Detailed Lebanese & Lebanese Related LCCC English New Bulletin For October 28/2018
Compiled & Prepared by: Elias Bejjani

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Bible Quotations
And if you have not been faithful with what belongs to another, who will give you what is your own?
Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ according to Saint Luke 16/09-12: "I tell you, make friends for yourselves by means of dishonest wealth so that when it is gone, they may welcome you into the eternal homes. ‘Whoever is faithful in a very little is faithful also in much; and whoever is dishonest in a very little is dishonest also in much. If then you have not been faithful with the dishonest wealth, who will entrust to you the true riches? And if you have not been faithful with what belongs to another, who will give you what is your own?

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 27-28/18
Hezbollah and the task of creating ‘the incapable state’/Ali Al-Amin/Al Arabiya/October 27/18
11 Killed in Pittsburgh Synagogue Shooting; Gunman Yelled 'All Jews Must Die'/Amir Tibon, Haaretz, Noa Landau and Allison Kaplan Sommer/October 27/18
Here's what we know so far about Robert Bowers, the Pittsburgh synagogue shooting suspect/Saeed Ahmed and Paul P. Murphy, CNN/October 27/18
The Breakneck Islamization of Turkey's Education System/Uzay Bulut/Gatestone Institute/October 27/18
Oil’s Rally Isn’t Over Yet/David Fickling/Bloomberg/October 27/18
Israel: Iranian Force in Syria Behind Rocket Attack on South/Amos Harel and Yaniv Kubovich/Haaretz/October 27/18
Stop romanticising that viral image of a Palestinian protester – it's not a poetic moment/Louis Staples/Independent/October 27/18
Leveraging Murder/Jonathan Spyer/Jerusalem Post, 27/10

Titles For The Latest LCCC Lebanese Related News published on October 27-28/18
Report: Lebanon Seeks to Redress Consequences of New US Sanctions on Hizbullah
Report: Govt. Representation of Independent Sunni MPs Not Resolved
Lebanon’s Hariri after meeting Berri: Cabinet will be formed in coming days
Berri Says Govt. Could Be Formed Sunday
Lebanon’s PM-Designate Working to Clear Final Hurdle
Aoun Stresses Lebanon’s Commitment to CEDRE Conference
Bukhari Stresses Saudi Keenness to Maintain Stability in Lebanon
Hezbollah and the task of creating ‘the incapable state’
Titles For The Latest LCCC Bulletin For Miscellaneous Reports And News published on October 27-28/18
11 Killed in Pittsburgh Synagogue Shooting; Gunman Yelled 'All Jews Must Die'
Here's what we know so far about Robert Bowers, the Pittsburgh synagogue shooting suspect
US Treasury Studies SWIFT Sanctions over Iran Dealings
UN Special Rapporteur Urges Iran to Stop Executing Minors
US Officials Inspect Seized Arms Shipment Possibly Linked to Iran
Mattis Says Russia Cannot Replace US in Mideast
Mattis Slams Iran at Manama Dialogue Conference
Idlib ceasefire must be safeguarded, says four-way Syria summit
Israel Accuses Syria, Iran of Ordering Gaza Rocket Fire
Israel Accuses Syria, Iran on Gaza Rocket Fire
Israel Selects New Chief of Staff
Oman: We are not mediating Israel-Palestine peace process, but offering ideas
Breathtaking' Destruction in Syria's Ghouta
ISIS Kills 41 SDF Fighters in Eastern Syria: Monitor
ISIS Executes Civilians Over Cooperation With Iraqi Army
Turkey Hosts Syria Summit with Russian, French, German Leaders
Istanbul Summit Seeks to Find Syria Solution
Rise in Number of Fighters Returning to Germany from Mideast
Iraqi PM Appointed as Caretaker Minister of Defense, Interior
Libya’s Sarraj, UN Envoy Meet Italian PM in Rome
Jubeir: Khashoggi Killers 'Will Be Prosecuted in Saudi Arabia'
Bolsonaro, Brazil's 'Tropical Trump' Poised to Win Presidency

The Latest LCCC Lebanese Related News published on October 27-28/18
Report: Lebanon Seeks to Redress Consequences of New US Sanctions on Hizbullah
Naharnet/October 27/18/Concern of the new US sanctions imposed by the US administration on Hizbullah is not limited to the party, but also touches the entire Lebanese state for fear of negative repercussions on the country’s banks and economy, the Saudi Ashraq al-Awsat daily reported on Saturday. It said the sanctions could affect the economy, already suffering from a major crisis as the result of delay in forming its government, thus preventing it from benefits from projects that were adopted in April at the Cedre Conference. A US State Department statement said the bill passed by Congress and signed by US President Donald Trump in the past few hours "isolates" Hizbullah from the global financial system more than ever before, CNN had reported. Economists do not rule out that new US sanctions will affect Lebanon's economy and banks if things do not go well, according to the daily. “Regardless of the political position of this law, the consequences on Lebanese banks must be retracted in terms of protecting their dealings with international correspondent banks so they won’t cut-off business relations with the Lebanese banking arena or mitigate it,” said Paul Morcos, President and founder of Justicia Foundation for Development and Human Rights, in remarks to the daily. Morcos stressed that "correspondent international banks take this law seriously, as it does not apply exclusively to transactions in US dollars, but all currencies traded around the world.” On Thursday, U.S. President Donald Trump signed legislation imposing new sanctions against Hizbullah. The bill expands the list of those who can be sanctioned for doing business with the party. Trump said the new sanctions on Hizbullah were aimed at depriving the party of resources to fund its activities, threatening further measures. The sanctions on the party coincide with Washington's willingness to introduce a new package of sanctions on Tehran, targeting Iranian oil sales and the banking sector. All of these sanctions fall within the framework of Washington's new policy to pressure Iran to "stop interfering in the wars of Syria and Yemen as part of a foreign policy to support its allies in the region,” Trump says. In May, the US Treasury Department imposed new sanctions on members of Hizbullah's top leadership, including its secretary general Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah and his deputy Sheikh Naim Qassem, as well as members of the party.

Report: Govt. Representation of Independent Sunni MPs Not Resolved
Naharnet/October 27/18/Inspite of the growing “optimism” heralding a near government lineup, “probably on Sunday,” no indicators have shown that a solution is reached for an“obstacle” linked to the representation of a group of independent Sunni MPs, al-Joumhouria daily reported on Saturday. Quoting well-informed sources, the daily said: “Matters have not yet been resolved in this regard,” pointing out that “Prime Minister-designate (Saad Hariri) categorically rejects the allocation of a ministerial portfolio to any of the independent lawmakers at the expense of his al-Mustaqbal Movement.” A group of independent Sunni MPs demand the allocation of ministerial portfolios in the government arguing that “Sunni representation must not be confined to Hariri's al-Mustaqbal Movement.”Hariri for his part denies the presence of a “Sunni obstacle” delaying the formation of the government. Reports say that Hariri's mission which is facing Christian wrangling over key ministerial portfolios is expected to further complicate over the Sunni one.

Lebanon’s Hariri after meeting Berri: Cabinet will be formed in coming days
Staff writer, Al Arabiya English/Saturday, 27 October 2018/In the latest attempt to reach a breakthrough in the Cabinet formation process that has now extended to five months, Prime minister-designate Saad Hariri confirmed on Saturday that the cabinet will be formed in the coming days. Hariri announcement followed his meeting with parliamentary speaker Shiite leader Nabih Berri. Caretaker Finance Minister Ali Hasan Khalil, Berri’s top political aide, also reportedly attended the meeting. The prime minister said: “We want a national reconciliation government to face the challenges, the meeting with Berri was positive.”He added that he will be working very hard to have a positive breakthrough by early next week.Lebanese media outlets reported that the new government is expected before the second anniversary of President Michel Aoun’s election on October 31.

Berri Says Govt. Could Be Formed Sunday

Naharnet/October 27/18/Speaker Nabih Berri reflected some “positivism” regarding a breakthrough in the formation of the government, noting a “serious progress” in discussions likely leading to a final agreement on Sunday, al-Joumhouria daily reported on Saturday. The level of optimism recorded a significant improvement in Ain el-Tineh (Berri’s residence) lately, said the daily. "Things are progressing seriously, and we can say that the atmosphere today is more optimistic and more positive," Berri was quoted as telling his visitors. “If this continues, the government may be born on Sunday,” he added. He pointed out saying: “After the formation, the country is supposed to engage into a large and serious workshop at the governmental level. It should start meeting the challenges, first and foremost to find economic solutions, and at the level of the parliament which will accompany the government in this task.”
Lebanon’s PM-Designate Working to Clear Final Hurdle
Beirut - Asharq Al-Awsat/Saturday, 27 October, 2018/Prime Minister-designate Saad Hariri is silently working to remove the last obstacles hindering the formation of Lebanon’s government, which entered Friday its last stage after intense discussions to offer the Lebanese Forces party a “weighty” ministerial portfolio. “We won’t be exaggerating when we say the formation process has entered its last phase,” Speaker Nabih Berri’s sources told Asharq Al-Awsat. Hariri is expected to visit Ain al-Tineh (Berri’s residence) soon as part of his efforts to announce his new cabinet. On Friday, a delegation from the French National Assembly and Senate, said after meeting Berri that it was satisfied concerning developments on the cabinet formation, emphasizing the French government’s enthusiasm to implement the decisions of the CEDRE conference that was held in Paris in April. On expectations that the cabinet lineup is imminent, the Education Ministry was reportedly offered to Walid Jumblat’s Progressive Socialist Party while the Public Works Ministry would go to Suleiman Franjieh’s Marada Movement. Sources informed about President Michel Aoun’s position told Asharq Al-Awsat that the President would appoint the Justice and the Defense ministers. Therefore, talks were ongoing to offer the Lebanese Forces a so-called weighty portfolio other than those agreed upon. On Friday, caretaker Information Minister Melhem Riachi met with Hariri at the Center House in Beirut. LF sources told Asharq Al-Awsat, “So far, there is nothing new. We are still waiting for answers.”The sources added that the last official offer the party had received was the Justice Ministry portfolio before the President changed his position and announced he would not give it up.

Aoun Stresses Lebanon’s Commitment to CEDRE Conference
Beirut - Asharq Al-Awsat/Saturday, 27 October, 2018/Lebanese President Michel Aoun underlined Friday his country’s commitment to the CEDRE Conference recommendations, in parallel with the implementation of the economic recovery plan approved by the caretaker government to enhance production sectors. Last April, Lebanon secured over $11 billion in soft loans and grants at the conference in Paris after the international community pledged support to help the country restore its infrastructure and bolster its economy. However, the funds would not be released before the birth of a new government. Lebanon has been without a cabinet since the May parliamentary elections. Prime Minister-designate Saad Hariri had said the formation of a government is essential in order to implement reforms and initiate the CEDRE infrastructure projects. On Friday, Aoun met with a joint delegation of the French National Association, and the French Senate, in the presence of French Ambassador to Lebanon Bruno Foucher. The delegation is in Beirut on a fact-finding mission, and to also express solidarity and support for Lebanon at the various levels. The President highlighted the importance of Lebanese-French relations, as well as the commitment to strengthen them, hailing the role of the French contingent operating within UNIFIL in south Lebanon, in safeguarding security and stability. Shedding light on the impact of Syrian refugees on Lebanon's economy, security and social structure, the President said: “Lebanon supports the safe return of these people to their country, especially after the end of fighting in many Syrian territories.”Aoun said the vast majority of those displaced have forcibly left their areas because of the fighting. “Obviously, with the cessation of military confrontations, they can successively return to their homeland," he said. The President explained that Syrian refugees who had returned so far from Lebanon to Syria have not reported any abuses, also stressing that international assistance should be provided to encourage them to return home. Aoun said Lebanon cannot wait for a political solution in Syria to allow the return of displaced people, giving the example of the Palestinians who are awaiting for a political solution 70 years after the Nakba. Aoun also mentioned Lebanon’s security situation, saying the country and its people want peace and security, whereas Israel continues its violations of Lebanese sovereignty and international resolutions, in addition to its aggression against the Palestinians, impeding the achievement of a just, comprehensive and lasting solution to the Middle East crisis.
Bukhari Stresses Saudi Keenness to Maintain Stability in Lebanon
Beirut- Asharq Al-Awsat/Saturday, 27 October, 2018/The Saudi Charge d'Affaires in Lebanon, Walid al-Bukhari, and UAE Ambassador to Lebanon, Hamad Saeed Al-Shamsi, on Friday visited the Chouf district, touring a number of institutions in the region. The Saudi envoy said the visit comes to voice the Kingdom's support to Lebanon in all its sects, communities and segments of society, notably the Druze community as an "essential guarantee for Lebanon's patriotism and its Arabism." Bukhari expressed his hope for the formation of a government in the upcoming days, stressing the kingdom's keenness to "maintain the security and stability of Lebanon." “We hope the government that Prime Minister[-designate] Saad Hariri expects is formed in the upcoming days, and that Lebanon has a balanced government so countries can start implementing projects that will help Lebanon’s economy flourish,” Bukhari was quoted as saying. Bukhari also announced that his country is working on projects to support Lebanon’s stability and development. The ambassador said he heard remarks from Central Bank Governor Riad Salame regarding the economic situation, which Salame said is healthy. “The Kingdom [of Saudi Arabia] has supported Lebanon through Roma 2, Brussels and CEDRE conferences,” Bukhari said. “We hope that the economy gets the support it needs after the government is formed,” he added. The two ambassadors visited the Irfan Establishment in Semqanieh and ended their trip with a lunch at the house of the establishment’s head Sheikh Ali Zeineddine, where they were joined by the Progressive Socialist Party leader Walid Joumblatt and MP Teymour Joumblatt. Zeineddine then gifted Bukhari and Shamsi two antique swords.

Hezbollah and the task of creating ‘the incapable state’
Ali Al-Amin/Al Arabiya/October 27/18
Variations in interpreting the Lebanese constitution are Hezbollah’s sharpest weapon to control the constitutional and political processes in Lebanon. Undoubtedly, there are different peculiarities and interpretations over some articles of the Constitution as is the case with any constitution in the world.
These variations could be seen when interpreting an article is tasked to a specific party, such as the Constitutional Council of France or the Constitutional Court of the United States of America. In Lebanon, the parliament is granted this right.
Many transgressions
Despite all the controversy over the implementation of the constitution or its violation, the parliament was never called upon to resolve any constitutional dispute. The political and security influence in time of the Syrian tutelage in the past and the current Iranian tutelage became a decisive factor in imposing the interpretation wanted by the influential party. This is what forcibly happened in the absence of the President of the Republic for a period of two years and five months, before the election of General Michel Aoun as president in the fall of 2016.With the help of the President and his party, Hezbollah imposed the idea of limiting ministerial representation of each sect by the forces controlling it. Those powers alone would give legitimacy to the sect in taking the ministerial post, and the premise was that appointing any minister who doesn’t have this legitimacy means that the government loses confidence.
These are some examples of the many transgressions that have disrupted the constitution to make it appear as a weak document that can be bypassed or easy to exploit by the controlling party outside its institutions and through militant power. Of course, the Lebanese constitution is not perfect, but it’s certain that those who control political life by illegitimate means are not qualified to write a constitution with minimum legal requirements or those related to the concept of the state and the unity of the people. Thus, the Lebanese constitution, which was agreed upon in Taif, fell into the hands of political parties, which rejoiced in violating it, and excelled in imposing the rules of governance and attributing them to their benefits.
The noxious guardian
It’s enough to say that no constitution in Lebanon or the world states the possibility of dual power; yet, here we are.The president of the republic, who is the commander-in-chief of the Lebanese Armed Forces, has no authority, even formally over the authority of Hezbollah’s weapons, which outweighs the influence of the state and its organs and became a competition for them without any legal status. Hezbollah and Iran both want to impose these facts on the ground going against the state and its sovereignty in Lebanon. Through its security influence, Hezbollah seeks to make political parties accept this reality in preparation for making it a custom accepted among the Lebanese and to silence them about it for years and perhaps decades. This Shiite ideological organization, Hezbollah, is aware that any transition from the state of inability to the state of effectiveness and presence of the state will be at the expense of its influence, and therefore it is taking sides with everything that would give it the conditions of military and security survival.
It is no secret to any political observer in Lebanon how Hezbollah seeks to impose new customs in political life as it is trying to preserve its ideological identity with all its security and military independence along with organizational allegiance with the Iranian Revolutionary Guards. At the same time, they are pretending to wear the national unity uniform by playing the role of the guardian of Lebanese political life. No government can be formed without Hezbollah’s permission, no election can be held and no constitutional issue discussed unless it is approved by Hezbollah and all agreements must be done under its conditions and demands. This is what Lebanon, with a violated constitution and laws, is going through. Yet, Hezbollah has succeeded in wearing a mask to disguise it, and to appear to the others only through its several political masks. Although some buy this and believe it, it’s exposed to most of the Lebanese people.
As mentioned in the beginning, Hezbollah is investing in the variations over the interpretation of the constitution, with the intention of not to resolve them but to widen them and to cause conflict and solidify it to make the state incapable. This incapability has been established since Iran decided to continue its existence as a military security organization in Lebanon through Hezbollah. The state’s weakness is the strategic objective that has been established by this party in Lebanon. Hezbollah’s internal role is based on protecting this weakness to justify its survival and influence and its control over the elements of the state without any liability.
Institutionalized inertia
The institutionalization of this helplessness begins with the idea that there is no government in Lebanon besides the government of all the forces represented in the Parliament, but its function here is not to participate in decision-making, because this inclusive government cannot be composed if Hezbollah is not the one that makes decision in it by ensuring its effective control over two third of it. Hezbollah can thus block any decision that doesn’t go along with its aspirations. In addition, thanks to its way of formation, the government is transformed into a mini-parliament. There is no parliamentary opposition or executive authority capable of acting in harmony between its components. This leads to the easy option of quotas and clientelism, which are blatant expressions of the state’s impotence. Another expression of this helplessness is the ongoing quest to form a government without any real progress for over five months. This Shiite ideological organization, Hezbollah, is aware that any transition from the state of inability to the state of effectiveness and presence of the state will be at the expense of its influence, and therefore it is taking sides with everything that would give it the conditions of military and security survival.
It has worked since the parliamentary elections to consolidate and strengthen the idea of deputies elected by their sects and has used the proportional system to penetrate the non-Shiite communities to be able to infiltrate them through its political masks, with the purpose of activating the policy of obstruction and exacerbating state impotence. The problem is that there is no way to convince the Lebanese people of the nature of Hezbollah’s unconstitutional and non-Lebanese presence that’s useless to Lebanon except via more destruction of the state – destruction whose purpose is not to cancel and eliminate the state but to maintain the latter’s existence in a way that only serves the purpose of being part of Iran’s regional project.

The Latest LCCC Bulletin For Miscellaneous Reports And News published on
October 27-28/18
11 Killed in Pittsburgh Synagogue Shooting; Gunman Yelled 'All Jews Must Die'
Amir Tibon, Haaretz, Noa Landau and Allison Kaplan Sommer/October 27/18
Attack takes place during Shabbat service ■ Shooter in custody ■ Three cops shot ■ Trump: 'Watching the events'
Eight people were killed after a man opened fire on a Pittsburgh synagogue on Saturday. The shooter entered the Tree of Life Congregation Synagogue and yelled 'All Jews must die,' according to KDKA, a local radio station. The shooter has surrendered to law enforcement authorities, and is said to be wounded. He was identified as a 46-year-old white man. Eyewitness reports said he was heavily armed.  An Israeli official confirmed it knows of eight casualties. The shooter opened fire on police officers when they arrived at the scene, the report said. Three officers were shot.
Local news outlets in Pittsburgh are reporting that the shooter is Robert Bowers, a while male in his 40s who expressed far-right and white supremacist views on his social media accounts. His last post before the shooting took place was an attack on HIAS, a Jewish-American organization that helps refugees in the U.S. and around the world. U.S. President Donald Trump tweeted earlier he is following the events.
Sources in Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's bureau said that he, too, was following the incident closely. Michael Eisenberg, the immediate past president of the synagogue, said in an interview with KDKA that "like most religious institutions, we have an open door ... On a day like today, the door is open, it's a religious service, you can walk in freely, only on the High Holidays is there a security person at the door." Eisenberg said he had been heading to the synagogue when the shooting began, and the police on the scene told him to leave. Eisenberg said that the synagogue leaders had undergone training and preparation for active shooter situations, though he said that the synagogue had never received any threats of violence. He said he had spoken to the synagogue's maintenance man, who was in the bathroom during the shooting, and had escaped through exit doors, which had been purposely made easier to exit in order to prepare for such a situation. The doors were adjusted on the advice of Homeland Security experts who had briefed synagogue leaders on ways to prepare for security threats. That advice, and the adjustments to the doors, he said, may have saved lives by allowing congregants to escape.
"Moving forward, we need to learn from this. You want to be pro-active ... this will be a catalyst for more security in the future in many religious institutions," Eisenberg said, adding emotionally, "I know everyone in the building. I almost don't want to know, but I am going to have to know" what occurred inside.
Trump tweeted again following the attack that he will make further statemens to the media soon.
"Events in Pittsburgh are far more devastating than originally thought. Spoke with Mayor and Governor to inform them that the Federal Government has been, and will be, with them all the way. I will speak to the media shortly and make further statement at Future Farmers of America."
President Reuven Rivlin also extended his condolences to members of the Jewish community, saying: "Our prayers and deepest concerns are focused on what is happening in Pittsburgh, Pennsilvaniya. Our hearts and thoughts are with the families of those who were slain and we are praying for the speedy recovery of the injured. I am certain that security forces and U.S. law enforcement will investigate the appalling incident thoroughly and bring the murderer to justice."Jewish Agency Chairman Isaac Herzog said: "Horrible shooting during Shabbat Service at Congregation Etz Chaim in Pittsburgh. We at the Jewish Agency are in pain and mourning with the Pittsburgh Jewish community, and will assist in any possible way. Our thoughts and prayers are with the victims and their families."
"The State of Israel and the Israeli Government are shocked and pained to receive the reports of the terrible attack on the Jewish community in Pittsburgh," said a statement from Diaspora Affairs Minister Naftali Bennett. “We are following the news with concern, and I have instructed the Ministry of Diaspora Affairs to prepare to assist the community in every possible way. Our hearts go out to the families of those killed and injured. May the memory of the murdered be blessed," said the statement. American-Palestinian Women's March leader Linda Sarsour wrote on Facebook: "This is absolutely devastating and so scary. Sending love to our Jewish family. We promise to stand in solidarity with you. We are in this together. We have to be." "My heart breaks over the news out of Pittsburgh. The violence needs to stop," tweeted First Lady Melania Trump.
Pittsburgh's Tree of Life congregation, affiliated with the Conservative movement, is a historic one, dating back to 1864.
Originally, it was located a building downtown that now serves as Pittsburgh’s Performing Arts Center in the Oakland neighborhood. The synagogue building in the Squirrel Hill neighborhood where the shooting took place was built on donated land in 1946, after much of the Jewish community had moved into the neighberhood. The cornerstone of the building was made with limestone from Palestine. In 2010, the congregation merged with another Conservative congregation, Or L’Simcha. The name of the merged community is Tree of Life-Or L’Simcha. In addition to the main congregation, a Reconstructionist congregation, Dor Hadash, also holds religious services there.
Here's what we know so far about Robert Bowers, the Pittsburgh synagogue shooting suspect
Saeed Ahmed and Paul P. Murphy, CNN/Sat October 27, 2018
(CNN)As officials try to put together a picture of the alleged Pittsburgh synagogue shooter, one focus of the investigation is his social media postings, the FBI said. Here's what we know so far about suspect Robert Bowers, 46:
He allegedly made anti-Semitic statements after his arrest
The shooter made anti-Jewish comments after he was apprehended, a law enforcement official told CNN. The bloodshed took place on the same day as Saturday Shabbat services. At the time of the shooting, three different congregations were holding services at the Tree of Life.
He was in the synagogue for about 20 minutes
At a Saturday afternoon news conference, officials said the suspect was in the Squirrel Hill synagogue for about 20 minutes. After the attack and as he was leaving the building, Bowers encountered a law enforcement officer and the two exchanged gunfire, officials said. The suspect went back inside to hide from SWAT officers. Bowers was in fair condition Saturday evening with multiple gunshot wounds, officials said. It's believed he was shot by police.
Trump says synagogue should have had armed guards
He was not known to law enforcement
"At this point we have no knowledge that Bowers was known to law enforcement before today," said Bob Jones, FBI Pittsburgh special agent in charge. Jones said that while Bowers' alleged motive is unknown, officials believed he acted alone.
He has an active license to carry firearms
Bowers has an active license and has made at least six known firearm purchases since 1996, a law enforcement official familiar with the investigation said. On September 29, Bowers posted photos of his handgun collection on his account, which included multiple clips and sights. A rifle and three handguns were found on the scene of the attack, the FBI said.
He blamed Jews for helping migrant caravans
On his account, Bowers claimed Jews were helping transport members of the migrant caravans. He shared a video that another user posted, purportedly of a Jewish refugee advocacy group HIAS on the US-Mexico border. Another post that Bowers commented on described HIAS' overall efforts as "sugar-coated evil."
Seventeen days before the attack, Bowers posted a web page from HIAS that listed a number of Shabbats that were being held on behalf of refugees, an official said. On that list was a Shabbat address that is less than a mile away from the Tree of Life Synagogue. (The chief executive officer of HIAS, Mark Hetfield, said Bowers is not known to the group.)
He called those in migrant caravans 'invaders'
According to his posts, Bowers believed that those in the migrant caravans were violent because they were attempting to leave countries that had high levels of violence. And Bowers repeatedly called them "invaders" on his Gab posts. "I have noticed a change in people saying 'illegals' that now say 'invaders'," read one post, six days before the shooting. "I like this."
A law enforcement source confirmed to CNN that investigators believe the social media postings belong to Bowers and that the language on his account matches the suspected motivation behind the shootings.
His most recent post was five minutes before police were alerted to the shooting
In that Gab post, Bowers said he "can't sit by and watch my people get slaughtered. Screw your optics, I'm going in."
Bowers' photo on
Bowers' photo on
His Gab account has frequent anti-Semitic postings
He has reposted a number of posts on his social media accounts that tell Jews to get out or leave. Gab is a social media platform that advocates for free speech and puts nearly no restrictions on content.
(In a statement posted online, Gab says it "unequivocally disavows and condemns all acts of terrorism and violence...Gab's mission is very simple: to defend free expression and individual liberty online for all people." Gab said it was alerted to the suspect's profile on their platform, backed up the data, suspended the account, and contacted the FBI.)
His posts included criticism of President Trump
Among the many anti-Semitic social media posts were comments suggesting that President Trump was surrounded by too many Jewish people. "Trump is surrounded by k****", "things will stay the course," read one post on the Gab social media platform, which used a derogatory term to describe Jews. Another post, apparently intended as an insult, read: "Trump is a globalist, not a nationalist," Bowers said two days before the shooting. "There is no #MAGA as long as there is a k*** infestation.
He said he didn't vote for Trump
Roughly four hours before the shooting, Bowers commented in a post that he did not vote for Trump.
He received a traffic citation in 2015
A CNN review of criminal records found a 2015 traffic citation against Bowers for allegedly driving without tags.
He's expected to face hate crime charges
Attorney General Jeff Sessions said the Department of Justice will file hate crimes and other criminal charges against the suspected attacker, "including charges that could lead to the death penalty."
*CNN's Keith Allen, Steve Almasy, Josh Campbell, Matthew Hilk, Tammy Kupperman, Nadia Lancy, Shimon Prokupecz, Miguel Marquez, Evan Perez, AnneClaire Stapleton and Joe Sutton contributed to this report.

US Treasury Studies SWIFT Sanctions over Iran Dealings
Washington - Atef Abdullatif/Asharq Al-Awsat/Saturday, 27 October, 2018/The United States Treasury Department is considering imposing sanctions on the Belgian-based financial messaging service SWIFT that facilitates the bulk of the world’s cross-border money transactions, days before the second wave of US sanctions on Tehran take effect. The move is meant to pressure SWIFT into disconnecting Iran from the network and forcing it to separate Iranian banks from the global banking system. US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin had confirmed that it will be harder for countries to get waivers on Iran oil sanctions than during the Obama administration and dismissed concerns that oil prices could rise, saying the market had already factored in the losses. Mnuchin was adamant that countries would eventually have to cut imports to nil. Washington has been pressuring SWIFT to cut Iran from the system. Although the US does not hold a majority on SWIFT’s board of directors, the Trump administration could impose penalties on SWIFT unless it disconnects from Iran. “I can assure you our objective is to make sure that sanctioned transactions do not occur whether it’s through SWIFT or any other mechanism,” he said, “Our focus is to make sure that the sanctions are enforced.”Iran's revenues are set up to receive a serious blow if SWIFT sanctions are enforced.Many US top officials came out to agree with the tough stance on SWIFT. White House National Security Adviser John Bolton pressed SWIFT to rethink dealing with Tehran. According to Bolton, Washington does "not intend to allow sanctions to be evaded by Europe or anybody else." There will be a tight window for the US president to backpedal a decision if it’s made on sanctioning SWIFT. The US administration will determine which Iranian banks are blacklisted. So far, Iran's central bank and a handful of others have been barred. “Sanctions on transactions by foreign financial institutions with the central bank and designated Iranian financial institutions; sanctions on the provision of specialized financial messaging services to the central bank of Iran and Iranian financial institutions; sanctions on the provision of underwriting services, insurance, or reinsurance; sanctions on Iran’s energy sector,” will be re-imposed on November 5, according to the US Treasury Department. The most important challenge facing the US administration is how to get European allies on the same page on isolating Iranian banks from the global banking system.Some Treasury officials worry that forcing Europe, by threatening to impose sanctions on SWIFT, could undermine America's broader efforts to persuade Europe to stop supporting Iran.
UN Special Rapporteur Urges Iran to Stop Executing Minors
New York - Ali Barada/Asharq Al-Awsat/Saturday, 27 October, 2018/The United Nations Special Rapporteur on the human rights situation in Iran, Javid Rehman, has urged Tehran to abolish the death penalty against juveniles and expressed “concerns” over the fate of demonstrators detained in late 2017. "I appeal to the Iranian authorities to abolish the practice of sentencing children to death, and to commute all death sentences issued against children in line with international law," Rehman said. Execution of juvenile convicts violates international law and contravenes the Convention of the Rights of the Child and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, he added. Rehman said five individuals convicted of having committed murder as minors have been put to death this year in Iran. The most recent, Zeinab Sekaanvand, was executed three weeks ago. She was accused and forced to confess to killing her husband in 2012 when she was 17. "Claims that she was coerced into confessing to the killing, had been beaten following her arrest and was a victim of domestic violence were reportedly not adequately examined during her trial," the special rapporteur said. Rehman said the Iranian executions continue despite amendments in 2013 to the Islamic Penal Code that allow judges to give alternate sentences for juvenile offenders in certain circumstances. He revealed there were "numerous" other juvenile offenders on death row in Iran, despite the government recently announcing it had established a taskforce that will deal with the protection of the rights of children and adolescents. The report of Rehman, a law professor at Brunel University London, was his first since he took up his post in July. He has not yet visited Iran but has requested that authorities allow him to have unhindered access to the country. He expressed a series of concerns about human rights in Iran, where for nearly a year the country has seen a wave of protests fueled by a flagging economy, high unemployment, the rising cost of living and social discontent.At the start of the demonstrations in December, people were arrested in droves and at least 22 people were killed during a security  crackdown. "I remain concerned about the fate of those arrested during the protests, and call upon the government to ensure that all those imprisoned for peacefully exercising their freedom of opinion and expression are released," Rehman said. The situation of women and girls also warrants improvement. The Iranian government rejects the concept of the special rapporteur's mandate, but provides some cooperation with his office.

US Officials Inspect Seized Arms Shipment Possibly Linked to Iran

Washington- Asharq Al-Awsat/Saturday, 27 October, 2018/American experts carried an inspection of an arms shipment seized by the United States Navy with suspicions rising that it offered new evidence of Iranian support for Houthi militias in Yemen. It is worth noting that UN inspectors boarded the USS Jason Dunham to examine more than 2,500 guns the crew seized in late August and determine if the weapons originated in Iran as suspected earlier. But Vice Adm. Scott Stearney, the commander of US naval forces in the Middle East, confirmed that American officials had conducted a preliminary examination of the weapons but would wait to determine how to handle them until the UN investigators reach their own conclusions, the Washington Post reported. The seizure comes as the Trump administration seeks to choke off outside support to the Houthis. Naval officials provided reporters access to the weapons, which were stacked about five feet high and four weapons deep on the Dunham. The guns, which officials said were new when they were confiscated, are quickly rusting in the sea air. US officials believe the interdicted vessels embarked from Somalia and suspect the shipment may have been made with Iranian support.
Gregory Johnsen, who previously served as a member of UN’s Yemen Panel of Experts, said the inspectors in addition to examining the weapons probably would ask for documents that were found on the boat, information about communications its crew might have had with the shore, and information including maps to determine the vessel’s trajectory. But establishing origin will be more difficult since the weapons are small and commonly available.

Mattis Says Russia Cannot Replace US in Mideast
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/October 27/18/Russia is no replacement for the United States in the Middle East following Moscow's military intervention in Syria, US Defence Secretary Jim Mattis told a regional security conference on Saturday. "Russia's presence in the region cannot replace the longstanding, enduring, and transparent US commitment to the Middle East," Mattis told a meeting in the Bahraini capital Manama. He was speaking as Russian President Vladimir Putin was due to hold talks in Istanbul with the leaders of France, Germany and Turkey on Saturday seeking to find a lasting political solution to the seven-year civil war in Syria. Russia supports the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, while Turkey backs some rebel groups seeking to oust the Syrian leader. Mattis told the Manama Dialogue that Moscow's "opportunism and willingness to overlook Assad's criminal activities against his own people evidences its lack of sincere commitment to essential moral principles." Iran's support for the Syrian regime "coupled with Russia's repeated vetoes of UN Security Council Resolutions, is the leading reason Assad remains in power," he said. More than 360,000 people have been killed since the conflict erupted in 2011, while millions have been displaced, many of them seeking refuge in neighbouring countries such as Jordan, Turkey and Lebanon. "We are deeply aware of the sacrifices many of our partners have made, and continue to make, in dealing with the effects of Assad's violence against his own people," Mattis said. He vowed the US-led coalition in Syria would "continue to root out" jihadist groups "and expand space for our diplomats to negotiate for long-term peace in that war-torn country". "We stand with our partners who favour stability over chaos, and we support unity of effort among our nations' militaries in response to shared threats and challenges," Mattis added. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan was to host Putin, French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Istanbul for talks on the Syrian conflict. It will be the first summit to bring together the Turkish and Russian leaders with the European Union's two most significant national leaders. Turkish presidential spokesman Ibrahim Kalin said on Friday that the primary goal would be to "clarify the steps to be taken for a political solution and to determine a roadmap".

Mattis Slams Iran at Manama Dialogue Conference
Asharq Al-Awsat/Saturday, 27 October, 2018/US Defense Secretary Jim Mattis was on Saturday deeply critical of Tehran, reiterating support for Saudi Arabia against Iranian-backed Houthi insurgents in Yemen. "I reiterate US support for our partners' right to defend themselves against Iranian-supplied Houthi attacks on their sovereign territory," Mattis said at the annual Manama Dialogue security conference in Bahrain. The US, he said, wants to continue to build the capacity of the Yemeni security forces who are battling the Houthis. Mattis also talked about America's shared interests with its Arab partners, adding that "our respect for the Saudi people is undiminished."More broadly, his speech focused on regional cooperation and the US commitment to the Middle East. He repeated his frequent criticism of Iran's "outlaw regime," which has fueled insurgencies in Yemen and Iraq, backed the Syrian regime of Bashar Assad and fostered proxy terrorists across the region. He also warned that Russia's presence in the Middle East – where it is a major ally of Assad – could not be a replacement for the United States. "Russia’s presence in the region cannot replace the long-standing, enduring, and transparent US commitment to the Middle East – one I reiterate today without reservation here," Mattis said.

Idlib ceasefire must be safeguarded, says four-way Syria summit
Agencies Saturday, 27 October 2018/The leaders of Turkey, Russia, France and Germany on Saturday called for a ceasefire around the last major rebel-held bastion of Idlib in Syria to be preserved. The four nations “stressed the importance of a lasting ceasefire” according to a statement read at the end of an Istanbul summit by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, and also called for a committee to be established to draft a new constitution for Syria before the end of the year, “paving the way for free and fair elections”. German Chancellor Angela Merkel said a solution to the Syria crisis cannot simply be military and must include a political process under the auspices of the United Nations that envisages free elections as a goal. “At the end of this political process, there must be free elections to which all Syrians have access - including the diaspora,” Merkel told a news conference in Istanbul where she met the leaders of Turkey, Russia and France.
Major rebel stronghold
The four leaders of gathered in Istanbul on Saturday for a summit on Syria, where violence this week in the last remaining major rebel stronghold highlighted the fragility of a deal to avert a massive government offensive. Ankara, which has long backed rebels seeking to overthrow President Bashar al-Assad, and Moscow, Assad’s principal foreign ally, brokered the deal last month to create a demilitarized zone in the northwest Idlib region. Idlib and adjacent areas are the last stronghold of the rebels, who rose up against Assad in 2011. The area is home to an estimated 3 million people, more than half of whom have already fled other areas as government forces advanced.
Idlib casualties
Shelling in Idlib killed at least seven civilians on Friday, the largest one-day loss of life there since Russian air strikes stopped in mid-August, a war monitor said. President Erdogan shakes hands with French President Emmanuel Macron prior to a summit on Syria, in Istanbul.
Russian President Vladimir Putin, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, French President Emmanuel Macron and Erdogan are due to have four-way talks in Istanbul on Saturday. Putin spoke ahead of the summit by phone to Macron and Erdogan. Russian President Vladimir Putin meets German Chancellor Angela Merkel on the sidelines of Syria summit in Istanbul. (Reuters). UN Syria envoy Staffan de Mistura, who is stepping down at the end of next month for family reasons, is also taking part. Under their deal last month, Turkey and Russia agreed to set up a buffer zone running 15-20 km into rebel territory that had to be evacuated of all heavy weapons and all fighters.
Israel Accuses Syria, Iran of Ordering Gaza Rocket Fire
Associated Press/Naharnet/October 27/18/The Israeli army accused the Syrian government and Iran on Saturday of ordering Palestinian militants in Gaza to fire dozens of rockets into southern Israel, and threatened to retaliate wherever it chose. The barrage of rockets, which began late Friday and continued into Saturday, triggered extensive retaliatory strikes by Israeli aircraft against Gaza that risked escalating into a wider conflict. Islamic Jihad, the Palestinian militant group that launched the rockets, said on Saturday lunchtime it had signed up to an Egyptian-brokered truce with Israel to cease hostilities, though there was no Israeli confirmation. The new flare-up came hours after six Palestinians died in renewed clashes on the Gaza-Israel border even as the territory's Islamist rulers Hamas said Egypt was seeking to negotiate a return to calm. "The rockets that were launched against Israel... we know that the orders, incentives were given from Damascus with the clear involvement of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards' Quds Force," Israeli army spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Jonathan Conricus told journalists, referring to the Guards' foreign operations unit. At least 39 rockets have been fired at southern Israel by the Islamic Jihad group since late Friday, with 17 of them intercepted by air defences and the rest hitting open ground, the army said. Israeli aircraft carried out extensive retaliatory strikes, targeting approximately 90 sites belonging to the territory's Islamist rulers Hamas. It also struck eight Islamic Jihad sites, the army said.
Retaliation against Syria, Iran
Conricus said that Israel held Hamas responsible for the fire, even though it was carried out by Islamic Jihad at the behest of Syria and its ally Iran. "We hold Hamas responsible for everything coming from Gaza," he said. Conricus said Israel would also retaliate against the Syrian government and Iran's Quds Force, and would choose where. "Part of the address by which we will deal with this fire is also in Damascus and the Quds Force," he said. "Our response is not limited geographically." The armed wing of Islamic Jihad, the second largest militant group in Gaza, initially threatened to continue and expand its rocket fire. But on Saturday afternoon, the group's spokesman announced an immediate ceasefire, saying Egypt had negotiated a truce with Israel. "A comprehensive ceasefire agreement was reached which came into force immediately in exchange for a halt to the Israeli aggression," Islamic Jihad spokesman Dawoud Shihab told AFP. Israeli officials did not immediate respond to requests for comment on the alleged deal.
Truce deal progress
The biggest rocket barrage from Gaza in months came despite talk of progress towards an Egyptian-brokered deal to end months of often violent protests along the border in return for an easing of Israel's crippling 11-year blockade. On Sunday, Israel reopened the people and goods border crossings with Gaza and on Wednesday renewed the flow of Qatar-funded fuel to the Palestinian enclave, in an indication of its confidence that Hamas would rein in violence. The Friday border marches however drew 16,000 protesters, some of them clashing with Israeli soldiers. Five Palestinians were shot dead by Israeli fire in separate incidents along the border fence, the Gaza health ministry said. A sixth died when a hand grenade he was holding exploded accidentally, witnesses said. There were no reports of deaths in Gaza as a result of the Israeli air strikes, which continued on Saturday. In Gaza City, a four-storey building was completely destroyed, AFP correspondents reported. The Israeli army said it was a major headquarters of Hamas. Israel has fought three wars since 2008 with Hamas and its allies, including Islamic Jihad, and Egypt and the United Nations have been leading diplomatic efforts to avert a fourth. Israel has struck Syria dozens of times in recent years, saying it is preventing Iran from supplying advanced weapons to enemies of the Jewish state. US President Donald Trump's peace envoy Jason Greenblatt condemned the rocket fire. "More rockets from Gaza into Israel. Another night where parents are ushering terrified children to cover. Violence will not build futures for anyone," he said on Twitter. Palestinians have gathered for protests along the border at least weekly since March 30. At least 213 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli fire in Gaza since the protests began, according to figures collated by AFP. The majority have died during protests, while smaller numbers have been killed by air strikes or tank fire. One Israeli soldier was shot dead by a Palestinian sniper over the same period. The protesters are calling to be allowed to return to lands their families fled or were expelled from in the 1948 war that accompanied Israel's creation. They are also protesting against the Israeli blockade.

Israel Accuses Syria, Iran on Gaza Rocket Fire
Asharq Al-Awsat/Saturday, 27 October, 2018/The Israeli military accused on Saturday Syria and Iran of responsibility in a night-long barrage of rocket attacks out of the Gaza Strip and threatened to strike Iranian targets in Syria in response. Military spokesman Lt. Col. Jonathan Conricus told reporters that “Islamic Jihad” was behind the rocket fire, after receiving orders from the Iranian Revolutionary Guards' Al Quds force based in Syria. "We have seen and established a clear link between Gaza and Damascus," he said, adding that Israel's response will not be "limited geographically."Conricus said Israel still holds “Hamas” responsible for all fire out of Gaza, and has seen no signs of the movement trying to stop the fire. Israeli aircraft have struck dozens of sites across the Gaza Strip as a barrage of rockets fired at Israel in the heaviest exchange of fire between the bitter enemies in several weeks. The fighting late Friday and early Saturday followed a bloody day of border protests, in which Israeli forces shot and killed five Palestinians protesting along the perimeter fence dividing Gaza and Israel. "Overnight, dozens of rockets were launched from the Gaza Strip at communities in southern Israel," the Israeli army said, putting the exact number in a separate announcement at 30. It said the Iron Dome intercepted approximately 10 of them, while two rockets came down inside the Gaza Strip and the others hit "open areas". The sudden burst of fighting and bloodshed complicated the mission of Egyptian mediators, who have intensified shuttle diplomacy to achieve calm and prevent a full-blown conflict between “Hamas” and Israel. The Israeli military said it had struck some 80 sites across Gaza by early Saturday morning, including a security headquarters building.

Israel Selects New Chief of Staff

Asharq Al-Awsat/Friday, 27 October, 2018/Former military intelligence chief Aviv Kochavi was named as Israel’s next chief of staff, announced Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman on Friday. Kochavi, who has served as deputy chief of staff since 2017, was picked after "consultations with dozens of people" including former premiers, Lieberman's office said. Kochavi is set to take up the post at the start of 2019, succeeding General Gadi Eisenkot, whose term ends this year. The appointment must first be approved by a government committee due to meet on Sunday, before going before cabinet. Kochavi has served as head of the army's northern command and as military intelligence chief during the 2014 war against the Palestinian Islamist movement Hamas in Gaza. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu welcomed the choice of Kochavi, a graduate of Harvard University and Johns Hopkins University in the United States. "Kochavi is the most worthy candidate to be the Israeli army’s next chief of staff," Netanyahu said in a statement. Eisenkot, the current chief of staff, congratulated his deputy on being selected to succeed him, the army said in a statement, adding that Kochavi is "a distinguished officer with extensive combat experience from multiple combat theatres."

Oman: We are not mediating Israel-Palestine peace process, but offering ideas
Staff writer, Al Arabiya English/Saturday, 27 October 2018/Oman’s minister responsible for foreign affairs, Yousuf bin Alawi bin Abdullah, has said that the Sultanate does not play the role of mediator between the Palestinians and Israel, but is offering ideas to help them to come together. At a security summit in Bahrain, a day after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s visit to Oman, the Omani minister said his country was very optimistic about reaching a solution in the Middle East that would be beneficial to both the Palestinians and Israel. Bin Alawi said earlier that Netanyahu’s visit to Muscat and his meeting with Sultan Qaboos was preceded by the visit of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, but the two visits came within their bilateral framework. On the topic, Bahrain's foreign minister referred to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s visit to Oman on Friday and meeting with Sultan Qaboos. “We never questioned the wisdom of Oman’s Sultan Qaboos to contribute to Israel-Palestine issue and we wish him well in his effort,” Sheikh Khalid bin Ahmed said.

Breathtaking' Destruction in Syria's Ghouta

Berlin – London/Beirut- Asharq Al-Awsat/Saturday, 27 October, 2018/The destruction in Syria's Eastern Ghouta is overwhelming and the humanitarian needs huge, a top Red Cross official said Friday after visiting the former opposition stronghold outside Damascus. Dominik Stillhart, director of operations for the International Committee of the Red Cross, said the scope of the devastation was still emerging, six months after the fighting ended. "I was really overwhelmed by the level of destruction that we found in Eastern Ghouta. I've never seen anything like this ever before," he told journalists in Beirut. After retaking significant territory from ISIS, the regime set its sights on recapturing Eastern Ghouta earlier this year, viewing the opposition presence so close to the capital as an affront to its authority. It launched a massive Russian-backed offensive against the besieged enclave that killed more than 1,700 civilians. Tens of thousands of people fled as the enclave's towns surrendered one after the other. Residents have been trickling back to the area but the lack of infrastructure, the fear of arrest and the risk posed by unexploded ordnance are preventing mass returns.  "In some parts of Eastern of Ghouta like Harasta where we were, up to 90 percent of infrastructure is completely destroyed," Stillhart said. "It's really breathtaking the level of destruction there," he said after his first visit to the area. Meanwhile, a United Nations official said that UN-led aid delivery, critically needed by thousands of civilians stranded in a camp on the Syrian-Jordanian border, has been postponed and will not arrive on Saturday as was expected by community leaders. “The planned joint UN-Syrian Arab Red Crescent (SARC) humanitarian convoy to Rukban camp has been delayed for logistical and security reasons,” Fadwa Abed Rabou Baroud, a Damascus-based UN official, told Reuters on Friday. “The UN remains ready to deliver aid for the 50,000 people in need as soon as conditions allow,” Baroud added. In the last three years, tens of thousands of people have fled to the camp from ISIS-held parts of Syria being targeted by Russian and US-led coalition air strikes. A siege earlier this month by the Syrian army and a block on aid by Jordan has depleted food at the desert camp where the borders of Syria, Jordan and Iraq meet. That has led to at least a dozen deaths in the past two weeks among its more than 50,000 inhabitants, mainly women and children, residents and UN sources told Reuters.

ISIS Kills 41 SDF Fighters in Eastern Syria: Monitor

Beirut- Asharq Al-Awsat/Saturday, 27 October, 2018/The ISIS terrorist group has killed 41 US-backed fighters in Syria who are battling to oust the extremists from their eastern holdout of Hajin on the Iraqi border, a war monitor said Saturday. The ISIS-linked Aamaq news agency said that more than 40 SDF fighters were killed and posted a video of six gunmen captured alive. The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said and that ISIS gunmen late Friday attacked SDF positions on the eastern banks of the Euphrates river in east Syria and the fighting continued until early Saturday. The SDF fighters, who are backed by US-led coalition air strikes, were killed overnight, the Observatory said. In a statement on the Telegram messaging app, ISIS said it had attacked the village of Sousa late Friday and detonated a car bomb near the village of Al-Baghuza further south, down the Euphrates river. The SDF last month launched an offensive against the militants in the Hajin pocket on the eastern banks of the Euphrates, in Deir Ezzor province. ISIS has staged a bloody fightback. Since September 10, 270 SDF fighters and 496 ISIS radicals have been killed in the offensive, the Observatory says. The coalition estimates that 2,000 ISIS fighters remain in the Hajin area. ISIS overran large swathes of Syria and neighboring Iraq in 2014, proclaiming a "caliphate" across the land it controlled. But the extremist group has since lost most of that territory to various offensives in both countries. In Syria, its presence has been reduced to parts of the vast Badia desert and the Hajin pocket. Syria's war has killed more than 360,000 people since it erupted in 2011 with the brutal repression of anti-government protests.

ISIS Executes Civilians Over Cooperation With Iraqi Army

Baghdad- Asharq Al-Awsat/Saturday, 27 October, 2018/Five civilians were executed after being kidnapped by ISIS on Thursday in Baaj town, west of Mosul, a source from the Iraqi army said on Friday. Speaking to BasNews website, Col. Thamer Abdullah said “ISIS members executed five civilians after being previously abducted.” Abdullah said the civilians were executed for gathering information about the militant group and cooperating with the Iraqi army in the west of Mosul, adding that the bodies of the victims were transferred to the health department in Baaj. The ISIS terrorist group continues to launch sporadic attacks across Iraq against troops. Security reports indicate that the militant group still threatens stability in the country, especially with sleeper cells through which it carries out attacks across the country. According to casualty figures recorded by the United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI), a total of 75 Iraqi civilians were killed and another 179 injured in acts of terrorism, violence and armed conflict in Iraq in September 2018. The figures include ordinary citizens and others considered civilian at the time of death or injury, such as police in non-combat functions, civil defense, personal security teams, facilities protection police and fire department personnel. Baghdad was the worst affected Governorate, with 101 civilian casualties (31 killed, 70 injured), followed by Anbar (15 killed and 37 injured) and Salahadin (09 killed and 38 injured).
In December, Iraq announced gaining control on all the territories that were captured by ISIS since 2014.
Turkey Hosts Syria Summit with Russian, French, German Leaders
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/October 27/18/The leaders of Turkey, Russia, France and Germany meet in Istanbul on Saturday to try to find a lasting political solution to the Syrian civil war and salvage a fragile ceasefire in a rebel-held northern province. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan will host Russian President Vladimir Putin, French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel for the summit on the conflict, in which more than 360,000 people have been killed since 2011. The talks come a day after seven civilians were killed by Syrian regime fire in the last major rebel-held bastion of Idlib, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, the highest death toll since a ceasefire was reached there last month. Russia, which supports the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, and Turkey, which backs the rebels, agreed to create a buffer zone around Idlib, but violence has escalated dramatically leading up to the summit. Turkey and Russia have held previous talks with Iran on the Syrian conflict, in efforts that have often been greeted with suspicion in the West, but Saturday's summit will be the first to include the European Union's two most significant national leaders. Turkish presidential spokesman Ibrahim Kalin said on Friday that the primary goal would be to "clarify the steps to be taken for a political solution and to determine a roadmap".
Forming a commission to create Syria's post-war constitution, seen as a stepping stone to staging elections in the war-torn country, would be a particular point of emphasis, Kalin told the state-run news agency Anadolu. A United Nations plan for a committee to draft a new constitution ran aground this week after Damascus blocked the proposal, provoking anger among western powers. UN special envoy Staffan de Mistura, who will attend the Istanbul summit, said the Syrian government would not accept a role for the United Nations in selecting a list.
Idlib ceasefire under threat
The Istanbul talks will also discuss extending the ceasefire around Idlib, where aid groups have warned that a military offensive could spark one of the worst humanitarian disasters of the seven-year war. With an assault by government troops seeming imminent, Moscow and Ankara agreed on September 17 to create a 15-20 kilometre-wide demilitarised zone ringing Idlib as Turkey sought to avoid an attack leading to a further influx of people across its border.
However shelling in the area continued intermittently and has ramped up in recent days.
On Friday, Syria's UN envoy Bashar Jaafari maintained that the buffer zone is temporary and that Idlib would eventually revert to government control. Meanwhile France hopes to extend the ceasefire to enable aid convoys to get through to Idlib, home to three million people.
During a phone call with Putin before the summit on Saturday, Macron reiterated his objectives to "extend the ceasefire in Idlib, prohibit chemical weapons, ensure access to humanitarian aid and find a timetable for the political process," the Elysee palace said.
'Modest expectations'
The participants talked down hopes of a long-term solution ahead of the summit, with the Elysee palace saying there were "modest expectations" and Putin's spokesman Dmitry Peskov urging all sides to be "realistic". Peskov said "the issue of the day is to reconcile different formats in order to synchronise our watches, to negotiate, and to attempt to identify common topics". Syria's opposition, which has previously described Russia's military intervention in 2015 as an occupation, on Friday said it welcomed dialogue with Moscow, signalling readiness for more concessions following the Assad regime's battlefield successes. Meanwhile German Defence Minister Ursula von der Leyen said that "reconstruction to the profit of the dictatorship of Assad is not conceivable". "There will be only investment into Syria if there is a satisfying political process that includes all parties," she told a security conference in Bahrain on Saturday. At the same conference, US Defence Secretary Jim Mattis said Russia is no replacement for the United States. "Russia's presence in the region cannot replace the longstanding, enduring, and transparent US commitment to the Middle East," Mattis said.
The summit also takes place in the aftermath of journalist Jamal Khashoggi's murder in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on October 2. Turkish media reported that Erdogan will discuss the crisis in one-on-one talks with leaders on the summit's sidelines. The summit was set to start around 3:00 pm local time (1200 GMT) and the four leaders were expected to issue a statement ahead of individual press conferences.

Istanbul Summit Seeks to Find Syria Solution
Moscow - Raed Jabr/Asharq Al-Awsat/Saturday, 27 October, 2018/Kremlin Spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Friday he hoped that Russia, Turkey, Germany and France would find “common grounds” for dealing with the Syrian crisis. On Saturday, leaders of the four states would issue a joint statement after their summit in Istanbul, the spokesperson said. "These are no disagreements. There are different approaches. In general, we all, obviously, seek a political settlement in Syria. It is a common goal. But speaking about the means and tactics, there of course might be some differences," Peskov said. Earlier, the Kremlin press service said: “The issue concerns sharing opinions on the situation in Syria, including on promoting the process of political settlement, and further steps for the consolidation of security and stability and the establishment of conditions for the return of the refugees and the restoration of the socio-economic infrastructure.”The Kremlin spokesman said Russian President Vladimir Putin will also hold a number of bilateral meetings as part of his visit to Turkey. Meanwhile, a delegation of Syria’s opposition Negotiation Commission (SNC) led by its president, Nasr al-Hariri, held talks with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov. After the meeting, the Russian Foreign Ministry said Moscow is prepared to help establish an inclusive intra-Syrian dialogue on the basis of the resolutions of the Syrian National Dialogue Congress in Sochi and United Nations Security Council Resolution 2254.

Rise in Number of Fighters Returning to Germany from Mideast
Cologne (Germany) - Majid al-Khateeb/Asharq Al-Awsat/Saturday, 27 October, 2018/The German interior ministry has admitted that the number of fighters who have traveled from Germany to Syria and Iraq increased in 2017. In response to a parliamentary questionnaire submitted by the Left party, the ministry said at least 249 people have traveled from Germany to both countries. The number of those heading to fight alongside Kurds between April and December 2017 reached 45. While 204 people, including 69 Germans, joined different terrorist organizations in the two countries last year. Twenty-one of those who embarked on the journey on fight alongside Kurds against ISIS were killed, it said. It added that 22 of those supporting Kurds in Iraq and Syria have returned. They are part of 124 people who have returned to Germany after fighting in the two countries. The number of those joining terrorist groups in Syria and Iraq had dropped significantly in 2016. Ulla Jelpke, one of the Left party politicians who submitted the questionnaire, was highly critical of the interior ministry for considering Kurdish fighters as terrorists. "The fact that ISIS has been pushed back is thanks, in great part, to Kurdish YPG ground troops and their volunteer supporters. To investigate them for being members of a terrorist organization upon return is just grotesque," said Jelpke. German newspaper Neue Osnabrücker Zeitung quoted police as saying that the judiciary has opened an investigation into many terror-related cases on returnees from Syria and Iraq. The prosecution has accused 27 of them of belonging to a terrorist organization. But dropped charges against 16 because of lack of evidence.

Iraqi PM Appointed as Caretaker Minister of Defense, Interior
Baghdad – Hamza Mustafa/Asharq Al-Awsat/Saturday, 27 October, 2018/Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi announced that he will occupy key cabinet posts left unfilled by parliament’s Thursday vote on the government lineup. The lawmakers failed to vote on key ministries, including the defense and interior portfolios, forcing him to step in as caretaker minister. He initially expected to nominate a full 22-member cabinet, but legislators from Moqtada al-Sadr's Sairoon bloc, former Prime Minister Haidar al-Abadi's Victory Alliance, Vice President Iyad Allawi's Wataniya and Sunni Muslim blocs withdrew from the parliament session before voting began, citing disagreements. Parliament voted in only 14 nominees, leaving key posts, like minister of higher education, culture, justice, and immigration empty, calling for caretaker ministers to be assigned to them. Lawmakers from the Islah bloc — the largest in parliament — complained that they were not given enough time to review the nominees, named only hours before the vote. The bloc is competing with the Binaa coalition over the interior portfolio. “Our candidate for the defense portfolio is Hashim al-Darraji, he is reputable, respected by all, has a clear history, serves as a leading figure and is an army veteran,” MP Mohammed al-Karbouli, member of National Axis Alliance, which represents Sunnis in Binaa coalition, told Asharq Al-Awsat. “The dispute over Falih al-Fayyad taking office as interior minister continues after Sadr vetoed his assignment,” a well-informed source, speaking under the conditions of anonymity, told Asharq Al-Awsat. The source noted that the Fatah Alliance, led by Badr Organization founder Hadi Al-Ameri, still insists on the Binaa coalition candidate. “If the dispute continues over the interior portfolio ... the very same consensus that empowered Abdul Mahdi’s nomination as prime minister and allowed for the cabinet formation process to commence is threatened with total collapse,” the source explained.

Libya’s Sarraj, UN Envoy Meet Italian PM in Rome
Cairo - Khaled Mahmoud/Asharq Al-Awsat/Saturday, 27 October, 2018/Head of Libya’s Government of National Accord (GNA) Fayez al-Sarraj held talks on Friday with Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte in Rome. A brief statement carried on the Italian government’s website announced that the two officials had met, but did not disclose the details of their talks. The AKI news agency speculated that the discussions focused on the upcoming international conference on Libya that will be hosted by the Italian city of Palermo on November 12 and 13. United Nations special envoy to Libya Ghassan Salame had also held talks with Conte on Friday. The Italian PM is scheduled to receive next week Libyan National Army (LNA) commander Khalifa Haftar. On Thursday, Haftar had held talks with Salame at the LNA headquarters in al-Rajma on the outskirts of the eastern city of Benghazi. A brief statement from Haftar’s office said they had discussed the latest local and international developments. Salame stated that the talks focused on the latest developments in Libya and ways of ending its crisis. Efforts are underway to bring together all rival Libyan parties to attend the Palermo conference. Conte had previously said that the meeting is aimed at reasserting the international community’s strong support for the country’s UN-led political process. Separately, the Tobruk-based parliament called lawmakers to a session on Monday to discuss the constitutional amendment linked to the constitutional referendum draft. The MPs are also set to discuss Libya’s general budget and the restructuring of permanent parliamentary committees.

Jubeir: Khashoggi Killers 'Will Be Prosecuted in Saudi Arabia'

Agence France Presse/Naharnet/October 27/18/Saudi Arabia will prosecute the suspects in the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, Riyadh's foreign minister said Saturday in response to a call by Turkey for their extradition. "On the issue of extradition, the individuals are Saudi nationals. They're detained in Saudi Arabia, and the investigation is in Saudi Arabia, and they will be prosecuted in Saudi Arabia," Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir said at a regional defence forum in the Bahraini capital. Jubeir's comments come the day after Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan called for the extradition of 18 Saudi nationals authorities say were involved in the murder of Khashoggi, a Saudi government critic killed in his country's consulate in Istanbul this month. After denying knowledge of Khashoggi's whereabouts for nearly three weeks, Riyadh admitted Khashoggi's murder had been "premeditated" but denied the involvement of the kingdom's powerful Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. "We will overcome it," Jubeir told the defence forum. "The issue, as I said, is being investigated. We will know the truth. We will hold those responsible accountable. And we will put in place mechanisms to ensure it doesn't happen again."Once an insider in Saudi royal circles, Khashoggi fell out of favour with the monarchy after Mohammed bin Salman was named heir to the throne last year. The columnist went into self-imposed exile in the United States, where he wrote a column for The Washington Post, which was often critical of the crown prince. Khashoggi was least seen entering the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on October 2 to complete paperwork for his wedding to his Turkish fiancee, Hatice Cengiz. She has demanded punishment of everyone involved in his murder "from the highest to the lowest levels."

Bolsonaro, Brazil's 'Tropical Trump' Poised to Win Presidency
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/October 27/18/Sometimes called a "Tropical Trump" for his politically incorrect vitriol, Brazilian far-right presidential candidate and heavy favorite Jair Bolsonaro has successfully played to an electorate disgusted with politics as usual. Bolsonaro, 63, has built an image as a political outsider ready to rough up the establishment -- no small feat given that, unlike the US president, he is a longtime politician. The seven-term congressman has few legislative initiatives to his record but, crucially, has not been caught up in the massive corruption scandals that have made Brazilians furious with the political class in recent years.But he has made enemies with his intolerant comments directed at women, gays and blacks, while fondly recalling Brazil's brutal military dictatorship (1964-1985), in which he served as an army captain. "The dictatorship's mistake," he said two years ago, "was to torture and not kill" leftist dissidents and suspected sympathizers. But Bolsonaro has promised that if elected he would govern "with authority, but not authoritarianism."Running against leftist Fernando Haddad, Bolsonaro has promised to relax gun-control laws so that "good people" can take justice into their own hands, in a country fed up with violent crime. In an ironic twist of fate, he was himself stabbed in the stomach at a campaign rally in September, by an attacker who said God had sent him to kill Bolsonaro. The front-runner spent three weeks in the hospital. But he did not let his injuries keep him off his beloved social media accounts, where he kept up his virulent campaign. He survived without long-term damage, but, citing doctors' orders, has since refrained from campaign rallies and -- to Haddad's chagrin -- debates.
Business, beef, bullets, Bibles
Bolsonaro calls himself an admirer of Donald Trump, and has similarly tapped a deep national malaise -- in Brazil's case, one caused by crime, an ailing economy and the never-ending "Car Wash" corruption scandal that has stoked fury at the political class. "He talks about 'politicians' as if he weren't part of that world. He wants to come across as a strongman, a hardliner, who will fight corruption," said Michael Mohallem, a law professor at the Getulio Vargas Foundation.Bolsonaro has sealed the support of the business sector, as well as Brazil's powerful "Beef, bullets and Bible" caucus -- comprising the agrobusiness lobby, security hardliners and Evangelical Christians. He owes his business support mainly to his choice of top financial adviser: respected liberal economist Paulo Guedes, a graduate of the University of Chicago. He earned the agro-lobby's backing with vows to put agriculture before the environment -- frightening environmentalists, who warn he would be disastrous for the Amazon rainforest. Evangelicals meanwhile like his social conservatism -- although some frown on the fact that Bolsonaro, a Catholic, has five children by three women.
Attacking women, blacks, gays
Born in 1955 to a Catholic family with Italian roots, Bolsonaro served as a paratrooper in the military before starting his political career in 1988 as a Rio de Janeiro city councilor. Two years later, he was elected to the lower house of Congress, where he has been since. He has ignited one explosive controversy after another with his misogynist and racist remarks. In 2003, he said a female lawmaker he opposed was "not worth raping." In 2011, he told Playboy magazine he would rather his sons be killed in an accident than come out as gay. In 2016, he dedicated his vote to impeach leftist former president Dilma Rousseff to the military officer who headed the torture unit where she was detained as a political prisoner during the dictatorship. With piercing blue eyes, Bolsonaro was known for his physical strength in his army days -- earning the nickname "Big Horse." Today, his most fervent supporters have given him another nickname, the "Myth" -- an image only bolstered when he survived the stabbing attack last month.Bolsonaro has four sons -- three of them politicians -- and, in what he called a moment of "weakness," a daughter.

The Latest LCCC Bulletin analysis & editorials from miscellaneous sources published on October 27-28/18
The Breakneck Islamization of Turkey's Education System
Uzay Bulut/Gatestone Institute/October 27/18
After the minimum age for Quran studies in Turkey was abolished in 2011, a project named "Pre-school religious education through Koran classes" was piloted in ten cities across the country in 2013. The project teaches "basic Islamic information" to children between the ages of four and six. Since then, the number of "pre-school Koran classes" has continued to rise.
The number of religious "imam hatip schools" has climbed from 450 in 2002 to 4,112 in 2017. Meanwhile, there are only 302 specialized science high schools in the country.
"There are religious organizations... [that] pump their own ideologies on children through classes in 'values education' ... We know that they use one-sided language that demonizes those who are different. We observe that the students who are exposed to such curricula consider those who think differently to be their 'enemies.'... When one looks at countries such as Afghanistan, where similar steps were taken, one can see where this process leads to." — İlknur Bahadır Kaya, chairman of the Parents' Association.
Turkey's Directorate of Religious Affairs (Diyanet) is set to receive an additional two billion liras (around $350 million), boosting its budget from last year's 8.3 billion liras ($1.5 billion) to 10.4 billion ($1.8 billion) liras for 2019, according to the newspaper Cumhuriyet. This increase in budget surpasses that of 29 other major state institutions, including the ministries of the interior and foreign affairs.
The Diyanet, the state body regulating the role of Islam in Turkey, apparently has, as one of its main missions, transforming the country's education system. It is now fully engaged in shaping school curricula.
After the minimum age for Quran studies in Turkey was abolished in 2011, a project named "Pre-school religious education through Quran classes," implemented by the Diyanet, was piloted in ten cities across the country in 2013. The project teaches the Quran and "basic Islamic information" to children between the ages of four and six. In 2015, the Diyanet decided to expand to program to "all places where physical conditions are suitable." Since then, the number of "pre-school Koran classes" has continued to rise. It has increased to 150,000 students in five years.
In 2016, Turkey's Education Ministry and the Diyanet signed a "protocol of cooperation in education," which provided all Diyanet publications -- as well as radio and TV broadcasts -- to Turkey's Educational Informatics Network (EBA) to be "turned into course contents and materials."
In addition, in every field under the purview of the Education Ministry, the Diyanet will also have equal decision-making authority, according to a 2017 regulation by the Finance Ministry. That cooperation between the two institutions, as "equal partners in decision-making," has been rapidly expanding. One joint endeavor is the "hafiz training project," which aims to "raise children with religious discipline." Middle-school students at religious vocational schools, named "imam hatip" schools, are now being trained to memorize the entire Quran.
This project is not just the first mosque-based educational program in Turkey; participants who succeed in Quran fluency -- regardless of their secular academic performance -- graduate to upper grades.
According to Feray Aytekin Aydoğan, president of the Education Union:
"That children -- from the age of nine -- are handed over to people who are affiliated with the Diyanet and who are not educators is a violation of children's rights... This hafiz education is unlawful... The students who go to mosques for this training will be away from schools and this is a crime and a violation of their rights."
All the same, the number of "imam hatip" schools has climbed from 450 in 2002 to 4,112 in 2017. Meanwhile, there are only 302 specialized science high schools in the country.
Imam hatip schools, to educate children for careers as imams and preachers, were opened for the first time in Turkey in 1924. However, ever since the Islamist Justice and Development Party (AKP) came to power in 2002, government authorities have appeared to give these schools precedence over other types of schools, and pour money into them in an apparent attempt to reshape Turkish educational system. Today, the curricula of imam hatip schools contain Islamic courses as well as other courses, but the graduates can study at all departments at universities.
The Education Ministry has also, through a 2017 regulation, increased the cap on the number of imam hatip schools that can operate from 5,000 to 50,000, paving the way for an imam hatip high school "in every neighborhood" in Turkey.
In addition, the Turkish government has green-lighted the re-establishment of madrassas, Islamic theological schools.
The first madrassas in Anatolia were established by Seljuk Turks, who invaded and captured the area in the eleventh century, to offer instruction in the field of Islamic jurisprudence (fikih) on Sunni Islam. Ottomans embraced the madrassa tradition in the fourteenth century and strengthened them as their top educational institutions.
According to professor Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu, a scholar of Islam and a 2014 presidential candidate, "The construction of a mosque and alongside it a madrasa [became] a tradition in places conquered by the Ottomans, an integral part of their policy of conquest."
Although madrassas were abolished in Turkey in 1924, several "unofficial" ones are still operating across the country.
On September 15, Ali Erbaş, head of the Diyanet, visited the president of Eren University in Bitlis and requested that universities and madrassas "benefit" from one another. In 2016, Mehmet Görmez, then head of the Diyanet, called on the government to legalize madrassas again. "The madrassa tradition has weakened in time," he said.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan agreed, saying:
"When the republic closed down the madrassas, it created a greater [societal] void... Imam hatip schools and divinity departments [at universities] are significant, but they have not yet reached the level of knowledge of the madrassa tradition."
The Diyanet also recently stated that mosques are not only places of worship but also "schools." Addressing religious authorities at a conference in Edirne on September 22, Erbaş said:
"The struggle between the haqq and batil ["truth" and "falsehood" in Arabic] will continue until doomsday. Is today's darkness and ignorance any less than those of yesterday?... This issue will not end; it will continue. And who will do the work on behalf of the Prophet? We will, you will and all of us will. Each mosque should also be a school. Those who come to the mosque, and those who don't, as well as the people in your neighborhoods, are all your students."
The Diyanet has also increased activities at student dormitories. In 2016, for instance, it piloted the "project for spiritual guidance." This year alone, 559 "spiritual guides" have been appointed by the Diyanet in dormitories across Turkey. Among the duties of the spiritual guides are "recommending articles and books to students, conducting polls and organizing symposia."
In an interview with the Turkish daily, Birgun, in September, İlknur Bahadır Kaya, chairman of the Parents' Association, railed against this situation:
"When we talk about the religionizing of the education system, we are not only talking about the increase in the number of imam hatip schools. There are religious organizations and communities that are allowed in schools with no supervision at all. They pump their own ideologies on children through classes in 'values education' or seminars. We know that they use one-sided language that demonizes those who are different. We observe that the students who are exposed to such curricula consider those who think differently to be their 'enemies.'
"We also see that poor families and families with many children enroll their children at the dormitories run by these religious organizations and foundations. ... It is impossible to understand that those who don't have the slightest problem with what is going on inside these dormitories [such as the rape of children by their teachers] have problems with girls and boys sitting side by side or holding hands at mixed schools. That is why we are worried about the future of our country. When one looks at countries such as Afghanistan, where similar steps were taken, one can see where this process leads to."
*Uzay Bulut, a journalist from Turkey, is a Distinguished Senior Fellow at Gatestone Institute. She is currently based in Washington D.C.
© 2018 Gatestone Institute. All rights reserved. The articles printed here do not necessarily reflect the views of the Editors or of Gatestone Institute. No part of the Gatestone website or any of its contents may be reproduced, copied or modified, without the prior written consent of Gatestone Institute.

Oil’s Rally Isn’t Over Yet
David Fickling/Bloomberg/October 27/18
Put down that chart and look around you.
West Texas Intermediate crude suffered its sharpest fall in three months Tuesday, slumping as much as 5.5 percent after the contract slipped below its 200-day moving average for the first time in a year — a negative signal for technical analysts. Brent did the same thing on the choppier 50-day moving average.
When combined with some supply-happy words from Saudi Arabia’s energy minister and expectations of a substantial inventory build in the US, that action was enough for many to conclude the rally is dead.
Still, oil’s end-users don’t pay nearly as much attention to y-axes as its traders do, and there’s ample reason to doubt that they’re done buying yet. While rising crude and falling emerging-market currencies over the past year have led to signs of oil-shock conditions in some countries, demand is still remarkably resilient.
Take China, which edged ahead of the US this year to become the world’s biggest importer of crude. Seven of its eight record months for oil imports have been over the past year. India (which overtook Japan in recent years to become the number three importer) just notched the same record, despite soaring product prices. New Delhi even cut taxes on gasoline and diesel earlier this month.
While demand for high-speed diesel — the most popular fraction of the barrel, used to power India’s ubiquitous two- and three-wheelers — was down marginally from a year earlier in September, consumption of gasoline for cars and LPG for cooking continued to climb. If you can detect a major trend-break in this chart, where we’ve tried to smooth out the volatility by looking at the year-on-year change in trailing three-month demand, you’ve got better eyes than me. Many of the conditions that set up oil’s rally in 2018 remain in place, and won’t dissipate until well into next year. The spread between West Texas Intermediate crude in the U.S. onshore Permian basin and its main pricing point in Oklahoma has narrowed sharply from its levels a few years ago. That suggests the glut in the Permian is easing, but it may be more a result of slowing output growth than the expectation that the shortage of pipeline capacity to get crude to coastal ports is over. Looking at forward spreads into 2019, the gap doesn’t really narrow until the second half of the year. As a result, the main source of oil-supply growth in recent years is still largely segregated from the global market.
Even if nothing goes wrong there, Saudi Arabia itself is probably running closer to capacity than it has in decades. The country likes to have about 1.5 million barrels a day to 2 million barrels a day on hand. There’s now only about 2 percent of global capacity in reserve, according to the International Energy Agency, and the figure is shrinking.
It’s still possible that the world rides out this latest supply-demand mismatch and heads toward the landmark of 100 million barrels a day of demand without prices spiking again. But for that to happen, everything has to go right on the supply side, and the demand side needs to start showing signs of a fatigue that we haven’t seen so far. Don’t count this rally out just yet.

Israel: Iranian Force in Syria Behind Rocket Attack on South

Amos Harel and Yaniv Kubovich/Haaretz/October 27/18
IDF says that Islamic Jihad is behind attacks Friday night, under orders from Iran. Adds that it holds Hamas responsible for the Gaza Strip and has therefore targeted only Hamas targets
The Islamic Jihad is responsible for firing rockets into Gaza Friday night, Israel's security services said Saturday.
Friday night's events, in which 36 rockets were launched at Israel from Gaza, "were led by the Islamic Jihad with clear guidance from Iran and the Revolutionary Guards’ Quds force in Syria," the IDF spokesman said Saturday. "The entire incident was under Iran's guidance through the Quds force that led the attacks," the IDF said.
The IDF struck 87 Hamas targets Friday and an additional eight Islamic Jihad targets in Gaza on Saturday. On Saturday, the Islamic Jihad announced it had reached a cease-fire with Israel, brokered by Egypt.
According to the security services, the motives behind the rockets launch are still unclear: The organization could be following an Iranian order, given reports for progress on reaching an agreement in Gaza. Another option is that Islamic Jihad is not satisfied with the achievements Hamas reached with Israel, and is pushing Palestinians to step up their efforts in order to gain more ground.
IDF Spokesperson Brig. Gen. Ronen Manelis said that the events Friday night reflect the connection between the various threats against Israel, led by Iran. "The IDF's prioritizes Iran and its entrenchment in Syria, as well as Hezbollah, the safety of residents of Judea and Samaria and of Israeli settlements near the Gaza border and the fight against ISIS," Manelis said.
Manelis added that the IDF had conveyed a "clear message in the past few hours, that no one is immune, neither in Gaza nor outside Gaza."
Manelis added that Islamic Jihad targets had not been attacked Friday because Israel holds Hamas responsible for the rocket barrage. Israel is demanding that Hamas restrain Islamic Jihad and restore order in Gaza. The Islamic Jihad organization said in response that if Israel continues to bomb the Strip, the organization would respond accordingly.
Around 16,000 people participated in protests along the Gaza border Friday, the IDF said in a statement, adding they threw stones at troops as well as fire-bombs and granades, while also burning tIres. Five Palestinians were killed in these protests by live IDF fire. In two occasions protestors managed to breach the fence for a short period of time, the statement added.
Manelis said that when Hamas brings so many people to the fence, "Hamas' ability to prevent the throwing of explosives and tires is almost nonexistent."
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu visited Oman, which neighbors Iran, Thursday and met with Sultan Qaboos Bin Said. The meeting was the first of its kind between leaders of the two countries since 1996.
In addition, the chief of general staff of Azerbaijan's armed forces arrived in Israel for his first official visit. Azerbaijan is Iran's northern neighbor, and the country has maintained close ties with Israel in recent years.
The Israel Air Force said it struck around 85 Hamas targets late Friday night after 30 rockets were launched at Israel's south. According to an IDF spokesperson, dozens of fighter jets and other IDF aircrafts carried out the strikes in Gaza. Among the sites attacked were two major weapons manufacturing locations and five military compounds, as well as a building that serves Hamas' general security forces in Gaza City, according to the IDF.
The Iron Dome missile defense system intercepted eleven rockets fired into Israel's south, the military said, including one Saturday morning.

Stop romanticising that viral image of a Palestinian protester – it's not a poetic moment
Louis Staples/Independent/October 27/18
Behind the now famous photograph's palpable kinetic energy and visual dynamism lies one of the most desperate human rights situations in the world
A picture can say a thousand words, but in today’s ever-connected world, the good ones can generate even more retweets. A viral image taken in Gaza by photojournalist Mustafa Hassona, which depicts a bare-chested Palestinian protester holding a large flag and wielding a sling, has achieved both of these feats.
The photograph was taken as protests continue on the border of Israel. Gaza's health ministry said 32 Palestinians were wounded as demonstrators threw stones at Israeli forces, who responded with tear gas and live fire. The image has provoked a huge reaction online, with social media users likening it to Liberty Leading the People, the iconic Eugene Delacroix painting of the French Revolution.
From the moment we sleepily check our phones in the morning, most of us are bombarded with information and imagery, some of which can be disturbing. This photograph is undeniably striking, but the online reaction displays a worrying tone of detachment in the face of human suffering that is becoming all too common. Paintings such as Delacroix’s have decorated gallery walls for centuries. Encased within ornate gold frames and protected by glass, their figures are distant, providing us with the romantic fantasy of a world gone by. They might be based on historical events, but our minds can easily decipher that there’s nothing real behind the flat oily surface of the canvas.
But Hassona’s photograph couldn’t be more real. Behind its palpable kinetic energy and visual dynamism lies one of the most desperate human rights situations in the world.
The flag bearer, identified by Al Jazeera as 20 year-old Aed Abu Amro, is one of almost two million people that are trapped on the tiny Gaza strip, unable to leave. This year has seen hundreds of deaths at the hands of Israeli forces, who have been condemned by the United Nations for using “excessive force” against protestors. Unarmed medics, such as 21 year-old Razan al-Najjar, are among the fatalities. A 12 year-old boy was shot dead earlier this month. A UN report has warned that Israel's blockade will make Gaza, the world’s third most densely populated area, “uninhabitable“ by 2020. 97 per cent of the territory’s drinking water is undrinkable and there are only four hours of electricity a day.
These facts are distressing to read. But this hopeless situation has been facilitated by governments across the world enabling what will one day be universally accepted as crimes against humanity.
Romanticising the image of a desperate man taking on an army allows us to justify its circumstances and distract ourselves from the grim truth that, in the real world, David rarely defeats Goliath. Aed could die today, tomorrow, or the week after that. If he keeps protesting, it is almost an inevitability.
Protesting is, of course, a choice. But it is also a choice for Israel to continue flouting international law by building on Palestinian land and planning to demolish Palestinian villages – a potential war crime. It was a choice for the US to deliberately inflame the situation by moving its embassy to Jerusalem, causing unnecessary bloodshed and anguish. Left to swelter without a trace of hope in what is essentially an open air prison where 50 per cent of children express no will to live, as the world looks the other way, is there not a chance we would all do the same?
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In the most tasteless responses, social media users have remarked on Aed’s chiselled jaw and physique. This overt fetishisation of his suffering is obscene, but the idea that the pain and anguish of marginalised groups is a price worth paying for beautiful art is a notion far older than even the paintings of Delacroix.
From Asad’s chemical weapon attacks in Syria, to the bodies of refugee children washed up on the beaches of Europe, images have a radical, empathy-spreading power that can change the world. But the flippant reaction this particular shot, of someone literally risking being shot, represents our growing detachment from pain and lack of collective responsibility for it.
Don’t let this photograph fool you: there is nothing beautiful or poetic about the oppression of Palestinians. Beyond the lens, the constant misery of wasted life and unnecessary death in Gaza continues - we must not let that drift out of focus.

Leveraging Murder
Jonathan Spyer/Jerusalem Post, 27/10
Turkey and Qatar seek to turn the death of Jamal Khashoggi to political advantage
The killing of the Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi represents a golden opportunity for all those forces opposed to the current direction of US Middle East policy. Unsurprisingly, these disparate elements are seeking to exploit the situation to the maximum. Will their efforts succeed?
The Middle East strategy of the Trump Administration has taken time to emerge, but its essential contours are now clear. The advance of Shia Islamist Iran and its allies is perceived as the central threat system – the need to rally and organize allies to face down and turn back this threat the salient imperative.
Sunni political Islam, in both its Muslim Brotherhood and Salafi forms, is an additional enemy to be confronted. This challenge is less centralized.
With the eclipse of the Islamic State, the Salafis continue to constitute a latent threat. But at present this threat does not have an immediate focus, and is mainly a matter for intelligence and specialized military attention rather than politics and grand strategy.
The Muslim Brotherhood axis of Turkey, Qatar, Hamas and the various other franchises of this movement is a far more potent and significant gathering than the Salafis. Unlike Iran, its intention is the slow and incremental establishment of Islamist polities, rather than the rapid subversion of Arab societies by a combination of political and military means.
In the longer term, given the uncompromising anti-western core outlook of the Brotherhood, the legitimacy gap faced by Iran because of its Shia nature, and the ongoing dysfunction of Sunni-majority Arab countries, this may constitute a challenge of no less or greater magnitude.
The US strategy to hold back these three enemies (all of whom, it is worth noting, are particular manifestations of political Islam), rests on alliances with a number of regional allies. Israel, by far the most powerful of all regional forces opposed to them, is a central lynchpin. President Sisi in Egypt, who is responsible for preventing the disaster of the consolidation of Brotherhood power in Egypt, is another.
Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain are additional vital links in the chain. In the persons of Crown Princes Mohammed Bin Salman of Saudi Arabia, and Mohammed Bin Zayed of the UAE, the current US Administration thought it had found the right personalities in their respective countries for the advancement of this strategy.
The inbuilt flaw or weakness in this US regional strategy is the relative fragility of the Gulf monarchies. Iran and Turkey, the enemy and emergent rival states to the west respectively, are the most powerful and well organized states in the Middle East, with the exception of Israel.
Saudi Arabia and the UAE, meanwhile, are states possessing great wealth, but only semi-modernized political systems. In so far as they are able to produce effective military organizations, this is largely because of direct western involvement (see the UAE’s Presidential Guard, for example, commanded by former commander of the Australian SAS General Mike Hindmarsh). The indifferent performance of the Saudis and Emiratis in Yemen, and the Saudi failure in backing the rebels in Syria offer evidence of their limitations.
The current US strategy, of course, has many enemies. These include, unsurprisingly, partisans of Iran, Turkey and the Muslim Brotherhood. The list also includes supporters and adherents of the Middle East policy of the previous US President. The latter stood for a policy of cooperation with Teheran, and tolerance of the Muslim Brotherhood (on the Salafis,by contrast, Obama took a relatively hard line).
Unsurprisingly, therefore, partisans of AKP Turkey, the Iranian regime and the Middle East policy of the previous Administration which favored the interests of both are currently engaged in an effort to leverage the death of the unfortunate Jamal Khashoggi in order to dismantle the recently emergent Middle East strategy of the present Administration. Forcing the US to turn on Riyadh, or creating discord and strife between the USA and KSA is the goal.
This is not, (to put it mildly), part of a consistent pattern of concern for human rights and dignity on the part of these forces. Turkey is among the most energetic jailer of journalists in the world. 150 journalists have been imprisoned in Turkey and 180 media outlets shut down since the failed coup attempt of July, 2016. Turkish forces have been in recent months presiding over grave violations of human rights in the Afrin area of Syria (largely unreported by global media). These have included looting, confiscation of properties, and ‘honor killings’. Forced disappearances and arbitrary detentions have taken place, according to Amnesty International. Several Turkish journalists seeking to comment on these matters on social media have been detained under Turkey’s ‘anti-terror’ laws. Turkish forces also killed a Kurdish journalist, 22 year old Tolhaldan Walati, during the invasion. For some reason, Walati’s killing did not subsequently become a cause celebre for large parts of the western media.
Qatar, meanwhile, whose state-run al-Jazeera channel is the main current outlet for nightly features about the Khashoggi killing, routinely arrests and detains media groups seeking to investigate the slave -like conditions endured by foreign workers in the emirate.
Turkey and Qatar’s evident desire to leverage Khashoggi’s killing to derail current Administration policy on the Middle East derives rather from the fact that they and their Muslim Brotherhood allies and clients stand to be among the chief non-beneficiaries of this policy.
Khashoggi was himself an energetic advocate for a soft-line toward the Muslim Brotherhood. In a Washington Post article on August 28th, for example, he argued that ‘The eradication of the Muslim Brotherhood is nothing less than an abolition of democracy and a guarantee that Arabs will continue living under authoritarian and corrupt regimes… There can be no political reform and democracy in any Arab country without accepting that political Islam is a part of it.’
The article was not merely a general discussion piece – rather it was written to specifically oppose calls for the designation of the Brotherhood as a terrorist organization.
Articles of this type, and the current efforts of the Turkey and Qatari camp to leverage the Khashoggi killing into policy benefit, are part of a broader political war being fought out for influence on US Middle East policy, and in turn for ascendancy in the region. The killing of the journalist himself appears also to have formed a particularly foolish and inept move in this conflict.
What will be the result? Despite anger in the US, major policy shifts appear unlikely. Firstly, this is because Saudi Arabia’s status as the world’s largest exporter of oil gives it the ability to hit back at any proposed sanctions by reducing oil exports and forcing a rise in oil prices. The mere possibility of such a move may well deter significant US moves to sanction Saudi Arabia.
More broadly, the strategic imperatives that first produced the Trump Administration’s orientation toward Riyadh have not disappeared as a result of the Khashoggi killing. Political Islam, in its Muslim Brotherhood, Shia and Salafi forms remains the key threat to western interests and to stability in the Middle East. Despite the present media-generated mood, this is likely to ensure that US Mid-East strategy weathers the storm and continues broadly along its current lines for the immediate future.