November 27/1
Compiled & Prepared by: Elias Bejjani

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Bible Quotations For today
But many who are first will be last, and the last will be first.
Mark 10/28-31: "Peter began to say to Jesus, ‘Look, we have left everything and followed you.’Jesus said, ‘Truly I tell you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields, for my sake and for the sake of the good news, who will not receive a hundredfold now in this age houses, brothers and sisters, mothers and children, and fields, with persecutions and in the age to come eternal life. But many who are first will be last, and the last will be first."

Titles For Latest LCCC Bulletin analysis & editorials from miscellaneous sources published on November 26-27/18
Chad President seeks Israeli intervention in Africa’s wars on ISIS, Al Qaeda/DEBKAfile/November 26/18
Israel works to establish diplomatic relations with Bahrain/Itamar Eichner/Ynetnews/November 26/18
A New Phase In Israel- Gulf Relations/Jerusalem Post/November 26/18
Report: Syrian Regime Grants Citizenship To Iranians, Hezbollah Fighters/Jerusalem Post/November 26/18
Dictionaries, Rockets and Towers/Ghassan Charbel/Asharq Al Awsat/November 26/18
A Thelma and Louise Brexit/Therese Raphael//Bloomberg View/November 26/18
China and US: Competition on Quality/The Sectarian Significance of Bahrain’s Elections
Simon Henderson/The Washington Institute./November 26, 2018
The Sectarian Significance of Bahrain’s Elections/Simon Henderson/The Washington Institute./November 26, 2018
Thus, Mohammed bin Rashid spoke/Mashari Althaydi/Al Arabiya/November 26/18
Khashoggi and the war between Trump and the media/Mamdouh AlMuhaini/Al Arabiya/November 26/18
Canada's Treacherous "Faustian Bargain"/Salim Mansur/Gatestone Institute/November 26/18
Qatar: Time to Shape Up/Debalina Ghoshal/Gatestone Institute/November 26/18

Titles For Latest LCCC Lebanese Related News published on November 26-27/18
Aoun holds talks with Belgian House Speaker at Baabda paalce
Bracke visits Hariri: We hope the government will be formed very soon because Lebanon is key player in promoting regional stability
Hariri discusses missing Lebanese and return of displaced Syrians with ICRC head of delegation
Berri, Belgian counterpart ink parliamentary partnership protocol
Hezbollah Not Enthusiastic about Lebanon’s Defense Strategy
In Beirut Play, Audience Relives Stories of Rape Survivors
Lebanon Demands UN Condemnation of Israel’s Sinking of Ship in 1982
Berri Warns No Time to Waste in Government Formation
Geagea Tells Aoun, Hariri to Form Govt. without Hizbullah
Mashnouq: Govt. Vacuum Will Eventually End
Independent Sunni MPs Give Hariri '48-hr Deadline' to Meetup
Nadim Gemayel Walks Out of Kataeb Meeting over SSNP Pharmacists Alliance
Rampling Visits Arsal and Second Land Border Regiment
Ibrahim: To Confront Terrorism and Cut Supply Routes
Israeli mock raids in Nabatiyeh, Iqlim Tuffah
Alain Aoun visits Japan's Ambassador: We demand fair, transparent trial for Carlos Ghosn
Samy Gemayel Hails Amendments to Improve Domestic Violence Law
Samy Gemayel: Hezbollah Cannot Subdue the Lebanese People

Titles For Latest LCCC Bulletin For Miscellaneous Reports And News published on November 26-27/18
Chad President seeks Israeli intervention in Africa’s wars on ISIS, Al Qaeda
Israel works to establish diplomatic relations with Bahrain
ASLMA Calls for Confronting Iran’s Regional, European Terror Threat
Israel Approves Appointment of New Army Chief of Staff
Israel Celebrates Visit of Chadian President
Syrian opposition leader: Iranian militias behind chemical attack on Aleppo
Al Shabaab gunmen kill cleric, 9 others at religious center in Somalia
Palestinian shot dead after allegedly injuring Israeli soldiers in car-ramming
Egypt’s Dar al-Ifta Condemns Expulsion of Idlib’s Christians From Their Homes
Mitsubishi Sacks Ghosn as Chairman, Follows Nissan's Footsteps
Jordan Army Kills Four Smugglers Crossing Border From Syria
Alleged Syria Chemical Attack: Is the Idlib Deal in Peril?
With Border Open, Jordanians Visit Syria for First Time in Years
Israel Postpones Vote on 'Loyalty' in Culture Bill
Israel Rearrests Palestinian Jerusalem Governor
Russian Airstrikes Hit Syria ‘Buffer Zone’ after Chemical Attack
Egypt Upholds 9 Death Sentences over Prosecutor's Assassination
UK's May Comes under Fire over EU Exit Deal
Russia-Ukraine Tensions Soar after Confrontation at Sea
Saudi Crown Prince Arrives in Cairo on Regional Tour

Latest Lebanese Related News published on November 26-27.18
Aoun holds talks with Belgian House Speaker at Baabda paalce
Mon 26 Nov 2018/NNA - President of the Republic, Michel Aoun, on Monday stressed that the best solution to the Syrian refugees' crisis lies in their return to safe areas in their country. President Aoun's fresh words came during his meeting at the Baabda palace with President of the Belgian House of Representatives, Siegfried Bracke, in the presence of his accompanying parliamentary delegation. Attending the meeting had also been MP Yassine Jaber and Belgian Ambassador to Lebanon, Hubert Cooreman. Aoun said linking the Syrian refugees' return to their homeland to reaching a political solution in Syria raises doubts regarding their stay in their host countries, citing the example of the Palestinian people's 70 year pending cause. Aoun informed Bracke that Lebanon has asked of the international community and the international organizations affiliated to the United Nations to provide assistance to the displaced Syrians after their return, for they are contributing to the reconstruction of their country. In reply to questions by the Belgian parliamentary delegation, Aoun said Lebanon has regained and consecrated its stability two years ago after the Lebanese army and the security forces have defeated the terrorist groups in the Bekaa Valley and eliminated dormant terror cells. However, the President added, Lebanon is enduring an economic crisis due to the accumulations of the past years and the impact of the international crisis and the influx of displaced Syrians and refugees. In reply to a question, Aoun expressed surprise regarding the international positions that ignore the need for the return of the displaced Syrians, pointing out that Lebanon calls for separating the political solution of the Syrian crisis from the issue of the return of the displaced. The head of state said that the Lebanese constitution prohibits Palestinian settlement in Lebanon, deploring the continued Israeli assaults against the Palestinian people and the city of Quds. The President affirmed that the policy adopted by Israel does not help in achieving peace but rather it keeps wars ongoing in different forms. In response to a question, Aoun said that the next government will accord priority to reforms, in order to keep up with the results of the CEDRE conference, and to implement the already devised national economic plan- pending approval by the new government to be put into effect. Bracke, for his part, expressed his delight to be visiting Lebanon along with his accompanying delegation, focusing on "the importance of Lebanon for the European countries, in general, and Belgium, in particular, which wants to further its relations with Lebanon." The Belgian senior official said his Country shall become a member of the Security Council as of next January, and shall contribute to supporting Lebanon's causes in the international podiums.

Bracke visits Hariri: We hope the government will be formed very soon because Lebanon is key player in promoting regional stability
Mon 26 Nov 2018éNNA - Prime Minister-designate Saad Hariri held talks this evening at the Center House with the President of the Belgian Chamber of Representatives Siegfried Bracke in the presence of MP Yassine Jaber, the Belgian Ambassador to Lebanon Hubert Cooreman and the accompanying delegation. After the meeting Bracke said: “We had a very interesting talk with the Prime Minister, just as we had interesting talks in the course of the day with other key players within your political life. The talks with the President of the Republic, the Speaker of Parliament and the Prime Minister were very interesting, and still they were different. It told us about the diversity and complexity within the Lebanese political life. To be very concrete, what we talked about is the refugee problem. We hope that your government will be formed very soon because we need stability within the region, and Lebanon is the key player in promoting that stability.”He added: “We told the Prime Minister that we are willing to help the Lebanese government in dealing with the refugee problem and we hope that the Lebanese government will be there soon and that it will get very soon the reforms necessary by the Paris agreement and we will help as much as possible.”

Hariri discusses missing Lebanese and return of displaced Syrians with ICRC head of delegation
Mon 26 Nov 2018/NNA - Prime Minister-designate Saad Hariri received today at the Center House the Head of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) delegation in Beirut Christophe Martin. After the meeting, Martin said: “I just came out of a meeting with the Prime Minister, an extremely interesting exchange taking stock of the year 2018 and looking forward into 2019 of what the ICRC’s operations are about and how much we have benefitted from the support of the Prime Minister’s office, specifically on the issue of the missing Lebanese and the passing of the law a few weeks back with a strong support from the Prime Minister’s office and his political party. We also talked about what we are expecting in the future, because that’s one part of the work and now it has to be formulized in different manners with the creation of the national commission. We were able to tackle the issue of the Syrian refugees and their return to Syria. The ICRC strongly supports the idea of people returning to Syria, provided a set number of conditions are met: that the return takes place in a dignified manner, that people are informed, that the security is guaranteed and that the principle of non-refoulement is respected. We also tackled the issue of the ICRC’s operation in Lebanon with the focus on our medical activities and the work that we are currently undertaking in the Rafic Hariri University hospital, in close collaboration with Dr. Abyad, the CEO of the hospital as well as the Ministry of Public Health, and the strong support that the Prime Minister’s office and the Prime Minister in person have demonstrated vis-à-vis this project.”Earlier, Hariri received former MP Khaled Daher and his son Abdul Rahman. After the meeting, Daher said: “Prime Minister-designate Saad Hariri informed us about the general situation and he expressed his optimism, his constant attachment to the national interest and his commitment to the constitution. He offered all the possible sacrifices and showed all keenness to protect the country that needs him now, as shown by the parliamentary consensus and the Arab and international embrace around him, to start the advancement and development process in Lebanon and emerge from the economic and social crisis.”He added: “We hear dissonant voices and bad mouthing on Premier Hariri regarding the naming of one of the six March 8 Sunni MPs as a minister in the government. We emphasize that Premier Hariri adheres to the constitution and the interest of the country and there is a consensus from the religious figures, economic bodies and political leaderships that the he should continue the political path by forming the government. Premier Hariri made a lot of sacrifices and he can’t offer more than he already did. He prepared the government formula and what remains is for Hezbollah to name its ministers in order to start work.”He concluded: “We also discussed the development projects in Akkar, some of which are currently underway, while the other part needs the launch of CEDRE conference. I also raised with Premier Hariri the topic of the Islamist prisoners and he is interested in it on the humanitarian level and we hope to reach good results. A meeting will be held between Premier Hariri and the families of the detainees.”

Berri, Belgian counterpart ink parliamentary partnership protocol
Mon 26 Nov 2018/NNA - Speaker of the House, Nabih Berri, and President of the Belgian House of Representatives, Siegfried Baracke, on Monday highlighted the paramount importance of strengthening bilateral relations and parliamentary cooperation between Lebanon and Belgium. In this vein, the pair inked today a partnership protocol between the two countries that expires in the year 2021. The partnership protocol serves parliamentary cooperation, as well as the exchange of expertise and information on matters of mutual interest, including those involving legislation and supervision, as well as the exchange of visits at the parliamentary level. Berri held a meeting with his visiting Belgian delegation during which the protocol agreement between the two countries was signed. The meeting was followed by a joint press conference initiated by President Berri, who welcomed his guests and said: "We stressed the need to strengthen economic cooperation between Lebanon and Belgium; we expect it to be more strengthened, especially after the formation of the awaited government.” Berri seized the opportunity to thank Belgium for its contributions to Lebanon, including those within the framework of UNIFIL. The House Speaker also congratulated Belgium for it will become a member of the UN Security Council as of the beginning of next year. He thanked as well his Belgian counterpart for having personally supported issues involving Palestinians and UNRWA, and for his support of a just solution to the Palestinian issue. In turn, the Belgian House Speaker said, “I have been very delighted to meet with the Speaker of the Lebanese House of Parliament. We had met three years ago, and I still remember the useful talks we had about the future of Lebanon, Belgium, and the European Union.” “We have exchanged very useful views on the future because we, in Belgium, are aware of the many complexities of finding sound and non-bloodshed solutions. This is the most important thing for us. Of course, the assessment of the situation in each country depends on the events and developments inside and outside each country,” the Belgian Speaker said. “We are aware that Speaker Berri is capable of solving all problems, no matter what their complexity, in an optimistic manner and away from violence — in a positive and political way that suits all the Lebanese,” he added. “I would like to say that I am very pleased to have signed with Berri a partnership agreement between the Lebanese and Belgian parliaments, and I want to point out that some of the agreements signed are not practically applicable, but this agreement has been implemented the first minute it was signed. We look forward to continuing these efforts within the next three years,” Baracke concluded.

Hezbollah Not Enthusiastic about Lebanon’s Defense Strategy
Beirut - Paula Astih/Asharq Al-Awsat/Monday, 26 November, 2018/ Lebanon’s defense strategy, which should decide on the fate of Hezbollah’s arms, has returned to the table of negotiations. President Michel Aoun promised last March to discuss the matter following the parliamentary elections held across the country six months ago. Discussions should pave the way for the potential integration of Hezbollah’s arsenal within the framework of a national defense strategy. However, the Shiite party does not seem enthusiastic about returning to the negotiating table where rival parties should engage in dialogue to safeguard the country’s stability and advance its national interest. Military experts said current local and regional conditions may not be ripe to place the defense strategy back on the negotiation table. They believe that no solutions are possible in the near future, mainly due to Hezbollah turning into a “regional military force.” Member of Strong Lebanon parliamentary bloc MP Shamel Roukoz told Asharq Al-Awsat that there should be an effective government capable of knowing the risks facing Lebanon and coming up with measures to counter them. “There are two principle threats ... the first is the Israeli enemy and the second is terrorism,” he said. Dialogue on the defense strategy was halted at the end of the term of former President Michel Suleiman in 2014. The country’s leaders have failed in national dialogue sessions held over the span of eight years to agree on the fate of Hezbollah’s arms. In September 2012, Suleiman presented his vision of a national strategy for the defense of Lebanon, stating that the appropriate frameworks and mechanisms should be agreed upon to use Hezbollah’s weapons and to place them under the army’s mandate. Lebanese leaders discussed this strategy without reaching a conclusion. But decision-makers adopted the-called “Baabda Declaration”. Article 12 of the Declaration calls for “dissociating Lebanon from the policy of regional and international axes and conflicts, and avoiding the negative repercussions of regional tensions and crises.” However, with Hezbollah’s decision to send its fighters to Syria to participate in the war, the party has bluntly violated the Declaration. Head of Hezbollah’s parliamentary bloc MP Mohammed Raad has said that the Declaration was “born dead and is mere ink on paper.” Lebanese Forces deputy Wehbe Qatisha told Asharq Al-Awsat that defense strategy discussions should not be linked to the government crisis. “A national dialogue can be launched to discuss the defense strategy immediately,” he said, adding that the LF party has a clear vision concerning the issue. The MP said claims of Hezbollah becoming a regional military force should not make it difficult for Lebanese parties to discuss the fate of its arms. “A proposal stipulating that Hezbollah be merged with the Lebanese army is impossible and unacceptable,” he added.

In Beirut Play, Audience Relives Stories of Rape Survivors
Beirut- Asharq Al-Awsat/Monday, 26 November, 2018/As a child, Riham would wake up at night to her half-brother molesting her. Now she is one of seven women recounting their suffering in a play about sexual violence in Lebanon. Recordings of the women's voices ring out as the audience moves from room to room in a house in Beirut. Women's rights group ABAAD put on the play entitled "Shame on who?" this weekend. In one room, a girl in white tries to stand up but keeps falling. In another, a woman talks to her mother but gets no response. "I chose the idea of a house because most of these incidents happen from someone very close to the (victims)," said Sahar Assaf, who conceived and directed the play. "Supposedly, the safest place for a woman should be her house." Riham, 35, recalls how she told her mother that her half-brother had abused her for 20 years since she was eight. "She said that I was a liar and that I should never speak of such a thing."ABAAD head Ghida Anani said the play sought to empower survivors and encourage victims to report assaults. The audience relives Ward's story from the husband's perspective as an actor paces in a bedroom. "We got married...but she started getting bothered because I used to like sleeping with her by force. from behind," he says. "Once I gave her sleeping pills and tied her up...She couldn't do anything." Lebanon passed a long-awaited law in 2014 against domestic violence. But rights groups were outraged that authorities watered it down so much it fell short of criminalizing marital rape. Child marriage also remains legal. The United Nations says a third of women worldwide have suffered sexual or physical violence. A 2017 national ABAAD study found that one in four women have been raped in Lebanon. Less than a quarter of those who faced sexual assault reported it, the survey said. "I felt that he was an animal eating my flesh," Hoda, whose neighbor raped her at 14, recalls in a recording in the play. "If I could turn back time the first thing I would do is go to a forensic physician to get evidence," she says. "I would refuse to be the victim. He would pay for what he did."

Lebanon Demands UN Condemnation of Israel’s Sinking of Ship in 1982

Beirut - Asharq Al-Awsat/Monday, 26 November, 2018/Lebanon called on Sunday the United Nations Security Council to condemn Israel and issuing the relevant resolutions after it admitted to the sinking of a refugee ship off the Lebanese coast in 1982 during the country’s 1975-90 civil war. The submarine attack, off the coast of the northern city of Tripoli, left 25 out of 56 people on board dead. Israel had invaded Lebanon in 1982 and imposed a naval blockade. Israel’s Channel 10 said on Thursday that the submarine torpedoed the ship after it believed it was transporting Palestinian fighters. The ship was in fact transporting refugees to safety in Cyprus.Israel only carried out an investigation into the incident ten years after it happened and it kept the findings a secret up until recently. The probe acknowledged that the submarine had fired at the ship believing Palestinians were on board. The investigation found that while the captain had made a mistake, he had been acting within his operational orders. It noted that he had not fired on several other ships believed to be carrying Palestinian fighters due to suspicions there were innocent civilians on board. “It was not a war crime and there was no misconduct, there is no place for legal action,” the report found, according to Channel 10. The Lebanese foreign ministry slammed Israel for its admission, adding that Tel Aviv has a long history in killing civilians and attacking civilian infrastructure. Moreover, it rejected the findings of the investigation, demanding that the UN deem the attack a war crime and that those responsible be held accountable.

Berri Warns No Time to Waste in Government Formation
Naharnet/November 26/18/Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri on Monday warned against further delay in the cabinet formation process. “I will repeat what the President (Michel Aoun) has said: we no longer have the luxury of time at all. The government should have been formed yesterday rather than today,” Berri said after talks in Beirut with his Belgian counterpart. Asked whether there will be a breakthrough, Berri said: “We can only be optimistic and as I said before we have to plead to God.”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.

Geagea Tells Aoun, Hariri to Form Govt. without Hizbullah

Naharnet/November 26/18/Lebanese Forces leader Samir Geagea has called on President Michel Aoun and Prime Minister-designate Saad Hariri to form a government without Hizbullah should the party continue refusing to hand the PM-designate the names of its three Shiite ministers. “Any political party has the right to have a viewpoint about the formation process, but that should not be more than a mere viewpoint. President Aoun and PM-designate Hariri have the right to endorse or reject this viewpoint. The party concerned can also grant or withhold its confidence from the formed government. This is the constitution and this is democracy,” Geagea said in an interview with the Central News Agency. “But no party can say, ‘You either do what we want or there won’t be a government,’ and this is what Hizbullah is doing today,” the LF leader added. Warning that the economic and social situations “cannot withstand further confusion,” Geagea said Aoun and Hariri “must take a decision” in light of their “constitutional responsibility.” “They must tell Hizbullah, ‘We want you in the government, give us the names of your ministers, and you have the right to voice your opinion on the issue of representing the independent Sunnis with a minister’… or else they should form a de facto government should the party refuse to hand the names,” Geagea 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 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.

Mashnouq: Govt. Vacuum Will Eventually End
Naharnet/November 26/18/Caretaker Interior Minister Nouhad al-Mashnouq said that Lebanon’s government vacuum will eventually end, as he lauded the military’s achievements in overcoming terrorism, highlighting the importance of national unity in that regard. “Lebanon is enjoying unmatched stability. We live a success story at the security and social levels,” said Mashnouq in remarks he made at the opening of the General Security Conference on defeating terrorism and its impact on the African continent. President Michel Aoun highly “believes in the necessity to confront terrorism through national unity, reason, politics and security and military institutions," said Mashnouq in remarks representing Aoun at the conference. “Lebanon could not defeat terrorism if it weren’t for national unity,” he said, pointing out that "the government vacuum must eventually end and the Lebanese experience has toppled all illusions that some have tried to lay on a certain sect," he added.

Independent Sunni MPs Give Hariri '48-hr Deadline' to Meetup

Naharnet/November 26/18/Pro-Hizbullah Sunni MPs said they are giving Prime Minister-designate Saad Hariri 48 hours to set a date to meet with them, adamantly stressing their right to be represented in the government, al-Joumhouria daily reported on Monday. “We are giving Hariri 48 hours to set a date and meet us. Any meeting after that deadline is meaningless,” one of the six so-called Independent Sunni MPs told the daily without being named. However he said “nothing new has emerged regarding their demands for representation in the government.”After holding separate parliamentary consultations with Hariri, each as part of his own bloc, the six MPs decided to form a separate bloc. The MPs are: MP Abdel-Rahim Mrad, Adnan Traboulsi, Qassem Hashem (Amal Movement parliamentary bloc) Walid Sukkarieh (Hizbullah parliamentary bloc), Jihad al-Samad and Faisal Karami belong to a bloc that includes the Marada Movement. 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.

Nadim Gemayel Walks Out of Kataeb Meeting over SSNP Pharmacists Alliance

Naharnet/November 26/18/MP Nadim Gemayel on Monday walked out of a meeting for Kataeb Party’s political bureau in protest at his party’s alliance with the Syrian Social Nationalist Party in the Order of Pharmacists elections that were held on Sunday. Media reports said Kataeb and SSNP “backed the same list” in the elections. “Gemayel will announce a stance in the coming hours,” MTV said. Sunday’s vote was won by a list led by Ghassan al-Amin and backed by Kataeb, SSNP, Hizbullah, the AMAL Movement, the Tashnag Party, the Progressive Socialist Party and suspended members of the Free Patriotic Movement.Two SSNP members have been convicted of assassinating President-elect Bashir Gemayel -- Nadim’s father -- in 1982.

Rampling Visits Arsal and Second Land Border Regiment

Naharnet/November 26/18/British Ambassador to Lebanon Chris Rampling has visited the town of Arsal in the Bekaa and neighboring areas for the first time, to see first-hand how the communities living near the border are “benefiting from the UK’s security and development partnership with Lebanon,” the British embassy said on Monday. Rampling met Arsal municipal chief Bassel al-Hujeiri with members of the Municipal Council, and heard about the needs of the town, and how the UK funded flood-control system is “helping residents to manage water damages to homes, crops and businesses for the first time,” the embassy said. The UK is working with the Ministry of Social Affairs and UNDP through the Lebanese Host Communities Support Program (LHSP) to deliver projects for the host community in Arsal, following the end of the Lebanese Army’s Operation Fajr al-Jouroud last summer.
After his meetings, Ambassador Rampling visited the Second Land Border Regiment in Ras Baalbek and the 9th Brigade of the Lebanese Army, who are overseeing the border with Syria, including the rough terrain in Arsal. “It was an opportunity to hear from the LAF how the success of Fajr al-Jouroud operation last year enabled the Army move its border posts forward onto reclaimed territory, putting the Lebanese flag back on the farthest reaches of Lebanese territory, thanks to British support and funding,” the embassy said. “The visit was also an opportunity to see the newly refurbished office of the Lebanon Mine Action Center (LMAC), the section of the Lebanese Army that execute and coordinate the Lebanese National Mine Action Program. This is one component of a £194,000 UK funded project through UNDP and Mine Action Group (MAG) to help Lebanon better coordinate its clearance response to contaminated land, and provide Mine Risk Education to local residents,” the embassy added. “Landmines continue to pose a daily threat to the people of Lebanon, blocking access to farmland, which is essential to people’s livelihoods. UK support to demining has reached over £2 million across Lebanon, including in South Lebanon and border areas in the North East,” the embassy said. After his visit, Ambassador Rampling said: "It gives me great pleasure to be visiting the town Arsal for the first time since arriving in Lebanon three months ago. This has been a great opportunity to see how the UK can support the Lebanese state to reinforce security, deliver economic opportunities, and alleviate humanitarian suffering.”“While here, I met senior officers from the Second Land Border Regiment, who played an important role in repelling terrorist acts against Lebanon. The UK is delighted that the Lebanese Army has now control of its border with Syria for the first time – this is work that we will continue to support,” the envoy added. He said that it was also important to hear directly from the Mayor of Arsal about the challenges facing the communities there, and how the UK can support further.“Flooding had plagued the city and its citizens for many years, destroying homes, businesses and crops. But I am really pleased that, for the first time in the town's history, there has been no flooding this year -- this is in part thanks to the 3,482-meter-long storm water drainage canal provided by the UK,” he went on to say. Rampling added: “Another important aspect of my visit was visiting the newly refurbished and equipped offices of Lebanon Mine Action Centre (LMAC). The UK is working closely with the Lebanese army, UNDP and Mine Action Group (MAG), to prioritize mine clearance efforts in areas along the border with Syria. Our contribution of over £2 million supports clearance of many kilometers of Cluster Munitions in the South, Mount Lebanon, and the Bekaa valley. This, and our other support, will continue and develop further.”

Ibrahim: To Confront Terrorism and Cut Supply Routes

Naharnet/November 26/18/General Security Chief Maj. Gen. Abbas Ibrahim said it was time to step into a new stage in the war against terrorism, calling for cutting terrorists' supply routes, the National News Agency reported on Monday. "We must move forward to the stage of attacking terrorism; what is required is to prevent terrorists' transport, in addition to cutting their supply routes and chase them relentlessly," Ibrahim said at the inauguration of the General Security conference.He also highlighted the necessity to adopt a unified system to exchange information and to stop investing in terrorism.

Israeli mock raids in Nabatiyeh, Iqlim Tuffah
Mon 26 Nov 2018/NNA - Israeli enemy warplanes have been effectuating low-altitude mock raids above the localities of Nabatieh, Iqlim al-Tuffah, Litani River banks, Shkeef Castle, Yuhmour, and eastern Zawtar, NNA field reporter said.

Alain Aoun visits Japan's Ambassador: We demand fair, transparent trial for Carlos Ghosn

Mon 26 Nov 2018 /NNA - “Strong Lebanon” parliamentary bloc MP, Alain Aoun, and in his capacity as Head of the Japanese - Lebanese Friendship Parliamentary Committee, visited on Monday Japanese Ambassador to Lebanon, Matahiro Yamaguchi, for a briefing on the latest concerning the arrest of Lebanese businessman, Carlos Ghosn. MP Aoun relayed to the Japanese diplomat many of the concerns and questions of the Lebanese public concerning the arrest of Carlos Ghosn. “Lebanon respects the independence and sovereignty of Japan’s judiciary, and does not allow itself to interfere in the course of Japan’s justice, yet it also believes that Carlos Ghosn should undergo a fair and transparent trail with full respect for his right to defend himself, away from the prejudices that have been deliberated through the media,” MP Aoun said. “Carlos Ghosn has always been a source of pride for the Lebanese thanks to his professionalism, successes, and brilliance across the world, thus everyone is waiting for this matter to be cleared,” the lawmaker added. In turn, Ambassador Yamaguchi confirmed Japan's keenness on the of best relations with Lebanon. “This issue is going through a judicial process that is completely independent from politics. Carlos Ghosn will get a fair trial like other Japanese citizens and will enjoy the full means of defense that he needs."

Samy Gemayel Hails Amendments to Improve Domestic Violence Law 26th November 2018/Kataeb leader Samy Gemayel on Monday hailed a draft law that has been submitted jointly by several parliamentary blocs to improve the application of a law to protect women and family members from domestic violence four years after it had been ratified by the Parliament, noting that the bill passed in April 2014 proved to be including loopholes that prevent women from being fully protected. "This draft law was ready a while ago, but we waited for this day, which marks the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, to submit it," Gemayel told reporters at the Parliament. "We merged a set of proposals into one draft law that was approved by all parliamentary blocs in order to rectify the gaps and correct the mistakes that the initial law contains, and to improve its implementation in a way that makes it more effective."
"One cause is uniting us regardless of our political affiliations; one that aims at enhancing conditions of women's protection in Lebanon following the extensive progress witnessed at this level during the past five years," Gemayel stressed. “There’s almost full unanimity over this draft law, which means that 80% of the work has been achieved towards approving it," he added. “Nothing can be accomplished overnight, but we are heading towards the right path,” he said, noting that “the battle was launched in 2011 when we succeeded in abolishing the honor crime.""We hope that it goes on to reach the approval of the female quota which would alter the political landscape and boost the woman's national role in Lebanon," Gemayel concluded.

Samy Gemayel: Hezbollah Cannot Subdue the Lebanese People 26th November 2018/Kataeb leader Samy Gemayel on Saturday called on both President Michel Aoun and Prime Minister-Designate Saad Hariri to revolt against the current political performance, urging them to be similar to the statesmen who ruled Lebanon during the 1943 independence era, and take a firm decision to become the protagonists of the third Republic."It is time to stop the way that the country's political life is being managed and to sit together to build a new Lebanon," he said in an interview on MTV. On the occasion of the Kataeb party's 82nd foundation anniversary, Gemayel stressed that the history of the party has been closely tied to that of Lebanon, outlining the significant importance that this correlation encloses."Just like the Kataeb revolted against the French mandate in 1943, as well as against the Palestinian and Syrian tutelages afterwards, the party is today revolting against the reality that we are living and the constant deferral of the establishment of a state," he stressed. "Our goal is to build a state that the Lebanese would be proud of."Gemayel stressed the need for structural changes in the political life in Lebanon, arguing that the same crises will re-emerge again if no drastic changes are introduced. Gemayel called on Hezbollah to draw a lesson from the Kataeb party's past in terms of being a large and powerful military group, advising it to realize that no one can overtake the country. "Hezbollah can subdue the ruling political class, but it cannot subdue the Lebanese people," he affirmed. "Hezbollah may be now the one that holds the reins, but this will not last forever," he added, urging Hezbollah to make a bold step and work hand in hand with the other local factions to build a free, sovereign, independent and stable country.

Latest LCCC Bulletin For Miscellaneous Reports And News published on November 26-27/18
Chad President seeks Israeli intervention in Africa’s wars on ISIS, Al Qaeda/الرئيس التشادي في إسرائيل سعياً لتدخلها في الحرب الإفريقية ضد داعش والقاعدة
DEBKAfile/November 26/18
Chad President Idriss Deby arrived in Israel on Sunday, Nov. 25, for a down-to-earth mission. To enlist Israel’s participation in the fierce wars against Al Qaeda and ISIS that are raging across the African continent, and in which the US and France are also involved. This is reported by DEBKAfile.
So while Israel celebrated the diplomatic breakthrough marked by the first visit by a Chad president and the burgeoning diplomatic ties Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu is developing with the Muslim world, Jerusalem is on the horns of a dilemma on whether to accede to the visitor’s bid. Deby will spend most of his two-day visit in an attempt to convince Israel to lend a hand in the bitter wars African regimes are waging to fend off the inroads the ISIS and al-Qaeda groups are making in their countries, And if Israel agrees, on what scale?
Chad and its 250,00-strong army are at the forefront of this war, DEBKAfile’s military and counter-terrorism sources report. They are battling Islamist takeovers on three fronts:
1-Southern Libya, mainly in the oil-rich Fasen region from which a network of pipelines carries Libyan oil to its Mediterranean export ports.
2-As the backbone of the Multinational Joint Task Force (MNJTF), through which Nigeria, Chad, the Central African Republic and others are fighting Boko Haram. On this front, Chad troops have US military backing.
3-The Chad army is also part of another organization dedicated to combating Islamist incursions: The Joint Force of the G5 Sahel (Force Conjointe du G5 Sahel) J5S, which is battling Al Qaeda in the Maghreb (AQIM) in the Sahel desert.
According to our sources, Washington is in favor of Israel assisting Chad in its counter-Islamist wars, but France, which is deeply immersed in Chad and the Francophone African countries politically and militarily, was not averse to President Deby’s visit to Jerusalem, but looks askance at its possible military intervention in the wars on Islamist terror. Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta, in contrast, would be glad to see this happen. Israel is already assisting Kenya in its counter-terror war against al-Shabaab in Somalia.
The historic visit by Chad’s president, 66, who has been in power since 1990, will center on hard talk on whether the Netanyahu government is ready to extend aid to his campaign against Islamist terror, and in what form: military, logistical or intelligence – on all three battlefronts, or only on a part.

Israel works to establish diplomatic relations with Bahrain
تعمل إسرائيل على اقامة علاقات دبلوماسية مع البحرين/
Itamar Eichner/Ynetnews/November 26/18
After PM Netanyahu's visit to Oman and Chadian President Deby's visit to Israel, the Jewish State is expected to continue promoting its ties with the Arab world; 'There will be more such visits in Arab countries very soon,' Netanyahu implies during a joint press conference with Deby on Sunday.
Itamar Eichner|Published: 11.26.18 , 09:33
Israel is working to establish diplomatic ties with the Gulf State of Bahrain, which are expected to be announced soon.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu hinted at contacts being held with the Muslim country during his joint press conference with Chadian President Idriss Deby on Sunday.
"A few minutes ago, we discussed in my office the great changes that are taking place in the Arab world in its relations with Israel. And this was manifested in my recent visit in Oman with Sultan Qaboos. And there will be more such visits in Arab countries very soon," Netanyahu said.
The Persian Gulf State, which has a population of 1.4 million, does not have diplomatic relations with Israel. Bahrain has a small Jewish community of 40 people, and it is the only state in the Persian Gulf with a synagogue.
Several Bahraini Jews hold key positions in the country. Huda Ezra Ibrahim Nunu, a Bahraini Jewish woman, served as Bahrain's ambassador to the US between the years 2008-2013. Attorney Nancy Dina Kadouri is of Jewish descent, and serves as one of the members of the upper house of the National Assembly in Bahrain, whose members are appointed by the king.
After Netanyahu returned from Oman last month, officials in Jerusalem said the next Arab country to host Netanyahu would be Bahrain.
As with Bahrain, Israel and Oman do not have diplomatic relations. The meeting was the first between the leaders of the two countries since 1996. In 2000, with the outbreak of the second intifada, Oman severed its ties with Israel.
Over the past several years, the media has reported on secret communications between Israel and Oman, with one report indicating that Israel was about to open a secret consulate in the port city of Muscat.
As part of the US administration's efforts to set in motion a political process between the two countries, the Americans worked to convince Oman to normalize its relations with Israel.
In the past, the Sultanate announced it would resume diplomatic relations with the Jewish State, if the latter agrees to freeze construction in the settlements.

ASLMA Calls for Confronting Iran’s Regional, European Terror Threat
Copenhagen - Asharq Al-Awsat/Monday, 26 November, 2018/An Ahwaz conference shed light on Iran’s terrorism, at the international and regional levels, and the forms of oppression and persecution carried out by the Iranian regime against Ahwazian and non-Persian people, said head of the Arab Struggle Movement for Liberation of Ahwaz (ASLMA) Habib Jaber. He made his remarks to Asharq Al-Awsat on the sidelines of the “With Ahwaz in the Face of the Iranian Terrorism” conference in Copenhagen, Denmark over the weekend held on the 19th anniversary of the movement's founding. Jaber stressed that the conference urged European countries to support the Danish position in regards to Iran’s terrorism and human rights in Iran. Last month, Danish authorities announced that they had foiled an assassination attempt against a group of political activists opposed to the Iranian regime, headed by Jaber and two of his companions. Jaber said the measures taken by Danish authorities following the disclosure of the Iranian intelligence apparatus’s plot were “courageous and strict.”He pointed out that holding the conference “in light of the continuation of the Iranian regime threats, poses the most important challenge to the Danish security authorities,” adding that it is a chance to introduce the Danish and European public to the Iranian regime’s terrorism. Denmark took strict security measures to protect the conference. On European interest in following the activities of the conference, Jaber said that “this helps us uncover the reality of Iranian terrorism, not only in the Middle East, but also in Europe.”
This is one of the necessary steps that will worsen the relationship between Iran and the European Union, he remarked. “Iranian terrorist threats against us or movements opposed to it do not affect our work, especially since everyone is aware that this regime will fall in the near future.”The conference’s closing statement pointed to very complicated international and regional circumstances that were escalated due to the regime’s terrorist activities. The conference kicked off Saturday with a speech by Jaber, who gave an overview of the history of ASLMA and “the Iranian occupation of Ahwaz.”

Israel Approves Appointment of New Army Chief of Staff
Tel Aviv- Asharq Al-Awsat/Monday, 26 November, 2018/Israel's cabinet on Sunday approved the appointment of Aviv Kochavi, a former military intelligence head, as the army's new chief of staff, a government source said. Kochavi will take up his new position at the start of 2019, succeeding General Gadi Eisenkot. He was selected for the job by now-former defense minister Avigdor Lieberman in October. Kochavi has served as head of the army's northern command and as military intelligence chief during the 2014 war against the Palestinian Islamist movement Hamas in Gaza.
He was also deputy chief of staff since 2017. Kochavi, 54, is a graduate of the universities of Harvard and John Hopkins in the United States and holds a degree in international relations. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had welcomed the choice of Kochavi after his selection by Lieberman in October, saying he was "the most worthy candidate" to become the next chief of staff. “Kochavi is full of wisdom and I am sure he will raise the Israeli army to new heights,” he added. And Eisenkot had also congratulated him at the time and described him as "a distinguished officer with extensive combat experience from multiple combat theatres".

Israel Celebrates Visit of Chadian President
Tel Aviv- Nazir Majli/Asharq Al Awsat/November 26/18/Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday received Chadian President Idriss Deby, and described at a friendly dinner party the president’s surprise visit as “historic”. Netanyahu thanked the Chairman of the National Security Council, Meir Ben Shabbat, and the Mossad chief for their contribution in arranging the visit. Praising himself for this “achievement”, the Israeli premier said: “This visit reflects Israel’s rising status in the world. I repeat this again that we see that our vision is realized on the ground, thanks to our economic and technological strength as well as our security and intelligence forces. This combination of factors creates a political and diplomatic force that is accumulating on the ground day by day.”“Today we open a new chapter in our relations with Chad and I tell you that there will be other countries in the near future,” he added. Political sources with knowledge of the matter said that the visit came “to enhance security and economic cooperation between the two countries, as Chad needs Israel’s advice and expertise to combat terrorism since it is surrounded by unstable countries, especially Libya.” Deby arrived in Tel Aviv on Sunday for a first official visit by a senior Chadian official to the country in 46 years. An Israeli official said on Sunday that the mediation in the resumption of relations with Chad was conducted by a former senior official of the Israel Security Agency (Shin Bet). The official undertook his mission through the son of the Chadian President, who was presented to him by a French Jewish businessman Philippe Solomon and Rabbi Avraham Moyal. Israel’s Channel 10 said the country had an interest in renewing relations with Chad, the largest African Muslim country, which was willing to conclude arms deals and security technologies with Tel Aviv. According to the channel, Deby had asked Tel Aviv to appoint his son as head of his country’s diplomatic mission in Israel. A source in the Israeli foreign ministry revealed ongoing efforts to revive relations with other countries, including Nigeria and Mali.

Syrian opposition leader: Iranian militias behind chemical attack on Aleppo
Staff writer, Al Arabiya EnglishMonday, 26 November 2018/Iran’s militias were behind the chemical attack targeting Aleppo, and they seek to abort the Sochi deal in Idlib, the head of the High Negotiations Committee, Naser al-Hariri, told al-Hadath news channel. The High Negotiations Committee is an umbrella body which was created to represent the Syrian opposition in the planned Geneva peace talks in 2016. This comes after government shelling killed nine people on Saturday in Syria’s rebel-held Idlib, while state media said insurgent shells wounded dozens in Aleppo causing breathing problems. The deal to create the demilitarized zone staved off an army offensive against the Idlib region, including nearby parts of Aleppo and Hama provinces. Earlier this month, Moscow accused insurgents of trying to wreck the deal, while rebels accused the Syrian army and its allies of attacking the region. Abdul-Salam Abdul-Razzaq, the military commander of the National Liberation Front (FNL), said that the opposition had no chemical gases or capabilities to launch them. “This is a lie, the revolutionaries do not have a chemical weapon or laboratories to equip it, and they do not have most of the means of use,” he said in a tweet. "The Iranian presence in Syria and in the south in particular is unprecedented. Iran has recently established many military sites, headquarters, training centers and others," said Hariri, who was recently re-elected as head of the negotiations committee. He added that Tehran is “part of the problem and not part of the solution to the Syrian cause, and any role, decision or attempt to trim or weaken Iran militarily, politically or economically, will have a positive impact on the Syrian file, but these actions alone are not enough.”

Al Shabaab gunmen kill cleric, 9 others at religious center in Somalia

Reuters, Mogadishu/Monday, 26 November 2018/Al Shabaab gunmen and a suicide car bomber struck a religious center in central Somalia on Monday, killing a cleric and at least nine of his followers, a police officer said. “The militants killed ten people including the cleric, teenagers and women who lived inside the camp,” Police Major Abdirahman Abdullahi told Reuters by phone from the central city of Galkayo. “Fighting between security forces and al Shabaab still goes in the center, the toll may rise,” he added. Al Shabaab, an extremist group fighting to topple the Somali government, told Reuters they were responsible for the attack. “A car bomb rammed into the center of the man who insulted the prophet. Our militants are now inside and fighting goes on,” Al Shabaab spokesman Abdiasis Abu Musab told Reuters. Residents of Galkayo and a regional official said Abdiweli may have also been targeted because his center hosts mostly youths who play music and dance. Al Shabaab said last year the cleric had referred to himself as the Prophet, an accusation denied at the time by Abdiweli. “We cannot know the figure of casualties right now. Al Shabaab had threatened him many times,” Abdirashid Hashi, the governor of Mudug region, told Reuters. Al Shabaab is fighting to establish its own rule based on its harsh interpretation of Islamic law. The group controls small sections on Mudug region, but it does not include Galkayo. “Galkayo north has been very peaceful and the question is how armed militants with a suicide car bomb entered the town,” Police Captain Nur Mohamed told Reuters from Galkayo.

Palestinian shot dead after allegedly injuring Israeli soldiers in car-ramming
Reuters/Monday, 26 November 2018/A Palestinian was shot dead while allegedly attempting to carry out a car-ramming attack on Monday that injured three Israeli soldiers in the occupied West Bank, the Israeli military said. The military said one of the soldiers sustained moderate injuries and the other two were slightly hurt when the Palestinian allegedly crashed his vehicle into them along a West Bank road north of the city of Hebron. Another soldier then shot and killed the assailant, the military said. There was no claim of responsibility for Monday’s incident, which drew praise from the Hamas militant group as “a response to crimes carried out by the occupation”, a term it uses to refer to Israel. Israel captured the West Bank in a 1967 Middle East war. Palestinians seek to establish a state there and in the Hamas-run Gaza Strip, with East Jerusalem as its capital. Israeli-Palestinian peace talks collapsed in 2014.

Egypt’s Dar al-Ifta Condemns Expulsion of Idlib’s Christians From Their Homes

Cairo- Waleed Abdurrahman/Asharq Al Awsat/November 26/18/Egypt’s Dar al-Ifta condemned Sunday reports that Hayat Tahrir al-Sham had sent notices to Christian property owners in Idlib to hand over their properties by the end of November. A copy of one of these reports, which was issued by an official in the movement’s Bureau of Studies, was circulated on social media and entitled "Attendance Note." It requested the recipients to review the office within three days. The note called on the people who receive it to review the so-called “Office of Real Estate and Booty” in a move that comes within the framework of what it calls “Christians' property.”The statement issued by Dar al-Ifta pointed out that targeting Christians is one of the constants of extremists and terrorists, who have always killed Christians under different pretexts. In Egypt, the statement explained, extremists say they Christians are "warriors" and "spearhead of the crusade," and in Syria they are seen as "war booties."In all cases, these crimes are usually carried out for sectarian motifs, and it is certain that targeting part of the national fabric based on its religious belief is the gateway to spread toxins of sectarian strife and ethnic conflicts. An index for Dar al-Ifta revealed that 60 percent of the fatwas against Christians worldwide were issued by unofficial sources and figures, and 95 percent of the fatwas incited turbulence because they were issued by inept parties. The index also pointed out that the expiation fatwas represent 90 percent of those issued against Christians, indicating the imbalance in the mentality of those issuing fatwas and their lack of understanding of the Sharia texts, their misrepresentation of the facts, and their erroneous application of the jurisprudential rules.

Mitsubishi Sacks Ghosn as Chairman, Follows Nissan's Footsteps
Asharq Al-Awsat/Monday, 26 November, 2018/Executives at Mitsubishi Motors Corp said on Monday that they decided to remove Carlos Ghosn from his role as chairman, following his arrest and ouster from alliance partner Nissan Motor Co last week for alleged financial misconduct.
The ouster of Brazilian national Ghosn, who has Lebanese roots, marks the end of his chairmanship of Japanese automakers, just two years after he was praised for bringing a steadying hand to Mitsubishi Motors following a cheating scandal in 2016. The automaker said its current CEO, Osamu Masuko, will serve as both acting chairman and CEO pending a general shareholders meeting. The move comes amid discontent over French partner Renault SA's role in the 19-year alliance of which the once-revered tycoon was the driving force. Sealed in 1999 when Nissan was rescued from near-bankruptcy, it was enlarged in 2016 to include Mitsubishi and enabled the members to jointly develop products and control costs. The alliance vies with Volkswagen AG and Toyota Motor Corp for the ranking of the world's biggest automaker. Even as Nissan has recovered and grown rapidly, it remains a junior partner in the shareholding structure. Renault owns 43 percent of Nissan and the Japanese automaker holds a 15 percent non-voting stake in the French firm. And Nissan is almost 60 percent bigger than Renault by sales. Top alliance executives are meeting this week in Amsterdam, aiming to shield their joint operations from the fallout of the arrest of Ghosn, who was born in Brazil and is also French citizen, as a power struggle between Nissan and Renault looms. Renault has refrained from firing him as chairman and CEO. Nissan CEO Hiroto Saikawa told staff on Monday that power was too concentrated with Ghosn and that in future better communication between alliance board members and executives would help preserve independence and generate synergies among the automakers, a Nissan spokesman said. Ghosn was pushing for a deeper tie-up, including potentially a full merger between Renault and Nissan at the French government's urging, despite strong reservations at the Japanese firm. Nissan removed Ghosn at a high stakes board meeting on Thursday after allegations of understating his income and using company money for personal use. Ghosn has denied the allegations, public broadcaster NHK reported on Sunday. Nissan holds a controlling 34 percent stake in Mitsubishi Motors and has two executives on the board. Alliances often benefit automakers because they share technology, auto parts, and supplier and sales networks. Sales volume tends to lower costs.

Jordan Army Kills Four Smugglers Crossing Border From Syria
Amman- Asharq Al-Awsat/Monday, 26 November, 2018/Jordanian border guards on Sunday killed four smugglers seeking to cross into the kingdom from Syria’s southeastern desert border area, an army source said, adding that it had also foiled two bids to smuggle drugs. The source told Reuters two others were arrested in what was a large drug smuggling operation into the kingdom from the lawless eastern Syrian desert. "An infiltration operation was foiled after watching six people attempt to cross the Jordanian (border)," an unnamed military official said in a statement. "The rules of engagement were implemented leading to the death of four and the wounding of two others who were transported to the relevant authorities." Separately, the army said "two bids to smuggle a large quantity of drugs" had been thwarted. In the first operation, border guards confiscated 362,000 tablets of Captagon, a popular amphetamine, and 50,000 tablets of Tramadol, a powerful opiate-based painkiller. In the second, they seized 28 bricks of hashish and 72,000 Captagon tablets. The statement did not specify which neighboring country the smugglers or the infiltrators were coming from. Jordan's army regularly announces that it has foiled attempts to infiltrate or smuggle drugs into the kingdom from neighboring Syria. Some 650,000 Syrian refugees have registered with the United Nations in Jordan since fleeing their country's seven-year war, which started with anti-government protests in 2011. Amman estimates the true number of refugees is closer to 1.3 million. Jordanian authorities have arrested and imprisoned dozens of militants trying to sneak across the border to fight in Syria. Captagon is one of the most commonly used drugs among fighters in the Syrian war. But dozens of drug traffickers have also been detained by Jordanian authorities. In October, the Eastern Military Zone, in close coordination with the Anti-Narcotics Department and Military Security, thwarted the smuggling of large quantities of narcotics in the area separating the Jordanian-Syrian borders. Jordan's interior ministry estimates 85 percent of the drugs it seizes has been earmarked for smuggling outside the kingdom.

Alleged Syria Chemical Attack: Is the Idlib Deal in Peril?
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/November 26/18/A 10-week-old truce deal in northern Syria looked as precarious as ever Monday after an alleged chemical attack, which has already drawn retaliatory raids despite its origins being unclear. The exact circumstances of the purported attack on three districts of the government-held city of Aleppo Saturday are murky and bitterly disputed. In little doubt, however, is the strain the incident will put on an already fragile agreement reached in mid-September to fend off a fully-fledged assault on Idlib.
What happened on Saturday?
Syrian state media accused "terrorists" of carrying out a "toxic gas" attack in Aleppo late Saturday, using a term that it uses to mean both rebels and jihadists. State news agency SANA said 107 people were hospitalized with breathing difficulties, after what health official Ziad Hajj Taha said it was a "probable" chlorine attack. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights put the number of people affected slightly lower at 94, and said over half had been discharged by the next morning. The Britain-based monitor, which says it gathers its information from people inside Syria, said its sources reported "the smell of chlorine". An AFP reporter saw dozens of civilians carried or helped into a hospital, appearing to be dizzy and breathing with difficulty. Staff gave them oxygen masks. The regime has been blamed for the most deadly chemical weapon attacks in Syria's seven-year war, but official media has recently accused fighters in Idlib of planning a chemical attack.
What's the context?
Aleppo city lies just east of the country's last major rebel bastion of Idlib, which a Russian-Turkey deal has protected from a massive regime offensive since September. More than half of that region is controlled by Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS), a powerful alliance led by the jihadists of Syria's former al-Qida affiliate, who have not commented on the Aleppo attack. But the National Liberation Front (NLF), a coalition of Turkish-backed rebels who hold most of the rest of the region, have denied any involvement. The Islamic State group and the al-Qaida-linked Hurras al-Deen organization are also present in the area. In September, regime ally Moscow and rebel backer Ankara agreed to set up a U-shaped buffer zone around Idlib to keep pro-government forces outside the region of some three million. But implementation has stalled since jihadists refused to leave the planned demilitarized zone by a mid-October deadline, and sporadic clashes and bombardment have since rocked the area. Jihadists including HTS control around 70 percent of the planned buffer, according to the Observatory. On Sunday, Russia said "terrorist groups" inside a part the planned demilitarized area held by HTS had shelled Aleppo. It said its war planes carried out air strikes against those groups, the first such raids on the planned buffer since the Russian-Turkish deal more than two months ago.
What's the outcome?
Sunday's air strikes have piled additional strain on the Idlib deal. "The attack and then the Russian bombardment clearly demonstrates the weakness of the Idlib agreement," said Aaron Stein, a fellow at the Atlantic Council. "The Russian response clearly shows that they will not be restrained by the ceasefire with Turkey when its interests are threatened," he said. Regime forces control around two-thirds of the country, after winning back large parts of it with Russian support since 2015. Damascus has repeatedly said the Idlib agreement was only a temporary measure until the northwestern region on the Turkish border reverted to government control. Analyst Julien Theron, from Sciences Po university in Paris, pointed to several possible outcomes. "This affair could be used by the regime, with tacit support or military support from its ally Russia, to retake the whole of Idlib," he said. "But Idlib is a very complex region to retake and the risks are high," he warned. Instead, Russia may seek to keep the agreement alive by "forcing Turkey to intervene" against HTS, he said. "But that would imply Ankara eventually being in control on the ground," he said, a scenario likely not to please Damascus. Nawar Oliver, an analyst with the Omran Center, said he did not expect a Russia-backed regime ground assault. "They don't have the luxury to launch a ground attack because they simply don't have the ground forces," he said.

With Border Open, Jordanians Visit Syria for First Time in Years
Damascus- Asharq Al-Awsat/Monday, 26 November, 2018/Jordanians are flocking to the Syrian capital Damascus for the first time in years for tourism and trade after the reopening of a border crossing that had been closed through years of war. The border opened to people and goods on Oct. 15, restoring a route that had carried billions of dollars in trade for the region. “The first day that Syria opened up, I came. This is my second time since then,” said Mahmoud Nassar, 62, a flight engineer from Jordan’s northern city of Ramtha. “This is a visit of tourism and of yearning for (Damascus),” said Nassar, who drove in with his father and son. “The road is safe and there were no problems.”Syrian government forces retook the border region with Jordan from rebels in July during a Russian-backed offensive. The crossing had been closed since rebels captured it in 2015, though many are making the trip for the first time since 2011, when the Syrian conflict first erupted. The Jordanian side of the frontier was jammed with vehicles waiting to cross on Friday. “What we see is the situation is good, things are fine,” said Razzan al-Hattab, a Jordanian waiting to cross. “I love Sham (Damascus), so I wanted to be one of the first to try going in a tourist group.” The closure of the border has hit both the Syrian and Jordanian economies. “Before the border closed, our work was great,” said Jawad al-Zoubi, waiting to cross. But for “the last seven years, we’ve not been able to pay school fees”, he said. Bahjat Rizik, in Damascus with his wife and son, said the last time he made the three-hour drive from Amman was before the war began. He used to bring office furniture to sell in Syria and owned a gallery in the Yarmouk district near Damascus. “I will visit every week,” said Rizik, carrying bags of children’s clothes and spices with his family.
“God willing, we can get back to work.”Bilal Bashi, who runs a company selling abayas in Damascus, said he had seen more Jordanian tourists and shoppers since the crossing opened. “No doubt there will be an economic (boost). It will have a positive effect,” he said at the historic Souk al-Hamidieh market in the Old City of Damascus. Still, Raed Maseh, another Syrian trader, said the increase in Jordanian visitors had not had a real impact yet and hoped more people would come. The Syrian war further added to the strain on an already difficult relationship between Damascus and Amman. US-allied Jordan provided support to some of the rebels fighting President Bashar al-Assad. But diplomatic ties were not severed entirely and Syria’s relations with Jordan never turned as hostile as they did with some other regional states, notably Turkey which remains a major backer of the opposition. Intisar Murshid, the head of a Damascus hotel, said she received some 14 Jordanian guests on the first day the crossing opened. They came to shop, work, or visit relatives. “For eight years we did not see Jordanians, very rarely.”

Israel Postpones Vote on 'Loyalty' in Culture Bill
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/November 26/18/A vote on a controversial law that would cut government subsidies to cultural institutions deemed disloyal to Israel was Monday postponed indefinitely, Israel's culture minister said. The bill, submitted by Culture Minister Miri Regev, would give the finance and culture ministries the power to slash subsidies to institutions backing films or plays that do not show "loyalty" to the state. Such institutions would include those which deny Israel's existence as a "democratic and Jewish state," or those inciting violence, racism or "terrorism."Any organization that marks Israel's independence day as a national day of mourning, or present artistic work that attacks the national flag or other state symbols would also be denied funding. For Palestinians, the anniversary of Israel's 1948 independence marks the Nakba, or "catastrophe", when more than 700,000 fled or were expelled during the war surrounding Israel's creation. A ministerial committee had voted to advance the bill in October but it needed two more parliamentary readings before becoming law. Monday's vote was postponed indefinitely because of a lack of a majority, said Regev, a member of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's rightwing Likud bloc.The ruling coalition has been left with a narrow majority of one vote in the 120-seat Knesset, or parliament, after Avigdor Lieberman resigned as defense minister earlier this month.

Israel Rearrests Palestinian Jerusalem Governor

Ramallah- Asharq Al-Awsat/Monday, 26 November, 2018/Israeli police arrested the Palestinian governor of Jerusalem for the second time in as many months on Sunday after an investigation related to a land sale. Adnan Gheith was arrested in east Jerusalem overnight, police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said in a statement, without providing further details. Jerusalem magistrate's court extended his remand until Thursday at noon. Judge Chavi Toker was presented with secret evidence and said the reason for his arrest was unlawful collaboration with Palestinian Authority (PA) security forces, which Israel says violates the Oslo accords. Palestinian lawyer Rami Othman announced that he will appeal the extended detention of Gheith, saying that an appeal will be submitted at the Jerusalem District Court on Monday morning. Gheith's arrest comes in the context of Israel’s effort to prevent the PA from carrying out political and security-related activities within the area of Israel, including east Jerusalem. A 1995 law passed by the Knesset bans the PA from carrying out such activities within the area of Israel. On October 20, Gheith was detained for two days of questioning before being released, with Israel's Shin Bet domestic security agency saying it was over "illegal activity by the (PA) in Jerusalem". He was also taken for questioning a number of times in recent weeks and his office was raided on November 4. The PA's Jerusalem affairs minister, Adnan al-Husseini, has also been given a three-month travel ban by Israeli authorities, according to Palestinian officials.Israeli media have reported that authorities have been investigating the governor following the PA's arrest of a man in October accused of being involved in selling property in east Jerusalem to a Jewish buyer. Such sales are considered treasonous among Palestinians concerned with Israeli settlers buying property in east Jerusalem. But among Israelis, there have been calls for authorities to free the man arrested by the PA over the sale. Israeli newspaper Haaretz has reported that the man is a Palestinian with US citizenship. Fuad Hallaq, a senior advisor to the Palestine Liberation Organisation in Jerusalem, told AFP that he believed the latest arrest was part of Israeli efforts to pressure the Palestinian leadership to release the man. The judge said in court Sunday that the arrest of the governor was connected to the land sale investigation, but that there were new allegations which she did not publicly detail. A lawyer for Gheith said that the governor had committed no crimes, adding that "the feeling is that the police are trying to prevent the defendant from functioning in his position". Israel occupied east Jerusalem in the 1967 Six-Day War and later annexed it in a move never recognized by the international community. It considers the entire city its capital, while the Palestinians see the eastern sector as the capital of their future state. PA activities are barred from Jerusalem by Israel. As a result, the PA has a minister for Jerusalem affairs and a Jerusalem governor located in Al-Ram, just on the other side of Israel's separation wall from Jerusalem in the occupied West Bank.

Russian Airstrikes Hit Syria ‘Buffer Zone’ after Chemical Attack
Beirut - Nazeer Rida/Asharq Al-Awsat/Monday, 26 November, 2018/Russian warplanes attacked on Sunday opposition-held areas in the countryside of the northern Syrian city of Aleppo for the first time since a truce deal was reached two months ago between Ankara and Moscow in north Syria. Moscow said Sunday the raids came as a response to the suspected poison gas attack in the north of the city a day earlier. “The planes of Russia’s Aerospace Defense Forces carried out strikes on the detected artillery positions of terrorists in the area, from where the shelling of Aleppo civilians with chemical munitions was conducted,” Russian military spokesman Major General Igor Konashenkov told reporters in Moscow. Syria said Sunday more than 100 people were treated at hospitals for the suspected poison gas attack in Aleppo, blaming “terrorist groups,” without naming any. The Syrian regime called on the United Nations to denounce the attack. "The Syrian government demands the UN Security Council immediately and harshly condemn these terrorist crimes," the foreign ministry said. In comments to Asharq Al-Awsat on Sunday, informed Syrian opposition sources denied responsibility, accusing Qaeda-linked extremist groups of standing behind the chemical attack. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a Britain-based monitor, said a total of 94 people were hospitalized after "the smell of chlorine" was reported in the city, but most were discharged.On Saturday, an AFP photographer saw dozens of civilians, including women and children, stream into an Aleppo hospital, some on stretchers or carried in by their relatives. Separately, Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar discussed with his Russian counterpart by telephone on Sunday the latest developments in Syria’s Idlib, Turkish broadcaster CNN Turk reported. No further details were immediately available. Russian news agencies cited Konashenkov as saying that the Russian strikes had destroyed all of their targets and that Moscow had warned Turkey of the bombing raid in advance via a telephone hotline.

Egypt Upholds 9 Death Sentences over Prosecutor's Assassination
Cairo - Asharq Al-Awsat/Monday, 26 November, 2018/Egypt's highest appellate court upheld the death sentences handed to nine defendants over the 2015 assassination of the country's state prosecutor Hisham Barakat, who was killed in a car blast in northeastern Cairo. In July 2017, death sentences were handed down against 28 defendants, while 38 others were sentenced to jail. Some of the suspects had appealed their sentences. Prosecutor General Nabil Sadek referred the defendants to the criminal court after they were charged with having links to members of the Palestinian Hamas movement and fugitive leaders from the Muslim Brotherhood. They were accused of plotting to target some Egyptian state figures “to spur chaos and instability in the country in order to overthrow the state.”The investigations revealed that the suspects formed groups, some of which were specialized in mental preparation for these acts, while others received fighting training in Hamas camps abroad. They were trained on building explosives and carrying out surveillance against important figures. After the training was complete, they illegally returned to Egypt to commit their crime. Investigations concluded that the defendants relayed their training to the groups and built the explosives that targeted Barakat. After carrying out the necessary surveillance, they planted the explosives in a car in an area that they knew Barakat’s convoy would pass through. He, along with some of his guards and pedestrians, were killed in the attack. In another context, the Cairo Criminal Court sentenced eight suspects to five years in jail in the retrial in the arson at Al-Azhar University in 2013.

UK's May Comes under Fire over EU Exit Deal
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/November 26/18/British Prime Minister Theresa May faced parliamentary fury on Monday as she set off on the tricky task of convincing mutinous lawmakers to back her divorce deal with the EU. The British leader crowned nearly two years of painful talks with Brussels that threatened to fall apart many times by sealing Brexit arrangements on Sunday with the 27 EU heads of state. But this difficult chapter was always going to be the easy part. May must now navigate the deal through a divided chamber in which she holds the slimmest working majority -- and where lawmakers oppose it on all sides. She announced the vote on the deal will be on December 11. The beleaguered leader got a taste of just how tough her job will be as she briefed lawmakers on the outcome of her Brussels visit. Opposition Labor Party chief Jeremy Corbyn called the withdrawal deal and accompanying political declaration on future relations "an act of national self-harm.""For the good of the nation, the House has very little choice but to reject this deal," he said. Yet May might be more disconcerted by the seemingly growing and clearly more vocal chorus of resentment from her own Conservative Party. Conservative MP Mark Francois told May her deal was "as dead as a Dodo."Former May loyalist Michael Fallon said the government was asking parliament to "take a huge gamble" and "surrendering our (EU) vote and our veto without any firm commitment to frictionless trade".More than an hour passed before the first member of her own party stood up to voice her support for the prime minister.
'Get on with it'
The current vote counts conducted by British media are not stacking up in May's favor. Many expect the deal to fail the first time around and for May to call a second vote on more or less the same set of arrangements before the chamber breaks for the winter holidays. Britain would be entering unchartered waters -- and quite possibly new elections -- if the deal fails a second time around. Brexit enters into force on March 29 and May's government is also making "no-deal" preparations just in case. May argued on Monday that voters were simply exhausted with Brexit and just wanted their leaders to get things resolved once and for all. "The British people want us to get on with a deal that honors the referendum and allows us to come together again as a country, whichever way we voted," May said. "This is that deal. A deal that delivers for the British people." EU foes in her Conservative Party accuse May of ceding too much to Brussels while the Labor opposition argues that it will devastate the British economy. But both Brussels and May said the deal now on the table is final -- and the best one Britain can get. "We don't want to give the wrong impression to people, whether they are passionate Remainers or passionate Brexiteers, that there is another agreement that can command the support of 28 member states. There isn't," Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar said.
Poorer Britons?
May will now embark on an intensive nationwide campaign to promote the deal with voters across the country and lawmakers in London. The government was to hold a special briefing on the Brexit deal for Labor MPs -- an unusual but not unprecedented move. May will also meet over 100 big business leaders to seek their support. But Corbyn on Monday cited a fresh economic study showing the British growth slowing sharply under the plan prepared by May's government. The independent National Institute of Economic and Social Research found that trade with the EU -- especially in services -- was likely to be more costly after Brexit and have an adverse effect on living standards. "GDP in the longer term will be around four percent lower than it would have been had the UK stayed in the EU," the report said. It estimated that the loss equaled around £1,000 ($1,300, 1,150 euros) per year per person.

Russia-Ukraine Tensions Soar after Confrontation at Sea
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/November 26/18/Kiev and Moscow faced their worst crisis in years on Monday as Ukraine and its Western allies demanded the release of three ships fired on and seized by Russia near Crimea. Russian forces boarded and captured the ships on Sunday, with Moscow accusing the vessels of illegally entering Russian waters off the coast of Crimea in the Sea of Azov. Ukraine's military was on high alert and parliament was meeting to vote on a request to impose martial law from President Petro Poroshenko who accused Moscow of a "new phase of aggression."
The incident has raised fears of a wider military escalation. The U.N. Security Council met in an emergency session, where U.S. Ambassador Nikki Haley warned Russia against "outlaw actions." The confrontation is a dangerous development in the conflict pitting Ukraine against Moscow and Russian-backed rebels in the east of the country. More than 10,000 people have been killed since the Moscow-backed insurgency broke out in April 2014 following Russia's annexation of Crimea from Ukraine. The United States and EU have already imposed sanctions on Russia over the conflict and on Monday European capitals rallied behind Kiev. Ukraine's Western allies accused Russia of using force without justification in the naval confrontation, while Kiev urged its partners to impose further sanctions on Moscow. "These were planned acts of aggression by the Russian Federation against Ukraine," Foreign Minister Pavlo Klimkin told reporters in Kiev. "We will demand (at the Security Council) the immediate release of our sailors and the liberation of our ships."
'New phase' of conflict
In a televised address to the nation, Poroshenko accused Russia of taking the two countries' long-running conflict to another level. "(Russia) entered a new phase of aggression," Poroshenko said, adding that the incident showed "the arrogant and open participation of regular units of Russian troops" after Moscow always insisted its forces were not directly involved in Ukraine. Moscow blamed Kiev for the incident, with Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov saying: "The Russian side acted strictly within both domestic and international law." The crisis unfolded as two small Ukrainian warships and a tugboat were heading through the Kerch Strait, a waterway that gives access to the Sea of Azov from the Black Sea and which is used by both Ukraine and Russia. Ukraine said a Russian border guard vessel rammed the tugboat and then fired on the ships, immobilizing all three. It said the Kerch Strait was blocked by a tanker and that Russian military aircraft were flying over the area. Russia's FSB security service, which oversees border forces, confirmed weapons had been fired and the vessels seized, accusing the Ukrainian ships of "violating the Russian border."
Ukraine's interior minister released a video on Twitter apparently from aboard one of the Russian ships, showing the tugboat being chased down and the collision, interspersed with commands and swearing in Russian. Russian television networks showed a similar video, but with the voices removed and without the moment of collision. Ukraine said six of its servicemen were injured in the incident, two seriously. The FSB said only three had suffered non-life threatening injuries and were given medical treatment. Russian officials said 24 Ukrainian servicemen had been detained and Peskov said a criminal investigation had been opened.
Europe rallies behind Kiev
"I condemn Russian use of force in Azov Sea. Russian authorities must return Ukrainian sailors, vessels & refrain from further provocations," EU President Donald Tusk tweeted. France also called on Russia to release the sailors and ships, with the foreign ministry saying "nothing appears to justify the use of force" by Russia. German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said any Russian "blockade" of the Sea of Azov was "unacceptable" and proposed French-German mediation to resolve the crisis. Tensions have been building over the Kerch Strait, where Russia has built a new bridge that gives it a land connection to Crimea, annexed by Moscow in 2014. Kiev has accused Moscow of blocking access for Ukrainian ships though the strait, the only way in and out of the Sea of Azov to the Black Sea. In recent months both sides had deployed more naval and border vessels to the area."The incident marks a significant escalation of the conflict between Russia and Ukraine," research firm Eurasia Group said. "Western governments will side with Ukraine against Russia over the incident... making new sanctions against Russia likely." Protesters gathered in several Ukrainian cities to denounce Russia's actions, with several hundred far-right activists marching to parliament in Kiev and setting off flares.

Saudi Crown Prince Arrives in Cairo on Regional Tour
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/November 26/18/Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman arrived in Cairo on Monday, the latest leg of his first foreign tour since the killing of critic Jamal Khashoggi sparked a global outcry. The kingdom's de facto ruler was met on arrival by President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, a source at the airport said. Prince Mohammed began his regional tour on Thursday, travelling to close ally the United Arab Emirates before arriving in Bahrain on Sunday. In Egypt, the royal's talks with Sisi are expected to focus on "reinforcing bilateral relations and on regional issues of common interest," presidency spokesman Bassam Radi told AFP. After an overnight stay in Cairo, the crown prince is due to travel to Tunisia where protests against the visit have been organized by student bodies for Tuesday. Around 100 people joined an initial demonstration on Monday in the capital Tunis, which had been called by the journalists' union and several NGOs and civil society organizations. Prince Mohammed's tour comes weeks after the murder of journalist Khashoggi in Saudi Arabia's consulate in Istanbul. Riyadh initially claimed Khashoggi left the consulate unharmed on October 2, before ultimately admitting he was murdered in what officials said was a "rogue" operation. Saudi Arabia has been put under intense international pressure over the killing and has brought charges over a number of suspects, while denying the country's powerful crown prince was involved.

Latest LCCC Bulletin analysis & editorials from miscellaneous sources published on November 26-27/18
A New Phase In Israel- Gulf Relations

Jerusalem Post/November 26/18
The visits represent a significant breakthrough in connections between Israel the Gulf states. Since the 1990s, when Israel signed the Oslo Accords and made peace with Jordan, there were increasing ties to several Gulf countries. This included the opening of trade offices. However, relations became frozen during the Second Intifada (2000-2005).
In the last decade, a thaw has taken place. Katz said during his visit that his trip and others were “part of a wider trend of strengthening ties between Israel and the Gulf countries based on common interests and a mutual recognition of the potential benefits for both sides, both in terms of contending with common challenges and threats, as well as opportunities.” The transportation minister’s visit to Oman coincided with his discussions about a rail link or “tracks of regional peace” that could one day foresee linking Israel with the rest of the Arab region. He discussed the plan at the IRU Congress that met in Muscat from November 6 to 8.
Currently, Israel has relations with Jordan and Egypt. Jordan has been seeking to expand its very limited rail network; the Gulf states and Saudi Arabia are all laying plans for major infrastructure projects involving rail and transportation. In the United Arab Emirates, Etihad Rail is planning a 1,200-km. line that will eventually reach the Saudi Arabian border and Oman. A 2,400-km. line would link Riyadh to Al-Haditha on the Jordanian border. It would give Saudi Arabia around 3,900 km. of track. OMAN, where Katz traveled, has been increasing its rail network in recent years. In 2015, Sultan Qaboos bin Said al Said signed off on two more phases of a multi-phase rail network. The first phase links Al Buraimi on the UAE border with the port of Sohar. A second phase would stretch down to Ibri and another phase would go down to the port of Al Duqm. Eventually, it could be 2,135 km. long. With Jordan as a regional transportation hub, Israel could be hooked up to a powerful network of regional states. This would also aid the Palestinian economy. “It will create an additional trade route in the region, which is shorter, faster and cheaper,” Katz said.
With Saudi Arabia pioneering major economic reforms, called Vision 2030, the region is on the verge of an economic revolution after years of stagnation. Saudi Arabia is one of the largest economies in the region, but it wants to diversify and is laying plans for nuclear energy, investments in desalination and other projects. Israel and the UAE are perfectly positioned, with roughly the same GDP, to benefit and contribute to this regional awakening.
Eight years since the Arab Spring began at the end of 2010, the Middle East is still recovering from the instability and terrorism that became the dark side of the spring. Out of the chaos and instability came the extremism of Islamic State. The defeat of ISIS has now led to a new struggle by Iran and its adversaries for regional hegemony. All of this has overshadowed Israel’s important role in regional security and relationships. Katz’s visit shows that attitudes are changing. “This is the first time an Israeli minister has been formally invited to participate in an international conference in Oman,” his office noted. He described Qaboos as an experienced and impressive leader. “I was moved to receive such a warm welcome in Oman as an Israeli minister and take part in Oman’s traditional sword dance.”
It is a sign of Israel’s growing strength.
TODAY, the Middle East faces a series of slow-burning conflicts that do not appear to have a clear end in sight. In Syria, the remnants of ISIS are still a threat along the Euphrates. The US-led coalition and its Syrian Democratic Forces partners are fighting ISIS, but the progress is slow going. It has been more than a year since Raqqa was liberated and the city is in need of major investment. Slowly, the US and other countries, such as Saudi Arabia, have begun to invest in eastern Syria. However, a large question mark remains over what the final result will be there.
Turkey, which opposed the US embassy move to Jerusalem, has also been upset with Washington’s role working with the People’s Protection Units (YPG) in eastern Syria, which Ankara sees as terrorists connected to the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK). Meanwhile, Turkey is playing an important role in northern Syria with the Free Syrian Army and has signed an agreement with Russia in Idlib. This means that the Syrian conflict has gone from a hot war to a more frozen conflict. At any time, especially with the malfeasance of Iran, Syria could become a conflict zone again.
At the same time, there is a brutal conflict being waged in Yemen between Iranian-backed Houthi rebels and a Saudi-led alliance. In Iraq, ISIS remains a threat and there are disputes between the Iranian-backed Shi’ite militias and the US and Western allies. In Libya, a conflict continues and extremists are putting down roots. This means that we have a region that is still divided between stable countries and those where extremism is part of an arc of threats that stretch from the Sahel to Afghanistan.
Katz’s vision of a network of rail links may take decades to come to fruition, but it is an important symbol of the way the region may trend towards stability. A stable Middle East, as has been illustrated by the last decades of conflict, is essential for global stability.

جيروزاليم بوست: نظام الأسد يمنح المواطنة للمقاتلين من الإيرانيين وحزب الله

Report: Syrian Regime Grants Citizenship To Iranians, Hezbollah Fighters
Jerusalem Post/November 26/18
Concealing the presence of Iranian and Hezbollah fighters in southern Syria could be seen as contravening understandings reached between Israel and Russia. he Syrian regime naturalized thousands or even tens of thousands of Iranians, including members of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) and Iran-backed militias like Hezbollah that are deployed in southern Syria along the border with Israel, according to a report by the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI). The report explained that “systematic action by the regime to settle [them] throughout Syria” served two purposes: concealing the fighter’s presence and changing the country’s demography.
Concealing the presence of Iranian and Hezbollah fighters in southern Syria could be seen as contravening understandings reached between Israel and Russia to keep such groups away from the Jewish state’s northern border. In late October, Moscow agreed to expand a buffer zone along the Golan Heights. Russia had refused the Israeli request for a 40-kilometer (25 mile) buffer zone, but expressed willingness to enforce an off-limits zone of 10-15 km. As the war in Syria seems to be winding down in Assad’s favor, Israel fears that Iran will help Hezbollah produce accurate precision-guided missiles and aid the group and other Shi’ite militias to strengthen their foothold in the Golan Heights. Israeli officials have repeatedly voiced concerns over the growing Iranian presence on its borders and the smuggling of sophisticated weaponry to Hezbollah from Tehran to Lebanon via Syria, stressing that both are red lines for the Jewish state. The issuance of Syrian identity cards to Iranian and Hezbollah fighters may be aimed at enabling them to stay there, ostensibly without violating the understandings.
In addition, expelling Sunnis – deemed to be a potential threat to the regime – and resettling areas by bringing in large Shi’ite populations would consolidate Assad’s position and add a considerable number of forces to fight alongside the Syrian Army.
Hinting at such a policy, Assad reportedly said in a July 2015 speech, “The homeland does not belong to those who live there, nor to those who hold a passport or are citizens. The homeland belongs to those who protect and guard it,” according to MEMRI.
Syrians who fled Damascus and other areas during the seven years of civil war have long complained of demographic changes and their areas being taken over, either by the government or by outsiders.
In 2013, it was reported that Hazara Shi’ite migrants from Afghanistan – some of the many refugees trying to make their way from parts of Asia to Europe – had come to settle around the famous Sayyida Zainab Mosque.
SOME OF the refugees also came with the Fatemiyoun Brigade, Afghan Shi’ite fighters recruited by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) to help Assad. Some stayed in Syria when their service was over.
A Syrian refugee and writer named Mohammed Ruzgar wrote in 2015 that the regime in Damascus had bulldozed neighborhoods under the pretext of rebuilding them.
“We estimate that some 200,000 Sunni Muslims have left because of this ‘project’ while the regime is giving houses to members of the Shi’ite militias fighting alongside it,” he wrote. Sunni areas of Damascus, he claimed, had become a “Shi’ite canton.”
In January 2017, Martin Chulov at The Guardian reported about a “vanguard” of foreigners coming to Syria to “repopulate the area with Shia Muslims, not just from elsewhere in Syria but also from Lebanon and Iraq.” The article examined “population swaps” during deals on the ground between rebels and government forces.
“Iran and the regime don’t want any Sunnis between Damascus and Homs and the Lebanese border,” a Lebanese official told Chulov. “This represents a historic shift in populations.”
In March of this year, Ruzgar again warned of “demographic” change in the capital. Other regional media picked up this story, including Turkey’s Hurriyet newspaper.
In addition, a new law allowing the government to “redevelop areas devastated by war,” caused concern. It “could make it difficult for refugees to prove property ownership,” Asharq Al-Aswat reported in May.
European Union member states and Lebanese officials warned about the ramifications of the law. With around five million refugees and six million people displaced by the war, the warnings of demographic change have caught on in many circles, particularly among Sunni Arabs who make up the majority of Syria.
The war had fallen hardest on many Sunni areas because they formed the backbone of the rebellion. As such, the destruction of their areas tends to be seen as a plot by Assad and the Iranian regime to keep former residents from returning.
Rumors of Iraqis or foreigners settling in these areas have sparked fears that this is a growing trend.
The evidence is less clear. Al-Jazeera reported in January 2017 that Afghans who fought for the IRGC were told their families would receive citizenship in Iran, not Syria, if they died in battle.
There are also allegations of Hezbollah recruiting or paying people to support the regime in Syria. This would indicate that local Syrians, primarily Sunnis who once lived in rebel areas, are joining units affiliated with the regime.
These are not Hezbollah members settling in Syria, but recruits from the local population. Hezbollah needs its Shi’ite population to stay in Lebanon as part of its own demographic game to control Lebanon. Exporting its members to Syria may not be in its interest.
Iran also has falling birthrates, which means it does not have a lot of young men who might want to move to a place like Syria.
It would appear difficult to dramatically change the demographics of Syria by importing people from a country like Iran, where there are few young people who might be enticed to come.
*Anna Ahronheim contributed to this report.

Dictionaries, Rockets and Towers

Ghassan Charbel/Asharq Al Awsat/November 26/18
Belonging to an era is not like going to the movies. It’s not enough to buy a ticket to book a seat. The issue is more complex and difficult to circumvent. You have no choice but to stand boldly in front of the mirror, to get rid of some of your illusions and old ideas and to put your dictionary on the table and examine the vocabulary and concepts that you think are difficult to change. You must open the door to an internal war within your thoughts and perceptions… your relationship with time… your community… the others… and the world.
You will not head to the future if you decide that the past is better. I don’t claim that the task is easy… that overcoming the burdens of the past is simple. But the Arab people are now at the turning point and they have to make a decision. The issue is very serious. It is whether you sleep in your ancestors’ bed and hide in their dictionary or contribute to building a world worthy of your grandchildren.
Century after century, we slept on the pillow of similarity and considered time as just accumulating stones. Many circumstances did not make our region the arena for promising events. Nothing like the French Revolution, the Industrial Revolution or the Renaissance. But now the era has confronted us and dragged us to face the test. Feel the phone inside your pocket. It is the greatest traveler, the smartest spy and unyielding reporter. The world is in your pocket with all the images and sounds, with information and questions. You have to choose. The poison has leaked into your dictionary. You shall not look into your grandfather’s drawers for a cure.
There is no choice but to contact the era; no matter how much effort and rehabilitation you may require. You cannot be a journalist today in the way you were ten years ago. You cannot be a minister today as you were ten years ago. The same is true for the officer, the university professor, the engineer, the governor and the government. Our separation from the era has cost us nations, cities and seas of human and financial losses… breaking with facts and the concept of the State and institutions.
This is what came to my mind when a friend from Libya contacted me to comment on Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum’s interview with Asharq Al-Awsat. He recalled how Colonel Mmammar al-Gaddafi called Sheikh Mohammad and expressed his desire for Tripoli to become “a new Dubai” and Africa’s economic hub. He said that the construction of a modern city that could accommodate many nationalities and where people lived under the rule of law required a mentality that did not exist in the colonel’s system, and institutions that were not present during his time.
“Some of our countries have fallen into the hands of men who have a World War II mentality, if not older,” said the man who knows both the regime and the colonel. “These are selfish men, who don’t know the world and their real war is that of retaining power. They didn’t reflect on the deep meaning of the collapse of the Soviet Union – that of never catching up with the era and failing to improve the people’s living conditions.”
He went on to say: “These regimes were busy with security and intelligence, not with universities and education. They preferred to buy and stock missiles instead of getting engaged in rehabilitating the infrastructure, promoting investments and building towers. They believed that the citizen could provide his bread and income under the cloak of the regime and its revolutionary committees.”
He noted that Arab governments are increasingly aware of the importance of building intra-Arab relations on the basis of mutual interests. The same strategy has enabled the Europeans to remove the specter of war and transformed the ancient continent into a prominent player in international politics and economy. He expected that the process of reform and modernization witnessed by Saudi Arabia within the framework of Vision 2030 launched by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman would have a major impact in the Arab and Islamic world. He emphasized serious and difficult measures applied by the Egyptian government to put the economy on the path towards recovery, and the same for Jordan.
He said that if Gaddafi had managed to build Dubai in Tripoli, both Libya and its leader would not have suffered their current fates. Had Saddam Hussein built something like Dubai in Baghdad, neither the Iraqi leader nor his country would have been exposed to such calamities. But you cannot build a modern city with an old and outdated dictionary. Tripoli could have now been a city teeming with tourists and investors and enjoying all the necessary resources. This is also true for Baghdad. Abandon the old dictionary... The dictionary of fear and domination…
It is clear that our region must engage in two battles simultaneously: the battle of stability and the quest for prosperity.
The battle of stability aims to restore some balance in the region, which would allow the preservation of the Arabs’ role and interests, and enable their countries to take a breath and fight for reform and modernization. The battle of prosperity must start by adopting a new dictionary in dealing with the world, the era and the people’s needs and aspirations.
The success of the two battles depends on the ability to exit the cycle of old fears to enter the circle of strategic partnerships and the exchange of benefits and expertise.
It is no secret that we need to get out of the old dictionaries. We need education that awakens the capabilities of Arab students and enables them to belong to the world of transformation, competition and innovation. We need an actual developmental effort that positively changes the conditions of people’s lives, stops the waves of despair that attract young people and push them on suicidal routes or incite them to abandon home. We must remember that countries, which have modernized their dictionaries, have preceded those that adhered to the past; and that countries that have accumulated developmental achievements are today stronger than those that stocked rockets. The states that built towers are today more prosperous than countries that have wasted their time digging trenches.

A Thelma and Louise Brexit?
Therese Raphael//Bloomberg View/November 26/18
Committed Brexiters, including former Brexit secretary Dominic Raab, have arrived at the conclusion that the deal Prime Minister Theresa May has negotiated is not just bad; it’s worse than remaining in the European Union. That’s axiomatic. But what’s their plan? It’s not to cancel Brexit. And it’s not to hold a new public vote. Their preference appears to be for what they call a “managed” no-deal Brexit. The pitch is that this isn’t the catastrophic crash-out business fears, but a brisk exit to World Trade Organization rules, with key risks mitigated through a series of mini-agreements.
You can see the political appeal. Brexiters could claim the referendum result was being honored in spirit, not just in name. Britain could immediately start negotiating trade deals with other countries. There would be no lengthy transition and no “blind Brexit,” where the country makes financial commitments with little idea of the terms of any future trade deal with the EU.
If only. A managed no-deal introduces big problems that WTO membership can’t address, and EU crisis negotiations are unlikely to. It suffers from the very same flaw as May’s deal before parliament: being dependent on the EU’s goodwill.
It’s true that under the WTO’s most favored nation terms, British exports would be subjected to the same tariffs as the EU’s other trading partners. The auto and dairy industries would be subjected to higher EU tariffs, but most exports would face only low tariff rates. And as a net exporter to the UK, the EU would face the bulk of those costs, according to Civitas, a think tank.
That’s not much comfort, though, because the common tariff rate wouldn’t be the main barrier. The friction introduced by EU regulations, quotas and other non-tariff barriers would be the major economic drag.
Regulatory divergence will come at a price — and even if the UK managed, as Brexiters hope, to strike some trade deals with other countries, they would be unlikely to make up for lost business from the EU for a long time.
WTO rules have nothing to say about pilot certification or the licensing of truck drivers, or how data is transferred and held, notes the Institute for Government’s Alex Stojanovic. The suggestion that WTO rules could protect UK food and agriculture trade from EU regulatory barriers reads far too much into the regulations’ vague requirement for consultations.
That’s where the “managed” part of the no-deal plan comes in. The argument is that the EU would feel pressured by the chaos of such an exit to minimize the damage. It has interests too, after all. The EU would be asked to extend Article 50’s two-year negotiation period, which ends on March 29, so mitigation measures can be agreed. That’s a high-stakes game with an even more uncertain outcome than anything May has agreed to so far. The EU isn’t reckless; it will allow derivatives trades, flights and some commercial traffic to proceed. But the European Commission has made clear in its no-deal planning notices that any contingency measures shouldn’t replicate the benefits of EU membership and mustn’t be allowed to extend beyond the end of 2019. More importantly, the EU has made clear that such measures would be unilateral, taken in its own interest, and could be revoked at any time.
Then there’s the Irish backstop. The EU has predicated any discussion of the future trade relationship on a legally binding assurance from the UK that the Irish border will be kept free from barriers of any kind. This is what Brexiters find unacceptable about May’s deal. It could lock the UK into the EU customs union. There has been much heated debate lately about whether customs checks would be required and where, but it’s clear that a managed no-deal wouldn’t address the border issue at all to the satisfaction of the EU.

China and US: Competition on Quality

Michael Schuman/Bloomberg View/November 26/18
Prospects for a trade deal between US President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping at the upcoming Group of 20 meeting in Argentina are quite likely to founder on the question of China’s industrial strategies: While Beijing may be willing to buy more American goods to mollify Trump, it almost certainly won’t stop supporting sectors it sees as key to China’s technological and economic progress.
In fact, China would be much wiser to scale back its industrial policies now. They could well turn into a bigger headache for China’s own economy than for the rest of the world.
On the surface, US officials appear to have good reason to fret. The “Made in China 2025” program aims to lavish advanced sectors — such as new-energy vehicles and robotics — with subsidies and other support to create national champions capable of dominating global markets. Fearing a deluge of state-backed high-tech exports that would swamp American companies, the Trump administration has demanded Beijing cease such aid as a condition for lifting tariffs slapped on Chinese goods.
China’s billions will certainly have an impact within the country’s domestic market, where the government holds tremendous sway over corporate decisions and consumer choice. Because the state owns so many major corporations, their managers can be compelled to buy domestic rather than foreign wares, whatever their price or quality. China can also make the case that buying local is a matter of national security, given the threat of boycotts or export curbs that could cut off the supply of foreign-made technology.
Outside of China, the task will be much more challenging. First of all, there’s no guarantee that pouring money into favored industries will nurture competitive, innovative companies. The historical record on such programs is mixed at best. China’s current efforts are off to a shaky start. Heavy state subsidization of electric-car batteries has created a lot of companies and factories, but few truly technologically competitive firms.
Out in the real world, stripped of their bureaucratic protection, Chinese companies will have to compete on quality, brand, price, technology and service against established and trusted players — something their insular managers have little experience or success in doing. A reputation for shoddiness won’t help. BYD Co. Ltd. has already hit potholes by selling problem-plagued electric buses in Los Angeles. How likely are consumers in the US and Europe to drive their kids to school in one of the company’s plug-in cars, given alternatives?
That leaves Chinese companies competing on price. They’ll have trouble there, too. The level of state support for some of these industries — whether given directly or indirectly through the state-run banking system — is so large that foreign governments are almost certain to protect their own firms from Chinese competition. A new study from the Center for Strategic and International Studies, for instance, figures that China’s national and local governments spent nearly $59 billion on the electric-vehicle industry between 2009 and 2017, a good chunk of it subsidizing consumers.
Previous Chinese policies that favored other industries — such as steel and solar panels — created massive production capacity and led to a flood of cheap exports that hammered competitors around the world. There are already indications that “Made in China 2025” is spawning similar excess in sectors such as electric vehicles. Foreign leaders are unlikely to sit by idly while wasteful Chinese investment wrecks their own industries. (The Trump administration has already aimed some of its tariffs at products related to “Made in China 2025.”)
On top of that, foreign governments are likely to block some high-tech Chinese products on national-security grounds. The US Congress recently banned video surveillance gear made by two Chinese firms from government facilities due to security worries. US and European companies will think twice before using Chinese-made microchips — another industry receiving ample state aid — in sensitive electronics.
China’s industrial support could chase foreign companies out of its home market in key sectors. But domestic demand won’t be enough to sustain industries bloated by government aid, increasing the already-burdensome costs of such policies on the Chinese economy. No longer able to dump its excess on the world, China will find it harder to keep all these new factories in business. That spells more zombie companies and bad loans for Chinese banks.
All of this should be incentive Xi to strike a deal in Argentina that scales back “Made in China 2025” and other industrial policies. Not only would that ease tensions with the US and other trading partners — keeping important foreign markets open to new Chinese products — it could help promote innovation at home as well. The vibrant Chinese private sector is fully capable of developing cutting-edge products on its own. Flooding industries with cheap credit and subsidies only helps weaker entrants stay afloat, crowding out the truly competitive firms that could succeed on the world stage. Xi should appease Trump now. He might thank the US president later.

The Sectarian Significance of Bahrain’s Elections
Simon Henderson/The Washington Institute./November 26, 2018
The imminent polls will not alter the power structure of the strategically positioned Gulf state, but they could affect its simmering Shia unrest and wider regional politics.
On November 24, Bahraini men and women will go to the polls to choose who will represent them in the forty-seat National Assembly for the next four years. Nearly 366,000 of the country’s 1.3 million citizens are eligible to take part—only a fraction of the more than 2 million residents who call the island home, a figure that includes expatriate workers as well as 10,000 U.S. service personnel at the Fifth Fleet headquarters in Manama.
But the most crucial statistic at the moment is the proportion of Shia to Sunni citizens. Shia compose an estimated 65 percent of the population, though the Sunni-ruled government would probably dispute this. Its own published figures for religious groups include the category “Islam” without any further breakdown (Bahrain also has a significant Christian community and a small number of Jews, among other denominations). Likewise, the most crucial context lies just across the Persian Gulf in Shia Iran, which once claimed the island as a province and now serves as both a refuge for Bahraini Shia dissidents and a training camp for disaffected Bahraini militants.
The country’s main Shia political group boycotted the previous elections in 2014; it has since been shut down, and its leaders are banned from participating in the next round. Thus, while the government trumpets its record on giving citizens the right to vote (nearly a century old) and extending participation to women (since 1951), many analysts will be concentrating on turnout.
According to Manama, at least 67 percent of eligible voters cast ballots in 2010, resulting in the main Shia political society, al-Wefaq, winning a plurality of eighteen seats. Following the turmoil of Arab Spring-inspired riots that began in 2011, al-Wefaq boycotted the 2014 polls, and turnout dropped to 52 percent. With al-Wefaq banned this year, turnout may fall below 50 percent, though the government will likely try to stave off this embarrassment by highlighting independent Shia candidates who manage to win seats.
In any case, the reality of Bahrain’s power structure will remain the same: continuing dominance by the Sunni al-Khalifa ruling family. King Hamad sees himself as a constitutional monarch comparable to Britain’s Queen Elizabeth, though their systems of government are very different. The king reigns, but his uncle—Sheikh Khalifa, who has been prime minister for the past four decades—rules. Other key family members serve as deputy prime minister, finance minister, foreign minister, interior minister, justice minister, military chief, and ambassador to Washington.
Helping Bahrain navigate its internal and external tensions is an ongoing challenge for the United States as well as Britain, the former imperial power that recently reestablished a naval base on the island, albeit much smaller than the U.S. presence. Both countries welcomed the June verdict acquitting al-Wefaq leader Ali Salman of collaborating with Qatar, the neighboring Gulf state that Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates have been locked in a diplomatic showdown with since mid-2017. And both were shocked when the government appealed that verdict and imposed a life sentence on Salman earlier this month.
The latter move may have stemmed from pressure by Riyadh and Abu Dhabi, which recently partnered with Kuwait to offer Bahrain a badly needed financial rescue package. In response, a State Department spokesman pointedly noted that the United States “will continue to engage regularly with the government of Bahrain on a range of shared interests, including the importance of safeguarding fundamental freedoms and human rights.” London echoed this sentiment in its own statement on the matter.
For now, the country’s simmering sectarian unrest still generates occasional clashes between Shia youths and security forces. A map on the U.S. embassy website shows large swaths of the island (mainly Shia villages in and around Manama) as off-limits to U.S. personnel. Today, the embassy issued an alert warning of the “potential for demonstrations to occur at election polling stations throughout the country, including in public areas such as shopping malls.” In addition to framing the future of the island’s politics, this weekend’s vote may also determine whether such violence flares up or peters out.
*Simon Henderson is the Baker Fellow and director of the Bernstein Program on Gulf and Energy Policy at The Washington Institute.

Thus, Mohammed bin Rashid spoke
Mashari Althaydi/Al Arabiya/November 26/18
When the owner of an experience, which is one of the best in terms of modern-day wise Arab governance, has an opinion, listening is a must. This is how you feel as you read excerpts from Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum’s interview, the maker of the Dubai miracle and the man who inspires the UAE and Arabs.In an interview carried out by Ashraq Al-Awsat’s Editor-in-Chief Ghassan Charbel, Sheikh Mohammed contemplated and eloquently spoke in Arabic about the disease and the cure in the Arab world.
Asked if the Middle East can develop and attract investments with the permanence of destructive conflicts, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, who has been acquainted with these conflicts for decades, said: “Tensions in our region is nothing new. It is practically a constant that has existed for 40 years.” It’s a frank description to which he added from his perspective as a visionary and statesman: “Moreover, investors know that countries have strong memories and that effective investment is marked by sustainability and they are not simply swayed by moments of tension or a passing development.”According to this successful Arab leader, the real Arab spring is in heading towards the future and making a productive and creative generation that loves life. This is spring, and not the autumn of anger, wars and strife
Here, the statement is clear differentiating between opportunists and the permanent strategic investor and the state differentiates between these two, because it’s aware and it has a vigilant rich memory!
How can we expect the Saudi state, for instance, to deal with whoever jumped off the boat, the boat of the vision, with the occurrence of the first “passing” development, as Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid described it? Tensions, “passing” developments and conflicts are part of the region’s nature, and we hope this changes but it will not change unless an alternative reality is created, whose essence is being oriented towards development and modernization, instead of towards religious, sectarian and ethnic wars, and where the logic of the state predominates the logic of the militias.
The wise Mohammed bin Rashid, the man of administration and development, further explains this saying: “I believe that conflicts offer further motivation to adopt modernization and development.. Can old circumstances, methods and ways of thinking produce anything else than the products that they had yielded before?”These are the words of a wise man with a “realistic” optimistic soul, to see promising opportunities in crises. Commenting on his experience over the years, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid concludes saying: “For over 20 years I have warned of the severity of the situation and the need for change and modernization.”According to this successful Arab leader, the real Arab spring is in heading towards the future and making a productive and creative generation that loves life. This is spring, and not the autumn of anger, wars and strife. This opinion from the successful statesman is worthy of acceptance and appreciation.

Khashoggi and the war between Trump and the media
Mamdouh AlMuhaini/Al Arabiya/November 26/18
The CIA’s report on Khashoggi which the Washington Post leaked was employed in such a clear and obvious way in the context of the internal American war between the famous daily and President Trump. The daily wanted to embarrass the president and provide live ammunition to his rivals to shoot him in the foot. It also, via its fierce attack on his strong administration’s alliance with Riyadh, wanted to damage his foreign policy. However, it wasn’t long until we realized that the newspaper made grave mistakes and used twisted ways to push the report towards one inevitable result. The daily said there is a strong reason that supports the CIA conclusion, which is a call by the Saudi Ambassador to Washington Khalid bin Salman to journalist Khashoggi before his murder, proposing to Khashoggi that he travels to Istanbul. We now know that this is an entirely different story, but it’s also much more. The CIA’s anonymous source leaked this information to the daily’s editor considering it as conclusive evidence that the crime was planned by the highest ranks. It’s clear that the editor is hungry for any piece of information that convicts the Saudi leadership, and the anonymous source who does not know anything put it in his mouth. Despite this grave mistake, which greatly harms the credibility of the report, the daily continued to affirm that this is the final conclusion but in the end it was a mere analysis by anonymous sources based on false information.The premises of this war between the media and Trump are purely and rooted ideological ones and any case can be employed to weaken the other party’s stance ideologically. This is why the Khashoggi case was invested in and taken out of its context to shake the relation between Trump’s Washington and Riyadh
No backing down
However, will the newspaper back down and reevaluate its vision after the American president himself, the first insider to actually know the real content of the report, said that what media outlets reported is inaccurate and after he confirmed the Saudi global role in fighting Iran and terrorism? US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo also made similar statements. The president and his senior administration officials cannot just appear and deliver false statements to the American public opinion. Despite that, it’s unlikely that the Washington Post will take a reformative stance because it has positioned itself as a party in the case, hence it’s difficult for it to convey other perspectives, and it’s difficult for it to swallow the other facts which undermine its original story. There have been clear mistakes, twisted ways and anonymous sources and they’ve ignored other facts and held on to their preferred story although stories which oppose it emerged. These are frequent characteristics of ideological organizations and not media outlets, which pride themselves in the values of neutrality and professional justice. Above all that, we’ve seen some scenes that are bitterly ironic.
Due to the surge in the attack on Saudi Arabia and the American administration, Turkey, the country that imprisons and oppresses journalists the most in the world, turned into a country that defends freedoms and Turkish anonymous sources became the sources of the angry media outlets. The other strange scene was the article by Mohammed al-Houthi who lectured about the freedom of the press when he has caused the murder and disappearance of dozens of journalists. We cannot recall a phase when the standards of the American press fell as low as today.
The term “intelligence reports” must be cautiously dealt with for several reasons such as that the conveyed data may be entirely wrong, or the source is deceitful and he does not have any credible information, or he’s talkative with lots of suspicions and perhaps wishes. Another reason is related to complete bias when this anonymous source speaks to support his point of view and not to confirm the truth like what happened with the Khashoggi case. There are more suspicions when we know the stance of former intelligence senior officials towards Trump, such as the stance of former CIA Director John Brennan who never calls Trump “President” but “Mr.”, i.e. he does not acknowledge him as president.
Targeting Trump and his allies
It cannot be denied that in certain institutions, there is an atmosphere that is hostile to the American administration and everything it represents and everyone it’s allied with, hence they issue fabricated news that aim to harm Trump and his allies. A while back, I watched an interview with Michael Morell, the former CIA deputy director, who hates everything President Trump does. Morell attacked the president because he withdrew from the Paris climate agreement, and one of his justifications for this anger is that climate change will in the future lead to wars between countries. It’s an exaggeration that cannot be digested; to make the future of the humans’ climate and the eruption of a barbaric war in search of water and pastures the responsibility of only one man. I mention this example by a senior at the CIA to confirm that big and important names can say the silliest things that are quickly turned into media reports that are put out as beyond doubt.
Another reason is the major dispute between Trump and media outlets regarding foreign policy. He is against the Iranian nuclear deal while they are with it, and he is with supporting the strategic alliance with Saudi Arabia, which maintained regional stability for more than 70 years despite all the storms, and they are against it. They agree with the opinion of the former American administration in undermining this alliance or weakening it or replacing it with a new regional system where Tehran has a big role. The Trump administration is against political Islam and sees it as the source of extremist ideology (National Security Advisor John Bolton says the Brotherhood is terrorism’s smiling face) and these media figures believe that political Islam is the alternative to extremist Islam.
There is a radical change on the level of ideas and policies and on almost all fronts. Hence, the premises of this war between the media and Trump are purely and rooted ideological ones and any case can be employed to weaken the other party’s stance ideologically. This is why the Khashoggi case was invested in and taken out of its context to shake the relation between Trump’s Washington and Riyadh. In his last address, Trump directed his speech to his supporters and not to the press as he’s aware of its stance that will not change, and he clearly emphasized that a single incident will not harm this relationship that is important for the world.
Those surprised by the stance of media outlets that oppose Trump and that convict based on analyses and articles have not been following up on this battle that’s been ongoing between the two parties for more than two years, particularly since Trump became the Republican presidential candidate who would compete with the Democrats’ presidential candidate Hillary Clinton. Most media outlets announced that they strongly oppose that a figure like Trump becomes a president and said they will do anything to defeat him.
Trump won and became president but the battle became fiercer, and ever since, we’ve seen hundreds of reports that accuse him of treason, collusion with the Russians, personal enrichment and others. All these were presented in the form of facts and based on well-informed intelligence sources, just like the Khashoggi case was handled, but none of them led to real convictions that led to toppling him. In many cases, we’ve seen breaking news and main headlines that rely on anonymous sources and that confirm beyond any doubt that Trump’s days are numbered, but they are mere wishes and dreams that evaporated into thin air. Just like the Khashoggi case was handled, facts do not matter in this context as what is important is creating a story, complementing it and feeding it with unreliable information and rumors and ignoring what the other party is saying in order to tarnish the image of the rival. Therefore, we might see Saudi Arabia as convicted in Khashoggi’s murder and Trump as complicit with the Russians, regardless of the truth.

Canada's Treacherous "Faustian Bargain"
سليم منصور: صفقة كندا الغادرة والشريرة
Salim Mansur/Gatestone Institute/November 26/18
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, it seems, adheres to the principle of globalism, according to which the world is borderless, and the idea of sovereign nation-states is both reactionary and obsolete. In this borderless world, the governing body is the unelected, untransparent, unaccountable and deeply corrupt United Nations and its agencies, which possess the authority to legislate international law that is then enforced by member states.
The Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration is a document detailing the requirements for UN member-states to adopt as policy that amounts to unfettered global migration. Trudeau has bought into this UN agenda and has decided to impose it on the Canadian people without their prior knowledge or consent.
The Global Compact requires the media outlets of member-states to adhere to the objectives and refrain from any critical discussions of these objectives that would be deemed as not "ethical" and against UN norms or standards consistent with the ideology of globalism.
This helps to explain the Trudeau government's generous handout to the Canadian media. In this light, the $600 million can be viewed as a form of secretive soft control and censorship, ensuring that the Canadian press abides by the requirements of the Global Compact.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau seems to adhere to the principle of globalism, according to which the idea of sovereign nation-states is both reactionary and obsolete. In this borderless world, the governing body is the unelected, untransparent, unaccountable and deeply corrupt United Nations and its agencies, which possess the authority to legislate international law that is then enforced by member states. Pictured: Trudeau holds a press briefing at the United Nations headquarters in New York City, September 21, 2017. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)
The Canadian government's recent announcement that it will be providing more than CDN $600 million (USD $455 million) over the next five years to bail out the country's financially strapped media outlets -- as part of the fall fiscal update about the federal budget ahead of the 2019 federal election -- is not as innocent as it may seem.
In response to the announcement, the heads of Canada's media organizations promptly popped open the proverbial champagne and raised their glasses to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. Unifor, a national union that represents Canadian journalists, was even more jubilant. It felt vindicated that its slogan of "Resistance" -- which it touts as Conservative Party opposition leader Andrew Scheer's "worst nightmare" -- had so swiftly resulted in opening the government's wallet, and handing out taxpayers' money, to an industry that should actually be fighting to remain steadfastly independent of any form of government backing.
This is what a "free press" is presumably all about, after all; not as in countries with totalitarian regimes, such as the once-Czarist Russia-turned communist Soviet Union-turned Putinist Russia, or Maoist China, or the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, or the Islamic Republic of Iran, or Castroist Cuba and many third-world states in which the press is simply a propaganda tool of the government, subjected to the dictates and whim of its leader.
The recipients of Trudeau's "gift" will argue that their editorial independence could not possibly be hindered -- heaven forfend! -- in such a liberal democracy as Canada. Their irreproachable backs will go up at the mere suggestion that their journalistic integrity might be compromised by entering into a financial deal with the powers-that-be.
No matter how much ink they spill or bytes they waste defending their virtue, however, they will not be able to fool the public about the nature of this Faustian bargain, which is tantamount to being bought by Trudeau's Liberal Party in exchange for favorable press ahead of the next federal election.
Canadians ought to recoil from this "slippery slope" to some version of a state-controlled society that this deal has created. How ironic that the announcement of the media bailout came less than a week after the 100th anniversary of the First World War armistice and Remembrance Day, during which Canadians honored the memory of countrymen killed and maimed in wars fought for freedom against the advance of tyranny.
Perhaps this deal should not have come as a surprise, however, considering Trudeau's stated position that Canada is a post-national state with no core identity. In other words, in Trudeau's Canada there is no tradition to revere, no sacred values to defend and no identity to preserve.
Trudeau, it seems, adheres to the principle of globalism, according to which the world is borderless, and the idea of sovereign nation-states is both reactionary and obsolete. In this borderless world, the governing body is the unelected, untransparent, unaccountable, corrupt United Nations and its agencies, which possess the authority to legislate international law that is then enforced by member states.
Trudeau appears determined to turn Canada into a laboratory of the globalist agenda. This is probably why he is rushing to embrace the UN-proposed Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration, to be adopted at the Intergovernmental Conference in Marrakech, Morocco, on December 10-11, 2018. Most Canadians are unaware of the content of the Global Compact, which their government has committed to sign. Yet it is in the context of this agreement that various decisions taken by the Trudeau government can be explained -- decisions on issues such as immigration, climate change, "Islamophobia" and the $600 million media bailout.
The Global Compact is a document detailing the requirements for member-states to adopt as policy that amounts to unfettered global migration. Trudeau has bought into this UN agenda and has decided to impose it on the Canadian people without their prior knowledge or consent.
Objective 17 of the Global Compact states:
"We commit to eliminate all forms of discrimination, condemn and counter expressions, acts and manifestations of racism, racial discrimination, violence, xenophobia and related intolerance against all migrants in conformity with international human rights law. We further commit to promote an open and evidence-based public discourse on migration and migrants in partnership with all parts of society, that generates a more realistic, humane and constructive perception in this regard. We also commit to protect freedom of expression in accordance with international law, recognizing that an open and free debate contributes to a comprehensive understanding of all aspects of migration." [Emphasis added.]
In pursuance of the above, member-states are required, therefore, to:
"Promote independent, objective and quality reporting of media outlets, including internet-based information, including by sensitizing and educating media professionals on migration-related issues and terminology, investing in ethical reporting standards and advertising, and stopping allocation of public funding or material support to media outlets that systematically promote intolerance, xenophobia, racism and other forms of discrimination towards migrants in full respect for the freedom of the media." [Emphases added.]
Translated from UN-speak, this means that media outlets of member-states are required to adhere to the objectives adopted in the Global Compact, and refrain from any critical discussions of these objectives that would be deemed as not "ethical" and against UN norms or standards consistent with the ideology of globalism. This helps to explain the Trudeau government's generous handout to the Canadian media. In this light, the $600 million can be viewed as a form of secretive soft control and censorship, ensuring that the Canadian press abides by the requirements of the Global Compact.
In accepting the money, the Canadian media as a whole becomes no different from the national public broadcaster CBC, all of whose news and opinion are slanted to the center-left, espousing the Liberal Party's political, economic and cultural positions – with an occasional token and highly controlled conservative view in the mix for the purpose of maintaining the façade of free speech.
The gradual elimination of free speech is characteristic of the Trudeau government, which last year adopted parliamentary motion M-103, condemning any critical discussion of Islam and Muslims as "Islamophobia." "Islamophobia," in UN-speak, is bigotry and racism, and could be subject to censorship or liable to criminal prosecution under the "hate speech" provision of the human rights commissions in Canada. This is consistent with the recent ruling by the European Court of Human Rights, that criticism of the Prophet of Islam is tantamount to inciting hatred and is not, therefore, protected free speech. It is also consistent with the effort of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation -– the largest bloc of 57 member-states in the UN -- to declare any criticism or insult of the founder of Islam and the religion itself as blasphemy in accordance with Islamic shariah law.
There is a pattern emerging that indicates the sort of country that Trudeau and his Liberal Party are trying to create: a borderless Canada where UN-devised international law will take precedence over legislation enacted by elected representatives of the Canadian people who go against it.
If this process is not reversed, Canadians -- inundated by mass-migration -- will become citizens of the world; and Canada will become a multicultural North American protectorate of an emergent 21st century, UN-administered borderless world. In such a world, there is no room for freedom of speech or a free press. The Canadian media should think long and hard before selling its soul to Trudeau.
Salim Mansur is a Distinguished Senior Fellow at Gatestone Institute. He teaches in the department of political science at Western University in London, Ontario, and is the author of "The Qur'an Problem and Islamism"; "Islam's Predicament: Perspectives of a Dissident Muslim"; and "Delectable Lie: A Liberal Repudiation of Multiculturalism."
© 2018 Gatestone Institute. All rights reserved. The articles printed here do not necessarily reflect the views of the Editors or of Gatestone Institute. No part of the Gatestone website or any of its contents may be reproduced, copied or modified, without the prior written consent of Gatestone Institute.

Faustian bargain
WRITTEN BY: The Editors of Encyclopaedia Britannica
See Article History
Faustian bargain, a pact whereby a person trades something of supreme moral or spiritual importance, such as personal values or the soul, for some worldly or material benefit, such as knowledge, power, or riches. The term refers to the legend of Faust (or Faustus, or Doctor Faustus), a character in German folklore and literature, who agrees to surrender his soul to an evil spirit (in some treatments, Mephistopheles, or Mephisto, a representative of Satan) after a certain period of time in exchange for otherwise unattainable knowledge and magical powers that give him access to all the world’s pleasures. A Faustian bargain is made with a power that the bargainer recognizes as evil or amoral. Faustian bargains are by their nature tragic or self-defeating for the person who makes them, because what is surrendered is ultimately far more valuable than what is obtained, whether or not the bargainer appreciates that fact.

Qatar: Time to Shape Up
Debalina Ghoshal/Gatestone Institute/November 26/18
"We need a united anti-Iran front, and Qatar needs to come closer to its friends on the peninsula, us, the U.S., and Israel on that point. And in the meantime, let's help Qatar along here. Why doesn't the United States get on with the business of declaring the Muslim Brotherhood a foreign terrorist organization? And then that gives Qatar the excuse to go ahead and do it too, so we can cut off everyone's funding for them, whether it's in Egypt, the United States, or anywhere else in the world." — Ambassador John R. Bolton, July 12, 2017.
The time is not only ripe for Washington to take this step; it is essential.
Qatar is in talks to purchase Russia's S-400 air-defense system. Despite Saudi Arabia's reported opposition to the deal, Russia says it is moving forward anyway. Pictured: Russian President Vladimir Putin meets with the Emir of Qatar, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, in Moscow on July 15, 2018. (Image source:
Since 2017, when five countries of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) severed diplomatic and trade ties with Qatar for siding with the Muslim Brotherhood and other terrorist groups, Doha has been forging new alliances, particularly with Russia and China.
During a military parade in December 2017, Qatar's armed forces showcased new Chinese guided ballistic-missile systems that have a range -- up to 400 km -- that encompasses Qatar's neighboring Gulf States. In September 2018, PetroChina struck a long-term deal with Qatargas to purchase 3.4 million tons per year of liquid natural gas.
Defense and economic ties with Qatar are crucial to China's plans to extend its influence in the Middle East through the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). China is aware that for the BRI to be successful, the GCC must be reunited. Given its own cordial relations with the GCC, Beijing sees engagement with Doha as an opportunity to become a key mediator in the Qatar-GCC crisis.
Qatar is also in talks to purchase Russia's S-400 air-defense system. Despite Saudi Arabia's reported opposition to the deal, Russia says it is moving forward anyway.
With Russia under U.S. sanctions, and Qatar under a GCC blockade, defense and trade ties between Moscow and Doha are mutually beneficial. In 2016, for example, Qatar purchased a huge stake in Russia's state-controlled oil company, Rosneft.
This strengthening of ties is taking place in spite of the fact that Moscow and Doha are on opposite sides of the Syrian civil war, with Russia backing the Assad regime and Qatar supporting the rebel forces. Qatar is likely seeking Russian mediation to resolve its crisis with the GCC.
Qatar's interest in Chinese and Russian weapons systems probably has less to do with deterring Saudi Arabia's more powerful military than it does with forging alliances beyond those it has with the U.S., in the event that Washington ends up backing the blockade against Qatar. Qatar may also be apprehensive about reports of U.S. plans to move from Qatar to Saudi Arabia its Central Command (CENTCOM) forward headquarters and its military deployment at Al-Udeid airbase, due to Doha's burgeoning relations with Iran, China and Russia.
CENTCOM, however, called these reports "false and without merit." In addition, the U.S. recently announced new sales to Qatar of Advanced Precision Kill Weapon Systems.
In other words, while enhancing its ties with Russia and China to survive the GCC blockade, Qatar has not forfeited its relations with the U.S., which it possibly sees as another potential mediator in the Gulf crisis. Meanwhile, Qatar is doubtless aware that both Russia and China -- not just the U.S. -- have good relations with Saudi Arabia and the UAE.
From a U.S. perspective, maintaining good relations with -- and diplomatic leverage on -- Qatar is crucial to resolving the Gulf crisis and preventing Doha from further strengthening its ties to Tehran, Beijing and Moscow.
In a July 2017 interview -- several months before becoming U.S. President Donald Trump's National Security Advisor -- John Bolton said:
"We need a united anti-Iran front, and Qatar needs to come closer to its friends on the peninsula, us, the U.S., and Israel on that point. And in the meantime, let's help Qatar along here. Why doesn't the United States get on with the business of declaring the Muslim Brotherhood a foreign terrorist organization? And then that gives Qatar the excuse to go ahead and do it too, so we can cut off everyone's funding for them, whether it's in Egypt, the United States, or anywhere else in the world."
The time is not only ripe for Washington to take this step; it is essential.
*Debalina Ghoshal, an independent consultant specializing in nuclear and missile issues, is based in India.
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