Detailed Lebanese & Lebanese Related LCCC English New Bulletin For October 08/2018
Compiled & Prepared by: Elias Bejjani

The Bulletin's Link on the lccc Site


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


Bible Quotations
Canaanite woman's Daughter Healing Miracle/Woman, great is your faith! Let it be done for you as you wish.
Matthew 15/21-28: "Jesus left that place and went away to the district of Tyre and Sidon. Just then a Canaanite woman from that region came out and started shouting, ‘Have mercy on me, Lord, Son of David; my daughter is tormented by a demon.’ But he did not answer her at all. And his disciples came and urged him, saying, ‘Send her away, for she keeps shouting after us.’He answered, ‘I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.’But she came and knelt before him, saying, ‘Lord, help me.’He answered, ‘It is not fair to take the children’s food and throw it to the dogs.’ She said, ‘Yes, Lord, yet even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters’ table.’Then Jesus answered her, ‘Woman, great is your faith! Let it be done for you as you wish.’ And her daughter was healed instantly."

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 07-08/18
Obstacles to forming a new Lebanese Cabinet/Mohamed Chebaro/Arab News/October 07/18
Lebanese author Elias Khoury: ‘I feel that we are beyond despair/Rupert Hawksley/The National/October 07/18
Lebanon’s PM Hariri must push on as speaker dashes of hope of cabinet agreement/Sunniva Rose/The National/October 07/18
Iran's Idea of "Human Rights": Persecute Christians/Raymond Ibrahim/Gatestone Institute/October 07/2018
Why Qatar is draining itself/Mohammed Al Shaikh/Al Arabiya/October 07/18
Saudi Aramco IPO: Back on track/Dr. Mohamed A. Ramady/Al Arabiya/October 07/18
Has secularism found a niche in Iran’s Qom/Amir Taheri/Al Arabiya/October 07/18
Saudi Arabia and The US: A Peer-to-Peer Relationship/Salman Al-dossary/Asharq Al Awsat/October 07/18
Pressure mounts on Tehran for sponsoring terror/Dr. Majid Rafizadeh/Arab News/October 07/18
The 2018 Nobel Prize: Spotlighting an epidemic of sexual violence/Baria Alamuddin/Arab News/October 07/18

Titles For The Latest LCCC Lebanese Related News published on October 07-08/18
Report: Positive Govt. Drive Result of Iranian, French Pressure
Netanyahu Vows More Raids on Hizbullah Arms Shipments
Lebanese PM Resumes Govt. Formation Consultations Next Week
Canadian House Speaker tours Holy Valley: I discovered very rich aspects of the role of Eastern Christians
Bassil to Invite Gulf Leaders to Lebanon
Hariri patronizes Women's Marathon organized by Future Movement
Araji to Radio Lebanon: Hariri's optimism to form a government soon was based on available indications
Homenetmen Beirut reaps victory over Sporting Alexandria in Arab Clubs Basketball Championship
Abu Faour: Solution lies in resorting to parliamentary elections' results
Zeaiter during 'Ainata Apple Festival': For a national unity government
Army: One killed, another injured in Furn Chebbak
Obstacles to forming a new Lebanese Cabinet
Lebanese author Elias Khoury: ‘I feel that we are beyond despair’
Lebanon’s PM Hariri must push on as speaker dashes of hope of cabinet agreement

Titles For The Latest LCCC Bulletin For Miscellaneous Reports And News published on October 07-08/18
Iran's Khamenei says hijab the solution to sexual violence
Son denounces attempts to politicize Jamal Khashoggi’s disappearance
Khashoggi family says we trust Saudi Arabia, condemn malicious agenda
Erdogan hoping for positive outcome on Jamal Khashoggi case
Saudi Arabia sends team to Istanbul to search for missing Jamal Khashoggi
Opposition Factions Need ‘Several Days’ to Withdraw Weapons from Idlib Buffer Zone
Palestinian Gunman Kills Two Israelis at West Bank Settlement
Israel’s Netanyahu to Meet Putin to Discuss Syria
Israel Reduces Fishing Zone in Gaza
Two Israelis Killed in West Bank Shooting
President alAssad during alBaath Party’s Central Committee meeting: Idleb agreement is a temporary measure
Witness: NY crash that left 20 dead was 'like an explosion'
Kim Agrees to Meet with Trump 'at Earliest Date'
Iran Parliament Passes Counter-Terror Finance Bill
Brazil Votes for New President, Far-Right Bolsonaro in Lead
The Latest LCCC Lebanese Related News published on October 07-08/18
Thanksgiving Day: Obligations Prayers & Wishes
الياس بجاني/عيد الشكر في كندا: واجبات وصلاة وتمنيات

Elias Bejjani/October 08/18
Let us never forget that we have a holy obligation to always no matter what to happily keep on thanking Almighty God For His generosity, love and Graces.
This Year, Our beloved Canada celebrates on the 08th of October The Thanksgiving Day.
A blessed day by all means that is welcomed and cherished with joy, gratefulness, Hope and faith.
All principles and values of humility and gratitude necessitates that each and every one of us with faith, and hope thank Almighty God for all that we have no matter what.
To appreciate what we have it is a must to look wisely around and observe the millions and millions of people all over the world who are totally deprived from almost every thing that is basic and needed for a safe and descent life.
While celebrating the “Thanksgiving Day” Let us be grateful and thank Almighty God genuinely and with full reverence.
On this very special day we have to focus on praying and combine both faith and acts together.
We need to train ourselves to witness for the truth and to be humble and generous in giving what we can to all those who are in need.
We must recognise and understand with no shed of doubt that the only weapons that a peaceful believer can use to fight hardships of all sorts are faith, honesty, self trust, righteousness and praying.
Let us all Lebanese Canadians pray and ask Almighty God for what ever we are in need for ourselves, for others and for our beloved both countries, Canada and Lebanon.
Almighty God definitely will hear and respond in case we are genuine in our prayers and praying with confidence, faith and trust, but His responses shall be mostly beyond our understanding or grasping.
Let us Pray for on going peace and prosperity in the hospitable and great Canada that gave us a home when we needed it.
Let us pray for peace in our beloved original country, Lebanon and for freedom of its persecuted and impoverished people.
Let us pray that all Families will get together on this day to support each other and mend all differences among their members.
Let us pray that all parents will be appreciated today by their family members, honoured and showed all due respect.
Let us pray for the souls of Lebanon’s martyrs that fell while defending Lebanon’s dignity and independence.
Let us pray that Jesus Christ shall grant, our mother country, Lebanon, the Land Of the Holy Cedars with faithful clergymen and brave political leaders who fear him and count for His Day Of Judgment.
Let us pray for peace and tranquility in our beloved Canada, and for all countries and people over the world, especially in the troubled and chaotic Middle East
Happy Thanksgiving Day.
This Is What Many Canadians Do On Thanksgiving Day?
Many people have a day off work on the second Monday of October. They often use the three-day Thanksgiving weekend to visit family or friends who live far away, or to receive them in their own homes. Many people also prepare a special meal to eat at some point during the long weekend. Traditionally, this included roast turkey and seasonal produce, such as pumpkin, corn ears and pecan nuts. Now, the meal may consist of other foods, particularly if the family is of non-European descent.
The Thanksgiving weekend is also a popular time to take a short autumn vacation. This may be the last chance in a while for some people to use cottages or holiday homes before winter sets in. Other popular activities include outdoor breaks to admire the spectacular colors of the Canadian autumn, hiking, and fishing. Fans of the teams in the Canadian Football League may spend part of the weekend watching the Thanksgiving Day Classic matches.
The native peoples held ceremonies and festivals to celebrate the completion and bounty of the harvest long before European explorers and settlers arrived in what is now Canada. Early European thanksgivings were held to give thanks for some special fortune. An early example is the ceremony the explorer Martin Frobisher held in 1578 after he had survived the long journey in his quest to find a northern passage from Europe to Asia. Many thanksgivings were held following noteworthy events during the 18th century. Refugees fleeing the civil war in the United States brought the custom of an annual thanksgiving festival to Canada. From 1879, Thanksgiving Day was held every year but the date varied and there was a special theme each year. The theme was the “Blessings of an abundant harvest” for many years. However, Queen Victoria’s golden and diamond jubilees and King Edward VII’s coronation formed the theme in later years.
From the end of the First World War until 1930, both Armistice Day and Thanksgiving Day were celebrated on the Monday closest to November 11, the anniversary of the official end of hostilities in World War I. In 1931, Armistice Day was renamed Remembrance Day and Thanksgiving Day was moved to a Monday in October. Since 1957, Thanksgiving Day has always been held on the second Monday in October.
Report: Positive Govt. Drive Result of Iranian, French Pressure
Naharnet/October 07/18/The positive indications from the government formation process do not reflect the domestic tensions but rather regional developments that will gradually materialize in the Syrian arena and consequently have an impact on the entire region, a media report published Sunday said. “Iran is pushing for a speedy government formation ahead of the expected sanctions on it, while France is moving towards the Middle East, especially Lebanon, with a French delegation expected in the country next week,” An Nahar daily quoted sources informed on the formation process as saying. Meanwhile, observers are anticipating a meeting that is supposed to be held between Prime Minister-designate Saad Hariri and Free Patriotic Movement chief MP Jebran Bassil. Hariri will “explore his stance and the extent of concessions that the FPM might offer,” An Nahar said. “The meeting may be held before Bassil leaves on a Gulf tour this evening,” the daily added. Hariri had on Thursday announced that the new government could be formed within seven to ten days.
Netanyahu Vows More Raids on Hizbullah Arms Shipments
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/October 07/18/Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday again pledged that Israel will maintain its efforts to stop the transfer of sophisticated weapons to Hizbullah. Speaking at the start of a cabinet meeting, Netanyahu again pledged to stop "Iran from establishing a military presence in Syria and to thwart the transfer of lethal weapons to Hizbullah in Lebanon." On September 27, Netanyahu said in an address to the U.N. General Assembly that Hizbullah had secret missile conversion sites near Beirut airport. He produced satellite imagery pinpointing three sites and accused the powerful Iranian-backed group of using residents as human shields. A Hizbullah minister has dismissed Netanyahu's claims as lies and fabrications. Last month, Hizbullah chief Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah announced that Hizbullah had acquired "precision missiles."Israel has fought several conflicts against Hizbullah, the last in 2006.The Israeli military believes Hizbullah has between 100,000 and 120,000 short-range missiles and rockets, as well as several hundred longer-range missiles. Israel says it has waged more than 200 airstrikes in recent years against suspected Iranian and Hizbullah targets in Syria.
Lebanese PM Resumes Govt. Formation Consultations Next Week
Beirut/Asharq Al-Awsat/Sunday, 7 October, 2018/Lebanese Prime Minister-designate Saad Hariri is expected to resume his consultations to form a new government next week despite the new pessimism that has pervaded the country in wake of caretaker Foreign Minister Jebran Bassil’s recent statements.Bassil set on Friday a new condition for the government formation by proposing that each parliamentary bloc be granted one minister for every five seats won in the May elections. His demand soured the positive mood that Hariri spoke about a day earlier when he predicted that a government would be formed within ten days. Lebanese sources following the government formation efforts spoke of “positive efforts” that will produce a new cabinet soon. They did not however set a deadline for when the government will see the light. They only told Asharq Al-Awsat that serious efforts were being exerted to overcome obstacles, despite the recent escalation. Progressive Socialist Party (PSP) leader Walid Jumblatt meanwhile, said that Bassil’s proposal must be “deeply” studied, while also committing to Hariri’s recent suggestions. “We must also take into consideration the factor of time, which is not in our favor,” he added. “The danger of the ongoing delay was highlighted by Speaker Nabih Berri and we share his grave concern,” he stressed. Hariri is expected to hold direct talks soon with the main political powers that are linked the obstacles hindering the government formation process. Sources said that the PM is expected to hold a meeting with Bassil, who is set to relay to him his stance and the size of the concessions his Free Patriotic Movement is willing to offer for the government. Hariri is also set to meet with Lebanese Forces, PSP and Marada Movement representatives. Mustaqbal bloc MP Mohammed al-Hajjar said that Hariri was maintaining his optimism despite all the current obstacles. He is determined to overcome these obstacles and he is counting on the officials’ sense of responsibility to help facilitate the government formation process.

Lebanon: Berri Bloc MP Criticizes Electricity File Management
Beirut- Youssef Diab/Asharq Al-Awsat/Sunday, 7 October, 2018/Yassine Jaber, a member of the Development and Liberation bloc led by Speaker Nabih Berri, criticized the management of the electricity file in the country and the adoption of the power-generating ships as a solution. He called for a meeting of Lebanese leaders in the presidential palace to draw up a national plan to solve the electricity crisis. In an interview with Asharq Al-Awsat, Jaber accused the Minister of Energy in the caretaker government, Cesar Abi Khalil, of “adopting the single solution of buying electricity from ships.”
In this context, Jaber revealed a “$1.5 billion offer by the World Bank to Lebanon to support electricity and contribute to the reform of this sector, but which was met with carelessness by the ministry of energy.”“The electricity crisis is a national disaster, and it cannot continue in light of the huge deficit in state finances,” he noted. On the other hand, Jaber expressed his regret that all the challenges and threats facing Lebanon did not push the officials to form a government, especially that the Lebanese regime after the Taif has put the full authority in the hands of the government. He called on all officials and leaders to “act with modesty and offer compromises to reach a solution that would produce a national unity government, adding that a majority government could be born “under the current circumstances that cannot withstand further divisions.” “Is it reasonable to go into an internal confrontation, with everything going wrong, especially as external challenges are big and require the greatest unity and responsibility?” He asked. While Jaber did not underestimate the seriousness of the Israeli threats against Lebanon, he said he did not think that the situation was heading towards a war.

Canadian House Speaker tours Holy Valley: I discovered very rich aspects of the role of Eastern Christians
Sun 07 Oct 2018/NNA - Canadian House Speaker, Jeff Reagan, spent two days in the Holy Valley as a guest of Lebanon's Honorary Consul in the Canadian Province of Novakushia, Wadih Fares, at his home in Diman. "I discovered very rich aspects of the mission of the Maronite Church and the role of Eastern Christians from these deep spiritual roots in this Valley," wrote Reagan in the Qannoubine League's Golden Book, following an integrated 2-day tour including the most prominent sites of the Holy Valley. He thanked his host for the warm hospitality and the chance to visit the breathtaking views of the Qannoubine Valley. The Canadian Speaker also thanked Maronite Patriarch, Cardinal Bechara Butros al-Rahi, who invited him to visit Al-Diman when they met in Halifax, Canada recently, and all associations that participated in the tour. After his visit to Al-Diman, Quzheya Monastery and the Jbeil Fortress, Reagan then had a stopover in the region of Batroun, where he was welcomed by Caretaker Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil who accompanied him on a tour around the area.

Bassil to Invite Gulf Leaders to Lebanon
Naharnet/October 07/18/Caretaker Foreign Minister Jebran Bassil will travel on a tour of the Arab Gulf on Sunday evening. An Nahar newspaper said Bassil will visit the Gulf Cooperation Council member states to “hand their kings and emirs invitations from the President to attend the socio-economic Arab development summit that Beirut will host on January 19 and 20.”Some of Bassil's stances had infuriated the Saudi-led GCC countries in recent years.

Hariri patronizes Women's Marathon organized by Future Movement
Sun 07 Oct 2018/NNA - Prime Minister-designate Saad Hariri patronized Sunday, represented by MP Rola Tabch, the women's marathon organized by the Future Movement, with close to 1000 runners partaking in the race. Under the slogan of "Fight, do not stop!", the 5Km marathon was an opportunity for young women from different regions to raise their voices, rejecting all attempts of discrimination against their advancement at all levels in an attempt to break the restrictions and overcome all barriers. In her word on behalf of PM Hariri, Tabch praised the Future Movement's initiative that aims at shedding light on women's role and lifting injustice off their situation. "We say to women: Confront sickness, injustice, obstacles and silence in order to obtain your right. You can do this with your competence, so face disease, violence, injustice and all barriers through raising your voice," said Tabch.

Araji to Radio Lebanon: Hariri's optimism to form a government soon was based on available indications
Sun 07 Oct 2018/NNA - Future Parliamentary Bloc Member, MP Assem Araji, said in an interview with Radio Lebanon on Sunday that Prime Minister-designate Saad Hariri's optimism regarding a near cabinet formation was based on available indications to that effect.
Araji stressed that "PM-designate Hariri is keen on the economic situation in the country, which has reached a critical condition that entails forming the government as soon as possible.""The state cannot function except with a national unity government since we are a country of sectarian settlements," Araji concluded.

Homenetmen Beirut reaps victory over Sporting Alexandria in Arab Clubs Basketball Championship

Sun 07 Oct 2018/NNA - Beirut's Homenetmen champions reaped their second victory in the 31st Arab Basketball Championship on Sunday, hosted by the Beirut Club at the Chiah Municipal Sports Complex in honor of the late Henry Chalhoub. Homenetmen beat Egypt's Sporting Alexandria 77-68 in the second set this afternoon, thus achieving its second victory.

Abu Faour: Solution lies in resorting to parliamentary elections' results
Sun 07 Oct 2018/NNA - Democratic Gathering Member, MP Wael Abu Faour, said Sunday that the solution to the stalled cabinet formation issue lies in resorting to the outcome of the recent parliamentary elections. However, Abu Faour considered that the vote law based on which the legislative elections took place is "the worst" since it has undermined the Taef Accord. He deemed it "the law of strife", adding that its annulment would be a priority. Abu Faour's words came during a luncheon held in his honor by Al-Manara Municipality Head Ali Rahhal, in presence of various dignitaries from the West Bekaa region. "It is regrettable that until this moment, the settlement stand has not reaped full victory. Everyone complains about the economic situation. There are also debts owed to the state. The cure is only through reform," Abu Faour went on. "We are on the threshold of monetary challenges, especially in light of citizens' continuous concern for tomorrow...So why can't there be a settlement on the basis of justice and mutual concessions?" he questioned. Abu Faour concluded by hoping that a new cabinet would be lurking in the horizon.

Zeaiter during 'Ainata Apple Festival': For a national unity government

Sun 07 Oct 2018/NNA - Caretaker Agriculture Minister, Ghazi Zeaiter, highlighted Sunday the pressing need for a national unity government to preserve the nation's future.
"We do not want a state that eliminates a sect, a party or a political force. We want a strong state that can express the needs of the people, a state in line with the people in their political, social and sectarian diversity," said Zeaiter. "Yes to a national dialogue that constitutes a safety net," he added, urging political leaders in the country not to bet on the outside and what is happening in the region. "We must all be able to produce our political settlements in a way that preserves the future of this country, the foremost of which would be forming a national unity government without any obstacles or personal interests," Zeaiter underlined. His words came during his patronage of the first "Ainata Apple Festival" which opened earlier today in Ainata Al-Arz, organized by the Ainata Municipality in collaboration with the Deir El-Ahmar Municipalities Union. Zeaiter shed light on the apple produce sector in Lebanon and the various challenges facing farmers in channeling their harvests, especially in wake of the Syrian war that reflected negatively on Lebanese exports due to the closing of borders. However, he reassured farmers that indications point to the re-opening of these borders soon, stressing his Ministry's relentless efforts to ensure proper channels for their agricultural produce.

Army: One killed, another injured in Furn Chebbak

Sun 07 Oct 2018/NNA - One gunman was shot dead while another was injured as 2 Lebanese gunmen opened fire during their attempted escape from an Army patrol in Furn el-Chebbak area, causing the Army soldiers to fire back, the Army directorate said. Thorough search of the Nissan vehicle driven by the gunmen revealed a weapon and ammunition, drugs and amount of money which were in their possession, the communiqué concluded.

Obstacles to forming a new Lebanese Cabinet

محمد شبارو: عوائق تشكيل الحكومة اللبنانية
Mohamed Chebaro/Arab News/October 07/18
A copy of a knotted-gun sculpture, which has become an emblem for peace in the world, was unveiled in Beirut this week, in an area where buildings still carry the scars of the civil war that destroyed Lebanon between 1975 and 1990.
The work of art is a reminder to all Lebanese that their country is still at risk of sliding back into communal strife, and even total war, unless solutions are quickly found for Lebanon’s many ills. The basic most essential is an executive that could shoulder the country’s many political, economic and environmental challenges. The nominated Prime Minister Saad Hariri said he is still optimistic about forming a new government soon. No one knows the source of his optimism, since he and the country have been waiting for more than five months for a regional veto to be removed so new ministers can get selected and the government can get the blessing of Parliament to start work. Many believe that the election of a president, prime minister and parliamentary speaker in Iraq indicates that maybe the road will soon be open for the formation of the long-awaited Lebanese government too. But Beirut is not Baghdad. Despite the precarious nature of US-Iranian coexistence in Iraq, it managed to install four governments and prime ministers there since the removal of Saddam Hussein’s regime in 2003.
No doubt this came as a direct result of the mood shift in Iraq, and the many protests against corruption, economic failure, and the inability of the Tehran-supported political class to deliver basic services to citizens. Iraq’s political, tribal and religious elites seem to have maneuvered their way, in the short term at least, into pushing aside hard-line pro-Iran Iraqi leaders. In Lebanon, Hariri is maybe hoping that domestic and regional obstacles could also be removed for his new Cabinet to be formed. In the five months since the May election, which produced a Parliament tilted in favor of the Iran-backed Shiite Hezbollah movement, Hariri has said a number of times that he was optimistic that there would soon be a breakthrough.
Lebanon needs a proper government to undertake reforms needed to improve the sustainability of its debt.
The main sticking point in negotiations has been seen domestically as how to satisfy the competing demands of Maronite Christian President Michel Aoun and his Free Patriotic Movement (FPM) on the one hand, and their Maronite rival Samir Geagea and his Lebanese Forces party on the other.
Regionally, Hariri has suffered from unreasonable demands made by pro-Damascus and Iran-backed Lebanese groups to be represented in his new Cabinet in a way that reflects the new geostrategic positioning of the ‘victorious’ regimes in Damascus and Tehran, at the expense of supporters of the Syrian opposition. Lebanon’s last government has continued as a caretaker administration since the May election, but the country needs a proper government to undertake reforms needed to improve the sustainability of Lebanon’s debt. So Hariri’s optimism might also be linked to regional geostrategic calculations whereby Tehran is minded to show some leniency in Iraq and maybe Lebanon prior to suffering the full brunt of the reinstatement of US sanctions on Iran’s oil industry in early November. This would be in the hope of showing that Iran is still a key broker, and could facilitate as well as hinder political settlements is several Arab countries.
If Hezbollah gives the go ahead for the formation of a new Hariri government, the road will be paved to form an administration that is needed to reschedule Lebanon’s ballooning debt, revive the economy and find a solution to the country’s power supply shortage. There is also an urgent need to find a solution to Lebanon’s garbage collection and processing problems.  Unlike other countries in the region, the election of a president, and the nomination and formation of a government in post-civil war Lebanon, have been subject to veto by the neighboring Syrian regime. But since the start of the Syrian revolution in 2011, this veto-wielding power has been transferred to Iran and Hezbollah. Tehran, with the help of Shiite Lebanese and Shiite Iraqi militias, has propped up the Syrian regime. The pro-Iran faction has emerged as the strongest in Lebanon, so it has requested a sizeable chunk of seats in Hariri’s next Cabinet.
The formation of a new Cabinet in Lebanon has long been outstanding, and the positive signals from Hariri could serve as a reminder to everyone in the country and outside it that the clock is ticking. Lebanon needs a government urgently if its people are to be spared more economic hardship and other suffering due to a lack of basic services that could see the country become a failed state that no one could help afterward.
*Mohamed Chebaro is a British-Lebanese journalist with more than 25 years’ experience covering war, terrorism, defense, current affairs and diplomacy. He is also a media consultant and trainer.

Lebanese author Elias Khoury: ‘I feel that we are beyond despair’
Rupert Hawksley/The National/October 07/18
Rupert Hawksley speaks to Khoury about the future of the Middle East, the state of the Arab novel today and his latest work ‘My Name is Adam’
Ten years ago, in October 2008, the eminent Lebanese author Elias Khoury gave the inaugural talk at the New York University Abu Dhabi Institute. He was here to speak about his 1998 novel, Gate of the Sun, an epic re-telling of the Naqba, which many people consider his masterpiece. This week, Khoury is back in Abu Dhabi to discuss how Arab literature has changed since his previous visit. But writers respond to the world around them. So if we want to understand how Arab literature has changed, we first need to understand how the Arab world has changed. Khoury believes that the events of recent years, including the Arab uprising and its bloody aftermath, are comparable to the Naqba. There is now, as there was then, Khoury says, “a huge feeling of loss”.“In the past 10 years, we have seen great hope, great disappointment, great ambition, and great catastrophes,” says Khoury. “The two major problems facing Arab novelists today are: how to give that pain a voice and how to listen to the silence of the victims. The question of how Arab literature has changed is premature. We are still waiting for the new language – the new perspective – to be crystallised.”
Khoury’s latest novel, My Name is Adam, the first of his Children of the Ghetto trilogy, was published in 2016 (the English translation will be released on October 11). It tells the story of a Palestinian-Israeli man called Adam Danun, who was born in 1948 in Lydda, the Palestinian city captured that year by Israeli troops. Hundreds of Arabs were massacred as they fled the city of Lydda, which is now Israeli and known as Lod. Danun later emigrates to New York, but when he discovers that the woman who raised him may not have been his mother, he sets out to discover what really happened to his family. One critic has described My Name is Adam as “another layer in the Palestinian story as it hasn’t been told to Israeli Jews since 1948”.
It is of particular significance, then, that My Name is Adam has been translated into Hebrew. “The main issue is that the novel can travel through different times, speak to different cultures, and be a part of the human consciousness,” says Khoury, who insists that his writing is not political. This is surprising. Khoury, who was born in Beirut in 1948, has a long history of political activism. He volunteered with the Palestine Liberation Organisation during the Lebanese Civil War (1975 to 1990) and helped to establish the Democratic Left Movement in Lebanon in 2004. Many of his 13 novels deal with the consequences of the conflicts, often brought about by political decisions, in the Middle East.“What’s the meaning of political?”, asks Khoury. “Nothing will be left of politics in literature,” he says. “Either literature can speak to our souls or it’s meaningless. Of course, the novel is political in that it takes place at a very definite time, but the importance of politics here is minimal. The most important thing is to investigate the human experience. This is why a reader from anywhere in the world can identify with the novel. Forget that it’s set in Palestine because it is a story about the human dream and how people can survive catastrophe. “Our duty as writers, intellectuals and citizens of the world is to try and find our way out of this madness,” he says. “It’s up to the reader to find their own way through a novel. It is the reader who gives a novel its meaning and its life.”Khoury is not optimistic about the future of the Middle East. “I feel that we are beyond despair,” he says. “Unfortunately, it is not only in the Middle East; the whole world seems to be going through this. [Look at] the alt-right; the rise of populism. “The things that have caused suffering from the beginning of human history – power, tyranny, dictatorship, racism – are repeated all the time. We haven’t learnt anything from history because we continue to repeat these stupidities.” Does he believe that novels have the power to bring about change, though? “If we are waiting for a novel or a poem to start a revolution, this is childish,” he says. “Novels do not have a direct effect. They can have a profound effect, but it is indirect at the same time.” And yet despite this, Khoury maintains his faith in literature. “Writing is a way for me to know more,” he says. “While writing the first novel of the Children of the Ghetto trilogy, Adam became my friend. He led me towards a profound wisdom. Every novel makes me wiser.”
*Elias Khoury will speak at the NYU Abu Dhabi Institute on October 7 at 6.30pm. For more, visit

Lebanon’s PM Hariri must push on as speaker dashes of hope of cabinet agreement
Sunniva Rose/The National/October 07/18
The latest proposal only lasted three days but is now back at square one, writes Sunniva Rose in Beirut
Just days after Prime Minister-designate Saad Hariri stuck an upbeat tone about forming a new cabinet in the next 10 days, Speaker of Parliament Nabih Berri dashed hopes by saying negotiations were back at square one.
Five months after the country’s first election in nine years, Mr Hariri has been working to hammer out a power-sharing deal acceptable to the major Lebanese political factions. Last Thursday’s televised address, after another meeting with President Michel Aoun at Baabda Palace, wasn’t the first time he’s been optimistic. Underlying his promises of a speedy formation have been the increasingly urgent warnings about an impending economic crisis in a bid to push Lebanese parties to set aside their differences and accept compromise.
But a simmering and vicious spat between the two main Christian political parties, the Free Patriotic Movement (FPM) – founded by Mr Aoun – and Lebanese Forces over the number and position of ministers in the new government has again sunk Mr Hariri’s latest offer and left him few option. “We’re back to zero”, the speaker of Parliament told Lebanese newspaper Al Akhbar on Saturday. “There was a glimmer of hope, but … I’m pessimistic”. In Lebanon, power is divided between the country’s 18 denominations represented in parliament and government by a plethora of parties largely defined by sect. The need to represent all major religions in government is a recurring source of tension that has delayed previous cabinets by month and in some cases years.
The aging president Aoun’s – now 83 years old – has increased the competition between Christian leaders who want to succeed him, argues Michael Young, editor the Carnegie Middle East program’s Diwan blog. “That’s why nobody is making concessions”. Lebanon’s President is always Maronite Christian.
However, FPM MP Alain Aoun downplayed the recent tensions. “Mr Hariri made real progress during his last meeting with President Aoun [on Wednesday]. I believe he will be working on a new version of the government over the next 10 days. We are in the final rounds of negotiations”.
It’s not the first time Mr Hariri has had trouble forming a cabinet. When he was first designated as Prime Minister in June 2009 and tasked with forming a government, he resigned when faced with a deadlock after three months later when talks fell apart.
He was then immediately re-appointed prime minister-designate and succeeded in forming a government in November. This time, Lebanese politicians say, he has no other choice other than to keep trying to strike a deal. “Even within our Parliamentary bloc, we don’t think it’s wise to pressure Hariri to resign”, MP Yassine Jaber, who is affiliated with the speaker’s Shiite Amal Movement, told The National. Mr Berri’s a close ally of the powerful Hezbollah militia-cum-political party.
“It would be catastrophic. There is no credible replacement. He is the one who has worked out the Cedar agreements and who represents most of the Sunni MPs”, he said in reference to a major donor summit in April.
The international community pledged over $11 billion in loans and grants during the Cedar conference in Paris for projects detailed by the Lebanese government under a plan driven forward by Mr Hariri. The project aims to supporting Lebanon’s fragile economy and see investment and reform in a country with the world’s third highest debt-to-GDP ratio. Talk of a devaluation of the Lebanese pound, which has been pegged at a fixed rate to the dollar since 1997, has become an openly-discussed possibility. “An economic crash could destabilise a country already swamped with refugees and plagued by sectarian divides”, wrote The Economist in late August.
In addition to the country’s economic woes, regional concerns could also push Lebanese politicians to reach a consensus. The full re-imposition of US sanctions against Hezbollah’s main backer, Iran, on November 4, is the Prime Minister’s most important impending challenge said Bassem Chab, an MP with Mr Hariri’s Future Movement. “The last thing the Iranians want is disorder in Lebanon when that happens. Hezbollah has a majority in Parliament and the President is on their side. It’s a good opportunity that they don’t want to waste”, he told The National. Hezbollah controls around 15 seats in the 128 seat Parliament but through alliances and deals can rely on the vote of other MPs. Mr Chab added that they expect US President Donald Trump to sign the “Hezbollah International Financing Prevention Amendments Act of 2018” before the anniversary of the 1983 Beirut barracks bombing on October 23. This, he says, would ramp up existing restrictions on the group to include a clause regarding Hezbollah MPs, associates and affiliates.
“This kind of pressure is far greater than internal bickering”.

The Latest LCCC Bulletin For Miscellaneous Reports And News published on
October 07-08/18
Iran's Khamenei says hijab the solution to sexual violence
The National/October 07/18/Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei tweeted his solution to end sexual violence against women - the hijab. In a speech published on the leader's official Twitter account Mr Khamenei explains the reasons behind the string of sexual abuse cases in the US and other western countries, and how to prevent it."By introducing hijab, Islam has shut the door on a path that would pull women towards such deviation," he said. "Islam does not allow this [sexual abuse or violence].""You might have heard, a few months ago, that a large number of western, female, politicians announced one right after another they had been subjected to abuse, harassment or violence at times when they were working in government offices," said Mr Khamenei in reference to the recent accusations of sexual assault against Brett Kavanugh. The tweet sparked a flurry of criticism, as people took to Twitter to voice their anger against the Iranian leader's comments. "Hijab is not Islam's proposal. That is a forced burden you put on women. To say the victims were abused because their head was not covered is shamefully disrespectful, just like your role as the self proclaimed 'leader' of Iran. Do not pass the blame to the victims!" said one Twitter user. Hijab is not Islam’s proposal. That is a forced burden you put on women. To say the victim’s were abused because their head was not covered is shamefully disrespectful, just like your role as the self proclaimed “leader” of Iran. Do not pass the blame to the victims!Others mocked Mr Khamenei for his proposed solution to a problem that has no geographical, social or religious boundaries. "This is definitely the funniest Tweet today," said one man. The leader makes use of #MeToo – a movement of women speaking out against sexual predators – to voice what he described as the virtues of hijab versus the deviance of unveiled women. The use of hijab for women became compulsory after the revolution in 1979 and the establishment of the Islamic Republic of Iran. It did not end sexual violence. The latest publicised case what that of Zeinab Sekaanvand, a female victim of domestic and sexual violence who was convicted of killing her husband when she was a minor, according to Amnesty International. The 24-year-old was hanged in Urumieh central prison in West Azerbaijan province. The video also comes in the wake of protests against the compulsory hijab by dozens of women. “[Khamenei] is trying to take the moral high ground. But within Iran, the government and hardliners’ views towards women has very much not been in the defense of women,” Hadi Ghaemi, executive director of the Center for Human Rights in Iran, told the Los Angeles Times. “He’s been calling for policies that roll back the rights women have gained on their own. He is being opportunistic.”The disaster of countless sexual assaults on Western women—including incidents leading to #Metoo campaign— and Islam's proposal to resolve it

Son denounces attempts to politicize Jamal Khashoggi’s disappearance
Huda al-Saleh, Al Arabiya EnglishSunday, 7 October 2018/Salah Khashoggi, the eldest son of Saudi citizen Jamal Khashoggi, who has gone missing in the Turkish city of Istanbul since Tuesday, has denounced attempts by foreign parties to politicize the disappearance of his father, which he called totally unacceptable. In an interview with Al Arabiya English, Salah said: “The issue is that there is a Saudi citizen who has gone missing. We are cooperating with the Saudi authorities to uncover the circumstances,” Salah said confirming that the Saudi government responded immediately to the reports. Salah said that the whole subject is a personal matter and is far from a political framework. He stressed that his family is looking “for credible information.” My last contact with my father was during his stay in Washington: “I had no idea of his presence in Turkey and his recent trip,” Salah said. As for the Turkish woman called Khadija, who claims to be the fiance of Jamal Khashoggi, Salah said: “I do not know this woman and I have never heard of her except through the media.”He called upon the Turkish lady to stop meddling with his father’s case in the media. “We are his family and we inquire about the circumstances of his disappearance and the search for him,” he said. Salah Khashoggi confirmed that all members of his family support the official Saudi investigations, which only “will lead us to positive results and uncover the truth.”

Khashoggi family says we trust Saudi Arabia, condemn malicious agenda

Mohammad Jarrah, Al Arabiya English/Sunday, 7 October 2018/Following a meeting held by the Khashoggi family, a prominent clan in Saudi Arabia, in Jeddah on Sunday, its legal advisor, Motasem Khashoggi has told Al Arabiya English that the family is regularly in touch with the Saudi government regarding the case of Saudi citizen Jamal Khashoggi who has disappeared in Turkey. “We trust the government and the actions taken by it and all the efforts being made in the case of Jamal Khashoggi. There’s coordination with the government and the embassy in Ankara,” Motasem said. The legal advisor added that some countries tried to push their malicious agenda by exploiting this issue. He said: “We know the objectives behind electronic media and frenzied news outlets that attack our country for negative purposes. We tell these people to remain silent as their purposes and intentions have failed.”Motasem Khashoggi, who is representing the Saudi citizen family, said there are certain parties and people who are politicizing this issue. (Al Arabiya) Motasem Khashoggi, who is representing the Saudi citizen's family, said there are certain parties and people who are politicizing this issue and are using the family name and his brother Jamal’s name to push their agenda. He clarified that the woman who is called “Khadijah” who is promoting herself as Jamal's fiancé, is not known by the family and she is not his fiancé. “We do not know her, we do not know from where she came and she is not connected to the family, and her statements and presence might be to push her own agenda,” he said. Motasem pointed out that the family has taken legal action regarding Jamal’s disappearance in coordination with the Saudi government and the measures are proceeding within a legal framework. He warned against reports and stories that have no truth and validity. The legal advisor concluded the statement by saying: “We are the sons of this country and the attention we have received has been overwhelming.”

Erdogan hoping for positive outcome on Jamal Khashoggi case
Al Arabiya English, Dubai/Sunday, 7 October 2018/Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said, Sunday, that he is hoping for a positive outcome on case of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, who disappeared last week, adding that he was personally following the matter. Erdogan told reporters that authorities were looking into all camera records and monitoring incoming and outgoing airport transits, but added that Turkey would await the results of the prosecutor's investigation. Erdogan’s statements contradict earlier reports which suggested that the Saudi writer was killed.  Saudi Arabia has strongly denounced outrageous, baseless allegations surrounding the disappearance of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi. The Saudi government has stressed that it is keen on the safety of its citizens, wherever they are in the world, and that it will not rest before ‘knowing the secrets behind Khashoggi’s disappearance in a foreign country.’Saudi Arabia has sent a security delegation of investigators to Istanbul to follow up with Turkish authorities. Many observers have warned over an orchestration of a campaign to use the incident to target the Saudi government. The charge d'affaires at the Saudi Embassy in Beirut Walid al-Bukhari sadi on his official Twitter account using the widely used hashtag ‘Jamal Khashoggi play’: “The Khashoggi play is a conspiracy and an intelligence plot rigorously designed to undermine the reputation of Saudi Arabia and abuse it.”There has been a Twitter uproar on social media by political activists and opinion writers talking about they called the “exposed play”, and the strange Muslim Brotherhood supporters who tweeted that Khashoggi died two days ago, which was seen by many to expose the systematic and deliberate game. Meanwhile many fingers continue to point at his fiancée as the perpetrator. Khashoggi’s disappearance was first reported by a Qatari channel that quoted a Turkish woman as saying she accompanied him to the Saudi consulate in Istanbul to retrieve his divorce documents so they could marry. She said he never left the consulate. The diplomatic mission later said that Khashoggi had completed what he came to do and left the consulate building long before the end of official working hours. But Qatari news channels and Turkish parties said Khashoggi was still being held at the consulate.
In response, the Saudi consul opened up all rooms of the consulate to the press, confirming Khashoggi was not there. The Saudi government said it has begun intensive efforts to find its citizen, who has resided abroad for more than a year.

Saudi Arabia sends team to Istanbul to search for missing Jamal Khashoggi
Staff writer, Al Arabiya English/Sunday, 7 October 2018/An official source at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul said that a security delegation of Saudi investigators arrived in Istanbul on Saturday following the disappearance of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi. The delegation arrived following a request by the Saudi government, and the acceptance of the Turkish authorities, the source said, adding: “Saudi Arabia’s appreciation for the brotherly Turkish government’s acceptance of the request. The delegation is there to assist in the investigations regarding the disappearance of the Saudi citizen Jamal Khashoggi. “The source stressed that the Kingdom holds the safety and wellbeing of its citizens wherever they are, and that relevant authorities in the Kingdom are diligently following up on this matter to uncover the complete facts,” a statement on Saudi Press Agency read. Saudi Arabia’s consul in Istanbul opened up his mission on Saturday in an effort to show that Khashoggi, who went missing four days ago, was not on the premises and said that talk of his kidnapping was baseless. Reuters journalists were able to tour the consulate in northern Istanbul which Khashoggi entered on Tuesday to get documents for his forthcoming marriage. His fiancee, who had waited outside, said he never came out. An official at Saudi Arabia’s consulate in Istanbul had dismissed a Reuters report which cited Turkish officials claiming Khashoggi was killed inside the consulate.

Opposition Factions Need ‘Several Days’ to Withdraw Weapons from Idlib Buffer Zone
Asharq Al-Awsat/Sunday, 7 October, 2018/Opposition factions in Syria will need “several days” to withdraw their heavy weapons from a buffer zone that is being planned in the northwestern region of Idlib, said the Turkish-backed National Liberation Front (NLF) on Sunday.
The NLF said that it began withdrawing heavy arms from the zone as part of an agreement between Syrian regime ally Russia and opposition backer Turkey. Two Turkey-backed Syrian opposition officials told Reuters that the removal of heavy weapons began on Saturday. The accord, reached on September 17, aims to stave off a massive regime assault on Idlib, the last major opposition bastion in Syria, by creating a 15 to 20-kilometer (9-12 mile) buffer zone ringing the area. All opposition factions in the demilitarized zone must withdraw heavy arms by Wednesday, and radical groups must leave by October 15, under the deal. "We began to withdraw our heavy weapons from the demilitarized zone to rear positions," NLF spokesman Naji Mustafa told AFP. "The operation will last several days," he said, adding that the weapons will be held by fighters deployed in positions outside the demilitarized zone. The NLF is the main Turkey-backed opposition alliance in the Idlib region, but Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) holds most of the province and the zone. HTS, led by former al-Qaeda fighters, has yet to announce its stance on the buffer zone deal. On Saturday, a media spokesman for Faylaq al-Sham, one of the NLF factions, confirmed the withdrawal of arms. Seif Raad said it included pulling back missile launchers, tanks and mortars.The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights war monitor said the withdrawal of weapons had already started a week ago and would continue for several more days. Weapons were pulled back in opposition-held areas in the north of Hama province on the border with Idlib and had also been shifted in Idlib province, the Britain-based monitor said. Turkey has deployed troops in "observation posts" it set up in opposition-held areas of Idlib and neighboring Aleppo province in recent weeks.

Palestinian Gunman Kills Two Israelis at West Bank Settlement
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/October 07/18/A shooting attack by a Palestinian at an industrial zone for a West Bank settlement on Sunday killed two Israelis and wounded another, the Israeli army said. Army spokesman Jonathan Conricus said the 23-year-old Palestinian had worked in the Barkan industrial zone, where the attack took place in the occupied West Bank. Conricus called it a "terrorist attack" but added that other unspecified factors were involved. The Palestinian used a homemade gun in the attack, known locally as a Carlo, according to Conricus. He said it appeared it was a "lone-wolf attack." Security forces were searching for the suspected perpetrator, Conricus said. Magen David Adom emergency medical services said their medics had entered a building at Barkan where they found a man and woman without pulse, and pronounced them dead. A woman aged 54 was also found wounded and in moderate condition, the medical services said. Speaking at the beginning of the weekly cabinet meeting, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called the shooting "a very severe terror attack." He said he was certain the perpetrator would be caught and brought to justice. The Palestinian Islamic Jihad militant group called the attack a "natural response" to Israeli crimes in Gaza, Jerusalem and Khan al-Ahmar, a Bedouin village in the West Bank slated for demolition. The industrial zone is located next to Israeli settlement Barkan and near the settlement of Ariel in the north of the West Bank.
Palestinians work side by side with Israelis in the industrial zone. A wave of Palestinian attacks against Israelis broke out in 2015, but they have since become sporadic. Last month, a Palestinian teenager stabbed an Israeli to death at a junction at the entrance to a large bloc of Israeli settlements in the West Bank near Jerusalem. A number of attacks have occurred at that location, the Gush Etzion Junction.

Israel’s Netanyahu to Meet Putin to Discuss Syria
Asharq Al-Awsat/Asharq Al Awsat/October 07/18/Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced on Sunday that he will meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin to address the conflict in Syria. Netanyahu said he had spoken with Putin and the two agreed "to meet soon in order to continue the important inter-military security coordination". He did not specify a date for their meeting. Speaking at the start of a cabinet session, Netanyahu again pledged to stop "Iran from establishing a military presence in Syria and to thwart the transfer of lethal weapons to Hezbollah in Lebanon". The meeting will be the first between them since the accidental downing of a Russian plane led to tensions. The plane was downed by Syrian air defenses, which fired in response to an Israeli raid in the country. Putin and Netanyahu have spoken at least three times by phone since the September 17 incident. Fifteen Russians were killed in the downing that Moscow blamed on Israel, accusing its pilots of using the larger Russian plane as cover. Israel disputes the Russian findings and says its jets were back in Israeli airspace when the plane was downed. Russia announced new security measures to protect its military in Syria, including supplying the Syrian regime with S-300 air defense systems and jamming radars of nearby warplanes. Israeli officials have said the new system could be defeated by Israel’s stealth fighters and possibly destroyed on the ground, and they have pledged to press on with efforts to prevent military entrenchment by Iran in Syria. But since the Russian plane was shot down, there have been no reports of Israeli air strikes in Syria. The apparent pause has raised speculation in the Israeli media that Israel was either holding back at Russia’s request or paused the attacks over concern they would fuel tensions with Moscow. Israel has carried out hundreds of strikes in Syria against Iranian military targets and advanced arms deliveries to Hezbollah.
Russia and Israel set up a hotline in 2015 to avoid accidental clashes in Syria.

Israel Reduces Fishing Zone in Gaza

Asharq Al-Awsat/Saturday, 6 October, 2018/Israel's Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman on Saturday ordered a reduction of the fishing zone along the Gaza Strip's coastline, in retaliation for clashes along the border fence with the Palestinian enclave. The fishing zone will be reduced to six nautical miles (11 kilometers) from nine nautical miles, a statement by his office said. Restrictions on the extent of fishing zones along the Gaza shoreline form part of Israel's economic blockade of the Strip, which has been in place for more than a decade. Under the Oslo Accords of the early 1990s, fishermen are supposed to be allowed to operate up to 20 nautical miles off the coast. Lieberman decided to reduce the fishing zone after violent incidents on Friday along the border between Israel and Gaza, the defense ministry statement said. Three Palestinians were killed by Israeli fire during protests along the border fence on Friday, while 376 were wounded, including 126 with bullet wounds, Gaza's health ministry said. Ahead of the latest protests, Lieberman had on Friday issued a warning to Hamas, which controls Gaza. The defense minister indicated that Israel would step up its retaliation against the protests after the Jewish holiday season, which ended early this week. "We got through the High Holy days exactly as we had planned, without an eruption ... and while exacting a high price on the rioters along the Gaza border", he said in a tweet.
"But the holidays are now behind us. I tell the leaders of Hamas: 'Take that into account'", he added. Palestinians have been protesting at least weekly along the Gaza border since March 30 in what they call the "Great March of Return". Protesters are demanding an end to the blockade and for Palestinian refugees to be allowed to return to homes their families fled in the 1948 war surrounding Israel's creation. Friday's protests were bigger than those in recent weeks.
At least 198 Palestinians have been killed since the protests began, while one Israeli soldier has been shot dead over the same period.

Two Israelis Killed in West Bank Shooting
Ramallah- Asharq Al-Awsat/Sunday, 7 October, 2018/A Palestinian shot dead two Israelis and wounded another at a West Bank settlement's industrial zone on Sunday as security forces hunted the suspect who also worked at the site, the Israeli army said. Since the attack was allegedly carried out by a Palestinian employed at the Barkan industrial zone in the occupied West Bank, questions were raised over whether he knew the victims and over the motivation behind the shooting. The 23-year-old Palestinian used a homemade gun, known locally as a "Carlo".
Security forces were searching for the suspected perpetrator. Surveillance footage spread online that appeared to show the Palestinian fleeing the site with a gun. Magen David Adom emergency medical services said their medics had entered a building at Barkan where they found a man and woman, both without a pulse, and pronounced them dead. "Later we found another injured woman hiding under a table with gunshot wounds in her upper body," said paramedic Tomer Fine, who was the first responder at the site.The woman, 54, was taken to hospital, where her condition was stabilized. The Palestinian Islamic Jihad militant group called the attack a "natural response" to Israeli crimes in Gaza, Jerusalem and Khan al-Ahmar, a Bedouin village in the West Bank slated for demolition. The industrial zone is located next to the Israeli settlement Barkan and near the settlement of Ariel in the north of the West Bank. Palestinians work side by side with Israelis in the industrial zone. Palestinians often face tough choices in finding employment in the economically struggling West Bank and jobs in Israeli settlements can provide steady income. Some Israeli media reported the Palestinian suspect had been recently fired from his job at the site, raising speculation the attack may have been motivated by a personal vendetta. The army, however, said the alleged shooter was still employed at the site as of Sunday, but noted he had been away from work in recent days. The attack took place at the Barkan depot of the Alon Group, which manufactures recycling and environmental products, according to Eran Bodankin, a manager at the site. Speaking with Channel 10 television, Bodankin said the suspect had entered the offices to fix an electrical problem, only to open fire at a secretary and senior manager sitting nearby. A wave of Palestinian attacks against Israelis broke out in 2015, but they have since become sporadic. Last month, a Palestinian teenager stabbed an Israeli to death at a junction at the entrance to a large bloc of Israeli settlements in the West Bank near Jerusalem. A number of attacks have occurred at that location, the Gush Etzion Junction. Israel settlements are considered illegal under international law and major stumbling blocks to peace as they are built on land the Palestinians see as part of their future state.
President alAssad during alBaath Party’s Central Committee meeting: Idleb agreement is a temporary measure
NNA - Damascus [SANA] - The Central Committee of al-Baath Arab Socialist Party held a meeting on Sunday chaired by President Bashar al-Assad, the Party’s Regional Secretary, during which he gave a presentation of the latest political and field developments. The President said that what is happening in Syria cannot be separated from what has been amply in circulation recently about the so-called "Deal of the Century" which he said is "as old as the Palestinian cause, but has picked up momentum recently in order to benefit from the exit of many countries from the confrontation with the Israeli enemy." "What we have witnessed recently of Western hysteria ahead of Idleb battle stems from the fact that it is a fateful thing for them, because the Syrians’ victory in it will lead to the failure of their plans and to Syria’s return as yet a more serious prospect in the face of their project in the region than it was before whether through the 'Deal of the Century' or any other, and it will be a new model for the countries of the region and the world," said the President. Commenting on Idleb agreement, President al-Assad pointed out that the position of the Syrian state is clear that this province and other Syrian territory remaining under the control of terrorists will return to the Syrian state, describing the agreement as a temporary measure through which the state has achieved many gains in the field, first and foremost stemming bloodshed. President al-Assad affirmed that Syria’s enemies will ramp up their attempts to drain it militarily, politically, economically and socially as it progresses towards victory, predicting that this will incur internal challenges which are no less serious than war. In this context, President al-Assad considered that Syria is heading towards the rehabilitation of "some segments which incubated chaos and terrorism so that these segments will not be a loophole through which Syria will be targeted in the future." The President stressed the role of al-Baath Party in addressing the consequences of war and engaging in a rigorous study of society and the changes that took place, as well as putting forward its own perceptions and definitions regarding the terminology prevalent in society and synchronizing speech, practice and doctrine to reach different segments of society. President al-Assad affirmed the need to focus on the work of the Central Committee of the Party and the activation of its role, underlining the necessity that all the proposals put forward during its meetings have clear implementation mechanisms whereby responsibilities are assigned within a specific time frame. He also stressed on the need to create mechanisms of dialogue and communication to facilitate the creation of better decision-making mechanisms within the Party’s top brass. {SANA}

Witness: NY crash that left 20 dead was 'like an explosion'
Associated Press MICHAEL HILL/October 07/18
SCHOHARIE, N.Y. (AP) — A relaxed weekend afternoon turned into chaos at an upstate New York spot popular with tourists taking in the fall foliage when a crash involving a limousine left 20 people dead, officials said Sunday. A person with knowledge of the investigation told The Associated Press that 18 of the victims in Saturday afternoon's crash at the Apple Barrel Country Store were in the limo and two were bystanders. The person was not authorized to discuss the preliminary information publicly and spoke Sunday on the condition of anonymity. Local officials told the Times Union of Albany that a limo speeding down a hill hit bystanders at the store in Schoharie, about 170 miles (270 kilometers) north of New York City. The crash "sounded like an explosion," said Linda Riley, of nearby Schenectady, who was on a shopping trip with her sisters and had been in their parked car at the time at the store, which sits near a T-junction of two New York state highways.When she got out of her vehicle, she saw a body on the ground and broken tree branches everywhere, she said. People started screaming. State police confirmed the death toll and said the crash involved two vehicles. Customers in the parking lot were killed when they were hit by the limo coming down a hill on state Route 30 at "probably over 60 mph," the store manager, Jessica Kirby, told The New York Times . In a Facebook post on Saturday, the store thanked emergency responders for their actions. The store posted Sunday that it was open "and could use your hugs." Authorities didn't release names of victims or other specifics, but state police set up a hotline for family members. The National Transportation Safety Board is investigating. An afternoon news conference is planned. There was no information Sunday on the limousine or its integrity. But safety issues on such vehicles have arisen before, most notably after a wreck on Long Island in July 2015 in which four women on a winery tour were killed. They were in a Lincoln Town Car that had been cut apart and rebuilt in a stretch configuration to accommodate more passengers. The limousine was trying to make a U-turn and was struck by a pickup. A grand jury found that vehicles converted into stretch limousines often don't have safety measures including side-impact air bags, reinforced rollover protection bars and accessible emergency exits. That grand jury called on New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo to assemble a task force on limousine safety. Limousines built in factories are already required to meet stringent safety regulations, but when cars are converted into limos, safety features are sometimes removed, leading to gaps in safety protocols, the grand jury wrote. On Sunday, Cuomo released a statement saying, "My heart breaks for the 20 people who lost their lives in this horrific accident on Saturday in Schoharie. I commend the first responders who arrived on the scene and worked through the night to help. State police are working with federal and local authorities to investigate the crash, and I have directed state agencies to provide every resource necessary to aid in this investigation and determine what led to this tragedy."
*Associated Press writer David Klepper in Providence, Rhode Island, contributed to this report.
Kim Agrees to Meet with Trump 'at Earliest Date'
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/October 07/18/North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has agreed to hold a second summit with U.S. President Donald Trump as soon as possible, Seoul said Sunday. U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said "he agreed with Chairman Kim to hold the second U.S.-North Korea summit at the earliest date possible," South Korea's presidential office said in a statement.The two sides agreed to "continue talks to decide on the specific time and location for the second summit", Pompeo told South Korean President Moon Jae-in, following his meeting with Kim in Pyongyang earlier Sunday.
Iran Parliament Passes Counter-Terror Finance Bill
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/October 07/18/Iran's parliament on Sunday approved a bill to counter terrorist financing that was strongly opposed by conservatives but seen as vital to salvaging the nuclear deal with European and Asian partners. The bill aims to bring Iran's laws in line with international standards and allow it to join the U.N. Terrorism Financing Convention. It is one of four bills put forward by the government in recent months in a bid to meet demands by the international Financial Action Task Force (FATF), which has given Iran until later this month to tighten its laws against money laundering and terror financing. "Neither I nor the president can guarantee that all problems will go away if we join (the U.N. convention)," said Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif during Sunday's debate. "But I guarantee that not joining will provide the U.S. with more excuses to increase our problems," he added. The issue has become particularly pressing since the United States walked out of the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran earlier this year and began reimposing sanctions. The other parties to the deal -- Britain, France, Germany, China and Russia -- have sought to salvage the agreement and maintain trade with Iran, but have demanded that it accede to the FATF. Joining the U.N. convention has been controversial because hardliners say it will limit Iran's ability to support armed groups in the region such as its Lebanese ally Hizbullah. Iran is alone with North Korea on the blacklist of the FATF, although the Paris-based organization has suspended counter-measures since June 2017 while Iran works on reforms. A previous bill on the mechanics of monitoring and preventing terrorist financing was signed into law in August. Two other bills -- on money-laundering and organized crime -- have also been passed by parliament but have been delayed by higher authorities that vet legislation, including the Guardian Council.
'Death to traitors'
Conservatives were furious after Sunday's bill passed by 143 votes to 120, with protesters chanting "death to traitors" outside parliament. In a heated debate ahead of the vote, opponents of the bill said it would not solve the country's financial problems, and would help its enemies.
Hardline lawmaker Mohammad Dehghan warned the bill means "providing the enemy with intelligence during an economic war" and that passing it amounted to "treason." Economists say greater transparency could cause problems for powerful behind-the-scenes networks, including the Revolutionary Guards military organization, which is deeply embedded in Iran's opaque economy. Both sides of the debate have evoked supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei to support their position. Conservatives pointed to Khamenei's statement in June that Iran has "no need to join" global conventions. But parliament speaker Ali Larijani, who supports the government's position, said he had received a letter from Khamenei explaining that his remarks were about "conventions in general" and not meant to oppose any particular bills. Reformist lawmaker Mohammad Feyzi told the session that Iran does not have "the luxury of choice" and will face negative consequences if it refuses to join the FTF. Ali Najafi, spokesman for the parliament's commission which produced the bill, said Iran retained the right to walk away from the U.N. convention "wherever it acts against the Iranian constitution" and emphasized that it does not force Iran to recognize Israel.

Brazil Votes for New President, Far-Right Bolsonaro in Lead
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/October 07/18/Brazilians began casting ballots Sunday in their most divisive presidential election in years, with a far-right politician promising an iron-fisted crackdown on crime, Jair Bolsonaro, the firm favorite in the first round. Surveys suggest the 63-year-old former paratrooper, who wants to cut spiraling debt through sweeping privatizations and embrace the United States and Israel, could count on more than one in three voters in the vast Latin American nation. But at least as many in the 147-million-strong electorate reject the veteran federal lawmaker. He is known for repeated offensive comments against women, gays and the poor, and for lauding the military dictatorship Brazil shucked off just three decades ago. If Bolsonaro gets more than 50 percent of the vote to lead the field of 13 candidates, he will win the presidency outright. Otherwise, a run-off will be held on October 28. Analysts say a first-round victory for Bolsonaro is possible -- but unlikely. The last surveys released late Saturday credited Bolsonaro with 36 percent against 22 percent for his nearest rival, leftist former Sao Paulo mayor Fernando Haddad. With blank and invalid votes stripped out, Bolsonaro could pocket 40-41 percent of the vote to 25 percent for Haddad, polling firms Ibope and Datafolha said. A run-off was seen as too close to call, given the two-point margin of error, though Bolsonaro was seen with a small edge: 45 percent, to 41-43 percent for Haddad. Voting began at 8:00 am (1100 GMT) under tight security. Initial results were expected shortly after the last polling stations close at 2200 GMT in the western Amazonian state of Acre.
Voting marked by 'fear, anger'
Haddad, 55, has picked up support that still exists for leftist ex-president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, the Workers Party icon jailed for corruption who was declared ineligible from making a comeback because of a failed appeal.
Brazil lived through its economic heyday during Lula's 2003-2010 presidency, but plunged into its worst-ever recession under his chosen successor, Dilma Rousseff. She was impeached and booted from office in 2016 for financial wrongdoing. Many blame the Workers Party for the country's current economic malaise. The result is one of the most polarized elections Brazil has seen. Voter rejection of the two leading candidates is bigger than their polled support. Voters stuck between the far right and the left are likely to make their choice "more from fear or from anger than from conviction," said Geraldo Monteiro, a political analyst at Rio de Janeiro State University. The run-off round could be "even more radical, maybe with violence," he warned. The winner will rule the world's eighth biggest economy: a nation with 210 million inhabitants and abundant natural resources whose top trading partner is China. Should Bolsonaro become president, he will have to form legislative alliances. His ultraconservative Social Liberal Party has just eight deputies in the outgoing, 513-seat lower house of congress. After Sunday's general election, in which new federal and state legislatures will also be chosen, it might at best pick up only a handful of seats. But Bolsonaro, a Catholic, is close to the evangelical church lobby that includes many lawmakers. Deputies linked to Brazil's powerful agro-business lobby are also siding with him.
- A 'clean' candidate -
Bolsonaro's profile and anti-crime agenda got an unintended boost a month ago when he was stabbed by a lone assailant who police said had political motives. Forced off the campaign trail for weeks, Bolsonaro intensified his use of Facebook, Instagram and Twitter to reach Brazilians.
In the week before the election, his poll figures soared, while Haddad's stalled. Even those opposed to Bolsonaro admit that he is a "clean" candidate, unsullied by corruption scandals that have mired many other politicians. At a last pro-Bolsonaro rally in the capital Brasilia, supporters said they saw him as a savior. "Bolsonaro is the best for the country today -- he is the hope of a better country. If we don't have Bolsonaro, we will become a Venezuela," said one demonstrating government worker, Cacio de Oliveira. The current president, Rousseff's center-right former deputy Michel Temer, is not contesting Sunday's election. He will leave office at the end of the year as a deeply unpopular figure in a country with 13 million unemployed, climbing public debt and inflation, and record violence.
The Latest LCCC Bulletin analysis & editorials from miscellaneous sources published on October 07-08/18
Iran's Idea of "Human Rights": Persecute Christians
ريموند إيراهيم: مفهوم إيران لحقوق الإنسان هو أضطهاد المسيحيين
Raymond Ibrahim/Gatestone Institute/October 07/2018
"The government often uses it [the charge of 'acting against national security'] against converts instead of the charge of apostasy... in an attempt to avoid international scrutiny." — Morning Star News, July 13, 2017.
Not only does Iran persecute its Christian minorities, but it also tries to coerce them to embrace Islam -- despite Rouhani's boasts before the UN that "Iran does not seek to... impose its official religion on others..."
"Rouhani wants to prove that he is a good Muslim by persecuting Christians....The authorities are trying to eradicate Christianity, just as the Islamic State group, but smarter." — Iranian Christian living in hiding, BosNewsLife, September 7, 2017.
"If a prisoner's case got [international media] attention, they stopped torturing or raping them because they knew the world was watching...." — Mohabat News, October 23, 2017.
Until such time that Iran can show that it cares about the human rights of all -- including non-Muslims who live within its borders -- all of President Hassan Rouhani's lofty talk about rights and Palestinians must be seen for what it is: hypocrisy, lies and a political agenda.
In a speech before the United Nations on September 20, 2017, presumably as a way to support his claim that Israel is "a rogue and racist regime [that] trample[s] upon the most basic rights of the Palestinians," Iranian President Hassan Rouhani repeatedly portrayed his government as dedicated to "moderation and respect for human rights," adding:
"We in Iran strive to build peace and promote the human rights of peoples and nations. We never condone tyranny and we always defend the voiceless. We never threaten anyone..."
One need only look to Iran's Christians -- who form 1% of its entire population -- to test these claims. Unlike the persecution other Christian minorities experience in Muslim majority nations -- which often comes at the hands of Muslim individuals, mobs, or professional terrorists -- the primary driver of Christian persecution in Iran is the government itself.
The 2018 World Watch List, compiled by Open Doors -- a human rights organization that highlights the global persecution of Christians -- makes this clear. Iran is among the top ten worst nations where Christians experience "extreme persecution":
Whereas most persecution of Christians in the Arab Gulf region comes from society or radical Islamic groups, the main threat for believers in Iran comes from the government. The Iranian regime declares the country to be a Shia Islamic State and is constantly expanding its influence. Hardliners within the regime are vehemently opposed to Christianity, and create severe problems for Christians, particularly converts from Islam. Christians and other minorities are seen as threats to this end, and are persecuted as a result. Iranian society as a whole is more tolerant than their leadership, thanks in part due to the influence of moderate and mystical Sufi Islam.
Most of the Iranian regime's persecution seems directed against Protestant Christians and Muslim converts to branches of Christianity, such as the Evangelical, Baptist and Pentecostal strains. Because they are denied the right to build churches, Christians often resort to meeting and worshipping in secret. Reports of Iranian authorities breaking into such house-church gatherings, arresting and hauling off many, if not all, present Christians have become increasingly common.
Discussing this trend, Middle East Concern, another human rights organization, says:
A great many Iranians have been coming to Christ and it's something which the authorities are clearly very unhappy about. So there are periodic arrests, detentions, [and] imprisonments. There have been a lot of charges lately which are suggesting an even greater clampdown—sentences of 10-15 years in some cases for Christians. And usually, the authorities will suggest that this [is] the result of undermining the state or seeking to collaborate against the state and will use more political charges than say apostasy or blasphemy laws.
In June 2017, for example, four Muslim converts to Christianity, who were arrested a month earlier in raids on house-churches, were each sentenced to 10 years in prison.
"The four men were officially charged with 'acting against national security,' a catch-all charge often used by the Iranian government to punish different types of religious and political dissent. The government often uses it against converts instead of the charge of apostasy, according to freedom of religion advocates, in an attempt to avoid international scrutiny."
Most recently, another convert to Christianity, Naser Navard Gol-Tapeh, inquired about the charge for which he was convicted, "Action against national security through the establishment of house churches." In an August 2018 open letter to the Iranian court that sentenced him to ten years in prison, he asked:
" the fellowship of a few Christian brothers and sisters in someone's home, singing worship songs, reading the Bible and worshiping God acting against national security? Isn't it a clear violation of civil and human rights, and an absolute injustice to receive a ten-year prison sentence just for organising 'house churches'"...
Although the official reason Iranian authorities give in all these arrests and convictions is that such Christian activities are tantamount to "crimes against national security," it seems that the real reason is hostility to religions other than Iran's indigenous religious denominations. For instance, "[w]hile the government is anti-Christian, it does grant some limited freedoms to historical [non-Protestant] Christian churches," according to the World Watch List.
"They [indigenous Orthodox and Catholic communities] are allowed to preach to fellow countrymen in their own language but are forbidden from ministering to people from Muslim backgrounds. Members of these historical churches are treated as second-class citizens, and they have reported imprisonment, physical abuse, harassment and discrimination, and jail terms, particularly for reaching out to Muslims."
Even historical, indigenous churches are targeted for destruction by Iranian authorities.
Not only does Iran persecute its Christian minorities, but it also tries to coerce them to embrace Islam -- despite Rouhani's boasts before the UN that "Iran does not seek to... impose its official religion on others," because "[w]e are so confident in the depth of our culture, the truth of our faith and tenacity and longevity of our revolution..."
In one instance, the government "ordered children belonging to families of one of the country's largest house-church movements to study the Koran and Shi'a Islamic teachings or face expulsion from school," notes one report. The policy "deprives Christian children of primary and secondary education unless they agree to religious instruction that does not conform to their faith." As one Iranian Christian living in hiding had explained:
"Rouhani wants to prove that he is a good Muslim by persecuting Christians.... Most of the new Christians are former Muslims.... The authorities are trying to eradicate Christianity, just as the Islamic State group, but smarter."
Many Christians who eventually escape Iran and its prisons make clear that pressuring them to convert to Islam was a standard tactic. An October 2017 report says that it had "obtained confirmed reports of them being beaten in prison and threatened that if they don't renounce their faith in Christ and turn away from their Christian faith they will be forced to leave the country or be beaten to death."
Similarly, while recounting their experiences in Iran's jail system, two female converts to Christianity said "they were asked repeatedly to deny their Christian faith," and "were denied medical treatment because of their faith and that they were seen as 'dirty infidels.'"
"We can do anything to you and nobody can stop us," their Islamic interrogators regularly informed them. "Here we are the law and we can do whatever we want.... If you don't give us the information we need, we'll beat you till you vomit blood..."
"They treated us like animals," recalled the women.
"If a prisoner's case got [international media] attention, they stopped torturing or raping them because they knew the world was watching.... We heard of many cases of prisoners who had no voice outside, and many things happened to them."
The irony is that Rouhani himself hints that Iran's commitment to human rights does not include non-Muslims. At one point in his UN speech, he said that "Human and citizens' rights, along with the quest for justice and Islamic values, have constituted the most pivotal demands of the Iranian people ... particularly in the Islamic Revolution of 1979." Evidently, any Iranian who has "Christian values" does not count.
Elsewhere, Rouhani said: "It is simply impossible for anybody to aspire to attain long-term stability, prosperity and development, while Muslims in Yemen, Syria, Iraq, Bahrain, Afghanistan, Myanmar and so many other places live in misery, war and poverty."
Why did Rouhani stress "Muslims"? Why not say "all people" in Syria, Iraq, etc.? Again, apparently the "misery" of non-Muslims who live in those countries does not warrant mention.
Until such time that Iran can show that it cares about the human rights of all -- including non-Muslims who live within its borders -- all lofty talk about rights and Palestinians must be seen for what it is: hypocrisy, lies and a political agenda.
Raymond Ibrahim, author of the new book, Sword and Scimitar, Fourteen Centuries of War between Islam and the West, is a Distinguished Senior Fellow at the Gatestone Institute and a Judith Rosen Friedman Fellow at the Middle East Forum.
© 2018 Gatestone Institute. All rights reserved. The articles printed here do not necessarily reflect the views of the Editors or of Gatestone Institute. No part of the Gatestone website or any of its contents may be reproduced, copied or modified, without the prior written consent of Gatestone Institute.

Why Qatar is draining itself
Mohammed Al Shaikh/Al Arabiya/October 07/18
No matter how stubborn they are, I have no doubt that Hamad bin Khalifa and his son are now regretting their actions as all the countries who tried to mediate have let them down. This is because most of the countries are convinced that Qatar sponsors terrorism.
Moreover, the boycotting countries are clearly more powerful than this miniscule statelet. The country is actually more like a night cricket, as per the Najd proverb. It has no power except for the annoying noise made by its media, which in this instance has not been able to make the four Arab countries back down from their firm stance. Any observer can see that Qatar, its diplomacy and values, have been deeply impacted. The only hope left is that another President like Barack Obama reappears in the future to rescue them, as President Trump has virtually erased all of his predecessor’s actions.
President Trump is popular among the American people, and this makes his reelection for a second term almost certain especially as the Democratic Party is still looking for someone capable of running against President Trump and matching his economic achievements. This suggests that he would probably win the second term as well.
Qatar’s only asset
President Trump does not care much about Qatar’s present conditions, crisis and isolation. The Qataris have approached the White House several times after the present crisis but they were met with deliberate indifference. The Americans would not sacrifice relations with four major countries in the region in support of Qatar. Qatar’s only asset is that it has Al-Udeid Air Base. The Americans know that Qatar cannot bargain with this base, because its existence as a country depends on Al-Udeid. Thus according to US decision makers, this country cannot be given much importance. Qataris approached the White House several times but were met with deliberate indifference. American analysts notice that Qataris are still extending support to exponents of political Islam, mainly the Muslim Brotherhood which the pivotal states in the region consider it a terrorist organization. For those who are familiar with the reputation of the Muslim Brotherhood in the US, they’d see there is an orientation among many American departments to categorize it as a terrorist group. This will make Qatari leaders abandon the group and throw out its cadres outside the country. Even Turkey has started feeling that it went too far in supporting Qatar, and that it has made a mistake by aligning itself with it thus confusing its relations with the four boycotting countries, with Saudi Arabia at the forefront. There are a lot of indicators that confirm what I am saying. Turkish President Erdogan is known to be a pragmatist. Any rational pragmatist would not sacrifice relations with four states and make an alliance with a statelet like Qatar. It is obvious that the quartet boycotting Qatar and Qatar’s attempt to exit the crisis of marginalization and boycott has drained its revenues and has forced it to borrow to fulfill its obligations to Western countries. All the indicators suggest that the crisis will prolong and will lead to a drastic impact in the long term. For this reason, Qatar is left with no option but to accept the terms of the boycotting countries. Politics nowadays is not managed by hopes, but with awareness and foresight of the future, while dealing with it objectively and rationally.

Saudi Aramco IPO: Back on track
Dr. Mohamed A. Ramady/Al Arabiya/October 07/18
The recent spate of so-called exclusive news and counter news that the planned Aramco IPO was cancelled, then put on permanent hold had confused the market, as the Aramco IPO had been touted as being one of the centerpieces of the ongoing Saudi Arabian economic Transformation Vision 2030 agenda.
The recent in-depth interview by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman with Bloomberg has put these rumors to rest. In a nutshell – the Aramco IPO is back on track, but not as previously expected during 2018 or even 2019, but most likely in 2020 or early 2021.
The reasons given by the Crown Prince make sense and are in line with those observers who were skeptical about the cancellation or permanent delay of the IPO. The reason for the rumors was the announced plan by Aramco a few months ago of their intention to purchase the government’s stake in SABIC, or the Saudi Arabian Basic Industries Company, the mega-petrochemical giant with operations in both the Kingdom and overseas. The government’s stake is held by the Public Investment Fund (PIF) – the Saudi Sovereign Wealth entity – which is also a key agent of the transformation of the Saudi economy through its ongoing and planned domestic, and high profile international investment portfolio that includes Tesla and Uber, as well as investments with Softbank in the technology sectors.
The SABIC stake is valued at around $70 billion and Aramco plans to leverage its low debt balance sheet and borrow this amount internationally to conclude the purchase sometimes during 2019. The Crown Prince alluded to the Aramco purchase of SABIC share as the prime reason for the delay in the Aramco IPO and the reasons given were again rational. It takes time, appropriate legal and financial due diligence to conclude such a mega transaction with other legal opinions sought in jurisdictions where SABIC has international operations so as to ensure that no local anti-trust laws are broken.
The intention, according to the Crown Prince, is that after an appropriate time, the Aramco IPO would definitely be carried out along the same original guidelines – a five percent flotation in the domestic bourse and an international venue, with the expected valuation expected to be two trillion dollars or more.
It takes time, appropriate legal and financial due diligence to conclude such a mega transaction with other legal opinions sought in jurisdictions
Audited accounts
The reason for the expected IPO date of 2020 or early 2021 is that a full year of audited accounts and performance is required following the Aramco purchase of the SABIC share, and that the combined petrochemical synergy and consolidation of the Saudi downstream energy sector would be the main driver of the higher expected valuation, as experts had cast some doubt that the higher two trillion dollar valuation estimates could be achieved based on an Aramco IPO alone.
The in-depth interview noted that a potential international listing venue was still open but would still be dependent on legal, market financial depth and other factors to be taken into account by the company and its advisors.
The final outcome is the same – the PIF would receive the proceeds of both the SABIC sale and the expected Aramco IPO, amounting to 180-180 billion dollars or more. The interview touched upon the PIF’s investment strategy with focus on domestic investment going forward from a current equal split for domestic – international investment. Concerning Aramco, according to another recent interview by its CEO Amin Nasser, the company has completed its IPO due diligence, a new board of directors has been appointed, financial and oil reserve due diligence carried out, and Aramco is now focusing on concluding the SABIC purchase. He categorically refuted the rumors of an IPO cancellation or permanent delay and reiterated that the final go-ahead for the IPO was a sovereign decision. This is now confirmed by the Crown Prince, who also advised that, following an Aramco IPO, the company would continue to be in the hands of the Saudi government and not transferred to the PIF as had been noted earlier in 2016. Given the different corporate objectives and management mandates of the PIF and Aramco, this clarification is welcomed. The in-depth and wide-ranging interview and answers given by the Crown Prince are a refreshing change. While the Aramco IPO issue will not be in the limelight for the next few years, the IPO will take place and is not dead.

Has secularism found a niche in Iran’s Qom?
Amir Taheri/Al Arabiya/October 07/18
Because it attaches the adjective “Islamic” to all its organs and whatever action it takes, the Khomeinist regime in Iran is often described as a theocracy with Shi’ism as an ideological backbone. However, what if the adjective is misplaced, not to say misleading? What if specialists have failed to note the underlying current of tension between the Islamic Republic as a political construct and traditional structures of Shi’ism? Although Shi’ism has never had a formal organization, in the sense that Christian churches do, for example, it has, at least during the past two centuries, developed an informal apparatus of discernment and hierarchization distinct, and at times opposed, to the state machinery in place. At the heart of that apparatus is the seminary (howzah) in Arabic, a network of schools dedicated to the training of successive generations of clerics. In February 1979 as the late Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini jumped into the void left by the Shah’s sudden departure from Iran, the assumption was that the “howzah”, as the key organ of the clerical hierarchy, will seize control of the machinery of the state through a de facto merger. However, such a merger didn’t take place. To start with only a handful of senior ayatollahs endorsed the new Khomeimist regime, and even then not always enthusiastically. To be sure, the number of men donning turbans and fondling rosaries increased sharply as a clerical cache became a “must” for securing plum, jobs in the government. Thousands of opportunists switched from civil clothes to clerical gear and promoted themselves as Hojat al-Islam or even Ayatollah.
Now finding its legitimacy challenged by popular discontent, the Islamic Republic is trying to reassert control over the traditional clerical hierarchy, most notably in Qom.
In 1979, the Endowments Office, a branch of the Shah’s government, estimated the number of clerics and students of theology at around 200,000. In 1989 the number had risen to almost half a million. Since it was physically impossible to train so many new mullahs one must assume that the more than doubling of the number of clerics was largely due to an influx of self-styled “holy men.” These new “holy men” gave a visual endorsement to the new regime’s clerical claims. At the same time, however, their presence enabled the traditional clergy to maintain at least part of its independent identity. The Khomeinist regime’s religious claims were also challenged by the fact that the seminary (howzah) in Najaf, Iraq, was beyond its control and thus capable of offering a refuge to Iranian clerics who did not share the radical political ideas of the self-styled “Imam” Khomeini.
Claim to religious legitimacy
However, as long as the new regime could threaten or bribe the “howzah’ in Qom, it could sustain at least part of its claim to religious legitimacy. To that end, the regime created a Council of Theologians, consisting of seven to nine ayatollahs chosen by the “Supreme Guide” and bolstered by generous government handouts. However, although some of the “chosen ones” became immensely rich, they failed to secure a genuine popular following. Thus instead of the regime relying on their popularity, they relied on the regime’s money for their continued prominence. Over the years, the Iranian “howzahs” operating in 30 cities across the nation, most notably in Qom, managed to put some blue water between themselves and the state machinery of the Islamic Republic. The “traditionalists” refused to political positions and stayed away from such organs of the state as the Islamic Majlis, the Assembly of Experts and the Guardians’ Council. The all-important “howzah” in Najaf has gone further in putting some blue water between itself and the Khomeinist state apparatus. Its key figures, notably Grand Ayatollah Ali-Muhammad Sistani have even stopped visiting Iran.
Now finding its legitimacy challenged by popular discontent, the Islamic Republic is trying to reassert control over the traditional clerical hierarchy, most notably in Qom. Last summer when the “holy city” became a scene of revolt against the regime, the “Supreme Guide” Ali Khamenei had to cancel a visit and ordered the Imam Sadeq Brigade to restore order. Official propaganda claimed that, by implicitly endorsing political discontent, the traditional clergy had become “secular”. That claim was the central theme of a demonstration last August organized by Islamic Security and sponsored by the Imam Sadeq Brigade, to intimidate the traditional clergy. Accompanied by hundreds of young clerics, the Imam Sadeq Brigade occupied the famous Faizieh School where government propagandists launched a massive attack on traditional ayatollahs and their pupils. “The secularization of the howzah is a threat to the established order,” said Hassan Rahimpour Azghadi, a media-savvy theoretician of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps. “The howzah is, in effect, colluding with secularism, perhaps unwittingly.”The show of force in Qom included some noise about the regime’s generous financial support for clerics and students of theology with the implicit threat that, if the “howzah” sided with dissidents, it might come to an end. The riposte by traditional clergy came in the form of a class sermon by Grand Ayatollah Muhammad Jawad Alawi Borujerdi, regarded by many as one of Qom’s top masters of theology. “Some gentlemen claim that the howzah has become secular,” he said. “If they claim that the howzah isn’t concerned by the people’s lives, problems and anxieties, that is obviously a lie. In essence, Shi’ism is a political faith and cannot be indifferent to the people.”In a thinly veiled attack on state-financed clerics, the ayatollah added: “Secular are those who regard obedience to anyone {in power}; those who invent ideology for the rule of the despots… Don’t expect the howzah to do what suits you!” Further, he added: “Yes, we do discuss matters {pertaining} to state and to limits {of power}. The field of religion, just like the fields of science and art must be open and free, meaning that people should be free to debate and discuss and theorize... Sciences progress only thanks to freedom, enabling all to benefit.”
The ayatollah also called on the government to stop handouts to clerics and students of theology. “We have always depended on people’s voluntary donations,” he said.
Within 48 hours of the grand ayatollah’s sermon, the “Supreme Guide” had dismissed Gen. Hassan Tabibi-Far as Commander of the Imam Sadeq Brigade and ordered an investigation into last August’s dubious demonstration.
Qom going “secular”? Hard to believe, although the Tehran leadership’s ignorance and arrogance could lead to unexpected reactions from the victims of its brutal cynicism and corruption.

Saudi Arabia and The US: A Peer-to-Peer Relationship
Salman Al-dossary/Asharq Al Awsat/October 07/18
Throughout his 2016 presidential campaign, US President Donald Trump toured various states, launching an assortment of statements that tickled voters’ feelings. He did not spare any country. He has targeted all of his country’s allies, one by one, including Saudi Arabia.
He has invested well in issues that excite US citizens, such as oil prices, the demand of financial returns from countries he claims the US protects, and the provision of more jobs at the expense of those countries. The fact is there is no better than these statements to earn votes. Lower oil prices and more money! Oh my God, how tempted the voters are! Trump then entered the White House as president almost two years ago, and his previous positions turned upside down. He traveled to Saudi Arabia as the first country to be visited by a US president after his election. He adopted the Kingdom’s position in its strategy against Iran. He joined it in the war against ISIS, along with 50 other states – a war that proved to be very successful. Both sides benefited from their alliance economically, militarily and politically. He did not translate a single statement from his electoral campaign. In the US midterm elections, he resorted again to his favorite rhetoric, but this time as a president. Electoral votes are not easy to attract; to be the ally of Saudi Arabia, South Korea, Japan, Germany and others, constituted a dense subject for his tours in the US. However, the truth is that nothing has changed much in the Administration’s positions with its allies. All that has changed is that there is a US president who launches exciting statements for his citizens. At the same time, his positions and policies do not change towards the same allies whom he attacks.
Undeniably, there is no comparison between the Saudi-US relations in the era of former President Barack Obama and that of his successor, Donald Trump. The first has spent eight years working against the Saudi agenda and that of regional states, and his country failed to achieve any progress with its strategy. When Trump embraced the Saudi agenda, success was guaranteed. This equation was clearly explained by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in his interview with Bloomberg, stressing, in a strong and decisive response – the first of its kind by a US ally – to Trump’s claim that Riyadh has agreed to pay in return for this protection: “In fact, we will pay nothing for our security.”
Certainly, it cannot be said that Saudi-American relations are lukewarm or tense, although there are many countries and entities that wish so and work for it. The fact is that Saudi Arabia is dealing with its ally on a peer-to-peer basis. The Kingdom disapproves of Trump’s statements, corrects them and reveals their truth. It points to errors if they occur. It does not allow any attempt to harm its prestige and status. The Kingdom does not act like a small marginal country that acts like a subordinate to the leader and that doesn’t dare to respond to President Trump, even if he explicitly accused it of supporting terrorism; and what is meant here, of course, is Qatar. The Saudi message of utmost importance was delivered by the Crown Prince, who said that neither the United States nor any other country in the world protects his country, just as this nearly 300-year-old Kingdom protects itself. It actually pays money to its people, who are protecting its security and stability.

Pressure mounts on Tehran for sponsoring terror
تصاعد الضغط على إيران بسبب رعايتها الإرهاب
Dr. Majid Rafizadeh/Arab News/October 07/18
Pressure has been building against the Iranian regime to levels not witnessed since the establishment of the Islamic Republic in 1979. This time France, which appeared to have a benign relationship with Iran, is exerting the pressure.
France considerably improved bilateral ties, and President Emmanuel Macron recently lobbied in Washington in favor of Iran. Yet Tehran did not reciprocate and showed no mercy on Paris. The French government has publicly linked Tehran to a terrorist plot in Paris that was foiled in June.
This is significant because it demonstrates that governments that appease Tehran and improve ties with it are not necessarily immune from its malign and aggressive foreign policy. In fact, leaders who are enhancing ties with Tehran are inadvertently making their countries more vulnerable to its destructive behavior and terrorist acts. The Paris plot targeted the “Free Iran” convention that I and many senior US, European and Middle Eastern officials attended and spoke at. Tens of thousands of people, including women and children, were there too. An Iranian diplomat and several individuals of Iranian origin were arrested in various European countries, including France, Belgium and Germany.
France’s foreign, interior and finance ministers said in a joint statement that a terrorist plot of “such extreme seriousness on French territory could not be let go without a response… France has taken preventive, proportionate and targeted measures.” They added: “France reiterates its determination to fight terrorism, especially on its own territory.” Paris has also frozen the assets of Iran’s Intelligence Ministry. The terrorist plot in Paris linked to Iran demonstrates that governments that pursue appeasement policies toward the Iranian regime are not necessarily immune from its malignant and aggressive foreign policy.
Tehran has tried to use its so-called moderate politicians to totally dismiss its involvement, but it does not hesitate to resort to terrorism to pursue its hegemonic ambitions. The link between Tehran and the terrorist plot should come as no surprise since the theocratic establishment continues to be the world’s top state sponsor of terrorism. The involvement in the plot of an Iranian diplomat based in Europe, and several people connected to him, should teach governments three important lessons. Firstly, Iran can use its embassies and diplomats as important sources for coordinating terrorist acts. For example, last year Kuwait expelled Iran’s ambassador and 14 other diplomats due to links to a “spy and terror” cell, and ordered the closure of Iran’s cultural and military missions.
Secondly, Tehran has long been violating international norms with impunity. Thirdly, Iran’s Intelligence Ministry has become successful in recruiting and employing spies and agents in other nations. Tehran will not alter the core pillar of its ideology: Sponsoring and committing terrorist acts worldwide.
**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 2018 Nobel Prize: Spotlighting an epidemic of sexual violence

Baria Alamuddin/Arab News/October 07/18
It was her unbearably sorrowful eyes that struck me most viscerally when I first met Nobel Peace Prize winner Nadia Murad. These eyes bore hauntingly eloquent testimony to the unbearable atrocities she had endured.
As Daesh attacked the Sinjar region of Iraq, Murad and hundreds of other Yazidi girls witnessed family members and neighbors slaughtered. These girls were enslaved, violently raped, tortured and traded from one fighter to another. Many were killed, many are still being held, and the fate of many will never be known. Having faced brutal reprisals for an earlier attempt to escape, Murad risked her life by fleeing when her captor left the door unlocked. But she did not just survive. She courageously stood up and told the world about the brutality that women like her had faced, as beatings and gang rape became routine. When asked whether she had contemplated suicide, she responded that they had already died many times over, yet lived in constant fear that the future held far worse horrors.
Another thing that struck me about Murad is that she does not have an ounce of self-pity. She rarely talks or thinks about herself. I ask her how she is, and she immediately tells me about the wellbeing of those who escaped from captivity. Coming from a culture where speaking of sexual violence is an absolute taboo and victims face ostracization, Murad demanded that she be named and photographed to shatter the wall of silence and shame against innocent victims of rape.
In doing so, she facilitated the traumatic process of released women being welcomed back by communities that may once have shunned them. She consequently enjoys heroic status among the women of Sinjar. Murad and her legal team spearheaded the international campaign for Daesh personnel to be held to account for crimes against humanity. She visits refugee camps in Iraq, Greece and other locations, where Iraqis remain in harrowing conditions and vulnerable women continue to face the threat of sexual violence.
Dr. Denis Mukwege was awarded the Nobel Prize along with Murad for his work in treating thousands of women who had been violently raped during the Congolese conflict. He continued his work despite assassination attempts after publically criticizing the Congolese government’s failure to protect women.
We can no longer pretend to be unaware of this plague of sexual violence by powerful men against defenseless women worldwide.
The joint recognition of Murad and Mukwege was an ingenious way for the Nobel Prize Committee to highlight sexual violence against women worldwide. In conflict zones and supposedly civilized nations whose political elites should know better, this recognition does not come a moment too soon.
I was deeply touched by Murad’s harrowing autobiography, which she named “The Last Girl,” hoping that her campaign would ensure that she would be the “last girl in the world with a story like mine.” However, as the committee chairman observed, women in these conflicts are “used as a weapon of war.” Systematic rape has recently been documented against Rohingya women.
Even in Iraq, there are plentiful warning signs that such a scenario could repeat itself. The specters of terrorism, militancy and religious hatred have not been banished. Daesh is once again reconstituting itself in remote parts of central Iraq.
Meanwhile, Al-Hashd Al-Shaabi paramilitary forces — which themselves have been complicit in systematic war crimes such as sectarian cleansing and sexual attacks against displaced women — are today consolidating their position in government. The unleashing of sectarian forces was among the factors that tore Iraq apart in 2014 and allowed Daesh to embark on its genocidal campaign against the country’s minorities. Are the same mistakes being repeated?
I was overjoyed at this year’s choice of Nobel Prize, not least because this avoided the farcical scenario of the award going to US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. Yet for Murad, this is a bittersweet moment: Nobody could envy the horrors she endured to achieve this pinnacle of global recognition. Responding to the award, she said: “I think of my mother, who was murdered by Daesh, the children with whom I grew up, and what we must do to honor them. Persecution of minorities must end.”
The most recent occasion I met Murad, there was a twinkle of happiness in those still-sad eyes. She was with her fiancé, and her human rights activism had given her a cause toward which she could focus her energies.
Murad’s and Mukwege’s awards must not just be a complacent slap on the back, but a reminder to us all of how women are disproportionately victimized in conflicts. It has been estimated that in the US, a women is raped every two minutes, and a child is raped every 15 minutes in India.
Yet such statistics are dwarfed by epidemic levels of sexual violence in the Congo, South Sudan and other warzones, creating a climate of constant terror for women, whose best hope when they hear soldiers attacking their village is to flee into the jungle to avoid being strung up to a tree, repeatedly violated, tortured and left to die. All forms of sexual harassment and assault are acts of violence. While not all cases are equally extreme, they are all calculated to humiliate, violate and abuse imbalances of power. Along with the #MeToo movement and Christine Blasey Ford’s statements to the US Senate, Murad has become a voice for victims of sexual violence worldwide.
This recognition conferred by the Nobel Prize tosses the ball into our court. We can no longer pretend to be unaware of this plague of sexual violence by powerful men against defenseless women worldwide. But what will we do about it?
*Baria Alamuddin is an award-winning journalist and broadcaster in the Middle East and the UK. She is editor of the Media Services Syndicate, and has interviewed numerous heads of state.
Disclaimer: Views expressed by writers in this section are their own and do not necessarily reflect Arab News' point-of