Detailed Lebanese & Lebanese Related LCCC English New Bulletin For October 18/2018
Compiled & Prepared by: Elias Bejjani

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Bible Quotations
When you give a banquet, Invite all those who cannot repay you, for you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous
Luke 14/12-15: "He said also to the one who had invited him, ‘When you give a luncheon or a dinner, do not invite your friends or your brothers or your relatives or rich neighbours, in case they may invite you in return, and you would be repaid. But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, and the blind. And you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you, for you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.’One of the dinner guests, on hearing this, said to him, ‘Blessed is anyone who will eat bread in the kingdom of God!’"

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

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Titles For The Latest LCCC Bulletin analysis & editorials from miscellaneous sources published on October 17-18/18
I advise the Lebanese government and the Lebanese who understand that KSA is our ally against Iran, Assad and Hezbollah, to rationalize/Roger Bejjani/October 17/18
Eisenkot was reported to have discussed Iran with Saudi Arabia’s Chief of Staff Gen. Fayyad/Jerusalem Post/October 17/18
Khashoggi case could be death of US-Saudi friendship/Simon Henderson/The Hill/October 16/18
So Much Winning: Why Mahmoud Abbas Thinks He’s Beating Trump—and Israel/David Makovsky/Haaretz/October 16/18
Turkey: Enabling Mass Illegal Migration into Greece/Uzay Bulut/Gatestone Institute/October 17/2018
Are Democrats Wasting Their Campaign Cash/Jonathan Bernstein/Bloomberg/October 17/2018
Big Tech Snuffing Free Speech; Google's Poisonous 'Dragonfly'/Judith Bergman/Gatestone Institute/October 17/2018
How Is the Saudi Public Likely Responding to the Crisis over Khashoggi’s Disappearance? The Popularity of Riyadh’s “Reformist Repression/David Pollock/Fikra Forum & the Washington Institute/October 17/18
Brexit and blatant example of a populist remark/Hazem Saghieh/Al Arabiya/October 17/18
Exploiting the Khashoggi card/Mashari Althaydi//Al Arabiya/October 17/18
Israel’s war planes unlikely to be deterred by Syrian missiles/Mohamed Chebaro/Arab News/October 17, 2018

Titles For The Latest LCCC Lebanese Related News published on October 17-18/18
I advise the Lebanese government and the Lebanese who understand that KSA is our ally against Iran, Assad and Hezbollah, to rationalize.
Lebanon’s Hariri: Government Formation Soon
Lebanon: Calls for Army Intervention in Mieh Mieh Camp After Bloody Clashes
Al-Jaafari visits Hariri: Reinforce our bilateral relations
STL: Contempt Case against al-Amin Closed; Enforcement of Sentence against Akhbar Daily Outstanding
Lebanese Forces 'Demands' Justice Portfolio
Bassil, Jaafari Discuss Bilateral Relations
Kataeb Suggests Cutting Off Lifelong Salaries for Deputies
Berri: Government Formation Talks Progressing, But Not Over
Lebanon Ranked Among Most Corrupt Countries in the World
Riachy after meeting Bassil: Reconciliation is sacred
Bukhari tackles developments with Ambassador of Argentina
Sayegh Says Government Formation Process Is Ominous
Mashnouk, Bukhari tackle local, regional updates
Salameh opens International Investor Week: We seek to enhance confidence between investor and companies
FAO, Agriculture Ministry sign “Support to Women's Cooperatives and Associations in the Agro-Food Sector in Lebanon” agreement
UAE Ambassador to Lebanon Addresses Role of Media in Fighting Extremism
Aoun Meets With Iraqi FM, Hopes Boukamal Crossing Would Be Reopened

Titles For The Latest LCCC Bulletin For Miscellaneous Reports And News published on October 17-18/18
Pompeo arrives in Turkey, meets President Erdogan on Khashoggi case
Trump Expects Truth over Missing Journalist by 'End of Week'
Iran Calls US Sanctions on Paramilitary Force 'Blind Vindictiveness'
Eisenkot was reported to have discussed Iran with Saudi Arabia’s Chief of Staff Gen. Fayyad.
Saudi Arabia denies Israeli media reports on meeting between chiefs of staff
US Seeks Ridding Syria of Iran's Militias- Official
ICC Prosecutor Issues Warning on Khan Al-Ahmar Demolition
Israel: Charges against Netanyahu Assistants in Biggest Corruption Case
Israel strikes Gaza, closes both border crossings after rocket attack
Trump's Envoy Reveals US Plan to Unite Gaza, West Bank
Palestine to Chair Group of 77 Developing Countries at UN
Syria approves UN aid delivery to camp bordering Jordan
Yemen’s New PM to Tackle Challenging Economic Crises
Libya: UN Ceasefire Collapses As Clashes Erupt in Tripoli
US Boosts Support for Religious, Ethnic Minorities in Iraq
Iraq’s Salih Vows to Maintain Non-Interference Policy on Regional, International Tensions
Iraq PM-designate to present new cabinet for approval next week
US imposes sanctions on Iraq-based money exchange for ISIS ties
G7 Foreign Ministers’ Statement on Disappearance of Jamal Khashoggi
Cairo Foundation for Development and Law CFD/Solidarity Statement:The signatories are in solidarity with Mai El Shamy as she is prevented from going into the institution where she works

The Latest LCCC Lebanese Related News published on October 17-18/18
I advise the Lebanese government and the Lebanese who understand that KSA is our ally against Iran, Assad and Hezbollah, to rationalize.
Roger Bejjani/October 17/18
It goes without saying that abducting a « journalist » or assassinating him/her in a premeditated manner or by accident, is by all means inexcusable. It is defined as a crime.
However, when this « journalist » has ties with terrorist groups extending beyond the profession of journalism, the rules of engagement of the war against terror provides certain space where terror can be countered by special op actions such as interrogation and even liquidation.
Those operations have been carried out since the 90´by the western world, Russia and Israel and have gained momentum post 9/11.
What seems as a plausible reconstitution of what happened at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, Jamal Kashoggi, accused of having strong ties with the Muslim brotherhood’s leader residing in Qatar, was detained against his will at the Saudi consulate for interrogation. Something went terribly wrong inside the consulate and Jamal has died. After that a series of bad decisions aiming for a coverup by a clumsy government that unlike Russia or Iran is not well versed into political assassination (that’s a fact), took place leading to this international legitimate outrage.
Having said this and considering that even the mighty USA will show leniency and understanding in respect with Kashoggi’s matter, and considering that the only threat to Lebanon is Iran/Hezbollah and considering the 300000 Lebanese breadwinners in KSA, I advise the Lebanese government and the Lebanese who understand that KSA is our ally against Iran, Assad and Hezbollah, to rationalize.

Lebanon’s Hariri: Government Formation Soon
Beirut - Caroline Akoum/Asharq Al-Awsat/Wednesday, 17 October, 2018/Lebanon’s Prime Minister-designate Saad Hariri announced on Tuesday that his new cabinet would be formed soon amid intense contacts among concerned officials to remove the last obstacles. There have been reports that most obstacles on the representation of Christians and Druze sects in the government have been resolved. The Free Patriotic Movement and President Michel Aoun accepted to receive 10 ministries instead of 11, failing to secure a one third veto. In return, the Lebanese Forces would get four portfolios. As for the Druze representation, the Progressive Socialist Party (PSP) would likely receive two portfolios and a third Druze minister would receive consensual support. MP Talal Arslan, a Druze, met with Aoun Tuesday and said he was facilitating the formation cabinet process but rejected the concept of elimination.
Both the PSP and the LF are asking to have the Education Ministry. Informed ministerial sources told Asharq Al-Awsat that the Marada Movement would get the Public Works Ministry, “Hezbollah” would receive the Health Ministry portfolio and the PSP the Education Ministry amid reports that Aoun would give up the Justice Ministry to the LF. Following his visit to Aoun, PSP leader Walid Jumblat said: “We insist on (getting) the Ministry of Education, and we reject any portfolio that has rivalry on it.”He said some demands are acceptable, stressing that he presented to Aoun "a list of solutions to the third Druze minister” obstacle. FPM sources said that the LF and the PSP’s insistence to receive the Education Ministry is considered a sort of manipulation to delay the formation of the new cabinet.

Lebanon: Calls for Army Intervention in Mieh Mieh Camp After Bloody Clashes

Beirut- Paula Astih/Asharq Al-Awsat/Wednesday, 17 October, 2018/An old conflict between Fatah and Ansarallah in the Mieh Mieh refugee camp in southern Lebanon broke out late Monday, as a personal dispute between two armed men led to violent confrontations that lasted until morning. Palestinian and Lebanese security and political forces mobilized to contain the developments and succeeded in imposing a ceasefire, followed by withdrawal of the gunmen from the streets and the formation of a committee to follow up on the origin of the dispute. The Mieh Mieh refugee camp, located about 2 km away from Ain el-Hilweh camp, is witnessing a struggle between Fatah and Ansarallah group over the leadership. According to Fatah sources, Jamal Suleiman, secretary-general of the opposing group, has been trying to impose himself as the leader of the camp.Sources told Asharq Al-Awsat: “Mieh Mieh witnessed more than one assassination in the last period, the last of which was the death of Bilal Zaidan, a member of Ansarallah whom Suleiman accused of trying to kill him.”Clashes between the two sides began on Monday night following a personal dispute that developed into an armed confrontation during which rockets were used. According to Fatah source, two members of the movement were killed and 16 civilians and Ansarallah members were injured. Cautious calm has prevailed over in the camp on Tuesday after an agreement was reached on a permanent ceasefire, the second after the failure of the first agreement on Monday evening. The agreement was reached during an emergency meeting held at the Mohammed Zgheib military barracks in Sidon between the director of the Lebanese Army intelligence branch in the south, Brig. Gen. Fawzi Hamadeh, the Palestinian national security chief, Major General Sobhi Abu Arab, and the Deputy Secretary General of Ansarallah Maher Awaid, with the participation of Hamas political official in Lebanon Ahmed Abdel Hadi. Lebanese MPs condemned the recent clashes in the refugee camp. A member of the Development and Liberation bloc, MP Ali Osseiran, called for the Lebanese Army’s intervention in the camp to put an end to such confrontations. “Army intervention in the camp is urgent and necessary to protect the unarmed and tormented Palestinian people from the chaotic use of weapons,” he stated.

Al-Jaafari visits Hariri: Reinforce our bilateral relations
Wed 17 Oct 2018/NNA - Prime Minister-designate Saad Hariri received this evening at the Center House the Iraqi Foreign Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari and the accompanying delegation. After the meeting Minister al-Jaafari said: “We discussed with Prime Minister Hariri a number of points and conveyed to him our wishes to form a government as soon as possible. This coincides with the formation of the government in Iraq. Therefore, we look forward to the formation of the two governments soon, and the strengthening of the relations to achieve the common bilateral interests. We also discussed the objectives that bring our two countries together and we thanked Lebanon for its support of Iraq in the face of terrorism, which has achieved an unprecedented Arab and international consensus, as happened in the Arab League in the face of Daesh and for the unity of Iraq and its sovereignty, and Lebanon’s stance was well known.”
He added: “We also look forward to be present in Lebanon at the level of companies because the economic cooperation can enrich and reinforce the relations between our countries. We also talked about the Iraqi security experience that is worth studying. Our country should be proud that it made a joint Iraqi, Arab and international achievement in defeating terrorism on its territory, which enable the countries threatened by terrorism to benefit from this experience through its strong political and security network.”
Question: Did you convey any particular message to Premier Hariri?
Al-Jaafari: We discussed the contents of several messages including the ambition to develop the relations between our countries. We also look at Lebanon’s unity just as we look at Iraq’s unity and we believe the Lebanon and Iraq’s strength is a strength for all the Arab countries.
Question: Do you think there is real link between the formation of the Lebanese and the Iraqi governments? And what is the role that Iraq may play in the process of opening the crossings?
Al-Jaafari: There is no tangible link where one affects the other, but there is no doubt that the formation of the government in Lebanon and in Iraq is a source of strength for us. When Lebanon prevails and makes political and economic achievements, this represents a strength for Iraq and vice versa. As for the issue of crossings, we are interested in them and we think that we should overcome this stage and open the crossings between us and the neighboring countries. This step is civilized and has common interests for many countries.
Question: Will Iraq play the mediator between Lebanon and Syria in re-establishing the relations between the two countries?
Al-Jaafari: Iraq is ready to take the initiative to help in everything that would bring the countries closer and benefit them, and it will spare no effort in this regard. Iraq has already played this role between Iran and Saudi Arabia, and between Syria and the other countries. Iraq wants to spread the atmosphere of harmony because security, politics and economic exchange are inseparable.

STL: Contempt Case against al-Amin Closed; Enforcement of Sentence against Akhbar Daily Outstanding
Naharnet/October 17/18/The Special Tribunal for Lebanon said in a statement on Wednesday that Ibrahim al-Amin, editor-in-chief of al-Akhbar daily, has satisfied the sentence imposed on him by the Contempt Judge Nicola Lettieri on 29 August 2016. The fine of €20,000 was received by the Registrar of the Special Tribunal for Lebanon on 14 August 2018, it said. As a result of these developments, Judge Lettieri has decided to lift the confidentiality of the enforcement proceedings against al-Amin. The €6,000 fine imposed on Akhbar Beirut S.A.L remains outstanding. The Lebanese authorities have the ongoing obligation to ensure the sentence is enforced, said the statement. On 31 January 2014, al-Amin and Akhbar Beirut S.A.L. were charged with contempt and obstruction of justice before the STL in relation to media reports containing information about alleged confidential STL witnesses. The charges were brought under Rule 60 bis (A) of the Rules of Procedure and Evidence, which states that the Tribunal may hold in contempt persons who knowingly and willfully interfere with its administration of justice. Al-Amin and Akhbar Beirut S.A.L. were each charged with one count of knowingly and willfully interfering with the administration of justice (STL-14-06). The trial in STL-14-06 opened before the Contempt Judge Nicola Lettieri on 24 February 2016, with opening statements by the Amicus Curiae Prosecutor and the Defence. The Amicus presented his case-in-chief from 24 to 26 February and on 29 February and 1 March 2016. The Defence presented their case from 7 to 8 April. Both parties presented their closing arguments on 13 May 2016. Contempt Judge Lettieri issued a judgment on 15 July 2016 finding both Accused guilty of one count of contempt for knowingly and willfully interfering with the administration of justice by publishing information on purported confidential witnesses in the Ayyash et al. case, thereby undermining public confidence in the Tribunal's ability to protect the confidentiality of information about, or provided by, witnesses or potential witnesses.
On 29 August 2016, al-Amin was sentenced to a €20,000 fine and Akhbar Beirut to a €6,000 fine, which neither appealed. The Contempt Judge also ordered that both fines be paid in full by 30 September 2016. Al-Amin failed to pay his fine. After a number of measures to enforce the sentence had been taken, in furtherance of various orders from the Contempt Judge, the full fine of €20,000 was deposited with the Registry of the Tribunal on 14 August 2018. The €6,000 fine imposed on Akhbar Beirut S.A.L. remains outstanding. The Lebanese authorities remain obligated to enforce this sentence, said the statement.

Lebanese Forces 'Demands' Justice Portfolio

Naharnet/October 17/18/Prime Minister-designate Saad Hariri intensifies efforts to ease obstacles hampering the formation process and has therefore held series of meetings with related parties. Meanwhile, the Lebanese Forces reportedly said they had not received any official offer regarding portfolios, “we are only getting suggestions that keep on changing,” LBCI TV station quoted LF sources on Wednesday. “We have not received any formal proposal regarding the ministries. We are only getting suggestions and we want to get the Justice Ministry,” they reportedly said. The Free Patriotic Movement also insists on getting the ministry of justice which raises prospects of a new conflict between the two Christian parties. Progress in the cabinet formation process loomed on Tuesday raising hopes that the gridlock is eased six months after the designation of the Premier.

Bassil, Jaafari Discuss Bilateral Relations
Naharnet/October 17/18/Foreign Minister Jebran Bassil held talks on Wednesday with his Iraqi counterpart Ibrahim al-Jaafari where they discussed bilateral relations between the two countries. The two men held a joint press conference during which Bassil replied to a reporter’s question on the government formation process, expressing hopes that “the rapidly growing momentum reflecting on the formation in Lebanon would pass on to Iraq.”On the “positive” formation drive, Bassil said “The justice of representation is being fulfilled and the rules and standards that unite people are being realized,” which will pave way for the government to be formed. Highlighting the benefits of reopening the Nassib border crossing, a key trade route between Syria and Jordan, he said: “We look forward to the economic benefits after opening the crossings.”Jordan on Monday reopened its main Nassib border crossing with war-torn Syria after a three year closure. He said Lebanon and Iraq have been able to overcome extremism by the cultural and intellectual capacity of the people. He hoped that there would be stability in both countries to move towards effective economic relations.
For his part, Jaafari hailed good relations between Iraq and Lebanon saying the similarities are great between the two peoples, pointing out to serious endeavors to open the crossings.

Kataeb Suggests Cutting Off Lifelong Salaries for Deputies
Naharnet/October 17/18/The Kataeb parliamentary bloc has submitted a draft law suggesting that lifelong salaries for lawmakers be terminated, a move described as beneficial for Lebanon's treasury. Former MPs in Lebanon receive lifelong compensation and benefits. When they die, their salaries go to their families. Kataeb chief Sami Gemayel said: “We have submitted a scientific approach based on experience in other countries. Instead of getting a lifelong salary, deputies would get only 75% of their salaries for a period of one year, as a transitional phase, afterwhich the salaries would be cut off completely.”Kataeb sources told al-Joumhouria daily on Wednesday that the proposal is “part of the party’s reformist vision which it seeks to implement from any official position it assumes.”“We hope the next government will follow the required reform approach through the development of austerity policy that contributes to saving the Treasury from escalating crises,” they added. On a similar note, MP Paula Yaacoubian has also submitted a draft law aimed at amending the allowances and benefits of deputies and ministers.

Berri: Government Formation Talks Progressing, But Not Over Wednesday 17th October 2018/Speaker Nabih Berri on Tuesday said that the government formation talks are making progress, noting, however, that the stalemate is not over yet. Speaking at a dinner hosted by the Lebanese embassy in Switzerland, Berri hoped that a breakthrough would be reached soon as the formation process is advancing.

Lebanon Ranked Among Most Corrupt Countries in the World

Business Insider/ Wednesday 17th October 2018/The World Economic Forum has released its annual corruption index as part of its Global Competitiveness Report. Using a methodology linked to Transparency International's annual Corruption Perception Index, the WEF ranks 140 countries out of 100 for the level of corruption within their society. A score of 100 means a country is entirely without corruption, while 0 is the most corrupt possible. All the countries featured on this list score 30 or less. The countries seen as most corrupt tend to be in Africa, Central America, and the Middle East, in societies with weak legal and governmental systems and widespread poverty. For instance, Yemen, which is in the middle of a brutal civil war, is ranked as the most corrupt nation by the Global Competitiveness Report. A handful of the world's 20 largest economies also make it onto the list, however. Check out the world's most corrupt nations below.
Iran — 30.0
T29. Ukraine — 30.0
T29. The Gambia — 30.0
T22. Russia — 29.0
T22. Paraguay — 29.0
T22. Mexico — 29.0
T22. Laos — 29.0
T22. Kyrgyzstan — 29.0
T22. Dominican Republic — 29.0
T22. Honduras — 29.0
T19. Guatemala — 28.0
T19. Bangladesh — 28.0
T19. Mauritania — 28.0
T19. Lebanon — 28.0
T19. Kenya — 28.0
T17. Guinea — 27.0
T17. Nigeria — 27.0
T14. Uganda — 26.0
T14. Nicaragua — 26.0
T11. Cameroon — 25.0
T11. Mozambique — 25.0
T8. Haiti — 22.0
T8. Burundi — 22.0
T8. Zimbabwe — 22.0
T5. Democratic Republic of Congo — 21.0
T5. Cambodia — 21.0
T5. Tajikistan — 21.0
4. Chad — 20.0
3. Angola — 19.0
2. Venezuela — 18.0
1. Yemen — 16.0

Riachy after meeting Bassil: Reconciliation is sacred
Wed 17 Oct 2018/NNA - Caretaker Minister of Information, Melhem Riachy, said after his meeting with the head of the Free Patriotic Movement, Minister Gebran Bassil, that "the meeting was fruitful and a step towards returning to the phase that benefited all the Lebanese, and thus restoring a phase where Christian reconciliation was deemed a red line.""We affirm, on behalf of Samir Geagea and Gebran Bassil, that reconciliation is sacred and all the differences in opinion will not lead to a dispute between the two parties," he stressed. "Reconciliation is strategic, not circumstantial," said MP Ibrahim Kanaan, who attended the Riachy-Bassil meeting. "The covenant is for us all, and we want a productive government, not a government of barricades. Minister Riachy has sensed that Minister Bassil is cooperating and we must continue to show this kind of spirit," said Kanaan.

Bukhari tackles developments with Ambassador of Argentina
Wed 17 Oct 2018/NNA - The Chargé d'Affaires of the Embassy of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Walid Al-Bukhari, received at the Embassy's headquarters in Beirut the Ambassador of Argentina, Mauricio Alice, with talks featuring high on the latest political developments at the local and regional levels.

Sayegh Says Government Formation Process Is Ominous 17th October 2018/Kataeb's Deputy-President Salim Sayegh on Wednesday said that the party has decided to opt out of the new government given that it lacks balance, adding that there is nothing that motivates the Kataeb to be part of it.
"We are not eager to join the new government after we saw the approach based on which it is being formed. It's an approach that destroys the upcoming phase, instead of paving the way for it," Sayegh told Al-Markazia news agency. Turning to the Kataeb leader's recent visit to the United Arab Emirates, Sayegh stressed that the party is keen to relay to the international community the idea that the Lebanese government's decisions and policy do not mirror the viewpoints of all the Lebanese. "It is normal for us to reassure our friend countries that not all the Lebanese are with the government's choices, and that the results of the latest elections were compelled by the nature of the vote law and local alliances," Sayegh said. “Those countries must know that the stances of Lebanon's Foreign Ministry, which have taken ties with the Arab League to the worst level, do not reflect what the Lebanese people actually thinks and do not serve the state’s interest," he added.

Mashnouk, Bukhari tackle local, regional updates
Wed 17 Oct 2018/NNA - The Chargé d'Affaires of the Embassy of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to Lebanon, Walid Bukhari, welcomed on Wednesday caretaker Minister of Interior and Municipalities, Nuhad Al-Mashnouk, with talks touching on the latest developments in Lebanon and the region, as well as bilateral relations prospects.

Salameh opens International Investor Week: We seek to enhance confidence between investor and companies
Wed 17 Oct 2018 /NNA - Governor of the Central Bank, Riad Salameh, opened this Wednesday at the Higher Institute of Business (ESA), the first international meeting on the "International Investor Week", whereby he stressed that "Lebanon needs to be more closely aligned with the Lebanese investor in order to encourage it to buy shares in companies so as to expand investments and enhance exports.""The mission of the CMA here is to create confidence between the investor and the companies to invest in," he said, "next to boosting confidence in stock trading on secondary markets.""Today we are approaching the launch of the electronic platform which will allow communication between Lebanon and abroad, enabling it to attract funds from Lebanese and non-Lebanese. This platform will be operated by a private company controlled by the Capital Markets Authority. This operation will increase confidence in the Lebanese economy and contribute to establishing companies in Lebanon, thus the implementation of the Cedre conference recommendations," Salameh said.

FAO, Agriculture Ministry sign “Support to Women's Cooperatives and Associations in the Agro-Food Sector in Lebanon” agreement
Wed 17 Oct 2018/NNA – The Ministry of Agriculture signed an agreement titled “Support to Women's Cooperatives and Associations in the Agro-Food Sector in Lebanon”, upon the invitation of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), with the funding of the Government of Canada. The ambassador of Canada, Emmanuelle Lamoureux delivered the following statement at the signing ceremony:
“Excellency Minister Ghazi Zaiter,
Mr. Maurice Saade, FAO Representative in Lebanon,
Officials, ladies and gentlemen
It is a pleasure to be here to witness the signing of the project agreement related to the Canadian-funded "Support to Women's Cooperatives and Associations in the Agro-Food Sector in Lebanon" project. Canada and Lebanon have had a long and distinguished relationship. We share a dedication to the maintenance of inclusive and diverse societies that are open to people of many faiths and backgrounds.We also understand the need to support those who come to our borders in need of shelter and safety. Canada commends the efforts Lebanon has made over the past seven years to support Syrian refugees by providing them access to health, education and other essential services. Canada has high admiration for the hospitality and endurance of the government and people of Lebanon who continue to help alleviate the suffering of their conflict-affected neighbours with empathy, encouragement and support. Canada fully recognizes the strains that have been placed on Lebanese institutions and communities these past years. Canada has strived to help Lebanon alleviate some of those pressures. Canada committed over 200 million dollars to Lebanon, supporting a broad spectrum of humanitarian, security and development assistance in areas such as education, health, food, protection, livelihoods, conflict prevention and countering violent extremism. Canada's development programme aims to strengthen local economies and improve livelihood opportunities in Lebanon. Supporting the agricultural sector will help the most vulnerable Lebanese living in rural areas to rebuild their livelihoods affected by the crisis in Syria, while creating opportunities for Syrians who traditionally work in this sector.
Gender equality is a key priority for Canada.
Canada is proud to improve women's leadership in the agriculture sector and empower women in the economy.
We are pleased to support the important work of FAO and the Ministry of Agriculture that we are here today to inaugurate. The "Support to Women's Cooperatives and Associations in the Agro-Food Sector in Lebanon" project will work with both agricultural workers and the Ministry of Agriculture in an effort to comprehensively reform the work of agricultural cooperatives in Lebanon. Canada welcomes this opportunity to provide support to one of Lebanon's key economic sectors through this initiative.  Canada believes that when women play a strong and central role in the economic, social and political activities in a society, that society will only grow stronger, richer and more secure. Women make up over 40 per cent of the agriculture labour force in Lebanon. Increasing their access to technologies, markets, agriculture resources and services is vital for the growth of the sector. This project will target women as well as co-operatives managed by women and help address the key challenges facing them in this sector to help build more sustainable income-generating cooperatives and enterprises. Furthermore, and perhaps even more significantly, through this project, the Ministry of Agriculture will strengthen its capacity to ensure gender-related issues are factored into its programming and policies. Canada is proud to be partnering with the Ministry and FAO to help reinforce the capacity of institutions and organisations in Lebanon to become more gender responsive in their service delivery and help build a more enabling environment for women. This project is but one component of Canada's ongoing efforts to help Lebanese hosts and Syrian refugees to live together in dignity in a stable environment, until the conditions are in place for safe and voluntary return to Syria.
I wish every success to FAO and the Ministry of Agriculture as they work together in the years ahead on this important initiative.”

UAE Ambassador to Lebanon Addresses Role of Media in Fighting Extremism

Beirut- Asharq Al-Awsat/Wednesday, 17 October, 2018/UAE Ambassador to Lebanon Hamad Saeed al-Shamsi announced Tuesday that a seminar organized by the Embassy in Beirut aimed at examining means of making media effective to combat extremism instead of being one of its tools. In the seminar, entitled "The Role of Media in Fighting Extremism," Shamsi stressed that media should also be protected in order not to transform into a theater for terrorist acts. “Our policies to address all those who support violence and hatred do not differentiate between a group or a state,” he added.
"We all agree that extremists have sought and succeeded in turning media into platforms to promote misinformation and attract young people to carry out harmful acts, damaging their societies," Shamsi said. “Based on the foundation established by founder Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan in terms of showing tolerance, moderation, and openness to others, the wise leadership took a clear decision to confront extremism on more than one level,” he explained. “It formed its government to include a Ministry of Tolerance, in which the main objective is to be an oasis of tolerance, combating discrimination and hatred and eliminating terrorism.” He emphasized the importance of media in the fight against extremism and the significant role played by the youth in providing innovative ideas in this matter. Shamsi pointed out that youth councils in the UAE play an active role, in cooperation with advanced research and scientific centers, to hold conferences and seminars to come up with national ideas within the overall vision to combat extremism. "The situation is becoming more dangerous as some people are using media as platforms to incite hatred.”He also stressed that the UAE was the first to deal with extremism and terrorism. Notably, the seminar was organized by the UAE Embassy in Beirut along with Issam Fares Institute for Public Policy and International Affairs (IFI) in the American University in Beirut (AUB). It was attended by Shamsi, Charge d'Affaires at the Saudi embassy in Beirut Walid al-Bukhari and a large number of reporters. The first session discussed violent extremist media, professional ethics, and media professionalism to combat extremism and promote a culture of tolerance. The second session addressed the problems of intellectual extremism in media, the language of extremism in media, and extremism in religious media.

Aoun Meets With Iraqi FM, Hopes Boukamal Crossing Would Be Reopened

Beirut - Asharq Al-Awsat/Wednesday, 17 October, 2018/President Michel Aoun expressed his relief over the opening of Nassib border crossing between Syria and Jordan, saying that he hoped that the Boukamal crossing on the Iraqi border would regain its natural activity.
Aoun met on Tuesday with Iraqi Foreign Affairs Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari at the Baabda Palace, in the presence of Iraqi Ambassador to Lebanon Ali Al-Ameri. He reaffirmed during the meeting Lebanon’s desire to strengthen and develop Lebanese-Iraqi relations. He also congratulated Jaafari on the liberation of Iraq from terrorists, recalling the victory achieved by the Lebanese Army and security forces over terrorist groups in Arsal and the uncovering of dormant cells. Touching on the Syrian refugee crisis, Aoun stressed that his country provided the displaced with full care and was now working on organizing their voluntary return to the safe areas in Syria. The meeting also tackled the situation in the region. The Lebanese president pointed to Israeli practices that contradict international resolutions, especially UN Security Council Resolution 1701, in addition to the injustice towards the Palestinian people in the occupied territories and beyond. “Arab efforts must focus on the need for a just and lasting peace,” he stated. On a different note, Aoun expressed relief over the opening of the Nassib border crossing between Syria and Jordan, hoping that the Boukamal crossing would be reopened “after its coercive closure as a result of recent military developments.” For his part, Jaafari, who is on a two-day visit to Beirut, emphasized the strong fraternal relations between the two countries and the importance of activating them in various fields. He also highly valued Aoun’s stances in support of Iraq in regional and international forums.

The Latest LCCC Bulletin For Miscellaneous Reports And News published on October 17-18/18
Pompeo arrives in Turkey, meets President Erdogan on Khashoggi case
Agencies Wednesday, 17 October 2018/US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo met Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan in Ankara on Wednesday following talks with Saudi Arabia’s king and crown prince about the disappearance of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi. President Donald Trump, who dispatched his top diplomat to address the crisis, warned of a rush to judgment in the case and echoing the Saudis’ request for patience on the investigation. Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu has said Pompeo would bring information about the case to Ankara, two weeks after Khashoggi vanished when he visited the Saudi consulate in Istanbul to collect documents for his planned marriage.After meeting with King Salman and the Crown Prince on Tuesday, Pompeo told reporters that Saudi Arabia has committed to conducting a complete investigation into Khashoggi’s disappearance.
Trump Expects Truth over Missing Journalist by 'End of Week'
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/October 17/18/U.S. President Donald Trump said Wednesday that he expects to know within days what happened to Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi, who is alleged to have been murdered by Saudi agents. "We will probably know that by the end of the week," Trump said at the White House. The president said he would be getting a "full report" from Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on his return from meetings with Saudi leaders.
Iran Calls US Sanctions on Paramilitary Force 'Blind Vindictiveness'
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/October 17/18/Iran called new US sanctions against its paramilitary Basij group an act of "blind vindictiveness" on Tuesday. "America's new sanctions are a clear insult to international and legal mechanisms and a result of the American government's blind vindictiveness against the Iranian nation," said foreign ministry spokesman Bahram Ghasemi.
Eisenkot was reported to have discussed Iran with Saudi Arabia’s Chief of Staff Gen. Fayyad.
Jerusalem Post/October 17/18
IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Gadi Eisenkot met with his counterparts from several Arab countries while in Washington for the Counter–Violent Extremist Organizations conference for military commanders, Israeli media reported Tuesday evening. According to a report by Israel’s KAN public television, Eisenkot met with Saudi Arabia’s Chief of Staff Gen. Fayyad bin Hamed Al-Ruwaili on Tuesday on the sidelines of the conference about several regional issues, including Iran, which is a common foe to the two countries. A statement released by the IDF had said that Eisenkot would meet with military officials from both the US and other foreign military officials, it did not specify which military leaders he would meet. While this seems to be the first publicized meeting between Eisenkot and al-Ruwaili, it is the second consecutive year that the two officers attended the Counter–Violent Extremist Organizations conference for military commanders, where the two are believed to have also spoken about Iran. Last November, following Eisenkot’s first participation in the conference, he gave an unprecedented interview to the Saudi Elaph newspaper based in London and offered to share Israeli intelligence about Iran with Riyadh, telling the newspaper that what he heard from the Saudis about Iranian expansion was “identical” to Israeli concerns. “We are ready to exchange experiences with Saudi Arabia and other moderate Arab countries and exchange intelligence to confront Iran,” he said, adding that “there are many shared interests between us and Saudi Arabia.”Calling for a new international alliance in the Middle East, Eisenkot stated that there needs to be “a large, comprehensive strategic plan to stop the Iranian threat. This is what should be prevented in the region,” he said, adding that “in this matter there is complete agreement between us and Saudi Arabia.”In addition to the meeting with al-Ruwaili, Eisenkot was seen in a photo released by the Department of Defense of a dinner during the conference seated at the same table as the Chief of Staff of the Egyptian Armed Forces Mohamed Farid, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff of Jordan Lt.-Gen. Mahmoud Abdul Halim Freihat, as well as the Chief of Staff of Bahrain, Lt.-Gen. Dhiab bin Saqr Al Nuaimi. While Israel has no official ties with Saudi Arabia or Bahrain, the relationship with the Sunni Kingdom and other Gulf States has grown stronger in recent years, due in large part to the shared threat of Iran’s expansion across the region. Relations between Iran and Saudi Arabia are at their worst in years with both accusing the other of subverting regional security. Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman caused an uproar earlier this year when he recognized Israel's right to exist. Last November a spokesperson for Yemeni rebels accused Israel of taking part in the Saudi Arabia led-coalition against Yemen and warned that Israeli military bases in Africa are within range of Houthi missiles. The Houthis, which are armed by Iran, have also fired several ballistic missiles into Saudi Arabia, including one which targeted the Saudi capital Riyadh a day before US President Donald Trump visited the Kingdom last May. In September the Emirati news website al-Khaleej reported that Saudi Arabia had purchased Israel’s Iron Dome missile defense system to defend itself from Houthi missile attacks. The deal, which was reportedly mediated by the United States included further plans to reach an agreement on broad military cooperation between the two countries. Israel’s Ministry of Defense and Rafael which manufactures the system, denied the report.
Saudi Arabia denies Israeli media reports on meeting between chiefs of staff
Arab News/October 17, 2018/JEDDAH: A Saudi defense ministry official has denied reports circulated on Israeli media claiming that a meeting was held between the Saudi military Chief of Staff, Gen. Fayyad bin Hamed Al-Ruwaili, and his Israeli counterpart Gadi Eizenkot.
The official said the correct information is that Al-Ruwaili participated in an international meeting for Defense Chiefs of Staff held in Washington, United States at the Andrews Air Force Base. 81 countries took part in the meeting held between Oct. 15-16 aimed at discussing ways to combat violent terror groups. The meeting also included an official dinner for all attendees hosted by the his excellency the Chairman of the US Joints Chief of Staff, Gen. Joseph F. Dunford. It was followed by a conference at the Andrews Air Force Base.
The official said no bilateral meeting took place between the Saudi and Israeli Chiefs of Staff.

US Seeks Ridding Syria of Iran's Militias- Official
London- Asharq Al-Awsat/Wednesday, 17 October, 2018/The United States Secretary’s Special Representative for Syria Engagement, Ambassador James Jeffrey, has started his tour to Turkey, Qatar and Saudi Arabia on October 15 to carry out discussions with allies and partners about Syria. In Turkey, Ambassador Jeffrey will meet with Turkish government officials, Syrian opposition leaders, and Syrian civil society groups. He will reaffirm the Administration’s commitment to achieving a political solution to the conflict in line with UN Security Resolution 2254 that produces a secure, stable, and pluralistic Syria, that is free of terrorism and all Iranian-led and Iranian proxy militias. In Qatar and Saudi Arabia, he will reiterate the US position that any military offensive in Idlib would be a reckless escalation of the conflict in Syria and the region, risk the lives of Syrian civilians and destroy civilian infrastructure.
Throughout his trip, he will seek to meet representatives of the Syrian people and reiterate to them our full support for UN Security Council Resolution 2254 and UN Special Envoy De Mistura’s efforts to stand up the Syrian Constitutional Committee as quickly as possible, the statement explained. On the other hand, Acting President of the Syrian National Coalition (Etilaf) Abdulrahman Mustafa met Tuesday with Jeffrey in Istanbul. Mustafa stressed the Coalition’s national commitment in supporting UN-sponsored political efforts, according to a statement by Etilaf. “We supported the decision of the Syrian negotiating body to engage positively in participating in the work of the constitutional commission, which will be formed by the United Nations,” it added. The statement stressed that the work of the constitutional commission is an integral part of the integrated constitutional process. “Its outcomes are in favor of the negotiating path of the political process and ensure progress in the subjects of governance, political transition, and elections,” it noted.

ICC Prosecutor Issues Warning on Khan Al-Ahmar Demolition
THE HAGUE, Netherlands- Asharq Al-Awsat/Wednesday, 17 October, 2018/The International Criminal Court's chief prosecutor issued a warning Wednesday that if Israel goes ahead and destroys a Palestinian Bedouin village on the West Bank that could constitute a war crime.
Israel's Supreme Court recently rejected a final appeal against plans to demolish the village, Khan al-Ahmar. ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda said in a written statement that "evacuation by force now appears imminent." She added: "It bears recalling, as a general matter, that extensive destruction of property without military necessity and population transfers in an occupied territory constitute war crimes" under the Rome Statute treaty that established the ICC. Israel says Khan al-Ahmar was built illegally and has offered to resettle its residents a few kilometers away. Palestinians and other critics say the demolition aims to displace Palestinians in favor of Israeli settlement expansion. The ICC has been conducting a preliminary inquiry since 2015 in the Palestinian territories, including Israel's settlement policy and crimes allegedly committed by both sides in the 2014 Gaza conflict. The investigation is also looking at Hamas rocket attacks aimed at Israeli civilian population centers. Israel is not a member of the court and does not accept its jurisdiction. However, Israeli forces could face charges if they are suspected of committing crimes on Palestinian territories as the court has accepted the "State of Palestine" as a member. Bensouda's written statement also said she is "alarmed by the continued violence, perpetrated by actors on both sides, at the Gaza border with Israel." There have been weeks of escalating violence along the border. The European Parliament passed a resolution last month calling the decision to demolish and transfer Khan al-Ahmar a breach of international humanitarian law. The resolution also demands compensation from Israel for the destruction of European Union-funded infrastructure found in the village. The resolution warns Israeli authorities of the decision's repercussions, also citing the Fourth Geneva Convention, wherein it is stated that "forcible transfer of an occupied territory, unless the security of the population or imperative military reasons so demand," is prohibited and constitutes a grave breach of international humanitarian law.

Israel: Charges against Netanyahu Assistants in Biggest Corruption Case
Tel Aviv - Asharq Al-Awsat/Wednesday, 17 October, 2018/Sources from the Israeli police affirmed that investigations in case 3000 were concluded. The case is regarding grafts in the purchase of German navy submarines and was considered the biggest corruption case in the history of Israel. The police are expected to present to the public prosecution its recommendations regarding indictments against the suspects – the majority of them are advisers and assistants of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Sources mentioned that the indictments are the most critical in corruption topics that were interrogated by the police. Israel Police's Lahav 433 unit investigations started one year and eight months ago. Thousands of documents and recordings and on top of them the testimony of Miki Ganor, one of the major advisers of Netanyahu and the main suspect in the case, were gathered by Lahav 433.
The police mainly stand on the testimony of state’s evidence Ganor, who worked as an envoy for the German company that produces submarines. In his testimony to the police, he submitted rich information about the bribes. "We planned an acquisition of three additional submarines, which cost something like $1.8 billion, at the price of $2.2 billion," Ganor told police investigators. He also spoke about his meetings with former National Security Advisor Avriel Bar-Yosef, and how they plotted to achieve huge profits. In return for this testimony, the sentence against Ganor will be alleviated -- he will spend one year in prison and will pay a penalty that hasn’t been revealed yet.

Israel strikes Gaza, closes both border crossings after rocket attack

Reuters Wednesday, 17 October 2018/One Palestinian was killed after Israeli jets struck targets in the Gaza Strip early Wednesday following a rocket fired from thr enclave struck a house in the southern Israeli city of Beersheba. Defence Minister Avigdor Lieberman ordered the closure of both of Israel's border crossings with Gaza following the rocket attack.Lieberman ordered the closure of the Kerem Shalom goods crossing and the Erez crossing for people, and the reduction of the permitted fishing zone along the Gaza coast to three nautical miles, the defense ministry body responsible for Palestinian civil affairs, COGAT, said. A medical official told Israel Radio that three people were taken to hospital after the rocket struck the house. Residents in the Gaza Strip said jets had targeted eight locations. The military said another rocket had been launched from Gaza, falling into the sea.
Health ministry officials in Gaza said three people were wounded in an Israeli air strike against an armed training camp in Rafah, in the south of the coastal strip. There were no reports of serious injuries in Israel. Tensions along the Israel-Gaza border have been simmering for months amid weekly border protests and the launching by Palestinian militants of incendiary balloons and kites across the border fence. Israeli leaders have warned that they are prepared to escalate military action on Gaza to curb attacks and protests. Israel and Hamas, which controls Gaza, fought a war in 2014. Around 200 Gazans have been killed by Israeli troops since the border protests began on March 30, according to Palestinian Health Ministry figures. The Israeli military said the demonstrators last Friday hurled rocks, explosive devices, firebombs and grenades. Gaza health officials said seven Palestinians were killed when Israeli troops opened fire on a group that broke through the fence. Israel has drawn international condemnation for its use of deadly force, but says it is protecting its borders and civilian population. After the latest strikes, video footage from Beersheba, about 40 km (25 miles) from the Gaza Strip, showed extensive damage to a concrete and stone house in a residential street. Still photos aired on Israeli Channel 2 showed large black plumes of smoke rising from various locations in the Gaza Strip. An Egyptian security delegation was visiting the Gaza Strip to try to restore calm. Israel’s military chief cut short a visit to the United States and was returning home, and schools were to be shut in Beersheba for the day, the reports said. Israeli reports said Israel had closed the commercial and pedestrian crossing in and out of the Gaza Strip and had cut the fishing limit to three miles.Israel withdrew its troops and settlers from Gaza in 2005 but maintains tight control of its land and sea borders, citing security concerns. Egypt also restricts movement in and out of Gaza on its border.

Trump's Envoy Reveals US Plan to Unite Gaza, West Bank

Ramallah, Tel Aviv- Asharq Al-Awsat/Wednesday, 17 October, 2018/Jason Greenblatt, US President Donald Trump's special envoy to the Middle East, stressed that the United States plan is to help "all Palestinians, in both the West Bank and Gaza," and revealed intentions of unification of the West Bank and Gaza. "Let’s be clear about something: Gaza and the West Bank have been separated for 10 years, not only physically, but politically—between the Palestinian Authority and Hamas. It’s absurd to deny that reality," said Greenblatt. "In contrast, our peace plan intends to bring them together. Make no mistake; we are in this to help all Palestinians, in both the West Bank and Gaza. The type of disinformation being spread by some parties who have not even seen the plan yet wish to be spoilers does nothing to benefit ordinary Palestinian lives," he continued. "Once our plan is released, all parties should read it and judge it by its merits. The PLO should be a positive force to change people’s lives for the better, and not try to sway people before they have even seen our plan," Greenblatt went on to say. Commenting on Greenblatt statements, head of Fatah's Information Department in the Office of Mobilization and Organization Munir al-Jaghoub told Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper that the Palestinians won't be misled by Greenblatt’s lies and deceit or his claim of keenness on the people’s interests. The US plan is under preparation for the past 19 months, and a team was formed for this purpose including Greenblatt, Jared Kushner, Trump's senior adviser, and David Friedman, the US ambassador to Israel. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has thanked Trump for his courageous decisions, especially regarding recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and the decision to transfer the US embassy.

Palestine to Chair Group of 77 Developing Countries at UN
New York– Ali Barada/ Asharq Al-Awsat/Wednesday, 17 October, 2018/Palestinians achieved a moral victory on Tuesday after the United Nations General Assembly voted in favor of appointing Palestine as head of the G77 and China, a coalition of developing nations at the UN. This move allows Palestine to act more like a full UN member state during meetings in 2019. While 146 countries voted in favor, only three - Israel, the US and Australia - voted against, and15 countries abstained from voting. “Multilateral diplomacy took over with broad support from members for a resolution allowing the elected presidency of the G77 and China to carry out its duties effectively,” Permanent Observer of Palestine to the United Nations Riyad Mansour told Asharq Al-Awsat. He stressed that Palestine would spare no effort to prove its competence to represent and defend the G77 and China, while also engaging constructively and transparently nwith all partners. He added that diplomatic moves continue to convince countries that do not recognize Palestine it that it is a responsible country that enjoys political wisdom, enabling it to be a full UN member state." Egypt, the current chair of the so-called Group of 77, told the assembly before the vote that because the Palestinians are from a non-member observer state at the UN, a resolution is required to give it “the rights and capacity required” to head the 135-nation group that includes China. In the framework of article 125 of the 73rd session’s agenda of the General Assembly, on enhancing the UN system, Egypt circulated a draft resolution on the presidency of G77 and China for 2019, which elected Palestine, an unregistered member of the UN organization.

Syria approves UN aid delivery to camp bordering Jordan
Reuters, Amman/Wednesday, 17 October 2018/The Syrian government gave approval for the United Nations to deliver aid next week to thousands of desperate civilians stranded near a US garrison in southeastern Syria on the Iraqi-Syrian border, aid workers and camp officials said on Wednesday. A siege earlier this month by the Syrian army and a block on aid by Jordan has depleted food in the camp and led to at least a dozen deaths in the last week among its over 50,000 inhabitants, mainly women and children, residents and UN sources told Reuters.

Yemen’s New PM to Tackle Challenging Economic Crises
Aden, Riyadh- Asharq Al-Awsat/Wednesday, 17 October, 2018/Taking Yemen’s political echelons by surprise, Yemeni President Abdrabbuh Mansur Hadi sacked on Monday night Prime Minister Ahmed Obeid bin Daghr, who will now be facing investigations. Hadi’s orders, unexpectedly, accused Daghr of failing to manage the country's economic crisis, as well as of his lack of delivery on the humanitarian situation in Al Mahra province which was ravaged by a category 1 tropical storm. Hadi appointed Maeen Abdulmalik Saeed as the new Prime Minister, referring former PM bin Daghr for investigation over his government inefficiency concerning Luban cyclone and the economic collapse. The sacking was due to “negligence in the government’s performance in the economic and service fields,” a presidential statement said when addressing reasons behind relieving Daghr from his duties as Prime Minister.
Hadi appointed Saeed, an architect by education, as the new prime minister. Saeed, 42, has served as minister of public works and roads since May 2017 and was a member of the government’s team at UN-sponsored talks held in Geneva and Kuwait for Yemen’s peace, according to Saba news agency. Daghr showed support to his successor, tweeting that he wishes him luck in fulfilling his duties, a move that was welcomed by social media activists, in what they considered an honorable act by a noble statesman. The economic and living conditions have worsened all over Yemen in recent weeks as the national currency continues plunging. But Saeed vowed to save no effort in tackling the economic crises head-on. Public discontent swept across various Yemeni governorates despite reform attempts and governmental measures to counter economic challenges, and the central bank trying to regulate national banking. President Hadi appointed Daghr as prime minister back in April 2016. Sources told Asharq Al-Awsat that Daghr will remain politically active and uphold his strong stance against the Iran-backed Houthi coupists. In the meantime, Hadi's appointment of Abdulmalik was welcomed by UN Special Envoy to Yemen Martin Griffiths in a tweet that stated the new prime minister’s rank and professionalism. Griffiths’ office noted that it looks forward to working closely with PM Abdulmalik to deal with the critical economic situation and to push the political process forward in the war-torn country. Abdulmalik said future cabinet portfolios will be handed out to ministers after holding partisan consultations, sources told Asharq Al-Awsat.

Libya: UN Ceasefire Collapses As Clashes Erupt in Tripoli

Cairo- Khalid Mahmoud/Asharq Al-Awsat/Wednesday, 17 October, 2018/A UN-sponsored ceasefire in Libya has once again collapsed after clashes erupted between militias in the capital Tripoli, when unknown gunmen killed an armed militia leader, Khairi al-Kikli, dubbed Hankoura, while other gunmen cut off the city's drinking water supply line. Security sources and eyewitnesses told Asharq Al-Awsat that on Tuesday morning, gunmen assassinated Hankoura, one of the leaders of the so-called Tripoli Brigade, in front of a hotel in the center of Tripoli. According to observers of the security situation in the country, these developments mean the collapse of the ceasefire sponsored by the United Nations. High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Federica Mogherini, asserted that “the presidential and parliamentary elections (in Libya) should take place as soon as possible, but with the right security and political framework.” She explained that the political framework is the legal framework that makes it clear for what the Libyans are going to vote. Speaking at a press conference after the Foreign Affairs Council in Luxembourg, AKI news agency quoted the EU official as saying that EU’s presence in Libya had intensified in the past weeks, putting this support at the disposal of the Libyan people and the UN. “The message that comes out of the foreign ministers’ meeting on Libya is a message of unity and of determination to work even more to support a Libyan-found solution to the situation in the country under UN auspices,” she added. On Tuesday, Libyan Foreign Ministry was suddenly evacuated for security reasons according to security sources. However, local residents and eyewitnesses recounted to Asharq Al-Awsat a massive and sudden deployment of militants in the area. In spite of the three rockets in the vicinity of the international airport in Tripoli, flights continued at the only civil airport operating in the city. Meanwhile, Special Representative of the Secretary-General (SRSG) Ghassan Salame and Deputy Special Representative of the Secretary-General (DSRSG) Stephanie Williams met with newly-appointed Minister of Interior Fathi Bashagha in Tripoli to hear about his plans for the Ministry and discuss next steps for the capital's new security arrangements. Salame and Williams returned from a two-day trip to Egypt where they met with Egypt’s Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry, Sec-Gen of the Arab League Ahmed Aboul Gheit, and Speaker Aguila Saleh and discussed the latest political developments in Libya. In other news, a group of armed men cut off drinking water from the capital of Tripoli and the city's municipality announced that the water of the artificial river was cut off late Tuesday evening after the group in Tarhona forced the operators at the headquarters to stop pumping water, in protest against the power outages at the cement plant in Thursday Market and the plant in Ben Ghashir Palace.The House of Representatives (HoR) in Tobruk called for questioning those responsible for the deterioration of the security situation in the south.

US Boosts Support for Religious, Ethnic Minorities in Iraq
Washington- Muath al-Amri/Asharq Al-Awsat/Wednesday, 17 October, 2018/The United States announced over $178 million in foreign assistance to support vulnerable communities in Iraq as part of its foreign aid program. This brings total US assistance for this population to nearly $300 million since Fiscal Year 2017, implemented by both the State Department and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). “The preservation of Iraq’s rich historical pluralism is critical to reintegrating persecuted ethnic and religious minority communities into a peaceful Iraq,” US State Department said in a press statement on Tuesday. “US efforts to meet this objective span government agencies and are being implemented urgently, in close partnership with local faith and community leaders,” the statement said. It showed that in order to meet immediate needs, it has spent over $51 million in life-saving humanitarian assistance to populations from the Ninewa Plain and western Ninewa, including safe drinking water, food, shelter materials and household items, medical care and psychosocial support. The Department pointed out that its efforts also focused on helping restore communities. Therefore, it has spent nine million dollars in funding to support early recovery needs and restore access to services like health and education. It contributed to promoting economic recovery by providing $68 million in funding to improve access to jobs and markets, support local businesses and revive the local economy in addition to five million dollars to prevent future atrocities that address systemic issues affecting minority populations and prevent future atrocities. In regards to clearing the Explosive Remnants of War (ERW), the US has spent approximately $37 million plus survey, clearance, and risk education in and around minority communities.
This support has enabled the Department to significantly expand the number of US-funded ERW survey, clearance, and risk education teams across Ninewa and fulfills the Secretary’s pledge to expand ERW clearance efforts in Iraqi minority communities made at the July 2018 Ministerial to Advance Religious Freedom. As for the social, economic and political empowerment, the US provided $8.5 million in additional assistance to projects that provide psychosocial services, legal support, and initiatives to help collect evidence of human rights abuses, increase minority representation in local and provincial government, increase access to justice for children, strengthen rule of law and provide livelihoods support and access to economic opportunities for vulnerable groups bringing the FY 2017 total to $18.5 million. It also contributed to preserving historic and cultural heritage sites in Northern Iraq, where they were targeted for destruction by ISIS and other terrorist groups. The Department spent two million dollars to safeguard, preserve and restore access to significant cultural heritage sites of minority communities.

Iraq’s Salih Vows to Maintain Non-Interference Policy on Regional, International Tensions
Baghdad- Hamza Mustafa/Asharq Al-Awsat/Wednesday, 17 October, 2018/Iraqi President Barham Salih reiterated on Tuesday a national rejection for taking sides as regional blocs form.Given its regional position, Iraq has responsibilities to fulfill including easing tensions and deepening regional mutual understanding, said Salih. In a statement, Salih said that Iraq views its relations with all countries based on common interests and non-interference in the internal affairs of sovereign states. He stressed that Iraq is entering a new stage as it tries to form a strong and efficient government, able to overcome obstacles and challenges, and bring peace and progress to the Iraqi people. The presidential statements came along with the newly elected Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mehdi urging political blocs to facilitate his mission and not put spokes in the wheel of cabinet formation. Rumors suggested the possibility of announcing a cabinet reshuffle next Saturday. Most parliamentary blocs view ministries as spoils to maintain during the next four years. A politician involved with cabinet formation told Asharq Al Awsat, speaking under the conditions of anonymity, that some blocs named their candidates, but there were ongoing consultations on portfolio distribution. The source added that the final announcement for cabinet formation will likely happen by Saturday, but said some ministerial portfolios will remain vacant to be settled in coming parliamentary sessions. Abdul Mehdi had repeatedly called for forming a cabinet of independent competent figures and ruled out accepting independent figures who are nominated by parties noting that such figures do not remain independent. Incumbent Vice President Ayad Allawi said that now, more than ever, Iraq has the chance to form a cabinet distanced from sectarianism and committed to end corruption and restore the nation’s role as a key player in regional peace and development. Allawi added that this is the right time to approve a national government platform for all political forces, academics, and laborers.

Iraq PM-designate to present new cabinet for approval next week
Reuters, Baghdad/ Wednesday, 17 October 2018/Iraq’s prime minister-designate Adel Abdul Mehdi said on Wednesday he would present a new cabinet to parliament for approval next week. Abdul Mehdi was named by Iraq’s new President Barham Salih last month, and has until the beginning of November to form a government. The election of Salih, a Kurd, and his nomination of Abdul Mehdi, a Shi’ite, has broken months of political Iraq after an inconclusive May election. “The prime minister-designate... is carrying out the necessary communications with the head of parliament and the blocs to set a day” to present the cabinet, his office said in a statement on Facebook and Twitter. Since a US invasion toppled Saddam Hussein in 2003, the Iraqi presidency has been traditionally held by a Kurd, the premiership by a Shi’ite Arab and the parliamentary speaker has been a Sunni Arab.
Abdul Mehdi, a former vice president, oil minister and finance minister, faces the tasks of rebuilding much of the country after war with ISIS extremist group, healing ethnic and sectarian tensions, and balancing foreign relations with Iraq’s two major allies - Iran and its arch-foe the United States.
US imposes sanctions on Iraq-based money exchange for ISIS ties
Reuters, Washington/Wednesday, 17 October 2018/The US Treasury imposed sanctions on Wednesday on an Iraq-based money services business, Afaq Dubai, believed to be moving funds for ISIS extremist group. The Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control added the business to its list of specially designated global terrorists for “assisting in, sponsoring or providing financial, material or technical support” for ISIS, the department said in a statement. The Treasury action followed a Pentagon decision on October, 11 targeting a financial group supporting ISIS. The Treasury said the moves are part of a broader US effort to target a network of money services businesses that enable ISIS to carry out operations across the Middle East. In September, the Treasury took action against ISIS financial facilitators with ties in the Caribbean and the Middle East. It took action against a money exchange group in Syria in December 2016. The Treasury said Afaq Dubai is located in Iraq and does not have branches in the United Arab Emirates, despite its name. Afaq Dubai is run by two ISIS financiers and as of early 2018 was laundering money for the group and providing money for families in the group, the Treasury said.
G7 Foreign Ministers’ Statement on Disappearance of Jamal Khashoggi
October 17/18
“We, the G7 Foreign Ministers, of Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom, the United States of America, and the High Representative of the European Union, affirm our commitment to defending freedom of expression and protection of a free press.
“We remain very troubled by the disappearance of prominent Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi. Those bearing responsibility for his disappearance must be held to account.
“We encourage Turkish-Saudi collaboration and look forward to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia conducting a thorough, credible, transparent, and prompt investigation, as announced.”

Cairo Foundation for Development and Law CFD/Solidarity Statement:The signatories are in solidarity with Mai El Shamy as she is prevented from going into the institution where she works
October 17/18
The under signatories express their full solidarity with the journalist Mai El Shamy who was stopped when going into her work and was prevented to go in by one of the security personnel in the institution where she works. The incident took place in 2/10/2018 when she turned back from her vacation. So the signatories see that this procedure paves the way for her termination; the matter which is considered a discriminatory procedure taken by the institution as Mai El Shamy accused one of the institution’s heads of harassing her by the report no. 12599/2018 on 31/8/2018. Yet the report is not decided in nor the results of investigations which are still reviewed by the general prosecutor.
What is happening now is punishing the victim and bias to one of the dispute parties. Hence the victim is punished because she practiced her legal right to complain and litigation. The incident is considered an intimidation for all women who confront violence against them in work places using all peaceful and legal ways and that they will pay the price for reporting any harassment or violence incident against them. In addition, this discriminatory procedure dedicates for the culture of disrespecting law which gives all male and female citizens the right to litigation and intimidates and forces women to accept violations and violence incidents against them on the top of which is harassment just for their livelihood and job.
So the under signatories assure that such arbitrary procedure violates the Egyptian law of labor, law of media and press organization, journalists syndicates; the laws which prevents the practice of such procedures by the employers without investigation and proving legal violations because of which an employee must be terminated.
Thus the under signatories call the institution’s administration to ‘undo’ such arbitrary and discriminatory procedure against the female complainant and call the journalists syndicate to immediately interfere to protect the victim’s rights and to take publicized procedures which may contribute to not only Mai El Shamy case but also to the future of the Egyptian female journalists to get their rights and protect them as stated in the Egyptian constitution.
1- Cairo Foundation for Development and Law.
2- New Women's Foundation.
3- The Arab House for Research and Studies.
4- Association of the Egyptian Fema Aefl.
5- Salameh Foundation.
6- Bint El - Ard Association in Mansoura
7-CEWLA Foundation .
8-Women's Center for Counseling and Legal Awareness
9- Egyptians without borders foundation
10-Digital Museum of Women
Women's Secretariat of the Egyptian Democratic Social Party.
- Fadi Mahmoud Medhat – banker.
- Nevin Ebaid – Researcher.
- Dr. Magda Adly.
- Jehan Abu Zeid.-
-Sally Zohny - researcher and feminist activist.
- Rabab Kamal.
- Nada Nashat – physical.
- Hania Mohib – FreeLance journalist.
Dr. Aida Saif Al-Dawla - Professor of passion.
-Dr. Azza Kamel - writer and novelist.
DR. Fatma Khafagy – Researcher.-
-Dr. Amal Abdel Hadi - human rights activist and feminist .
-Dr. Hoda El-Sada - Professor of Comparative Literature at Cairo University.
-Nawla Darwish - feminist activist.
Hadia Abdel Fattah – writer.-
Akram Ismail – Engineer.-
-Dr. Hale Kamal- college professor.
-Elham Eidarous - Vice-President of the Party of Life and Freedom (under establishment).
Mohamed Abdo – Engineer.
Abdullah Al-Saeed – Photographer.-
-Hussein Abdul Ghaffar – Engineer.
Shaima Hamdi – Journalist .-
Marian Sidhom – Lawyer.-
Ahmed Abdel-Wadood – Researcher.
Reda Aldenboki – lawyer.
Yasmin Ibrahim .
*** Cairo Foundation for Development and Law CFD

The Latest LCCC Bulletin analysis & editorials from miscellaneous sources published on October 17-18/18
Khashoggi case could be death of US-Saudi friendship
Simon Henderson/The Hill/October 16/18
This could be a chaotic week for U.S. policy in the Middle East and for oil. Responding in advance to expected comments by President Trump on “60 Minutes” last night, Saudi Arabia issued a statement of “total rejection of any threats and attempts to undermine it.” Al Arabiya News Channel wrote an editorial warning of 30 potential retaliatory measures against any U.S. sanctions, including “$100 oil, $200 oil, double that.”
What President Trump actually said, half-buried in his responses to aggressive questioning about Russia, North Korea, China and other issues, was that the kingdom could face “severe punishment” if the U.S. confirms that exiled Saudi journalist and Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi was killed inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on Oct. 2.
The Saudi response suggests that it is not considering the option of blaming what Turkish officials claim was the torture, killing, dismembering and videoing of the whole ghastly affair on rogue elements in the Saudi security services. Nevertheless, President Trump spoke this morning with King Salman and later said “rogue killers” could be responsible for Khashoggi’s disappearance. In the absence of a body (or any body parts), there remains an element of uncertainty of what happened to Khashoggi, but many may consider the Saudi response an admission of guilt.
The second-order conclusion by many critics of the kingdom is that Saudi Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salman, known as MbS, is a brutal authoritarian — one who, though only 33 years old, soon will replace his father as monarch of the world’s largest oil exporter and, by virtue of the location of the holy cities of Mecca and Medina in the kingdom, the leader of the Islamic world.
President Trump has dispatched Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to Riyadh, presumably with a list of policy recommendations. The odds of the Saudi side accepting any of them are debatable.
It seems that we may be saying goodbye to at least the gloss, if not the substance, of the prince’s Vision 2030 plans for economic transformation of the kingdom. The attendance list for an investment conference, scheduled to be held Oct. 23 to 25 in Riyadh, is in tatters. JPMorgan CEO James Dimon pulled out over the weekend; U.S. Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin’s withdrawal is likely at any time.
Social reforms such as cinemas and live entertainment may survive, as will women driving cars. But don’t forget that many of the women activists who campaigned for the latter are in jail. It is embarrassingly ironic that, notionally, Saudi Arabia is a leader of the global coalition against the Islamic State (ISIS), the extremists whose signature horror has been the videoed torture and execution of its prisoners.
How could we all have been so wrong in our hopes for MbS? (Perhaps not all of us. I wrote last year, when he pushed his predecessor to one side by denying him sleep and diabetes medicine, that, “His greatest strength, or weakness, may be his ruthlessness.” I cited the example of the “bullet story,” in which he put a bullet on the desk of a government official who didn’t want to sign off on one of the young prince’s business deals.)
Until two weeks ago, Western officials could, and did, excuse MbS’s domestic authoritarianism by citing his apparent reordering of a Saudi Islam as being moderate rather than the extremist version which produced, via irresponsible religious education and charitable giving, 9/11 and the Islamic State.
But Khashoggi’s disappearance suggests that we have been seduced by the smooth words of his retinue and cohorts of echoing public relations firms. Even Muslim World League Secretary-General Muhammad al-Issa, who this month hosted a conference on “Cultural Rapprochement between the U.S. and the Muslim World” in New York City, yesterday issued a statement in support of MbS: “The animus campaign it now witnesses threatens all dimensions of international stability.” We will have to see whether the conference’s idea for a “peace caravan” of Muslim, Christian and Jewish leaders going to Jerusalem gains any traction.
Old hands will tell you that diplomacy is usually best done quietly, but we live in a world of Twitter, television-interview sound bites and public statements. Some statements are being shot from the hip, as happened yesterday when the kingdom declared an uncompromising defiance and hinted of measures that would hit the U.S. economy much harder than Saudi Arabia’s.
Today there is a report that the Saudis will at last allow Turkish investigators into the Istanbul consulate. If Khashoggi died there, it will have been well-cleaned by now. It is probably too late for a declaration that the fate of Khashoggi is a mystery.
This coming Thursday, the Saudi embassy in Washington planned to host its National Day celebrations. Would the host ambassador, Prince Khalid bin Salman, MbS’s brother, be there or would he still be in Riyadh, where the White House sent him to find answers to U.S. concerns? Curiously, I was invited but was not going, and I wondered how many of Washington’s great and good also would not show up — until the embassy canceled the event.
**Simon Henderson is the Baker Fellow and director of the Bernstein Program on Gulf and Energy Policy at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy.

So Much Winning: Why Mahmoud Abbas Thinks He’s Beating Trump—and Israel
David Makovsky/Haaretz/October 16/18
He’s 83, with no successor and no state, but he still seems to believe that defiance is a worthwhile end in of itself.
For Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, the U.S. and Israel are two countries using political and economic leverage to force him to accept policies that he finds objectionable—or else risk being completely marginalized. Yet, Abbas believes that he has so far withstood at least three key challenges presented by the U.S. and Israel in recent months, and thus he believes he is scoring political victories. He may not be bringing his people an inch closer to statehood or bringing them major benefits, but he sees himself as a political survivor. Leading a movement that historically has been about defiance, he sees survival as its own reward.
While American efforts—and its policy of pressure—could still yield success on the Palestinian front in resuming meaningful negotiations in the next two years, it is important to see how Abbas sees the Trump Administration, almost at its halfway point. Whether one likes Abbas or not, it is important to see how he is likely to think he is winning when it comes to issues of the last few months.
In looking at his scorecard, it is worth starting with the United Nations. U.S. ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley, who has just announced her retirement, led the charge of the Trump Administration to put forward a tough position on the issues of refugees and aid to the Palestinians. That stance is popular among many Americans who question whether the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) is really seeking to solve the Palestinian refugee issue, but rather seeks to perpetuate it.
However, by not putting forward an alternative U.S. plan for Palestinian humanitarian assistance focused on bona fide American non-governmental aid groups, while withholding all American aid to the Palestinian Authority, it has made it easier for Europeans and Arabs states to galvanize enthusiasm and support for UNRWA. This was exacerbated by concerns that Palestinian kids in the West Bank and Gaza will not be able to go to school this fall. Two rounds of emergency appeals, including one at the time of the opening of the UN General Assembly, equaling $320 million in pledges for 2018, has covered the deficit that UNRWA has faced, according to UN officials.
Of course, the test will be: Will these countries sustain these levels over the years to come? One senior non-American diplomat confidently declared to me, “The U.S. withholding of funding from UNRWA has created a new international equilibrium as other countries have stepped in. UNRWA has not been crippled and the U.S. has been marginalized” within the organization.
The U.S. hope was that its withdrawal of funds would lead to a shift in UNRWA’s policy, not least its definition of refugees, but this does not seem to be the case. Likewise, the U.S. hope that this would pressure Abbas to change his “no contact” stance vis a vis the Trump administration has not been borne out either. The U.S. has legitimate reasons to stop funding UNRWA, but the bottom line is Abbas seems poised to continue to use UNRWA as a political cudgel, at least for now.
Another development that Abbas must favor is President Donald Trump’s recent declaration in which he said for the first time that he favors the two-state solution, after famously refusing to publicly endorse the two-state approach since the start of his administration.
Over the first year of the Trump Administration, Palestinian officials say that Abbas was concerned that the U.S. would cajole Gulf states like Saudi Arabia into pressuring him to accept Trump’s peace deal. Those Gulf states may not much like or respect Abbas—due to an array of grievances with Abbas personally (including long-standing Emirati anger over Abbas’s feud with Mohammed Dahlan)—and subsequently have not been generous donors to the Palestinian Authority. However, that pressure has simply not materialized—and Abbas has breathed a sigh of relief.
Ever since the visit of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman (MBS) to the White House in the spring of this year, the once-fashionable term “outside-in” has lost its shine. That idea, that parties outside the immediate Israeli-Palestinian circle can facilitate Arab backing for a Trump peace plan or even pre-empt them with innovative bilateral ties, has been gradually nixed, as MBS has made it clear that the U.S. cannot count on the Saudis to twist the arms of the Palestinians. This may have been the case even if the U.S. had not moved its embassy to Jerusalem, but certainly Arab officials point to this as a complicating factor.
Two elements likely to reinforce this dropping of outside Arab pressure on the PA are the cooling of Saudi-U.S. relations, indicated not least by a public statement by Trump at a rally to his supporters recently that the Kingdom could not survive two weeks without the U.S., as well as the recent crisis surrounding the disappearance and apparent murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
A third area where Abbas feels success is that he has paid no political price for his indifference to the misery in Gaza. Not only has he not been involved in securing Qatari funding to increase electricity for Gazans, from four to eight hours per day until the end of 2018, he has opposed it. He has cut PA aid to Gaza.
His strategy has been clear: Make the situation in Gaza more severe in order to press Hamas into a military confrontation with Israel, which would break the impasse. This would yield dual benefits. It would militarily weaken his rival, Hamas. And it would allow Abbas to continue to do what he loves, namely, publicly blaming Israel as the victimizer. Blaming Israel as the bully is what enables Abbas to reinforce the Palestinian narrative in Europe as the victim. It is a cynical move, but it has worked.
Abbas has not only not paid a price for his indifference to Gaza, but he has done so while snubbing Egyptian mediation and attempts to find a way for the Palestinian Authority to return to Gaza. For Abbas, Gaza is a trap. In his view, unless Hamas surrenders its guns, he has the authority and they have the responsibility to improve the miserable living conditions in Gaza. That understandable position on Hamas disarmament, however, should be met with a concrete plan by Egypt regarding how to achieve an objective, but this has not been the case.
So whether the issue is UNRWA, the Arabs and Trump, or Gaza, Abbas believes he has avoided paying political costs in defying the U.S, even if the U.S. has indeed cut economic aid. Of course, his political maneuverings have not necessarily helped the Palestinian people. The two-state outcome seems far off. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s coalition still builds beyond the security barrier. Moreover, succession for the 83-year-old Abbas is murkier than ever.
A common thread between the controversies relating to UNRWA, the role of Arab states and the status of Gaza is that Abbas measures successes by what did not happen—namely, by his ability to maintain the situation in these distinct arenas in a bid to foil the U.S. Sadly, in the Mideast, political survival and success are too often conflated with strategic gains. The two are not the same. In the twilight of his life, Abbas has no illusions that he is on the cusp of strategic success, and therefore consoles himself with these acts of non-cooperation. But even as the head of a movement whose very self-definition over many decades is inextricably tied to the idea of defiance of outside powers, this organizing principle has so far proven to be an insufficient catalyst to move closer to the goal of statehood.
**David Makovsky is the Ziegler Distinguished Fellow at The Washington Institute and helped created its interactive mapping tool "Settlements and Solutions: Is It Too Late for Two States?"

Turkey: Enabling Mass Illegal Migration into Greece
Uzay Bulut/Gatestone Institute/October 17/2018
Turkish authorities repeatedly have threatened Europe with an influx of migrants. President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's threats should not be ignored.
Ever since the migrant crisis started to escalate in 2011 -- with the onset of civil war in Syria -- those who were critical of mass, unchecked immigration have been called "racists," "bigots" or "Islamophobes."
Today, however, the continued chaos in many European countries caused by immigration, and accompanying increase in crime -- including murder and rape committed by Islamist extremists -- appear to have proven the critics right.
A recent surge of illegal migrant arrivals has put the Greek city of Thessaloniki in crisis. "Dozens of migrants have turned Aristotelous square in the center of Thessaloniki to a makeshift camp," with many "sleeping in the open." Pictured: The Idomeni migrant relocation camp, near Thessaloniki.
Greece is currently facing a serious surge in undocumented migrant arrivals in the Evros region, an entry point for migrants illegally trying to enter the country from Turkey. Arrivals have roughly doubled since 2017, and Athens is holding Ankara responsible.
The influx from places such as Afghanistan, Pakistan, Syria, Iraq, Bangladesh and African countries into Turkey reportedly has been on the rise in recent months, with 1.5 million people from Muslim countries waiting on the Iranian border to enter Turkey. This has sparked fears in Athens that they could be heading for Greece.
According to a fact sheet released last month by the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR), "Sea arrivals [in Greece] peaked this month with 4,000 people. Land arrivals through Evros also increased to 1,400."
As a result, the Greek city of Thessaloniki is in crisis. According to a recent article in The Greek Reporter, "Dozens of migrants have turned Aristotelous square in the center of Thessaloniki to a makeshift camp," with many "sleeping in the open."
This situation is likely to deteriorate even further, not only in Greece, but in the rest of Europe, with the massive number of new arrivals, particularly from Afghanistan, via Iran, into Turkey.
An investigative report in the Turkish daily Hurriyet, published in April, describes the way this is accomplished:
"Smugglers leave the Afghans and people from other countries, including children, on mountains. The illegals walk for kilometers through the border area... They all aim to go to Istanbul. But they first go to Erzurum, a city determined as the transit place.... Some then escape to Europe through Greece and Bulgaria, while others get involved in crimes, such as theft and prostitution, in Istanbul and are made to work as undocumented workers...
"According to the data of Turkey's Immigration Authority, from the beginning of this year until March 29, 17,847 illegal Afghans have been caught. 9,426 Syrians, 5,311 Pakistanis, and 4,270 Iraqis have also been caught. The total number of illegals caught by police including those from other countries is 47,198."
In an interview in April with the Turkish daily Milliyet, Erdal Güzel, head of the Erzurum Development Foundation, said:
"It has reached the point at which the people entering Turkey illegally from and returning to Afghanistan has become as easy as [a Turkish citizen's] going from one Turkish city to another. They have learned the paths.
"...According to their own testimonies, they take buses to Iran at night... They are kept waiting there... until the time is right. Some families are kept waiting with no food or water for 15 or 20 days.
"They say they walk through the mountains. They all have the same story. Some say they walk through mountains for 4 or 5 days. They are told that 'even if one of you falls off a cliff, you will not make a sound.' ... Among them are pregnant women and blind people. In recent years, the migration traffic has escalated incredibly... Thousands of people are coming here... Human smugglers stuff these people in three-story trucks in which sheep are carried... What is strange is they come here at the cost of their lives. They enter Turkey and then want to go to Germany through Greece, Serbia and Hungary. They hit the road so zealously as if to say, 'Those who will die will die, and those who will stay alive will be here with us.'"
Human trafficking and people-smuggling are serious crimes and grave violations of human rights. According to a report by the US State Department:
"People who are smuggled can be extremely vulnerable to human trafficking, abuse, and other crimes, as they are illegally present in the country of destination and often owe large debts to their smugglers."
Nevertheless, it appears that a highly organized international network of various actors -- including smuggling and trafficking groups, international organizations and even governments, such as that of Turkey -- are involved or complicit in the mass illegal movement and abuse of a large number of people.
Turkish authorities repeatedly have threatened Europe with an influx of migrants. In November 2016, for instance, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan openly stated:
"When 50,000 refugees headed to Kapıkule [at the Turkey-Bulgaria border], you shrieked: 'What will we do if Turkey opens it border gates?' Look at me! If you go too far, we will open those border gates. Just know this."
Erdogan's threats should not be ignored. Among the smuggled migrants and refugees are ISIS supporters and other Islamist radicals. Also, many of the jihadi terrorists who participated in the deadly attacks in Manchester, Paris, Brussels, Berlin, Stockholm and St. Petersburg in recent years had connections to Turkey. Some were apprehended in Turkey; others either traveled there to cross into Syria to join ISIS or had lived there for a while. Turkey has been used routinely by Islamists as a route into areas of Syria and Iraq to join ISIS.
Ever since the migrant crisis started to escalate in 2011 -- with the onset of civil war in Syria -- those who were critical of mass, unchecked immigration have been called "racists," "bigots" or "Islamophobes."
Today, however, the continued chaos in many European countries caused by mass immigration, and accompanying increase in crime -- including murder and rape committed by Islamist extremists -- appear to have proven the critics right. It is urgent for European governments to find effective solutions to unfettered immigration. It is equally imperative for those governments to hold Turkey accountable for its part in the crisis.
*Uzay Bulut, a Turkish journalist born and raised in Turkey, is a Distinguished Senior Fellow at Gatestone Institute. She is currently based in Washington D.C.
© 2018 Gatestone Institute. All rights reserved. The articles printed here do not necessarily reflect the views of the Editors or of Gatestone Institute. No part of the Gatestone website or any of its contents may be reproduced, copied or modified, without the prior written consent of Gatestone Institute.

Are Democrats Wasting Their Campaign Cash?

Jonathan Bernstein/Bloomberg/October 17/2018
Top-down, formally organized political parties have a presumed advantage over non-hierarchical ones: It should be easier for them to use their resources efficiently. And when Senate candidate Beto O’Rourke revealed that he had raised more than $38 million in the summer quarter, some Democrats immediately started worrying that the party was wasting its money on a quixotic campaign in very Republican Texas.
Poppycock! I think the Washington Post’s David Weigel gets this exactly right:
After 2016, Democratic donors are more ready than ever to give money but less trusting than ever of the national party's strategy. The result is that they're contesting nearly everything, while party PACs focus on more winnable races. And so far, that arrangement has kept Republicans under pressure.
We don’t know which way the wind will blow in the last three weeks of the campaign. What we do know is that very few Democrats in competitive districts — or even in marginally competitive districts — are complaining that their campaigns are being underfunded. Which means that if the final breeze helps the Democrats, the party is primed to take maximum advantage of it. That’s been true throughout the cycle, whether it’s candidate recruitment, activist involvement or fundraising. It sure seems like a good strategy to me.
Have the Democrats distributed their resources with perfect efficiency? Of course not. But a more centralized process probably wouldn’t have done so either. That’s because the more bureaucratized a party becomes, the more bureaucratic incentives will tend to drive decisions. The result is often risk-averse policy: Signing off on a huge investment in an election where the party has only a one-in-four chance of winning, rather than using that money to push the probability of victory in a few other races from 75 percent to 90 percent, is the kind of decision that can get someone fired.
Of course, decentralized parties can misuse their resources too. Donors and activists can make amateurish mistakes about where to spend, perhaps because the rewards they seek from participation aren’t closely linked to maximizing party victories, or perhaps because their information simply isn’t as good as what a centralized party might have. When party-aligned interest groups make their own decisions about which candidates to support, rather than pooling resources with a centralized party, they may think more about themselves than about a larger strategy. Too much of that, and the party fractures.
In other words, just as we can’t assume that huge fundraising totals for candidates who are likely to lose is necessarily a sign of poor decision-making, we also can’t assume that any particular party structure is best. We know that parties are essential to democracy. But we don’t know much about the best way to put them together — or even what the advantages and disadvantages of various different structures can be. That’s especially true of our peculiar parties in the United States.
1. Hans Noel on the Senate.
2. Scott Kastner, Margaret M. Pearson and Chad Rector at the Monkey Cage on Trump and China.
3. Also at the Monkey Cage: John Sides talks with Jonathan Rodden and Richard Pildes about partisan gerrymandering.
4. Lynn Vavreck debunks myths about the 2016 election.
5. Elizabeth Drew debunks myths about Watergate. An excellent primer for those who aren’t familiar with the history.
6. Amy Walter on voter enthusiasm.
7. And Ellen Kurz wants to abolish voter registration and automate the process. The truth is that the US is an outlier on this; most democracies automatically register all voters, and the main reason for establishing high hurdles to registration here was to make it harder for people to vote. Although advocates for automatic registration sometimes exaggerate the benefits, the case for making it easy to vote is nevertheless very strong.

Big Tech Snuffing Free Speech; Google's Poisonous 'Dragonfly'

Judith Bergman/Gatestone Institute/October 17/2018
If the big social media companies choose what to publish and what not to publish, they should be subject to the same licensing and requirements as media organizations.
Google has decided it will not renew a contract with the Pentagon for artificial intelligence work because Google employees were upset that the technology might be used for lethal military purposes. Yet Google is planning to launch a censored search engine in China that will empower a totalitarian "Big Brother is watching you" horror state.
Freedom Watch filed a $1 billion class-action lawsuit against Apple, Facebook, Google, and Twitter, claiming that they suppress conservative speech online.
A Media Research Center report found that Google, Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube stifle conservative speech and that in some instances staffers have admitted that doing so was intentional.
Chinese officials prevented a journalist, Liu Hu, from taking a flight because he had a low "social credit" score. According to China's Global Times, as of the end of April 2018, authorities had blocked individuals from taking 11.14 million flights and 4.25 million high-speed rail trips.
Google is reportedly planning to launch a censored version of its search engine in China, code-named "Dragonfly," which will aid and abet a totalitarian "Big Brother is watching you" horror state. (Image source:
The internet, especially social media, has become one of the primary places for people to exchange viewpoints and ideas. Social media is where a considerable part of the current national conversation takes place.
Arguably, big tech companies, such as Google, Twitter, Facebook and YouTube, therefore carry a responsibility to ensure that their platforms are equally accessible to all voices in that national conversation. As private commercial entities, the social media giants are not prima facie legally bound by the First Amendment to the US Constitution, and are free to set their own standards and conditions for the use of their platforms. Ideally, those standards should be applied equally to all users, regardless of political or other persuasion. If, however, these companies choose what to publish and what not to publish, they should be subject to the same licensing and requirements as media organizations.
The current media giants' favoring one kind of political speech over another -- progressive over conservative -- and even shutting down political speech that does not conform to the views of the directors, certainly skews the national political conversation in a lopsided way that conflicts with basic principles of democratic freedom of speech and what presumably should be the obligations of virtual monopolies.
The question of whether such discrimination against conservative viewpoints constitutes a breach of law is currently the subject of a number of lawsuits. In October 2017, PragerU, a conservative educational website, filed a lawsuit against YouTube and its parent company, Google, for "intentional" censorship of conservative speakers, saying that they were "engaging in an arbitrary and capricious use of their 'restricted mode' and 'demonetization' to restrict non-left political thought."
PragerU claimed that "Google and YouTube's use of restricted mode filtering to silence PragerU violates its fundamental First Amendment rights under both the California and United States Constitutions," YouTube, for instance, restricted a video by a pro-Israel Muslim activist, discussing how best to resist hatred and anti-Semitism, as "hate speech". The US District Court Judge in the case, Lucy Koh, however, dismissed PragerU's claims because Google, as a private company, is not subject to the First Amendment. "Defendants are private entities who created their own video-sharing social media website and make decisions about whether and how to regulate content that has been uploaded on that website," Koh wrote. PragerU has appealed the decision.
In August, Freedom Watch filed a $1 billion class-action lawsuit against Apple, Facebook, Google, and Twitter, claiming that they act in concert to suppress conservative speech online. Freedom Watch claims, among other things, that the four media giants have violated the First Amendment to the Constitution and that they have engaged "in a conspiracy to intentionally and willfully suppress politically conservative content."
PragerU and Freedom Watch are not the only conservatives to have experienced suppression of their voices on social media. In April, the conservative Media Research Center released a report detailing the suppression of conservative opinions on social media platforms.
The 50-page report, "Censored! How Online Media Companies Are Suppressing Conservative Speech," which looked at how conservative political speech fared on Google, Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube, found that the tech companies stifle conservative speech and that in some instances, staffers have admitted that doing so was intentional. The report found that Google showed a "tendency toward left-wing bias in its search results", and that Twitter (by admission of its own employees) had "shadow-banned" some conservative users. ("Shadow banning" means that their content did not appear to other users, but the account owners themselves had not been notified of this "banning" of their content).
The apparent leftist bias, however, not only shows itself in the suppression of conservative speech on social media giants' websites. Censorship and selective presentation of speech has also led to unfortunate policy decisions by some of the big tech companies. Google, for example, has decided it will not renew a contract with the Pentagon for artificial intelligence work when it expires next year, because Google employees were upset that the technology they were working on might be used for lethal military purposes.
Yet, according to leaked documents, Google is planning to launch a censored version of its search engine in China, code-named "Dragonfly," which will aid and abet a totalitarian "Big Brother is watching you" horror state. China, according to the Economist, is planning to become "the world's first digital totalitarian state." The Chinese government is in the process of introducing a "social credit" system by which to score its citizens, based on their behavior. Behavior sanctioned by the government increases the score; behavior of which the government disapproves decreases the score. Jaywalking, for example, would decrease the score. China is reportedly installing 626 million surveillance cameras throughout the country for the purpose of feeding the social credit system with information.
According to Gordon G. Chang, Chinese officials are using the social credit system for determining everything from being able to take a plane or a train, to buying property or sending your children to a private school. Officials prevented a journalist, Liu Hu, from taking a flight because he had a low score. According to China's state-owned Global Times, as of the end of April 2018, authorities had blocked individuals from taking 11.14 million flights and 4.25 million high-speed rail trips. "If we don't increase the cost of being discredited, we are encouraging discredited people to keep at it," said the former deputy director of the development research center of the State Council, Hou Yunchun. He added that an improved social credit system was needed so that "discredited people become bankrupt".
According to a legal expert at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences in Beijing, Zhi Zhenfeng:
"How the person is restricted in terms of public services or business opportunities should be in accordance with how and to what extent he or she lost his credibility.... Discredited people deserve legal consequences. This is definitely a step in the right direction to building a society with credibility."
The goal, straightforwardly, is to control citizen behavior by aggregating data from various sources such as cameras, identification checks, and "Wi-Fi sniffers" so that Chinese citizens will end up being controlled completely. As Chinese officials have reportedly put it, the purpose of the score card system is to "allow the trustworthy to roam everywhere under heaven while making it hard for the discredited to take a single step."
It is, in other words, an excellent deliberate tool to suppress the human rights of the Chinese people.
Although Google has refused to comment on the concerns about Dragonfly, the leaked documents indicate that this censored version of Google's search engine will help the Chinese government do just that by blacklisting websites and search terms about human rights, democracy, religion, and peaceful protest. It will also, reportedly, link users' searches to their personal phone numbers, thereby making it possible for the Chinese government to detain or arrest people who search for information that the Chinese government wishes to censor.
"Linking searches to a phone number would make it much harder for people to avoid the kind of overreaching government surveillance that is pervasive in China," said Cynthia Wong, senior internet researcher with Human Rights Watch. Fourteen organizations, including Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, Reporters Without Borders, Access Now, the Committee to Protect Journalists, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, the Center for Democracy and Technology, PEN International, and Human Rights in China, have demanded that Google stop its plans for a censored search engine. They say that such cooperation would represent "an alarming capitulation by Google on human rights" and could result in the company "directly contributing to, or [becoming] complicit in, human rights violations."
In a recent speech, US Vice President Mike Pence also asked Google to end Dragonfly: it "will strengthen Communist Party censorship and compromise the privacy of Chinese customers," he said.
So, while Google claims it has moral qualms about cooperating with the US government, the company evidently has no moral issues when it comes to cooperating with Communist China in censoring and spying on its billion citizens with a view to rewarding or punishing them via opportunities in real life. Google employees, according to the Intercept, have circulated a letter stating that the censored search engine raises "urgent moral and ethical issues," and saying that Google executives need to "disclose more about the company's work in China, which they say is shrouded in too much secrecy, according to three sources with knowledge of the matter".
Google is apparently all too eager to work with China on micromanaging its citizens, and there is plenty to work on, according to a recent Amnesty International report :
"China has intensified its campaign of mass internment, intrusive surveillance, political indoctrination and forced cultural assimilation against the region's Uighurs, Kazakhs and other predominantly Muslim ethnic groups."
Up to 1 million people have been detained in "China's mass re-education drive," many of them tortured, according to the report.
Eight years ago, Google co-founder Sergey Brin -- who was born in the highly repressive Soviet Union -- at least had the decency to hesitate on (if not turn down) doing business in China if it involved censorship. "[W]e have decided we are no longer willing to continue censoring our results," Google had announced two days before "company spokesman Scott Rubin started singing a different tune."
Perhaps totalitarian Communist repression is of no consequence to Google, so long as it gets still more market share?
*Judith Bergman is a columnist, lawyer and political analyst.
© 2018 Gatestone Institute. All rights reserved. The articles printed here do not necessarily reflect the views of the Editors or of Gatestone Institute. No part of the Gatestone website or any of its contents may be reproduced, copied or modified, without the prior written consent of Gatestone Institute.

How Is the Saudi Public Likely Responding to the Crisis over Khashoggi’s Disappearance? The Popularity of Riyadh’s “Reformist Repression”
David Pollock/Fikra Forum & the Washington Institute/October 17/18
The mysterious and deeply troubling disappearance of noted Saudi political commentator Jamal Khashoggi at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul has refocused attention on the paradox of Saudi “reformist repression.” Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s arrival in Saudi Arabia highlights the seriousness of this episode, and if Saudi agents were indeed involved, then, in Talleyrand’s famous phrase, “it was worse than a crime—it was a mistake.” No doubt the Western, Turkish, and some anti-Saudi regional media, and presumably some government agencies as well, will surely strive to keep the focus on this shocking incident.
But a key question, likely to be overlooked or confused in that discussion, is this: how much do Saudis themselves—as opposed to Western experts, media, or NGOs—really know or care about such problems? The question is key because it bears directly on the perennial issue of Saudi stability. Many different factors figure in that calculation, from individual violence to foreign intervention to elite factionalism, and more. In the long run, too, an erosion of domestic and foreign business confidence might outweigh today’s windfall profits from 80 dollars per barrel of oil. But right now, can the latest arrests and disappearances be a cause, or perhaps a consequence, of some major upheaval brewing beneath the kingdom’s generally placid surface?
Based on a recent visit to Riyadh, and subsequent conversations with Saudis and others about Khashoggi and similar cases, my short answer is probably not. Awful as this episode appears to be, its broader significance is a separate question. And while such incidents understandably damage Saudi Arabia’s image among some Western governments, analysts, journalists, and investors, they are of remarkably little interest to most people inside the country. As a result, contrary to conventional wisdom, they do not seriously threaten the kingdom’s government—at least not with the specter of mass protest, or of organized dissidence by major segments of the society such as the business, clerical, professional, or military establishments.
One factor behind this judgment is the clear (though little-known) evidence that the Saudi government is increasingly aware of, interested in, and at least to some extent receptive to its own public’s views. In July, during my most recent visit to Saudi Arabia, I spent a day at the King Abdulaziz Center for National Dialogue, a Riyadh-based institute for assessing popular attitudes and promoting intra-Saudi discourse. The institute was founded fifteen years ago, but significantly increased its productivity after Muhammad bin Salman (MbS) was named crown prince two years ago. It is at least nominally independent; funding, I was told, comes from renting out two of the three massive office towers it owns in downtown Riyadh.
Experts at the Center are trying to encourage the Saudi public to participate in discussion and debate on issues that affect ordinary Saudis, and on the overall direction of the country. One goal is to foster a sense of unity on behalf of the common good and national interests. The Center holds workshops, seminars, and large-scale festivals and gatherings across the country, engaging hundreds of thousands of Saudis over the past decade and a half.
But another, newer goal of this Center is to keep a finger on the pulse of public opinion for systematic input on official policies—not just outreach to promote those policies after the fact. This, one of its top managers readily acknowledged, is an unfamiliar and challenging concept in Saudi Arabia, but is currently taken quite seriously at the highest levels of government. So around the time of MbS’s ascent, the Center established a division dedicated to conducting opinion polls. Since then, it has fielded over 100 polls, surveying a total of around 33,000 Saudis.
According to the experts I talked to, the Center’s insights have enabled it to provide the government with more than 100 specific policy recommendations over the past two years, 65 of which were accepted and implemented. One striking case is popular support for the long-awaited decision this year to allow Saudi women to drive. Other initiatives, the pollsters told me, range across the gamut of social and economic issues, including the selective but very public crackdown on corruption.
As a pollster myself, I was both intrigued and reasonably impressed by all this, though unfortunately unable to obtain further details. From my own polls in Saudi Arabia, I know that Saudis have been willing to voice very mixed views even on some especially sensitive issues. For example, asked last year if Islam “should be interpreted in a more moderate, tolerant, and modern direction,” just 30 percent said yes—though that was double the figure from late 2015. But on foreign policy issues, my polls confirm that Saudi official policies are largely in tune with the public. Fear and loathing of Iran and its regional proxies, from the Houthis to Hezbollah, is nearly universal not just among the Saudi elite, but on the Saudi street as well.
Much the same is true, albeit with smaller majorities, for other seemingly provocative moves: the feud with Qatar, the close alliance with the United States, and even the conditional support for a settlement with Israel. The Saudi head of the Muslim World League, for example, recently made the astonishing proposal to march for peace to Jerusalem—along with Jewish and Christian clerics. Yet he would do so with tacit support from around two-thirds of the Saudi public, who say that peace with Israel is desirable as long as Palestinian rights are also respected.
Beyond such statistical support for the Saudi government’s evolving mix of top-down domestic reform and foreign activism, anecdotal evidence points in the same direction. For example, when I asked some well-connected but independent Saudi professionals about Jamal Khashoggi’s unknown fate, they seemed unfazed. Indeed, they sounded more concerned about the media firestorm this incident has provoked than about the man himself—or the cruel limits on personal freedoms his case exemplifies. As for the minority of truly disgruntled Saudis, Khashoggi’s shocking example will likely intimidate more than it will alienate, let alone arouse to action. Indeed, that was probably the overly aggressive motive behind his apparent abduction in the first place.
More broadly, when I talked to young middle-class Saudis in Riyadh about the arbitrary nature of the anti-corruption crackdown, most were not just unconcerned but positively enthusiastic. One typical comment: “After forty years of ill-gotten gains, those guys at the Ritz got what they deserved.” Others argued that, even granted some unavoidable unfairness, such autocratic behavior was a price worth paying for the increased social freedoms that Saudis are beginning to enjoy. External criticism of this tradeoff, they said, was simply misguided, if not ill-intentioned.
Similar opinions emerged on the war in neighboring Yemen: while some foreigners view Saudi intervention there as a needless bloody quagmire, most Saudis I’ve talked to lately, whether inside or outside their country, still see it as necessary self-defense. One American defense expert, an experienced veteran with fluent Arabic who spent the last few years working with Saudi soldiers in-country, tells me that most of them have long viewed the Houthis in Yemen as a real threat to themselves. Their chief complaint, he said, is not about the grindingly slow progress of the Saudi combat effort, but the half-hearted American support for it.
Other supposed Saudi foreign policy blunders, from the abortive kidnapping of Lebanese prime minister Saad Hariri to the fruitless boycott of Qatar, also tend to get a nod of approval, a rationalization, or at worst a shrug from most Saudis I encounter. Of course the Saudi media, including social media, are tightly controlled, and lately many Saudis are cautious even about private conversations. To be sure, some sharp criticism does make its way into online Arabic discourse, despite all the restrictions. Yet there is no sign of any groundswell of mass popular opposition, nor of concentrated resistance in key segments of Saudi society.
One last factor behind the approval (or just acquiescence) of so many Saudis is their sense that Saudi expertise about their own region is at least on a par with any outside assessments. They have more reason today than ever before to feel that way. In the past few years, I have come to know and respect bona fide Saudi academic experts on Iran, on Yemen, on Shia, and even on Israel. They now have more of the requisite linguistic proficiency, intellectual independence, and sometimes even the living experience in those areas to offer informed advice about them. Today, too, there exists a small but growing number of Saudi think tanks to support this pool of local knowledge and counsel.
Altogether, then, the wisdom and ethics of current Saudi policies and practices, ranging from the whereabouts of Jamal Khashoggi to the war in Yemen, from the crackdown on corruption to the crackdown on free speech, appear very different inside and outside the kingdom. Some outsiders may well question particular Saudi government choices. They should not, however, confuse their own judgments with dire, unfounded predictions about Saudi instability. Inside the kingdom, issues that loom large abroad are outweighed by the Saudi government’s overall attentiveness to the pulse of its people.
*David Pollock is the Bernstein Fellow at The Washington Institute, focusing on regional political dynamics and related issues.
*Fikra Forum is an initiative of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. The views expressed by Fikra Forum contributors are the personal views of the individual authors, and are not necessarily endorsed by the Institute, its staff, Board of Directors, or Board of Advisors.​​

Brexit and blatant example of a populist remark
Hazem Saghieh/Al Arabiya/October 17/18
Sometimes a strident behavior or a controversial remark holds such wide-ranging implications that cannot be fully explained even in a book. Britain has recently provided a sample of the populist speech. During the annual conference of the Conservative Party held in Birmingham, British Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs Jeremy Hunt compared the European Union to the Soviet Union!
Before getting into the details of Hunt’s strange statement, we need to deeply examine the political circumstances, which pushed him to say what he said. It’s well-known that Britain will leave the European Union in March 2019.
So far, talks about an agreement that would regulate the relationship between the EU and the UK, after the latter withdraws from the EU, still veers between ‘optimism’ and ‘pessimism’. This has created political and diplomatic tension, which recently peaked when Europeans rejected the British government’s Chequers Brexit Plan.
Economic experts fear that the divorce between the UK and the EU without an agreement would be a disaster for the British economy. Therefore, there is a need for political and verbal escalation to improve the negotiating position of the British toward the Union.
Meanwhile there are the hardliner Brexiteers, headed by former Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs Boris Johnson, who have been critical of British Prime Minister Teresa May’s negotiating strategy with the Europeans.
This is all understandable; however, what is illogical here is going far in riding this popular wave – or which seems to be popular – by echoing irrational remarks.
This is where the difference lies between a populist politician who rides the wave and does not hesitate to continue providing weak justifications and the responsible politician who tries to control the wave via a rational discourse in the interest of the people and the nation.
Economic experts fear that the divorce between the UK and the EU without an agreement would be a disaster for the British economy
Populist stance
By comparing the European Union to the Soviet Union, Jeremy Hunt took a populist stance that is short on rationality, if not the minimum of knowledge. The European Union is based on the principles of liberty, free exchange of ideas and products, open borders and respect for human rights.
It was established via intense democratic deliberations and member countries are allowed to withdraw from the bloc on the basis of these same democratic principles and processes. Britain used these very provisions in its Brexit referendum in June 2016. Thus, the comparison of the EU with the Soviet Union is clearly untenable, as the latter was a closed totalitarian regime that was run by a single party and a multitude of detention camps.
The Soviet Union had also confiscated freedom of expression, free elections and trade among other things. Thus, we can understand the outrage caused by Jeremy Hunt’s statement.
It is the anger of rational democratic sensibility that is opposed to populist irrationalism. The most serious reaction to the remark came from the President of the European Council Donald Tusk, who deemed the phrase to be both insulting and unwise.
The reaction came from a man who personally spent half of his life in one of the countries following the Soviet order and after the fall of communism became the head of the Polish government. Thus, he is obviously aware of the falsity and danger of the statement that makes such a comparison.
However, we here also realize how immunity against this populism is weak these days as the British political rhetoric, traditionally famous for its precision and balance, has not been able to fight it back.

Exploiting the Khashoggi card
Mashari Althaydi//Al Arabiya/October 17/18
What’s certain is that the case of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi whose fate is unknown to this day has become more of a political and a media blackmail “card” rather than a criminal case with a political scent.
It’s a card that several parties are tossing and squeezing, a piece of wood who everyone is hitting anyone they want with and their rivals! It’s a piece of wood which those swimming in several currents are paddling on!
It’s no longer about Jamal’s fate, what happened to him, who did what to him and who are “they” or about specifying pure legal responsibility. This is apart from the mysterious players in the story. This is no longer what’s important because what’s important has in fact happened in the media and political courts erected in the global Brotherhood and leftist media as they’ve taken their decision, issued their verdict, set the sanctions and adjourned the session!
Jamal bin Ahmad bin Hamza Khashoggi, the Saudi journalist who wrote and preached for a strategic relationship between the Saudi state and the Brotherhood and who nominated himself as an extraordinary envoy for this great task, was he expecting in the last turn of his career to become a card that international actors and groups will fully exploit and use to serve their aims?
The point is, Saudi Arabia as a state, vision and command is greatly and persistently targeted by manifold international groups and blocs. It happened that this Jamal incident occurred during an American electoral season amid a deep rift and hostility between the Republicans, President Trump’s party, and the Democrats, who are his bitter adversaries. Hostility towards Saudi Arabia - Trump’s ally - thus became part of targeting Trump himself!
In brief – and unfortunately – Jamal is neither the first nor the last journalist or political or activist that disappears or gets killed or goes missing in the world. There are dozens or rather hundreds. Recently, the head of the Interpol himself went missing in China! Imagine that! His fate remained unknown for few days and then China said do not ask about him as we’ve detained him, so you can replace him with someone else. Everyone, international parties as well as civilians, responded to that in such a strange flexibility and an alternative was appointed. No global hysterical frenzy happened, like in the case of Jamal.
The point is, Saudi Arabia as a state, vision and command is greatly and persistently targeted by manifold international groups and blocs. It happened that this Jamal incident occurred during an American electoral season amid a deep rift and hostility between the Republicans, President Trump’s party, and the Democrats, who are his bitter adversaries. Hostility towards Saudi Arabia - Trump’s ally - thus became part of targeting Trump himself!
Whatever the result and fate of the investigation are, and which its formation was commended by US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo from Riyadh, many lessons must be learnt from this crisis on the media, diplomatic and cultural levels.
To those blaming Saudi media in particular or blaming those allied with Saudi Arabia, we say calm down – I do acknowledge there are real problems, not just on the media level – as what happened recently is much more worse, malicious and complicated.

Israel’s war planes unlikely to be deterred by Syrian missiles
Mohamed Chebaro/Arab News/October 17, 2018
The Russian S-300 surface-to-air missile system that is set to be delivered to Syria — whether it will be operated by the Syrian military loyal to President Bashar Assad or by his Russian allies — is unlikely to alter much the free hand Israel has enjoyed in the skies above Syria and Lebanon, at least for the foreseeable future.
The delivery of the S-300 system, if it happens, will no doubt give the Syrian military an advanced weapon system that could check Israeli supremacy, but it will not be a game-changer that will push Tel Aviv to cease its targeting of Iranian and Hezbollah military assets that are deemed threats to Israel’s security.
In the seven years since the start of the popular rebellion against Assad and his family’s rule, Israel has not attempted to interfere or even encourage the removal of Assad. Israel has always believed that Assad’s rule in Syria should continue so that it can maintain the stability of its northern border. Some even believe that Israel has lobbied through its international diplomatic channels to veto the removal of the weakened Assad regime, and that all Tel Aviv is concerned with is that the regime remain weak and that Assad’s boisterous Iranian and Lebanese allies are banned from having high-tech missile technology on Syrian soil.
Since the Russian deployment in Syria in September 2015 to prop up the Assad regime’s forces, the Israeli air force has carried out numerous attacks targeting Hezbollah militia commanders, ammunition dumps, Iranian missile development infrastructure, Iranian drone launch sites, and Iranian and Hezbollah missile convoys in Syria and Lebanon.
In the past three years, military air traffic control in Syria has never been this busy, but it has been extremely well managed thanks to Russian liaison and coordination efforts between all parties. Israeli war planes had unhindered access to strike 200 targets in 2018 alone, while the international coalition against Daesh flew tens of thousands of sorties and struck hundreds of Daesh positions. The Russian, Iraqi and Syrian air forces have also carried out thousands of sorties, and Iran has launched dozens of drones and long-range missile attacks without any major incident.
But the controversial downing of a Russian military Ilyushin Il-20 plane with 15 personnel on board — most probably by a Syrian military shoulder-operated surface-to-air missile — in September somewhat spoiled the seamless Israeli-Russian understanding over Syria. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is waiting for his next meeting with President Vladimir Putin to clear the air, as Israel has again rejected Moscow’s attempt to hold it responsible for the deaths of the Russian servicemen. Israel has disputed the Russian findings and says its jets were back in Israeli airspace when the Russian plane was hit.
For Israel, it is evident that it wants to continue hitting Iranian and Hezbollah targets in neighboring Syria despite Moscow’s decision to equip Damascus with the S-300 system. The S-300 could only limit Tel Aviv’s free hand over Syria if Russia also supplies the latest radars, advanced counter measures systems and friendly and enemy plane identification software at the heart of the incident that saw the Ilyushin plane downed by the Syrian military.
The S-300 is, above all, a politically sensitive weapon system and a strategic balance of power breaker.
History has shown that, even at the height of the Arab-Israeli conflict in the 1960s and 70s, Moscow refrained from supplying its Arab allies with technology that threatened Israel’s strategic supremacy, and this sensitive Russian balancing act continues today.
The S-300 is one of a series of highly capable varieties of long-range surface-to-air missile first developed and deployed in the USSR in 1979, and later modified and upgraded by the Russian armed forces. As well as targeting aircraft, the fully mobile units also have the capacity to engage ballistic missiles. But the S-300 is, above all, a politically sensitive weapon system and a strategic balance of power breaker, hence the long Russian hesitation to supply it to Damascus and Tehran.
Yet the bottom line still depends on Putin. Though his minister of defense has been keen to protect Russian forces in Syria with electronic warfare systems, as well as equipping Assad’s forces with tracking and guidance systems to prevent future mishaps, I tend to believe that the status quo will not be affected. The Israeli-Russian hotlines established in 2015 will continue to be the medium to prevent accidents, while Israeli war planes will be allowed to monitor and act unhindered against what they consider to be enemy targets in Syria.
Putin’s Russia has mastered the act of balancing its interests with those of its allies, such as Turkey, Iran and Israel. Putin succeeded in pushing the Iranians back more than 100 kilometers from the occupied Golan Heights border area at the request of Tel Aviv. He also turned his back on his Iranian allies many times as Moscow failed to supply Tehran with the S-400 system — a more advanced version of the S-300. The Russian military stood idle as Israeli war planes neutralized Iranian weapon systems destined for Hezbollah, assassinated key Iranian and Hezbollah field commanders, and removed Iran’s advanced drone operation bases in Syria without the slightest reaction from Tehran or its allies.
In Syria’s many wars, the modus vivendi governing the relations of all the militaries involved is likely to continue. The only minor adjustments may be for Israel should Putin decide to cross the strategic threshold and arm Assad’s military with sensitive weapons that could make its operations more problematic, but not impossible, in the busy skies above Syria.
*Mohamed Chebaro is a British-Lebanese journalist with more than 25 years’ experience covering war, terrorism, defense, current affairs and diplomacy. He is also a media consultant and trainer.