Detailed Lebanese & Lebanese Related LCCC English New Bulletin For October 11/2018
Compiled & Prepared by: Elias Bejjani

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Bible Quotations
You hypocrites! Does not each of you on the sabbath untie his ox or his donkey from the manger, and lead it away to give it water?
Luke 13/10-17: "Jesus was teaching in one of the synagogues on the sabbath. And just then there appeared a woman with a spirit that had crippled her for eighteen years. She was bent over and was quite unable to stand up straight. When Jesus saw her, he called her over and said, ‘Woman, you are set free from your ailment.’ When he laid his hands on her, immediately she stood up straight and began praising God. But the leader of the synagogue, indignant because Jesus had cured on the sabbath, kept saying to the crowd, ‘There are six days on which work ought to be done; come on those days and be cured, and not on the sabbath day.’ But the Lord answered him and said, ‘You hypocrites! Does not each of you on the sabbath untie his ox or his donkey from the manger, and lead it away to give it water? And ought not this woman, a daughter of Abraham whom Satan bound for eighteen long years, be set free from this bondage on the sabbath day?’When he said this, all his opponents were put to shame; and the entire crowd was rejoicing at all the wonderful things that he was doing."

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 10-11/18
Hariri upbeat govt will be formed after Aoun returns/Ghinwa ObeidHussein Dakroub/The Daily Star/October 10/18
Who will replace Nikki Haley/New York Morning/October 10/18
China’s Got Its Own Swamp/Michael Schuman/Bloomberg/October,10/18
Italy Isn’t Like Greece. It’s Better and Worse/Mohamed El-Erian/Bloomberg/October,10/18
Death or Life for Christian “Blasphemer”? Pakistan Ruling on Asia Bibi Expected/Raymond Ibrahim/Gatestone Institute/October 10/18
Why is the Qatari-Brotherhood media really interested in the Khashoggi case/Mamdouh AlMuhaini/Al Arabiya/October 10/18
Tunisia’s Ennahda and the secret apparatus/Mashari Althaydi/Al Arabiya/October 10/18
Israel's exilic existential anxiety/Ynetnews/Aviad Kleinberg/October 10/18
‘Forever war’ in Afghanistan fading from Americans’ memory/Michael Kugelman/Arab News/October 10/18
Cooperation key to resolving issues between religions/Peter Welby/Arab News/October 10/18

Titles For The Latest LCCC Lebanese Related News published on October 10-11/18
Czech Intelligence Service Helps Uncover Hezbollah Hacking Network
Kataeb Party Hosts Meeting in Defense of Freedoms
Lebanon’s Hariri Says Won’t Return if he Steps Down
Palestinian president thanks Aoun for UN positions
Lebanon’s Hariri says concessions made, hopes for govt formation soon
Aoun Travels to Armenia to Attend Francophonie Summit
Report: Hizbullah Pressuring Officials to Invite Syria to AESD Summit
Berri Voices Cautious Optimism on Govt. Formation Process
Jumblat: An Offer for Settlement Doesn’t Mean Relinquishing Principles
Army Nabs Top Ain el-Hilweh Passport and Currency Forger
Police Arrest Suspect in Akkar over IS Links, Bombing Plans
Gunfire Erupts at SSNP Offices in Aley
Hankache Stresses Kataeb's Openness, Commitment to Dialogue
Hariri upbeat govt will be formed after Aoun returns
Who will replace Nikki Haley?

Titles For The Latest LCCC Bulletin For Miscellaneous Reports And News published on October 10-11/18
Statement by The Canadian Minister of Foreign Affairs on World Day Against the Death Penalty
Quds Force Official Demands Scrapping Draft Law to Block Terror Financing in Iran
Iran is a Trade Transit Point for Somali Terrorist Movement
Iranian Diplomat in Belgian Court over 'Bomb Plot'
Public Strike in Iran Protests Worsening Living Conditions
US VP Pence: Ready to assist in finding Khashoggi in Turkey if Riyadh requests
Dhahi Khalfan: Khashoggi case can be resolved in 72 hours, ready to help
Turkey Checks CCTV for Clues in Missing Saudi Journalist Case
Qatar accused of ‘undermining Palestinian Authority’ through fuel move
Trump: Planned Kim Summit Narrowed Down to 'Three or Four' Locations
Hurricane Michael Strengthens, Florida Panhandle Braces for Worst in Decades
Turkey Says Heavy Arms Pullout Completed in Syria's Idlib
The Latest LCCC Lebanese Related News published on October 10-11/18
Czech Intelligence Service Helps Uncover Hezbollah Hacking Network
Radio Prague/ Wednesday 10th October 2018/The Czech Security Intelligence Service (BIS) on Monday issued a press release saying that it had cooperated with foreign partners in identifying, analysing and disabling servers in the Czech Republic and the wider world, which Hezbollah was using for cybernetic espionage. According to the press release, a network of Hezbollah hackers has been using tricks on social media to hack into mobile devices across the world. Posing as attractive girls on Facebook, they would contact users and start chatting. After steering the conversation to increasingly sensual topics, the profiles would then ask the user to install a ‘more private and secure application‘. According to the counterintelligence service’s press release, some impassioned users would comply and install the app. Unaware that it gave hackers access to their sensitive information, including contacts, photographs, calls, text messages, GPS data and the option to secretely record the owner via the mobile device. The hacking attacks through servers placed in the Czech Republic, the wider EU and the U.S., originated from the middle east. They were aimed at various regions across the world including Central and Eastern Europe and the Middle East itself. The head of the BIS, Michal Koudelka, stated that intelligence gathered by the agency played a direct role in the eventual takedown of the Hezbollah hacking network.

Kataeb Party Hosts Meeting in Defense of Freedoms 10th October 2018/The Kataeb party on Wednesday hosted a broad meeting of Saydet Al-Jabal Gathering at its headquarters in Saifi to voice absolute oppositon to the growing political oppression in the country and to renew unwavering commitment to all forms of freedom. Last week, a meeting of Saydet Al-Jabal Gathering, that was set to be held at the Bristol Hotel in Beirut, was forcibly cancelled. Hezbollah's senior official Wafik Safa admitted that he had personally asked the hotel to not host the event. Following the meeting, former MP Fares Souaid thanked the Kataeb for hosting the meeting, saying that this act reflects the party's history throughout which it has defended political pluralism, cultural diversity and intellectual exchange. "The blatant attack on the Lebanese people's political rights is part of the growing oppression targeting activists, journalists and politicians," he said. "We hold the ruling authority responsible for what Lebanon has been witnessing lately, as we warn against replicating a new model of suppression." Souaid called for a united stand to defend the principles and constants on which Lebanon was built, urging full loyalty to the martyrs of the Cedars Revolution. "The persistent attempts to muzzle and beleaguer free minds, as well as Hezbollah's confiscation of the state's decision-making power amid the shameful submissivness of most of the political forces, require the other parties to unite in defense of the people's constitutional rights." Souaid revealed that Saydet Al-Jabal Gathering will hold a meeting on Sunday at Gefinor Rotana Hotel in Beirut, hoping that no one would opt for the same "blunder" that took place last week. The meeting, chaired by the Kataeb leader Samy Gemayel, was also attended by former MP Ashraf Rifi, Kamil Chamoun representing the National Liberal Party Chief Dory Chamoun, LBCI chairman Pierre Daher, Al-Liwaa editor-in-chief Salah Salam representing former President Michel Sleiman, former MP Boutros Harb and former MP Ahmad Fatfat representing ex-PM Fouad Siniora.

Lebanon’s Hariri Says Won’t Return if he Steps Down
Beirut - Asharq Al-Awsat/Wednesday, 10 October, 2018/Lebanon’s Prime Minister-designate Saad Hariri announced on Tuesday that if he stepped aside during the government formation process, he would not accept to be re-designated. "If I step down from forming a government, I won’t accept being asked to form another one,” he told reporters before chairing the meeting of his parliamentary bloc. The PM said the government would be formed within the next ten days because the country is in dire need of it, and the economic situation necessitates it and compels everyone to make concessions for the country. Mohammad Chamseddine, a researcher with the Beirut-based research and statistics company Information International, told Asharq Al-Awsat that Lebanon’s fiscal deficit for this year would amount to $4 billion, while ministries, public institutions and municipalities suffer from excessive staff after hiring more than 10,000 employees in the past two years. Facing the dire economic situation, Hariri said his optimism on the cabinet formation stems from his last meeting with President Michel Aoun. He said all parties have made concessions including the Lebanese Forces and the Free Patriotic Movement. However, Hariri pointed out that there are some changes in the distribution of portfolios, refusing to disclose the number of ministers that each party will get. “The only criterion I adopted in the formation is that it is a national accord government. When we set standards, we bind ourselves when forming any government in the future and this has no origin neither in the constitution nor in the customs,” he said. Hariri denied any knowledge of a French initiative to help him form a government, stressing that the results of the CEDRE conference are in danger. The international community had pledged $11 billion in loans and grants during the CEDRE conference in Paris last April to support Lebanon’s fragile economy. “These funds were put to help the Lebanese economy but if the Lebanese don’t want to help themselves, is the world going to wait for them?”He added: “There is a loan that was approved by the World Bank for Lebanon and we will lose it if the government and the parliament don’t approve it.”

Palestinian president thanks Aoun for UN positions

The Daily Star/October 10/18/BEIRUT: President Michel Aoun Tuesday received a thank you letter from Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas for his positions on Palestine during his speech at the United Nations General Assembly last month. Palestinian Ambassador to Lebanon Ashraf Dabbour handed Aoun the letter during a meeting at Baabda Palace, a statement from the presidency said. “The letter included a confirmation from the Palestinian president of the solid and stable historic relations between the Lebanese and Palestinian people,” the statement said, quoting the letter.
The letter also underscored the importance of mutual Arab cooperation to face the challenges that threaten the Palestinian cause. During his speech on Sept. 26 in New York, Aoun said the international political approach toward the Middle East continues to lack justice and employs double standards. He added that the Palestinian cause reflected these problems. Aoun also said the absence of justice in addressing the issue had “triggered many wars ... and created a resistance that will only end by eliminating oppression and establishing justice.”

Lebanon’s Hariri says concessions made, hopes for govt formation soon
Reuters, Beirut/Tuesday, 9 October 2018/Lebanese Prime Minister-designate Saad al-Hariri said on Tuesday all political sides had made concessions and he hoped a new government would be formed after President Michel Aoun returns from a trip abroad. In the more than five months since a parliamentary election in May, politicians have been unable to agree a unity government that can get to work on badly needed economic reforms. Lebanon, which has the world’s third largest public debt as a proportion of national output, faces an economic crisis if the political stalemate drags on, politicians have said. “There are concessions from all sides, including the Free Patriotic Movement (FPM),” Hariri told reporters after a meeting of his Future Movement party. “We hope for the formation of a government after the return of the president from Yerevan because the economic and social situation calls for a speedy government formation,” he said. Aoun is expected to return from Armenia on Friday. Rivalry between the two leading Christian parties - Aoun’s FPM, allied to Hezbollah, and the anti-Hezbollah Lebanese Forces (LF) - is widely seen as the main obstacle to a deal. Hariri said his optimism that a government could be formed soon stemmed from a meeting he had with Aoun last Wednesday. Hariri said on Thursday he believed the government would be formed within a week to 10 days because the economy could not tolerate further delay. The formation of a new government would allow Lebanon to begin the substantial fiscal adjustment that the International Monetary Fund says it needs to improve its debt sustainability. It would also likely unlock more than $11 billion worth of infrastructure investment pledged at a donors’ meeting in Paris in April. “We are wrong if we think the world will wait for us to save ourselves. There are loans that won’t wait,” Hariri said.

Aoun Travels to Armenia to Attend Francophonie Summit

Naharnet/October 10/18/President Michel Aoun departed on Wednesday leading an official delegation to Armenia to partake in the 17th Summit of the International Organisation of la Francophonie (IOF) in Yerevan on October 11-12, the National News Agency reported on Wednesday. The delegation included caretaker Minister of Culture Ghattas Khoury, caretaker Tourism Minister Avedis Kedanian and several other officials, NNA said. Caretaker Foreign Minister Jebran Bassil is expected to join the delegation later on along with several ambassadors and diplomats, it added. The President is planned to deliver a speech at the Summit tomorrow. He will meet with attending state leaders on the sidelines of the summit.

Report: Hizbullah Pressuring Officials to Invite Syria to AESD Summit
Naharnet/October 10/18/As Lebanon continues to invite Arab leaders to the Arab Economic and Social Development Summit it hosts in January, Hizbullah party has reportedly been “pressuring President Michel Aoun into inviting Syria” to the summit, the Kuwaiti Asseyasah daily reported on Wednesday.
The daily said some Lebanese “political forces allied to Damascus and led by Hizbullah began a pressure campaign to urge Aoun to invite the Syrian regime to attend the summit,” said the daily. Prime Minister-designate Saad Hariri and a number of political forces have rejected the matter it added, arguing that Lebanon must abide by the decisions of the Arab League which suspended Syria’s membership back in 2011 over its failure to end government crackdown on protests. The Arab Economic and Social Development Summit will be held in Beirut on January 19-20.
The Arab Economic and Social Development summits are summits of the Arab League, held at the head of state level to address issues of economic and social development among member-states.

Berri Voices Cautious Optimism on Govt. Formation Process

Naharnet/October 10/18/Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri on Wednesday voiced cautious optimism over the reported progress in the cabinet formation process. “It's about time everyone shouldered their responsibilities to finalize the government issue,” Berri told lawmakers during the weekly Ain el-Tineh meeting. Urging all parties to “show modesty in dealing with the formation process,” the Speaker said “there is a vigorous momentum nowadays and some are speaking of promising and positive developments.”"The economic situation is very critical and this requires us all to cooperate to address this challenge which has an impact on the general situation in the country,” Berri added. He also emphasized that “the parliament will shoulder its responsibilities and perform its role,” noting that “there will be a legislative session before the end of this month.”

Jumblat: An Offer for Settlement Doesn’t Mean Relinquishing Principles

Naharnet/October 10/18/Progressive Socialist Party leader Walid Jumblat emphasized on Wednesday that his offer to make a settlement to ease the government formation process must not be taken as a relinquishment of the party’s principles. “Appealing to all political parties to make concessions is required, but beware of misinterpreting it as a relinquishment of principles,” said Jumblat in a tweet on Wednesday. After announcing willingness to ease the PSP demands in order to help the formation process, Jumblat said that Wednesday’s “clarifications is necessary in order to silence the sounds of discontent and the hoot of owls.” he said. On Monday, Jumblat hinted that he could agree to offer “concessions” regarding his party's share in the new government. “A settlement is necessary and it is not wrong to offer concessions for the sake of the country,” he had said, referring to the stalled formation process. Jumblat had been insisting on getting all three Druze seats for his PSP but has recently shown some flexibility. Lebanese Democratic Party chief MP Talal Arslan, backed by President Michel Aoun and the Free Patriotic Movement, has stressed that he has the right to get one of the Druze seats. In remarks he made to al-Joumhouria daily on Wednesday, Arslan refused Jumblat's latest “offer” saying he would “either accept three centrist Druze ministers or that Jumblat names two ministers” while he names the third.

Army Nabs Top Ain el-Hilweh Passport and Currency Forger

Naharnet/October 10/18/The most notorious passport and currency forger in the Ain el-Hilweh Palestinian refugee camp was arrested Wednesday in a special army operation. “Following surveillance and follow-up, the Intelligence Directorate managed today to arrest Palestinian fugitive Hassan Nawfal, aka Hassan al-Hakim, and an accomplice,” the army said in a statement. It described the detainee as “one of the most notorious forgers of passports, identity cards and foreign and local currencies.”An investigation has since been launched under the supervision of the judiciary.

Police Arrest Suspect in Akkar over IS Links, Bombing Plans

Naharnet/October 10/18/The Internal Security Forces Information Branch arrested a suspect in the northern region of Akkar over links to the Islamic State terror organization, ISF said in a statement on Wednesday. The detainee admitted during investigations that he had joined the IS ranks eight months ago through groups that encouraged him to carry out terror attacks in Lebanon instead of Syria, said the statement. He was taught how to make explosive bombs and decided to plant one on a highway in a bid to bomb a Lebanese army patrol whenever one passes through the area where he resided, it said. The suspect was referred to the related judicial authorities.

Gunfire Erupts at SSNP Offices in Aley

Naharnet/October 10/18/Gunfire erupted Tuesday evening inside the offices of the Syrian Social Nationalist Party in the Mount Lebanon city of Aley, the National News Agency said. The shooting broke out during a dispute between party members inside the building, NNA reported, adding that the offices were later cordoned off by security forces. Senior SSNP official Hussam al-Israwi meanwhile told MTV that the gunfire erupted after “undisciplined party members tried to storm the offices,” denying reports that he was injured during the incident.
Hankache Stresses Kataeb's Openness, Commitment to Dialogue 10th October 2018/MP Elias Hankache on Wednesday reiterated the Kataeb's openness to all political factions, stressing that contacts are ongoing with everyone in accordance with the party's position as an independent opposition force. “The Kataeb party has repeatedly announced that it is open to everyone [...] as it is keen to serve the country’s interest and believes in the importance of safeguarding dialogue amid the critical conditions facing the country,” Hankache said following talks with Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri as part of his weekly meeting with lawmakers in Ain Al-Tineh.

Hariri upbeat govt will be formed after Aoun returns
Ghinwa ObeidHussein Dakroub/The Daily Star/October 10/18
BEIRUT: Sticking to his optimism, Prime Minister-designate Saad Hariri Tuesday expressed hope that a new government would be formed after the president returns from a trip to Armenia later this week.
President Michel Aoun is set to leave on a two-day visit to Armenia Wednesday to attend the Francophone conference. He will be back in Beirut Friday. A source at Baabda Palace told The Daily Star that a meeting between Aoun and Hariri to discuss an amended Cabinet formula could take place after the president’s return from Armenia.
Hariri disclosed that all the political parties had made concessions to facilitate the formation of a new government, saying that all obstacles, mainly the problems of Druze and Christian representation the two main stumbling blocks to the formation were on their way to being resolved.
“The economic situation obliged everyone to make concessions for the sake of the country and all the problems are on the way to being resolved,” Hariri told journalists before chairing the weekly meeting of the Future Movement’s parliamentary bloc at his Downtown Beirut residence. He said all parties, including the Lebanese Forces and the Free Patriotic Movement, have made concessions to speed up the government formation.
Hariri said he was still optimistic that the government would be formed within the 10-day period that he set for himself last week, adding that the deadline could be extended if the need arose.
He said his optimism about breaking the government formation deadlock, now in its fifth month, stemmed from his meeting with Aoun last week, but lamented FPM leader Gebran Bassil’s recent hard-line Cabinet recommendations were “not positive.” Hariri said no date was set to meet with Bassil to discuss the problem of Christian representation in the next government.
This was Hariri’s first public reaction to Bassil’s tough stance on the LF’s Cabinet share. Bassil said last week that the LF should not be allocated more than three ministers, despite having boosted its MPs from eight to 15 in the May elections.
Bassil, the caretaker foreign minister, proposed a criterion for the representation of major blocs in the new Cabinet that calls for one minister for five MPs. Bassil’s proposal seemingly appeared to target the LF which has been pushing for a significant Cabinet share of five ministers.
Hariri, who presented Aoun with his first draft Cabinet formula on Sept. 3 and which drew a number of reservations from the president over the allocation of ministerial posts to the LF and the Progressive Socialist Party, said there has been a change in the proposed line-up, but did not give additional details on these changes. But in what appeared to be a response to Bassil’s controversial criterion, Hariri said: “The only criterion I adopted in the formation is that it is a national entente government.
“When we set standards, we bind ourselves when forming any government in the future and this has no origin whether in the Constitution or in norms.”
Hariri said if he stepped aside during the formation process, he would not accept to be redesignated to form a government.
“If I step down from forming a government, I won’t accept being asked to form another one,” he said. “The circumstances that prevailed in my first government are different from the current situation.” In 2009 Hariri stepped down during the formation process before being redesignated as premier.
Hariri denied the existence of a French initiative to help him in the government formation, but warned that the results of the CEDRE conference were in danger.
“If we think that the world will wait for us, we are wrong. The world is moving and the days are passing, and these funds [from CEDRE] were put to help the Lebanese economy. But if the Lebanese don’t want to help themselves, is the world going to wait for them?” Hariri said.
He added that Lebanon also risked losing a World Bank loan if the government and Parliament did not approve it. Donor countries at the CEDRE conference held in Paris on April 6 pledged more than $11 billion in grants and soft loans to finance investment and infrastructure projects in Lebanon.
After chairing the bloc’s meeting, Hariri met at his residence separately with caretaker Information Minister MP Melhem Riachi as a special envoy from LF chief Samir Geagea, and MP Wael Abu Faour as an envoy from PSP leader Walid Joumblatt, discussing with them ways to overcome the problems of Christian and Druze representation respectively.
Speaker Nabih Berri also discussed the Cabinet formation impasse in separate meetings with Riachi and a delegation from the PSP’s parliamentary Democratic Gathering bloc.
Hariri said recent statements made by PSP leader Joumblatt and his rival, Lebanese Democratic Party leader MP Talal Arslan, showed that there might be a solution to their struggle over Druze shares in the next Cabinet.
Earlier in the day, Arslan took to Twitter to say he would allow Aoun and Speaker Nabih Berri to name a Druze minister in the future Cabinet.
Following its meeting chaired by Hariri, the Future bloc reiterated the prime minister-designate’s commitment to the formation of a national entente government. The bloc considered that Hariri’s stances during his televised interview last week constituted an integrated road map to get out of the “tunnel of disruptions” and start preparing the mechanisms required for the birth of the government, a statement issued after the meeting said.
It said Hariri has reaffirmed his “adherence to the formation of a national entente government that includes all the main political forces represented in Parliament, without responding to any calls that violate this.”
Hariri “insisted on a governmental team that works and achieves, and doesn’t engage in political maneuvering, or in turning the Cabinet into an arena of partisan and sectarian infighting,” the statement said.
Hariri also emphasized the “good relationship” with Aoun and his commitment to the requirements of the political settlement that ended the presidential vacuum with Aoun’s election on Oct. 31, 2016 and launched work in constitutional institutions.
The bloc said Hariri’s interview bolstered the hopes of the Lebanese for the formation of the government, but the reactions that followed the interview and the criteria put forward were enough to dispel the atmosphere of optimism. “The Future bloc lays emphasis on its commitment to any decision that Prime Minister Hariri might take toward the deliberate obstruction of the government formation and the insistence on keeping the country hostage to the race for shares and positions,” the statement said.
“The bloc also refuses to recognize any new norms that some are trying to impose on the formation of governments.”
The FPM’s parliamentary Strong Lebanon bloc expressed hope Hariri would overcome the remaining hurdles to the government formation.
“We are still waiting, as do all the Lebanese, [for Hariri] to settle this issue. Certainly, we are building on the optimism expressed by Prime Minister-designate Saad Hariri and on whose basis we hope that negotiations will end and the government will be formed,” a statement issued after the bloc’s weekly meeting, chaired by Bassil, said.

Who will replace Nikki Haley?
New York Morning/October 10/18
The American Mideast Coalition for Democracy fully endorses Dr. Walid Phares to become the new US Ambassador to the UN.
Professor Walid Phares served as a Foreign Policy Advisor to Presidential candidate Donald Trump in 2016. He also served as a National Security Advisor to Presidential Advisor Mitt Romney in 2011-2012
Professor Phares has been an advisor to the US House of Representatives Caucus on Counter Terrorism since 2007 and is the Co-Secretary General of the Trans-Atlantic Legislative Group on Counter Terrorism since 2008.
He is Fox News Terrorism and Middle East Expert since 2007 and has been MSNBC-NBC Terrorism Analyst from 2003 to the end of 2006.
He has taught Global Strategies at the National Defense University in Washington DC since 2006, lectured at the National Intelligence University since 2008 and was a Professor of Middle East Studies, Ethnic and Religious Conflict at the Department of Political Science at Florida Atlantic University (FAU) from 1993 to 2006. Professor Walid Phares was a Senior Fellow and the director for Future Terrorism Project at the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies in Washington (2001-2010). He was also a Visiting Fellow with the European Foundation for Democracies in Brussels (2006-2010).
As an international expert on conflicts and terrorism, Professor Phares lectures on campuses, nationwide and internationally. He testifies to and conducts briefings at the US Congress, the European Parliament and Commission, and the UN Security Council, as well as to US State Department and other foreign ministries worldwide and to officials on Counter Terrorism in Europe and the United States. Dr Phares was an advisory board member of the Task Force on Future Terrorism of the US Department of Homeland Security (2005-2007) and a member of the NSC advisory task force on Nuclear Terrorism (2006-2007). Dr Phares has also lectured to and advised the US Departments of Justice, Defense, and Homeland Security, as well as regional commands such as CENTCOM, SOUTHCOM, AFRICOM, on academic research on Terrorism. He has served as an expert on Terrorism with the US and European Governments and briefed law enforcement agencies, including INTERPOL since 2003. Dr Phares serves as an academic advisor to several Human Rights and Middle East and Africa communities groups.
He has published 13 books including, Future Jihad: Terrorist Strategies against the West, The Coming Revolution: Struggle for Freedom in the Middle East, which predicted the Arab Spring and projected the ongoing revolts in the Greater Middle East. His most recent book is, The Lost Spring: U.S. Policy in the Middle East and Catastrophes to Avoid.
The Latest LCCC Bulletin For Miscellaneous Reports And News published on October 10-11/18
Statement by The Canadian Minister of Foreign Affairs on World Day Against the Death Penalty
October 10, 2018 - Ottawa, Ontario - Global Affairs Canada
The Honourable Chrystia Freeland, Minister of Foreign Affairs, today issued the following statement:
“The death penalty is an inhumane and barbaric form of punishment that goes against all Canadian values and the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
“In Canada, we ended the death penalty more than 40 years ago. We will always oppose its use abroad, as well as seek clemency in every case of Canadians facing execution, without exceptions.
“This year, Canada is pleased to join the Group of Friends of the Protocol, initiated by the World Coalition Against the Death Penalty. We will continue to advocate against the death penalty where it is still being used and will keep working toward the universal abolition of this form of punishment.
“Those who break the law must face the consequences of their actions and be held accountable, but the death penalty is never the solution.”

Quds Force Official Demands Scrapping Draft Law to Block Terror Financing in Iran
London – Asharq Al-Awsat/Wednesday, 10 October, 2018/The Iranian Revolutionary Guard expressed its reservations towards a draft law passed by the Iranian parliament for the country to join the international Terrorist Financing Convention treaty. Iran’s Quds Force, the Revolutionary Guard’s foreign arm, stands to be harmed the most from the bill given that it funds and aids proxy militias in the region. Meanwhile, the country’s Second Deputy Parliamentary Speaker Ali Motahari called for lawsuits and investigations to face parties that have gone as far as making death threats against lawmakers who voted yes on the draft resolution. Quds Force official, senior cleric and Supreme Leader Representative Ali Shirazi urged the Guardian Council to reject the draft law approved by the parliament to allow the Iranian government to join the anti-terror Financial Action Task Force (FATF). The Guardian Council, which oversees the country’s legislative procedures, is supposed to announce its decision on three out of four laws that would help President Hassan Rouhani achieve his aspirations to join FATF. Joining the international body will persuade foreign banks to continue financial cooperation and investment with Iran. Shirazi denied Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei ever agreeing to the draft resolution, and raised questions as to whether the law is related to halting Iranian support from flowing into Syria and Lebanon. The Guardian Council must address this implicit project, Shirazi was quoted as saying by the Fars news agency. It was not clear whether the Guardian Council would approve the bill. "It is too early to announce the opinion of the council," Guardian Council Spokesman Abbas Kadkhodaei said. Parliament passed the draft law, but it was not yet to the Council which has the power to overturn the law. Kadkhodaei also pointed out that the Council has not arrived to a decision yet on two laws passed by parliament for the country to join international bodies similar to FATF that combat money laundering and terror funding. International parties accuse Iran of buying time when it comes to applying for the FATF. Joining the taskforce would mean that Iran needs to amend its laws on money laundering. Hardline critics of the law say it poses “a threat to funding Iran’s Revolutionary Guard regional activities.”

Iran is a Trade Transit Point for Somali Terrorist Movement
New York – Asharq Al-Awsat/Wednesday, 10 October, 2018/UN sanctions monitors said that criminal networks were using Iran as a transit point for the export of illicit Somali charcoal, according to a report seen by Reuters. This illegal trade provides extremist militants Al-Shabaab with millions of dollars annually in tax, according to the unpublished annual report submitted to the UN Security Council. The report says, according to Reuters, that since March the main destination for shipments - using fake country of origin certificates from Comoros, Ivory Coast and Ghana - has been ports in Iran, where the charcoal is packaged into white bags labeled “Product of Iran”.“The bags were then reloaded onto smaller, Iran-flagged dhows (boats), and exported to Port Al Hamriya, Dubai, UAE, using certificates of origin falsely indicating the ‘country of manufacture’ of the charcoal as Iran,” the monitors wrote, as published by Reuters. UN monitors, who are tracking compliance with UN sanctions on Somalia and Eritrea, said Iran and the UAE had not “substantively engaged” when observers raised concerns about the transshipment of Somali coal. The report estimated the total value of Somalia’s illegal coal trade at about $150 million a year in the UAE, where it is widely used in cooking and nargile smoking. It was also estimated that about three million bags of charcoal were exported from Somalia in the past year. “The charcoal trade continues to be a significant source of revenue for al Shabaab, generating at least $7.5 million from checkpoint taxation,” the report said, according to Reuters. UAE Ambassador to the UN Lana Nusseibeh said she could not comment because the report had not yet been published. “That being said, the UAE is fully aware of all Security Council resolutions and is in full compliance with the sanctions imposed,” she told Reuters. “We also reaffirm our continued cooperation with the Monitoring Group throughout its mandate.”
Reuters also said that the Iranian mission to the UN did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Iranian Diplomat in Belgian Court over 'Bomb Plot'
London - Asharq Al-Awsat/Wednesday, 10 October, 2018/An Iranian diplomat linked to a bomb plot against an Iranian opposition rally in France will appear before a Belgian judge on Wednesday after he was extradited from Germany. The Vienna-based Iranian, who has previously been identified as Assadollah Assadi, was handed over and will appear in court on Wednesday, the Belgian Federal Prosecutor's Office told AFP. The plan to target a gathering of the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) in a Paris suburb came to light a few days after the June 30 event. Six people were arrested afterwards in coordinated raids by European police forces, including Assadi. Iran last week staunchly denied French accusations that one of its diplomats was involved in the plot that took place just ahead of a visit to Europe by President Hassan Rouhani. "We deny the accusations and forcefully condemn the Iranian diplomat's arrest and call for his immediate release," the Iranian foreign affairs ministry said on October 2 in a statement. But French security services believe the Iranian intelligence ministry was behind the foiled plot. In retaliation, France announced last week it had frozen Assadi's assets for six months.

Public Strike in Iran Protests Worsening Living Conditions
London -Asharq Al-Awsat/Wednesday, 10 October, 2018/Many shop owners in Iranian cities joined truck drivers in their strike, which is on its 16th day, protesting against worsening economic conditions and rising prices. Video footage shared by Iranian activists on social media showed massive strikes in markets across several Iranian cities. The strike received no coverage by official and Revolutionary Guard news agencies that only reported “normal” activity in Tehran markets on Monday. Alternatively, reports said security forces deployed to a number of Iranian cities. According to the activists, Tabriz, Isfahan, Mashhad and Sinandaj were among the biggest cities that have seen recurrent market strikes. Eyewitnesses also reported protests taking place in several Tehran markets, as well as a number of smaller towns. Truck drivers, encouraged by trade unions, have been staging a sit-in for weeks. This is a second such strike they hold this year. Police have arrested over 100 drivers in recent days, according to human rights centers in Iran. These strikes included all the provinces of Iran, according to social media posts. Trade union sources pointed out during the past few days that the strikes were taking place in Urmia, Ardabil, Ahwaz, Isfahan, Qazvin and Bandar Abbas. Despite threats by Iranian authorities and police, strikes have lasted over a week so far.Although economic conditions have worsened enough to provoke strikes, official agencies say that the Iranian rial was improving. Nevertheless, reliable and independent information on dollar to Iranian exchange rates have disappeared after the government shut down multiple economic monitoring websites. Sources said the government launched a misinformation campaign in hopes to tame the demand for the dollar. The Iranian government is using its official media outlets to build confidence in and demand for other foreign currency. Observers say the market has seen the demand for the dollar fall. Meanwhile, official media reported a rise in gold rates. Dollar exchange rates continued to fluctuate, varying between 140,000 and 135,000 rials, according to official agencies.

US VP Pence: Ready to assist in finding Khashoggi in Turkey if Riyadh requests
Staff writer, Al Arabiya English/Wednesday, 10 October 2018/US Vice President Mike Pence said on Wednesday the United States is ready to help in any way in the investigation of the disappearance of prominent Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, according to Reuters. Pence was asked on the Hugh Hewitt syndicated radio program if Washington would send FBI investigators to Turkey if Saudi Arabia requested it. “I think the United States of America stands ready to assist in any way,” Pence said. On Tuesday, US President Donald Trump said he does not know anything about Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi’s disappearance. The Turkish ministry of foreign affairs had stated that Saudi Arabia has provided all assistance and cooperation in the case of the missing journalist who has disappeared in Istanbul last week. Prince Mohammad bin Salman Al Saud, Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia, said in an interview with Bloomberg which was published on Friday, that Khashoggi is not in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, expressing his readiness to allow the Turkish authorities to search the consulate though the premises “are sovereign territory… We have nothing to hide,” according to the crown prince statement to Bloomberg. With Reuters

Dhahi Khalfan: Khashoggi case can be resolved in 72 hours, ready to help

Huda al-Saleh, Al Arabiya English/Wednesday, 10 October 2018/Former Dubai Police chief Lieutenant General Dhahi Khalfan on Wednesday denounced the confusion shown by Turkish security in uncovering the details of the disappearance of Saudi writer and journalist Jamal Khashoggi, one week since his disappearance in Istanbul. The outspoken former police chief told Al Arabiya English: “So-called unknown operation is not relevant in today’s crime science. Today, police forces have advanced capabilities to locate and determine those behind the crime.”“The security authorities can determine the last location of Jamal Khashoggi, even without any surveillance cameras, and the logic of research and investigation, is that it can be reached and does not require all this ambiguity,” he said. The Lieutenant General Dhahi Khalfan, confirmed that the case related to disappearance of Jamal Khashoggi does not require more than 72 hours in getting resolved. He said that before the body of the missing person can be found, it is impossible to talk about his death, and the case remains that of disappearance. He even expressed his readiness to assist in uncovering who is behind abduction of Khashoggi in Istanbul. Khalfan pointed out the success of Dubai Police in uncovering the details of the assassination of Mahmoud al-Mabhouh in 2010, in a hotel in Dubai within 72 hours, and accused agents of the Israeli intelligence “Mossad” of being behind the assassination. Khalfan said during the interview: “Is there more complicated than Mossad operations? We revealed all those who were behind that crime in 72 hours. I can confirm that the most complex issues do not need more than 72 hours.” Earlier, the outspoken former police chief said in a tweet: “We can help with revealing who kidnapped Khashoggi in Turkey… Our experience in revealing the Mossad enables us to show the truth within 48 hours.”

Turkey Checks CCTV for Clues in Missing Saudi Journalist Case
Associated Press/Naharnet/October 10/18/Turkish investigators are examining CCTV footage showing the moment missing Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi entered the kingdom's consulate in Istanbul and the movements of a team suspected of involvement in his disappearance.
Khashoggi, a Washington Post contributor, vanished on October 2 after entering the consulate to obtain official documents ahead of his marriage to his Turkish fiancee. His fiancee, Hatice Cengiz, made an appeal to U.S. President Donald Trump in an opinion piece for the Washington Post on Tuesday, calling on him to "help shed light on Jamal's disappearance."Government sources said at the weekend that police believed Khashoggi was killed by a team specially sent to Istanbul and thought to consist of 15 Saudis. CCTV released on Wednesday by Turkish TV showed a man believed to be Khashoggi enter the consulate as well as a vehicle of interest entering and leaving the building after Khashoggi went inside. But Riyadh insisted the 59-year-old journalist had left the building and the murder claims were "baseless." Khashoggi, a former Saudi government adviser, had been living in the United States since last year fearing arrest. He has been critical of some policies of the Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and Riyadh's intervention in the war in Yemen. Turkish police were looking into two private aircraft that landed at Istanbul's Ataturk airport on October 2 at different times carrying the individuals of interest in the case.
A source told the Washington Post that U.S. intelligence "intercepted communications of Saudi officials discussing a plan to capture him." The same source said the Saudis hoped to "lure" Khashoggi to Saudi Arabia "and lay hands on him there."
Possible kidnapping
One of the first images from the CCTV footage shared by 24 TV broadcaster showed Khashoggi enter the consulate at 1.14pm (1014 GMT). Footage also showed some of the Saudis arriving in Istanbul after the first plane landed before 0030 GMT on October 2 and the men later checking into a hotel near the consulate. Aksam daily said some of the men went into the Saudi consulate before Khashoggi. According to the images, a vehicle that went inside the consulate was then driven to the consul-general's residence nearby after 1200 GMT, two hours after Khashoggi had entered the mission. Aksam newspaper's editor-in-chief Murat Kelkitlioglu speculated on 24 TV that it was "almost certain" that Khashoggi had been taken in the vehicle. Local media on Tuesday reported on the possibility that Khashoggi was kidnapped and taken aboard one of the private planes. Both planes later returned to Riyadh with one stopping in Dubai and the other in Egypt, pro-government Sabah daily said. According to Hurriyet daily, nine Saudis who arrived in Istanbul on the same day that the journalist vanished, had bought luggage at the Grand Bazaar. However, a police search revealed that they did not take the luggage on their return. Sabah daily on Wednesday published the names and images of what it called the "assassination team" including a man called Salah Muhammed Al-Tubaigy whose name it said matched that of a lieutenant-colonel in the Saudi forensic department. Sabah added that no "body parts" appeared on scans of the belongings of seven passengers of relevance to the case at Istanbul airport. Turkey has said Saudi authorities gave officials the greenlight to search the consulate but it has not yet taken place.
'I shouldn't go'
As pressure increases on Washington to intervene on the issue, U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said the U.S. was following the situation "very closely."President Trump expressed concern about the case while U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo previously called for a thorough investigation. In his last interview three days before his disappearance, Khashoggi said that he did not think he would return to Saudi Arabia. "When I hear of the arrest of a friend who did nothing that (deserved being) arrested, it makes me feel I shouldn't go," he told the BBC.
Reporters Without Borders (RSF), which ranks the kingdom 169th out of 180 on its World Press Freedom Index, said in a statement between 25 and 30 professional and non-professional journalists are currently detained in Saudi Arabia. RSF said at least 15 Saudi journalists and bloggers have been arrested since September 2017.

Qatar accused of ‘undermining Palestinian Authority’ through fuel move
Staff writer, Al Arabiya English/Wednesday, 10 October 2018/The Palestinian Authority said that Qatar’s move of bringing in fuel to the Gaza Strip without coordinating with Palestinian official authorities has “crossed all red lines.”Trucks loaded with Qatari fuel began entering Gaza to supply a power station amid completely ignoring the sovereignty of the Palestinian national reconciliation government. The Palestinian Authority has often warned of transforming the Palestinian cause into a mere humanitarian cause in which the call for national rights is replaced with humanitarian aid. These warnings, however, were ignored as Qatar decided to overlook the Palestinian official stance and coordinated with Israel, UN departments and Hamas in order to bring trucks loaded with fuel to Gaza. The Palestinian Authority says the Qatari intervention undermines its efforts. "When Qatar pays for the fuel, Hamas in Gaza will collect the bills and put it in its pocket, and this is an indirect financial aid to Hamas," said a PA official, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to reporters. Mahmoud al-Habbash, the Palestinian president’s consultant, said those who want to serve the Palestinian cause must first help end divisions. “We believe that those who want to help the Palestinian cause must first help end the divisions and achieve a reconciliation. Any party that these days seeks to provide financial support to Hamas is certainly working against national interest,” Habbash said.

Trump: Planned Kim Summit Narrowed Down to 'Three or Four' Locations
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/October 10/18/US President Donald Trump on Tuesday said that planning for his next summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un is advanced and that "three or four locations" have been short-listed. Trump said at the White House that the meeting would "probably" not be in Singapore, where their historic first talks took place in June. The pair discussed ending the reclusive state's nuclear weapons program and hostilities between Washington and Pyongyang. Trump said that in terms of timing, the summit "won't be too far away," later telling reporters it would take place after the November 6 midterm elections. He also said that there could "eventually" be a meeting on US soil. "On their soil also," Trump added. US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo met with Kim on Monday in Pyongyang to discuss the next summit. "I returned late last night from North Korea from a trip where we made real progress. While there is still a long way to go and much work to do, we can now see a path to where we'll achieve the ultimate goal which is the full and final verified denuclearization of North Korea," Pompeo told reporters at the White House. "We will, in short order, be able to talk about when the president will get to meet with him at what will be the second summit." Trump talked of "incredible progress," hailing the absence of missile or nuclear tests this year and the recent return of remains of US service members killed during the Korean War. "You have no nuclear tests, you have no rockets, and we have a very good relationship with Chairman Kim, which is very important," Trump said.
"I like him, he likes me, the relationship is good."

Hurricane Michael Strengthens, Florida Panhandle Braces for Worst in Decades
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/October 10/18/Hurricane Michael swelled to an 'extremely dangerous' category four storm as it rumbled toward the Gulf Coast of Florida early Wednesday in what forecasters warned was an unprecedented weather event for the area. The National Hurricane Center said the storm is now packing maximum wind gusts of 130 mph (210 kilometers), could grow even more and is expected to slam ashore later in the day along the Florida Panhandle or Big Bend area as a "life-threatening event".As outer rainbands from the storm began to lash the coast, the center said a monster storm surge of up to 13 feet (four meters) is expected in some areas. Separately, the National Weather Service office in the state capital Tallahassee issued a dramatic appeal for people to comply with evacuation orders. "Hurricane Michael is an unprecedented event and cannot be compared to any of our previous events. Do not risk your life, leave NOW if you were told to do so," it said. The hurricane was forecast to make landfall somewhere along the Florida Panhandle -- a finger-shaped strip of land on the Gulf of Mexico -- or the Big Bend, which connects the former to the peninsula jutting south. The storm was expected to bring hurricane force winds and heavy rainfall, the Miami-based NHC said. It will then move across the southeastern US for another day or so as it heads toward the Atlantic. The NWS office in Tallahassee said it had searched its historical database for category four hurricanes -- the second highest level on the Saffir-Simpson hurricane wind scale -- that made landfall in the panhandle and Big Bend and found none. It posted a map of the coast on its tweeter feed. "This map says it all -- it's BLANK -- this situation has NEVER happened before," the office said. Governor Rick Scott has activated 2,500 members of the National Guard and warned Michael could be the most destructive storm to hit the Florida Panhandle in decades. President Donald Trump issued an emergency declaration for the state, freeing up federal funds for relief operations and providing the assistance of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). "It is imperative that you heed the directions of your State and Local Officials. Please be prepared, be careful and be SAFE!" Trump tweeted. State officials issued disaster declarations in Alabama and Georgia, both of which are also expected to feel the impact from the storm.As of 0600 GMT, Michael was about 180 miles (290 kilometers) south of Panama City and moving north at 12 miles per hour (19 kph).
Flash flood, tornado warnings
The NHC said some areas of the Florida coast could expect storm surges of nine to 13 feet and as much as a foot of rain. The heavy rains could cause flash floods, the NHC said, and spawn tornados in northwestern Florida. About 120,000 residents were under mandatory evacuation orders in Bay County in the panhandle, a low-lying area of beachfront resorts and retirement communities. In other areas, residents of mobile homes were urged to leave. Michael was forecast to have the power to uproot trees, block roads and knock out power for days when it hits Florida. It is expected to weaken as it moves up into the southeastern United States. Drivers waited in long lines at gas stations and residents hurried to fill sandbags, while tolls were suspended on some roads to aid movement ahead of the storm's landfall. "Since 6:00 am it's been backed up. We're just now running out of regular (gasoline)," Danny Hess, an employee at a gas station in Panama City, told local WJHG television. The Carolinas are still recovering from Hurricane Florence, which left dozens dead and is estimated to have caused billions of dollars in damage last month. It made landfall on the coast as a Category 1 hurricane on September 14 and drenched some parts of the state with 40 inches of rain. Last year saw a string of catastrophic storms batter the western Atlantic -- including Irma, Maria and Harvey, which caused a record-equaling $125 billion in damage when it flooded the Houston metropolitan area. Scientists have long warned that global warming will make storms more destructive, and some say the evidence for this may already be visible. At their most fearsome, these low-pressure weather fronts pack more power than the energy released by the atomic bomb that levelled Hiroshima.
Turkey Says Heavy Arms Pullout Completed in Syria's Idlib
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/October 10/18/Turkey on Wednesday said a planned buffer zone in the northwestern Syrian province of Idlib has been cleared of heavy weapons as part of a deal reached between Moscow and Ankara. "The pullout of heavy weapons from the de-militarized zone was completed on October 10," the Turkish defense ministry said in a statement. Turkish state media reported earlier this week that Syrian rebels concluded their withdrawal of heavy armaments from the zone.
The Latest LCCC Bulletin analysis & editorials from miscellaneous sources published on October 10-11/18
China’s Got Its Own Swamp
Michael Schuman/Bloomberg/October,10/18
Beyond retaliating with more tariffs and ads in Iowa newspapers, Chinese leaders have yet to devise a coherent strategy for contending with US President Donald Trump’s escalating trade war. Perhaps they can’t figure out what his divided and erratic administration actually wants. Or maybe they’re so dead set on pursuing their own economic agenda that they just don’t care. There may be another factor, too: President Xi Jinping and his closest allies appear to be more isolated than their predecessors, and that may have left them out-of-touch with what’s really happening in other countries, including the US. That may be leading them to misread warning signs and stumble into policy missteps, serious enough to threaten China’s larger diplomatic agenda. Americans know all too well how such mistakes can happen. They’ve coined the term “inside the Beltway” to describe how a self-absorbed Washington can become dangerously disconnected from the outside world. Just look at the disastrous consequences of US support of Iran’s Shah, or its miscalculated invasion of Iraq -- both the result of horrible misunderstandings of reality on the ground.
In China, the political elite are similarly trapped inside the “ring roads,” the thoroughfares that enclose the sprawling capital. They appear to have been caught off guard by the severity of Trump’s trade war: The scant offers Beijing made earlier this year to stave off tariffs showed how little appreciation Chinese policymakers have of the growing ire among its trading partners.
Nor do they seem to have any plan to reverse the escalating resistance to Xi’s most high-profile international initiative, the infrastructure-building Belt and Road program. Xi characterizes the scheme as a selfless quest for peace and development. By contrast, Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad, wary of the intentions of the Chinese program, warned recently of “a new colonialism.”
It’s not hard to figure out how Xi got himself into this mess. When paramount leader Deng Xiaoping toured the US in 1979, he hung out at a Texas rodeo, chomped on barbecue and endured assorted mispronunciations of his name. It’s impossible to imagine Xi similarly cavorting with foreigners. On the rare occasions Wang Qishan, China’s vice president and a top Xi adviser, has emerged from hiding to meet foreign business and government leaders, he’s often done more lecturing than listening and, according to the Financial Times, struck his guests as somewhat oblivious to the darkening attitude in America towards the Middle Kingdom. China’s Communists have never been the most accessible bunch. But when capitalist reform began in the 1980s, they actively sought out foreign ideas and advice as they strove to remake their moribund economy. Now Chinese leaders, made (rightfully) confident by their own success over the past four decades, are more and more charting their own course. As Scott Kennedy, director of the Project on Chinese Business and Political Economy at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, D.C., notes: “China’s current leaders now seem to think China has all the answers and that foreign experiences offer less of a guide than in the past.”
Adding to the problem is an ever-more stifling political environment. While the authoritarian Chinese state never fostered free thinking, Deng did at least encourage Party members to “emancipate the mind” and devise new ideas to help the nation. Xi has instead imposed a climate that demands greater ideological conformity and personal loyalty. His dismissal of term limits means that subordinates have every incentive to tell him what he wants to hear. As Bloomberg News recently reported, officials at one ministry spent countless hours compiling documentation to prove they’ve been faithfully following Party guidance. Such an atmosphere certainly doesn’t incentivize mid-level officials to challenge policy orthodoxy, suggest alternatives or bear bad news.
The point isn’t that Chinese leaders should do what foreigners say. It’s that an insulated leadership will struggle to achieve its superpower ambitions. That’s most definitely one lesson Beijing can learn from Washington, where an often-arrogant foreign policy, immune to outside criticism, has gotten the US into all sorts of avoidable quagmires. If Xi and his comrades don’t venture outside the ring roads more, they’ll never escape their troubles.

Italy Isn’t Like Greece. It’s Better and Worse.

Mohamed El-Erian/Bloomberg/October,10/18
After four successive days of increasing risk spreads, and after a prominent politician, Claudio Borghi, said there was an advantage to having your “own currency,” Italy is back squarely on both public and private radar screens as a potential source of systemic economic and financial disruptions. This has led to suggestions that the country could become “a new Greece.”While there are similarities between the Italian and Greek cases, the differences are big enough to suggest that investors in Italy should focus on a different set of factors.
In less than two weeks, the risk spread on 10-year Italian bonds has climbed about 60 basis points to around 3 percent, a level not seen since 2014. This has spilled over onto the equity market in Italy, and to a lesser extent, elsewhere in Europe. It has also put pressure on the euro.
The immediate trigger for the widening risk spreads was the government’s announcement of a budget deficit target that exceeds the European Union’s guideline. The gradual reduction in purchases of Italian bonds by the European Central Bank is also an issue for some investors. But the deeper contributors to the turmoil are the medium-term mix of high public debt, some unsteady banks and persistently sluggish growth. Market worries have been exacerbated by some unhelpful public remarks, and not just from euroskeptic Italian politicians such as Borghi. European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker told a television interviewer that “We have to do everything to avoid a new Greece — this time an Italy — crisis.”The parallel with Greece of a few years ago is understandable. The two cases share at least three important similarities.
Mohamed A. El-Erian is a Bloomberg Opinion columnist. He is the chief economic adviser at Allianz SE, the parent company of Pimco, where he served as CEO and co-CIO. His books include “The Only Game in Town” and “When Markets Collide.”
After four successive days of increasing risk spreads, and after a prominent politician, Claudio Borghi, said there was an advantage to having your “own currency,” Italy is back squarely on both public and private radar screens as a potential source of systemic economic and financial disruptions. This has led to suggestions that the country could become “a new Greece.”
While there are similarities between the Italian and Greek cases, the differences are big enough to suggest that investors in Italy should focus on a different set of factors. In less than two weeks, the risk spread on 10-year Italian bonds has climbed about 60 basis points to around 3 percent, a level not seen since 2014. This has spilled over onto the equity market in Italy, and to a lesser extent, elsewhere in Europe. It has also put pressure on the euro. The immediate trigger for the widening risk spreads was the government’s announcement of a budget deficit target that exceeds the European Union’s guideline. The gradual reduction in purchases of Italian bonds by the European Central Bank is also an issue for some investors. But the deeper contributors to the turmoil are the medium-term mix of high public debt, some unsteady banks and persistently sluggish growth. Market worries have been exacerbated by some unhelpful public remarks, and not just from euroskeptic Italian politicians such as Borghi. European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker told a television interviewer that “We have to do everything to avoid a new Greece — this time an Italy — crisis.”
The parallel with Greece of a few years ago is understandable. The two cases share at least three important similarities.
1- On debt: a fragile mix of sizable public liabilities relative to GDP, lots of the related government bond issuance residing in the domestic banking system and medium-term debt sustainability concerns. 2- On the real economy: a growth model that has repeatedly failed to produce high and inclusive prosperity.
3- In politics: the emergence of anti-establishment movements that do not shy away from politicizing the issue of the euro zone. Yet there are also important differences suggesting different dynamics governing the extent of the systemic threat in the two countries.
Unlike Greece, Italy is one of the largest economies in Europe and an original member of the European economic integration project. Because of its size, its gross funding needs in euro terms are sizable relative to the regional safety nets put in place to deal with troubled countries. As such, a big problem with Italy would constitute a much larger and more durable source of systemic risk, economically and financially. It is no exaggeration to say that, if it were to stumble very badly, the southern European country could present an existential threat for the euro zone.
But also unlike Greece, Italy doesn’t have a current account deficit (it has a surplus), and the average duration of its outstanding debt is longer. With lower risk of financial default in the short term, the main determinant of possible disruptions resides in dislocations originating from domestic and regional politics. That is the most important factor for investors to monitor closely. What ultimately saved Greece’s membership in the euro zone a few years ago was the imminent threat of default. Fearing a shock that would tip the economy into a multiyear depression and fundamentally alter many of Greece’s regional economic and financial relationships, the Syriza government opted for an orthodox approach, even though it had won both the election and the referendum by backing a political agenda that advocated doing the opposite.
The hope of many investors — as well as EU officials, ECB officials and several policy makers in European capitals — is that the Italian government will perform a similar pivot, even though the immediate default risk is lower. In doing so, Rome would need to design a more comprehensive program aimed at generating high, inclusive and sustainable growth.

Death or Life for Christian “Blasphemer”? Pakistan Ruling on Asia Bibi Expected
ريموند إبراهيم: من المتوقع صدرور حكم بالموت أو الحياة ضد المسيحية الباكستانية اسيا بيبي المتهمة بالتجديف

Raymond Ibrahim/Gatestone Institute/October 10/18
On October 9, Pakistan’s Supreme Court heard the final appeal of a Christian woman who has been on death row for nearly a decade on the accusation that she insulted Islam’s prophet Muhammad. The woman’s fate is now sealed: “They [judges] have come to a decision, but it has been reserved,” reported Mehwish Bhatti, an officer with the British-Pakistani Christian Association, from the courthouse.
Aasiya Noreen—better known as “Asia Bibi”—is a 47-year-old married mother of five children who fell afoul of Pakistan’s notorious blasphemy law nearly a decade ago.
According to her autobiography, Blasphemy: A Memoir: Sentenced to Death Over a Cup of Water, on June 14, 2009, she went to work picking berries in a field. Although she was accustomed to being ostracized by the other female pickers on account of her Christian faith, things came to a head when the dehydrated woman drank water from a common well on that sweltering summer day.
“Don’t drink that water, it’s haram [forbidden]!” screamed a nearby woman, before turning to the other dozen or so female workers and crying, “Listen, all of you, this Christian has dirtied the water in the well by drinking from our cup and dipping it back several times. Now the water is unclean and we can’t drink it! Because of her!” (Such beliefs are not uncommon in the Muslim world. In one video, an Egyptian cleric expresses his great disgust for Christians, and how he could not drink from a cup that was merely touched by a Christian.)
The argument spiraled, and the women began calling on Bibi to convert to Islam in order to save herself. “What did your Prophet Mohammed ever do to save mankind?” the embattled woman shot back.
A report summarizes what happened next: After this, Bibi said the women started screaming, spitting at her and physically assaulting her. She ran home in a fright. Less than a week later, she went fruit-picking in another field when she was confronted by a rioting crowd, led by the woman who had initially shouted at her.
The crowd surrounded her, beat her and took her to the village, screaming: “Death! Death to the Christian!”
The village imam said: “I’ve been told you’ve insulted our Prophet. You know what happens to anyone who attacks the holy Prophet Mohammed. You can redeem yourself only by conversion or death.”
She protested: “I haven’t done anything. Please, I beg you, I’ve done nothing wrong.”
Bibi was taken to the village police station, covered in blood, where police interrogated her and put a report together. She was then put into a police van and taken straight to prison.
She has been in that cell ever since.
Despite inconsistent witness testimonies, a Punjabi court fined and sentenced her to death by hanging before cheering crowds in late 2010. Since then,
“I’ve been locked up, handcuffed and chained, banished from the world and waiting to die,” says Bibi in her smuggled memoirs. “I don’t know how long I’ve got left to live. Every time my cell door opens my heart beats faster. My life is in God’s hands and I don’t know what’s going to happen to me. It’s a brutal, cruel existence.”
This is to say nothing of the sufferings of her husband and five children: “I really love her and miss her presence. I cannot sleep at night as I miss her,” her husband Ashiq Masih once explained: “I miss her smile; I miss everything about her. She is my soulmate. I cannot see her in prison. It breaks my heart. Life has been non-existent without her. … My children cry for their mother, they are broken. But I try to give them hope where I can.”
All of this for asking a rhetorical question—“What did your Prophet Mohammed ever do to save mankind?”—variants of which non-Muslims have been asking for centuries.
In the late 1390s, for instance, Roman Emperor Manuel II Palaiologos responded to a group of Muslim scholars bent on converting him to Islam by saying, “Show me just what Mohammed brought that was new, and there you will find things only evil and inhuman, such as his command to spread by the sword the faith he preached.” Over 600 years later, in 2006, when Pope Benedict passingly quoted this assertion, anti-Christian riots erupted around the Muslim world, churches were burned, and an Italian nun who had devoted her life to serving the sick and needy of Somalia was murdered there.
In Pakistan, however, such “vigilante justice” is unnecessary to avenge the honor of Muhammad. According to Section 295-C of that nation’s penal code, “Whoever by words, either spoken or written or by visible representation, or by any imputation, innuendo, or insinuation, directly or indirectly, defiles the sacred name of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) shall be punished with death, or imprisonment for life, and shall also be liable to fine.”
Because non-Muslims—particularly Christians, who by definition are known to reject Muhammad’s prophecy—are more likely to be suspected of blasphemy, and because the word of a Christian is not valid against the word of a Muslim, blasphemy accusations by Muslims against Christians are common and routinely result in the imprisoning, beating and even killing of Christians (as when 1,200 Muslims deliberately burned a young Christian couple to death in 2014 for allegedly insulting Islam).
In other words, Asia Bibi’s story is the notorious tip of a large but hidden iceberg. Seemingly not a month — sometimes not even a week — goes by in Pakistan without some Muslims accusing some Christians of insulting Muhammad, often just to settle a personal score (here, here, here, here, here, here, here and here) or to seize land (here, here, here, and here). These are followed by the usual riots, home- and church-burnings, beatings and expulsion of Christians, and, finally, arrest and imprisonment of the supposed “blasphemer.”
Although Bibi’s case has sparked outrage around the international community, all calls for her release have for a decade fallen on deaf ears. This is not so much because the nation’s authorities are determined to execute her—one infidel is surely not worth the world’s criticism and contempt—but because excusing her in order to save face with the world would instantly make them lose face with many of their own. That consideration is why, whenever there is any serious talk that Bibi might be spared, protests and riots often ensue. As Bibi’s husband once explained, “The Maulvis [clerics] want her dead. They have announced a [monetary] prize … for anyone who kills Asia. They have even declared that if the court acquits her they will ensure the death sentence stands.”
Authorities sympathetic to or siding with such “blasphemers” are also targeted. For example, two of her prominent advocates, Governor Salmaan Taseer and Minority Affairs Minister Shabaz Bhatti, were both assassinated in 2011. Taseer was shot twenty-seven times by Mumtaz Qadri, his own bodyguard. After the murder, more than 500 Muslim clerics voiced support for Qadri, who was further showered with rose petals.
This is arguably why Pakistani authorities continue to delay issuing a final verdict—to give Bibi time to die “naturally” in jail (as not a few Christians have under “mysterious” circumstances). Instead of placating the world but angering Islamists by releasing her, or placating Islamists but horrifying the world by executing her, the Pakistani judicial system abandoned Bibi to a deathtrap of a jail cell for a decade, where wretched conditions, severe maltreatment, unattended illnesses, psychological abuse and beatings should have killed her, as they did many others before her.
Much to their vexation, however, “She is psychologically, physically and spiritually strong,” Bibi’s husband explained days ago. “Having a very strong faith, she is ready and willing to die for Christ. She will never convert to Islam.”
In her memoirs, Bibi “wonder[s] whether being a Christian in Pakistan today is not just a failing, or a mark against you, but actually a crime.” Her question is finally about to be answered by Pakistan’s supreme court.
“All around Pakistan and even many parts of the world, the sense of anticipation . . . regarding Asia Bibi’s final appeal hearing are now at fever pitch,” said Leighton Medley of the British-Pakistani Christian Association concerning Bibi’s recent and final hearing. “There is a sense here in Pakistan that once again, battle lines are being drawn: the battle between those who support hatred and intolerance and those who fight for peace and justice.”
Accordingly, in the last few days, Christians around the world prayed and fasted, even as extremist Muslims riled each other and called for riots on social media, should the “blasphemer” escape death. Either way, “There will be protests on both sides and you can bet there will be trouble ahead,” continues Medley. “It truly is D-Day for Asia, this is the final countdown and we will soon know whether the extremists win or lose. And whether there will be peace and justice in Pakistan or just more hatred, prejudice and intolerance which sadly has come to typify Pakistan today.”
*Picture enclosed: Asia Bibi with two of her five children, prior to her death row imprisonment for “blasphemy” in 2010.

Why is the Qatari-Brotherhood media really interested in the Khashoggi case?
Mamdouh AlMuhaini/Al Arabiya/October 10/18
The outpouring of grief from Al-Jazeera channel and Qatari and Brotherhood-affiliated channels and websites over the disappearance of journalist Jamal Khashoggi is not out of concern for journalism or freedom of speech, as they claim, and is not out of concern for his safety. But it’s only because he has a Saudi passport. They will certainly act the same if Khashoggi were an Emirati, a Bahraini or an Egyptian, i.e. from the countries that have boycotted Doha. It’s unlikely to see this intensified coverage and organized campaign if Khashoggi had another Arab nationality or any other foreign nationality.
It’s possible to overcome this and believe this claim if Al-Jazeera, as well as its affiliates, were well-known for moderation, concern over human dignity and freedom of expression and maintaining people’s safety, but it has done the complete opposite and adopted a cheap credibility that’s stained with blood. It violated all professional values and ethical standards when it transformed into an open platform to all extremists and terrorists who committed and promoted massacres and later appeared with wide smiles via its screens.
It also sponsored the ideology of violence in an organized and planned manner until it became the “Kaaba” to which extremists and hate preachers go to from all over the world to perform pilgrimage. Takfirists’ speeches were once limited to suspicious forums and pursued gatherings but now we see them on Al-Jazeera channel during prime time. Al-Jazeera promotes their rhetoric to the public in such an unprecedented manner and grants their violent ideology wide intellectual and theoretical legitimacy.
This Qatari-Brotherhood media turned Bin Laden into a TV star and broadcast all his speeches without editing them or commenting on them to respond to his dangerous propaganda and codes in every message and letter. It supported him via anchors and commentators who sympathized with him and called him Sheikh Osama at a time when al-Qaeda members were executing explosions in Riyadh, Baghdad and other cities.
It’s via its channel that we heard the most violent and bloodiest fatwas such as the fatwa permitting suicide operations and which was issued by its permanent guest Yusuf al-Qaradawi, and this became the favorite strategy of terror groups which this media adopted from Al-Qaeda to Al-Nusra Front, the terror group which the Qatari government sponsored and whose media colored and rehabilitated.Qatari and Brotherhood-affiliated media are exploiting Jamal Khashoggi’s name and politically abusing him not out of concern for him or for journalism, but to serve the political aims of Doha. With the digital era and the wave of social media, we saw this huge amount of news websites and flies on Twitter and users on Facebook who do not only settle with promoting Al-Qaeda’s and the Brotherhood’s ideology of violence but also attack those who fight it, whether individuals or institutions, to break their will and tarnish their reputation.The most important thing that other media institutions are doing is attempting to provide professional journalism as much as possible and combat this bloody rhetoric with a moderate and tolerant one instead of leaving the arena open for these deceptive crocodiles.
Cheap pawns of the Qatari machine
We know that these malicious Qatari channels that promote this violent rhetoric implement the wishes of Doha and the Brotherhood which are allied together and which share the mutual interest that aims to destabilize countries, spread chaos in them, topple them, replace them with the extremist organization and expand the influence of the Qatari regime which is paying billions to achieve this mad goal. Al-Jazeera and its channels are mere cheap pawns of this machine. And now, the disappearance case of Saudi journalist Khashoggi emerged. Of course it’s worth media follow-up but what we’ve seen is an organized and planned campaign that depends on unreliable sources, invents fake reports and changes the story within hours from abduction to disappearance to murder without referring to official sources regarding such a sensitive case.
Of course, Al-Jazeera and other channels and websites are exploiting Khashoggi’s name and politically abusing him not out of concern for him or for journalism, but to serve the political aims of Doha. They are also serving the extremists whose humanitarian and professional conscience only awakens when the missing person is of a certain nationality, while going into a deep sleep when the missing is a Qatari or Iranian, or from a country whose regime is friendly to Doha.

Tunisia’s Ennahda and the secret apparatus

Mashari Althaydi/Al Arabiya/October 10/18
On July 26, 2013, unidentified gunmen assassinated leftist Tunisian politician Mohamed Brahmi, who opposes the Tunisian Brotherhood Ennahda Movement. He was fatally shot in front of his house in Tunis. Few months before that, Chokri Belaid, the official in the Popular Front and who also opposed Ennahda and its government, was also killed.
Who assassinated the two politicians who oppose Ennahda?
Nothing is clear until now but the team defending the two victims dropped a political bombshell when it revealed that Ennahda has a “secret apparatus” that performs dark practices and that it’s the party which covered the killers and hid documents. This is of course according to the defense team’s statements.
The team defending Brahmi and Belaid confirmed in a press conference that Ennahda Movement has a special organization that’s linked to political assassinations. The man who supervised the apparatus – the defense team publicly stated his name – possessed documents linked to the assassination of Brahmi and Belaid.The defense team confirmed that in December 2013 it found documents in the place where the apparatus’ supervisor lived, and who, by the way, is currently detained on accusations of manipulating with documents.
Commenting on these dangerous accusations, Sufian al-Sulaiti, a spokesman for Tunisia's counter-terrorism apparatus, said: “The prosecution is investigating the accusations made at the press conference of the defense team of Brahmi and Belaid and about Ennahda Movement’s theft of files related to their assassination.”We are waiting for the judiciary’s last word in this regard. However, what is important is that this behavior, i.e. acting in two different ways: apparent and vague, public and secret, soft and hard and elusive and frank, is a characteristic of the old Brotherhood traits as there are things that can be said to the “brothers” and things to be said to others.
It’s an old trait which source is religious preaching about the virtue of “secrecy” and which is a result of the political and partisan atmosphere in which the Brotherhood was born in the first half of the past century, and which was the era of secret movements and militias par excellence in Egypt, where there were the green and black shirts and the iron guard, and outside Egypt in Lebanon and Iraq. All this is imported from the political European culture especially Spain, Italy and of course Germany.
Hence, it’s not strange if this is the case with the Tunisian Ennahda Movement. As we said, the final word is for the Tunisian judiciary. We’re here just ending this shock which some kind people may feel.
In brief, there are always words said in public and other words said in private, there is always what’s evident and what’s hidden and what’s public and what’s secret. This is how they’ve been and this is how they will remain. Those shocked must save their shock for what’s worth it!

Israel's exilic existential anxiety
Ynetnews/Aviad Kleinberg/October 10/18
Op-ed: Israel's founding fathers hoped that when we have our own country, where we can defend ourselves by ourselves, the existential anxiety that had characterized us over 2,000 years of exile would disappear. But it hasn't. Our hysterical treatment of BDS supporters is not strategic in nature, it's psychological.
Israeli society is living in internal contradiction. On the one hand, we champion the "we don't care what others think about us" attitude. Supposedly, as Ben-Gurion declared, "it's not important what the gentiles say, it's important what the Jews do."
The new Jew neglected his outward appearance, dismissed manners in the name of the sacred Hebrew "dugri" (direct speech) attitude, and carried out retaliatory actions that drew criticism in the world. Any attention to what others think—on the way we dress, speak or run our country—is seen as exilic, as an offensive symptom of that hyper-sensitivity to the gentiles. The exilic Jew didn't want to cause antagonism, he wanted to be invited to dinner by the neighbors, he was willing to adapt to the expectations of the non-Jewish crowd. The new Jew doesn't need this. He's home, and at home he's doing whatever he wants, and damn the neighbors.
On the other hand, the new Jew is hyper-sensitive to what others say about him. He would've liked—after the first moments of shock—the neighbors to love him, appreciate him, follow his example. He wants to be a "Light unto the Nations."
This theoretical yearning is connected to something deeper than anxiety over one's image. Armed from head to toe, protected by nuclear warheads (according to foreign reports), no longer a servant with no rights, but an over privileged master who has his own "Jews"—the new Jew has yet to complete the mental recovery that Israel's founding fathers wished for. After we returned to our land and established a sovereign state in it, they hoped, after we once again became accustomed to being able to defend ourselves by ourselves, the existential anxiety that characterized us over the course of "2,000 years in exile" would disappear. The new Jew will get rid of the nightmares of the old Jew, of the terror that was always hovering over our very existence. Without this anxiety, which made the Jew constantly vigilant so he could prepare himself in advance for the blow to come, we would finally be "like all other nations."
What does it mean to be "like all other nations"? That's a good question. It appears it's not about becoming similar to them in customs or faith; the State of Israel was established so we could be different without fear. Being "like all other nations" means not to act out of the existential need to please, but also not out of complete disregard to the world. To stop viewing everything in the terms of "what will they say about us," but also not give ourselves a general indulgence (a pardon) because of our chosenness or past suffering. To listen to criticism without having to accept it right away, but at the same time not automatically define it as anti-Semitic. To examine our actions and the actions of our friends in their own right, based on the principles of universal justice: whether—in the terms of philosopher Immanuel Kant—we'd be willing to make our actions the norm. Meaning, are we willing to be treated in the same way we've treated others? This process hasn't happened. Under the Netanyahu governments, the exilic existential anxiety has become the main characteristic of the Israeli. And if there's no existential threat, there's no choice but to make one up.
The most typical example of the Israeli anomaly is the hysterics over the BDS Movement. This movement, which calls for boycott—full or partial—of Israel, represents the margins of the margins. Most of the world's governments have friendly relations with Israel. So what is the problem? In some of the universities in the West, there are BDS groups that get little support from their institutions.
When you inquire about the achievements of the BDS movements, you are presented with a list of entertainers who refused to perform in Israel. The exalters of BDS also mention several academics who refused to come to Israel and even—may the all-merciful protect us—won't write letters of recommendation. How many of them? Let me tell you that in my three years as the head of the History Department at Tel Aviv University, hundreds of guests visited us. How many refusals did we receive, in a field that is supposedly a breeding ground for bleeding heart liberals? You can count them on one hand.
How did the BDS Movement become an existential threat that justifies unfounded conduct, like in the case of Lara Alqasem? The answer will not be found in the field of strategy, but in psychology.

‘Forever war’ in Afghanistan fading from Americans’ memory
Michael Kugelman/Arab News/October 10/18
Sunday marked the 17th anniversary of the start of the war in Afghanistan. The conflict has dragged on for so long that, very soon, America’s youngest soldiers could be fighting in a war that began before they were born.
Aside from a series of news articles, this 17-year milestone didn’t garner much attention around the world. And that’s no surprise, given that few people talk about the war in Afghanistan anymore. Not only is it a “forever war,” it is also a forgotten war —particularly in America, which has stationed troops in Afghanistan for nearly two decades.
I recently came across one of the most sobering US public opinion polls I’ve ever seen on Afghanistan. Back in July, a Rasmussen Reports survey found that 20 percent of “likely US voters” did not think that America was still at war in Afghanistan. And another 20 percent were not sure. This profound lack of awareness prevails even as US troops continue to die — including most recently a soldier on Oct. 4 — and billions of dollars continue to be spent.
It is easy to forget that, in its early weeks, the war made constant headlines. The conflict, launched in October 2001 in order to avenge the 9/11 attacks, achieved its initial goals — eliminating sanctuaries for Al-Qaeda and removing the group’s Taliban hosts from power — in relatively short order. For most Americans, the war back then was easy to understand and support. So what happened? How has it morphed from the good and necessary war to the endless and forgotten war?
Academics Tanisha M. Fazal and Sarah Kreps offered a convincing analysis in an August essay in Foreign Affairs magazine. Americans are largely disinterested, they wrote, because “the public is no longer directly affected by the war legally, personally, and financially.” The conflict, which had no formal declaration of war, is relatively informal and is thus “easily normalized and even obscured from public view.” Additionally, the lack of a draft means that most Americans have no personal link to the war.
“Today’s public,” Fazal and Kreps wrote, “is more insulated from the human costs of war than previous generations.” Finally, because of the lack of financial costs directly tied to the war — such as the war taxes imposed during the Vietnam War — its financial impact “is easily overlooked.”There’s also a simpler reason why people don’t think or talk about the war: They simply can’t process it anymore
These are all valid explanations. But there’s also a simpler reason why people, and particularly Americans, don’t think or talk about the war: They simply can’t process it anymore, and feel a need to push it away.
Consider how the dynamic of the war, and perceptions of it, have shifted over the years. After those early objectives were achieved, US policymakers became diverted by the need to prepare for the eventual intervention in Iraq in 2003. Ever since then, successive American leaders have struggled to articulate and justify exactly why the country’s military continues to stay in Afghanistan. Justifying that endless military presence has grown more difficult in recent years, as the war has taken a major turn for the worse. Afghan casualty rates are soaring, and drug harvests — which fund the insurgency — are breaking new records. The Taliban holds more territory than at any time since US forces entered Afghanistan. And American troops continue to die, albeit at a much slower rate than in previous years.
Little wonder this is so hard for Americans to process. Their country is fighting in and paying for a war with poorly defined objectives, which has gone from bad to worse, and has no end in sight. Dominic Tierney, writing in The Atlantic back in 2015, said it best: “Raising the topic of Afghanistan these days is like mentioning mortality. There’s a profound desire to change the subject.”The Pew Research Center released a survey last week that found that about 50 percent of American adults believe the US has “mostly failed” in achieving its goals in Afghanistan.
Efforts are now afoot to try to launch a peace process with the Taliban to bring a merciful end to a war that can’t be won on the battlefield. This will be a hard sell to the insurgents, whose battlefield success gives them little incentive to stop fighting. Perhaps, in due course, Washington and Kabul will agree on a series of generous concessions that the Taliban can’t refuse.
However, getting the Taliban to say yes will take quite some time. It took more than 50 years to negotiate an end to the insurgency in Colombia, a war comparable in many ways to the one in Afghanistan.
In all reality, the war will most likely go on to reach its most dramatic milestone yet: Its 20th anniversary. And, sadly, few will likely be paying any attention.
**Michael Kugelman is deputy director of the Asia Program and senior associate for South Asia at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars. Twitter: @michaelkugelman
Disclaimer: Views expressed by writers in this section are their own and do not necessarily reflect Arab News' point-of-view

Cooperation key to resolving issues between religions
Peter Welby/Arab News/October 10/18
The secretary general of the Muslim World League (MWL), Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdul Karim Al-Issa, always has interesting things to say, and last week’s MWL conference drove headlines on some important issues. Last Thursday, before an audience of religious leaders and policy makers in New York, he gave a speech that included a call for Christians, Muslims and Jews to jointly visit Jerusalem, visit each other’s holy sites, and begin a new approach to resolving the long-running Israel-Palestine conflict: A brave religious initiative for a conflict focused on a religious city.
The conference was on “Cultural rapprochement between the Muslim world and the US.” Being neither a US citizen, nor a Muslim, I’m not sure what I could add by my presence, but I was nonetheless happy to be there, and to speak myself, on the second day.
Of course, cultural rapprochement between the Muslim World and the US actually requires rapprochement across the West. Modern politics and cultural movements are so interconnected, US politics cannot be considered to be in a vacuum. The cultural memory that has led to such a distrust of Islam in the US is shared across the Western world, both old and new.
As I prepared for my own speech at the conference, I came across an interesting 2011 poll of Muslim attitudes in Muslim-majority countries toward Westerners, and non-Muslim Westerners toward Muslims. It found that a majority of Muslims regarded Westerners as greedy, immoral, violent, and fanatical. No positive terms received over 50 percent. Meanwhile, majorities in the West regarded Muslims as fanatical, violent and — just to mix things up — honest.
Such attitudes don’t arise from nothing. They are the legacy of 1,400 years of rivalry around the Mediterranean. In North Africa, the bastion and theological proving ground of the early Christian Church, though fatally riven by schism, there remains only one church with a history predating the Muslim conquest: That of the Copts. Jerusalem, a city sacred to the three Abrahamic faiths, was surrendered by Patriarch Sophronius to Caliph Umar in 637, and the loss of which struck deeply at the Western Christian psyche, with a direct link to the Crusades. The loss of Spain and the glorification of what is known as the Reconquista; the fall of Constantinople and the Eastern Roman Empire; the creeping conquest of the Ottomans in the Balkans and Eastern Europe; and no list of rivalry between Christendom and Islam would be complete without mentioning the Ottomans at the Gates of Vienna in 1683.
This may seem like ancient history. The majority of people in the West won’t be able to tell you about the defeat of the Ottoman armies in 1683 — but by that time the European colonies in North America were well established. In any case, the cultural impact of historical events last long beyond their popular memory. And, however much the West secularizes and moves toward a post-faith society, its attitudes and values are shaped by the legacy of Christianity.
Cultural memory can be changed through engagement. It is hard but necessary
Cultural memory perpetuates hatred long after all reason is forgotten. That cultural memory can be found in the deep suspicion of Islam in the West today. History is a story of winners and losers: Victory or defeat does much more to foster identity than examples of engagement.
That is not a counsel of despair. A house, which takes months to build, can burn down in an afternoon, but no one would suggest that is an argument against building houses. Julius Caesar killed or enslaved at least 20 percent of the population of Gaul, but the history of cooperation between Italy and France long ago expunged that memory. Cultural memory can be changed through engagement. It is hard but necessary.
Which brings us back to Al-Issa’s keynote speech. His agenda, apparent in all of his work since his appointment as secretary general in 2016, is cooperation in order to resolve some of the most pressing areas of distance between the Islamic, Jewish and Christian worlds, as he put it, “spiritually, politically, economically and culturally.”
The most striking area in which he views an opportunity for cooperation is in Jerusalem. He called for a “peace caravan” of Christians, Muslims and Jews without political affiliation in the dispute to work together to bring a new perspective on its resolution. These were significant words, and it is right that they were noticed. But there are opportunities here to work with those already seeking to do just that.
The Patriarch of Jerusalem (the successor to Sophronius) is the acknowledged “primus inter pares” (first among equals) of the Christian leaders in Jerusalem, and treads a difficult line between Israeli and Palestinian politics, as well as threats from extremists on both sides. His only concern is that there should be peace, security, and protection for the Christians of the Holy Land.
Another such figure is Sheikh Abdullah bin Bayyah — mentioned in this column previously — who, two years ago, set up an “American Caravan of Peace” to bring together Christians, Muslims and Jews in the US to work together for the common good.
This concept is not one that we have heard previously from the MWL. But then, its secretary general, as he outlined in a detailed interview in this newspaper, is someone who is bringing fresh ideas to the table, suffused with energy and vision. That vision should become a reality, working together with others engaged in the field of building peace through friendship and cooperation. It is much needed, and a requirement for long-lasting reconciliation.
Peter Welby is a consultant on religion and global affairs, specializing in the Arab world. Previously he was the managing editor of a think tank on religious extremism, the Center on Religion & Geopolitics, and worked in public affairs in the Arabian Gulf. He is based in London, and has lived in Egypt and Yemen. Twitter: @pdcwelby