Detailed Lebanese & Lebanese Related LCCC English New Bulletin For October 25/2018
Compiled & Prepared by: Elias Bejjani

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Bible Quotations
There will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous people who need no repentance
Luke/01/01-07: "All the tax-collectors and sinners were coming near to listen to him.And the Pharisees and the scribes were grumbling and saying, ‘This fellow welcomes sinners and eats with them.’So he told them this parable: ‘Which one of you, having a hundred sheep and losing one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness and go after the one that is lost until he finds it? When he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders and rejoices. And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and neighbours, saying to them, "Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep that was lost." Just so, I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous people who need no repentance."

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 24-25/18
The 'Saudi Affair' in Istanbul Unveils Sunni vs Sunni Rivalry/Burak Bekdil/Gatestone Institute/October 24/18
The World Invests in Saudi Arabia Despite Campaigns/Salman Al-dossary/Asharq Al Awsat/October 24/18
The Warrior Prince/Yezid Sayigh/Carnegie Middle East Centre/October 24/18
The Riyadh investment conference and the boycott/Abdulrahman al-Rashed//Al Arabiya/October 24/18
An ‘artificial’ storm and the reality of Saudi Arabia/Mashari Althaydi/Al Arabiya/October 24/18
Upcoming generations can lift the Arab region out of its current crisis/Idriss Jazairy/Al Arabiya/October 24/18
Balancing development dollars with humanitarian assistance/Walid Jawad/Al Arabiya/October 24/18
Saudi Arabia Shows Need to End Addiction to Middle Eastern Oil/Jim Talent/The Hill/October 24/18

Titles For The Latest LCCC Lebanese Related News published on October 24-25/18
Aoun sounds alarm on growing media rumors trend
Aoun meets Beirut Marathon delegation, deems race promoter of ethics, fair competition
Hariri during investment conference in Riyadh: We seek to form national entente government
Berri reiterates need for swift government formation
Berri: No Problem on Policy Statement after Govt. Formation
Hariri Meets Saudi King, Joins Crown Prince in Addressing Riyadh Forum
Lebanon’s Hariri Rejects Giving Up Portfolios from His Share
Saudi prince jokes about Lebanese PM 'kidnapped'
Independent Sunni MPs Stress Hariri Can't Monopolize Sunni Representation
Jumblat Calls for Austerity Measures to Counter 'State Paralysis'
Report: ‘Serious’ Challenges Facing Lebanon Press Need for Govt. Lineup
Kataeb leader Samy Gemayel Says It Is Not Easy to Be Part of Kataeb
UNIFIL marks United Nations Day
Consultative meeting of independent Sunni deputies: Our representation "goes without saying"
AUB Communication Office: AUB does not support 'normalization' as that contravene Lebanese law
Army chief receives Qatar ambassador
Bassil welcomes Makhzoumi, Ambassadors of Morocco, Spain, and Australia
Hankache: Strict Austerity Measures Needed to Avert Economic Collapse
Titles For The Latest LCCC Bulletin For Miscellaneous Reports And News published on October 24-25/18
MBS Says Khashoggi Murder 'Repulsive Incident', Talks to Erdogan
France will take no ‘hasty decision’ on relations with Saudi Arabia
Saudi Crown Prince discusses steps on Khashoggi with Turkey’s Erdogan
Pompeo: We will maintain strategic interests with Saudi Arabia
Dubai ruler: Saudi Arabia is a driving force for the global economy
Erdogan: I Trust King Salman, Saudi Arabia Took Important Steps in Khashoggi Case
Iran's Rouhani: Khashoggi Murder Unthinkable 'Without US Backing'
U.S. officials say suspected bombs sent to homes of Clinton, Obama
Washington Displays Military Might in East Syria
Japanese Journalist Taken Hostage in Syria 3 Years Ago Released
Aboul Gheit: Arab World Situation Going Through Tragic Period
France Urges Israel to Permanently Cancel Khan Al-Ahmar Demolition
Controversial Immunity Bill to Protect Israel's Netanyahu
Trump Willing to be Tough on Netanyahu
Israel Wins $777 Million Indian Missile Defense Order
Israeli Soldiers Kill Palestinian in West Bank Clash
UN: France’s Full-Body Veil Ban Violates Human Rights
Migrant Caravan Stops to Rest in Mexico amid Trump Threats
U.S. Intercepts Suspect Packages Sent to Clinton, Obama, CNN

The Latest LCCC Lebanese Related News published on October 24-25/18
Aoun sounds alarm on growing media rumors trend
Wed 24 Oct 2018/NNA - President of the Republic, Michel Aoun, on Wednesday followed up closely on the most recent political developments leading to the formation of a new government, especially in light of the contacts that have taken place to alleviate obstacles hindering the birth of the government. Aoun received a letter from the Emir of Kuwait, Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah, who praised the fraternal relations between his country and Lebanon. The Emir of Kuwait confirmed to the president his participation in the work sessions of the Arab socio-economic summit, to be held in Beirut in January 2019. On another level, the President of the Republic met with MPs Mario Aoun, and Roger Azar, with whom he discussed the political situation. Separately, Aoun welcomed a delegation from NDU University, headed by father Pierre Najem. Najem thanked the President for having visited the university marking its foundation anniversary. During this event, NDU bestowed upon President Aoun an honorary doctorate. In his delivered word, the president criticized the use of rumors in the media and society to convey a certain political position. "Rumors are destructive for society, not to mention undermine trust between people and those in charge," Aoun maintained. "It is intolerable to focus on bad information, as this batters the pace of the economic cycle, and subsequently leads to crises," Aoun warned.

Aoun meets Beirut Marathon delegation, deems race promoter of ethics, fair competition

Wed 24 Oct 2018/NNA - President of the Republic, General Michel Aoun, received this Wednesday at the Baabda Palace a delegation from the Beirut Marathon Association, headed by May Al-Khalil, who briefed him on the preparations for the Beirut Marathon to take place on November 11. The President praised the efforts made by the Beirut Marathon Association to "organize an event that matches high international standards and lights up our capital and our country, with its noble objectives in favor of charity and humanitarian issues."Al-Khalil noted that "the race, added to its sports importance, is now the greatest platform for raising funds for humanitarian and charitable societies under which names contestants are running.""The Beirut Marathon has grown from 6,000 to 48,000 runners in 2017 and has an international presence. The Association has signed partnership and cooperation agreements with a number of international marathon organizers," she said. "The marathon achieved financial returns in 2016 amounting at $17.3 million, while in 2017 the number reached $19.1 million," she said, shedding light on the "educational dimension of the race through the participation of students from 310 schools and 26 universities, in addition to the partnership with about 225 charitable societies that receive 25% of the registration fees. The financial share of these societies is at 1 million 450 thousand dollars."Al-Khalil also pointed out that 1400 jobs are made available by the marathon annually, praising "the participation of over 4000 volunteers, 450 paramedics, and 550 volunteers from the Lebanese Red Cross with 55 ambulances."She also underlined the special attention received by people with special needs, noting that the slogan raised for the Beirut Marathon 2018 is: "Beirut Makes Our Hearts Swell."
President Aoun welcomed and commended the work of the Association, stressing that "the marathon helps develop sports ethics and fair competition, in addition to other virtues, and that because it is a selfless good deed. Those who work on achieving it have within themselves the virtues that can form a model for our youth."Building on the idea of gathering people from all nations and countries in this marathon, President Aoun referred to his proposal to the United Nations for the establishment of the "Human Academy for Encounter and Dialogue". He said that "Lebanon, in its multiplicity of sects and religions, its openness to the world, and its intermingling with various peoples, is the most capable of bringing together civilizations through what this academy offers."At the end of the meeting, President Aoun filled a heart-shaped symbol of the marathon slogan and received the ticket number 1 from Mrs. Al-Khalil and the accompanying delegation, in addition to the annual report for the year 2017.

Hariri during investment conference in Riyadh: We seek to form national entente government

Wed 24 Oct 2018/NNA - Prime Minister-designate, Saad Hariri, on Wednesday said he is seeking to form a national entente government, saying Lebanon faces great challenges.
Premier Hariri's fresh words came during a panel discussion at the Investment Conference in Saudi Arabia, hailing the current government's accomplishments for the interest of Lebanon in several international conferences, including CEDRE Conference. Hariri also pointed out that the delay in the new government was due to endeavours to come out with a Cabinet capable of fulfilling people's aspirations and needs. The Premier also disclosed that women shall have a significant role in the new government, saying the Cabinet shall encompass technocrat ministers.

Berri reiterates need for swift government formation
Wed 24 Oct 2018/NNA - House Speaker, Nabih Berri, on Wednesday reiterated the need for the formation of the government, which "has become extremely necessary." Speaker Berri's stance came during his weekly meetings with MPs, bringing to attention the seriousness of the current economic situation in Lebanon, based on facts. "If government formation is of prime importance, intergovernmental cohesion is even more important," he corroborated. The Speaker reiterated his call for law enforcement and the formation of regulatory committees. Visiting MPs relayed the Speaker's intention to call for a general legislative session to be held before the end of this month. Visitors said Berri has summoned the Parliament's Bureau body for a meeting tomorrow for this purpose. Berri finally said, according to his visitors, that there will be no problem over the ministerial statement after the formation of the government, since it will bear the essential headlines of the current government's statement.
Berri: No Problem on Policy Statement after Govt. Formation
Naharnet/October 24/18/Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri on Wednesday reiterated that “the formation of a government has become more than a necessity,” warning over the economic situation in the country. “There won't be a problem over the ministerial policy statement after the formation of the government, because its main lines will be based on the statement of the current government,” Berri told lawmakers during the weekly Ain el-Tineh meeting. MPs also quoted Berri as saying that he could call for a legislative session that would be held before the end of this month.“He invited the Parliament Bureau to convene tomorrow to this end and noted that around 40 draft laws and proposals are ready to be listed on the agenda of the aforementioned session,” lawmakers said.
Hariri Meets Saudi King, Joins Crown Prince in Addressing Riyadh Forum
Naharnet/October 24/18/Prime Minister-designate Saad Hariri held talks Wednesday in Riyadh with Saudi King Salman bin Abdul Aziz and joined Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in addressing a global investment forum in the Saudi capital. “We will form a national unity government that would address the concerns of Lebanese citizens,” Hariri told a session of the Future Investment Initiative.“There should be women and young politicians in the new government,” Hariri added. “An all-women government would be better for Lebanon,” the PM-designate quipped. “Our government will seek to restore confidence and achieve reform,” Hariri said, describing the reforms recommended by the CEDRE Lebanon support conference as important. Earlier in the day, Hariri held a meeting in Riyadh with King Salman bin Abdulaziz and talks focused on bilateral relations between the two countries and the developments in the region, Hariri's press office said. Hariri had arrived in Riyadh shortly after midnight to take part in the Future Investment Initiative forum, which has been overshadowed by the murder of dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi that has plunged the kingdom into crisis. Hariri has maintained good relations with Saudi Arabia despite the crisis that erupted following his surprise resignation from Riyadh months ago. The PM-designate has repeatedly denied that he was “detained” in Saudi Arabia, stressing that what happened is "a page turned." The conference, nicknamed "Davos in the desert", has been overshadowed by an outcry over the murder of Khashoggi inside the kingdom's consulate in Istanbul on October 2, with a string of leading international investors pulling out over the case.

Hariri 'Not Kidnapped' in KSA, Says MBS Humorously
Naharnet/October 24/18/Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman on Wednesday commented sarcastically on reports suggesting that Prime Minister-designate Saad Hariri had been held against his will in Saudi Arabia last year. “PM-designate Hariri will stay in Saudi Arabia for two days, so I hope there won't be rumors that he's kidnapped,” MBS quipped in remarks to an investment conference in Riyadh, flanked by Hariri and Bahrain's crown prince. The audience at the Future Investment Initiative laughed and applauded. Hariri has maintained good relations with Saudi Arabia despite the crisis that erupted following his bizarre resignation from Riyadh last year. The PM-designate has repeatedly denied that he was “detained” in Saudi Arabia, stressing that what happened is "a page turned." Saudi Arabia for its part has slammed as “incorrect” remarks made by French President Emmanuel Macron that Hariri had been detained in Riyadh back in November. Hariri “was held in Saudi Arabia for several weeks,” Macron told BFM TV in May, boasting that his country had prevented “a war in Lebanon.”
 Lebanon’s Hariri Rejects Giving Up Portfolios from His Share
Beirut - Caroline Akoum/Asharq Al-Awsat/Tuesday, 23 October, 2018/Negotiations on Lebanon’s government formation remained stalled on Tuesday amid two ongoing main obstacles on the shares of the Lebanese Forces and the representation of the Sunni sect from within the March 8 alliance. On Tuesday, Prime Minister-designate Saad Hariri rejected reports saying he would offer one of his ministerial portfolios to March 8's Sunnis. “I don't know from where those reports have emerged,” he told reporters. Sources told Asharq Al-Awsat they expected this crisis to increase in light of Hariri’s refusal to exchange one of his Sunni ministers with a Christian minister from the shares of President Michel Aoun. As for the LF obstacle, party sources told Asharq Al-Awsat that leader Samir Geagea is waiting for Hariri’s new proposal concerning the party’s shares in the new government, based on a meeting held between the two men last Monday. Caretaker Information Minister Melhem Riachi said after his meeting with Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri in Ain El-Tineh Tuesday that discussions are open and the LF does not cling to certain portfolios. "We ask not to undermine the Lebanese Forces ... The LF is not stalling the government (formation process), but it will not make further concessions" Riachi said. Following its weekly meeting on Tuesday, the "Strong Lebanon" parliamentary bloc, which is close to Aoun, said the new ministerial demands were misplaced. “Lebanon is paying the price of each and every day of delay,” the bloc explained. On Wednesday, Hariri would be travelling to Saudi Arabia upon an official invitation to partake in the Future Investment Initiative summit in Riyadh. A statement issued following a meeting of Hariri’s parliamentary bloc Tuesday said, “Just as it was about to reach its desired results last weekend, the process of the formation of the government bounced once again against a new wall of conditions and criteria, which the Prime Minister-designate rushed to deal with.”The bloc also said it will not be permissible or logical to work on the creation of new norms to dedicate specific portfolios to this or that side because this would impede the formation process and violate the constitutional responsibilities of Hariri.
Saudi prince jokes about Lebanese PM 'kidnapped'
Associated Press/October 24/18/RIYADH, Saudi Arabia: Saudi Arabia's powerful crown prince has made a joke about Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri getting "kidnapped," after his bizarre resignation last year on a trip to the kingdom. Speaking on Wednesday at an economic summit, Prince Mohammed bin Salman said that Hariri "will be here for two days, so no ideas (please that) he's been kidnapped."The audience at the Future Investment Initiative laughed and applauded.Hariri resigned last year as prime minister during a trip to Riyadh, something many believe he was forced to do by Prince Mohammed. Hariri later left the kingdom and rescinded his resignation. He's been on other trips back since.

Independent Sunni MPs Stress Hariri Can't Monopolize Sunni Representation
Naharnet/October 24/18/A grouping of independent Sunni MPs stressed Wednesday that they will no longer accept that Sunni representation in the government be confined to Prime Minister-designate Saad Hariri's al-Mustaqbal Movement. “Our representation in the government is not a favor from anyone and we condemn Hariri's fierce defense of the Sunni unilateralism represented in his Movement,” MP Faisal Karami said, on behalf of the lawmakers. “Limiting Sunni representation to him is no longer justified, seeing as the elections proved the presence of Sunni weight outside of al-Mustaqbal,” Karami added. “We will not engage in settlements or concessions regarding our representation in the government,” he emphasized. The statement comes two days after Hariri denied the presence of a “Sunni obstacle” delaying the formation of the government. Wednesday's stance is expected to further complicate Hariri's mission which is facing Christian wrangling over key ministerial portfolios.

Jumblat Calls for Austerity Measures to Counter 'State Paralysis'
Naharnet/October 24/18/Progressive Socialist Party leader Walid Jumblat on Wednesday warned of the consequences shall the Lebanese government fails to take “austerity measures” to shrink the country’s growing public debt. In remarks he made in a tweet, Jumblat said: “The public debt is increasing each moment and the remedy is to take serious State austerity measures at various levels. Otherwise, the CEDRE conference will be of no use.”Jumblat added saying “the PSP is going to present some ideas to serve as the basis for the next government,” he said, as he warned that any further delay to lineup the government “could lead to total paralysis.”Lebanon recorded a government debt equivalent to 149 percent of the country's Gross Domestic Product in 2017. Government Debt to GDP in Lebanon averaged 153.07 percent from 2000 until 2017, reaching an all time high of 183 percent in 2006 and a record low of 131 percent in 2012.

Report: ‘Serious’ Challenges Facing Lebanon Press Need for Govt. Lineup
Naharnet/October 24/18/Lebanese officials seem unaware of the crisis gripping the country as they continue to wrangle over ministerial portfolios, prolonging the delay in the government formation which touches six months on Wednesday. An Nahar daily said that international obligations and the international community's obligations towards Lebanon require a legitimate and full-fledged authority. The latest warning came from UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator for Lebanon, Philippe Lazzarini, who told An-Nahar that "the country is facing multifaceted challenges. There is consensus that the government must be formed to revive the economy and restore confidence of investors.”Lazzarini said Lebanon “is facing serious economic and social challenges. It hosts more than a million displaced people on its territory, adding to an economic slowdown, high unemployment and a 155% debt-to-GDP ratio. These factors have put a huge strain on the country's limited resources and infrastructure.”He added: "In order to overcome this situation, Lebanon must carry out major long-awaited fiscal and sectoral reforms, as agreed at the CEDRE conference last spring. Today, we feel that the situation is very urgent and we recognize the need to implement the necessary policies to face these challenges.” Prime Minister-designate Saad Hariri was tasked with forming a government on May 24. His mission has since been delayed because of disagreement between political parties over government shares and ministerial portfolios, mainly the Christian and Druze share, the latter was solved lately.
Kataeb leader Samy Gemayel Says It Is Not Easy to Be Part of Kataeb 24th October 2018/Kataeb leader Samy Gemayel said that it being a member of the party is not an easy mission to take up, outlining the tremendous importance of belonging to the Kataeb given the great challenges and difficult experiences that one should face without waiting for anything in return. “Belonging to the Kataeb is like being a member of a monastic order. Those who join it give but don’t take, because it is a school of sacrifice,” Gemayel stressed during his meeting with Lebanese expats in Ottawa. “Our martyrs died while defending Lebanon; they are an exemplary model of commitment and altruism without getting anything in return,” Gemayel stated, renewing unwavering commitment to this struggle and endless love for Lebanon, its sovereignty and independence. “We will continue to say the truth and to work unconditionally to achieve our dream for this country; the dream of our martyrs and the reason behind their struggle."After the meeting, Gemayel inaugurated two monuments commemorating President Bachir Gemayel and Minister Pierre Gemayel.

UNIFIL marks United Nations Day
Wed 24 Oct 2018/NNA - The United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) on Wednesday marked the 73rd United Nations Day at its headquarters in Naqoura by reaffirming the Mission's strong commitment to maintain and solidify the existing calm in south Lebanon.
In his address to a ceremony attended by Lebanese dignitaries and fellow peacekeepers, UNIFIL Head of Mission and Force Commander Major General Stefano Del Col said UNIFIL has been working since 1978 to safeguard stability in south Lebanon and promote peace.
"Let us use this special day to reaffirm the shared commitment of UNIFIL and the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF) to the cessation of hostilities, which has led to 12 years of overall calm, and to the current situation, where a stable and prosperous society can lead to sustainable progress and development," said the UNIFIL head. UN Day marks the anniversary of the entry into force in 1945 of the UN Charter and it has been celebrated since 1948. Lebanon is one of the 51 founding members of the UN. Major General Del Col said UNIFIL's women and men work every day "to give practical meaning to the Charter." During the ceremony, Major General Del Col and LAF Commander's representative, Brigadier General Robert El Alam, placed wreaths at the UNIFIL Cenotaph in honour of the 314 UNIFIL peacekeepers who have lost their lives over the past nearly 40 years. "May their sacrifice guide us and serve as a reminder of our commitment to work towards a permanent ceasefire and sustainable peace," said Major General Del Col. Later in the day, UNIFIL is joining the UN family in Lebanon at an "Open Day" in Beit Beirut where visitors can see and hear about the UN's diverse work and activities across the country.

Consultative meeting of independent Sunni deputies: Our representation "goes without saying"

Wed 24 Oct 2018/NNA - The Consultative Gathering of Independent Sunni MPs, said Wednesday that their representation in the next government is not a reward from anyone, emphasizing their representation "goes without saying."The Gathering expressed surprise at the attitude of Prime Minister-designate, Saad Hariri, to defend his political movement's Sunni unilateralism representation. According to a statement by the Gathering read out by MP Faisal Karami, the Gathering said Hariri is no longer "the only representative of the Sunni Street." The Gathering said restricting Sunni representation to the Future Movement is now unjustified, as elections have proved the presence of a Sunni political weight out of the mainstream of the future. "We emphasize our just political and constitutional demands in accordance with the adopted standards for the formation of the government," Karami said, adding that the Gathering's representation is a factual matter.

AUB Communication Office: AUB does not support 'normalization' as that contravene Lebanese law
Wed 24 Oct 2018/NNA - In a statement released by the Office of Communications at AUB, it said: "The American University of Beirut (AUB) is a community of scholars and educators that is proud to uphold free speech and debate, and to be a place where sincere ideas of all kinds are voiced and examined in a rigorous, safe, scientific and humanistic setting. AUB follows the laws of Lebanon and adopts the principles of liberal education developed in the United States, the country where the university is registered. These principles enshrine the right of students to protest peacefully on matters of importance, but not to disrupt the freedom of other members of the community to engage in legitimate academic inquiry and discussion without hindrance or intimidation. AUB does not support "normalization" as that would contravene Lebanese law and flagrantly contradict the university's standing as the top higher education institution in Lebanon and the Arab world."

Army chief receives Qatar ambassador
Wed 24 Oct 2018/NNA - Army Commander, General Joseph Aoun, met this Wednesday in Yarze, with Qatar's new ambassador to Lebanon, Mohammad Hassan Jaber al-Jaberi, upon his assumption of his diplomatic duties in Lebanon. Maj. Gen. Aoun then received a group of blind people from the "Center of the Sons of Light", led by Center Head Gebran Farah. The delegation briefed the General on the current situation of the blind, and the Center's efforts to find jobs for them, in line with the Lebanese labor code. General Aoun also received the Lebanese adventurer Maxime Chaaya, with talks reportedly touching on various affairs.

Bassil welcomes Makhzoumi, Ambassadors of Morocco, Spain, and Australia

Wed 24 Oct 2018/NNA - Caretaker Foreign Affairs and Expatriates Minister, Gebran Bassil, met on Wednesday with National Dialogue Party leader, Foaud Makhzoumi. During the meeting, Makhzoumi stressed the importance of facilitating Prime Minister-designate Saad Hariri's mission forming the lengthily awaited cabinet, especially in light of the crucial economic situation in Lebanon. "Bolstering the economic situation falls in our joint interest. We all hope that the Minister's foreign tours and efforts would help pave the way for new investment opportunities in Lebanon," Makhzoumi said. On another level, Bassil met today with Moroccan Ambassador to Lebanon, Mohammed Karin. Talks reportedly touched on the preparations underway for the football game that is set to take place between a group of Lebanese expatriates and a group of Foreign Ministry employees, next Friday and Saturday, at Foaud Shehab Stadium. This event will be taking place under the patronage of Minister Bassil, in cooperation with the Ministry of Tourism and the Moroccan Embassy, due to the fact that the Royal Moroccan Airlines is the official sponsor of this event. It is to note that Minister Bassil will be taking part in the final football match on Saturday against a group of Lebanese Expatriates. Bassil separately met with Japanese Ambassador to Lebanon, Matahiro Yamaguchi, who requested the help and support of the Lebanese government helping Japan host "EXPO 2025", which will be held in the Japanese city of Osaka. Bassil also received the credentials of the newly appointed Australian Ambassador to Lebanon, Rebecca Grindlay.

Hankache: Strict Austerity Measures Needed to Avert Economic Collapse 24th October 2018Kataeb MP Elias Hankache on Wednesday reiterated the need for the new government to take strict measures and opt for austerity, deeming this as key to preventing economic collapse. "The Kataeb party is concerned because the ruling authority is favoring its political spoils and gains over the critical situation in the country," he told Voice of Lebanon radio station. Hankache, who met with Speaker Nabih Berri as part of the latter's weekly meeting with lawmakers in Ain Al-Tineh, wondered what will happen if the same approach and policy are adopted by the new government. “The question I asked to Berri was: If the government is formed soon, then where will the country go? And if it is formed, then where are we heading to if the same approach persists?" “We will wait for the government to be formed and will be the first to support anything that benefits the people and lifts the country and its institutions up. We have hit rock bottom and it's impossible to get even lower, as we have reached a bad phase. We will be supportive whenever a positive step is made, and will be the fiercest opponents against anything that trespasses the people’s best interest.”

The Latest LCCC Bulletin For Miscellaneous Reports And News published on
October 24-25/18
MBS Says Khashoggi Murder 'Repulsive Incident', Talks to Erdogan
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/October 24/18/Saudi Arabia's crown prince Wednesday denounced the murder of critic Jamal Khashoggi as a "repulsive incident," insisting the kingdom was cooperating with Turkish authorities and that "justice will prevail.""The incident was very painful for all Saudis, it's a repulsive incident and no one can justify it," Prince Mohammed bin Salman said in his first comments since the murder of the journalist. "Those responsible will be held accountable... in the end justice will prevail," the prince said, speaking in Arabic during an address to the Future Investment Initiative Forum in Riyadh. "Many are trying to exploit the Khashoggi affair to drive a wedge between Saudi Arabia and Turkey," he said. "But they will not succeed as long as there is a king named Salman and a crown prince named Mohammed bin Salman," MBS stressed. Earlier in the day, a Turkish presidential source said MBS and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan discussed steps to "shed light" on Khashoggi's murder, in their first telephone conversation since the killing. Erdogan has far spoken twice on the phone with Saudi King Salman since Khashoggi, a Washington Post contributor and Riyadh critic, was killed inside the Saudi consulate on October 2, which he had visited to obtain documents for his marriage to a Turkish woman. But Wednesday's telephone conversation was the first time he has spoken to the crown prince, who is seen as the driving force in day-to-day rule of the kingdom. The two discussed "the issue of joint efforts and the steps that need to be taken in order to shed light on the Jamal Khashoggi murder in all its aspects," the source added.  The phone call was at the request of the prince, the presidential source noted. After more than two weeks of vehement denials, Saudi Arabia asserted Saturday that the journalist was killed in a "brawl and fist fight" inside the country's consulate in Istanbul –- without revealing the whereabouts of his body. Erdogan has never directly blamed Riyadh for the killing but vowed that Turkey would not allow the culprits to get away with the "savage murder."
"We are determined not to allow any cover up of this murder and for all those responsible -- from those who gave the command to those who executed it -- not to escape justice," he said on Wednesday.
France will take no ‘hasty decision’ on relations with Saudi Arabia
Reuters, Paris/Wednesday, 24 October 2018/France will not take any “hasty decision” on the future of its strategic relationship with Saudi Arabia until the facts around the death of journalist Jamal Khashoggi are clear, a source in President Emmanuel Macron’s Elysee office said on Wednesday.“If decisions are to be taken in the future, they will be taken but based on facts that have been clarified and responsibilities that have been clearly established,” the source said.

Saudi Crown Prince discusses steps on Khashoggi with Turkey’s Erdogan
Staff writer, Al Arabiya English/Wednesday, 24 October 2018/Prince Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz, Saudi Crown Prince, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Defense, in a telephone call with the President of Turkey, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, discussed the necessary steps to highlight the issue of the citizen Jamal Khashoggi through joint efforts.Prince Mohammed bin Salman and President Erdogan discussed “the need for joint efforts to shed light on the killing” of Saudi citizen Jamal Khashoggi. They also discussed on Wednesday the steps that are needed to be taken for the investigation.

Pompeo: We will maintain strategic interests with Saudi Arabia
Staff writer, Al Arabiya English/Wednesday, 24 October 2018/US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Tuesday that his country will maintain strategic interests with Saudi Arabia.
Pompeo added at a press conference that there are anticipated US actions against the defendants in the case of Jamal Khashoggi. “We will hold accountable those involved in the murder of Khashoggi”, he said. Pompeo said he was taking appropriate steps in the case of the death of Khashoggi, noting that the visas to the United States of those involved in the case will be canceled.

Dubai ruler: Saudi Arabia is a driving force for the global economy

Staff writer, Al Arabiya English /Tuesday, 23 October 2018/Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum has said that Saudi Arabia is a driving force for the world economy as he attended the second edition of the Future Investment Initiative in Riyadh. FII 2018 attracted more than 150 Emirati ministers, senior business executives and investors.“Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid praised the ambitious development plans of Saudi Arabia under the leadership of The Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, and the close monitoring by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid also praised the objectives of FII towards creating a conducive business environment,” a statement on WAM news agency read. Highlighting the UAE’s vision for boosting cooperation ties with the global investment community, he added: "We work on expanding our partnership with the international business community, to support the sustainable development plans through implementing best international practices and adopting latest technologies which stand today as integral pillars of the economy of the future."The three-day, high-profile event, organized by the Saudi Public Investment Fund, aims to explore and develop new opportunities that would shape the future of investment in the world. This year’s edition features 150 speakers representing over 140 organizations.

Erdogan: I Trust King Salman, Saudi Arabia Took Important Steps in Khashoggi Case
Ankara - Saeed Abdulrazzak/ Asharq Al-Awsat/Wednesday, 24 October, 2018/Turkey confirmed that Saudi Arabia has taken important steps in the investigation of circumstances leading to the death of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, expressing its confidence in the Kingdom's cooperation on the issue and in the position of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman in this regard. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said that Saudi Arabia has taken important steps in the case of Khashoggi and announced the arrest of 18 people, including 15 who came to Istanbul one day before the journalist entered the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on October 2. Addressing lawmakers of his ruling party in parliament Tuesday, Erdogan reiterated his confidence in Saudi Arabia's cooperation in Khashoggi's case, noting that he agreed with King Salman to form a joint Saudi-Turkish investigation team.
He indicated the investigation is still underway and its results will be announced immediately upon completion by the competent authorities. Erdogan requested that the 18 Saudi suspects arrested so far be put on trial in Istanbul and said it was important that any Saudi investigation is carried out “by an impartial and fair delegation” with no connections to the killing. While the crime happened in the Saudi consulate, deemed to be Saudi territory, "one must not forget that that area is within the boundaries of the Republic of Turkey," he said. He said the additional information was being assessed by Turkey's security and intelligence services but added that this points "to the fact that the incident was pre-planned, premeditated.”He added that, prior to the killing, a number of individuals had visited the city of Yalova and the Belgrad Forest, and another team removed CCTV from the consulate prior to Khashoggi's visit.“Personally, I don't doubt the sincerity of King Salman …" adding that " It is very, very important that there is a truly impartial and just delegation that does the investigation that looks into what happened,” Erdogan told the deputies. "Jamal Khashoggi, along with being a Saudi citizen, was also a global journalist, and this imposes an international responsibility on us," Erdogan said. Erdogan questioned the Vienna Convention within his statement Tuesday and the immunity it affords diplomats, suggesting that it should be reviewed and possibly revised. Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said in an interview with state-run Anadolu Agency on Tuesday that “If a request for an international investigation is made ... we would cooperate,” either at the United Nations' level or in international courts. Cavusoglu pointed out that the investigation into the death of Khashoggi took place with the presence of Saudi officials, including the inspection of cars belonging to the Saudi consulate, and that all the evidence found was shared with the Saudi side, within the framework of the joint group. He explained that the joint investigations went very easily after the phone call between President Erdogan and King Salman, stressing that the Turkish Public Prosecution investigations are completely separate from the work of the joint group, and that evidence can be shared with the Saudis when found.

Iran's Rouhani: Khashoggi Murder Unthinkable 'Without US Backing'
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/October 24/18/Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi's "heinous murder" would have been unthinkable "without US backing," Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said on Wednesday. "I don't think that any country would dare do such a thing without US backing," Rouhani said in remarks to cabinet broadcast on state television. Rouhani said that before Khashoggi's murder "it would have been unthinkable that in this day and age we would witness such an organised felony. "It is extremely significant that an institution planned such a heinous murder. "The tribal group that is ruling that nation (Saudi Arabia) has a security margin. That security margin is that it relies on US backing. It is this superpower that is backing them." Khashoggi, a government critic who was living in self-imposed exile in the United States, was murdered inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on October 2 as he organised the paperwork for his marriage to his Turkish fiancee. The case has triggered an international outcry against Saudi Arabia. US President Donald Trump on Tuesday ridiculed Riyadh's response as "one of the worst cover-ups" in history. The Sunni kingdom and Shiite Iran are fierce rivals which have long been engaged in a struggle for influence in the Middle East.
U.S. officials say suspected bombs sent to homes of Clinton, Obama
HuffPost Canada/October 23/2018/Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer got into a tense exchange with reporters Tuesday when he tried to dodge a question about Canada's arms deal with Saudi Arabia by promoting domestic oil. At a press conference on Parliament Hill to respond to the Liberal government's carbon tax rebate plan, Scheer was asked if it is time for Canada to cancel the delivery of light armoured vehicles (LAVs) to Saudi Arabia.The controversial $15-billion contract — signed by the previous Tory government in 2014 and honoured by the Liberals — is under fire following the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, a vocal critic of the kingdom's leadership, in a Saudi consulate in Istanbul. In response, Scheer pivoted to safer ground by promoting Canada's energy independence."When we look at the events in the past year, now more than ever Canada has to recognize that we are pumping billions of dollars into the Saudi economy by importing their oil," Scheer said. "When we talk about what Canada can do to stand up to Saudi Arabia, I believe the most effective way to do that is to get Canada off foreign oil, especially Saudi Arabia's."Reporters did not think the response sufficiently answered the question about Canada's arms deal with the kingdom. 'Should Canada be selling LAVs to a regime that chops people up in their consulate?'"Should Canada be selling LAVs to a regime that chops people up in their consulate? It's a real simple question," one asked, referencing how Turkish officials believe Khashoggi was dismembered at the diplomatic outpost. "This is the time where we do analyze these types of decisions but I also contend that when you have a situation where the Canadian economy... as a country we are pumping billions of dollars into... that makes Saudi Arabia have more resources to purchase these types of things," he said.Pressed again, Scheer said that cancelling the contract is an option for the government.
"Just as important a question is why we have a situation where we strengthen the Saudi government by buying their oil," he said. "That's why I believe so strongly Canada should be self-sufficient." "Would you cancel the LAVs? You want to be prime minister, would you cancel the LAVs?" Scheer was asked. The Tory leader maintained he'd already answered that question, saying this is "the appropriate time for that discussion to be had." Prime Minister Justin Trudeau told CBC Tuesday that tearing up the deal would cost Canadians $1 billion. A day earlier, the prime minister opened the door to freezing arms exports to Saudi Arabia. The prime minister said that Saudi explanations for Khashoggi's death lack credibility and demand answers. The kingdom claims the reporter died in a "fistfight."But Trudeau said the contract for London, Ont.'s General Dynamics Land Systems to manufacture the LAVs is structured in a way that makes it "difficult" to suspend, scrap or talk about openly. "I do not want to leave Canadians holding a billion-dollar bill because we're trying to move forward on doing the right thing,'' he said. "So we're navigating this very carefully.'' Meanwhile, NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh has come out to say that he'd scrap the deal as prime minister. Singh told CTV News that, even before the Khashoggi case, there was enough evidence of human rights violations in Saudi Arabia to stop Canada from giving them arms.

Washington Displays Military Might in East Syria
London - Asharq Al-Awsat/Wednesday, 24 October, 2018/The US military base in Al Tanf, southeast Syria, opened its doors to reporters last Monday during the visit of Army General Joseph Votel, who leads the US Central Command. An Associated Press reporter and journalists from two other media organizations accompanied Votel to the garrison. It was the first time that media members gained access to the garrison, which opened in 2015. For security reasons, his visit couldn’t be disclosed until after he left the country. “We have a defeat ISIS mission,” said Votel. “But I do recognize that our presence, our development of partners and relationships down here does have an indirect effect on some of the malign activities that Iran and their various proxies and surrogates would like to pursue down here.”The US Commander also said the outpost near the Iraq and Jordan borders still serves an important purpose even though US and coalition troops have “largely eliminated” ISIS from the area. But he said the overall mission has not shifted into a counter-Iran campaign. Meanwhile, Lebanon’s “Hezbollah” and Iranian forces re-infiltrated Tuesday Syria’s south, and areas close to the border with the occupied Golan Heightd and on the border with Jordan, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said. It said that last June, Iran was forced to withdraw to positions 40 kilometers from the border. “While Iranian forces and the Lebanese Hezbollah have completed their militarily withdrawal from the southern and southwestern borders of Syria, those forces were seen returning deeper to the same territories they had left, but in the form of administrative and intelligence officers,” the Observatory said. Reliable sources said some 1,600 members were persuaded by “Hezbollah” to deploy in southern Syria in exchange for attractive salaries of up to $300 per person. Also on Tuesday, US Secretary Michael Pompeo spoke with UN Special Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura and discussed his progress on convening a constitutional committee. During the telephone conversation, which came on the eve of de Mistura’s trip to Damascus, Pompeo also thanked the UN envoy for his more than four years of service on behalf of the Syrian people, as well as his many years of UN service around the world.
Japanese Journalist Taken Hostage in Syria 3 Years Ago Released
London- Asharq Al-Awsat/Wednesday, 24 October, 2018/The Japanese government on Wednesday confirmed that a journalist kidnapped in Syria more than three years ago has been freed and is in Turkey. "We have confirmed the safety of Jumpei Yasuda, who had been held captive in Syria since 2015," Foreign Minister Taro Kono told reporters. "He appears to be in good health... We're very glad he's safe." Japanese officials said late Tuesday they were trying to confirm reports that the 44-year-old freelancer, who was seized in June 2015, had been freed. Embassy officials visited Yasuda at an immigration center in Antakya in Turkey, and he is expected to return to Japan soon, after health checks. "I've been held in Syria for 40 months, now in Turkey," Yasuda said in English in a video filmed at the immigration center, which was shown on public broadcaster NHK. Yasuda who wore a black T-shirt and had long beard spoke in a steady manner. Yasuda's wife Myu was appearing live on private station TV Asahi when Kono announced the news. "Thank you... Thank you for praying for him and taking action," she said in tears. "I want to see him in good shape. That's all I want," Yasuda's father had told reporters earlier in the day. "I don't know how he is now, but I want to tell him he kept his chin up," he added. Yasuda was thought to have been seized by the group previously known as the Al-Nusra Front, a former Al-Qaeda affiliate, in northern Syria. However, Hayat Tahrir al-Sham, led by Al-Qaeda's former branch in Syria, denied any involvement in a statement Tuesday. Al-Qaeda's former Syria affiliate was known as Al-Nusra Front before it cut ties with the transnational jihadist network in 2016 and changed its name. In August, videos emerged showing Yasuda and an Italian national, Alessandro Sandrini, appealing for their release. Both men were wearing orange outfits with armed, masked men standing behind them. The videos did not identify which group was holding the men or include specific demands. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a Britain-based war monitor, said Tuesday that Yasuda was released under a Turkish-Qatari deal. In 2015, militants from the ISIS terrorist group beheaded Japanese war correspondent Kenji Goto and his friend Haruna Yukawa in Syria.The Japanese government was criticized for what detractors saw as its flat-footed response to the crisis at the time, including apparently missed opportunities to free both men.

Aboul Gheit: Arab World Situation Going Through Tragic Period

Cairo - Sawsan Abu Hussein/ Asharq Al-Awsat/Wednesday, 24 October, 2018/Arab League Secretary-General Ahmed Aboul Gheit warned of the dangers and challenges facing the Arab world. In his word before the Egyptian Council for Foreign Affairs (ECFA), Aboul Gheit called for the importance of developing a strategy to deal with these challenges, especially in light of the tragic period the region has been going through. The Secretary-General also addressed the unprecedented risks experienced currently by the international system. “The global situation is in a state of liquidity and rapid change, it is witnessing the return of conflict among major powers and the erosion of stable rules on which the system was founded after World War II,” he stressed. "The combination of different phenomena, such as the rise of right-wing movements and the resurgence of nationalism in its extreme forms, foreshadow future turbulence,” he said. “Other phenomena, such as climate change and increased reliance on artificial intelligence applications, may become out of control and increase liquidity and uncertainty," he added. Aboul Gheit also pointed out that the Arab situation is going through a tough period and suffers from a state of fragmentation, making it unable to deal effectively with serious challenges imposed by the global situation in the future. He emphasized that the Arab League “still represents the only framework that enables Arabs to discuss their problems and deal with them collectively.” “But the absence of political will and the weakness of support from different countries sometimes reduce the margin of its movement and effectiveness in dealing with the challenges and risks facing the Arab world, especially on the strategic level.” “The Arab League continues to play its role, however, by seeking to achieve integration and coordination among Arab countries in terms of economic, social and cultural policies," Aboul Gheit noted. On the other hand, Aboul Gheit met with a delegation from the board of trustees of Nizami Ganjavi International Center, which works on bringing together cultures and religions. The Center is headed by Dr. Ismail Serageldin, and its members include 13 presidents and former ministers from the Arab region, Europe and Asia and Amr Moussa, the former Secretary General of the Arab League.

France Urges Israel to Permanently Cancel Khan Al-Ahmar Demolition

Ramallah- Asharq Al-Awsat/Wednesday, 24 October, 2018/France called on the Israeli authorities on Tuesday to permanently cancel their plans to destroy the Palestinian village of Khan al Ahmar in the West Bank in light of Israel's decision to temporarily postpone the settlement's demolition. The French Foreign Ministry said in a statement that it “takes note of the decision by the Israeli prime minister to postpone the demolition of the Palestinian village of Khan al-Ahmar.” “France, in collaboration with its European partners, has repeatedly called on the Israeli authorities not to proceed with the destruction of Khan al-Ahmar and the forced evacuation of its inhabitants,” added the statement. “We call on the Israeli authorities to permanently abandon their plans to demolish Khan al-Ahmar and to remove the uncertainty surrounding the fate of this village, which is located in an area that is key to the contiguity of a future Palestinian state and therefore the viability of the two-state solution.”On Sunday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's Office announced that the government is holding off on demolishing Khan al-Ahmar in order to “exhaust negotiations and proposals received from various sources, including some in the past few days.”While the cabinet approved the proposal to postpone the demolition, Netanyahu later made clear that the illegal outpost will be demolished. "Khan al-Ahmar will be evacuated, with or without agreement. It will not take weeks; it will be much shorter,” said Netanyahu. “We will make several vital preparatory moves in the international arena. We will give a last chance for evacuation by agreement but in any case Khan al-Ahmar will be evacuated. I am not talking about a cosmetic evacuation but a real evacuation.” The French ministry stressed that the village was situated in a zone that was indispensable for the future Palestinian state and, subsequently, for the implementation of the two-state solution. The global community has repeatedly voiced its protest over Israel's policy of demolishing Palestinian villages located in the West Bank in order to make way for Jewish settlements. Critics and human rights organizations argue that the demolition is part of an Israeli plan to expand the nearby illegal Israeli settlement of Kfar Adummim and to create a region of contiguous Israeli control from Jerusalem almost to the Dead Sea. Israel has been constantly trying to uproot Bedouin communities from the east of Jerusalem area to allow settlement expansion in the area, which would later turn the entire eastern part of the West Bank into a settlement zone. Although international humanitarian law prohibits the demolition of the village and illegal confiscation of private property, Israeli forces continue their planned expansion by forcing evictions and violating basic human rights of the people. France, Germany, Italy, Spain and the United Kingdom warned Israel in September that the destruction of the village and the displacement of its residents would have grave consequences for Israel and would hinder the prospects for a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Controversial Immunity Bill to Protect Israel's Netanyahu
Tel Aviv- Asharq Al-Awsat/Wednesday, 24 October, 2018/Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu ordered Likud lawmaker Miki Zohar to shelve a controversial amendment that would protect him from indictment in light of the investigations against him, after an outcry from the opposition.
"Prime Minister Netanyahu does not want the law and he asked Zohar not to advance it," the Likud party announced. "The proposal will not be promoted. Prime Minister Netanyahu is convinced that there will not be an indictment because there was nothing."The bill submitted by Zohar states that for the purpose of filing an indictment against a member of the Knesset, including the prime minister, the Knesset Committee will have to remove lawmaker's immunity. “My amendment is intended to protect elected officials from political witch hunts,” Zohar said. “I presented it at my own initiative, and it would protect all members from Right and Left. The prime minister has no hand whatsoever in this important initiative.”But Zohar’s explanation did not satisfy lawmakers in the opposition. "Israel is not a monarchy. Netanyahu is not sitting on a throne. We must not remain indifferent to laws that try to protect the 'king'," said MK Yoel Hasson, chairman of the Zionist Union Knesset faction. "I have argued in the past, and I will continue to argue - we are watching a promo for elections, and the prime minister is trying to advance through his emissaries a change in the immunity law, which is the main reason why we are still not in elections and the Knesset has not been dissolved."Yesh Atid MK Elazar Stern added, “Israel has a separation of powers in its government, and it is not the role of lawmakers to judge who is worthy and unworthy of parliamentary immunity.”

Trump Willing to be Tough on Netanyahu
Ramallah - Kifah Zboun/ Asharq Al-Awsat/Wednesday, 24 October, 2018/US President Donald Trump told French President Emmanuel Macron on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in September that he was willing to “be tough” on Israel in peace negotiations.According to Channel 10, which cited four Western diplomats with knowledge of the matter, Trump told Macron: “I can be tough with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on the peace plan, just like I’ve been tough on the Palestinians.”“The United States gives Israel five billion dollars a year, we can be more stringent against Netanyahu,” Trump said, noting that in the coming months he intends to put pressure on Netanyahu to accept his peace plan.“I have the impression that Netanyahu does not want to move forward in the peace process, because he likes the status quo,” said Macron to Trump whose answer was: “You Know, Emmanuel – I am very close to come to the same conclusion”. The reported comments to Macron took place three days before Trump, during a meeting with Netanyahu at the UN, said he favors the two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Trump told Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas he would be positively surprised by the US administration’s yet to be unveiled peace plan. The US-led talks will focus on a strategy founded on three principles: “Anyone coming to the negotiating table would have to make concessions and there would be no one-sided concessions; anyone leaving the negotiating table would pay a price, and anyone rejecting the draft will risk being put in weaker position for the next round.” Senior White House adviser Jared Kushner said Monday that a “reasonable” Palestinian leadership will be willing to negotiate with Israel based on the Trump administration’s peace plan when it is eventually unveiled and said the status quo was “not acceptable.”“The status quo between Israel and the Palestinians is not acceptable. The situation is only getting worse. At some point, the leaders will have to take a bold step and make a compromise. We hope to find leaderships that are ready to do so,” Kushner added. “I think we’ve made a lot of progress. The president has done a very good job of not allowing the old ways of thinking to constrain his actions,” he stated.
Israel Wins $777 Million Indian Missile Defense Order
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/October 24/18/Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) said Wednesday it had won a $777 million (680 million euro) order from India to buy defense systems for its navy. The deal with India's state-owned Bharat Electronics Limited to supply the marine version of the Barak 8 air and missile defense system for seven more warships follows a $630 million (551 million euro) order placed last year. State-owned IAI, Israel's largest defense firm, said worldwide sales of the Barak 8 system now totaled more than $6 billion. Israel is among the world's top arms dealers, with nearly 60 percent of its defense exports going to the Asia-Pacific region, according to Israeli defense ministry figures. Russia is still by far India's largest arms supplier. During a visit last week, President Vladimir Putin won an order for the S-400 surface-to-air missile defense system, worth $5.2 billion according to an Indian source. But as the United States has imposed sanctions on countries buying Russian military hardware, India has sought to diversify its suppliers. Washington and New Delhi announced plans last month for joint military exercises in 2019 and the United States is now India's second-biggest supplier. In April last year, Israel won 1.6 billion euros of orders from India, which it hailed as its largest ever arms export deal. "It constitutes further proof that security is an investment not an expense," Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman said of Wednesday's deal. "Israel Aerospace Industries is a pillar of the nation that we must conserve and strengthen," he added, recalling his opposition to proposals for partial privatization of the firm. Prime Minister Narendra Modi made a "groundbreaking" first ever visit by an Indian premier to Israel in July last year to cement growing defense ties.

Israeli Soldiers Kill Palestinian in West Bank Clash
Asharq Al-Awsat/Wednesday, 24 October, 2018/A Palestinian was killed by Israeli fire during a clash with the army in the northern West Bank on Wednesday, the health ministry in Ramallah said. An Israeli army spokeswoman confirmed that an operation had sparked a clash with Palestinians in Tammun, northeast of the city of Nablus, but had no word on any death. The Palestinian ministry named the dead man as Mohammed Bisharat, 21, and said he was shut in the chest. It said three other Palestinians had been hit by live fire and three by rubber-coated bullets. The Israeli army acknowledged firing live rounds. "Around 50 Palestinians threw stones and petrol bombs at our soldiers, who responded with anti-riot tactics and live fire," a statement said. The West Bank, which has been occupied by Israeli forces since the Six-Day War of 1967 and transformed by the persistent expansion of Israeli settlements, has seen a rise in tensions in recent weeks.

UN: France’s Full-Body Veil Ban Violates Human Rights

Asharq Al-Awsat/Tuesday, 23 October, 2018/The United Nations Human Rights Committee condemned on Tuesday France’s ban on the full-body veil as a violation of human rights. “In particular, the Committee was not persuaded by France’s claim that a ban on face covering was necessary and proportionate from a security standpoint or for attaining the goal of ‘living together’ in society,” it said. It gave Paris 180 days to report back to say what actions it had taken. The panel’s findings are not legally binding but could influence French courts.The panel of 18 independent experts oversees compliance with the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR). Implementation of its decisions is not mandatory, but under an optional protocol of the treaty, France has an international legal obligation to comply “in good faith”. The same committee came to similar conclusions on the 2008 case of a woman sacked by a creche for wearing a veil. In September, a top French judge was quoted by newspaper Le Monde as saying that while not binding, the panel’s decisions might still influence French case law. In 2014, the European Court of Human Rights, whose rulings are binding, upheld France’s ban on full-face veils in public, saying it did not violate religious freedom. But the UN Human Rights Committee disagreed with this in its statement on Tuesday, saying the ban disproportionately harmed the right of women to manifest their religious beliefs and could lead to them being confined at home and marginalized. The committee’s findings come after complaints by two French women convicted in 2012 under a 2010 law stipulating that “No one may, in a public space, wear any article of clothing intended to conceal the face.”In its findings the panel said the ban had violated the two women’s human rights and called on France to pay them compensation. Under the ban, anyone wearing the full-face veil in public is liable to a fine of 150 euros or lessons in French citizenship.

Migrant Caravan Stops to Rest in Mexico amid Trump Threats
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/October 24/18/Thousands of Honduran migrants heading to the United States -- a caravan President Donald Trump has called an "assault on our country" -- stopped to rest Tuesday after walking for two days into Mexican territory. Sleeping on cardboard boxes or plastic bags, the migrants set up a massive, impromptu camp in the southern town of Huixtla, 70 kilometers (45 miles) from the Mexico-Guatemala border. Many nursed bleeding feet mangled by 10 days of walking nearly 800 kilometers in plastic shoes or flip-flops. "They're exhausted," said migrant rights activist Rodrigo Abeja, of the group Pueblos Sin Fronteras (People Without Borders), which is accompanying the caravan. "They're going to rest here today and tonight," and then continue their journey north, he told AFP. More than 7,000 people have now joined the caravan, according to the United Nations, including some Central Americans who were already in Mexico. Many of the migrants are fleeing poverty and insecurity in Honduras, where powerful street gangs rule their turf with brutal violence. - Politically loaded -The caravan has become a politically loaded issue, with only two weeks to go before the United States votes in key midterm elections. Trump has taken to attacking it regularly -- both on Twitter and on the campaign trail -- firing up his conservative base with the anti-immigration rhetoric that helped get him elected in 2016. On Monday, he said the US would start cutting aid to Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador for failing to stop the migrants, called the caravan a national emergency and alleged it was infiltrated by "Middle Easterners" and members of the ultra-violent gang MS-13. Adding to the political tempest, Vice President Mike Pence said Tuesday that according to Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernandez, the caravan "was organized by leftist groups in Honduras financed by Venezuela and sent north to challenge our sovereignty." US Customs and Border Protection meanwhile said it had apprehended a record 16,658 people who arrived in the country illegally in families last month, up 900 from August and nearly 12,000 from September 2017. A senior administration official called the surge a "crisis." Mexico vowed not to bow to outside pressure to halt the caravan. But activists accused the country of violating the migrants' rights by detaining anyone who tried to apply for asylum. Mexican authorities said they had registered 1,699 asylum applications from caravan travelers who opted to enter the country legally. Another 495 migrants have voluntarily asked to be returned to Honduras, they said.
Swelling numbers -Late Monday, Mexico allowed about 400 migrants to enter the country after they spent days packed onto a bridge over the Suchiate River, which forms Mexico's southern border with Guatemala. The caravan had stormed through a series of border barriers Friday and flooded onto the bridge, but hundreds of Mexican riot police blocked their passage. Most of the migrants then swam or took rafts across the river, but one group had remained camped out on the bridge. Another group of about 1,000 Hondurans meanwhile started a separate march Sunday across Guatemala, headed for Mexico and then the United States.
- Dangerous journey -Migrants in the main caravan -- which set out on October 13 from San Pedro Sula, Honduras -- have been traveling on foot or hitching rides on passing cars and trucks, often crowding onto them precariously. Two migrants have been killed when they fell off vehicles that let them hitch a ride, according to authorities in Mexico and Guatemala. Caravan members also face the threat of being robbed, kidnapped or killed by Mexican gangs that extort migrants on their journey. - Caravan of children -Humanitarian organizations estimate that one-fourth of the caravan's members are children, a representative of Save the Children told AFP. Guadalupe Del Carmen, 29, who is traveling with her nine-year-old son, recounted the difficulty of the journey -- such as the moment her son started to cry, "Mommy, I don't want to do this anymore" while crossing the Suchiate River on a raft made of inner tubes.
"He wanted to go back to Honduras. But I explained we can't go back, that the situation in our country is too difficult and that's why we had to run away," she said quietly.
With a homicide rate of 43 per 100,000 citizens, Honduras is one of the most violent countries in the world.

U.S. Intercepts Suspect Packages Sent to Clinton, Obama, CNN
Associated Press/Agence France Presse/Naharnet/October 24/18/Suspicious packages, identified as potential explosives, addressed to former president Barack Obama and defeated presidential nominee Hillary Clinton have been intercepted by the Secret Service, officials said Wednesday. The Secret Service said it recovered a single package addressed to Clinton in Westchester, a suburb north of Manhattan on Tuesday, and a second package addressed to the Obama residence in Washington on Wednesday. Both Democrats remain two of the most high-profile political figures in the United States, which goes to the polls on November 6 in key midterm elections seen as a referendum on Republican President Donald Trump. The White House swiftly condemned what it called "despicable" acts targeting the two Democrat luminaries. "The packages were immediately identified during routine mail screening procedures as potential explosive devices and were appropriately handled as such," the Secret Service said in a statement. "The protectees did not receive the packages nor were they at risk of receiving them." Moments later U.S. news network CNN said it had evacuated its New York bureau over another suspicious package. New York police confirmed to AFP that its officers had been called to the Time Warner Center, where the CNN bureau in the U.S. financial capital is located, to investigate reports of a suspicious package. The Secret Service, which provides protection to current and former U.S. presidents and their families -- Clinton is the wife of former president Bill Clinton -- said it had initiated a "full scope criminal investigation." The investigation would "leverage all available federal, state, and local resources" to determine the source of the packages and identify those responsible, it said. It was not immediately clear whether Clinton or Obama, who has kept a family base in Washington after leaving office so that his youngest daughter can finish high school, were at home when the packages were found.
Target for right-wingers
The FBI's field office in New York said it was "aware" of a suspicious package found in the vicinity" of Clinton's home in Chappaqua and that its Joint Terrorism Task Force was investigating. U.S. news network CNN meanwhile announced on its screens that it had evacuated its New York bureau on Wednesday over a suspicious package similar to those addressed to Obama and Clinton. New York police confirmed to AFP that its officers had been called to the Time Warner Center, where the CNN bureau in the U.S. financial capital is located, to investigate reports of a suspicious package. CNN reporters broadcasted from the street outside their bureau in a bustling part of Midtown near Central Park, saying they heard the fire alarm and the lights went off, before they walked down the stairs. Police were not immediately able to confirm the contents of the package. CNN has distinguished itself in the last two years for its aggressive coverage of the administration of US President Donald Trump and robust criticism of the Republican, who replaced Obama and defeated Clinton in the 2016 election. The incidents come just days after an explosive device found in the mailbox at the New York home of U.S. billionaire and liberal donor George Soros, a target of right-wing groups. An employee of the residence in Bedford, an ultra-wealthy enclave just a 20-minute drive from Westchester, found the package in the mailbox on Monday. It was later defused by bomb squad technicians. Born in Hungary, the 88-year-old hedge fund tycoon is one of the world's richest men with an estimated net worth of $8.3 billion and a prominent philanthropist who has become a hate figure for right-wing groups. Soros supported Clinton, Trump's rival in the 2016 U.S. presidential election, and has been accused by nationalists the world over of sponsoring protests and seeking to push a liberal, multicultural agenda. His Open Society Foundations on Tuesday condemned the "hateful rhetoric that dominates politics in the United States and so many countries around the world," noting it "breeds extremism and violence. "In this climate of fear, falsehoods, and rising authoritarianism, just voicing your views can draw death threats," it said. Earlier this month Trump accused Soros of paying demonstrators to protest against the nomination of Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh, who was accused of attempted rape in high school. Soros has also been falsely accused of funding the caravan of migrants moving north from Honduras through Mexico en route to the U.S. border.
The Latest LCCC Bulletin analysis & editorials from miscellaneous sources published on October 24-25/18
The 'Saudi Affair' in Istanbul Unveils Sunni vs Sunni Rivalry
Burak Bekdil/Gatestone Institute/October 24/18
Turkey, pursuing its own Islamist agenda and trying to rival Saudi influence in the Sunni world, is just too happy to have discredited the Wahhabi royals.
Turkey's message to the Western world was: See the difference between our peaceful Islamism and rogue-state Islamism? Stop discrediting us for our democratic deficit -- also, presumably, for "only" imprisoning more than 100 journalists there.
Turkey, pursuing its own Islamist agenda and trying to rival Saudi influence in the Sunni world, is just too happy to have discredited the Wahhabi royals in the wake of the Jamal Khashoggi killing.
It looked like a first-class spy thriller: A prominent writer enters the Saudi consulate in Istanbul but never leaves the building. Saudi officials said he left the building but could not offer footage from security cameras. When they did, the image was of a dark-haired body-double dressed in the writer's clothes.
Turkish police and intelligence start leaking evidence of the man's murder, drop by drop. The day before the Saudi journalist's disappearance, two private Saudi jets had arrived in Istanbul, with 15 passengers aboard belonging to security agencies in Riyadh. Both jets left for Saudi Arabia shortly after the consulate incident. Unnamed Turkish officials fed (mostly foreign) media stories of how the man had been killed, how his body was dismembered and disposed of after the murder -- all by the Saudi death squad. As the Saudi consul-general rushed to Riyadh, Turkish police searched the consulate. More unnamed Turkish officials tell the press that they found forensic evidence for the murder. Unsure if the Turkish police really have evidence, the House of Saud decides to admit that the man had been killed "in a brawl" at the consulate but Saudi officials claim to have no idea where his body was -- not convincing anyone in the world's more democratic parts.
The Saudis then said they fired five officials and arrested 18. In the latest episode, the Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said:
"As this is a political murder, it should be investigated and put on trial independently and with no bias. The suspects' accomplices in other countries should also be included in the investigation. I have a call for Saudi Arabia: This happened in Istanbul. We propose to put these 18 suspects on trial in Istanbul".
Meanwhile, reports surfaced not only that bones of the writer have been found buried in the Saudi consul-general's lawn, but also that one the 18 hitmen has somehow died in a car accident. A few years earlier, Saudi Arabia was on the world's agenda with funnier news. In 2015, UN Watch discovered that Faisal bin Hassan Trad, Saudi Arabia's ambassador at the UN in Geneva, was elected as chair of a panel of independent experts on the UN Human Rights Council. In 2017, the Saudi joke turned less funny after the country was elected to the UN's Commission on the Status of Women: The kingdom became one of 45 countries sitting on a panel "promoting women's rights, documenting the reality of women's lives throughout the world, and shaping global standards on gender equality and the empowerment of women". Saudi royals must have had spasms of laughter at the level of international gullibility.
In 1977, Princess Misha'al bint Fahd al Saud was in an arranged and unhappy marriage with an older cousin. She left for Beirut to pursue her studies where she met Khaled, the son of a Saudi diplomat, and began an affair, enraging the princess's conservative grandfather, Muhammad bin Abdul Aziz al Saud, brother of the Saudi king. She and her lover were taken to a parking lot in Jeddah, and 19-year-old Princess Misha'al was executed by a gunshot to the head while her lover watched. He would presently be dispatched by beheading. In mid 2000s, authorities documented that the Saudi-sponsored King Fahad Academy in West London was using Saudi Ministry of Education textbooks that taught their pupils that Christians and Jews are apes and monkeys. In 2017, a British investigation into the foreign funding and support of jihadi groups focused on Saudi Arabia, which has repeatedly been highlighted by European leaders as a funding source for Islamist jihadis.
Not all Westerners, however, were "Saudi-blind." In 2015 WikiLeaks publisher Julian Assange said:
"The Saudi Cables lift the lid on an increasingly erratic and secretive dictatorship that has not only celebrated its 100th beheading this year, but which has also become a menace to its neighbours and itself".
There were signs that the Saudis were privately growing impatient with their dissidents abroad. Recently two men who said they were carrying a personal message from Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman met in Montreal with opposition activist Omar Abdulaziz to "offer him two choices:" go back to Saudi Arabia or to prison. Abdulaziz chose none and provided The Washington Post with clandestine recordings of conversations of more than 10 hours revealing a chilling depiction of how the Kingdom tries to lure opposition figures back to the country with promises of money and safety. Saudi agents also secretly installed spyware on Abdulaziz's smartphone. Interestingly, Abdulaziz is a close associate of Jamal Khashoggi, the journalist killed at the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul.
The Khashoggi murder has already gone beyond a simple spy thriller. Apparently, the Saudis wanted to embarrass Turkey by choosing Istanbul as the crime scene. They also wanted to tell Saudi dissidents across the world that they are not safe in whichever country they may live.
First mistake: The Saudis underestimated the professional capabilities of Turkish security and intelligence services and ridiculed themselves by initially claiming that the journalist had left the consulate building alive, and only later admitting to killing him.
Second mistake: The Saudis miscalculated how their reckless murder would ricochet around the world. Several world leaders, international economic organizations and corporations decided to boycott "Davos in the Desert," an otherwise prominent economic conference in Riyadh. Germany announced an arms embargo on Saudi Arabia. True, international sanctions on the Kingdom may soon fade away in response to Saudi Arabia's huge "petro-dollar purchasing power." A harsh response, however, would also likely deter, or stop for a long time, any similar rogue operation, especially at a time when Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman is keen to give a facelift to his country's international standing by at least cosmetically reforming the sharia state.
Turkey, pursuing its own Islamist agenda and trying to rival Saudi influence in the Sunni world, is just too happy to have discredited the Wahhabi royals. Turkey's message to the Western world was: See the difference between our peaceful Islamism and rogue-state Islamism? Stop discrediting us for our democratic deficit -- also, presumably, for "only" imprisoning more than 100 journalists there. It will not work. Egypt, the United Arab Emirates, Jordan, Bahrain, Yemen, Lebanon, the Palestinian Authority and the Arab League have all declared their support for Saudi Arabia in the "Khashoggi Affair."
What that should tell Turkish President Erdoğan is that his neo-Ottoman aspiration for Turkish leadership in the Islamic world has once again hit the walls of Middle Eastern reality. All the same, it is fun to watch a Muslim country, the world's biggest jailer of journalists, condemning another Muslim country for the murder of a journalist.
*Burak Bekdil, one of Turkey's leading journalists, was recently fired from the country's most noted newspaper after 29 years, for writing in Gatestone what is taking place in Turkey. He is a Fellow at the Middle East Forum.
© 2018 Gatestone Institute. All rights reserved. The articles printed here do not necessarily reflect the views of the Editors or of Gatestone Institute. No part of the Gatestone website or any of its contents may be reproduced, copied or modified, without the prior written consent of Gatestone Institute.

The World Invests in Saudi Arabia Despite Campaigns
Salman Al-dossary/Asharq Al Awsat/October 24/18
At a time when countries of the world are fighting to enter into economic partnerships and are searching to attract international investments at any price, and amidst a world full of tensions and political and economic fluctuations, an announcement was made during the first hours of the Future Investment Initiative conference, which kicked off in Riyadh on Tuesday, that the Kingdom has signed agreements worth more than $50 billion in the sectors of oil and gas, industries and infrastructure, with international companies such as Trafigura, Hyundai, Total Norinco, Schlumberger, Halliburton, Baker Hughes, and others.
These international companies would not have decided to engage in investment partnerships with Saudi Arabia, had it not been for their belief that there are great opportunities ahead. They did not hesitate to seize the opportunity out of their certainty that the Saudi investment climate is tempting and attractive. The train of the Saudi Public Investment Fund has become a major investment address globally, with countries, companies and international banks looking to ride in one of its vehicles.
Despite all the transformations we are experiencing in the region, the Saudi economy proves every time that it can absorb any political or economic condition whatsoever. Those, who do not invest in Saudi Arabia today, will not find the same opportunity shortly after. With all the campaigns of distortion that Saudi Arabia has experienced in the last three weeks, and attempts to pressure investors and others to go back on their willingness to invest in the Kingdom, commercial interests have prevailed, and previous experiences have proved the ability of the Saudi economy to meet all challenges.
Where will investors find a fertile ground to achieve their investment goals like the Kingdom, which is a G-20 member state, the largest and most successful economy in the Middle East and North Africa, and whose oil supplies account for about a fifth of the world’s reserves? It also contributes to 38 percent of Arab countries’ GDP and aims to increase the size of its investment fund in 2030 to SR 2 trillion, while boosting the Fund’s international investments to 50 percent, and above all, it enjoys a strategic geographic location at the crossroads between Europe, Asia, Africa and the Indian subcontinent. Is there any country in the world like Saudi Arabia or even similar to it?! Today, the opportunity is present and the doors are wide open to invest in Saudi Arabia, and those, who do not grab this opportunity now, will later be the biggest losers. Abdul Aziz Al Ghurair, CEO of Mashreq Bank, said in an interview with Al Arabiya television on Tuesday that those, who do not invest in Saudi Arabia over the next three years, will miss the train. Investors come from all corners of the world with their accumulated money, looking for an opportunity here or there; but an investment partnership with a state that has all the ingredients of success is rare in today’s world.  Despite Khashoggi’s case, with all dramatic leaks and frenzied attempts of escalation, one economic event in Saudi Arabia has disabled all efforts to make it a failure and proved that attacks against the Kingdom were nothing but a harsh media campaign that plotters intended to turn into a permanent political crisis. Even those investors, who were horribly pressured, absorbed the shock, and soon returned to look for their business interests. As for those who missed the conference, they were surprised by the fact that senior political leaders, such as the King of Jordan, the prime ministers of Pakistan, the United Arab Emirates and Lebanon, and the Crown Prince of Bahrain, insisted on attending. The presence of senior officials at the conference gave more impetus than any apologies that had lost their relevance.
The $50 billion does not only represent investments that any country dreams of, but also a straightforward message to all attempts to distort the image of the Kingdom. Crises come and go; rational states alone are able to deal with them and overcome them swiftly.
The Warrior Prince
يزيد صايغ: الأمير محمد بن سلمان المحارب

Yezid Sayigh/Carnegie Middle East Centre/October 24/18
Mohammed bin Salman will weather the Khashoggi murder, his tightening grip over Saudi security explains why.
Speculation continues that Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman may be forced from office, or severely diminished, as a consequence of the murder of Jamal Khashoggi in the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul earlier this month.
However, this outcome is highly unlikely, despite demands from some Western governments for a proper investigation and the decision by leading world finance officials and some global businesses to pull out of the international investment conference held in Riyadh on October 23–25. So strong a stance is unprecedented. However, even if this leads to more severe penalties should Prince Mohammed’s responsibility for the crime be proven, he will not only survive, but will also use the backlash to entrench himself further domestically.
When under pressure, autocratic rulers do not relinquish power, they double down, no matter what the cost, and Mohammed bin Salman is in a better position than most. Prince Mohammed’s consolidation of power since he became crown prince in June 2017 has drawn frequent comment. Yet much of the speculation about his prospects fails to note that in his parallel role as defense minister he has tightened his grip on Saudi Arabia’s military and security agencies.
Previously, these institutions functioned largely as separate fiefdoms headed by members of the royal family. In addition to preserving their individual stakes in the political order, the system allowed them to derive large fortunes from the construction and procurement contracts it generated. The reform and restructuring of the kingdom’s defense and security agencies remain a work in progress in improving their operational capabilities and performance, but they have enabled Mohammed bin Salman to dislodge all major rivals.
The most visible indication of this came in June and July 2017, when King Salman dismissed the then-interior minister, Prince Mohammed bin Nayef, and brought all counterterrorism and domestic intelligence agencies under a single new body, the Presidency of State Security (PSS), which reports to Mohammed bin Salman. Among the transferred agencies was the powerful General Investigations Department. In addition to taking over these bodies and roles, the PSS and subsidiary agencies—such as the National Information Center that was also transferred from the Interior Ministry—became both hubs and recipients of major investments in cybersecurity. This continued a trend of investing in spyware and digital espionage for use against dissidents that is today at least four years old, as a report published by the Toronto-based Citizen Lab has detailed.
Reorganization has been accompanied by a changing of the guard in the military and security officer corps. King Salman replaced the commander of the Royal Guard in July 2017, and in February 2018 he appointed a new chief of staff for the Saudi armed forces, as well as new commanders for the land forces and air defense. Along with the air force and navy commanders, they report directly to Mohammed bin Salman. According to an unpublished planning document cited by defense analyst Neil Partrick, 800 new officer appointments are planned by the end of 2019.
The elevation of a whole generation of younger officers who are already loyal to the crown prince or stand to benefit from the avenues he is opening up for accelerated promotion and meaningful command will further secure his position. This includes measures such as promoting the head of the PSS and his deputy to ministerial rank, and is reinforced by replacing Interior Ministry officers and officials tied to Mohammed bin Nayef with others loyal to Prince Mohammed.
Even where officers do not owe their appointments entirely to Mohammed bin Salman, as in the Saudi National Guard, retention of separate National Guard and Defense Ministries blocks threats from either. But the longer-term tendency points toward consolidation under Mohammed bin Salman, who as Partrick notes has no deputy defense minister but is in the process of expanding the ministry’s organizational structure with five new assistant defense ministers and three undersecretaries.
In parallel, Mohammed bin Salman has aggressively restructured and expanded the defense and security sectors’ economic and commercial interests. Saudi Arabia Military Industries (SAMI) was established in May 2017 as a defense subsidiary of the Public Investment Fund (PIF), the kingdom’s sovereign wealth fund that reports exclusively to Mohammed bin Salman. The General Authority Military Industries (GAMI) was set up in August 2017 to handle procurement for the Defense and Interior Ministries and other agencies such as the PSS. Both SAMI and GAMI come under an inter-ministerial committee chaired by Mohammed bin Salman.
While seemingly intended to curb corruption and excessive commission-taking in an enormously lucrative sector, these moves have deepened the transfer of assets and jurisdiction from potential rivals—such as the Interior Ministry’s portfolio of cyberintelligence affairs, which was transferred to the PSS. They have also provided Mohammed bin Salman with an additional financial asset, even when bodies such as SAMI have under-performed, since he is able to steer PIF-funded investments and contracts toward the defense and security agencies he favors. Prince Mohammed reinforced this trend by ordering a review of existing defense contracts in July 2018. This mirrored his revision or cancellation of massive civilian construction contracts since 2016, using his parallel power as chairman of the Council for Economic and Development Affairs.
These processes are incomplete and some may founder. It is not certain, for example, that the military’s planned Joint Operational Command—part of the roadmap for developing the Ministry of Defense endorsed by King Salman in July 2017—will come into being. But the cumulative effect is transformative: A previously segmented defense and security framework is being beaten into one that is more unitary, reflecting a similar direction in the Saudi state. What Prince Mohammed is doing is not an aberration or entirely new, being solidly anchored in internal changes in the economic and institutional spheres that have been years in the making. Whatever the fallout of the Khashoggi murder, Mohammed bin Salman is well positioned to resist any internal attempt to dislodge him. Given the extent of Western economic entanglement with Saudi Arabia, it would take a level of wholly unimaginable international sanctions to dent his domestic position. And even if it did, Western governments would have to threaten the Saudi defense and security sectors with complete incapacitation before they would buck the trend that Mohammed bin Salman has been pursuing.
The Riyadh investment conference and the boycott
Abdulrahman al-Rashed//Al Arabiya/October 24/18
The irony is that the boycott protesting against Saudi Arabia over the Khashoggi crisis targeted programs that are concerned with development, youths, women, social development and the future. The collective American withdrawals were not against political or military activities but against the investment conference which kicked off on Tuesday in Riyadh. Most of the program of the conference which was boycotted by a number of western companies and banks is directed towards reform in Saudi Arabia to empower youths, give women equal job opportunities, diminish the government’s role by increasing privatization, push towards a modern educational system, invest in entertainment and build museums and artistic centers and others. The boycott by countries and companies, which until few years ago were the ones criticizing Riyadh for its social isolation, religious bigotry and prevention of artistic and social activities and which were calling for a bigger role for women and the private sector, seems strange.
The calls to boycott the investment conference came from different parties including extremist Islamic organizations that are exploiting the Khashoggi case for their own political purposes. According to the Wall Street Journal, the website which led a campaign that exerts pressure and intimidates companies and individuals participating in the conference was not innocent but belongs to a sympathizer with the Muslim Brotherhood and that appears as a respectable independent website to its visitors!
An illogical boycott
There’s no worry that Saudi Arabia will lack international investors or companies as long as it possesses massive financial liquidity and is willing to be open to the world and when it succeeds in reforming its fatal bureaucratic regulations and fighting corruption. Proof to that is that many of them backed down in the last hour and dispatched representatives. The conference did not fail, and investment did not stop. Truth is I would have been understanding if the boycott had targeted a military industry conference or a political forum in Riyadh, and I would have viewed the boycott as an acceptable form of protest amid the circumstances of the current crisis. However, it does not seem logical to boycott programs and plans with brilliant trends that were viewed as an important development when Saudi institutions first announced them.
The aim is to push Saudi Arabia towards positive transformation and social openness, give women space and broad opportunities, convince the government to reduce its role in managing the society’s affairs by expanding the participation of the private sector, achieve automation and localization and improve the livelihood situation. All this is for the purpose of enhancing real growth and not just living off selling oil barrels. The aim of all this is to change the concepts of governments and societies by turning towards internal reform that the Middle East region which is always occupied with wars and political strife needs.
The success of Dubai, and the UAE in particular, in the past few years stimulated everyone to engage in the experience, and when Saudi Arabia began walking in the path of openness and transition, it came in the form of a social and economic revolution, and the Kingdom now too gives hope in changing the entire region towards the best. This path deserves encouragement no matter the accidents that happen and the victims who die.

An ‘artificial’ storm and the reality of Saudi Arabia
Mashari Althaydi/Al Arabiya/October 24/18
Yesterday in Riyadh, the scene was different despite the “crisis” the country is going through due to the unfortunate death of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi. The political machinations of the case are well known and has angered the leadership, which has launched an investigation into the case and revealed the details. It could have been more astonishing if Saudi Arabia wasn’t an economic power as is evident in the announcement of deals worth $50 billion with major global companies including Trafigura, Total, Hyundai, Norinco, Schlumberger, Halliburton and Baker Hughes.
Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum, the miracle-maker of Dubai and Vice President of the United Arab Emirates, attended the Riyadh conference and met with King Salman. Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashed is known for his development vision not just in the region but around the world. Commenting on a photo of him with the great Muslim Arab leader, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum wrote on Twitter: “During the meeting with the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques – may God protect him, the Kingdom’s march toward development is ongoing, and it’s a driving force of the world’s economy.” Saudi Arabia encompasses an area, which is double that of France and Germany combined and more than two times the size of Egypt
Economic prowess
This is a small glimpse of the Saudi economic prowess and an efficient tool in Riyadh’s hand, which it uses for international development and cooperation via its impressive and renewed investment initiatives. There is another power exclusive to Saudi Arabia that no one can compete with – the pride of the two holiest Muslim mosques, Makkah and Medina. Saudi Arabia is the birthplace of Islam and the cradle of Arab spirit. This is in addition to its location and geopolitical value. Saudi Arabia encompasses an area, which is double that of France and Germany combined and more than two times the size of Egypt. On the yardstick of youths embracing the future, Saudi Arabia is the biggest user of YouTube per capita in the world, according to BBC. The Saudis also account for 40 percent of Twitter users in the Arab world.
All this, combined with the honesty, transparency and accountability in the Khashoggi case, makes us say that what we are seeing is an “artificial” storm that will die its natural death.

Upcoming generations can lift the Arab region out of its current crisis
Idriss Jazairy/Al Arabiya/October 24/18
History testifies that there is no end to its evolution despite what some have claimed. This is because aspirations of its actors are in constant flux and because the quest for an “ideal city” is asymptotic.
Each generation wants to put its imprint on the present and to be the architect of its future in the pursuit of its own ideal. The generations of the 20th century in the Arab region availed themselves of this opportunity through their struggle for the restoration of their dignity predicated on recovery of their nation’s sovereignty. This had an immediate effect on improving their condition at the time. They then set about charting the future society they aspired to and where equality would hopefully prevail. The spirit of the times was that such equality could best be pursued by socialist ideologies whether of the secular kind as pursued in part of the Middle East or blended with a statist concept of faith as was the case in other parts of the Middle East and in parts of North Africa.
The effectiveness of these ideologies rested on an all-encompassing view of society, which became co-terminous with the nation-state. The nation-state is a modern concept on which contemporary advanced countries have built their identity as development contributed to the obsolescence of more narrow concepts of allegiance. While this was a more or less irreversible internal evolution in the global North, it was not necessarily so in the Arab region where tribal or regional allegiances remained vibrant though contained by what remained an exogenous socialist ideology. Commitment to the latter was narrowly related for newly liberated countries to patriotic anti-colonialism. With the collapse of the Berlin Wall in 1989 and of the Communist ideology which nurtured state socialism in the Arab region, the new generations there found themselves deprived of the cementing effect of a nation centralised through statism. So the younger generations, which now represent about two-thirds of the total population of the region, are spurred by two factors:
First, they do not consider like their forebears that their quest for dignity is nurtured by thirst for sovereignty as the latter is already a given. These cohorts consider that the search for dignity must henceforth be nurtured by participation in decision-making and by promoting a culture of accountability in the field of human rights rather than one of compliance. Anger among youth is coupled with a perceived sense of powerlessness which leads it to become detached from current affairs or to seek refuge in a community of faith rather than one based just on the nation
Search for dignity
So, the search for dignity which for their elders was turned outward is pursued by the younger generation why turning inwards. For the former, perceived dignity deficits led them to vent their anger outwards. For the latter, it lead them to vent it inwards.
In the “digital era”, social media and their borderless manipulation amplify this phenomenon. The elder and the younger generations remain bound however by a shared opposition to foreign invasion, which compounds their anger.
Second, as the statist pillars of nationhood that were exogenously inspired became more brittle following the weakening of the Communist ideology worldwide, the youth in the Arab region were and still are at a loss to find an alternative cementing ideal for the nation whose unity has been built in advanced countries through an indigenous maturing process of national pre-eminence.
Hence, anger among the youth is coupled with a perceived and probably excessive sense of powerlessness which leads it to become detached from current affairs or to seek refuge in a community of faith rather than one based just on the nation.
To a considerable extent, the lack of a perceived long-term ideal for the future led the youth also to excavate one from the pre-colonial past i.e. the euphoric vision of an Islamic nation (that by all accounts never really existed). Alternatively the loss of a societal compass is leading to re-activating sub-identities at the regional, local or tribal levels.
As in all social movements, there are aberrant individuals or groupings which exploit anger and frustration to pursue self-serving objectives of accessing power through violence in one case or through undermining national unity in the other.
That youth anger can thus be taken advantage of in the digital era gives a measure of its loss of momentum in the search for a common ideal. This explains why the Arab commotion called “Arab spring” was hardly more than social spasms generated by anger but deprived of a credible ideal for the longer term.
The ideal that can really mobilize the youth may be one based on the promotion of equal citizenship rights for all. This rights-based leitmotif is advocated by all the major world religions, creeds and value-systems. It is applicable for believers and non believers alike and works for unity of purpose at the national and at the international level. It will ultimately make irrelevant or obsolete the marginalizing and even oppressive connotations of concepts of ethnic, religious or gender minorities. It will cloak all individuals in a nation with the same right to dignity. Indeed the concept of minorities will seamlessly yield to that of social components of diversity in unity. And ultimately equal citizenship rights is the gateway to peace as proclaimed at the World Conference held at the UN in Geneva on 25 June 2018 on Religions, Creeds and Value Systems joining Forces to Promote Equal Citizenship Rights under the patronage of HRH Prince Hassan of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan.

Balancing development dollars with humanitarian assistance

Walid Jawad/Al Arabiya/October 24/18
For the fiscal year 2017, the US reportedly spent $38.2 billion on International Development and Humanitarian Assistance. This bucket of obligated funds includes diverging categories with the majority of the funds earmarked to HIV/AIDS, disaster assistance, and conflict, peace and security programs.
There are many problems with the US approach starting with confusion over defining what constitutes development; is it a proactive strategy, a reactive tactic or a political tool, as it is currently being applied.
Within the US, discussions have been fraught with contempt for the disproportionate US financial commitment versus the abysmal track-record of economic growth, stability and resilience to future shocks recipient nations are experiencing.
Is the Trump administration trying to figure out a way to overcome the disconnect? In what appears to be an evolution in development approach, just this month President Trump signed a bill forming the US International Development Finance Corporation (USIDFC).
Although this announcement conjures thoughts stemming from America’s commitment to underprivileged nations’ needs, it is not an altruistic exercise but a shift of development focus towards broad-based economic growth and high standards of transparency.
Development and humanitarian needs were never high on Trump’s agenda. Humanitarian responses garnered his attention only when lack of response would adversely affect him politically. We’ve seen him in action in the aftermath of hurricane Maria in 2017 as a first test of his presidency.
He visited affected areas for photo-ops, activated FEMA, and tweeted response updates. Perhaps the administration’s response was adequate in Texas and Florida, but it was a failure in Puerto Rico.
Despite that, Trump assigned his administration an “A-Plus” grade for its response. Comparing this to International humanitarian responses, Trump does not pay any political price for lack of response.
Trump’s new approach, including the creation of the USIDFC, is shifting international aid paradigm form traditional humanitarian objectives to national security concerns to counter China’s growing global influence
The development equation
Trump has been in a competition with former US presidents; Democratic Obama firstly and Republican Bush second, in general terms. This was the case in his response to domestic humanitarian needs. But when it comes to global needs, he prides himself on saving American taxpayers dollars deemed to be wasted on such aid. In fact, his announced position leading up to his presidency confirms his dislike for such programs. Delivering on his campaign promise to slash development budgets, he gutted the US Agency for International Development (USAID) rendering it a shell of its old self.
Up to date, FY 2018 the USAID reported obligated amount of $6.8 billion is a fraction of the FY 2017 obligated amount of 20.5 billion according to USAID’s Foreign Aid Dashboard. No longer would Washington use aid as a soft power tool in its public diplomacy toolbox. The White House trend toward development is confirmed on an individual level. A slice of American citizens, federal employees, are giving less over the years.
The Combined Federal Campaign (CFC), went from $280 million in 2009 to around $180 million in 2015 (the most recent data available on This declining amount of donation by this group signals the general mood of the American people.
Americans are becoming more cynical about the effectiveness of their country’s aid spending. Donor fatigue is a nation-wide phenomenon prompting many to question the effectiveness of US aid strategy.
The convoluted rules and regulations international recipients must abide by has created a parallel environment whereby a whole industry is created within the receiving nation. Exaggerated costs create micro inflationary effects rendering considerable amount of aid dollars wasted.
Major re-evaluation
US contractors and international aid organizations reaping the benefits instead of the people those dollars are earmarked to serve. A major reevaluation is in order.
Currently, aid is delivered in the form of specific solutions and criteria for success to satisfy a predetermined need assessed by the US government, often with limited input from those most affected in the recipient nation. The US approach of superiority leads to inefficiencies and waste in absence of sustainable results. The US will be able to stretch its development dollars if it adopts a collaborative approach with recipient nations. Further, it should experiment with infusing private and public sector cash into some localities instead of delivering tangible items and services.
Angelie Petersen, a development expert, explained “the ‘Buy American’ act that governs all US procured goods results in pricey American agricultural and food products being supplied as part of the development package”.
“Beneficiaries access these goods at a highly subsidized rate or provided for free which effectively kills any smallholder market dependent on selling their goods in the local market economy.”
She further said: “when comparing the cost of providing such inputs imported through US development programs versus the cost of the same input in the local market cannot be compared.” While this type of direct aid such as food aid or shelter has a critical role to play post-acute emergency, worthy development aid recipient nations will probably benefit more efficiently if the US injects cash into their market system to stimulate organic economic growth versus dependency.
The experiment where USAID partnered with GiveDirectly in rural Rwanda has proved valuable and revealing. In this experiment, they’ve divided villages into three sets. One set receiving help through the predetermined program of creating village nutrition schools at an average cost of $120 per person.
The second set of villages received only cash in varying amounts by less than the average cost of the program. The third and final group of villages received cash amounts of just over $500. Malnutrition continued to be a problem in the first two sets of villages.
However, the third set of villages, malnutrition was a thing of the past. In the process, this third set organically created a thriving society with a flourishing economic system without any input from the US or program contractors.
According to Mark Green the USAID Administrator, the goals of the new USIDFC are:
“(1) align the United States Government’s development-finance tools with broader foreign-policy and development goals, and enhance their competitiveness;
(2) minimize risk to the American taxpayer by establishing appropriate risk-management protocols, including for co-investment with the private sector; and
(3) increase efficiency by reducing duplicate efforts in the US Government’s development-finance programs.”
All of which are development jargon for the mission; to “catalyze market-based, private-sector development, spur economic growth in less-developed countries, and advance the foreign-policy interests of the United States,” according to Green. The foreign-policy interest of the US being the operative concept.
Trump’s new approach, including the creation of the USIDFC, is shifting international aid paradigm form traditional humanitarian objectives to national security concerns to counter China’s growing global influence. Beijing came out of the blue to rival the US in generosity. Up until last year, China’s foreign aid expenditure was a mystery treated as a state secret.
Once revealed, in late 2017, the expenditure shows a pattern of creating long-lasting patrons depended on China through its Belt and Road Initiative. The White House is going on the offensive to quell China’s expanding sphere of influence around the world. Countries in Africa and Latin America being the priority.
Development should not be co-opted to function as a tactical security tool. Similarly, development must be separated from international humanitarian assistance ending the current classification of joining these two independent approaches under one budgetary umbrella.
Disaster relief and other humanitarian efforts are altruistic, short-term actions that should never be pegged to any gains or beneficial outcome. For development to be effective, the US must trust and relinquish priority setting to recipient nations.
Whereby, the US limits its scope to providing advice and infusing equitable mechanisms for distributing cash or facilities to worthy localities. Patience and sustained economic resilience is the key to a successful long-term development strategy.

Saudi Arabia Shows Need to End Addiction to Middle Eastern Oil

Jim Talent/The Hill/October 24/18
Following the mysterious death of columnist Jamal Khashoggi, Washington was hit with a stark reminder that America remains glaringly vulnerable to economic threats from the oil oligarchs of the world. Saudi Arabia quickly issued a warning that any sanctions will be met with “greater action” and that it plays a “vital role” in the global economy. The implication was clear. Any attempt to hold the Saudi government accountable could lead to a crippling spike in oil prices, care of the largest oil producer in the Middle East. Meanwhile, American fortunes remain subject to the global politics of oil. Without Saudi cooperation, it would be all but impossible for President Trump to press ahead on efforts to neutralize hostile forces in Iran. Why? Only Saudi Arabia would be able to replace Iranian crude exports locked in by American sanctions.
Petroleum boosters like to claim that fracking broke our addiction to foreign oil, but as the Energy Department pointed out this month, the changing trade balance is still dominated by crude oil imports. Net crude imports account for a fifth of total consumption in the United States. The need for homegrown alternatives remains as strong as ever, particularly as fuel prices climb back to nearly $3 per gallon.
Fortunately, policymakers have at least one time tested tool to shield American consumers from international intrigue, the renewable fuel standard, a bipartisan policy I championed in the Senate back in 2005. This federal program allows homegrown biofuels to supply a growing share of our energy needs, which is currently about 10 percent of all motor fuel. The renewable fuel standard has been successful in protecting American energy security, and at no cost to consumer or taxpayers.
Conventional ethanol is a highly competitive fuel, costs about $1.30 per gallon, and it gets no federal subsidies or tax breaks. Every gallon added to the fuel mix holds down prices, while providing an ecofriendly octane boost for better engine performance, replacing toxic additives like lead. Ethanol also cuts down on smog and reduces carbon emissions by an average of 43 percent, according to federal data. Best of all, the United States is the top producer and exporter of ethanol in the world, and no other nation can set the prices paid by American drivers.
There are more than 200 ethanol plants distributed all throughout the heartland, creating hundreds of thousands of good jobs in rural areas where biofuel production is a pillar of the farm economy. Nearly every dime spent on ethanol stays right here in the United States. In a free market, higher ethanol blends like E15 would be standard options at the fuel pump, giving every consumer an opportunity to save 5 cents to 10 cents per gallon. But while more retailers are adding options, the fuel supply chain remains tightly controlled by a few oil companies and the foreign cartel. They oppose consumer access to E15 for the same reason they oppose the renewable fuel standard. They know that consumers, not petroleum producers, win when drivers have a choice at the pump.
That is why President Trump has proclaimed his support for the renewable fuel standard and pledged to lift seasonal Environmental Protection Agency restrictions on the sale of E15. A boost for American biofuels is a blow against forces that would wield oil as a weapon against our national interests. Congress should rally behind the effort and fight back against efforts to cheat consumers out of affordable and reliable energy options.