Detailed Lebanese & Lebanese Related LCCC English New Bulletin For October 12/2018
Compiled & Prepared by: Elias Bejjani

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Bible Quotations
A little while, and you will no longer see me, and again a little while, and you will see me
John 16/16-19: "‘A little while, and you will no longer see me, and again a little while, and you will see me.’Then some of his disciples said to one another, ‘What does he mean by saying to us, "A little while, and you will no longer see me, and again a little while, and you will see me"; and "Because I am going to the Father"?’They said, ‘What does he mean by this "a little while"? We do not know what he is talking about.’Jesus knew that they wanted to ask him, so he said to them, ‘Are you discussing among yourselves what I meant when I said, "A little while, and you will no longer see me, and again a little while, and you will see me"?"

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

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Titles For The Latest LCCC Bulletin analysis & editorials from miscellaneous sources published on October 11-12/18
Lebanon: Modern Art, Antiques on Show at Nabu Museum/Asharq Al-Awsat/October 11/18
Washington’s Silent War Against Hezbollah in Latin America/Joseph M. Humire/The Hill/October 11/18
How Trump Can Get a Better Deal on Iran/Michael Singh/Foreign Policy/The Washington Institute./October 11/2018
American Thinker: “How War with Islam Shaped and Defined Us/Raymond Ibrahim/October 11/18
Can Latin America Handle Venezuela’s Collapse Without the US/Jackson Diehl/The Washington Post/October, 11/18
China Hack Shows Weakness of Pence’s New Hard Line/Hal Brands/Bloomberg/October, 11/18
How Is It Possible Not to ‘Politicize’ the Syrian Crisis/Eyad Abu Shakra/Asharq Al Awsat/October 11/18
How Palestinians Lie to Europeans/Bassam Tawil/Gatestone Institute/October 11/18
Greece: Majority Rejects Institutions of the Far-Left/Maria Polizoidoul/Gatestone Institute/October 11/18
The media’s ‘murder’ of Khashoggi/Abdulrahman al-Rashed//Al Arabiya/October 11/18
Abdul Mehdi and the Iraqi fireball/Ghassan Charbel/Al Arabiya/October 11/18

Titles For The Latest LCCC Lebanese Related News published on October 11-12/18
Lebanon: Negotiations to Form Government Near Final Stage
Lebanon: ISIS Member Arrested for Plotting Attack Against the Army
Annahar Daily Issues Blank Edition
Judge Orders Investigation into ‘Leaked’ Names of Presidential Delegation to Armenia
Aoun Welcomes Regional Francophone Office in Beirut, Calls for Coexistence
Jreissati Meets STL President, Urges Speedy Procedures
Report: FPM Rejects Accusations Blaming Bassil for Obstruction
LF, FPM Students Clash at USJ's Huvelin Campus
Saydet Al-Jabal Meeting Called off for Second Time
Kataeb MP Nadim Gemayel Hails Press Courage in Face of Gloomy Situation
Samy Gemayel: Newspaper's Blank Edition Is a 'Resounding' Message
Sayegh Calls for Change of Mentality in Lebanon
Lebanon: Modern Art, Antiques on Show at Nabu Museum
Washington’s Silent War Against Hezbollah in Latin America

Titles For The Latest LCCC Bulletin For Miscellaneous Reports And News published on October 11-12/18
U.S. Says Its Investigators Aiding Khashoggi Probe, UK Warns of 'Consequences'
Trump: US investigators working with Saudis, Turkey on Khashoggi’s case
Gargash on Khashoggi says repercussions of targeting Saudi Arabia will be dire
Turkish media bid to incriminate Saudi tourist with wife in Khashoggi case
Iran Summons German Envoy over Extradition of 'Bomb Plot' Diplomat
Israeli Soldier Stabbed by Palestinian in West Bank
Israel Destroys Hamas 'Attack Tunnel' from Gaza
US Student Challenges Israeli Entry Ban in Court
China Says US 'Making Something Out of Thin Air' in Spy Case
U.S. Says No Syria Reconstruction Aid if Iran Stays
UK 'Worried' about British Student Held in UAE
Expelled Canadian ambassador to Saudi Arabia says Canada made a mistake
Iraq: Abdul Mahdi Accelerates Government Formation Process
UNICEF Urges Health Care Access for Syrians Trapped Near Jordan Border
Moscow Rejects Israeli Attempts to Change Status of Golan Heights
The Latest LCCC Lebanese Related News published on October 11-12/18
Lebanon: Negotiations to Form Government Near Final Stage
Beirut- Nazeer Rida/Asharq Al-Awsat/Thursday, 11 October, 2018/Efforts to form the Lebanese government have entered into the phase of distribution of portfolios, after almost finalizing negotiations over the shares. The final touches are expected to be completed within the next few days, as the birth of the new government is likely to be announced after the return of President Michel Aoun from his visit to Yerevan, where he is participating in the Francophone Summit. Deputies quoted Speaker Nabih Berri as saying that it was time for “everyone to shoulder their responsibilities in order to resolve the issue of the government.” He called on all parties to act “with modesty” during the formation process. He reiterated that the economic situation was very delicate and required cooperation at the national level. “The deterioration of the social situation and services, in addition to corruption, is due to the non-application of laws as I have repeatedly expressed,” Berri was quoted as saying, stressing that Parliament would continue to assume its responsibilities and would convene in a legislative session before the end of this month. In the final round of negotiations, sources told Asharq Al-Awsat that the ministerial shares were based on a distribution that would grant the Free Patriotic Movement (FPM) seven ministers, the President of the Republic three ministers, six ministers for the Future bloc, six others for the Shiite duo [Amal and Hezbollah], four ministers for the Lebanese Forces, one minister for Marada Party, two for PSP leader Walid Jumblatt and another Druze minister to be appointed upon an agreement by the president. While all the information indicate that the decision to form the government was taken, a member of the Future bloc, MP Roula Tabash said: “We are positive about the optimism of Prime Minister Saad Hariri, and there is no doubt that there are meetings with various blocs to increase consultations and to resolve the current nodes; we expect to have a government by the end of the month.”

Lebanon: ISIS Member Arrested for Plotting Attack Against the Army
Beirut - Asharq Al-Awsat/Thursday, 11 October, 2018/Lebanon’s Internal Security Forces (ISF) foiled a terrorist operation targeting Lebanese army units in the north, following the arrest of a minor belonging to ISIS, who was preparing to detonate an explosive device in an army patrol. In a statement on Wednesday, the ISF said it had arrested a member of ISIS in Akkar just as he was about to complete the setting of an explosive device aimed to target a Lebanese army patrol in the area. “Based on information about orders to [ISIS members] to carry out terrorist acts in the countries they reside in, and following surveillance and tracking operations, a special force from the Information Branch conducted a swift security operation and managed to apprehend a person, born in 2002, in Akkar," a statement by the ISF said. The statement added that the arrest came shortly before the boy managed to complete the setting of an explosive device that he was planning to plant on a local highway to target a Lebanese army patrol. The detainee admitted that he belonged to a number of groups affiliated with ISIS, with whom he discussed his intention to move to Syria, before being advised of working for the terrorist organization in Lebanon because access to Syria was very difficult. The person was asked to carry out attacks against the state while pledging allegiance to ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi in return for advice on how to manufacture explosives. The boy then spent the next five months researching instructions and information on improvised explosive devices using nitrate and other substances, before being arrested.
Annahar Daily Issues Blank Edition
Naharnet/October 11/18/The reputable Lebanese newspaper Annahar, issued a surprising blank edition of its paper on Thursday in a move described by its Editor-in-chief Nayla Tueini as a protest against the "deteriorating conditions in the country at all levels." Tueini who held a televised press conference to explain the move, said that Lebanon “is facing one of the most dangerous stages of all times. The white pages of the daily is an expression towards the country's disastrous situation," she said. Tueini shed light on the stagnant political and economic situation in Lebanon against the backdrop of a stalled Cabinet formation, urging Lebanese officials to form a government after more than five months of delay. “Today we launch the slogan “A White Day in the Face of Darkness” to sound the alarm over the crisis we are facing and to urge officials to form a government as soon possible,” she said. “We must make some move. Lebanon must be saved,” she said. Rebuffing claims that the daily plans to suspend its print version, she said: “It is not true. We will keep printing the paper and will keep the electronic version online despite the country's crises.” The press in Lebanon has been in crisis for several years, both as it struggles to adapt to the digital era and faces economic difficulties. That has raised concerns about Annahar following suit. But Tueini brushed-off the rumors assuring that the printed and online editions of the paper will continue. Since 2016, three newspapers have suspended their print versions including Lebanese al-Anwar, pan-Arab newspaper al-Hayat and as-Safir.

Judge Orders Investigation into ‘Leaked’ Names of Presidential Delegation to Armenia
Naharnet/October 11/18/State Prosecutor Judge Samir Hammoud has ordered investigations to look into who leaked the names of the delegation accompanying President Michel Aoun to Armenia where he is set to partake in the Francophonie Summit in Yerevan, the State-run National News Agency reported on Thursday. NNA did not give more details. Aoun departed on Wednesday leading an official delegation reportedly comprised of caretaker Minister of Culture Ghattas Khoury, caretaker Tourism Minister Avedis Kedanian, caretaker Foreign Minister Jebran Bassil and several other officials, according to reports.Aoun arrived at the headquarters of summit on Thursday where he is set deliver a speech. The 17th Summit of the International Organisation of la Francophonie (IOF) in Yerevan is held on October 11-12.

Aoun Welcomes Regional Francophone Office in Beirut, Calls for Coexistence
Naharnet/October 11/18/At the opening of the Francophone Summit in Armenia on Thursday, President Michel Aoun welcomed the organization's decision “to adopt Beirut as the headquarters of its regional office in the Middle East,” as he voiced calls for coexistence.“The decision of the francophone organization choosing Beirut as the headquarters of its regional office in the Middle East is most welcome,” said Aoun at the 17th IOF Summit in Yerevan. “Amid the rise of the dark forces in the region, the Francophone is required to affirm its message of coexistence,” he added. “The first human bonds at birth are the ones established with the mother, which will determine the person’s mother tongue in the future. That language will contribute to building the person's personality and characteristics. Later on, other acquired languages during the course of life would open up new prospects of personal enrichment,” Aoun went on to say. "The more the languages one learns, the more humanely enriched he becomes," said Aoun, stressing that “the French language in Lebanon is akin to a mother language.”"Languages are the link between different cultures and identities. Francophone aims not only at making the French language familiar within communities, but to deepening dialogue between civilizations and bringing people closer together," he said. "Francophone's presence in the East is proof of the solidarity and interaction with the Arabic language and culture," President Aoun affirmed.

Jreissati Meets STL President, Urges Speedy Procedures

Naharnet/October 11/18/Caretaker Justice Minister Salim Jreissati held talks Thursday with visiting Special Tribunal for Lebanon President Judge Ivana Hrdličková. The National News Agency said talks tackled “the course of the judicial phases that the tribunal has completed.” The meeting was held in the presence of STL Deputy President Judge Ralph Riachi and a number of STL officials. After the talks, Jreissati said the pre-scheduled meeting was held at Hrdličková's request. “I expressed two concerns: the first is unveiling the truth in the case of the assassination of the martyr Rafik Hariri and his companions, which is STL's main mission, while the second is the question of time, because in Lebanon time is costly as it is known,” the minister added, noting that “the STL is the only court in the world that gets half of its funding from the concerned country.” “We agreed to speed up the issuance of verdicts in the preliminary phase and we also discussed the appeals phase and the so-called linked cases,” Jreissati went on to say.

Report: FPM Rejects Accusations Blaming Bassil for Obstruction

Naharnet/October 11/18/The Free Patriotic Movement rejected accusations blaming its chief Foreign Minister Jebran Bassil of obstructing the formation of Lebanon’s government, saying his latest remarks have proven that “he wants to facilitate the formation process,” al-Joumhouria daily reported on Thursday. “Anyone who looks well into Bassil’s latest remarks will know that they were meant to facilitate the formation,” FPM sources told the daily on condition of anonymity. “The atmospheres are positive and the government will be formed in the end,” they added. “We are waiting to see what PM-designate Saad Hariri will offer,” they said. However the sources did not comment on whether a government is going to be formed within the ten-day time limit the Premier has set. Hariri was tasked with forming a government on May 24 but his mission has since been delayed because of disagreements over Cabinet shares mainly the Christian and Druze representation.

LF, FPM Students Clash at USJ's Huvelin Campus

Naharnet/October 11/18/Students from the Lebanese Forces and the Free Patriotic Movement engaged in a brawl Wednesday at the Saint Joseph University in Beirut. The National News Agency said the clash erupted inside USJ's Huvelin Campus. “The university's administration intervened and asked students to leave the campus but the clash continued as students charged against each other,” NNA said. “Security forces arrived on the scene and separated the quarrelers, asking them to maintain calm and avoid violence,” the agency added. The clash however renewed at 4:00 pm, it said. TV networks said the brawl erupted over a poster of slain president-elect and LF founder Bashir Gemayel.
Saydet Al-Jabal Meeting Called off for Second Time
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/October 11/18/ Thursday 11th Octobe/18/Gefinor Rotana Hotel on Thursday informed former MP Fares Souaid that it can no longer host the meeting of Saydet Al-Jabal Gathering that was set to take place on Sunday. Souaid is set to address this issue during a press conference on Friday. This is the second hotel to abruptly call off the event, after the forcible cancellation of the meeting that was set to be held at the Bristol Hotel in Beirut last week. In the wake of the first cancellation, Hezbollah's senior official Wafik Safa admitted that he had personally asked the hotel to not host the event. 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.
Following the meeting, Souaid announced that the Gefinor Rotana Hotel had given an "initial" approval to host the meeting this weekend.

Kataeb MP Nadim Gemayel Hails Press Courage in Face of Gloomy Situation 11th October 2018/Kataeb MP Nadim Gemayel praised Annahar newspaper's courage in the wake of its blank edition issued on Thursday, hoping that a new page would be turned in Lebanon. “It is not easy for any media outlet to publish blank pages,” Gemayel said during the press conference held by Annahar's Editor-in-Chief Nayla Tueni. “We are all tired of the conditions we are living in, the political approach that is adopted in this country, as well as the blatant neglect and idleness towards the economic and social situation,” he added.

Samy Gemayel: Newspaper's Blank Edition Is a 'Resounding' Message

Kataeb.orgThursday 11th October 2018/Kataeb leader Samy Gemayel on Thursday hailed the move made by Annahar newspaper which went out in blank pages this morning, deeming it as a booming message. “Annahar newspaper has sent a resounding message that reflects the state's negligence towards the Fourth Estate. We salute those struggling and facing challenges in this field!” Gemayel wrote on his Twitter.

Sayegh Calls for Change of Mentality in Lebanon

Kataeb.orgThursday 11th October 2018/Kataeb's Deputy-President Salim Sayegh on Thursday stressed that the formation of a new government would not solve the ongoing economic crisis, saying that the solution lies in changing the approach and the logic adopted by the ruling class.
“Forming a government would serve as a gateway to the solution, but not the solution itself. Economic decline still exists despite the presence of a caretaker government,” Sayegh told Voice of Lebanon radio station. “The government cannot do miracles unless it opts for a new mentality. This is what we want as a Kataeb party. We want to change the prevailing logic and approach, as well as to restore confidence,” he added. Sayegh stressed that the meeting hosted yesterday at the Kataeb's headquarters turned into a platform to demand change of the mentality that is ruling the country and to reject unilateralism. “They are distracting us with livelihood problems so that we would become unable to think and express ourselves. Once people become distracted with their daily life concerns, they give up," Sayegh warned.

Lebanon: Modern Art, Antiques on Show at Nabu Museum
Asharq Al-Awsat/October 11/18
At a new private museum in Lebanon, a contemporary sculpture of a mortar missile is displayed alongside millennia-old statues retrieved from the bottom of the sea. Named after the Mesopotamian god of wisdom, the Nabu Museum opened in late September to showcase the cultural wealth of an ancient region devastated by conflict. Its inaugural exhibition includes 60 contemporary works, as well as around 400 antiquities from Lebanon, Iraq, Syria, Egypt, and Yemen. "We have a more or less complete picture of what was once the cradle of civilization," says French curator Pascal Odille. Next to a private beach in the village of El-Heri in Lebanon's north, the museum's collection sits in an impressive futuristic cube of steel, coated with a rusty orange patina. A tall glass opening in the metal and concrete structure provides a view straight through the museum's interior and out to the sea. Designed by Iraqi artists, the museum for the first time opens up the private art and antiquities collections of wealthy businessmen to the public for free. Drawn from the homes and warehouses of its patrons, the exhibits are displayed on two floors, floodlit by the sunlight streaming through the tall windows. There are "ushabti" from Ancient Egypt, finely carved turquoise figurines traditionally placed in coffins to ensure passage to the afterlife. Nearby, a contemporary sculpture of a mortar missile by Lebanese artist Katya Traboulsi is adorned with hieroglyphs. The artwork is topped by a sculpted bust of the Ancient Egyptian god of the sky, Horus, instead of a warhead. Visitors can see Lebanese artist Saliba Douaihy's abstract landscape paintings, one largely red, the other bright blue. But they can also admire terracotta statues harking back to the Phoenician period found during marine excavations off the southern coast of Lebanon. "You can see the seashell and limescale deposits on them," says Odille, of the figures from the sixth or seventh century BC. The museum's founders -- two Lebanese and a Syrian -- want it to be a beacon of hope in a region scarred by conflict and the brutality of extremists. "Nabu is the god of writing and wisdom. Not the god of war," says Lebanese co-founder Jawad Adra. "We're a ray of optimism in this region, amid all this obscurity," says the 64-year-old, whose colorful, modern-art inspired tie contrasts with his grey suit. The project cost $7 million, the organizers say. But the works on show only represent a fraction of its founders' private collections, and there are plans to switch the exhibits every few months. Adra's personal collection includes 2,000 items from the Levant and Mesopotamia regions, according to the exhibition's catalog. The businessman says his hobby dates back to his childhood. "I've been collecting stamps and coins since I was 10," says Adra, who now heads a Beirut-based polling company and owns quality control labs in the Gulf. He says it is time to give back. To set up the museum, he banded together with Syrian business partner Fida Jdeed, and fellow Lebanese entrepreneur Badr El-Hage, who runs a rare book firm in London. "We've all reached an age where we're starting to ask ourselves, 'What have you done? What have you given your country?'," he says. Lebanon's interior minister recently attended an evening inauguration ceremony at the Nabu Museum. In Lebanon, a 2016 law demands all private owners of antiquities register their items with the ministry as part of its efforts to combat illegal trafficking. Adra says that "a large part" of his collection has been declared to the authorities, and he is registering the rest. In recent years, part of the region's cultural heritage has been damaged, destroyed or looted by armed groups. The ISIS terrorist group in particular swept across large parts of Syria and neighboring Iraq in 2014, wrecking countless historical sites in territory it controlled. Mahmud Al-Obaidi, who designed the museum building with fellow Iraqi artist Dia Azzawi, sees the project as compensation for years of loss. "I feel this place is payback for everything that has been destroyed," says the 53-year-old, who left Iraq in 1991 for Canada. With governments in the region busy battling troubled economies and poverty, personal initiatives are key to preserving culture, he says. "Our states don't take culture seriously," says the artist, dressed in a light blue linen shirt and dark blue jacket, whose work is on show inside the museum. Yet, passing civilizations live on in their art, Obaidi says. "They don't realize that everything fades away, but it's the books, paintings, and antiquities that remain," he adds.

Washington’s Silent War Against Hezbollah in Latin America
جوزيف هومير/موقع الهل/الحرب الأميركية الصامتة ضد حزب الله في أميركا اللاتينية
Joseph M. Humire/The Hill/October 11/18
On July 11, 2018, the government of Argentina took its first action against Hezbollah by freezing the financial assets of 14 individuals belonging to the Barakat clan in South America. Last week, Brazilian Federal Police arrested the leader of this clan, Assad Ahmad Barakat, who was sanctioned by U.S. Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) in 2004 and is considered one of Hezbollah’s most important financiers. These recent actions against Hezbollah in Latin America signal a shift in the priorities of regional governments, with Washington’s help.
Hezbollah’s presence in a subregion of South America known as the Tri-Border Area (TBA), at the crossroads of Brazil, Argentina and Paraguay, long has been known to regional authorities, but recently factors have prompted action. One element was the June 2017 extradition from Ciudad Del Este to Miami of Lebanese-Paraguayan Ali Issa Chamas, for shipping cocaine through U.S. ports and airports.
Many circumstances contribute to a high-level extradition but, fundamentally, both nations need political will to carry out this type of operation. The Obama administration repeatedly failed to extradite Hezbollah operatives when given the opportunity. For example, Obama’s Department of Justice and State Department failed in 2011 to bring Syrian-Venezuelan drug trafficker Walid Makled to the United States after he provided significant evidence of Hezbollah’s ties to Venezuelan officials shipping drugs to Europe and America. And, in 2016, Ali Fayad, a Lebanese-Ukrainian arms dealer charged in a New York court with “conspiracy to kill officers and employees of the United States,” was released from prison in the Czech Republic and returned to Lebanon.
In a bombshell article last year, Politico accused the Obama administration of turning a blind eye to Hezbollah’s illicit activities in favor of the nuclear deal with Iran, though members of Obama’s administration vehemently deny this was the case. President Trump is sending a different message to South America regarding Hezbollah, with results beginning to show.
Regional governments have started cracking down on Hezbollah’s criminal activity, namely in illicit financing. Argentina’s recent financial freeze affecting Barakat members is an official acknowledgment by the Argentine government that Hezbollah is a terrorist organization. Since Argentina does not yet have a legal mechanism to designate Hezbollah as such, its Financial Intelligence Unit (UIF) used the terror-financing prevention framework within its anti-terrorism law to issue the sanctions. This led to subsequent raids this past summer of casinos, hotels and money-exchange houses in the TBA that led to the capture of Assad Ahmad Barakat in Brazil.
Barakat was imprisoned in the past in Paraguay, convicted of tax-evasion charges in 2002. But this time, the political playing field is different and the Trump administration is likely to place tremendous pressure on Brazil to extradite Barakat to Argentina or the United States.
To stay ahead of the problem, Attorney General Jeff Sessions established the Hezbollah Financing Narcoterrorism Team (HFNT) in January 2018, led by veteran prosecutor John Cronan at the Department of Justice. This interagency task force, entrusted with combating Hezbollah’s terror finance, is focused not just on prosecuting Hezbollah operatives both in the United States and, with the cooperation of regional prosecutors and law enforcement agencies, in Latin American countries.
With President Trump’s election and the establishment of the HFNT, there is a noticeable difference in Latin American governments’ attitudes toward Hezbollah. In the weeks prior to Barakat’s arrest, several U.S. experts were invited by local authorities to take part in a conference on the crime-terror convergence in the TBA organized by the Department of Justice and U.S. Embassy. Similar seminars were held in recent months in Panama, Peru and Colombia, some of them sponsored by the Department of Defense in cooperation with local counterparts.
Congress also has weighed in, holding several hearings on the topic and passing the Hezbollah International Financing Prevention Amendments Act of 2017. Rep. Robert Pittenger (R-N.C.), the vice chair of a new subcommittee on terrorism and illicit finance, helped pave the way for greater regional cooperation by holding a Parliamentary Intelligence Security Forum with the UIF in Argentina in November 2017.
Latin America is paying attention to the whole-of-government approach that has formed in Washington. There is still much more to do to curb Hezbollah’s crime-terror activities, and action by our regional partners is critical to success. The recent arrest of Barakat demonstrates that Latin America indeed is ready to act, if given political and technical support. President Trump would be wise to capitalize on this momentum and prioritize Latin America in our global counterterrorism efforts.

The Latest LCCC Bulletin For Miscellaneous Reports And News published on October 11-12/18
U.S. Says Its Investigators Aiding Khashoggi Probe, UK Warns of 'Consequences'
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/October 11/18/U.S. President Donald Trump on Thursday said U.S. investigators were working with both Ankara and Riyadh to probe the suspicious disappearance in Turkey of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi. "We can't let it happen. And we're being very tough and we have investigators over there and we're working with Turkey and frankly we're working with Saudi Arabia," Trump said in an interview with "Fox and Friends."
"I have to find out what happened," Trump said, when asked if U.S.-Saudi relations would be jeopardized by the disappearance of Khashoggi, a U.S. resident who Turkish officials suspect was murdered after entering the Saudi consulate in Istanbul. "We're probably getting closer than you might think," he added. Saudi Arabia insists Khashoggi exited its consulate in Istanbul after a brief visit. But Trump told "Fox and Friends" that "he went in and doesn't look like he came out."
"Certainly doesn't look like he is around," Trump added.
President Donald Trump said Thursday that US investigators were working with both Ankara and Riyadh to probe the suspicious disappearance in Turkey of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi. "We can't let it happen. And we're being very tough and we have investigators over there and we're working with Turkey and frankly we're working with Saudi Arabia," Trump said in an interview with "Fox and Friends." "I have to find out what happened," Trump said, when asked if US-Saudi relations would be jeopardized by the disappearance of Khashoggi, a US resident who Turkish officials suspect was murdered after entering the Saudi consulate in Istanbul."We're probably getting closer than you might think," he added.
Khashoggi, a Washington Post contributor who lived in the United States, vanished October 2 after entering the Saudi consulate in Istanbul to obtain a document needed to marry his Turkish fiancee, Hatice Cengiz, who waited for him outside. Turkish police say he was murdered inside the consulate by a 15-member Saudi team that flew into the country just ahead of Khashoggi's scheduled appointment, and left the same day, according to Turkish government sources.
Saudi Arabia insists Khashoggi exited the consulate after a brief visit. "He went in and doesn't look like he came out. Certainly doesn't look like he is around," Trump told "Fox and Friends."
The Washington Post, citing US intelligence intercepts, reported that Saudi Arabia's crown prince Mohammed bin Salman ordered an operation to trap Khashoggi. The United States has called for a transparent investigation, amid warnings by U.S. lawmakers of serious repercussions if suspicions of a murder were borne out. "That would be a very sad thing and we'll probably know in the very short future," Trump said. "We have incredible people and incredible talent working on it. We don't like it. I don't like it. No good."Trump, and son-in-law Jared Kushner, have been personally close to Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, since turning to Saudi Arabia as a pivotal ally in the Middle East against Iran. The Washington Post, citing U.S. intelligence intercepts, reported that the Saudi crown prince had ordered an operation to trap Khashoggi. Britain's foreign secretary warned earlier on Thursday that Saudi Arabia faces "serious consequences" if the suspicions of Turkish officials that journalist Jamal Khashoggi was murdered after entering the Saudi consulate in Istanbul turn out to be true. "People who have long thought of themselves as Saudi's friends are saying this is a very, very serious matter. "If these allegations are true, there will be serious consequences because our friendships and our partnerships are based on shared values," Jeremy Hunt told AFP. "We are extremely worried," he said. Hunt said he had spoken to Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir and had told him "how very, very concerned the United Kingdom is."Britain is a close ally and trade partner of Saudi Arabia. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has urged Saudi Arabia to release footage of Khashoggi and the U.S. president has demanded answers over his fate, as the kingdom faces growing pressure to provide a convincing explanation for his disappearance. Khashoggi has not been seen since October 2 when he went to the Saudi consulate in Istanbul to obtain official documents for his upcoming marriage. Turkish officials quoted in media have said he was killed but Riyadh denies that. The mystery has captivated the world but also threatens to harm brittle Turkish-Saudi relations and hurt efforts by the crown prince to improve the image of his country with a reform drive.

Trump: US investigators working with Saudis, Turkey on Khashoggi’s case
Staff writer, Al Arabiya English/Thursday, 11 October 2018/The United States has investigators overseas to assist Turkey in its probe into the missing Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, US President Donald Trump said on Thursday, adding that they are also working with Saudi Arabia.“We have investigators over there and we’re working with Turkey, and frankly we’re working with Saudi Arabia. We want to find out what happened,” Trump said in an interview with Fox News.  On Wednesday, US Vice President Mike Pence said the United States is ready to help in any way in the investigation of the disappearance of Khashoggi, in Istanbul, Turkey on October, 2. Full story Earlier on Tuesday, President Trump, speaking to reporters at the White House, said he would speak with Saudi officials at some point about the situation. Prior to last Friday, media outlets affiliated with the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood and Qatar carried a news report that claimed that Saudi Arabia had detained Khashoggi inside its consulate in Istanbul. The Saudi Crown Prince refuted the claims later in an interview during which he said Turkey can search the kingdom’s consulate in Istanbul for the Saudi journalist, saying: “We have nothing to hide”.The Turkish ministry of foreign affairs had also stated that Saudi Arabia has provided all assistance and cooperation in the case of the missing journalist who has disappeared in Istanbul last week. With Reuters

Gargash on Khashoggi says repercussions of targeting Saudi Arabia will be dire
Staff writer, Al Arabiya English/Thursday, 11 October 2018/In his first comment on the disappearance of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi in Istanbul, Turkey on October 2, the UAE’s Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Anwar Gargash said on Thursday that the fierce campaign against Riyadh is expected, as well as the coordination between its inciting parties. In a tweet, Gargash said: “There is a need to show the reality of the human dimension of the situation as the repercussions of the political targeting of Saudi Arabia will be dire for those who fuel it.”Garghash also added in his tweet that: “It remains that the success of Saudi Arabia is the first choice for the region and its people.”

Turkish media bid to incriminate Saudi tourist with wife in Khashoggi case
Staff writer, Al Arabiya English/Thursday, 11 October 2018/Among the photos published by Turkish and Qatari media as a “team of 15 Saudis” who arrived in Istanbul to execute “Jamal Khashoggi’s disappearance act”, an old picture of a Saudi tourist who visited Istanbul accompanied by his wife emerged, Al Arabiya English reported. The exploitation of the Saudi tourist picture in the case of Khashoggi’s disappearance highlights the blatant misinformation in this issue, where photos of innocent civilians are used in a fictional story surrounding Khashoggi’s disappearance. The picture is attributed to the Saudi citizen Salah al-Tabiki, and it was taken during a previous visit accompanied with his wife as tourists to Turkey.

Iran Summons German Envoy over Extradition of 'Bomb Plot' Diplomat
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/October 11/18/Tehran summoned the German ambassador on Wednesday to protest the extradition of one of its diplomats to Belgium over his alleged role in a bomb plot. "The German ambassador to Tehran was summoned today to protest against the extradition... of one of our diplomats to Belgium," foreign ministry spokesman Bahram Ghasemi said in a statement. The head of the ministry's European desk told the ambassador that the arrest and extradition were "caused by a fabricated conspiracy by enemies of Iran and European relations" and called for his swift release, the statement added. The Iranian diplomat, who had been based in Vienna, was taken into custody in Belgium earlier on Wednesday on suspicion of involvement in an alleged plot to bomb an Iranian opposition rally in France. The suspect was previously identified as Assadollah Asadi. Iran has denied French accusations that he was involved in a plot targeting the annual gathering of the exiled National Council of Resistance of Iran on June 30 just outside Paris. The accusations come at a particularly sensitive time as Iran works with European powers to salvage the 2015 nuclear deal, abandoned by the United States earlier this year.

Israeli Soldier Stabbed by Palestinian in West Bank
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/October 11/18/A Palestinian stabbed and wounded an Israeli reserve soldier in the occupied West Bank on Thursday and troops were searching for the assailant, the Israeli army said. An Israeli civilian was also wounded from shrapnel when soldiers fired in the direction of the fleeing assailant, according to the army. Both the soldier and civilian were taken to hospital in moderate condition, it said. The reserve soldier was in uniform at the time. There were no further details available on the assailant. The incident occurred at a junction near the northern West Bank city of Nablus. On Sunday, also in the northern West Bank, a Palestinian shot dead two Israelis and wounded another at an industrial zone for an Israeli settlement where the suspect worked. Israeli authorities are continuing to search for the gunman in that incident. There was no indication of a link between the two cases. A wave of Palestinian attacks against Israelis broke out in 2015 but they have since become sporadic.

Israel Destroys Hamas 'Attack Tunnel' from Gaza

Agence France Presse/Naharnet/October 11/18/Israel's military said it destroyed a Hamas-built tunnel extending into its territory from the Gaza Strip on Thursday that was intended for attacks.
Military spokesman Jonathan Conricus said it was the 15th such tunnel discovered and destroyed by Israel in the past year. There were no indications of casualties linked to the destruction of the tunnel around one kilometer in length (less than a mile) and which originated from the Khan Yunis area of southern Gaza. It extended around 200 meters (650 feet) into Israeli territory, Conricus said, adding Israel's army had been monitoring its construction for several months. He declined to elaborate on how the tunnel was destroyed, but said "combat engineering means" were used. Conricus called it a "complex tunnel system with various connections and branches." Israel has in recent months employed technology to detect and destroy tunnels without bombing them, including by filling them with material to make them unusable. Israel is also building an underground wall around the blockaded Gaza Strip to stop tunnel digging. Work on the massive project is expected to be completed by the end of 2019, Conricus said. Conricus alleged Hamas used new methods in building the tunnel destroyed Thursday that seemed intended to evade Israel's detection methods. He declined however to provide specifics, but noted it was equipped with electricity and communication hardware. The destruction of the tunnel comes amid months of protests and clashes along the Gaza border that have raised fears of a fourth war since 2008 between Israel and Hamas, the Islamist movement that runs the Palestinian enclave. At least 198 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli fire in Gaza since the protests began on March 30, while one Israeli soldier has been shot dead by a Palestinian sniper in that time. Israel says its actions during the protests and clashes are necessary to defend the border and stop infiltrations and attacks, which it accuses Hamas of seeking to carry out.
Palestinians and rights groups say protesters have been shot while posing little threat. The last conflict between Israel and Palestinian militants in Gaza in 2014 was waged in part over tunnels that were used to carry out attacks within Israel.

US Student Challenges Israeli Entry Ban in Court

Agence France Presse/Naharnet/October 11/18/A US student banned from entering Israel for allegedly having supported a pro-Palestinian boycott of the country appeared in court on Thursday to challenge the decision. It is the latest in a series of cases drawing criticism of an Israeli law barring boycott supporters that opponents say violates freedom of expression. Israeli authorities have also come under criticism in recent months over what some have seen as the politically motivated questioning of certain foreigners seeking to enter the country. Lara Alqasem, 22, arrived at Israel's Ben-Gurion airport on October 2 to study for a master's degree at Hebrew University in Jerusalem, but was not allowed to enter. She has been held at an immigration facility, choosing to challenge the entry ban rather than fly back to the United States. A hearing was being held on her case in Tel Aviv district court on Thursday. In March 2017, Israel's parliament passed a law banning the entry of supporters of the pro-Palestinian Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) movement, inspired by measures against South Africa before the fall of apartheid. Alqasem, reportedly of Palestinian descent, is said to have been president of a chapter of Students for Justice in Palestine while an undergraduate student at the University of Florida.The group has supported boycott campaigns against Israel. US weighs in Alqasem has reportedly said she has since distanced herself from the movement, and supporters point to her willingness to enter Israel to study as proof. Israeli media has quoted her mother, Karen Alqasem, as saying that she had enrolled for a one-year master's course in human rights at Hebrew University, for which she had an Israeli visa. The university has called on the authorities to allow her in to study, while professors from the University of Florida have also supported her.
A professor of Jewish language and culture who taught Alqasem in Florida wrote in a letter to the editor to Israeli newspaper Haaretz that she was "an outstanding student, curious, with an open mind". Dror Abend-David added that she was "someone who very much wanted to study international relations in Israel to develop her own opinion on the conflict."The United States said Wednesday it supports freedom of expression and that its embassy in Jerusalem was offering Alqasem consular assistance. "As a general principle, we value freedom of expression even in cases where we don't agree with the political views expressed and this is such a case," State Department deputy spokesman Robert Palladino told reporters. "Our strong opposition to the boycotts and sanctions of the state of Israel is well-known," he said. But he added: "Israel is a sovereign nation that can determine who enters."Israeli Strategic Affairs Minister Gilad Erdan has said that he would consider allowing Alqasem to take up her university place if she publicly denounces BDS.

China Says US 'Making Something Out of Thin Air' in Spy Case
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/October 11/18/Beijing on Thursday dismissed US charges against an alleged Chinese intelligence agent who was accused of a state-sponsored effort to steal trade secrets, saying American authorities were "making something out of thin air"."We hope the US side can deal with this in accordance with law," Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Lu Kang told a regular press briefing.

U.S. Says No Syria Reconstruction Aid if Iran Stays

Agence France Presse/Naharnet/October 11/18/The United States said Wednesday it will refuse any post-war reconstruction assistance to Syria if Iran is present, expanding the rationale for US involvement in the conflict. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, speaking to a pro-Israel group, vowed an aggressive push to counter Iran across the Middle East and said that Syria was a decisive battleground. "The onus for expelling Iran from the country falls on the Syrian government, which bears responsibility for its presence there," Pompeo told the Jewish Institute for National Security of America. "If Syria doesn't ensure the total withdrawal of Iranian-backed troops, it will not receive one single dollar from the United States for reconstruction," Pompeo said. Pompeo's speech effectively broadens the official explanation for why the United States is involved in Syria's civil war, which a monitoring group says has killed close to 365,000 people since 2011. Former president Barack Obama authorized military action with the goal of rooting out the Islamic State group, or ISIS, the extremist force that has boasted of a slew of grisly attacks both in Syria and the West. The United States has about 2,000 troops in Syria, primarily to train and advise forces other than ISIS that are waging an increasingly precarious fight to topple President Bashar al-Assad. Pompeo acknowledged that Assad was stronger thanks to Iranian and Russian help and said that, with ISIS "beaten into a shadow of its former self," new priorities had emerged. "Defeating ISIS, which was once our primary focus, continues to be a priority. But it will now be joined by two other mutually reinforcing objectives," Pompeo said. "These include a peaceful political resolution to the Syrian conflict and the removal of all Iranian and Iranian-backed forces from Syria."
Trump hesitant on Syria
The US funding threats are unlikely to make an immediate impact in Syria. Trump, a vocal critic of foreign aid as he promotes an "America First" policy, in August pulled the United States out of Syria's near-term reconstruction, suspending $230 million after Gulf Arab allies made their own pledges. But Pompeo's speech marks a new sign that the United States is not leaving Syria anytime soon after Trump, a onetime critic of foreign interventions, earlier this year mused aloud about withdrawing troops. Trump's national security adviser John Bolton, a longtime hawk on Iran, told reporters last month that US troops would stay "as long as Iranian troops are outside Iranian borders." Iran, ruled by Shiite Muslim clerics, has deployed both troops and its Lebanese ally Hezbollah to prop up Assad, a secular leader who belongs to the Alawite sect and is facing down hardline Sunni Muslim forces. "Iran has seen instability in Syria as a golden opportunity to tip the regional balance of power in its favor," Pompeo said. He warned that Iran, a sworn foe of Israel, would open a new front against the Jewish state if it remained in Syria. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has similarly warned that he will never accept an Iranian presence in Syria. Trump has withdrawn from an international agreement negotiated under Obama through which Iran slashed its sensitive nuclear work in exchange for sanctions relief. Pompeo boasted that Trump has imposed on Iran "some of the harshest sanctions in history."The Trump administration has closely allied itself with both Israel and Saudi Arabia, the Sunni kingdom which sees Iran as its chief rival in the region. Pompeo in his speech did not air any criticism of Saudi Arabia, which has been accused by Turkish government sources of killing a prominent Saudi journalist last week inside its Istanbul consulate. Pompeo also did not demand a withdrawal by Russia, which maintains its only permanent military base outside the former Soviet Union in Syria, a Cold War ally.

UK 'Worried' about British Student Held in UAE

Agence France Presse/Naharnet/October 11/18/Britain's foreign secretary said Thursday he was "very worried" about the fate of a British student who, according to his wife, has been detained in the United Arab Emirates without charge since May. Matthew Hedges, a 31-year-old PhD student who was researching the UAE's foreign and internal security policies after the Arab Spring revolutions, was stopped at Dubai Airport on May 5. "We are... very worried about Mr Hedges," Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt told AFP. "I've spoken to the Emirati foreign minister twice now on this matter face to face so they are very aware of our concerns and we are monitoring it very closely," he said."Obviously every country has a judicial process and, just like in the UK, in the UAE the judiciary operates independently of the politicians and we respect that. "But we have a duty to make sure we are doing everything we can to make sure British citizens have due process," he added. Hedges' wife Daniela Tejada, who has visited him once and spoken to him on the phone a few times, told AFP: "He simply isn't guilty of anything. He was just doing academic research." Following reports in British media that he has been accused of spying, Tejada said his research involved only open resources. "He's not disclosed anything... classified or confidential," she said, adding that Hedges had lived in the UAE for "several years" before he returned to Britain in 2015. Tejada said Hedges was diagnosed with depression and anxiety shortly before traveling to the UAE for his research. She said he had been allowed to take anti-depressants in prison, but added: "My big concern is that without the appropriate psychiatric treatment the effects of medication are not only not effective but can actually be counter-productive." Tejada said Hedges had been kept in solitary confinement "nearly the entire time." Stuart Corbridge, vice-chancellor of Durham University in northern England where Hedges is a student, voiced concern. "We are seriously concerned about Matt's welfare and wellbeing and we remain in close contact with the family," he said. Britain's foreign ministry said in a statement: "Our staff are supporting a British man following his detention in the UAE." Hedges appeared in court in Abu Dhabi last week but the case was adjourned and then delayed a second time on Wednesday. The next scheduled hearing is on October 24, his wife said.

Expelled Canadian ambassador to Saudi Arabia says Canada made a mistake
Staff writer, Al Arabiya English/Thursday, 11 October 2018/Canada made mistakes in its diplomatic row with Saudi Arabia, and was not effective in its dealings with the kingdom, the expelled Canadian Ambassador to Riyadh Dennis Horak said on Wednesday. “It was a situation that didn’t need to occur … to sort of yell from the sidelines I don’t think is effective,” Horak said in a phone interview. He added that the liberal government of Justin Trudeau should have spent more time improving ties with the kingdom. Horak’s comments are considered the first time a top Canadian official makes public statements placing the blame on Ottawa for the row that has almost severed relations between the two countries. Saudi Arabia froze new trade with Canada in August and expelled the Canadian ambassador in retaliation for Ottawa’s call to free arrested Saudis in the kingdom. It also ended state-backed educational and medical programs in Canada, making plans to relocate tens of thousands of Saudi students and patients to other countries. “The urging of immediate release I think went too far,” Horak said. Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir had demanded an apology from Canada last month during an event at the Council on Foreign Relations in New York. He denounced an “outrageous” tweet by Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland directed at the kingdom last month, and accused them of treating the kingdom like “a banana republic.” “What are we? A banana republic? Would any country accept this?” al-Jubeir said at an event at the Council on Foreign Relations in New York. “You owe us an apology. It is very easy to fix -- apologize, say you made a mistake.” Horak, who was head of Canada‘s diplomatic mission in Iran when the previous government cut ties with Tehran in 2012, said Ottawa needed to put more effort into talking with nations it did not always agree with. “We’re wrong not to engage a country like Saudi Arabia,” he said.
Iraq: Abdul Mahdi Accelerates Government Formation Process
Baghdad- Hamza Mustafa/Asharq Al-Awsat/Thursday, 11 October, 2018/The Iraqi prime minister, Adel Abdul Mahdi, intends to scale down the period granted to him by the constitution to form a government and gain the parliament's vote of confidence, a reliable source in Baghdad told Asharq Al Awsat newspaper. The source, who preferred to remain anonymous, said that Abdul Mahdi and his team are prepared to finalize the government line-up and present it to the parliament by Oct. 24. The PM-designate has started to receive names of candidates from some blocs and will be receiving others within the coming few days, the source added. When asked whether Abdul Mahdi would benefit from those who applied for ministerial positions through the e-portal, he replied that the assigned PM killed two birds with one stone by putting pressure on political blocs to submit the names of candidates to avoid choosing from names on the e-portal. First Deputy Speaker Hassan al-Kaabi said that the parliament will be a key support for the new government as long as it serves the best interest of the Iraqi people and fulfills their needs. He added that the coming stage will witness high coordination between the legislative and executive authorities to approve laws and make important decisions. Iraqi Forces Alliance MP Mohammed al-Karbouli told Asharq Al-Awsat that the Sunnis have not submitted any candidates for ministerial posts, noting that a meeting would be held within a few days with Abdul Mahdi pending an agreement on mechanisms for the announcement of ministerial candidacies. In the same context, a political science professor at the University of Baghdad, Dr. Khaled Abdulilah, told Asharq Al-Awsat that the steps taken by the PM-designate, including having an office in the parliament and opening the green-zone, are significant in terms of bridging the gap between politicians and citizens.

UNICEF Urges Health Care Access for Syrians Trapped Near Jordan Border
Amman - Asharq Al-Awsat/Thursday, 11 October, 2018/The UN’s fund for children, UNICEF, has urged warring parties in Syria to allow basic health service deliveries to tens of thousands of increasingly desperate Syrians trapped in the desert near the Jordanian border.
"Once again, UNICEF appeals to all parties to the conflict in Syria and those who have influence over them, to allow and facilitate access to basic services including health for children and families," said the agency's Middle East and North Africa director, Geert Cappelaere, on Wednesday. "This is the very minimum for human dignity." He said two babies without access to hospitals had died in the past 48 hours near the Rukban border crossing. While one clinic on the Jordanian side of the frontier continues to treat urgent cases, the situation demands more sophisticated health care that is "only available in hospitals," it said. "The situation for the estimated 45,000 people -- among them many children -- will further worsen with the cold winter months fast approaching, especially when temperatures dip below freezing point in the harsh desert conditions," Cappelaere said. "It is time to finally put an end to the war on children. History will judge us and the death of children, preventable in many cases, will continue to chase us," he added. The kingdom has allowed several humanitarian aid deliveries to the area following UN requests, but the borders remain closed.

Moscow Rejects Israeli Attempts to Change Status of Golan Heights

Moscow - Raed Jabr/Asharq Al-Awsat/Thursday, 11 October, 2018/ Moscow responded firmly on the Israeli demand that the international community recognizes the inclusion of Syrian Golan.Commenting on Israel's intention to declare sovereignty over the Golan Heights, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said that the legal status of the area has been defined by the UN Security Council resolutions. "To change the status means to violate directly the Security Council resolutions," he said. He called on the Israelis to abide by the UN resolutions regarding the proposed files, especially the status in Golan Heights and the war on terrorism in Syria. Further, Lavrov said Turkey played the main role in the creation of the demilitarized zone in Idlib, adding: "The process is progressing quite well." "Turkish media reported that the pullout of heavy weapons took place, we are now verifying this information through our experts," Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova told a briefing, adding that to date, "Over 1,000 militants have left the demilitarized zone, and about 100 pieces of equipment have been withdrawn." Moreover, Russian and Syrian officials have discussed on the sidelines of the Russian Energy Week forum the prospects of restoring the energy sector in Syria, including the modernization of four thermal power stations and the reconstruction of the country's gas transportation system, Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak said. "We talked with the Syrian Minister of Energy about the cooperation in the energy sector. We agreed to move faster in the implementation of these projects. Our Syrian partners are now solving the issue of financing these projects," Novak told reporters.
The Latest LCCC Bulletin analysis & editorials from miscellaneous sources published on October 11-12/18
How Trump Can Get a Better Deal on Iran
مايكل سنك من الورن بولسي: كيف بإمكان ترامب أن يحصل على اتفاق افضل مع إيران
Michael Singh/Foreign Policy/The Washington Institute./October 11/2018
The United States needs to keep Europe on board, go beyond sanctions, and ensure lasting bipartisan support for its new policy.
Apparently, one of the top leaders of a “corrupt dictatorship” responsible for sowing “chaos, death, and destruction” can also be an “absolutely lovely man.” At least U.S. President Donald Trump seems to think so, having uttered all of these words in reference to President Hassan Rouhani’s Iran in the course of a single day at last month’s United Nations General Assembly in New York.
This pairing of criticism and compliments is a paradox with a purpose. Trump is not content with having discarded the Iran nuclear deal inked in 2015 by his predecessor; he wants to negotiate a better one. And in echoes of his policy toward North Korea, he intends to squeeze Iran as hard as possible until it agrees to come to the table. It is a simple strategy, but not without significant risks. The clearest is that rather than or prior to knuckling under, Iran will escalate by ramping up its nuclear activities and provoking a crisis. Taking a page from North Korea’s playbook, Tehran may calculate that the United States will feel pressure to pay simply for a return to the status quo ante.A less alarming but perhaps likelier risk is that Tehran will simply hold out, seeking merely to endure for a time rather than bargaining to relieve crushing economic pressure, as authoritarian regimes from Venezuela to Iraq have done in the past.
If it takes this route, Iran will likely be counting on three things working in its favor: that the United States will be isolated internationally, that the Trump administration’s approach will prove polarizing domestically and will be discarded by his successor, and that Washington will be unwilling to go beyond sanctions to challenge Iran across the region.
If the Trump administration wants to maximize pressure on Iran, it must frustrate Tehran’s expectations on all three fronts while dissuading it from expanding its nuclear pursuits. Doing this will require a strategy that is at once multilateral—a comprehensive plan supported by U.S. allies that goes beyond sanctions to utilize all policy tools available including diplomatic, intelligence, and military means—and sustainable, garnering sufficient bipartisan domestic support to seem likely to outlast Trump’s tenure in office. The first step in such a strategy must be to heal the rift between the United States and its allies—particularly France, Germany, and the United Kingdom, which negotiated the nuclear deal alongside Washington. Despite their discord over the U.S. withdrawal from the deal and Washington’s reimposition of sanctions, the United States and its allies in Europe and elsewhere agree more than they disagree on Iran. None wishes to see Iran develop a nuclear weapon, and all are alarmed by the country’s development and proliferation of missiles and other weapons and fielding of proxy forces throughout the Middle East. Given this overlap, negotiating a modus vivendi between the United States and Europe should be achievable. The Trump administration should show modest flexibility in its application of sanctions, and the European Union should join the United States in imposing costs on Iran targeting areas of mutual concern such as Iran’s missile program and activities in Syria.
Some will complain about any compromise regarding U.S. unilateral measures, but such objections are misguided. The United States and its allies standing together would deprive Iran of strategic advantage and more than offset any marginal decrease in U.S. pressure. And flexibility on the implementation of new sanctions could enable European powers to dissuade Iran from ramping up its nuclear activities and give them space to cajole Iran back to negotiations over the list of concerns the United States and its allies share. But a common U.S.-European diplomatic front will not be enough. Faced with economic pressure, Iran—as we have already seen in Iraq—may respond on the ground in areas where it supports proxies and where it perceives a comparative advantage over Western states that are weary of the Middle East. It may also question whether Trump, who has been harshly critical of past U.S. interventions in the region, would respond resolutely to an Iranian nuclear breakout, whereby it seeks to rapidly build a nuclear weapon. Countering Iran in the region need not, and indeed should not, be strictly a military activity. Indeed, any Iran policy has to account for the reality that Washington’s top priorities increasingly lie outside the Middle East. But the application of limited force—retaining the small U.S. troop presence in Syria or expanding allied efforts to interdict Iranian arms shipments—can amplify the effect of diplomacy. That diplomacy should aim both to resolve conflicts like Yemen’s, which Iran has exploited to expand its regional influence, and, just as critically, to deny Tehran new opportunities for meddling that arise from squabbling among U.S. allies or internal tensions within regional states.
Finally, the Trump administration must secure bipartisan support for its strategy toward Iran. Republicans should understand that dissuading Iran from pursuing the actions enumerated by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is likely to be a long-term endeavor. Democrats should recognize that merely stepping back into the nuclear deal, should they win back the White House, may not be so easy—especially as the agreement’s restrictions approach their expiration dates—and that they will in any event require a strategy for addressing the nonnuclear challenges Iran poses.
The increasing volatility of U.S. foreign policy on critical issues such as Iran not only encourages allies and adversaries alike to hold out for a more favorable future policy, but also diminishes Washington’s ability to lead. Both parties must assume responsibility for reversing this trend.
At the moment, the Trump administration appears isolated on Iran. But in reality, the concerns it has articulated regarding Iranian policies are widely shared in the United States and abroad, and U.S. allies are eager for American leadership on thorny regional issues such as Syria and Yemen.
Trump may never get his made-for-TV moment with an Iranian leader. But if he can rally his allies rather than alienate them, and if his offer to Tehran of a diplomatic offramp is genuine, he can ensure that Iran pays a price for challenging U.S. interests—and perhaps even coax it back to the negotiating table.
*Michael Singh is the Lane-Swig Senior Fellow and managing director at The Washington Institute.

American Thinker: “How War with Islam Shaped and Defined Us”
Raymond Ibrahim/October 11/18
Editor’s note: Thomas Lifson, the editor and publisher of American Thinker, recently reviewed my book, Sword and Scimitar. Titled, “How War with Islam Shaped and Defined Us,” his review follows:
Every once in a while, I come across a book that I can say changed the way I understand the world I live in. Raymond Ibrahim’s new book, Sword and Scimitar, altered the way I understand the development of our civilization – I mean the one that America inherited from Europe and made our own. It drove home to me how little I knew about the way Islam – in the form of attempted and often successful conquest – really changed the way our civilization evolved and the way it grew to understand itself.
For one thing, prior to Mohammed, our predecessors didn’t think of themselves as part of “Western” or even “European” civilization. Back when Mohammed kicked off the promise of eternal jihad in 630 (recorded in Koran 9:29), our civilizational forebearers thought of themselves as part of Christendom, an area that included North Africa, much of the Middle East, modern Turkey, and more. Mohammed and his successor jihad warriors over the next centuries cut Christendom down to Europe, the western flank of the dar al-harb, where more secular geographic and cultural identities eventually thrived. They became “Western civilization” because they were west of the Islamic heartland in Arabia and beyond.
Sword and Scimitar takes the form of a military history of eight key battles between Muslims and the Christian world over the course of almost a millennium and a half, in which a variety of Islamic military leaders of very different ethnic and racial backgrounds – Arab, Berber, Mongol, Tartar, and Turk – carried out Mohammed’s injunction of eternal jihad. They understood jihad not as a spiritual quest to be better, but as armed conquest, followed by plunder, enslavement, mass torture and execution, and repopulation, with mass conversion under threat or advantage, helped along, I might add, by systematic rape of the nubile female population to produce Muslim babies.
I think I understand why my education left me bereft of a good understanding of the role of Islam in defining my own civilization. It is often an uncomfortable history, too often a story of failure with the direst possible consequences for the side I (and our past but not current crop of historians) identified and sympathized with. At many junctures, factionalism, greed, stupidity, and worse played a major role. Ibrahim does an excellent job of showing how this played out on both sides, and not always for the worse in the West. It should be noted that four of the battles covered are Christian defeats and Muslim victories, but four are the reverse.
Raymond Ibrahim tells this history vividly, clearly, and engagingly. He deserves the major credit for this feat, but it is worth noting that he is a student of Victor Davis Hanson – and it shows. Sword and Scimitar is in a sense two books: the author provides a historical narrative that moves along briskly, telling the stories of the development of the eight battles, their fighting, and the outcomes and consequences. For each of the battles, Ibrahim provides an excellent look at the political, cultural, and economic context on both sides, so the detailed accounts of what happened in battle fill in a broader picture of civilizational conflict. But the large number of footnotes on the bottom of pages provides not just further details, but excursions into tangential topics raised by the main narrative. I confess that I was often torn between continuing the main narrative and following the additional thoughts and stories of the footnotes. (This was not an unhappy dilemma – books can be picked up again to return to the footnotes.)
The author, born to Coptic Christian immigrants from Egypt, has spent years reading and translating Arabic, Greek, and other historians, often incorporating phrases and sentences from them in the midst of his narrative. He strives to convey and succeeds in conveying how both sides saw their confrontations and how later historians on each side explained the outcomes.
He starts with the six-day-long Battle of Yarmuk in 636, two years following the Arab invasion of Syria, then much larger and deeply Christian, a province of the Roman Empire (governed from Constantinople). There, vastly numerically inferior Arab forces defeated a far larger detachment sent by the Byzantine emperor to crush the early military challenges coming from Arabs inspired by messianic expansionism. Following the collapse of Christian forces at Yarmuk, near the current Jordanian-Syrian border, the Arab jihad warriors spread rapidly, capturing Jerusalem the following year, and on to Egypt, the oldest continuous Christian community in the world, as Ibrahim points out, and from there, North Africa (completely subdued by 709) and then Spain and into France, where Charles Martel finally halted the advance at Tours in 732.
One of the things that makes Sword and Scimitar so valuable is that unlike the dominant secular mindset of most academic historians, Ibrahim understands the role religion plays in the lives of individuals, groups, nations, and civilizations. He makes it clear that religion was central to the Islamic conquests – which seems obvious, except that many modern historians prefer to see the battles in economic terms. The fact that Muslim warriors were promised heaven and a supply of virgins if they died in battle, and the chance at plunder, rape, and domination if they survived and won, provided a tremendous advantage in recruiting and motivating the troops – so much so that after the better part of a millennium, a countervailing doctrine was cooked up for the Christian forces in the Middle Ages.
A second and even more valuable feature of Sword and Scimitar is the author’s examination of the continuities in jihad warfare across the fourteen centuries of battle and on to our own time of terrorism and ISIS. If you want to understand these current vital concerns, you need to read this book.

Can Latin America Handle Venezuela’s Collapse Without the US?
Jackson Diehl/The Washington Post/October, 11/18
As hundreds of thousands of desperate Venezuelans flee their country, in many cases on foot, their Latin American neighbors face a critical test: whether they can respond effectively to a crisis that threatens their own stability without the leadership of the United States.
So far, they are flunking - and they know it. "The answer is, we can't," says Colombia's ambassador in Washington, Francisco Santos. "It's sad to say, but we can't."
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Since his arrival a few weeks ago to represent the new Colombian government under President Ivan Duque, Santos has been attempting the near-impossible: to induce a Trump-obsessed Washington to focus on the most serious political and humanitarian crisis in the Americas in decades. Under the disastrous management of its authoritarian socialist regime, Venezuela's economic output has plummeted by half in five years. A staggering 60 percent of the population say they have lost weight because of a lack of food. Some 2 million people out of a population of 31 million have already left the country - and more are pouring out, at a rate exceeding 15,000 per day.
Santos says Colombia is absorbing 5,000 of those daily refugees, on top of 1 million already in the country. It's all but overwhelming for a relatively poor country that is still trying to recover from decades of violent disorder in its own countryside. "This could generate a crisis of unprecedented proportions in Colombia," he said during a visit to The Washington Post. "And not just Colombia. This can be a destabilizing force in all of Latin America."
Between 1890 and 1990, there wasn't much question of what would happen when trouble of this magnitude developed in the Western Hemisphere: The United States would step in, for better or worse. It would broker an election, or support rebels, or back a coup, or, if it had to, invade. But despite some occasional bluster, President Donald Trump is merely the latest of three consecutive presidents to dodge the mess in Venezuela. His administration has taken some half-measures, such as sanctions against senior regime leaders, and contributed funds to refugee relief efforts.
But the United States has no more sought to lead a response to Venezuela than it has one to end the civil war in Syria. As in the Middle East, that has left a vacuum that allies have struggled to fill and adversaries have taken advantage of. China just handed the flailing regime of Nicolás Maduro another $5 billion loan; Russia has helped it hang on to its refineries and gas stations in the United States.
In Latin America, an ad hoc coalition of a dozen nations, not including the United States, formed last year in an attempt to broker a solution. The "Lima group" tried to pressure the Maduro regime to hold a fair presidential election, and when that failed, announced it would not recognize the result. Six of its members, including Argentina, Canada, Chile and Colombia, last week referred Venezuela to the International Criminal Court.
But these are largely symbolic measures. They will do little to weaken the Maduro regime, which has already survived months of mass demonstrations by killing hundreds of protesters, and blocked five military coup attempts. A Cuban-run intelligence apparatus has proved brutally effective in rooting out internal opposition: Some 600 military officers are believed to be under detention, and much of the civilian opposition leadership has been jailed or driven into exile.
So what can be done? Santos believes a solution will require a reversal of the US retreat from regional leadership. "I would say [the Americans] would have to lead the pack, and many of the other countries would accompany the US in a solution for this disastrous situation," he said. Does that mean a US-led military intervention? Santos doesn't quite go there; but like the secretary general of the Organization of American States, Luis Almagro, he is saying that "all options must be considered."
As a practical matter, a straightforward US invasion of Venezuela is a nonstarter. It would polarize Latin America, and even if there were little-armed resistance, it would be difficult to find or construct an alternative government. But some in the region are beginning to think about a different and more plausible scenario: a multilateral humanitarian intervention, which could follow a palace coup against Maduro - or, perhaps, another desperate rebellion by a population deprived of food, medicine, water and power.
The United States is no more ready for that contingency than it is to address the consequences of another few million Venezuelan refugees pouring into Colombia. Santos is right: It's time to start working on it.

China Hack Shows Weakness of Pence’s New Hard Line

Hal Brands/Bloomberg/October, 11/18
If you thought the US-China relationship couldn’t get much worse, consider what happened on Thursday alone. First there was a bombshell report from Bloomberg Businessweek of a major Chinese espionage effort targeting dozens of US corporations and the Pentagon. Then came Vice President Mike Pence’s speech, which offered the sharpest, most comprehensive indictment of Beijing’s behavior by any American leader since the Cold War. Pence labeled the situation with China a “great-power competition.” Which raises a tough question: Is America really prepared for that competition?
Consider how aggressively the Chinese conduct espionage against the US. The Bloomberg article disclosed how the People’s Liberation Army intelligence apparatus inserted extremely small chips into the motherboards that go into high-end computer servers. The goal was apparently to infiltrate and monitor the servers and networks of dozens of American companies — including behemoths like Apple — as well as government contractors.
It is not clear how much, if any, damage was actually done. The companies named in the Bloomberg Businessweek story, including Apple, all deny that any of this happened. But China’s success in corrupting a critical global supply chain is nonetheless a remarkable feat of technological espionage.
Pence’s speech, meanwhile, shows how much official US views of China have hardened. He argued that one great American hope of the post-Cold War era — that China would evolve toward steadily greater economic and political freedom — has proved an illusion, as Beijing has instead chosen the path of authoritarianism, mercantilism and aggression. Building on that basic theme, he gave the entire bill of particulars regarding China’s conduct at home and abroad.
Pence accused China of pursuing protectionist, predatory economics meant to give it dominance in high-tech industries while undermining the US industrial and technological base. He condemned Beijing for seeking to expel the US from the Western Pacific by intimidating allies, throwing its weight around in the South China Sea and East China Sea, harassing US ships and aircraft, and conducting an enormous military buildup that has lasted over two decades.
Pence argued that Beijing is using ever-more repressive methods at home, while also supporting authoritarian regimes and undermining democratic governments overseas. Not least, the vice-president called China out for meddling in US society and politics, through methods such as co-opting think-tanks and academic institutions, conducting ambitious propaganda campaigns, and seeking to swing the midterm elections against the Republicans and President Trump.
To be sure, this wasn’t Churchill’s Iron Curtain speech of 1946 or the famous Truman Doctrine address to Congress in 1947, which rallied Americans to an all-encompassing struggle with the Soviet Union. But it’s the closest thing we’ve seen so far in today’s US-China competition.
As striking as Pence’s speech was, however, it didn’t come out of the blue. Tensions with China have been rising for years, a trend that has accelerated under Trump. The 2017 National Security Strategy identified China as a revisionist authoritarian power working diligently to undermine American interests and values. Just in the past week, senior administration officials have given public pronouncements framing the relationship in explicitly competitive terms, and making clear that the US is not shying away.
Pence himself characterized a number of the administration’s recent policies — more money for defense, modernization of the nuclear triad, tariffs on imports from China, stricter curbs on Chinese investment — as part of a concerted effort to counter Beijing’s malign practices.
Most of this should be quite welcome. As I’ve argued in previous columns, China is one area where the Trump administration has gotten more right than wrong, particularly in simply being willing to talk honestly about the threat Beijing poses in the Asia-Pacific and beyond. There’s not really much to disagree with in Pence’s indictment of Chinese behavior (although it is a bit misleading to say that Beijing is “meddling” in U.S. elections in the way that Russia did in 2016), and it is high time that Americans understood the reality and the stakes of the relationship. The question is not whether the administration has gotten the diagnosis right. It is whether it has an adequate solution.
Here, there is reason to worry. The Pentagon is now investing more in readiness and in near- and medium-term capability enhancements. But experts such as Chris Brose, the longtime staff director for the Senate Armed Services Committee, have pointed out that investments in the potentially transformative future capabilities needed to beat the Chinese military in its own backyard have been comparatively anemic.
On the geo-economic front, the Trump administration is finally taking some small steps to compete with China for influence in the Asia-Pacific and elsewhere. Yet it still has no replacement for the Trans-Pacific Partnership, which would have tied key economies in the region more closely to Washington. The US has also failed, so far, to mobilize private-sector resources and investment in ways that would allow it to better offset China’s Belt and Road Initiative of infrastructure development across Asia.
On trade, taking a harder line makes sense, given China’s intellectual property theft, forced technology transfer policies and other transgressions. Yet alienating democratic allies by slapping tariffs on them makes no sense whatsoever.
Finally, in a welcome change from the administration’s previous reluctance to stand up for human rights and democracy abroad, Pence and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo have started to offer an ideological critique of China’s regime, whose brittle, authoritarian nature remains a deep strategic vulnerability. A bipartisan group of senators and representatives have called for sanctions to be imposed on Chinese officials responsible for the horrific repression in Xinjiang. But real ideological competition is hard to do when one has a president who genuinely seems to admire dictatorial leaders.
The US is finally starting to say the right things when it comes to the China challenge. But it is still struggling to do what is necessary to succeed.
In fact, the administration may not even know precisely what it is trying to achieve. Trump seems to see his tariffs as a bargaining chip that can be cashed in for a comprehensive trade deal that would return the relationship to a more cooperative state. Yet other officials at the Pentagon, White House and elsewhere in government reportedly see the tariffs as part of a longer-term effort to cut China out of global supply chains, undermine its economic growth, and give America greater strategic autonomy. And no one has yet answered the question of what victory looks like. Does the US simply seek to hold the line in the Western Pacific and prevent China from overturning the existing international order? Does it aim to force Beijing into some comprehensive economic and geopolitical settlement? Or does the administration think it will be impossible to have a normal relationship with China as long as the Communist Party regime is in power? It surely feels good, for officials and policy wonks who have worried about China’s rise for years, to talk frankly about Beijing’s misdeeds and declare that competition is no longer a “four-letter word.” Yet until the US figures out what its long-term objectives are, until it assembles a comprehensive set of policies for obtaining those objectives, it is unlikely to win the struggle it now seems to be embracing.

How Is It Possible Not to ‘Politicize’ the Syrian Crisis?
Eyad Abu Shakra/Asharq Al Awsat/October 11/18
I do understand that many in the Arab world are so sick and tired of lengthy crises that they can’t wait for any kind of settlement, in the absence of a genuine solution.
I understand this, because this geographical giant that extends from the Atlantic to the Arabian Gulf, is full of big and small problems. They are for all to see; and as usual, Arab divisions are never dealt with the much - needed frankness nor necessary realism, but rather by spite, pugnacity and narrow-minded selfishness that always make matters worse.
We do not need to dwell long on the Palestinian predicament. We have memorized its painful lessons a long time ago. In fact, since the first tank rolled out of one of Syria’s military bases to usher the first ‘post- Israel’ Arab coup in 1949. Since then, a new element became very much part of the approaches adopted by Arab states – be they recently created, in the process of development, or nearing independence – which is the military approach.
Armies in ‘Third World’ countries, in general, and particularly in some Arab countries that are new to democracy, have gradually become not only the ‘strongest party’ but also the de facto ‘ruling establishment. This has taken place; as armies displaced the old traditional parties, or benefitted from these parties’ making themselves irrelevant as a result of failing to accommodate political and social change. In this transitional period, parties ceased to mean much to ordinary people as they began to lose their tribal, sectarian and regional power base while failing to compensate this loss by building interest-based relationships that would justify these parties’ survival. This is what happened throughout the 1950s and 1960s up to the Six Days’ War of June 1967. The Arab defeat of 1967 shook the armies’ status as ‘ruling establishments’, as slogans of ‘people's’ liberation wars’ spread fast in the region parallel to growing doubts among America’s decision makers in being able to win the Vietnam war.
In 1966, Robert McNamara, the US Defense Secretary and one of the ‘architects’ of Washington’s policy in Indochina, candidly expressed his doubts of defeating the then USSR and China – backed Communist Viet Cong rebels and the North Vietnamese army. Indeed, America’s retreat from Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia was the greatest military victory of the global ‘Left’ and the principle of ‘peoples liberation wars’ since the Communist gained control of China.
Sure enough, the USA learned the lessons of Indochina, and later on lessons from other parts of the world, such as Angola and Ethiopia, and has since prepared and implemented the plans for ‘counter-revolution’.
In the Middle East, following the ‘red tide’, the ‘Left’ began to retreat, first in Egypt (the expulsion of Soviet military advisers, then signing the Camp David Agreements) and in Afghanistan (the defeat of the Communists at the hands of Islamist ‘Mujahedin’). Then, nearing the end of ‘The Cold War’ that was marked by the collapse of the USSR in late 1991, many Moscow and Beijing-backed governments collapsed too, as a result of the demise of the USSR and the metamorphoses of China.
‘Political Polarity’ in the Middle East (Arab and non-Arab) has moved away from the old Right-Left confrontation to a confrontation between the two vanguards of the victorious Right; i.e. The military and the religious parties. This has been the ‘easy summation’ of viewed ‘The Arab Spring’ of the late 2010 and early 2011 in Tunisia, Egypt, Yemen, Syria and Libya. Thus, we have refused to recognize any aspiration for change outside the groups of ‘political Islam’, and any interest in stability and social harmony outside the military and security agencies’ realm.
Given the above, what we have done – as a society – is to totally ignore the aspirations and ambitions of intellectuals, liberal right-wingers, moderate leftists, non-Chauvinist nationalists, and even non-politicized independents and ordinary citizens. This is sinister indeed; as we always trumpet the need for a tolerant and rational ‘civil society’ that looks hopefully for the future, and dream of comparing our societies with the advanced societies of Europe and USA, not only the rising societies of Asia.
At this juncture, why not touch on the situation in Syria, where there seem to be several competing ‘scenarios’ taking shape and about to be imposed on the Syrians, and later – perhaps – on the region as a whole.
No doubt, there is not one Arab side capable of confronting the Russian offensive in Syria; more so if such an offensive is tacitly or partially supported by Washington.
Furthermore, it is obvious that there is, at least, a temporary agreement on the following:
1- The main enemy targeted for elimination are certain militant Sunni Muslim groups, although many of which have always been penetrated and ‘used’ by the Damascus regime and its regional and international backers. The task given to these militants has been to hijack, undermine and demonize the people’s uprising in order to justify attacking and liquidating it.
2- Create de facto ‘zones of influence’ serving the interests of regional players in the Syrian arena, now that massacres and mass displacement have made impossible any attempt to revive the old ‘centralized state’.
3- Weakening the influence of Tehran, as a first step towards reaching a modus vivendi with a ‘well-behaved Iran’, and turning this new Iran into a player that the Russians would stop using to blackmail Washington, while both Washington and Moscow would continue to use as a ‘bogeyman’ for the Arabs, and a ‘spare ally’ against the Turks.
4- Recognizing Israel’s fears as well as its regional ambitions, with both the Americans and Russians striving to agree on a long-term plan to that effect. In fact, after 7 years of war in Syria, Israel has emerged as the major winner.
For a long time now, and after effectively killing off the Geneva Peace Process, Moscow has been calling ‘to take politics out of the plans to rebuilding Syria’. Before that, it always claimed that siding with the Damascus regime does not mean it whole-heartedly supporting it as much as it means fighting terrorism!
The Russians later came up with the ‘de-escalation zones’ plan – also ‘without politicization’ – which has proven to be nothing but a continuation of the strategy of enforced displacement under the label of ‘reconciliations’. In the meantime, the international community represented by the UN envoy Staffan de Mistura was continuing its absurd plans for constitutional reform… also ‘without politicization’!
Now, Moscow with other capitals are promoting the idea of re-opening border crossings in a shy, but clear, attempt to normalize relations with and rehabilitate the regime. This too is being promoted, of course, ‘without politicization’!
Well, if all these steps are being taken ‘without politicization’ how would politicization look like, I wonder!

How Palestinians Lie to Europeans
Bassam Tawil/Gatestone Institute/October 11/18
In the eyes of Hamas and its supporters, it is fine for Palestinians to throw explosive devices and firebombs at soldiers, but it is completely unacceptable for the soldiers to defend themselves. According to the twisted logic of the Palestinian leaders, it all started when Israel fired back.
Those who sent the Palestinians to clash with the Israeli soldiers along the border with the Gaza Strip are the only ones who bear responsibility for killing more than 150 Palestinians and injuring thousands of others.
The goal the Palestinians have in mind is to see Israel gone. All of it. Mahmoud Abbas believes he can achieve this goal by waging a diplomatic war against Israel in the international community -- one aimed at delegitimizing and demonizing Israel and Jews.
The question, again, remains whether the international community will ever wake up to realize that Palestinian leaders are playing them for fools. The European Parliament delegation that visited Ramallah is a good test case: What message will its members convey back at home: the truth about the ruthless and repressive Palestinian Authority, or the lies that were spoon-fed to them by Abbas and his friends?
In the days before Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas delivered his speech at the UN General Assembly on September 27, his security forces were waging a massive crackdown on his critics and opponents in the West Bank, arresting more than 100 Palestinians.
The Palestinian Authority (PA) says it wants the international community to exert pressure on Israel to "halt violations against the Palestinians and international law." The demand was relayed to members of a delegation from the European Parliament who met on October 8 in Ramallah with PA Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah. At the meeting, Hamdallah also renewed the PA's call for providing "international protection" for the Palestinians.
Hamdallah's appeal to the European Parliament representatives should be seen in the context of the PA leadership's ongoing campaign of lies and incitement against Israel. The appeal also smacks of hypocrisy and deceit.
Hamdallah is apparently referring to Israel's defensive measures along the border between the Gaza Strip, where thousands of Hamas supporters have been staging violent demonstrations since March 2018. As part of the Hamas-orchestrated protests, which are sometimes called the "March of Return," Palestinians have been infiltrating the border with Israel and hurling firebombs and explosive devices at Israeli soldiers. They have also been launching arson kites and booby-trapped balloons towards Israeli communities near the border with the Gaza Strip.
Hamdallah and his boss, PA President Mahmoud Abbas, believe that Israel has no right to defend itself against the campaign of terrorism waged by Hamas and other Palestinian terror groups in the Gaza Strip. In their eyes, it is fine for Palestinians to throw explosive devices and firebombs at soldiers, but it is completely unacceptable for the soldiers to defend themselves. According to the twisted logic of the Palestinian leaders, it all started when Israel fired back.
Those who sent the Palestinians to clash with the Israeli soldiers along the border with the Gaza Strip are the only ones who bear responsibility for killing more than 150 Palestinians and injuring thousands of others. The Hamas-engineered "March of Return" is nothing but a declaration of war on Israel. It is another phase in the Palestinian campaign of terrorism to force Israel to its knees. When suicide bombings and rockets do not achieve their goal of forcing Israel to submit, the Palestinians resort to incendiary kites and balloons, and to stabbings and shootings to achieve their goal.
The goal the Palestinians have in mind is to see Israel gone. All of it. Abbas believes he can achieve this goal by waging a diplomatic war against Israel in the international community -- one that is aimed at delegitimizing and demonizing Israel and Jews. His rivals in Hamas believe that Israel could and should be destroyed through terrorism and other acts of violence.
The PA prime minister's strategy of crying foul against Israel is part of a long-standing Palestinian tradition of rallying the world against Israel.
In fact, it is in keeping with the famous Arab saying: "He hit me and cried, he raced me to complain." This saying reflects the state of mind of the Palestinian leaders, according to which the perpetrator pretends to be the victim.
However, this is more than just pretending to be the victim. The approach of the Palestinian leaders is not only fraudulent, but also extraordinarily hypocritical.
While Hamdallah was complaining about Israeli "violations," his security forces in the West Bank were continuing their daily assaults on public freedoms, including freedom of the media. Just as the meeting was taking place in Ramallah, a Palestinian group published a report about large-scale human rights violations committed by Hamdallah's and Abbas's various security forces.
As the meeting was underway, Palestinian Authority security forces arrested yet another Palestinian journalist in the city of Hebron: Amer Abu Arafeh. The journalist, who was released 24 hours later, said his Palestinian interrogators tried to force him to give them the password to his Facebook page.
The European Parliament delegation were not made privy to a report about this latest assault on the Palestinian media during their meeting with the PA prime minister. This is not something that concerns them or the EU because the journalist was not targeted by Israel. Why should they open their mouths about arrest of a Palestinian journalist if Israel is not involved?
Nor did the European Parliament delegation hear about the report published by a group called The Committee of Families of Political Prisoners in the West Bank. The committee consists of families and relatives of Palestinians who are regularly and systematically targeted by the PA security forces, largely because of their affiliation with Palestinian opposition groups, including Hamas, or for openly criticizing Palestinian leaders.
The report, which was made public while the EU officials were taking in Hamdallah's accusations against Israel, charges the PA with intensifying its assaults on public freedoms in the West Bank. This is not the kind of account that Hamdallah would be interested in sharing with his European guests.
In its report, the committee says it has documented 685 assaults by the Palestinian Authority security forces in the West Bank on public freedoms just during the month of September. The assaults include, among other things, massive arbitrary arrests and detentions, summons' for interrogation, raids on homes and confiscation of property. The report pointed out that this marked a dramatic increase in human rights violations compared with previous months.
According to the report, the PA security forces arrested more than 100 Palestinians in the days before Abbas delivered his speech at the UN General Assembly on September 27. Abbas devoted large parts of his speech to condemning Israel, which he accused of "suffocating" the Palestinians and "undermining our serious efforts to build the institutions of our cherished state."
Abbas, however, refrained from mentioning to the UN General Assembly that while he was speaking, his security forces were waging a massive crackdown on his critics and opponents in the West Bank. As far as Abbas is concerned, this is not something that the world should know about. The evil he and others see is only on the Israeli side.
Back to the report, which neither Abbas nor his prime minister cares to share with the world. According to this report, among those arrested or detained during September are 37 university students, eight school teachers, seven journalists, 55 university faculty members and lecturers, five engineers and 23 merchants. The report also revealed that four Palestinian detainees have gone on hunger strikes in Palestinian prison to protest their illegal incarceration.
So, we are again witnessing an act of fraud and deception on the part of Abbas and his senior officials in Ramallah. Palestinian leaders have convinced themselves that they can continue to spread their lies to the world while hiding the truth about what is happening within their repressive and corrupt regime in the West Bank. They believe that, because of the world's silence, they can continue to lie to everyone all the time.
The question, again, remains whether the international community will ever wake up to realize that Palestinian leaders are playing them for fools. The European Parliament delegation that visited Ramallah is a good test case: What message will its members convey back at home: the truth about the ruthless and repressive PA, or the lies that were spoon-fed to them by Abbas and his friends?
*Bassam Tawil is an Arab Muslim based in the Middle East.
© 2018 Gatestone Institute. All rights reserved. The articles printed here do not necessarily reflect the views of the Editors or of Gatestone Institute. No part of the Gatestone website or any of its contents may be reproduced, copied or modified, without the prior written consent of Gatestone Institute.

Greece: Majority Rejects Institutions of the Far-Left
Maria Polizoidoul/Gatestone Institute/October 11/18
After being subjected to decades of anti-Semitic brainwashing -- fostered chiefly by the Communist Party of Greece (KKE) and its tentacles -- Greeks have begun to view Israel as a role-model state.
During World War II, the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, Mohammed Amin al-Husseini was a very close ally of Adolf Hitler's. In other words, the Arabs of Palestine have the blood on their hands of half a million Greeks who perished during the German occupation. Marwan Toubassi, the Palestinian ambassador to Greece, is thus among the last people on earth who should be lecturing the Greek people about morality, values and historical ties. Who benefits from the KKE's war against the Greek-Israeli friendship and from a defamation of the EastMed pipeline? The answer is Turkey, of course, but also Qatar, Russia and Iran. Israel, Greece and Cyprus are cooperating closely on the EastMed pipeline, a joint project that would supply east Mediterranean gas to Europe. Pictured: Israeli Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu (left), Cyprus President Nicos Anastasiades (center) and Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras (right) meet on January 28, 2016 in Nicosia, Cyprus. Greece is a deeply divided country. It has two camps. One is the "institutional camp," which is presented to the global community and the international press. The other is what can be called the "people's camp," which considers the existing political regime a "Corpus Separatum" -- a separate entity. The institutional camp consists of the corrupt political system, the oligarchs, the academic community and the media -- all soldiers in an army of globalization and multiculturalism. It is a system that feeds on the Greek populace, and, for its political and economic survival, depends on a strategic alliance with the Islamic countries of the Persian Gulf.
The people's camp, which the international community and media ignore, has a totally different view of -- and strategic approach to -- Greece's geopolitical present and future. This is evident in the latest World Values Survey (WVS), in which Greece participated for the first time. The survey, conducted on a sample of 1,200 Greek households in September-October 2017, reveals that only 7% trust their country's political parties; only 13% trust the government; only 14% trust the parliament; and only 18% trust the trade unions. One key area that highlights the dichotomy between Greece's institutional camp and its people's camp is the country's attitude towards Israel. After being subjected to decades of anti-Semitic brainwashing -- fostered chiefly by the Communist Party of Greece (KKE) and its tentacles -- Greeks have begun to view Israel as a role-model state. A recent controversy surrounding a conference held in Sparta on September 2-3 is a perfect example.The conference -- "Sparta-Israel: Renewing an Ancient Friendship" -- was organized by the Municipality of Sparta, B'nai B'rith Greece and the Greek-Israeli Cooperation Institute. Distinguished participants from Greece and abroad, including the chief of staff of the Greek Army, presented archeological findings supporting the friendship between ancient Sparta and the Jewish people, and discussed contemporary issues, such as geopolitics in the Eastern Mediterranean and cooperation towards development and growth between the two nations.
On September 1, a day before the conference, the socialist-anarchist Greek group Gassan Kanafani (Front of Resistance and Solidarity for Palestine) released a long and angry statement of "complaint" about the event. It reads, in part: "...[W]e call the Spartans and, by extension, all the Greek people, everybody who opposes the imperialist and colonial crimes against the Palestinian people, every progressive citizen who believes that solidarity is the weapon of the peoples in the struggle for a world of social justice and respect for human rights, to turn their backs on this event and to stand in the way of all the policies implemented by the Greek government. At the same time, to strengthen in any way the boycott-Israel movement and all the companies that support it."The statement also includes a passage about the EastMed pipeline, a joint project under consideration by Cyprus, Israel and Greece that would supply east Mediterranean gas to Europe. Gassan Kanafani claims it "belongs to the Palestinian people," and describes the project as follows:
"Israel, with the pipeline under construction and the help of Greece, Cyprus, Italy and EU funding, wants to export stolen Palestinian resources to the European market, but also to exploit the resources that have been identified in Cyprus and Greece and are property of the Greek and Cypriot people respectively."
Three weeks later, the Communist Party of Greece (KKE), celebrating the 100-year anniversary of its establishment, hosted the Palestinian teenager Ahed Tamimi and her family, introducing her to the Greek people as a hero fighting injustice and Israeli occupation. In fact, Tamimi -- who served an 8-month prison sentence for physically assaulting an IDF soldier -- has openly called for suicide bombings and stabbing attacks against Israelis. Recently, she saluted Hassan Nasrallah, the head of the Lebanon-based, Iran-backed terrorist organization Hezbollah, for calling her "brave and courageous." In remarks broadcast on August 22 on Lebanese Al-Jadeed/New TV channel, Tamimi said: "To the honorable sheikh, Hassan Nasrallah, I say: Thank you very much... His words boosted our morale -- not just my morale, but the morale of many people... I'd like to salute him, to thank him for his support, and to tell him that he always makes us grow stronger. We all support him and are proud of him."
Another of Tamimi's greatest supporters is Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
During her trip to Greece, Tamimi held a joint press conference with the Palestinian Ambassador to Greece, Marwan Toubassi, at the GCP Youth Center. The "questions" from reporters were so slanted against Israel that they might as well have been scripted by the Palestinian Authority propaganda machine. For example (at minute 3:26): "You have to fight against a very powerful enemy, the Israeli murder state, which murders the Palestinian people daily. How do you imagine that it is possible for your struggle to win, to achieve what you want, and how important is international solidarity for this purpose?"
Tamimi's and Toubassi's replies were filled with lies, hatred, threats and historical inaccuracies. For instance, Toubassi said, among other things (minute 21:41): "If an independent Palestinian state is not established at the 1967 borders, with East Jerusalem as capital, there will be neither security nor stability, and the region will go to hell." Toubassi failed to mention that the Palestinian leadership refers to the entire state of Israel as "occupied territory," going as far as to threaten Britain with a lawsuit over the 100-year-old Balfour Declaration.
Toubassi was particularly vitriolic about Greek-Israeli cooperation, stating (minute 17:28):
"...I am impressed when I hear from some people here [in Greece] saying that we have common values with the State of Israel. Which values ​​are they talking about -- the values ​​of occupation, apartheid and racism? The Greek people have nothing to do with these ugly values. The Greek people have suffered from the occupation and fought against the occupation and defeated the occupation of Nazism and dictatorship. That is why Greece has nothing in common with the values of a country that is an occupier."The Palestinian ambassador also omitted the fact that the Greeks and the Jews have more than 2,500 years of cultural, religious and historical ties and failed to mention that during World War II, the Jewish community in Greece fought alongside the rest of the Greek people in defending the country against the Nazi invasion. In contrast, during WWII, the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, Mohammed Amin al-Husseini -- the Muslim cleric in charge of Islamic holy sites in Jerusalem -- was a very close ally of Adolf Hitler's. In other words, the Arabs of Palestine have the blood on their hands of half a million Greeks who perished during the German occupation and of the over 60,000 Greek Jews who were murdered in German concentration camps. Toubassi is, thus, among the last people on earth who should be lecturing the Greek people about morality, values and historical ties.
The KKE's political activism and alliance with the Palestinian Authority raises a very serious geopolitical question: Who benefits from the KKE's war against the Greek-Israeli friendship and from a defamation of the EastMed pipeline? The answer is Turkey, of course, but also Qatar, Russia and Iran. The KKE's behavior illustrates one way in which the far-left and radical Islamists are bedfellows. It is crucial for people outside Greece to understand that the Communist Party of Greece is not a fringe party; it is the backbone of the political system. The good news -- as the World Values Survey indicated -- is that more and more Greeks are losing their faith in that system, and are striving to become a society that is more like Israel. *Maria Polizoidou, a reporter, broadcast journalist, and consultant on international and foreign affairs, is based in Greece. She has a post-graduate degree in "Geopolitics and Security Issues in the Islamic complex of Turkey and Middle East" from the University of Athens.
© 2018 Gatestone Institute. All rights reserved. The articles printed here do not necessarily reflect the views of the Editors or of Gatestone Institute. No part of the Gatestone website or any of its contents may be reproduced, copied or modified, without the prior written consent of Gatestone Institute.

The media’s ‘murder’ of Khashoggi
Abdulrahman al-Rashed//Al Arabiya/October 11/18
In addition to military confrontations, the region is rippled with more confrontations that are an extension of the ongoing conflict that erupted around seven years ago in the wake of the so-called Arab Spring. The regions volcanoes are still turbulent and their lavas have not stopped yet. They seem to us like transient and sporadic crises but they repeat within a continuous context between governments, and between governments and ideological organizations. All this falls within the context of a tug of war aiming to change the old situation or stopping the new change on the ground. The truth is, targeting governments in the region that are leading self-change, such as the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, is no surprise. However, change is a difficult process because it tries to eradicate ideas that are deeply-rooted, common cultures and major structures. Our colleague Jamal Khashoggi was killed, even if he surfaces alive, as he was used as a bullet in the media battle, and those waving his shirt are the ones who care about him the least, the target is in Riyadh. In the crisis of Khashoggi’s disappearance, the objective is to exploit it to depict governments, and specifically Saudi Arabia, as evil and as if they are the new North Korea or Russia
Ruthless opposition to change
Those who thought cancelling or marginalizing ideological movements will happen smoothly have nowadays discovered how difficult this is because these movements are present and they’re ruthless and they are redeploying in the region. Some of those affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood, for instance, fled to Turkey and Qatar and used their extensions in Europe and the US after their capabilities were partially hindered in Egypt and Gulf countries and after they were restrained in Tunisia and Morocco. The rest resorted to working underground. In addition to the Brotherhood, there are the remnants of ideological schools and the organizations which are rearranging their situation according to the shifts of the “Arab Spring.” These do not end, but they disappear or reposition themselves. Jamal is the victim of the current war in the region, his battle is an extension of a series of media and political battles that each party wants to exploit in its “cause.” In the crisis of Khashoggi’s disappearance, the objective is to exploit it to depict governments, and specifically Saudi Arabia, as evil and as if they are the new North Korea or Russia or others with what’ve been previously categorized. Saudi Arabia is being attacked because it’s the country that took brave steps and went far to make internal reforms the most, and it’s confronting wide opposition in the entire region. It’s not possible to view these crises which reoccur in different magnitudes except as a wide media and political battle.
Targeting Saudi Arabia
Amid these challenges, is it possible to trim ideological and organizational powers in the region to the end of the difficult road? We must be aware that the process of expelling extremist organizational and ideological structures in the region, and that have been established over the course of over four decades, is not easy and it will be more difficult with time. The targeting of Saudi Arabia is expected because it’s the country leading the process of change, which will affect a broad geographic area and humans from Indonesia to California and reformulate moderate political and religious concepts at the expense of the old system in the Islamic region. Screens will be crowded with other news as accidents and cases will be used to distort the face of the new Arab system that opposes the old one. More of the upcoming qualitative confrontations will be based on creating an international or an Arab general image against the idea itself. The will say that the modernization project is exaggerated and is merely an individual act of an individual rule, or that modernization is not enough and is less than what’s expected while citing the ongoing and inherited obstacles and mixing up between the practices of individuals and governments. Let’s admit the truth: exiting the old situation will not come without a price. Khashoggi’s disappearance itself is a case that deserves meditation as from a humanitarian and moral aspect, it’s rejected, and if he is killed, as per the Qatari-Turkish propaganda, it becomes an international crime. It’s currently being transformed into a battle against the new Saudi project which in two years has gained great global enthusiasm because it’s clear in its ideas and brave in its steps. Work in this project has begun, and it is destroying and building and moving forward. The attempts to use crises to cast doubts on the project, obstruct it and turn international public opinion against it is expected, especially from those who announced that they believe in it and are enthusiastic about it, as we can see in the western media while dealing with the Khashoggi crisis. Change is a huge battle as we see on two fronts; one front that pledged change and will not allow anyone to stand in its way and another that swore to thwart change efforts by working to defy it, distort its image and establish a crowd that opposes it.

Abdul Mehdi and the Iraqi fireball
Ghassan Charbel/Al Arabiya/October 11/18
A few months ago, no one expected that Adel Abdul Mehdi would be asked to form the Iraqi government, despite his natural presence in the club of prominent Iraqi politicians. The reasons are many. Many felt that Dawa Party, which held this post for a long time through Nouri al-Maliki and then Haider al-Abadi, would not abandon such a critical position in the Iraqi state.There are those who believed that Abadi would be the lucky man in a new tenure because the victory over ISIS was achieved during his premiership. Others saw in Abadi the perfect guarantor of coexistence between the Iranian influence and the American power on the Iraqi land. Abdul Mehdi was probably well-aware of these facts. Months ago, he wrote an article in al-Adala newspaper – overseen by him – apologizing in advance for not assuming the post of prime minister if it was assigned to him. Abdul Mehdi talked about the lack of the necessary conditions for success because of quotas, non-independence, conflicts and the absence of a vision, a plan and an approach. His analysis seemed realistic. The Iraqi situation is very complex and the Iraqi balances are very difficult. However, the balances created by the recent elections and the ruptures within the Iraqi components finally led to Abdul Mehdi catching the fireball, following the election of Barham Saleh as president of the Republic. It is not surprising that Abdul Mehdi feels intimidated by his new mission. He was a partner in the post-Saddam Hussein era, became familiar with its problems, afflictions, and practices that added a heavy burden to the heritage of the Saddam period. From his early presence in the governing council to his assumption of the ministry of finance and the posts of vice president and oil minister, Abdul Mehdi was in daily contact with the political, security and economic files. He knew that trying to resolve those matters was like walking through a minefield without a map. Iraq’s national will must be rebuilt so that the country can regain the immunity it was lacking since the overthrowing of Saddam regime
Existence of a tyrant
The Iraqi opposition was trying to convince the world and itself that Iraq’s problem was limited to the existence of a tyrant named Saddam Hussein… that the ousting of the tyrant would immerse the Iraqi components in love and harmony… and that the elections would open the door to the establishment of a state worthy to be named as such, and modern and productive institutions that would help Iraqi citizens recover from feelings of oppression and marginalization and engage in a national workshop to restore dignity and decent living, and to regain Iraq’s unity and status in the region and the world.
It soon became clear that the Iraqi political forces were not ready to undertake such a large-scale mission. The winners were drenched with greed that does not allow for the restoration of the national equation. The losers were hit with frustration that prevented them from joining a formula that would limit their losses. The problem persisted despite several electoral rounds that failed to refine the political process and save the institutions from their weaknesses. Abdul Mehdi is aware that Iraq needs a massive reconstruction plan. Iraq’s national will must be rebuilt so that the country can regain the immunity it was lacking since the overthrowing of Saddam Hussein’s regime. The only way to accomplish this task is to restore the formula for coexistence. This process should be implemented on the basis of citizenship and equal rights and duties, away from the logic of dominance and monopoly on power.
A true Sunni-Shiite partnership in daily life and in major decisions is a must. The Arab-Kurdish partnership must also be revived based on the Constitution and its provisions. If successive governments have done their duty to maintain this partnership, the Iraqi army would not have collapsed in Mosul as we have seen, and the language of confrontation between Baghdad and Erbil would not have been renewed. The task of the new government is not less than the recovery of Iraq and its people. The re-concentration of Iraqi institutions under the umbrella of the Constitution is a necessary first step to put an end to external intrusions into the Iraqi body. It makes no sense for Iraq to remain an arena for Iranian-American confrontation on its soil. This step is even more important given that relations between Washington and Tehran are heading for a new hot season, especially after oil sanctions become effective in the first week of November. Allowing the continuation of the policy of moving pawns on the Iraqi territory threatens to cause major damage to Iraq’s security and economy.
Post-Saddam era
It is no longer a secret that in the post-Saddam era, Iraq has been subjected to unprecedented looting that has compounded with the losses imposed on the country during Saddam's military adventures. It is not normal at all to witness such poverty, unemployment and poor services in a country that supposedly floats on oil fields. The task is not easy at all. The network of interests established by years of corruption has deep roots in Iraqi minds and institutions. Abdul Mehdi is required to use the strength of citizens who have suffered from the absence of the obvious conditions for living, including drinking water and electricity. Abdul Mehdi will not import ministers from another planet. They will come from the political forces; but he must be tough in rejecting the corrupt, who consider the state an open source for the children of their families and the group to which they belong. Adel Abdul Mehdi knows Iraq. He knows the winds that crashed on his land. He passed through the Baath party and left. He joined communism and Maoism and left. He joined the Islamic trend through the “Supreme Council of the Islamic Revolution”, and he is now in an independent position. He tested ideas and tasted capitals. After Baghdad, he lived in Damascus and Beirut, then in Paris and Tehran. His study of political economy in France qualifies him to deal with the problems at the table of his government. His stay in Iraqi Kurdistan in the 1990s enables him to understand the Kurds’ concerns and problems. Abdul Mehdi knows the story of Iraq. He was present at the pivotal moments. One day, civil administrator Paul Bremer decided to convince a number of members of the governing council that Saddam’s page had been turned. He took them to the Baghdad airport building. The US soldier woke up Saddam who was resting on his bed. He saw himself in front of Ahmed Chalabi, Adnan Pachachi, Adel Abdul Mehdi, Muwafaq al-Rubaie and General Sanchez, commander of US forces in Iraq. Saddam was tireless during the meeting because he was fighting the Americans, as he said. The conversation saw harsh words. Rubaie told Saddam: “You are cursed in this world and in the Hereafter.” He replied: “Shut up, you traitor, agent.”It may not have occurred to Abdul Mehdi at the time that he would one day be called to heal the wounds of more than an era and that assuming the premiership task would be like receiving a fireball.