November 26/1
Compiled & Prepared by: Elias Bejjani

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Bible Quotations For today
My kingdom is not from this world. If my kingdom were from this world, my followers would be fighting to keep me from being handed over to the Jew
John 18/33-38: "Then Pilate entered the headquarters again, summoned Jesus, and asked him, ‘Are you the King of the Jews?’Jesus answered, ‘Do you ask this on your own, or did others tell you about me?’Pilate replied, ‘I am not a Jew, am I? Your own nation and the chief priests have handed you over to me. What have you done?’Jesus answered, ‘My kingdom is not from this world. If my kingdom were from this world, my followers would be fighting to keep me from being handed over to the Jews. But as it is, my kingdom is not from here.’Pilate asked him, ‘So you are a king?’ Jesus answered, ‘You say that I am a king. For this I was born, and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone who belongs to the truth listens to my voice.’Pilate asked him, ‘What is truth?’ After he had said this, he went out to the Jews again and told them, ‘I find no case against him."’"

Titles For Latest LCCC Bulletin analysis & editorials from miscellaneous sources published on November 25-26/18
Despite frailties, Lebanon has reason to celebrate/Samar Kadi/The Weekly News/November 25/18
The Arab world has a pivotal role to play in an emerging global future/Raghida Dergham/The National/November 25, 2018
The Arab world has a pivotal role to play in an emerging global future/Raghida Dergham/The National/November 25, 2018
Why does Netanyahu want a war/Mohamed Kawas/The Weekly News/November 25/18
US losing control in Syria as Russia-Iran axis gains ground/Kyle Orton/The Weekly News/November 25/18
Yemen’s vicious circle must be broken/Khairallah Khairallah/The Weekly News/November 25/18
If Assange Is a Villain, What About Zuckerberg/Leonid Bershidsky/Bloomberg/November,25/18
Iranian regime’s fourth pillar: Antagonism toward Saudi Arabia/Dr. Majid Rafizadeh/Arab News/November 25, 2018
Turkey-Russia ties consolidated by new gas pipeline/Yasar Yakis/Arab News/November 25/18
Regional influence in Syria and Arab retrogression/Ali Al-Amin/Al Arabiya/November 25/18
Imran Khan’s first 100 days/Sabena Siddiqui/Al Arabiya/November 25/18
Saudi principles in the royal statement/Fahad Suleiman Shoqiran/Al Arabiya/November 25/18
Trump vs American media: The scene from another /Dr. Naif Alhadari/Al Arabiya/November 25/18

Titles For Latest LCCC Lebanese Related News published on November 25-26/18
Lebanese President: Government Crisis Grown Bigger
Al-Rahi: No One Has Right to Obstruct Govt. Formation
Lighting of Baabda Palace in orange marking 'International Day for Elimination of Violence against Women'
Hariri receives 'Nation without Addiction' Independence Message: To protect Lebanon from all ailments
Hariri: We will eventually reach a solution
Belgian Parliament Speaker arrives in Beirut: We look forward to political stability in Lebanon
Lebanese Parliamentary delegation bound for Paris
General Security 'Puma Hannibal' Race kicks off in Blat, Jbeil
Iraq floods leave 21 dead in two days: health ministry
Hawwat calls for accelerating new traffic law implementation
Fadlallah: Government formation problem lies with PM designate
Qaouq: Crisis to Continue as Long as Hariri Disregards Vote Results
U.N., NCLW Launch Campaign to End Child Marriage
Abi Khalil Calls on Hariri to 'Acknowledge Others Existence'
Jumblat: Settlement Necessary to Avoid Collapse
Lebanon Urges World to Condemn Israel over 1982 Ship Sinking
Despite frailties, Lebanon has reason to celebrate

Titles For Latest LCCC Bulletin For Miscellaneous Reports And News published on November 25-26/18
Ex-Nissan Chief Ghosn Denies Allegations
Around 100 Syrians Struggle to Breathe after Aleppo 'Toxic' Attack
Seats for sale in Iran's Faculty of Medicine as corruption reaches universities
Trump Says Mexico to Hold U.S.-Bound Refugees while Claims Processed
Turki Al-Faisal: Saudi Arabia Maintains Role on W
US Trains 30,000 SDF Members East Syria to 'Contain' Iran
PLO Commander: We Support Russia’s Move to Revive Political Process
Clashes on Champs-Elysees as French Protesters Rage against Taxes
In Sadness, EU Leaders Approve Brexit Deal

Latest Lebanese Related News published on November 25-26/18
Lebanese President: Government Crisis Grown Bigger
Beirut- Caroline Akoum/Asharq al-Awsat/November 25/18/Lebanese President Michel Aoun said Saturday that the government formation crisis has grown bigger, while contradictions emerged in the positions of Hezbollah concerning Prime Minister-designate Saad Hariri. Sources close to the Shiite party said Saturday there was no substitute to Hariri, but at the same time, they asserted their attachment to the representation of the March 8 Sunni deputies in the next government. Hariri’s sources described Hezbollah’s position as contradictory, offering an opinion and its opposite. The sources told Asharq Al-Awsat that Hezbollah was trying to change Hariri’s positions and at the same time, impose on him the party’s own conditions. “Hariri would not bow to pressures,” they said. Separately, speaking to a delegation of participants in the annual "Independence Day Race", who ran from Rashaya Castle to the Presidential Palace in Baabda, Aoun recalled the story of Solomon when two women came to him with a child, each claiming to be the mother...and when King Solomon ordered the child to be cut in half, the real mother cried out to him to spare his life and give the child to the other woman, at which instant Solomon knew who the real mother was. "Today, we wish to know who Lebanon's mother really is in order to give it to her," said Aoun, adding, "I shall suffice with that brief statement.”For his part, head of Hezbollah’s parliamentary bloc, MP Mohammed Raad renewed on Saturday the party’s support to the demand of the six Sunni March 8 deputies to be represented in the next cabinet. In return, head of the Phalange Party Sami Gemayel reiterated his proposal to form a government of specialists at this stage, while the conflicting parties resolve their problems calmly and agree on their points of dispute through dialogue at the Parliament House. "Lebanon needs a government that will play its role, address its problems, and save the people from the economic and social disaster we are facing today," Gemayel said.

Al-Rahi: No One Has Right to Obstruct Govt. Formation

Maronite Patriarch Beshara al-Rahi announced Sunday that “no one has the right” to obstruct the formation of the new government. “No matter what the reasons might be, no one has the right to obstruct the formation of the government over personal or partisan demands,” al-Rahi said at Beirut airport upon his return from a visit to the Vatican. “Those concerned about Lebanon would offer sacrifices,” al-Rahi added. 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 Prime Minister-designate Saad Hariri with the names of its three Shiite ministers in a bid to press him. Hariri has rejected the demand, announcing that he’d rather step down than give the aforementioned lawmakers a seat from his own share in the government

Lighting of Baabda Palace in orange marking 'International Day for Elimination of Violence against Women'
Sun 25 Nov 2018/NNA - The Baabda Presidential Palace was lit up this evening in orange on the "International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women" which falls on 25th of November, coinciding with the launching of a 16-day campaign to combat violence against women and girls that runs until December 10. Orange is the international color of this campaign, expressing hope for a bright future free from all forms of violence.

Hariri receives 'Nation without Addiction' Independence Message: To protect Lebanon from all ailments
Sun 25 Nov 2018/NNA - A number of activists gathered this afternoon under the headline, "Independence of a Homeland without Addiction by Land, Sea and Air", in the area of Ain al-Mreisseh in Beirut to extract the "Message of Independence" from the deep sea with the help of "Shaiss Divers", in coordination with the Internal Security Forces, the Army, Customs, General Security and various civil associations and institutions. The activists moved from Ain al-Mreisseh to the Martyrs Square in downtown Beirut, where they marched with the water message towards the "House of Center" raising the Lebanese flag, supported by ISF units. Welcoming the activists, Prime Minister-Designate Saad Hariri recalled his late father, Martyr PM Rafic Hariri's words in saying, "The nation is not a hotel, the nation is a homeland, and Lebanon is for everyone.""We have to protect it from corruption, waste, drugs and all ailments," he added. Hariri referred to the many challenges surrounding the nation, while stressing the need to fight all diseases and ailments for the sake of preserving our country. He added: "I do not wish to talk about the stalled government formation so as to maintain the state of calm these days...Perhaps we might find a solution among the clouds that pass over Lebanon, and I am sure that in the end we will reach a solution in the government dossier." "The Lebanese Constitution is the one that unites us and there are few things that separate us...We ought to focus on the things that bring us together," Hariri underscored. "Next time we will be diving together in the sea," he concluded amusingly. At the end of the encounter, PM-designate Hariri signed the "Message of Independence" and took a memorial photo with the activists in the "House of Center" garden.

Hariri: We will eventually reach a solution
Sun 25 Nov 2018/NNA - In a press release by Prime Minister-designate Saad Hariri's Media Office on Sunday, it indicated that the PM-designate has expressed his hope to reach a solution for the government formation crisis. "I am sure that we will eventually reach a solution, and we have to reach a solution. Everyone should know that the Lebanese Constitution is what brings us together," Hariri underscored. The Prime Minister-designate was addressing a delegation from diving clubs who presented to him the "Message of Independence" entitled this year, "A homeland without addiction on land, in sea and space", during a celebration held at the Center House with the participation of several associations, clubs and organizations. Mervat Nahhas, who spoke in the name of the participants, said that the war in Lebanon taught us to protect our independence with all the possible ways. She added: "Under your wing, Mr. Prime Minister, and with you, we will protect the independence from division, theft and drugs, and everyone should be convinced that Lebanon is steadfast in its history, independence and constitution." For his part, Hariri said: "I am proud to see this large number of young men and women working for this cause that concerns the country and a large number of its families. There is no doubt that your words today about Lebanon and the independence remind us of the words of my father Rafic Hariri, that the homeland is not a hotel where the citizen stays for few days and then leaves. The homeland is a homeland. We are all for Lebanon and Lebanon is for all of us, so we have to protect it, sometimes from some of its citizens, from corruption, drugs and all the plights.""There are challenges but we are all Lebanese and just as you are working to fight drugs and other issues, we should all fight for the sake of our country," Hariri asserted.
He added: "I want to thank you all for the work you are doing. As for the problems disrupting the formation of the government, I will not discuss them now, hoping that we find a solution with time among the clouds hovering over Lebanon. I am sure that at the end, we will reach a solution, and we have to reach a solution. Everyone should know that the Lebanese Constitution is what brings us together. Few are the issues that we differ on; thus, we should focus on what brings us together. This is what I have been doing. Thank you all for this initiative and for all the things that you are doing for Lebanon and the Lebanese." At the end of the encounter, the director of the national program for the prevention of addiction Amira Nasreddin presented a shield to Premier Hariri as a token of appreciation. Hariri also signed a Lebanese flag bearing the slogan of the message of independence.

Bassil visits Shouf Cedar Reserve, thanks Jumblatt for his environmental concern: Political return has been completed and must be fortified by economic, administrative projects
Sun 25 Nov 2018/NNA - Free Patriotic Movement Chief, Caretaker Foreign Affairs Minister Gebran Bassil thanked on Sunday Progressive Socialist Party Chief, former Minister and MP Walid Jumblatt, for his keen interest in the environment in the Shouf Cedar Reserve and the whole Shouf region.
"The political return has been accomplished and we do not look back nor does anyone wish to return to war...and now there are ministers and deputies representing FPM in the region," Bassil added, stressing on "working openly with extended hands at the economic and administrative levels in a climate of security and peaceful living." Bassil's words came during a visit to the Shouf region today at the invitation of FPM's coordinating branch in the Shouf...A day marked with sports activities and walking distances inside the Shouf Cedar Reserve, joined by a large number of FPM supporters, which began with Bassil's arrival at 11:00 a.m. and planting a cedar in his name in the Reserve. After that, participants accompanied Bassil to the Monastery of Ammiq El-Shouf, where a luncheon was held in his honor. "The visit to the Shouf taught us how to build and how to preserve nature...We congratulate the people of the region and Mr. Walid Jumblatt, to whom we pay high regards for his sound advice and keen interest in the environment, which is evident in this region...This is an essential matter to shed light on and to follow in other areas, for everyone knows the importance of the Cedar trees and their huge benefits," said Bassil. "Today, the conditions are favorable to us and the reassuring atmosphere we create in the mountain and the homeland...for no matter how difficult the circumstances of the nation, our duty is to be a bridge of communication for all the Lebanese," he corroborated. Bassil stressed the need to work towards accomplishing projects of agriculture, health, education and restoration in various areas of the country. "The challenge today is to succeed in turning the return from a political process into a process of development, management and daily living. You should think of building houses on this land in the Shouf and to set up agricultural and productive projects," he said, highlighting the FPM partisans' strong will and determination in achieving their goals.

Belgian Parliament Speaker arrives in Beirut: We look forward to political stability in Lebanon
Sun 25 Nov 2018/NNA - Speaker of the Belgian Parliament, Siegfried Bracke, arrived in Beirut this afternoon on head of a Brussels delegation, following an official invitation by House Speaker, Nabih Berri. The Belgian Parliament Speaker will hold meetings with his Lebanese counterpart and senior Lebanese officials over a number of common issues, most prominently the bilateral relations between both Parliaments and the extension of the agreement signed between them, in addition to relations between the Lebanese and European Parliaments. The Belgian official is also scheduled to meet with President of the Republic Michel Aoun and Prime Minister-designate Saad Hariri, and to conduct a tour among the Syrian refugee camps in the Bekaa. Welcoming Bracke and his accompanying delegation at Beirut Airport was Foreign Affairs Committee Chair, MP Yassin Jaber, Secretary General for Foreign Affairs at the Parliament Council, Bilal Sharara, Belgian Ambassador to Lebanon Hubert Cooreman, and senior Embassy staff. "We are counting on this visit, which comes at a very timely and sensitive phase, as there are many very important decisions that Lebanon and the Lebanese must take," Bracke said upon arrival. "Since Lebanon is a bridge between the EU, including Belgium, and the Arab world, we look forward to political stability in Lebanon...and I am sure that the Lebanese model will succeed in finding a solution to the current political crisis," the Belgian Speaker affirmed. "Given the turbulent conditions in the region, there are many areas we can cooperate in, not just in business," he added. Responding to a press question on Lebanese-Belgian Parliamentary relations, Bracke described them as "very solid", adding, "We have been working together for more than 14 years. My predecessor signed a cooperation agreement between our two countries. Today I look forward to extending this agreement and widening its scope for the next three years."In turn, MP Jaber welcomed Bracke and his accompanying delegation, saying, "Belgium is a friend of Lebanon, which hosts a large Lebanese expatriate community, and is also the capital of the European Union.""As you know, there is a partnership between Lebanon and the European Union, which always stands with Lebanon. It is necessary to create these dynamic relations between the Lebanese parliament and all these parliaments in friendly countries," Jaber underlined.

Lebanese Parliamentary delegation bound for Paris
Sun 25 Nov 2018/NNA - A Lebanese-French Parliamentary Friendship Committee delegation left Beirut this afternoon heading to the French Capital, Paris, for a weeklong visit to discuss enhancing bilateral relations and exchanging parliamentary experiences at various levels. The delegation, headed by MP Simon Abi Ramia, includes Caretaker Ministers of Education, Marwan Hamadeh, and Social Affairs, Pierre Bou Assi, and Deputies Ali Bazzi, Rola Tabsh Jaroudi and Michel Mousa.

General Security 'Puma Hannibal' Race kicks off in Blat, Jbeil

Sun 25 Nov 2018/NNA - The "Puma Hannibal" Race by the General Security was held this morning in the area of Blat - Jbeil district, in the presence of General Security Director General's Representative, Brigadier General Elias El-Baissari. More than 800 participants took part in the 6Km race with 25 different barriers. Teams included members of the General Security, Army and Internal Security Forces and civil participants of different Arab and foreign nationalities.

Iraq floods leave 21 dead in two days: health ministry

Sun 25 Nov 2018/NNA - At least 21 people have died and dozens more have been injured as heavy rains battered Iraq over the past two days, the health ministry spokesman told AFP Sunday. Women and children were among the dead, Seif al-Badr said. Some had drowned, but others had died in car accidents, were electrocuted, or were trapped when their houses fell on them. --- AFP

Hawwat calls for accelerating new traffic law implementation
Sun 25 Nov 2018/NNA - "The Ministry of the Interior and the concerned departments should expedite the implementation of the provisions of the new traffic law, so that we will not continue to lose the best of our youth," said MP Ziad Hawwat via Twitter on Sunday. "Our heartfelt condolences to the families and loved ones of the last victims, Officer Osama Hablas and those who died in the Niha accident in the Bekaa," Hawwat regretfully added.

Fadlallah: Government formation problem lies with PM designate
Sun 25 Nov 2018/NNA - "Loyalty to the Resistance" Parliamentary Bloc Member, MP Hassan Fadlallah, stated Sunday that the problem of forming the new government lies within the capacity of the Prime Minister-Designate, who shoulders the responsibility for any failure to solve this obstacle.
"We want this government to be formed as soon as possible, but there are those who want to cancel the results of the parliamentary elections," said Fadlallah, stressing, "We want to form a government of national unity based on the results of the elections." The MP's words came during a memorial service held in the town of Sultaniah in South Lebanon earlier today, during which he shed light on hour issues prevailing in the country. "We are paying today the price of the fiscal, economic, social and daily living policy that began in 1992, the most prominent aspect of which is borrowing that has caused the accumulation of public debt...let alone the waste expenditure and failure to set an economic plan suitable for Lebanon, thus hitting the agricultural, industrial and productive sectors," said Fadlallah."The crisis in our country is the result of this economic approach that brought us to our current status...It is known who controlled the state's economy and money since 1992 until today. This approach has not changed, nor has the mentality of those holding the economic decision," he added. Fadlallah concluded by highlighting the need for state administration officials to provide the necessary facilities for citizens in the absence of forming a government, adding, "We are following up on these responsibilities according to the legal mechanisms and channels."

Qaouq: Crisis to Continue as Long as Hariri Disregards Vote Results
Naharnet/November 25/18/A senior Hizbullah official warned Sunday that the government formation crisis “will continue” as long as Prime Minister-designate Saad Hariri refuses to represent six pro-Hizbullah Sunni MPs in the new cabinet. “The government crisis in Lebanon is aggravating and growing more complicated due to the PM-designate’s disregard for the results of the parliamentary elections and for the right of the independent Sunni MPs to governmental representation, especially that they represent a significant segment of the Lebanese,” Hizbullah central council member Sheikh Nabil Qaouq said. “Ballot boxes gave those MPs the right to cabinet representation and not Hizbullah’s stance, which is a national and ethical stance that supports the right of these MPs, especially that some accepted the results of elections for all religious communities, but when the issue reached the independent Sunnis, they insisted on rejecting their representation,” Qaouq added. He however noted that “this insistence has yielded an opposite result.”“It has boosted the strength of their representation and influence in the political equation and no one can overlook them anymore. That’s why this means that as long as the PM-designate continues to disregard the results of the elections and the right of these MPs to representation, the crisis will continue,” the Hizbullah official warned. He however added that Hizbullah is “keen on reaching a solution” while noting that “the obstacle was created by the PM-designate and its solution lies with the PM-designate.”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 the 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. Hariri has rejected the demand, announcing that he’d rather step down than give the aforementioned lawmakers a seat from his own share in the government.

U.N., NCLW Launch Campaign to End Child Marriage
Naharnet/November 25/18/The United Nations System in Lebanon and the National Commission for Lebanese Women (NCLW) on Sunday launched a joint campaign aimed at raising awareness on the consequences and implications of Gender-Based Violence (GBV) and gender inequality in Lebanon.
The campaign is timed to coincide with the beginning of the global 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence (25 November-10 December). It focuses specifically on advocating for ending child marriage in Lebanon, considered a form of GBV, through the adoption of a law to raise the minimum age of marriage to 18 years, based on the 1989 Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) that defines a child as “every human being below the age of 18 years”. The campaign aims at shedding light on how child marriage as a form of GBV increases girls’ vulnerability and risks to domestic violence including physical, sexual and psychological abuse. Entitled Bakirr 3laya, the campaign will run from 25 November to 10 December on social media through the #Bakirr3laya hashtag. It will also feature a TV spot on local TV channels and a radio spot on national stations to raise awareness on the negative consequences of child marriage, mostly on women and girls, and advocate for passing a law setting the marriage age at 18. The campaign messages will also be displayed on billboards and LED screens in Beirut and several areas across Lebanon.
During the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence, the Lebanese Presidential Palace, NCLW headquarters building and the iconic Baalbek Temple in eastern Lebanon will be lit up in orange as part of the 'Orange the World initiative’, signaling “a strong message against violence against women and specifically child marriage,” the U.N. and NCLW said in a statement. On the occasion, the Acting U.N. Special Coordinator for Lebanon Pernille Dahler Kardel said: “I encourage Lebanese legislators to enact and uphold laws that would eliminate child marriage in Lebanon. This would be an important step towards ending this harmful practice, protecting the rights of children and ensuring the overall wellbeing of society. Addressing the causes that drive such a practice, such as poverty, economic difficulties or barriers to education, are also essential for longer term solutions that open up opportunities and access to justice for all.” For Claudine Aoun Roukoz, NCLW president, “The continued acceptance of Child Marriage and the fact that the law does not enforce a minimum age for marriage is further evidence of failure of legislation to keep up with changes in the status of women and the roles they actually play in society.”Child marriage affects Lebanese girls but also Syrian and Palestinian refugees in Lebanon. According to a report issued by the U.N. Children’s Fund (UNICEF) in 2016, six percent of Lebanese women aged 20 to 24 were married by the age of 18. A study conducted by the U.N. Population Fund (UNFPA) in 2016 and covering some 2,400 refugee women and girls living in Western Bekaa found that more than a third of those surveyed between the ages of 20 and 24 had been married before reaching age 18.
“Around 650 million girls and women around the world were married in childhood, and unless progress is accelerated by 2030, an additional 150 million girls could become brides during this time,” the statement said. “Child marriage prevents children and adolescents from accessing their rights to safety, health, decision making, education, and right to play. Child marriage compromises a girl’s development by resulting in early pregnancy and social isolation, interrupting her schooling, limiting her opportunities for career and vocational advancement and placing her at increased risk of domestic violence. Child marriage also affects boys, but to a lesser degree than girls,” the statement added. According to the statement, repealing child marriage is critical to achieving target 5.1 of the Sustainable Development Goal 5 (SDG5) on ending all forms of discrimination against all women and girls everywhere. The 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence is an international campaign originating from the first Women's Global Leadership Institute in 1991. It serves as a time to raise awareness and increase momentum toward ending violence against women and girls worldwide.The United Nations Secretary General, through the UNiTE to End Violence against Women Campaign, supports the 16 Days of Activism under the 2018 overarching theme “Orange the World: #HearMeToo”.

Abi Khalil Calls on Hariri to 'Acknowledge Others Existence'

Naharnet/November 25/18/Caretaker Energy Minister Cesar Abi Khalil has called on Prime Minister-designate Saad Hariri to “acknowledge the existence” of March 8’s Sunni MPs. In an interview with Radio Liban, Abi Khalil urged Hariri to “acknowledge the existence of others who reflect certain representation.”He however called on the pro-Hizbullah Sunni MPs to “address the problem of their political legitimacy after they failed to form a bloc or to attend the parliamentary consultations as a unified bloc.”And stressing that “the Free Patriotic Movement is not part of the current row in the cabinet formation process,” Abi Khalil emphasized that “the formation of the government achieves the interest of all Lebanese, not a certain group” and that “the FPM and President (Michel) Aoun’s camp have offered the necessary concessions for the formation of the government.”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 the 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. Hariri has rejected the demand, announcing that he’d rather step down than give the aforementioned lawmakers a seat from his own share in the government.

Jumblat: Settlement Necessary to Avoid Collapse

Naharnet/November 25/18/Progressive Socialist Party Leader Walid Jumblat on Saturday said a settlement is necessary in order to avoid collapse in light of frail efforts to form the government. Referring to the latest concerns raised by Vatican Foreign Minister about the situation in Lebanon, Jumblat said: “After the speech made by Vatican Foreign Minister Paul Richard Gallagher in the presence of the Supreme Pontiff, away from narrow local considerations, the settlement is necessary whatever its bitterness in order to avoid collapse.” 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.

Lebanon Urges World to Condemn Israel over 1982 Ship Sinking
Naharnet/November 25/18/The Lebanese Foreign Ministry on Sunday called on the international community to condemn Israel for its sinking of a refugee ship off Lebanon in 1982. “After the Israeli enemy acknowledged the crime that its forces committed off Lebanon’s northern coast in 1982, where a ship carrying refugees was sunk resulting in the death of 25 civilians, the Ministry marks this incident with a lot of grief and sadness,” the Ministry said in a statement. “The enemy’s history is known regarding the killing of civilians and the attacks on service facilities,” it added. Rejecting Israel’s evaluation that the incident resulted from a “judgment mistake,” the Ministry said it calls on “all nations, especially the U.N. Security Council member states, to condemn Israel and issue the appropriate resolutions against it so that its crimes do not continue to enjoy impunity.” “Lebanon, with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Expats as its diplomatic tool, will continue to be a fortified bulwark in the face of any Israeli attack on Lebanon and its people,” the Ministry emphasized. Israel has officially admitted that it had sunk the Lebanese refugee ship off the coast of Tripoli in northern Lebanon in the summer of 1982, killing 25 out of 56 people on board. The Israeli Channel 10 reported that an Israeli submarine fired missiles at the ship as part of a secret operation called by the Israeli army "Operation Dreyfus". The Israeli channel said that a commercial ship carrying 56 Lebanese refugees to Cyprus sailed from the shores of Tripoli during the cease-fire following the Israeli invasion of Beirut, and the exit of Palestinian fighters to Tunisia under international protection. An Israeli Navy Gal-type submarine followed the Lebanese ship about an hour after leaving Tripoli, and torpedoed the boat killing all 25 Lebanese on board.
The Israeli submarine captain claimed he thought the boat was carrying Palestine Liberation Organization fighters. The Israeli army claimed the aim of "Operation Dreyfus" was to patrol off the coast of Tripoli to prevent Syrian naval vessels from attacking Israeli navy. In an internal investigation that lasted about three years, the Israeli army refrained from criminalizing the operation which killed 25 civilians. It said the captain had been acting “within operational orders” describing the incident as a judgment “mistake."

Despite frailties, Lebanon has reason to celebrate
Samar Kadi/The Weekly News/November 25/18
Golden jubilee. Lebanese soldiers march during a military parade to mark the 75th anniversary of the Lebanese Independence Day in Beirut, on November 22.
Lebanon, a tiny nation squeezed between two powerful antagonists — Syria and Israel — that have caused it more harm than anything else in recent history, marked the golden jubilee of its independence on November 22.
Seventy-five years after France ended its mandate in Lebanon, the Lebanese are still sceptical about their independence. It has been dimmed by an ongoing political crisis that left the country without a functional government for five months, economic slowdown, acute unemployment, staggering public debt and dwindling public services.For many, there is no reason to celebrate Independence Day. Young Lebanese seek employment or higher education abroad with the hope of eventually settling in a new country where they can advance professionally and have the minimum conditions for a decent living: housing, uninterrupted electricity supply, clean water, social security, free education, health care, proper transportation and communication. In short, good governance by politicians free of corruption.
In more than seven decades of its so-called independence, Lebanon’s internal affairs, as well as external policies, have been largely influenced, if not dictated, by Arab and foreign powers through local proxies. Egypt under Gamal Abdel Nasser, Syria, Saudi Arabia, the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO), Iran, the United States and France all had their say in how Lebanon should run itself. Independent Lebanon has also survived calamities that few nations of its size and limited resources could sustain. A mini civil war in 1958; Israeli incursions and attacks on PLO guerrillas and the Lebanese army in south Lebanon from the late 1960s; a devastating 15-year-long civil war (1975-1990) punctuated by a destructive Israeli invasion in 1982 that left the country in ruins and claimed tens of thousands of victims; costly wars with Israel in 1996 and 2006; long years of Syrian military and political hegemony; and the assassination of top Lebanese politicians, writers and activists in 2005-06.
Independence Day should not be an occasion to air grievances and frustrations only. It is also important to remember that despite all the odds, Lebanon still has a relatively democratic system, a new president every six years and a national army. The little country, which for decades offered a platform for free expression in a region run by dictatorships, played vanguard of the Arabs’ central Palestinian cause and forced the mighty Israeli army to withdraw from its territory without signing peace, deserves its independence. Having withstood all this is an attestation of Lebanon’s resilience and a testament to the incredible endurance and strength of the Lebanese, who were able to deal with all possible challenges and still excel at home and abroad. Despite their differences, divisions and grievances, the people of Lebanon have stuck with their country in good and bad times with amazing resolve.
For all these reasons, this tiny country, my country, once dubbed the Switzerland of the Middle East, deserves its independence. And despite the many challenges it currently faces, it will once again prevail.

Latest LCCC Bulletin For Miscellaneous Reports And News published on November 25-26/18
Ex-Nissan Chief Ghosn Denies Allegations
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/November 25/18/Nissan's former chairman Carlos Ghosn has denied allegations of financial misconduct, claiming he had no intention of making false reports, Japanese media said Sunday. The Brazil-born tycoon, who has not spoken publicly since he was arrested last Monday, told prosecutors he did not intend to understate his income on financial reports, public broadcaster NHK said. Without exercising his right to remain silent, Ghosn advocated his view to prosecutors, NHK said, quoting unnamed sources. Ghosn was sacked as Nissan chairman Thursday, a spectacular fall from grace for the once-revered boss whose arrest and ouster have stunned the business world. Prosecutors accuse Ghosn and fellow executive Greg Kelly of under-reporting the former chairman's income by around five billion yen ($44 million). Kelly also denied the allegations, saying Ghosn's salaries were paid appropriately, news reports said. Local media reported Sunday that Nissan had formed a "secret" team earlier this year to probe the alleged financial misconduct. A small team involving Nissan's board members carried out its internal probe confidentially on concerns about possible destruction of evidence by Ghosn, Japan's Kyodo News reported, quoting unnamed sources. Ghosn is being held custody in a Tokyo detention centre. On Wednesday, prosecutors successfully applied to extend his custody for an additional 10 days as they stepped up their questioning.

Around 100 Syrians Struggle to Breathe after Aleppo 'Toxic' Attack
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/November 25/18/Around 100 Syrians have been hospitalized with breathing difficulties in Aleppo, state media and a monitor said Sunday, after allegations rebels fired "toxic gas" on the regime-held city the previous day. A rebel alliance in nearby Idlib denied any involvement in the alleged attack. State news agency SANA reported "107 cases of breathing difficulties" in an updated toll on Sunday. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a Britain-based monitor, said a total of 94 people were hospitalized, but most had been discharged and the 31 cases that remained were not critical. Late Saturday, state media accused rebels of launching an attack with "toxic gas" on the northern city in what health official Ziad Hajj Taha said was a "probable" chlorine attack. On Saturday, an AFP photographer saw men, women and children being treated at an Aleppo hospital for breathing difficulties. Some were sitting, while others lay down, breathing through with oxygen masks. The regime controls Aleppo city, but rebels and jihadists are present to the west of the city in the country's last major opposition bastion of Idlib. But a rebel coalition there on Sunday denied involvement. "We at the National Liberation Front deny the criminal, lying regime's allegations that revolutionaries targeted the city of Aleppo with any missiles and especially not any containing chlorine gas," it said. Other groups in the area include the jihadist-dominated Hayat Tahrir al-Sham alliance and the al-Qaida-linked Hurras al-Deen group, neither of whom have commented on the alleged attack. Over the course of Syria's seven-year war, international human rights groups have repeatedly accused belligerents -- especially the regime -- of carrying out chemical attacks. The conflict has killed more than 360,000 people and displaced millions, according to the Observatory.

Seats for sale in Iran's Faculty of Medicine as corruption reaches universities
Saleh Hameed, Al Arabiya/Sunday, 25 November 2018/MP Mahmoud Sadeghi, a member of the Iranian parliament’s educational committee, revealed that the state’s widespread corruption has reached universities, where money is exchanged for guaranteed acceptances to medical schools.
“There are reports that some of the positions are sold at a price of between 400 and 500 million Iranian riyals (approximately 32 -40 thousand dollars),” Sadeghi said in remarks to the site Tabnak, Saturday. “Those who pay these funds receive money with the help of some companies involved in corruption, and through a group of companies affiliated with the Ministry of Health,” the MP said. Corruption has reached unprecedented levels in Iran. Earlier in November, Amir Khukhoste, Iranian MP and head of the anti-corruption finance committee, warned that senior state officials are spreading corruption in the country.

Trump Says Mexico to Hold U.S.-Bound Refugees while Claims Processed

Agence France Presse/Naharnet/November 25/18/Asylum seekers hoping to enter the U.S. via its southern border will have to wait in Mexico while they are assessed, President Donald Trump announced Saturday, appearing to confirm a report about a bilateral deal published by The Washington Post. The move was cautiously welcomed by some refugees currently at the border, even as Mexico's incoming interior minister Olga Sanchez Cordero, who was quoted by the Post as confirming the agreement, later issued a denial. "Migrants at the Southern Border will not be allowed into the United States until their claims are individually approved in court," Trump wrote on Twitter. He added that the U.S. "will allow those who come into our Country legally" and emphasized: "All will stay in Mexico."The deal, which would overhaul U.S. border policy, comes with Trump outraged over the presence of thousands of Central American migrants who marched to Mexico's border city of Tijuana hoping to enter the U.S. for a better life free from the poverty and gang violence in their homelands. "For now, we have agreed to this policy of Remain in Mexico," the Post quoted Sanchez Cordero as saying. The government of new President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador will enter office on December 1. But her office later issued a statement saying: "There is no agreement of any type between the future federal government of Mexico and that of the United States of America."
Trump has sent almost 6,000 soldiers to the Mexican border in support of Customs and Border Protection agents and National Guard troops already there, to forestall what Trump has called an "invasion" by "very bad people."After a trek of more than a month from Honduras, nearly 5,000 migrants -- including women and children -- are now in Tijuana living in a makeshift shelter.
A potential breakthrough -
Trump "is within his right. He is in his government," but he is not like other presidents in his views of migrants, said a resident of the shelter, Carolina Flores, 38, of Honduras. "He sees us as a bug that is going to eat there," she added. "We come for an opportunity!" Another Honduran in the shelter, Orlinda Morales, 31, a housewife, said the reported new asylum rules seem "very good" because migrants will not be in limbo. "We will get work here," she said. Hundreds of the migrants lined up this week at a special jobs fair set up for them in the manufacturing city, but others remain determined to reach the US. No formal agreement has been signed, the Post said, but U.S. officials view the deal, which would see would-be refugees' cases heard by U.S. courts in Mexico, as a potential breakthrough in deterring migration. U.S. asylum officers will begin implementing the new procedures in coming days or weeks, Homeland Security officials cited by the Post said. Asylum seekers will be given an initial screening to determine whether they face imminent danger by staying in Mexico, where violence is widespread.
Deportation to the homeland
American officials will be able to process at least twice as many asylum claims under the new system because they would not be limited by detention space at U.S. ports of entry, the Post report said. It added that under the new rules, an applicant whose asylum claim is denied would not be allowed to return to Mexico but would remain in US custody pending immediate deportation to his or her home country. In a statement issued on Thursday, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo made no mention of a deal but said that he and Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen had "a constructive meeting" with Mexico's future foreign minister Marcelo Ebrard over the caravans. "We have affirmed our shared commitment to addressing the current challenge. The caravans will not be permitted to enter the United States. There are real dangers to the safety and human rights of migrants from those who would prey on them," Pompeo said. He added that he was looking forward to working with Mexico's new government, including on ways to spur job creation "to benefit the government and people of Mexico."In 2018, border patrols registered more than 400,000 illegal crossers, according to Homeland Security, and in the last five years, the number of those requesting asylum has increased by 2,000 percent. Less than 10 percent of cases result in asylum being granted, the government says. Last week, a U.S. federal judge temporarily blocked the Trump administration from denying asylum to people who enter the country illegally. The president issued a proclamation earlier this month saying that only people who enter the U.S. at official checkpoints -- as opposed to sneaking across the border -- can apply for asylum.

Turki Al-Faisal: Saudi Arabia Maintains Role on World Stage
Abu Dhabi- Asharq Al-Awsat/Sunday, 25 November, 2018/Prince Turki Al-Faisal, chairman of the King Faisal Center for Research and Islamic Studies, has emphasized that Saudi Arabia will continue to play a role on the world stage. This conclusion can be drawn from the latest stances adopted by international parties and recent statements by US President Donald Trump recognizing the importance of the kingdom. Speaking on the sidelines of a dialogue session in Abu Dhabi on Saturday, Turki said that the royal family in the kingdom supports and trusts Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman bin Abdulaziz and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. He added that the crown prince will attend the G20 summit in Argentina. The prince also firmly dismissed the US intelligence assessments that held Saudi Crown Prince responsible in the case of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, saying these same intelligence bodies had a "remarkably flawed assessment" in 2003 in the lead up to the US invasion of Iraq. “The CIA is not necessarily the highest standard of veracity or accuracy in assessing situations. The examples of that are a multitude,” Prince Turki said. He added that the agency’s conclusion that Iraq possessed chemical weapons before the US invasion in 2003 showed it could be unreliable. “That was the most glaring of inaccurate and wrong assessments, which led to a full-scale war with thousands being killed,” he said, adding that “I don’t see why the CIA is not on trial in the United States. This is my answer to their assessment of who is guilty and who is not and who did what in the consulate in Istanbul.”Trump has disputed that the agency reached a conclusion, saying instead “they have feelings certain ways.” Trump told reporters in Florida “No no, they didn’t conclude. I’m sorry. No, they didn’t conclude. They did not come to a conclusion. They have feelings in certain ways. I have the report … they have not concluded, I don’t know if anyone’s going to be able to conclude the crown prince did it.”He added: “I hate the crime, I hate what’s done, I hate the cover-up. I will tell you this: the crown prince hates it more than I do.”

US Trains 30,000 SDF Members East Syria to 'Contain' Iran

London- Ibrahim Hamidi/Asharq al-Awsat/November 25/18/The US Army started on Saturday to build five observation posts at the border with Turkey, as part of Washington’s procedures to enhance its military and diplomatic presence northeast Syria. The posts came as part of a one-year memorandum signed to train 30,000 members of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) to combat “ISIS cells” and to contain Iran. “The US Army started yesterday establishing three posts in Tal Abyad and two others in Ain al-Arab (Kobani) at the border with Turkey to protect the back of its Syrian ally forces against ISIS,” a leader from the Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG) told Asharq Al-Awsat on Saturday. The five observation posts, which would be followed by others in Ras al-Ain, Amouda and Derbassiyah at the Turkish borders, come as part of military and diplomatic steps to implement a US strategy in Syria set to achieve three objectives: Fight ISIS and prevent it from reemerging, remove Iran from Syria, and push forward towards a Syrian political solution. The YPG official uncovered the presence of a memorandum of understanding signed between the SDF and the US-led Coalition including a one-year plan to combat ISIS and its dormant cells and to train 30,000 fighters, in addition to the existing 60,000 combatants, already fighting the terrorist group. The official added that the memorandum could be extended at the end of 2019. For his part, Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar said on Saturday that his country was uneasy about US plans to set up “observation posts” in Syria along parts of its border with Turkey. Akar said he told US Chief of Staff Joseph Dunford and other US officials during a recent visit to Canada that setting up the posts would have a very negative impact on perceptions of the United States in Turkey.

PLO Commander: We Support Russia’s Move to Revive Political Process
Ramallah- Kifah Zboun/Asharq al-Awsat/November 25/18/The Palestinian leadership supports any Russian move to revive the political process in order to bring an end to the Israeli occupation, said Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) Executive Committee member Wasel Abu Youssef. Speaking to Asharq al-Awsat, Abu Youssef stated that the PLO is confident of any role played by Russia and hopes that there will be a serious approach to starting a path leading to ending the occupation. "We asked its (Russian) officials to join forces with most of the world's countries in order to block US decisions against the Palestinian people and their rights,” asserted Abu Yusuf. He described Russia as a “friendly country” of the Palestinians that has always supported the rights of the Palestinian people. He explained that “basically we were looking forward to an effective Russian role within the mechanism of an international alternative to the path of the previous settlement, which was exclusively sponsored by the United States.” "We expect Russia, China, the EU to be a major part of the international mechanism. We want an international role in the face of the deal of the century.” Earlier, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said that Russia would be ready to host a meeting between Palestinians and Israel and to act as a mediator. “It is impossible to create stability in the Middle East, including in Libya and Iraq, without a solution to the oldest regional problem, the Palestinian problem,” Lavrov said on his trip to Rome.
“We support the need for a resumption of direct talks between the Israelis and the Palestinians. We confirm again our offer from several years ago to host a meeting between the Israeli and Palestinian leaders in Russia without any preconditions,” asserted the Russian Minister.
It is not clear if Lavrov’s statement meant that Russia would play a role in the political process or merely an attempt to bring the views closer and break the deadlock. A few weeks ago, Russia's special envoy to the Middle East and Africa, Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov, confirmed his country's support for the initiative proposed by the Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to hold an “international peace conference.” Bogdanov praised “Abbas’ wise stances that support stability in the region on the basis of the international legitimacy resolutions.” The Russian official reiterated his country’s support for the Palestinian people and their right to determine their fate and to establish an independent state on the 1967 border, with Eastern Jerusalem as its capital. Abbas is seeking to launch an international peace conference, which will result in an international mechanism involving the quartet committee, including the United States, and European and Arab states, consisting of five or seven states under the umbrella of the United Nations, which is at the heart of a political process with the Palestinians and Israelis. Abbas tried to convince France of his initiative, but French President Emmanuel Macron was not convinced, unlike his predecessor, Francois Hollande, who launched a two-phase conference in 2016 and 2017. The Palestinian President personally worked to persuade Russian President Vladimir Putin to launch an international peace conference using his influence in the region. The Palestinian ambassador to Moscow Abed al-Hafeez Nofal said that Russia, and not just the US, now has an effective role in the region due to the great changes that have taken place in the Middle East. US officials said President Donald Trump wanted to see the plan executed in February, but his advisers would prefer a more cautious approach, given the political crisis that swept through Israel over the past week. Israeli Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked said that reaching peace is currently impossible and that Trump should focus his energy elsewhere until the Palestinians are ready to compromise. “I think, personally, it is a waste of time,” Shaked said. Abbas has repeatedly declared that he would not even listen to the plan after the US declaration of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and the transfer of the US embassy to the city, and other decisions taken by the US administration against the Palestinian Authority. Israel says Washington is the only country capable of overseeing negotiations.

Clashes on Champs-Elysees as French Protesters Rage against Taxes
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/November 25/18/Anti-government protesters clashed with French police on the Champs-Elysees in Paris on Saturday, leaving the area cloaked in tear gas and smoke from fires on a fresh day of demonstrations against President Emmanuel Macron. Demonstrators wearing the yellow, high-visibility vests that symbolise their movement threw projectiles at police preventing them from moving along the famed shopping avenue, which was decked out in twinkling Christmas lights. They also built barricades in some spots, and tore down traffic lights and street signs, creating riotous scenes reminiscent of France's 1968 civil unrest, or street insurrections in the mid-19th century immortalised in paintings and movies. Police arrested 130 people, 69 of those in Paris, and 24 people were injured, five of them police officers including one who suffered burns to his groin, the city police department and Interior Minister Christophe Castaner said. Elsewhere, protesters took over highway toll booths to let traffic pass for free, or held go-slow vehicle processions, underlining one of their core complaints of escalating taxes on car fuel, especially diesel. Macron, targeted by protesters' calls that he resign, took to Twitter to thank police. "Shame" on those who assaulted or intimidated citizens, journalists and politicians, Macron said. "There is no place for violence in the (French) Republic." Calm returned to the streets of the capital after midnight on Saturday, with the Champs-Elysees reopening to traffic. The clean-up operation also got under way as garbage trucks were deployed and workers removed barricades along the famous avenue.
Smaller than a week ago
The violence was on a smaller scale than a week ago when the "yellow vest" movement staged its first nationwide protest. "We're not here to beat up cops. We came because we want the government to hear us," said one protest spokeswoman, Laetitia Dewalle, 37, adding that the largely spontaneous movement denounced "violence by pseudo-protesters" on the fringes. "We have just demonstrated peacefully, and we were teargassed," said Christophe, 49, who travelled from the Isere region in eastern France with his wife to protest in the capital. The interior ministry counted 106,000 protesters across France on Saturday, with 8,000 in Paris, of whom around 5,000 were on the Champs-Elysees. That was far less than the national tally of 282,000 in the November 17 protests. Castaner said after the tumult died down that damage on the Champs-Elysees was "small". The French government cast blame for the unruly protests on far-right politician Marine Le Pen, claiming she egged them on. But Le Pen rejected that accusation saying she had "never called for any violence whatsoever" and in turn accused the government of "organizing the tension" and seeking to make her a scapegoat. Meanwhile, opposition parties on both the right and left accused the government of trying to reduce the protests to just the sporadic scenes of violence, and turning a deaf ear to the demonstrators' grievances. Jean-Luc Melenchon, leader of the radical left France Unbowed party who attended a separate march Saturday protesting violence against women, tweeted that the action on the streets was "a mass protest of the people" which signalled "the end for Castaner".
Rural frustrations
A week ago, two people died and over 750 people, including 136 police officers, were injured in sometimes violent demonstrations that have shone a light on frustrations in many rural areas and small towns of France. The "yellow vests" hail overwhelmingly from non-urban areas of France. They feel overlooked and penalised by policies they see as being pushed through by elitist politicians in Paris. Former investment banker Macron was elected on a pledge to put more money in workers' pockets. But the effects of his pro-business reforms on unemployment and purchasing power have been limited so far. Many of the often low-income "yellow vest" protesters are particularly incensed at his decision to hike anti-pollution taxes on diesel, while scrapping a wealth tax on the rich. "I'm not just fighting against the price of fuel. It's about tax, what we pay," protester Catherine Marguier told AFP near the village of La Gravelle in northwest France. Meanwhile, in a separate protest in the southern city of Marseille, police fired teargas at bottle-throwing demonstrators upset by the "gentrification" renovation work on the town's biggest square. Around 1,200 demonstrators took part and two were arrested.
'Gap between rich and poor' Revolts against taxes have been a feature of French public life for centuries. Citizens still pay some of the highest in Europe as a percentage of GDP, and fuel-price protests are a common modern occurrence. Previous rounds pitting the government against drivers took place in 1995, 2000, 2004, and 2008, often when tax increases coincided with high oil prices -- as they have this year.
A poll by the Odoxa research group for Le Figaro newspaper this week found that 77 percent of respondents described it as "justified."

In Sadness, EU Leaders Approve Brexit Deal
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/November 25/18/European Union leaders on Sunday approved a historic Brexit deal, handing the baton to British Prime Minister Theresa May who must now convince her sceptical party and country to support it. European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said Brexit was a "tragedy", but he and other leaders meeting in Brussels warned the withdrawal terms were now set. "This is the best deal possible for Britain, this is the best deal possible for Europe," Juncker said, after a special summit meeting to sign off on the agreement. "This is the only deal possible," he said, adding a warning: "Those who think by rejecting the deal, will have a better deal, will be disappointed in the few seconds after rejecting the deal." May faces a major battle to get the agreement through the House of Commons before Brexit day on March 29, with MPs of all parties -- including her own -- saying they will oppose it and try to negotiate a better deal. "It is important that everyone in the UK is aware that the result that is now available is the result," said Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz, whose country holds the rotating EU presidency. "It will certainly not be renegotiated and there will be no further room for manoeuvre."
'Sad day'
Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte added: "Overall, I think this is the max that we can all do, both Theresa May and her government as well as the European Union. "No victors here today, nobody winning, we're all losing -- but given that context, this is acceptable." Juncker, head of the bloc's executive arm, earlier said it was a "sad day." "To see a country like Great Britain... leave the EU is not a moment of joy nor of celebration, it's a sad moment and it's a tragedy," he said. Germany's Chancellor Angela Merkel hailed the deal as a "piece of diplomatic art" but admitted that it left her with sadness. "This is a historic summit and also historic day that evokes ambivalent feelings," she said. "It is tragic that Great Britain leaves the EU after 45 years." The leaders gathered in Brussels on Sunday morning to sign off the terms of Britain's withdrawal and an outline political declaration on the future relationship. May, who arrived in Brussels on Saturday evening for final talks with Tusk and Juncker, later joined her EU colleagues for the highly symbolic moment. Forged during 17 months of tough negotiations, the withdrawal agreement covers financial matters, citizens' rights, Northern Ireland and arrangements for a 21-month post-Brexit transition phase. A short political declaration that accompanies the text sets out hopes for future security and trade ties. But until the agreement is approved by the British and the European parliaments, all sides are still planning for the potentially disastrous possibility that Britain leaves the EU with no new arrangements in place. Tusk said on the eve of the summit that "no-one will have reasons to be happy" when Brexit happens, but he said the terms agreed would "reduce the risks and losses". European Parliament president Antonio Tajani said a "large majority" of MEPs were in favour of the deal. But in London, euroskeptics in May's Conservative party and their Northern Irish allies argue the agreement keeps Britain too close to the EU and have vowed to oppose it. Media reports on Sunday suggested some of May's own ministers were secretly working with EU diplomats on a "Plan B" in case parliament rejected it. In an open "letter to the nation" on Sunday, May said the accord delivered on the 2016 referendum vote to leave, and was a "deal for a brighter future". Britain remains deeply divided over the decision, but the prime minister said that finally leaving could be "a moment of renewal and reconciliation".
"To do that we need to get on with Brexit now by getting behind this deal," she said.
Tensions on fishing
The summit risked being derailed by a late objection to the deal by Spain over the British territory of Gibraltar. The impasse was resolved when Britain promised to continue bilateral talks with Madrid after Brexit .There are concerns in EU capitals about fishing rights and commercial rules Britain must follow to maintain access to the bloc's markets. A diplomatic source said the minutes of Sunday's summit meeting of the 27 leaders would record those concerns.

Latest LCCC Bulletin analysis & editorials from miscellaneous sources published on November 25-26/18
The Arab world has a pivotal role to play in an emerging global future

Raghida Dergham/The National/November 25, 2018
The preoccupation of citizens of the Arab region with political news does not mean they are not concerned about other fateful issues, beginning with the challenges of their daily lives and not ending with the alignment of their nations in the international sphere. The things that President Donald Trump and President Vladimir Putin say and do also concern Arab citizens, not for the sake of entertainment, but because they radically impact their collective future.
The US relationship with Arab Gulf countries is also the focus of existential concern among Arab citizens, in a way that is profoundly different from the US interest in this relationship, in government, media, and public opinion. The same applies to Russian policies in the Middle East, especially in relation to addressing Moscow’s bias towards Iran in the wake of the alliance on the ground in Syria, or Russian-Israeli relations. On the surface, US and Russian priorities focus on regional conflicts and geopolitical competition, but they are also fundamentally about economics. The question that repeatedly imposes itself here is whether the role of Arab leaders is confined to passive reception, and if so, what needs to be done to render this role proactive.
In this context, the recommendations issued this week by the Beirut Institute, as the outcome of its second-edition summit in Abu Dhabi, titled Constructing the Arab Region’s Engagement in the Emerging Global Future, did not stop at highlighting the requirements for strengthening the forces of order, but tackled other fundamental strategic imperatives including accelerating connected regional economic development, promoting good governance for better integration of Arab citizens and communities, empowering the diverse people of the Arab region through an inclusive forward-looking vision, and embracing technology by strengthening Arab integration with global innovation networks with focus on leadership and entrepreneurship.
These are not fancy buzzwords but the summary of a rich interactive dialogue that brought together around 150 global figures with invaluable experience and expertise on a broad range of fields, who met for two days in May to come up with a roadmap for policymakers and the public opinion, producing these important recommendations.
Before I expand on the content of the recommendations, I am the founder and executive chairman of the Beirut Institute, a think-tank for the Arab region with a global reach. The second edition of the Beirut Institute Summit held in Abu Dhabi was co-chaired by Prince Turki Al Faisal of Saudi Arabia, in addition to myself. His royal highness is the backbone of the institute. The recommendations were drafted by the strategic knowledge partner AT Kearney, led by Rudolph Lohmeyer. Mr Lohmeyer achieved an incredibly difficult task by summarising the outcomes of the incredible brainstorming of the remarkable minds that took place at the summit during closed policy-drafting sessions and discussions between global leaders (see for further details, as well as the full text of the recommendations). Credit must be given to all those who contributed to these recommendations and made them possible, particularly the UAE capital for hosting the summit.
The first theme of the recommendations was strengthening the forces of order, and tackled candidly the lack of strategic alignment and institutional integration between the key Arab countries, while noting the “important exception” of the deepening ties between Saudi Arabia and the UAE, which represents a powerful source of momentum that can now be extended to inspire and align the rest of the region. It noted that great power rivalry has returned globally and is being played out in the Middle East in ways that not only are contributing directly to regional instability and vast human suffering, but that also in many ways do not serve the long-term strategic interests of the external powers themselves.
Nevertheless, the recommendations noted that the very complexity and uncertainty of this context creates significant opportunities for regional leaders to break the momentum of the forces of disorder and strengthen the forces of order. One way to do this, according to the recommendations, is to build a new and sustainable regional structure and for Arab leaders to drive a diplomatic effort to identify a framework of shared strategic interests among the great powers, the United States, Russia and China centred on stabilising the Middle East.
The second strategic imperative is deepening Arab strategic integration, driving meaningful economic integration as well as security co-operation, including in integrated missile defines to counter the growing ballistic missile threat, maritime navigation, military training, counter terrorism and longer-term efforts to counter extremism. In addition, Arab leaders must push for proactively delivering services and support to those most in need and thereby preventing the emergence of strategic vacuums that others in the region have so skilfully exploited.
Next, the recommendations call for revitalising sustainable coalition capabilities, as part of any new regional co-ordination structure that would consist of integrated networks “that fuse local personnel and capabilities with the unique technology platforms of external allies to deliver potent influence where it is most needed in pre-conflict, conflict and post-conflict settings”.
Then under the title of neutralising active conflicts through comprehensive, coalition-based action, the Beirut Institute summit recommendations appealed to the region’s leaders to accelerate action to neutralise active conflicts with all possible urgency, by applying the revitalised coalition capabilities. In Syria, while continued military engagement is necessary, it is insufficient, and the effort must leverage coalition capabilities “to deliver comprehensive support to local communities” for example in the south-eastern Euphrates Valley. Urgent and large investments must be committed to reconstruction, but in the vast majority of Syria where the regime will retain control, “all reconstruction support should be tied to progress toward a viable, transparent political solution to the crisis.”
In Yemen, the recommendations stated that the conflict “serves the strategic purposes of the Houthi rebels and their supporters.” Therefore, “significant international efforts must be made to intensify the strategic costs to Iran of its destabilising support of the rebels”. The recommendations emphasised the need to identify the parameters of the lasting solution to the crisis in Yemen, in addition to establishing “a tangible body to drive a major reconstruction of the country and its human infrastructure”.
In Libya, the recommendations called for addressing excessive internationalisation of Libya’s internal political process, in which many diverse, often competing external entities have worked at various levels and with a varied set of Libyan actors without an integrated, co-ordinated strategic vision. The document called for the international community to align itself “around a single, coherent process of political dialogue in which Libyan players have decisive weight”.
On the Palestinian issue, the recommendations called on regional leaders to focus on Palestinian reconciliation and strategic unity among Palestinians, and to launch a comprehensive regional effort to revive the Arab peace initiative and the two-state solution.
Most recommendations contained necessary ideas for Arab leaders to adopt, including the institutionalisation of an Arab-led mediation such as by creating a dispute-resolution entity (an Arabian Mediation Support Unit) with the professional integration of mediation processes and skilled and trained mediators.
Economically, the recommendations detailed a roadmap for accelerating connected economic development in the region, including by creating favourable legal conditions for entrepreneurship and establishing effective frameworks for facilitating the creation of public-private partnerships aimed at development of public goods. The recommendations overviewed pathways of good governance and how to expand its models to improve the integration of individuals and local communities, calling for the support of progress toward the emergence of a new citizen-led social contract. Part of this would be achieved by introducing a coherent taxation system as a sustainable source of income and partnership with citizens, and through a commitment to consistent, transparent application of the rule of law.
The decision-makers, who for two days pored over the issue of how to construct the Arab region’s engagement in the global future, did not ignore the human and social elements. Indeed, one of the issues they focused on was the “vital importance of advancing more inclusive political processes across the region as means of deconstructing counterproductive sectarian divisions and realising the value of the region’s remarkable diversity”.
They overviewed what is needed to empower moderate future leaders for the region and systematically empower women, in tandem with expanding bold and visionary leadership across and embracing a technology-driven vision that the recommendations tackled in detail.
Bringing together strategic minds from across the world to think about the Arab region’s integration in the global future is an important mission, especially when the meeting concludes with recommendations that pave the way for further convergence. It is necessary for the Arab region that this conversation continues across the world. Here, during the Beirut Institute summit in the spring, one of the key strategic dialogues took place between Russian and American figures, opening a new door for the role of think tanks in the Arab region to host sessions for US-Russian dialogue. This marks a stark departure from the usual exclusion of Arabs in strategic and fateful dialogues around the world.

Why does Netanyahu want a war?
Mohamed Kawas/The Weekly News/November 25/18
When Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu felt the first lashes of a storm looming over his government, he chose the path of war. Israel’s strong man took a card out of his sleeve that had never been seen before in Israel. In a speech that many commentators compared to Churchill’s speech after he became Britain’s prime minister during the second world war, Netanyahu announced that Israel was going to war and a great one, too, so great in fact that Israel cannot afford to dissolve the present government and prepare for early legislative elections.
Netanyahu is the only one holding the helm in the country and the only one who seems to hold the decision between peace and war. After appointing himself minister of defence following Avigdor Lieberman’s resignation, Netanyahu visited the ministry and informed the military establishment about a major war coming its way.
Lieberman had left the Netanyahu cabinet in protest against the latter’s decision to agree to ceasefire in the Gaza Strip. Now, Netanyahu is peeking through the window to talk about a war beyond the concerns of Gaza.
Netanyahu’s political rivals in Israel testify to the man’s skill in playing with all the political currents in the country in order to maintain his supremacy at the head of the government. He has not been defeated since 2009 in normal or early elections. He has also been good at dealing with the challenges coming from outside Israel. Netanyahu had remained standing in the ring during former US President Barack Obama’s terms and we know that the latter didn’t particularly like him. Obama ignored Netanyahu and even incited the US Congress in Washington against him. Netanyahu has also survived the threats of Tehran’s nuclear capabilities and the fire of Tehran’s allies in southern Lebanon, Gaza and Syria.
Netanyahu seemed to be cooking up with Cairo a long-term truce with Gaza, so that he can reshuffle his cards when it comes to dealing with the whole Palestinian situation. His plan is really worrying the Palestinian Authority in Ramallah. The unprecedented campaign mounted by the Trump administration against Iran provides Netanyahu with a historic opportunity to paralyse Tehran’s ambitions to become a real existential threat for the “eternal Jewish state.”Analysts in Israel place Netanyahu’s war speech in a tactical context aimed at saving his government and avoiding the risk of going to early elections. The tactic worked. Education Minister Naftali Bennett, who is also head of the Jewish Home party, tried to blackmail Netanyahu by waving his resignation too if he doesn’t get appointed defence minister to replace Lieberman. Of course, Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked, also from Jewish Home, joined Bennett and threatened to resign as well. But Netanyahu knew how to cut the grass from under their feet and offered them the best card to withdraw their resignation ultimatums.  The mainstay of survival for Netanyahu and his right-wing allies is fear of having to let go of power. Many previous political currents that could be described as pro-peace did not survive in Israel. The peace movement, for example, was left wing and had considered withdrawing from southern Lebanon many years before it happened in 2000. It had also pushed for secret negotiations with alleged terrorists before it became publicly known as the Oslo Accords in 1993.
Netanyahu has not stopped using the “sin” committed by the Rabin-Peres pair to fuel his own power with fear and intimidation, the only spiel he knows for holding on to power in Israel. Wise Guru Netanyahu solemnly declared that he was against an early election that could let the left seep through and cause another Oslo as happened in 1992. During the Netanyahu era, Israel did not wage a major war that would have involved worried capitals, kept TV stations busy and forced the UN to issue resolutions, a war like the one waged against Lebanon in 2006. Netanyahu did, however, fight some bloody wars against Gaza, which were understood by the world as necessary for Israel’s security. Even the UN investigations, although daring, remained a dead letter, showing the obvious bias of the United Nations in favour of Netanyahu’s arguments. US President Donald Trump and his UN ambassador, Nikki Haley, were all ears.
But Netanyahu needs a war these days. He has removed the Gazan rioters from his path but the corruption charges hanging over him are threatening his survival. In his war speech, he made sure to mention his military past so that he can join the ranks of the likes of David Ben-Gurion, Ehud Barak, Levi Eshkol, Menachem Begin and Yitzhak Rabin, who all had at some point managed the destiny of the Ministry of Defence. A stench of Machiavellian political manoeuvring is rising from Netanyahu’s words at the Ministry of Defence. But then again, he may be expressing a pressing tendency among Israel’s ruling elite in favour of a calculated war that would bring order to a lot of the chaos inside Israel’s strategic security maps.
Netanyahu realises that the ruler in Iran is pragmatic enough to reverse its drive to reach the edges of what is possible and what is impossible. That’s why Netanyahu is worried that Washington and the world might reach a new deal with Tehran against the wishes of Trump, Mike Pompeo and John Bolton. Even if the world were to negotiate and reach an agreement with the Tehran regime, which no one really wants to topple, Netanyahu, who was happy with his visit to Muscat, has realised that he still might have to deal with some exceptional aspects that will not be covered by any agreements.
Backstage behind Netanyahu, someone must be whispering, and perhaps even leaking and misleading, that his “tenderness” in neutralising the Gaza front through a surreal agreement with Hamas is justified by the fact that Israel now regards the Gaza threat as marginal compared to other looming existential dangers.
Netanyahu is anxiously watching the rebuke of Russian President Vladimir Putin, who barely met him for a few minutes in Paris, while Israel’s eyes and spy planes are monitoring Hezbollah’s rockets in Lebanon around the clock. The matter might be grave but Netanyahu would rather keep the status quo another year at least until the next elections in November of 2019. In the end, the decision to have war or to have peace is determined by Netanyahu’s mood, his electoral calculations and his ambitions for power. That’s where we should look for the secret of peace in Gaza and of war coming in other places.

US losing control in Syria as Russia-Iran axis gains ground
Kyle Orton/The Weekly News/November 25/18
Despite the change of rhetoric between US Presidents Barack Obama and Donald Trump, the United States has continued to lose influence, political and military, in the Middle East to the Iran-Russia axis.
Since January 2017, the Russia-led Astana political process, including Iran and Turkey, has run parallel to the internationally recognised Geneva process. Moscow drew in Ankara after the Turks changed their priorities from overthrowing Iran’s and Russia’s client, Syrian President Bashar Assad, to containing the Syrian Democratic Forces. The United States has empowered the group, which is an arm of the separatist Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), as a partner against the Islamic State. “De-escalation zones” created by Astana allowed Assad’s battered regime to eliminate pockets of resistance one at a time, until only Idlib was left.
This reshaping of the military picture in Syria was leveraged into political currency, positing Assad as a counterterrorism partner and intended to redraw the Geneva terms so it was no longer about transitioning Assad out but negotiating the terms under which he would stay.
The Istanbul summit at the end of October, during which Germany and France broke away from the Geneva set and treated with Turkey and Russia, is a signal that what George Washington University’s Hassan Hassan called “the Astana-isation of Geneva” is nearly complete.
The Istanbul communique was written, whether on “reconstruction” or elections, in terms the Kremlin devised long ago to legitimise Assad’s power. While European diplomats privately voiced displeasure about Berlin and Paris signing on to this, the United States publicly endorsed it.
Inside Syria, the situation is worse. Trump has, rhetorically, placed countering Iran at the centre of his Middle East policy. The United States pulled out of the nuclear deal and reimposed sanctions against Tehran. Where it really matters, however, Iranian influence has been allowed to expand — in coordination with Russia.The clearest indication of Trump’s lack of seriousness about Iran was allowing the collapse of Daraa, the Syrian enclave on Israel’s border held by Southern Front (SF) rebels.
The SF’s moderation was not in doubt — extensively vetted by the United States, elements had crossed that most sensitive of lines by establishing relations with Israel — and its utility, in the coldest terms, was clear, providing a buffer against Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) for both the Jewish state and fragile Jordan.
Yet, the United States first cut off the SF’s support by ending the CIA’s Timber Sycamore programme and then stood aside as Russian airpower enabled IRGC-led troops to capture the area in July. That Moscow convinced Israel to hold fire, despite Russia’s hollow position in Syria, underlined how far astray Western policy has gone. Worse, the Wall Street Journal reported that, since the pro-Assad coalition took Daraa, approximately 2,000 rebels abandoned by the United States have been recruited by the IRGC, working through its Lebanese branch, Hezbollah. These rebels-turned-Hezbollah fighters are paid $250 per month, more than Assad’s regular army.
At the other end of Syria, Turkey mobilised its rebel proxies for a possible offensive against the PKK east of the Euphrates, one of the groups involved was Firqat al-Hamza, which was part of both the CIA’s anti-Assad programme and the Pentagon’s disastrous train-and-equip programme. The United States can hardly be surprised her discarded assets have sought alternate patronage. The Trump team’s bet on Saudi Arabia as an anti-Iran pillar makes strategic sense, in view of the Saudis’ commitment to contain the Iranian threat but it cannot bear alone the weight Trump has placed on it. The Saudis are a necessary component of the anti-Iran coalition but any effort to confront Tehran’s designs in the Levant also needs to engage Turkey. The front line against Iran is in Syria and the Gulf states do not have the tools for a significant “pushback” in that theatre. Of the other options, the PKK is not politically reliable and Israel, which can do some of the heavy lifting, has political limitations. There are signs the United States realised it needs Turkey to achieve its stated goals in the northern Middle East and the US rhetoric saying Assad must go, the sine qua non of a serious anti Iran policy, has reappeared. Yet it is all so very late, slow-moving and unspecific that it lacks credibility, even if there is intent.
Beyond Syria, the indicators are just as discouraging. In Yemen, the Trump administration is signalling its unwillingness to see the Saudi-led coalition’s mission through against Iran’s allies and in Lebanon the cash continues to flow to a state security apparatus under IRGC dominance.
After Daraa, it is both much more difficult to enact a serious anti-Iran policy and more difficult to imagine that the Trump administration actually desires to, at least if it involves risk and cost at any detectable level.

Yemen’s vicious circle must be broken
Khairallah Khairallah/The Weekly News/November 25/18
Above all else, we must welcome any positive news coming from Yemen. A potential humanitarian tragedy, greater than the one that the Yemenis have been experiencing for many years, must be avoided. The Yemenis have suffered enough since 2011, when the Muslim Brotherhood thought that it could highjack the popular uprising against the existing regime and use it to seize power.
The Brotherhood failed to take two things into consideration. The first was the fact that the regime of former Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh, who was assassinated by the Houthis about a year ago, was not an easy morsel to swallow, and the second was that the Houthis and behind them Iran were waiting in the wings for the right opportunity to lay their claws on Sana’a. And that’s exactly what happened on September 21, 2014.
Today, the international community, led by the United States and Britain, is pressing for a near truce in Hodeidah. Then, we have the Houthis announcing that they will stop firing rockets and sending drones “towards Saudi Arabia and the UAE.”
Can we therefore say we have the right conditions for a political solution in Yemen?
Logic and recent experience say that halting the attack on the strategic port of Hodeidah cannot be compared to halting the missile attacks on Saudi Arabia. Let’s not even talk about comparing it to halting missile attacks on the UAE because it is doubtful that these missiles can reach that far in the first place.
What is certain is that there is a need for the Houthis to come to their senses. There is also a need to restructure the camp of the legitimate government so that it can be up to the importance of the event and able to deal with any political solution that may be submitted by the UN Secretary-General’s envoy for Yemen, Martin Griffiths, who unfortunately does not seem to know much about Yemen or about the ambitions of the Houthis and of those who hide behind them.
Experience has shown that it is hopeless to bet on the Houthis coming to their senses. All one has to do to come to that conclusion is examine the speeches given by their leader, Abdelmalik al-Houthi, since the takeover of Sana’a. They contain nothing substantial and are just manoeuvres to buy time. The Houthis have nothing to offer Yemenis besides illusions, empty slogans and pompous rhetoric that cannot buy medicine, feed the hungry or build a school or a hospital. The frightening thing is that the Houthis are completely unconcerned with the precarious situation of the average Yemeni citizen.
For all practical purposes, however, there is no escaping from including the Houthis in any political process aimed at reaching some sort of solution at some stage. But the Houthis’ actions suggest they want to impose a formula that will eventually lead to the establishment of a state of their own with Sana’a as its capital. How can we possibly allow the people of Sana’a and their centuries-old cultural heritage to fall to the mercy of marauding cave dwellers that know only how to chant “Death to America, Death to Israel, Damn the Jews, Victory for Islam”?
The UN envoy for Yemen will be making a major mistake if he continues to believe that a political solution can be found with the existing balance of power. By saying this, we’re not suggesting resuming fighting in Hodeidah; on the contrary, it is an attempt to avoid further fighting. At the end of the day, if the Houthis are allowed to stay in Hodeidah, it will be the shortest way to reach a political impasse.
To put it differently, if the negotiations scheduled to take place in Stockholm are limited to the Houthis and the “legitimate” government, there will be no positive results. It is imperative that the vicious circle in Yemen be broken. This can only be achieved by removing the Houthis from Hodeidah and by restructuring the “legitimacy” camp by expanding its base. It does not make sense not to include all the forces involved in confronting the Houthis in the “legitimacy” camp.
If these two conditions are not met, the Houthis will continue to exercise their favourite hobby: buying time in order to create new conditions on the ground. It was easy for them, for example, to assassinate Saleh because they really don’t care about the lives and future of Yemeni youth. For them, a young Yemeni is just a martyrdom project. He doesn’t need to go to school or university. All he needs is to learn how to chant hollow slogans and fight for the victory of Iran’s expansionist project in the region.
Is this what the UN envoy and the United States and Britain behind him really want to happen in Yemen?
Perhaps he really wants to find a balanced political solution that will revive hope in Yemen. Again, the point is not to eliminate the Houthis. In fact, no one can eliminate anyone in Yemen. What is more desirable than ever is finding a way to include the largest number of political forces in the north, south and centre in any national dialogue or negotiations for a political solution.
The only constant in Yemen is that there can be no return to the old formula — that of one Yemen controlled by Sana’a, or the centre as it was called. The old Yemen we’re familiar with is now gone. Perhaps the right formula for a new Yemen is that of a federation or confederation. But there is no hope of reaching such a formula if the vicious circle in not broken.

If Assange Is a Villain, What About Zuckerberg?
Leonid Bershidsky/Bloomberg/November,25/18
Now that we know, apparently thanks to an error by American prosecutors, that Julian Assange has been secretly charged with a crime in the US, it’s interesting to revisit an eight-year-old column by Time magazine’s managing editor, Richard Stengel, that compared the WikiLeaks founder to Facebook’s Mark
In 2010, Time named Zuckerberg Person of the Year, though its readers had voted for Assange. To explain the magazine’s decision, Stengel draw a parallel between the two men.
In a sense, Zuckerberg and Assange are two sides of the same coin. Both express a desire for openness and transparency. While Assange attacks big institutions and governments through involuntary transparency with the goal of disempowering them, Zuckerberg enables individuals to voluntarily share information with the idea of empowering them. Assange sees the world as filled with real and imagined enemies; Zuckerberg sees the world as filled with potential friends. Both have a certain disdain for privacy: in Assange's case because he feels it allows malevolence to flourish; in Zuckerberg's case because he sees it as a cultural anachronism, an impediment to a more efficient and open connection between people.
This reflects the optimistic view of Facebook’s ability to empower and connect people that was prevalent in 2010. That mission contrasts with the negativity of Assange’s endeavor: the exposure of enemies “real and imagined.”The comparison looks a lot different from a 2018 vantage point.
As it turns out, Zuckerberg’s brainchild amplifies divisions as effectively as good relationships, and it’s been convincingly argued that it has helped instigate hate and violence. In country after country, Facebook has been a preferred medium for the spread of fake news during election campaigns and the platform for echo chambers reverberating with venomous prejudice. According to an expose published in The New York Times this week, the social-media giant has tried to cover up its failings and resorted to public opinion manipulation to minimize the backlash.
Zuckerberg still doesn’t seem to realize the extent of the damage. In a post published Nov. 15, he boasted that in the third quarter of 2018, Facebook was able to identify proactively “about 63% of the hate speech we removed in Myanmar, up from just 13% in the last quarter of 2017.” I doubt this made much difference to the Rohingya minority of Myanmar, who have been the target of violence as a result of incitements to hatred on Facebook.
Assange, for his part, has gone on publishing leaked documents. There’s evidence that WikiLeaks has solicited hacks to obtain the data, and it probably hasn’t been straightforward about its methods (it claims to only collect information volunteered by whistle-blowers). Nonetheless, the gadfly has remained committed to its original goal of publishing authentic documents.
According to Special Counsel Robert Mueller, both Facebook and WikiLeaks served as conduits for the Russian propaganda effort to influence the 2016 presidential election in the U.S. But while WikiLeaks published genuine, and not particularly incriminating, emails apparently stolen by Russian intelligence from leading Democrats’ computers, Facebook that allowed paid trolls and other propagandists to make that material look sinister. The social-media site facilitated the spread of lies and disseminated posts that called for fake and divisive protest rallies.
There is an enormous personal contrast between Zuckerberg, a smooth-talking, charity-supporting and happily married billionaire, and the combative, single, untidy, donation-dependent Assange, who sits in increasingly hopeless isolation at the Ecuadorean Embassy in London, where he sought refuge after Sweden issued a warrant for his arrest in connection with two allegations of sexual offenses. (Assange has denied the accusations, and the charges have been dropped.) But when it comes to which of the two has done the most damage to the US and the world, I’d argue that Zuckerberg is the greater villain. Some of Assange’s document dumps may have endangered US intelligence assets and interests. But that’s a standard risk in the release of any unauthorized information about governments; Assange is neither the first nor, I hope, the last to expose such information to the public. Without leaks, public oversight of governments is impossible, as the US press has demonstrated with its incisive leak-based reporting on the Trump administration.
Facebook’s exposure of users’ personal data to political campaigns, on the other hand, serves no public interest. It only makes it easier to manipulate the voters who are most vulnerable to manipulation — for example, the less-educated.
We don’t know when Assange was charged or for what offense. But I’m not making a legal argument. I’m just wondering whether seeking to prosecute Assange while Zuckerberg gets, at worst, a slap on the wrist makes sense. My sense of justice is offended in this case.
The last eight years should have taught us that privacy isn’t important only to those with something to hide. We should have learned that seemingly impartial algorithms devised with commercial goals can be more damaging to democracy than the disclosure of data obtained by malicious methods. We could have realized that an open crusade, no matter how misguided, cannot be as toxic as a cynical campaign of manipulation using a platform ostensibly created to strengthen friendships.
In a world still owned to an uncomfortable degree by Zuckerberg, I feel safer with Assange out of jail. Perhaps they are two sides of the same coin, after all.

Iranian regime’s fourth pillar: Antagonism toward Saudi Arabia
د. ماجد ربيزاده: الركن الرابع للنظام الإيراني هو العداء للمملكة العربية السعودية

Dr. Majid Rafizadeh/Arab News/November 25, 2018
Newly recruited Houthi fighters ride on the back or a truck during a parade before heading to the frontline to fight against government forces, in Sanaa, Yemen. (File photo / Reuters)
When Iran’s mullahs set up the Islamic Republic in 1979, the pillars of its foreign policy were opposition to the West (particularly the US), anti-Semitism, and asymmetrical warfare by funding, training and arming terrorist groups and militias to act as proxies. Antagonism toward Saudi Arabia has become another pillar. Tehran’s obsession with undermining the Kingdom has reached unprecedented levels under the presidency of Hassan Rouhani. Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) and its elite branch, the Quds Force, have stepped up efforts to arm, finance and train Houthis rebels in Yemen in the last few years. On several occasions, Tehran provided the means for terrorist groups to target Saudi Arabia. For example, it supplied missiles to the Houthis that were fired at Riyadh. Such a move can be seen as an act of war.
Anti-Saudi propaganda is rife in Iranian state-owned media and social media, and in outlets affiliated with Tehran. This antagonism is not limited to hardliners; it is shared by moderates, as can be seen in media affiliated with them.
Iran’s state-controlled English- and Arabic-language outlets are trying to sway public opinion against Saudi Arabia in the West and the Arab world, respectively. It is doubtful that Iran’s propaganda has had a concrete impact because it has lost its credibility in the Arab world due to its involvement in the Syrian and Yemeni conflicts, as well as in Iraq and Lebanon. Anti-Saudi propaganda is rife in Iranian state-owned media and social media, and in outlets affiliated with Tehran. This antagonism is not limited to hardliners.
Iranian leaders have been using social media and public events to ratchet up anti-Saudi sentiment via incendiary rhetoric. For instance, when a military parade was attacked in the Iranian city of Ahvaz at the end of September, Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei immediately and absurdly blamed Saudi Arabia and the UAE without providing a shred of evidence.
Yet evidence of the Iranian regime using its proxies to attack Saudi Arabia has been documented by credible international organizations, including the UN.  There are several reasons behind antagonism toward the Kingdom becoming a core pillar of Iran’s foreign policy. Tehran is more forcefully trying to export its Shiite ideology — velayat e faqih (governance of the Islamic jurist) — to the rest of the Middle East and the Muslim world. That is why Khamenei has prevented Iranians from performing the Hajj pilgrimage and asked Muslims to challenge Saudi custodianship of Islam’s holiest sites in Makkah and Madinah. He wrote on his official website: “The world of Islam must fundamentally reconsider the management of the two holy places and the issue of Hajj.”
In addition, the IRGC is more robustly pushing to achieve the Iranian regime’s hegemonic ambitions in the region through various means, including brute force. As a result, taking into account Saudi Arabia’s large size, vast natural resources and geostrategic position in the region, Tehran views Riyadh as a rival.
Tehran is focusing more on opposing the Kingdom because Riyadh refuses to submit to Iran’s pursuit of regional supremacy. Contrary to its claims, Tehran’s sectarianism has been a core tenet of its opposition to Saudi Arabia.
*Dr. Majid Rafizadeh is a Harvard-educated Iranian-American political scientist. He is a leading expert on Iran and US foreign policy, a businessman and president of the International American Council. Twitter: @Dr_Rafizadeh

Turkey-Russia ties consolidated by new gas pipeline
Yasar Yakis/Arab News/November 25/18
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin last week attended the completion ceremony of the offshore section of a major gas pipeline.
The project has an interesting background. It was designed in 2007 and named South Stream. It was going to run from Russia’s Krasnodar Krai region through the Black Sea to Bulgaria. There, the line was to split into two, one branch going south to Greece and crossing the Adriatic to Italy, the other going north to Serbia, Hungary and Austria. Construction of the onshore facilities in Russia started in 2012, but upon Moscow’s annexation of Crimea, the European Parliament adopted a resolution opposing the project and recommending the search for alternatives. In June 2014, Bulgaria stopped construction of the onshore facilities due to EU rules on energy procurement, which provide that a supplier of gas cannot also own the pipelines. Weary of these strict EU regulations, during a visit to Turkey in December 2014 Putin made a surprise announcement that Russia was withdrawing from the South Stream project. The pipeline that was going to cross the Black Sea was now going to come ashore in Turkey instead of Bulgaria. Ankara welcomed the decision jubilantly, but an unfortunate step interrupted the process in November 2015.
After the Turkish air force shot down a Russian jet fighter in Syrian airspace, the project was suspended until June 2016, when Erdogan offered a formal apology to Putin. In May 2017, construction of the pipeline restarted and was completed in a relatively short time. The project is now called TurkStream upon Erdogan’s proposal.
The project’s biggest impact will be on Turkish-Russian economic relations. Bilateral economic cooperation will reach new highs after the gas starts flowing, forcing Turkey to export more to Russia in order to balance bilateral trade.
The pipeline can carry 31.5 billion cubic meters of gas per year. It will become operational in December 2019 after the onshore facilities in Turkey are completed. This is a critical threshold because for the first time, Turkey’s gas imports will be greater than its demand, and the surplus — about 15.75 billion cubic meters per year — will be exported to European countries.
The project is a major step in Russia’s steady regional expansion as the principal gas supplier. Other gas-producing countries in the region do not have the advantages that Russia has. Its vast geography provides it with an opportunity to export gas through various routes: From the Baltic, through Ukraine and through the Black Sea. It has a gigantic national company called Gazprom that has huge financial means, and it can politically influence other countries.
Futile and endless debates among other potential suppliers prevented them from competing with Russia. A quick political decision-making process in Russia allowed it to capitalize on their weakness. The project’s biggest impact will be on Turkish-Russian economic relations. Bilateral economic cooperation will reach new highs after the gas starts flowing, forcing Turkey to export more to Russia in order to balance bilateral trade.
Turkey consumes around 56 billion cubic meters of gas per year. More than half of that is imported from Russia. This is already a high degree of dependence on one source. In addition, Russia is constructing a nuclear power plant in Akkuyu on Turkey’s Mediterranean coast. The plant will comprise four units, each with a capacity to generate 1,114 megawatts of power. The first unit is scheduled to become operational in 2023, and the remaining three in 2025.
Overdependence on one country for the supply of energy may have undesirable consequences if bilateral relations deteriorate. But it may also bring stability in relations because each side will have to think twice before taking a step that may damage strong economic ties.
There is a huge trade imbalance between Turkey and Russia. Turkey’s exports to Russia amount to $2.7 billion, while its imports stand at $19.5 billion. This is slightly balanced by $10 billion worth of construction work carried out by Turkish companies in Russia and 6 million Russian tourists visiting Turkey.
Better bilateral relations do not need to be to the detriment of Turkey’s ties with the West. On the contrary, if Turkey maintains strong ties with both sides, it may become an asset that could contribute to improving Russian-Western relations.
*Yasar Yakis is a former foreign minister of Turkey and founding member of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP). Twitter: @yakis_yasar

Regional influence in Syria and Arab retrogression
Ali Al-Amin/Al Arabiya/November 25/18
There is no doubt that terrorist organizations were one of the most important means of influence and expansion for regional and international forces in the Arab region. These organizations’ origin and orientation are well-known.
ISIS was the most important after al-Qaeda in paving the way for this external influence. It was also, to a great extent, a tool that was used by local authorities in confront popular uprisings that sought to change the regimes of oppression and tyranny, as was and is still the case in Syria, and to suppress legitimate popular demands against corruption, discrimination, and marginalization as witnessed in Iraq.
With a quick observation, we can notice that the war on terrorism as invested by regional states under Western sponsorship and supervision, American and Russian, disclosed the growing influence of regional and international states in the Arab region. This is amid a huge and scandalous decline of the Arab regional system where the Arab League appears to be the most notable absentee in the scene while in fact it is supposed to be its greatest actor.
What raises concern as we have previously mentioned is the future of the Syrian entity and the extent to which regional and international aspirations are reflected in the ongoing attempts to take advantage of the diversity of Syrian societal components
Syria's future
At present, what is most concerning in Syria and the Arab World in general is not the survival of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s regime or its end, which is naturally over since it has lost all its capabilities in managing the state and its mechanism whose main function now is to stay by coercion in anticipation of how the regional and international scene will crystallize. What raises concern as we have previously mentioned is the future of the Syrian entity and the extent to which regional and international aspirations are reflected in the ongoing attempts to take advantage of the diversity of Syrian societal components to draw the map of regional influence. Russia, which presents itself as the victorious party on terrorism and the sponsor of the new Syria project, even after it has contributed to its destruction, shares this mission with Iran. It’s aware that Iranian influence in this country is necessary as long as there is no other alternative that ensures its (Russian) availability as a reference over this country, as neither the US administration can reassure it of its future in Syria, nor is it confident in its own strength since it faces the threats of exhaustion and the high costs of keeping its soldiers for an indefinite period without setting a clear date to stop the war or declare its end. Meanwhile, the United States continues to enforce its military bases in the east and on the Iraqi borders. The facts on the ground indicate that its control of oil-rich areas in Syria is permanent, while its relations with Kurdish organizations in north of Syria are oscillating between full support and taking into account some Turkish accounts and interests.
Iran does not appear to want to get out of Syria. It has paid a lot of money and blood in order to defend Bashar Assad’s regime and prevent the Syrian revolution from achieving change. Therefore, the harsh American sanctions will not push Iran out of Syria. The Iranian strategy in Syria is based on imposing military and demographic facts that aim to show that its presence in the country us based on political and social rules that are difficult to change or to increase the cost of removing it from there.
The Iranian leadership which has provided all the conditions required by Israel in Syria with Russian sponsorship – especially those related to Israel’s security thus reaching a smooth compromise in the Syrian south under Russian supervision and an American cover – has started to dedicate itself for another task that it had already launched and is currently working on. This mission revolves around building strong relations based on a system of material and security interests with various Syrian social environments.
Iran's approach
Iran is focusing its efforts on nurturing the greatest number of relations with minorities, be it Christian with all their variations, Kurds and other ethnic groups, which ISIS contributed to arising their existential concerns. What strengthens this approach is the international and regional policies’ attitude in giving special interest to these minorities for mainly political reasons. Iran has also intentionally established Syrian militias in many areas it controls thus gaining access to a number of clans who have been involved within militia frameworks funded and armed by Iran.
In return, Turkey, which succeeded in circumventing the American and Russian nipper by aligning itself with the requirements of Russian influence in Syria, finding channels of understanding with Washington regarding its conditions in northern Syria and investing in Iran’s need for it amidst the US sanctions phase, created new opportunities for it in order not to leave Syria. These strategic points that Ankara succeeded in achieving in Syria shifted from the aspirations of an “Ottoman state” to a regional state committed to the conditions of American and Russian control in Syria.
However, what must be noted is that the Arab desertion of this country has allowed regional powers that aspire to enforce their influence and legitimize it in Syria, and specifically Turkey, Iran and Israel, to proceed even further in this behavior – i.e. the Arab role in terms of letting the Syrian society with all its components know that there are pivotal Arab forces that care about what is happening in Syria is absent. It is unreasonable to accept that the power of Turkey or Iran and even Israel are leagues ahead of the Arab power, be it (the Arab power) represented in an Arab regional system or an Arab country.
An Arab incubator for Syria is certainly a Syrian necessity, but it is also an Arab necessity imposed by Arab regional security. The most dangerous thing currently facing Syria is redrawing the map of demographic influence based on the presumption that there exists a terrorist threat, called ISIS, originating from a Syrian majority and that the minority hence needs foreign protection. This is a dangerous reality as long as the Syrian people with all their components are a witness to the tragedy of Arab desertion, leaving them a meal to be looted by regional and international wolves.

Imran Khan’s first 100 days
Sabena Siddiqui/Al Arabiya/November 25/18
As the first 100 days of the newly elected government come to an end in Pakistan, both fans and critics are discussing the first indications of the change promised by Prime Minister Imran Khan. Pledging to give results as soon as his party formed government in Islamabad, Khan has been planning changes in the administration structure, making efforts for corrective reforms and focusing on ending corruption. Based on six main themes, the ‘First 100 Days Agenda’ constitutes of economic reforms, better governance, national security, revamping of the agricultural sector, improving social services and strengthening the federation. Describing his vision for transforming Pakistan into an Islamic welfare state, Imran Khan said that, “Our first pledge is to lift people socio economically. Then, we need civil service reforms; the delivery of civil services and how they can become beneficial to the public.” Preferring to take the difficult decisions in the initial days of his ruling tenure, Imran Khan believes that this is the right time for drastic measures as the government has its maximum strength and resolve in the very beginning. Broadly assessing his first 100 days, the focus has been mainly on austerity and schemes for the betterment of the masses, the economy and the foreign policy. Notably, in these 100 days, long and short-term policies have been formed to fix the chronic problems with the economy, encouraging foreign investment, growing exports, facilitating smooth inflow of remittances and updating taxation
Austerity and alleviating poverty
One of the first noticeable changes has been a tendency towards austerity and doing away with unnecessary pomp and splendor. To some extent, this has led to other top officials and politicians cutting down on costs as well. Though it is too early to give sustainable results, efforts are underway for social uplift with a housing program and efforts for poverty alleviation. Planning to build five million housing units, create ten million jobs, reform the police system as well as update the local government, there seems to be a clear road map for the days ahead. Planning to provide clean water and provide jobs, the government has achievable targets and only the implementation phase remains, and the year ahead is crucial for the success of this agenda.
Facing a severe financial crisis as soon they came into power, dealing with a shortage of foreign exchange has been the biggest hurdle for the new government. Dealing with the balance of payments crisis on an urgent basis, the Prime Minister undertook trips to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, China, UAE and Malaysia to request for help in dealing with the emergency and managed to avert this existential crisis. Alongside, negotiations have been undertaken with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) as well for a bailout and restructuring of the economy.
Notably, in these 100 days, long and short-term policies have been formed to fix the chronic problems with the economy, encouraging foreign investment, growing exports, facilitating smooth inflow of remittances and updating taxation. At the same time, steps were taken to end corruption and illegal money-laundering practises to strengthen the economy.
Where Pakistan’s foreign policy is concerned, traditional strategic relationships have been re-strengthened and consolidated with Saudi Arabia, the U.S., China, UAE and Malaysia. Notwithstanding the recent Twitter episode with President Trump, ties with the U.S. are on a positive trajectory. As Colonel Manning from the US Department of Defense explained ‘there was no change in the military- to -military relationship between Pakistan and the United States.’ At the same time, the Afghan peace process has been accelerated and Pakistan’s involvement remains crucial for peace in South Asia. Significantly, the ‘change’ lies in the way Pakistan’s foreign policy is much more Pakistan-centric and national interests have been given top priority. Just days from now, the PM plans to take the nation into confidence regarding the implementation of his 100-day program after his return from Malaysia at the end of this month. Comparing the previous two elected governments to his own, he is expected to analyze and assess the situation. Having directed his cabinet team to prepare a ‘progress report’, it is expected that this would be read out during his speech to the nation on 29th November. Meanwhile, the opposition parties plan to release a ‘white paper’ of their own to present their point of view the day after the Prime Minister’s address to the nation.
Giving Pakistani politics a fresh new look, Imran Khan is now the public face and for his country and its administration. In addition, he elicits much more public interest as he has been a top celebrity. Rejecting the status quo, Imran Khan also happens to symbolize a ‘zeitgeist’ type of movement for social reforms combined with a modern approach in the country, and this is the reason that the hopes of the youth are pinned on Khan. Having outlined his targets, he has presented his vision and if he remains set on his goals the result should be a changed Pakistan.

Saudi principles in the royal statement
Fahad Suleiman Shoqiran/Al Arabiya/November 25/18
The speech of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman bin Abdul Aziz at the Shura Council drew the features of internal and foreign policy. The speech, which was delivered at the commencement of the third year of the seventh session of the Shura Council, addressed three main pillars; political, judical and developmental. These pillars do not dominate one another but remain equal and parallel to each other. Ever since Saudi Arabia began implementing the vision and its transformative plans, it continued to play its roles of political mediation and major efforts within an international alliances to crush extremism and terrorism. This is in addition to major conferences, like the investment conference that was recently held in the Kingdom. Before that, the US Islamic Summit in the presence of more than 50 countries was held. Therefore, the pillars of the King’s statement need to be highlighted.
The King asserted the importance of holding on to the values of sharia, the principles of moderation and tolerance, as well as spreading a “moderate approach.” This was a message for religious institutions, including the ones concerned with Islamic affairs and mosques
The moderate approach
The King asserted the importance of holding on to the values of sharia, the principles of moderation and tolerance, as well as spreading a “moderate approach.” This was a message for religious institutions, including the ones concerned with Islamic affairs and mosques, hence they must base their work on it. In brief, the message stipulates that adhering to sharia is a foregone conclusion and must thus be strengthened via its pillars, which include moderation and tolerance. The royal statement also highlighted the ongoing war against terrorism, and highlighting this is important particularly when it comes to those who think that this war has a duration or an end as it’s rather an eternal war until extremism is uprooted.
On the internal level, Saudi citizens are at the core of the development process. This includes young men and women, and the latter are partners in the process of development, with men. In fact, women enjoy their “full rights,” as the King emphasized. The royal statement also said that “the government would continue supporting the social services system and provide support to the needy categories in a way that enables them to be productive and efficient in making a decent livelihood,” adding: “We will support civil society institutions so they play their important and active role in this regard.”
Strengthening the middle class
This is necessary to strengthen the middle class in society and enlarge its role. The middle class lies at the base of any developmental process in any country of the world and is the measure of development for any society, as the case is in Scandinavian countries, Australia, New Zealand and Japan and to some extent in Western European countries and the US. On the judicial level, the King asserted the importance of what judicial institutions and the Public Prosecution are doing for establishing the principles of justice – principles which the state has been well-known for ever since the era of Founder King Abdul Aziz. The Kingdom will continue to be as such along with a necessary improvement to modernize the juridical institutions and enhance their policies. It is beneficial for the institutions as well as for the society when the judiciary’s work is faster and more efficient.
Iranian threat
On the political front, Iran’s hostile actions represent a threat to the whole world. Thus the King stated that “the Iranian regime has for almost four decades interfered in the internal affairs of other countries and supported forces of terrorism in the region. These criminal acts which violate the simplest rules of good neighborliness and international conventions and norms add to the record of the Iranian regime which is well-known for fomenting chaos and destruction in many countries across the region.
It is time for this chaos and destruction to end. The international community should work toward ending the Iranian nuclear and ballistic program and halt its activities which destabilize the region and its flagrant interference in the internal affairs of other countries.”
Its dangers are also represented in its support for Houthi militias and other extremist groups like ISIS, Al-Qaeda, Boko Haram, Asa’ib Ahl al-Haq and dozens of other militant groups in Iraq, the Levant, Yemen, the African Sahel, North Africa and Latin America.
As for the Syrian crisis, the royal statement considered political solution as a necessity and a must for defeating terrorist movements, so that stability is restored and refugees return to their country.
These are the paths of Saudi Arabia’s policies both internally and abroad. Its pillars are developmental, juridical, economic and political. We should ask ourselves about the internal and external policies of other countries! We realize that they are wasting money on militant groups and parties as Iran’s policy is. Iran also wastes money on developing a nuclear weapon that it does not need and that’s worthless while its people continue to suffer from poverty and hunger, particularly after the imposition of tough sanctions on the regime, which would make the situation even worse!
Saudi Arabia does not only represent the religious dimension in the region, but also the civil and developmental one, as there is no contradiction between the two.

Trump vs American media: The scene from another angle

Dr. Naif Alhadari/Al Arabiya/November 25/18
The fierce confrontation between American media and president Trump, is an unprecedented phenomenon in American modern history, with the clashes between the president and the media taking front page news even in international media these days, especially in the aftermath of president Trump's news conference in the White House which saw a strong verbal altercation between the president and a reporter of CNN (Jim Acosta) followed by Acosta being banned from the White House and his pass withdrawn. Then matters became more complicated when a court in Washington, the past few days, ordered the White House to reinstate Jim Acosta, a kind of victory for the media in its face-off with Trump.
There is no doubt that the scene of hostility between Trump and American press brings back memories of the enmity and confrontation that was there, between former president (Franklin Roosevelt) and the American press in the thirties and beginning of the forties of the last century. The common thing between the two presidents (Roosevelt and Trump) is that both were victorious in their confrontation against the press, Roosevelt in the 1940 elections in spite of a ferocious attack on him in newspapers, and Trump in the 2016 elections, in spite of the enormous media support for Hillary Clinton. Another thing linking the two – and is of special interest to us interested in political media – is that both presidents used an "alternative media" in his confrontation, Roosevelt used the "radio" as he delivered his messages to the nation through his own program which he himself presented, called " Fireside chats" and gained the admiration and trust of the American citizen. Meanwhile, Trump used "Twitter" as his alternative media to face American media, and was able to send a direct message to the American citizen.
The victory of Trump in the 2016 elections, in spite of the enmity of the media towards him, raises a question regarding the effect liberal media in America has on the ordinary American, and whether there is a trust crisis between Americans and their media, leading to the credibility of this media witnessing a relapse in recent years. On the other hand, the media in America is attempting, in its fight with the president, to play on the sensitive string of "press freedom" and is trying to prove that their battle with trump is for the sake of the most important article of the American constitution, the article relating to press freedom and matters related to that. Another fact worthy of not overlooking, is that there are hot issues of the Trump years, such as investigations carried out by "Muller" regarding Russia's interference in the elections of 2016, something the American media has been using to make the confrontation take on a stronger edge.
Does this whole media campaign against Trump have to do with defending the freedom of press, and freedom of speech and critique in American media? Or are there other reasons, to do with gains that certain companies and lobbies might obtain, besides special interests of certain money moguls who have stake in major media corporations.
The partisan of the liberal press was obvious during the last presidential race, where there was obvious biased against Trump. Approximately 200 American newspapers supported Hillary Clinton, while Trump got the support of only two papers amongst the 100 most circulated in America. Also the New York Times, and some other papers, had done opinion polls before the elections by days, in which it predicted a landslide victory for Trump. From his side Trump had cleverly used this, to remind the public every time of the failure of these newspapers to predict properly, or to spread the truth.
In its battle with Trump, the media in the US has attempted to use tactics and theories of "effect" in its campaign to apply pressure. For example the "conditioned reflex" theory of Pavlov the Russian scientist, where they have tried to connect the midterm elections of Congress in November, with the impeachment of Trump, if it is established that there was possible collusion in the Russian interference in the presidential elections. All of this to influence public opinion, as well as Congressional elections!
Media war against Trump
In reality, the war against Trump in most major American newspapers, make us - the neutrals – want to know the reasons for this, and look at it from another perspective. In other words, does this whole campaign have to do with defending the freedom of press, and freedom of speech and critique in American media? Or are there other reasons, to do with gains that certain companies and lobbies might obtain, besides special interests of certain money moguls who have stake in major media corporations. For instance, there is animosity between Trump and the owner of the Washington Post, millionaire Jeff Bezos who also owns Amazon, and had previously been accused by Trump of using Amazon –and selling via internet– to destroy major American private companies in the retail sector. This allows for a different explanation for this paper –The Washington Post- publishing negative news of the president, all the time.
Thus, we may wonder: does American media still enjoy any level of credibility with the ordinary American?
And has the ordinary American reached a certain conviction regarding his media, a media that is dribbling after hype, fun and profit, and regarding a liberal media that only cares about the elite, their interests and the interests of their companies and their parties?
In one of his tweets, President Trump says: "The Fake News hates me saying that they are the Enemy of the People only because they know it’s TRUE. I am providing a great service by explaining this to the American People. They purposely cause great division & distrust. They can also cause War! They are very dangerous & sick!" Finally, the confrontation between Trump and the media is a clash between a president who has been attacked like no president before, from his own countrymen, a president who has spoken like no president before, about (media manipulation, fake news, and the bias of the major media corporations). We may summarize the scene very plainly, as follows: two contestants, the first won the initial round with a knock out (the 2016 elections) and surprised the public with his victory, while the second contestant is trying to cast doubt over this victory by stirring and creating everything it can put its hands on, to affect the morale of its opponent before the next round (the 2020 elections).