Detailed Lebanese & Lebanese Related LCCC English New Bulletin For October 01/2018
Compiled & Prepared by: Elias Bejjani

The Bulletin's Link on the lccc Site 01.18.htm


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


Bible Quotations
For the Son of Man came to seek out and to save the lost
Luke 19/01-10: "He entered Jericho and was passing through it. A man was there named Zacchaeus; he was a chief tax-collector and was rich. He was trying to see who Jesus was, but on account of the crowd he could not, because he was short in stature. So he ran ahead and climbed a sycomore tree to see him, because he was going to pass that way. When Jesus came to the place, he looked up and said to him, ‘Zacchaeus, hurry and come down; for I must stay at your house today.’So he hurried down and was happy to welcome him. All who saw it began to grumble and said, ‘He has gone to be the guest of one who is a sinner.’Zacchaeus stood there and said to the Lord, ‘Look, half of my possessions, Lord, I will give to the poor; and if I have defrauded anyone of anything, I will pay back four times as much.’Then Jesus said to him, ‘Today salvation has come to this house, because he too is a son of Abraham. For the Son of Man came to seek out and to save the lost.’"

نشرات اخبار عربية وانكليزية مطولة ومفصلة يومية على موقعنا الألكتروني على الرابط التالي

Daily Lebanese/Arabic - English news bulletins on our LCCC web site.Click on the link below

Titles For The Latest LCCC Bulletin analysis & editorials from miscellaneous sources published on October 01/18
Death toll from Indonesian quake, tsunami rises to 832/AP/Reuters/September 30, 2018
EU: Politicizing the Internet/Judith Bergman/Gatestone Institute/September 30/18
Sanctuary Cities - for Whom/David C. Stolinsky/Gatestone Institute/September 30/18
Don’t Blame Business for Slow Wage Growth/Michael Strain/Bloomberg/September, 30/18
Corporations of the World! Young Scientists Need You/Scott Duke Kominers/Bloomberg/September, 30/18
US between Progressive Left, the Nationalist Right/Hal Brands/Bloomberg/September, 30/18
Facebook Security Flaw Exposes a Crisis of Faith/Shira Ovide/Bloomberg/September, 30/18
Ultranationalist mindset shapes Iran’s strategy toward Gulf states/Dr. Mohammed Alsulami/Arab News/September 30/18
US-Gulf pressure on Iranian regime is proving effective/Dr. Majid Rafizadeh/Arab News/September 30/18
Tara Fares murdered for daring to be female in Baghdad/Baria Alamuddin/Arab News/September 30/18
How will the Iranian Revolutionary Guards respond to the Ahwaz attack/Ali Al-Amin/Al Arabiya/September 30/18
The military parade attack: An incident and two platforms/Amal Abdulaziz Al–Hazani/Al Arabiya/September 30/18
Why seek virtues in the Iraqi prime minister alone/Adnan Hussein/Al Arabiya/September 30/18
Doha's Worst Nightmare? Why the Israeli Flag May Be Flying in Qatar This Fall/Michael Dempster/Haaretz/September 30/18

Titles For The Latest LCCC Lebanese Related News published on October 01/18
Muallem: Relation with Aoun, Others Good but Previous Equation Will Change
Formation Progress Ruled Out amid Efforts to Convene Caretaker Cabinet
Dar al-Fatwa denies calling for emergency meeting in response to Aoun's proposal
Mustaqbal MP Says Aoun, Bassil Can Resolve 'Christian, Druze Hurdles'
Lebanon: Progressive Socialist Party, Lebanese Forces Worried as Majority Government Looms
Lebanon Invites Ambassadors to Tour of 'Hizbullah Missile Site'
Hariri, Shiite Duo Prefer Unity Govt. as LF, PSP Hold Their Ground
Foreign Ministry to respond Monday to Netanyahu's allegations, invites ambassadors to attend
Geagea calls on LF partisans, supporters not to engage in polemic
Toni Frangiyeh calls for national unity government that takes into account election results
MP Mohamad Hajjar says certain sides are trying to sow frustration in people's minds and souls
Claudine Aoun commends participants in training program on strengthening women's political role
SSNP Foreign Dean confers with Swiss Ambassador over UNRWA, return of displaced Syrians
Adwan: Reconciliation is between two sides who have decided to build the Mountain together
Tohme from Moukhtara: We are attached to Taef, Mountain Reconciliation
Bridges for Dialogue and Return'...LebanesePalestinian Dialogue Committee Annex Edition out Tomorrow
Lebanese Air Force organizes open day at Riyak base
Saad urges President of the Republic to adopt government formation decision
Caretaker Minister of Industry, Hussein Hajj Hassan Salutes Aoun's positions at UN Assembly

Titles For The Latest LCCC Bulletin For Miscellaneous Reports And News published on October 01/18
Kellyanne Conway: 'I'm a victim of sexual assault'
Netanyahu Accepts Palestinian State That Poses 'No Threat to Israel'
Israel says ready for UN crossing with Syria to reopen
Israel frees French-Palestinian after 13 months without trial
UAE, Bahrain Call for Confronting Iran's Threats
Turkey Demands Factions’ Withdrawal from Buffer Zones
Erdogan Ends Germany's Visit with a Conciliatory Tone
Three Years of Russia Strikes on Syria Kill 18,000
Muallem Calls on U.S., French, Turkish Forces to Withdraw Immediately
Syria Rebels Deny Withdrawing Arms from North under Deal
Trump Says U.S. 'Subsidizing' Saudi, Asia Militaries
Trump 'Fell in Love' with Kim after 'Beautiful Letters'
Sisi Set to Visit Russia to Reinforce Cooperation
Death toll from Indonesian quake, tsunami rises to 832
The Latest LCCC Lebanese Related News published on October 01/18
Muallem: Relation with Aoun, Others Good but Previous Equation Will Change
Naharnet/Sunday, 30 September, 2018/Damascus has a “good relation” with President Michel Aoun and other Lebanese forces but the “previous equation” of the relation with Lebanon “will change,” Syria's top diplomat has said. “There is a good relation with President Aoun,” Foreign Minister Walid al-Muallem said in an interview on Russia's RT television. Told that Damascus “has always opened its doors to all components of the Lebanese society,” Muallem said: “This picture has now changed. We have good relations with President Aoun. We have good relations with Hizbullah, the AMAL Movement and other groups, but we will antagonize those who antagonize us.”“The previous equation will change,” he stressed. Prime Minister-designate Saad Hariri has recently announced that the new government “will not be formed” should the Lebanese pro-Damascus camp “insist on restoring Lebanese-Syrian ties.”

Formation Progress Ruled Out amid Efforts to Convene Caretaker Cabinet
Naharnet/Sunday, 30 September, 2018/No positive development is expected in the government formation process in the near future, media reports said. Ruling out that Prime Minister-designate Saad Hariri would present a format different than the one he submitted to President Michel Aoun three weeks ago, sources following up on the negotiations said "there are no indications of a meeting between them in the few coming days."In remarks to al-Hayat daily published Sunday, the sources also denied reports claiming that the Lebanese Forces has backed down from its demand to get four ministerial portfolios that include the deputy premier post. The sources also said the Progressive Socialist Party is still insisting on getting all three Druze seats and that the two parties “have expressed major reservations over the type of portfolios that the President is suggesting for them.” Senior LF sources meanwhile told al-Hayat that after Aoun and the Free Patriotic Movement rejected the latest formula, the party "will not accept any solution that does not respect the popular support it received in the parliamentary elections, which stands for getting five ministers."The sources also revealed that LF leader Samir Geagea has told Hariri that the caretaker Cabinet should convene to take "important decisions and facilitate the work of institutions, akin to the necessary legislation session that the parliament has held.""In the coming days, this will be the subject of contacts that would involve Aoun, (Speaker Nabih) Berri and all parties," the sources added.

Dar al-Fatwa denies calling for emergency meeting in response to Aoun's proposal
The Daily Star/Sunday, 30 September, 2018/BEIRUT: Dar al-Fatwa, Lebanon's highest Sunni Muslim office, has denied reports that it called for an emergency meeting in response to President Michel Aoun’s proposal to form a majority government. “What is being circulated in this regard is false,” Dar al-Fatwa said in a statement Sunday that was carried by the state-run National News Agency. “News that is related to Dar al-Fatwa is issued through a statement from the press office.” Aoun Friday proposed forming a majority government in the event that a national unity government could not be achieved, despite Prime Minister-designate Saad Hariri’s staunch commitment to forming a unity government that brings all the main political parties together. Grand Mufti Sheikh Abdel-Latif Derian had previously expressed support for Hariri's efforts to form a government and his respect for the premier-designate's prerogatives in the process. The prime ministership is considered to be reserved for a Sunni and is the top Sunni post in the government.

Mustaqbal MP Says Aoun, Bassil Can Resolve 'Christian, Druze Hurdles'

Naharnet/Sunday, 30 September, 2018/A Mustaqbal bloc lawmaker has noted that President Michel Aoun and Free Patriotic Movement chief MP Jebran Bassil can resolve the so-called Christian and Druze obstacles hindering the formation of the new government. In an interview with al-Jadeed television, MP Sami Fatfat said Aoun can resolve the Christian hurdle in connection with the Lebanese Forces' demands and Bassil can address the Druze problem through respecting the demands of Progressive Socialist Party chief Walid Jumblat. The LF has been insisting on getting five ministerial seats or four seats that include the deputy PM post while Jumblat is demanding all three Druze seats for his PSP. MP Talal Arslan, backed by the FPM and Bassil, is meanwhile insisting on getting one of the Druze seats. Separately, Fatfat ruled out the allocation of a Sunni seat to ex-minister Faisal Karami, stressing that “the only Sunni minister who does not belong to Mustaqbal” would be part of Aoun's share.

Lebanon: Progressive Socialist Party, Lebanese Forces Worried as Majority Government Looms
Beirut - Youssef Diab/Asharq Al-Awsat/Sunday, 30 September, 2018/As Lebanese President Michel Aoun hinted forming a majoritarian government, factions that find themselves targeted by this proposal have met for discussions, fearing to be expelled from the authority structure in case this government was formed. Executive Chairman of the Lebanese Forces (LF) Samir Geagea received Saturday MP Akram Shehayeb, who conveyed a message from President of the Progressive Socialist Party (PSP) Walid Jumblatt on the developments of the government formation. "There is no problem of Druze representation in the new government, except with some leading officials," Shehayeb stressed. Following the meeting, he said that his visit to Mearab was "in favor of the country.” Jumblatt message to Geagea aims at "agreeing on the maximum facilities they can offer in the government formation process,” sources close to the PSP said. The sources told Asharq Al-Awsat that the two parties stressed that the government settlement should not affect either of them, and that they will support PM Saad Hariri in his efforts to reach a formula for a government of national unity, including all parties. “Indicators that has been received recently by Jumblatt are not reassuring,” sources said. “It seems that Aoun-Bassil's team is not only limiting the Druze representation of the PSP and insisting on appointing Talal Arslan, but also wants to grant him the portfolios of the environment and the displaced ministries.”

Lebanon Invites Ambassadors to Tour of 'Hizbullah Missile Site'
Naharnet/September 30/18/The Lebanese Foreign Ministry has invited all foreign ambassadors in Lebanon to a meeting Monday afternoon at its premises. The National News Agency said the meeting at 3:00 pm will be dedicated to “listening to the Ministry's response to the allegations of (Israeli Prime Minister) Benjamin Netanyahu regarding the missile sites.”“The presentation will be followed by a visit to one of the sites near Beirut's airport,” NNA added. During his address before the U.N. General Assembly on Thursday, Netanyahu claimed that Hizbullah has positioned three missile sites near Beirut's Rafik Hariri International Airport. Israeli army spokesman Avichai Adrai meanwhile published pictures of the alleged sites on Twitter. He said the sites include the football stadium of the Hizbullah-affiliated al-Ahed club, another site near the airport and the Ouzai fishermen's harbor.

Hariri, Shiite Duo Prefer Unity Govt. as LF, PSP Hold Their Ground
Naharnet/September 30/18/Prime Minister-designate Saad Hariri and the Hizbullah-AMAL Shiite alliance are not in favor of the formation of a so-called “majority government,” media reports said. “Hariri is insisting on a consensual government and the majority government proposal has no place in the current process,” informed political sources told An Nahar daily in remarks published Sunday. President Michel Aoun has suggested that a majority government could be formed should some political parties continue to insist on their demands. “It has become clear that the other parties, topped by the Shiite duo, prefer a consensual government, especially after the Israeli threats related to the claims about Hizbullah bases near the Rafik Hariri International Airport,” the sources added. “The formation process has become urgent more than ever in light of the accumulating domestic and foreign pressures,” the sources noted. Turning to the stance of the Lebanese Forces and the Progressive Socialist Party, the sources said LF leader Samir Geagea's visit to Hariri on Friday and MP Akram Shehayyeb's visit to Geagea on Saturday indicate that the two parties are “rejecting recent proposals aimed at forming a government at their expense.”“Hariri is readying for a new round of consultations with Aoun, but this does not mean that his mission will be easy should the war over sizes and portfolios continue,” the sources warned.
Foreign Ministry to respond Monday to Netanyahu's allegations, invites ambassadors to attend
Sun 30 Sep 2018/NNA - Lebanese Foreign Affairs and Emigrants Ministry called Sunday on all accredited ambassadors in Lebanon to attend a meeting at 3:00 p.m. on Monday, to hear the Ministry's response to Benjamin Netanyahu's alleged claims regarding the missile stores.
The meeting will be followed by a visit to one of the sites nearby Beirut Airport.

Geagea calls on LF partisans, supporters not to engage in polemic
Sun 30 Sep 2018/ NNA - Lebanese Forces Chief, Samir Geagea, on Sunday issued a statement urging LF supporters and partisans to stop engaging in political debates and polemic, even if unilateral, with the exception of solid political events and calm discussions. According to the communiqué, Geagea also called on LF supporters and party members to use "dialogue language" and "constructive communication" to reduce disparities and solve problems rather than accentuate them, while emphasizing that LF has facilitated the formation process of the new government.

Toni Frangiyeh calls for national unity government that takes into account election results
Sun 30 Sep 2018/NNA - MP Toni Frangiyeh called for the formation of a national unity government that takes into account the results of legislative elections. "I call for speeding-up the formation of a national unity government that includes all parties and respects the results of the recent legislative elections," Frangiyeh said during a dinner banquet for Marada partisans in Bnachii. "We do not live in a political luxury stage, and the crisis is deeper than arguing about the number of ministers," he added, warning of the critical situation in the country.
"With our unity and strong determination we can overcome all our problems," he concluded.

MP Mohamad Hajjar says certain sides are trying to sow frustration in people's minds and souls
Sun 30 Sep 2018/NNA - MP Mohamad Hajjar expressed concern Sunday towards those who are trying to trigger frustration and despair among citizens in the country. "We all know that we are living a problem in the government formation, the reasons for which are hidden to no one...but what frightens us today is that there are parties trying to sow frustration in the minds and souls of people, when we hear from here and there the insistence of some on declaring the bankruptcy of the country," said Hajjar. "There are those who want to use the economy as a means of pressure, by referring to the imminent collapse of the Lebanese Pound," he added, speaking at the closing ceremony of the sports tournament organized by the Sports and Cultural Club in Shehim. "Yes, the economic situation is very difficult, for we are living a huge crisis and unemployment is increasing and inflation is rising, and we can see the extent of people's suffering...but mixing-up the economic and financial situation with the monetary situation and claiming that the Lira will collapse, calling for replacing it with US dollar is intended to lead citizens to frustration and despair," Hajjar underlined. "We must work during the upcoming period on economic and financial reforms, reducing the deficit and creating new jobs...This will be achieved through the existing capacities of the Lebanese people and through a full-fledged government that carries out its duties," the MP asserted. "Prime Minister-designate Saad Hariri is working in an optimistic spirit, and is listening to the demands of all the parliamentary blocs. He has presented a formula that reflects these demands in accordance with the PM-designate's vision, the only one in charge of forming the government in collaboration with the President of the Republic," he highlighted. Hajjar pointed to the sacrifices made for the sake of the nation and its citizens, while urging all other political counterparts to offer similar compromises for the country's overall interests.

Claudine Aoun commends participants in training program on strengthening women's political role
Sun 30 Sep 2018/NNA - Lebanese Women's Affairs National Committee Head, Claudine Aoun Roukoz, praised Sunday the participation of several women in the training program on boosting their role in political life. In this context, Roukoz presented certificates of participation to 97 women, active in social, municipal and political affairs in Lebanon, as part of the regional program "Empowering Women in Decision-Making in the Middle East" (LEAD), implemented by the German Agency for International Cooperation (GIZ) at the request of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ). The training program shed light on topics related to "Leadership and Change" and "Building Partnership and Communication", whereby participants were introduced to the skills of an active leader, ways of applying the concept leadership and the techniques of building a group. Participating women were motivated towards building partnerships and defining the importance of networking.

SSNP Foreign Dean confers with Swiss Ambassador over UNRWA, return of displaced Syrians
Sun 30 Sep 2018/NNA - In an issued statement by the Syrian Social Nationalist Party on Sunday, it indicated that its Foreign Affairs Dean, Caesar Obeid, met with Swiss Ambassador to Lebanon, Monika Schmutz Kirgoz, with talks centering on the financial challenges facing the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian refugees ( UNRWA) following the cessation of US contributions, in addition to the displaced Syrians' issue. During the encounter, Obeid pointed to "the humanitarian and moral responsibility which requires the world countries, especially the European states, to support UNRWA to enable it to fully play its role." He stressed "the importance of doubling European contributions to meet the deficit in UNRWA's budget."On the issue of the displaced Syrians, Obeid briefed the Swiss Ambassador on the Party's "national" initiative regarding their return. "Many countries, primarily the United States, are pressing to prevent the return of refugees in many ways. The Syrian state is always willing to ensure their return and provide them with a decent, stable life, while Lebanon is under heavy economic conditions and cannot bear additional burdens," he emphasized. In turn, Ambassador Kirgoz said, "The European Union is keen on pursuing the work of UNRWA and making efforts to provide support to this agency in order to carry out its responsibilities towards the Palestinian refugees." She hoped that "the Arab countries will also contribute to the provision of necessary funding to cover the deficit after the cessation of the US contribution."On the Syrian refugees' dossier, Kirgoz said, "The humanitarian suffering faced by displaced people requires a serious approach to end their distress."

Adwan: Reconciliation is between two sides who have decided to build the Mountain together
Sun 30 Sep 2018/NNA - MP George Adwan stressed Sunday on the reconciliation that took place in the Lebanese Mountain, deeming it a joint agreement and determination between two sides who have decided to build the Mountain region together. In his address earlier today at the inauguration of the highway bearing his name, which links the towns of Wadi El-Sit and Majd Al-Me'oush in the Shouf region, Adwan expressed sincere joy for being present in such a uniting gathering. "I propose that this road be named the highway of hope and the future, because through our capabilities and determination we can build our own towns...When we decide what to do, we need to venture into execution," said Adwan. "This is the highway of hope and future, through which we ought to restore our self-confidence...We have returned to live in our land with our vigor and dignity, and to ring the bells and to rejoice together in our villages and towns," he added. Adwan thanked all those who contributed to paving the new road, with the joint efforts of the Wadi El-Sit Municipality and its neighboring municipalities. He concluded by stressing that "when people have a will to do something, nothing stands in their way!"

Tohme from Moukhtara: We are attached to Taef, Mountain Reconciliation
Sun 30 Sep 2018/NNA - "Democratic Gathering" Member, MP Nehme Tohme, stressed Sunday that his bloc is committed to the Taef Accord and the reconciliation of the Lebanese Mountain. Speaking during a peace and kindness luncheon event held at "Our Lady's Church" in Al-Moukhtara today, under the patronage of Progressive Socialist Party Chief Walid Joumblatt, Tohme said, ""Is there anything better than coming together in the spirit of goodness, love and kindness...and coexistence and communication away from the language of hatred and treason?" He added: "It is a page we have turned forever, and no one is allowed to remind us of the language of war. Dialogue alone remains the effective remedy for solving all problems." "It is our destiny to live together and this is the commandment and tradition of our ancestors that we ought to preserve," the MP asserted. "Enough wars and hatred. Let us all look forward to building a nation of justice and equality, a nation that restricts the migration of its youth in search of a living, so that we can deal with people's economic, daily-living and social issues. This is the priority of the Democratic Gathering headed by Taymour Joumblatt and these are our goals," Tohme underscored.

Bridges for Dialogue and Return'...LebanesePalestinian Dialogue Committee Annex Edition out Tomorrow
Sun 30 Sep 2018/NNA - In an issued statement by the Lebanese-Palestinian Dialogue Committee on Sunday, it announced that within the framework of its efforts since 2005 to "open spaces for dialogue on bilateral relations spanning 70 years of asylum", the first edition of its quarterly annex entitled, "Bridges for Dialogue and Return," will be out on Monday. The first edition will be published in Al-Nahar and Al-Liwa'a Newspapers in Arabic, and in The Daily Star in English, with contributions from various Lebanese and Palestinian writers. "Since 2005, the Lebanese-Palestinian Dialogue Committee (LPDC) continues its efforts to maintain spaces for dialogue on bilateral relations, which extends over 70 years of asylum. In this context, a quarterly edition entitled "JOUSOUR" (Bridges) for Dialogue and Return" is to be published, offering a debate on variety of Lebanese and Palestinians orientations and opinions," the statement indicated. The first quarterly edition will pose questions on: "How do Lebanese view Palestinians and the Palestinians the Lebanese away from projected stereotypes? Have we taken advantage of our experiences to start a rational dialogue on the common problems and mistakes in our bilateral relations, to restore confidence, as Abbas Zaki says, and to build new Lebanese-Palestinian relations while preserving the entity and individuals, as viewed by President Amine Gemayel."It will also shed light on "how to build these relations in light of the volatile regional situation and the international disregard for the Israeli occupation policies in the occupied Palestinian territories, as well as the attempts to liquidate the Palestinian cause and deprive the Palestinians of their right of return, deliberately inflicting a financial deficit on UNRWA and ignoring its serious implications on the stability of the host countries with Lebanon at the forefront." Another question to be highlighted in tomorrow's edition is: "Will Lebanon enhance its partnership with the international community and the United Nations to serve the common interests and international peace aspired for by the UN Special Coordinator for Lebanon, Bernell Kardel?"

Lebanese Air Force organizes open day at Riyak base
Sun 30 Sep 2018/NNA - The Lebanese Air Force organized Sunday an open day for citizens at its Riyak Airbase to learn more about its capabilities, amidst tight security measures set-up by the Army through checkpoints that spread along the Airbase's external roads and within its vicinity.
With patriotic songs and tunes playing in the background, visitors witnessed an Air Show parade including aerial maneuvers and display of heavy military machinery and equipment. The parade also included landing and rescue operations with the contribution of military helicopters in extinguishing fires, and a detailed explanation of the characteristics of each helicopter. Concluding the open day event, 12 prizes were offered to citizens to enjoy a tour aboard a military helicopter over the Bekaa Valley.

Saad urges President of the Republic to adopt government formation decision
Sun 30 Sep 2018/NNA - Strong Republic Parliamentary Bloc Member, MP Fadi Saad, called Sunday on President Michel Aoun to take the decision to form the new government, and to give instructions to limit greediness to facilitate its formation. "In the event of failed attempts, the caretaking government ought to exercise its powers, as is the case when disasters hit," Saad added. He pointed out that the country is not economically at its best today and the cabinet has to assume its responsibilities. Speaking during a memorial ceremony in tribute to the Lebanese Forces fallen martyrs held in Ebrine-Batroun district this morning, MP Saad said, "We have a long way of struggle that is costly and requires seriousness, sacrifice and staying away from selfishness." However, he considered that today's sacrifices remain much less than the sacrifices of the fallen martyrs. "Our march is long but easier, and there is a glimmer of light in the horizon. We will not give up hope and will not give in despite the difficult conditions we are living at all levels...Our march is ongoing towards building an actual state which is our main project," he asserted. "The Lebanese Forces Party is working hard to provide solutions to all outstanding issues at the economic, daily-living and social levels and we have suggestions for all projects whether or not we are in power, for we have to carry out our duties," Saad concluded.

Caretaker Minister of Industry, Hussein Hajj Hassan Salutes Aoun's positions at UN Assembly

Sun 30 Sep 2018/NNA - Caretaker Minister of Industry, Hussein Hajj Hassan, on Sunday lauded the recent positions of President of the Republic, Michel Aoun, at the United Nations General Assembly. "In the name of the Resistance, we convey to President Michel Aoun our appreciation of his national positions, which were clear on the Israeli aggression against Lebanon and the issues facing the country at the local, regional and international levels," Hajj Hassan said during a graduation ceremony in Baalbeck. Finally, he reiterated the need for a swift government formation especially with the pressing socio-economic situation in the country.

The Latest LCCC Bulletin For Miscellaneous Reports And News published on October 01/18
Kellyanne Conway: 'I'm a victim of sexual assault'
Michael Walsh/Yahoo/September 30/18/White House counselor Kellyanne Conway said publicly for the first time Sunday morning that she is a victim of sexual assault. Conway told Jake Tapper on CNN’s “State of the Union” that she sympathizes with victims of sexual assault because she is one herself during a conversation about the controversy surrounding Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination to the Supreme Court. “I feel very empathetic, frankly, for victims of sexual assault and sexual harassment and rape,” she said before clearing her throat. “I’m a victim of sexual assault.”Conway was arguing that the way politicians and reporters have handled the allegations against Kavanaugh is hypocritical — saying it’s unfair to compare him to former President Bill Clinton or disgraced comedian Bill Cosby. She urged the women who confronted Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., in an elevator about Kavanaugh to instead “go blame the perpetrator.”
“And if not one Senate Judiciary Committee member changes his or her vote because of what they learned from the FBI investigation, that tells you all you need to know about what the president and Judge Kavanaugh has said is a sham,” she said. Tapper pointed out that this is the first time Conway said that she had been sexually assaulted and that she works for a president who says all the women who have accused him are lying. “Don’t conflate that with this and certainly don’t conflate that with what happened to me,” Conway said. “It would be a huge mistake, Jake. Let’s not do it. Let’s not always bring Trump into everything that happens in this universe. That’s mistake number one.” Tapper said he was only bringing up Trump because the president has said that his personal experiences with false allegations have formed his view of this. He continued, “As a survivor of this, and again I’m deeply, personally very sorry for whatever pain you’ve gone through, but does that not make you think when you hear somebody like Professor Ford or other people make allegations, does that not make you think, ‘These women need to be heard.’ And even if there are not corroborating witnesses, that is not ‘absence of evidence is not evidence of absence.’”Conway responded that all victims of sexual assault should be heard. “Jake, they should all be heard. They should be heard in courts of law. They should be heard in depositions. They should be heard in proceedings. Those who can prosecute. Those who have civil and/or criminal causes of action should pursue that,” Conway said. “But we do treat people differently who are either the victims or the perpetrators of this based on their politics now or based on their gender. That is a huger mistake. America, it’s a huge mistake. Don’t make the mistake.”
Netanyahu Accepts Palestinian State That Poses 'No Threat to Israel'
Ramallah /Asharq Al-Awsat/Sunday, 30 September, 2018/Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in an interview with CNN that he would not commit to a two-state solution to Israel's ongoing conflict with Palestinians. He stressed that rather than talking about labels, he would like to talk about substance. “I've discovered that, if you use labels, you're not going to get very far because different people mean different things when they say 'states.’ So rather than talking about labels, I'd like to talk about substance,” he said. Netanyahu’s comments contradicted those of US President Donald Trump, who expressed public and explicit support for the two-state solution after meeting Israel’s PM on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly session in New York. He said that he told Trump that the state of affairs he would like to see was a Palestinian self-government in a demilitarized state with "none of the powers to threaten us."He added that Israel must have overriding security control in such a situation. "Israel has to have the overriding security, not the UN, not Canadian Mounties, not -- I don't know -- Austrian or Australian forces -- Israeli forces have to have the security control, otherwise, that place will be taken over by Islamist terrorists, either ISIS, Hamas, Iran or all of the above," Netanyahu said. "And that's my condition."Palestinians, however, rejected this condition. “We would only accept an independent and sovereign Palestinian state on the 1967 borders with East Jerusalem as its capital,” said Palestinian presidential spokesman Nabil Abu Rudeineh. “Not a single Israeli soldier will be accepted to remain on a Palestinian land,” he stressed. As for the Middle East peace plan the Trump administration has said it is formulating, Netanyahu said he would look at it "with a keen and open mind because I know there's great friendship to Israel." "I always said that I'm willing to look at peace proposals put forward by the United States," he added.
Israel says ready for UN crossing with Syria to reopen
AFP, JerusalemSunday, 30 September 2018/Israel is prepared to open its side of the crossing point with Syria following the return of UN peacekeepers to the Golan Heights following a four-year absence, the army said. Defence Minister Avigdor Lieberman “authorized the reopening of the Alpha gate of the Quneitra crossing between Israel and Syria, allowing the UN to resume activity via the crossing pending Syria’s reopening their side,” it said in a statement Saturday. The UN Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF) resumed its patrols in the area of the crossing point in August, after withdrawing in 2014 when Al-Qaeda-linked rebels overran the area, three years into Syria’s devastating civil war. The return of UNDOF was made possible after Syrian government forces, backed by Russia, recaptured territory near the Golan, driving out rebel groups from a “de-escalation zone” agreed by Jordan, Russia and the United States. Quneitra crossing is “an operational crossing for UNDOF in the implementation of its mandate,” according to Nick Birnback, a spokesman for UN Peacekeeping in New York. UNDOF is working to “complete the rehabilitation of the Quneitra crossing” which is expected to be reopened soon, Birnback said in an email on Friday. Israel seized much of the Golan Heights from Syria in the Six-Day War of 1967 and later annexed it in a move not recognized by the international community. Established in 1974, UNDOF monitors a ceasefire line separating Israeli-occupied parts of the Golan Heights from Syria. The Quneitra crossing was used by Druze living on the Israeli side travelling to Syria for higher education or weddings. Druze farmers also exported apples to Syria through Quneitra. At a tour of the Israeli side of the crossing on Thursday, Lieberman said that once Quneitra was open, authorities would have to “consider each possibility (for the crossing’s use) according to the security situation”. “We’re in different times now,” he said. Israel was “ready to open the crossing as it had been in the past”, Lieberman told journalists accompanying him at the site.
“The ball is now in the Syrians’ court.”Syria’s transport ministry also said Saturday its main border crossing with Jordan would reopen to trade next month for the first time in three years, although Amman said consultations were still ongoing. Syrian government troops retook the Syrian side of the crossing in July under a deal with rebel fighters brokered by Moscow. It had been sealed completely since rebels overran it in April 2015, choking off one of the most important trade routes for the government.

Israel frees French-Palestinian after 13 months without trial
AFP, JerusalemSunday, 30 September 2018/Israel on Sunday released a French-Palestinian lawyer held without charge for the past 13 months over unspecified allegations, his lawyer said.
Salah Hamouri, 33, was freed at Jerusalem police headquarters after being brought from his cell in a prison in southern Israel’s Negev desert. Attorney Mahmud Hassan told AFP that under the terms of his release Hamouri was forbidden to take part in any celebrations, demonstration or protests for a period of 30 days and required to post a bond of $ 824. He was arrested at his home in Israeli-annexed east Jerusalem on August 23, 2017 and subsequently interned under what Israel calls administrative detention, which allows detention without trial for renewable six-month periods. Neither suspects nor their lawyers are informed of the reasons for arrests and Israel’s Shin Bet domestic intelligence agency had no immediate comment when asked by AFP for the reasons behind Hamouri’s detention. French President Emmanuel Macron and Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian had discussed his case several times with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, according to the French foreign ministry. Israel says administrative detention is intended to allow authorities to hold suspects while continuing to gather evidence, with the aim of preventing attacks or security offences in the meantime. But the system has been criticised by Palestinians, human rights groups and members of the international community who say Israel abuses the measure. Hamouri was born in east Jerusalem to a French mother and a Palestinian father. Palestinian prisoner support NGO Addameer, which employed him as a field researcher, said he was first arrested and placed under administrative detention in 2001, aged 16. He was interned without trial for another five-month stretch in 2004, it said, then arrested again in 2005. Following that arrest, he was tried and convicted by an Israeli court on charges of plotting to assassinate Ovadia Yossef, a prominent Israeli rabbi and spiritual leader of the ultra-Orthodox Shas political party. Hamouri was released in December 2011 as part of a swap of over 1,000 Palestinian prisoners for Gilad Shalit, a soldier held captive in Gaza for more than five years. He has always maintained his innocence. Addameer says more than 5,500 Palestinians are currently held in Israeli jails, including approximately 450 in administrative detention.

UAE, Bahrain Call for Confronting Iran's Threats
New York – Asharq Al-Awsat/Sunday, 30 September, 2018/UAE Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed accused Iran on Saturday of being a “rogue state” and “attacking the security of the region.”“Certain countries, particularly Iran, are prone to attacking the security of the region, spreading chaos, violence and sectarianism,” he told the UN General Assembly in its 73rd session in New York. “The first challenge is foreign interference in the affairs of the region and the Arab world,” Sheikh Abdullah said. Its “nefarious interference” in Yemen and its attacks, as well as the Houthis’ attacks on Saudi Arabia with Iranian-supplied ballistic missiles, left the UAE with no option but to join the Arab Coalition. “We cannot afford to remain mere spectators when these threats reached Yemen and Saudi Arabia,” he stressed. Bahrain's Foreign Minister Sheikh Khalid bin Ahmed bin Mohammed Al Khalifa, for his part, accused Qatar of adopting a "dangerous approach" by insisting on policies that "contradict the concept of collective security." He called for a strong political, economic and military alliance in order to deter Iran's threats, voicing his support for US President Donald Trump’s efforts to establish the “Strategic Alliance for Middle East” “Achieving lasting security, stable peace and sustainable development for regional countries is a collective responsibility that requires building a strong political, economic and military alliance among the responsible countries,” Sheikh Khalid said as he addressed the UN General Assembly. He pointed out that the goal is to "deter whoever attempts to undermine the stability of this strategic region, which faces different threats, primarily those coming from the Iranian regime.” "This regime adopts the policy of sabotaging and overthrowing states and their institutions, supports extremist terrorist groups and interferes in the internal affairs of states," he added. Iran also holds neighboring countries responsible for the incidents taking place in its territories and vows to dominate the region, Sheikh Khalid explained.

Turkey Demands Factions’ Withdrawal from Buffer Zones
Ankara - Saiid Abdulrazzak/Asharq Al-Awsat/Sunday, 30 September, 2018/Turkey demanded, during a meeting with armed opposition faction in Idlib, withdrawal from demilitarized zones, according to Sochi deal between Russian president Vladimir Putin and Turkey’s president Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Erdogan has announced that the withdrawal of radical groups had already started. German Chancellor Angela Merkel said Friday she and the leaders of Turkey, Russia, and France planned to hold a summit next month on the situation in war-ravaged Syria. “We are in favor of a four-way meeting with the presidents of Turkey, Russia and France and myself because the situation (in Syria) is still fragile,” Merkel told reporters after talks with Erdogan. “We aim to do this in the month of October,” she added. Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu is set to pay an official visit to France on Sept. 30 to hold discussions with his counterpart Jean-Yves Le Drian, said a Turkish Foreign Ministry statement. In this context, Cavusoglu called on Washington to stop the shipment of arms to the People’s Protection Units, or YPG, according to Washington Post. Washington has used 5,000 trucks and 2,000 cargo planes to deliver weapons to the YPG in recent years, he added. The political arm of a terrorist group seeking to peddle influence in Washington is a shocking state of affairs, and President Trump should block its activity.

Erdogan Ends Germany's Visit with a Conciliatory Tone
Berlin - Raghida Bahnam/Asharq Al-Awsat/Sunday, 30 September, 2018/Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan tried to wrap up his three-day visit to Germany in a conciliatory tone, saying the visit had been "successful."Following an official dinner hosted by German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier, which was described by the country’s media as “scandal” because of Erdogan's speech which hinted that Germany was a supporter of terrorism, Erdogan seemed to choose to end his visit positively after two days of tension. He started his speech in one of Europe's largest mosques by thanking the German government for the warm welcome. He said talks with the German president and German Chancellor Angela Merkel were fruitful. "In a critical period, we have made a fruitful, successful visit to Germany," he told guests at the opening of the Central Mosque. In Cologne, a major center of the three million-strong Turkish community in Germany, a few hundred Erdogan supporters gathered behind security barriers waving flags and wearing scarves in Turkey's red-and-white national colors. Erdogan's conciliatory tone didn't last long, as he repeated the accusations he made the night before, accusing Germany of harboring terrorists in reference to the PKK and supporters of Turkish preacher Fethullah Gulen, whom Erdogan accused of plotting the 2016 failed coup. He also accused Germany of "racism" and recalled the case of soccer star Mesut Ozil. "This racism has to end," said Erdogan. Also, plans for a large open-air event at the mosque were canceled late on Friday by the city of Cologne, which cited security concerns. In a statement published Saturday on Facebook, DITIB, a Turkish-German Islamic umbrella association, expressed disappointment at the city’s decision, stating that it opposed the move and “could not comprehend” the reasoning behind it.

Three Years of Russia Strikes on Syria Kill 18,000

Agence France Presse/Naharnet/September 30/18/More than 18,000 people, nearly half of them civilians, have been killed in Russian air strikes on Syria since Moscow began its game-changing intervention three years ago, a monitor said Sunday. Russia, a steadfast ally of Syria's ruling regime, began carrying out bombing raids in the country on September 30, 2015 -- more than four years into the devastating conflict. Since then, they have killed 18,096 people, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights."That number includes 7,988 civilians, or nearly half of the total," said Observatory chief Rami Abdel Rahman. Another 5,233 Islamic State fighters were also killed in Russian strikes, with the rest of the dead including other rebels, Islamists and jihadists, the Britain-based monitor said. Human rights groups and Western governments have criticized Russia's air war in Syria, saying it bombs indiscriminately and targets civilian infrastructure including hospitals. The White Helmets, a Syrian rescue force that works in opposition areas, said in a report released Sunday that it had responded to dozens of strikes by Russia on buildings used by civilians since 2015. They included Russian bombing raids on 19 schools, 12 public markets and 20 medical facilities over the past three years, as well as 21 of its own rescue centres. "Russia has flaunted its disregard for agreements over safe zones, no-conflict zones, cessations of hostilities, and de-escalation zones by continuing with airstrikes on civilian spaces," the White Helmets charged. Russia has operated a naval base in Syria's coastal Tartus province for decades, but expanded its operations to the nearby Hmeimim airbase in 2015. It also has special forces and military police units on the ground in government-controlled parts of the country. The air strikes were crucial in helping troops loyal to President Bashar al-Assad retake swathes of the country, including second city Aleppo in 2016 and areas around Damascus, the rural centre, and the south this year alone. "The regime controlled just 26 percent of Syrian territory" when Russia intervened, said Abdel Rahman, compared with close to two-thirds now. In addition to the Russian and Syrian air forces, warplanes from the U.S.-led coalition fighting IS have also been carrying out bombing raids on Syria since September 2014. Last week, the Observatory said that U.S.-led coalition air strikes on Syria had killed more than 3,300 civilians since the alliance began operations against IS targets. The Observatory, which relies on sources inside Syria for its reports, says it determines whose planes carried out strikes according to type, location, flight patterns and munitions involved.

Muallem Calls on U.S., French, Turkish Forces to Withdraw Immediately
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/September 30/18/Syria's foreign minister has denounced U.S., French and Turkish forces operating in his country as "occupying forces" and demanded that they leave immediately. Addressing the U.N. General Assembly, Foreign Minister Walid al-Muallem also called on Syrian refugees to come home, even though the country's war is now in its eighth year. Muallem, who also serves as deputy prime minister, said the foreign forces were on Syrian soil illegally, under the pretext of fighting terrorism, and "will be dealt with accordingly." "They must withdraw immediately and without any conditions," he told the assembly. Muallem insisted that the "war on terror is almost over" in Syria, where more than 360,000 people have died since 2011, with millions more uprooted from their homes. He said Damascus would continue "fighting this sacred battle until we purge all Syrian territories" of both terror groups and "any illegal foreign presence." The United States has some 2,000 troops in Syria, mainly training and advising both Kurdish forces and Syrian Arabs opposed to President Bashar al-Assad. France has more than 1,000 troops on the ground in the war-wracked country.
Scaring refugees
On the issue of refugees, Muallem said the conditions were fine for them to return, and he blamed "some western countries" for "spreading irrational fears" that prompted refugees to stay away.
"We have called upon the international community and humanitarian organizations to facilitate these returns," he said. "They are politicizing what should be a purely humanitarian issue." The United States and the European Union have warned that there will be no reconstruction aid for Syria until there is a political agreement between Assad and the opposition to end the war. U.N. diplomats say a recent agreement between Russia and Turkey to set up a buffer zone in the last major rebel stronghold of Idlib has created an opportunity to press ahead with political talks. The Russian-Turkish deal averted a large-scale assault by Russian-backed Syrian forces on the province, where three million people live. Muallem however stressed that the agreement had "clear deadlines" and expressed hope that military action will target jihadists including fighters from the al-Qaida-linked Nusra Front, who "will be eradicated."U.N. envoy Staffan de Mistura is hoping to soon convene the first meetings of a new committee comprised of government and opposition members to draft a post-war constitution for Syria and pave the way to elections. Muallem laid out conditions for the Syrian government's participation in the committee, saying the panel's work should be restricted "to reviewing the articles of the current constitution," and warned against interference.
Syria Rebels Deny Withdrawing Arms from North under Deal
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/September 30/18/Syrian rebels denied on Sunday they had pulled any heavy arms from a major opposition bastion in the north, as the deadline to implement a demilitarization deal there draws closer. Regime ally Moscow and rebel backer Ankara agreed earlier this month to create a buffer zone around the opposition stronghold of Idlib that would be free of both jihadists and heavy arms. The deal has so far averted a massive assault on the region by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's government, but its implementation in areas packed with rival jihadists and rebels is expected to be complex. The National Liberation Front, a pro-Turkey rebel alliance, welcomed the agreement but said Sunday it had not yet moved any heavy arms from the planned zone. "There have been no withdrawals of heavy weapons from any area or any front. This report is denied, completely denied," NLF spokesman Naji Mustafa told AFP. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitor had earlier said one faction of the NLF began withdrawing its heavy weapons under the Turkish-Russian agreement. It said Faylaq al-Rahman, whose fighters number between 8,500 and 10,000, were leaving three towns in the planned buffer zone on Sunday "with heavy weapons, including tanks and cannons". The Britain-based monitor uses a vast network of sources including fighters, officials and medical staff. A spokesman for Faylaq al-Rahman also told AFP on Sunday it had not moved any forces or arms. "There have been no changes in the location of weapons or redistribution of fighters, even as we remain committed to the agreement reached in (the Russian resort of) Sochi," said Sayf al-Raad. "We are still coordinating with the Turkish guarantor on following the agreement and ways to implement it," he added.
Jihadists, rebels split on deal
On September 17, Russian President Vladimir Putin and Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan agreed to set up a demilitarized zone about 15 to 20 kilometers wide ringing around Idlib.
All factions in the planned buffer must hand over their heavy weapons by October 10, and radical groups must withdraw by October 15, according to the agreement. The deal was welcomed by world powers, aid organizations, and the United Nations, which all hoped it would help avoid a bloody military assault on the area.
But observers have pointed out its implementation would be tricky for Ankara. Most of the territory where the zone would be established is controlled by either hardline jihadists or by Hayat Tahrir al-Sham, which is led by former members of al-Qaida's Syria branch and widely considered the most powerful force in Idlib. The rest is held by the NLF and other rebels. HTS has yet to announce its position on the agreement, and there have been no signs it was moving out either fighters or heavy weapons. But Al-Qaeda loyalists Hurras al-Deen, which have a presence in the zone, rejected the deal last week. And on Saturday, formerly US-backed rebel group Jaish al-Izza followed suit. "We are against this deal, which eats into liberated (rebel-held) areas and bails out Bashar al-Assad," its head Jamil al-Saleh told AFP.Jaish al-Izza, which is not part of the NLF, clashed with regime forces throughout the night on Saturday and into Sunday in the province of Hama, bordering Idlib.
'Purge' fighters
Separate clashes were also taking place in the coastal province of Latakia between jihadists and government fighters, the Observatory said on Sunday. Idlib and adjacent rebel territory are home to some three million people, about half of them displaced from other parts of Syria. Seven years of brutal war have forced more than half of Syria's people out of their homes, sending more than five million into neighboring countries to seek refuge and leaving another six million internally displaced. After losing swathes of territory to rebel fighters, Assad appears to have regained the upper hand and now controls around two-thirds of the country. The areas still outside his control are Idlib in the northwest, and a northeastern chunk held by Kurdish authorities where U.S. and other Western troops are present. On Saturday, Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Muallem said Damascus would keep "fighting this sacred battle until we purge all Syrian territories" of both radical groups and "any illegal foreign presence."

Trump Says U.S. 'Subsidizing' Saudi, Asia Militaries
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/September 30/18/President Donald Trump has complained that the U.S. is "subsidizing" the military of Middle East ally Saudi Arabia, as well as Japan and South Korea. The comment, at a West Virginia rally for local candidates of his Republican Party, follows similar jibes at European members of the NATO alliance. "When you have wealthy countries like Saudi Arabia, like Japan, like South Korea, why are we subsidizing their military?" asked Trump, who pushes an aggressive "America First" policy on trade. "They'll pay us. The problem is nobody ever asks." He added that he had spoken to Saudi Arabia's King Salman on Saturday to make the same point. Saudi Arabia and Japan are major buyers of U.S.-made weaponry, and the U.S. provides intelligence and aerial refueling support to a Saudi-led coalition fighting rebels in Yemen. Japan and South Korea host tens of thousands of American troops. Trump said the United States pays "about 60 percent" of South Korea's military. Last year he suggested Seoul should pay for the $1.0-billion THAAD anti-missile system that the U.S. has deployed on South Korean territory.
Trump has long complained that European members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization do not pay enough for their own defense, singling out Germany for particular criticism.

Trump 'Fell in Love' with Kim after 'Beautiful Letters'

Agence France Presse/Naharnet/September 30/18/U.S. President Donald Trump said he and North Korea's Kim Jong Un have fallen "in love" –- their bromance fueled by "beautiful letters" he received from the leader of the nuclear-armed state. Trump on Saturday elevated his recent praise of Kim to new heights, at a West Virginia rally in support of local candidates for his Republican Party. "And then we fell in love -- OK? No really. He wrote me beautiful letters and they're great letters. We fell in love," Trump told the crowd. On Monday at the United Nations General Assembly Trump lauded the North Korean strongman -- who is accused by the U.N. and others of widespread human rights abuses -- as "terrific," one year after Trump eviscerated Kim from the same platform. Trump followed those comments by saying Wednesday he had received an "extraordinary letter" from Kim, and sounded optimistic about prospects for a second summit between the two leaders "fairly quickly."Trump used his debut address at the U.N. General Assembly 12 months ago to threaten to "totally destroy" North Korea and belittle its leader as "rocket man," prompting Kim to respond by calling the president a "mentally deranged U.S. dotard." Those were among a series of playground-type slurs the leaders of the two nuclear-armed states hurled at each other, setting the world on edge. Last August, after U.S. media reported Pyongyang had successfully miniaturized a nuclear warhead to fit into a missile, Trump warned Pyongyang not to threaten the United States or it would face "fire and fury like the world has never seen." Kim had earlier compared comments by Trump to the bark of a "rabid dog," and Trump derided Kim as a "sick puppy" -- before the apparent outbreak of puppy love. Trump met Kim in Singapore in June for the first-ever summit between the two countries that have never signed a peace treaty. The summit led to a warming of ties and a halt in Pyongyang's missile launches, but there has been little concrete progress since. North Korea's foreign minister Ri Yong Ho on Saturday told the U.N. there was "no way" that his country would disarm first as long as the U.S. to push for tough enforcement of sanctions against Pyongyang.

Sisi Set to Visit Russia to Reinforce Cooperation
Cairo - Mohammed Nabil Helmi/Asharq Al-Awsat/Sunday, 30 September, 2018/Cairo is preparing for the ‘anticipated visit’ of Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi to Russia to reinforce cooperation in various fields. Sisi’s last visit to Russia was in 2015, which was his third visit since becoming a president. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov held a meeting with his Egyptian counterpart Sameh Shoukry on the sidelines of the 73rd United Nations General Assembly on Friday. The two focused on how to strengthen and develop bilateral cooperation and also discussed the situation in the region and world. Shoukry stressed Egypt's interest in increasing direct Russian investments in the country, especially in the industrial domain. They focused on prospects for further development of a comprehensive partnership uniting Russia and Egypt with an emphasis on multifaceted cooperation to be stepped up and strengthened. The two ministers expressed satisfaction with the progress made in the Dabaa nuclear plant project. Meanwhile, the meeting also tackled recent developments in Syria and Libya. The Egyptian minister stressed the need to maintain the national institutions in both Libya and Syria and to secure their stability and territorial integrity. He urged more efforts to achieve a political settlement to cement regional security and stability and to prevent the expansion and spread of terrorist groups. Shoukry also warned against establishing safe routes to allow terrorists to leave Syria's Idlib. For his part, Lavrov expressed Russia's support for the Egyptian efforts in Libya and affirmed the importance of uniting the Libyan army. He also warned against relying on militias to preserve stability in the country.

Death toll from Indonesian quake, tsunami rises to 832
AP/Reuters/September 30, 2018
PALU, Indonesia:The death toll from an earthquake and tsunami on the Indonesian island of Sulawesi rose to 832 on Sunday, the national disaster mitigation agency said, adding it assessed the affected area to be bigger than initially thought. Many people were reported trapped in the rubble of buildings brought down in the 7.5 magnitude earthquake which struck on Friday and triggered tsunami waves as high as six metres (20 feet), agency spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugroho told a news conference. Rescuers were scrambling Sunday to try to find trapped victims in collapsed buildings where voices could be heard screaming for help after a massive earthquake in Indonesia spawned a deadly tsunami two days ago. Muhammad Syaugi, the head of Indonesia’s search and rescue agency, said that he could hear people calling out from the collapsed eight-story Roa-Roa Hotel in the hard-hit city of Palu on the island of Sulawesi. “I can still hear the voice of the survivors screaming for help while inspecting the compound,” he said, adding there could be 50 people trapped inside.
The Ministry of Information reported the official death toll at 405, with all the fatalities coming in the hard- Palu. But disaster agency spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugroho said the toll was expected to rise once rescuers reached surrounding coastal areas. He said others were unaccounted for, without giving an estimate. The nearby cities of Donggala and Mamuju were also ravaged, but little information was available due to damaged roads and disrupted telecommunications. Nugroho said “tens to hundreds” of people were taking part in a beach festival in Palu when the tsunami struck at dusk on Friday. Their fate was unknown. Hundreds of people were injured and hospitals, damaged by the magnitude 7.5 quake, were overwhelmed. Some of the injured, including Dwi Haris, who suffered a broken back and shoulder, rested outside Palu’s Army Hospital, where patients were being treated outdoors due to continuing strong aftershocks. Tears filled his eyes as he recounted feeling the violent earthquake shake the fifth-floor hotel room he shared with his wife and daughter. “There was no time to save ourselves. I was squeezed into the ruins of the wall, I think,” said Haris, adding that his family was in town for a wedding. “I heard my wife cry for help, but then silence. I don’t know what happened to her and my child. I hope they are safe.” It’s the latest natural disaster to hit Indonesia, which is frequently struck by earthquakes, volcanic eruptions and tsunamis because of its location on the “Ring of Fire,” an arc of volcanoes and fault lines in the Pacific Basin. In December 2004, a massive magnitude 9.1 earthquake off Sumatra island in western Indonesia triggered a tsunami that killed 230,000 people in a dozen countries. Last month, a powerful quake on the island of Lombok killed 505 people. Palu, which has more than 380,000 people, was strewn with debris from the earthquake and tsunami. A mosque heavily damaged by the quake was half submerged and a shopping mall was reduced to a crumpled hulk. A large bridge with yellow arches had collapsed. Bodies lay partially covered by tarpaulins and a man carried a dead child through the wreckage.
The city is built around a narrow bay that apparently magnified the force of the tsunami waters as they raced into the tight inlet.
Indonesian TV showed dramatic smartphone video of a powerful wave hitting Palu, with people screaming and running in fear. The water smashed into buildings and the mosque.
Nina, a 23-year-old woman who goes by one name, was working at a laundry service shop not far from the beach when the quake hit. She said the quake destroyed her workplace, but she managed to escape and quickly went home to get her mother and younger brother. “We tried to find shelter, but then I heard people shouting, ‘Water! Water!’” she recalled, crying. “The three of us ran, but got separated. Now I don’t know where my mother and brother are. I don’t know how to get information. I don’t know what to do.” The earthquake left mangled buildings with collapsed awnings and rebar sticking out of concrete like antennae. Roads were buckled and cracked. The tsunami created even more destruction. It was reported as being 3 meters (10 feet) high in some areas and double that height elsewhere. “We got a report over the phone saying that there was a guy who climbed a tree up to 6 meters high,” said Nugroho, the disaster agency spokesman.
Communications with the area were difficult because power and telecommunications were cut, hampering search and rescue efforts. Most people slept outdoors, fearing strong aftershocks. “We hope there will be international satellites crossing over Indonesia that can capture images and provide them to us so we can use the images to prepare humanitarian aid,” Nugroho said. Indonesia is a vast archipelago of more than 17,000 islands that’s home to 260 million people. Roads and infrastructure are poor in many areas, making access difficult in the best of conditions. The disaster agency has said that essential aircraft can land at Palu’s airport, though AirNav, which oversees aircraft navigation, said the runway was cracked and the control tower damaged. AirNav said one of its air traffic controllers, aged 21, died in the quake after staying in the tower to ensure a flight he’d just cleared for departure got airborne safely. It did. More than half of the 560 inmates in a Palu prison fled after its walls collapsed during the quake, said its warden, Adhi Yan Ricoh. “It was very hard for the security guards to stop the inmates from running away as they were so panicked and had to save themselves too,” he told state news agency Antara.
Ricoh said there was no immediate plan to search for the inmates because the prison staff and police were consumed with the search and rescue effort. “Don’t even think to find the inmates. We don’t even have time yet to report this incident to our superiors,” he said. Indonesian President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo said Friday night that he instructed the security minister to coordinate the government’s response to the disaster. Jokowi also told reporters in his hometown of Solo that he called on the country’s military chief to help with search and rescue efforts. United Nations spokesman Stephane Dujarric said UN officials were in contact with Indonesian authorities and “stand ready to provide support as required.” Sulawesi has a history of religious tensions between Muslims and Christians, with violent riots erupting in the town of Poso, not far from Palu, two decades ago. Indonesia is the world’s most populous Muslim country.

The Latest LCCC Bulletin analysis & editorials from miscellaneous sources published on
October 01/18
EU: Politicizing the Internet
Judith Bergman/Gatestone Institute/September 30/18
Even before such EU-wide legislation, similar ostensible "anti-terror legislation" in France, for example, is being used as a political tool against political opponents and to limit unwanted free speech.
In France, simply spreading information about ISIS atrocities is now considered "incitement to terrorism". It is this kind of legislation, it seems, that the European Commission now wishes to impose on all of the European Union.
Social media giants -- Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Microsoft, Google+ and Instagram -- act as voluntary censors on behalf of the European Union.
The European Commission states that it is specifically interested in funding projects that focus on the "development of technology and innovative web tools preventing and countering illegal hate speech online and supporting data collection", and studies that analyze "the spread of racist and xenophobic hate speech in different Member States..."
The European Union seems fixated, at least for the internet, on killing free speech. And social media giants -- Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Microsoft, Google+ and Instagram -- act as voluntary censors on behalf of the EU. (Image source: iStock)
In March, the European Commission -- the unelected executive branch of the European Union -- told social media companies to remove illegal online terrorist content within an hour -- or risk facing EU-wide legislation on the topic. This ultimatum was part of a new set of recommendations that applies to all forms of supposedly "illegal content" online. This content ranges "from terrorist content, incitement to hatred and violence, child sexual abuse material, counterfeit products and copyright infringement."
While the one-hour ultimatum was ostensibly only about terrorist content, the following is how the European Commission presented the new recommendations at the time:
"... The Commission has taken a number of actions to protect Europeans online – be it from terrorist content, illegal hate speech or fake news... we are continuously looking into ways we can improve our fight against illegal content online. Illegal content means any information which is not in compliance with Union law or the law of a Member State, such as content inciting people to terrorism, racist or xenophobic, illegal hate speech, child sexual exploitation... What is illegal offline is also illegal online".
"Illegal hate speech", is then broadly defined by the European Commission as "incitement to violence or hatred directed against a group of persons or a member of such a group defined by reference to race, colour, religion, descent or national or ethnic origin".
The EU has now decided that these "voluntary efforts" to remove terrorist content within an hour on the part of the social media giants are not enough: that legislation must be introduced. According to the European Commission's recent press release:
"The Commission has already been working on a voluntary basis with a number of key stakeholders – including online platforms, Member States and Europol – under the EU Internet Forum in order to limit the presence of terrorist content online. In March, the Commission recommended a number of actions to be taken by companies and Member States to further step up this work. Whilst these efforts have brought positive results, overall progress has not been sufficient".
According to the press release, the new rules will include draconian fines issued to internet companies who fail to live up to the new legislation:
"Member States will have to put in place effective, proportionate and dissuasive penalties for not complying with orders to remove online terrorist content. In the event of systematic failures to remove such content following removal orders, a service provider could face financial penalties of up to 4% of its global turnover for the last business year".
Such astronomical penalties are likely to ensure that no internet company will run any risks and will therefore self-censor material "just in case".
According to the European Commission press release, the rules will require that service providers "take proactive measures – such as the use of new tools – to better protect their platforms and their users from terrorist abuse". The rules will also require increased cooperation between hosting service providers, and Europol and Member States, with the stipulation that Member states "designate points of contact reachable 24/7 to facilitate the follow up to removal orders and referrals", as well as the establishment of:
"...effective complaint mechanisms that all service providers will have to put in place. Where content has been removed unjustifiably, the service provider will be required to reinstate it as soon as possible. Effective judicial remedies will also be provided by national authorities and platforms and content providers will have the right to challenge a removal order. For platforms making use of automated detection tools, human oversight and verification should be in place to prevent erroneous removals".
It is hard to see why anyone would believe that there will be effective judicial remedies and that erroneously removed content will be reinstated. Even before such EU-wide legislation, similar ostensible "anti-terror legislation" in France, for example, is being used as a political tool against political opponents and to limit unwanted free speech. Marine Le Pen, leader of France's Front National, was charged earlier this year for tweeting images in 2015 of ISIS atrocities, including the beheading of American journalist James Foley and a photo of a man being burned by ISIS in a cage. She faces charges of circulating "violent messages that incite terrorism or pornography or seriously harm human dignity", and that can be viewed by a minor. The purported crime is punishable by up to three years in prison and a fine of €75,000 ($88,000). Le Pen posted the pictures a few weeks after the Paris terror attacks in November 2015, in which 130 people were killed, and the text she wrote to accompany the images was "Daesh is this!" In France, then, simply spreading information about ISIS atrocities is now considered "incitement to terrorism". It is this kind of legislation, it seems, that the European Commission now wishes to impose on all of the EU.
The decision to enact legislation in this area was taken at the June 2018 European Council meeting – a gathering of all the EU's heads of state – in which the Council welcomed "the intention of the Commission to present a legislative proposal to improve the detection and removal of content that incites hatred and to commit terrorist acts". It sounds, however, as if the EU is planning to legislate about a lot more than just "terrorism".
In May 2016, the European Commission and Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Microsoft, agreed on a "Code of Conduct on countering illegal online hate speech online" (Google+ and Instagram also joined the Code of Conduct in January 2018). The Code of Conduct commits the social media companies to review and remove, within 24 hours, content that is deemed to be "illegal hate speech". According to the Code of Conduct, when companies receive a request to remove content, they must "assess the request against their rules and community guidelines and, where applicable, national laws on combating racism and xenophobia..." In other words, the social media giants act as voluntary censors on behalf of the European Union.
The European Council's welcoming of a legislative proposal from the European Commission on "improving the detection and removal of content that incites hatred" certainly sounds as if the EU plans to put the Code of Conduct into legislation, as well.
At the EU Salzburg Informal Summit in September, EU member states agreed to, "step up the fight against all forms of cyber crime, manipulations and disinformation". Heads of member states were furthermore invited, "to discuss what they expect from the Union when it comes to... preventing the dissemination of terrorist content online" and "striking the right balance between effectively combating disinformation and illegal cyber activities and safeguarding fundamental rights such as the freedom of expression".
At the same time, however, the European Commission, under its Research and Innovation Program, has a call out for research proposals on how "to monitor, prevent and counter hate speech online," with a submission deadline in October.
In the call for proposals, the Commission says that it is "committed to curb the trends of online hate speech in Europe" and underlines that "proposals building on the activities relating to the implementation of the Code of Conduct on countering hate speech online are of particular interest".
The Commission states that it is specifically interested in funding projects that focus on the, "development of technology and innovative web tools preventing and countering illegal hate speech online and supporting data collection"; studies that analyze "the spread of racist and xenophobic hate speech in different Member States, including the source and structures of groups generating and spreading such content..."; and projects that develop and disseminate "online narratives promoting EU values, tolerance and respect to EU fundamental rights and fact checking activities enhancing critical thinking and awareness about accuracy of information" as well as activities "aimed at training stakeholders on EU and national legal framework criminalising hate speech online".[1] One just wonders which member states and what "hate speech" will be held accountable -- and which not.
The EU seems fixated, at least for the internet, on killing free speech.
Judith Bergman is a columnist, lawyer and political analyst.
[1] The European Commission writes in its call that it would like the funded projects to have the following results:
Curbing increasing trends of illegal hate speech on the Internet and contributing to better understanding how social media is used to recruit followers to the hate speech narrative and ideas;
Improving data recording and establishment of trends, including on the chilling effects of illegal hate speech online, including when addressed to key democracy players, such as journalists;
Strengthening cooperation between national authorities, civil society organisations and Internet companies, in the area of preventing and countering hate speech online;
Empowering civil society organisations and grass-root movements in their activities countering hate speech online and in the development of effective counter-narratives;
Increasing awareness and media literacy of the general public on racist and xenophobic online hate speech and boosting public perception of the issue.
© 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.

Sanctuary Cities - for Whom?

David C. Stolinsky/Gatestone Institute/September 30/18
Kathryn Steinle's last words were, "Dad, help me, help me." But her dad could not help her. It was up to us to help her by keeping the streets as safe as possible. We did not. We used up all our sympathy on those who do not deserve it, leaving none for those who do deserve it. We made a "sanctuary city" that was safe for José Inés García Zárate, but extremely unsafe for his victim, Kathryn Steinle.
There are many reasons that citizens vote for a candidate. Blue-collar families often vote for the one who will bring back manufacturing jobs. Military families often vote for the one who will leave no man behind. For me, public safety is a primary consideration. People have a finite amount of sympathy. I'm sure Mother Teresa had more than I do, but even hers was not unlimited. Wisely, she spent hers for the poor. But many people are not wise. They spend their sympathy on illegal immigrants and criminals, leaving none for law-abiding citizens. Take, for instance, the cases of Sarah McKinley and Kathryn Steinle.
Sarah McKinley was home with her three-month-old son on New Year's Eve 2013. She lived in the rural community of Blanchard, Oklahoma, and police response times tended to be long. She was an 18-year-old widow. Her husband had died of cancer a few days earlier.
When she saw two men attempting to break in, McKinley recognized one as a man who had been stalking her since her husband's funeral. Apparently he was looking for drugs in the cancer victim's home. She gave her baby a bottle, then retrieved a shotgun and a handgun and barricaded the door. She phoned 911 and asked what to do. She was told she could not shoot unless they came through the door. The 911 dispatcher, though, who was a woman, added, "You do what you have to do to protect your baby."
It took police 14 minutes to arrive from the time McKinley called 911. Two minutes before they arrived, Justin Shane Martin broke down McKinley's barricaded front door, holding a 12-inch hunting knife in his gloved hand. She fired the shotgun, killing the Martin. His companion fled. He later turned himself in to police.
Later Sarah explained:
"I knew that I was going to have to choose him or my son, and it wasn't going to be my son, so I did what I had to do. There's nothing more dangerous than a mother with a child."
If we truly want to "save just one life," we will remember Sarah McKinley and all those like her. We will read the work of John Lott, especially More Guns, Less Crime, which demonstrates that violent crime decreases when more law-abiding citizens are armed, after background checks and suitable training, and does not necessarily decrease with strict gun laws, as in France. We will read the work of Dr. Gary Kleck, especially Point Blank: Guns and Violence in America, which shows that guns are used more often to defend against violent crime than to commit it.
It is bizarre that "progressives" who claim to fear the imposition of a "Nazi" regime by President Trump or others, are the same people who work to disarm the citizenry. They seem utterly unaware of the glaring contradiction.
If we truly want to "save just one life," we would be guided by logic instead of emotions.
Kathryn Steinle
Like many left-leaning cities, San Francisco declared itself a "sanctuary city," so that illegal immigrants would be reported to Immigration Customs Enforcement (ICE) only if they commit violent felonies. The supremacy of federal law is a concept that seems to have eluded San Francisco's officials. In fact, thousands of illegal immigrants have been released from custody in California without immigration officials being notified. In fact, about 39% of the federal prison population is composed of illegal aliens (as of 2013), of whom more than 25,000 have been arrested for homicide.
How well the "sanctuary city" program works was illustrated with striking clarity in the person of José Inés García Zárate (also known as Juan Francisco López-Sánchez), who shot and killed Kathryn Steinle on July 1, 2015. García Zárate was an illegal immigrant and convicted felon who had been deported five times before killing Steinle.
García Zárate was released from jail in San Francisco on April 15, 2015. ICE had filed the detainer request to be notified prior to García Zárate's release from custody, so that he could be deported again. But San Francisco authorities followed their policy and refused to honor the hold, because García Zárate had not committed a violent felony.
Two months later, García Zárate shot 32-year-old Kathryn Steinle, who died in her father's arms at a tourist attraction on Pier 14. Steinle had worked for a medical technology company.
Eventually, a San Francisco jury acquitted García Zárate of murder or manslaughter, and found him guilty only of illegal weapons possession. Of course, he will not receive the death penalty, because California no longer has one. Correction: California no longer has a death penalty for people like García Zárate, but it evidently does have one for people like Kathryn Steinle.
Her last words were, "Dad, help me, help me." But her dad could not help her. It was up to us to help her by keeping the streets as safe as possible. We did not. We used up all our sympathy on those who do not deserve it, leaving none for those who do deserve it. We made a "sanctuary city" that was safe for José Inés García Zárate, but extremely unsafe for Kathryn Michelle Steinle.
In the case of gun control, excessive regulations are more likely to cost lives than to save them. If you doubt this, just ask Sarah McKinley. How else could one expect a young mother to defend herself and her baby against armed intruders? What could she be expected to do when the police had not yet arrived and an man breaks down her door, holding a 12-inch hunting knife in his gloved hand? If she had not had that shotgun, she would probably be dead, as would her baby.
Here, gun-control activists with their "if it will save just one life" rhetoric actually would have cost two lives. Yet somehow, people like Sarah McKinley just do not register on the "progressive" radar. People like Sarah McKinley and her baby are dumped into Hillary Clinton's "basket of deplorables" or are included in Barack Obama's bitter clingers who want to hold onto their religion and guns.
After all, how can we expect the self-anointed elite -- the graduates of prestigious Ivy League universities -- to concern themselves with ignorant rednecks? They are much too elevated for that. When they say "social justice," they often seem to mean big government controlling virtually every aspect of daily life. But their version of "social justice" somehow fails to include the very lives of Sarah McKinley and her child.
Ironically, if the advocates of tight gun control had their way, Sarah McKinley and her baby would probably be dead, and if the advocates of tight border control had their way, Kathryn Steinle would probably be alive.
When it comes to illegal immigration, as well as to other policies many "progressives" appear to favor, they never seem to remember their beloved mantra of "if it will save just one life." If our borders were more secure, and if our immigration laws were more conscientiously enforced, and -- most of all -- if San Francisco had not declared itself a "sanctuary city," Kathryn Steinle would still be alive, working at the medical technology company, interacting with her close-knit family, and charming others with her smile.
*Dr. David C. Stolinsky, a retired physician, is based in the US.
© 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.

Don’t Blame Business for Slow Wage Growth
Michael Strain/Bloomberg/September, 30/18
Are wages determined by market forces, or do businesses get to decide what pay they offer to workers? This question gets at the heart of a lot of the debate about the economy. Why has wage growth been so sluggish for so many years?
If you’re on the market-forces side of the wage question, you might answer that productivity growth has been weak. If you’re on the side of the debate that believes corporations have considerable power to pay workers what they want, thwarting market forces, then you might answer that employers have made the decision to boost profits at the expense of raising wages. Of course, few people — and even fewer economists — believe that one factor or the other has no role at all in the determination of wages. But it is common to hear some prominent analysts and organizations on the left argue that the link between wages and productivity for most workers has effectively been severed for decades. Likewise, many on the right quickly dismiss the importance of non-market factors in explaining wages.
Let’s focus on typical workers and on low-wage workers. For them, the standard story finds businesses competing for employees, driving up wages to the point that workers are paid according to their contributions to the company. Businesses don’t pay employees less than the value of their productivity — the amount of revenue workers generate for their employer — because doing so would result in their workers taking another job where they would get paid what they’re worth. In this sense, employers don’t “decide” what wages they pay. Instead, wages are set in markets. Not so fast, say many economists and commentators. This story leaves out some important, and recently much-discussed, corporate policies that allow employers to pay workers less than market wages.
Over the summer, more than a dozen major restaurant chains — including McDonald’s, Applebee’s and Jimmy John’s — removed “no-poaching agreements” from their contracts with franchisees. These agreements prohibit workers at one McDonald’s restaurant, say, from getting a job at another McDonald’s franchise. These agreements are surprisingly common among low-wage employers, and they may act to put some downward pressure on wages by thwarting the competitive market mechanism through restricting the options workers have to shop around for a different, higher-paying job.
“Non-compete agreements,” in which workers agree not to join or start a rival company for a certain period of time after leaving their current employer, are a similar policy. These agreements make sense in some situations for “knowledge workers” and executives who possess considerable intellectual assets regarding their current employer. So it may not be surprising that over 60 percent of CEOs and four in 10 engineers have a non-compete.
But the evidence suggests that about one-fifth of all workers, including lower-income workers, are covered by a non-compete arrangement as well. This is harder to understand. And again, by restricting workers’ options, these policies may be suppressing wages somewhat.
I applaud the end of no-poaching agreements in restaurant chains and do not see a valid reason for non-competes to apply to lower-wage workers. In general, I’m am all for making labor markets more competitive. But I’m skeptical that these corporate policies are having a major effect on the earnings of typical and low-wage workers. How often are such agreements enforced? And if a McDonald’s cashier can’t get a job at another McDonald’s down the street, why can’t he just go to Burger King? It’s hard to imagine that these restrictions are significantly lowering his wage. And there is little evidence to show they do.
This is not to say that frictions in the smooth operation of the competitive market mechanism don’t give employers some power over the wages they offer. But the most important frictions are not driven by corporate policies. Mobility costs, for example, are much more important. It costs time and effort to change jobs, and takes money to move to a different city for a better job. This gives employers some power over wages. For example, a business could keep wages for some workers below their market level if those workers don’t want to incur the costs of changing jobs. Another critical factor is the lack of information workers have about what they could earn elsewhere, which likely reduces mobility.
Governments have thrown a wrench in the market machine through the absurd proliferation of occupational licenses, reducing wages for workers who can’t get a license and restricting the mobility of licensed workers. A recent study finds that the rate of migration across state lines for individuals in occupations with state-specific licensing requirements is over one-third lower than among individuals in occupations that don’t have such rules. A general decline in labor market dynamism and in the prevalence of unions likely both increase employer power over wages, as well. Despite these important factors, in my view worker productivity remains the dominant force in setting wages. For one, mobility costs and similar factors are much stronger in the near term than over longer periods of time. It may be hard for me to move my family across the country, but it’s relatively easy for a recent college graduate without a spouse and kids or for a newly arrived immigrant to do so. And intuitively, there is a limit to how far an employer can push its wages below the market wage. Over time, that business will find it hard to hire and retain workers, and to get them to put in a hard day’s work. Market forces are powerful. A recent paper by economists Anna M. Stansbury and Lawrence H. Summers of Harvard confirms this. They find that over the last four decades, a one-percentage-point increase in productivity growth is associated with a 0.73 percentage point increase in the growth rate of median compensation. That’s a strong link.
Such evidence is dispiriting for those of us who want wages to grow faster. It’s much harder for government policy to juice productivity growth than to clamp down on anti-competitive corporate practices.

Corporations of the World! Young Scientists Need You
Scott Duke Kominers/Bloomberg/September, 30/18
When you were in in high school, were you hanging out at the mall or developing new medical diagnostics? Some students are doing the latter, and thanks to a pair of new documentaries out this year, we can travel with them to what’s widely seen as the Olympics of research competitions, the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair. The fair gives these students opportunities to earn acclaim, advance their work, and make friends. But it’s at risk — without a new source of funding, the ISEF could cease to exist.
I’ve written before about the extraordinary students who participate in today’s top science fairs. They do groundbreaking, graduate-level research — studying adolescent mental health, for example, or inventing low-cost water filters and new aircraft.
Their final products are outstanding. But equally amazing are the roads they take to get there.
Sundance audience favorite “Science Fair,” released earlier this month by National Geographic Documentary Films, gives us a window into the process. Some of the competitors overcome enormous obstacles: one team from an impoverished area in Brazil, for example, made it to ISEF for its work on combating the Zika virus. Likewise, “Inventing Tomorrow,” which premiered last month, tracks students whose science is inspired by environmental threats in their home countries.
Being a teenage genius brings with it certain ironies, too: “Science Fair” follows a student who does poorly in math class because he is so busy doing math research.
For all these students, science is a passion. Competitions like the ISEF give them something to aspire to — and can also be life-changing. In part, of course, that’s because of the recognition and award money on the table. For many — especially those from lower-income areas (or countries) — ISEF can be exactly the boost needed on the way to a better college or university. Moreover, for many high-school science whizzes, ISEF is the first opportunity to be surrounded by students who share their love of research. And the adults at the fair — scientific experts who serve as judges and ambassadors — can provide crucial advice and connections that help the students down the line. The whole event is an intercultural exchange, as well, drawing students from more than 75 countries, regions, and territories.
And ISEF doesn’t just touch the lives of the students who compete there. The presence of fairs like ISEF drives a broader program of student research across the world. (This too figures prominently into “Science Fair”: one of the film’s heroines is Serena McCalla, a teacher in Jericho, New York, who has built a top science fair team filled with immigrants.)
I know the value of science fairs firsthand, since they helped put me on the path to the career I have today. I was lucky enough to attend a high school with teachers who encouraged research, as well as the Center for Excellence in Education’s Research Science Institute at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. I then competed at ISEF, and the people I met there have been a part of my life ever since.
That’s why I judge at ISEF every year I can, and why I recently joined the National Leadership Council of Society for Science & the Public, the nonprofit that runs the fair. And more broadly, it’s why I want scientific research — and the opportunities that come with it — to become ever more accessible to students worldwide. But we’re at risk of taking a step backwards. In early 2017, Intel said that it plans to drop its support of ISEF after the 2019 fair. Without new sponsorship, ISEF and the spillovers it creates could dwindle or vanish. So American corporations (and international ones, too), please step up. The scientists of tomorrow need you. Go watch “Science Fair” and “Inventing Tomorrow,” and you’ll see what I mean.

US between Progressive Left, the Nationalist Right

Hal Brands/Bloomberg/September, 30/18
When it comes to foreign policy, the Trump era offers opportunity and peril for the Democratic Party. The opportunity lies in the fact that Trump’s shambolic diplomacy has given the Democrats an opening to position themselves as the most responsible stewards of American national security. The peril lies in the possibility that the party will instead try to f Trump on global affairs, and do lasting damage in the process.
The latter scenario, unfortunately, is looming large these days. Two recent progressive foreign policy manifestoes have offered biting critiques not so much of the president, but of the broader tradition of American global engagement in support of a healthy world order.
Writing for the Atlantic, Peter Beinart argues that US foreign policy has impoverished and weakened the republic, and that the nation must adopt a posture of deep retrenchment and protectionism. The US should pull back from the Western Pacific and Eastern Europe and concede China and Russia their spheres of influence; it should throw up trade barriers to protect American jobs. The former initiative might enable the latter: Giving China free rein vis-a-vis Taiwan might just convince the rulers in Beijing to cut America a break on trade, or so Beinart believes. Writing in the New York Times, Daniel Bessner offers a similar prescription: Abandoning the “bipartisan commitment to militarism and American hegemony” that has prevailed since World War II, taking a more relaxed attitude to geopolitical threats posed by actors such as China and Russia, and forbidding American corporations from employing cheap labor overseas.
Intellectuals aren’t the only ones trying to move the Democrats in this direction. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the face of the progressive insurgency, has lambasted the “extreme” costs of US foreign policy. She critiques “corporate Democrats [who] seem to find the cash to fund a $1.1 trillion jet fighter program” so that America can keep committing “global acts of aggression” and “re-fighting the Cold War with a new arms race that nobody can win.” America must instead adopt a “peace economy” predicated on rolling back US overseas commitments to fund democratic socialism at home.
Opinion polling likewise suggests Democrats are less likely than Republicans or independents to support maintaining US military superiority. And only a little more than two years ago, Bernie Sanders came close to defeating Hillary Clinton in the 2016 primaries by running on a platform that was only slightly less protectionist than Trump’s. Sanders, after all, was just as opposed to the Trans-Pacific Partnership as Trump was.
The way to establish a fresh, constructive Democratic identity on foreign policy in the age of Trump, a growing number of party leaders and progressive writers seem to have concluded, is to embrace his basic approach to global affairs.
Progressives would surely object to this characterization, and there are myriad differences between their emerging foreign policy platform and the Trump administration’s agenda. The Democratic left is rightly preoccupied with climate change as a national security issue; the president, most assuredly, is not. Progressives support the Iran nuclear deal, prefer multilateralism over unilateralism, and often question the value of American military power in shaping the international environment; Trump’s views diverge from each of these positions. The list of differences could easily go on, but the core similarities are impossible to ignore. For the ideas at the heart of Trump’s critique of US foreign policy are also the ideas at the heart of the progressive critique. They agree that deep global engagement of the sort America has pursued since World War II harms rather than helps the American people, that the US has more to fear than to gain in an open global economy, that Washington does not have a vital interest in keeping the peace and preventing aggression in key regions like Eastern Europe or East Asia, and that America should therefore do less — much less — to promote a congenial world. In fact, what Trump has merely hinted at — that Washington should stand aside as Vladimir Putin subdues Ukraine and establishes a buffer of “Finlandized” states in Eastern Europe — progressive commentators now say explicitly.
This should not be so surprising. The range of views on US foreign policy is less a spectrum than a circle, and there has long been a certain affinity between the progressive left and the nationalist right. During the 1990s, Ralph Nader and Pat Buchanan both railed against globalization; both called for America to pull back strategically, with the Cold War over. They and their supporters did so for different reasons: The nationalist right worried, as it does today, that deep global involvement would compromise American sovereignty and national identity; the progressive left feared, as it does today, that an engaged policy would empower elites at the expense of average Americans. But they ended up, on some key issues and in their broader critique of American internationalism, in essentially the same place.
Back then, these voices were more marginalized than mainstream. Today, the Republican Party has been taken over by a president who fundamentally rejects the central intellectual pillars of America’s postwar statecraft. And although the balance of power on the Democratic side is more fluid, the advocates of retrenchment and protectionism are gaining ground. The US could see a presidential election in 2020 pitting Trump against a Democratic candidate who harshly attacks the president’s specific policies while basically agreeing with his desire to get out of the business of sustaining the American world order.
This would be a disaster. It would signal that the bipartisan consensus on American global engagement has been replaced by a bipartisan consensus on American global retreat. Over the long term, such a shift could undermine the great achievements of postwar US diplomacy — preventing great-power war, preserving relative stability in key regions, catalyzing an unprecedented rise in global and American prosperity, promoting the remarkable spread of democracy and human rights. Even in the shorter term, the effects could be quite damaging.
Around the world, many of America’s allies and trading partners have been suffering the indignities of Trump’s presidency in hopes that he represents only a four-year aberration. (They have not, however, constrained themselves from laughing out loud at his more outlandish statements, as at the U.N. this week.) Yet if these countries are faced with the certainty that they will be dealing with Trump or another critic of American internationalism for another four years after that, they may well conclude that the current moment is not an aberration but the new normal. That could fundamentally break their confidence in American leadership in a way that would unleash the geopolitical demons that leadership has traditionally suppressed — and that would take many years to repair. Who knows what sort of instability might have emerged, what mischief revisionist powers might have made, in the meantime?
With Donald Trump firmly in control of the Republican Party, Democrats represent the only chance America has to recommit itself to a tradition of internationalism that has served the country and the world quite well. Let’s hope the party doesn’t blow it by emulating the very president it reviles.

Facebook Security Flaw Exposes a Crisis of Faith
Shira Ovide/Bloomberg/September, 30/18
As in any relationship between people, once a company loses the trust of its customers, there is a long, lingering period of suspicion that the company will do something egregious again.
There is suspicion that greedy banks will take on too much risk again. That Chipotle will make customers sick again. And that Facebook Inc. is too creepy and irresponsible to be an unquestioned staple of daily life. Once trust is gone, it’s incredibly hard to win back and every misstep is magnified.
That is what is happening to Facebook on Friday after it reported it discovered a security flaw that potentially allowed attackers to hijack people’s Facebook accounts. The company said the flaw affected almost 50 million accounts, and Facebook logged 90 million people off their accounts as a safety measure. The company didn’t say whether anyone’s account had been hijacked by exploiting the security flaw it outlined.
At least based on the available information from Facebook, the company acted quickly and responsibly once it discovered the technical vulnerability. But again, it doesn’t matter. Facebook shares dropped more than 3 percent on the news, and it set off another round of news reports that reminded people about Cambridge Analytica, Russian propaganda, Myanmar violence and more. (Facebook lost more market value from the security flaw than Tesla lost on Friday after its CEO was sued by the government for securities fraud.)
To people already understandably weary of Facebook after two years of scandal, the combination of the words “Facebook” and “compromised data” are enough to bring up all the bad feelings about the company. This is what the loss of faith looks like, and it’s hard to imagine Facebook winning people back anytime soon. Everyone at Facebook may believe it’s unfair that the company is being criticized at every turn, but reality bites.

Ultranationalist mindset shapes Iran’s strategy toward Gulf states
Dr. Mohammed Alsulami/Arab News/September 30/18
The stark difference between Iran’s strategy in dealing with the Western world and with the Arab states is evident at times of crisis. Some may ponder why this double standard exists. What are the motives and historical roots behind it? Has Tehran had this dual policy since the revolution or was it inherited from previous regimes?Historically, Iran has adopted an antagonistic posture toward the Arab states. Even when there have been opportunities to correct this posture and improve relations, Iran’s leaders have often preferred not to. Saudi-Iranian relations are a case in point. A glimpse at the Shah and the post-1979 Islamic revolutionary regime will help explain the nature of these relations.
In 1944, an Iranian was arrested in Saudi Arabia during his pilgrimage after he defiled the Kaaba. Pilgrims testified against him and a Saudi court sentenced him to death. The ruling was upheld, and he was executed. In response, Iran quickly severed diplomatic ties with Riyadh. The Saudi authorities protested that the judicial ruling was grounded on witness testimony, and that Iran could not interfere in its internal affairs. Three years later, the Shah restored ties with Riyadh, sending a high-level delegation and representatives of the royal court to meet with their Saudi counterparts during the pilgrimage season.
In 1968, tensions erupted once again, while British forces were preparing to withdraw from the Gulf. During this period, Saudi Arabia’s King Faisal received the ruler of Bahrain, Sheikh Issa bin Salman. Iran’s ruler, the Shah, saw the move as a tacit message from Riyadh suggesting that Bahrain was asserting its position as an Arab state. Iran’s leadership saw this as unacceptable. In protest at the Bahraini leader’s meeting with the Saudi King, the Shah immediately cancelled his trip to Manama, which had been scheduled two days later. In his book on Saudi-Iranian relations, Iranian researcher Hamid Ahmadi wrote that, when King Faisal was asked about his position on the Shah's decision to cancel his visit to Bahrain, he replied that the decision was up to the Shah, suggesting that his relatively young age at the time may have resulted in him making an impulsive decision, which he may reconsider later. As King Faisal predicted, the Shah reversed his decision. A few months later, he contacted the Saudi leadership to ask if he could meet King Faisal. The Saudi king agreed, and the two leaders soon met. Although they were scheduled to hold a 40-minute meeting, it was so successful that it stretched to six hours and resulted in a promise by the Shah to visit Riyadh again shortly, which he did less than six months later.
Following the 1979 so-called “Islamic revolution” in Iran, tensions erupted between Tehran and Riyadh on two occasions.
At the height of the Iran-Iraq War in 1985, Saudi Arabia presented an initiative to cease hostilities, and to end the bloodshed between two fraternal Muslim nations. While King Fahd delegated his Foreign Minister Prince Saud Al-Faisal to meet with Iranian officials in Tehran to discuss a mutual cessation of hostilities between Iran and Iraq, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini flatly rejected the initiative and insisted on war until the Iraqi regime was overthrown. Two years later, having failed to achieve this goal, Iran’s leaders reluctantly agreed to a cease-fire between the two sides, with Khomeini likening the agreement to drinking a cup of poison.
Nearly three decades after that, Iran’s antagonism toward the Arab nations again came to the fore when it signed the landmark 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) nuclear deal with the P5+1 states (the US, Russia, China, France, the UK, and Germany). The Gulf states expressed grave reservations about empowering Iran and repeatedly warned of the deal’s repercussions for the region. These reservations and warnings were disregarded.
The Gulf states rejected and continue to reject any arrogant and destabilizing behavior in the region.
Post-JCPOA, the Iranian regime grew increasingly confident in its ability to shape and control events across the region, with the Obama administration and the other P5+1 states failing to curb its missile program, military expansionism and its use of sectarian militias. This led to further tensions with the Gulf states. Tehran believed that support from the P5+1 was enough to force the Gulf states into accepting its actions, and they would have no choice but to improve their relationship with it and accept its regional aggression. In fact, the Gulf states rejected and continue to reject any arrogant and destabilizing behavior in the region, as well as Iran’s use of its unfrozen assets and the economic revenues it received following the 2015 deal to develop and fund extremist militias, which have wreaked chaos across the region. Less than three years after signing the deal, however, Tehran discovered that it needed the support of the Gulf states after President Donald Trump pulled the US out of the deal and imposed political and economic pressure on the Iranian regime. In the face of this pressure, Tehran suddenly remembered the importance of the Gulf states to attaining its objectives, realizing that any rapprochement with the US starts from these states. The Iranian president and his foreign minister launched a diplomatic charm offensive, making flattering comments about the Arab states that they had maligned a couple of years previously in an earnest attempt to rebuild relations, calling for a new friendly era in diplomatic relations between the Gulf states and Iran. The Gulf states, especially Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Bahrain, were skeptical about the sincerity of this sudden U-turn, insisting that Iran’s regime should change its behavior in the region before they would agree to dialogue or negotiations. These are only a few instances of the deep-rooted and long-standing problem with the mindset of Iran’s leaders in their dealings with the Gulf states, and of Tehran’s disregard for the concerns of its neighboring nations. Many analysts believe that the problem stems from a demeaning view of Arabs promoted by successive Iranian leaders, which depicts them not as neighbors or equals but as inferiors. Although times have moved on since the days of the Persian Empire, there remains, unfortunately, a strain of supremacism and contempt for Arabs that has been passed down through successive generations and exploited by authoritarian leaders. Ironically, the “Islamic Republic” treats the Western states it attacks with far greater respect than it accords to its predominantly Muslim Arab neighbors.
Although the Gulf states are advanced and have made great strides in many areas, this arrogant supremacist world view toward the Arabs has remained unchanged among Iran’s leaders, damaging the chances of regional harmony. Perpetuating this antagonistic ultranationalist mindset, which glorifies Iran’s imperial past and seeks to revive its position as a regional imperial power, is not only harmful for Iranians but for regional cooperation. This short-sightedness amongst Iran’s leaders means that Tehran continues to make the same mistakes and fails to learn from them. It is imperative that the wiser voices of reason within the Iranian regime urge its leadership to change its course and reconsider its view of and relations with its Arab neighbors if it truly wishes to pursue harmonious and cordial relations. If Iran fails to amend its behavior and continues to pursue its current antagonistic path, the world will continue to forge ahead, leaving Iran as an isolated, impoverished and backward failed state lost in futile daydreams for its long-gone imperial past, which would be a sad loss for Iran’s leaders and people.
• Dr. Mohammed Al-Sulami is Head of the International Institute for Iranian Studies (Rasanah). Twitter: @mohalsulami

US-Gulf pressure on Iranian regime is proving effective
الدكتور ماجد ربيزاده: ضغط دول الخليج العربي على نظام إيران يؤكد فاعليته

Dr. Majid Rafizadeh/Arab News/September 30/18
In spite of what the cynics claim, the Iran policy of the US and Gulf Arab states is well-informed and is gradually bringing about effective results. Those who oppose the US and Gulf states’ policy toward Tehran continue to advocate for pursuing appeasement policies with the Iranian regime, despite the concrete evidence that such policies have emboldened and empowered Tehran in ratcheting up its hostile activities in the region. A detailed comparison of the regime’s military expansionism before and after the nuclear deal ought to teach a significant lesson to those who insist on carrying out rapprochement with the ruling mullahs. What marked the new era of total appeasement toward the Iranian regime was the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), commonly known as the Iran nuclear deal, which was reached between President Hassan Rouhani’s administration and six world powers (the P5+1, namely France, Russia, the UK, China and the US, plus Germany). The advocates of appeasing Iran had a chance to pursue their policy against Tehran when the four rounds of UN Security Council sanctions were lifted. The result was Tehran increasing its militaristic and political influence in several countries in the region, particularly Syria, Iraq and Yemen. With no international pressure imposed on Iran while the regime began receiving billions of dollars in extra revenues, Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) and its elite branch the Quds Force, which conducts operations in foreign nations, gained a greater ability to assist the Syrian regime in escalating bombardments, bloodshed and violence, and defeat the majority of Syria’s opposition groups.
Financial, advisory and military support to Shiite militia groups such as Hezbollah and the Houthis also increased to an unprecedented level. Tehran also escalated its efforts to harass other countries in the Gulf. Offering Iran the carrot without the stick has proved to be totally unproductive. That is why the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) and the US have argued that pressure ought to be imposed on the theocratic establishment of Iran in order to elicit constructive changes in its behavior. Any astute observer of Iran’s politics would witness that solely appeasing the Iranian regime not only kept the underlying problem intact, but also intensified Iran’s aggressive policies in the region. Intriguingly, since the Trump administration and the Gulf states increased the pressure on Iran, Tehran has totally halted its harassment of foreign navy ships, including US and British naval vessels, in the Gulf. During the Obama administration and after the nuclear deal, Tehran frequently and dangerously harassed foreign navy ships in the Gulf, and famously captured and detained 10 US sailors in 2016.
Offering Iran the carrot without the stick has proved to be totally unproductive. That is why Gulf states and the US have put pressure on the regime to change. For an Iran policy to be effective, it ought to have three concentric circles of pressure: Diplomatic, financial, and domestic. The US and Gulf states are incorporating these three dimensions in their policy toward Iran.  Diplomatically speaking, instead of condoning Iran’s destructive behavior, the Gulf states and the US have been vocal on the global stage with respect to Tehran’s aggressive and expansionist policies in the region. President Donald Trump last week criticized Iran at the UN General Assembly, stating: “Iran’s leaders sow chaos, death and destruction.” He added: “They do not respect their neighbors or borders or the sovereign rights of nations. Instead, Iran’s leaders plunder the nation’s resources to enrich themselves and spread mayhem across the Middle East and far beyond.”From a financial perspective, the reimposition of sanctions — as well as the concerted attempts to cut off the flow of funds to the regime that are directed toward sponsoring terror groups — have decreased Tehran’s revenues and discouraged many Western firms from signing business deals with the Iranian leaders.
Ahead of the reimposition of secondary sanctions by the US in November, Iran’s oil exports declined by about 1 million barrels per day (bpd) between April and September . The Institute of International Finance pointed out that: “Iran may continue to be committed to the 2015 nuclear deal providing the EU and others do the same. However, failure to renegotiate the deal with the US would likely bring about even deeper damage to Iran’s economy.”Last week, the price of gold went up significantly in Iran, while Tehran’s currency, the rial, reached a historic low of 150,000 to the dollar. Saudi Arabian Foreign Minister Adel Al-Jubeir recently pointed out that the Islamic Republic was unlikely to voluntarily alter its behavior. “Unless the pressure internally is extremely intense, I don’t believe they will open up, I think they are too ideological for that,” he said. Internally, Iran’s domestic pressures and protests against the clerical rule continue, while the US and Gulf states have expressed their support for the Iranian people. The US and Gulf states’ policies toward Iran are working. Solely offering the Iranian regime carrots is perilous and counter-productive.
• Dr. Majid Rafizadeh is a Harvard-educated Iranian-American political scientist. He is a leading expert on Iran and US foreign policy, a businessman and president of the International American Council. Twitter: @Dr_Rafizadeh

Tara Fares murdered for daring to be female in Baghdad
Baria Alamuddin/Arab News/September 30/18
A grainy video showed a motorcyclist fatally pumping bullets into the car of 22-year-old Iraqi model and social media star Tara Fares last week. This horrifying attack was the latest in a succession of murders of prominent Iraqi women; including others from the beauty industry, Basra activist Suad Al-Ali, and the killings of protesters by sectarian militants. Fares gained 2.7 million Instagram followers simply by daring to be an ordinary young woman, enjoying the innocent feminine pleasures of fashion, cosmetics and shopping. She received multiple death threats from militant psychopaths, for whom the sight of an articulate and beautiful young lady aroused the desire to kill. Tara initially fled abroad, before returning, first to Irbil and then to Baghdad, determined to pursue her modeling career.
From Iraq to Afghanistan, Yemen, Nigeria, Myanmar and Pakistan, women are always the first victims of militancy. After 2003, as Shiite militants took control of once-cosmopolitan cities like Basra, Iraqi women venturing outside were physically attacked or sprayed with acid. Under Daesh, women were similarly brutalized into submission, while Yazidi women faced extermination and sexual slavery. Today, displaced Iraqi women are the targets of sexual attack by militants controlling vast refugee camps. Meanwhile, a new Human Rights Watch report details widespread campaigns of forced disappearances by sectarian militants from Al-Hashd Al-Shaabi. Thousands of detainees are reportedly being held in illegal detention camps in localities like Jurf Al-Sakhar, a town that the Hezbollah Brigades purged of its Sunni inhabitants and occupied for themselves. Politicians from Salahuddin, Anbar and Nineveh have long lists of citizens seized by militants and never seen again. It is estimated that between 250,000 and 1 million citizens have disappeared in Iraq, which means it has the highest number of missing people in the world.
With her striking appearance and distinctive mass of blonde hair, Palestinian activist Ahed Tamimi should be enjoying the life of an ordinary teenager. Instead, she endured jail for challenging the Israeli forces of occupation, having witnessed family members being shot, detained and harassed. With the world stubbornly ignoring the ongoing theft of Palestinian land — including their capital, Jerusalem — courageous women like Tamimi are galvanizing the Palestinian cause, inspiring a younger generation to resolutely defend their rights.
Never have we needed the UN more to address such colossal global injustices. Yet never has this institution felt less relevant. Last week, the media mostly ignored the UN General Assembly sessions in favor of covering Christine Blasey Ford’s testimony before the US Senate about her alleged assault at the hands of Trump’s candidate for the Supreme Court. We can scarcely imagine the courage required for Ford to turn her life upside down and bear witness against these powerful figures. Ford’s testimony was a watershed moment and an inspiration to thousands of blameless women who have endured similar appalling experiences.
Our dangerous times sorely need the inspiration of courageous women like Nadia Murad Basee, Ahed Tamimi, Christine Blasey Ford and Malala, as well as Tara Fares, who was murdered for simply daring to be female.
Having tormented Iraqi women and men alike, popular support has crumbled for the Al-Hashd militant coalition, including among its Shiite support base. Al-Hashd forces performed underwhelmingly in this year’s elections (which, according to the Iraqi Constitution, they should have been banned from participating in), and they faced attacks against their offices by furious Shiite protesters. However, Iran managed to appropriate these demonstrations and redirect anger against Prime Minister Haider Abadi, before ruthlessly dismantling Abadi’s electoral coalition by enticing his allies over to its side. Al-Hashd leaders, meanwhile, manipulated the parliament speaker vote to ensure their man, Mohammed Al-Halbousi, got the job, while playing the Kurds off against each other to influence the choice of president. Muqtada Al-Sadr was then summoned to Beirut to agree with Hezbollah’s Hassan Nasrallah and Quds Force’s Qassem Soleimani regarding Iran’s choice of Adel Abdul-Mahdi for the prime minister’s role. If Al-Hashd’s power grab succeeds, we will witness many more attacks against women who dress as they choose or express political opinions, along with intensified abuses against Sunnis, minorities and moderates.
Mike Pompeo and John Bolton’s extravagant threats of retaliation if Iranian proxies struck US interests in Iraq were undermined by the panicked closure of the US consulate in Basra, just weeks after Iranian rockets targeted the vicinity. This will have sent a clear message to Tehran about how the US actually responds to provocations — by cutting and running.
Sanctions are having a brutal impact on ordinary Iranians, but Tehran must be made to understand that its seditious, destabilizing actions in the region have consequences. Trump has made it abundantly clear that he has little stomach for lengthy and complex military entanglements. If Iran’s proxies can so easily compel the US to abandon its Basra consulate, they may feel emboldened to see what they can achieve by following up on their threats to strike American troops in Iraq and Syria.
Tehran’s theocratic agenda is not just about regional political dominance. The ayatollahs also want to impose their unnatural and regressive social model, which first infected the region after Ruhollah Khomeini’s 1979 revolution, and is distinguished by its hatred of women. This toxic Khomeinist ideology is today being pumped out of religious and social institutions from Beirut to Baghdad and Sanaa. The malign process of Hezbollahization cannot not be defeated by sanctions or empty American threats. Iran and other tyrants, fascists and extremists must be defeated by women and men standing up to defend their way of life in the face of those seeking to terrorize them into humiliated silence. Our dangerous times sorely need the inspiration of courageous women like Nadia Murad, Tamimi, Ford and Malala Yousafzai, along with Iranian human rights lawyers who endure torture for steadfastly defending their clients, and Iraqi women journalists who risk death to tell the truth. And Fares, who was murdered for simply daring to be female. *Baria Alamuddin is an award-winning journalist and broadcaster in the Middle East and the UK. She is editor of the Media Services Syndicate and has interviewed numerous heads of state.

How will the Iranian Revolutionary Guards respond to the Ahwaz attack?
Ali Al-Amin/Al Arabiya/September 30/18
Mystery still surrounds the attack that targeted a military parade of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards in Ahwaz and killed at least 25 people, including 12 soldiers and a child, and injured at least 25 others. ISIS was the first to claim responsibility and an Arab organization that calls for the liberation of Ahwaz also issued a statement claiming responsibility for the attack, while some observers hinted that the attack might be the work of some parties within the authority. This is in addition to accusations against this or that country. Meanwhile, Iran’s authorities such as President Hassan Rouhani said “the bully” US and some Gulf states supported by Washington facilitated the attack. Rouhani claimed that a Gulf state provided the funds, weapons and support to the perpetrators. Even if Iran were to find irrefutable proof of Washington's involvement in this attack, the response will not affect US forces or their interests. The Iranian leadership has abided by the policy of vocal hostility towards Washington, in exchange for the strict commitment to not violate the red lines set by it
Unknown identities
It can be said that the military operation revealed the first attack of its kind taking place in Iran. It was carried out in a way that reflects the ability of the attackers to carry out an operation of this magnitude publicly. Some observers however do not find the fingerprints of ISIS in this operation, since it was not a suicide bombing. What’s interesting is that Iranian authorities did not disclose the identities of the four attackers who executed the attack and who were subsequently killed during the operation. The Fars news agency also noted that one of the attackers was not killed on the spot but died at the hospital. Iran, which has confirmed through its officials that it will respond to the attack, avoided publicly naming any specific party as responsible for the attack and did not provide any evidence for the involvement of foreign countries. IRNA news agency said that Iran summoned the envoys of the United Kingdom, the Netherlands and Denmark, and accused their countries of harboring Iranian opposition groups. Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei also did not name any of the "regional states" he claimed were behind the armed attack. The Iranian response will probably affect those who were not named. The party that comes up most often on the lips of Iranian officials is Washington, which President Rouhani mentioned without specifically naming any another country, although he did mention that Gulf States backed by the US financed and armed the attackers. If Iran were to militarily retaliate against Washington, the Iranian official statements would not have been issued in this manner. On the contrary, we would have heard about an explosion targeting a US military convoy, base, or other US interest in the region. Iran will respond to the “bully” the US only through words. Tehran is aware that the current US administration will not tolerate any Iranian interference with Washington's interests in the Middle East, like the case was during the former administration which tolerated such acts. Repeating an.The incident which happened after the American sailors entered Iranian territorial waters was meant as a show-off. The Iranian leadership is aware that responding to Washington is what President Donald Trump and his administration, which insist on changing Iran's behavior like no other administration did before, are waiting for.
Iran’s response
Even if Iran were to find irrefutable proof of Washington's involvement in this attack, the response will not affect US forces or their interests. The Iranian leadership has abided by the policy of vocal hostility towards Washington, in exchange for the strict commitment to not violate the red lines set by it. The Iranian aggression is always focused on Arab countries, and this has become clear in recent years. According to the calculations of the Revolutionary Guards, the real “Great Satan” is not the United States.
The ideological tendency of the Iranian project is focused on sinking the Arab region into internal wars and conflicts, or to rush into interfering in them with no regard for the deaths of thousands of innocent people, in exchange for a behavior that shows exaggerated respect for Israeli and American interests, as is the case with Syria and Iraq. The Iranian response to the "terrorist" attack in Ahwaz will be against those states Tehran did not specifically name. For instance, this attack will provide a justification for further tightening the internal grip and marginalizing the Ahwaz region. Tehran has been marginalizing this region for many years, increasing its people’s sense of oppression, especially since they know that they live where most of Iranian oil wealth is located. The Iranian leadership does not want to admit that its policies towards Ahwaz are what make the citizens of this region ready to die in order to kill some Iranian soldiers. It is likely that by not disclosing the identity of the perpetrators of the attack, the Iranian authorities do not want to shed light on the internal reasons of the attack. Iran is expecting a new round of US sanctions, which will prevent it from exporting oil. Thus, it will try to escalate confrontation in the Arab region, but it knows that what was once permitted to it by the US is no longer permissible today, and that the Quds Forces which targeted Arab countries with its sectarianism and ideology, without touching on the occupation of Jerusalem and its judaization, has drained Iranian economy after it proudly contributed to draining neighboring and surrounding Arab states. Iran has accomplished this task that does not affect the interests of Israel nor Washington, i.e. efficiently contribute to destroying Arab countries and investing in their social divisions. The Iranian response will be due to the good and "polite" conduct of its officials towards Washington's vital interests, and it will be in a way that Washington cannot consider it as targeting it, i.e. it would be in further tightening the grip inside Iran and using its proxies to carry out attacks on military or security areas in other Gulf states. A military action, if it happens, will most likely be ambiguous as it would be possible to accuse more than one party especially when ISIS is more than ever ready to be a Trojan horse, as revealed by its behavior since its creation.

The military parade attack: An incident and two platforms
Amal Abdulaziz Al–Hazani/Al Arabiya/September 30/18
In October 1981, Nasr City in Cairo witnessed a military parade marking the eight-year anniversary of the 1973 Arab–Israeli War. Then-Egyptian President Mohamed Anwar Sadat was in the first line of the audience in the ceremony to which guests from inside and outside Egypt were invited to.
It was a great national event for Egyptians and the Arab world, but the celebration was marred when Sadat was shot. Three armed officers got out of their car in the parade when it passed near the main platform and ran towards Sadat to make sure he was killed after one of them shot him from the car. Although this happened within seconds, the scene was full of critical details. All of the shooting and firing of bullets took place within minutes.
The goal of the Islamist assassins was to eliminate President Sadat after they deemed him an infidel for signing the Camp David Treaty, which restored Egyptian land from Israel. The incident resulted in the death of Sadat, who had several bullet wounds on his body. Two of his foreign guests and some employees were also shot. Vice President Mohamed Hosni Mubarak, who was sitting to the right of Sadat, and Defense Minister Abd al-Halim Abu Ghazala, who was to his left survived the attack. A security breach of a military parade of this magnitude is undoubtedly a sign of weakness within Iran’s military establishment, a kind of weakness that the United States is relying on as a result of economic pressureز The president's secretary tried to block bullets being fired on Sadat and held up a chair, while a Republican Guard officer shouted at the president to stay on the ground after he noticed that Sadat stood up after receiving the first bullet. The perpetrators were injured; three were arrested and the fourth got arrested later. They were tried and executed by a firing squad. The platform incident in Cairo had a clear aim and motivation. Everyone seen trying to protect the president and avoid being shot.
A similar armed attack took place in the southern Iranian city of Ahwaz during a military parade marking the anniversary of Iran-Iraq war. Iranian President Hassan Rouhani was not personally present at the parade, but was linked up via television. What happened there raises many questions when we compare it to the Egyptian incident.
The Ahwaz attack
In Iran, the state did not know the identity of the attackers for more than a day, because its enemies inside Iran are more than its enemies outside. The state thus didn’t know who was behind the attack. Then the government decided to exploit the incident politically. It accused the United States of America, the superpower, of standing behind the attack so that the military and the Revolutionary Guards that claim victories in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon and Sanaa and threaten Tel Aviv do not appear soft and easy-to-penetrate on an occasion that should have been under their tight control and properly monitored.
The leaked video of the incident shows how everyone on the platform immediately ran on hearing the shooting, and if Rouhani was around they might have left him to suffer his fate.
The army, which was showing off its power was exposed as weak during the parade and took a purely defensive stand.
The incident is interesting not because both ISIS and the Arab Struggle Movement for the Liberation of Ahwaz took responsibility for the attack but because the perpetrators may be from Ahwaz itself or Kurd or Baloch or Syrians or Iraqis or Lebanese. Iran has made enough enemies from peoples and races to sleep with one eye closed and the other open. A security breach of a military parade of this magnitude is undoubtedly a sign of weakness within Iran’s military establishment, a kind of weakness that the United States is relying on as a result of economic pressure. The least we can say is that Iran, which sends its Revolutionary Guards to other countries to ignite wars, is supposed to ensure its strength at home, especially as it operates directly under the Supreme Leader himself. It is easy for the Iranian government to accuse Washington of being behind the training and arming of the attackers because that would be part of an announced war between the two countries. But the United States has been clearer and said from the start that Iran can expect internal disruption as a result of the economic crisis. Consequently, the party responsible for this attack is the government of the Vilayat al-Faqih, which has exerted enough pressure and caused marginalization of minorities, including the people of Ahwaz, and provoked them to act in such ways that they believe as legitimate, since they’re against military elements.

Why seek virtues in the Iraqi prime minister alone?
Adnan Hussein/Al Arabiya/September 30/18
They are busy and preoccupied with the qualities of the next prime minister. They claim to be writing down the desired attributes without caring about the names. They also claim that they want the premier to be, as they put it, firm, courageous, efficient, fair and patriotic.
They are liars for sure because they will only accept a Shiite figure, and they will not accept anyone who is not Shiite even if he is the most decisive, courageous, efficient, fair and patriotic amongst all Iraqi people. It is as if the mothers of the rest of the Iraqis did not give birth to anyone with these qualities. Or it’s as if the Shiites who do not belong to any Shiite party haven’t given birth to children with such qualities yet! When it comes to the president of the republic, they only care about his sectarian and ethnic origins and the party he belongs to. This is what is required by the quota system which they want to maintain
Sectarian preferences
They are liars because they turned back on what they had said about rejecting the quota system and how it had a role in creating several crises and disasters that continue to afflict Iraq to this day. They elected the speaker of the parliament on the sly based on the quota system through a corrupt deal that was exposed by footage taken via mobile phones inside the parliament. They never cared and will never care about the qualities of the parliament speaker and they did not inquire about his agenda, as if they were appointing the head of a municipality in a district and as if he is not the head of the highest-ranking, most powerful and important authority in the country. When it comes to the president of the republic, they only care about his sectarian and ethnic origins and the party he belongs to. This is what is required by the quota system which they want to maintain and keep as the sword directed at the Iraqi’s heads.
To only be concerned about the qualities of a prime minister, (that is if this concern was genuine and not a way to distract people’s attention from making another corrupt deal) is wrong. The speaker of the parliament should also hold similar virtues. All former parliament speakers played a big role in compounding the failure of the state. They thus bear great responsibility in this regard as they were not fit for their post and they did not keep the constitutional oath they had taken, and they were not even questioned by anyone. The same case applies to former presidents who stuck to the ridiculous notion that they hold an honorary position when in fact it’s an essential position that is a strong partner in the executive authority. In fact, the constitution gives the President the power to reject all legislation and practices that violate the constitution. There have been dozens and perhaps hundreds of violations of the constitution from the executive and legislative authorities in the past, starting from the president himself to his assistants and counselors. After all the damage that has taken place, we are in a desperate need of a decisive, courageous, efficient, fair and patriotic prime minister. We also need, for the same reasons, a president with the same qualities, and we had a similar need of a Parliament Speaker with the same qualities.

Doha's Worst Nightmare? Why the Israeli Flag May Be Flying in Qatar This Fall
مايكل دمبستر من الهآررتس: كابوس الدوحة الأسوأ: لماذا سيرفرف العلم الإسرائيلي في قطر هذا الخريف

Michael Dempster/Haaretz/September 30/18
The emirate’s ‘sports diplomacy’ strategy faces its biggest test in October when it hosts gymnastics’ world championships – with several Israeli competitors seen as real medal prospects.
Israel’s top gymnasts will get a crash course in geopolitics this fall when they participate in their sport’s world championships in Doha, Qatar. It’s the first time the event has been hosted in the Middle East in its 115-year history, which just happens to coincide with the ascent of the Israeli team.
Observers say a trio of Israelis – Artem Dolgopyat, Andrey Medvedev and Alexander Shatilov – have a real shot at winning medals.
But this puts the event’s Qatari hosts in a political bind: A medal of any color would necessitate a very public and unprecedented display of the Israeli flag on Qatari soil. A gold, meanwhile, would mean that the Israeli national anthem, “Hatikva,” should be played.
Will Qatar renege on its obligation as host to honor the national identity of an event’s victor? Or glorify Zionist symbols and risk enraging the Arab street?
This is not the first time an Arab state has faced such a dilemma. Last year, for example, the United Arab Emirates shunned public displays of Israeli emblems at a major international judo competition held in Abu Dhabi. And Saudi Arabia refused to issue visas to Israeli chess players for a tournament in Riyadh, despite reported pressure from the United States to do so.
Both countries seemingly perceived their public acknowledgement of Israel as a net loss.
Qatar, meanwhile, is holding a dizzying number of international sports tournaments in the run-up to soccer’s FIFA World Cup in 2022 – the crown jewel of its soft power strategy to be seen as a regional leader.
Repeatedly organizing events of this magnitude is not cheap and Qatar, with only a modest sporting culture of its own, often struggles to fill seats. But experts say the natural gas-rich emirate is looking for another kind of return on its investment.
Qatar can use sport to present itself as the moderate face of a troubled region, the argument goes – thus distinguishing its geopolitical brand from rival monarchies that are snubbing it.
“Sporting events allow Qatar to connect with countries beyond the Gulf and the Arab world,” says Sigurd Neubauer, a Middle East analyst based in Washington. “They demonstrate that Qatar is not isolated by the international community. And Israel is a member of that international community.”
The Gulf has become less neighborly in the past year, after a host of Muslim countries, led by Saudi Arabia, severed diplomatic ties with Doha, accusing it of support for Islamist militants and Iran. Dr. Yoel Guzansky, a senior researcher at Tel Aviv University’s Institute for National Security Studies, sees the seeming cozying-up to Israel through sport as a possible net gain for Qatar.
Alexander Shatilov of Israel performing on the floor exercise during the men's artistic gymnastics finals at the European Championships in Glasgow, Scotland, August 2018.
“When Qatar is in the midst of this crisis with its neighbors, being open to Israelis can earn it a lot of points with the American [Trump] administration. The fact that it can host an Israeli delegation but the Saudis won’t – who’s more tolerant, who’s more liberal?” he asks.
Balancing act
There is a precedent for Israeli athletes competing in Qatar, though not at the level of public scrutiny that is set to accompany the Artistic Gymnastics World Championships (from October 25 to November 3). Doha hosted the World School Championship handball tournament in February, where a team from Holon surprised observers by winning the bronze medal. The event’s organizers walked a fine line with Qataris by allowing an Israeli team to participate at all, and their public treatment of the Israelis was handled cautiously, according to the Israeli team’s coach, Nisim Falach. “Initially, they didn’t put our games in the main hall. They wanted to hide Israel’s participation. So when we kept winning over and over, and advancing in the tournament, they were in shock,” recounted Falach. “When we eventually won against Turkey, our game was in the main arena and it was broadcast on Qatari television.”
A number of Qataris took to social media to voice their disapproval of this apparent normalizing of relations with Israel. According to Falach, there were also protests in the streets of Doha – surprising given the emirate’s tight restrictions on freedom of speech.
FIFA President Sepp Blatter announces Qatar to host the 2022 soccer World Cup in Zurich, Switzerland, Dec.2, 2010. Since it was a high school tournament, the medal ceremony did not involve the display of national symbols for any team – though Falach notes there was still a chorus of boos as his team took to the podium.
If any Israeli gymnasts win medals in Doha this fall, the sport’s governing body, the International Gymnastics Federation, assures that Qatar will conduct the ceremony as it would for any other country. Qatar’s compliance may be driven more by fear of consequence than camaraderie – neighbor UAE just reversed course, agreeing to display Israeli insignia at an upcoming judo tournament after that sport’s international body threatened to yank Abu Dhabi’s hosting rights.
Whatever the motivation, this could prove to be a historic acknowledgement of Israel by Qatar and will put additional pressure on the Israeli gymnasts in what is already a high-stakes event.
It will also doubtless provoke the ire of the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement, as well as other anti-normalization factions throughout the world. Israeli officials sought to minimize pre-event media coverage of the handball tournament, possibly out of fear of security threats if the athletes’ participation was known in advance. And a similarly hush-hush attitude appears to have been adopted in the lead-up to the gymnastics championship: Neither the Qatari Olympic Committee nor the Israeli Gymnastics Federation responded to requests for comment for this article.
The federations’ hopes of keeping things under the radar are probably futile, given that Qatar was announced as the event’s host in 2011 and Israeli gymnasts have regularly been winning medals in the intervening years. Israel's Artem Dolgopyat competing on the floor exercise during the Artistic Gymnastics World Championships in Montreal, Canada, October 2017.
But no matter how competitive the Israeli athletes are, their ultimate participation appears to be contingent on factors outside of their control. Anti-Israel sentiment in the Arab world tends to spike during Israel’s skirmishes with Hamas, and 2018 has been anything but calm in the Gaza Strip. The situation is comparatively quiet at the moment, but Falach warned that the Israeli gymnasts should be prepared to throw away a year’s worth of hard training and watch the event on TV if events change.
“Leading up to our handball tournament, it was clear that if there were problems in Gaza, there was no chance we’d be able to compete in Qatar. Luckily, the tournament was before all the recent problems with Gaza intensified,” he said, referring to the March of Return protests that began on the Gaza border at the end of March, peaking with some 60 Palestinian deaths on May 14 when the U.S. Embassy opened in Jerusalem.
A worst-case scenario for both Qatari officials and Israeli gymnasts would be a spike in Gaza violence during the tournament itself – a confluence of events that Saudi Arabia could exploit to augment criticism of Qatar in anti-Israel quarters.
“The sword cuts both ways. To the West, the publicity Qatar gets from hosting Israeli athletes plays well. But it can play very poorly with Hamas, Iran, and with more radical elements in Qatari society and in the Gulf in general,” said Guzansky.
“Qatar can always say, ‘It’s an international event: It’s not that we want to host the Israelis, but we’re part of the international community,’” he noted. “But it would be much harder for Qatar to do that in the event of a conflict escalation. How will they maneuver that? What will they say?”
And what if everything rolls the Israeli gymnasts’ way: The Gaza border remains relatively quiet and the athletes end up on the podium? Qatar may actually view this seemingly problematic scenario as more of an opportunity than an obstacle, Neubauer believes.
“Qatari citizens, like any other Arabs, are squarely sympathetic to the Palestinians. But they also have a clear understanding that the current existential threat to Qatar is from its own neighbors, not Israelis,” he said. “The question is, how does Qatar build on that realization? Sporting diplomacy could be a good way to test each other out.”