provinces. Rural population constitute 84 per cent and 68 per cent of the acutely poor and poor in the Arab world. This percentage is very alarming as governments should address issues in rural areas since they would be manipulated to be extremist and radical later on. Therefore, education is very important to improve the living conditions, health services and infrastructure of the rural areas to avert them being a target by extremists and radicals who would find in these communities the best incubator to flourish and nourish. Thus, states should not only make significant strides to reduce poverty, but also to improve education, infrastructure and health services to make up for any income shortfalls.

New leadership to tackle ISIS in Libya
Dr. Azeem Ibrahim/Al Arabiya/November 23/18
Libya is still an ungovernable mess in its 8th year since the removal of Muammar Gaddafi. The fragmented, ever-fluid civil war is no closer to resolution now than at any other time since 2011, and Libya remains a failed state despite all the competing state institutions the different players are trying to build in parallel. Add to this mix Libya’s long-standing history of politicised Islam, and you seemingly have the perfect soil for a cancer like ISIS to fester and thrive.
Yet, for all their inability to agree about much else, Libyans do deserve credit for the way they have handled the ISIS threat. Libya became the secondary territorial claim of ISIS back in 2014, just after the heartland of eastern Syria and north-western Iraq. The response was swift. All other factions agreed that ISIS needed to be rooted out of Libya, and this was achieved relatively quickly and thoroughly – within just a couple of years. There remain, of course, fighters associated with ISIS scattered across the country’s sparsely populated hinterlands, but today there is little trace of an ISIS ‘territory’ in Libya, let alone a ‘state’.What remain present, however, are the fertile soil of a broken country, the flowing waters of political and armed Islam, and those scattered seeds of ISIS fighters in the hinterlands. Jihadism, whether bearing the ISIS logo or not, remains one of the most immediate threats radiating out of Libya.
Best hope
The only person who has declared his candidacy for the presidency of the UN-backed Tripoli claimant state has made the elimination of ISIS a central objective of his leadership. Dr Aref Ali Nayed – a Canada-educated Islamic scholar, philosopher and Libyan Ambassador to the UAE is being touted by analysts as the best hope that Libya may yet be healed and emerge as a peaceful and prosperous country. Yet, for all their inability to agree about much else, Libyans do deserve credit for the way they have handled the ISIS threat. Libya became the secondary territorial claim of ISIS back in 2014, just after the heartland of eastern Syria and north-western Iraq. The response was swift. All other factions agreed that ISIS needed to be rooted out of Libya, and this was achieved relatively quickly and thoroughly – within just a couple of years.
And it seems that Dr Ali Nayed has the profile and the experience that a troubled country like Libya rarely dares dream for in a potential leader. He is deeply rooted both in civil society and in democratic politics in Libya, has held high office despite all odds, and has achieved this without cultivating dubious connections to Islamist militias – a genuinely impressive feat, given the current state of Libyan politics.
His professional background is in academia, business, philanthropy, and community organization. A prefect combination for a political leader anywhere, let alone in a state with such acute need of proper leadership. Specific to Libya, however, is that his academic background is in Islamic theology. In a country dominated by Islamist militias, where tribal politics and personal rivalries are often couched in an Islamic veneer, Dr Ali Nayed is a man who can school any preacher or militia leader in the finer points of Islam.
The candidate also brings with him a vision of how the fractious and intensely competitive Libyans can channel their energies towards peacefully building a vibrant and successful country together, rather than collectively tear it apart – and more importantly, he brings with him a detailed plan on how he will pursue that vision. Dr Ali Nayed takes an inclusive view of localist Libyan politics, and all of its idiosyncrasies, and an inclusive view of Islam and divergent theological views and debates. He takes democracy to mean that all this diversity must be given expression – all constituent traditions and cultures of Libya must have a voice, and must have the autonomy to express themselves politically at the local level. But none must have the power to overimpose itself upon the others, or on the national conversation. The purposes and mandate of the central government will be uphold the peace between all these traditions and all the locales, and enable a discourse of negotiation for mutual benefit for all Libyans of all persuasions.
If there is a vision of politics that can Libya and Libyans in a peaceful manner this is it. And this is the manner of politics which Libya must pursue. No party in the Libyan civil war is strong enough to impose the peace. The path forward towards a peaceful and united Libya cannot, in practice, be but one of reconciliation and cooperation. If this is achieved, the soil will be rendered barren for violent Islamism. And led by an Islamic scholar with the pedigree and credentials of Dr Aly Nayed, Libya will also stem the waters of politicised Islam which would feed that soil. All that would remain would be those scattered seeds. But Dr Ali Nayed has also made it a top priority to physically remove all remnant traces of ISIS from the country – a task which will be much easier when Libyans stop fighting each other and turn their attention to these corrupting foreign influences.