Detailed Lebanese & Lebanese Related LCCC English New Bulletin For October 16/2018
Compiled & Prepared by: Elias Bejjani

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Bible Quotations
If one of you has a child or an ox that has fallen into a well, will you not immediately pull it out on a sabbath day?’And they could not reply to this
Luke 14/01-06: "On one occasion when Jesus was going to the house of a leader of the Pharisees to eat a meal on the sabbath, they were watching him closely. Just then, in front of him, there was a man who had dropsy. And Jesus asked the lawyers and Pharisees, ‘Is it lawful to cure people on the sabbath, or not?’But they were silent. So Jesus took him and healed him, and sent him away. Then he said to them, ‘If one of you has a child or an ox that has fallen into a well, will you not immediately pull it out on a sabbath day?’And they could not reply to this."

Vote Charbel Bassil for the Catholic Separate French Trustee Board Schools In Mississauga انتخب شربل باسيل لعضوية مجلس أمناء المدارس الكاثوليكية الفرنسية في ماسيسوكا
نشرات اخبار عربية وانكليزية مطولة ومفصلة يومية على موقعنا الألكتروني على الرابط التالي

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

Titles For The Latest LCCC Bulletin analysis & editorials from miscellaneous sources published on October 15-16/18
As Lebanon Drowns in Its Own Trash, People Look to Themselves for Solutions/Nabih Bulos/Los Angeles Times/October 15/18
No Israeli air strikes during past month. Iran replenishes destroyed arms stocks/DEBKAfile//October 15, 2018/
Where are the Lebanese Superstars/Dan Azzi/Annahar/October 15/2018
Who’s Running for President? Right Now, Everybody/Jonathan Bernstein/Bloomberg/October, 15/18
International community must try to push Iran out of Syria/Dr. Majid Rafizadeh/Arab News/October 14/18
Emboldened IRGC threatens to make Iran sanctions counterproductive/Baria Alamuddin/Arab News/October 14/18
On men’s guardianship of women/Mohammed Al Shaikh/Al Arabiya/October 15/18
Saudi Arabia’s message: Enough is enough/Mashari Althaydi/Al Arabiya/October 15/18

Titles For The Latest LCCC Lebanese Related News published on October 15-16/18
Aoun to propose constitutional amendment to block MPs from being ministers: Berri
Indicators on Formation of Lebanese Government by End of October
Aoun Welcomes Reopening of Nassib Crossing
Hariri Voices Solidarity with Saudi Arabia
Israeli Drone Hovers over Lebanese Areas, Destroys Spy Device
Deryan Condemns ‘Political Extortion’ against SA
As Lebanon Drowns in Its Own Trash, People Look to Themselves for Solutions

Titles For The Latest LCCC Bulletin For Miscellaneous Reports And News published on October 15-16/18
US: We Enforce Sanctions on Iran in Cooperation with Our Allies
US still aiming to cut Iran oil sales to zero: US envoy for Iran
Iran Arrests Member of Military Over Ahvaz Parade Attack
Rouhani Accuses US of Seeking ‘Regime Change’ in Iran
Hadi Accuses Iran of Supporting Parties South Yemen
Turkish police uncover blatant media inaccuracy in Khashoggi, says expert
US diplomat heads to Iraq for talks with newly elected leaders
PM, Benjamin Netanyahu: 'We continue to act against establishment of Iranian military in Syria'
No Israeli air strikes during past month. Iran replenishes destroyed arms stocks
Netanyahu, Lieberman Threaten ‘Hamas’ with ‘Very Strong Blows’
Israel Approves 31 Settler Homes in Hebron
Palestinian shot dead trying to stab Israeli soldier - military
Jordanian-Syrian Border Crossing Reopens
Sole Crossing between Syria and Israeli-Controlled Golan Reopens after 4 Years
Jordan Reopens Main Border Post with Syria after 3 Years
Syria FM Says Needs 'Time' to See if Idlib Deal Fulfilled
Erdogan, Saudi King Discuss Case of Missing Journalist
Turkey suspends over 250 local officials for ‘terror links’
Egypt says security forces kill 9 ‘terrorists’ in Nile raid
Remnants of ISIS exploit security gaps, adopt new military tactics in Iraq
Iraqi Government Administration Operates Outside ‘Green Zone’ for 1st Time
Libya’s Haftar Prepares to ‘Liberate' Tripoli
Berlin to expel 9/11 accomplice to Morocco

The Latest LCCC Lebanese Related News published on October 15-16/18
Aoun to propose constitutional amendment to block MPs from being ministers: Berri
The Daily Star/ October/15, 2018/BEIRUT: President Michel Aoun is likely to propose a change to the Constitution that would prohibit MPs from also being ministers, Speaker Nabih Berri said in remarks published Monday. Aoun has repeatedly voiced his opposition to the fact that the current Constitution does not prohibit a person from being a minister and an MP at the same time. “I personally am not against this whatsoever ... but it requires a change to the Constitution,” Berri said in an interview published by Al-Joumhouria newspaper. Berri suggested that Aoun will propose a constitutional change after the new government is formed. As for the current stalemate in forming the Cabinet, Berri said the main issue is still the battle between the Lebanese Forces and Free Patriotic Movement over shares in Christian representation. The speaker, who is currently in Geneva, reiterated that he would cut the trip short in the event that something positive develops. “If the president and prime minister-designate agree on a government, I will cut short my trip to Geneva and return to Beirut,” Berri said. He is currently in the Swiss capital participating in the 139th Inter-Parliamentary Union Assembly.

Indicators on Formation of Lebanese Government by End of October
Beirut - Nazeer Rida/Asharq Al-Awsat/October/15, 2018/Lebanese Prime Minister-designate Saad Hariri has insisted on forming a new government soon, stressing that he would not give up his task, concerned parties told Asharq Al-Awsat on Sunday. “Hariri is determined to have his cabinet as soon as possible,” member of the Mustaqbal Movement parliamentary bloc MP Nazeeh Najem said. According to some sources, the new government’s line-up might develop during a meeting expected to be held between Hariri and President Michel Aoun next week, despite continued obstacles, mainly the difficulty to agree on the shares of the Lebanese Forces and renewed demands from the March 8 alliance’s Sunni factions to be represented in the cabinet. Najem told Asharq Al-Awsat that the level of optimism on the government formation increased this week. He said economic and political indicators, in addition to popular pressure generated from the dire economic situation, compel concerned parties to form a new government as soon as possible. “The country cannot survive anymore without a cabinet. This status quo forces all parties to find a solution or to exert pressure to form a government,” he said. Hariri pledged last week to form a cabinet within ten days, a deadline that expired Sunday. Najem explained that Hariri should carry, as usual, a ministerial formula to Aoun this week. “We are optimistic and we expect good things to happen during the upcoming meeting,” he said. Despite expectations by Hariri’s team of a positive outcome, other parties remain cautious about the level of optimism. Member of the Liberation and Development parliamentary bloc MP Anwar Al-Khalil told Asharq Al-Awsat on Sunday that the positive signs, which have prevailed over the cabinet formation process, have dissipated. The deputy warned that the country’s economic situation could turn into a monetary crisis. For his part, LF deputy Anis Nassar told Asharq Al-Awsat that his party insists on demanding the Energy Ministry portfolio.

Aoun Welcomes Reopening of Nassib Crossing
Associated Press/Naharnet/October 15/18/President Michel Aoun hailed on Monday the reopening of a key trade route between Syria and Jordan, once vital for the transit of goods in the Middle East, describing it as beneficial for Lebanon’s productive sector. “Opening of the Nassib border crossing is beneficial because it will reconnect Lebanon to Arab countries and allow the passage of people and merchants from Lebanon to Arab countries, and vice versa,” said Aoun on Twitter. The President said the crossing “will revive Lebanon’s various production sectors, and will reduce the cost of exports to Arab countries.” Lebanese imports to oil-rich gulf nations had been hardly hit since the Nassib border crossing closed in 2015. Since then, some Lebanese exporters have relied on sea and air transport for such exports. Aoun said Lebanese politicians should take advantage of all opportunities to help the country's economy. Lebanese politicians are sharply divided between supporter and opponent of Syrian President Bashar Assad. Some politicians, including Prime Minister Saad Hariri, say they are against visiting Syria. Jordan on Monday reopened its main Nassib border crossing with war-torn Syria after a three year closure. The border crossing, known as Jaber on the Jordanian side and Nassib on the Syrian side, was a key trade route before Amman closed it after the post was overrun by rebels in April 2015. The reopening comes after Syrian government troops retook their side of the crossing in July under a deal with rebel fighters brokered by Moscow.

Hariri Voices Solidarity with Saudi Arabia
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/October 15/18/Prime Minister-designate Saad Hariri expressed solidarity with Saudi Arabia "in the face of the campaigns targeting it," Hariri’s press office said. In a statement released Sunday, the Premier said “the status of Saudi Arabia in the Arab and international communities places it among the central countries entrusted with the stability of the region and the support of the Arab causes.”“The campaigns against it constitute a violation of this stability and an unacceptable call to drag the region towards further negative developments,” he added. Saudi Arabia has been witnessing a backlash over the disappearance of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi on October 2.

Israeli Drone Hovers over Lebanese Areas, Destroys Spy Device
Naharnet/October 15/18/An Israeli reconnaissance airplane has incessantly been hovering over Lebanese areas recently, as the State-run National News Agency reported that an Israeli spy device planted east of the southern town of Hallusieh was remotely destroyed on Sunday by an Israeli drone. On Monday, an Israeli MK-type reconnaissance aircraft flew at low altitude over the vicinity of the Chouf area, said NNA. The plane carried out similar moves over the Litani River on Sunday. It was paralleled with enemy helicopters that flew for some time over the area, NNA had reported. Moreover, on Sunday an explosion was heard between the southern towns of Hallusieh and Zrarieh near the Litani River. NNA said an Israeli spy device planted in the village of Hallusieh, east of Tyre, was remotely destroyed by the Israeli plane which flew nearby in conjunction with the explosion. UNIFIL spokesman Andrea Tenenti said that “UNIFIL is considering the issue in close cooperation with the Lebanese Armed Forces.”

Deryan Condemns ‘Political Extortion’ against SA
Naharnet/October 15/18/Grand Mufti of the Republic Sheikh Abdul Latif Deryan expressed solidarity with Saudi Arabia on Monday, condemning what he described as “political extortion” targeting it over the disappearance of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, the National News Agency reported on Monday. Deryan expressed his resentment saying SA is being subject for “malicious goals intending to undermine its wise and rational policy led by the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman Bin Abdul Aziz.”He said the “campaigns of political extortion provoke the sentiments of more than a billion Muslim believers,” noting SA’s role in “spreading the culture of moderation, fighting extremism and cooperating with the countries of the world in fighting terrorism.”Saudi Arabia has been witnessing an international backlash over the disappearance of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi. Khashoggi has been missing since entering the country's consulate in Istanbul on October 2.
As Lebanon Drowns in Its Own Trash, People Look to Themselves for Solutions
Nabih Bulos/Los Angeles Times/October 15/18
As Lebanon Drowns in Its Own Trash, People Look to Themselves for Solutions
The trash blankets the beach in Beirut, rubbish is pushed into the sea by the ton, and the smoke from the heaps of burning garbage washes across Lebanon’s countryside. Little has fazed the Lebanese since the civil war ended here in 1990. Intermittent electricity and water. Dismal telecommunications at extortionate prices. An exasperating government perpetually in gridlock. All are accepted as routine. Yet it’s Lebanon’s waste crisis, a three-year tale of tragicomic ineptitude, that has enraged the nation and brought people to the streets in anger. It has become shorthand for the incompetence many see as endemic in the state’s laissez-faire form of governance, and the political class behind it. It has also raked up questions about the sense of shared destiny among Lebanon’s 18 sects, and what it means to be a Lebanese citizen under a government many no longer trust. Some speak wistfully of antebellum Lebanon and share nostalgic images on social media of the chic, Riviera-on-the-Med glamour of the country’s beaches, with majestic snow-capped mountains in the background.
Those same beaches and mountains are now strewn with garbage.
The trash crisis’ roots can be traced back decades, but it first made headlines in 2015 after residents in the village of Naameh blocked the road to a nearby landfill to stop the trash from being hauled in. The site had been opened in 1997 and was meant to last for just seven years. Eighteen years and 15 million tons of trash later —13 million more than it was supposed to hold — the landfill was closed. But the government hadn’t prepared an alternative site. Sukleen, the contractor that picked up waste in the capital and its environs, simply stopped doing so. Hills of trash, sprinkled with white pesticide powder to control the rats, cropped up like out-of-season Christmas displays on Beirut’s sweltering streets.
It spurred what became known as the “You Stink” movement, in which a civil society group rallied tens of thousands of Lebanese to excoriate the government and call for its ouster. The protests turned violent, with police firing tear gas as protesters lobbed cracked tiles from buildings in Beirut’s glitzy downtown.
Since then, the issue has largely been hidden from view, but that’s only because most municipalities either dump the country’s estimated 2.5 million tons of annual waste in open fields and burn it, or bulldoze it into the sea, the latter claimed to be a land reclamation strategy.
Yet like the villian in a slasher movie who just won’t die, the trash just keeps coming back.
This week, residents in the south Beirut neighborhood of Sillom woke up to a river of garbage slithering its way between their houses — the routine aftermath of rainfall. Meanwhile, the putrid scent of garbage and rotting carcasses from a slaughterhouse near the Qarantina neighborhood wafts each evening over the Achrafieh quarter, a leafy residential and commercial district. Last year, planes approaching Beirut’s Rafiq Hariri airport had to be on alert for the swarms of birds feeding at a landfill less than a mile from the runway — prompting authorities to employ a uniquely Lebanese solution: hiring shotgun-wielding hunters to shoot the birds. And in Nahr Ibrahim, a river some 30 miles north of Beirut, visitors will find a waterfall spilling into a serene pool: It’s a scene straight from a travel brochure, provided one can get past the thick smoke from a nearby trash-burning facility. A thread of evil-smelling gunk — “black water” or leachate in the jargon — oozes from the landfill toward the pool.
There are less visible dangers too.
A report from the Lebanese Agricultural Research Institute earlier this year found dangerous levels of heavy metals in the waters off the country’s coastline, likely a byproduct of the trash dumped at sea and the factories perched along the shoreline. Since 92% of the wastewater in Lebanon is untreated, biological contaminants abound — meaning people swim, shower and eat fish from water tainted with fecal matter, said Sammy Kayed, development manager at the American University of Beirut’s Nature Conservation Center. But instead of action, the waste crisis has brought on the customary spate of recriminations, with officials using it to score political points against their adversaries. Some blamed Syrian refugees; others claimed it was all a conspiracy. “There was no plan other than where to put another landfill,” said environmental engineer Ziad Abi Chaker.
“The government’s response has been disastrous since 2015. We’ve been dumping our waste into the sea. It’s inconceivable,” said Gilbert Doumit, a Beirut-based civil society politician. Although the Naameh landfill has been closed for more than three years, there still is no replacement for the area. Each potential site has brought protests from would-be neighbors. Last month, officials sparked another round of protests with their latest proposal: the installation of incinerators that would not only burn the trash but, they claimed, generate electricity as well. They’re used throughout Europe, argued Beirut’s Mayor Jamal Itani in an interview with the Lebanese daily newspaper Annahar, and would be capable of handling the 800 tons of garbage that Beirut produces each day. But experts are skeptical, pointing out that the incinerators would simply belch toxins into the air, including carcinogens and immune-disruptors, unless they adhere to stringent safety protocols, which few believe the state would follow. “Lebanon has been running thermo-electric power plants for the last 30 or 40 years, and in that period of time it has failed to maintain the scrubbers and filters of these plants, which haven’t worked optimally, not even once,” said Anwar Shami, lead engineer at the Nature Conservation Center. Shami said he sees no evidence the government would be any more diligent with incinerators. Besides, Shami said, half of the country’s trash is composed of tough-to-burn organic materials. Instead of generating power, he said, they would suck energy from a grid already operating at a 40% deficit. Burning trash would also seem to fly in the face of recycling efforts, the solution many expert here advocate. Officials counter that the Lebanese can’t be bothered to clean up their trash in public, let alone sort it at home.
It’s a claim Doumit rejects. “In countries where there is a low trust in government, you feel the public sphere isn’t owned by citizens. There’s no sense of ownership and accountability,” said Doumit. But, he added, some neighborhoods are already “taking more responsibility,” bypassing the government and organizing their own recycling efforts. “It crystallized the old question of what it means to be Lebanese,” said Abi Chaker, who is organizing community recycling projects instead of waiting for the state to take action. “You are Lebanese when you solve your own problems without relying on your government.”

The Latest LCCC Bulletin For Miscellaneous Reports And News published on
October 15-16/18
US: We Enforce Sanctions on Iran in Cooperation with Our Allies
Manama - Asharq Al-Awsat/Monday, 15 October, 2018/Deputy Secretary of State John Sullivan has stressed that US sanctions on Tehran are aimed at changing the Iranian regime’s behavior, saying Washington is working with its allies to enforce them. Sullivan discussed with Bahraini Prime Minister Prince Khalifa bin Salman Al Khalifa during a visit to Manama the importance of Gulf Cooperation Council unity to help consolidate security and stability in the region. According to the State Department, the Deputy Secretary and the Prime Minister also discussed US-Bahrain counterterrorism cooperation, countering the Iranian regime’s malign influence in the region and other bilateral and regional issues. Sullivan also had the opportunity to meet with several other Bahraini officials. Bahrain News Agency quoted Sullivan as saying that the US intends to impose the sanctions on Iran and is trying to convince its allies to do so as well.
The first round of US sanctions against Iran that were approved in August covers financial transactions and imports of raw materials. Further measures due to hit in November will affect Iran's central bank and the vital hydrocarbon industry. During the meeting with the Bahraini PM, Sullivan also lauded Bahrain’s interest in pushing bilateral ties forward, stressing his country’s keenness to deepen its distinguished cooperation and friendship relations with the country in various fields. The Deputy Secretary also visited the US Navy's 5th Fleet Central Command based in Bahrain.
US still aiming to cut Iran oil sales to zero: US envoy for Iran
Reuters/October 15, 2018/PARIS: The United States is still aiming to cut Iran's oil sales to zero and does not foresee the re-imposition of oil sanctions against Tehran on Nov. 4 as having a negative impact on the market as it is well-supplied and balanced, Washington's special envoy for Iran said on Monday. Speaking to reporters in a conference call, Brian Hook also said Iran's ballistic missile activities need to be deterred and that European efforts to create a special purpose vehicle for trade with Tehran would find no demand as more than 100 foreign firms had indicated they would be leaving the country.
Hook's statements came as an industry source and tanker data revealed that Turkey and Italy are the last buyers of Iranian crude outside China, India and the Middle East, the latest sign that shipments are taking a major hit from looming US sanctions. The Islamic Republic has exported 1.33 million barrels per day so far in October to India, China, Turkey and the Middle East, according to Refinitiv Eikon data. No vessels are shown heading to Europe with Iranian crude. However, an industry source who also tracks the exports estimated shipments at 1.5 million bpd, including vessels which are not showing on AIS satellite tracking, of which a 1 million-barrel tanker is going to Italy. That’s down from at least 2.5 million bpd in April, before President Donald Trump in May withdrew the United States from a 2015 nuclear deal with Iran and reimposed sanctions. The figures also mark a further fall from 1.6 million bpd in September. The expected loss of a sizeable amount of Iranian supply has helped drive a rally in oil prices, which on Oct. 3 hit their highest since late 2014 at $86.74 a barrel. Crude has since eased to $81 although analysts say the Iranian export drop remains supportive. “It’s one of the reasons why prices are still above $80,” said Eugen Weinberg, analyst at Commerzbank. The October figures add to signs that buyers are sufficiently wary of the US sanctions to stop or scale back their Iranian crude dealings, and that exports are falling more steeply than some in the market expected. For sure, definitive export data is hard to uncover. Tanker schedules are often adjusted, exports vary week by week and the tracking of tankers, while easier than in the past due to satellite information, remains both art and science. In the first week of October, Iran’s crude exports averaged 1.1 million bpd according to Refinitiv and less than 1 million bpd according to another industry source. While Washington has said it wants to cut Iran’s oil exports to zero, Iran and Saudi Arabia say that is unlikely to happen. The Trump administration is considering waivers on sanctions for countries that are reducing their imports. India, a major buyer, has ordered Iranian oil for November. Iran, which has pledged to block any OPEC supply increase that the country deems to be against its interests, says it has found new buyers for its oil and its crude output has fallen only slightly. For September, Iran told OPEC its crude output dropped by 50,000 bpd to 3.76 million bpd, while consultants and government agencies that OPEC uses to monitor production reported a larger fall to 3.45 million bpd. Indeed, Iran may not yet have cut production to match the rate of decline in its exports, as the country appears to be storing more oil on ships, as it did during sanctions that applied until the 2015 nuclear deal.

Iran Arrests Member of Military Over Ahvaz Parade Attack

London - Asharq Al-Awsat/Monday, 15 October, 2018/Iran has arrested a member of its military in connection with a gun attack on a military parade in the city of Ahvaz last month which killed 25 people, said spokesman for the judiciary Gholam-Hossein Mohseni Ejei. “Eleven people were summoned and one was arrested, all of whom were military, and the case has been sent to Tehran,” Ejei was cited as saying by Fars, according to Reuters. ISIS released a video to claim responsibility for the second attack by its militants in Iran after it targeted the parliament and the shrine of Ayatollah Khomeini in 2017. Activists in the Ahvaz region have accused Iranian security forces of detaining 300 of their colleagues after the shooting attack last month, others claim that the number of arrests had reached 500. Separately, Iran’s Intelligence Minister Mahmoud Alavi said his ministry had helped to uncover and destroy “300 teams” of militants, IRNA reported on Sunday. Alavi did not give further details on the identities of the militants, nor did he indicate when the cells were uncovered.

Rouhani Accuses US of Seeking ‘Regime Change’ in Iran
Asharq Al-Awsat/Monday, 15 October, 2018/Iranian President Hassan Rouhani accused on Sunday the United States of seeking “regime change” in his country. “In the past 40 years there has not been a more spiteful team than the current US government team toward Iran and the Iranians,” Rouhani said in a speech broadcast on state TV. Tensions have increased between Iran and America after US President Donald Trump withdrew from a multi-lateral agreement on Iran’s nuclear program in May, saying it was flawed because it did not include curbs on Iran’s ballistic missiles program or its support for proxies in Syria, Yemen, Lebanon and Iraq. “There was a time when there was one person who had enmity. The rest were moderate. Now ... the worst have gathered around each other,” Rouhani added in a speech marking the beginning of the academic year at Tehran University.
In Washington, a US State Department spokesman repeated its position that it wants a change in Iran’s behavior but “the United States is not seeking regime change.”He said Trump has voiced a willingness to enter into talks with Iran and wants a deal that also covers its missile program, support for terrorism and “malign regional behavior.”“Our hope is that ultimately the regime will make meaningful changes in its behavior,” he added. Rouhani accused the Americans of using psychological and economic warfare and questioning the legitimacy of Iran. “Reducing the legitimacy of the system is their final goal. When they say getting rid of, regime change in their own words, how does regime change happen? Through reducing legitimacy, otherwise a regime doesn’t change,” he said, using the English phrase “regime change” to emphasize his point. Washington reintroduced steps against Iran’s currency trade, metals and auto sectors in August. With US curbs on Iran’s oil exports set to come into force next month, some Iranians fear their country is entering an economic slump that may prove worse than the period from 2012 to 2015, when it last faced major sanctions. Vice-president Eshaq Jahangiri played down the impact of the planned restrictions. Iran has been able to find new partners to buy its oil even though some countries have stopped purchases, Jahangiri said on Sunday, according to Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting (IRIB). “America will certainly not be able to reduce Iran’s oil exports to zero,” he said.

Hadi Accuses Iran of Supporting Parties South Yemen
Riyadh, Aden/Asharq Al-Awsat/Monday, 15 October, 2018/Yemeni President Abdrabbuh Mansour Hadi renewed demanding Iran to lift its hand of Yemen and stop its support to Houthi militias in the north of Yemen and other parts of the south, in a speech marking the 55th anniversary of the October 14 revolution. In a televised interview Saturday, Hadi accused Iran of supporting southern parties. He affirmed that southern leaders have accounts in Beirut and budgets from Iran, adding that Aden TV Channel that was broadcasting from Beirut is the greatest evidence of the support of Iran and ‘Hezbollah’ to southern parties. The Yemeni president revealed that the Yemeni National Army from the Revolutionary Guard Corps and the Lebanese ‘Hezbollah’, and they are under investigation. In a joint statement issued on the occasion of October 14 by General People's Congress, Al-Islah, Yemeni Socialist Party, Nasserist Unionist People's Organization, Al-Rashad Union, and others, the parties congratulated the president, the army and the popular resistance. According to the statement, the parties affirmed that the battle for the sake of freedom and restoring the Yemeni state is still tightly connected to the noble struggling values of the revolution of Oct. 14. They also called for continuing the combating of all the means of insurgent militias, and keeping up the peace efforts sponsored by the UN and the Security Council, according to the vision presented by the president in front of the General Assembly held last September.
Turkish police uncover blatant media inaccuracy in Khashoggi, says expert
Staff writer, Al Arabiya /English Monday, 15 October 2018/In a tweet, exposing the blatant inaccuracy in the Qatari media outlets’ coverage, challenging the misreported news and dubious sources, Turkish academic and columnist, Emre Uslu said in a tweet on Sunday that the Turkish police confirmed his earlier analysis regarding the inaccuracy in the alleged picture of Saudi citizen Salah Mohammad A. Tubaigy. He said in the tweet that the alleged picture, leaked by Turkish intelligence to Turkish newspaper Sabah which reported that this picture was taken on October, 2, 2018, on the same day of the disappearance of Saudi citizen and Journalist Jamal Khashogy in Istanbul, Turkey. But the Turkish academic and columnist Uslu confirms in the tweet that the Turkish police revealed that this picture was taken back in 2013. Tubaigy name surfaced as one of an alleged 15 Saudi team members who arrived in Turkey on two private jets and entered the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, when Jamal Khashoggi was there, in order to murder him, as reported by the Qatari media outlets. These same media outlets reported that Tubaigy is an autopsy expert at Saudi Arabia’s internal security agency. The Turkish academic and columnist once again uncovered one of many dubious fake news related to the Qatari media coverage on the disappearance of Saudi citizen Jamal Khashoggi in Istanbul, Turkey.

US diplomat heads to Iraq for talks with newly elected leaders
AFP, Washington Monday, 15 October 2018/US State Department number two John Sullivan departs Sunday for Iraq to meet with the country’s new leaders, the highest level administration official to do so since their election. Sullivan will visit Baghdad and Arbil, the capital of the Iraqi Kurdish autonomous region, the State Department said. The US deputy secretary of state will meet with the newly elected speaker of parliament, Mohammed al-Halbusi, as well as President Barham Saleh and Prime Minister-designate Adel Abdel Mahdi. Long stalled after the May legislative elections, the political situation in Iraq has begun to move in recent weeks with the choice of the new leaders. The future head of government, an independent, still faces the difficult task of forming a governing team by early November as several coalitions continue to jockey for preeminence in the divided parliament. A veteran of Iraqi politics and an economist by training, Mahdi, 76, is regarded as sufficiently independent to be able to assemble a government despite fractures in the ruling elites. Mahdi has support from both Tehran and Washington, a necessary consensus in a country caught between two major allies, each the enemy of the other. Sullivan will “focus on expanding US-Iraq economic ties and underscoring the United States’ continued support for a strong, sovereign, and prosperous Iraq,” the State Department said.
PM, Benjamin Netanyahu: 'We continue to act against establishment of Iranian military in Syria'
Moran Azulay/Ynetnews/October 15, 2018/Benjamin Netanyahu, says at onset of Knesset's winter session that despite Russia's supply of S-300 anti-aircraft system to Syrian army, he maintains 'friendly relations' with President Putin; prime minister adds he is 'doing everything to prevent unnecessary wars.'Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Monday that Israel continues to act against the establishment of Iranian military in Syria, and emphasized that he stays in constant contact with Russian President Vladimir Putin. The prime minister spoke at the kick off of the Knesset’s winter session amid the ongoing uncertainty over the new IDF draft law that might dismantle the coalition and trigger early elections. Opposition leader MK Tzipi Livni, President Reuven Rivlin and Knesset Speaker Yuli Adelstein were among those who also gave speeches at the onset of the session. “Even today Israel is acting against Iran in Syria, and we will continue to try and push it back," Netanyahu exclaimed. Netanyahu also emphasized his close relationship with President Putin, in light of recent tensions caused by the downing of the Russian spy plane in Syria, which sparked an international crisis and prompted the Russians to supply Syrian army with S-300 anti-aircraft system. "I maintain frequent and direct contact with President Putin … Our friendly relations and mutual appreciation is very important to me. It allows us to deal with complex and difficult challenges in our region. These relations are also important for the security of Israel," the Netanyahu stressed. “However,” went on the prime minister, “the most important of all is the alliance we’ve established with our greatest friend—the United States.”“Not only is the Trump administration committed to support us when it comes to security, the American president has also elevated the US support for Israel at the UN to a whole new level. We are in the eye of the storm, with the turbulent Middle East around us, but I will not let this storm shake us," the prime minister said as he thanked all national security bodies.

No Israeli air strikes during past month. Iran replenishes destroyed arms stocks
موقع دبكا: الغارات أفسرائيلية داخل سوريا متوقفة منذ شهر في اعادة إيران التعويض عن كل ما دمرته إسرائيل من أسلحة ومعدات ومواقع
DEBKAfile//October 15, 2018/
It will be 30 days on Wednesday, Oct. 17 since the last Israeli air strike was conducted against Iranian targets in Syria, and the shooting down by Syria of the Russian IL 20 spy plane. Russian-Israeli relations remain cool and seem unlikely to go back to their old friendly nature. President Vladimir Putin is taking his time about fixing a date to meet with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, although both said it should happen soon. Indeed, when Netanyahu suggested on Oct. 8 that he expected Putin’s understanding for the importance of Israeli sovereignty on the Golan, he was quickly slapped down. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov commented two days later that this would be a direct violation of UN Security Council resolutions.
On Oct. 9. Netanyahu emphasized the legitimacy of continued Israel bombardments of Iranian targets in Syria to visiting Russian deputy prime minister Maxim Akimov. Nevertheless, Israeli warplanes stayed on the ground. Likewise, American aerial activity in Syria remained silent
During this month, the Russian army deployed three battalion sets of S-300 air defense systems in Syria for Syrian and Iranian officers and troops. They are being trained to operate the batteries. Moscow has augmented the S-300 shield with missiles geared to stop low-flying aircraft and deployed them around Syrian towns and essential facilities. On top of these two lines of defense, Russia has arrayed in Syria advanced electronic warfare systems for countering air attacks by Israel or the US forces based in eastern Syria along the Iraqi border.
The introduction of EW is the most worrying aspect of the new Russian military build-up in Syria, DEBKAfile’s military sources stress. Although Israel’s EW capabilities are highly advanced, still Russia’s operational capabilities in this branch of combat are an unknown factor in the West and could cause surprises. No one can tell for sure what they can do until Israeli and US jets take to Syrian skies.
Just as troubling are the mounting stocks of Iranian weapons pouring into Syria during the month of Israel’s inaction. It had been hoped that Moscow would swing a reciprocal deal with Tehran to halt its arms consignments to Syria for Hizballah in return for the suspension of Israeli air strikes. The Iranians refused to hear of any such deal when it was broached by Moscow in September. In the event, they have stepped up their shipments of war materiel to Damascus as never before. Western and Middle East intelligence sources estimate that the 30-day hiatus in Israeli attacks gave Tehran the chance to replenish its own and Hizballah’s weapons arsenals and bring them level to where they stood 200 Israeli air strikes ago.. This is what Hizballah’s leader Hassan Nasrallah was talking about on Friday, Oct. 13, when he said: “Netanyahu’s psychological warfare over the missiles was a farce. Our silence over our weapons is deliberate and purposeful. Our policy is based on ‘constructive silence’ and we do not give ‘free information’ to the enemy.”
There is still no word from Jerusalem on when operations over Syria are to resume.
Netanyahu, Lieberman Threaten ‘Hamas’ with ‘Very Strong Blows’
Tel Aviv – Asharq Al-Awsat/Monday, 15 October, 2018/Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday threatened to inflict "very strong blows" on “Hamas” after fresh violence along the border with the Gaza Strip. "Hamas has apparently not understood the message -- if these attacks do not stop, they will be stopped in another way, in the form of very, very strong blows", Netanyahu said during the weekly cabinet meeting. "We are very close to another type of action which would include very strong blows. If Hamas is intelligent, it will cease fire and violence now", he added.Israel on Friday suspended fuel deliveries to the Gaza Strip, after fresh protests along the border that saw seven Palestinians killed by Israeli troops. The suspension came days after fuel supplies had begun running to the enclave through Qatari funds. On Saturday, Israel's Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman said fuel deliveries would only resume if there was a "total cessation of violence, the launching of incendiary balloons (from Gaza towards Israel) and the use of burning tires against Israeli towns" near the enclave. "Israel was prepared to improve the civilian reality in the Gaza Strip, but the decision of the Hamas leadership to use serious violence — especially on the same day in which tankers of diesel fuel were brought into the Gaza Strip — is what brought about the decision to cut off the supply of fuels," Lieberman said in a statement. But according to Haaretz daily, Israeli security officials have opposed the defense chief's decision to cut Gaza fuel transfers. The officials believe it's impossible to pressure ‘Hamas’ and completely halt all shipments without worsening the humanitarian situation in the enclave, said the report.

Israel Approves 31 Settler Homes in Hebron
London - Ramallah/Asharq Al-Awsat/Monday, 15 October, 2018/Israel's government Sunday approved the construction of 31 settler homes in Hebron, the first such green light since 2002 for the flashpoint West Bank city, which is home to around 200,000 Palestinians. Construction permits were agreed in October last year but needed the government's approval, according to the Peace Now NGO that monitors settlement construction in occupied territory. "For the first time in more than 20 years, Hebron will have a new Jewish neighbourhood where a military camp once stood," Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman said after the weekly cabinet meeting. He said in a statement that the project will comprise 31 settler homes and two kindergartens. "It is an important step in the global activity which we are carrying out to reinforce settlements in Judea and Samaria," added Lieberman referring to the occupied West Bank. The Hebron units are to be built on Shuhada Street, once a bustling shopping street leading to a holy site where the biblical Abraham is believed to have been buried. The street is now largely closed off to Palestinians who have repeatedly demanded that it be reopened to traffic.
Palestinian shot dead trying to stab Israeli soldier - military
Reuters/Monday, 15 October 2018/Israeli soldiers shot dead a Palestinian who tried to stab one of them in the occupied West . Bank on Monday, the military said. The incident occurred at a bus stop along a main highway near the large Jewish settlement of Ariel. “A Palestinian attempted to stab a soldier at the site. Our troops fired at him and he was killed. There were no casualties among our forces,” the military said in a statement.There was no immediate Palestinian comment. Israel’s Shin Bet internal security service said the assailant, whom it did not name, was a resident of the West Bank village of Biddya and had no record of anti-Israeli activity. Biddya was the home village of a 47-year-old Palestinian woman who died of a head injury on Friday caused by what her husband said were rocks thrown at their car by Israeli settlers. The Shin Bet statement, in its reference to Biddya, made no mention of Friday’s incident, which Israeli police are investigating. Palestinians began a wave of knife and car-ramming attacks in the West Bank and in Israel in 2015, after peace talks with Israel collapsed. Such incidents have become more sporadic. Palestinians want the West Bank, captured by Israel in the 1967 Middle East war, to be part of an independent state and most countries consider Jewish settlements built in the area to be illegal. Israel disputes this.

Jordanian-Syrian Border Crossing Reopens

Amman - Beirut - Mohamed Al-Daameh and Nazeer Rida/Asharq Al-Awsat/Monday, 15 October, 2018/The border crossing between Jordan and Syria, which has been closed for the past three years, reopened on Monday following several weeks of discussions between the two sides. The black metal border gate was opened from the Jordanian side of the crossing at 8:00 am as more than a dozen police and customs officials stood nearby, an AFP photographer said, while several cars bearing Jordanian license plates queued on the Syrian side ready to roll in. “The Jaber-Nassib border crossing between Jordan and Syria will be opened on Monday,” Jordanian State Minister for Media Affairs, Jumana Ghunaimat, announced Sunday. Ghunaimat, who is also the government spokesperson, said the Jordanian-Syrian technical committees agreed on the final measures necessary to reopen the crossing during a meeting held Sunday at the Jaber Border Center. She said the passage, known as Jaber to Jordanians and Nassib on the Syrian side, "is a vital lifeline for trade between the two brotherly countries Jordan and Syria, and through them to other Arab countries.” However, Nael Husami, the head of the Amman chamber of industry, said that the crossing would not open to normal traffic just yet. For its part, Syrian television quoted Interior Minister Mohammed al-Shaar as also confirming the crossing's reopening and said the border crossing and roads leading to it were being renovated. The closure of the Nassib crossing in 2015 cut a crucial transit route for hundreds of trucks a day transporting goods between Turkey and the Gulf, and Lebanon and the Gulf, in multi-billion dollar annual trade. Meanwhile, Iraqi Foreign Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari arrived in Damascus on Sunday for a three-day visit. He met with his Syrian counterpart Walid al-Muallem and discussed “speeding up” the reopening of their border, the official Sana news agency reported. Separately, "heavy mortar shells" were fired late Saturday from the planned buffer area in Idlib province into regime territory, killing two soldiers, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.
The shelling threatens a Russian-Turkish deal that calls on fighters to leave a planned buffer zone around Syria's last major rebel bastion and to hand over their heavy arms by Oct. 15. "This is the first clear violation of the deal since the heavy weapons were withdrawn. This area is supposed to be clear of heavy weapons, including mortar shells," said head of Observatory Rami Abdel Rahman.

Sole Crossing between Syria and Israeli-Controlled Golan Reopens after 4 Years
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/October 15/18/The only crossing point between Syria and Israeli-controlled territory reopened Monday, an AFP correspondent reported, four years after closing due to the civil war on the Syrian side. Two United Nations white jeeps crossed into Israeli-controlled territory through the reopened crossing near Quneitra in the Golan Heights after a deal between Israel, Syria and the UN. The reopening is a further sign that the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad is regaining territory lost to rebels in his country's seven-year civil war. The country's flag was raised on the Syrian side of the crossing during a brief ceremony, the AFP correspondent said. The Quneitra crossing is used primarily by the UN Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF), which has around 1,000 troops who monitor a ceasefire line separating Israeli-occupied parts of the Golan Heights from Syria. It was also used by Druze living on the Israeli side travelling to Syria for trade, education or weddings. The main crossing between Syria and Jordan also reopened Monday. Israel seized much of the Golan Heights from Syria in the Six-Day War of 1967 and later annexed it in a move not recognized by the international community.

Jordan Reopens Main Border Post with Syria after 3 Years
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/October 15/18/Jordan on Monday reopened its main border crossing with war-torn Syria, a key Middle East trade route, after a three year closure, AFP reporters said. The black metal border gate was opened from the Jordanian side of the crossing at 8:00 am (0500 GMT) as more than a dozen police and customs officials stood nearby. Cars bearing Jordanian license plates queued to enter Syria as travellers expressed their joy at being able to cross the border. Syrian businessman Hisham Falyoun, who lives in Jordan with his wife and children, was the first person to cross the border in his black Mercedes jeep. "I am extremely happy, I can't express my feelings. This crossing should have been reopened earlier as it is a very vital line for all Arab countries not only Jordan and Syria," he said. "I wanted to be the first person to cross to show everyone that Syria is safe, Syria is back," said Falyoun, who was hoping to surprise his parents in Damascus. Other travellers were likewise elated to make the crossing. "Today is a celebration for us and I wanted to be among the first to cross the border," said Syrian businessman Mohammed Hisham as he waited for his turn to enter Syria from Jordan where he now lives. Jordanian taxi driver Imad Sariheen called the reopening of Jaber a source of "great happiness for all of us" which will help ease "economic hardships" caused by the closure of the crossing. "Our conditions have worsened over the past years. Our work was halted because of the closure of the border between Jordan and Syria," he added. The border crossing, known as Jaber on the Jordanian side and Nassib on the Syrian side, was a key trade route before Amman closed it after the post was overrun by rebels in April 2015.
The reopening comes after Syrian government troops retook their side of the crossing in July under a deal with rebel fighters brokered by Moscow.
Vital trade artery
Before it was shut the crossing was a major link not only for direct trade between the neighbouring countries but also for longer-distance transit, which was a signficant source of revenue. Its closure strained the economy of Jordan -- a desert kingdom with little resources which is heavily reliant on imports and foreign aid. Nabil Romman, a Jordanian trade official, told AFP in 2015 that "70 percent of what we eat, of everything we import and export, passed through Syria".Cross border trade between Jordan and Syria in 2010 -- a year before the war broke out -- stood at $615 million (530 million euros). Damascus hopes that resumption of activity across the border post will help revitalise its own economy which has been devastated by the war. After seven years of civil war, Syria's government has recaptured large swathes of territory from rebels with backing from Russia, but it still only controls around half the 19 crossing points with neighbours Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq and Turkey. Jordanian government spokeswoman Jumana Ghneimat said Sunday that the decision to reopen the border was taken after "Jordanian and Syrian technical teams agreed on the final measures".
Syria's Interior Minister Mohammed al-Shaar also confirmed on Sunday that Jaber would start working again. According to an agreement between Jordan and Syria seen by AFP, the traffic of passenger and goods at the border crossing will resume daily from 0500 GMT to 1300 GMT.
Syria also requested that Jordan send an expert to help with border checks at Nassib where there are no X-ray machines, according to the terms of the agreement. The accord stipulated that travellers entering Jordan from Syria "must obtain prior to their trip a security permit" from Jordanian authorities. And those who plan to use Jordan as a transit stop en route to a third country must show proof of their residency permit in Syria as well as an entry visa to the country they plan to visit. Abdullah, a Syrian in his 20s who studies in Jordan, told AFP he had been waiting at Jaber since dawn for his turn to go across to Syria. "I brought my Jordanian friend with me. I had promised him we would visit my country together once the border reopens," Abdullah said.

Syria FM Says Needs 'Time' to See if Idlib Deal Fulfilled
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/October 15/18/Syria said Monday it was waiting for Russia to determine whether a deal creating a buffer in the northwest was implemented, hours after jihadists missed a deadline to leave the zone. A Russian-Turkish truce agreement reached nearly a month ago for the region of Idlib gave "radical fighters" until October 15 to leave a proposed demilitarised area between government and opposition forces. Jihadists failed to withdraw overnight, but Foreign Minister Walid Muallem did not declare the deal dead. "We must give the time... to judge whether the agreement was fulfilled or not," Muallem told reporters during a joint news conference with his Iraqi counterpart in Damascus."We have to wait for the Russian reaction. Russia is monitoring and following the situation," he said. The top diplomat expressed hope that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan would still be able to "fulfil the agreement from his part". But he hinted that the military option was not off the table, saying jihadist groups in Idlib "must be removed from its last stronghold in Idlib". "We have to wait, but at the same time, our troops are still ready around Idlib," Muallem said. "Idlib -- as any other province -- has to return back to the Syrian sovereignty," he repeated. "After Idlib, our goal will be east of the Euphrates," he said, referring to an area controlled by a Kurdish-Arab alliance backed by the US-led coalition. The Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces alliance controls around 30 percent of Syria, a chunk of territory second only in size to that controlled by regime forces. "The issue of (land) east of the Euphrates is vital and we cannot relinquish it," Muallem said. Kurdish forces have carved out a de-facto autonomous region in the country's north and northeast since the start of the war. But Damascus has never recognised the autonomous zone, rejecting the federal system championed by the Kurds and repeatedly pledging to take back all Syrian territory. "We do not accept federalism or this talk that violates the Syrian constitution," he said. Syria's Kurds a few months ago started talks with the Damascus regime on the fate of their region, but these have not yet yielded any results. "The Syrian state's decision is to take back control. They can choose if it will be through dialogue or other means."

Erdogan, Saudi King Discuss Case of Missing Journalist
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/October 15/18/Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Saudi King Salman on Sunday discussed the case of missing journalist Jamal Khashoggi in their first telephone talks on the controversy, both sides said. Erdogan and Salman discussed "the issue of shedding light on the case of Jamal Khashoggi" and also emphasised the "importance of creating a joint working group within the framework of the investigation," said a Turkish presidential source, who asked not to be named. Ankara had previously said a working group would be set up in line with a Saudi proposal. But few details have emerged over how this will function. The Saudi foreign ministry said Salman affirmed his country's "solid" relations with Turkey in the phone call with Erdogan. The king phoned Erdogan "to thank the president for welcoming the kingdom's proposal to form a joint working group to discuss the disappearance of Saudi citizen Jamal Khashoggi." Salman emphasised the importance of the Turkey-Saudi relationship and said no-one should be able to "undermine the strength of this relationship," it added. Khashoggi has been missing since he stepped inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on October 2. Turkish officials say they believe he was killed inside the consulate and macabre claims have been published in Turkish media. But Saudi Arabia strongly rejects he was killed inside the mission. Erdogan meanwhile has behaved cautiously in the controversy, expressing concern but stopping short of directly accusing Riyadh.

Turkey suspends over 250 local officials for ‘terror links’

AFP/October 15/18/ANKARA: Turkey has suspended more than 250 senior local officials over alleged terror links and activities unrelated to their posts, the interior ministry said on Monday, in the latest purge of the country’s bureaucracy. Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu removed 259 local neighborhood heads — known as “muhtar” in Turkish — from their posts, his office said in a statement. It did not provide further detail on what terror organizations the officials were allegedly linked to. The muhtar is the elected chief of a village or a city neighborhood, and responsible for day-to-day services for residents such as registration. Turkey has suspended or sacked over 140,000 public sector employees because of alleged links to the US-based Muslim preacher Fethullah Gulen blamed for the July 2016 failed coup and Kurdish militants. Turkey claims Gulen ordered the coup but he denies the accusations. Last week, the ministry suspended 559 village guards — locals employed to combat Kurdish militants — accused of links to terror organizations while 76 were accused of people trafficking and drug crimes. Turkey has been fighting an insurgency against the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) since 1984. The group is blacklisted as a terror group by Ankara and its Western allies. Turkish authorities detained 137 people in country-wide operations earlier this month over alleged links to the PKK.

Egypt says security forces kill 9 ‘terrorists’ in Nile raid
AP, Cairo Monday, 15 October 2018/Egypt says its security forces have killed nine “terrorists” in a raid on a cave hideout along the Nile River. The Interior Ministry says Monday’s dawn raid in central Egypt targeted men who were planning attacks on vital installations, resulting in a shootout that led to their deaths. The statement did not mention if there were any survivors or if any wounded were taken prisoner, or if security forces suffered any casualties. It said assault rifles, improvised explosive devices, ammunition and supplies were seized. Egypt has been battling an insurgency based in the Sinai Peninsula that intensified after the military overthrew an elected but divisive president in 2013. It launched a nationwide operation against the militants in February, but raids outside the Sinai have been rare.
Remnants of ISIS exploit security gaps, adopt new military tactics in Iraq
Hassan al-Saeedy, Al, 15 October 2018/As the first anniversary of the Iraqi forces victory against ISIS nears, the terrorist organization’s remnants are trying to exploit security gaps in some areas that are not very far from the capital Baghdad. Doctor Hashem al-Hashemi, an expert in armed groups’ affairs, said ISIS has adopted a new military tactic ever since its defeat in October last year and the declaration of victory against it later in December. “After ISIS commanders (dispatched) their fighters to the desert and mountains in scattered areas in Iraq and Syria, the organization resorted to the so-called gang hybrid warfare and (adopted) the tactics of the ghost fighter,” Hashemi said, adding that the aim is sowing chaos in areas with sectarian or ethnic diversity or finding areas that are fragile in terms of security. He added that ISIS’s new tactic also includes deploying fighters in areas of minorities.
Funding via abduction, theft. Commenting on the group’s economic activity, Hashemi said the organization has begun relying on self-funding via theft, abduction and blackmail, adding that this means ISIS has lost its ability to receive foreign funding and to make money from the investments it had done by selling oil in Iraq and Syria. According to some observers, ISIS smuggled around $400 million abroad from Iraq and Syria and it seeks to increase its resources via money laundering operations. He noted that ISIS, which once controlled 48 percent of the Syrian territory and 32 percent of the Iraqi territory, now only controls 2 percent of Syria and its organizational capacity decreased from 32 states to just six.
ISIS’s three diwans
Hashemi also said that ISIS’s self-appointed caliph Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi eliminated more than nine diwans and kept just three, which are Diwan al-Jund (soldiery) that manages military affairs, a diwan for security and intelligence and a financial and administrative diwan. Hashemi added that legitimate committees are no longer binding and only act as an advisory body, administrative and financial departments are decentralized and the organization’s targets are selected by the security commander, and not the military commander. Meanwhile, a security source in Diyala said the number of ISIS remnants in Diyala is no more than 70 armed men, adding that most of them are present in Hamrin Basin which is 55 kilometers northeast of Baqubah. He added that ISIS’s activity decreased by 70 percent compared to this time last year.

Iraqi Government Administration Operates Outside ‘Green Zone’ for 1st Time
Baghdad - Hamza Mustafa/Asharq Al-Awsat/Monday, 15 October, 2018/Iraq's Prime Minister-designate Adel Abdul Mahdi decided on Sunday to move his office outside Baghdad’s Green Zone, an unprecedented step in the country’s political scene. Since the removal of former president Saddam Hussein in 2003, all four previous prime ministers, including Ayad Allawi, Ibrahim al-Jaafari, Nouri al-Maliki and Haider al-Abadi had kept their offices inside the 10-square-kilometer fortified area in the Karkh district of central Baghdad. The Green Zone is home to the offices of the president, prime minister, parliament, the country’s top courts and the US embassy. “The Prime Minister-designate resumed his mission at his new office located in the area facing Baghdad Central Station, Karkh,” Abdul Mahdi’s office said in a statement. It added that the PM-designate held, at his new office, several meetings on the formation of the new government and its program. The Green Zone has been repeatedly targeted over the years, especially at the height of the 2006-2008 civil conflict. Abdul-Mahdi was appointed PM-designate to form Iraq’s new government after months of wrangling among parties. At his new office, Abdul Mahdi met Sunday with John Sullivan, deputy to US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who is on a three-day visit to Iraq and the Kurdistan Region. “During the meeting, they discussed strengthening relations between the two countries, the situation in Iraq and the region as well as the importance of continuing international support for Iraq in reconstruction after the victory over terrorism,” a statement from Abdul-Mahdi’s office said. Separately, Sadrist movement leader Muqtada Sadr’s calls that public interests should precede party interests drove on Sunday a wave of criticism from concerned parties.In reference to Iraq’s Sunnis and Sunni politicians, Sadr said quotas should be avoided while forming the next government. The Iraqi Decision Alliance led by Ossama al-Nujaifi said on Sunday it backed Sadr’s position. “We support this view because we believe that elections did not represent the society and therefore, we cannot set the interests of the Sunnis according to the faction that won the last elections,” Atheel al-Nujaifi, a leader in the Alliance, told Asharq Al-Awsat. However, National Axis bloc official Yehya al-Kabisi said he was against Sadr’s calls.

Libya’s Haftar Prepares to ‘Liberate' Tripoli

Cairo – Khaled Mahmoud and Sawsan Abou Hussein/Asharq Al-Awsat/Monday, 15 October, 2018/The Libyan National Army (LNA), commanded by Khalifa Haftar, announced on Sunday its readiness to secure any electoral process in regions under its control.
Asharq Al-Awsat also learned that the LNA was making logistic preparations to “liberate” the capital Tripoli, which had seen in recent months clashes between rival militias. The preparations were almost complete as Haftar inaugurated ten new security and military brigades in the western region. These developments reveal that he was secretly preparing a military offensive against Tripoli in spite of United Nations and western efforts to reach a political settlement in the country. Sources close to Haftar told Asharq Al-Awsat that the ten brigades were highly trained and six of them are deployed in the eastern Benghazi region. They revealed that a meeting was recently held by a number of LNA officers to discuss the situation in Tripoli and the western region as a whole. They added that LNA units affiliated with the general command “were prepared to carry out any order.”“No order has yet been given for them to act,” they said. Haftar had declared in September that “liberating Tripoli was an unavoidable option.” “One can no longer remain silent over the situation there,” he had said of the clashes that pitted militias, which are mostly affiliated with the Government of National Accord of Fayez al-Sarraj, against each other. Addressing the elections, the LNA said Sunday that securing the electoral process was part if its national and constitutional duties. It stressed that it was concerned with protecting the democratic process and peaceful transition of power in Libya. France and the UN mission in Libya had backed down from their plans to hold presidential and parliamentary elections in Libya in December in wake of the ongoing political and security complications in the country. Separately, UN special envoy to Libya Ghassan Salame held talks in Cairo on Sunday with Arab League chief Ahmed Abul Gheit. Informed sources told Asharq Al-Awsat that Egypt will receive in upcoming days a number of Libyan officials in its attempt to achieve rapprochement between rival powers.
Berlin to expel 9/11 accomplice to Morocco
AFP/Monday, 15 October 2018/Germany will Monday expel to Morocco a convicted Moroccan accomplice in the September 11, 2001 attacks on the United States, media reported. Mounir el Motassadeq was sentenced in January 2007 by a German court to 15 years in jail for his role in the death of 246 passengers and crew aboard hijacked aircraft used in the September 11 attacks. He was the first person ever convicted for complicity in the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. The Moroccan was flown at midday Monday by helicopter from the Hamburg jail where he has been serving his prison term to Frankfurt, according to Spiegel Online and Bild daily. Photographs carried by national news agency DPA showed Motassadeq, dressed in a checked shirt and beige trousers, being led blindfolded and handcuffed by two police officers to a waiting chopper. He has admitted to having links to the hijackers, but he maintained his innocence in a five-year court battle. The Moroccan was friends with members of a Hamburg-based cell including their leader Mohammed Atta, and helped to cover up their whereabouts while they were taking flying lessons in the United States and handled a bank transfer for them.

The Latest LCCC Bulletin analysis & editorials from miscellaneous sources published on
October 15-16/18
Where are the Lebanese Superstars?
Dan Azzi/Annahar/October 15/2018
Where are the replacements from the new generation for superstars like Youssef Nasr, Philippe Jabr, Samir Assaf, and Fares Noujaim? What happened?
BEIRUT: As I write this, I'm attending a Columbia University conference in Paris and the keynote speaker was Carlos Ghosn. This got me thinking that when I lived in Dubai ten years ago, the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) operations of pretty much every major bank was run by Lebanese. The most senior positions at Deutsche Bank, HSBC, Goldman Sachs, Credit Suisse, Lehman Brothers, Bank of America, Merrill Lynch, Standard Chartered, etc., were all securely occupied by Lebanese, even though we are less than 2% of Arabs. There was even an NY Times article from July of 2008 that described this phenomenon. Not a bad performance for our generation, but when we look at the generation before us, they did even better. We had names that resonated worldwide - that still resonate today - and will continue to for decades to come. Global giants like Rafik Hariri, Maroun Semaan, the Mikati Brothers, Issam Fares, Carlos Ghosn, and many more. Today, a decade later, maybe a couple of major banks in Dubai are run by Lebanese, one of whom, a survivor from 2008. Where are the replacements from the new generation for superstars like Youssef Nasr, Philippe Jabr, Samir Assaf, and Fares Noujaim? What happened? The quick answer is that I don't know, but I'll take a stab at it. Frankly, I'm not even sure that people have noticed. Most of us still erroneously believe the old cliché that Lebanese are top performers wherever they go, but I'm not sure that's true today. In my father's day, you graduated from AUB, and almost nobody went on to obtain a Master's degree, but pretty much every single graduate obtained a high-paying, high-quality job in Lebanon or in the GCC, or in the rest of the world. It was outstanding value for the money, and clearly the top university in the region. When I attended AUB, I remember reading a Newsweek article that stated that AUB had the highest representation in the UN Assembly of any university anywhere. I was so proud of that then, but I'm not sure I would want to do that survey today. The Lebanese educational system in those days was head and shoulders above any other option in the region. Clearly, today, other alternatives exist. NYU, Cornell, INSEAD, HEC, and other world-class names have opened franchises in the Gulf.
IIT, IIM, and IBA, India and Pakistan's equivalent of US Ivy League Schools, produce top-notch graduates who are clobbering us, both in quality and quantity. Part of the problem is the culture of exaggeration. A typical Lebanese says "My son runs NASA," when the guy might be a junior intern in the accounting department - not that there's anything wrong with that - we all have to start somewhere. A related issue is inflated expectations. I remember a decade ago when I was a senior manager, searching for staff to man our office in Saudi Arabia. I received a lot of flack for filling posts with South Asians instead of Arabs. What people didn't realize is that whenever I tried to fill it with Arabs, especially Lebanese, people with half a dozen years of experience asked me for outrageous salaries and titles that were total fantasy. South Asians, graduates of IIT, IIM, or IBA, when offered the same position would reply, even before negotiating the package, "Thank you, boss, for giving me this honor." Another problem is the Lebanese banking and real estate bubble over the last decade or two. There was such easy money to be made, that the quality of experience here was not conducive to competing on the world stage. This meant that many sub-par types made atrocious sums of money, way above their skill levels. But this also burned many of the smart ones. Several friends of mine, whom I consider some of the sharpest bankers anywhere in the world, got wrapped up in the bubble and stayed here because their artificially inflated salary levels made it unattractive to move to the major financial hubs in the world. And now they are stuck here, missing out, after their peak earning years were wasted.
Meanwhile, the number of universities has increased exponentially, churning humongous numbers of graduates in their assembly lines, in unemployable majors, like civil engineering, medicine, and law. One of the top universities has increased its crop of medical doctors by 50% from my time and is graduating 450 engineers. Why? Why aren't they graduating more computer scientists, cryptography experts, app developers, and other majors who can sell services all over the world, from right here? The answer lies in lack of accountability to their customers - the students and parents. When I attended an Ivy League university two decades ago, the mathematical proposition and statistics were published and clear. You paid $50,000 over two years and this is what you got in return: 97% of the graduates found jobs before graduation, three job offers per student, and a six-figure starting salary. Why aren't you, the customer, i.e. the student or parent, demanding that those statistics be published when you're paying $200,000 of tuition? That's why you continue to pay first world tuition prices, only to obtain third world employment prospects. Which brings me to today. Mr. Ghosn was introduced as Brazilian of Lebanese descent, and I beamed proudly, albeit the French guy next to me said, "We like to think of him as French." Ghosn was an eloquent and inspirational speaker, brutally honest, with no politically correct hedging, and you couldn't help walking out of there with more insight and knowledge than you had when you walked in. But then midway through his speech, he identified himself as a native Brazilian - no mention of Lebanon. Was it a business decision because of the relative population ratios (and market depths for his companies' target markets) ... or was there another reason?
**Dan Azzi is a retired banker and regular contributor to Annahar. He previously served as CEO of Standard Chartered Bank Lebanon.

Who’s Running for President? Right Now, Everybody
Jonathan Bernstein/Bloomberg/October, 15/18
Perry Bacon Jr. over at FiveThirtyEight asks and gives a good answer to a very worthwhile question: Who is actually running for president right now? Not, to be sure, by asking the candidates. That’s a pointless exercise at this point. There are both political and legal reasons why candidates rarely make it official this early. So asking either gets a denial or a dodge, which unfortunately are pretty much the same answers from both those who are currently running and those who are not. The other thing to accept is that all anyone can know at this point is who is running now. As usual, I’ll use nomination rules maven Josh Putnam’s formulation: There’s a big difference between who is currently running for 2020 and those who will be running in 2020. Or even who will be running for 2020 by mid-2019.
Fortunately, the signs of an active presidential candidate at this stage of the process are easy to spot. Bacon flags several: visits to the early states; campaigning for other party candidates in the midterms; writing a book. He also includes two indicators that others have notice campaign activity — if the candidate has been the subject of a major media profile, and if the candidate has been included in public polls about the nomination. So who is running? Everyone. Well, perhaps not quite, but he identifies 20 fully active candidates, five more who show signs of a run, and three more who at least have demonstrated hints of a run.
My guess is that somewhere between two and five of those 28 aren’t running at all but just happened to do things that presidential candidates also do.
On the other hand, I can think of a few people who didn’t make his list but might have. That requires a bit of explanation. We’re in the “invisible primary” portion of the campaign. The main thing that candidates do at this point is to convince party actors — the politicians, campaign and governing professionals, formal party staff and officials, donors and activists, party-aligned interest groups, and the partisan news media — that the candidate is at least an acceptable nominee, and perhaps even one worth supporting. Candidates who enter the contest well-known and well-liked within the party network have a huge head start and may wait until fairly late to take overt public steps. Those who are less well known and those who expect to run into significant resistance from various party actors have an incentive to begin public campaigning early. (Unless their day job conflicts with a public presidential campaign, which is the case for anyone with a competitive re-election campaign this year.)
In other words, plenty of campaigning at this point really is invisible to most of us — and the visible activities in large part simply signal to party actors to say, “Hey, look at me! I’m running!”What that means is that candidates who don’t feel a need to do that because they already have relationships with many party actors might look a bit less like candidates at this stage. I’m not sure whether it includes any Democrats or not, but Sherrod Brown, for one, would fit as a candidate Bacon’s system might miss. He’s already fairly well known nationally and quite popular with many party actors; as far as I know, there are no factions who are likely to find him unacceptable. And he (and Amy Klobuchar, who the system does count as a candidate) is running for re-election in a potentially competitive race. I have no idea whether he’s candidate No. 29 or not, but if he is, it’s not surprising that he’s keeping it quiet for another four weeks.
The thing to remember is that all of these 30 or so candidates are also learning a lot about whether they have any support among party actors. Sometimes that comes in the way of tangible resources such as campaign funds; sometimes it’s just encouragement. Or, for others, not getting those resources. The candidates know more now than they did in January; they’ll know more in the next few months. Each candidate has his or her own threshold for what it takes to continue on; some will only stay in the race if the chances for victory are pretty good, while others are committed regardless of how badly it goes.
What we know is that winnowing works. It’s likely that quite a few out of this huge crowd will listen to the cues party actors are giving them and drop out without ever getting to the point of a formal announcement. Others will plug on for a while but fail to meet fundraising or polling targets and quit. Some may even find that being a long-shot candidate for president is a lot less enjoyable way to spend one’s time than they thought going in. My guess is that fewer than 15 Democrats, and quite possibly fewer than 10, will make it all the way to the Iowa caucuses in early 2020. But now? Yeah, they’re all running.

International community must try to push Iran out of Syria
الدكتور ماجد ربيزاده: مطلوب من المجتمع الدولي أن يضغط لإخراج إيران من سوريا

Dr. Majid Rafizadeh/Arab News/October 14/18
Iran is turning Syria into another Iraq. This means that, even after Bashar Assad regains control of the remaining territories, and even after the Syrian civil war comes to an end, the senior cadre of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) and its elite group, the Quds Force, which carries out covert and overt operations beyond Iran’s borders, will continue to have a decisive role in Syria’s military operations.
This also means that the Iranian regime will be deeply infiltrating the Syrian security, intelligence and political establishments. As in Iraq, Tehran will continue pursuing a sectarian agenda, pitting the Shiite and Alawite population against the Sunnis, stifling any path to democracy, rule of law, and justice in Syria, as well as empowering and emboldening Shiite militias across the country.
Strategically and geopolitically speaking, it will be much easier for the Iranian leaders to continue supporting and arming Shiite groups in nations that share a border with Syria, such as in Lebanon. Tehran will also be endangering the national security of Israel.
These changes may impact the political chessboard of the Middle East and bring about severe repercussions for the region. Therefore, the major question is: How can the Iranian regime be forced out of Syria?
First of all, it is important to point out that it would be unrealistic to believe that Iran can be forced to leave Syria entirely. These two odd bedfellows — the secular state of Assad and the Shiite theocracy — have had an amicable relationship for nearly four decades. The convergence of strategic interests between the Alawite state and the Islamic Republic, such as a shared animosity toward the US and Israel, the desire to control the political affairs of Lebanon, and the perspective that the Sunnis are their rivals, have made their alliance robust in spite of their differences.
But this should not mean that Tehran ought to be allowed to continue enjoying its enhanced military presence and influence in Syria’s territories, thanks to the Iranian regime’s political opportunism during the last seven years of conflict and civil war, which has led to the deaths of hundreds of thousands of people.
In addition, it is not realistic to argue that Tehran will leave Damascus as the result of diplomatic negotiations. This is because, from the prism of the Iranian regime, it is in Tehran’s interest to keep Assad in power — along with scoring victories against many rebel groups, assisting Assad’s forces to regain the captured territories, and suppressing the oppositional groups. This has resulted in Iran hemorrhaging billions of dollars to keep the Alawite state in power.
The best option is to have an informed plan to minimize Iran’s influence and military presence in Syria as much as possible.
The best option is to have an informed plan to minimize Iran’s influence and military presence in Syria as much as possible. In this case, the best scenario is to return the situation to the status of Iran-Syria ties in the pre-war era, ideally to the period when Hafez Assad was in power. During that era, although the two countries were allies, Damascus exercised significant independence from Iran in carrying out its foreign and domestic policies.
To accomplish such an objective, several strategies ought to be pursued at the same time. To begin with, through political, strategic or some economic concessions, Russia can be persuaded to pressure Assad into urging Iran’s forces to leave Syria. It is worth noting that there have been incidents showing that Moscow and Tehran are in competition in Syria. It is contrary to Russian interests to acquiesce to Iran’s full entrenchment.
Secondly, economic pressures and sanctions will make it more difficult for Tehran to sustain its military bases in Syria because they will cut off the flow of funds to the IRGC. Stopping funding to Iran’s Shiite proxies and militias can also reduce Iran’s increasing influence in Syria. The US must also stand with Israel in continuing to pressure Iran out of Syria.
Thirdly, it is important to point out that, as long as the Syrian people are living in a shambles and enduring economic difficulties, and as long as the Syrian state is fragile and weak, Iran will continue to have the upper hand in Damascus and wield significant power. As a result, empowering the Syrian people to revive economically and politically, and emboldening the Syrian civil society, which has a strong Arab nationalist sentiment, will put the nation in a better position to protest against the Iranian presence.
In addition, Iran is currently reaping rewards in the reconstruction of Syria in several sectors, including mobile services, transportation, housing construction and power plants. Tehran must not be permitted to be the dominant developer of the Syrian infrastructure. Other countries can seize the opportunity by offering more competitive deals to Damascus.
Finally, supporting Iran’s civil society and the opposition will increase domestic pressure on the Iranian regime, which will subsequently force the Iranian leaders to focus on internal issues in order to prevent another popular uprising.
A multi-faceted strategy is required to lessen Iran’s military, political and economic influence in Syria. Governments around the world must act now to reduce Iran’s influence there before it is too late.
**Dr. Majid Rafizadeh is a Harvard-educated Iranian-American political scientist. He is a leading expert on Iran and US foreign policy, a businessman and president of the International American Council. Twitter: @Dr_Rafizadeh

Emboldened IRGC threatens to make Iran sanctions counterproductive
بارعة علم الدين: جرأة الحرس الثوري الإيراني تهدد بجعل العقوبات على إيران تسلك سبل تكون نتائجها عكسية

Baria Alamuddin/Arab News/October 14/18
Even ahead of the imposition of additional oil sanctions in November, US measures against Iran are undoubtedly causing intense economic pain. However, many credulous souls complacently predict Tehran’s hurried return to the negotiating table, or believe that, with the first flexing of Trump’s muscles, this regime will simply implode. Instead, hardliners relish these renewed tensions, which they seize on as proof of American bad faith; arguing that Iran should have never have negotiated in the first place.
These same hardliners and paramilitary warlords are currently rushing to enrich themselves through dominance of regional criminal networks, heralding a new, lucrative era of sanctions evasion. Many of these techniques were perfected during the 2005 to 2015 global sanctions, when, instead of paramilitary spending being curtailed, funding for militants in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon and Yemen soared.
Tehran’s Mafioso regime is ill-adjusted to managing a peacetime economy. It functions best through organized crime, militancy and gangsterism. To evade sanctions, Iranian tankers have begun ferrying thousands of barrels of oil around the world simply by turning their tracking beacons off, traveling under other nations’ flags, and forging documents. Front companies, meanwhile, pop up around the world to launder Iranian funds and smuggle weapons and goods.
President Hassan Rouhani inadvertently highlighted the scale of clandestine oil trading when he boasted that he had reduced the annual value of these activities from $22 billion to $12.5 billion. Iran also hopes to move about a million barrels per day through an “energy exchange” — a process that, prior to 2015, created a generation of profiteers. Under President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the sanctions regime accelerated the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps’ (IRGC) wholesale takeover of the national economy. As Ahmadinejad’s economic mismanagement and sanctions killed off legitimate businesses, the IRGC strode in and took over.
A recent article in Foreign Policy magazine argued that US officials deliberately downplayed the IRGC’s smuggling activities because “the trade embargo is empirically shown to have a significant expansionary effect on the scale and value of smuggling in Iran, in a black market controlled by the IRGC.” The Obama administration also turned a blind eye to these criminal networks. Several kingpins from Hezbollah’s international narcotics trade were allowed to slip through the net to avoid antagonizing the ayatollahs and undermining a flawed nuclear deal.
Iran is also looking to benefit from its growing stranglehold of the Iraqi, Syrian and Lebanese economies. Iranian ministers recently struck deals with the Assad regime for monopolizing reconstruction projects, including an ambitious plan to rebuild the regime’s military. Such influence affords Tehran multiple revenue streams and additional routes for smuggling oil and goods. The financial systems in these states have been widely abused for money laundering and terrorism financing — resulting in a succession of sanctionary measures from the US Treasury.
As Ahmadinejad’s economic mismanagement and sanctions killed off legitimate businesses, the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps’ strode in and took over.
On the back of Ahmadinejad’s outreach efforts to Latin American leaderships (some themselves complicit in the narcotics trade), Hezbollah began transiting large quantities of drugs and contraband goods through the American continent, with billions in revenues laundered through the banking system. Last month, a pivotal figure for Hezbollah’s South American drugs operations, Ahmed Assad Barakat, was detained by Brazilian police. In areas of Beirut, the Beqaa Valley and Basra, such activities have a devastating impact on local communities, ironically with the highest rates of addiction being found within Iran itself. Iran has also been deeply involved in smuggling weapons across Africa and has a record of collaborating with illegal global proliferation networks to obtain parts for its ballistic and nuclear activities.
It is bad enough that Iran is involved in activities that kill millions. However, instead of such revenues being used to reduce the suffering of Iranian citizens, this money goes to the IRGC’s Quds Force and Iraqi, Syrian, Lebanese and Yemeni paramilitary forces, which use extortion, abduction, murder, torture and rampant destruction to destabilize their own nations.
A senior Western politician explained to me that there had previously been some sympathy toward Tehran’s aggressive posturing — wasn’t Iran surrounded by enemies? While legitimate security concerns can be amicably addressed, a belligerent ideology aspiring to regional supremacy only becomes greedier through attempts at appeasement. These malignant transregional ambitions are encapsulated by the brash megalomania of the Quds Force’s Qassem Soleimani. The Houthis, Hezbollah and Al-Hashd Al-Shaabi are tools toward this goal of exporting the revolution and dominating the region.
This isn’t just about maintaining oil exports or self-defense, this is about capitalizing on a dizzying range of illegal activities to bankroll an offensive paramilitary strategy; exploiting trading choke points like the Strait of Hormuz, the Bab Al-Mandab Strait and the Eastern Mediterranean to hold the world to ransom.
Just a minute — you may say — weren’t Trump’s sanctions designed to halt Iranian expansionism? Trump enjoyed tearing up the nuclear deal because it sabotaged a signature Obama policy and made him look tough. Yet, with his pitiful attempts to beg Rouhani to meet him at the UN, Trump demonstrated his fundamental incomprehension of the threat posed by this gangster regime.
Sanctions are necessary and in some senses are working. Yet, without vigorously confronting loopholes, sanctions risk becoming counter-productive. Instead, Trump buries his head in the sand and pretends that his Middle East policy is flawless. Meanwhile, the EU adds insult to injury by breaking with America to appease and enable Tehran through a bizarre financing mechanism that nobody believes can function anyway.
During the Ahmadinejad era, the IRGC expanded from being a relic of Iran’s revolutionary past to a generously-funded, region-straddling monster, monopolizing the economy, spreading terrorism abroad and pursuing an ever more confrontational path.
If Trump, Europe and the international community don’t pull together and act quickly and decisively, we risk suffering a new phase of IRGC expansionism, underpinned by an infinitely stronger and more aggressive regional posture than even just a decade ago.
**Baria Alamuddin is an award-winning journalist and broadcaster in the Middle East and the UK. She is editor of the Media Services Syndicate, and has interviewed numerous heads of state.

On men’s guardianship of women
Mohammed Al Shaikh/Al Arabiya/October 15/18
In his recent interview to Bloomberg News, Prince Mohammed bin Salman said: “The rules of guardianship were held in 1979, and we’re talking to most of the Council of Senior Scholars to see what’s Islamic and what’s non-Islamic in that area and I believe there’s opportunity in that area.”
This great pioneer and reformer is a man of action. I have no doubt that women will be freed of some illegitimate restrictions in the coming months. He said: “To see what’s Islamic and what’s non Islamic in that area,” which means that there are some social restrictions in these matters that have nothing to do with Islam and with what is allowed and what is forbidden in Islam. Hence, he is implying that some inherited customs and traditions which are not of divine origin have crept into these laws and should be removed.
Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) honored women and called for honoring them. He even consulted them while taking decisions and took their opinions, as when he consulted his wife Umm Salama while forging the Treaty of Hudaybiyyah
Some people might believe that many of these matters are related to religion while in fact they have become pictured as sacred over time without any evidence in the Qur’an or Sunnah. At best, some of these provisions are controversial even among jurists, and do not have unanimous consent. Thus, some extreme fatwas have been issued to put their verdicts on par with unanimous consent, although it is the complete opposite.
There is no need to say that general consent of man’s guardianship of woman relates only to matters of marriage. Everything else is a subject of controversy among jurists. This is what Sheikh Abdullah al-Manea – and many others – said in a statement to Okaz newspaper. Sheikh al-Manea is one of the most senior members of the Senior Scholars Council. He is known for his tolerance and for not setting restrictions in social matters, especially in matters to which there is no text as a reference. He is also one of the jurists who does not issue prohibitions on matters which sources are customs, conventions and traditions and not religion.
Honoring women
Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) honored women and called for honoring them. He even consulted them while taking decisions and took their opinions, as when he consulted his wife Umm Salama while forging the Treaty of Hudaybiyyah.
Many things have changed today, and women are now part of various administrative, economic and political affairs. Thus, it became a necessity to change such important matters according to changes in society. For example, there are some women whose families depend on their incomes, and which did not happen in the past. Consecutively out of fairness and justice, she should have the rights which suit these new circumstances. One of the important rules of jurisprudence on which the Shariah is based is that the provisions revolve around their causes — their existence or absence. If the cause has changed then it becomes necessary to change the provisions accordingly. This is what we hope our jurists would take into consideration when revising these rules and regulations, which Prince Mohammed promised would be reviewed by the Council of Senior Scholars. We should highlight the point that women, especially when it comes to their rights, have been the primary victims of extremism that characterized the last three or four decades of the Sahwa’s influence. The period started in 1979, as His Highness has stated.
Therefore, one of the top priorities today is to reconsider these laws. What is Islamic and has complete consensus should be respected, while all that is based on inherited customs and traditions or matters of debate among the jurists should be looked into while taking into consideration the society’s highest interests as these are what determine accepting them or rejecting them.

Saudi Arabia’s message: Enough is enough!
Mashari Althaydi/Al Arabiya/October 15/18
The mad campaign, and this is the sincerest description of it, against Saudi Arabia in the past few days required a firm response from Saudi Arabia, and so it happened. It is unreasonable for foreign ministers in Europe or members of respectable parliaments, as well as in America, to agree with Al Jazeera channel’s nonsense and its anchors’ insults. Even the campaigns of American leftist podiums, such as the Washington Post and the New York Times, in addition to British leftists newspapers, could have been confronted via the media itself or via the law in the case of legally detecting media “crimes”, which these podiums have committed under the headline of the case of Saudi Journalist Jamal Khashoggi’s “disappearance” in Turkey. What do American Congressmen and other western politicians want Saudi Arabia to do? To stop confronting the Muslim Brotherhood? To end its willingness to confront the rhetoric of extremism and “leftist” chaotic groups that support them?
This is impossible
Mad accusations incited by dark hatred that leads the writers of these reports, some of which have been even written by global news agencies whom a journalist with a sectarian or political agenda against Saudi Arabia writes to. This is what we would find out if we examine the background of the writers of these reports and who are writing behind “foreign” fronts.
Provoking Saudi Arabia
What provoked Saudi anger is the blackmail of the state which embraces the qibla of Muslims, and which is the protector of the Two Holy Mosques and which is currently leading an Islamic orientation to eliminate all groups that are extremist and that distort religion and exploit it in the market of terror – groups which the Muslim Brotherhood is at the forefront of. What do American Congressmen and other western politicians want Saudi Arabia to do? To stop confronting the Muslim Brotherhood? To end its willingness to confront the rhetoric of extremism and “leftist” chaotic groups that support them?
This is impossible.
Hence, the decisive and clear Saudi response came in the statement published by the Saudi Press Agency and which quoted an “official source.” The warnings and clarifications were as such: “The kingdom rejects any threats and attempts to undermine it whether by alluding to economic sanctions, using political pressure or repeating false accusations.” The clearer warning stated: “Any action against the kingdom will be responded to with a greater reaction.”In reference to the media and political craze over dealing with the “Khashoggi disappearance” case, the Saudi official source asserted that Saudi Arabia appreciates the support of allies in the face of an organized campaign of false allegations, and values the voices of reason who have employed wisdom and not rush to conclusions that “aim to achieve the goals of hidden agendas and have nothing to do with finding the truth.”
The beautiful statement quoting the Saudi official source was further detailed by General Manager of Al Arabiya News Channel Turki Aldakhil’s op-ed that was published on Al Arabiya’s website. Aldakhil wrote: “The information circulating within decision-making circles within the kingdom have gone beyond the language used in the statement and discuss more than 30 potential measures to be taken against the imposition of sanctions on Riyadh.”Anyone who reads Turki Aldakhil’s op-ed can find plenty and decisive Saudi options to respond, and the message is: Enough of this nonsense and blackmail in Khashoggi’s case and other cases. Enough is enough!