Detailed Lebanese & Lebanese Related LCCC English New Bulletin For October 23/2018
Compiled & Prepared by: Elias Bejjani

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Bible Quotations
We speak, not to please mortals, but to please God who tests our hearts
First Letter to the Thessalonians 02/01-13: "You yourselves know, brothers and sisters, that our coming to you was not in vain, but though we had already suffered and been shamefully maltreated at Philippi, as you know, we had courage in our God to declare to you the gospel of God in spite of great opposition. For our appeal does not spring from deceit or impure motives or trickery, but just as we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the message of the gospel, even so we speak, not to please mortals, but to please God who tests our hearts. As you know and as God is our witness, we never came with words of flattery or with a pretext for greed; nor did we seek praise from mortals, whether from you or from others, though we might have made demands as apostles of Christ. But we were gentle among you, like a nurse tenderly caring for her own children. So deeply do we care for you that we are determined to share with you not only the gospel of God but also our own selves, because you have become very dear to us. You remember our labour and toil, brothers and sisters; we worked night and day, so that we might not burden any of you while we proclaimed to you the gospel of God. You are witnesses, and God also, how pure, upright, and blameless our conduct was towards you believers. As you know, we dealt with each one of you like a father with his children, urging and encouraging you and pleading that you should lead a life worthy of God, who calls you into his own kingdom and glory. We also constantly give thanks to God for this, that when you received the word of God that you heard from us, you accepted it not as a human word but as what it really is, God’s word, which is also at work in you believers.
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 22-23/18
Russia Supports Syria, Iran Ramps Up Support To Hezbollah/Jerusalem Post/October 22/18
Interview with Netherlands Ambassador to Lebanon Jan Waltmans/Paula Naoufal/Annahar/October 22/18
Asia Bibi and 1,400 Years of Muhammad ‘Blasphemers’/Raymond Ibrahim/PJ Media/October 22/18
Opinion/Why We Should Go Easy on the Saudi Crown Prince/Tzvia Greenfield /Haaretz/October 22/18
Britain's Grooming Gangs: Part 2/Denis MacEoin/Gatestone Institute/October 22/18
North Korea's Toxic Space Program/Debalina Ghoshal/Gatestone Institute/October 22/18
What Does Khashoggi’s Murder Tell Us About the Saudi Power Structure?/Simon Henderson/The Washington Institute/October 22/18
The Painful Incident and The Choice of Accountability/Ghassan Charbel/Asharq Al Awsat/October 22/18
The Fed’s 1 Million Lost Jobs/Karl W. Smith/Bloomberg/October 22/18
Will Nick Clegg Succeed in his Mission?/Alex Webb/Bloomberg View/October 22/18
A reminder to those delusional about Saudi Arabia/Mashari Althaydi/Al Arabiya/October 22/18
Khashoggi and another incitement campaign against Saudi Arabia/Mamdouh AlMuhaini/Al Arabiya/October 22/18
Economic growth at the expense of punishing IMF package for Pakistan/Sabena Siddiquii/Al Arabiya/October 22/18
Iran: Between braggadocio and suicidal action/Amir Taheri/Al Arabiya/October 22/18
‘Muslim Brotherhood’ is a global threat: US Expert/Dalia Aqidi/Al Arabiya/October 22/18
A look at Iran’s history of assassinating dissidents/Heshmat Alavi/Al Arabiya/October 22/18

Titles For The Latest LCCC Lebanese Related News published on October 22-23/18
Aoun: Current Circumstances Require Speeding Up Govt. Formation
Hariri Says No Such Obstacle as Sunni Representation
Riachi Meets Hariri, Reports 'Progress in Negotiations'
Bassil Promises Govt. 'Very Soon', Says Sisi Wants to Help on Electricity
Bassil to Deliver Summit Invitations
Two Killed in Tripoli Vendetta Shootings
Syrians Trafficker Killed in Clash with ISF
Report: Conflict Over Portfolios Raises Doubts about Performance of Future Govt.
Israel Says Hizbullah Set Up S. Lebanon Post under NGO Guise
Israel says it finds Hezbollah outpost on Lebanon border
Report: President Says He Made Enough Concessions for LF
Lebanon’s Justice Portfolio Impedes Cabinet Formation
Beirut Ranked 7th Most Expensive City in the World for Expats
Hariri Says Government Formation Stalemate Not About Justice Ministry
International Democrat Union Welcomes Accession of Kataeb Party
Kataeb Party Slams Political Bickering Behind Government Stalemate
Lebanese Seek to Save Landmark Concrete Park From Crumbling
Russia Supports Syria, Iran Ramps Up Support To Hezbollah
Interview with Netherlands Ambassador to Lebanon Jan Waltmans
Paula Naoufal/Annahar/October 22/18

Titles For The Latest LCCC Bulletin For Miscellaneous Reports And News published on October 22-23/18
Turkey Vows Nothing to Remain Secret in Khashoggi Case, Says Keen on KSA Ties
Turkish Police Find 'Abandoned Saudi Consulate Car' in Istanbul
Germany Urges Joint European Stance on Saudi Arms Exports
Turkey Says Khashoggi Murder 'Savagely Planned'
Saudi Dissidents Fear 'Long Arm' of State after Khashoggi Murder
Qatar Says Khashoggi Killing 'a Wake-Up Call'
Saudi Scrambles to Host Investment Conference after Khashoggi Fallout
Russians Tell U.S. Security Chief Ready to Cooperate over Nuclear Treaty
Reopening of Nassib Crossing: A Step Towards Normalization with Neighbors
Israeli Official: Trump Insists on Settling Differences with Palestinians
Palestinian Shot Dead after Stabbing Israeli Soldier
Egyptian Parliament Extends State of Emergency by 3 Months
ISIS Launches New Bloody Threats Against West

The Latest LCCC Lebanese Related News published on October 22-23/18
Aoun: Current Circumstances Require Speeding Up Govt. Formation
Naharnet/October 22/18/President Michel Aoun on Monday stressed the need to speed up the formation of the new government amid the current circumstances in Lebanon and the region.
The National News Agency said Aoun followed up on the formation efforts throughout the day and received a series of phone calls. During the phone talks, the president emphasized “the need to resolve the obstacles that have so far prevented the formation of the cabinet, especially in light of the stances that have been voiced by the parties concerned.”“The current circumstances require speeding up the formation of the government and putting the higher national interest above all else,” Aoun added.

Hariri Says No Such Obstacle as Sunni Representation
Naharnet/October 22/18/Prime Minister-designate Saad Hariri emphasized on Monday that formation of the government is not impossible as some are trying to picture it, pointing out to the possibility of easing the obstacles delaying the formation. To a question on whether the insistence on appointing a Sunni minister from the March 8 camp could create a new hurdle, Hariri assured “there is no such obstacle.” On the allocation of the justice ministry, Hariri voiced hopes that things will clear out, and that an agreement would be reached in the end between the Lebanese Forces and Free Patriotic Movement.

Riachi Meets Hariri, Reports 'Progress in Negotiations'
Naharnet/October 22/18/Negotiations and the Lebanese Forces is “very satisfied with the atmosphere,” caretaker Information Minister Melhem Riachi of the LF announced on Monday. Riachi voiced his remarks after meeting Prime Minister-designate Saad Hariri at the Center House in the presence of Elie Baraghid, the head of LF chief Samir Geagea's office. Media reports said the LF delegation handed Hariri a letter from the party leadership that proposes a solution to resolve the government deadlock.

Bassil Promises Govt. 'Very Soon', Says Sisi Wants to Help on Electricity
Caretaker Foreign Minister Jebran Bassil announced Monday that Lebanon will have a national unity government "very soon." "We will very soon have a national unity government whose mission will be to address economic crises," Bassil said in a meeting with Lebanese expats in Oman. "We should work without rifts regarding people's needs, seeing as electricity, roads and telecommunications do not have a sect," Bassil added. Bassil announced earlier in the day that Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi has expressed readiness to help Lebanon in the electricity and oil sectors. “We thank President al-Sisi for the great affection he has expressed for the President (Michel Aoun), for me and for Lebanon,” Bassil tweeted. He also thanked the Egyptian leader for “the great appreciation he has for the Lebanese people and for the willingness he has expressed to cooperate in the electricity, oil and apple sectors.”Bassil was in Cairo to extend an invitation to al-Sisi to attend the socio-economic summit scheduled to take place in Beirut in January.

Bassil to Deliver Summit Invitations
Naharnet/October 22/18/Caretaker Foreign Minister Jebran Bassil departed for Cairo to extend an invitation to Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi to attend the socio-economic summit scheduled to take place in Beirut in January, the National News Agency reported on Monday. Minister Bassil will also travel to the Sultanate of Oman and Qatar to deliver similar invitations to Sultan Kabous Ben Said and Emir Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani, added NNA. During his visits, Bassil will hold meetings with his counterparts to discuss the bilateral political and economic relations and the most recent regional political developments. The Arab Economic and Social Development summit will be held in Beirut on January 19-20.

Two Killed in Tripoli Vendetta Shootings
Naharnet/October 22/18/Two people were shot dead Monday in the northern city of Tripoli in vendetta incidents. “Lebanese citizen R. al-Khodr died after being shot in the Abi Samra area at the hands of an unknown individual who fled the scene,” the National News Agency said. NNA later reported that F. al-Khodr who was also shot in the incident had died of his wounds. The Internal Security Forces Intelligence Branch meanwhile arrested A. al-Khodr for shooting dead F. al-Khodr to avenge the latter's killing of R. al-Khodr, the agency added.

Syrians Trafficker Killed in Clash with ISF
Naharnet/October 22/18/A man who was trafficking Syrians from and into Lebanon was killed Monday in the West Bekaa border town of Sawiri in a clash with security forces. “A. Sh., aka Abu Rameh, was killed at dawn in the town of Sawiri in a clash with a patrol from the Internal Security Forces Intelligence Branch that was trying to arrest him,” the National News Agency reported. A member of the patrol was lightly injured in the incident, NNA added. The slain man had been arrested several times in the past, the agency noted.

Report: Conflict Over Portfolios Raises Doubts about Performance of Future Govt.

Naharnet/October 22/18/As wrangling between political parties over ministerial portfolios continues to delay the government formation, a senior Lebanese politician told al-Hayat daily on Monday that the government has a set of delicate tasks ahead that it should handle as follows:
1. Addressing the economic situation starting with reducing the deficit by finding a radical solution to the electricity crisis, tackling the waste crisis, and implementing the CEDRE conference decisions in terms of reforms and involving the private sector in infrastructure development, and fighting corruption.
2. Continuing to seal deals regarding the oil blocks offshore after the signing of contracts to drill for oil and gas early in 2018.
3. Demarcation of the land and sea borders between Lebanon and Israel which has become an international demand, mainly that the exploration of oil and gas wealth is connected to it.
4 - Determine the ways to address the Lebanese-Syrian relations, which parties in Lebanon are in conflict over the approach, whether regarding the return of refugees, the economic relations, or the course of the Syria crisis. At the same time, reactivation of relations between Lebanon and Gulf countries, which saw a setback in the previous phase as a result of Gulf resentment of Hizbullah’s intervention in the Syrian and Yemeni wars and its involvement in the internal situation of a number of Gulf States.
5 - Discuss the defense strategy that deals with Hizbullah’s weapons in light of the increasing US sanctions on the party and its effects on Lebanon.
6. Complete the implementation of the Taif Agreement in terms of direct administrative decentralization and to discuss the establishment of the Supreme Commission for the abolition of sectarianism.
The source, who spoke on condition of anonymity, wondered saying: “How can the next government come close to these major and strategic headlines at a time when political parties prepare to enter the cabinet as they lurch into each other and struggle for influence and power, especially in the Christian arena?"
The source expressed “pessimism” about the country’s fate noting the mentality of “pursuit of benefits and competition over administrative positions and sovereign portfolios,” noting that the “concerns of some do not focus on sensing the risks that beset the economic conditions, but rely on the method of retaining gains in the name of slogans related to sectarian rights.”

Israel Says Hizbullah Set Up S. Lebanon Post under NGO Guise
Agence France Presse/Associated Press/Naharnet/October 22/18/The Israeli army on Monday accused Hizbullah of setting up a new observation point in south Lebanon near the border under the guise of an environmental NGO. A senior military officer charged that the position, near the border village of Adaysseh and the Israeli settlement of Misgav Am, was a violation of U.N. Resolution 1701 prohibiting Hizbullah military activity in the area. The observation post joins five other exposed last year by Israel, the officer said, all allegedly under the cover of "Green Without Borders". "This NGO isn’t concerned with planting trees, it’s a front" for Hizbullah to monitor the Israeli army and civilians nearby, the officer told reporters in a briefing.Israel has relayed its concerns to UNIFIL, the United Nations peacekeeping mission in Lebanon, and asked them to visit the positions, but according to the officer, "they haven't done so." The position contains "military equipment and infrastructure, binoculars, high end cameras," the officer said. "This is a breach of 1701." UNIFIL spokesman Andrea Tenenti said the U.N. force has "not observed any unauthorized armed persons" at the position and "continues to monitor activities closely," including those of the environmental group. A month-long war in 2006 between Israel and Hizbullah killed more than 1,200 Lebanese, mostly civilians, and more than 160 Israelis, mostly soldiers. Resolution 1701 was adopted to end the war, calling for full respect of the "Blue Line", the U.N.-demarcated frontier between Lebanon and Israel. Israel has vowed to prevent what it says are efforts by its archfoe Iran to transfer advanced arms to Hizbullah in Lebanon.
Israel says it finds Hezbollah outpost on Lebanon border
Associated Press/October 22/18/JERUSALEM: The Israeli military says it has uncovered a militant outpost on the Lebanese border that Hezbollah militants have set up under the guise of an environmental advocacy group. A senior officer from the military’s Northern Command says Monday that the new observation post in the village of al-Adisa violates the U.N. resolution that ended the 2006 Israel-Hezbollah war and bars militants in southern Lebanon. He says Hezbollah is using the “Green Without Borders” association as cover for gathering intelligence on Israeli troops. The officer, speaking on condition of anonymity under military guidelines, says five other Hezbollah posts were uncovered in 2017. Andrea Tenenti, a spokesman for the UNIFIL peacekeeping force in southern Lebanon, says it has “not observed any unauthorized armed persons” at the position.

Report: President Says He Made Enough Concessions for LF
Naharnet/October 22/18/Controversy over the allocation of the justice ministry for the Lebanese Forces continues, amid reports saying that President Michel Aoun believes he made many concessions in the LF’s interest when he conceded the position of deputy premier, al-Joumhouria daily reported on Monday. Presidential Palace sources stressed on Monday that “there will be no turning back, the justice portfolio will be allocated for President Aoun,” the daily quoted the sources. They assured saying the President would not mind allocating another portfolio for the LF, “we have given all we can and made enough concessions for the LF when we gave up the deputy premier post,” they said quoting the President. A few days ago a breakthrough loomed regarding the government formation but a new obstacle linked to the justice portfolio soon emerged to dissipate all hopes. 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. Moreover, 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.
Lebanon’s Justice Portfolio Impedes Cabinet Formation
Beirut - Caroline Akoum/Asharq Al-Awsat/Monday, 22 October, 2018/Discussions on Lebanon’s next government kept facing obstacles over the weekend in light of President Michel Aoun’s attachment to the Justice Ministry, and the Lebanese Forces rejection to end up outside the cabinet lineup. “Discussions on the Justice Ministry portfolio are now behind us after President Aoun made his decision to keep the ministry within his share” in the government, Presidential sources told Asharq Al-Awsat on Sunday. They said Aoun had offered several concessions to the LF, mainly by giving them the deputy prime minister’s seat. “During his meeting with the prime minister-designate last Wednesday, Aoun never promised (Saad) Hariri to offer the Justice Ministry to the LF, but told him he might discuss the issue if there was an alternative proposal,” the sources explained. Meanwhile, leading sources from the Strong Lebanon bloc headed by Free Patriotic Movement leader and caretaker Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil, accused on Sunday the LF of trying to obstruct the formation process until after the expected US sanctions on “Hezbollah” early next month. However, LF sources rejected his accusations. “No one has the right to accuse us of obstructing the government formation process. Those hindering the process are the same parties who refuse to offer any concessions that would allow parties to be at an equal distance,” the LF sources said, adding that the ministerial portfolios are not the possession of any side. They said the LF demanded the Justice Ministry after being exempted from any so-called “sovereign” ministry. In the face of such counter-accusations, the two Christian parties are not likely to solve their disputes unless a new proposal on ministerial shares is made in the coming days. Informed sources told Asharq Al-Awsat, however, that there is no such proposal so far.
Beirut Ranked 7th Most Expensive City in the World for Expats and EuroCost International//October 22/18/Beirut was ranked the 7th most expensive city in the world for expatriates, according to EuroCost International's annual cost of living ranking, moving up ahead of London, Zurich, New York, Dubai, Paris and several other cities. EuroCost International's annual cost of living ranking compares expat living costs in major locations worldwide, including housing costs but excluding health and education costs. The 2018 ranking is based on prices recorded in June 2018 and updated on the basis of September 2018 exchange rates. 272 locations have been considered for this ranking."Beirut is still the most expensive city in the Middle East. The cost of living is particularly high for expatriates in the Lebanese capital, specifically as a result of high rents in the secure zones," the report noted. In the Middle East region, cities in the United Arab Emirates were also highly ranked, with Abu Dhabi and Dubai respectively at 17th and 28th position in the global ranking. Damascus has climbed significantly in the ranking, mainly due to the rise in the Syrian pound.Ankara and Istanbul have dropped in the ranking in response to the fall in the Turkish currency, which has accelerated over the past few months. Hong Kong is now the most expensive city in the world for expatriates. Ranked second last year, the Asian city has now overtaken Luanda. The Angolan capital dropped to 14th place in the ranking, following the devaluation of its currency at the beginning of the year, and in spite of very strong inflation. Tokyo has also moved up one place, and is now in second position, followed by Kinshasa which has entered the top 3. Geneva, the top-ranked European city, is still in 4th place. Seoul completes the top 5, replacing Singapore. Conversely, some currencies have shown a substantial fall in value against the euro. This applies to the Russian ruble, as a result of which Moscow has dropped in our ranking from 14th to 24th place. Indian and Australian cities have also fallen in the ranking, in response to the loss of value in their respective currencies. Accordingly, Mumbai is no longer in the top 30 ranking, while Sydney has moved from 17th to 25th spot. In Europe, Swiss cities are still strongly represented at the top end of the ranking. London is also included, climbing to 8th place. Paris, the most expensive city in the euro zone, has entered the top 30 in 30th place. Conversely, Oslo is no longer listed among the top 30, due to the fall in the Norwegian Krone.

Hariri Says Government Formation Stalemate Not About Justice Ministry Monday 22nd October 2018/Prime Minister-Designate Saad Hariri on Monday said that the government formation is not an impossible mission to accomplish, assuring that complexities can be solved. "The problem is not about the Justice Ministry. It is rather related to ministerial shares and the structure of the government," Hariri told reporters at the Grand Serail. "Issues regarding the government formation will become clear within the next two or three days," he said. Hariri refused to label the demands by Sunni lawmakers outside the Future Movement to be represented in the new government as a "complexity", noting that this issue is subject to discussion. “I don’t consider that the independent Sunni lawmakers represent a big party to make their claim for a representation in the government. I can understand that a major party demands a significant ministerial share, but I fail to understand that a pseudo-bloc does so,” Hariri stated. "Everyone has the right to make requests, but at the end of the day it is me and President Aoun who form the government. End of story," he affirmed.

International Democrat Union Welcomes Accession of Kataeb Party Monday 22nd October 2018/The International Democrat Union on Monday issued a statement welcoming the accession of the Kataeb party as a new member, announcing that the IDU's Executive Board voted to accept the party's application at the recent IDU Executive meeting at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, USA. "Following Kataeb’s membership application, the IDU launched a fact-finding mission to Lebanon earlier this year led by IDU Secretary General Christian Kattner. The delegation had the opportunity to meet the senior party leadership to learn more about party structure and policy, as well as meeting a range of Kataeb’s partners, NGO representatives and journalists, who offered a comprehensive view of the party and the political situation in the region," the IDU statement reads. "Following the fact-finding mission, IDU Secretary General Christian Kattner recommended, on behalf of the delegation, that the IDU accepts the accession of Kataeb," it added. "The IDU family is pleased to welcome Lebanon’s Kataeb party to our growing network of centre-right parties around the world!" The IDU statement presented the Kataeb as a political party with a historic tradition in politics since 1937, stressing that it shares very similar values as the IDU and is committed to freedom, democracy and the rule of law. "Until today it is a viable political force in the highly complicated political surrounding of Lebanon. The delegation members have underlined their strong belief that the solutions to common challenges could only be achieved by further engagement with partners from the Middle East," the statement pointed out. "Lebanon as a key country in the region enhanced political dialogue and the cooperation will be of mutual benefit." Speaking at the IDU's 2018 executive meeting in Los Angeles last month, Kataeb leader Samy Gemayel presented an insight into the Kataeb's history, values and goals, stressing the importance of the party’s presence in international platforms which allow it to address the Lebanese cause. He also stressed the need to support Lebanon amid the hardships it is going through on both security and economic levels, outlining the importance of dissociating Lebanon from regional conflicts in order to spare it dangerous ripple effects. Formed in 1983, the IDU provides a forum in which parties holding similar beliefs can come together and exchange views on matters of policy and organisational interest, so that they can learn from each other, act together, establish contacts and speak with one strong voice to promote democracy and centre-right policies around the globe. Founder Members of the IDU included Britain’s Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, then US Vice-President George Bush Sr, Paris Mayor and later President of France Jacques Chirac, German Chancellor Helmut Kohl and many other Party Leaders.

Kataeb Party Slams Political Bickering Behind Government Stalemate Monday 22nd October 2018/The Lebanese Kataeb party on Monday blamed political bickering for the ongoing government formation stalemate, criticizing politicians for haggling over ministerial shares instead of rescuing the country. "The failure to form a government, which has been going on for several months, is the result of disagreements over gains, shares and leverage," read a statement issued following the weekly meeting of the Kataeb politburo. "They [politicians] have been haggling instead of working on plans to save Lebanon from economic collapse, and to safeguard its security, sovereignty, independence and democracy," it added. The politburo stressed the need for a unified strategic vision to build the nation that everyone aspires for, adding that it should embody a common perspective towards sovereignty, freedom and independence. The party reiterated that transient political agreements based on partitioning and personal interests are doomed to fail once the motives behind them fade away, warning that only the Lebanese would pay the price for such flimsy alliances amid the total absence of accountability. One year after the Judicial Council issued its verdict in the assassination case of President Bachir Gemayel and his companions, the Kataeb party blasted the Judiciary's inertia and questioned its failure to arrest the convicted murderers Habib Al-Chartouni and Nabil Al-Alam. "What is the reason behind the flagrant idleness in taking the initiative to bring those two to justice through the Interpol?" the poliburo asked. The party demanded those in charge of enforcing the rule of law to fulfill their duties and abide by the Judiciary's ruling so that justice would finally prevail.

Lebanese Seek to Save Landmark Concrete Park From Crumbling

Beirut- Asharq Al-Awsat/Monday, 22 October, 2018/Close to the seafront in Lebanon's Tripoli, giant curves of concrete stand testimony to dreams before the civil war, etchings of an exhibition park never finished but already cracking. This month, a rare exhibition is being held at the site designed by legendary Brazilian architect Oscar Niemeyer in a desperate call to save it from ruin. Inside the vast grey grounds of the Tripoli International Fair in northern Lebanon, a palm tree throws its dark silhouette onto a giant concrete dome. A thin arch sweeps high over a narrow footbridge, and a steep staircase spirals up vertically, onto a circular cement platform perched on a curvaceous pillar. "It's a futurist paradigm that is unique in Lebanon and the region," said Lebanese architect Wassim Naghi. "In its modernity, in its reliance on curves, it sums up the progress of architecture over a hundred years," he said. And with buildings dotted over an area the size of 70 rugby pitches, it's among "Niemeyer's largest works outside Brazil", he said. The Brazilian architect designed landmarks around the globe during a decades-long career that started in the 1930s and ended in the 21st century. When he died six years ago aged 104, he left behind hundreds of buildings, in Brazil as well as in the United States, France, Malaysia, Algeria and Cuba. But today his work in Lebanon is in urgent need of restoration. "These buildings of reinforced concrete need to be restored rapidly. There are buildings being eaten away at, blocks falling down, and many cracks," Naghi warned. "We fear there will be unpleasant surprises, especially during the rainy season," he said. Until October 23, a show titled "Cycles of Collapsing Progress" seeks to celebrate the era that gave rise to the fairground, but also sound the alarm. In the halls under the perched platform, visitors can admire a seabed of snaking rebar, or even an elongated white space rocket hanging from the ceiling. The show "documents a golden age in Lebanon's modern history -- the architectural, scientific and cultural dreams of the time", said curator Karina al-Helu.During the 1960s, the tiny Mediterranean country had its own space program, successfully launching a small unmanned rocket into space. When Niemeyer was first asked to design the outdoor space in 1962, there were plans for the rooms under the circular platform to house a space museum. But dreams of outer-space exploration, and any museum to commemorate it, were indefinitely put on hold with the outbreak of the 1975-1990 civil war. The exhibition aims to remind Lebanese visitors of this chapter of the country's recent past, Helu said, but also shine a light on a landmark about to collapse.
UNESCO list?
In a country whose history goes back millennia to the Phoenician period, she urged the authorities to give equal attention to modern architecture. "It's great to restore buildings that show Lebanon's ancient history, but we should also care about the landmarks of this country's modern history," she said. Architect Naghi said he was not optimistic about any immediate intervention by the government. "The current atmosphere of crisis in the country doesn't bode well," he said, referring to a months-long deadlock over forming a cabinet.Any renovation should involve in-depth studies and specialized companies, he said, "and that would require a lot of money, as well as a government decision". Instead, Naghi and others hope that the site can be added to UNESCO's World Heritage List. Brazil's capital Brasilia and an outdoor center in the south of the country, both of which were designed by Niemeyer, are already featured on it. Sahar Baassiri, Lebanon's delegate to UNESCO, said efforts were now being made towards adding the concrete park to the list's contemporary architecture section. Akram Oueida, president of the fairground, said Lebanese officials have made promises of assistance, but none have yet materialized. Getting the concrete park listed by UNESCO may help, Oueida said: "That could open the door to funding from donors."
Russia Supports Syria, Iran Ramps Up Support To Hezbollah
Jerusalem Post/October 22/18
"If Hezbollah succeeds in converting these missiles, the new situation would represent a significant risk to Israeli airports, power stations, the Dimona nuclear reactor, and more." Iran reportedly delivered GPS components to Hezbollah in Lebanon that will allow the group to transform rudimentary projectiles into precision-guided missiles, thereby increasing the threat to Israel. Western intelligence services believe Tehran has shifted its strategy by increasingly shipping weaponry directly to its proxy in Beirut, with a view to evading Israeli air strikes. The Israel Defense Forces has over the past two years conducted hundreds of attacks in Syria to prevent such arms deliveries. Meanwhile, Russia last week upped its military support to the Assad regime with the transfer of three S-300PM-2 missile batteries whose radar and communication technologies are more sophisticated than those of the model deployed to Syria at the beginning of the month. That move, in turn, followed the downing of a Russian reconnaissance plane by Syrian forces, an incident the Kremlin blamed on Israel which minutes before had conducted an aerial operation against an Iranian military installation in Latakia.
“Russia’s delivery of advanced air defense systems to Syria has emboldened Iran to ramp up its shipments of weaponry to Hezbollah,” Meir Litvak, Director of the Alliance Center for Iranian Studies at Tel Aviv University, contended to The Media Line.
"While Israel can deal with the military threat posed by the S-300PM-2," he elaborated, "the problem is that the government does not yet know how the Russians will operate. Will they tell Syrians when an Israeli jet takes off and will they intercept the planes? Until the reaction becomes clear, Israel is limited."
Nevertheless, Jerusalem repeatedly has vowed to continue conducting cross-border missions, both to prevent Tehran from establishing a permanent military presence in Syria and to inhibit the Iranians from supplying Hezbollah with arms.
“Most [of Hezbollah's rockets] are not precise enough, making their potential threat tolerable to Israel," Dr. Litvak continued. "If Hezbollah succeeds in converting these missiles, the new situation would represent a significant risk to Israeli airports, power stations, the Dimona nuclear reactor, and more."
During his speech last month to the United Nations General Assembly, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu revealed satellite imagery of three sites in the Lebanese capital where Hezbollah, at the behest of its Iranian masters, allegedly has built underground missile manufacturing facilities. According to analysts, the weapons produced are capable of hitting within a few meters their intended target and can reach almost anywhere in Israel. Hezbollah has an arsenal of more than 100,000 rockets and missiles, many of them housed in residential areas to protect them from attack.
“The increased Russian presence in Syria and the mounting threats from Lebanon indicate a significant level of danger from a diplomatic point of view,” Jonathan Spyer, a Fellow at the Jerusalem Institute for Strategic Studies, conveyed to The Media Line. “The consolidation of Iranian power in Syria is becoming Israel’s number one priority in the region.” To this end, Prime Minister Netanyahu is slated to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin in the near future to discuss the latest developments.
Interview with Netherlands Ambassador to Lebanon Jan Waltmans
Paula Naoufal/Annahar/October 22/18
BEIRUT: Ever since he was young, Netherlands Ambassador to Lebanon Jan Waltmans was curious about the outside world. At the age of 16, he visited Sri Lanka, and it was then that he knew he wanted to work abroad. Annahar interviewed him at the embassy for an insight on his life, his post in Lebanon, and Netherlands-Lebanese relationships.
What were the biggest cultural shocks upon moving from the Netherlands to your first post in the Middle East?
Actually, my first cultural shock was during my first post in Africa, where I served in Ghana. My wife and I enjoyed it tremendously, but we saw that the way we think and organize our lives is very different. Since I enjoyed this experience immensely, I never applied to a posting in a western country, instead, I applied to adventurous countries such as Iraq, Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Zambia.
Iraq was my first post in the Middle East, and it was the time of the rise of ISIS. There were high security measures. Lebanon is relatively calm compared to Afghanistan and Iraq despite the challenges, and from a security perspective, it’s easier for me to move around in Lebanon.
I see the difference in values and tradition. In this part of the region, family members are closer to each other. It is very common to see a young adult over the age of twenty-two live with their parents, whereas in my part of the world it is quite uncommon.
Could you please tell me about the developments of Dutch-Lebanese relationship?
There’s a good relationship between the two countries and we are aiming to improve our long-term relationship. We believe if our partner country is in a hard time, we should help. For example, during the wake of the Syrian crisis, the Netherlands government provided development support to Lebanon although it’s a middle-income country. Our current government puts Lebanon as one of the top priority countries in our foreign policies.
What are the major priorities of the Netherlands embassy in Lebanon? And what has been the biggest challenge for the embassy?
The security sector is a priority. We contribute to stability through cooperation with the LAF on border management, enhancing forensic skills of the military system and demining.
Trade relationships are also crucial. We try to do whatever we can to help Lebanese and Dutch companies to meet each other and create businesses. At the beginning of October, a trade delegation from Lebanon went to the Netherlands and met many Dutch counterparts. The focus was on agriculture.
Paying attention to human rights, focusing on LGBT and women rights, is a third priority. We also have anti-torture activities to promote prosecution based on evidence and not torture.
There’s also engagement with the youth. Wherever I go I meet with students and young entrepreneurs, they can raise any issue they want and I try to address it whether on governance, employment opportunities or human rights.
Our government will spend 50-75 million Euros a year for the coming four years to support Lebanese communities that received Syrian refuges, as well as the Syrian refuges. This should go hand in hand with sound implementation of policies and real reforms. This includes programs on education, economic development and avocational training for the Lebanese and Syrians
Could you please inform us about Water diplomacy in the Netherlands and what could Lebanon learn from that?
Part of the Netherlands is lower than the sea level. Because in 1953, we had a natural disaster of flooding, our government heavily invested in protecting our shores. Farmers and municipalities developed advanced systems and the Dutch have the best experts for water management in the world.
In the past years, Dutch organizations worked with Lebanese partners to try to start cleaning up the Litany River. I believe with the right governance and priorities in place, and sufficient and transparent budget allocation, the Lebanese water problem can be solved, since Lebanon has a highly educated population.
The private sector and the public sector should cooperate. People should also learn how to recycle and not throw garbage on the streets and in nature. This also used to be in a challenge in our country. You can solve this by educating children in schools and ensuring that parents teach their children; and those who throw their garbage in the wrong places should be fined.
The Netherlands is the globe’s second exporter of food as measured by value, second only to the United States, which has 270 times its landmass. How do you do it?
The Netherlands is a small country. Throughout history, we needed to learn how to use limited land. Each piece of land, as shown when you look at our country when the airplane approaches the airport, is thoroughly organized.
Famers learned to be efficient on how to use this land, which triggered innovation throughout the decades. We also have one of the best universities in the world for agriculture at Wageningen and top companies, which are combined with research and sound government policies.
The Dutch were the first in the world to legalize gay marriage, and is known to be a very liberal, progressive and peaceful country, what do you think other countries should learn from the Netherlands?
One should not impose one‘s views on other countries, but the majority of Dutch people feel that those who are not heterosexual should be respected and that the LGBTQ community should decide themselves how to live their lives.
Our government accommodates gay marriage and caters for this community by adopting legislation. What we try to promote is that other countries look at our system, and in the end, it’s up to them to see how they want to organize their societies.
I personally believe that many issues raised in societies are not initiated by the government, but by the people. After the issue is raised by people, politicians look at it and try to organize and cater for it.

The Latest LCCC Bulletin For Miscellaneous Reports And News published on
October 22-23/18
Turkey Vows Nothing to Remain Secret in Khashoggi Case, Says Keen on KSA Ties
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/October 22/18/Turkey on Monday vowed that nothing will stay secret in the case of the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi at the kingdom's consulate in Istanbul, adding Ankara did not want relations with Riyadh to be damaged. "From the start, the line of our President (Recep Tayyip Erdogan) has been clear. Nothing will remain secret in this case," presidential spokesman Ibrahim Kalin told reporters in Ankara. "This entire case will be explored from the legal point of view. Shedding light on all the aspects is our final aim and responsibility," he said. Kalin's comments came ahead of a hugely anticipated address to ruling party lawmakers by Erdogan on Tuesday which the president has vowed will reveal the "naked truth" about the Khashoggi case. Erdogan has so far stopped short of directly pointing the finger at Riyadh. Analysts say he preferred to authorize the leak of incriminating information to pro-government media to pressure the kingdom. Kalin emphasized that Erdogan has spoken by telephone twice to King Salman. But he did not mention powerful Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman who faces a stream of allegations -- denied by Riyadh -- that he ordered the killing of Khashoggi. The spokesman described Saudi Arabia as an "important country, a brotherly and friendly country."He added: "We have many partnerships and we would not want these to be damaged. Consequently, there is a great responsibility on the Saudi authorities to shed light on the case."

Turkish Police Find 'Abandoned Saudi Consulate Car' in Istanbul

Agence France Presse/Naharnet/October 22/18/Turkish police on Monday found an abandoned car belonging to the Saudi consulate at an underground car park in Istanbul, three weeks after the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi at the kingdom's mission. The car, which had diplomatic number plates, was found in an underground car park in the Sultangazi district of the city, the state-run Anadolu news agency and TRT World channel said. Registration documents showed that the vehicle belonged to the consulate, they added. Police have asked prosecutors and the Saudi consulate for permission to search the vehicle. Police cordoned off access to the car park, where large numbers of media have gathered, an AFP photographer said. Saudi Arabia has finally admitted that Khashoggi was killed inside the consulate in what Ankara now says was a "savagely planned" murder. But Khashoggi's remains have yet to be found.

Germany Urges Joint European Stance on Saudi Arms Exports
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/October 22/18/European nations should take a joint stance on whether to halt arms exports to Saudi Arabia over the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, German Economy Minister Peter Altmaier said Monday. He reiterated Chancellor Angela Merkel's statement from Sunday, saying Berlin "at this stage will not approve further arms exports because we want to know what happened," adding that "all explanations so far have been unsatisfactory."But Altmaier, a close Merkel confidant, stressed that "there won't be any positive effects if only we halt exports and then other countries fill the gap.""Only when all European nations are in agreement will this make an impression on Riyadh," he said, speaking on public television. Merkel had said Sunday that "when it comes to our already limited arms exports... they cannot take place in the current situation."Her spokesman Steffen Seibert said Monday the government was still discussing internally whether ot not to bloc exports already authorized in recent months but not yet delivered. Germany last month approved 416 million euros ($480 million) worth of arms exports to Saudi Arabia for 2018. In the past, German military exports to Saudi have mostly consisted of patrol boats, and they have been far lower than those from Britain and France, who have not indicated they want exports to stop. Germany and Saudi Arabia only returned their ambassadors in September after 10 months of frosty relations following criticism from Berlin of what it said was Saudi interference in Lebanese affairs. The Khashoggi case has opened a serious new rift, with Britain, France and Germany demanding that Saudi clarify how the journalist died inside its Istanbul consulate. After a fortnight of denials, Saudi authorities admitted Saturday that Khashoggi, a Washington Post columnist and prominent critic of powerful Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, was killed after entering the consulate in Turkey on October 2. But it has faced a growing chorus of incredulity over its belated explanation that he died in a "brawl", as world powers demand answers and information on the whereabouts of his body.

Turkey Says Khashoggi Murder 'Savagely Planned'
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/October 22/18/The murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi inside Riyadh's Istanbul consulate was "savagely planned", Turkey's ruling party spokesman said on Monday, the first official indication from Ankara it believes a plot was hatched in advance. "This was extremely savagely planned, and we are faced with a situation where there has been a lot of effort to whitewash this," Justice and Development Party (AKP) spokesman Omer Celik told reporters in Ankara. "This is a very complicated murder," Celik said, warning that the Turkish government would not be drawn into speculation. "Everyone (else) can speculate but we cannot speculate," Celik added. He also dismissed claims of "bargaining" between Saudi Arabia and Turkey as "immoral". Riyadh said on Saturday that Khashoggi, a former regime insider turned dissident, died during a "brawl" inside the consulate after a visit on October 2 to get documents. It added 18 Saudis were arrested in connection with his death and two top aides of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, as well as three other intelligence agents, were fired. Before Riyadh's admission, Turkish sources said a team of 15 Saudis were sent to Istanbul and killed Khashoggi, a critic of the crown prince who moved to the United States last year and wrote for the Washington Post. Turkish pro-government media has said the team interrogated, tortured and decapitated Khashoggi but a pro-government columnist Abdulkadir Selvi on Monday wrote in Hurriyet daily that Khashoggi was strangled to death before he was cut up into 15 pieces. Celik pointed to CCTV footage published by CNN on Monday, which the American broadcaster claimed showed one of the Saudi officials acting as a body double for Khashoggi and leaving the consulate. A senior Turkish official quoted by CNN said that the Saudi was "brought to Istanbul to act as a body double" for Khashoggi, adding: "This was a premeditated murder and the body was moved out of the consulate." In the video a man, named by CNN as Mustafa al-Madani, left the consulate by the back exit wearing what appeared to be Khashoggi's clothes -- although the shoes do not match those the journalist appeared to be wearing in CCTV footage of him entering the consulate.

Saudi Dissidents Fear 'Long Arm' of State after Khashoggi Murder

Agence France Presse/Naharnet/October 22/18/The murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi has sent a chill through exiled dissidents, with many revealing discreet government attempts to lure them to their embassies as an apparent "trap" to return them to the kingdom. Khashoggi, a critic of powerful Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, was killed inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, in what sources close to the government have said was likely an authorized rendition that went wrong. Saudi exiles in three different countries have recounted what appeared to be official attempts to bait them into the kingdom's diplomatic missions, exposing them to potentially the same fate as Khashoggi. Omar Abdulaziz, a 27-year-old Saudi activist exiled in Canada, said he was approached earlier this year by Saudi officials who urged him to visit their embassy with them to collect a new passport. "They were saying 'it will only take one hour, just come with us to the embassy'," Abdulaziz, who rankled authorities with a YouTube show that satirized the Saudi leadership, said in a video posted on Twitter. He refused to go, fearing a trap, and two of his brothers and a handful of his friends were arrested in the kingdom, he said, thus validating his suspicions. The Washington Post said it received hours-long tapes from Abdulaziz of his conversations with those officials, which he secretly recorded. Abdullah Alaoudh, a Saudi scholar at Georgetown, said he was subjected to a similar "plot" in Washington. Last year, when Alaoudh, son of prominent cleric Salman al-Awda who is jailed and faces trial in the kingdom, applied to renew his passport at the Saudi embassy in Washington, he says he was told to return to the kingdom to complete what appeared to be basic formalities. "They offered me a 'temporary pass' that would allow me to return to Saudi Arabia," Alaoudh told AFP. "I knew it was a trap and just left with my expired passport."
'Cover up'
The testimonies suggest what appear to be growing Saudi efforts to snare overseas critics of the government or entice them to return since Mohammed bin Salman, widely known as MBS, became crown prince last year. The Saudi information ministry did not respond to requests for comment, but sources close to the regime have also hinted at a broader program to bring dissidents back to the kingdom. "MBS probably authorized a rendition (of Khashoggi), which, if so, was ill-advised, but leaders and governments make mistakes, sometimes horrible ones," tweeted Ali Shihabi, head of pro-Saudi think tank Arabia Foundation said to be close to the government. "The cover-up was ill-advised and incompetent." Khashoggi, who went into exile in Virginia last year and openly criticized Prince Mohammed's growing crackdown on dissent, disappeared after entering the kingdom's consulate in Istanbul where he sought documents related to his planned wedding to his Turkish fiancee. After an uproar globally, Saudi Arabia admitted on Saturday what it vigorously denied for two weeks -- Khashoggi was killed inside the consulate. "The strongest and most chilling message here was that no one is safe from Saudi Arabia's brutal reach," Sherif Mansour, from the Committee to Protect Journalists, wrote for the Carnegie Middle East Center. Before his murder, a Saudi aide to the crown prince had contacted Khashoggi in recent months to offer him a senior job in the government if he returned to Saudi Arabia, a friend of the Washington Post columnist told AFP. Khashoggi declined, fearing it was a ruse, the friend added.
'State of shock'
Manal al-Sharif, a Saudi woman activist exiled in Australia, said she narrowly escaped the kingdom's dragnet in September last year when Saud al-Qahtani sought to lure her to a Saudi embassy. "If it weren't for the kindness of God I would have been (another) victim," Sharif tweeted, posting a screenshot of private messages with Qahtani, a media adviser in the royal court who was sacked in the fallout over Khashoggi's killing. The number of asylum seekers from Saudi Arabia globally has more than doubled since Prince Mohammed's ascendance to power -- from 575 cases in 2015 to 1,256 in 2017 -- according to the United Nations' refugee agency. Khashoggi's death has caused such a wave of fear among exiles that some are now cautious of even visiting their country's overseas missions. "The horrid story of Jamal Khashoggi has sent many activists into a state of shock," said Amani al-Ahmadi, a 27-year-old Saudi exile in Seattle. "Many activists abroad don't speak up, fearful of bringing harm to their families back home, losing their scholarships or worse abduction and arrest." Many also fear an online army of trolls loyal to the regime, known to harass critics such as Khashoggi, in a program the New York Times said was crafted by Qahtani. McKinsey this week said it was "horrified" after the newspaper claimed a report prepared by the consulting firm to measure public perception of Saudi Arabia's policies may have been used to silence dissidents. But many exiles point out the irony that in silencing Khashoggi, the kingdom has spread his message wider than ever before. "The perpetrators of the horrific act against Khashoggi were sending a message that anyone who expresses the slightest disagreement with the rulers will be targeted," said Alaoudh. "Did this reckless action work in silencing dissenting voices? Jamal's voice is louder than ever before."

Qatar Says Khashoggi Killing 'a Wake-Up Call'
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/October 22/18/The murder of Jamal Khashoggi should act as a wake-up call, Qatar's foreign ministry said Monday in the rival Gulf state's first official response to the killing. Spokeswoman Lolwah al-Khater said Qatar had faith in the Turkish probe into the death of Washington Post contributor Khashoggi inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul. Regional rivals Saudi Arabia and Qatar have been locked in a bitter diplomatic crisis since June 2017. Since then Qatar has been cut off by Saudi Arabia and its allies, which accuse Doha of supporting terrorism and being too close to Riyadh's arch-rival Iran -- charges Qatar vehemently denies. At Chatham House, the Royal Institute for International Affairs think-tank in London, Khater was asked about the state of relations between Doha and Riyadh in light of Khashoggi's death. "I don't think anything has changed dramatically. We're just hoping that there is a wake-up call for everyone," she said. "And of course, our condolences go to the family and friends of the journalist." Khater was speaking in a discussion entitled "Qatar's foreign policy: balancing new alliances in a contested region". Asked what she thought Britain and other European countries should do in response, she added: "There was a joint statement that the UK, France and Germany issued and I think this statement, for the time being, summarizes all the actions that everyone wants to see." The three countries on Sunday said Saudi Arabia must clarify how Khashoggi died, and its account must be "backed by facts to be considered credible." "We would like to see a transparent investigation," said Khater. "We have faith in the legal system in Turkey and I guess everyone is anxiously waiting to hear what is going to be announced tomorrow." Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has vowed to reveal the "naked truth" about the case on Tuesday. After more than two weeks of near silence, Riyadh has admitted Khashoggi, a prominent critic of powerful Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, was killed in the consulate, after he entered on October 2 to obtain some documents.

Saudi Scrambles to Host Investment Conference after Khashoggi Fallout
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/October 22/18/Saudi Arabia scrambled Monday to prepare for an investment summit after a string of cancellations from global business titans, with Turkey's threat to reveal the "naked truth" over critic Jamal Khashoggi's murder casting a fresh shadow.
Starting on Tuesday, the three-day Future Investment Initiative (FII) was meant to project the historically insular petro-state as a lucrative business destination as it seeks to diversify and set the stage for new ventures and multi-billion dollar contracts. But the summit, nicknamed "Davos in the desert", has been overshadowed by growing global outrage over the murder of Khashoggi inside the kingdom's consulate in Istanbul. The chief executive of German industrial conglomerate Siemens Joe Kaeser was the latest among dozens of global executives to withdraw from the summit, hosted by the kingdom's sovereign wealth fund. "It's the cleanest decision but not the most courageous one," Kaeser wrote in a post on social network LinkedIn of his choice not to attend FII. "For now, the truth must be found and justice must be served." Ministers from the United States, Britain and France, which have huge defense deals at stake with Saudi Arabia, have already pulled out of the summit. Corporate honchos from JP Morgan to carmaker Ford and ride-hailing app Uber, as well as media powerhouses like Bloomberg, CNN and the Financial Times have also scrapped plans to attend. Organizers have taken down a list of speakers from its website and on Monday refused to confirm the number of attendees. One government source said the list of speakers and moderators was not yet finalized as many continued to drop out at a "rapid pace."
'Dip in international confidence'
This year's summit contrasts last year's inaugural FII -- a star-studded event at Riyadh's glittering Ritz-Carlton hotel, where Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman was lionized as a visionary as he wowed investors with talking robots and plans for a futuristic mega-city. The prince, widely known as MBS, faces what the risk consultancy Eurasia Group calls "an acute public relations crisis" over Khashoggi's murder. After over two weeks of vehement denials, Saudi Arabia has now admitted Khashoggi was killed in the consulate. Turkey could cast a fresh pall on the already downgraded summit after President Recep Tayyip Erdogan vowed to reveal the "naked truth" about the case on Tuesday. In the past weeks, Turkish media and officials speaking to international media have said audio recordings prove Khashoggi was tortured before being decapitated although no concrete evidence of their existence have emerged. "The Saudi leadership can walk away with an event that neither fails or succeeds," said Ayham Kamel, head of Middle East and North Africa at Eurasia Group. "But in a few months, the most important impact on the country will still be a dip in international confidence in the economic reform program," he told Bloomberg News.
Investor uncertainty
But many Western firms have too much at stake to abandon the Arab world's biggest economy, and some are preparing to send lower-level executives to the summit. Senior investment bankers from HSBC and Credit Suisse are planning to attend the conference even though their chief executives have canceled their attendance, Bloomberg News reported. Companies from China and Russia have shown little interest in withdrawing from the event, an organizer said. Although several Western leaders like International Monetary Fund chief Christine Lagarde and U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin have pulled out, Pakistan's Prime Minister Imran Khan will attend the forum as Islamabad continues to seek funding to plug its deteriorating finances. But a wider Western boycott of the conference suggests rising political risks in Saudi Arabia that could cast a shadow over foreign direct investment, which a U.N. body said plunged last year to a 14-year low. "Despite talk of reform, FDI inflows into Saudi have stayed low and the (Khashoggi) scandal will only increase investor uncertainty," said research firm Capital Economics. For now, the kingdom's finances appear well cushioned by a recent spike in oil prices, now over $80 (70 euros) per barrel, which analysts say has reduced the urgency for outside funding. Khashoggi's killing fits a pattern of a recent crackdown on dissent in the kingdom, with Prince Mohammed, King Salman's son and the de facto ruler, arresting clerics, business high-fliers and women activists. Further stoking investor anxiety, the kingdom is embroiled in an expensive war in Yemen and is leading an embargo against Qatar.Riyadh has also engaged in diplomatic disputes with Germany and Canada that threatened business ties.

Russians Tell U.S. Security Chief Ready to Cooperate over Nuclear Treaty
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/October 22/18/Top Russian officials on Monday told Donald Trump's national security adviser that Moscow is ready to cooperate with Washington over a Cold War-era nuclear treaty and that abandoning the key agreement would put the world in danger. National security adviser John Bolton is expected to discuss U.S. President Trump's plan to jettison the three-decade-old Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF) with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday. On Monday, Bolton discussed the fate of the treaty with Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and also spent "nearly five hours" in talks with Russian Security Council chief Nikolai Patrushev, a spokesman told AFP. The collapse of the treaty would deal a "serious blow to the entire international legal system of non-proliferation and arms control," the Security Council said in a statement after Patrushev and Bolton met. The Russian Security Council stressed the meeting's "constructive and business-like manner" and said Moscow is ready to work together with the United State to salvage the agreement. Patrushev and Bolton also discussed issues related to a possible extension by five years of the New START arms control treaty, which expires in 2021. Later Monday Lavrov and Bolton met for a "working dinner," a Russian foreign ministry spokeswoman said. Russia's top diplomat said ahead of the meeting that he was waiting to hear Bolton's "official explanation" regarding Trump's intentions, adding that the U.S. had not yet initiated the procedure for exiting the treaty.
'Russians will go to heaven'
Putin's spokesman Dmitry Peskov told journalists that ditching the treaty "will make the world more dangerous" and rejected U.S. claims that Moscow has violated the pact, instead accusing Washington of doing so. Trump on Saturday claimed that Russia had long violated the treaty.
"Russia has violated the agreement. They've been violating it for many years," he said. "And we're not going to let them violate a nuclear agreement and go out and do weapons (while) we're not allowed to." Analysts have warned that the latest rift could have lamentable consequences and drag Russia into a new arms race. Putin last week raised eyebrows by saying that Russians would "go to heaven" in the event of nuclear war and that Moscow would not use nuclear weapons first. "The aggressor will have to understand that retaliation is inevitable, that it will be destroyed and that we, as victims of aggression, as martyrs, will go to heaven," he said."They will simply die because they won't even have time to repent."
EU, China concerned
Trump's announcement has raised global concerns, with the European Commission urging the U.S. and Russia to pursue talks to preserve the treaty and China calling on Washington to "think twice." The Commission, the 28-nation European Union executive, stressed that the INF has been a mainstay of European defense for the last three decades. "The U.S. and the Russian Federation need to remain in a constructive dialogue to preserve this treaty and ensure it is fully and verifiably implemented," spokeswoman Maja Kocijancic told reporters. Chinese foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said a unilateral withdrawal from the treaty "will have a multitude of negative effects." Trump argued that the treaty does nothing to hold non-signatory China back from developing missiles, but Hua said that "it is completely wrong to bring up China when talking about withdrawal from the treaty." The treaty banning intermediate-range nuclear and conventional missiles was signed in 1987 by then U.S. president Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev, the last Soviet leader. Gorbachev at the weekend said that "dropping these agreements... shows a lack of wisdom" and would be a "mistake." The INF resolved a crisis over Soviet nuclear-tipped ballistic missiles targeting Western capitals. The latest row between Russia and the United States comes ahead of an expected second summit between Trump and Putin this year. The Trump administration has complained of Moscow's deployment of Novator 9M729 missiles, which Washington says fall under the treaty's ban on missiles that can travel distances of between 310 and 3,400 miles (500 and 5,500 kilometers). U.S.-Russia ties are under deep strain over accusations Moscow meddled in the 2016 U.S. presidential election. The two countries are also at odds over Russian support for the Syrian government in the country's civil war, and the conflict in Ukraine. Putin and Trump will both be in Paris on November 11 to attend commemorations marking 100 years since the end of World War I.

Reopening of Nassib Crossing: A Step Towards Normalization with Neighbors
Beirut - Asharq Al-Awsat/Monday, 22 October, 2018/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 regime of Bashar al-Assad took back control of the Nassib border post in July from opposition fighters 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 told AFP. 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 US-led attempts to isolate Damascus," Heller said.
Assad's forces now control nearly two-thirds of the country, after a series of Russia-backed offensives against rebels and militants. 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. 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. Syrian parliament member Hadi Sharaf was 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. 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-tonne 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.

Israeli Official: Trump Insists on Settling Differences with Palestinians
Tel Aviv - Asharq Al-Awsat/Monday, 22 October, 2018/US President Donald Trump had decided to alter a few articles of the “deal of the century” for the Palestinian-Israeli struggle, making “Jerusalem the capital of two states, Palestine and Israel.”
This prompted Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to pressure against this change as he wants Jerusalem as the capital of Israel alone. Israeli sources in Tel Aviv stated that Netanyahu rejects the Trump administration’s attempt to appease Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in order to persuade him to return to the negotiating table. According to Israeli diplomatic officials, US officials have been trying to figure out how to pacify Abbas, ever since the Palestinians boycotted Washington, while at the same time also get the backing of the Arab world for the peace plan. Israeli officials are worried that one of the enticements the White House might present to Abbas would be naming Jerusalem as the future capital of the Palestinian state. “Trump wants a deal and he's very serious,” a senior Israeli official said, adding that according to US officials, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is “relatively easy to resolve and is ripe for the picking.” The official said that if the Republicans lose power in the upcoming midterm elections, Trump might increase his efforts to reach a solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict so he could run for his second term with a big foreign policy achievement. Senior Israeli officials revealed that the Trump administration has been working off three principles in forming the peace plan: “anyone coming to the negotiating table would have to make concessions, there would be no one-sided concessions; anyone leaving the negotiating table would pay a price, and anyone rejecting the presented outline will risk the next outline being more to his disadvantage.”In such a case, Netanyahu would likely ask to postpone the release of the peace plan until after the elections in Israel, according to the Israeli daily Yedioth Ahronoth. In any case, the newspaper added there are quite a few influential figures in Washington who would work to ensure such a promise will not be given to the Palestinians, including US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman.

Palestinian Shot Dead after Stabbing Israeli Soldier

Asharq Al-Awsat/Monday, 22 October, 2018/The Israeli army shot dead on Monday a Palestinian man who it said attacked an Israeli soldier near a holy site in the southern West Bank city of Hebron. The man “attempted to stab a soldier adjacent to the Cave of the Patriarchs, lightly injuring him. The soldier and other forces at the scene, responded with live fire," the Israeli army said in a statement. The military confirmed the man was Palestinian and had been shot dead, but gave no further details of his identity. A series of deadly incidents have increased tensions in the West Bank this month. On Oct. 15, a Palestinian was shot dead after stabbing a soldier in the northern occupied West Bank. Earlier this month, a Palestinian shot dead two Israelis and wounded another in a West Bank industrial zone.

Egyptian Parliament Extends State of Emergency by 3 Months

Cairo - Mohammed Abdo Hassanein/Egypt’s parliament on Sunday approved extending the current state of emergency for an additional three months from Monday, following a previous presidential decree. The parliament’s approval came after a statement from Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouly in which he said that in view of the current circumstances in Egypt and the efforts made to uproot the causes of terrorism, the cabinet decided to approve the extension. Madbouly said that the government renewed its commitment to the use of exceptional measures only to the extent that it ensures a balance between the protection of public freedoms and the requirements of national security. Egypt imposed the state of emergency for the first time in April 2017 after terrorist attacks on two churches in Tanta and Alexandria, which left some 45 people dead. It was then extended every three months, last of which was on July 14. The parliament’s approval came after reviewing the general committee’s report in which it recommended enabling the security forces of confronting terrorist organizations and uncovering their resources and foreign connections. The committee explained that “the declaration of a state of emergency came to protect citizens by taking the necessary measures to maintain public security.” It praised the prime minister's commitment to only declare the emergency law when necessary and maintain the balance between the protection of public freedoms and the requirements of national security. The committee pointed out that the terrorist attacks that Egypt witnessed and continue to, forces the country to be vigilant to all threats against its security. It noted that due to the previous imposition of state of emergency, Egypt succeeded in apprehending several criminal formations. In accordance with the decision of the President of the Republic, the armed forces and the police force will take the necessary measures to counter the dangers and financing of terrorism, maintain security throughout the country, protect public and private properties and protect  .In turn, head of the parliament’s majority coalition, Support Egypt, Abdul Hadi al-Kasabi, indicated that Egypt’s political, economic and social achievements at home and abroad could not have been maintained without the security, noting that “there are those who seek to intervene in Egypt’s internal affairs and tamper with its security.”

ISIS Launches New Bloody Threats Against West
London- Asharq Al-Awsat/Monday, 22 October, 2018/An ISIS-affiliated group threatened to launch new attacks in the West through a new poster celebrating the Orlando nightclub massacre. The poster reminds of the June 2016 shooting rampage at the Pulse gay club that left 49 people dead and dozens more wounded. It depicts a masked, gun-wielding militant in combat gear, an explosive, terror attack headlines, and the bloody caption, "Soon in your homelands". Notably, ISIS-affiliated groups routinely publish propaganda online threatening attacks against everything, from London's Oxford Street shopping district to Halloween events in the US. The post threatening new attacks was shared online by SITE Intel Group, which monitors terrorist activity on the internet. In a related matter, a picture was published last week threatening a new attack in Paris, and it depicted a drone carrying explosives and a gun-wielding attacker at the Eiffel Tower. The caption warned: "Await for our surprises". Orlando assassin Omar Mateen, 29, pledged allegiance to ISIS in a 911 call that he made during the attack, which at the time was the deadliest mass shooting in US history. He claimed that the death of ISIS leader Abu Waheeb, who was killed in a US airstrike in Iraq just weeks earlier, motivated him to carry out the massacre along with US military action in Iraq and Syria. Mateen was shot dead when a SWAT team stormed the nightclub. In the aftermath, investigators said Mateen may have been inspired by ISIS, but there was no evidence that he was instructed by or had been in contact with any terrorists. ISIS has suffered heavy losses over 2017 as major offensives in Iraq and Syria pushed them out of their strongholds. Last year, ISIS propaganda encouraged militants to attack Christmas markets in Europe, including those in the UK, France, and Germany. One poster depicted a militant with a blood-stained knife stalking a Christmas market near the Eiffel Tower in Paris. Another depicted a masked terrorist preparing to decapitate Father Christmas in what appeared to be London's Regent Street.
The Latest LCCC Bulletin analysis & editorials from miscellaneous sources published on October 22-23/18
Asia Bibi and 1,400 Years of Muhammad ‘Blasphemers’
ريموند إبراهيم: مآساة المسيحية الباكستانية اسيا بيبي المتهمة بالتجديف بالدين الإسلامي والمحكوم عليها بالإعدام
Raymond Ibrahim/PJ Media/October 22/18
“Hang the infidel” is the cry emanating from thousands of Muslim throats in Pakistan. The reason: Asia Bibi, a Christian woman accused of insulting Islam’s prophet Muhammad, has apparently not suffered enough. As the married mother of five wrote in her smuggled memoirs: “I’ve been locked up, handcuffed and chained, banished from the world and waiting to die” since 2010.
Yet Muslims everywhere in Pakistan demand that she still be put to death.
How exactly did she “blaspheme” against Muhammad? While working in the field one hot summer day, she dared take a drink from the common well.
Her Muslim counterparts were outraged that she — a “filthy animal” and a “filthy Christian,” as they called her — had befouled their water source. As their verbal upbraiding escalated, the Christian woman dared to defend herself, prompting the outraged Muslim women to call on her to “convert to Islam to redeem yourself for your filthy religion.”
The beleaguered Christian shot back:
I’m not going to convert. I believe in my religion and in Jesus Christ, who died on the cross for the sins of mankind. What did your Prophet Mohammed ever do to save mankind? “That’s when the hatred bursts out from all sides,” explains Asia in her memoirs. “All around me the women start screaming.” They beat and spat on her while screaming, “How dare you say such a thing about our Prophet?!”
Days later, she was imprisoned for blasphemy and sentenced to death, in keeping with Section 295-C of Pakistan’s penal code:
Whoever by words, either spoken or written, or by visible representation or by any imputation, innuendo, or insinuation, directly or indirectly, defiles the sacred name of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) shall be punished with death, or imprisonment for life, and shall also be liable to fine.
Considering how touchy Muslims get whenever they hear any critical talk of Muhammad, one might miss the ironic fact that, from the dawn of Islam to now, millions of non-Muslims have been asking Asia’s question — “What did your Prophet Mohammed ever do to save mankind?” — or variants thereof.
In one infamous instance in the late 1390s, Manuel II Palaiologos, one of the Eastern Roman (or Byzantine) Empire’s most able emperors, told a group of Muslim ulema (scholars):
Show me just what Mohammed brought that was new, and there you will find things only evil and inhuman, such as his command to spread by the sword the faith he preached.
Like Asia Bibi, Manuel did not make this assertion to be provocative, but rather because he was in Muslim (Ottoman) territory, and a throng of Muslim scholars were also pressuring him into converting to Islam.
This has long been the problem: Muslims often initiate tensions by trying to persuade non-Muslims to join — or perhaps just validate — their religion, one way (persuasion) or another (jihad). But from the very start, whenever non-Muslims seriously examine the life of Muhammad — the fount of Islam — questions and criticisms arise. Then Muslims, frustrated because they cannot assuage these concerns, respond with outrage and violence.
In Emperor Manuel’s case, he managed to abscond from Muslim territory in time. Months later, Ottoman Sultan Bayezid I — described by contemporaries as “a persecutor of Christians as no other around him, and in the religion of the Arabs a most ardent disciple of Muhammad” — was laying siege to Constantinople. Six hundred years later, Islam’s posterity remains unchanged. In 2006, when Pope Benedict passingly quoted Manuel’s position on Muhammad, wild anti-Christian riots erupted around the Muslim world: Churches were burned, Christians were beat, and an Italian nun who had devoted her life to serving the sick and needy of Somalia was murdered there.
The irony, of course, is that Benedict could have quoted any number of non-Muslims throughout history questioning and condemning Muhammad. As Professor Norman Daniel summarizes in his exhaustive study on Christian views of Islam throughout the centuries:
The character and the history of the Prophet were such as genuinely shocked them; they were outraged that he should be accepted as a venerated figure. … The two most important aspects of Muhammad’s life, Christians believed, were his sexual license and his use of force to establish his religion. … Fraud was the sum of Muhammad’s life … Muhammad was the great blasphemer, because he made religion justify sin and weakness.
Due to all this, “there can be no doubt of the extent of Christian hatred and suspicion of Muslims,” concludes Daniel.
Indeed, for Western liberals who find any criticism of Islam “Islamophobic,” the sheer amount of vitriolic content of more than a millennium of Western writings on Muhammad may beggar belief.
Nor did the theological claims behind the jihad escape scrutiny and subsequent ridicule. After paraphrasing Koran 9:111, which promises Muslims who “kill and are killed” an afterlife “of carnal eating and drinking and intercourse with women,” Theophanes the Chronicler (b. 758) adds: [Muhammad said] that the women were not like the ones down here, but different ones, and that the intercourse was long-lasting and the pleasure continuous; and other things full of profligacy and stupidity.
Similarly, in a correspondence with a Muslim associate, Bishop Theodore Abu Qurra (b. 750), an Arab Christian, jibed: “Since you say that all those who die in the holy war [jihad] against the infidels go to heaven, you must thank the Romans for killing so many of your brethren.”
Perhaps the worst part of all this for Muslims is that, then and now, all Western criticisms of Muhammad were exclusively based on Muslim sources, particularly the prophet’s biography and the Koran. Or, to quote an eighth century Byzantine who possessed and studied a copy of Islam’s holy book, that “most pitiful and most inept little book of the Arab Muhammad … with all its ugly and vulgar filth,” including claims that heaven amounted to a “sexual brothel.”
In other words, Muslims can never disown the things written about and taught by Muhammad which non-Muslims find scandalous.
An interesting anecdote concerning a twelfth century debate between a Christian monk and a Muslim cleric is well representative of this ongoing phenomenon. As the former continued reciting the misdeeds of Muhammad, the Muslim accused him of “blasphemy” against “our Prophet Muhammad,” whom “you mock with insolence!” To this, the monk replied: “Upon my life, we do not bring anything from ourselves but from your Book and your Koran.”
This is the crux of the issue: Muslims believe they have a mission to spread Islam. But when those who are invited to Islam seriously examine the teachings and life of its founder, they respond with incredulity and outrage that anyone could accept Muhammad as a man of God — much less a prophet.
As non-Muslim criticism of Muhammad is based exclusively on authoritative Muslim writings — from the Koran to the hadith and sira — Muslims find that they have no way to respond except with frustration, rage, and violence.
This is the backstory of the historic jihad. As recounted in my Sword and Scimitar: Fourteen Centuries of War between Islam and the West, from the very first contact between Muslims and Europeans in the seventh century, rejecting or accepting Muhammad was the difference between war or peace.
Needless to say, this always meant war. As late as 1683, some 300,000 Muslims came and surrounded Vienna. Before laying siege to it, a messenger was sent promising the Viennese that they would not be molested if they but submit to Muhammad. Though the commander gave no response, graffiti found in the city — including “Muhammad, you dog, go home!” — seems to capture its mood. But whereas centuries of brave Western men were able to defend their criticism and refusal of Muhammad, Asia Bibi — a lone Christian woman in a sea of Islam — cannot, as Muslims all around Pakistan continue screaming for this “blasphemer’s” death. (Note: All quoted material in this article is sourced in Sword and Scimitar)

Opinion/Why We Should Go Easy on the Saudi Crown Prince
Tzvia Greenfield /Haaretz/October 22/18
For 50 years we’ve prayed for a key Arab leader who agrees to sign a significant pact with Israel. Such a leader has finally arrived.
Turkey, a human rights champion under Erdogan, is accusing Saudi Arabia, another human rights champion, of the abhorrent murder of a Saudi journalist who entered the lion’s den in Istanbul and, as befits horror stories typical of places like Syria China, Iran, Russia and North Korea, disappeared from sight. Now we have recordings and videotapes, allegedly from the Saudi consulate, suggesting that his body was chopped into pieces. The underlying reason for this gruesome act, that evokes something conjured up by the Coen brothers, is not completely clear. One shouldn’t treat any death lightly, particularly not a murder committed by an evil government. However, because of the political ramifications involved, it’s worth contemplating this episode a bit more.
It’s possible that just like Putin, the Saudi royal house cannot tolerate any criticism, which is why it decided to eliminate the rogue journalist in an acid bath (a no less likely possibility that has not yet been suggested by the authorities in Ankara). It’s possible that Recep Tayyip Erdogan is gnashing his teeth over Saudi Arabia’s bolstered global status, particularly vis-à-vis U.S. President Donald Trump, and over the central role played by Mohammed bin Salman in a regional coalition meant to block Iranian influence in the Middle East — which is why Erdogan is bent on deflating the Crown Prince’s image.
Erdogan may want to humiliate the Saudis, but his main goal is foiling the plan apparently devised by Trump and Mohammed to forge a regional alliance under the aegis of the United States, an alliance that includes Israel, the Gulf States, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Egypt (and possibly Iraq). These countries will jointly try to block Iran, which endangers all of them. Turkey, which is struggling to find an as-yet-undetermined place within the Arab Muslim world, does not strive merely to lead the Sunni world. It also wants to depict Israel as a foreign colonialist implant in the Middle East. Any legitimization afforded Israel thanks to an alliance with Arab states has negative implications for Erdogan.
But fate obviously has a sense of humor. It has embroiled the Turkish rivalry with Saudi Arabia in the U.S. midterm elections. Since Mohammed is currently Trump’s most important international ally, mainly for economic reasons, the campaign advocating a “liberal order,” espoused by international media assailing the Saudi leader, is buzzing with excitement. Its main objective is not the brushing aside of Saudi Arabia, but the delivery of a humiliating knockout blow to Trump and his economic plans.
According to Time magazine, the level of public support for Trump remains stable at 43 percent, similar to that of Obama, Clinton and Reagan at comparative phases in their terms. It’s no wonder that after the failed attacks on Trump, who immerged unscathed from the intimidation of migrant children, the Stormy Daniels saga and the attempt to prevent the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh, the left is eager to pounce on the Saudi murder case as if it has found a treasure trove.
However, this time it’s necessary to treat the suspect with kid gloves. Trump’s peace initiative, if it is ever put on the table, is apparently the direct result of pressure by Mohammed bin Salman, who wishes to legitimize Israel before embarking on open cooperation with it. For 50 years we’ve prayed for a key Arab leader who agrees to sign a significant pact with Israel. Such a leader has finally arrived, and calls to depose him, such as those by former U.S. Ambassador Dan Shapiro in an op-ed in Haaretz (October 21) are destructive and in keeping with the best Obama tradition. Anyone waiting for a world of the purely just will have to struggle all his life with the purely evil.

Britain's Grooming Gangs: Part 2
Denis MacEoin/Gatestone Institute/October 22/18
As often cruelty to women happens not only behind closed doors, but in the public square, we can only guess how this display affects both women and men. Sons see how their mothers are treated; this too doubtless informs their behaviour.
It is important not to assume that the members of British grooming gangs consider themselves jihadis entitled to capture non-Muslim girls. They do not even appear at all pious. But knowledge of such practices is likely to have some impact on Muslims coming from countries where some form of slavery or indentured servitude still exists. Sadly, in the case of Britain's grooming gangs, religious ideology does not play a role in forbidding child sexual grooming. It is important to examine just how crucial a factor this seems to have been in community silence about them.
In the West, women's dress, behaviour, and rights to autonomy have been freed from religious control only in the 20th and 21st centuries, with the rise of the suffragettes, feminism and the availability of safe contraception. Pictured: Suffragettes on way to Boston, sometime between 1910 and 1915. (Image source: George Grantham Bain Collection, Library of Congress)
Men, after a certain age -- as nature seems to have intended to preserve the human race -- are often sexually attracted to women. Women, similarly, are often sexually attracted to men, even if many cultures try to keep that proclivity a closely-guarded secret.
Different cultures handle human sexuality in different ways, presumably to avoid the potential social disruption it could create. This control has traditionally been affected by religious doctrines, laws, and patriarchal priests, ministers, rabbis, muftis and other clergy. In the West, women's dress, behaviour, and rights to autonomy have been freed from religious control only in the 20th and 21st centuries, with the rise of the suffragettes, feminism and the availability of safe contraception. Judaeo-Christian culture has involved restrictions of this kind, with monogamy enforced, adultery condemned, divorce often hard or sometimes impossible to obtain even for women suffering physical and psychological abuse, a lifetime of childbirth and nurturing, often while turning a blind eye to men's sexual independence. Changes that have taken place in Western culture for the past century are unlikely to undergo much reversal in the years to come. Most women today in the West dress as they choose, some modestly, others in inviting ways. Women insist on civil rights, play increasingly important roles in politics, business, the military, education, and all professions, and there are even female members of the clergy in many churches, such as the Anglican Church and the synagogues and temples of the Jewish Reform and Conservative movements. This is the new, Western world in which immigrants from other cultures now live, some with relief, others too bewildered to find safe pathways through which to negotiate their way between our freedoms and their inherited assumptions about women, their place in society, and their sexuality. Nowhere is this dilemma sharper than between Muslim immigrants in the West and the democratic values they encounter.
In part, this is because traditional and current Islamic culture with regard to sexuality differs markedly from that of the West. As in the Judaeo-Christian universe, women are restricted and men are given superior rights, but Islam, both as a religion and a culture, has a very different set of rules and legal codes for relations between the sexes, both in the obvious ways (burqas, niqabs, and hijabs) and in less familiar concepts. It is possible that these differences that go far to explain why child sexual grooming gangs and the collective sexual harassment of women have taken hold in some places.
Here are a few of those differences. Shari'a law allows a man up to four wives, but women only one husband. Shari'a law also allows a man the right to have sexual relations with as many slave girls or concubines as he can afford (hence the sometimes massive harems kept by Muslim rulers, officials, and wealthy men). Shari'a law also allows a man the freedom to divorce a wife sometimes by as little as saying three times "I divorce you". The practice was outlawed in India only this year, and rights for divorce are much harder for a woman to exercise.
Shari'a law allows a man in Shi'i Islam the liberty of taking a temporary wife in mut'a ("pleasure") marriage in a contract for as short as an hour; and, in some places in Sunni Islam, to have a "traveller's wife" or wives in misyar marriage when travelling from home. To add to all this, men are granted houris (beautiful virgin companions) when they pass into eternal life, with some 70 reserved for martyrs. In one famous statement by a religious scholar, "the erection is eternal".[1]
To a certain type of Western man, this might seem to be sexual heaven: almost as many women as you want on a flexible basis. No alimony in case of divorce, automatic custody of children once they turn seven, no guilt. The 19th-century ruler of Iran, Fath-'Ali Shah (1769-1834), was famous for his long beard, his more than 1,000 wives, his 60 sons, his 55 daughters, and his royal family of over ten thousand by the mid-century.
Although Muslim men are, of course, no different from the rest of us, nevertheless, all the rules governing sexuality may be easily found in the learned tomes of Shari'a law, enforced by fatwas from jurisprudents, and enshrined in the judicial systems of more than one Islamic country in the present day. The result is the perpetuation of attitudes towards women that often appear to debase them and allow men to treat them with contempt. The most painful modern examples of this contempt may be found in Muslim countries that carry out public floggings (see here, here and here) for offences such as "standing too close" to a man or for running away from husbands who beat them and stoning women to death, even for being raped (for example, here and here). These take place in Sudan, Indonesia, Iran, in some Gulf States such as Saudi Arabia and the UAE, in parts of Pakistan, the Maldives, and, of course, in areas controlled by the Islamic State. As often cruelty to women happens not only behind closed doors, but in the public square, one can only guess how this display affects both women and men. Sons see how their mothers are treated; this too doubtless informs their behaviour.
In Iran, the use of sexual torture on women in prisons is the subject of a full-length study. Shadi Sadr and Shadi Amin's book, Crime and Impunity: Sexual Torture of Women in Islamic Republic Prisons details topics such as "Raping of Virgins before Execution", "Prison Marriages", "Rape of Prisoners" -- all backed by witness testimonies and case studies.
One cannot rule out the likelihood that even knowing of -- let alone witnessing -- such humiliation may have, in a way, energised Britain's child sexual grooming gangs.
A congruent practice found in some Arab states, notably Egypt, is another public spectacle that involves men watching women being chased, sexually abused, and raped. This is known as taharrush (harassment) or taharrush jama'i (mass harassment). Here is one description of what happens:
A group of Muslim men target a (non-Muslim) woman who is not wearing Hijab in a crowd, encircle her, sometimes singing, dancing and/or chanting, and push her companions, if any, out of the circle. The woman is caught off guard and at first thinks the Muslim men just want to sing and dance with her, until the circle closes around her, at which point more Muslim men join to form three layers that render the circle virtually impenetrable.
At that point, those in the inner layer rip off the woman's clothes, grope, beat, sexually assault and rape her while those in the second layer watch the assault take place, and those in the outer layer, who are too far away or too short to watch the assault, dissuade or fight off would-be rescuers, even telling them that they are just helping a woman in need.
It should be added that the woman need not be a non-Muslim. Many Muslim women are chased and handled in this way. The online journal Jadaliyya, published by the Beirut-based Arab Studies Institute, studied this activity as far back as 2013. The journal stated that, "In Egypt, sexual harassment is widespread and touches the lives of the majority of women whether on the streets, in public transportation, or at the work place, the super market, or political protests." The same article later declares:
"... one key argument in the victim-blaming that is salient in our everyday narratives is the common and vulgar perception that sexual harassment occurs when women dress 'provocatively.' In fact, the only thing that Egyptians who face sexual harassment have in common is that over ninety-nine percent of them are females."It should not be surprising, then, that the sight of non-Muslim girls and women walking freely on European streets even in winter clothes has provoked large numbers of male refugees and migrants to engage in taharrush jama'i, starting with the assaults in Cologne and other German cities on New Year's Eve 2016. Cologne's police chief, Jürgen Mathies, declared:
"Many of the alleged attackers were from countries where this behaviour, where women are hemmed in and then abused by a large number of men at once. I must say that this phenomenon was not known to me in Germany before." [For his full statement in German, see here.]
By January 7, Germany's Federal Criminal Police Office (Bundeskriminalamt) had already identified the assaults as a form of taharrush jama'i, and on June 7 their full report on the incidents made the same link.
At this point it is necessary, however painfully, to note that the common denominator in all these forms of harassment and abuse of women is that the men involved are all members of the same religious and cultural group. There are, of course, variations between countries and even parts of countries, specific groups, and many individuals. It would be totally inaccurate, wrong and invidious to say that all Muslim men share these characteristics, but it remains clear that hundreds of thousands, if not millions, (out of 1.8 billion) do. The problem has been exacerbated since the late 1970s and the Iranian Revolution by the shift away from secularism back towards religiosity. Even Turkey, which, under Atatürk and his successors, had been the most secular Muslim state, has now reverted to pious and radical Islamism.
Turkey's educational system now rears children and young people to become obedient Muslims instead of thinking adults. One aspect of Shari'a law exists, however, that may well have a bearing on attitudes towards non-Muslim girls and women of all ages. This is the ruling that "captive women" (who are invariably non-Muslims: Jews, Christians, Yazidis, Hindus or others) taken in jihad wars may be made sex slaves, forcibly married, used as concubines, and bought and sold in the marketplace.[2]
It is important not to assume that the members of British grooming gangs consider themselves jihadis entitled to capture non-Muslim girls. They do not even appear at all pious. But knowledge of such practices (for example here, here, and here) is likely to have some impact on Muslims coming from countries where some form of slavery or indentured servitude still exists. In December 2014, Daniel Pipes identified Afghanistan, Mali, Mauritania, Oman, rural Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, and Yemen as Muslim-majority states holding on to enslavement, even despite some laws to ban the practice. World Atlas adds Iran and South Sudan to its list of countries with the highest prevalence of slaves in our era.
Sadly, in the case of Britain's grooming gangs, religious ideology does not play a role in forbidding child sexual grooming. It is important to examine, as we shall do in Part 3, just how crucial a factor this seems to have been in community silence about them.
Denis MacEoin PhD is a specialist in Islamic Studies who has contributed to the multi-volume Encyclopedia of Islam (2nd. Ed.), the vast Encyclopedia Iranica, the Oxford Encyclopedia of Islam in the Modern World, journals, books, and Festschrifts. He is a Senior Distinguished Fellow at the Gatestone Institute.
[1] Denis MacEoin writing as Daniel Easterman, "The Erection is Eternal", New Statesman and Society, UK, 12th Feb. 1993, pp. 26-27.
[2] For recent scholarly studies of slave women in Islam, see Matthew S. Gordon and Kathryn Hain (eds.), Concubines and Courtesans: Women and Slavery in Islamic History, Oxford University Press, 2017.
© 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.

North Korea's Toxic Space Program

Debalina Ghoshal/Gatestone Institute/October 22/18
"Even though the US and its allies try to block our space development, our aerospace scientists will conquer space." — Hyon Kwang-il, director of the scientific research department of North Korea's National Aerospace Development Administration.
Such statements made all the more chilling North Korea's 2016 launch of the Unha-3 rocket, with the capability of carrying satellites into space, its July 4 and July 28, 2017 test-launches of the Hwasong-14 ICBM and its November 28, 2017 test-launch of the Hwasong-15 ICBM, which reportedly has a maximum range that would allow it to hit anywhere in the United States.
If North Korea were able to develop the capability to damage or destroy US satellites in Low Earth Orbit (LEO), it would be a major achievement for the country and pose a debilitating threat to space security.
The November 28, 2017 test-launch of North Korea's Hwasong-15 intercontinental ballistic missile. Although North Korea, like other countries, claims that its space program is for civilian, rather than military, purposes, there is good reason to suspect that this is not quite what is going on, and that its government will simply use these capabilities to continue developing intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) capable of carrying nuclear warheads, to continue threatening global security. North Korea, like other countries, is probably planning to use its space program to militarize and weaponize the realm of space itself.
It is in this context that North Korea's Kwangmyongsong-5 satellite, whose imminent launch was first reported in December 2017, needs to be viewed. The report did not come as a surprise, particularly as two months earlier, North Korea's deputy ambassador to the United Nations, Kim In-Ryong, told the United Nations Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space about his country's five-year plan, from 2016 through 2020, to develop "practical satellites that can contribute to the economic development and improvement of the people's living." As Fox News reported, however, "...many U.N. members, including the U.S., fear that North Korea's space program is actually a cover for its weapons program."
According to an article in the Asia Times in January:
"The Kwangmyongsong-5 Earth-exploration satellite, likely to be packaged with a separate communications satellite, will technically allow North Korea to transmit data down to the ground for the first time, thus offering real-time intelligence for potential ballistic-missile strikes.
"This is well short of the technological capacity needed to deploy orbital weapon systems, but will cause some unease among Asian power-brokers China, Japan and India as they pour money into the last strategic frontier of outer space."
In an exclusive interview with The Guardian in 2016, Hyon Kwang-il, director of the scientific research department of North Korea's National Aerospace Development Administration, denied that Pyongyang's satellite research has military aims. He did state, however, that "Even though the US and its allies try to block our space development, our aerospace scientists will conquer space." Hyon also said, "All of this work will be the basis for the flight to the moon," which he hopes will happen "within 10 years."
Such statements made all the more chilling North Korea's 2016 launch of the Unha-3 rocket, with the capability of carrying satellites into space, its July 4 and July 28, 2017 test-launches of the Hwasong-14 ICBM and its November 28, 2017 test-launch of the Hwasong-15 ICBM, which reportedly has a maximum range that would allow it to hit anywhere in the United States.
So far, there has been no specific reports of North Korea developing anti-satellite (ASAT) capabilities, which are used to destroy enemy satellites in space. With Russia and China developing such capabilities, however -- and give North Korea's relations with both countries – it is not far-fetched to assume that Pyongyang could acquire the know-how to develop anti-satellite weaponry.
If North Korea were able to develop the capability to damage or destroy US satellites in Low Earth Orbit (LEO), it would be a major achievement for the country and pose a debilitating threat to space security. This capability is something that one hopes the Trump administration is taking into account in any negotiations with Kim Jong-un's regime.
Debalina Ghoshal, an independent consultant specializing in nuclear and missile issues, is based in India.
© 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.

What Does Khashoggi’s Murder Tell Us About the Saudi Power Structure?
Simon Henderson/The Washington Institute/October 22/18
The prospect of MbS ruling for decades was once thought to portend stability for the kingdom, but that judgment now seems premature. The traditional way of looking at Saudi Arabia has been that the royal family rules by consensus and with caution, choosing leaders based on experience and seniority. That template has been increasingly invalidated since the accession of King Salman in January 2015 and the emergence of his thirty-three-year-old son Muhammad bin Salman, who has been crown prince and heir apparent since June 2017.
Under MbS, now the kingdom’s de facto day-to-day leader, Saudi Arabia has begun transforming its economy (in the form of his “Vision 2030” plan), its society (e.g., opening cinemas and giving women the right to drive), and its religion (a supposed reversion to a more “moderate Islam”). Yet he has not opened the political sphere to ordinary Saudis; he also appears to have sharply reduced the role of the wider al-Saud family, sidelining thousands of princes.
The kingdom’s once-broad power structure now appears to rest on the shoulders of two men. King Salman, age eighty-two and in declining health, is increasingly a mere figurehead, albeit a diplomatically convenient one for Riyadh during the Jamal Khashoggi crisis. The fiction of his rule was preserved most recently by a telephone call from President Trump and a short visit with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. The royal orders sacking a key media advisor to MbS and four intelligence officials were issued in the king’s name, though it is unclear how involved he was in the decision.
Meanwhile, MbS has become the most powerful crown prince in Saudi history. Since replacing his father as defense minister nearly four years ago, he has steadily concentrated all of the kingdom’s disparate military forces under his control. When he orchestrated the resignation of former crown prince Muhammad bin Nayef last year, he transferred leadership of the Interior Ministry to MbN’s young nephew while emaciating the institution’s past dominance in security affairs. Likewise, when the crown prince’s last obvious rival, Mitab bin Abdullah, was accused of corruption and locked up in the Riyadh Ritz-Carlton last November, he was stripped of his post atop the powerful Saudi Arabian National Guard and replaced by a peripheral family member.
The few princes who have managed to retain their prominence are either too old or too young to rival MbS, who has methodically sidelined a swath of royals in their fifties and sixties who likely once regarded themselves as future contenders for the throne. They include:
Surviving brothers of King Salman. Whether directly or via their eldest sons, these princes notionally dominate the Allegiance Council, the body tasked with confirming the selection of crown princes. Former interior minister Prince Ahmed, the king’s last surviving full brother, reappeared in the news recently when he was involved in an altercation with demonstrators in London, but he plays no obvious role in palace politics. The king’s youngest half-brother, Prince Muqrin, has a formidable resume—including time as an F-15 pilot, provincial governor, intelligence chief, and, briefly, crown prince—but was pushed aside because King Salman saw him as too much a protege of the late King Abdullah. The fact that his mother was a concubine rather than a wife of the kingdom’s founder, Ibn Saud, likely stunted his succession potential as well.
Sons of the late King Faisal. Mecca provincial governor Prince Khalid al-Faisal was dispatched to Turkey this month as the king’s envoy to President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Yet at seventy-seven years old, he is seen as merely an advisor, not a realistic candidate for the throne. His half-brother Prince Turki—formerly an intelligence chief and ambassador to Washington and London—has been an unofficial mouthpiece for Riyadh in recent years. He has yet to speak publicly on the current crisis, however, despite (or perhaps because of) the fact that he employed Khashoggi as a media advisor during his postings abroad. The preeminent member of this sub-clan was veteran foreign minister Saud al-Faisal, who died in 2015. Their father was respected as king, but he won the throne by deposing his predecessor and was himself assassinated by a nephew—two abrupt transitions that traumatized the royal family.
Junior princes. These include sons of King Salman or previous kings and crown princes. The only one of any prominence is Khalid bin Salman, the younger brother of MbS and former F-15 pilot who was appointed ambassador to the United States last year at the age of twenty-nine. He is currently back in Riyadh for consultations. Some of his cousins have been given second-tier roles in ministries and provincial governments, including Khalid bin Bandar, who is son to former U.S. envoy Bandar bin Sultan and currently serves as ambassador to Germany, where he recently returned after a months-long diplomatic rift. Such moves have been interpreted as efforts to bolster the crown prince’s perceived youthful new approach to governance, not as precursors to power for the appointees.
The Khashoggi affair has sparked speculation that the royal family may want to sideline or remove MbS because of his authoritarian style and perceived excesses. As yet, however, there is no visible evidence of this. For all intents and purposes, he remains the kingdom’s future—which also means that if he were to drop out of contention for the throne anytime soon, it would create a clear void. The prospect of MbS ruling for decades was once thought to portend stability for the kingdom, but that judgment now seems premature.
**Simon Henderson is the Baker Fellow and director of the Bernstein Program on Gulf and Energy Policy at The Washington Institute, where he authored two landmark studies on Saudi succession, After King Abdullah and After King Fahd.

The Painful Incident and The Choice of Accountability
Ghassan Charbel/Asharq Al Awsat/October 22/18
In the life of states, as in the life of individuals, there are days that carry difficult or painful news. Experience shows that the best way to deal with this kind of days is to confront them with courage, responsibility and transparency. The only option is to deal with painful news very seriously… to know the circumstances and reasons that led to their occurrence, identify the causes and liabilities, and hold those involved accountable. At the same time, it is important to learn lessons from what has happened to ensure that the same incident is not repeated.
Anyone, who reads through experiences of individuals and states, knows that errors can occur and can be particularly dangerous. Individuals make mistakes because they misjudge, exaggerate, surpass the authority, or think they can escape accountability. Members of an organ or an institution sometimes commit an act of misconduct or misjudgment, disregarding the limits of authority and ignoring the restrictions that are supposed to govern the behavior of persons in a body or group.
Talking about mistakes does not mean justifying them; on the contrary, it is a way to stress that mechanisms must be put in place to prevent them from happening again, and to minimize the emergence of difficult or painful news due to violations of laws, norms and powers.
Those, who know Saudi Arabia, are aware that the news of the disappearance of colleague Jamal Khashoggi was extremely painful for his family, friends and country. Jamal, before being a journalist and holder of critical and opposing stances, is a Saudi citizen. It is not Saudi Arabia’s habit to wash its hands of the fate of any of its citizens, regardless of their position on this or that issue. Broad-mindedness is part of the Kingdom’s policy at home and abroad.
Those, who follow-up on developments in Saudi Arabia in the last two decades, certainly know that opponents have returned from abroad, resumed their normal lives in their own country, and that some of those who practiced excessive violence at home have reintegrated into their society after a rehabilitation process. It is clear that the Saudi internal and external policy is based on dialogue, narrowing the scope of disagreement, and searching for common grounds.
Following the painful incident at its consulate in Istanbul, Saudi Arabia took a series of steps to clarify the fate of Khashoggi and to reveal the truth behind what has happened. The Kingdom dispatched a security team to cooperate with the Turkish side in the investigations and opened the doors of the consulate and the consul’s house to the Turkish investigators. In parallel, it launched an internal investigation, asserting that it had nothing to hide and would act in the light of facts and information. Based on these steps, Riyadh announced the death of Khashoggi, the discharge of senior officials and the arrest of 18 persons under investigation.
Among those dismissed are senior officers from the intelligence service. A Saudi official statement indicated that those involved in the incident have “tried to cover up what happened.” This was accompanied by the announcement that the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques has ordered the formation of a ministerial committee under the chairmanship of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to restructure the general intelligence in the Kingdom. This means dealing with the painful incident on the basis of justice and accountability and the adoption of transparency in informing public opinion on the findings of the investigations. In parallel, the restructuring of the presidency of the intelligence body allows the establishment of strict controls that would prevent the recurrence of such painful incidents in the future.
In the period between the incident and the release of the Saudi statement, screens, sites and newspapers were crowded with news, rumors and scenarios. Attention to the incident was natural because of the person concerned and where it happened. It was easy to distinguish between two groups: the first is really concerned about Jamal Khashoggi and his fate; while the second considered the painful incident a golden opportunity to target Saudi Arabia based on accounts that have nothing to do with what happened at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.
With the actions undertaken by Riyadh, the first team is supposed to have attained its demands, namely dealing transparently with the painful incident and revealing the circumstances and facts to the public opinion. As for those, who targeted the Kingdom, hoping to weaken it, accountability alarms them because they wanted to see a deep crisis in Saudi Arabia’s international relations.
The second team’s problem is that it deliberately merges two files together. They want at any price Khashoggi’s disappearance to contribute to a clash between Saudi Arabia and major powers, with whom it has alliances, cooperation and a wide network of interests. The team forgets that Saudi Arabia had passed tough tests in its international relations, including, for example, attempts to exploit the September 11 attacks to harm the Kingdom. At the same time, they forget that Jamal Khashoggi himself would not have accepted to use his name or what he was subjected to, to harm his own country.
By adopting the choice of justice and accountability, Riyadh re-directed the painful incident to its legal and judicial context. It is the logic of the state, responsibility, rule of institutions, learning of lessons and restructuring of bodies under the umbrella of law.

The Fed’s 1 Million Lost Jobs
Karl W. Smith/Bloomberg/October 22/18
Over the past two and half years, the Federal Reserve has consistently underestimated how low unemployment could fall before sparking an increase in inflation. As a result, the Fed began raising interest rates sooner than was necessary — leading to slower economic growth and fewer jobs.
How many fewer? Research by Adam Ozimek, senior economist for Moody’s Analytics Inc., suggests that the economy would have created up to 1 million more jobs in the last few years.
Before getting into the details, it may be helpful to look at the big picture. Even in the best of times, some unemployment is inevitable. In a dynamic economy, there will always be some companies laying off workers as others are struggling to hire more. This churn in employment, combined with the entrance of new workers into the labor force, means that at any given time some percentage of workers will be looking for a job but won’t have one.
Macroeconomists call this percentage the long-term natural rate of unemployment. Standard economic theory suggests that unemployment can fall below this level only temporarily: The shrinking pool of workers means growing companies will have to raise wages. As the competition for workers intensifies, wages will increase faster than productivity growth. Profit margins will shrink, and businesses will raise prices to make up the difference. This will cause the rate of inflation to rise, eroding the initial wage gains. What had initially seemed like good news for workers will turn into a Red Queen’s race between wages and prices. People are no better off as either workers or consumers.
To prevent all this from happening, the Federal Reserve strives to slow down the economy as unemployment falls close to its long-term natural rate. Which is certainly a sensible goal, but for one problem: Economists don’t know exactly what that rate is.
Now back to the matter at hand. In March 2015, when the Fed first began raising rates, the unemployment rate was 5 percent. At the time, the Fed’s estimate of the natural rate of unemployment was 4.9 percent. Even if the rate dipped a little below this, the bank said, it would be OK because inflation was also below its 2 percent target. So Fed settled on a gradual series of rate increases to slow the economy enough so that inflation would wind around the target.
Since that time, however, unemployment has continued to fall — and inflation has remained low. There are various theories as to why. I have suggested that the Great Recession was so severe it caused millions of workers to give up looking for jobs. As a result, they were not counted as unemployed. Thus the potential pool of workers was — indeed still is — greater than the unemployment statistics suggest.
At any rate, the Fed has acknowledged that its estimates of the natural rate were too high. In June, the Fed revised its estimate to 4.45 percent. The unemployment rate at that time was 3.9 percent, and since then has fallen to 3.7 percent. Nonetheless, inflation pressures seem mild.
Even assuming that the Fed’s current estimate of the natural rate of unemployment is correct — and it seems high — the series of rate hikes that it began in March is premature. Ozimek estimates that had the Fed believed the natural rate was 4.45 percent all along, it would not have raised rates until June 2017, resulting in stronger job growth and roughly 500,000 more workers today.
And yet, given the continued mild inflation, the possibility exists that the Fed is still overestimating the natural rate of unemployment. Suppose that June’s unemployment rate of 3.9 percent is the true natural rate. In that case, Ozimek estimates that the Fed should not have begun raising rates until March of this year. Had the Fed followed that course, Ozimek estimates that 1 million more people would be employed than are today.
But don’t let this speculation obscure the main point: The Fed’s premature rate increases have almost certainly reduced job growth.
The economy is performing exceptionally strong right now, in response to an oil and gas boom and the stimulus associated with the tax reform. If the Fed continues on its current path of rate hikes, it may be setting itself up for tepid growth and disinflation once those effects wear off. That combination is particularly hard on borrowers and makes the economy vulnerable to a financial shock.
By revising its estimate of the natural rate of unemployment, the Fed has implicitly acknowledged that its current series of rate hikes began too soon. Future revisions may well reveal that it ended too late.

Will Nick Clegg Succeed in his Mission?
Alex Webb/Bloomberg View/October 22/18
The two most catastrophic stops on Facebook Inc.'s tour of apology around the world's legislatures were, without doubt, CEO Mark Zuckerberg's appearance in Brussels and Chief Technology Officer Mike Schroepfer's performance in London.
It was clear from these outings at the European Parliament and Britain's House of Commons the pair had embarrassingly little understanding of the arenas into which they had been pitched. The Capitol Hill hearings were a breeze in comparison.
This helps to explain why the social media giant has hired Nick Clegg, the former UK deputy prime minister and Liberal Democrat leader, as its new head of global affairs and communications. The Financial Times reported on Friday that he will move to Silicon Valley next year to start the new position.
Clegg ticks all the boxes. He worked as an FT journalist early in his career, and started in politics as a member of the European Parliament in 1999 before his election to the UK Parliament in 2005. He should prove a valuable asset in helping Zuckerberg and his colleagues deal with European lawmakers' threats to impose higher taxes and tighter rules over how information is disseminated on social media.
Zuckerberg promised Clegg a key role in shaping Facebook's strategy, according to the FT. It's hard to understate the significance of that in a company where most of the top lieutenants are long-serving loyalists. The exposure of shortcomings in the way the company handles user data showed how COO Sheryl Sandberg had struggled to rein in the Facebook bros. Clegg will want to be more than a mouthpiece, and might hope to serve as Facebook's conscience, just as he tried to do with his Conservative coalition partner in government, David Cameron. The risk is he'll be trampled on again by another big blue giant.

A reminder to those delusional about Saudi Arabia
Mashari Althaydi/Al Arabiya/October 22/18
The Saudi state is today facing a huge storm created by a media frenzy and politically motivated campaign over the death of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi. Khashoggi died due to recklessness of some employees who have been arrested and are being interrogated. It’s clear that their purpose was not to kill Khashoggi. Regarding the biased global campaigns against Saudi Arabia by exploiting Jamal’s story, we ask do you want to know what happened? What’s responsible for it? Who will be held accountable? This was done, or is there something else required from Saudi Arabia? Here’s a reminder to the delusional.
The age of the Saudi state with all its “modern” phases is around 300 years. The giant Saudi project was launched in the Arabian Peninsula in 1744 and that empire expanded to the far east, west, north and south in Arab countries. Following failed Ottoman campaigns via its rulers in Iraq or Egypt, the fiercest campaign was launched led by the most dangerous general in the East Ibrahim Pasha following the death of the great Saud. Ad-Diriyah fell following an epic steadfastness in 1818 but almost four years later, the state emerged again miraculously with the power of second Founder Imam Turki bin Abdullah, the father of the grandfather of King Abdulaziz, the third founder. Following internal strife and foreign conspiracies, the second state collapsed but this was just for few years. The Saudi emergence happened from al-Yamama in the Arabian Peninsula and morning dawned from the fences of Riyadh castle in 1902.
The third Saudi state has been developed and steadfast ever since as the enemies’ attacks and the traitors’ incitement to evil from within have failed. This chapter of blackmailing Saudi Arabia with Jamal Khashoggi’s story is like what preceded it, no matter which way the storm’s winds blow
Centuries of challenges
Six kings from the sons of the founder of the third state have ruled. They have witnessed all the challenges during the 20th century, during their father’s life and after they assumed power, from the two world wars to the Cold War conspiracies and its upheavals between the eastern and western camps after the end of WWII, and they sailed with the country and its people to safety. In 1990, Kuwait evaporated from the map and the Iraqi army of Saddam swallowed it. Saudi Arabia rejected this and restored Kuwait despite the noise of the Brotherhood, the Arab left and nationalists and the entire global left. Then there was al-Sahwa strife by the group of al-Faqih, al-Massari, al-Hawali, al-Ouda and others and which aimed to ignite sedition in the kingdom, but their swords were shattered on the rocks of the Saudi state. The last of this strife was the incitement of the so-called Arab Spring, which ended the reign of some rulers and tampered with Arab countries. Saudi Arabia toppled this conspiracy and strongly and fiercely defended Bahrain and Egypt from the conspiracies of parties, some of whom are Jamal’s beloved.
This chapter of blackmailing Saudi Arabia with Jamal Khashoggi’s story is like what preceded it, no matter which way the storm’s winds blow.

Khashoggi and another incitement campaign against Saudi Arabia
Mamdouh AlMuhaini/Al Arabiya/October 22/18
Saudi Arabia announced the details of the unfortunate incident of the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi. The country took strong measures including relieving some from their positions, arresting those involved, beginning investigations and rectifying the structure and functioning of the intelligence apparatus. Despite that, the media campaign against the country did not calm down – as expected – because the purpose is Saudi Arabia itself and not punishing the wrongdoers and those who caused the crime. It is certain that if Saudi Arabia issues dozens of other statements, they will be met with more doubts and refusal.
It’s in the interest of Saudi Arabia’s enemies to reject and refuse the facts to create a state of suspicion and paranoia in order to resume the campaign in the name of Khashoggi, whose name is being exploited every minute by those that claim to defend him but actually intend to shake the image of Saudi Arabia in front of the world over a crime committed by rogue individuals. It was a tremendous mistake, as Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir said in his interview with Fox News. No such mistake has happened during 80 years of the history of Saudi Arabia, which did not pursue well-known opposition figures. On the contrary, they get their space via satellite channels and on the internet and continue to insult and incite. Saudi Arabia’s political doctrine performs the more important work, which is maintaining the region’s stability by confronting terrorist elements and organizations like al-Qaeda, Hezbollah and the Houthis or rogue regimes like Iran, which are based on the ideology of assassinations and silencing opposition voices with bullets and booby-trapped cars. Saudi Arabia is engaged in an open war on the ground, and in the media sphere, with these parties, and this is what has made the country the biggest target of these groups.This is another attempt to stain Saudi Arabia’s image and blackmail it. Saudi Arabia has overcome bigger crises such as the September 11 events, and this crisis will inevitably pass
Ideological level
On an ideological level, Saudi Arabia fights extremist ideas and dark doctrines like those the Muslim Brotherhood promotes. We still remember Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s famous statement: “We will destroy extremist ideas today and immediately” and which transformed into a work program on the ground. The state that fights dangerous mix of extremist organizations and rogue regimes does not commit the same practices. Therefore, it’s no coincidence that all these formed one team and exploited the Khashoggi case from the first hour as the target is Riyadh, their biggest and strongest enemy. There’s more than one motive in the media around the Khashoggi case. There is a rightful motive, which is to know the details of what happened, and this is everyone’s request including Saudi Arabia itself. Secrecy by those involved at the beginning and covering up made the matter more mysterious and complicated. Revealing facts publicly before the world is the right way and this is what happened. However, in addition to this rightful demand, there are other voices. We are aware that their purpose is incitement and the spiteful desire to destroy and distort and not seek the truth. As we see, there is a clear alliance of these voices in the east and west, and they are enemies with no masks.
Brotherhood everywhere
The media of Doha regime, which supports terrorist organizations like al-Nusra, Hezbollah and Brotherhood, launched an attack in alliance with the Muslim Brotherhood everywhere. Even al-Qaeda members like its preacher Majed al-Rashed are appealing to President Trump via Twitter to punish Saudi Arabia.
The hostility of terrorist groups and organizations and their financers toward Saudi Arabia is well known. This is why the rare case of the murder of a Saudi citizen is being exploited and taken outside its criminal, legal and humanitarian context to transform into a political crime.
Allied with them in the west are those who hate the Saudi state for several reasons of which the most prominent is the kingdom’s strong stance toward Iran, which they enthusiastically defend while forgetting the bodies of children and the horrific massacres Iran is committing in Iraq and Syria and which thousands have fallen victims to. There is hypocrisy and moral double standard as there are demands for revenge and penalties over a crime committed by rogue individuals – who have been detained and will be tried and punished – at a time when the Iranian regime, which is publicly committing crimes in Syria under the pretext of protecting holy shrines, is not being criticized. This is another attempt to stain Saudi Arabia’s image and blackmail it. Saudi Arabia has overcome bigger crises such as the September 11 events, and this crisis will inevitably pass and the country will resume its approach of fighting extremist regimes in Doha and Tehran. These regimes have found opportunity in an isolated incident to accuse the Saudi state of something that is actually one of their very own political principles.

Economic growth at the expense of punishing IMF package for Pakistan

Sabena Siddiquii/Al Arabiya/October 22/18
Even as Pakistan tries to find a way out of its financial crisis, there is a lot of discussion regarding the pros and cons of the options available. Some days ago, Pakistan’s Minister of Finance, Asad Umar announced that Pakistan could be taking a $12 billion bailout package from the Washington-based International Monetary Fund (IMF) for three years, as well as $5 billion from the Asian Development Bank and World Bank. Having extremely high deficits around 6.6 percent of the GDP and fast depleting foreign exchange reserves, such an arrangement would get the economy through the immediate balance of payments crisis at hand. However, it is widely expected that the IMF delegation arriving on November 7th would want to place special conditions and get some policies changed. Since a while, the IMF has been warning Pakistan that its financial risks have increased and need regulation as its medium-term debt repayment capacity is reducing due to current account and budget deficits. Several issues are on top of the IMF list such as the viability of the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), weak currency, hike in interest rate and possible sale of public sector enterprises going in loss. It has also been urging Pakistan to improve its anti-money laundering and counter-terrorism financing and drastic changes are expected in this latest IMF economic program. To begin with, the government might have to carry out structural reforms under IMF monitoring and supervision. Moody’s has also recommended that the IMF would aid in macro-economic rebalancing and further the Pakistan government’s reforms agenda. In the long run, Pakistan has to improve its economic outlook and work on becoming fiscally self-sufficient so that it does not have to rely on IMF
Foreign exchange reserves
Noting that foreign exchange reserves were below the IMF minimum adequacy three-month threshold, the global ratings agency has highlighted that the IMF would “provide crucial policy support and technical assistance.”Most of all, there is widespread concern in the media about the possible implications an IMF bailout might hold for ongoing CPEC projects in Pakistan. Vital for economic growth, these energy and infrastructure projects should proceed as planned notwithstanding any IMF measures. Having taken financial help from the IMF 14 times since 1980, Pakistan’s last package with it ended just two years ago but there has never been any controversy. But this time round, the situation is different as Pakistan and China have launched the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor project under the Belt and Road Initiative and it is perceived as a potential clash of Sino-US interests.
In case the IMF disapproves of CPEC terms and conditions it might become difficult to implement projects as planned. Notably, Christine Lagarde has already emphasized that the IMF expects absolute transparency of all of Pakistan’s debt so that its debt sustainability can be determined.
Nevertheless, the redeeming factor is that China itself is also a member of the IMF and has endorsed and approved of Pakistan approaching it for a bailout. Thus, these fears might be somewhat extreme and CPEC should continue without any delay or impediment. It is also worth noting here that China has voting shares third in number within the IMF after the US and Japan.
CEPEC projects
For the record, the fact remains that only four out of the 22 CPEC projects are on concessional loan basis, while the rest are aid and equity-based investment for which Pakistan might have given a guarantee for annual profits. Out of these nine have been completed and 13 are underway. It is mostly previous loans from the IMF and others that constitute 47 percent of the total amount pending. Notwithstanding the advantages of streamlining and fixing the economy, it is most likely going to be a punishing package for Pakistan and the rate of economic growth might slow down initially, prices of electricity and other utilities are expected to go up as well as taxes and inflation should spiral. Expecting to find IMF conditions too difficult to manage, on second thought the Pakistan government is mulling over other options to reduce its reliance on the IMF deal.
Meeting a press delegation recently, Prime Minister Imran Khan apprised them that efforts are still being made to secure help from friendly countries and he hoped that the government would be able to fix economic issues with its policies. Having said that, a clearer picture should emerge in the next few weeks.
In the long run, Pakistan has to improve its economic outlook and work on becoming fiscally self-sufficient so that it does not have to rely on the IMF and other lenders. Once the present glitches are overcome, more focus is required on supporting domestic industries so that Pakistan’s overall exports can multiply.
Drastic measures may be required, such as introducing effective land reforms even though it is not a politically popular decision. Meanwhile, some favorable factors are also there, such as the CPEC projects, which will start entering in the operational phase and help bolster up the economy.

Iran: Between braggadocio and suicidal action
Amir Taheri/Al Arabiya/October 22/18
Getting ready for what they think will be the regime’s biggest challenge yet, the leadership in Tehran is looking to Iran’s near or far neighbors to help beat new sanctions being prepared by the Trump administration in Washington. Under study is a plan with three key objectives.
The first of these is to make sure Iran exports enough oil to finance “essential expenditure” including the payment of salaries of civil service and military personnel. The second objective is to make sure enough foreign currency is available in the domestic market to slowdown an expected plummeting of the national currency which could fuel inflation. Finally, the plan aims at ensuring the availability of crucial items, including industrial parts needed to keep major factories going. In all those domains success depends on the degree of goodwill that neighbors would be prepared to demonstrate in the face of threats of retaliation by Washington. As far as selling oil is concerned Russia and Iraq might be able to allow Iranian oil to be sold through their established channels or via partial swaps, making it hard for Washington to clearly identify the source and opt for punitive action. For its part, Turkey could reduce oil imports from other sources so as to release capacity for more imports from Iran.
As far as making more foreign currency available is concerned, both Afghanistan and Iraq are awash with US dollars, much of it controlled by small business and political elites always on the lookout for making even more money. In recent months reportedly large quantities of foreign currency has entered Iran from Iraq, Afghanistan, Azerbaijan and even Georgia. For its part Turkey has taken action to stop a massive hemorrhage of foreign currency from Iran.
Iran’s urgent need for goodwill from its neighbors was the theme of a recent speech by President Hassan Rouhani, especially as the prospect of meaningful support from the European Union continues to recede. All indicates that Rouhani and his theme are convinced that they would eventually have to open a dialogue with the Trump administration. But they also hope to seek the dialogue when parts of the configuration have changed in favor of the Islamic Republic.
A poor showing by the Republican Party in next month’s midterm elections in the US would be welcomed in Tehran even if Trump does not lose control of the Congress. But more importantly, perhaps, Rouhani believes that if Iran could cope with Trump’s “toughest sanctions in history” for a year or so; Tehran would be able to seek a dialogue without obvious humiliation.
Managing to muddle along for six months or a year would also enable the “Supreme Guide” Ali Khamenei to throw the weight of his faction behind talks with the “Great Satan” by claiming that his “resistance recipe” has worked.
A poor showing by the Republican Party in next month’s midterm elections in the US would be welcomed in Tehran even if Trump does not lose control of the Congress
Wishful thinking
The main problem with Tehran’s strategy is that much of it may be based on wishful-thinking. Right now there is more tension in Iran’s relations with all is neighbors, including Russia, than in their relations with the US.
Despite the fact that Tehran abandoned its historic position on the Caspian Sea and agreed to sign a convention dictated by Moscow, the Russian leadership has not delivered on any of the many promises it had given to Tehran.
In Afghanistan, Iran remains the third largest donor of aid, after the US and India. And, yet, neither the official government in Kabul nor the armed groups including the Taliban, opposed to it regard the Islamic Republic as a threat to both their opposing views of “Afghan identity”. They regard the present Iranian regime as a vehicle for an ideology that is seeking to conquer the whole region in the name of its peculiar version of Islam.
Tehran regards the new Pakistani government led by Prime Minister Imran Khan as more inclined towards good relations with Iran than its predecessor under Nawaz Sharif. This may or may not be the case. However, the fact remains that Imran Khan heavily depends on support from the Pakistani army which, in turn, does not seem ready to break with the US to side with the mullahs of Tehran.
A big question mark also hangs above the new Iraqi government as far as its intentions towards Tehran are concerned. As things stand now it is unlikely that Iraq would be ready to side with Iran in what everyone sees as an ultimately losing battle. Top of the agenda of the new Iraqi Prime Minister, Adel Abdul Mahdi, is to obtain the full cancellation of all UN sanctions imposed on Iraq since 1991.
And that would require strong support from Washington. Many Iraqis also resent the fact that relations with Iran are handled by the Quds (Jerusalem) Corps rather than the “normal” Iranian government. Many Iraqi Kurds are still sore about Tehran’s collusion with Ankara and Baghdad to crush their “independence” referendum. A majority of Iraqi Shiites also resent Tehran’s attempts at turning them into its Trojan Horse in Baghdad.
Though still strong, Tehran’s relations with Oman and Qatar are not free of tension. Oman has been able to work closely with Iran. It is not at all certain that the Trump administration would continue the same policy even if that means sanctions-busting in favor of the Islamic Republic. Qatar, too, would think twice before becoming part of an Iranian scheme designed to oppose Trump’s new strategy.
More importantly, perhaps, Turkey is unlikely to play the art scripted for it by Tehran. President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has shown that, when and if needed, he can be as tough as anyone in defying the major powers. However, he has also shown that he knows the difference between braggadocio and suicidal behavior. Iran’s “Supreme Guide” would do himself, and the Iranian people, a favor by pondering that difference.

‘Muslim Brotherhood’ is a global threat: US Expert
Dalia Aqidi/Al Arabiya/October 22/18
Efforts continue in Washington D.C. to designate the Muslim Brotherhood as a terrorist organization due to its global activities.
Hillel Fradkin, Director of the Center on Islam, Democracy and the Future of the Muslim World at the Hudson Institute emphasized to Al Arabiya English that the Muslim Brotherhood is a global threat, "It is true that it operates on a global basis or as global as it can be. It has branches in various Muslim countries, especially Arab countries, but also other regional countries, and it has organizations that were founded by and directed by its members in other places like France, England, US, and so forth,” he said.
The US expert highlighted that the Brotherhood founder, Egyptian, Hassan al Banna, was aiming to establish his organization outside Egypt as well, not for his personal ambitions, but to implement the agenda of the Brotherhood’s project.
Fradkin who testified before the United States’ House of Representatives Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, last July, to consider the proposition that Washington should declare the Brotherhood a terrorist organization.
He argued against the suggestions that if the U.S. takes this step, it would negatively affect Washington’s foreign relations with several Arab and Muslim countries, “If you take the case of Egypt, we were understood to be favorably disposed towards the Brotherhood, especially with former U.S. President Barak Obama's Cairo speech and his embrace of the group through it.
But, afterward, there was a general understanding on the part of some part of the Egyptian public that we were siding with the Brotherhood. Unfortunately, a lot of Egyptians were hostile to the U.S. They weren't favorable to us.” the US expert told Al Arabiya English.
Muslim Brotherhood’s experiment
“President Obama basically said let's try an experiment. Let's see if we engage with them, if we show some accommodation to the Muslim Brotherhood, let's see if we get something positive out of that" Fradkin pointed out, adding that while the whole world was going through that experiment, the Egyptians were the ones who had to live with it. “Once the Brotherhood was in power, it showed us that they weren't moderate,” he said.
The United States’ laws when it comes to designating a person or a group as terrorists have a specific definition of what that means and require specifically violent acts, according to the US expert who pointed out that; “One could say that there are certainly branches of the Brotherhood, which have committed violent acts and terrorist acts. The Egyptian Brotherhood, before it fell from power, or at the time it was falling from power, certainly committed violence acts. So too did the Syrian Brotherhood in its day, and so too does Hamas on a regular basis, which is a branch of the Brotherhood.”
Islamic State
During his testimony, Fradkin explained to the committee that the Banna’s Brotherhood’s project was to apply to all Muslims and the forms of government under which they lived, rejecting the nation-state as a legitimate form of Muslim governments.
Banna’s ultimate goal was to form a new Muslim state which would embrace all Muslims and would restore the authentic Muslim way of life as well as restore Muslim political powered, military power, and Muslim prestige. To use a term that has recently become familiar it was to be an Islamic and not a national state, or rather The Islamic State.
Fradkin emphasized to Al Arabiya English that the larger issue that was not captured was the degree to which the Brotherhood contributes through its ideology and through its attempts to impart that ideology to the people, to create a basic understanding, which as often as not does wind up in violent acts, “It is very hard to part that in a very clear way as such that it comes under the American laws which was the complication in the hearing,” he said.
He noted that recently Ayman al-Zawahiri, the present leader of Al Qaeda, reached out to the Brotherhood expressing nostalgic appreciation for the fact that Al Qaeda had been born out of the Brotherhood project and welcomed its members to join his own.
“Most of the groups that gain attention in our American politics, and elsewhere, are brotherhood groups. I mean Isis and Al Qaeda cannot come out into the open, but the brotherhood can and does in the form of organizations. The Council on American-Islamic Relations “CARE” in the United States is an example which the majority of the moderate Muslims argue that those people don't represent us,” Fradkin stated.
What should be done?
“The US administration should not treat these organizations and their leaders as representatives of the Muslim community of the United States. That's the beginning point,” the Hudson’s expert emphasized.
He stressed that the Washington should be firm in dealing with the Brotherhood and the countries that support, finance, harbor, or provide a platform for the group to freely promote its ideology, The thing is countries like Saudi Arabia, UAE, and Egypt had banned the Muslim brotherhood movements, they considered it or they listed it as a terror group. While some of the US allies did not, and still work with the group, such as Qatar,” Fradkin concluded.

A look at Iran’s history of assassinating dissidents

Heshmat Alavi/Al Arabiya/October 22/18
The Jamal Khashoggi case has taken the world by storm, all in favor of the Iranian regime to take attention from its domestic and international crises, and place the spotlights elsewhere.
What should not go overlooked is the fact that Iran has a long history of brutal methods to eliminate dissidents inside the country and abroad, especially Europe.
This goes alongside the Iranian regime’s atrocious report card of massive terrorist attacks, killing scores of innocent people. Unfortunately, through the past 39 years, the West’s appeasement approach has saved Tehran from any meaningful accountability in this regard. This must change.
Special targets
The names of Kurdish opposition leader Abdul Rahman Ghassemlou, former Iranian prime minister Shapour Bakhtiar and opposition figure Fereydoun Farrokhzad have been heard as victims of Iran’s terror machine. One objective of this piece is to see into other cases unfortunately lesser mentioned by mainstream media.
One of the most high-profile cases was the 1990 assassination of Dr. Kazem Rajavi, the brother of Massoud Rajavi, leader of Iran’s main opposition, People's Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI/MEK). The murder of Kazem, representing the Iranian opposition in Switzerland and the United Nations European Headquarters, was a highly sophisticated operation involving numerous Iranian regime embassies and conducted outside his home on the outskirts of Geneva.
Being a strong critic of the Iranian regime’s human rights violations, Tehran’s mullahs wanted him dead and went to extreme measures for this end result. As in many cases, there is a strong belief that the mullahs’ Intelligence Ministry was directly involved in this plot. Kazem was gunned down in his car on April 24, 1990. In Rome, Iranian intelligence agents assassinated Mohammad Hossein Naghdi, a member of the Iranian opposition coalition National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), on March 16, 1993.
This former charge d’affairs of Iran was on Tehran’s hit list for joining the opposition ranks and Iranian regime founder Ruhollah Khomeini had called for his assassination back in 1983. After one failed attempt in that same year, Khomeini once again called for Naghdi’s assassination in 1988, resulting in his murder 10 years after the initial order.
Focusing on the main Iranian opposition movements, the Iranian regime’s Supreme National Security Council took steps forward in specifying a list of dissidents whose elimination was considered necessary for Tehran. After Kazem Rajavi and Naghdi, this list included NCRI Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Mohammad Mohadessin and other senior NCRI figures such as Jalal Ganjei, Manouchehr Hezarkhani, Abbas Davari, Parviz Khazaie and Abolghasem Rezaie
Gruesome measures
The Mykonos restaurant killings is arguably described as one of the most vicious assassinations carried out by Iranian regime operatives. Tehran’s terrorists in Berlin gunned down Iranian Kurdish dissidents in a very brutal manner to send a message.
In 1997, a German court ruled that the Iranian regime’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, former president Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, former foreign minister Ali Akbar Velayati and former intelligence ministers Ali Fallahian were all involved in this assassination.
The Anglo-Iranian communities, supporters of Iran’s democratic opposition, the National Council of Resistance of Iran and main organised opposition movement PMOI, hold a rally in London on Jan. 4, 2018. (AP)
When it comes to eliminating dissidents, Iran’s regime truly recognizes no borders and crosses all red lines of morality. At the age of 39, Ms. Zahra Rajabi was a senior PMOI/MEK member stationed in Turkey when brutally assassinated on February 20, 1996. She was in Istanbul on assignment to protect the rights of Iranian women and refugees in Turkey.
She was found murdered in an apartment with bullets in her body. This assassination proved the Iranian regime is extremely ruthless to the point that even an individual seeking to protect the rights of refugees is considered a target and national security concern.
These assassination dossiers across various counties portray how the Iranian regime's presidents and senior ministers, along with other high-ranking officials, are directly involved in the murder of Iranian dissidents.
More recently, Saeed Karimian, chairman of Gem TV, was assassinated in Istanbul by Iran’s Revolutionary Guards (IRGC) along with a colleague. This April 2017 killing was immediately followed by Iran’s state media running a chorus of fake news reports claiming the victim had been in collaboration with the PMOI/MEK.
This, parallel to a doctoring of Karimian’s image in a photo next to Iranian opposition President Maryam Rajavi, made it obvious how Iran’s main objective in this assassination of a TV official was to demonize and defame the main Iranian opposition organization.
And speaking of the PMOI/MEK, their members and supporters have been targets of a recent surge in terror and espionage plots, including in Albania, France and the United States. Iran’s Vienna-based diplomat and intelligence operatives in the US and across Europe have been arrested, some facing charges.
Foreign aspects
The Lebanese Hezbollah, a known Iran offspring, has been a designated terrorist organization by the US State Department since 1997. Funded by Tehran, this terrorist group was responsible for the bombing of the US Embassy in Beirut, killing over 50, and the US Marine barracks in Lebanon’s capital six months later, leaving 241 Americans and 58 French peacekeepers dead in 1983.
In 1985, Hezbollah hijacked a TWA flight, holding dozens of American hostage for weeks and eventually killing a US Navy sailor. Hezbollah also played a major role in the Iranian regime’s 1994 attack targeting the AMIA Jewish center that left 85 killed and over 300 injured. In 2006, a US federal judge held Tehran responsible for the 1996 Khobar Towers bombing in Saudi Arabia that killed 19 American service members.
At the end of the day, the murder of one human being, let alone more, must be responded with due justice. And if any party deserves facing justice it is the Iranian regime for its four decades long history of assassinations and terror attacks. This undeniable fact is especially worth reminding to the slate of Iranian regime apologists/lobbyists going the distance regarding the Jamal Khashoggi case.