Detailed Lebanese & Lebanese Related LCCC English New Bulletin For October 05/2018
Compiled & Prepared by: Elias Bejjani

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Bible Quotations
To whom much has been given, much will be required; and from one to whom much has been entrusted, even more will be demanded.
Luke 12/42-48: "The Lord said, ‘Who then is the faithful and prudent manager whom his master will put in charge of his slaves, to give them their allowance of food at the proper time? Blessed is that slave whom his master will find at work when he arrives. Truly I tell you, he will put that one in charge of all his possessions. But if that slave says to himself, "My master is delayed in coming", and if he begins to beat the other slaves, men and women, and to eat and drink and get drunk, the master of that slave will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour that he does not know, and will cut him in pieces, and put him with the unfaithful. That slave who knew what his master wanted, but did not prepare himself or do what was wanted, will receive a severe beating. But one who did not know and did what deserved a beating will receive a light beating. From everyone to whom much has been given, much will be required; and from one to whom much has been entrusted, even more will be demanded."

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 04-05/18
USA Treasury Continues to Expose and Disrupt Hizballah’s Financial Support Networks/Press Release/October 4, 2018
Human Rights Watch: Lebanon Law Discriminates against Mothers/Associated Press/Naharnet/October 04/18/
Is CEDRE a Last Chance or a Mirage/Khalil Toubia/Executive Magazine/October 0418
Israel seen behind WhatsApp warning to Beirut residents about Hezbollah facility/The Times Of Israel/October 04/18
What Happened to Jamal Khashoggi? Conflicting Reports Deepen a MysteryéCarlotta Gall/The New York Times/October 04/18
Iranian regime strengthening its ability to control Syria’s destiny/Dr. Majid Rafizadeh/Arab News/October 04/18
The Iran Action Group Puts Muscle Behind Trump’s Iran Bluster/Nick Wadhams & Javier Blas/Bloomberg/October 04/18
U.S. Withdraws From 1955 Treaty Normalizing Relations With Iran/Edward Wong and David E. Sanger/The New York Times/October 04/18
Analysis/With S-300 Now in Syria, Putin Signals a New Long-term Strategy for Russia/Anshel Pfeffer/Haaretz/October 04/18
Is Criticizing Terrorism "Mental Illness"/Guy Millière/Gatestone Institute/October 04/18
Saudi Arabia and Arab stability/Radwan al-Sayed/Al Arabiya/October 04/18
Syria and the myth of the regime’s recovery/Hazem al-Amin/Al Arabiya/October 04/18

Titles For The Latest LCCC Lebanese Related News published on October 04-05/18
USA Treasury Continues to Expose and Disrupt Hizballah’s Financial Support Networks
Hariri: Aoun Won't Wait for Bassil, Govt. May be Formed within a Week
Report: Lebanon’s Hariri expects new cabinet in 7-10 days
Aoun Tells Hariri 'We Can't Continue Like This'
Cabinet negotiations ongoing following Hariri, Aoun meeting
Mashnouq Threatens to Seize Generators as Providers Demand 'Fair Tariff'
Turkey Summons Saudi Ambassador over Missing Journalist
Jumblat Wants 2 Key Portfolios to Give Up 3rd Druze Seat
Human Rights Watch: Lebanon Law Discriminates against Mothers
Hariri Voices Optimism Over Imminent Government Formation
Lebanon Debt on `Unsustainable Path' as World Bank Cuts Forecast
Geagea Urges Aoun to Act on Govt., Criticizes Bassil's 'Missiles Tour'
UK Envoy Visits LAF Training Center, Congratulates 10,000th Soldier Trained
Hankache Says Neutral Government of Specialists Is Key to Country's Welfare
Kataeb Party to Host Meeting of Saydet Al-Jabal Gathering
Kataeb's Media Council Condemns Growing Suppression in Lebanon
Heads of Army, ISF at Airport to Be Replaced After Bickering
Is CEDRE a Last Chance or a Mirage?
Israel seen behind WhatsApp warning to Beirut residents about Hezbollah facility

Titles For The Latest LCCC Bulletin For Miscellaneous Reports And News published on October 04-05/18
Paris Bomb Plot Claims Cloud Iran President's Hopes of EU Help
What Happened to Jamal Khashoggi? Conflicting Reports Deepen a Mystery
S-300 in Syria to 'Establish New Reality'... Russian Plans for Missile Umbrella
Syria: Sweida Tensions Rise After ISIS Executes Captive Young Woman
As Clock Ticks, Little Progress Visible on Idlib Deal
Jerusalem: Israeli Settlers Take Over Building, Land Plot in Silwan Neighborhood
Merkel Vows German Fight against Anti-Semitism on Israel Visit
U.S., UK, Canada, Netherlands, Australia Accuse Russia of Global Hacking Conspiracy
U.N. Chief Hopes for 'Swift' Formation of Iraqi Government
Iraq: Smooth Transition of Power Offers Glimmer of Hope
Iraq: Sadr bloc won’t take part in new cabinet
Washington to Withdraw From Vienna Protocol... PA Continues to Sue It
Arab Parliament Condemns Iranian Intervention in Yemen
AMCD Opposes US Meeting with Sudan’s Military Chief of Staff
Egypt’s security forces kill 15 suspected militants in a Sinai shootout

The Latest LCCC Lebanese Related News published on October 04-05/18
USA Treasury Continues to Expose and Disrupt Hizballah’s Financial Support Networks
بالاسماء: الشركات اللبنانية التي فرضت عليها الخزانة الاميركية العقوبات
Press Release/October 4, 2018
U.S. Department of the Treasury
Washington – The U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) took action today to disrupt Hizballah’s financial support networks by designating Muhammad ‘Abdallah al-Amin (al-Amin) as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist (SDGT) pursuant to Executive Order (E.O.) 13224. OFAC designated al-Amin for providing material support to Hizballah insider and financier Adham Husayn Tabaja (Tabaja). In addition to al-Amin, OFAC designated seven Lebanon-based companies that are owned or controlled by al-Amin: Sierra Gas S.A.L. Offshore, Lama Foods S.A.R.L., Lama Foods International Offshore S.A.L., Impulse S.A.R.L., Impulse International S.A.L. Offshore, M. Marine S.A.L. Offshore, and Thaingui S.A.L. Offshore.
“Hizballah is an Iranian-proxy, and this Administration is focused on exposing and disrupting its terrorist funding networks. We are exerting extraordinary pressure on Hizballah financiers like Tabaja to halt their pernicious activities in Lebanon and beyond,” said Sigal Mandelker, Under Secretary of the Treasury for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence. “Our action should serve as a warning that we will impose consequences on anyone engaging in business relationships with al-Amin or other Hizballah support networks. Treasury has taken more actions against Hizballah this year than ever before, and we are fully committed to shutting down this terrorist network.”
Calendar year 2018 marks the highest number of Hizballah-related designations by OFAC in a single year. The designation of al-Amin and his companies builds upon additional actions taken in February 2018 targeting the Tabaja network operating in West Africa and Lebanon. OFAC designated Tabaja on June 6, 2015, for acting for or on behalf of Hizballah. Tabaja maintains direct ties to senior Hizballah officials and Hizballah’s operational component, the Islamic Jihad, which is responsible for planning, coordinating, and executing Hizballah’s terrorist attacks worldwide. Tabaja also holds properties in Lebanon on behalf of Hizballah.
All property and interests in property of those persons designated today that are subject to U.S. jurisdiction are now blocked, and U.S. persons are generally prohibited from engaging in transactions with them.
Muhammad ‘Abdallah al-Amin
Al-Amin was designated for assisting in, sponsoring, or providing financial, material, or technological support for, or financial or other services to or in support of, Tabaja.
Al-Amin conceals funds for Tabaja, and Tabaja has held a significant amount of funds in al-Amin’s name at a Lebanese bank. Al-Amin has also served as a liaison between Tabaja and banking officials and has assisted Tabaja in circumventing the impact of sanctions.
In addition to his direct support to Tabaja, al-Amin has been involved in financial activities with Muhammad Fallah Kallas, whom OFAC designated on October 20, 2016, for providing financial services to or in support of Tabaja through his work for Tabaja’s company, Al-Inmaa Engineering and Contracting (Al-Inmaa). Moreover, al-Amin has business relationships with Ali Muhammad Qansu and Jihad Muhammad Qansu, whom OFAC designated on February 2, 2018, for acting for or on behalf of Tabaja and Tabaja’s company, Al-Inmaa, respectively.
Lebanon-based companies Sierra Gas S.A.L. Offshore, Lama Foods S.A.R.L., Lama Foods International Offshore S.A.L., Impulse S.A.R.L., Impulse International S.A.L. Offshore, M. Marine S.A.L. Offshore, and Thaingui S.A.L. Offshore.
All seven entities were designated for being owned or controlled by al-Amin.
Al-Amin is a founder, majority shareholder, and the chairman of Sierra Gas S.A.L. Offshore, a provider of gas field services; Lama Foods International Offshore S.A.L., a food importer and distributor; Impulse International S.A.L. Offshore, a general merchandise distributor; M. Marine S.A.L. Offshore, a general merchandise distributor; and Thaingui S.A.L. Offshore. Al-Amin also holds a majority ownership stake in, and is the general manager of, Lama Foods S.A.R.L., a food import and trade company. Additionally, al-Amin is a founder, the majority shareholder, and the managing director of Impulse S.A.R.L., an advertising company.
The seven companies designated today should not be viewed as an exhaustive list of companies owned or controlled by al-Amin, and the regulated community remains responsible for conducting necessary due diligence and maintaining compliance with OFAC’s 50 percent rule.
Additionally, al-Amin and the seven entities designated today are subject to secondary sanctions pursuant to the Hizballah Financial Sanctions Regulations, which implements the Hizballah International Financing Prevention Act of 2015. Pursuant to this authority, OFAC can prohibit or impose strict conditions on the opening or maintaining in the United States of a correspondent account or a payable-through account by a foreign financial institution that knowingly facilitates a significant transaction for Hizballah, or a person acting on behalf of or at the direction of, or owned or controlled by, Hizballah.
*Identifying information on the individual and entities designated today.
Hariri: Aoun Won't Wait for Bassil, Govt. May be Formed within a Week
Prime Minister-designate Saad Hariri announced Thursday that the new government could be formed within “a week to ten days.”“Everyone must offer sacrifices... I urge the president to offer sacrifices to facilitate the formation of the government, regarding the deputy PM post and other issues,” Hariri said in an interview on MTV. Asked whether Free Patriotic Movement chief MP Jebran Bassil is obstructing the formation process, Hariri said: “The president does not wait for Bassil's opinion and we might form a government within seven to ten days.”
Referring to his Wednesday meeting with Aoun, Bassil said he “heard constructive remarks at the presidential palace.”“I'm willing to give everyone seats from my share for the sake of the country,” Hariri added. As for the so-called “Druze obstacle,” Hariri admitted that “there is a dispute over the appointment of Talal Arslan as a minister.” He however reassured that the issue will be resolved in cooperation with Progressive Socialist Party chief Walid Jumblat and Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri. “There are no foreign pressures regarding the formation process,” Hariri went on to say. Emphasizing that he is not to blame for the new government's delay, the PM-designate underlined that he “will not be pressured” with any talk about the Constitution. “I'm keen on the country and I offered many sacrifices for the sake of the president's election,” Hariri added. As for Lebanese Forces leader Samir Geagea, Hariri said the LF chief “offered concessions despite the LF's major ambitions,” describing the relation with him as “very good.
Report: Lebanon’s Hariri expects new cabinet in 7-10 days
Reuters, Beirut Friday, 5 October 2018/Lebanon will have a new government within seven-ten days and the economy cannot withstand any more delay, Prime Minister-designate Saad al-Hariri said on Thursday. Since a parliamentary election in May, political wrangling has prevented Lebanon from forming a national unity government, raising concerns in a country with one of the world’s highest rates of public debt. “The economic situation is very difficult...(it) can’t bear political disputes,” Hariri said in an interview on a prime-time television show on Thursday night. “There are solutions, which (President Michel Aoun) and I have discussed.”In the five months since the May vote, Hariri has expressed optimism several times about a near breakthrough. Key parties in Lebanon’s sectarian power-sharing system have jostled over ministries, as foreign donors urged avoiding any more delay and Lebanese politicians warned of economic crisis. A Paris donors conference in April yielded pledges of billions, conditional on reform that a new government will have to undertake.Lebanon’s last coalition government continued as a caretaker administration after the May vote, which produced a parliament tilted in favor of the Iran-backed Shiite Hezbollah movement.
Aoun Tells Hariri 'We Can't Continue Like This'
Naharnet/October 04/18/Prime Minister-designate Saad Hariri did not carry any “clear Cabinet format” to President Michel Aoun during his visit to the Baabda Palace on Wednesday, a media report published Thursday said. “He tried to explore the possibility of resolving the obstacles, especially the Christian one,” al-Akhbar newspaper reported. “There are indications of progress, but they are not sufficient to lead to the formation of the government,” the daily added. Senior Free Patriotic Movement sources meanwhile told al-Akhbar that Hariri “wanted to promote his TV interview scheduled for today and to say that he is positive.”The sources also revealed that FPM chief MP Jebran Bassil will hold a press conference Friday at noon to declare the movement's “complete stance” on the Cabinet formation process. The sources added that Baabda's meeting on Wednesday had witnessed “a full political demonstration of the formation file and of the obstacles, without delving into any new draft Cabinet line-up.” “Aoun urged Hariri to expedite the formation process, telling him we cannot continue like this,” the sources revealed. The sources however noted that “the negotiations are not deadlocked and the coming days will witness a new round of consultations.”
Cabinet negotiations ongoing following Hariri, Aoun meeting
Georgi Azar/Annahar/October 04/18/BEIRUT: As the Cabinet formation deadlock mopes into its fifth month amid increasing economic uncertainty, Prime Minister-designate Saad Hariri attempted to bridge the gap during his meeting with President Michel Aoun Tuesday at the Baabda Presidential Palace, expressing "optimism" in resolving the crisis. Hariri has been tasked with forming an all-inclusive Cabinet that brings together representatives of major parties. However, his efforts have stumbled as the Lebanese Forces, caretaker Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil's Free Patriotic Movement and Progressive Socialist Party leader Walid Jumblatt continue to quarrel over their share of portfolios. Sources close to the negotiation process maintained Hariri's willingness to break the stalemate given the social and economic unease surrounding the country, with the latest talks touching on the Premier's most recent consultations with the parties involved. In the midst of all this uncertainty, both leaders agreed "on the need to speed up the process in order for the government to face the various challenges facing Lebanon, namely the economic situation and Israeli aggression," sources told Annahar. Lebanon has been without a fully functioning government since the conclusion of the country's parliamentary elections on May 6, with Hariri adamant in refusing to grant Bassil's FPM or any other coalition, veto power in the government, the equivalent of over 10 seats in a 30-member Cabinet. Despite the Cabinet not being formed, Speaker Nabih Berri convened parliament for the first time last month to tackle an agenda of 29 draft laws and proposals, including the highly controversial waste management decree which environmentalists have blasted before ratifying it. The controversial session also ratified the international Arms Trade Treaty, angering Hezbollah legislators, some of whom walked out in protest. The 2014 treaty seeks to regulate international trade in conventional arms and prevent illicit trade.

Mashnouq Threatens to Seize Generators as Providers Demand 'Fair Tariff'
Naharnet/October 04/18/Caretaker Interior Minister Nouhad al-Mashnouq on Thursday warned that authorities would “confiscate any generator that stops supplying people with electricity,” as private generator providers insisted that they will not install meters unless the state allows them to charge a “fair and profitable tariff.”“The LBP 410 per kilowatt tariff that has been set by the Energy Ministry is unfair and unprofitable and would lead to our bankruptcy,” a spokesman for the providers said at a press conference.“You want the meters, we agree, but give us a fair and profitable tariff, seeing as the current one is unfair because it does not include maintenance and operation costs,” the spokesman added. “The generators will not be turned on with a loss and we support the state if it wants to regulate the sector, but this requires extensive assessment and fairness among all citizens and Lebanese regions,” he went on to say. The spokesman also announced that the providers intend to sue caretaker Economy Minister Raed Khoury for calling them “mafias.”Speaking to reporters after meeting Khoury, Minister Mashnouq announced that the ministry's security forces “will enforce the law and will oversee the installation of the meters.”
“If there is a problem regarding the tariff, let them negotiate with the Energy Ministry, but installation has nothing to do with the tariff,” Mashnouq added. “We will confiscate any generator that stops supplying people with electricity and we will shoulder the responsibility of providing electricity,” the minister warned. Khoury for his part stressed that his ministry will not accept any violation of the decision to install meters, noting that “the tariff is negotiable on a case by case basis.”

Turkey Summons Saudi Ambassador over Missing Journalist
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/October 04/18/Saudi Arabia's ambassador to Turkey was on Thursday summoned to the foreign ministry after a prominent journalist critical of Riyadh went missing, a Turkish diplomatic source said. Jamal Khashoggi, a contributor to the Washington Post, went to the Saudi consulate on Tuesday to receive an official document for his marriage and has not appeared since then. His Turkish fiancee reported him missing after the journalist, who has lived in self-imposed exile in the U.S. since last year to avoid possible arrest, was not seen after he entered the consulate on Tuesday afternoon for marriage procedures. After an initial period of silence Saudi Arabia said the consulate was working with Turkish authorities "to uncover the circumstances of the disappearance of Jamal Khashoggi after he left the consulate building."Turkish presidential spokesman Ibrahim Kalin however told reporters on Wednesday the journalist was being held at the consulate, adding that Ankara was in touch with Saudi officials. The U.S. State Department said it was investigating the matter. Khashoggi's fiancee told AFP that there had been no news about the journalist. "We don't know where he is. If he had left the consulate as said by the Saudis, we would know where he is," she said.

Jumblat Wants 2 Key Portfolios to Give Up 3rd Druze Seat
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/October 04/18/Progressive Socialist Party chief Walid Jumblat has showed flexibility and willingness to give up one of three seats reserved for the Druze community in the new government, a media report said. Jumblat is however conditioning this on getting “two essential portfolios: agriculture and health/public works,” al-Akhbar newspaper reported on Thursday. “This will create a new hurdle, seeing as Hizbullah and the Marada Movement are not willing to give up these two portfolios,” the daily quoted senior March 8 sources as saying. Al-Akhbar also reported that the previous “Druze obstacle” would be resolved through a swap between Jumblat and President Michel Aoun under which the PSP would get a Christian seat in return for a Druze seat for the president. Aoun and the Free Patriotic Movement had been insisting on giving one of the Druze seats to their ally MP Talal Arslan.

Human Rights Watch: Lebanon Law Discriminates against Mothers

Associated Press/Naharnet/October 04/18/
A prominent rights group has called on Lebanese authorities to amend a nearly 100-year-old law that discriminates against Lebanese women married to foreigners, denying their children citizenship.
Human Rights Watch's deputy Middle East director Lama Fakih said the 1925 law has "caused untold hardship" for thousands of families, such as denying kids and spouses national health insurance, limiting access to jobs and requiring them to apply for residency every 12 to 36 months. A Lebanese father married to a foreigner can give his children his nationality, and so can a Lebanese mother with a child of unknown paternity, but not a Lebanese woman married to a foreigner. This also leaves many at risk of being stateless, the New York-based organization said. Continuous campaigning to amend the law has resulted in some steps allowing children and foreign spouses of Lebanese mothers access to work and public education. But the work permits for professions reserved for Lebanese citizens are discretionary and Lebanese children have priority in enrolling in schools. The government in 2013 accepted a proposal to grant some privileges to people born to Lebanese mothers but didn't amend the law. HRW said since then the government has prioritized citizenship for those living outside the country over children and spouses of Lebanese women living in Lebanon. In 2015, the government passed a law granting citizenship to members of the Lebanese diaspora, again excluding the descendants of Lebanese women. "Recent steps to provide access to basic rights like education and work to the children and spouses of Lebanese women are steps in the right direction, but confusing and piecemeal measures are no substitute for equal citizenship," Fakih said. Many children born to Lebanese mothers know no other home and some have even competed in international competitions representing Lebanon, yet they are still considered foreigners. Rochana Atmeh, the Lebanese mother of an 8-year-old girl born to a Swedish father, said the family almost missed an Abacus competition in South Africa because the airline stopped them and asked for an English translation of the girl's birth certificate. Issued in Lebanon in Arabic for her Swedish daughter, the document is the only proof Atmeh is her mother. After tears and searching, a translator came through at midnight to help with the documents and Atmeh and her daughter Jennifer Maria Hektor made it to Johannesburg, where Jennifer won first-runner up in her category. It is a typical experience but this time it almost cost the daughter her prize. "She's born in Lebanon. She lives in Lebanon with a residency and every three years I have to apply for residency. Nothing on her passport says I am her mother," Atmeh said. Hektor was photographed with the Lebanese flag in Johannesburg. The Lebanese team won more than 50 places of the 300 competitors and a row broke out at the airport welcoming the team back in Beirut. "When she was asked (as a winner) where she was from, she said she was Swedish but loves Lebanon," Atmeh said. Other countries in the region, including Algeria, Egypt and Yemen, provide equal citizenship rights to the children of both men and women.
Hariri Voices Optimism Over Imminent Government Formation
Beirut- Youssef Diab/Asharq Al-Awsat/Thursday, 4 October, 2018/Lebanese leaders have resumed their consultations on the formation of the new government, amid an atmosphere of optimism, as many spoke of a “glimmer of hope” after four and a half months of the government’s caretaking status. A meeting was held on Wednesday evening at the Baabda Palace between President Michel Aoun and Prime Minister-designate Saad al-Hariri, who expressed optimism over the imminent formation of the government. “The atmosphere is positive, God willing, and I am very optimistic,” Hariri told reporters following the meeting, adding that he agreed with the president on the need to speed up the formation of the government due to the critical economic situation. In remarks to Asharq Al-Awsat, presidential sources talked about the presence of a “real atmosphere” for the formation of a new government, including ideas and proposals that were discussed during the meeting between Aoun and Hariri. “Most of these ideas contain answers to the reservations put forward by the president on the previous version. This doesn’t mean that the government will be formed now, but certainly there is new climate that constitutes a ground for its formation,” the sources said. “If this positive atmosphere is materialized, the government may see the light in a matter of days or two weeks at the latest,” they added. Earlier on Wednesday, Speaker Nabih Berri announced that he sees a “glimmer of hope” in the Cabinet formation process. “The solution [of the existing crises] begins with the formation of a government as soon as possible,” he said. Meanwhile, the Future Movement used a more cautious approach, so that the Lebanese would not be as deceived as in the past few weeks. According to the member of the party’s political bureau member, Rashed Fayed, “signs of optimism sent by some leaders are normal, but this does not mean that we have reached the final solutions.” In parallel, political forces do not hide the seriousness of the Israeli threats, underlining the need to confront them with the formation of the government. The "Liberation and Development" bloc, headed by Berri, stressed that the recent Israeli statements and threats required national unity. “The situation calls for the formation of a government to get the country out of crisis,” the bloc said in a statement.

Lebanon Debt on `Unsustainable Path' as World Bank Cuts Forecast
Dana Khraiche/Bloomberg/04 October 2018/The World Bank halved Lebanon’s 2018 growth forecast to 1 percent, predicting its ratio of debt to gross domestic product would remain on an “unsustainable path.” The international lender cited a central bank decision to abruptly halt subsidized housing loans as a main factor behind the slowdown in economic activity this year. The real estate sector has provided “a rare source of growth impetus since 2012,” while production in most of the country’s other industries has fallen off, the World Bank said in its October report.
The fiscal deficit is projected to grow to 8.3 percent of GDP in 2018 because of the public sector wage raise the government approved last year, the bank said. Subdued growth and high interest payments mean the debt-to-GDP ratio is expected to “persist in an unsustainable path toward 155 percent by end-2018.” Lebanon, the world’s third most-indebted country, has been grappling with political deadlock and fallout from the civil war in neighboring Syria, which has led to an influx of some 1.5 million refugees and the closure of vital trade routes. Prime Minister-designate Saad Hariri’s failure to form a new government has held up $11 billion in loans and grants pledged by the international community earlier this year. In return for the aid, the new government is to implement fiscal and structural reforms including a commitment to an annual 1 percentage point decline in the fiscal deficit ratio over the next five years. Spreads on Lebanon’s credit default swaps and Emerging Market Bond Index Global are even higher than they were after Hariri abruptly resigned as prime minister in November 2017, the report said. It attributed that to a foreign retreat from Lebanese assets due to the lack of a government, geopolitical risks and emerging-market pressures.

Geagea Urges Aoun to Act on Govt., Criticizes Bassil's 'Missiles Tour'
Naharnet/October 04/18/Lebanese Forces leader Samir Geagea has urged President Michel Aoun to “personally intervene” to facilitate the formation of the new government, as he criticized the tour that caretaker Foreign Minister Jebran Bassil has recently organized for foreign ambassadors in Lebanon.
“Overcoming the formation crisis requires the personal intervention of the president, who should give each party its legitimate right. I personally call on the president to take this step according to the results of the elections,” Geagea said in an interview with the Central New Agency published Wednesday. Commenting on Israel's claims about the presence of “Hizbullah missile sites” near Beirut airport and the Lebanese response to the allegations, Geagea warned that “the situation in the region is explosive and the international conflict is huge on several axes and fronts.”“Amid all of this, verbal responses and media stunts are not beneficial. The president and the prime minister must deal very carefully with what is happening and must warn all parties against taking any step that would pose the least risk to Lebanon,” the LF leader added, in an apparent reference to the Bassil-organized tour. Separately, Geagea confirmed that “the page will be turned on the past and a new chapter will be opened with the Marada Movement very soon,” describing the relation with the Kataeb Party as “normal.”
UK Envoy Visits LAF Training Center, Congratulates 10,000th Soldier Trained
Naharnet/October 04/18/On his first official visit outside Beirut to the Lebanese Army’s Special Forces School in Hamat, British Ambassador to Lebanon Chris Rampling toured the training facility and congratulated the 10,000th soldier trained, the UK embassy said on Thursday. Rampling met with the Commander of the Special Forces Training school and heard how the joint UK- U.S. and LAF training is “benefiting Lebanon’s security in urban and rural areas,” the embassy said. “The UK has committed over £63 million to supporting the Lebanese Army since 2010, alongside significant contributions from the U.S. and other international donors,” it added. After the visit, Ambassador Rampling said: “It is a privilege for me to visit the Lebanese Army’s Special Forces school and see and hear how the UK support is helping the army in maintaining security and stability. We believe in the Lebanese Army’s capabilities as the sole defender of Lebanon, providing security to all citizens from the border to the Mediterranean.”“I’m really proud to hand over a UK training certificate to the ten thousandth soldier who graduated from here. It is a sign of our commitment to train, which has now reached almost one third of the Lebanese Army’s fighting force,” he added. “We are committed to our continued partnership with the Lebanese Army with actions and not just words,” Rampling went on to say.
Hankache Says Neutral Government of Specialists Is Key to Country's Welfare 04th October 2018/Kataeb MP Elias Hankache deemed the formation of a neutral government of specialists as key to pulling the country out of the spiral of danger it is currently whirling inside, stressing that it should include independent figures who cannot be influenced by politics."There is a blatant and disastrous mismanagement plaguing Lebanon," Hankache said in an interview on MTV. "There will be no salvation if the country doesn't take a rescue path," he stressed. Hankache said that mismanagement will persist if no drastic changes are made, warning that the country is on the verge of collapse and the state is gradually shattering. The Kataeb lawmaker blamed the politicians' recklessness and bickering over shares for the ongoing Cabinet stalemate, slamming their negligence while the country's economy is at stake. "With every passing day, the country is being pushed further towards the brink of the cliff," he warned. Hankache reiterated his call for the adoption of administrative decentralization, praising this system as the first step towards the much-anticipated solutions in the country. "Administrative decentralization would prevent the current situation from getting worse. We will cooperate with anyone who shares with us this aspiration because we believe that it is unacceptable to go on with the current crooked system." The lawmaker emphasized that the Kataeb party has been the only one to cling to the values of the March 14 coalition, adding that it has paid the price for doing so. “March 14 forces contributed to the election of a pro-Hezbollah candidate as the president of the country. Hezbollah's illegal weapons and involvement in regional conflicts are the origin of our problems in Lebanon. If we do not commit to neutrality, then we will be putting the country at stake," Hankache warned. In another interview with Annahar newspaper, Hankache stressed the need for the rescue government to set out a serious economic plan to deal with the manifold challenges, adding that the ongoing bickering and spiteful stances do not usher in an imminent breakthrough. “Safeguarding the country means forming a rescue government that would ease tensions until the political forces reach consensus on a government that represents them,” Hankache said.

Kataeb Party to Host Meeting of Saydet Al-Jabal Gathering 04th October 2018/The Kataeb party, the National Liberal Party and the Saydet Al-Jabal (Our Lady of Mountain) Gathering on Thursday called for a broad meeting at the Kataeb headquarters in Saifi on October 10, to voice absolute oppositon to the growing political oppression in the country and to voice unwavering support to all forms of freedom. The Saydet Al-Jabal (Our Lady of Mountain) Gathering held an exceptional meeting on Thursday in Ashrafieh to discuss the blatant suppression targeting the freedom of expression in the country. The Gathering convened one day after the forcible cancellation of the meeting that was set to be held by the Saydet Al-Jabal Gathering at the Bristol Hotel in Beirut. Hezbollah's senior official Wafik Safa admitted on Wednesday that he had personally asked the hotel to not host the event.

Kataeb's Media Council Condemns Growing Suppression in Lebanon 04th October 2018/The Kataeb's Media Council on Thursday condemned the growing suppression of the freedom of expression in Lebanon, deeming the forcible cancellation of the Saydet Al-Jabal Gathering as an outrageous harbinger of what is lurking in the future. Hezbollah's senior official Wafik Safa admitted on Wednesday that he had personally asked the Bristol Hotel, where the meeting was supposed to take place, to not host the event."Attacking the freedom of expression and the free political work of individuals and groups [...] makes us wonder if political activism in Lebanon now  needs a special authorization and from whom the permission will be asked for," read a statement issued by the council. "The Kataeb party, which denounces the prevailing approach that consists of muzzling and confiscating free minds, warns against altering Lebanon's image, suspending the Constitution and encroaching on the principle of freedom on which Lebanon was based," it added.

Heads of Army, ISF at Airport to Be Replaced After Bickering
The Daily Star/ Thursday 04th October 2018,/An airport shakeup is likely in the coming days with two of the main security officials set to be replaced, an airport source confirmed Thursday. The bumpy relationship between Lebanese Army Brig. Gen. George Doumit and Internal Security Forces Col. Bilal al-Hajjar – among those who oversee operations at the airport – has been tense due to a conflict related to jurisdictional issues.Their time could soon be up, with ISF Col. Ali Taha and an Army “brig. gen. with the last name Youssef,” set to replace Hajjar and Doumit respectively. “Investigations are still ongoing, but the word is that these two will be replaced,” the source told The Daily Star.

Is CEDRE a Last Chance or a Mirage?
Khalil Toubia/Executive Magazine/October 0418
Half a year has passed since CEDRE, the economic conference for development through reforms with the private sector, the latest in a long line of international conferences aimed at propping up an unstable Lebanon. It seems like a good moment to ask what past initiatives and recent developments can tell us about CEDRE’s political context and chances of success. The outcome of CEDRE that received the most attention in Lebanon was the financial promise of support and development funding to the tune of $11 billion. The funds allocated at CEDRE are of two types: soft loans that provide around $10.2 billion and grants amounting to around $800 million. The World Bank is the main contributor, committing to provide a package of soft and concessionary loans for a total of $4 billion.
As CEDRE was timed to be held just one month before Lebanon’s parliamentary elections, government formation and fiscal reforms were outlined as prerequisites for the implementation of the agreements reached at the conference. Not only has the government formation process been dragging out, but it also appears that any expectation of an imminent regional and international solution settling Lebanese domestic challenges would be misplaced. Under such domestic circumstances, do the CEDRE proposals have any chance to succeed, given the regional dynamics and the conflicting interests of the different stakeholders? Can Lebanon’s economy go on despite the worrying economic indicators? Is there a potential causal relationship between the possible collapse of the Lebanese economy and a renewed refugee influx to Europe? These are questions that international and local observers cannot afford to ignore.
Between internal reforms and geopolitics
Then-Prime Minister Saad Hariri presented CEDRE as a serious engagement by the international community that would prompt Lebanon to start implementing reforms and building a modern state, as a step toward increased stability, growth, and employment. Hariri’s vision was based on four pillars: increasing the level of public and private investment; ensuring economic and financial stability through fiscal adjustment; undertaking essential sectoral and cross-sectoral reforms, including fighting corruption and the modernization of the public sector and public finance management; and developing a strategy for the reinforcement and diversification of Lebanon’s productive sectors and the realization of its export potential. However, events since CEDRE make it advisable to not only re-examine the determinations and resolutions reached at the conference, but also to take a careful look at some of the realities that are present in Lebanon today—beginning with previous attempts to alleviate problems and achieve reforms in the county.
Since its independence, Lebanon has witnessed several crises that either resulted in a domestic conflict or were resolved by the negotiation of a new political settlement. In both cases, the solutions were inspired and administered by regional and international actors.
Recent Lebanese history teaches us that Lebanon has long been a seedbed for problems hatched elsewhere; it is a country where regional crises have directly impacted its economy and security. The reconstruction period following the adoption of the new constitution in 1990 was the result of the 1989 Taif Agreement. Several international conferences soon emerged to foster the Arab-Israeli peace process, which was a central factor in regional tensions. After the Madrid treaty in 1991, the Oslo treaty in 1993, and the Arabah treaty between Jordan and Israel in 1994, it was time for the peace process to reach Lebanon and Syria. However, in the maze of the Middle East’s search for stability, Syria’s strong man and the main powerbroker in Lebanon, Hafez al-Assad, had a different agenda.
Between 1990 and 1992, Lebanon’s economic situation worsened fast. The LL/USD exchange ratio reached 2,800:1 during the summer of 1992, and inflation rose beyond 100 percent, creating social protests that threatened to result in a new round of internal conflicts. Most of the big players in the LL depreciation process of that period belonged to what many call a “Lebanese Club” of politicians, communitarian leaders and top bankers, in addition to some key Syrian political and security actors. Post-Taif, a Syrian-Saudi agreement was forged on “constructed stability” for Lebanon. The deal granted Saudi Arabia control over economic progress while Syria presided over the political agenda, effectively sidestepping Lebanese sovereignty. It was in this geopolitical and economic environment that Rafic Hariri, close friend of Saudi Arabia, was appointed as Lebanese prime minister, on October 31, 1992.
Hariri was a dynamic businessman. His plan for the Lebanese economy was to attract investments and inflows of fresh capital from abroad. This made currency stability and the Lebanese lira’s parity to the dollar a necessity, in order to ensure investors secured high yields. Moreover, Hariri’s plan for stability envisaged achieving social peace in volatile times by increasing public spending to create job opportunities, in addition to generating capital investments for the purpose of reconstruction. His main focuses rested economically on increased public expenditures, and politically on the integration of confessional militias, as well as warlords, into the system.
political setbacks
However, the Israeli occupation of southern Lebanon, which drove more locals into the Syria- and Iran-backed “Resistance,” meant that a potential peace process between Israel, on the one hand, and Syria and Lebanon, on the other, was a distant prospect. The eventual disruption and dissolution of the Oslo process and renewed violence in south Lebanon thwarted Hariri’s initial vision for Lebanon’s political stability and economic progress. Despite notable successes in the reconstruction of Beirut and the rebuilding of the Lebanese economy as a consequence of the lira’s progressive alignment with the dollar immediately after the Hariri era had begun in 1993—and the eventual full peg of approximately LL1,500 to $1—economic problems prevailed and reached new heights in 2000.
In a once again difficult economic situation, Hariri achieved electoral success in 2000 and returned as prime minister. This time, he found a new approach for imposing his economic and political agenda through the promotion of international conferences for Lebanon. At Paris I, in 2001, and Paris II, in 2003, Hariri pushed for reforms of the Lebanese administration and economy. However, due to Syrian refusal, with the collaboration of some major Lebanese political and economic players, the impact of the international conferences fell short of expectations. In order to support Hariri’s plan, and their wider geopolitical aims on the other, the international community demanded Syrian withdrawal from Lebanon in UN Resolution 1559 in 2004. Shortly after, however, the elder Hariri was assassinated.
Opposition to the Syrian presence in Lebanon climbed to new heights after the Hariri assassination. Following Syrian withdrawal in compliance with UN Resolution 1559, the international community voiced its support for Lebanon at the Paris III Conference in 2007, but stabilization efforts failed due to political deadlock between the March 8 and 14 camps, and also due to the socio-economic system whereby household consumption and public budgets were continually allowed to exist on what can essentially be seen as a basis of revolving borrowing or even a snowball finance scheme.
The international and regional political entanglement that hampered previous attempts to implement reforms and capitalize on foreign economic support to counter domestic problems must be kept in mind when considering CEDRE’s chance of success. Fast forward to the present time, where Lebanese and international economists are increasingly warning that the country is experiencing a financial crisis that, despite reassurances by politicians and central bankers, could threaten the national exchange rate and the banking sector if appropriate and specific actions are not implemented. The growing need of Banque du Liban (BDL), Lebanon’s central bank, for fresh US dollars, and the growing fiscal deficit and government debt, is heavily pressuring the Lebanese economy.
The lebanese business and political model
Since October 1992, the Lebanese business model can be summarized as follows: Depositors place their money in the bank, which deposits most of those funds at BDL, receiving high returns. Banks also acquire treasury bills from the government, which, in turn, spends money on wages, salaries, and debt servicing to those very same banks. Due to BDL’s and the government’s need for a constant influx of money, the central bank raises interest rates to attract fresh US dollars. Consequently, banks ensure financial and social stability by covering public-sector salaries and by providing high returns on investment to its shareholders. In sum, this creates a system of dependency between the central bank, commercial banks, and the Lebanese government, in which the commercial banks and public servants benefit at the expense of the wider public. In this case, both the central bank and the government are in deficit. More than 90 percent of Lebanon’s debt is held by domestic banks. This model helps Lebanon maintain the USD/LL parity but leads to an economy of clientelism under a “rentier model,” where the central bank gets fresh capital from the commercial banks in return for high interest rates. The Lebanese business model is reflected in cumulative government expenditures. From 1993-2016, the interest paid on debt amounted to $70 billion, a full 33 percent total government spending, at the expense of other vital spending priorities such as infrastructure development. Meanwhile, domestic banks hold over 90 percent of Lebanese debt, with this debt representing about 60 percent of banks total assets.
The economic equation is tied in with the political one. In 2017, Michel Aoun, an ally of Syria and Hezbollah, was elected president after a two-year vacancy in the position. His mandate has thus far resulted in two major domestic decisions. First, a new electoral law, which secured for the March 8 camp a clear majority in Parliament. Second, increased public spending through raised salaries for public servants, which applied more pressure to the country’s economy and sharply increased the state budget deficit.
Hariri’s resignation from the premiership, announced last November from Saudi Arabia and since rescinded, was considered by many to be an action taken by the Saudis against the Lebanese economy. The Lebanese public understood this “resignation” as a Saudi withdrawal from the Lebanese market. This action led to a lack of confidence and trust between local actors. The inter-bank interest rate reached unprecedentedly high levels and treasury bills with 10-year maturity dropped to record lows, resulting in a sharp decrease of confidence in the Lebanese market, with capital inflow failing to increase.
Europe and fears of a second refugee wave
The willingness of the international community to assist Lebanon rests on many political and strategic considerations. Internationally, and during a politically volatile time for Europe, partly due to the refugee influx, Lebanon’s strategic location in the Eastern Mediterranean positions it as a last bastion before mainland Europe. Europe is witnessing the rise of right-wing parties, largely triggered by the large-scale arrival of refugees in recent years. Lebanon is currently hosting more than 1 million Syrians and anywhere between 175,000 to 450,000 Palestinian refugees. In this sense, CEDRE can be seen as an attempt by European countries to contain the ongoing refugee crisis by bringing some stability to Lebanon.
After delving into historic international efforts to revive Lebanon, and taking a closer look at CEDRE, it remains to be seen whether the most recent international donors’ conference will prove successful. Previous international conferences failed due to outside stakeholders’ interventions, mainly from the Syrian regime, and intransigence by major players in Lebanon. In this regard, it is also necessary to take account of Europe’s anti-migration stance as well as Iran’s increased stake in Lebanese politics. In the end, reforms needed to unlock CEDRE financing and put Lebanon back on the path toward renewed economic growth and monetary stability will require compromises from political and economic Lebanese stakeholders, and a willingness to break from past behavior. This will be the biggest factor in determining whether CEDRE will eventually be viewed as the catalyst for a more dynamic Lebanese economic model, or as another missed opportunity to bring economic progress and desperately needed stability to the country.
Israel seen behind WhatsApp warning to Beirut residents about Hezbollah facility
تايمز أو إزرائيل: يبدو أن إسرائيل كانت وراء رسائل واتسأب لسكان بيروت

The Times Of Israel/October 04/18
Message sent to thousands in Lebanese capital tells them to take precautionary measures because of terror group’s site near their homes
Thousands of residents in Beirut’s southern suburbs received WhatsApp messages overnight Tuesday-Wednesday, believed to have been sent by Israel, warning them that their homes are in close proximity to a Hezbollah weapons facility, Israel’s Channel 10 news reported on Wednesday night. The alleged site is not one of the three alleged Hezbollah weapons factories exposed by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in his speech to the UN last week, the TV report said.
Israel’s Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman had said Tuesday that Israel has information on additional Iranian and Hezbollah military sites and would release it at the appropriate time. However, Israeli military officials refused to comment on the exposure of the latest site, Channel 10 said.It said the site described in the WhatsApp messages is in the heart of a residential area, close to a school, to the St. George’s Hospital and to the Spanish Embassy — which are in the Lebanese capital’s Hadath area. It speculated that the site, like the other three alleged Hezbollah facilities detailed by Netanyahu in his address to the UN General Assembly last Thursday, is a Hezbollah missile factory.
The WhatsApp message sent overnight was unsigned. “Important message,” it reportedly stated. “Near your home, a site belonging to Hezbollah has been located for some time. You are advised to take precautionary measures.”
“Apparently Israel is working hard to keep this issue high on the Lebanese public agenda,” the Israeli TV report said, “perhaps in order to prompt Hezbollah to move those sites, which would produce further intelligence.”The report said that the exposure of details regarding further sites was also now anticipated. Liberman told journalists on Tuesday that Israel has “a lot of information at hand, and we are still choosing the right time to reveal [intelligence on additional] facilities both in Iran as well as in Beirut.”In his UN speech, Netanyahu detailed an alleged “secret atomic warehouse” in Tehran and used placards to show the plenum what he said were three sites hidden near Beirut’s international airport housing precision missiles for the Hezbollah terror group.
“In Lebanon, Iran is directing Hezbollah to build secret sites to convert inaccurate projectiles into precision-guided missiles, missiles that can target deep inside Israel within an accuracy of ten meters,” he said.
“Hezbollah is deliberately using the innocent people of Beirut as human shields. They have placed three of these missile conversion sites alongside Beirut’s international airport,” he said, and added, “Israel knows what you are doing, Israel knows where you are doing it, and Israel will not let you get away with it,” he said.Netanyahu intended to reveal further intelligence material in the speech on Thursday, but the security establishment recommended that he not do so, Channel 10 news said Saturday night.
Lebanon has denied Netanyahu’s claims about Hezbollah missile factories, and its foreign minister, Gibran Bassil, on Monday took dozens of foreign diplomats on a tour of the alleged areas, seeking to discredit the Israeli allegations.
Later Monday, Netanyahu accused Hezbollah of “brazenly lying” to the international community over the secret weapons facilities in and around Beirut.
He said Bassil took 73 foreign envoys on a “fraudulent propaganda tour” of the alleged missile sites, where he failed to show them the underground facilities where Hezbollah is allegedly manufacturing precision-guided missiles.
“Hezbollah is brazenly lying to the international community by means of the fraudulent propaganda tour of the Lebanese foreign minister who took ambassadors to the soccer field [one of the alleged missile sites] but refrained from taking them to the nearby underground precision-missile production facility,” Netanyahu said. Bassil led the ambassadors around a pool complex and the sports stadium in a bid to disprove the Israeli accusations. “Today Lebanon is raising [its] voice by addressing all countries of the world… to refute Israel’s allegations,” Bassil said. Israel’s Channel 10 news said Monday night that Lebanon feared Israel may attack the sites.
Netanyahu said the envoys “should ask themselves why [Lebanese authorities] waited three days to give them a tour.”
One of the alleged sites he mentioned in his UN speech is located under a soccer field used by a Hezbollah-sponsored team; another is just north of the Rafik Hariri International Airport; and the third is underneath the Beirut port and less than 500 meters from the airport’s tarmac.
Hezbollah, Netanyahu said, took pains to clear out the exposed facilities so that foreign diplomats could tour the area.
“It’s saddening that the Lebanese government is sacrificing the safety of its citizens while covering for Hezbollah, which has taken Lebanon hostage in its aggression toward Israel,” said Netanyahu.
Earlier Monday, the Israeli military released a video noting that three days had passed since Netanyahu detailed the presence of the alleged facilities.
“In three days you can clear out a precision-missile factory, invite foreign ambassadors and hope that the world will fall for it.”
It urged the international community not to be duped by what it said were “Hezbollah’s lies.”
The Russian ambassador to Lebanon, Alexander Zasypkin, described the tour as “very good.”
“On the diplomatic and political spheres, there are many statements,” he told The Associated Press. “What we saw today are facts. There is a club and stadium. I can’t imagine a secret thing happening in these places. We saw that with our own eyes.”
Hezbollah, whose forces control south Lebanon bordering Israel and Beirut’s southern suburbs where the airport is located, has not officially reacted to the accusation.
Bassil lashed out at Israel, which he said had “violated our land, air and marine space 1,417 times in the last eight months.”
Israel was attempting “to justify another violation of UN resolutions and to justify another aggression on a sovereign country,” he said.
The Jewish state has fought several conflicts against Hezbollah, the last in 2006.
Bassil said his government would not allow rocket facilities near the airport and that Hezbollah is “wiser” than to place them there. He said Netanyahu’s claims were based on “inaccurate” estimates without any “compelling evidence.”
“Lebanon demands that Israel ceases its madness,” he said.
Hezbollah’s leader Hassan Nasrallah recently boasted that his group now possesses “highly accurate” missiles despite Israeli attempts to prevent it from acquiring such weapons.
Bassil acknowledged Hezbollah’s claims, but said “this doesn’t mean that those missiles are present in the vicinity of Beirut airport.”
Soon after Netanyahu’s speech Thursday, the IDF released satellite images of the sites that it says are being used by Hezbollah to hide underground precision-missile production facilities.
The target of last month’s Israeli airstrike, in which a Russian spy plane was inadvertently shot down by Syrian air defenses, was machinery used in the production of precision missiles en route to Hezbollah, The Times of Israel learned.
According to Netanyahu, these precision missiles are capable of striking with 10 meters (32 feet) of their given target.
Hezbollah is believed to have an arsenal of between 100,000 and 150,000 rockets and missiles, though the vast majority are thought to lack precision technology.
The army said the facilities are “another example of Iranian entrenchment in the region and the negative influence of Iran.”
According to the Israel Defense Forces, Hezbollah began working on the surface-to-surface missile facilities last year.
Reports that Iran was constructing underground missile conversion factories in Lebanon first emerged in March 2017.
Since then, Israeli officials have repeatedly said that Israel would not tolerate such facilities.
In January, Netanyahu said Lebanon “is becoming a factory for precision-guided missiles that threaten Israel. These missiles pose a grave threat to Israel, and we cannot accept this threat.”
The Latest LCCC Bulletin For Miscellaneous Reports And News published on October 04-05/18
Paris Bomb Plot Claims Cloud Iran President's Hopes of EU Help
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/October 04/18/French accusations that Iran was behind a foiled bomb plot near Paris could not have come at a worse time for its moderate president and his hopes of EU support against crippling new U.S. sanctions.Tuesday's allegations are a blow to President Hassan Rouhani, and hit just as European governments are working on a mechanism to allow Iran to continue to reap the economic benefits of compliance with a landmark 2015 nuclear deal abandoned by U.S. President Donald Trump in May. "Such allegations, whether true or not, at this moment of time will serve only to harm both Rouhani's government and the Iranian nation, and political moderation in Iran in general," said Saeed Leylaz, a lecturer at Tehran's Shahid Beheshti University. The European parties to the nuclear agreement -- Britain, France and Germany -- have made no secret of their anger at the unilateral move by Trump and his administration to withdraw and seek to enforce renewed U.S. sanctions internationally. Iran was quick to deny the French allegations that Tehran was behind the attempted bombing of a June 30 rally held by an exiled opposition group, the People's Mujahedeen of Iran (MEK), dubbed "terrorists" by Tehran. Iran "completely and forcefully" rejects the accusations, foreign ministry spokesman Bahram Ghasemi told AFP. But the allegations echo the Trump administration's charges against Tehran -- that it is a state sponsor of "terrorism" abroad -- and the French government's response -- asset freezes on the intelligence ministry and two of its alleged operatives -- mirror those taken by the U.S. administration. "Any tension between Iran and Europe -- especially France -- is in line with the wishes of radicals in Tehran and Washington and Tel Aviv and Riyadh," said Leylaz, who is seen as close to Iran's reformists.
"I am certain this (the allegation) is a source of worry for the government, because it happened while the Islamic republic needs every single relation and link with the West minus the United States," he added.
Iran needs EU
Rouhani, who was re-elected to a second four-year term last year on the promise of greater economic dividends from his government's opening to Washington, was already reeling from the economic fallout of Trump's abandonment of the nuclear deal. A precipitous slide in the value of the rial against the dollar hit the purchasing power of ordinary Iranians, while an anticipated boost to Western investment failed to materialize, hitting plans to renew Iran's antiquated infrastructure. Rouhani had counted on EU governments to work with the other parties to the deal -- China and Russia -- to mitigate the impact of the U.S. policy U-turn but the French allegation has now put those hopes in jeopardy. The allegations were swiftly seized on by the Trump administration as vindication of its hard line. "France taking strong action against failed Iranian terrorist plot in Paris -- Tehran needs to know this outrageous behavior will not be tolerated," the White House's National Security Council tweeted. Rouhani's government sees the hand of the Trump administration behind the allegations, convinced Washington is determined to undermine European resistance to the U.S. abandonment of the JCPOA, the official acronym for the nuclear deal.
"Some centers of power do not approve of Iran's good relations with Europe -- that it is staying in the JCPOA and that its economic ties with the EU continue," Ghasemi said.
Who benefits? 
Prominent conservative analyst Amir Mohebbian voiced skepticism about the French allegations, saying it made no sense for Iran to get involved in an operation that so clearly endangered its own interests. "There is no logical reason for the Islamic republic to take such actions in the present sensitive situation," Mohebbian said. "Iran is acting transparently. It has created transparent and close diplomatic relations with Europe. "Iran does not want to do something that will damage these good relations."Mohebbian said the allegations were deliberately timed to cause maximum damage to Iran's foreign policy interests. "The possibility of an intelligence trap for damaging Iran's relations with the European Union... is not far-fetched," he said. "I am not aware of the legal aspects of the allegations, but it is clear that the beneficiary of these events is the MEK," he said. Senior members of Rouhani's government have gone further, accusing the MEK itself of being behind the alleged plot. Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said it was a "false flag ploy" by the MEK, which has been outlawed in Iran since 1981 and was on the European Union's terrorism blacklist until 2009.
What Happened to Jamal Khashoggi? Conflicting Reports Deepen a Mystery
Carlotta Gall/The New York Times/October 04/18
ISTANBUL — The mystery deepened Wednesday about the fate of a veteran Saudi journalist who entered the country’s consulate in Istanbul on Tuesday afternoon and has not been seen since. The journalist, Jamal Khashoggi, a sharp critic of the Saudi leadership, went to the consulate to obtain a document he needed to get married, but never came out, his fiancée and several close friends said. On Wednesday, the Saudi government said he had left the consulate, the Turkish government said he was still inside, and his fiancée and friends said he was still missing. His fiancée, Hatice, who asked that her surname not be published out of concern for her safety, waited for him outside the consulate until after midnight Tuesday and returned when the consulate reopened on Wednesday morning. She said she had not seen or heard from Mr. Khashoggi since he entered the consulate around 1:30 p.m. on Tuesday, and believes he has been detained by the Saudi government.The Saudi government, however, said that reports that Mr. Khashoggi “went missing inside the Saudi consulate” in Istanbul “are false.”“Mr. Khashoggi visited the consulate to request paperwork related to his marital status and exited shortly thereafter,” a Saudi official said, speaking on the condition of anonymity in accordance with diplomatic protocol. Mr. Khashoggi “is not in the consulate nor in Saudi custody,” the official said. The disappearance presents Turkish officials with a sharp diplomatic challenge. Relations have not been smooth with Saudi Arabia since Turkey’s president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, sided with Qatar in a dispute among the rich Arab Gulf States a year ago. Mr. Erdogan’s national security adviser and spokesman, Ibrahim Kalin, told reporters Wednesday that the Turkish authorities were working on the case. “Our related units are following the issue,” he said, according to the Turkish news media. “According to information we have, this person, who is a Saudi citizen, is still at the Istanbul consulate of Saudi Arabia.” A State Department official said the United States was closely following the case and seeking information on it.
Turkish and international reporters gathered Wednesday outside the consulate, a two-story ocher-colored building behind high walls on a leafy side-street in Istanbul’s business district. Police barriers, a long-term security feature, blocked the street.
Mr. Khashoggi’s fiancée was still clutching the two telephones he entrusted to her when he went inside, waiting for him to reappear. “He did not say it, but he was worried,” she said in an interview on the side of the street. The consulate had been polite and cooperative, she said, but Mr. Khashoggi had been “stressed and sad” that he was forced to enter the consulate to obtain the papers he needed. He had told a friend the day before that he feared he could be kidnapped and returned to Saudi Arabia if he entered the consulate. Members of the Turk-Arab Media Association, of which Mr. Khashoggi is a member, said they believed he was still inside the consulate building. The Turkish police who provide security for the consulate checked their security cameras and did not see Mr. Khashoggi leave the consulate on foot, according to Turan Kislakci, a friend of Mr. Khashoggi’s who is head of the association.
But he and others said that diplomatic cars had been moving in and out of the consulate since Tuesday. Their fear is that Mr. Khashoggi, who has been living in self-imposed exile since last year, has been or could be spirited away to Saudi Arabia. As Saudi Arabia’s day-to-day ruler, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, has consolidated power, the government has arrested hundreds of clerics, activists and businessmen, some of whom were detained outside the country and forcibly repatriated.
Mr. Khashoggi, who was a prominent Saudi journalist and an adviser to senior government officials, had been close to the ruling elite until he split with the government last year. He has since become an active critic of the government and was living in Washington.
Having divorced his wife, who had remained in Saudi Arabia, he went to the Saudi consulate on Tuesday to obtain a document certifying that he was no longer married so he could marry his Turkish fiancée.

S-300 in Syria to 'Establish New Reality'... Russian Plans for Missile Umbrella

Moscow – Raed Jabr/Asharq Al-Awsat/Thursday, 4 October, 2018/Moscow confirmed that the situation in Syria has entered a new stage that seeks to prevent violation of Syrian airspace. This has taken place after Russia has delivered S-300, sophisticated missile systems, despite objections and threats from Israel and Washington. Military sources reported that the Russian Ministry of Defense plans to promote and deploy an integrated defense system covering all Syrian territory. Israeli threats and hints that the missile systems could be destroyed if they reached the Syrian army did not succeed in dissuading Moscow from fulfilling its decision to deliver S-300 missile system to Damascus. Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu told President Vladimir Putin during a meeting broadcast by Rossiya 24 TV on Wednesday: “The work was finished a day ago,” including a total of four launch platforms. Shoigu said Russia had supplied Syria with 49 pieces of equipment as part of the delivery of the S-300 air defense system meant to boost security of the Russian taskforce in that country. “We have completed the delivery of S-300 systems. It included 49 pieces of equipment, including radars, control vehicles, and four launchers," he said. He said it would take three months to train the Syrian military to operate the new air defense systems while the integration of Russian and Syrian air defense assets into a single automated system will be completed by October 20. The Russian Defense Ministry released a video of S-300 air defense systems being unloaded in Syria from a Russian-made Antonov ‘An-124’ Ruslan transport aircraft. The planes, used by the Russian Air Force as well as several cargo operators, were spotted by hobbyists who track aircraft movements (also known as aircraft spotters), on the Russia-Syria route over the past several days. The first Ruslan plane was spotted arriving at the Hmeimim Air Base near Latakia in Syria on Thursday evening. Shoigu said that Moscow will take a number of measures to boost the safety of its troops in Syria, including the deliveries of the S-300 systems. This comes in the wake of the crash of an Il-20 military plane off the coast of Syria, which Russia believes Israel was responsible for.

Syria: Sweida Tensions Rise After ISIS Executes Captive Young Woman

Damascus/Asharq Al-Awsat/Thursday, 4 October, 2018/Syria’s Druze majority Sweida southern province witnessed rising tensions as protests broke out on Wednesday after ISIS militants killed a young woman from a group of local captives. A local news page broadcast footage on Tuesday showing ISIS militants gunning down a young lady identified as 25-year-old Tharwat Fadel Abu Ammar. ISIS filmed the lead-up to the execution and published a photo of the victim showing that the execution was carried out inside a confined residential room, performed and watched over by ISIS militants in military uniform carrying individual weapons. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) noted that there was a committee in Sweida seeking to mediate with ISIS, and that Russian authorities and the Syrian regime had been involved in discussions. The human rights group said it was surprised by the execution taking place before any change or development taking place with the negotiations. One of the ISIS militants partaking in the execution threatened that the groups’ demands must be met in negotiations or the remaining captives will face a fate similar to that of Thawrat. After his statement, the young woman was shot dead. Slaying the young woman comes at a time the Syrian regime is pressuring the terror group in one of its last enclaves in the province’s eastern countryside and US-backed Syrian Democratic forces pushing against ISIS’ final pockets alongside the Syrian-Iraqi borders. In short, ISIS atrocities come in line with the group losing ground on multiple fronts. Protests broke out within the vicinity of the Sweida Governorate building as locals, joint by religious and social activist figures, demanded immediate action for the release of ISIS-held captives.
As Clock Ticks, Little Progress Visible on Idlib Deal
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/October 04/18/The clock is ticking to implement a Russian-Turkish deal for the Syrian rebel region of Idlib, but its terms remain hazy and little has changed on the ground. The accord, reached on September 17, aims to stave off a massive regime assault on the last major rebel bastion by creating a 15 to 20 kilometer buffer zone ringing the area. All rebels in the demilitarized zone must withdraw heavy arms by October 10, and radical groups must leave by October 15. But as the deadline draws closer, there has been no indication either condition is being implemented. The main Ankara-backed rebel alliance, the National Liberation Front, cautiously welcomed the agreement but has denied beginning to pull out any of its heavy weapons. And the region's most powerful force, the jihadist-led Hayat Tahrir al-Sham, has yet to announce its stance. "On the ground, essentially, there's no movement. There's no handover of weapons or territory," said Haid Haid, a research fellow at the London-based Chatham House. What is happening, however, is a flurry of negotiations among Russia, Turkey, rebel groups and hardliners to hash out the accord's finer details and bring Idlib's jihadists on board. The thorny questions being discussed include precisely where the buffer would be established, who would patrol it, and whether weapons systems would be simply re-stationed in other rebel zones or handed over to Ankara. Once those stumbling blocks are sorted out, Haid told AFP, implementation can be quick. "In my view, the deal will be implemented on time, but with some amendments," he said.
Devil in the details
The deal was announced in the Russian resort of Sochi after a tete-a-tete between Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan. It was welcomed by world powers, relief agencies and the United Nations, which all hoped it would avert a feared humanitarian catastrophe of unprecedented proportions. But apart from deadlines, very few details were made public. "One possibility is that Turkey and Russia already agreed on all the details but did not announce them," said Haid. "The second possibility is they agreed on the broad outlines without details," allowing Ankara to untangle the knots with Idlib's factions, he said. On Wednesday, Putin said Moscow was still "working in solidarity with Turkey" on Idlib. "We see that they, too, have the most serious attitude towards the deal and are fulfilling their obligations," he said. He spoke hours after Ankara dispatched a new military convoy of vehicles and troops into northern Syria to be stationed at the monitoring posts it already operates in the area. The burden of implementing the agreement has fallen on Turkey, which shares a border with Idlib province and has long backed rebel forces there. The toughest task would be bringing jihadists including HTS, led by former al-Qaida members, on board. HTS, jihadists from the Turkestan Islamic Party (TIP) and current al-Qaida outfit Hurras al-Deen control more than two-thirds of the planned buffer zone. While Hurras al-Deen has rejected the deal, HTS and TIP have yet to take a position -- which Haid sees as a sign that they could be negotiating with Turkey for better terms. "No news could be more positive than negative," he said. "This area is very important for HTS. It has economic benefits and guarantees the group's sustainability. If it hands over this area, what does it still have?"
'No progress'
Moscow has accused HTS and other "radical fighters" of trying to torpedo the accord. Foreign ministry spokesman Maria Zakharova said Thursday they "fear finding themselves isolated by the Russian-Turkey deal, and are committing all sorts of provocations and aggravating the situation."
Even as it works to persuade heavyweight HTS, Ankara is in talks with other rebel groups on their objections to the deal. After initially welcoming the accord, the NLF refused any Russian presence in the buffer zone, which Putin said would be monitored by Russian military police and Turkish troops. "There's no progress on the deal, except the issue of the patrols. They will only be Turkish," NLF spokesman Naji Mustafa told AFP. "For the demilitarized zone, our heavy weapons aren't in this area anyway," he said. Other rebels fear that the accord could cost them their last major stronghold. Jaish al-Izza, a formerly U.S.-backed faction, rejected the accord on the grounds that it ate away at rebel but not regime territory to create the buffer zone. Damascus, for its part, still hopes to recapture every inch of Syrian territory. In an interview aired Tuesday, Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Muallem said he hoped the deal would prove to be a "step towards the liberation of Idlib."

Jerusalem: Israeli Settlers Take Over Building, Land Plot in Silwan Neighborhood
Tel Aviv- Asharq Al-Awsat/Thursday, 4 October, 2018/Wadi Hilweh Information Center in Silwan, a local watch group based in the Old Jerusalem city Silwan, reported that settlers acting under the protection of Israeli police stormed and took over a building owned by the Palestinian family Fatihah. The owners are currently living in the United States. Israeli forces first evicted the Doda family which has been a tenant of the real-estate, which consists of a building with two 160 m2 apartments and an 800 m2 agricultural land attachment, for over three decades. The land plot had rich olive and fig trees planted across the plain. The center added that the settlers set up a gate at the entrance real-estate in preparation for construction activity. Doda family members complained that settlers forced them out of the apartments, without allowing them to take personal belongings from their residences. No eviction notice was issued or delivered, family members added. Jerusalem governor Adnan Ghaith said that the seizure of the property and forced eviction constitute gruesome oppression which is taking place with government support across all Palestinian territories. West Bank settlements make for the largest and fastest-growing Israeli occupation campaigns since the 1967 Six-Day War. Construction works 11,000 housing units in the settlements are underway. The Israeli government is trying to cover up settlements springing up by not recognizing the projects on any official plan. A settler association in Elad city, protected by Israeli occupation forces, illegally took over a building and a land plot in Silwan village. Israel’s West Bank settlements are growing exponentially by virtue of the Israeli government justifying the growth as the construction of new neighborhoods and not ‘new settlements.’
Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman confirmed on Wednesday that there were 11,000 housing units currently under construction in the settlements. Since the middle of the last decade, consecutive Israeli governments upheld claims that they are not establishing new settlements. Former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert pledged this at the Annapolis conference in 2007. However, reports show that all many Israeli governments have appallingly allowed for the construction of new settlements at a short distance from existing ones. Israel’s interior ministry describes these new settlements as neighborhood extensions for old settlements, in order to dodge the need for government approval and less legal requirements to a civil construction permit.

Merkel Vows German Fight against Anti-Semitism on Israel Visit
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/October 04/18/Chancellor Angela Merkel spoke of Germany's "everlasting responsibility" to oppose anti-Semitism during a visit to Israel on Thursday as she and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu brushed past their differences and promoted cooperation between their nations.The one-day visit by Merkel and members of her cabinet was part of German-Israeli government consultations held regularly, but came after Netanyahu's harsh criticism of European countries over their efforts to keep alive the Iran nuclear deal. Germany and other European countries have also repeatedly hit out at Israeli settlement building in the occupied West Bank and warned over threats to remaining prospects for a two-state solution to the conflict with the Palestinians. But both leaders seemed determined to have the visit run smoothly, greeting each other warmly after Merkel's arrival on Wednesday night and touring an innovation exhibit together on Thursday. Merkel began the day with a visit to Israel's Holocaust memorial high in the hills above Jerusalem. After laying a wreath in the Yad Vashem memorial's solemn Hall of Remembrance, where an eternal flame burns, she spoke of Germany's responsibility as the perpetrator of the Holocaust. "From this comes the everlasting responsibility of Germany to remember this crime and to oppose anti-Semitism, xenophobia, hatred and violence," she said, reading out the message she wrote in the memorial's guest book. Later after receiving an honorary doctorate from Israel's Haifa University, she answered questions from students and touched on the Iran nuclear deal. Netanyahu has urged European nations to follow the lead of U.S. President Donald Trump and withdraw from the accord with his country's main enemy.
Germany, like other signatories to the deal, says it is preventing Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons for now. Merkel noted the Iranian presence in neighboring Syria and how that has exacerbated the threat from Israel's enemy. She said the nuclear deal would be discussed further with Netanyahu. "On the principle that everything must be done to prevent nuclear armament, we absolutely agree," she said.
'She's lost hope'
Germany says the joint government meeting on Thursday afternoon will focus on economic ties, innovation and technology, while noting that the consultations have been in place for 10 years. Felix Klein, who heads the German government's fight against anti-Semitism, is part of the delegation. Fears over a resurgence in anti-Semitism in Germany are expected to be discussed. Merkel said ahead of the trip that there was "unfortunately a lot of anti-Semitism" in Germany, while also noting the two countries were linked by a "unique relationship."There was however no shortage of controversy in the run up to the visit. Netanyahu's criticism of Europe related to Iran has been especially strong, and last week at the U.N. General Assembly he accused EU nations of "appeasement." At the same time, Germany has remained steadfast in its support for a two-state solution and in recent weeks joined calls against Israel's planned demolition of a Bedouin village located in a strategic area of the occupied West Bank. On Wednesday, children from the village, Khan al-Ahmar, held signs with Merkel's picture outside the German representative office in Ramallah to ask for help. Speaking to students from Haifa University, Merkel denied a report that she threatened to cancel the trip if Israel moved ahead with demolition of the village beforehand. Yoram Ben-Zeev, a former Israeli ambassador to Germany, said Merkel would likely only "go through the motions" during the visit on issues related to the conflict with the Palestinians.
"I think that for the time being she's lost hope that things can move," Ben-Zeev told AFP, noting Trump's confusing statements on the conflict, Netanyahu's right-wing stance and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas' unpopularity. "Why should she put her hands in the fire?"The last joint government consultations in 2017 were postponed, with scheduling conflicts cited as the official reason. There were reports however that Merkel was unhappy with a law passed then related to Israeli settlement building in the occupied West Bank. The same year, a visit to Israel by Germany's then-foreign minister Sigmar Gabriel ended in acrimony when Netanyahu canceled their meeting. Netanyahu made the decision after Gabriel refused to call off meetings with rights groups critical of Israel's government.

U.S., UK, Canada, Netherlands, Australia Accuse Russia of Global Hacking Conspiracy
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/October 04/18/The U.S. Justice Department Thursday indicted seven agents of Russia's GRU military intelligence agency as part of a joint crackdown with Britain and the Netherlands on a series of major hacking plots attributed to Russia. John Demers, U.S. Assistant Attorney General for National Security, said the hacking targets included the Organization for Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), global sports bodies as well as the U.S. nuclear energy company Westinghouse. "Nations like Russia and others that engage in malicious and norm-shattering cyber and influence activities should understand the continuing and steadfast resolve of the United States and its allies to prevent, disrupt and deter such unaccountable conduct," Demers told a news conference. Canada said it too was targeted by Russian cyber attacks, citing breaches at its center for ethics in sports and at the Montreal-based World Anti-doping Agency. "The government of Canada assesses with high confidence that the Russian military's intelligence arm, the GRU, was responsible" for these cyber attacks, the foreign ministry said in a statement. Earlier in the day, Dutch security services said they had thwarted a Russian cyber attack on the global chemical weapons watchdog. The Netherlands expelled four alleged Russian agents in April after uncovering a spy-novel-style bid by Russia's GRU military intelligence agency to target the Organization for Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) in The Hague.
The allegation came hours after Britain and Australia separately blamed the GRU for some major hacking plots including the U.S. Democratic Party and world sport's anti-Doping authority.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has repeatedly and angrily rejected similar charges.
In the Dutch case, the Russians allegedly set up a car full of electronic equipment in the car park of a Marriott hotel next to the OPCW and tried to hack its wifi system and computer passwords. At the time of the attack the OPCW was investigating the nerve agent poisoning of former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia in Salisbury, England. Dutch officials said it was not clear if the cyber operation was linked to that. But Russians were being trailed by Dutch and British intelligence and left a trail of evidence including a laptop and a taxi receipt from GRU headquarters to Moscow airport, the Dutch said.
In a sign of the network's reach, a laptop belonging to one of the four was linked to Brazil, Switzerland and Malaysia -- while the activities in Malaysia were related to the investigation into the 2014 shooting down of flight MH17 over Ukraine.
'Unacceptable cyber activities'
The Dutch and British prime ministers Mark Rutte and Theresa May in a joint statement accused the GRU of "disregard for global values" and lashed out at the Russian agency's "unacceptable cyber activities."The Dutch government said it had summoned the Russian ambassador over the incident. NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg separately warned Russia to halt its "reckless" behavior. Russian foreign ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova, speaking about the British and Australian claims, said that the allegations had been mixed together "indiscriminately.""That's a hell of a mix for a perfume," she told reporters, in an apparently mocking reference to the fact that the Novichok nerve agent used on the Skripals was contained in a fake Nina Ricci perfume bottle. In a dramatic news conference in The Hague, the head of the Dutch MIVD intelligence service, Major-General Onno Eichelsheim, said that the men traveled to Amsterdam's Schiphol Airport on April 10 on Russian diplomatic passports, and were met by a Russian embassy official. He showed passports identifying the Russians as Alexeksei Morenets, Evgenii Serebriakov, Oleg Sotknikov and Alexey Minin. The Russians had originally taken a taxi from a GRU base in Moscow to the airport, for which Dutch agents later found a receipt from their hotel. Some of their mobile phones were also activated in Moscow near the agency's headquarters. On April 11 they then hired a Citroen C3 and scouted the area around the OPCW in The Hague -- all the time being watched by Dutch intelligence. The Russians then on April 13 set up in the Marriott Hotel next door to the OPCW and took photos, while parking the car at the hotel with the boot facing the OPCW, he said. In the boot was electronic equipment to intercept the OPCW's wifi as well as log in codes at the organization, with the antenna hidden in the back of the car facing the OPCW. Dutch agents then swooped on the men. "They were trying to commit a close access hack operation," he said. "We intercepted it and expelled the four men from the country. It was a successful operation." Inside the car the Dutch found the laptop, the men's mobiles and rubbish that they had taken from their room, including the Moscow taxi receipt. "They were clearly not here on holiday," said Eichelsheim.
Wild West
Dutch Defense Minister Ank Bijleveld told the news conference that "normally we don't reveal this type of counter-intelligence operation," but they had made an exception because of the seriousness of the incident. "The Dutch government finds the involvement of these intelligence operatives extremely worrisome," Bijleveld told a news conference. The laptop revealed that the agents had also made searches for the OPCW Spiez laboratory in Switzerland -- which the Swiss last month said had been targeted. The dramatic developments came hours after Britain's National Cyber Security Center (NCSC) and the Australian government pointed the blame directly at alleged GRU front operations such as Fancy Bear and APT 28 for a string of worldwide attacks. But British government sources said the NCSC has assessed with "high confidence" that the GRU was "almost certainly" behind the DNC hack that some Hillary Clinton supporters claimed helped tip the U.S. election in Donald Trump's favor. Batches of DNC emails were later published by WikiLeaks. U.S. Special Counsel Robert Mueller in July indicted 12 Russian GRU officers in connection with the DNC attack. British sources said the GRU was also behind BadRabbit ransomware that caused disruptions on the Kiev metro. British sources said a third strike, on the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), resulted in the release of the medical files of global sports stars in August 2017, including tennis' Serena and Venus Williams and Britain's Tour de France winning cyclists Chris Froome and Bradley Wiggins.
U.N. Chief Hopes for 'Swift' Formation of Iraqi Government
Agence France Presse/Thursday, 4 October, 2018/United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres says he hopes for the "swift" formation of an "inclusive" Iraqi government following the election of the country's president."The secretary-general hopes the election of the president will pave the way to the swift formation of an inclusive government in line with constitutional timelines," Guterres said in a statement that also congratulated Barham Salih on his election as the Iraq's new president.Salih tasked Adel Abdel Mahdi -- who is seen as an independent -- with forming the next Iraqi government late Tuesday, only hours after being elected.The prime minister designate faces an uphill task of bridging differences among sharply-divided Iraqi political parties. The largest bloc traditionally appoints the prime minister and presides over the formation of the next government, but the exact contours of a new governing coalition are yet to be drawn. Outgoing prime minister Haider al-Abadi threw in the towel last month after weeks of deadly protests sparked by anger at the poor services in Iraq's south cost his fragile alliance the support of populist Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr.

Iraq: Smooth Transition of Power Offers Glimmer of Hope
Baghdad- Hamza Mustafa/Asharq Al-Awsat/Thursday, 4 October, 2018/The new Iraqi President, Barham Salih on Wednesday took over power from his predecessor Fuad Masoum, and the newly-assigned prime minister Adel Abdul Mahdi was praised by his predecessor Haidar al-Abadi, in what was Iraq’s fourth peaceful transition of power since 2005.Masoum said in his speech that practicing the powers in the past four years, away from any foreign intervention, has revealed a series of constitutional gaps that were the reason behind hindering the state’s affairs and its institutions. He saw that the constitution needs an urgent revision and amendment for the sake of developing and tackling the gaps as well as going in tandem with the global legal developments. He stressed that the root of the current political crisis was legal, especially with the absence of a constitutional amendments committee. The scene in Baghdad on Wednesday was fascinating and the news of electing a third Kurdish president for Iraq grabbed the headlines. Iraqi politician Hassan Al-Alawi said, in a phone-call with Asharq Al-Awsat, that Salih has good relations in the international level. He added: "He does not have racist or sectarian tendencies. He has the ability to adapt to any new surroundings. He is charismatic and forces people to cooperate with him." Alawi pointed out that Salih is surrounded with a group of enemies whether in Baghdad, Erbil or even his party's headquarter in Sulaymaniyah – however, he is capable of overcoming most of these hardships.
Iraq: Sadr bloc won’t take part in new cabinet
Staff writer, Al Arabiya English/Thursday, 4 October 2018 /Two days following the appointment of Adel Abdul Mahdi to head the Iraqi government, Shiite leader Muqtada al-Sadr who heads Sairoon alliance, the biggest parliamentary bloc, called upon his bloc members not to take any ministerial posts. Abdul Mahdi was named two hours following the naming of moderate Kurdish candidate Barham Salih to head the post of president of Iraq on Tuesday. In a tweet on Wednesday, al-Sadr said that he succeeded in appointing an independent figure for the prime minister position, pointing out that he instructed his parliamentary bloc’s members not to be in the coming new government, in order to give more options for Adel Abdul Mahdi to form his government. Sadr expressed in his tweet his satisfaction in naming Abdul Mahdi who is an independent figure and clean from government corruption, as he said. He called on all political parties not to put pressure on the options of Abdul Mahdi, so that he can form a cabinet free from party quotas - sectarian and ethnic - while maintaining the diversity of the Iraqi society. The Shiite leader gave the government of Abdul Mahdi a full year to prove itself in front of the Iraqi people. In reference to the outgoing government of Haidar al-Abadi, al-Sadr said: “The next government will proceed with great strides towards building Iraq on the right bases, as his predecessor tried, away from the exclusivity of authority and position

Washington to Withdraw From Vienna Protocol... PA Continues to Sue It

Ramallah- Kifah Zboun/Asharq Al-Awsat/Thursday, 4 October, 2018/The United States has pulled out of the “optional protocol” under the 1961 Vienna Convention of Diplomatic Relations to keep the Palestinians from suing the US government at the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in The Hague, US National Security Adviser John Bolton announced on Wednesday. “This is in connection with a case brought by the so-called State of Palestine naming the United States as a defendant, challenging our move of our embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem,” he stressed. The Vienna Convention is an international treaty setting out diplomatic relations between states. It is often cited as a means to provide diplomatic immunity. The Palestinians argued that the US government’s placement of its embassy in Jerusalem violated an international treaty and that it should be moved. Dr. Omar Awadallah, head of public administration for UN human rights organizations at the Palestinian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, told Asharq Al-Awsat that the PA is not surprised from the US move. “We have reviewed all the scenarios when we decided to sue the United States for its illegal move. One of these scenarios is the withdrawal of the United States out of fear that it will be prosecuted before the most important judicial body in the United Nations,” he explained. “This withdrawal will not change anything. It will not prevent us from continuing to sue the United States, and presumably does not affect the case,” Awadallah said. "When the United States received the case, it was a member of the protocol, and we are convinced that justice will be served," he added. The ICJ confirmed on Friday that it had received a complaint from the Palestinian State against the United States. Notably, US President Donald Trump announced in September that he had decided to relocate the US embassy to Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem and opened the embassy in May there. Palestine demands that the court order the United States to withdraw its diplomatic mission from Jerusalem.

Arab Parliament Condemns Iranian Intervention in Yemen

Cairo- Sawsan Abu Hussein/Asharq Al-Awsat/Thursday, 4 October, 2018/The Arab Parliament condemned the Iranian interference in Yemen, through its support for the Houthis and threats to neighboring countries, particularly the continued firing of ballistic missiles at Saudi Arabia. In a statement released on developments in Yemen at the end of the first meeting of the third session in the second parliamentary term, the Arab Parliament asserted the importance of reaching a peaceful solution to the Yemeni crisis based on the Gulf initiative, outputs of the national dialogue, and the relevant UN Security Council resolutions particularly no. 2216. The parliament reiterated that the Houthis presented daily new evidence of their unwillingness to engage in any serious efforts to settle the Yemeni crisis peacefully and held them responsible for the continued suffering of the Yemeni people. The parliament stressed the support of the Yemeni legitimacy and the role played by the Arab Coalition for Restoring legitimacy in Yemen, calling on the Arab institutions to assume their responsibilities in bringing peace and security in Yemen. The statement also condemned the planting of sea mines, booby-trapped boats and the targeting of oil tankers in the Red Sea by the Houthi militia, saying that such acts fall under terrorism and threaten international peace and security, and global trade movement. The parliament called on Arab institutions to shoulder their responsibility towards security and peace in Yemen.
AMCD Opposes US Meeting with Sudan’s Military Chief of Staff
October 04/18/WASHINGTON, DC, USA / -- The American Mideast Coalition for Democracy is expressing grave concern over the US policy of gradual normalization of relations with Sudan. This includes an invitation to Sudanese Army chief Lieutenant General Kamal Abdel Marouf to come to the US for a counter-terrorism conference headed by US Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Joseph Dunford. The government of Sudan has been lobbying the US for years to remove its listing as a state sponsor of terror, but AMCD stands in firm opposition.
“The genocidal campaign waged by the Bashir regime against the indigenous African peoples in Sudan along with the forced Arabization and Islamization of Southern Sudan, Darfur, the Blue Nile region and other areas is a blood-soaked stain on the conscience of the world,” said AMCD co-chair John Hajjar. “There is no way the US should be meeting with members of Omar Al-Bashir’s military.” The US and Sudan have been growing closer in recent years with the US acknowledging help from the regime with counter-terror operations on the region. Sanctions were lifted by the Obama administration and Deputy Secretary of State John Sullivan visited Khartoum last November to continue the normalization process by pressing Bashir on the issue of human rights abuse. This coming conference marks another milestone in the process of removing Sudan’s designation as a state sponsor of terror – a move AMCD adamantly opposes. “The intense focus on Iran has left rogue Islamist states like Sudan free to perpetrate the most egregious human rights violations imaginable – mass rape and torture, ethnic cleansing on an enormous scale, efforts to purposely starve the unwanted population, the list goes on and on,” added AMCD co-chair Tom Harb. “Sudan has perpetrated genocide against its indigenous African population. There is no other way to put it – genocide.”
Therefore AMCD calls on the Trump administration to immediately halt the normalization process and re-impose sanctions against the Bashir regime. In the words of President Trump today at the United Nations, "We believe that when nations respect the rights of their neighbors and defend the interests of their people, they can better work together to secure the blessings of safety, prosperity, and peace." Apparently, these blessings only apply to the Arabs of Sudan in the eyes of the Bashir regime. Bashir and his henchmen's blatant hatred for the indigenous people of Sudan has resulted in the killing of millions of innocents and must be stopped. General Marouf should not be welcomed into the USA.
Rebecca Bynum
The American Mideast Coalition for Democracy
Egypt’s security forces kill 15 suspected militants in a Sinai shootout
Reuters, CairoWednesday, 3 October 2018/Egyptian security forces have killed 15 suspected militants in a shootout during a raid on their hideout near al-Arish, the capital of North Sinai province, state news agency MENA and security sources said on Wednesday. The men were suspected of planning attacks on security checkpoints ahead of the 45th anniversary of Egypt’s October 6 1973 war with Israel, the sources and MENA said, quoting an interior ministry statement. The news agency did not identify the suspects nor say whether there had been any casualties or injuries among the security forces.Police seized a number of automatic weapons in the raid on a farm West of al-Arish where the suspected militants were hiding, MENA said. The raid comes as the Egyptian army, backed by police, push ahead with a military operation to crush Islamist militants behind a wave of attacks on civilians and military personnel in Sinai. President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi ordered the armed forces last November to defeat Islamist militants within three months after an attack on a mosque in Sinai killed more than 300 people. Defeating the militants and restoring security after years of unrest has been a key promise of Sisi, who was re-elected in March.

The Latest LCCC Bulletin analysis & editorials from miscellaneous sources published on
October 04-05/18
Iranian regime strengthening its ability to control Syria’s destiny
النظام الإيراني يقوي هيمنته على لسوريا ليتمكن من السيطرة على مصيرها

Dr. Majid Rafizadeh/Arab News/October 04/18
The international community appears to be getting less concerned about Iran’s continuing presence in Syria from both the military and political perspectives. Although the Syrian government has recaptured significant territories, Damascus still seems to be in favor of the Iranian regime’s ongoing and increasing influence within the country’s borders.
In his speech at the United Nation General Assembly, Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Muallem reiterated the classic narratives that the Syrian government has been spreading. Such narratives include the notions that the Syrian forces are solely fighting terrorism, that the government does not use chemical weapons, and that Damascus is seeking diplomatic initiatives to bring about full stability and peace in all Syrian territories.
But there was one critical issue that Muallem failed to mention is his speech: The current and future role of the Iranian regime in Syria. Without a doubt, the theocratic establishment of Iran is one of the most significant state actors in Syria. Tehran has masterfully orchestrated its agenda to continue increasing its influence there.
From the perspective of the Iranian leaders, chaos and instability in the region provide geopolitical and geostrategic opportunities. In Syria, Tehran began by providing advisory assistance and moral support to the regime. Then, when the Syrian forces showed weakness and lost several major battles and territories to the opposition and rebel groups, Iran ratcheted up its involvement and influence. Under the instruction of Iran’s most powerful man, Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, Tehran began providing military, intelligence and economic assistance to Bashar Assad.
It is worth noting that Iranian leaders across the political spectrum — including the moderates, hard-liners and Principlists — advocated for the same policies on Syria that were directed by Khamenei, the senior cadre of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) and the Quds Force, an elite branch of the IRGC that conducts operations in foreign nations to advance the regime’s revolutionary and ideological principles.
Has Iran masterfully orchestrated its agenda to continue increasing its influence in Syria?
In the next phase, the IRGC used political opportunism and dispatched low-level soldiers as well as senior military generals to Syria. In addition, Iran used its proxies, including Hezbollah and Shiite militias from across the region, and recruited fighters from other countries such as Afghanistan to fight in Syria alongside Assad’s forces.
More importantly, the Iranian regime exploited the conflict financially by making Damascus more dependent on Tehran economically. It opened a credit line for the Assad regime and continued to extend it. The credit line has now reached over $3 billion. Iran also began spending roughly $16 billion a year supporting Assad. Through these Machiavellian strategies, the ruling mullahs deeply infiltrated Syria’s political, military and security structures.
It is important to point out that, from the prism of the Iranian leaders, Tehran has finally emerged triumphant in the seven-year-old civil war — a war that has included the employment of violence and brute force, which has caused the deaths of nearly half a million people, including thousands of children.
Iran’s media outlets, as well as several of the regime’s apparatuses, began celebrating their success in accomplishing their mission in Syria after many territories were recaptured. Iranian leaders labeled Syria as “the 35th province (of the Islamic Republic of Iran) and a strategic province for us.”
To improve the situation in Syria, it is in the interests of not only Syrians, but also Russia, to free Damascus from Iran’s forces. But Iranian Defense Minister Amir Hatami recently traveled to Syria and sealed an agreement with Damascus for intensified military cooperation, which will likely strengthen Iran’s military role. Hatami pointed out: “With this accord, we have paved the way for a reconstruction of the Syrian military industries.” Iran will be also building a large power plant in the western coastal province of Latakia.
The latest developments are pointing toward the next crucial phase that the Iranian regime is plotting. Tehran is beginning to solidify its presence and influence in Syria in order to continue directing the nation’s social, political and economic affairs for many years or even decades to come.
*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

The Iran Action Group Puts Muscle Behind Trump’s Iran Bluster
Nick Wadhams & Javier Blas/Bloomberg/October 04/18
During a press conference at the United Nations General Assembly on Sept. 26, President Trump made clear how he feels about the criticism he’s gotten from other countries over his decision to pull out of the Iran nuclear agreement and resurrect stifling sanctions in November. “It doesn’t matter what world leaders think,” he said. “Iran’s going to come back to me and make a deal.”
One reason he’s so sure? An obscure but highly effective group with a name that sounds like it was pulled from the title of a 1980s action flick: the Iran Action Group.
As Trump, Secretary of State Michael Pompeo, and national security adviser John Bolton have lashed out against Iran’s leaders and the European Union for trying to preserve the nuclear deal Trump quit in May, a handful of employees from the U.S. State and Treasury departments has quietly toured the globe, visiting world capitals and corporate headquarters to persuade foreign governments and companies to shun the Iranian market. The choice they present has been simple: Do business with America, the biggest economy in the world, or do business with Iran and face sanctions and banishment from the U.S. financial system.“What we have now is a big game of chicken,” says Anthony Rapa, a lawyer at Kirkland & Ellis who focuses on sanctions compliance. Rapa is impressed thus far with how effective Pompeo’s team has been in isolating Iran. “Whatever you might say about the president and his rhetoric, the people running this file know what they’re doing.”
Members of the Iran Action Group have visited more than 30 countries so far, meeting with senior officials and company representatives. They lay out the U.S. view of Tehran’s “malign behavior” in the Middle East and around the globe. But their real goal is to convey in detail just how far the U.S. is prepared to go to inflict economic pain—chiefly through secondary sanctions—on companies that expect to get a reprieve if they keep up business ties with Iran.
So far they’ve been persuasive. A so-called Divestment Tracker kept by the group lists 80 or so companies, ranging from Total and Munich Re Group to KLM Royal Dutch Airlines and Mazda Motor, that have backed out of the Iranian market over the past several months. More important for Iran, which derives 80 percent of its tax revenue from oil sales, exports of its oil products have fallen 40 percent from a high point of 2.8 million barrels a day in April, the month before Trump backed out of the nuclear accord.
That decline surpassed even the most bearish forecasts. “Iran exports are going to drop more than what the market expected only a couple of months ago,” says Ben Luckock, co-head of oil trading at Trafigura Group, one of the world’s largest commodities merchants. “When we add every country that we think will continue buying, we struggle to see exports much more above 1 million barrels a day.”
The Iran Action Group’s cast of characters includes a former explosives ordinance expert, Jason Shell; David Tessler, a mild-mannered sanctions expert with two tweets to his name; Michelle Giuda, who was once Newt Gingrich’s spokeswoman and was also a national gymnastics champion at the University of California at Los Angeles; and a former New York ad man, Len Khodorkovsky, whose family fled the Soviet Union when he was a child and who now coordinates Pompeo’s anti-Iran messaging campaign.
Their leader is Brian Hook, a foreign policy wonk who worked for the George W. Bush adminstration and advised Mitt Romney’s 2012 presidential campaign. Hook wielded vast power under Pompeo’s predecessor, Rex Tillerson, serving as his policy brain. While his current mandate isn’t as expansive, he’s been given valuable real estate, moving into an office along the State Department corridor known as Mahogany Row. Working a few doors down from Pompeo, he’s essentially taken control of the department’s policy toward Iran.
The group’s effort is putting to the test the proposition that the U.S. economy and dollar are so central to the global economic system that American sanctions alone will isolate Iran’s economy. That runs counter to the conventional wisdom that Obama-era sanctions against Iran were effective only because other nations participated, particularly U.S. allies in Europe. “I’ve felt for a long time that we’ve underestimated our ability to use U.S. tools when they’re viewed as a leg to isolate financial and economic rogue behavior,” says Juan Zarate, chairman of the Financial Integrity Network and a former deputy national security adviser to Bush. “The argument that our power was slipping away, our ability to maintain sanctions was fading, was a really inaccurate portrayal of where we were.”
Trump is going further than any previous president in using American financial power as a weapon—in direct confrontation with his allies, daring them to keep doing business with Iran, even if that brings the threat of U.S. economic punishment and denial to the American market, which is 60 times the size of the Iranian economy. As far as Hook is concerned, the question is settled. “Very few companies are going to choose Iran over the United States,” he said at a briefing in late September. “That’s just the economic reality.”
Hook and his crew have vowed to cut Iranian oil exports to zero, betting that other producers, such as Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, can make up for lost supplies and keep oil prices steady. But markets are already spooked. The price of Brent crude, the global oil benchmark, hit a four-year high of $85 a barrel in early October, up from $55 a year ago.
Rising oil prices could expose the Iran Action Group to what many regard as its biggest threat: Trump himself. With the midterm elections only a month away, the president may be concerned that higher oil prices will hurt Republicans at the polls. He inveighed against rising prices during his speech before the UN General Assembly on Sept. 25, saying, “We are not going to put up with it—these horrible prices—much longer.” The risk is that the president will reverse course on Iran, as he did with North Korea, pivoting from belligerence to dealmaking. “Trump appears at first as though he’ll never capitulate, but it’s a negotiating tactic, and he ultimately wants to do a deal with Iran,” says Scott Modell, a former CIA officer and managing director at Rapidan Energy Group. “He would be just fine freezing some aspects of Iran’s bad behavior for now and entering into prolonged talks in search of a broader deal, particularly because it’s his best chance of keeping U.S. gasoline prices under $3 per gallon.”
What are the other threats to the strong-arm approach? Countries such as India and China pose the biggest challenge. Both are major importers of Iranian oil. While China may be willing to spurn the U.S., India is more inclined to cooperate. “The fallout from going alone is serious,” says Wendy Sherman, the Obama administration’s undersecretary of state who led the negotiating team for the Iran deal. “You take a country like India, which has an election coming up. They want good relations with the United States, no question. But they also don’t need an energy crisis.”
And no matter how successful the Iran Action Group’s campaign is, there’s no guarantee Iran will concede. The goal, the State Department says, is to inflict so much economic pain that Iran is compelled to come back to the negotiating table and agree to a deal that not only limits its nuclear program, but also curbs what the U.S. says is Iran’s sponsorship of terrorism, its ballistic missile ambitions, and its overall power in the region.
The 12 demands Pompeo has laid out would amount to a wholesale reshaping of Iran and reorientation of its priorities. That’s probably asking too much. Iranian leaders are “very astute and very savvy, and they are very tough negotiators,” Sherman says. “It’s a resistance culture.”
**BOTTOM LINE - The Iran Action Group has exceeded expectations in its efforts to win global support for U.S. economic sanctions on Iran.

U.S. Withdraws From 1955 Treaty Normalizing Relations With Iran

Edward Wong and David E. Sanger/The New York Times/October 04/18
WASHINGTON — Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced on Wednesday that the United States was pulling out of a six-decade-old treaty with Iran that had provided a basis for normalizing relations between the two countries, including diplomatic and economic exchanges.
The largely symbolic move came hours after the International Court of Justice ordered the United States to ensure that a new round of American sanctions imposed against Tehran this year did not prevent food, medicine and aircraft parts from reaching Iran.
The treaty bears little relevance to the current relationship between Washington and Tehran. The move is the latest in a broad effort by the Trump administration to isolate Iran, reversing a diplomatic drive embraced by former President Barack Obama.
The ruling by the international court in The Hague was related to a complaint that Iran filed in July, arguing that the new sanctions violated the Treaty of Amity, Economic Relations and Consular Rights, which was signed in 1955. In essence, the ruling sought to protect Iran’s public and economy from what the court described as irreparable damage while justices continue to consider the case against the sanctions.
But in his announcement, Mr. Pompeo made clear that the United States would ignore the ruling — simply by scrapping the bilateral treaty with Iran.
“The Iranians have been ignoring it for an awfully long time,” Mr. Pompeo told reporters at the State Department.
He said the legal complaint amounted to an attempt by Iran to interfere with the sovereign rights of the United States. He also said that the court’s decision was outside its jurisdiction and that Iran’s appeals “lacked merit.”
Still, he said, the United States would continue to try to deliver humanitarian aid to the Iranian people, and existing exceptions to the economic sanctions would remain in effect.
President Trump imposed the sanctions after withdrawing in May from a 2015 agreement between Iran and world powers that sought to keep Tehran from restarting its nuclear program. All the other parties to the accord — Britain, France, Germany, China, Russia and the European Union — say Iran is complying with its terms.
After Mr. Pompeo’s announcement, Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif of Iran said on Twitter that the United States was an “outlaw regime.” He praised the court’s ruling earlier, saying it marked “another failure” for the “sanctions-addicted” United States and “victory for rule of law.”
In legal terms, the United States withdrawal from the 1955 treaty with Iran does not take effect immediately. The treaty remains in place for one year from any announcement of withdrawal, meaning Iran’s lawsuit will proceed.
It was negotiated after the C.I.A. helped stage a coup in Iran that Iranians still cite as a gross violation of the country’s sovereignty. The 1953 coup, code-named Operation Ajax, was engineered by Kermit Roosevelt Jr., a grandson of President Theodore Roosevelt, and installed a government that two years later cemented the treaty with President Dwight D. Eisenhower.
The treaty sets up commercial relationships, tax structures and access to each nation’s courts. None of that has applied since the 1979 Islamic revolution.
“The treaty with Iran is a weird treaty,” said Julian Ku, a professor of constitutional and international law at Hofstra University Law School. “We haven’t been friends with Iran in a long time.”Mr. Ku said there have been two other instances since the 1980s in which the United States withdrew from a treaty after an unfavorable ruling by the International Court of Justice. One was during the Reagan administration, in a case brought in 1984 by Nicaragua; the second was in 2005, when the George W. Bush administration lost a case brought by Mexico.
Lawyers for the United States had argued that the sanctions dispute with Iran was a matter of American national security, and therefore the court had no jurisdiction to intervene. Rulings by the International Court of Justice are legally binding but difficult to enforce; in the past, both the United States and Iran have ignored its orders.
Wednesday’s unanimous order by the court’s 15 judges — including one American — stopped far short of outright siding with Iran, which had asked for an immediate halt to all sanctions.
At the White House, John R. Bolton, the national security adviser, separately announced that the United States would review all treaties that require it to participate in cases before the international court. Additionally, he said the Trump administration would no longer abide by an optional provision to the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations that requires certain disputes to be settled by the court.
The United States remains in the Vienna Convention itself, but Mr. Bolton was aiming to undermine a lawsuit filed last week by Palestinian officials over the move of the American Embassy in Israel to Jerusalem.
“The United States will not sit idly by as baseless, politicized claims are brought against us,” Mr. Bolton said.
Robert Malley, the president of the International Crisis Group and a former White House coordinator for the Middle East, North Africa and the Gulf during the Obama administration, said Mr. Bolton’s statement underscored “why the Trump administration is increasingly isolated on the world stage.”
“This bellicosity undermines U.S. interests and, by escalating tensions and forfeiting diplomacy, risks putting us on a path toward conflict in the Middle East,” Mr. Malley said.
Last week, President Hassan Rouhani of Iran said he would consider re-entering negotiations with the United States — if Mr. Trump first recommitted to the nuclear deal that was struck in 2015.
But in withdrawing from the 1955 treaty on Wednesday, Mr. Pompeo also appeared to reject the idea of returning to normalized relations with Iran. That was the overall, long-term objective of the 2015 nuclear accord, in addition to having Iran agree to moving 97 percent of its nuclear material outside its borders.
Mr. Pompeo underscored a larger strategy by the United States to confront Iran across the Middle East, emphasizing what he said were hostile Iranian actions.
In early November, the United States is expected to impose a broad series of additional sanctions against Tehran that will threaten to cut off companies around the world that also do business with Iran. Administration officials are looking to force Iran to withdraw its troops and militias it supports in Syria. In Yemen, despite large numbers of civilian casualties and growing outrage among American legislators, the United States has continued to support a war being waged by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates against the Iranian-backed Houthis.
And in Iraq, the United States is evacuating all diplomats, security guards and other employees from its consulate in the southern city of Basra after several recent rocket attacks by what Mr. Pompeo said were Iranian-backed militias.
No one was injured in the strikes, which landed on the perimeter of the airfield near the consulate building. Senior State Department officials had debated for more than a year whether to shut down the consulate to save money.
Mr. Pompeo cited “solid” intelligence indicating that Iran was behind the attacks.
“We can see the hand of the ayatollah and his henchmen,” Mr. Pompeo said on Wednesday, referring to Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
Marlise Simons contributed reporting from Paris, Alan Cowell from London and David M. Halbfinger from Jerusalem.
A version of this article appears in print on Oct. 4, 2018, on Page A8 of the New York edition with the headline: Asked to Respect Treaty With Iran, U.S. Scraps It Instead. Order Reprints | Today’s Paper | Subscribe

Analysis/With S-300 Now in Syria, Putin Signals a New Long-term Strategy for Russia
أنشل بفافر من الهآررتس: مع وجود ال اس 300 في سوريا نيتانياهو يعطي اشارات لإستراتجية طويلة المدى مع روسيا

Anshel Pfeffer/Haaretz/October 04/18
From the Iranian attack on Syria to the U.S. claiming it may take action against new Russian missiles, Putin is flexing his muscles and shows he's not afraid to challenge any other country.
In an impressive feat of logistics, within two weeks of the incident in which Syria inadvertently shot down a Russian spy-plane, killing all 15 crew members, Russia has now airlifted an entire S-300 air-defense system to its Khmeimim air base in Syria.
It took at least seven flights of the massive Antonov An-124 to airlift the system, taking off from Murmansk, and flying a roundabout route over Iran and Iraq. Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu announced the S-300’s arrival on Tuesday, saying it would be integrated into Russia’s existing air-defense system by October 20 and that Syrian personnel would be trained on its use within three months.
There is a long list of questions for analysts of Russian military affairs that are not fully answered. Are the S-300 batteries that were delivered the most advanced in that series? The differences between versions of radar and missiles could have implications for other air forces flying in the region. How many actual launchers were transported to Syria? Since Russia already operates its own, more advanced S-400 system from Khmeimim, will the new system simply slot into an integrated air-defense network, improving radar coverage and giving more options to track and intercept incoming targets? Or is the ultimate aim to equip the Assad regime with an improved and independent system?
The surprisingly short delivery process raises questions as well. Even large military powers like Russia don’t have these systems just lying around. It’s unthinkable they pulled them out of a frontline operational air-defense battalion, so these batteries either arrived from storage, or they were recently operational and were anyway in the process of being replaced with newer systems. Which leads to the timing.
Russia has spoken in the past of possibly equipping its Syrian allies with S-300s, but this move was announced in the wake of the downing of the Ilyushin Il-20, and interpreted as a move that would make it harder for Israel’s air force to operate over Syria.
Russia blamed Israel for having “provoked” the shooting-down by attacking a joint Iranian-Syrian missile production facility near Latakia. But in recent days, the Russian rhetoric against Israel has died down and Shoigu, announcing the S-300’s arrival, did not mention Israel.
So is this just a response to the Ilyushin incident? Or was that merely a pretext for a wider change in Russian strategy in Syria?
Taken at face value, it is indeed merely a pretext. The S-300 won’t stop Israel from striking Iranian targets in Syria. But it will change the operational parameters and mean Israel will have to return to a lower operational profile, which characterized its strikes in Syria before politicians and senior generals began boasting of carrying out hundreds of attacks.
Israel has the knowledge, experience and equipment to evade the S-300. But the fact that additional batteries, manned by Russian personnel, are on the ground will necessitate greater care. More advanced equipment should also help the Russian and Syrian allies avoid another mishap, preventing another incident in which Syrians will fire Russian-made missiles at a Russian aircraft.
However, there are other options now available to Russian President Vladimir Putin. On Wednesday, he said that he wants all foreign forces to “eventually” leave Syria. He could be coming close to a “mission accomplished” moment, with Assad back in control of most of Syria. Why risk more Russian soldiers?
He has said similar things in the past and Russia remained, but if a gradual drawing down of Russian forces in Syria is in the offing, upgrading the Assad regime’s air defense from the current Soviet-era equipment it uses makes sense. But this is Putin, and he likes to have as many alternatives available as possible. He is unlikely to be leaving soon.
Assad may be relatively secure in Damascus and regained control of all of Syria’s main cities, but the parallel wars in Syria are far from over. It’s not just the shadow war between Israel and Iran. Turkey has forced Russia and the regime to abandon for now their plans to advance on the rebel enclave around Idlib - but that battle won’t go away.
In eastern Syria, on the border with Iraq, Islamic State is regrouping. It may have lost its strongholds in Mosul and Raqqa, but it still has an estimated 30,000 fighters who are operating in both countries. And the United States in August reversed its decision to withdraw its Special Forces, which are working with the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces on the Euphrates.
Putin, who masterfully used the vacuum left by President Barack Obama in Syria to ensure his client regime’s survival, is unlikely to make the same mistake now and leave a vacuum of his own.
The implications of such a vacuum were on display Monday night when Iran launched its own missiles at targets in eastern Syria, claiming it was striking back at the planners of the attack on the military parade in Ahvaz last week.
Iran may currently be Russia’s ally, but it is also a potential rival for control of Syria. As is the United States, which in the last two days became embroiled in another missile crisis with Russia, after the U.S. ambassador to NATO seemed to be threatening military action against new Russian missiles that NATO claims contravene the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty.
Two NATO members, the United States and Turkey, have forces on the ground in Syria, while France and Britain continue to carry out airstrikes against ISIS forces there.
The delivery of the S-300 is, more than anything, a signal that Putin is building a long-term strategy for Russia and intends to challenge any other country intruding on what he now regards as his fiefdom.

Is Criticizing Terrorism "Mental Illness"?
Guy Millière/Gatestone Institute/October 04/18
A 615-page report was recently released, written by an adviser to President Emmanuel Macron, Hakim El Karoui, who is in charge of designing the new institutions of an "Islam of France." The report defines Islamism as an "ideology totally distinct from Islam" and also never addresses the links between Islamism and terrorism. The report also insists on the urgent need to spread "true Islam" in France and adopt the teaching of Arabic in public high schools.
The court's request, for Marine Le Pen to undergo a psychiatric evaluation to determine if she is sane, indicates that French authorities might be reviving the old Soviet use of "psychiatry" to silence dissidents or political opponents.
The legal offensive against Marine Le Pen was actually added to the financial offensive. Even if Le Pen is not sent to prison, the law seems to have been used to open the possibility of declaring her ineligible for the European Parliament elections scheduled for May 2019.
Marine Le Pen (pictured at podium), the leader of France's right-wing National Front Party, posted tweets critical of the Islamic State terrorist group, including photos of their murdered victims. For this, she was charged with the crime of "disseminating violent images," and ordered by a court to undergo a psychiatric evaluation to determine if she is sane.
On December 16, 2015, a French journalist on a mainstream radio station compared France's right-wing National Front Party to the Islamic State (ISIS) by saying that there is a "community of spirit" between them and that both push those who support them to "withdraw into their own identity". Marine Le Pen, the president of the National Front party, speaking of a "unacceptable verbal slippage," asked the radio station for the right to answer. She then published on Twitter images showing the bodies of victims of the Islamic State and adding: "ISIS is this!"
The French media immediately accused her of broadcasting "indecent" and "obscene" images, and shortly after that, the French government ordered the Department of Justice to indict her. On November 8, 2017 the French national assembly also lifted her parliamentary immunity.
A few months later, a judge mandated by the French government, charged Marine Le Pen with "disseminating violent images," citing article 227-24 of the French Penal Code, which defines the crime of:
"... disseminating... a message of a violent nature, inciting terrorism, pornographic or likely to seriously violate human dignity or to incite minors to engage in games that physically endanger them, or to commercialize such a message."
As part of the proceedings, Marine Le Pen received a letter from the court ordering her to undergo a psychiatric evaluation to determine if she is sane. She refused, saying that showing horrors committed by the Islamic State is not incitement to murder, and that pictures of victims of terrorism cannot be equated with pornography.
The court's request indicates that the French authorities might be reviving the old Soviet use of "psychiatry" to silence dissidents or political opponents.
At the moment, Le Pen can be arrested anywhere, at any time and could face up to five years in prison.
As a presidential candidate in May 2017, she received 34% of the vote in the second round of voting. Sending her to jail could provoke anger among her supporters, so her arrest is not expected.
What seems more probable is an effort to intimidate her, and if possible, to destroy her politically. A few weeks ago, the French government asked magistrates responsible for investigating "financial crimes" to seize two million euros ($2.3 million) of public funds granted to Marine Le Pen's party, which has since ceased almost all public activities. The legal offensive against Marine Le Pen was actually added to the financial offensive. Even if Le Pen is not sent to prison, the law seems to have been used to open the possibility of declaring her ineligible for the European Parliament elections scheduled for May 2019.
French President Emmanuel Macron knows that today, Le Pen's party is his main opposition in France and that Le Pen is his main political opponent. He describes himself as the champion of the "progressive" vision of Europe and the main enemy of those who want to resist Islamization, uncontrolled immigration, and who wish to defend national sovereignty -- views he has described as "leprosy" and "evil winds". He has verbally blasted Italian Deputy Prime Minister and Interior Minister Matteo Salvini, as well as Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán, who are creating a European alliance of nationalist movements that include Le Pen's party. On the contrary, Macron supports European sanctions against Hungary and Poland if they refuse to accept more migrants.
Macron sees that a victory of the Salvini-Orban alliance would not only be a humiliation for him, but that a victory of Le Pen's party in France could mean the final collapse of his crumbling presidency (his approval rating, which has fallen 6 points in the last month, now stands at 23%). He cannot crush the Salvini-Orban alliance, but he can affect the political process in France.
Macron's stance against Le Pen might also be an attempt by his government to ward off more Islamic violence in France. Presently, books and publications that reference the violent dimension inherent in Islam are boycotted and absent from bookstores (the Quran, however, is still widely available). Organizations that fight the Islamization of France and Europe are judicially harassed. Pierre Cassen and Christine Tasin, the leaders of the main French anti-Islamization website, Riposte Laïque ("Secular Response"), must spend a disproportionate amount of time in court and are heavily fined on a regular basis. To avoid having their website closed down, they have had to relocate their website outside both France and the European Union.
A 615-page report was recently released, written by an adviser to Macron, Hakim El Karoui, who is in charge of designing the new institutions of an "Islam of France." The report defines Islamism as an "ideology totally distinct from Islam" and also never addresses the links between Islamism and terrorism. The report also insists on the urgent need to spread "true Islam" in France and adopt the teaching of Arabic in public high schools.
In the French media, any mention of the links between Islam and violence has now been almost completely eliminated. When a Muslim commits a knife attack and shouts "Allahu Akbar" ("Allah is the greatest"), the official message published even before any investigation invariably declares that what happened had "nothing to do with Islam" and "no terrorist character". All the media then blindly quote the message. In the most recent attack of this kind, on September 9 in Paris, seven people were wounded, four seriously.
Recently, the author Éric Zemmour spoke on television of the high proportion of young Muslims among France's prison inmates, and of the rise of Muslim anti-Semitism in France's suburbs. The Conseil supérieur de l'audiovisuel (CSA), France's TV and radio regulator, told the station that Zemmour had uttered "stigmatizing remarks about Muslims" and that the station would suffer huge consequences if he ever repeated them. A French talk show host began circulating a petition demanding that Zemmour be totally excluded from the French media. The petition drew more than 300,000 signatures in one week.
Zemmour wondered if the Soviet gulag would have to be reopened especially for him or if he would have to choose self-exile. He received so many credible death threats that he is now under round-the-clock police protection.
The political scientist Jean-Yves Camus said that although he does not agree with Marine Le Pen's views, "Everywhere and always, saying of a political opponent that he is 'crazy' opens the doors of totalitarianism".
A lawyer, Regis de Castelnau, wrote in the monthly Causeur:
"There is a country in Europe where the main opposition party, after the seizure of its financial resources, sees its president asked to undergo a judicial psychiatric assessment. Is it Putin's Russia or Orban's Hungary? No. It is France".
Castelnau added that the law used to charge Marine Le Pen is usually used to indict "perverts" and "psychopaths," and that "psychiatric expertise" was only asked for because their criminal sentences were often accompanied by an obligation to receive psychiatric treatment.
"All those who laugh at the troubles of their political opponents," he said, "would be wise to remember that if they accept attacks on political liberties, it could soon be their turn."
*Dr. Guy Millière, a professor at the University of Paris, is the author of 27 books on France and Europe.
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Saudi Arabia and Arab stability
Radwan al-Sayed/Al Arabiya/October 04/18
Saudi Arabia recently celebrated its national day. States choose their national day based on their history and the awareness of its importance in the establishment of its political entity and national state. The Saudi National Day is not just like any other national day for us Arabs, but is a day of unity and power, as it symbolizes Arab stability and coherence, as well as Arab hope in the present and the future. Why would the Saudi National Day symbolize all these things? Firstly, it is because it is not a declaration of liberation from occupation, like the case is with all Arab and Islamic countries’ national days. It’s an aware act that was launched from within the heart of the Arabian Peninsula in the 18th century to end the disunity spread out across vast regions. This unification then reached the two Holy Mosques to restore Arab leadership for Arabs and for Islam.
In celebrating their National Day, the Saudis celebrate the first successful experiment of Arab unity in the modern age. There have been no other successful experiments like these, except for the UAE
For this, Saudis did not only fight against the indigenous forces and the Ottomans but also against other states that had sent their armies to the Arabian Peninsula for several centuries on various pretexts. Saudis protected the two Holy Mosques and the trading routes and confronted the Western naval invasion of the Red Sea and the Gulf coasts. The Saudi vision has been and it still is that the Arabian Peninsula is the cradle of Arabs and Islam. Only pure Arabs can protect it and bear its message. “And indeed, it is a remembrance for you and your people, and you [all] are going to be questioned.”Thus, when late King Abdulaziz Al Saud announced the establishment of the Kingdom in the early 1930s, it was the result of almost a century-long endeavor that culminated in the declaration of the state of Arabs and the state of security, safety and protection.
Arab League and OIC
The most obvious evidence to understand this fact is that Saudi Arabia along with Egypt established the League of Arab States in the 1940s in order to support the independence of Arab regions in the East and West from colonialism and help them to develop. The Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) was established in the 1960s thus completing the solidarity contract towards establishing the largest human group within the UN.
The other clear evidence comes from the present as Saudi Arabia remains the pillar of the Arab might and stability; no matter how much Iranians may be annoyed of Saudi Arabia. At the Sirte summit in Libya in 2010, late Saudi Foreign Minister Saud al-Faisal warned of ‘the Arab void’ and the dangers of regional and international interferences in Arab internal affairs.
After the Iranians shared power in Iraq with the US following the invasion in 2003, the Iranians started to consecrate their authority on Lebanon, Syria and Yemen in addition to threatening Jordan’s security. They also started causing tensions with Egypt. In the Arabian Peninsula, Saudi Arabia and the UAE rushed to protect Bahrain and tried to protect Lebanon from itself and its small politicians. They stood with Egypt until the unease ended.
An example to emulate
Saudi Arabia’s location and its effective and unifying role made it face the fiercest attacks, such as after the September 11, 2001 attacks. Then there were Iran’s activities through its sectarian militias in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon and Yemen. Saudi Arabia proved to be the most powerful fronts in confronting terrorism which attacked it first and which Iran has become its haven. Saudi Arabia now stands at the forefront of fighters against Iran’s destruction of states and societies from Iraq and Syria and to Lebanon and Yemen.
In celebrating their National Day, the Saudis celebrate the first successful experiment of Arab unity in the modern age. There have been no other successful experiments like these, except for the UAE. They also celebrate prosperity, stability and development. As for Arabs everywhere, we see in Saudi success and Saudi and Emirati power hope and work to regain peace in religion, save the experience of the national state in the Arab Levant and correct the relation with the world.
When we, Arabs, look around us amid the difficult circumstances due to the destruction caused by the Iranians, the terrorists and other international forces, the only model we find for the possibility of Arab development and for regaining Arab stability is the Saudi leadership that works with Egypt and the UAE to achieve a better life for us.
Congratulations to the Saudis on their National Day. Congratulations to us, Arabs and Muslims, for the Saudi role and model in leadership, development and the creation of stability at present and in the future.

Syria and the myth of the regime’s recovery
Hazem al-Amin/Al Arabiya/October 04/18
What is happening in Syria does not indicate that the regime will recover and emerge victorious from the ordeal which has struck the Syrian people and affected all the conflicting parties in the country. There also seems to be no scenario offering an alternative to the present situation.
The regime has not won and is struggling by the day. The Russian-Turkish agreement on Idlib is a sign of this weakness. Its inability to react to the daily Israeli raids is another sign of its vulnerability. Its exclusion from running the affairs in Daraa and its provinces and dependence on Russian police in managing the situation there is also an indicator that makes the allies of the Syrian regime realize that the latter is unfit to govern. The division of the tasks of governance between the Iranians and Russians has become a part of an ordinary scene in Syria.
“The regime is about to recover!” This is the favored statement that we have been hearing for the last two years. However, the regime is further weakening every day
Allies overpower the regime
So this regime whose situation is as such, is expected to govern, actually govern those whom have rivers of blood between them and the regime? The Syrian regime does not have the prerequisites for governance, with the exception of the whip, and perhaps it also has the desperation of the social category which revolted against it. In exchange for this power apparatus, the regime is facing a strange situation. The daily Israeli raids have made the Baath regime lose the substantial discourse of its governance. Russia’s daily insults on the sovereign level against the regime are obvious to its closest supporters. It seems the regime does not even have a place in all the meetings concerning the future of Syria. The Russians and Turks say the timing of the campaign against Idlib is no longer imminent. The Syrian Army commits itself to this statement, and to the 20 km limit as described in the agreement between Vladimir Putin and Recep Tayyip Erdogan. “The regime is about to recover!” This is the favored statement that we have been hearing for the last two years. However, the regime is further weakening every day. Aircrafts bomb Syria from all sides. When the regime has lost the ability to control the scene, it started confronting aircrafts of “allies”, one of which was recently struck down in Latakia. However it was unable to destroy any Israeli aircraft. This is not a cynical situation. Cynicism is not a suitable term to describe a regime that is this brutal and violent.
It’s a realistic paradox. Multinational aircrafts in Syria no longer violate sovereignty and international law. The Americans are present in the north and east of the country; the Turks are in Idlib, the Russians and the Iranians are present in the center and south of the country, while the Syrian skies are open to Israeli planes. Despite all this, there are those who say that the regime in Syria is about to recover, and that the Syrian Arab Army will soon extend its sovereignty over the entire Syrian territory.
Dismal future
Amid this complicated scene, it is not possible to expect there will be a deal that solidifies an authority in which these countries share influence in Syria. How will the share of Iran be determined, for example, in the light of this overlapping between its interests and those of Russia? Will Israel accept that Iran becomes a partner in power in Syria? The same question applies to Turkey's share and the Kurds in the north. The present scene points to more wars until it clarifies. The “recovering” regime will grow weaker, especially once the opposition is finished, as its killing machine has no function other than killing and if it stops operating this machine after its “rivals” are eliminated, it will lose the only tool of authority it has and the Syrians will once again pounce on it. The regime will thus continue to kill given it’s the only language it masters. The most striking thing to me when seeing pictures of demonstrations in Idlib is that the protestors are demanding the overthrow of the regime as the latter is the weakest link in the cycle of Syrian violence today. It is true that it has not lost its ability to kill, but what remains of this capability is the non-functional murder. It is murder as an extension of an old practice and a culture which is the only thing they know how to do. As for the real story in Syria, it is in a very different place.

USA Treasury Continues to Expose and Disrupt Hizballah’s Financial Support Networks
بالاسماء: الشركات اللبنانية التي فرضت عليها الخزانة الاميركية العقوبات
Press Release/October 4, 2018
U.S. Department of the Treasury

Analysis/With S-300 Now in Syria, Putin Signals a New Long-term Strategy for Russia
أنشل بفافر من الهآررتس: مع وجود ال اس 300 في سوريا نيتانياهو يعطي اشارات لإستراتجية طويلة المدى مع روسيا

Anshel Pfeffer/Haaretz/October 04/18

Iranian regime strengthening its ability to control Syria’s destiny
النظام الإيراني يقوي هيمنته على لسوريا ليتمكن من السيطرة على مصيرها

Dr. Majid Rafizadeh/Arab News/October 04/18