Detailed Lebanese & Lebanese Related LCCC English New Bulletin For October 22/2018
Compiled & Prepared by: Elias Bejjani

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Bible Quotations
The harvest is plentiful, but the labourers are few; therefore ask the Lord of the harvest to send out labourers into his harvest
Matthew 09/36-38: "When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, ‘The harvest is plentiful, but the labourers are few; therefore ask the Lord of the harvest to send out labourers into his harvest".

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

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

Titles For The Latest LCCC Bulletin analysis & editorials from miscellaneous sources published on October 21-22/18
Samy Gemayel: Lebanon's Salvation Lies in Unified Vision/ 21/18
Washington designates Hezbollah as ‘top organised crime threat/Thomas Frank/The Arab Weekly/October 21/18
The Lebanese government’s painful birth/Mohamad Kawas/The Arab Weekly/October 21/18
Hezbollah sees Israel's empty threats in Gaza/Yossi Yehoshua/Ynetnews/October 21/18
Former intelligence chief: Iran is forming missile plants in Lebanon/Alexandra Lukash, Attila Somfalvi/Ynetnews/October 21/18
Netanyahu-Mnuchin meeting aims to ‘ramp up the pressure’ against Iran/Eytan Halon/Jerusalem Post/October 21/18
Abdullah cuts down Jordan’s peace treaty with Israel, while reorienting his policy on détente with Turkey, Syria, Qatar/DEBKAfile/October 21/18
Khashoggi was Journalist AND Brotherhood Supporter/Tom Harb/New English Review/October 21/18
Extremist Persecution of Christians, May 2018/Raymond Ibrahim/Gatestone Institute/October 21/18
Jordan Canceling Annexes of Peace Treaty With Israel, King Abdullah Says/Jack Khoury and Noa Landau/Haaretz/October 21/18
Analysis/Truth or Trap? Saudi Explanation for Khashoggi's Murder Puts Trump to the Test/Zvi Bar'el/Haaretz/October 21/18
The Cost and Consequence of the Khashoggi Crisis/Abdulrahman Al-Rashed/Asharq Al-Awsat/October, 21/18
Things Are Finally Looking Up for Chipmakers/Alex Webb/Bloomberg/October, 21/18
Why the Developing World Started Gaining on the West/Noah Smith/Bloomberg/October, 21/18
Kurds of Iraq: The fidgety compass swings again/Adnan Hussein/Al Arabiya/October 21/18
How media helped create radical preacher Anjem Choudary/Dr. Azeem Ibrahim/Al Arabiya/October 21/18
What hope for Iraq’s new technocrats/Baria Alamuddin/Baria Alamuddin/October 21/18
Crisis in the Eastern Orthodox Church/Peter Welby/Arab News/October 21/18
Sanctioning Iran’s Basij paramilitary group/Dr. Majid Rafizadeh/Arab News/October 21/18

Titles For The Latest LCCC Lebanese Related News published on October 21-22/18
Lebanon: Justice Portfolio Complicates Govt. Formation Negotiations
Govt. Formation Negotiations Back to Square One
Hariri-Geagea Meeting Fails to Resolve Justice Portfolio Hurdle
Lebanese Minister: Saniora Unqualified to Accuse Aoun of Violating Constitution
UNHCR Official: 88% of Syrian Refugees in Lebanon Want to Return Home
Samy Gemayel: Lebanon's Salvation Lies in Unified Vision
Washington designates Hezbollah as ‘top organised crime threat’
The Lebanese government’s painful birth
Hezbollah sees Israel's empty threats in Gaza
Former intelligence chief: Iran is forming missile plants in Lebanon

Titles For The Latest LCCC Bulletin For Miscellaneous Reports And News published on October 21-22/18
Netanyahu-Mnuchin meeting aims to ‘ramp up the pressure’ against Iran
Abdullah cuts down Jordan’s peace treaty with Israel, while reorienting his policy on détente with Turkey, Syria, Qatar
Canada condemns killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi
Trump Accuses Saudis of 'Lies' over Khashoggi Killing
Jubeir: Saudi Crown Prince was not aware of Khashoggi case
Jubeir: Khashoggi case a grave mistake, those involved will be held accountable
Turkey’s Erdogan: Details on Khashoggi case will be provided on Tuesday
Saudi Account of Khashoggi's Death Meets Growing Skepticism
Moscow: 88,000 Gunmen Eliminated in Syria in 3 Years
Israel Postpones Khan al-Ahmar Demolition
At Jordan Border, Damascus Seeks to Revive Regional Trade
Israel to Provide Gaza with Fuel, Goods after Border Tensions are Reduced
Moscow Says U.S. Withdrawal from Nuclear Arms Treaty 'Dangerous Step'
Sovereign Ministries’ Pose Hurdle in Iraq Govt. Formation Efforts
Sarraj: No Agreement Reached on Unifying Libyan Army
Egyptian-Sudanese Summit Set for Thursday
UN Envoy Expected in Yemen’s Taiz Next Week

The Latest LCCC Lebanese Related News published on October 21-22/18
Lebanon: Justice Portfolio Complicates Govt. Formation Negotiations
Beirut - Nazeer Rida/Asharq Al-Awsat/Sunday, 21 October, 2018/The Free Patriotic Movement’s insistence on allocating the justice ministry to President Michel Aoun’s share has complicated negotiations over the formation of a Lebanese government. Another complication also emerged, represented in giving the Lebanese Forces a major share that would be commensurate with its parliamentary and popular representation. While Speaker Nabih Berri told his visitors on Saturday that the cabinet deadlock was not over, Prime Minister-designate Saad Hariri did not abandon his optimism, saying in remarks to LBCI television: “All can be resolved.”However, sources close to Hariri said that he would possibly visit Berri to discuss the new impediments. They added that that no meeting would be held over the weekend between the PM and caretaker Information Minister Melhem Riachi, who is representing the LF in the ongoing negotiations. LF sources told Asharq Al-Awsat that the party would not accept to have “trivial” ministerial portfolios. “It is not fair at all that some parliamentary blocs are guaranteed the best representation in the cabinet, while the LF is treated unjustly,” the sources said. “No one is satisfied with the injustice towards the LF; the President of the Republic does not accept it and insists that the party is rightfully represented.”Strong Lebanon bloc Secretary MP Ibrahim Kenaan said he believed that the ongoing consultations between Hariri and the different blocs would overcome the current hurdles. He noted in this regard that the justice ministry did not pose an obstacle, adding that all pending issues would be resolved in the upcoming hours. “We want the LF in the government, not outside it. The constant understanding between the FPM and the LF is the declaration of intentions,” Kanaan said in a television interview.

Govt. Formation Negotiations Back to Square One

Naharnet/October 21/18/The strenuous government formation talks appear to have returned to square one following the reported progress of the past few days. As the Lebanese Forces clings to the justice ministerial portfolio amid the rejection of the Free Patriotic Movement, which says it should be part of the President's share, the Progressive Socialist Party is insisting on keeping the education portfolio, rejecting that it be part of any bargaining. The Marada Movement is meanwhile stressing that it should keep the public works portfolio. “The FPM wants the justice portfolio, which further complicates the PM-designate's mission, seeing as there are six significant portfolios other than the sovereign portfolios, whereas seven parties are vying for them, which means that there is a need to deprive a certain party of one of them and compensate it with an important service-related portfolio such as social affairs,” Asharq al-Awsat quoted unnamed sources as saying. “There will be no meetings in the coming hours or in the weekend between the PM-designate and caretaker Information Minister Melhem Riachi, who is LF leader Samir Geagea's pointman in the negotiations,” the sources added.

Hariri-Geagea Meeting Fails to Resolve Justice Portfolio Hurdle

Naharnet/October 21/18/The meeting that was held Saturday between Prime Minister-designate Saad Hariri and Lebanese Forces leader Samir Geagea failed to achieve any breakthrough in the cabinet formation crisis, a media report published Sunday said. “The two-hour meeting represented a key milestone on the course of direct consultation between Hariri and Geagea regarding the available alternatives that could resolve the obstacle of ensuring balanced representation for the LF,” An Nahar newspaper reported. “The meeting did not yield anything to dispel the atmosphere of uncertainty that has engulfed the past hours as a result of the failure to allocate a significant portfolio to the LF, after the President openly told the PM-designate that he will not give up the justice portfolio which had been promised to Geagea by Hariri,” the daily added. Moreover, An Nahar noted that the latest stances by Hizbullah and the Marada Movement indicate that a new obstacle regarding Sunni representation has arisen. “The insistence on appointing a minister from March 8's Sunnis and the nomination of MP Faisal Karami for a ministerial portfolio that would be part of the President's share do not indicate that the obstacle is only about the LF but that there is an inclination to delay the formation of the government,” the newspaper added. “By Saturday evening, no indications were looming on the horizon to suggest that the LF and Sunni obstacles had been resolved, as evidenced by the fact that the PM-designate has not requested an appointment with the President and has not met with Speaker Nabih Berri after the latter's return from Geneva to brief him on the formation process developments,” An Nahar said.

Lebanese Minister: Saniora Unqualified to Accuse Aoun of Violating Constitution

Beirut/Asharq Al-Awsat/Sunday, 21 October, 2018/Caretaker Lebanese Justice Minister Salim Jreissati condemned former Prime Minister Fouad Saniora’s accusations that President Michel Aoun had violated the constitution. He said that Saniora is “nationally and constitutionally unqualified to make such accusations” “He is unaware or feigns ignorance of the consequences of such claims,” he added. Saniora had made the charges in remarks to Asharq Al-Awsat on Saturday. He had slammed Aoun for making “constitutional violations” that harm the Taef Accord, which ended Lebanon’s civil war in 1989. He added that the president has also been seeking to impose conditions that have not had any precedence, including a “ministerial share” in the government. Jreissati countered Saniora’s argument by saying that he had remained in his post as prime minister at the head of a government that had lacked the representation of a main component of Lebanon. The minister accused Saniora of violating the constitution. He also accused him of “lacking transparency” in handling public funds, blaming him for a lack of budget in the country for 12 years. Saniora served as premier between July 2005 and July 2008. In November 2006, all Shiite ministers of his cabinet resigned, sparking a constitutional debate. Saniora’s opponents said that the government was no longer legitimate after it lost the representation of a main sect in the country. His supporters said that the government remained legitimate as long as it enjoyed parliament’s support.

UNHCR Official: 88% of Syrian Refugees in Lebanon Want to Return Home 21/18/The head of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) mission in Lebanon, Mireille Girard, on Sunday said 88 percent of Syrian refugees living in Lebanon want to return to their country. According to the National News Agency, Girard noted that "practical" concerns, not the delay in reaching a political settlement, are preventing their return. The UN official said that refugees are mainly concerned about their legal status once they are back to their homeland, as well as the possibility of recovering their personal documents and restoring their houses. “However, Syrian refugees still have hope in the future and 88 percent of the them want to go back. Our role is to try to make their wish possible."

Samy Gemayel: Lebanon's Salvation Lies in Unified Vision 21/18
Kataeb leader Samy Gemayel stressed that Lebanon's salvation lies in agreeing on a common vision for the country, warning that partitioning and transient personal interests will drag Lebanon into ruination.
"Whatever is built on a unified vision is invincible. On the other hand, whatever is built on partitioning and personal interests will eventually collapse and fade away at the first crossroads that it will face. That is exactly what we are witnessing in Lebanon today," Gemayel said during a dinner hosted by the Kataeb's chapter in Toronto. "Any agreement that is not based on a strategic vision for Lebanon is doomed to failure." Gemayel admitted that the Kataeb's mission to make a change is difficult, noting, however, that it is counting on the Lebanese people to make it happen. "It is true that our mission is hard, but we are betting on the people, as well as on our determination to say the truth and to put forth solutions without making any compromises or fearing that anyone gets irritated," Gemayel stated. "The dream will always be to unite and work hand in hand on one project to build Lebanon, not to partition shares and split gains. That is the real unity that no one can break!" The Kataeb leader blasted the ongoing delay in the government formation, criticizing politicians for seeking to make gains instead of devising a rescue plan to pull the country out of the spiral it is whirling inside.
"Who cares who will get the biggest ministerial share, while half of the Lebanese are living in poverty with 35% of them being unemployed?!""Our dream of a building a civilized and developed country is what pushes us to struggle more and to be part of the Kataeb party which has made tremendous sacrifices for the country. This dream should be at the heart of political activism," he said. "We dream of building a country that offers its people the same things that Canada is offering you: respect, a strong economy, job opportunities, a clean environmental, a healthcare system and a non-stop power supply."
"Politics, elections, parties and politicians are all useless if they don't manage to build such a country for us. A politician who doesn't set a dream to achieve for the sake of the country is one who only works for his own interests."
"Our only goal is to improve Lebanon. If this target was not achieved, then we would consider that we actually lost even if we won the elections. We are not winners unless the country wins."
“There are still people in Lebanon, including us, who love their country so much that they won't give up. We won't surrender as we will achieve the dream of having a sovereign and independent country where the Lebanese Army is the only armed force, democracy is respected and constitutional due dates are observed," he explained. “The party’s problem with the current political approach adopted by the ruling authority is that it is not based on any political project for the country, but rather on personal and partisan interests,” Gemayel pointed out.
Gemayel renewed his call for accountability, deeming it as key to improving Lebanon. "If we want to build a better country, then we have to hold ourselves and the others accountable for any committed mistake,” he said. “Hold everyone accountable so that the officials would know that they will be held responsible for their wrongdoings; otherwise, they will continue to work for their own benefits which, most of the times, contradict with the nation's welfare,” he concluded in an address to the Lebanese.

Washington designates Hezbollah as ‘top organised crime threat’
Thomas Frank/The Arab Weekly/October 21/18
The unprecedented move puts the Lebanon-based militia in the same category as notorious Latin American drug cartels and gangs.
WASHINGTON - The Trump administration has classified Hezbollah as an international criminal organisation, an unprecedented move that puts the Lebanon-based militia in the same category as notorious Latin American drug cartels and gangs. By designating Hezbollah and the four Latin American groups as “top transnational organised crime threats,” the US Justice Department will target them with stepped-up investigations and prosecutions, US Attorney General Jeff Sessions said. Prosecutors assigned to Hezbollah were charged with investigating “individuals and networks providing support to Hezbollah,” Sessions said. Other groups targeted by a new Justice Department task force on transnational organised crime include MS-13, a violent street gang based in El Salvador linked to killings in the United States, and the Sinaloa cartel of Mexico, a powerful international drug organisation led by Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman. The targeting of Hezbollah reflects the group’s stature as a multibillion-dollar international criminal organisation whose members have helped facilitate major drug sales in the United States, officials said. Hezbollah associates have been charged recently with moving hundreds of thousands of dollars’ worth of cocaine into the United States from Latin America.
The US Congress said in a report on border security that Latin America has “become a money laundering and major fundraising centre” for Hezbollah. By classifying Hezbollah as an international criminal group, the Justice Department “is clearly recognising Hezbollah’s global criminal enterprises as a core element of the terror group’s activities and a threat to US national security,” Emanuele Ottolenghi, an expert on Hezbollah, wrote in a column in the Hill newspaper. “US strategy to disrupt Hezbollah’s financial flows will now rely not just on sanctions but also on sustained investigations, indictments, arrests, extraditions and convictions that the Justice Department will seek through the work of its newly minted task force,” he said.
The United States designated Hezbollah a foreign terrorist organisation in 1997 and has imposed increasingly stringent sanctions under US President Donald Trump, including targeting Hezbollah leaders Hassan Nasrallah and Naim Qassem. Before Sessions announced steps against Hezbollah, the US Senate approved a measure aimed at restricting Hezbollah access to the international financial system. The Hezbollah International Financing Prevention Act sanctioned countries and individuals that give Hezbollah arms or money or help its recruitment. The bill will “build on existing sanctions against Hezbollah by targeting its global fundraising and recruiting as well as those who provide it weapons,” US Representative Ed Royce, a Republican from California, said. Trump was expected to soon sign the bill into law.
The two actions reflect a more aggressive stance against Hezbollah under Trump. His predecessor, President Barack Obama, was accused of undermining efforts by the US Drug Enforcement Agency to block Hezbollah from importing large quantities of illegal drugs into the United States and Europe. The Obama administration denied accusations that it derailed investigations for policy and diplomatic reasons and said prosecutions ended because of a lack of evidence and cooperation from US allies. In January, Sessions created the Hezbollah Financing and Narcoterrorism Team to support the Drug Enforcement Agency’s work and crack down on Hezbollah associates allegedly involved in drug trafficking and related crimes, such as money laundering. “The investigation and prosecution of terrorist organisations that contribute to the growing drug crisis are a priority for this administration,” Assistant Attorney General John Cronan said. Joseph Humire, a global-security expert specialising in international crime, said the creation of the Hezbollah team in January along with Trump’s election has emboldened governments in Latin America to take their own steps against Hezbollah. In July, Argentinian authorities froze the assets of members of a Hezbollah-linked criminal syndicate in their country. Weeks later, Brazilian police arrested the syndicate’s leader, Assad Ahmad Barakat, on money-laundering charges. “Regional governments have started cracking down on Hezbollah’s criminal activity,” Humire wrote in the Hill.
Hezbollah’s drug-trafficking activities have come to light in recent criminal cases in Miami, a major port of entry for illegal drugs into the United States. In December, Ali Issa Chamas, a Paraguayan man of Lebanese descent with Hezbollah ties, was sentenced to three-and-a-half years in prison after pleading guilty to attempting to import 31 kilograms of cocaine into the United States. Prosecutors said Chamas trafficked drugs to support Hezbollah and told authorities that he was “a global facilitator for Lebanese drug traffickers.”
Two years ago, US agents in Miami arrested three Hezbollah associates suspected of laundering $500,000 in cocaine profits through Miami banks.

The Lebanese government’s painful birth
Mohamad Kawas/The Arab Weekly/October 21/18
The world had more important things to do than wait for Lebanon to sort itself out.
Beirut is expected to finally form its new government. What is certain, however, is that Lebanon is subject to the mood of the outside world and its will. Therefore, it would be good for the Lebanese to become aware of their true size and their effect on the wider international scene.
The controversies and arguments that hindered the long-awaited birth and the multidirectional knots behind them have given us all headache after headache. First, there was a Sunni knot in which Hezbollah sought to stuff the cabinet with its own Sunni ministers, who, of course, would be loyal to Hezbollah and anti-Saad Hariri’s Future Movement. That way, Hariri and his movement would have serious competition in representing Lebanon’s Sunni community. Then, a Christian knot emerged. In it, Hezbollah seeks to increase the cabinet share of its ally Lebanese President Michel Aoun and this on top of the share of Aoun’s party, the Free Patriotic Movement, led by Aoun’s son-in-law Gebran Bassil.
So that the Lebanese Druze don’t feel left out, Hezbollah ties a Druze knot in which it would impose a larger share for its other ally, Talal Arslan, who is a favourite of the regime in Syria.From inside, all these orders were submitted by the retail clients but it was known that the wholesaler behind them was Hezbollah. French President Emmanuel Macron met with Aoun in Armenia and insisted that Bassil attend the meeting as well. Paris has delivered serious and firm messages ordering an end to the cabinet auction and to take a final stand considering a general international desire for the governmental impasse in Beirut to end. Before the meeting, Aoun fired arrows that struck major decision-making capitals. His comments in an interview with French daily Le Figaro contrasted with the trend in the international scene. Aoun lauded Hezbollah and defended its weapons, its wars and its views, while Washington was relentlessly increasing the momentum of its sanctions against the party, its networks and its suppliers.
When Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu took the podium at the United Nations, waving pictures and maps of Hezbollah rocket sites near Beirut airport, Bassil volunteered to take all foreign ambassadors in Beirut on an inspection tour of the sites to see for themselves that they were free of what Netanyahu and his generals had claimed.Paris moved quickly and firmly to remind Beirut that the matter was not a childish game and that the scent of war in the air was real and could not withstand lighthearted jokes about tours that displeased the ambassadors in Lebanon.
After meeting with Macron, Bassil seemed to have understood what he was refusing to understand before. He rushed to see Hezbollah Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah. Mean tongues have said that that was why Macron had insisted on Bassil’s presence at the meeting. The meeting with Nasrallah lasted three hours. Then, word came that the bond on Hariri’s government had been lifted.
This was a triumph for Hariri, the prime minister-designate. The international community is backing Lebanon and backing him personally. It seems that the CEDRE conference of donor countries to support Lebanon, in Paris last April under the auspices of the French president, appeared to be a message aimed at supporting Hariri himself more than supporting Lebanon. Sponsored by Arab and regional countries and supported by major powers, Hariri has become a Lebanese reference. When he hinted that he might resign from the task of forming the next government, those who did not realise it before finally understood that the man was speaking out of his knowledge that the general mood outside Lebanon was not conducive to Lebanese vanity and the naivete of its political class. The world had more important things to do than wait for Lebanon to sort itself out. There are major workshops going on, workshops that will determine the fate of the Middle East. One of those workshops revolves around the future of Syria and it involves a competition between Russia and the United States, with Turkey, Israel and the surrounding countries poking their noses in it. Washington is dead set on driving Iran out of Syria. So, Lebanon is just a small detail on the big boys’ agendas.
Day after day, US President Donald Trump’s administration has shown a dogged determination to keep maximum pressure on Iran. Brian Hook, director of policy planning at the State Department, spoke about the United States’ determination to force Iran to sign a new deal on Tehran’s nuclear and missile programmes and its behaviour internationally. As Hook waves the deal in the sense that it would be possible to let the mullahs’ regime survive, the US Treasury Department is shaking the pillars of the Tehran regime by imposing sanctions on the financial network supporting it and its striking tool, the Basij forces. Therefore, Lebanon will not be allowed to sing a different tune.
Hezbollah hinted that foreign parties imposing the terms of the internal agreement on the composition of the new Hariri government was a natural consequence of the settlement that led to Adel Abdul-Mahdi becoming prime minister in Iraq. So, if the deal in Iraq had a heavy Iranian scent hovering about it, so is the case in Beirut, brought by a surprise visit to Beirut by Iraqi Foreign Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari. It is clear though that Hezbollah wants this government to see the light. It is also in Iran’s interests to have a full and legitimate government in place in Beirut according to the wishes of the International community. It will serve it well when Iran goes to Paris to convince the Europeans that it still plays a pivotal role in determining the conditions of stability in the region, Iraq and Lebanon included. On the other hand, it seems that Hezbollah, dogged by US sanctions, has bent to the storm and found warmth in the cover of legitimacy within a cohesive government where friends and foes coexist gracefully. The world order is drawing the lines in the region. Something that is being carefully crafted may have surprises for Damascus’s relations with countries in the region that have been waging a campaign against it. Lebanon will not be left outside an international political process involving all the countries of the world. It is not in Lebanon’s interest to be unique either and stand outside the mood of the Arabs and the world. The Lebanese may restrain their government’s release as long as possible but, when the light turns red, they will graciously and tenderly facilitate the birth of their next government and prepare to listen carefully to what distant capitals whisper.

Hezbollah sees Israel's empty threats in Gaza
تحليل من يديعوت احرونوت ليوسي ياهوشوا: حزب الله يرى أن تهديدات إسرائيل لغزة هي فارغة

Yossi Yehoshua/Ynetnews/October 21/18
Analysis: According to reports, Iran has recently increased the frequency of its advanced weapons deliveries to Hezbollah; the Cabinet needs to decide whether or not to attack the Iranian missile factory as a preemptive strike; meanwhile, Hamas proves again and again that it has no intention to put back down until it gets what it wants; our leaders must formulate a strategy—and fast.
While IDF Chief of Staff Gadi Eisenkot was in the Gaza Division on Friday to closely monitor the border fence riots, Fox News reported that American and other Western intelligence officials estimate Iran has recently increased the frequency of its advanced weapons deliveries to Hezbollah.
As far as Eisenkot is concerned, this is the real headache he leaves to his successor, who has not only yet to be announced, but will also not have enough time for on-the-job training. According to Fox News' report, the latest shipments included GPS components meant to upgrade rockets and turn them into precision-guided missiles. Senior officials told the TV network that one of the flights landed in Lebanon on Tuesday. The plane, a Boeing 747, first touched down in Damascus and then continued to Beirut. Fox News' report follows another report that noted that "accuracy kits" meant for the long-range missiles the Iranians having in Lebanon, are smuggled on commercial passenger airplanes going directly to the Beirut airport, where they enjoy cooperation from local authorities. This is how Iran overcomes the main obstacle to arms shipments—the possibility they'll be attacked by Israeli aircraft, as has happened more than once in the past. This modus operandi is consistent with the pressure Russia has been exerting on Iran in an effort to maintain the quiet in Syria since the Russian intelligence plane was shot down in the Latakia area over a month ago. But this is not enough for Hezbollah, as in addition to the GPS components the Shi'ite terror organization wants more long-range missiles as well as additional components to upgrade the accuracy of the existing missiles.This is the place to mention the comments made by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman last week, according to which Israel continues operating in Syria against Iran and Hezbollah's military buildup. During his speech at the UN General Assembly last month, Netanyahu presented an aerial image of a missile factory Iran built near the Beirut airport, and sent a message to Iran and Hezbollah: "We will continue to act against you in Syria. We will act against you in Lebanon. We will act against you in Iraq. We will act against you whenever, and wherever. We must act to defend our state and to defend our people."In light of these remarks and the recent developments, it's likely the Cabinet's main dilemma is whether or not to attack the Iranian missile factory in Lebanon as a preemptive strike. Israel hasn't attacked Hezbollah in Lebanon, nor acted to stop the terror group's military buildup, since the 2006 Second Lebanon War. Such a move would very likely lead to war.
At this point we should go back to the images of the home of Miri Tamano in Be'er Sheva, which was hit last week by a rocket with a 20 kilogram warhead, perhaps a little more, causing significant damage to the structure. Twenty kilograms is not a lot in Hezbollah's terms, as the terror group has missiles with hundreds of kilograms of payload, highly accurate. Hezbollah has tens of thousands of the missiles fired at Be'er Sheva last week, several thousand heavier missiles and hundreds of heavy and accurate missiles. Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah is also watching the developments on the Gaza border closely, and how Israel conducts itself against Hamas, which has far lesser abilities than the Lebanese organization. The IDF respects itself too much to hide or minimize the events on the Gaza border (we don't expect anything from the government ministers anymore). Contrary to what was claimed, the protests on the border last Friday were not the quietest over the past seven months. Like recent weeks, grenades were thrown at IDF forces and Palestinians managed to cross the border fence in several locations. The quietest Friday was after the declaration of a ceasefire in August, and not last weekend. What did happen this time was that Hamas sent to the border fence only half the people that were there the week before—10,000 instead of 20,000—and tried to curb the violence, to some degree. Hamas proves again and again that it controls the height of the flames and has no intention to put out this fire until it gets what it wants. Israel's political leadership, which is mostly busy with threats to which it has no cover, is now required not only to stop making threats, but also to formulate a strategy—and fast—for Gaza. The solution, at the end of the day, is diplomatic—even if it comes after a military blow. And if anyone thinks otherwise, they ought to instruct the IDF accordingly.,7340,L-5376272,00.html

Former intelligence chief: Iran is forming missile plants in Lebanon
يديعوت احرونوت: رئيس المخابرات الإسرائيلية السابق يقول بأن إيران تبني مصانع صواريخ في لبنان

Alexandra Lukash, Attila Somfalvi/Ynetnews/October 21/18
Maj. Gen. (res.) Amos Yadlin, says Iran changed its strategy: instead of basing precision missile factories in Syria, they are transferring missile precision equipment to Hezbollah; Yadlin: 'If Israel doesn't do anything, the price will be paid in war.'
The former head of Military Intelligence, Maj. Gen. (res.) Amos Yadlin set down for an interview with Ynet Sunday and addressed Iran's transfer of GPS missile system to Hezbollah. According to Fox News, Iran has reportedly stepped up its shipments of advanced weapons to Hezbollah in Lebanon. One of the shipments arrived in Lebanon last week, transporting GPS components to make unguided rockets into precision-guided missiles, thereby increasing the threat to Israel. In addition, according to the report, which cited American and Western intelligence sources, an Iranian cargo plane reportedly took off from the Tehran International Airport last Tuesday at 9:33am, flying to an unknown destination. It later arrived in Damascus and then continued to Beirut, where it landed just after 2pm, Fox News said, citing flight tracker software. Yadlin, head of the Institute for National Security Studies (INSS), said in response to the report that "the Iranians were severely beaten on May 10. The IDF attacked about 50 targets in Syria where the Iranians were based, it took them some time, but according to my estimates, they changed strategy: instead of basing the precision missile factories in Syria, they decided to do it in Lebanon. "It is more problematic for Israel since Israel, to this day, has not attacked the Iranian consolidation in Lebanon or Hezbollah's weaponry, and now there are missile conversion factories. According to the report, these are statistical missiles that strike at a distance of several kilometers. This poses a very difficult dilemma for Israel," Yadlin explained.
The cabinet's assessment is that if Israel deliberately attacks Hezbollah targets, we face an almost certain war? "This should be the working assumption, of course it will be necessary for the Israeli Intelligence Community to give an estimate of the chances of war, and whether there are courses of action that on the one hand achieve the goal and on the other hand do not escalate the situation and start a war. In Syria, the IDF learned how to formulate such a course of action that did not lead to war."  Are we to expect Israeli attacks in Lebanon from now on?
"Israel is facing two choices: first, to strike, not necessarily by air, there are other methods to harm Iran's establishment in Lebanon. Second, Israel can do what it has been doing for the past 12 years. Between 2006 and 2018, Israel did not act against Hezbollah's buildup, and therefore the organization is much stronger today than it was in 2006. This is a serious dilemma, which will be raised in the Security Cabinet meeting."
Can Israel strategically allow Hezbollah to continue its military buildup?
"If Israel does not do anything, Hassan Nasrallah's organization will turn its Order of battle of its statistical Missiles and rockets into precision missiles. The price will be paid in war." Do you think this is a mistake? Because we know their arsenal is very big. "True, their arsenal is large, but as long as they don't have precision missiles, it is a terrorist weapon factory— it cannot attack important our power centers Israel, intelligence bases, air force bases, the Kirya base, or power stations. Today Hezbollah can mostly strike innocent civilians, but damage to Israel's military can only be caused by precision missiles."
Is this a change Israel will not accept? Yes, the prime minister and defense minister announced, both in Israel and abroad, that Israel will not accept this change. The transition from announcements, speeches and declarations to action is the most difficult part. We need to see where the government is heading. ",7340,L-5376450,00.html
The Latest LCCC Bulletin For Miscellaneous Reports And News published on October 21-22/18
Netanyahu-Mnuchin meeting aims to ‘ramp up the pressure’ against Iran
Eytan Halon/Jerusalem Post/October 21/18
"Instead of blocking their path to a nuclear bomb, it actually paved their way to a nuclear arsenal," Netanyahu said of JCPOA.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said his closed-door meeting with US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin in Jerusalem on Sunday would focus on “ramping up the pressure” against Iran.
Welcoming Mnuchin on his second official visit to Israel, Netanyahu praised the strong Israel-United States alliance in a range of fields, including in their “common approach to preventing aggression” in the Middle East, notably in preventing Iran’s dual quest for a nuclear and conventional arsenal. “We have seen in recent years that pressure is the only thing that arrests the forward movement of the Iranian nuclear program and pressure is the only thing that rolls back Iran’s aggression in the region,” Netanyahu told Mnuchin at the Prime Minister’s Office.
Netanyahu praised US President Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw from the JCPOA nuclear agreement with Iran in May, saying he would also be discussing issues of economic cooperation between the countries and the part that Israel and the United States play in the world economy.
“This is the first stop on my trip to the Middle East this week,” Mnuchin said ahead of the meeting. “I will be going to six countries and this is my first stop because we have no better partner than Israel in our fight against terrorism and combating terrorist financing.”
Mnuchin added that the key purpose of his Middle East trip is to discuss the implementation of a second round of US sanctions which will target Iran’s oil and gas sector, due to enter into effect on November 4. “This is a very important part of exiting the JCPOA and our plan to make sure that there are never nuclear weapons in Iran. Not now, not in ten years, never,” Mnuchin said. Despite ongoing calls for clarity regarding the role of Saudi Arabia’s leadership in the death of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, Mnuchin told reporters on Sunday that although he would not be attending the Future Investment Initiative Summit in Riyadh later this week, he would still be traveling to the Saudi capital for talks focusing on countering Iranian aggression.
“I did not think it was appropriate to go and speak at this conference but we continue to have important issues with Saudi Arabia and that is why I am going there,” Mnuchin said, adding that Khashoggi’s death would not be the focus of his trip.
“It would be premature to comment on sanctions, and premature to comment on really any issues until we get further down the investigation and get to the bottom of what occurred,” he said. On Saturday, Trump said he was “not satisfied” with Saudi Arabia’s explanation of how Khashoggi died in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on October 2, but added that it was “possible” that Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman had no knowledge of the killing. Also on Sunday, Mnuchin met with his Israeli counterpart, Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon. In their fifth meeting to date, they discussed issues including taxation, trade and cooperation in the field of housing ahead of Monday’s annual meeting of the US-Israel Joint Economic Development Group.
Abdullah cuts down Jordan’s peace treaty with Israel, while reorienting his policy on détente with Turkey, Syria, Qatar
DEBKAfile/October 21/18
Jordan’s King Abdullah notified Israel on Sunday, Oct. 21, that he will not renew two annexes of the peace treaty which his father King Hussein signed with Israel in Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin in 1994. They granted Israel ownership rights for 25 years under Jordanian sovereignty in the Naharayim/Baqura and the Zofar/Al Ghamr areas of the Arava region of southern Israel, which Israeli farmers have been working. While the announcement came two days after a big anti-Israeli demonstration in Amman, DEBKAfile’s sources disclose that it is part of a calculated move by the Jordanian monarch to bring his kingdom into alignment with Turkey, Syria and Qatar. In recent days, his prime minister, Dr. Omar al-Razzaz, has been holding intensive talks with Turkish ministers in an effort to persuade Ankara to stop routing its export goods to the Gulf via Haifa port and send them instead through Syria and Jordan. To this end, Jordan earlier this month reopened its Nassib border crossing with Syria, against strong objections from Washington and Jerusalem. The king is in the process of mending his ties with Syria’s Bashar Assad and looks forward to an early visit to Amman by an impressive Syrian official delegation headed by Foreign Minister Walid Moallem. Qatar is performing a dual role: On the one hand, Doha is funding Israeli fuel supplies to the Gaza Strip in an effort to de-escalate Hamas-Israeli tensions, while, on the other, trying to tempt Jordan’s King to come over to its side and abandon his ties with Qatar’s rival, Saudi Arabia. King Abdullah hopes Riyadh, in its weakened state following the Khashoggi affair, will not notice his desertion. Going back on the two peace treaty annexes with Israel serves the Jordanian monarch’s evolving alignment with three allies, two of whom are hostile to Israel. He hopes his new orientation will help channel the rising domestic unrest over his failure to resolve the kingdom’s galloping economic crisis. Muslim Brotherhood activists, led by the Brotherhood’s Palestinian offshoot Hamas, have been stirring up the trouble, demanding abrogation of the peace treaty with Israel and the closure of the Israeli embassy in Amman. Hamas is in fact using Jordan as the stage for a second front against Israel as well as the Gaza Strip.

Canada condemns killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi
October 20, 2018 - Ottawa, Ontario - Global Affairs Canada
The Honourable Chrystia Freeland, Minister of Foreign Affairs, today issued the following statement:
“Canada condemns the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, which the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has confirmed took place in its consulate in Istanbul.
“The explanations offered to date lack consistency and credibility.
“We also express our sincere condolences to Hatice Cengiz and the family and loved ones of Mr. Khashoggi. The pain they are enduring as a result of this tragedy is heartbreaking.
“We reiterate our call for a thorough investigation, in full collaboration with the Turkish authorities, and a full and rigorous accounting of the circumstances surrounding Mr. Khashoggi’s death.
“Those responsible for the killing must be held to account and must face justice.”
Trump Accuses Saudis of 'Lies' over Khashoggi Killing
Naharnet/October 21/18/U.S. President Donald Trump has accused Saudi Arabia of lying about the killing of Jamal Khashoggi, his strongest comments to date on the affair as pressure builds on the administration to strike a tougher line. In an interview with the Washington Post published late Saturday, Trump stepped back from his stance that Saudi Arabia's latest explanation for the death of the journalist inside their Istanbul consulate was credible, but said he remained confident in the leadership of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. "Obviously there's been deception and there's been lies," he said of the shifting accounts offered by Riyadh. Saudi officials originally said Khashoggi, who entered the diplomatic mission on October 2, had left unharmed, before announcing Friday he was killed inside the building in what they described as an altercation. "Their stories are all over the place," added Trump. Saudi Arabia faced a growing chorus of incredulity Sunday, with world powers demanding answers. British and French officials denounced the latest Saudi explanation as insufficient. Canada's foreign minister, Chrystia Freeland, said the Saudi version lacked "consistency and credibility."
Growing pressure
Closer to home, pressure continued to grow on Trump to take a stronger stance against Saudi Arabia, the world's biggest oil exporter and a key regional power. Several senior members of Trump's Republican Party said they believed Prince Mohammed, the kingdom's de facto ruler, was linked to the killing, and one called for a "collective" Western response if a link is proved. But Trump stopped far short of calling for the prince to be replaced, emphasizing as he has before how important the US-Saudi relationship is to Washington's regional strategic goals.
He described the 33-year-old prince, widely known as MBS, as a "strong person; he has very good control." "He's seen as a person who can keep things under check," added Trump. "I mean that in a positive way." Trump added that he has yet to be shown any evidence by intelligence officials that would make him believe MBS had any direct role. "Nobody has told me he's responsible. Nobody has told me he's not responsible. We haven't reached that point. I haven’t heard either way," the president said. "There is a possibility he found out about it afterward. It could be something in the building went badly awry. It could be that's when he found out about it. He could have known they were bringing him back to Saudi Arabia."
Republicans hit MBS
Amid Trump's apparent equivocations, several key Republicans demanded a tougher stance. Speaking on ABC on Sunday, Republican Congressman Peter King said: "There's no way that one person, an overweight civilian, has to be killed. They could have brought him down with no trouble at all," adding he believed there was "an intent to kill." Asked if he thought Prince Mohammed was behind the killing, a fellow Republican, Senator Bob Corker, told CNN: "Yes, I think he did it. Let's finish this investigation."Corker, who chairs the Foreign Relations Committee, added that if the prince is implicated, "There should be a collective response.""I think you're going to see the United States, United Kingdom, France, Germany working collectively with others if he did this to respond in an appropriate way."Perhaps the strongest words came from Lindsay Graham, a strong Trump ally in the Senate who called for Prince Mohammed to "be removed." "I would like to punish those involved. It's impossible to believe the crown prince wasn't involved. I don't mind military sales but I object to business with the current leadership," he said. "This behavior is outside the norm to the point that the people involved need to be removed in my view. Saudi Arabia is a country and MBS is a person. I'm willing to separate the two." Democrats have repeatedly lashed out at Trump's response as weak and indecisive, and they said his latest reaction fell short as well. Barring an unlikely "confession" from Prince Mohammed, Democratic Congressman Adam Schiff said Sunday, "the president is going to accept the crown prince's denials like he's accepted Putin's denials and Kim Jong-Un's denials." "We need to do a deep-dive probe in terms of Saudi Arabia," he said on ABC. "We have to see if financial motives are influencing the president."

Jubeir: Saudi Crown Prince was not aware of Khashoggi case
Staff writer, Al Arabiya English/Sunday, 21 October 2018/In an interview with Fox News, Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir has said that Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman was not aware of the Khashoggi case. “The individuals did this out of the scope of their authority,” Jubeir told Fox News’ Bret Baierhe during an exclusive interview, adding that none of those involved in Khashoggi’s death had close ties to Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. “There were not people closely tied to him. This was an operation that was a rogue operation,” he said. The Saudi foreign minister gave his condolences to family of Khashoggi and said the death was an aberration and a huge and grave mistake. He added that the Saudis are currently working on finding out where Khashoggi’s body is and determining the full details into what happened.

Jubeir: Khashoggi case a grave mistake, those involved will be held accountable
Staff writer, Al Arabiya English /Sunday, 21 October 2018/Saudi Arabia's Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir told Fox News that the Saudis want to hold to account those responsible in the case regarding the late Jamal Khashoggi. Jubeir then added that Saudi King Salman was was “determined to hold Khashoggi killers accountable” .“The individuals did this out of the scope of their authority,” Jubeir told Fox News’ Bret Baierhe during an exclusive interview, adding that none of those involved in Khashoggi’s death had close ties to Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. “There were not people closely tied to him. This was an operation that was a rogue operation,” he said. Jubeir said that conflicting reports about whether khashoggi had left Saudi Arabia’s consulate in Istanbul prompted a probe that the Saudis will continue to put out information on Khashoggi’s death as it becomes available. The Saudi foreign minister gave his condolences to family of Khashoggi and said the death was an aberration and a huge and grave mistake. He added that the Saudis are currently working on finding out where Khashoggi’s body is and determining the full details into what happened.
Turkey’s Erdogan: Details on Khashoggi case will be provided on Tuesday
Staff writer, Al Arabiya English/Sunday, 21 October 2018/Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said that he will announce on Tuesday details of Turkey’s investigation into the case of Saudi citizen and journalist Jamal Khashoggi. Erdogan is expected to make the statement at a meeting with members of his ruling AK Party in parliament on Tuesday. “I will make my statement about this issue on Tuesday at the party group meeting,” Erdogan said in a speech in Istanbul on Sunday. With Agencies

Saudi Account of Khashoggi's Death Meets Growing Skepticism
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/october 21/18/Saudi Arabia faced a growing chorus of incredulity Sunday over its belated explanation of how critic Jamal Khashoggi died inside its Istanbul consulate, as world powers demanded answers and the whereabouts of his body. After a fortnight of denials, Saudi authorities admitted on Saturday that the Washington Post columnist was killed after entering the consulate on October 2, a disappearance that sparked outrage and plunged the Gulf kingdom into a spiralling international crisis. Turkish officials have accused Riyadh of carrying out a state-sponsored killing and dismembering the body, with pro-government media in Turkey reporting the existence of video and audio evidence to back those claims. Police have searched a forest in Istanbul where they believe his body may have been disposed of. After initially saying Khashoggi left the consulate unharmed, and then that they were investigating his disappearance, Saudi authorities backtracked and admitted the 60-year-old was killed in a "brawl" with officials inside the consulate. But that narrative -- combined with the absence of Khashoggi's body -- quickly drew skepticism and scorn from many, including staunch allies. Ankara vowed to reveal all the details of a two-week inquiry as US President Donald Trump said he was unsatisfied with Saudi Arabia's response to the columnist's death while the EU, Germany, France, Britain, Australia, Canada and the U.N. also demanded greater clarity. The controversy has put the kingdom -- for decades a key ally in Western efforts to contain Iran -- under unprecedented pressure. It has also evolved into a major crisis for Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, a Trump administration favourite widely known as MBS, whose image as a modernizing Arab reformer has been gravely undermined.
'Changing stories'
Canada is among the latest countries to question Riyadh's version of events. "The explanations offered to date lack consistency and credibility," Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland said in a statement Saturday. Senior Republican senator Marco Rubio was more stark in his assessment. "Saudi Arabia's changing stories on #KhashoggiMurder is getting old. The latest one about a fist fight gone bad is bizarre," he tweeted, renewing his call for sanctions against those responsible. Ankara said it had a "debt of honor" to reveal what happened. "We are not accusing anyone in advance but we don't accept anything to remain covered (up)," said ruling Justice and Development Party spokesman Omer Celik. French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said many questions remained unanswered while German Chancellor Angela Merkel urged transparency, adding that "available reports on what happened in the Istanbul consulate are insufficient." "This cannot stand. This will not do," Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison added on Sunday. The EU's top diplomat Federica Mogherini and U.N. chief Antonio Guterres both called for a proper investigation and for the perpetrators to be held to account.
Trump initially said he found the explanation credible, but later expressed more scepticism -- although he warned against scrapping a multibillion-dollar arms deal with the conservative kingdom. "No, I am not satisfied until we find the answer," he told reporters. "It was a big first step. It was a good first step. But I want to get to the answer." Saudi Arabia's Gulf ally, the United Arab Emirates, welcomed the Saudi disclosures, as did Egypt. The front pages of Saudi newspapers on Sunday were branded with headlines of support for the kingdom's government. Okaz's front page said "Justice continues... accountability is coming", while Al-Riyadh daily said there was a "wide welcome" of the government's "justice and firmness" in the case of Khashoggi.
- Shielding crown prince
In the Saturday admission, Saudi Attorney General Sheikh Saud al-Mojeb also announced a series of moves including against people linked to the crown prince, who Khashoggi had criticised in his writings. He said 18 Saudis had been arrested and two top aides of Crown Prince Mohammed had been sacked, together with three other intelligence agents. The Saudi king also ordered the establishment of a ministerial body under the chairmanship of the crown prince -- his son -- to restructure the kingdom's intelligence agency and "define its powers precisely," Saudi state media said. Saudi officials have roundly denied that the crown prince had any involvement in the affair. But one suspect identified by Turkey was said to be a frequent companion of the young heir to the throne, three others were linked to his security detail and a fifth is a high-level forensic specialist, according to The New York Times.
The decision to overhaul the intelligence apparatus and sack members of Crown Prince Mohammed's inner circle is designed to "distance the crown prince from the murder," said analysis firm Eurasia Group. In a recent off-the-record interview published posthumously by U.S. magazine Newsweek, Khashoggi described the 33-year-old heir apparent as "an old-fashioned tribal leader," but said he would have accepted an offer to work as his adviser.
"I'm not calling for the overthrow of the regime," the one-time royal insider said. "I'm just calling for reform of the regime."
Moscow: 88,000 Gunmen Eliminated in Syria in 3 Years
Moscow - Raed Jaber/Asharq Al-Awsat/Sunday, 21 October, 2018/Russia's Defense Minister said on Saturday that almost 88,000 members of opposition factions have been killed in Syria since Moscow's intervention to back regime forces in 2015. "Over the course of the operation, a total of more than 87,500 gunmen have been eliminated and 1,411 settlements and more than 95 percent of Syria's territory has been liberated," Sergei Shoigu was quoted as saying at the fifth Defense Ministers’ Meeting of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and ASEAN eight Dialogue Partners. Most ISIS militants have been liquidated, he added, stressing that Syrian armed forces currently control territory where 90 percent of the population resides. “Russian Aerospace Defense Forces have made over 40,000 flights, including 21,000 flight in the nighttime, over the course of the operation in Syria and delivered strikes at around 122,000 terrorist facilities,” he explained. "Syria is now actively engaged in restoring the peaceful life," he noted, adding that the biggest concern is to resolve humanitarian issues and return refugees and displaced people to their homes. "As a result of concerted efforts of the Russian center for reconciliation of the conflicting sides, over 2,500 settlements from all over the country have already joined the reconciliation process," the minister said. He noted that 245,000 refugees had already returned to Syria, and about 2 million people expressed a desire to return to their homeland, adding that since mid-July, some 17,000 Syrians have returned home from Lebanon and Jordan. He pointed out that his army “has had a rich combat experience in the Syrian war, and we are ready to share with you.”"The necessary conditions for the return of Syria as a unified state are now available," he stressed, calling for "international efforts to achieve this goal." Shoigu also said that the return of militants to the Asia Pacific region after fighting in Syria and Iraq boosts terror threat in Southeast Asia. "The return of terrorists, who have received fighting experience in Syria and Iraq, to the Asia Pacific region remains an acute problem. They represent the ready force for joining local terror cells.” “Terrorism becomes the more and more grave threat for Asia Pacific states. This is caused by the activities of the significant number of extremist organizations in Southeast Asia," Shoigu noted. Notably, Shoigu and US Defense Secretary James Mattis met in person for the first time on the sidelines of ASEAN meeting. Communications at the level of defense ministers have been halted since the beginning of Russian military intervention in Syria. The two countries' defense ministers last made contact three years ago when Shoigu and then US Secretary of Defense Ash Carter discussed the situation in Syria.

Israel Postpones Khan al-Ahmar Demolition

Asharq Al-Awsat/Sunday, 21 October, 2018/Israel postponed on Sunday plans to demolish the Bedouin village of Khan al-Ahmar, announced Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office. "The intention is to give a chance to the negotiations and the offers we received from different bodies, including in recent days," a statement from his office said about the occupied West Bank village. Israeli authorities say the small village, located east of Jerusalem along a road leading to the Dead Sea, was built illegally, and had given resident until the beginning of October to evict themselves and demolish the structures. The fate of Khan al-Ahmar has drawn international concern, with European countries calling on Israel not to move ahead with plans to demolish it. On Wednesday, the International Criminal Court's chief prosecutor warned that Israel's planned "evacuation by force" of the village could constitute a war crime.
The residents have refused to leave on their own, and Israel had been making the preparations to expel the residents and demolish the village. The eviction decision followed years of legal battles and after negotiation attempts to agree on an alternative site for relocation failed. The expulsion plan had included relocation to an area about 12 km (seven miles) away next to a landfill. But an official in Netanyahu’s office, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said an alternative relocation plan was being looked at, in coordination with the Palestinian Authority. “The goal is to fully exhaust negotiations and (examine) proposed plans submitted by various agents, including (those received) in the past few days,” the official said. Israel, which has long sought to clear the Arab nomads from tracts of land between the settlements of Maale Adumim and Kfar Adumim, said Khan al-Ahmar was built without the required permits. Palestinians say such documents are impossible to obtain. The Palestinians say razing the village’s tents and tin shacks is part of an Israeli plan to create an arc of Jewish settlements that would effectively cut off East Jerusalem from the West Bank, areas captured by Israel in a 1967 war. Most countries consider settlements built by Israel on land it captured in 1967 as illegal and say they reduce and fragment the territory Palestinians seek for a viable state. Israel disputes this.

At Jordan Border, Damascus Seeks to Revive Regional Trade
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/october 21/18/By reopening a key land crossing with Jordan this month, the Syrian regime is inching towards a return to trade with the wider region as it looks to boost its war-ravaged economy. The government of President Bashar al-Assad took back control of the Nassib border post in July from rebels as part of a military offensive that reclaimed swathes of the south of the country. Syria's international trade has plummeted during the seven-year civil war, and its foreign reserves have been almost depleted. The reopening of Nassib after a three-year hiatus, on October 15, is a political victory for the Damascus regime, said Sam Heller of the International Crisis Group. It is "a step towards reintegrating with Syria's surroundings economically and recapturing the country's traditional role as a conduit for regional trade," he said. The Nassib crossing reopens a direct land route between Syria and Jordan, but also a passage via its southern neighbor to Iraq to the east, and the Gulf to the south. "For the Syrian government, reopening Nassib is a step towards normalization with Jordan and the broader region, and a blow to U.S.-led attempts to isolate Damascus," Heller said.
International pressure and numerous rounds of peace talks have failed to stem the fighting in Syria, and seven years in the regime has gained the military upper hand in the conflict. Assad's forces now control nearly two-thirds of the country, after a series of Russia-backed offensives against rebels and jihadists.
'Important market' Syria faces a mammoth task to revive its battered economy. The country's exports plummeted by more than 90 percent in the first four years of the conflict alone, from $7.9 billion to $631 million, according to a World Bank report last year. The Syria Report, an economic weekly, said Nassib's reopening would reconnect Syria with an "important market" in the Gulf. But, it warned, "it is unlikely Syrian exports will recover anywhere close to the 2011 levels in the short and medium terms because the country's production capacity has been largely destroyed".
For now, at least, Nassib's reopening is good news for Syrian tradesmen forced into costlier, lengthier maritime shipping since 2015. Among them, Syrian businessman Farouk Joud was looking forward to being able to finally import goods from Jordan and the United Arab Emirates via land. Before 2015, "it would take maximum three days for us to receive goods, but via the sea it takes a whole month," he told AFP. Importing goods until recently has involved a circuitous maritime route from the Jordanian port of Aqaba via the Suez Canal, and up to a regime-held port in the northwest of the country. "It costs twice as much as land transport via Nassib," Joud said. Syrian parliament member Hadi Sharaf was equally enthusiastic about fresh opportunities for Syrian exports. "Exporting (fruit and) vegetables will have a positive economic impact, especially for much-demanded citrus fruit to Iraq," he told AFP.
Before Syria's war broke out in 2011, neighboring Iraq was the first destination of Syria's non-oil exports.
- Customs fees -
The parliamentarian also hoped the revived trade route on Syria's southern border would swell state coffers with much-needed dollars. Before the conflict, the Nassib crossing raked in $2 million in customs fees, Sharaf said. Last month, Syria's Prime Minister Imad Khamis said fees at Nassib for a four-ton truck had been increased from $10 to $62. Syria's foreign reserves have been almost depleted due to the drop in oil exports, loss of tourism revenues and sanctions, the World Bank says. And the local currency has lost around 90 percent of its value since the start of the war. Lebanese businessmen are also delighted, as they can now reach other countries in the region by sending lorries through Syria and its southern border crossing. Lebanon's farmers "used to export more than 70 percent of their produce to Arab countries via this strategic crossing," said Bechara al-Asmar, head of Lebanon's labor union. Despite recent victories, Damascus still controls only half of the 19 crossings along Syria's lengthy borders with Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq and Turkey. Damascus and Baghdad have said the Albukamal crossing with Iraq in eastern Syria will open soon, but did not give a specific date. Beyond trade, there is even hope that the Nassib crossing reopening might bring some tourists back to Syria. A Jordanian travel agency recently posted on Facebook that it was organizing daily trips to the Syrian capital by "safe and air-conditioned" bus from Monday. "Who among us doesn't miss the good old days in Syria?" it said.

Israel to Provide Gaza with Fuel, Goods after Border Tensions are Reduced
Ramallah - Kifah Zboun/Asharq Al-Awsat/Sunday, 21 October, 2018/The Israeli army confirmed on Saturday its plan to re-pump fuel into the Gaza Strip as a “reward” for the reduced tensions during the weekly marches of return. Defense officials are expected to take advantage of the relatively subdued nature of Palestinian protests near the Israel-Gaza border fence to try and resume the supply of fuel to the enclave, Haaretz reported. On Sunday, Israel ordered the country's goods and people border crossings with Gaza to be opened, just four days after shuttering them following a Palestinian rocket attack that sparked retaliatory strikes. "The decision comes after a decrease in the violent events in Gaza over the weekend and efforts Hamas made to restrain" demonstrators, a statement from Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman's office read. Officials believe the resumption of the fuel transports will be interpreted in Gaza as a sign of a change in approach. The message that Israel will attempt to send is that if there is no violence, Gaza residents will be rewarded. On Friday, the Hamas movement reduced the momentum of marches on the Gaza border with Israel in response to Egyptian and UN efforts to forge a new truce in the Strip. Fewer protesters took part in the marches, which were less violent, in an indication of the Egyptians' success in reducing tensions, apparently in preparation for an imminent truce agreement. Palestinian factions have succeeded in keeping the majority of the demonstrators at a distance from the border, as part of a plan to reduce the number of dead and injured. Israeli defense officials said the protests were one of the most subdued in recent months. Hamas operatives notably prevented people from crossing the fence and acting in ways which would provoke an escalation. A small number of protesters approached the fence, with most staying behind in the tented area, which is several hundred yards from the border. Sources pointed to the decrease in the throwing of Molotov cocktails, improvised explosive devices and hand grenades from the Palestinian side towards the Israeli forces during the confrontations. However, the Fatah movement saw all this as an attempt by Hamas to exploit the marches to achieve its interests. “Hamas transformed the marches of return to rallies in order to negotiate with the occupying state,” it said in a statement. It accused Hamas of “changing the paths of the marches, adapting them to partisan agendas and strengthening Gaza's separation and entity,” while demanding a firm national stance from the national community.

Moscow Says U.S. Withdrawal from Nuclear Arms Treaty 'Dangerous Step'

Agence France Presse/Naharnet/october 21/18/Withdrawing from a Cold War-era nuclear weapons treaty with Russia as President Donald Trump has announced he plans to do is a dangerous step, Russia's deputy foreign minister warned on Sunday. "This would be a very dangerous step that, I'm sure, not only will not be comprehended by the international community but will provoke serious condemnation," deputy foreign minister Sergei Ryabkov told TASS state news agency. The treaty is "significant for international security and security in the sphere of nuclear arms, for the maintenance of strategic stability," he stressed. Russia condemned what he called attempts by the U.S. to gain concessions "through a method of blackmail," he added. If the U.S. continues to act "clumsily and crudely" and unilaterally back out of international agreements "then we will have no choice but to undertake retaliatory measures including involving military technology," Ryabkov told RIA Novosti news agency. "But we would not want to get to this stage," he added. On Saturday, Trump announced U.S. plans to leave the three-decade-old Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, known as the INF, signed in 1987 by the then U.S. president Ronald Reagan. "We're the ones who have stayed in the agreement and we've honored the agreement, but Russia has not unfortunately honored the agreement, so we're going to terminate the agreement and we're going to pull out," said Trump. But Ryabkov on Sunday denied Trump's accusations, throwing the accusation back at Washington. "We don't just not violate (the treaty), we observe it in the strictest way," he insisted. "And we have shown patience while pointing out over the course of many years the flagrant violations of this treaty by the U.S. itself."U.S. National Security Advisor John Bolton is set to arrive in Moscow on Sunday. "We hope that we will hear from him during meetings, tomorrow and the day after, more substantively and clearly what the American side intends to undertake," said Ryabkov. Earlier a foreign ministry source told Russian news agencies that the U.S. move was connected to its "dream of a unipolar world," an argument that Ryabkov also advanced. "Apparently the existence of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty creates problems for establishing a line of total U.S. domination and supremacy in the military sphere," he said.

Sovereign Ministries’ Pose Hurdle in Iraq Govt. Formation Efforts

Baghdad – Hamza Mustafa/Asharq Al-Awsat/Sunday, 21 October, 2018/Iraqi Prime Minister-designate Adel Abdul Mahdi has encountered the first obstacles in his efforts to form a new government. Claims over the sovereign portfolios by various political powers are impeding his efforts. A political source revealed that head of the national coalition, Iyad Allawi has threatened to boycott the political process if he is not named minister of defense. It added that the coalition also has claims to the ministries of education, labor and social affairs, and industry and minerals. An informed political source revealed that Abdul Mahdi has yet to reach a cabinet lineup, especially the distribution of the sovereign portfolios. The source told Asharq Al-Awsat on condition of anonymity: “The issue of sovereign ministries is still in the hands of the sovereign blocs, not the prime minister-designate, in spite of the independence that was he was allegedly given to carry out his mission.”He added that he defense portfolio will go to a Sunni minister and the interior will go to a Shiite. The Kurds are meanwhile demanding three ministries, including the finance portfolio.

Sarraj: No Agreement Reached on Unifying Libyan Army
Cairo - Khaled Mahmoud/Asharq Al-Awsat/Sunday, 21 October, 2018/The Government of National Accord (GNA) of Fayez al-Sarraj denied that an agreement had been reached over the unification of the Libyan army. Allegations had emerged that such a deal was reached during negotiations hosted by Cairo earlier this week and attended by various Libyan officials. Sarraj’s government denied the claims, adding that the GNA does support the unification of the military “because it will help end the current division.”It warned, however, of the repercussions of making such “irresponsible” statements, which may have a “negative impact on the negotiations that have been taking place for over a year.”The GNA stressed that the military should be under the control of the executive civilian authority. The Libyan National Army, of Khalifa Haftar, also denied claims that the military was being unified. The LNA had in February announced that an Egypt-sponsored deal to unify the army would soon be signed.

Egyptian-Sudanese Summit Set for Thursday
Cairo - Sawsan Abou Hussein/Asharq Al-Awsat/Sunday, 21 October, 2018/Egyptian President Abdul Fattah al-Sisi is scheduled to visit Sudan on Thursday to attend a meeting of the higher Egyptian-Sudanese committee, revealed Sudan’s Ambassador to Egypt Abdulmahmoud Abdulhalim. He told Asharq Al-Awsat that a summit will be held between Sisi and his Sudanese counterpart Omar al-Bashir on Thursday. It will be preceded by a meeting on Tuesday and Wednesday between ministers and senior officials. The businessmen joint committee will hold a meeting on the sidelines of the summit, added the ambassador. He described as significant Sisi’s visit to Khartoum, saying that he will hold “good news” for the peoples of both countries. Moreover, Abdulhalim said that ties between the two neighbors have never been better and they are both keen on implementing strategic projects that will benefit them both.A number of agreements will be signed next week and they will cover a number of files, such as food safety, healthcare, education and infrastructure, he added.

UN Envoy Expected in Yemen’s Taiz Next Week

London - Badr al-Qahtani/Asharq Al-Awsat/Sunday, 21 October, 2018/United Nations special envoy to Yemen Martin Griffiths is expected to visit the Taiz province next Sunday, informed sources said. The province has been suffering from a siege by the Iran-backed Houthi militias since Wednesday. Griffiths’ bureau chief Mohammed Khater had held talks with Taiz local officials in order to prepare for his visit, reported the Saba news agency. Talks also focused on providing aid to the province and the possibility of opening a UN office there. Prior to heading to Yemen, the envoy is likely to spend the upcoming week in Washington where he will discuss Yemen’s economy with concerned officials, said the sources that spoke on condition of anonymity. In addition, he is set to hold a UN-sponsored meeting with Yemeni government and Houthi representatives and regional and international powers. Nairobi is the likely venue for the meeting. The Nairobi meeting, if successfully held, will be the first to bring together the legitimate government and Houthis since the 2016 Kuwait talks.
The Latest LCCC Bulletin analysis & editorials from miscellaneous sources published on October 21-22/18
Khashoggi was Journalist AND Brotherhood Supporter
توم حرب: الخاشقجي كان صحافياً وداعماً ومؤيداً لجماعة الإخوان المسلمين

Tom Harb/New English Review/October 21/18
The Daily Beast attacked Professor Walid Phares because he told FoxNews that "the late Jamal Khajokji" was supportive of the Muslim Brotherhood. The man can be two things at once: a journalist and Muslim Brotherhood supporter. Phares had simply read about the writer's positions on his Twitter account and watched an interview he gave to al Jazeera, all sources still available online. It didn't matter that Phares was stating facts. He is opposed to political violence at any time in any place and he wanted to see justice in the killing of Jamal Khashokji, particularly because years ago the Beirut-born advisor had been a target as well.
But in the case of the Daily Beast and its militant sisters, we're not dealing with humanitarian media, we're dealing with a media that also targets individuals with different opinions, and is not above launching acerbic smears at the service of foreign powers, from Iran to Qatar.
This is nothing new to Phares. Along with a hit team of web sites and publications, the Daily Beast had smeared him in 2011, 2012 and in 2016, following his appointment as a Presidential candidate advisor by Romney and then Trump. The Beast has been supportive of the Iran Deal and a rabid attacker of the critics of the "150 billion dollars deal" between President Obama and the Ayatollahs.
The "Beast" tasked an ignorant half time blogger, #AndrewKirell, who used Hezbollah smear material published in 2011 to attack Phares and other Fox News personalities such as @HARRISFAULKNER , @LisaMarieBoothe @edhenry #JudithMiller & @WalidPhares.
The pro Iran deal web site is part of the Iran-Ikhwan lobby in America. Part of the war on America and the free world. A failed war
Kirell wrote
Fox News contributor Walid Phares, a right-wing anti-Islamic pundit and former Trump adviser added in the same segment: “I read the Twitter feed of Mr. Khashoggi, I saw him on TV for many years, he’s well-known. His position has been always for the Muslim Brotherhood, against the regime, and especially against this leadership. Even he sided with the Brotherhood, and at some time, he was criticizing the policy of the United States—which is okay, people can do that, so that’s reality.”
This is presented as an example of Islamophobia and a desire to smear Khashokji, but it’s just a simple fact. Walid Phares is backed in his opposition to the Muslim Brotherhood by a majority of Egyptians, the largest Arab Sunni country, by the Iranian opposition, the largest Shia civil society, and by Muslim communities, NGOs, activists across the world. How can he be described as an "anti-Islamic" pundit. He is surely a critic of Islamism and Jihadism, like thousands of Muslim liberals and moderates. The old canards of the Beast, Mother Jones and the Washington Post against have evaporated a while ago.
The far left media are using the sad episode of the death of a Saudi political activist, to strike at US policies of rapprochement with the members of the Arab Coalition, including Saudi, UAE, Egypt, Bahrain, Kuwait, Jordan and other anti-terrorist forces in the Arab world. They are doing so as supporters of the fascist axis of Iran, Assad, Qatar and the Muslim Brotherhood. They wanted to crumble Donald Trump's alliance with the Arab Coalition, but they failed. Saudi Arabia is coming forward with a probe on the Khajokji’s death and thousands of Arab social media users and bloggers have smashed the multi million dollars offensive by Ikhwan and Iran lobbies.
Walid Phares struggled all his life for freedom and democracy in the Middle East, for women, minorities, youth and individual dissidents like Jamal Khajokji to be able to be free.
The Beast remains a beast at the service of the regional Jihadists, and the American public needs to know that.

Extremist Persecution of Christians, May 2018
ريموند إبراهيم: جدول وقائع اضطهاد المتطرفين للمسيحيين لشهر أيار 2018

Raymond Ibrahim/Gatestone Institute/October 21/18
"It Is the Quran That Must Be Read"
"Churches and individual Christians have faced increased restrictions in recent months, raising concerns that these pressures signal a coordinated campaign of intensified action against churches by the governing authorities." — Middle East Concern, Algeria.
A Muslim man walked into a cathedral and threatened to blow it up for preaching the Gospel and not the Koran. — France.
"The Indonesian government should revisit the country's blasphemy law.... To honor religious freedom as enshrined in Indonesia's constitution, the government must respect all religions and stop criminalizing Christians when they are merely exercising their right to free speech." — International Christian Concern, Indonesia.
On May 19, four gunmen stormed the Church of Michael the Archangel in Grozny, the capital of Russia's Muslim-majority Republic of Chechnya, and killed three people -- a churchgoer and two police officers. The attackers were also killed in the gunfire exchange with security forces. (Image source: Alexxx1979/Wikimedia Commons)
The Extremists' Slaughter of Christians Inside Churches
Indonesia: Six suicide bombers from one Muslim family attacked three churches on May 13, during Sunday Mass services; at least 11 worshippers were killed. The suicide bombers consisted of a father, mother, and four children, two boys and two girls, aged 9,12, 16, and 18. According to the report:
"More than 40 people were injured in the blasts. The first attack that killed four people, including one or more bombers, occurred at the Santa Maria Roman Catholic Church... The father of the family accused of carrying out the suicide bombing had detonated a car bomb during his attack. The incident was followed by a second explosion at the Christian Church of Diponegoro that killed two people. In a third attack, at Pantekosta Church, two more died, police said."
A witness described one of the attacks, where the mother and the two youngest jihadis detonated themselves. Because she was carrying two suspicious bags (apparently of explosives), "officers blocked them in front of the churchyard, but the woman ignored them and forced her way inside. Suddenly (the bomb) exploded." The father "was very active in the mosque," said an acquaintance; "he never missed any of the five daily prayers, but he avoided discussing religion." "The four children were studying in schools run by the Muhammadiyah," long thought the most moderate Islamic school in Indonesia, said a family neighbor. "To me they were normal people," he added.
Russia: Four gunmen stormed a church in Grozny, the capital of Russia's Muslim-majority Republic of Chechnya, and killed three people, a churchgoer and two police officers, on May 19. The attackers — who were also armed with knives, hatchets and homemade explosives — were also killed in the gunfire exchange with security forces at the Church of Michael the Archangel. According to the report:
"It was not immediately clear whether there was any link between the attackers and extremist groups. But Chechnya has experienced attacks by Islamist extremists before, including those who pledged allegiance to the Islamic State. Women and men from majority Muslim areas of Russia, including Chechnya, have traveled to Syria and Iraq to fight alongside the Islamic State there, and dozens have begun to return as the group has lost most of its territory.... Grozny once had a substantial ethnic Russian, Christian population but most of them fled during the wars. The church that was attacked Saturday is in the center of the city and was at the heart of some of the battles of the 1990s."
Three months earlier, a report entitled, "ISIS Tells Muslims to Kidnap and Murder Christians in Russian-Occupied Areas," had been published.
Central African Republic: Armed Muslims opened fire on, and hurled grenades at, a Catholic church on May 1. They killed between 16 and 24 people and injured 170. According to one report:
"Former members of a Muslim militia killed at least 16 people in an attack on a church in the Central African Republic... Notre Dame of Fatima, a Roman Catholic church in the capital, Bangui, was attacked Tuesday morning with grenades and gunfire by men allied with a rebel group once known as Seleka, an Islamic faction whose takeover of Bangui five years ago set off the country's continuing conflict."
A later report said, "at least 24 were killed and 170 injured by militants who sprayed bullets into the crowd and detonated grenades." This is "the second Catholic priest to be killed in about a month in the CAR [Central African Republic]. The murdered priest's church lies just outside the predominantly Muslim PK5 district of Bangui..." The New York Times reported:
"It was the second time in four years that Notre Dame of Fatima has become a symbol of the violence that has cleaved the country, often along religious lines. In 2014, Seleka rebels followed the same pattern, first throwing grenades and then opening fire indiscriminately, targeting people who had sought protection at the church from ongoing clashes."
Nigeria: Armed Muslim herdsmen raided a Catholic seminary in Jalingo. According to a priest who was shot, "Fulani herdsmen who were armed to their teeth stormed the school premises" and "opened fire at my window and destroyed my telephone set and other valuables." They then "forced the students to lead them to my room and beat me with their sticks and immediately I fell down [and] one of them shot me in my leg." Discussing such raids, the local bishop said that "it is regrettable as a church because we are only modeling the children to be good citizens of Nigeria and the world at large."
The Extremist Muslim Slaughter of Christians Outside Churches
Pakistan: A Muslim family beat, tied down, raped, and then murdered a Christian teen in front of her father, because she, their live-in maid, did not do her household chores to their satisfaction. On May 5, her father and another relative went to visit the girl at her employer's home. According to the report:
"When they entered the house they saw Muhammad Asif, Muhammad Kashif, Muhammad Tariq Pasran, Muhammad Ismael and wife of Muhammad Asif and another lady were torturing Kainat [his daughter]... Asif Gujjar and his wife were seizing the legs of Kainat while Muhammad Kashif and Muhammad Tariq Pasran had grabbed her arms. They had tied a rope around her neck and were trying to strangle her. Salamat Masih said that they begged not to kill his daughter but they did not pay any heed to his plea. They killed Kianat in front of his eyes. ... Salamat Masih claims that his daughter was killed for not cleaning the house properly."
A separate report said that "a post-mortem study ... also found evidence of rape on the teenager." Because they and their families are usually condemned to lives of extreme poverty, "Christian girls are too frequently placed into domestic servitude contracts from ages as young as 10. Many of these girls suffer cruel beatings and rape from depraved men and jealous wives," the British Pakistani Christian Association said while discussing this latest atrocity.
Uganda: Not content with killing a Muslim convert to Christianity, Muslim villagers also mutilated his corpse, according to a May 4 report. After Kuzaifa became a Christian two years ago, his family instantly ostracized him. He, his wife, and two young children fled to, and found refuge with, a pastor, and eventually moved more than 100 miles away from their home village. "You think you are safe in Kampala," the text messages started coming in. "We shall soon come for your neck." Then, on April 1, while returning from work, he was attacked and killed by unidentified persons. When his wife went to her husband's family to inform them of his death, her father-in-law received her coldly, saying, "My son thought that he can run away from Allah, but he could not." According to the report, "On April 4, family members and other Muslims took the body from the mortuary and buried it in an indecent manner." "Word went around that Kuzaifa's body was mutilated and not properly buried," said his wife. "His body was not washed, several pins were inserted into his body, they dug a very small grave for the body, and several cuts were made on his corpse." Christians responded by exhuming his body; "[t]hey washed it and provided a decent burial service." Now it is his wife's turn to be targeted: "If you continue with Christianity," came one text message, "you will go the same way of your husband."
Mozambique: Suspected Islamic terrorists beheaded 10 people with machetes in the Christian-majority nation on May 29. "There are 10 citizens who have been hideously killed," said a police spokesman. "The environment is scary." Although it was not immediately clear who was behind the atrocity, "local sources blamed the attack on Islamists," said the report; "Cabo Delgado province has seen a number of attacks by suspected radical Islamists since October [2017]." The group, known as Al Shabaab — Arabic for "the Youth" — is not believed to be affiliated to the other Islamic terror group of the same name in Somalia. "On the one hand the rate of attacks appears to intensify," said one analyst, "on the other hand, the methods seem to be radicalized, with decapitations becoming more and more common."
The Legal Jihad on Christian Churches
Algeria: Authorities shut down "two more Protestant churches, amidst growing pressure on the country's Christian minority," according to a May 29 report. Police sealed off the two churches in an area "where much of the growth in the Church is happening." One of the churches was established in 2005 and was attended by more than 200 worshippers. In the words of one of its leaders, "The officers came in on Friday morning. They simply sealed off the main entrance without a prior notice, as was the case before with other ... churches." A leader from another church had also received a similar telephone call from a police officer who said, "I'm calling to inform you that we have received an order to close your church." Soon after, a group of officers appeared and sealed off that church, too. According to the Christian advocacy group, Middle East Concern:
"The Algerian government has been criticized for discrimination against the country's Christian minority. Churches and individual Christians have faced increased restrictions in recent months, raising concerns that these pressures signal a coordinated campaign of intensified action against churches by the governing authorities."
Tanzania: After Muslim sheikhs from a mosque in the Muslim-majority, semi-autonomous island of Zanzibar complained that the Sunday services of a nearby church were too loud, authorities shut it down — even though, unlike the mosque, the church did not employ loudspeakers. As the bishop was in the middle of a sermon, a plainclothes police officer and other local officials walked into the church. "One of the police officers in civilian clothes walked through the church's door, stepped up to the podium and then grabbed the bishop by the arm," a church member said. "The bishop pleaded with him to allow him finish the preaching." According to a May 24 report,
"The congregation of the Pentecostal Evangelistic Fellowship of Africa (PEFA) church in Kisauni ... was gripped with fear that day (May 6) as the pulpit microphone picked up Bishop Daniel Kwileba Kwiyeya's plea. The regional and local district commissioners ordered him to stop the worship service as the officer dragged him into a police car..."
"Why are you arresting my father without giving us the reasons for his arrest?" the bishop's daughter cried. "This is very inhumane." The local district commissioner responded by slapping her and pushing her into the police vehicle, which hauled her and her father to the police station. They were released on the next day. "We have the right to worship God just like our brothers the Muslims who worship God using loudspeakers, but no one terms their worship a nuisance," said a church member. "We as the church are of the opinion that the order to close the church is tainted with favoritism and unconstitutional."
Saudi Arabia: Although a number of mainstream media including Fox News and Al Jazeera announced that the Vatican and Saudi Arabia had made a "historic" deal allowing the existence of churches on Saudi soils, the Vatican denied it as fake news. As one report explains, Saudi Arabia would have to completely remake itself before such a scenario can occur:
"The country follows a strict Wahhabi interpretation of Islam and it is impossible for anyone living in the country to openly practice Christianity. There are hundreds of thousands of Christians from other nations, such as the Philippines, other parts of Asia, or African countries, who are living and working in Saudi Arabia. But they must meet in private homes to worship, and risk harassment, arrest and deportation if they are caught doing so..... The Kingdom's administrative laws state that its constitution is the 'The Holy Qur'an and the Prophet's Sunnah (traditions),' and the judicial system operates on a strict interpretation of sharia law, which officially carries the death penalty for any Muslim citizen who converts to Christianity. Adult males and females are both subject to the death penalty for apostasy from Islam under the Sunni Hanbali form of sharia law practiced in Saudi Arabia."
Muslim Threats to Christian Churches
United States: A Muslim man disrupted two separate church services, one at Saint Matthew Parish, and another at BlueStone Church, in the course of a week, in West Conshohocken, Pennsylvania. According to John Stange, who was leading the service at BlueStone Church:
"[W]hile I spoke this evening about the sacrificial love of Jesus and how Jesus calls us to love one another with that same kind of sacrificial love, I noticed that a man pulled his car up to the entrance of the church and he sat there during the course of the message for over 35 minutes. ...As I was wrapping up the message, he began yelling into the building. I wasn't sure what he was saying at first, so I stopped speaking and walked toward him so I could engage in conversation with him. It quickly became clear that he took great offense to what I was preaching about, and in the midst of yelling at me he stated, 'You press on my nerves. You press on Muslims' nerves. You're going straight to Hell on the day of judgment.' Apparently, he was Muslim and he wanted to make sure that I knew he had a problem with the Christian message I was preaching. Needless to say, this experience made all of us uncomfortable."
France: A Muslim man walked into a cathedral and threatened to blow it up for preaching the Gospel and not the Koran. According to the May 3 report (original French here), the 37-year-old man, known only by his first name, Ahmed, "barged into local landmark St Vincent's Cathedral of Chalon-sur-Saône," and started yelling that "It is the Quran that must be read!" and that he had a "grenade and would blow up the church." During his court trial, it was revealed that Ahmed "has a long history of criminality with 27 prior criminal convictions including three cases of death threats and seven convictions for theft." The report continued:
"Father Thierry de Marsac, who heads the Roman Catholic parish of Saint Vincent, said that everyone in the cathedral at the time remained calm but he expressed he was concerned at the time, thinking of the brutal murder of Father Jacques Hamel who was killed by radical Islamic terrorists in 2016."
Muslim Attacks on Christian Freedom
Indonesia: On May 7, a court sentenced a Christian pastor, Reverend Abraham Ben Moses, 52, to four years in prison for "blasphemy" against Islam's prophet Muhammad. A former Muslim, Abraham, after his conversion, was known to enjoy evangelizing and debating with Muslims. He was arrested in December 2017, after a video he posted of himself sharing his new Christian faith with a Muslim taxi driver went viral. The video apparently prompted the Muhammadiyah ("Muhammadans"), a leading Islamic group in Indonesia with nearly 30 million members, to lodge a complaint against him. Because in the video, he criticized marriage as taught by Muhammad and in the Koran, apparently compared to Christian monogamy, "Abraham was," according to the report, "convicted under Electronic and Information Transactions Law No. 11/2008 as he intentionally spread information intended to incite hatred against an individual, group and society based on religion." A Muhammadiyah spokesman responded by saying that, "This decision should be appreciated and should serve as a valuable lesson for all parties." Conversely, human rights groups such as International Christian Concern say that:
"The Indonesian government should revisit the country's blasphemy law, as it is increasingly being exploited by radical Muslim groups to target individuals who they find to be offensive and theologically 'out-of-line.' To honor religious freedom as enshrined in Indonesia's constitution, the government must respect all religions and stop criminalizing Christians when they are merely exercising their right to free speech."
Algeria: The appeal of a Christian pastor -- a 37-year-old father of three -- who was found guilty of "undermining the faith of a Muslim" was rejected by a court of law on May 16. His troubles began when someone informed a security checkpoint to inspect his vehicle thoroughly; the officers seized 56 books, including the Gospel of Mathew, Bibles, a Bible commentary, a book on church history and some pamphlets. Pastor Nouredine Belabed, a former Muslim, explained that he "meant to distribute them free to other Christians or any other person who wanted to know Christ." During his sentencing "the judge was harsh," and "used intimidation," according to Belabed. The judge, he said, repeatedly upbraided him: "Why do you carry those Christian books? Are not you ashamed? You're not ashamed to do that? Algeria is a Muslim country." "I did not do anything wrong, judge," Belabed responded. "The Bibles I carried were intended for members of our community, our Tiaret church, which is affiliated with the EPA [the formally recognized church of Algeria]. I did not give them to others or try to evangelize anyone."
According to the verdict, "Nouredine B. alone was found guilty for carrying and distributing Christian articles in order to undermine and destabilize the faith of a Muslim, in accordance with Article 11/02 of Law 03/06, and for that he is ordered to pay a fine of 100,000. DA [dinars]." The fine, equivalent to about $ 862 USD, is considered very large. "I am tired," says Belabed. "The police keep watching us, my wife and me. They watch all our movements. I do not want to inflict more on my family than that; I decide to choose to pay the fine."
Law 03/06 calls for a prison term of as much as five years and a fine of up to one million dinars ($8,687 USD) for anyone who:
"incites, constrains, or utilizes means of seduction tending to convert a Muslim to another religion, or using for this purpose the institutions of education, health, social, cultural, or educational institutions, or other establishment, or financial advantage; or makes, stores or distributes printed documents or films or other audiovisual medium or means intended to undermine the faith of a Muslim."
Separately, on May 3, a court fined Idir Hamdad, a 29-year-old Muslim convert to Christianity, 20,000 dinars ($172 USD) for "importing unlicensed goods" — a reference to the Bible and crucifix keyrings which were donated to him by a church when he was visiting Jordan, and which custom officials confiscated from him at the airport when he returned in late 2017. "After they opened my luggage, suddenly I found myself surrounded by multitudes of police and customs officers," Hamdad explained.
"The customs officer began to gesticulate in all directions to attract attention. And I, still in astonishment, still did not understand what was happening to me."
One after another, sometimes at the same time, the officials peppered him with questions, he said.
"It fell on me like a rain: 'Are you a Christian? Where do you come from? Who gave you these objects? And those Christian books, who gave them to you? Who is it for?'" he said.
Two police officers grabbed him and forced him to follow them out of the international terminal to the national terminal, where they held him for eight hours without food or water, he said.
"In this quarantine, the representatives of the law did not fail to abuse their authority to insult me," he said. "They had repeatedly tried to persuade me to renounce my Christian faith and return to Islam: 'If you renounce now your Christianity and you do the chahada [Islamic conversion creed], we will let you leave right away, and there will be no prosecution against you.'"
"To condemn a Christian...with about 20 keychains, including four or five bearing crucifixes, and six scarves ... is ridiculous in view of Article 365 of the Code of Customs," his attorney said, adding that none of the items violated Algerian customs law.
Somalia: A small community of about 30 elderly Christians live in constant fear that their relatives — particularly their grandchildren — will slaughter them in what is arguably the worst Muslim nation in the world in which to be Christian. According to one man, speaking under the pseudonym of Moses:
"Violence is in [our] homes and we, who are few, we risk our lives every day.... Those born in the 90s have become intolerant and do not understand their elders who profess Christianity. Therefore the elders flee, go away from their children and grandchildren."
He added that some of these Christian grandparents have already been "killed by their children's children."
*Raymond Ibrahim, author of the new book, Sword and Scimitar, Fourteen Centuries of War between Islam and the West, is a Distinguished Senior Fellow at the Gatestone Institute and a Judith Rosen Friedman Fellow at the Middle East Forum.
About this Series
While not all, or even most, Muslims are involved, persecution of Christians by extremists is growing. The report posits that such persecution is not random but rather systematic, and takes place irrespective of language, ethnicity, or location.
© 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.

Jordan Canceling Annexes of Peace Treaty With Israel, King Abdullah Says
تقرير من الهآررتس: الملك الأردني يقول بأنه ألغى ملحقات اتفاقية السلام مع إسرائيل

Jack Khoury and Noa Landau/Haaretz/October 21/18
Following recent protests, King Abdullah says Jordan will terminate parts of the treaty that allowed Israeli ownership rights under Jordanian sovereignty in the Naharayim/Baqura area and the Zofar/Al-Ghamr area
Jordan's King Abdullah informed Israel on Sunday he will not renew two annexes of the 1994 peace treaty between Israel and Jordan concerning territory leased to Israel. In a meeting with senior Jordanian officials in his Amman palace, the king said that the Jordanian government relayed an official message to Israel on the matter.
The territories in question are known in Arabic as al-Baqura and al-Ghamr, and Naharayim and Zofar in Hebrew.
“Baqoura and Ghumar were at the top of our priorities,” King Abdullah tweeted. “Our decision is to terminate the Baquoura and Ghamar annexes from the peace treaty out of our keenness to take all decisions that would serve Jordan and Jordanians."
Israel leased the land for 25 years upon the signing of the treaty. The deadline for renewing said leases of the treaty is this coming Thursday.
Naharayim is located south of the Lake Kinneret, in the north of Israel, while Zofar is south of the Dead Sea, in the southern part of the country. Both are located on the Jordan-Israel border.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reacted to the announcement on Sunday, saying Israel intends to negotiate with Jordan over extending the lease. "There is no doubt the agreement is an important asset," he said at a memorial for the late Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, adding the peace deals with Jordan and Egypt are "anchors of regional stability."
King Abdullah has faced ongoing pressure from the Jordanian parliament not to renew the leases, and to return the territory to full Jordanian sovereignty. Eighty-seven lawmakers have also signed a petition on the matter.
Last Friday, protesters marched in Amman demanding that Jordan reclaim sovereignty over the territories in question, with some demanding Jordan cancel the entire peace treaty with Israel.
In September, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said that Trump's peace team had offered him a political plan based on forming a Palestinian-Jordanian confederation. According to Abbas, he told the administration that he would only agree to such a plan if Israel is part of the suggested confederation. The White House denies the plan.
Relations between Israel and Jordan have been strained over the past few years over issues such as the status of Jerusalem and the Temple Mount, lack of progress with regards to Israeli-Palestinian talks and, more specifically, the shooting by an Israeli Embassy security guard in Amman of a Jordanian citizen after the Jordanian allegedly tried to stab him. A Jordanian bystander was also shot and killed in the incident.
The shooting, which took place in July 2017, sparked a diplomatic crisis between Jordan and Israel.
Israel appointed a new ambassador to Jordan in February 2018, seven months after the shooting incident. Israel immediately withdrew its embassy staff, including the ambassador at the time, Einat Schlein.
Jordan refused to allow Schlein to return to the embassy, and expressed indignation over how Israel depicted the incident and the warm reception that she and the guard, Ziv Moyal, received from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on their arrival in Jerusalem. The Foreign Ministry's appointments committee, however, had praise for Schlein and reiterated the ministry's intention to appoint her to another post reflecting her abilities.
The resumption of operations at the Israeli embassy in Amman was made possible after Israel expressed regret over the shooting and agreed to pay compensation to the families of the two Jordanians who were killed. Last month, the Jordanian newspaper Al-Ghad reported that Israel had paid a total of $5 million to the two families and the family of a Jordanian judge who was killed at the Israeli border crossing at the Allenby Bridge in 2014.
In June, Netanyahu met Kind Abdullah in Amman for the first public meeting since 2014. The two spoke about regional developments, advancing the peace process and the economic ties between the two countries. This was taken as a sign that the relationship between the leaders had stabilized after the shooting incident. Naharayim is also notorious for a terrorist attack that took place three years after the Jordan-Israel peace treaty was signed, in March 1997. A Jordanian soldier opened fire on a group of Israeli teenage girls who were on a school visit to the site, which includes a historical train station and hydroelectric power station. Seven Bet Shemesh pupils died in the attack and six were wounded before other soldiers stopped him and came to the aid of the victims. Following the attack, King Hussein of Jordan stationed Bedouin guards to replace the Jordanian ones at the entrance gates.
King Hussein also visited Israel to pay condolence visits to the families of the girls who were shot. The gesture touched Israelis and did much to defuse the crisis.
Jordan released the soldier, Ahmad Daqamse, from prison in 2017. He was unrepentant after his release from prison Sunday, lashing out at Israelis with harshly derogatory remarks. Daqamseh would have received capital punishment but a military court deemed him mentally unstable and gave him life in prison, which in Jordan typically means 25 years. Jordanian lawmakers lobbied for his early release.
"This announcement would mean a catastrophe for agriculture. It'll affect about 20-30 farmers and about 1,000 dunams that will be transferred to the Jordanians. It's a disaster for Zofar. As it is, the situation of agriculture is not great," Eyal Blum, the head of the Central Arava Regional Council, where Zofar is located, said in response.
"The agricultural areas in the Zofar enclave are very significant for the security of the region, the state, for livelihoods and agriculture in the central Arava. It is inconceivable that after so many years, the world order will change. I call upon the prime minister of Israel to solve this crisis immediately," Blum continued.
"We are surprised and disappointed by Jordan's announcement. We have had good relations with the farmers on the other side of the border for many years. We believe that this is not the end of the story and that Israel will find the way to negotiate with King Abdullah," Idan Greenbaum, the head of the Jordan Valley Regional Council, which includes Naharayim, said Sunday.

Analysis/Truth or Trap? Saudi Explanation for Khashoggi's Murder Puts Trump to the Test
تحليل من الهآررتس لزفي بائيل: هل اعتراف السعودية بجريمة الخاشقجي هو حقيقة أو فخ؟ الجريمة تضع ترامب أمام الإمتحان

Zvi Bar'el/Haaretz/October 21/18
The most serious threat to the Saudi version is in the hands of Turkish intelligence. Ankara might determine the nature of relations between Riyadh and Washington, and the question is – what will it want to make of the scandal?
Has the formula been found for the lie that absolves Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman of responsibility for the murder of Jamal Khashoggi?
Is the kingdom’s latest version, according to which the Saudi journalist died in a fistfight with a number of Saudis who were arrested last week, enough to salvage Donald Trump’s precious $110 billion arms deal? The U.S. president rushed to declare the Saudi explanation “credible.” It’s possible that someone who dispenses lies on a daily basis knows the difference between credible and incredible lies. But anyone who chooses to believe the Saudi version must ask a few nagging questions.
The first pertains to the location of Khashoggi’s body, whole or otherwise. If he died in a brawl, why was it necessary to dismember corpse? What were 15 Saudi security officers doing at the consulate? Why did the crown prince lie when he said he didn’t know about Khashoggi’s murder, and why did the Saudis say the journalist left the consulate shortly after arriving, which is why he could not be found? But even if these contradictions can be papered over with a credible cover story, the dismissal of senior Saudi intelligence official Gen. Ahmed al-Asiri and Saud al-Qahtani, both of them close advisers to Crown Prince Mohammed, has pulled the rug out from under the official version. If the two knew about the murder, or perhaps even ordered it, this cannot have been without the knowledge of Saudi General Intelligence Khalid al-Humaidan. And if Humaidan, whose head hasn’t rolled yet, knew about it, so did the crown prince.
One should treat with suspicion these dismissals, as well as King Salman’s establishment of a commission of inquiry, under Crown Prince Mohammed, that has also been tasked with reorganizing the kingdom’s intelligence services. Asiri and Qahtani, who were appointed by the crown prince, will most likely win new appointments: They know too much about the crown prince and his military and economic failures.
Asiri was previously a spokesman for the Saudi forces operating in Yemen, heading PR efforts to justify the war as benefiting international interests and to absolve Saudi Arabia from responsibility for the deaths of thousands of civilians in Yemen. Qahtani, meanwhile, directed the Saudi media from behind the scenes, operating social networks while shaping a positive image for the crown prince in Arab and international media. Prosecuting the two or otherwise damaging their standing could lead to political infighting and conflicts between Saudi military leaders and the House of Saud, if Crown Prince Mohammed is viewed as throwing his top aides under the bus.
But the most serious threat to the Saudi story and an American seal of approval is in Turkish intelligence headquarters in Ankara. Turkish listening devices and sensitive cameras have already yielded most of the horrific details of Khashoggi’s murder. Turkey claims the Saudis are cooperating with Turkish investigators, who are sharing their findings with their U.S. counterparts, American intelligence agencies, but no one knows what is being held back from publication. Turkey, which changed from a Saudi rival to its enemy in the wake of the incident, is the main target of criticism of Saudi Arabia and its allies.
Ankara isn’t accepting Saudi explanations regarding Khashoggi’s death. A spokesman for the ruling Justice and Development Party, Omer Celik, said Saturday that Turkey will get to the bottom of Khashoggi’s disappearance and death. His remark suggests that Turkey, to the extent that it has the evidence to back up its claims, will determine the nature of future relations between Riyadh and Washington. If it has a recording of the murderers calling Crown Prince Mohammed to announce “mission accomplished,” or a record of the crown prince calling them during their stay in Turkey, Trump will have to re-examine, if not disavow, his support for the new Saudi version of events.
The question is whether and how Turkey might want to leverage the Khashoggi affair, which is evolving from a mafia-style hit by Saudi intelligence operatives into an international incident obligating Western countries to maneuver carefully vis-a-vis Riyadh, caught between pressure to guarantee a transparent investigation of the murder and the need to preserve their political and economic interests. Theoretically, Turkey could demand political “hush money” such as the lifting of the Saudi embargo on Qatar in exchange for freezing the investigation or accepting the Saudi version. This is a high price, which the crown prince is unlikely to pay, but if the demand comes with American pressure and mediation, it could serve the interests of all sides.
Khashoggi’s murder poses a dilemma for Saudi Arabia’s allies. For now, only Trump is willing to pull Riyadh’s chestnuts out of the fire. His decision will clearly greatly affect the future of the investigation as well as international responses toward Saudi Arabia. Interestingly, no leader, including Turkey’s president, has called for sanctions like the ones imposed on Russia for assassinating former agents and dissident journalists. Perhaps that’s because Western states still regard the killing of a journalist by an Arab government as infuriating but not inconceivable, particularly since this was done in another Muslim state, which treats its own journalists as criminals. Russia, on the other hand, is perceived as part of the “civilized” world, committing its assassinations in the heart of Europe. Saudi Arabia, on the other hand, is seen as pro-Western by virtue of its membership in the alliance against Iran. As a result, even if it is far removed from embracing Western values, it enjoys certain “discounts” that the anti-Western resistance front members Russia and China do not.

The Cost and Consequence of the Khashoggi Crisis
Abdulrahman Al-Rashed/Asharq Al-Awsat/October, 21/18
I had written this article before Saudi Arabia made its announcement of the death of fellow colleague Jamal Khashoggi. We had a glimmer of hope that he would emerge unscathed. The announcement of the details and punishments that targeted senior security officials and a top security agency will force everyone into two camps. One that wants to punish those involved and move on to a new phase and others who want to exploit the case and use it against Saudi Arabia.
Several governments and institutions used the Khashoggi case to adopt severe stances against Saudi Arabia. There is no doubt that the crisis cost the Kingdom a lot. Despite the stances, withdrawals and ongoing media assault, the Kingdom will remain a pivotal and influential country that enjoys vast relations and its regional clout will remain.
It will be affected, but it will not come to a halt.
Primarily, there can be no abandoning Saudi oil. This is a lifeline for the global economy. Moreover, its geopolitical role in the region cannot be ignored. Geography is the constant truth in the world of politics. Saudi Arabia’s religious influence also cannot be eliminated as it is the spiritual center of over a billion Muslims around the world. In addition, Saudi Arabia’s regional role cannot be eliminated. Firstly because the region is divided between two main rival camps and secondly, because it is a financier of several regional institutions.
In short, weakening Saudi Arabia will increase hardships and failure in the region.
After we were first shocked with Khashoggi’s disappearance, we became shocked with the campaign against Saudi Arabia. We can understand demands for an investigation, but not to the extent of threatening to impose sanctions. We understand that the international community ranks countries according to importance. Saudi Arabia boasts the best reputation in the region and this is the first crisis it encounters since the 1970s. Expectations are therefore much higher from it than from Tehran or Damascus.
Setting aside the criminal aspect of the case, we have all seen how the Khashoggi crisis was exaggerated to such an extent that even the differing sides in Saudi Arabia have started to question the purpose of the campaign. It is likely that the excessive politicization and attack against the Kingdom will push several countries and institutions to voice solidarity with Saudi Arabia until the truth is revealed. The campaign will backfire against those directing it against the Kingdom.
Saudi Arabia enjoys a strong political system that will not be affected by attacks. Those seeking to politicize the affair and weaken and eliminate Saudi Arabia will ultimately wage a losing battle.
The price will be high should the pressure remain. Regionally, weakening Saudi Arabia will consequently weaken forces that support its approach. It will also empower Iran, “Hezbollah,” al-Qaeda, the Houthis and ISIS. These are expected results.
It is not unusual for the extremist powers and their allies in the region to abuse the Khashoggi case and fan its flames. This is why I have said that going overboard in the attack, exploitation and exaggeration will backfire against the instigators.

Things Are Finally Looking Up for Chipmakers
Alex Webb/Bloomberg/October, 21/18
When you're trying to work out what's going to happen next year in the semiconductor industry, there are worse places to look than ASML Holdings NV.
The Dutch firm supplies photolithography machines to the likes of Intel Corp., Samsung Electronics Corp. and Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Corp., who use the gear to etch circuit patterns just a few nanometers in size onto their silicon chips.
Chipmakers have endured a torrid few months as oversupply has depressed prices (though that’s been a gift for the likes of Apple Inc., which has been able to sell chips along to consumers at huge markups).
The cause may lie in one of the industry's perennial difficulties, according to Marcel Achterberg, an analyst for Bank Degroof Petercam in Amsterdam. It can be hard to judge how long it will take new machines to produce enough chips to be profitable, he said. So if you overestimate the time it takes to ramp up production, you could be left swimming in product.
ASML's third-quarter earnings and fourth-quarter outlook give cause for optimism, after exceeding analyst expectations on almost all counts. The shares jumped as much as 7.2 percent, valuing ASML at more than 70 billion euros ($81 billion). The firm saw a surge in demand for equipment used to make memory chips, which have been a particular sore spot for the industry. Those orders suggest that chipmakers could be getting their supply issues under control.
The report followed Fremont, California-based Lam Research Corp.'s optimistic quarterly outlook late Tuesday. The $22 billion semiconductor firm suggested equipment spending is likely to increase in the current quarter.
ASML's decade-long bet on the next generation of semiconductor-making technology, dubbed extreme ultra-violet lithography, is also paying off. Competitors Nikon Corp. and Canon Inc. have no rival offering, and ASML expects to deliver 30 EUV systems in 2019, up from 18 this year. Each one can cost 100 million euros.
The business isn't going gangbusters just yet. True, analysts expect profitability to surge as R&D spend slows. But they also forecast a slower pace of revenue growth this year and next.
Chipmakers’ bets on ASML's equipment can be seen as a response to concerns that Moore's Law is dead. According to that theory, coined by Intel co-founder Gordon Moore in the 1960s, the number of transistors on an integrated circuit doubles every two years. In layman's terms, computing power increases two-fold.
If it delivers as promised, the ASML gear should be able to reinvigorate that pace and ensure that we have another supercharged generation of smartphones, PCs and servers reaching the market in a year to 18 months' time.
Things are looking up for chipmakers.

Why the Developing World Started Gaining on the West
Noah Smith/Bloomberg/October, 21/18
During the past three decades, there has been a momentous change in the global economy. One of the most troubling and puzzling features -- the failure of poor countries to catch up to developed countries -- has seemingly been overturned.
Basic growth theory says that developing countries should grow faster than rich ones. One reason is that capital has diminishing returns -- as you build more offices, more houses, more cars and machine tools and computers -- the economic benefit of building yet more of those things goes down, even as the cost of maintaining them goes up. Second, poor countries can grow fast by copying technology and business practices from rich countries, which is almost always cheaper and easier than inventing new technologies and business practices from scratch.
But, as so often happens in economics, reality has often failed to behave as theory predicts. Economist Lant Pritchett has documented that between 1870 and 1990, inequality between countries soared, with Europe, Japan, the US and a few other countries pulling away from the pack. Of course, much of that divergence was probably due to the impact of colonialism -- it’s hard for a country to get rich when it’s under the thumb of another country. But even after decolonization, poor countries struggled to catch up for several decades. Economists Robert Barro and Xavier Sala-i-Martin found that between 1960 and 1985, poor countries continued to lose ground relative to rich ones.
So was growth theory simply wrong? Maybe. All growth theories contain a fudge factor representing a nation’s fundamental capacity for productivity -- the education of its populace, the quality of its political institutions, war, damaging government interventions and so on. Controlling for measures of these things, Barro and Sala-i-Martin found that developing nations had tended to catch up -- the problem was that too many poor countries fell into civil war or embraced communism or failed to educate their burgeoning populations, degrading the institutions needed to sustain growth. Economists settled on the uncomfortable idea that most poor countries didn’t have what it takes, politically, to grow.
Then something amazing happened. Shortly after Barro and Salai-Martin's 1992 landmark paper, the story of global growth seemed to change. Many poor countries languished in the 1990s due to low resource prices (poor countries are often natural resource exporters). China, which had been slowly making up lost ground since the end of Mao Zedong’s rule in the 1970s, saw its growth accelerate in the 1990s. India and Indonesia also started to catch up, thanks in part to their own economic reforms. These countries were so large -- together accounting for almost 40 percent of the world's population -- that their growth began to drive down global inequality.
Meanwhile, the divergence documented by Barro and Sala-i-Martin was reversing. Beginning in the 1990s, developing countries started to grow faster than developed ones. Outside of Africa -- where a series of bloody wars sent a number of countries into chaos in the 1990s -- the pattern was even stronger.
In the 2000s, commodities prices rebounded, and natural-resource exporting countries began to share in the new wave of global growth. Meanwhile, China accelerated yet again, following its entry into the World Trade Organization in 2001 and a burst of productivity growth. The gap between sprinting developing and slow-growth developed countries became even greater.
Then came the Great Recession. Rich countries and poor countries alike were hit hard by the global financial crisis, but -- unlike in previous downturns -- the poor countries didn’t suffer more. Catch-up continued. Global inequality kept falling.
Now, a decade after the crisis, economists are starting to reevaluate their long-held beliefs about global convergence. Dev Patel, Justin Sandefur and Arvind Subramanian of the Center for Global Development recently looked at multiple datasets on per- capita incomes around the world, and found that no matter which measure is used, the relationship between starting income and subsequent growth has been negative since around 1990.
In other words, the idea that rich countries grow more slowly has gone from fiction to fact. No longer do textbook economic theories need to be fudged -- reality has caught up. It appears that the war, bad policies, and dysfunctional institutions that afflicted developing nations in the mid- 20th century were a temporary phenomenon.
And the implications for the world are enormous. With economic clout comes geopolitical heft -- the influence of the old colonial powers will steadily diminish, while their ex-colonies assume more global leadership. Some countries will even make the leap from developing to developed status, as South Korea has already done. Trade between emerging markets will continue to increase, bypassing the rich economies entirely.
But most of all, the world will simply be a more equal place. Gone are the days when a few countries could lord it over others, secure in the illusion that their society had a secret sauce that others could never emulate.

Kurds of Iraq: The fidgety compass swings again
Adnan Hussein/Al Arabiya/October 21/18
I do not think that any one of the Kurds expected at that time that the international community could turn so generous toward them.
The coalition countries leading the liberation of Kuwait imposed on Saddam’s forces a no-fly-zone at 32 degrees latitude to stop their attacks on Kurdish areas. A safe zone was established for the Kurds who soon returned to their towns and villages. Kurdish groups, who formed the Kurdistan Front in 1987, invested in the withdrawal of Iraqi military forces and government administration from internationally protected areas to establish self-governance.
In the summer of 1992, elections were held for a local parliament, but the two main Kurdish parties — the Kurdistan Democratic Party led by Massoud Barzani and the Patriotic Union led by Jalal Talabani — did not wait long to compete for power and influence. They deliberately resorted to fraud to win the elections, creating a big problem, which they agreed to solve by dividing power equally.
This was the first sign of the “betrayal” of the Kurdish dream to exercise of their right to self-determination to reach complete independence and the first sign of the agitation in the Kurdish compass. After issues around self-governance began to settle, a dispute erupted between the two parties over money, especially regarding trade specifically across the Turkish border. Regional powers that did not necessarily like the “audacity” of the Kurds in establishing self-governance sought to abort the experiment by encircling it first. The regime of Saddam imposed a strong siege around Kurdish areas. Turkey, Iran and Syria coordinated efforts to monitor what was going on behind their borders with Kurds and were ready to interfere the moment they’d feel this model “threatens” to influence Kurds in their countries.
The hands of the four parties later spread to help provoke an armed conflict between the two ruling Kurdish parties that lasted for nearly three years. The autonomous region was divided into two with unmarked borders but guarded with arms and where each has its own government. Even when the two governments united after a while, the two regions have kept their respective independent administrations.
After the overthrow of Saddam regime and the effective participation of the Kurds in the establishment of the new regime in Iraq, the two entities of Erbil (Barzani) and Sulaymaniyah (Talbani) remained in place, to this day actually. Turkey, Iran and Syria coordinated efforts to monitor what was going on behind their borders with Kurds and were ready to interfere the moment they’d feel this model “threatens” to influence Kurds in their countries
Continuing squabble
The relationship between the two main parties seems at its worst at the moment due to the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan, or a wing of it, the wing of the Talabani family, is linked to the operation of the deployment of the federal government forces in Kirkuk last year, which resulted in the overthrow of the governorate administration and the appointment of a new administration which was not elected. Then came the issue of the President of the Republic of Iraq which rubbed salt into the wound and made matters worse between the two parties. The last dispute has focused on who deserves to be the president of the republic. The Patriotic Union considers that the “strategic” agreement it held with the Democratic Party in 2006 authorizes it to occupy the seat and in exchange, the Kurdistan Democratic Party will hold the post of the president of Kurdistan.
The Kurdistan Democratic party, however, believes that the agreement is no longer valid since the abolishment of the post of the president of Kurdistan and that it deserves the position of the federal presidency – as per the elections since it is the largest Kurdish party in the federal parliament with 25 seats while it has 45 seats in Kurdistan’s parliament.
The issue of the presidency didn’t actually deserve all of this dispute and its repercussions. The Patriotic Union will not gain anything by clinging to the position. The leader of the party Jalal Talabani held office for eight years, but that he could not ensure the unity of the party.
The biggest split in the party occurred while Talabani was the president of the republic. I am referring to the split of the Gorran movement, which was established by the deputy of Talabani, Nawshirwan Mustafa, in 2009. The presidency is not destined to give the Kurdistan Democratic party any added value.
In fact, without it the party succeeded in winning the support of 92 percent of the voters of Kurdistan for its referendum proposal on the right to self-determination and independence last year, and in the recent federal elections and in the Kurdistan’s parliamentary elections, the party emerged first as the first Kurdish power and party.
The big picture
There was no sense for the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan to cling to post of the federal presidency and to “import” a candidate from outside, after having held three mandates from 2006-2018, without making a good impression on its occupants in Iraqi public opinion.
It wasn’t reasonable either for the Kurdistan Democratic Party to insist on taking the position from the Patriotic Union especially since they had better alternatives presented through many ministerial positions.
This agitation is what drove the two parties to focus on a minor case at the expense of the main issue to attain a better position in the process of decision making in Iraq, and this is what the unity of the Kurdish ranks requires and not swinging eddies of the compass of the Kurdish parties. Freed from the dictatorship of Saddam 12 years before the rest of the Iraqis, the Kurds were expected to create a democratic experience for themselves and their historical dream, and to provide a successful model for Iraq, which fell into the hands of a dictatorship of a new kind.
Among the reasons of this fall is the unrest of the Kurdish compass which stability was and it still is one of the conditions for Iraq’s stability that will not be achieved without the Kurds enjoying stability that’s linked to their rights.

How media helped create radical preacher Anjem Choudary
Dr. Azeem Ibrahim/Al Arabiya/October 21/18
UK radical preacher Anjem Choudary has finally been released from prison after serving less than half of his five and a half year sentence due to time spent on bail and electronic tag supervision. While in prison Choudary refused to participate in any de-radicalization program or speak to mainstream Islamic clerics so we can assume his views have not been rehabilitated. This bizarre situation will now pose a headache for the UK authorities who will have to closely monitor his behavior and interactions less he resorts to his former conduct of encouraging support for ISIS and other extremist organizations.
But how did Choudary find himself with so much power and influence over the minds of so many young Muslims? And how did any of them get to the point of committing terror attacks? The tragic fact of the matter is that the media made Choudary. And in doing so, they did more to help promote extremism in Britain than most other forces that conspire against our safety.
Choudary is and never has been an imam or cleric. He has no Islamic credentials – to be an imam one needs over a decade of formal study of the Qur’an, and be recognized as an authority by other scholars. He has never been taken seriously by the mainstream Muslim community in Britain and has been expelled out of virtually every mosque in the country.
What Choudary did have, however, was a quick tongue and a fiery demeanour. And he loved wearing a traditional Islamic robes reserved for the scholarly class.
All he needed to qualify him as the go-to “Muslim preacher” when a sensationalist publication or broadcast were looking for an “interesting character” to give their news stories or their angle on the Muslim community in Britain a bit of edginess. The price for that “journalistic edge” was to give this opportunistic spiv a veneer of popularity, which helped him ensnare a cohort of weak-minded, troubled individuals to his hateful vision of the world.
Anjem Choudary is another example of how the media has, with ghoulish compulsion, elevated a series of self-promoters to national prominence for no other purpose than to cause inter-communal strife
Public consciousness
What is more, the media did not only give him a presence in the public consciousness, but they also put him there as a punch-bag. Someone towards which we could vent our disdain and hostility. And both the disdain and hostility were well deserved.
But we also allowed, nay encouraged, him to portray himself, at least in the mind of some, as a representative of the Muslim community. And this allowed him to claim that the disdain and hostility was not directed just toward him: but towards Muslims in general. Another brilliant recruitment tool for extremism.
And Anjem Choudary is but one of example of how the media has, with ghoulish compulsion, elevated a series of gobby self-promoters to national prominence for no other purpose than to cause intercommunal strife – strife which sells newspapers and TV advertisement slots, but the price of which is now paid in blood in Britain’s streets.
Omar Bakri Muhammad, Abu Hamza and many others have graduated from the British media’s inadvertent programme of Islamist propaganda. Nor is there much evidence that lessons have been learned. Or at least that the right lessons have been learned. Yes, Islamist propaganda is given less airtime on our televisions these days.
But the tradition of elevating gobby, unscrupulous self-promoters so that we can all collectively gawp and marvel at how awful they are while they gleefully go about poisoning our society with bile and hate and sow deep divisions for the future is alive and well. Nigel Farage, Tommy Robinson and many others of their ilk, are still allowed to broadcast hate speech and legitimise bigotry with impunity on the national airwaves. As was Nick Griffin before them.
The media keeps piling on politicians for not doing enough to combat terrorism. But they have it within their power to do more to combat terrorism than any individual politician: all they would need to do is to stop advertising hate preachers of all ilks, stop lavishing individual terrorists with hours upon hours of coverage, and stop stoking on social tensions with that false air of naiveté under the guise of “reporting the facts”.
Yes, social strife sells newspapers. And the more contrived the conflict, the better. But surely by now we understand how irresponsible that is. And that the cost is now counted in the lives of innocent people.

What hope for Iraq’s new technocrats?
Baria Alamuddin/Baria Alamuddin/October 21/18
In recent weeks, Iraqis were offered the unusual opportunity to apply for ministerial roles in a new government that has already been six months in the making. The staff of prime ministerial nominee Adel Abdul Mahdi are currently scrutinizing 36,000 applications received so far! The fact that such a gimmick is being countenanced is a damning indictment of the lack of capable, credible and clean figures within Iraq’s political class.
Replacing familiar, corrupt and incompetent factional appointees with independent technocrats has often been proposed, notably by cleric Muqtada Al-Sadr, whose list came top in the May elections. Previous attempts to appoint technocrats produced mixed results.
Prime Minister Haider Abadi’s 2016 efforts to bring independent experts into government were thwarted by powerful vested interests. Meanwhile, independent figures are no less susceptible to huge temptations for personal enrichment that accompany such roles, along with efforts by powerful factions to buy off these political lightweights.
By 2006, Iraq’s Interior Ministry had been thoroughly discredited. Interior Minister Bayan Jabr, who hailed from the Tehran-sponsored Badr Brigades, had flooded the ministry with his paramilitary cadres. These personnel helped spearhead the sectarian bloodletting that engulfed Baghdad between 2005 and 2008. Jabr and Prime Minister Ibrahim Jaafari lost their posts after secret prisons came to light, in which thousands of detainees had been subjected to the most grotesque methods of torture.
Jabr was replaced by independent Shiite politician Jawad Boulani, considered a technocratic safe pair of hands. However, in a ministry dominated by omnipotent Iran-backed militants, Boulani was a lamb among wolves: “He has got to be careful about what he does just to stay alive,” one Western diplomat said. Killings attributed to Interior Ministry personnel continued at high levels throughout his tenure.
After Boulani, Prime Minister Nouri Maliki ran the Interior Ministry, until in 2014 the department was given back to the Badr Brigades (now part of the Al-Hashd Al-Shaabi paramilitary coalition). Badr is today resolved to retaining its position, no matter who is nominally in control.
The appointment of independent new faces is thus not a panacea for Iraq’s problems. Abdul Mahdi is nominally independent, but for years he was a leading official in the Iran-sponsored Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq, so he cannot be expected to robustly confront Iranian meddling. At worst, such independent figures are window-dressing to appease the West, while the usual suspects continue pulling the strings behind the scenes.
The US shortsightedly regards Iraq’s post-2014 crisis as solved, despite Daesh undergoing a resurgence, while Al-Hashd militants play a central role in Cabinet-formation efforts. American diplomats pat themselves on the back that Abdul Mahdi is their man, despite his appointment apparently being confirmed during a Beirut meeting between Al-Sadr, Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah and Qasem Soleimani, commander of Iran’s Quds Force (Al-Sadr previously admitted to being a huge fan of Nasrallah, and Iran has consequently used Hezbollah’s leader every time they want to exert influence over Al-Sadr).
If the political system itself is diseased, then those acquiring governing positions ultimately become corrupted.
As part of the same machinations, pro-Iran factions outmaneuvered the leading Kurdish and Sunni Arab parties that were supposed to choose the (Kurdish) president and the (Sunni Arab) Parliament speaker. Al-Hashd’s successful candidates, Barham Saleh and Mohammed Halbousi, lack a natural support base and are thus seen as easy to manipulate.
Lebanon, which also had elections in May, is making sluggish progress toward forming a government. Although Saad Hariri is set to remain prime minister, Hezbollah wields more influence than ever. In recent days it was Nasrallah, not Hariri, publically discussing how the Cabinet would be formed, reinforcing the perception that this process is proceeding on his terms.
For Iranian preeminence to be challenged, the international community must be more engaged than ever. Independent technocrats will proceed like lambs to the slaughter if they are abandoned to be coopted, blackmailed or threatened into acquiescing to Tehran’s agenda. Likewise in Lebanon, we cannot delude ourselves that Hariri is someone the world can do business with, when he is effectively an isolated figurehead for a regime hostile to the country’s national interests.
In Beirut and Baghdad, forming governments and appointing top figures are routinely delayed while Iran’s allies veto progress until they get the appointees they want. This makes for months of dysfunctional governance when life-and-death national issues are indefinitely put on hold. Yet while parliamentary politics remains gridlocked, Nasrallah retains a free hand to belligerently exacerbate tensions with neighboring states, inching Lebanon closer to catastrophe.
Distancing insatiably corrupt factions from the tap of state spending simply encourages more imaginative scams to syphon off these funds through alternative sources of liquidity. Al-Sadr’s and Abdul Mahdi’s aspirations for a technocratic national government are a seductively attractive vision, but will it be a smokescreen for sectarian paramilitaries grabbing more power and implementing their murderous agenda of sectarian cleansing across Iraq?
If the political system itself is diseased, then those acquiring governing positions ultimately become corrupted. Iraq and Lebanon need more than fresh faces to achieve a fundamental change of course away from the dysfunctional, sectarian and kleptocratic political models that have prevailed for decades. If aspirations for a democratic future are to be achieved, these states require effective institutions rooted in the rule of law, accountability, and an ethos of service on behalf of all citizens.
After long, tedious months of backroom deals, the eventual confirmation of these governments may be widely celebrated as a new dawn for Lebanon and Iraq. In reality, if these nominally democratic systems are genuinely to be rescued from corrupt, sectarian and militant forces backed by hostile states, this is just the beginning of a long and infinitely more complex and traumatic process.
**Baria Alamuddin is an award-winning journalist and broadcaster in the Middle East and the UK. She is editor of the Media Services Syndicate, and has interviewed numerous heads of state.

Crisis in the Eastern Orthodox Church
Peter Welby/Arab News/October 21/18
“The biggest split in Christianity for 1,000 years,” screamed the headline in Britain’s Daily Mail newspaper, announcing the decision of the most senior bishop of the Eastern Orthodox Church to recognize the independence of Ukraine’s Orthodox Church from that of Russia. That headline pulls in the reader but overstates the crisis. A split in the Christian Church in the 16th century by some estimates cost up to 17 million lives across Europe by the end of the 17th century. It became known as the Reformation. That is not to say there is no crisis. As with many, if not most, splits in the history of Christianity — at least for the past 1,500 years — politics is just as significant as theology, and in this case perhaps more so.
To describe the Eastern Orthodox Church as a Byzantine institution is no exercise in hyperbole. It can trace its direct political ancestry to the Emperor Constantine. Its most senior bishop lives in Istanbul, which the church still calls Constantinople. And — perhaps unsurprisingly for a church that was set up by an emperor — its theology often ties it to government.
That often makes it a nationalist church, which is reflected in its structure. It is made up of 15 (now 16) autocephalous local churches that recognize one another as part of the same wider church, but are almost entirely independent of each other. At the center of the network sits the ecumenical patriarch in Constantinople, recognized as the first among equals by the leaders of the different churches.
Those churches are usually closely tied to their local governments, perhaps none more so than the Russian Orthodox Church. The breakup of empires, then, has often led to tensions in the churches as newly formed independent states want their own independent church, as happened in Ukraine after the fall of the Soviet Union.
The Russian Orthodox Church does not like splits. According to The Times newspaper, archbishops of Canterbury are routinely welcomed to their post with a letter from the patriarch of Moscow declaring them to be anathema, cheerily signed “with best wishes.” But politically, when the splitters are from its own jurisdiction, the hatred is real and has consequences.
And in this case, when the splitters muster support for their cause from within the wider Orthodox Church because of the actions of the Russian state in Crimea and eastern Ukraine, the Russian Orthodox Church goes ballistic.
By recognizing the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, the ecumenical patriarch has deprived the Russian church of a third of its territory — it seems likely that Eastern Orthodoxy will survive regardless.
In a total denial of reality, a Russian Orthodox Church spokesman last week said the ecumenical patriarch had “excluded himself from canonical Orthodoxy,” as if it was not the Russian church that found itself isolated. In fact, a grant to Russia of jurisdiction over the Ukrainian church in 1686 is regarded by the Ecumenical Patriarchate as a loan of authority for expediency (the Ottomans had only just been repulsed from Vienna) rather than a gift.
It is hard to tell which the Russian church dislikes more: The ecumenical patriarch’s recognition of a split in its jurisdiction, or its simultaneous effective repudiation of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s regional adventurism. Criticism of the president is, in the Russian Orthodox Church’s eyes, a pretty major sin. When Putin was running for his third term in 2012, Patriarch Kirill described him as a “miracle of God.”
Putin is not afraid to give a sacred twist to his foreign policy, justifying the annexation of Crimea on the basis that it was from there that Russian Christianity originated. But the church does not shy away from such interpretations either, with a spokesman for the patriarch describing Russia’s intervention in Syria in 2015 as a “holy battle.”
There remain many unknowns in this story. Russian pressure may force a reversal of the ecumenical patriarch’s decision. The Russian church may quietly make its way back into the fold after a decent interval of sulking (certainly, this is nothing on the great theological disputes of the early church). Resolution of the political situation in Ukraine would certainly help matters.
But if the split becomes permanent (and church splits often do), it is not nearly as severe as Russian spokesmen make out. Russian religious demographics vary wildly depending on who you ask, but anything between 43 percent and 72 percent of Russians regard themselves as Orthodox — somewhere between 62 million and 104 million people. This has risen from as little as 31 percent in 1991, commensurate with the ever-closer identification of the church with the state.
But this does not tell the full story. Despite a claim by a church leader in 2016 that three new churches are opened in Russia every day, according to a Pew poll only 7 percent of Russians attend church at least once a month — just over 10 million people. That is still a lot, but in the context of Eastern Orthodoxy as a whole, not a crushing blow.
The greater problem that Russian distance may cause the other Orthodox churches is financial. The Russian Orthodox Church is not short on cash. In 2012, there was a scandal over a picture of the patriarch wearing a luxury watch.
The church responded in the time-honored fashion of 20th-century Russian politics by doctoring the photo so that the watch disappeared, and the patriarch gave an interview denying that he had ever worn it. Farcically, however, the doctored photo still had the reflection of the watch, on his wrist, on the glossy tabletop.
But by recognizing the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, the ecumenical patriarch has deprived the Russian church of a third of its territory. It seems likely that Eastern Orthodoxy will survive regardless.
*Peter Welby is a consultant on religion and global affairs, specializing in the Arab world. Previously, he was the managing editor of a think tank on religious extremism, the Centre on Religion & Geopolitics, and worked in public affairs in the Gulf. He is based in London, and has lived in Egypt and Yemen. Twitter: @pdcwelby

Sanctioning Iran’s Basij paramilitary group

Dr. Majid Rafizadeh/Arab News/October 21/18
The US recently imposed a new round of sanctions against the Iranian regime. They are specifically designed to put pressure on Iran’s paramilitary group, the Basij, for engaging in operations including recruiting, training and deploying children into battle in Syria and other conflicts.
The sanctions also target part of the banking system and key companies. The sanctioned entities are financial institutions and their subsidiaries, as well as investment and engineering companies, which are either associated with the Basij or involved in supporting it.
These include some of the major banks and firms that have set up a financial network worth billions of dollars. According to the US Treasury Department, these entities include Bank Mellat, Mehr Eqtesad Bank, the Mobarakeh Steel Co. and the Iran Tractor Manufacturing Co.
This is the second major round of sanctions leveled against Iran since Donald Trump became US president. The first significant sanctions, which were imposed in August, came after the Trump administration pulled out of the Iran nuclear deal.
Both US and non-US entities were subject to the first round of sanctions, which targeted Iran’s automotive industry, its precious metals industry, any transactions in its currency, the buying or selling of US dollars by its government, and any direct or indirect purchase, trade, transfer or selling of major construction materials such as aluminum and steel.
The latest US sanctions against the Basij are long overdue; one of the most effective ways to weaken it is to cut off the flow of funds to the group.
It is the first time that the Treasury Department has officially labeled the Basij, and 22 companies and financial institutions that are affiliated with it, as “specially designated global terrorists.” This means that not only are US entities not allowed to do business with them, but also any assets linked to the Basij will be frozen. These sanctions will certainly impact Iran’s efforts to attract foreign investments and business deals in order to ramp up its revenues.
The sanctions will also affect Iran’s military establishment. The Basij is a pillar of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) and has expanded rapidly. Two years after its creation, it became an official part of the IRGC. Basij centers have become ubiquitous in Iran.
The group was granted extensive powers that allowed its members to act as religious and moral police, enforce the regime’s revolutionary laws, monitor people’s daily activities, suppress anti-regime protests, operate in foreign countries, organize religious events throughout Iran, and recruit and train child soldiers for the IRGC. Basij members have shot and killed many protesters.
Although Tehran claims that the Basij is a voluntary resistance group, many of its members are paid. In fact, the regime designates a large budget to the group every year. The Basij has become an important player in both the private and public sectors, and is one the largest investors in the Tehran Stock Exchange. Those who join the group are given financial and non-monetary incentives such as easier entry to universities, obtaining bank loans and getting employment.
In return, the Basij has significantly empowered and emboldened the Iranian regime. As the US Treasury Department said: “In addition to its involvement in violent crackdowns and serious human rights abuses in Iran, the Basij recruits and trains fighters… including Iranian children, who then deploy to Syria to support the brutal Assad regime.”
The latest US sanctions against the Basij are long overdue. One of the most effective ways to weaken it is to cut off the flow of funds to the group. Other governments should join the US in holding it accountable.
Dr. Majid Rafizadeh is a Harvard-educated Iranian-American political scientist. He is a leading expert on Iran and US foreign policy, a businessman and president of the International American Council. Twitter: @Dr_Rafizadeh
Jordan Canceling Annexes of Peace Treaty With Israel, King Abdullah Says
تقرير من الهآررتس: الملك الأردني يقول بأنه ألغى ملحقات اتفاقية السلام مع إسرائيل

Jack Khoury and Noa Landau/Haaretz/October 21/18

Analysis/Truth or Trap? Saudi Explanation for Khashoggi's Murder Puts Trump to the Test
تحليل من الهآررتس لزفي بائيل: هل اعتراف السعودية بجريمة الخاشقجي هو حقيقة أو فخ؟ الجريمة تضع ترامب أمام الإمتحان

Zvi Bar'el/Haaretz/October 21/18

Khashoggi was Journalist AND Brotherhood Supporter
توم حرب: الخاشقجي كان صحافياً وداعماً ومؤيداً لجماعة الإخوان المسلمين

Tom Harb/New English Review/October 21/18